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The US Review of Books connects authors with professional book reviewers and places their book reviews in front of subscribers to our free monthly newsletter of fiction book reviews and nonfiction book reviews. Learn why our publication is different than most others, or read author and publisher testimonials about the USR.

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Focus Review
Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Thousand Sleeps
by Mike Taylor


"'I want you both to pay very close attention to what I have to say. This story I’m about to tell you came to me in a dream.'"

The children of Goose Creek, much like those of many small mountain towns, are well-versed in the lore of strange creatures or ghosts inhabiting the mountain woods. Stories of Ben Walkman have been staple lore for the inhabitants of Goose Creek since his disappearance and presumed death for sixty years. In Taylor’s novel, secrets, greed, and deception abound like Goose Creek’s surrounding foliage, and as the town has moved from its beginnings at the end of the 19th Century into a more progressive and enlightened era, so does the truth emerge from the dark recesses of its mountain woods. ... (read more)

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Triumph Over Evil

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Game Piece
by Alan Brenham
Black Opal Books


"'Five homicide victims, all connected to me—not in a good way. He knew a lot about me. How?'"

When a serial killer goes on a murdering spree, police detective Barry Marshall finds himself working on the case to bring him to justice. As Barry begins to receive taunting calls from the killer after every murder, he realizes that the killer holds him responsible for stealing something from him in the past and is now hell-bent on ruining Barry. After the killer’s activities cause damage to Barry’s marriage and career, Barry becomes even more determined to track him down and end his sinister game before he can harm his wife and daughter. ... (read more)

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A Ray of Hope

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Real Daughter
by Lynne McKelvey
Savant Books & Publications LLC


"He doesn’t get it, she thought, pausing beside the baby mastodon and its imploring trunk. Doesn’t get that Mandy is a child in mourning, a child in mourning for her mother."

Secrets have always played a major role in novels. From secret passageways in adventure tales to secret betrayals in spy yarns to secret familial revelations in Victorian comedies, tragedies, whodunits, and more. A secret is also at the center of this literate psychological drama that unspools in late 1970s Los Angeles. It is a secret that engulfs its keeper completely—a secret that results in unimaginable consequences when shared. ... (read more)

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Sensitivity & Accuracy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Journey of Hope: Her Search for Truth
by Patricia Hope
Stratton Press


"I am glad I had the opportunity to meet several of my birth relatives and their families, and perhaps one day I will meet others."

Recounting the trauma of childhood deprivations, this memoir shows a maturation process that aided its author in later life, owing largely, she believes, to God’s care and intervention. Born in a fractured family in 1932, the little girl was assigned to an orphanage in Memphis—the Tennessee Children’s Home Society (TCHS)—after her mother was falsely accused of a crime. The TCHS was operated by notorious child-trafficker Georgia Tann. Hope wound up in Texas, supplied to a woman who wanted a playmate for her son. Gradually, Hope began to grasp the extent of her victimization as a young child and to seek information regarding her birth parents, sibling, half-siblings and other known relatives. Through a religious experience, she was able to love and understand her then deceased parents and even forgive Tann for her perfidies. ... (read more)

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Forbidden Love

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Dating Policy
by Suzanne Eglington
Xlibris


"I couldn’t get past the kiss as that employee handbook taunted me on my coffee table."

Mallory Kennedy’s company has a strict "no dating" policy that threatens to derail her first real chance at love with Todd Duvall, a quality control manager in her office who sends her heart racing every time he walks by her. She admires his confidence, his Scandinavian features, and his work ethic. When Todd begins to show interest in her, too, her work life and romantic life become entangled. Adding to the fray, Mallory also finds that Todd has deeper secrets that threaten their future even more than the company’s policy on dating. ... (read more)

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Max's Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Case of Emil Diesel
by Patricia Menton
Xlibris


"Art survives. That is all that matters. Each piece tells our history. It is our gift to future generations. It is our legacy."

This novel is a fictionalized account inspired by a true story. It involves a private art collection illegally seized by the German Democratic Republic in the years during the Cold War. ... (read more)

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Generations of the Chesapeake

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Family Matters
by D. C. Moses
Cherry Street Publishers


"But what had happened to Alex and Barry…so busy, so loving, so passionate for self-discovery, so yearning for self-transcendence?"

The untimely death of their son, Lu, is a shadow that haunts and looms over the Byrnes family. Each one grieves his loss in their own private way while attempting to find a way forward, immersing themselves into their careers and daily life. Then father, Barry, faces a life-changing decision when his company requests to relocate him to Washington. This sets in motion the mixed feelings and introspection by Barry and his reluctant wife, Alex, who contemplate the uncertainty of their future so close to retirement. They each reflect upon the early years of their marriage and life before and after Lu’s death. Others in the family must also come to terms with the tragic familial loss. As they each face uncertainty in the way forward, they learn something of themselves and one another. ... (read more)

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Against the Darkness

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Love is the Answer, God is the Cure
by Aimee Cabo Nikolav
Inspirational Books Publishing


"I always pray that God removes any darkness around me and fill my soul and life with love."

Nikolov’s complex, searching memoir details the severe abuse and trauma which impacted the trajectory of her life. It is also a cathartic account of the faith she holds steadfastly to for survival and how her belief in God enables her to transcend the darkness. ... (read more)

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Inventive & Fresh

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Beer and Gasoline
by John Knoerle
Blue Steel Press


"Feed the tyrant a credible story of evil plotting’s within the castle walls -- indeed even a half-way credible story -- and he will act accordingly."

Hal Schroeder is a long-time spy with CIA Counterintelligence that has worked with the group before it even became an officially sanctioned agency in the years following World War II. Now in 1968, he finds himself in the small town of Needles, CA, on assignment from his boss and the Chief of Counterintelligence, James Jesus Angleton. Angleton assigns Schroeder to Needles on a rare field assignment to investigate the disappearance of a local man named Jeremiah McLemore. McLemore operates a for-hire trash disposal business and worked as the trash hauler for Camp X, a mysterious government outpost on the Arizona side of the border near Needles. Under the alias of Army Lieutenant Richard Nolan, Schroeder befriends a young local police officer named Thomas Bell to help locate McLemore. When Jeremiah’s body is found (with the aid of a helicopter pilot-for-hire and a locally famous Native American tracker), the grisly sight sets off all manner of speculation. ... (read more)

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Dubious Characters

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Middle East Quicksand: Espionage, Passion, & Love During the Crisis
by Robert Thomas Fertig
LitFire Publishing, LLC


"Everybody lies,” he said. “You must inquire, question, scrutinize everything. It’s not what people say – it’s what they do that really counts!"

At forty-five, Vincent Renaldo is questioning everything about his life. With his children away at college, a growing distance developing in his marital relationship, and a dead-end corporate job, he feels as if he’s drowning in mundane minutiae. When he’s offered a new position at the smaller firm Computer Techniques and Systems, he decides to accept. Though he learns much in his new position, it isn’t the lucrative proposition he expected. Vincent soon finds himself in search of other prospects. Thus, begins his introduction into the world of foreign intrigue and dangerous espionage. Vincent becomes entangled with the seductive Eve in Monaco, and his life becomes as complicated as the world events exploding around him. As factions in the Middle East are beginning to grow heated, Vincent finds himself embroiled in a world of dubious characters and uncertainties. Will he ever escape the dangers and find his way back to the life he once knew? ... (read more)

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Peaceful Resolution?

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Quall Assassin: Talaza's Contract
by Yuan Jur
WaaDoom


"'For what you have done to my Analuke, I allow you to see my true face. Consider this a parting gift.'"

On the planet Tora, a conflict of warring clans is threatening to bubble up to the surface and bring the entire continent of Ludd into battle. Talaza and his wife Analuke belong to the Quall, a four-armed race of assassins that live in the mountains, stick to the shadows, and carry out their contracts with precision and without mercy. When the couple receives orders to ambush a supposed peace talk between the warrior clan of Scarzen and the duplicitous Flaxon, they have their reservations but are honor-bound to fulfill the request. Before he can finish scouting, Talaza is intercepted by the Star Lord and his canine companion and informed that he must abandon his duty in order to protect the whole land from a terrible tragedy. Worrying about his wife’s decisions and skeptical of his abductor’s true purpose, Talaza can only watch and hope that things resolve peacefully. ... (read more)

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History & Folklore

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Gods and Heroes: Itan Legends of the Golden Age Book One
by Oladele Olusanya
Xlibris


"Ile-Ife was the birthplace and origin of all the gods of our people, who in those days walked the earth and lived among mortal men."

Blending history with folklore, myth, and a little surrealism, this book follows the exile and migration of the Yoruba tribe from Nubia, the founding of Ile-Ife (today’s region of West Nigeria), the various adventures and conquests of its people, and the rise and fall of the civilization of Oyo. Readers are introduced to historical figures as well as gods and goddesses and learn how the actions and choices of these individuals have shaped Yoruba culture and tradition.... (read more)

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A Complicated Character

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Raven's Resurrection: A Cybertech Thriller
by John D. Trudel
Trudel Group


"Raven slung his rifle. He walked over and stood behind them, his Sig leveled, finger on the trigger."

In the author’s latest thriller, America is not as secure as its average citizen might think. Radical Islam poses a serious threat to the nation, but only a few understand just how extensive the reach is of its practitioners. Raven has experienced firsthand how dangerous the nation’s enemies can be, but many of them, in turn, will learn what a deadly adversary he can be. ... (read more)

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Evangelizing Tool

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Myopic Life Resonated from the Brink of the Abyss
by Simeon W. Johnson
Stratton Press, LLC


"...there are no formulas or drugs known to mortal man that can duplicate...such perfect bliss [as] that of the eternal God and everlasting Father."

The author of this memoir/testimonial has been an ardent follower of Jesus Christ since he was seventeen. In a brief biographical section, he tells of his birth in Jamaica and the death of his mother before he started kindergarten. Johnson was raised by a sister, his father, and some older brothers still living at home. He got into trouble with friends at school. Like the prodigal son, he moved to the city. Eventually, warning dreams of judgment brought him to his senses, and he returned home. His sister got saved and made a public confession in a little Pentecostal church. Johnson gives his own conversion from a myopic (blind) sinner to a follower of Jesus. He admonishes the reader to believe it or not. Like King Belshazzar in the book of Daniel, seeing a vision of writing across the night sky—ETERNAL GOD AND EVERLASTING FATHER!—stopped Johnson. Rather than resorting to old friendships, he migrated to Canada and then to the United States. ... (read more)

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Reprecussions

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Dark Knowledge
by Clifford Browder
Anaphora Literary Press


"History is at war with myth. Myth tells us what we wish had happened; history tells us what did."

Chris Harmony is part of the illustrious Harmony family of South Street Seaport, a family of sailors, ship masters, and well-respected businessmen. Unable to follow the seafaring path, young Harmony pursues schooling and history instead, aiming to create a family history based on his father’s old papers. What starts as a curious side project soon takes a dark turn when Chris finds evidence that may connect his family to the illegal slave trade. Determined to uncover the truth, Chris’s investigation encounters friends and foe alike as he works to clear, or smear, his family name. What will the results of his findings be, and how will he handle the consequences? ... (read more)

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Becoming a Leader

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Unlocking the Natural-Born Leader's Abilities: An Autobiographical Exposé
by Salar A. Khan, MD., MBA.
Xlibris


"…natural-born leaders...have an innate skill set conducive to becoming leaders. They are optimistic, selfless, and do not seek external rewards or glory."

Illustrating the author’s own journey to leadership, this autobiography/memoir was written to pass on experience gained by a lifetime of service. A young child at the time of the India/Pakistan partition, his family resettled in Pakistan. With those early years in turmoil, his parents were his teachers. Once the author entered school, his brilliant older brother became a role model. Challenged by his family, the author assumed responsibility for household duties and volunteered for additional tasks. On his father’s advice, Khan became a doctor serving in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and America. From experience gained, he declares it our duty to find out what we are capable of. ... (read more)

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Real-World Struggle

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Man on the Fence
by John R. Day, Jr.
Cowhead Publishing Company


"He got up off the couch and then got down on one knee in front of Page. She snorted. Evidently she found it funny."

Growing up in Southern Michigan, Tate Daniels pitches in on his family’s dairy farm and yearns to someday make it to the big leagues as a baseball talent. Coming of age in the Vietnam era, life takes a series of unexpected twists and turns for Tate as his high school playing days are sidelined by coaching changes and school board politics. Eventually, though, he’s scouted by a small college and finally finds his way back to the diamond. Torn between a high school sweetheart away at college and a feisty new girlfriend soon to depart as well, Tate’s decision is made for him when the latter, Page, becomes pregnant. Determined to do the right thing by Page and her family, Tate asks Page to marry him. As a new husband and father, Tate has to reevaluate his life’s goals and priorities. ... (read more)

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Voidstalker

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Krakenscourge
by John Graham
Amazon Digital Services LLC


"'But who decides how that power is supposed to be exerted and to what end? That’s above and beyond either of our paygrades.'"

Gabriel Thorn has been unofficially off-duty for just over a year. A special operative with the Directorate of Naval Intelligence with a codename of Voidstalker, Gabriel has been biologically enhanced beyond human limits and called upon to tackle dangerous missions throughout the galaxy. Since the last mission which ended poorly due to his being accompanied by a team instead of going solo, Gabriel’s been at home with his wife and five children, anxiously awaiting new orders, while his family wishes that he’d be home for good. Meanwhile, a derelict freight vessel warps in and nearly crashes into a space station known as the Nexus. A rescue party goes aboard and is able to save the last of the crew, one of whom is only able to say one word about the incident: “Voidstalker.” ... (read more)

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Dirty Dealings

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Man and the Machine
by John R. Day, Jr.
Cowhead Publishing Company


"Because what is there to life if you don’t have a purpose, a reason for being, a carrot at the foot of your bed to get you up and at ‘em every morning?"

This novel is a sequel. Familiarity with the book that preceded it, Man on the Fence, would undoubtedly enhance comprehension of the multiplicity of characters and their interrelationships with one another. Having said that, though, one can still take this book on its own terms and easily become involved with the families, neighbors, and acquaintances whose lives continually intersect and frequently collide in rural Michigan. ... (read more)

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True Believers

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Kinfolk: Cult of Sex and Cheese
by Josh Hickman
Polyester Press Books


"Some left the sessions on a spiritual high . . . Others left utterly confused as to who exactly Papa Dilly was, who they were, and even where they were."

Dillman Cleveland “Papa Dilly” Bradford is a charismatic leader, conman, peddler of holy hogwash, and notorious fraud. Skilled in the ways of carnal pleasures and cheese, Papa Dilly and his wife Mama Milly lead the Kinfolk, a small group of lost, lonely souls looking for acceptance, love, and, in some cases, full access to cheese. Cheese is the manna of Kinfolk. It is their communion, livelihood, and way of life. Everything that happens in the small group of Kinfolk revolves around Papa Dilly’s magical abilities with curd. When news of Papa Dilly’s lactose liturgy begins to surface, the media takes notice, and the degenerate drivel of the Kinfolk’s messiah leads to journalistic exposés. As attention grows, Papa Dilly decides the group must leave Los Angeles for the small town of Lemon Curd, California, which he deems easily exploitable and refreshingly remote. ... (read more)

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Rhodesia Story

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Zimbabwe Falcon
by David Maring
BookBaby


"It took the sharp point of spears pressed against their throats to bring them to life."

As the 20th century begins to close, the expansion of the British and Dutch into southern Africa continues to thrive after generations of pioneers have turned Cape Town into a bustling urban environment and continue to sprawl into the interior. Using a mixture of historical details and fictional storytelling, the book tells the story of several people, both native and transplant, who live their lives adjacent to history in the making of what would become Rhodesia and later Zimbabwe. ... (read more)

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Making a Leader

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Growing Influence: A Story of How to Lead with Character, Expertise, and Impact
by Ron Price and Stacy Ennis
Greenleaf Book Group Press


"'Are you happy where you’re at? Do you feel like you’re fulfilling what you’re meant to in life?' ... it was a question she knew she needed to answer..."

This leadership book isn’t your common offering about building a great team, establishing good relationships, and building trust to bring out their best (not that you won’t learn valuable information about those things). But as strong leaders know, delivery is everything, and this small offering delivers valuable insights and knowledge in a big way. ... (read more)

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Exploitative Imperial Power

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Blood for Freedom: a Novel
by J.P. Piché
Trafford Publishing


"Paul promptly recovered his documents... Feeling uncomfortable, Paul moved away before looking back to see the contempt on the face of the officer turning into a smirk."

Since the suicide of his twin brother, Paul Desilets has been in a state of limbo. He can’t shake his grief or his accompanying lethargy. His emotional turmoil leads to the belief his brother is trying to contact him. Paul makes the decision to pull himself from his grief by embarking on a two-year mission trip to work with the Foreign Mission Society in Guatemala. Though he is faced with hints of underlying societal problems upon his arrival in the city, he puts those aside when he reaches Concepción and begins his work with the teenagers of the village and assisting a medical student from the University of Quetzaltenango to establish a health clinic. As time passes, Paul settles into a routine and makes friends among the native villagers, learning their dialect and way of life. Soon, however, it becomes evident that unrest over the exploitation of the natives is growing, and that resistance factions and Guatemala’s military government are on a collision course. ... (read more)

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The Verdict

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Burying the Lede
by Joseph Levalley
BookPress Publishing


"It was simple. The couple had to die. The killer didn’t know why and didn’t care."

Don’t be surprised if reading this novel puts you in mind of others that have come before it—novels such as Pete Dexter’s The Paperboy, or Robert Traver’s Anatomy of a Murder. The resemblance has less to do with the fact that the aforementioned novels include a journalistic protagonist in one and a big trial in a small town in another. No, the similarities have more to do with the exceptional level of writing that author Levalley achieves. He’s confident enough to let his story tell itself and in so doing displays an admirable lack of pretense often missing in current crime tales. ... (read more)

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Forever

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

They'll Never Die
by Don Calmus
Fulton Books


"'I have died a couple of times, and there's nothing out there but cold dark space.'"

Generally, engineers and other professionals don't morph into successful writers. But Don Calmus, a retired engineer, has writing talent and took the time to study the craft, enabling him to write this stellar novel. Not only should he not "stay in his own lane," he should write a sequel. ... (read more)

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Getting Away

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Jubilant Journeys
by Connie Spenuzza, M.S. Ed.
Libros Publishing


"The stone symbols of these unborn babies stood shoulder to grey stone shoulder."

Part memoir, part travelogue, and part genealogical study, this book is joyously refreshing. It is also poetry in motion. For example, instead of "China is too big to see in one trip," the author writes, "We barely scratched the surface of this commanding dragon." ... (read more)

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Interesting Explorations

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Lockheed Elite
by Tyler Wandschneider
Stars in Hand


"'These designers, whoever they are, have figured out how to make organic tissue fuse with an android skeleton with mechanical and electrical components. And it doesn’t stop there.'"

Captain Anders Lockheed is a spaceship scavenger who leads his ship Elite One into the depths of space. His goal is to find decommissioned spaceships in order to strip from them their copper and other components. He is helped by his first mate Jones and a technological genius nicknamed Wicked. Wicked is light years past other crew members of the Elite One in his unceasing inventions and technological prowess. After Anders and crew find a rather new-looking decommissioned Galactic Command cruiser in the middle of nowhere, they chance upon a strange young woman fast asleep in subzero temperatures on board. Taken aboard the Elite One, Aura miraculously recovers. Unfortunately, what at first appears to be random good fortune may actually be part of a cleverly constructed trap. ... (read more)

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Epic Space

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Dragon's Harvest
by Jason F. Boggs
Mill City Press


"With every step she took…she jabbed her needle-like sword into the sinews, small trickles of blood began to seep out and drip onto the black tiled floor."

Boggs’ new sci-fi novel is a sweeping, interstellar space opera with epic reach. Species collide, and blood is shed over foundation-shaking questions concerning religion and planetary conquest. The archenemy in this story is no less than the Eternal and his band of ambitious, self-serving Executors. They seek to enslave the entire universe, either through domination or destruction, as they inch ever closer to immortality. Stuck in a love triangle with the sadistic military head of the authoritarian New Era, Ira Billis, and the warrior princess Alene of the Aesini people—a race of green-furred aliens with strong legs and religious fervor—Nelson Jones, an earthling, must try to save the cosmos as well as his young daughter. ... (read more)

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Before It's Too Late

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Shadow of the Fall: A Novel
by Aaron T. Brownell
iUniverse


"The collapse of the Cold War and its replacement with a state of unchecked terrorism was good for his business."

Adrian Bequiri is an arms dealer brokering old Soviet nuclear weapons for a man who has masterminded a plan to detonate the nukes in America’s heartland. Using the nation's porous ports as entry points, Chicago will become ground zero unless Dr. Kristin Hughes, her Nuclear Emergency Search Team, and government intelligence can locate and disable the terrorist's bombs before it is too late. ... (read more)

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Zulu Doctor

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Ubuntu: Unconditional Love
by Anita Schattenberg
BookVenture Publishing


"His touch sent her heart rate soaring, while her brain warned that she was like the fly in the spider’s web. The spider closed in on her."

The place is South Africa. The time is just prior to the end of Apartheid. The cast of characters spans social, economic, and racial divisions. The story is a tale that encompasses pride, prejudice, violence, fear, love, betrayal, responsibility, and rebirth. It sweeps you into a world where the depths of poverty abut the heights of privilege, and lives crisscross borders at their peril. It’s a chronicle of self-awareness and personal awakenings, a narrative of individuals often making bad decisions for good reasons. It’s the kind of novel readers often hope to find—big, bold, and involving. ... (read more)

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Vivid Fantasy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

September's Song
by Ryan Jo Summers
Lulu.com


"Heart lurching, throat painfully tight, she pushed all the photos, letters, medals and flag back into the box, closing the lid."

Ivey London is finally settling into a routine after the disappearance and death of her soldier husband, Keegan. She has a decent home, is working at the VA, and has engaged a competent, caring nanny to help with her smart young son Jory. But there’s something disturbing her. From a reliable patient, Ivey hears of a sub-basement at the VA that might be a holding pen for military prisoners, possibly some of those believed to be missing in action. Might one of them be Keegan? She revives her hopes of finding him and begins to investigate. Meanwhile, an amnesiac escapes from that basement, and with the help of a priest, an old photo, and an expired ID card, gradually begins to realize who he might be. When he meets Ivey, sparks of romance fly. But can he go back to being who he was, or will an evil general stand between him and happiness? ... (read more)

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Always Pray

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Prayer with God
by Veronica O'Connor
Stratton Press, LLC


"People of faith depend immensely on prayer because it’s a vital weapon in the hands of all believers."

From early childhood, author O’Connor was taught to pray. From the simple rhyming prayers of her youth to very sophisticated prayers for a variety of complicated, adult situations, she has created not only a collection of communications with God but a reasonable case for praying at all times and in all places. ... (read more)

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Liberty Call

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Lobbycratic Governance: How to Limit the Power Technocrats and Lobbyists Wield Over Our Lives
by Godfrey Harris
The Americas Group


"When executive branch agencies started their ascendancy to power, lobbyists began to cultivate the officials running the agencies."

In school government classes, Americans are taught an idealized version of how our country’s leaders create new laws and make difficult decisions. However, the aftermath of Vietnam-era politics has moved our country in a different direction, one that involves leadership not by elected officials but by lobbyists with deep pockets and specialized technocrats that prevent the average citizen from having an impact in affairs at the federal, state, and even local level. By identifying the crisis of confidence that took place in the American people that led to the current state of affairs, this book illustrates the growing schism in partisan politics and how lobbyists and special interests have moved in to stoke the division between left and right while pushing through legislation that benefits them through massive spending. ... (read more)

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A Special Person

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Genesis of a Champion
by Thomas M. O'Gorman III
Amazon Digital Services


"Winn was a good boy, but he wasn't perfect. He left the room with no intention of going back."

Winnford Torbjorn Vaux is the second son of the Duke of Barristan, and while it may appear on the outside that he lives a privileged life, his home life reveals an unpleasant truth. Considered inferior to his older half-brother Keyland, his dominating father reveals to Winn that when his time comes and Keyland takes over, Winn will receive no inheritance nor power and will be left to his own devices. Not academically gifted nor seemingly proficient in anything else, the role of tournament knight is suggested. Winn leaps at the chance, only to discover he lacks sword-fighting ability.. A dream visit from the Almighty reveals that Winn has a much larger role to play in history and a great destiny that he can only fulfill by making the right choices and avoiding those who would see him powerless. ... (read more)

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Uncommon Bravery

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cordelia Lionheart
by Ron Fritsch
Asymmetric Worlds


"'Father,' Cordelia said, 'I fear you'll soon regret being so stubborn, so unwilling to admit your kingdom isn't the peaceful, orderly realm you dream it to be.'"

Cordelia, the youngest daughter of King Lear, is beginning to lose faith in her father’s ability to rule as a fair and just king. Between rumors of unrest, distrust among the soldiers, her sisters’ and their husbands conspiring for the throne, and the occasional assassination attempt, it seems that King Lear’s peaceful reign is coming to an end. Cordelia soon finds herself in the midst of an oncoming war as Lear declares her his heir. With her life on the line and the future of the kingdom at stake, will Cordelia be able to fight back and keep the kingdom at peace? ... (read more)

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Mental Safety

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Mirror
by William A. Stephens Jr.
BookVenture Publishing LLC


"What PTSD really means is, ‘I have stood at the gates of hell and looked inside.’"

The therapeutic nature of the written word is never more evident than in Stephens’s compilation of eye-opening poetry and short stories that is simultaneously a heartfelt plea to society for better understanding of post-traumatic stress and, in many ways, a handbook or guide map for military veterans to follow as they encounter similar challenges while attempting to adjust to civilian life. With a decorated military service career spanning twenty years, which included numerous commendation and achievement medals, the author transforms his knowledge and experiences into advocacy for the veteran. ... (read more)

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Looking Back

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Let Us Give Thanks
by Robert Perkins
BookVenture Publishing LLC


"Thank You, Father, for places to work
May we enjoy them, sharing your word,
Jesus, You blessed us with something to do
Let us do it wholeheartedly for You!"

Seeing that no advertising among retailers for Thanksgiving appeared in the local newspaper a few years ago, Perkins was inspired. He began to create poems of thanks for a multitude of small but nonetheless significant blessings. The result was, over time, the development of 96 poems expressing gratitude for a lot of things both great and small, some of which might surprise the reader. Here are just a few of the “thank-able” items to which Perkins has turned his poetic attention: archeology, fairy tales, GPS, new glasses, gravity, wheelchairs, and even Thanksgiving itself. ... (read more)

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Mirror to Our Humanity

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Further Collected Poems
by B. E. Stock
Xlibris


"...the new landscape
Is being unpacked, and the same eyes
Behold unfolding leaves and hear
A breeze that seems to speak in cadences
Of wordless comfort:"

In addition to the periodicals in which Stock’s poems appear, she’s published two chapbooks and a volume titled Collected Poems (2001). This new book represents work from that point through 2017. The poems are grouped under common themes. Among these are relationships, art, and religion. The poems are a mix of free and rhymed verse. They range from multiple page narrative pieces to short poems of a stanza or two. The memorable pieces in this collection employ sophisticated literary devices such as assonance, consonance, and internal rhyme to convey rhythm and sound. ... (read more)

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SDA Revealed

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

What Every Seventh-day Adventist Should Know about The Shepherd’s Rod: Volume I
by Garrick D. Augustus
iUniverse


"A primary objective...is to...disentangle the true and time-tested teachings of the pure Shepherd’s Rod from the impure and false Rods of our day."

A reader who knows little about the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) denomination will learn much from Augustus’ book, especially about the group’s weaknesses. To better understand the controversy surrounding Victor Houteff’s 1930 teachings on The Shepherd’s Rod, the author points out the church’s propensity for resisting new ideas. It has been known to: take legal action in civil courts enforcing member excommunication; reconsider acceptance of Ellen G. White’s early teachings in light of modern Israel/Jerusalem events; set time/dates for Biblical prophecy. ... (read more)

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What Happened

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Traitors or Patriots?: A Story of the German Anti-Nazi Resistance
by Louis R. Eltscher
iUniverse


"In fact, a silent reign of terror was descending on Germany that would remain in place for twelve years."

World War II Germany is often demonized, painted in black and white terms as a nation that threw the entire world into war and mercilessly killed millions. However, reality is rarely so clear-cut. This book is an attempt to show Germany as more nuanced by closely examining the rise of the German resistance against Hitler and the people behind it. This well-researched work follows the people who saw a darkness descending and decided to do something about it. In this record of Hitler's Germany, we see the nation through the eyes of various members of the resistance who faced persecution and certain death to try and put a stop to a leader they felt should not be in power. It dispels the illusion of a nation of helpless pawns; in fact, there was a network of people who did their best to rid the country of the dictatorial leader through any means necessary, and who nearly succeeded more than once. ... (read more)

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Childhood Lens

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mum and Me
by Sasha May
AuthorHouse UK


"Then one morning she was gone. I thought the monster had gotten her... Then the monster opened the door and found me."

The narrator, Kaye, looks back on her childhood traumas, beginning with a happy memory with her mother. Then her mother’s secure grip becomes uncertain, and memories turn murky. Tension settles in as Kaye awakens and “the monster” appears, the house taking shape through the eyes of five-year-old Kaye. May skillfully makes us understand the terror of it, of how Kaye is thoroughly vulnerable. The monster becomes the thread in this story. It is her stepfather, but sometimes it is her mother. Kaye endures the maltreatment, desperately trying to protect her younger brother, and clings to hope for the return of her biological father and brother. She continuously seeks her detached mother’s love, who turns cold and unsympathetic. ... (read more)

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Prose Schemes

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

TruthTeller
by Carmeline
Xlibris


"I would amend the lengthy
twists and turns that
words can often take"

Drawing from her years of teaching metaphysics and mysticism, Carmeline’s current collection of poems represents the insights she has gleaned through experience. Ranging in subject matter from nature and sex to retirement and pithy word definitions, the book is a meditation on meaning more than a thematically linked series of interconnecting studies. It is a book of reflective musings on what it is to be a wife, a mother, a woman, and a child of nature. The poetic forms used range from full page prose pieces to smaller, sonnet-sized poems and haiku-like pieces meant to explore the meaning of words. There are free-verse and rhymed poems here, using a variety of line breaks and rhyme schemes. ... (read more)

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Murder and the Past

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Maddy's Place
by R. L. Bowden
Xlibris


"'Cockiness can get the shit kicked out of you,' Neptune said matter of factly. 'Arrogance can get you killed. By the time most men figure out the difference it’s too late.'"

A murder investigation opens this ribald, rampaging book that mauls its way through multiple decades of a uniquely American success story gone totally haywire. Both in structure and flamboyance, this chronicle conjures echoes of Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. In that film, the death of a publisher served as the catalyst to re-examine an extraordinary life. In this novel, a similar approach is taken to replay the incredibly bizarre life and times of—wait for it—a bowler. ... (read more)

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Aspiring Planter

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Secret Garden: Earth Child
by Veronica Red
Xlibris


"I have found “my thing” that sparks the light within."

A beautiful morning opens this story of a young girl who sets out to begin planting a garden of flowers: frangipani, angelica, daisies, and lavender. Poetic descriptions of these lush flowering plants are accompanied by bright illustrations with vivid colors celebrating nature. Partly instructive, the narrative includes the tools needed for successful backyard planting and the steps taken to loosen and smooth the dirt and water the newly planted flowers. These details are provided with a soothing, gentle text, lyrical and inviting for children who appreciate nature and desire to grow a garden. ... (read more)

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Family History

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Retribution: A Jack Sanders Novelette
by Philip Barnard
Xlibris


"All you know is that the case remains unsolved. Your repression of the actual events has contributed to your reluctance to proceed with an investigation of your own."

Dr. Jack Sanders is a well-known and well-respected clinical psychologist, going so far as to even occasionally help the police with cases. Such is the case when Sanders discovers that one of his clients is murdered by another one of his clients. The case rattles him to his core and brings back the skeletons in his own closet. He finds his judgment clouded because of the demons of his own repressed past coming back to haunt him. In order to move on, he finds that he needs to bring an end to the unsolved murders of his own parents. In order to do that, he dives deep into his own family’s history and discovers dark secrets long buried that now finally are coming to light. Terrible family ties, long lost relatives, and unspeakable crimes bubble to the surface. Will Sanders finally be able to move on from his own trauma, or will he be buried by his family’s dangerous secrets? ... (read more)

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Learning to Live

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My Life as a Diabetic
by Celeste Barnard
Xlibris AU


"Diabetes kills more people each year than other fatal diseases, such as heart attacks and cancer."

Author Barnard was in the midst of a fulfilling life with her husband and children when, at the age of twenty-nine, she began having headaches, desperate thirst, and spells of violent nausea. Hospitalizations became unavoidable until, finally, she was told she had Type 2 diabetes. She coped as well as she could with pills and diet, but the temptations of sugary foods would overwhelm her at times, and she would wind up back in the hospital again. Meanwhile, the family was migrating, first from South Africa to a farm in Zimbabwe, and when that country fell into crisis, to Australia where they now reside. The stresses of these changes exacerbated Barnard’s symptoms. She was finally diagnosed with Type 1, insulin-dependent diabetes, leading to further major health crises with which she is still dealing. Her attitude is hopeful, though, and she has written her story to encourage others. ... (read more)

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A New Crime Series

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Betrayed
by Eve DeLange
Xlibris


"What we’re looking for is anything you may have seen that make you curious or suspicious about a doctor."

When FBI Agents Ragetti and Smitty land a high-profile case involving some of the town’s most prominent citizens, even they are shocked at the depth of greed involved. With the potential for the case to become a media sensation, they realize time is of the essence and recruit young, sharp, and computer-savvy Patty Jones to help with researching and tracing the large amount of money that has been accumulating in the accounts of doctors, nurses, and a medical examiner associated with St. Mary’s Hospital. As Patty begins to follow the steady flow of cash, it becomes apparent that it flows from one doctor—St. Mary’s colonoscopy specialist, Dr. Clint Gordon. After only a few interviews, it becomes obvious that Dr. Gordon is head of a fraud that exploits the government’s Medicare program and puts his patients at risk. After a meticulous investigation that uncovers the disheartening fact that Gordon’s fraud reaches even into the ranks of the FBI, Ragetti and Smitty head to court as witnesses. ... (read more)

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Perseverance & Hope

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Through Fire and Over Water
by Maria Krechowec
Xlibris NZ


"He said I had to see this big wide world and may be [sic] learn one or two things, because staying home by myself I would stagnate."

Life in Yankivka, Ukraine is decent for Maria Krechowec and her family. They have a plot of land they can live off of, and there is very little unrest. But social upheaval in 1929 changes all that with Stalin’s rise to power and the implementation of the Holodomor, followed by the German invasion during World War II. Maria’s life is turned upside down, and soon every decision she makes will determine her chance of survival. ... (read more)

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Small and Detailed

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Poetic Insight into Womanhood
by Curtis-Roy Worrall
Trafford Publishing


"The strength in you compels me also to be so strong.
And the will of mankind will surface in
me, and then we can collaborate."

This small book of poetry deals playfully with intense subjects, many of which are sexually charged. Each woman the author describes is young and beautiful, objects of his admiration, though this is not always mutual. Memorable poems in the book discuss timely issues such as the battle between different generations of females to define womanhood or the fact that as male or female “We are equal, but not the same!” “The Vegetarian Black Widow” records the author’s hope that a female will not devour him as notorious spiders do their mates.

The author has mastered many poetic devices. The words of the poem “What a Gem” form the shape of a crystal. He has also applied rhythm within a poem about platonic relationships: “your friend, not your lover...like a sister, not like a mother.” Worrall’s use of allegory shines brightly in two other poems, “Models” and “Façade.” One of his many seductive characters says, “If I was a letter I would be a beautiful font.” Another claims her facade as that of a “fantastic actress.”

Any pain of rejection is whimsically hidden as Worrall unwraps female thoughts to gain understanding for himself and an audience of either sex. The author uses humor to offset the mind trick played in all of these poems, drawing a person inside the head of a man writing as a woman. Readers must smile even as they are recruited at times to become analyst/editor. Is this the female’s or the males’ thoughts? There are several misspelled words throughout. However, the poet’s audience is unlikely to care too much as these unique poems produce empathy for the author and intrigue in the reader, who will be busy puzzling through a game of role-reversal. ... (read more)

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Core Spirit

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Window to My Soul: Short Stories, Poems, Essays and Other Stuff
by Boby Beavers
Xlibris AU


"The bottomless swirl has colours changing
as the light of pearl play games in the shallows
lending harmoney to the walkers tiring tread."

From the opening short story, “The First Kreole Meeting,” Beavers makes the experimental and speculative nature of his compilation clear to his audience. In just a few pages, the strong worldbuilding of planet Kreole, such as cascading methane flows, and the overall science fiction elements are on full display. Unsurprisingly, the poetry exhibits a similar level of unharnessed energy in conjunction with insightful commentary. ... (read more)

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Truth Prose

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Poems: Reflecting the Truth—Volume One: Over Fifty Years Researching the Truth
by Ernie Hasler
AuthorHouse UK


"But ecological balance is upset by humankind’s selfish strife,
Destroying the lungs of the earth with tarmac and cement."

Among other topics, Hasler’s poetry emphasizes nature’s blessings that the creator has given humanity and how mankind is obliterating those resources. The poems, written in narrative form and primarily free verse, shed light on the troubling direction of our climate. As the first advisor in Scotland to gain the NEBOSH diploma in environmental management, Hasler’s passion for the globe’s health is undeniable. ... (read more)

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Inspiring Prose

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Poetry: A Mind of Is Own
by Sonja Conta
Xlibris


"I want to travel, see the world,
My sails unfurled.
And clear my brain
Before I wane."

The poetry in this collection varies from topic to topic, but as the name of the book implies, the common thread tying these works together is their spur-of-the-moment inspiration. Compiling more than three dozen poems, Conta writes about the joys of friendship and romance, living the good life in exotic destinations or historical landmarks, struggling with the death of a loved one, and dealing with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. Though the subject matter can be at times reflective or realistic about the difficulties of life, the author frequently looks for the silver lining and presents her poems with an accessible, light-hearted style. ... (read more)

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Earth Evolution

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Revelation Through Science
by James G. Martin
Xlibris


"Today’s battleground is not about whether the earth is fixed or central... discord was planted a century and a half ago with... Darwin’s Origin of Species..."

Copernicus and Galileo are key historical figures who increased mankind’s knowledge of creation. Discord with the Church was a case of “observational science vs. natural philosophy.” The author briefly introduces other scientific contributions that led to acceptance of the Big Bang Theory, black holes, and light as waves vs. particles. Unlike other books on science vs. religion, Martin doesn’t stop discussions in the realm of physics. He proceeds to tackle evolution per Darwinism using his professional knowledge as a chemist. ... (read more)

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Final Judgement

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

What's Happening to Our World?: The Old Order Is Collapsing
by Ernie Hasler
AuthorHouse


"The battle of Armageddon is the climax of the spiritual war that has been raging between Yahweh and Satan since the beginning."

Hasler’s answer to the question posed in the title is made clear from the first few pages of this treatise on current events as indicators of the “Biblical End Times.” Hasler, in a series of thoughts and proclamations, begins with the “Brexit debacle” as evidence that we are living in the end times. Hasler then moves quickly from Brexit to climate change to regional wars as more catalysts for instability in the world which will make way for biblical prophecies to be fulfilled. These prophecies are explained along with brief dips into the history of Israel, the story of the Nazarene Rabbi, and a final call to action to secure eternal life. ... (read more)

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The Bias

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Good Intentions—Bad Consequences: Voters' Information Problems
by Phillip Nelson
AuthorHouse


"The most important ignored consequences of liberal altruistic voters’ agenda are the unintended consequences of their actions."

In this time of political uncertainty in the United States, economist Philip Nelson presents a book to provide voters with what he believes is better information. Self-interest plays an important role in both market decisions and political choices, and Nelson argues that self-interest in voting leads to unintended consequences. ... (read more)

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Real-World Implications

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Alien Veil
by Philip Altman
Xlibris UK


"The station had become attached to a spaceship! What was this all about, he wondered, and what would happen next?"

Following up on the author’s previous book, 2056: Meltdown: The Lost Rule of Law, the 21st century’s approaching end sees the UK and the US still dealing with a justice system crippled by greed and corruption. Supreme International Court Judges Henry and Tom are getting older. Their sons, Robert and John, are eager to follow in their fathers’ footsteps. As they make their way through law school, an invitation to the Prime Minister’s residence leads to the formation of a secret group dedicated to stamping out bribery and persuasion that lead to reduced or removed sentences for criminal defenders. Criminal information broker Viktor still has his tendrils in the government and seeks to undermine this initiative, even as contact with an alien race is made and the safety of Earth is compromised. ... (read more)

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Love & Detail

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Along the Waterways: Dreamtime Mysteries (Book 2)
by Jenni Barnett
Xlibris AU


"'Thank you, my land, for beckoning me here. I will honour you if you care for me!'"

Rex’s interest in anthropology, combined with his aboriginal ancestry, leads him to search for clues about his heritage in the wilderness. Believing his deceased grandmother’s spirit resides inside of an ancient tree known as Gran Yan, he takes the opportunity before the camping season gets underway to spend time sleeping underneath the tree. When he sleeps in this fashion, Rex is able to communicate with his grandmother and have the history of his people relayed to him. This time, Rex learns about the Booran clan and the peculiar genius of Mullawanda, a future elder fascinated by the potential for flight. Following the history of the clan for generations and its interactions with other tribes of the area, Rex (and the reader) will learn about the lifestyles and mysteries of these intriguing people. ... (read more)

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A Real Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Aussie Knowhow
by Kevin Johnson
Xlibris AU


"Orack asked for a vote as to whether Lan should live or die. The silence was deafening."

David Granger’s adventures continue in this second book in the author’s trilogy. Less than a week after the events of the first book, David, his second wife—the witch princess Pam, their friends, and children are cooperating with the alien computer Orack after a devastating terrorist missile attack. The attack is discovered to have originated from the evil Zavier, whose quest for world-dominating power leads him to covet the supercomputing capabilities of Orack. After a tense battle between the Granger group and Zavier’s henchmen, Zavier is captured and awaiting justice. However, attacks continue throughout the area, and a criminal cooperation is unearthed that is pulling the strings of world governments across Earth with the assistance of otherworldly allies whom it seems may not have been fully defeated in the first book. ... (read more)

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Entertaining Young Readers

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Space Rangers
by Sebastian Deras
BookVenture Publishing LLC


"'Nice try. But it’s going to take a lot more than that to kill me.' So Dan and Evan were fighting for their lives."

After a typically boring day at school, friends Evan and Dan split up and head their separate ways home, but soon Dan hears a mysterious noise coming from the playground. Going to investigate, Dan trips and falls into an open sewer, breaking his arm. He calls out to Evan for help, but while looking for Dan, Evan trips on the same tire, and he too falls into the sewer. After reuniting, they hide from an approaching noise, only to discover a helpful robot named Rob who heals the boys and then shows them an unending supply of fantastic machines and powerful spaceships. Together, the boys learn of a war between robots and dinosaurs, and Rob asks them if the two young boys would be interested in training and fighting alongside the new robot civilization that they’ve discovered beneath their neighborhood. The two thirteen-year-olds are hungry for adventure, and so they agree to train physically and with weapons that only the underground robots have access to. ... (read more)

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1800s Chronicle

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Eagle and The Lion: A Strange Turn of Fortune
by Laurel Robinson
Xlibris


"It seemed strange; for all these years they had obeyed someone else’s orders and their lives belonged to fate. Now it belonged to them."

Historical fiction comes to life in this vintage tale of adventure, love, loss, and new beginnings. It is the story of a young American woman and an English soldier whose lives are brought together by fate. Their shared experiences fill the pages of this book that whisks readers back in time to Europe, England, the Caribbean Islands, and America. ... (read more)

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Page-Turner

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Thousand Sleeps
by Mike Taylor
BookVenture Publishing


"'I want you both to pay very close attention to what I have to say. This story I’m about to tell you came to me in a dream.'"

The children of Goose Creek, much like those of many small mountain towns, are well-versed in the lore of strange creatures or ghosts inhabiting the mountain woods. Stories of Ben Walkman have been staple lore for the inhabitants of Goose Creek since his disappearance and presumed death for sixty years. In Taylor’s novel, secrets, greed, and deception abound like Goose Creek’s surrounding foliage, and as the town has moved from its beginnings at the end of the 19th Century into a more progressive and enlightened era, so does the truth emerge from the dark recesses of its mountain woods. ... (read more)

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Facing It

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

And He Said “Praise Me!”
by Penny Meyer Hovda
LitFire Publishing LLC


"I wrote this book in order that others may be blessed, transformed, and renewed in the midst of their unseen tragedy, illness, and devastation."

After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Christian author Hovda asked God what she was supposed to do. The answer came to her: “Praise Me.” It was, she states, the last thing she would have thought to do. Yet in following that exhortation, she began to see all the small ways and some bigger ways that God was with her throughout her treatment and recovery. Through her positive attitudes, she met kindly “guardian angels,” encountered other women going through the same treatments, learned to deal with panic attacks, and gained determination not give up on chemo even at her lowest point in that harrowing experience. One episode recalled the loss of hair during chemotherapy. Instead of approaching this negatively, Hovda realized that she would be temporarily spared the chores of hair care and would have the chance to see “the real me,” an identity which would come from her reliance on God. ... (read more)

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