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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.

Recent Reviews

Focus Review

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Recent Book Reviews

 

Focus Review
Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Crowded Hour: Theodore Roosevelt, The Rough Riders, and the Dawn of the American Century
by Clay Risen
Scribner


"Strictly speaking there is no single San Juan Hill."

At the turn of the twentieth century, before America entered Europe to join the WWI campaign, the US was an isolationist country healing from the great war of the previous generation when its north and south did all but completely tear the union asunder. It had pushed to the California coast, claiming the nomadic plains from Native American tribes as well as Mexico’s Spanish legacy. The scars of battle were fading, but the mythology of the Wild West was taking hold. Both a romanticism and dread of the past competed in the American psyche, as it headed into a bold and fearsome future. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

Disney Days

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Kem Weber: Mid-Century Furniture Designs for the Disney Studios
by David A. Bossert
The Old Mill Press


"'It’s the only furniture I ever dealt with that had a soul. It had an energy that came off of it.'"

At the close of the 1930s, Walt Disney was putting together his legendary studio complex in California, designed from the ground up to provide his team with everything they needed to do their jobs. Also enjoying success in his field, German architect Kem Weber was pushing the style of modernism in the areas of furniture design and architecture. Searching for someone who could capture his vision completely, Disney struck up a partnership with Weber that led to the designing of a whole new line of furniture that combined flexibility and modulation with extreme specialization. These designs and pieces of furniture served as an iconic hallmark of the Disney Animation Studios for decades after their creation as well as in a resurgence toward the end of the previous century. ... (read more)

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Exploring Self

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Walking Shadow
by Gary Bolick
Unsolicited Press


"He called the desert the perfect place for him because so little moved. Just one big photograph, so it provided the illusion that his life was back to normal."

There is an exceptionally fine line between intense introspection and prolonged navel-gazing. That line is a tightrope author Bolick walks precariously in this tale of one man’s unyielding search for enlightenment. Bolick’s protagonist desperately wants to come to grips with personal answers to profound questions such as why are we here, what does consciousness really mean, and can we ever truly understand one another or, for that matter, ourselves. The author encases these soul-searching queries in a story that dispenses potential answers much like a time-release capsule—a few now, a bit later, and eventually perhaps enough to ward off congenital melancholia. However, these intermittent answers raise additional questions. Does the patient stand a chance of actually being cured or merely treated? Should his doctor heed the proverb, “Physician, heal thyself”? ... (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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Humanity Explored

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Amadeus! What Makes a Human Human?
by Josephine deBois
PageTurner, Press and Media LLC


"'What makes you a better person if you are made in one way and not the other? And how would you even know the difference?'"

Ludwig Mann is a conductor riding the heights of fame and execution in his profession. Organizing orchestras in sell-out live performances and selling popular recordings around the world, life seems to be in the palm of his hand. Still, he is plagued with insecurities and doubt about his work, his life, and his romance. On the one hand is Tiffany Yun, a talented pianist whom he has bound his existence to despite fate and culture keeping them apart. On the other is Josephine deBois, his manager, who has been with him every step of the way and is deeply committed to him. The pressures of being a celebrity and always in demand compound this unsure aspect of his nature, but a deeper, darker secret is hidden from even Ludwig himself. ... (read more)

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Manhattan Nexus

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cooperative Lives
by Patrick Finegan
Two Skates Publishing


"Hanni gathered her belongings and left the church. There was clarity in her mother’s pronouncement, 'This is how God repays sinners.'"

Set in recent history, the author’s book uses a Manhattan co-op as its nexus—a place where all of its characters reside or have a history of residence. From the outset, a shared address seems to be all that binds these individuals together as they, in true New York City fashion, keep their heads down and worry about their own survival rather than the lives of everyone else in the crowd. However, bonds are revealed in time. Some are being made with each passing day; others have dissolved or been hidden from years before. What starts as a metropolitan microcosm unfolds and grows to encompass stories of fortunes won and lost, international intrigue, and lives that hang in the balance after every small and large decision. ... (read more)

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Finding a Way

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Up from Adams Street
by Larry Crane
Maine Authors Publishing


"I wished I could be more definitive in my plans. She wished she had been more definitive in hers. It felt as if we were balanced on the edge of a knife and could fall off on either side."

Growing up in Illinois just after World War II, Crane recounts his childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. Born into a blue-collar family with limited means, he is constantly cognizant of disparities between his living conditions and those of many of his contemporaries. He realizes that participating in sports is a potential entrée into worlds that seem beyond his. Plus, Larry loves the games. He plays baseball, football, and basketball. He caddies at golf courses. As he grows physically, he senses the need to expand mentally and philosophically too. A scholarship helps, then a surprise appointment to West Point follows. Each step up the ladder of opportunity, however, is taken with a self-inhibitor in place—an emotional regulator that keeps his innermost feelings trapped inside him. ... (read more)

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Scary

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Matt Monroe and the Haunted House
by Edward Torba
All Points Press


"Thick fingers of low-lying fog floated toward Matt. Curiosity urged him to walk forward, but what lay ahead?"

After their last adventure in the magical realm of Paragon, Matt Monroe and his friends are eager to get back to what passes as normal life for them. Back in school and under the watchful eye of their parents, Matt hides a series of terrifying nightmares about his arch-nemesis Damien, and Josh is hiding his unhealing wound suffered at the hands of a dragon. When Matt is out delivering papers, he encounters Nathaniel and Annabelle Parker, two children who were murdered in the town nearly a century ago. This contact leads to a new supernatural adventure that only Matt and his friends in The Brotherhood can embark upon. With vengeful ghosts, deadly poisons, and the shadow of Damien’s influence in every danger, the group of teens and their allies must be ready for whatever comes their way. ... (read more)

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A Western Gem

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Off The Well-Lit Path
by M. S. Holm
Sentry Books


"Rugg did not ask the cop why he robbed adolescent girls of their innocence and bragged of the obscenity. He knew the cop would have no answer."

Danger, fear, and violence come shockingly to life in this searing tale of modern Mexico. From deserted desert highways to crowded city streets, mayhem is ever present as marauding gangs ply their contemptible trade. Police are either too corrupt or too powerless to stop the rampant bedlam as citizens and tourists alike become prey for criminals immersed in a culture of brutality. ... (read more)

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Musings & Insights

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Woven Flag
by Margaret Fourt Goka
BookVenture Publishing LLC


"Childhood is a spaceship full of friends
that rockets into the future.
I will be there when it lands
like a kitten on its feet"

In her second book of collected poetry, the author has organized her musings and insights into six categories. Each chapter follows the themes of home, animals, places, riddles, caffeine and wine, and family respectively. The home chapter is the most explored, following memories of homemaking and raising children with all the energy and chaos they can bring. The chapter on animals considers the impact of family pets and wonders what life would be like in animal form. The chapter on places recalls old residences and other colorful memories of location. When writing on the theme of riddles, the poet considers things that are somewhat contradictory or mysterious about life. Not surprisingly, the chapter on caffeine and wine is a treat for the sense of taste, using language to express flavor. Finally, when exploring the topic of family, Goka revisits the endless tasks of homemaking, as well as considering her dual role as both mother and child. ... (read more)

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Beloved Pet

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Toby
by Phyllis M. Cutler
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


"When grandma takes me for a walk she is very proud to walk with me. People stop and say how cute I am."

Toby, a golden labrador with a loving family, tells his story in this “autobiography” of the everyday life of a family dog. Always on the hunt for food scraps and looking forward to visits from grandma or the kids getting home from school, Toby is a lively, energetic dog with a twinkle in his eyes. Despite some necessary leg surgeries and even being afflicted with seizures, Toby doesn’t get slowed down by much thanks to his disposition and the love of his family. From stories of neighborhood walks to the joy of opening presents at Christmas time, Toby recalls all of the special memories and moments of his life shared with his beloved family. Though his energy sometimes gets him into trouble, Toby is always interested in being a “good boy” in the eyes of the people who take care of him and love him. ... (read more)

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Strange Reality

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

All Roads Lead to Lawrence
by Craig Leener
Green Buffalo Press


"And it’s through basketball that I measure my life and figure out the people who are in it."

Engaging readers in a fast break followed by an easy layup and a slam dunk, author Leener returns to Zeke Archer’s world where athletic prowess plus metaphysical curiosity equip this youthful character to meet life’s challenges and obstacles. As the story opens on a basketball court in urban Los Angeles, Zeke is engaged in the biggest tournament game of his life, while his older brother Wade is dying a world away in Afghanistan: “I realized I was no longer on the basketball court. I was crouched on my haunches beneath the scorching sun. The sound of Jefferson’s pulsating crowd dissolved into a whir of truck engines. And I still had the ball.” As his team loses, and Zeke’s entire world dissolves around him, he reaches out to his autistic friend, Lawrence, a math prodigy who intercepts messages from the 7th Dimension. ... (read more)

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Cancer Struggle

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cross of a Different Kind: Cancer & Christian Spirituality
by Anthony Maranise, M.A.
Eternal Insight Press


"People need to grieve and that is perfectly normal, natural, and healthy. How quickly so many forget that even Jesus Himself had to grieve."

At age five, the author was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and it is that life-changing experience which gives him firsthand knowledge of what it means to live a life altered forever by cancer. Additionally, like many, he has lost a good number of friends and family members to various forms of the disease. Maranise addresses his book to three general groups: those who have lost loved ones to cancer, individuals who are “currently fighting the battle,” and those who are cancer survivors. His book introduces—indeed celebrates—the idea that one’s deep Christian faith and a life dedicated to Jesus Christ is a life well-equipped to handle the myriad challenges cancer throws one’s way. ... (read more)

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A New Path

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Living Guided: Divine Power Is Always and Forever with You
by Jennifer Weber
Amazon Digital Services


"You can release struggling with the unknown knowing you are guided and your life was a Divine design."

Author Weber has found a new path through life after many challenges and wishes to share her success with others. Much of this spiritual advice is offered through memoir. Weber uses examples from her own life to illustrate her progress and her setbacks, leading to a new, revelatory self-help credo. Raised as a Catholic in Utah in the ambiance of a majority Mormon culture, the author learned early on some of the pitfalls of sectarian differences. The majority of her school friends were Mormon, yet she hid her family’s religion from most people throughout grade school and middle school. When she did finally reveal that secret to a teacher who had admired her writing abilities, she felt the full force of the religious divide as he began to denigrate her work in front of the class. ... (read more)

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Troubling Questions

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Ninth Session
by Deborah Serani
TouchPoint Press


"I jolted forward, took out the panic alarm, and held my thumb on the button, ready to send the signal. I entered the waiting room but saw no one."

A psychologist dealing with her own deep issues takes on a new patient who will tax her reserves of personal courage and professional strategy. In Luke Ferro’s first session he yields to panic, and Reese talks him back from his fears. As he gradually reveals his harrowing inner truths, Reese, still grieving the loss of her spouse, begins to imagine that Ferro (or someone) is stalking her. Ferro then shares an ugly secret: he killed a man who is still listed as a missing person. Ferro knows where he is because he strangled then buried him. Hearing this, Reese turns to her own therapist, who warns her that she is highly vulnerable and that allowing Ferro to elude the law may not be in anyone’s best interests, despite the therapist’s oath of confidentiality. Ferro’s effect meanwhile is getting scarier, and suddenly Reese realizes it's time to overcome her reluctance and take action before someone else gets hurt. ... (read more)

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Return to Sanderson

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Trails to and Tales of Sanderson, Texas: The Saga Continues Book 2
by Cleo W. Robinson Jr.
Authors Press


"That old boy had more stories than Texas has cows."

This book is an adult Western romance of the cowboy, his horse, and a lifestyle mostly past. It features ranchers and wild cats living near the Rio Grande, love between men and women who were brave enough to leave their former culture behind, and friendships that last a lifetime. This more-or-less connected set of short stories takes place just north of the Mexican border in a Texas town called Sanderson. The tales are so enchanting that those who have never been there may wish to visit as soon as possible after reading this book. Sanderson is a town that crosses Southern hospitality with friendliness, even in the days when Jim Crow laws were still in effect, and when a few illegals snuck across the river for employment or robbery. ... (read more)

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War Heroes

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

WWI Crusaders: A Band of Yanks in German-Occupied Belgium Help Save Millions from Starvation as Civilians Resist the Harsh German Rule. August 1914 to May 1917
by Jeffrey B. Miller
Milbrown Press


"The oncoming sound of heavy boots swept into the paper shop moments before the bell above the door tinkled."

As the First World War began to spread throughout Europe, Germany’s occupation of neutral Belgium struck many as a concerning action. With many of the able-bodied men shipped off for slave labor, the writing was on the wall that the country would stagnate and soon face a crippling food shortage. Efforts from within Belgium were being concocted to provide for the people, but without adequate access to resources and guarantees from the warring powers, nothing could be accomplished. Meanwhile, a group of Americans led by Herbert Hoover was helping American tourists out of the war zone but soon decided that intervention had to be taken in Belgium’s food crisis, as well. They had the protection as a neutral interventionist organization but lacked the infrastructure to disperse the aid appropriately. ... (read more)

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Healing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Jeannie Ann’s Grandma Has Breast Cancer
by Diane Davies
Beaver’s Pond Press


"Cancer can make our feelings hurt, way down deep inside."

Children are terrified by the thought of losing parents and grandparents, and cancer is a particularly frightening and mysterious illness for any age group to confront. Author Davies uses her talents as a grandmother, educator, breast cancer survivor, and patient advocate in this concept picture book that speaks frankly about the fears, tough questions, and emotional responses that both children and adults have when confronting this medical challenge. ... (read more)

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For the Future

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California
by Lucille Lang Day, ed. and Ruth Nolan, ed.
Scarlet Tanager Books


"They need to see danger before their eyes to believe its teeth."

An ode to California’s majestic inheritance when it comes to Mother Nature, this anthology presents one of the rare occurrences in which the spotlight is almost entirely removed from the poets themselves and placed onto the different natural gems that the Golden State offers. Letting your work stand for a greater cause takes both grace and humility. More importantly, the compilation expresses a dichotomy of concern and hope throughout by juxtaposing the awe-inspiring descriptions and imagery with the potential devastation that is in store for future generations. ... (read more)

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Higher States

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Paradise Man: According to Thomas Merton
by Linxhuan Vu
Xlibris


"[Paradise] is rather an attitude of heart, a state of consciousness, in a spiritual journey."

The author, a priest and Cistercian monk, has artfully crafted this “collection of precious notes” inspired by Thomas Merton, a prominent twentieth-century Trappist monk known for his insightful scholarly work in Christian mysticism. Merton was praised by Tenzin Gyatso, the current Dalai Lama, as having the most profound understanding of Buddhism than any Christian he had ever known. This book addresses the state of returning to paradise as a state of consciousness in Christian terminology, using many well-known biblical metaphors familiar to Christians and non-Christians alike. Many of the precepts discussed have strong relevance in Buddhist theology and in mystic Islam, both of which share the idea that higher states of consciousness are available to both laypeople and monastics as well as to both non-religious and religious spiritual seekers. ... (read more)

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Learn to Lead

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Throttle Up: How to Accelerate the Impact of 21st Century Leadership
by John P. Dentico, Ed. D.
BookLocker.com, Inc.


"Leadership based on industrial perspectives is inadequate to deal with the intricately connected, human brain-powered organizational demands posed by today’s economy and society."

What does it mean to build leadership in the 21st century? Can attributes that make for an effective leader be learned, or are they reserved for a small percentage of individuals already born with certain qualities? Dentico’s masterful exploration of leadership theory and practice answers these and other germane questions, while at the same time providing a leadership paradigm radically different from those of the past. Geared towards, in his words, the 80 percent of people who have an innate ability and desire to learn how to lead effectively (but mistakenly believe it to be others’ responsibility), the author aims to help individuals live “productive, profitable, and meaningful lives.” ... (read more)

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Earth Stewardship

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Corky Tails, Tales of a Tailless Dog Named Sagebrush: Sagebrush and the Warm Spring Discovery
by Joni Franks
Xlibris


"Mother Earth’s resources were intended to be shared among all creatures, not just for some."

Set in the magical Rocky Mountains, this book is ultimately a story about sharing and helping the planet and environment. Sagebrush the dog and his owner, Little Miss, are heading out for a walk in the woods outside their home when they encounter an ongoing argument. The Shuns, little people who appear somewhat like gnomes, have become homeless due to deforestation and logging. When they find a warm spring surrounded by trees, they make their home in a tree where they can take care of their friend that is sick with cedar fever. ... (read more)

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Losing Our Way

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Apocalypse Trinity 8: Journey of Atonmemnon to the Plains of Peace
by Jean-Marie de la Trinité
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


"Simply gently brush these intrusive thoughts aside and say to them, I will not consider you now."

Combining an electric writing style with unparalleled devotion for the Lord, the author unleashes a fury of vivid metaphors that will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark in the reader’s mind. From the outset, the author establishes a distinctly sublime, mystical tone that demonstrates God’s existence in all forms, be it under the acacia tree, the love of a father, or in the fiery glance of the sun. ... (read more)

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A Different Journey

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Ruins to Ruins: From the Mayan Jungle to the Aztec Metropolis
by Roland Wauer
Xlibris


"Although the people and their conversations . . . are a figment of my imagination, the ruins and the towns and cities are factual."

Prior to his retirement, Wauer was a US Park Service employee for more than thirty years, and a naturalist at heart. His interest in ruins, travel, and wildlife are consistent, major themes in this travelogue of the author and his colleague, Johnathan. The cities/places visited are varied: Saba, St. Croix, Mexico City, and Veracruz to name just a sample. ... (read more)

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Vision & Purpose

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Mystery of Ezekiel’s Temple Liturgy: Why Ezekiel's Temple Practices Differ from Levitical Law
by Hilary Arthur Nixon, Ph.D.
Westbow Press


"By the time Messiah builds Ezekiel’s Temple, there is a renewed cleansing, atonement and consecration of the court altar and its more restricted priesthood."

Nixon, a biblical scholar who has dedicated himself to an analysis of the interconnection between the Old and New Testaments, here presents a detailed analysis of the significance of Ezekiel’s temple. The prophet Ezekiel, exiled after Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed, was given a vision: a man carrying a cord and a measuring rod walks off a new, huge temple, explaining each room and its purposes. The vision includes not merely the structure itself, to be created by the Messiah, but practices to be followed within the temple in the future. For example, priests will have a more formal role in formalized religious rituals. God will reign supreme, and the Messiah will preside. Also, certain sacrifices—their character and timings—will be restored, including the daily blood sacrifice of unblemished animals such as cattle and sheep. ... (read more)

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Unshakeable

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Until the Iris Bloom
by Tina Olton
iUniverse


"Bernie said she thought most people understood Tidy’s problem, but Tidy knew the locals had her down as the crazy old lady."

Tidy Bourbon is a ninety-two-year-old homeowner who is fighting for the dignity of self-reliance as sickness and dementia gradually overcome her. After living in the business district of Oakmont, California, for over fifty years, her house is the last to stand amid prime property and has become a goldmine for real estate developers. But Tidy is unshakeable. She has stubbornly rejected all bids and is resolute on living out her life on her own terms and in her own home. Part Quadroon and part Cajun, she has never lost her Southern Louisiana roots. Now, her overextended generosity toward others has left her with diminishing savings. Scrambled thoughts, unpaid bills, and a house in disarray form the backdrop of Tidy’s existence. When Ivan—her devoted live-in companion and cook—assaults a real estate agent who visits her, he is sentenced to jail on a felony charge. A widowed social worker, a banker, and a financial planner all come to her aid, but none can replace the special relationship between Tidy and Ivan. ... (read more)

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In the Queen's Service

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Reversible Mask: An Elizabethan Spy Novel
by Loretta Goldberg
MadeGlobal Publishing


"As a doctrinally conservative Catholic serving a Protestant queen, Latham had almost concluded that he could not reconcile his religious faith with fidelity to the State."

Sir Edward Latham is a conflicted man. A Catholic knighted by both Protestant Queen Elizabeth I and the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots, he strides both worlds as spy and counterspy with the disdain of the conflicted. Never quite fitting into the role of knight for either sovereign, and finding himself having to hide his true religious bent when in the service of Elizabeth, perhaps it is inevitable that he becomes a spy for both factions. As his story unfolds, readers are taken on a marvelous journey of intrigue throughout a fascinating historical period. ... (read more)

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All Things Dark & Spooky

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Wistful Tale of Gods, Men & Monsters
by David Ruggerio
Black Rose Writing


"He could sense that there was someone or worse, something, evil, seemingly crouching in the recesses of the cellar. It fed on his fear."

The sleepy town of Brunswick, New York, has its share of characters and history that give the town its identity. Unlike most small towns, however, the identity of Brunswick seems to be colored in unspeakable evil. From the abandoned funeral parlor and mansion suspected to be involved in corpse mutilation and unholy sacrifice to a string of cold cases involving murdered and mutilated young girls that the town seems oddly unconcerned with, Brunswick’s past is checkered, to say the least. With a new sheriff in from Philadelphia, some overeager ghost hunters from New Jersey, a local boy enamored by all things dark and spooky, and a rare “All Hallow’s Tide” blood moon all intersecting, the distinction between local legend and supernatural truth is called into question. If there truly is evil in this town, the community must face its past before it can move on. ... (read more)

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Blackfield Terror

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Schizoid: A psycho-medical thriller of heart-stopping mystery and suspense
by Johan Fundin
Asioni Press


"If Blackfield is the city of dark secrets, it may be your fault to some degree."

University women are being murdered in Blackfield. Their bodies are left out in the open, and each victim’s left eye is replaced by an emerald. Kenneth Sorin, a scientist turned writer, has helped the Blackfield police before in solving serious crimes. When his uncle reaches out asking for his help again, he is hesitant, but soon intrigued in piecing the patterns together. Sorin starts his own investigation and soon begins to find overlap between the serial killer’s victims and his own manuscript as clues come in from ghosts of his past. Is he losing his grip on reality, or is he the killer? ... (read more)

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Two-Line Rhymes

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Sue’s Sunrise Surprise
by Susan Stanley Broesche
Mascot Books


"But what else does she see? What could it be?"

A little girl named Sue wakes one morning to a beautiful sunrise. As she peeps out the windows of her home, she sees the familiar horses she loves: Nellie, Trigger, and Poke-a-dot. The horses roam the field as usual, but there’s something new that morning, something hiding behind the hay bale. Sue knows the horses are not afraid, so she is not afraid, and thus begins a little guessing game. Soon her parents join her, playing along in the fun, and here Broesche cleverly engages the reader with a lighthearted mystery to keep the pages turning. Finally, the “wonderful surprise in the glorious sunrise” is revealed, and Sue is able to appreciate the gifts of life. ... (read more)

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Challenges & Kindness

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Hoopstar
by Chavon D. White
AuthorHouse


"Being a good basketball player is good, but having good grades is just as important."

Brylane is a talented basketball player, and even though she is only 12 years old, she has the skills that will take her all the way to becoming a professional. When a college recruiter reminds her that not only basketball talents matter but also good grades and a positive attitude on and off the court, Brylane is a little worried. Brylane was diagnosed with dyslexia a few years earlier, which makes schoolwork more challenging. However, with the support of her family and special classes, she is able to succeed at her goals. ... (read more)

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Wonder & Magic

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Inner Sanctuary: Lifetime Musings of a Poet
by Robert E. Shaffer
iUniverse


"The mountains live in my memory, their majesty and grandeur are the essence of all that is real and wonderful."

Vietnam veteran Shaffer says he has always been a poet, though it took many years to find his “true voice.” Disillusioned with the war, and through a subsequent career working with young people, the author put pen to paper, and that gave birth to an expression of deep poetic thoughts, captured in this nearly 270-page collection. Shaffer’s tome is divided into six major sections which explore in rich detail his innermost thoughts, feelings, and experiences vis-à-vis his “Sanctuary,” “Memoriam” of loved ones passed, his “Family,” the “Youthfulness of Youth,” “Seasons,” and, finally, his experiences of “War.” ... (read more)

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Ranch Life Reimagined

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Ranch Bordering the Salty River
by Stephen Page
Finishing Line Press


"I was a soldier, a janitor, a mobster.
now I administrate. I was
a cowboy, a deputy, a sheriff. Now
I judge."

A surreal glimpse into the inner workings of ranch life sheds light on the simplicity and beauty of oneness with nature. In this fusion of poetry and narrative, Page does a commendable job of juxtaposing the daily hustle of ranch life with the opportunity to pause and enjoy the moment. The imagery of Jonathan and his wife sipping mate, a caffeine-rich drink, as the much-needed rain patters down is a refreshing reminder to appreciate time and simply observe nature at work. Throughout the book, chaos and harmony work in tandem to create a mood that is simultaneously whimsical and idyllic. ... (read more)

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Culture & Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Talk Till the Minutes Run Out: An Immigrant’s Tale at 7-Eleven
by Benedicte Grima
HigherLife


"Nur Ali momentarily closed his eyes on the brightness of the store . . . He reached with the fragile tendrils of memory to conjure up, at the very least, the smell of fried dough and freshly brewed tea."

Informed by the author’s decades of study and fieldwork in the Middle East, this powerful novel explores one Pakistani family’s efforts to navigate the post-9/11 world of violence, cultural displacement, and exile. The main character, proud middle-aged patriarch Nur Ali, immigrated to the United States from northern Pakistan’s Swat Valley when the area turned into a warzone, making earning a living impossible. Ali found a community of expatriates and a job working the night shift at 7-Eleven. Enduring 15 years of exile, Ali worked to support not only his immediate family but also an extended network of relations, his only connection to them coming through constant telephone calls and dreams of returning. The chapters alternate between describing his family back in Pakistan—their marriages, births, and deaths—and descriptions of his grim, unchanging existence behind the counter. ... (read more)

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Dreams

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Morpheus Speaks: The Encyclopedia of Dream Interpreting
by R.J. Cole, MS, LEP
iUniverse


"Be careful as you walk through the hidden forests of your dreams. They compose the unprotected essence of who and what you are. They are messengers of your soul and your deeper self."

An expansive volume on dreams, this book truly is an encyclopedia with its depth of study and the extensive dream image dictionary. In over 550 pages, the book’s three sections are divided into the longest section—the “Encyclopedia of Images,” a section on archetypes (which also includes some images), and a chapter on nightmares. The introduction provides basic information to begin the reading with the alphabetized dream images following. These images are not given as fact but written in a way to aid the reader in examining what the images might mean to that person. For some of the dream images, there is an expanded definition, and the dream word is oftentimes added to through the author's use of “Insight.” The chapter on archetypes focuses on the work of Jung, and the section on nightmares offers his examination of some of his own and others’ fearful dreams, followed by his ideas on how to cope with them. ... (read more)

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Another Perspective

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

From Behind: A Peculiar Perspective of People and Places
by David Jerome
Smack Books


"Smart Aleck Comments . . . I didn't know that 'Wear Your bedspread to the flea market' was a real thing."

This book is a photo documentary with a unique perspective: pictures of people in a multitude of circumstances and places and all taken from behind—showing heads, backs, clothes, hats, and rears—from spots in the US such as Memphis, Venice Beach, and Houston to global locales like London, England, and Interlaken, Switzerland, plus many more. The backs of heads and bodies are as intriguing as faces in other types of photographs. Jerome's photos are frequently even more so as we see the backs of people’s heads looking at artwork and walking around flea markets with mottos sown or pasted on clothes and drawn or tattooed on skin. The people are as varied as their backdrops in regard to their ages, races, genders, and moods. They are literally studies from the back. ... (read more)

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A Modern Poet

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Imaginings: 21st Century Poet
by Cameron Mcnaughton
AuthorHouse UK


"Now I think what comes next
Is dancing on the spot, sleeping in, watching films and eating a lot"

An impressive and vast collection of poems covering a large range of work both in subject matter and style, McNaughton’s poetry compilation delves into many areas of life, love, and friendship, showcasing the young poet’s craft through various peoples’ “feelings, images, and ideas” (or, as he puts it, “imaginings”). In these roughly 360 pages, readers can find poetic pieces on waking from a powerful dream, the desire to cuddle, happy-go-lucky love notes, and celebrating the frosting as the “best bit” of a cake. Featured as well is the young poet’s love for his mum and the “fabulousness” of an ordinary Wednesday. Other poems touch on best friendship and how “love can blind us” or descriptive nature poetry such as “Meadow Sleep.” And some poems play with the sound of language, such as “Phone Call” which explores the use of alliteration: “Appalled at my actions / Attending an annual aimless article for absolutely abhorrent / apes.” ... (read more)

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The Virus

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Living Like "This"
by John Clark III
iUniverse


"'Hey dad... About your arm...' 'Okay, Autumn. I don’t know what made you think about that again.... But please, will you forget about it?'"

A mysterious virus poses a massive threat to the prolonged existence of humanity. In short order, a vaccine is developed, but one of the unexpected side effects of that vaccine is the appearance of superhuman abilities in those who receive it. Enmanuel and Autumn Summers are two teenagers who have received the vaccine and now have the ability to manipulate gravity and molecular structure respectively. Together with their friends Lynnwood, Hitomi, and some unexpected allies, they must learn to control their new powers and save the helpless from criminals, terrorists, and shadow organizations looking to consolidate the strength of these new superpowered individuals for their own gain. ... (read more)

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Another Dimension

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Different Time, A Different Earth
by Angelo Thomas Crapanzano
Westwood Books Publishing LLC


"'I can’t imagine though that I could end up as an astronaut.'"

Seeking a career change, engineer and widower Tom Cortel signs up for training at NASA and is recruited to be an astronaut. Along with his lady love, Diana Berry, and two others, Tom is assigned to a flight to Jupiter, which is scheduled to return the crew in fourteen months. Soon into the flight, however, the ship carrying them crash lands. Tom and Diana survive the crash. The other two, who are in the front of the ship, are killed. Since there is no radio communication with Earth, all of the crew are believed to have died, and Tom and Diana learn how to sustain themselves in their new environment. Their situation is made somewhat easier and more enjoyable by elements of science fiction. They have food, drink, oxygen, and the ability to leave the ship and meet other characters. ... (read more)

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Revealed

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Carthy Family Secret Book 2 of 4: In Ireland
by K. M. M.
iUniverse


"'The Isles of Light are now our charge, our post, our responsibility to keep safe. It is our promise.'"

Caitlin Mary, Marypat, and Blaze have made the trip from Jamaica to Ireland in order to return her crystals back to where they belong. But with potential villains lurking that would steal the Green Isles for nefarious uses, the trio of tourists must be discreet. Upon discovering the headquarters of M.O.M., Caitlin meets James the Book Smith, who is responsible for keeping the family’s history and secrets. Through a series of visions, James relays to Caitlin the story of Oiloll Olum, a tragic king and his rise and fall from power. Following that come the tales of Lady Mary, a spoiled noble girl whose destiny lies in squalor and hard work, and Drew, a Carthy family member with a mission, a doomed romance, and the magical blessing of reincarnation. Each of these stories, as well as the fourth and final one, illustrates the heavy burden of the Carthy family’s calling. ... (read more)

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Destiny

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cristofo Wizard of Earth
by Dino Pietrobon
Xlibris


"I am Altarius the Prime, holder of the unique position of lead wizard for the animus realm of existence. Now what does that mean exactly, you might ask?"

Cristofo is a young man who becomes Altarius's charge because Cristofo has a destiny of which he does not become aware until he is on the threshold of his teen years. He is to be a wizard. Becoming a wizard involves many rewards and trials. Some of the rewards are his living as a prince with many material privileges, his relationship with Princess Myrina (to whom his betrothal is planned), and two friendly dragons who provide unusual transportation for the young couple. Of course, there is a complex history behind Cristofo's destiny. He and Altarius—an individual who can become comically verbose at times as he tries to relate many tales, characters, blessings, curses, and their necessities to the reader as well as to his young charge—face danger, betrayal, and nearly all of the flip side of Cristofo's erstwhile easy life. Cristofo must face all of the challenges, as have multitudes of other heroes and human beings before him, in order to be trained and ready for his new role. ... (read more)

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New Prose for Young Adults

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Imagination
by Natania Patterson
Westwood Books Publishing LLC


"Tomorrow will come
The dreamers will be doers
For they are filled
Filled with motivation"

In this inspiring collection of poetry, Patterson explores timeless topics of heartbreak and hope with deeply felt insights and intuitive convictions about life. With strong imagery and perceptive observations, this collection considers a wide range of topics and themes. From simple pleasures to soul-searching introspection, Patterson revels in the spectrum of experiences found in life. Poems about school, holidays, weddings, picnics, and the news describe events from everyday life. Poems about the importance of dreams, imagination, and religion mine the deeper places of the human experience. Patterson moves easily from lighthearted expressions to serious content, shifting tones easily and embracing the full gamut of her life’s journey. ... (read more)

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Let God Help

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Parenting: It Isn’t Hard If You Keep Your Eyes on the Mentor, God, Our Heavenly Father
by Elizabeth Len Wai
Covenant Books, Inc.


"It is important that parents be good prayer warriors on behalf of the children and when seeking help with them."

An experienced parent offers inspirational advice on childrearing in this sincere, gently amusing, Christian-themed manual. When parents make poor choices, family breakdown will be the result; but by setting one’s sights high and taking biblical teaching into consideration, author Len Wai believes that we can and will become caregivers to “a new generation of God’s children.” Most people begin to consider their role as parents after they have conceived, or are planning to conceive, their first child. The role of parent and protector of our offspring will ideally reward us with the protection and care we receive from our children as we age. The generations can share with one another, giving and receiving energy and vision. ... (read more)

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New Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Kittens Under My Kitchen Sink
by Ivan Reynolds
URLink Print and Media


"Little Red is one of our favorite visitors."

Not only is a children's book about kittens healthy and adorable, it subtly teaches empathy. Even for readers who aren't cat lovers, this book is sweet and tender, and any child with a heart will be warmed by it. The author organizes the book chronologically with an accompanying photographic essay detailing how they feed stray cats and earn the cats' trust. Eventually, one feels so comfortable she decides it is safe to move in and give birth to her three wonderful kittens in the warm house. "As soon as the kittens’ eyes opened they began to explore." This one sentence tells us that the house is to become "game on" for the curious trio, but "sometimes [even] Mommy just needs a break from the rambunctious kittens." ... (read more)

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Identity

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Dreaming: A Fairy Tale Inspired by the Story of Sumi Jo
by Josephine deBois
Page Publishing, Inc.


"Let’s believe in the unbelievable."

Traffic cop Samuel and his partner Huang are working near Lincoln Center in New York City when they are startled by the sounds of a woman in distress. Sumi Jo, the famous South Korean coloratura soprano, is in the process of being abducted from the street when the two officers come to her rescue. Samuel is instantly taken with Sumi Jo and accompanies her to the hospital, where he stays with her as forensics take samples—a routine procedure in such cases. Samuel senses something magical in Sumi Jo who, because of being traumatized from the attempted kidnapping, leans on Samuel to feel safe. It is the beginning of a connection between the two that will traverse the restrictions of time and place, leading to philosophical questions concerning reality and identity. ... (read more)

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Life Stories

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Walks Tall the Moon: Learning Mindfulness
by Robert Bollendorf
URLink Print & Media, LLC


"Notice how you are breathing or how parts of your body feel. Do that with acceptance and without judgment."

Bollendorf teaches about mindfulness using the fictional story of Tall Moon. Tall Moon is a daydreamer, and he always has had great difficulty paying attention. This often gets him into trouble with elders and his teachers. When he goes on a vision quest, he knows it will be difficult. His Uncle Deep Waters gives him some advice to ground himself and practice mindfulness before he leaves. When Tall Moon is on his own, he finds himself not only alone but also hungry. He remembers his uncle’s advice and tries to put it into practice. After a while, he is able to practice mindfulness with great results. He focuses himself in the present and uses exercises to harmonize with his internal state. The book ends by including some guidance on how to enact mindfulness in the reader’s own life. ... (read more)

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A is for...

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My Animal Alphabet Book: And a Note to Parents Who Want Their Children to Succeed
by Delores Henriques
Xlibris


"E is for Elephant. Elephants are one of the largest animals on our planet. Their very large ears keep them cool. A baby elephant is a calf."

Don’t let the title fool you. This book is much more than an animal alphabet book. As is typical for ABC books, there is an animal assigned to each letter. Each page has a few letters, written in both capital case and lowercase, accompanied by an illustration of the representative animal. But there are also so many fun facts about the animals and their habitats to go along with it that are listed under each letter. ... (read more)

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Young Fantasy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Amazing Adventures of Scarlett: Scarlett the Hero of Henwood Grove
by Poppa
Xlibris


"Climb on my branch, and I will lift you over to the worsops."

Most fantasy books with a developed plot are written for children a bit older. The Harry Potter novels comprise the obvious and classic example of our time. But this book is a perfect read for younger fantasy enthusiasts. Scarlett, the brave heroine of this chapter book for young readers, may be the future hero for all 2nd graders. She is young, strong, brave, and tenacious. In addition, this wholesome young protagonist has perfected coping skills as she retreats by herself for some alone time, walking in the flower garden. She also has excellent guidance from her parents and others, as when she is instructed on leadership skills and encouraged by Ogantort: "...above all you must give them hope." The plot includes numerous fanciful new creatures like the rainbow chickens, but, in short, the story's focus is on Scarlett and her parents as the ones who help in the quest to defend Henwood against the wolfbriar and gangletreens. ... (read more)

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An Old Love

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Novel Romances
by Angelo Thomas Crapanzano
Westwood Books Publications


"'It doesn’t matter,' said Paulo. 'Love is like the flu. You can catch it any time.'"

Tom Correlli is a widower who encounters a mystery in his twilight years when photos appear in a fan magazine of him with actress Debra Lee, a woman he admired but had never met. Dan Bevelo, an English teacher and bestselling author, visits an old friend in a hospital and discovers that an accident victim in a nearby room is Lorrie Lane, one of his favorite actresses. When architect Ben Bartelli, a widower, makes a charity donation and wins a resort vacation, he meets history teacher Janet Levinsen, a widow whose husband died about the same time as his wife. Gino Carino’s heart is stolen by many pretty girls throughout his childhood and young adulthood. He even proposes marriage to a girl who breaks their engagement and his heart during his college years. But life gives him a special gift when he rediscovers Annie Banio, the beautiful long-haired girl he met in Sicily when he was twelve years old. Andrew Brown and Christina Corelli begin their relationship on their Hawaiian holidays as friends because of her engagement and discover a true love they never expected to find. ... (read more)

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A New Passion

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Proud to Be Me Rosalinda
by Jesse Moreno
Stratton Press


"Her adrenaline flowed through her body, just waiting for the fight to start. Nothing was going to stop her from fighting the top contender."

Rosalinda Escobar is a young woman leaving Texas by bus and heading out to Los Angeles to start an adventure and a new chapter of her life. Arriving with no money and only the friend she made on the bus ride there, Rosalinda scrapes by working odd jobs and living in a studio apartment. Eventually, she lands a comfortable job as a waitress in a cafe until a patron trips her intentionally. The two women begin to fight, and Rosalinda ends up defeating the customer, who happens to be a champion boxer. Though she is fired, Rosalinda discovers a new passion in boxing, a mission that drives her to push herself harder than she ever imagined. With her trainer Simon and her boyfriend Rob, she climbs her way up the boxing ranks, overcoming tremendous obstacles on the path to the top. ... (read more)

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Big Egos

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Lone Star Lady
by Linda Kennedy
LitFire Publishing


"That was what Trey had seen. That was why he was afraid of her. That was how she survived."

Morganna McKinney lives with a bounty on her head, one which her stepfather has placed there in order to ensure her death and his subsequent inheritance of her wealth. However, it isn’t as easy to collect as those who wish to cash in assume. Morganna is a formidable woman with a deadly coping mechanism: she becomes an almost animalistic, instinctive killer when confronted with danger. Her notorious reputation grows as the bodies of those in search of her begin to pile up, and her control over her alter ego becomes more tumultuous. At times she feels she is destined to live up to the tribal name given to her, Running Knife, fearing she may always live on the run. Yet, she is determined to claim what is hers from her unscrupulous stepfather; once freed from the tribe, she sets out to do just that. ... (read more)

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Revolutionary Medicine

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Intra-Operative Monitoring: A Comprehensive Approach
by Donald Farrell, M.D.
Xlibris


"It is important to realize that evoked potentials are not real-time events, but are processed data."

The world of intra-operative monitoring is a relatively recent innovation in the world of medicine. This occurs when END/IOM technologists and neurophysiology doctors work together in harmony to help surgeons, essentially monitoring a patient’s nerve integrity during surgery. This has been revolutionary in the care of patients and has been booming in popularity in hospitals across the nation. In this comprehensive how-to book, readers are able to get a better understanding of the various methods in which a technologist can monitor a patient, as well as the rationale and science behind why these methods are so effective. ... (read more)

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Fighting On

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Abraham Lincoln's Last Photograph
by Christian Bunyan
Xlibris


"Abraham Lincoln said 'History is not history unless it is the truth.’"

Williamson is a keen amateur photographer and outdoorswoman. This small book contains snapshots of some of her most precious memories. She is equally comfortable in the saddle, on a beauty pageant stage, on the bench of a Steinway piano, or on a quest to discover the authenticity of an alleged post-mortem photograph of Abraham Lincoln. There is no official documentation of such a photograph’s existence, and many claim that it does not exist at all. But Williamson, unstoppable in her search for the truth, will not give up. She is equally unapologetic about her fundamentalist Christian beliefs and driven by the words of Christ: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” The pursuit becomes more personal when John, Williamson's World War II veteran grandfather, suffers an incapacitating stroke. The old crusader for truth cannot fight on, so Williamson must do it for him. ... (read more)

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Reborn

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Other Loves All Flee: One Family’s Journey from Legalism to Grace
by Leona Koehn Nichols
Westwood Books Publishing


"We wore no scarlet letter, yet we felt as conspicuous as though we carried a highly egregious mark of some kind visible upon us."

The author made a highly significant decision just over forty years ago. Born into one of the strictest, most tight-knit Christian sects in the United States, she and her husband rejected its rules and rigors in favor of a more open-minded, open-hearted approach to God. Both were raised well and happily in the branch of “plain people” known as Holdeman Mennonites. Mennonites generally are known and respected for various degrees of simplicity in their approach to Christianity. But in 1859, John Holdeman—an evangelical conservative Mennonite—perceived that even with their strictness, Mennonites of his time were drifting from the truth, becoming too liberal. He founded an even more restrictive, rule-based sect. Despite the many limitations, Nichols’ recollections of her Holdeman childhood seem idyllic. Her husband was the son of a Holdeman Mennonite preacher. Both families had migrated over time from the central part of the US to Southern California, where the couple met and were married. ... (read more)

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True Treasure

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Andean Cross: A Novel
by Lawrence Clayton
Westwood Books Publishing LLC


". . . the essence of a secret, the magic of its nature is in the revelation."

Treasures and secrets buried in the deep living seas sets in motion Clayton’s high-stakes, conspiracy thriller. When Dr. Matthew Western happens upon a riddle involving precious cargo from a centuries-old ship, he seeks help from a Professor Valdez (“the Friar”) at the Archives of the Indies in Seville, Spain. What intrigues Matthew and Professor Valdez is a thorough report of the wrecked ship called the Nuestra Señora de los Milagros, lost at sea in 1544. There are connections directly to Spain and King Charles I, and what Matthew is most curious about is a section of the report written in code, further shrouding the ship’s contents in secrecy. ... (read more)

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Pursuit of Justice

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Dead Eye
by Katherine Coss
iUniverse


"Kate thought to herself that murder was a new detour for them, even at their most depraved."

A body with a dead eye opens Coss’s multipart, high-speed murder mystery surrounding the fatal circumstances of a singular night. Amid “the heat of South Florida,” a host of less-than-innocent characters converge in this twisty tale. ... (read more)

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Adapt to Change

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Connected Through Love Verbunde Dür D`Liebi
by Mirjam Stampfli
Xlibris AU


"He fell in love with the endless ocean and the bright sky."

It is said that the only people who prefer changes are babies. As such, there are hundreds if not thousands of books and seminars in the marketplace focused on how to adapt to the changes in one’s life. However, Stampfli’s offering is unique in that it is both a bilingual book as well as one that is geared towards children. ... (read more)

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Stress-Born Talent

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Dracus
by Titus Andrew M. Bonifacio
Xlibris


"Dracus’s eyes turned red. He raised both hands and stretched his legs. The scales on the entire dragon head opened up and spread slowly . . ."

In many ways, young Dracus is just like any other teenage boy at his school. He likes girls, palling around with his friends, dressing cool, and going to the local ice-cream parlor. But he is different in one very special and big way. It comes out when he is in stressful situations and met with danger: he slowly transforms into a dragon-like creature. At one point in this whimsical, children’s superhero fantasy, he even puts out a terrible fire at his school with his special powers, shooting water like a fire-hose through his dragon head. Naturally, the other kids are drawn to him, especially Zubelle, the prettiest girl in school. And this newfound popularity is welcomed heartily by Dracus, as his home life is lacking. He is poor and barely scrapes by at home without his parents, who we come to learn, have been cursed in Cat World. Though absent from his life, his beloved mom and dad are actually always by his side in the form of Hanchu and Blik, his loyal pets. ... (read more)

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Human Trouble

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Crystal Palace III: The Fairy War
by Michele Hauser
Westwood Books Publishing LLC


"The insects were coming, no doubt about it. Everyone was nervous, but all were in their places. They had been trained; they were ready."

Karina, Katie, and Nicole are eager to return to Fairyland but have not been summoned the way they were previously. Eager to find a way to see their friends again, they begin to look for ways to make contact until they meet an elf who agrees to pass along the message. Transported once more to Fairyland, the trio of girls find a peaceful scene as their introduction of the Magna Carta to the minuscule magical realm led to equal opportunities for virtually all of the creatures living there. However, not all is well: The Sorcerer and the Captain of the Guard are plotting against the human girls who have become the king’s new trusted guides. Worse still, the insects that populate the kingdom are plotting an uprising to get revenge on both the fairy folk and the human world. ... (read more)

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Cross Spirits

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tai Divination Workbook: "Uniting Tarot, Astrology, & I Ching in One New-Age Exploration"
by Erik Thorell
AuthorHouse UK


"As we have three layers, TAI fuses three forms of divination into one. TAI enables the Divine within us to guide us, and brings understanding and wisdom to help us when we need it."

This workbook combines the esoteric teachings of the tarot, astrology, and the I Ching into a creative exploration of the relationship between the three and offers guidance on each of these teachings as well as what the author calls the TAI, his combination of these teachings. The acronym TAI stands for “Tools Assisted Intuition.” The book takes us through the various cards and their meanings, a memory technique to aid in the work, the astrological houses, the five planetary aspects and symbols, and how to interpret these together as a TAI reading. Also, throughout the work, he offers his own teachings and poetry. He gives advice about some specific ways to do readings for clients regarding what he’s found to be valuable. At the end of the book, he has copied magazine articles that describe him, his work, and these teachings. ... (read more)

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Dark Memories

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Jackeroo
by Grahame Moore
Xlibris AU


"Tim was being sucked underwater, he held his breath as his life depended on it, till he could no longer fight it."

A mysterious young man is waiting for a ride out in the middle of the Australian wilderness. A traveling group of sheep shearers passes by purely by chance and offers the man some tough but honest work. Quickly, the mysterious man introduces himself as Tim and proves himself not only a capable worker but a reliable ally and skilled foreman. The on-site cook of the job, a woman named Molly with a checkered past, takes notice of Tim and quickly finds herself attracted to him. Together, they explore each other’s dark memories and learn to open up to a mutually supportive relationship that carries them through the good and low times in life. ... (read more)

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PTSD Healing

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Time for Healing: Dysfunctional Families: How They Mismanage to Get That Way, and What We Can Do to Break the Cycle of Abuse
by David E. Morgan, PhD
AuthorHouse


"Our family is to be loved, cherished, valued, and protected. But it should never be abused, devalued, falsely accused, left unsafe, and disrespected."

As society's ideologies continue to grow and change, so does the dynamic of the typical family. Morgan argues that only a tiny portion of the population comes from a nurturing home, and most people are products of a dysfunctional upbringing. With these shifts, everything comes back to communication. Morgan argues, "As parents, what we can learn from being in charge is that the best leaders are not bossy, controlling, and dogmatic." Being wise and giving constructive feedback rather than corporal punishment will deter later post-traumatic stress. ... (read more)

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LA Vampire

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Amazon's Dracula
by Richard Stoker
Stratton Press Publishing


"On the gold curtain rod of the emerald window drapes, something appeared to be hanging upside down . . ."

In a tale about literature’s most infamous vampire, the novelist envisions the life of Count Dracula in the modern era. He and his three former brides—Plazmette, Piranhya, and Carnivora—run a dentistry clinic in Los Angeles. It is the perfect arrangement for the four to collect blood from their unsuspecting patients: the parade of homeless, down on their luck, and downtrodden found in the streets of Los Angeles. It is at the all-night dentist clinic that the crux of Dracula’s plan begins to take shape as he and his “nurses” collect and store diseased blood from their patients. Now known as Doctor Drake, the count is startled when protagonist Robyn Maria de Alvarez comes into the clinic one night for treatment, and he recognizes her as Mina/Elizabeth, the love of his life. But what will happen when the clinic catches the attention of the local police? ... (read more)

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A Long Friendship

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

If I Die Before I Wake: A Caregiver’s Journey
by Eli Shaw
Westwood Books Publishing LLC


"I want to emphasize that no matter how troubled you are or difficult your caregiving experience is if you look for support you can find it. The key is that you have to be ready to receive it."

In this poignant book, Shaw regales readers with his life as a caregiver, among other things, and experiences “working with the disabled, kids with cancer, TBI (traumatic brain injury) and mental health, AIDS and Diabetes” in both official and unofficial capacities. Beginning sometime in 1992 at the height of the AIDS crisis, Shaw admittedly writes and edits the book over a period of years, the book changing just as much as his journey changes. The primary thread piecing the book together is Shaw’s relationship with his long-time friend and roommate, Mark. During the years that Mark succumbs to HIV infection and eventually to “the lurking demon” of AIDS, Shaw becomes both best friend and caregiver to Mark. With this comes a fluidity to their complex relationship, filling it with anger, pain, healing, love, and the indisputable bonds of friendship. ... (read more)

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A Trilogy Revisited

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Complete Game Master Trilogy
by Timothy R. Bartlett
Westwood Books Publishing LLC


"'Now I’m beginning to see a clearer picture. All I need now are a couple of more pieces before this puzzle is completely finished!'"

Noah Oscar Body displayed a penchant for solving puzzles, riddles, and games from a very young age. His inquisitive intellect and cunning strategy led to his acquiring the nickname of The Game Master or GM for short. While his brains make him something of an outsider for his rapid development and different interests, he maintains a close inner circle of family, friends, actors, and associates that he can trust. This collected trilogy of novels follows Noah from his early days to the formation of his family, centered around three thrilling adventures that take place in succession. Each of them requires Noah to use his lateral thinking and love for cracking codes to protect himself and get a leg up on the people who either want his riches or pose a threat to his continued existence. ... (read more)

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Chronicles

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Reasoning—Born-Again Christian to Atheist
by Terry Grant
iUniverse


"I have found myself in mental conflict with many, or most, of the tenets of religious belief."

Author Grant chronicles the path that led him from religious acceptance and faith to rejection of all philosophies that include a deity. As a child, religion, though not strongly emphasized, did inculcate him with certain moral, societal values that have stayed with him. A highly active child, Grant was fortunate to be directed first to sports and then specifically to acrobatics and dancing to use his energies. In college, he studied the sciences and evolution, leading to questions about creationist doctrines espoused by many religions. He sincerely examined the Bible and for a time became a born-again Christian. He married a Catholic, and he and his wife taught in majority Mexican schools in California with a particular emphasis on children with special needs. That also raised questions: why would a loving God send such affliction on innocents? Now in retirement, he has concluded that there is no intellectual or scientific proof for most standard religious teaching. ... (read more)

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Success Strategy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Champion Game Plan for Life
by Preston Brown
AuthorHouse


"When we partner with God, and stay inside of his good and perfect will, things have a way of working out for our good."

Champion football star Preston Brown includes over fifty devotionals in his book, but there is no mushy, flowery stuff in here. Like the linebacker he is, Brown instructs his young adult reader and team member with guidelines about what it takes to play the game of life when living as a Christian. As a success in his field, he stands with his readers, knowing the value of daily reminders to practice, keep in shape, and stay positive. ... (read more)

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Privilege

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Moon's Black Gold
by R. H. Peake
Toplink Publishing, LLC


"People and things are a combination of scars and beauty."

Author Peake moves beyond the stereotypes of moonshine and poverty in the hills and hollows of Appalachia to present a more complex tapestry of human strengths and flaws in this hybridization of a suspenseful murder mystery and a Southern gothic novel. Protagonist Everett A. “Moon” Lunamin returns from his tour of duty in Vietnam to his hometown of Winding Fork, Virginia, determined to make a name for himself during the coal boom of the late 1960s, “a time when enterprising young mountain men could now make their fortunes in this region more noted for its human poverty than its mineral wealth.” ... (read more)

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A Door of Hope

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The First Conversation
by Allen Holliman
Xlibris


"People need to understand that God only wants the best for us and that if we go astray, there will be consequences."

Growing up in Omaha without a father, Diligent is often faced with sadness or difficulties that he chooses to blame on the absence of a paternal influence. Despite a challenging situation, Diligent does his best to stay on the straight and narrow but is faced with temptations to make poor choices like skipping school, smoking marijuana, and hanging with the wrong crowds. Just as he finds a spot on his cousin’s drill team and begins to find some direction, Diligent makes his most misguided choice yet and robs a bank with his friend Torrey. This lapse in judgment lands Diligent in jail for five to ten years but also provides him with a chance to get some answers about his life that he has searched for as long as he can remember. ... (read more)

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