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The US Review of Books connects authors with professional book reviewers and places their book reviews in front of <![CDATA[<![CDATA[]]]]>]]>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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Recent Book Reviews

 

Focus Review
Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Surrounded by Others and Yet So Alone: A Lawyer’s Case Stories of Love, Loneliness, and Litigation
by J. W. Freiberg
Philia Books

book review by Kat Kennedy

“Loneliness, I realized, is the sensation of inadequate connections to others, just as hunger is the sensation of inadequate nourishment and thirst is the sensation of inadequate hydration.”

Consisting of five stories taken from the author’s work as a lawyer, this book offers a study in the causes of subjective chronic loneliness in those whose connections with other people “fail to provide the security, nurturing, and soothing care that others enjoy from their healthy connective networks.” In looking over his many years of case studies, the author narrows down the types of misconnections experienced by the chronically lonely into five categories: “Tenuous Connections,” in which the connections between clients are uncertain or unreliable; “One-Way Connections”—for example, unrequited love; “Fraudulent Connections,” wherein one’s relationship is based on deception and manipulation; “Obstructed Connections,” where one is prevented from being emotionally available; and “Dangerous Connections,” in which the relationship can cause devastating emotional and physical harm. For each of these misconnections, Freiberg includes a case study from one of his past clients to illustrate how people who are in relationships with others may still suffer loneliness because of the failure of their relationships to offer healthy connections. … (read more)

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Read the US Review of Books Previous Edition

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Featured Book Reviews

 

Devastating Events

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Yanks Behind the Lines: How the Commission for Relief in Belgium Saved Millions from Starvation During World War I
by Jeffrey B. Miller
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

book review by Joel Samberg

“Today, whenever there are civilians anywhere in the world in harm’s way—from a natural disaster to an armed conflict—the nearly universal response has been: ‘America will help.’ That was not the case before World War I.”

During the First World War, a group led by American citizens, known as the Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB), saved millions of Belgian and French citizens from starvation when Germany occupied their homelands. CRB, which was not an official government agency, which became the largest food relief program up to that time in history. Despite that distinction, few people know about it now. That’s precisely why this is such a valuable and formidable addition to World War I scholarship. The veteran author has been studying history for almost half a century. When he inherited a compendium of papers from his grandfather, who was a member of the Commission, he knew he had to chronicle the CRB story. This book is the result—a project that began when the author first heard the tales as a teenager and concluded with a decade of expert research and persuasive writing … (read more)

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Beautiful & Vivid

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Debts and Vengeance: Third Volume in the Good Neighbors Series
by Janet M. Dann
DannWorks

book review by Tracy Kelly

“Both had been known to kill with little provocation and now both were feeling very provoked.”

This third novel in the saga of the Dacia, Wagner, and Epstein families depicts the power of family and community against incredible odds. The Wagner and Dacia families have survived a violent turf war brought into their community by Mafia-supported bootlegging. The victory of these rural families against the criminals has sparked the musical career of August Wagner, “The Fighting Cowboy,” who mocks the Mafia members who invaded his town. But Primo Moretti and Zeke Volakis, crime bosses implicated in those events, pine for vengeance. Uniting their efforts to achieve revenge, they launch retaliatory attacks against the families that include kidnapping. When these efforts fail due largely to the efforts of the savvy Dacia women, Moretti solicits the help of Chicago boss Signore de Luca. Will the plots of the Mafia bosses succeed, or will the targeted families somehow manage to escape the mobsters’ machinations again? … (read more)

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Evocative Prose

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Woven Flag
by Margaret Fourt Goka
BookVenture Publishing LLC

book review by Michael Radon

“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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Our Evolving Brain

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Story of Homo Loquens: How We Have Changed into Another Species
by Dan M. Mrejeru
Global Summit House

book review by Heather Brooks

““…language was one of the fundamental tools that shaped our ‘world of order’ by suppressing the elements that appeared to contain ‘disorder.’”

Humans are born with the potential to learn languages. This ability does not leave us as we age. Retention of such a juvenile characteristic as the need or desire to communicate is called neoteny. Through language, we have achieved such goals as effective agriculture and the establishment of complex societies by means of our ability to name their components, such as tools or laws. Human communication is the most outwardly apparent sign of humanity’s potential for creativity and innovation. Such creativity also manifests itself in the production of music and other art forms. Ultimately, a perpetually inquisitive human brain is likely to remain healthier—that is, more adaptable to new ideas—than that of someone who deliberately or otherwise stops learning. … (read more)

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Religion & Humanity

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Flight of the Veil
by Bruce J. Berger
Black Rose Writing

book review by Dylan Ward

“He would be reminded about his own experiences in the war, the blood, the dead bodies, the violence that he’d tried for so long to forget.”

New York City psychiatrist and widower Nicky Covo is a haunted man. His storied past from World War II as a Holocaust survivor is riddled with anguish and remorse. In 1944, a fourteen-year-old Nicky served with the andartes against German forces, unwittingly participating in bloodshed no youth should ever know and thrust into a horrific war he barely escaped. Now in 1990, Nicky lives in Brooklyn, NY, and mourns the loss of his wife, Adel. Everyday life for Nicky is dealing with his patients’ complex situations while he attempts to mend his own family’s private drama. The formative events of his youth are buried, a nightmare he longs to forget. … (read more)

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Stay or Go?

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

End Your Relationsh*t with Compassion, Self-Respect, and Logic: A Memoir and Practical Guide to Help You End a Sh*tty Relationship
by D.L. Dempsey
Writers Republic

book review by Mihir Shah

“I HAD to stay in the moment and not imagine any “what if” situations because they just weren’t realistic and… would sure ruin the mood.”

Dempsey never feels out of her element as a debut author, consistently showcasing her veteran savvy as she conveys a critical message to the masses. She presents an organized, coherent, and forceful argument toward ending a relationship rather than being caught in a perennial—and miserable—cycle of guilt, shame, pity, and chiefly, regret. Though she is not a therapist, her focus on women’s trauma lends credence and validity to the content she puts forward in her work. While her efforts focus on “abusive or unfulfilling” marital relationships, it is clear that her guide is applicable to all relationships and is predicated upon loving oneself before anything or anyone. … (read more)

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Powerful Imagery

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Let’s Go Walking in the Storm: A Collection of Poetry and Reflections for Soul and Spirit
by Gloria D. Gonsalves
AuthorHouse

book review by Jonah Meyer

“A prayer is a poem and that is my truth.”

This collection of poems explores several issues, including human suffering, ecological devastation, violence and war, immigration, the Covid-19 pandemic, racism, discrimination, and other topics in which, as Gonsalves writes, “soul and spirit face a storm together.” Throughout, the author undertakes a journey to “seek understanding and acceptance in all the chaos.” Many pieces are written as religious prayers. Other realms are equally explored, including celebrating nature, children, personal obstacles, death, the power of words, global peace, the celebration of trees and forests, and the poet’s determination to raise her child as a lover of nature. “In the forest I let him touch and feel the trees as he points them out,” writes Gonsalves. “One particular tree has become his ritual: he squeals with excitement when it’s in our sight.” … (read more)

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The Plan

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

No Birds Sing Here
by Daniel V. Meier, Jr.
BQB Publishing

book review by Kate Robinson

“People don’t want poetry or literature. They want celebrities, half-crazy celebrities.”

Mix a dram of Hunter Thompson, a dash of Kerouac, a pinch of Tom Wolfe, a sprinkle of Palahniuk, a dab of Salinger, and a heaping spoonful of Scott Fitzgerald. Shake liberally, and what emerges is an urban literary concoction that rises to the level of the best road trip stories ever told. At turns ribald and violent, at others tender and thoughtful, this tale starts mildly enough when Beckman, a disenchanted dishwasher with literary aspirations, flees his dead-end job and his writer’s block to hit the road with Malany, a remarkable poet he encounters at a used book store. He concocts his theatrical plan after they jump out of his dive apartment window and head through the Southeast in her rickety Oldsmobile. … (read more)

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Science Meets Art

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Unfettered Journey
by Gary F. Bengier
Chiliagon Press

book review by Kat Kennedy

“Let the truth of the argument win rather than blindly accept any authority.”

The world in 2161 has survived the Climate Wars, and humans are now totally dependent upon technology. A strict social order has been imposed on humanity—a sort of caste system known as the Leveling Act—which makes it illegal for those of different groups to intermingle. Joe Denkensmith is a theoretical mathematician who has grown disillusioned in attempting to create AI consciousness. Joe, having decided to take a break from his regular job, disconnects from his Personal Intelligent Digital Assistant (PIDA) and leaves the city to spend a year teaching at a small college. He hopes to gain perspective as he contemplates philosophical questions that have arisen during his work with AI. … (read more)

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Surprising Debut

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Fishing for Something
by Andrew Scott Bassett
Luminare Press

book review by Donna Ford

“Catching a break in life is like catching a fish, part skill, part perseverance, part dumb luck… lot like fishing when you really think about it.”

Raymond Barrett is the father of two sons named after movie stars: John Wayne and Audie Murphy. That and his love for fishing speak volumes about the type of person he is. The boys haven’t seen their father since he left their mom when they were in their early teens. As the eldest son, John has taken on responsibilities in the household. Meanwhile, Audie has always been more free-wheeling. Now their father is dead, and his lawyer has informed them that they have to take a fishing trip across America and notify old friends about his passing to collect their hefty inheritances. At each stop on the list, they must go fishing as a kind of memorial service of times past. … (read more)

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Mom-Shine

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mommy, Tell Me, Why Did You Come Here?
by Silvia Juarez-Marazzo
LitFire Publishing

book review by Jonah Meyer

“Mommy, did you come here because you heard that even the stars could be grabbed with your hands?”

In this endearing children’s picture book dedicated to “all immigrant mothers of the world,” a young child seeks to learn through a series of questions why his Mommy came to America. The story is told in both English and Spanish and accompanied by cheerful, loving, and childlike artwork. The young boy has an ongoing conversation with Mommy about the various reasons that she chose before his birth to immigrate to the United States. Was it because the child could have a good education and learn English? Did it have something to do with the quality of doctors available? Everyone else in the mother’s town back home wanted to come, and, of course, she would not consider staying behind. Here in America, the family could obtain a “warm little house with a yard to run around in,” writes author Juarez-Marazzo. Here, the family is free, and there is protection by law enforcement. Here, as well, mommies and daddies can do the same types of jobs. … (read more)

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Broken Dreams

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Keepers of Golden Dreams
by Theresa Philips Sirawsky
Authors Press

book review by Mihir Shah

“‘We will have to wait until the baby is old enough to travel before we can all go to America.'”

With the passage of time, generations of families often get lost throughout history, their trials and tribulations forgotten. Sirawsky’s memoir immortalizes the life journey of her mother, Helen Golias Filip, and grandmother Anna Golias Paulik. Passing stories from generation to generation not only keeps the memory of the individuals alive, but it also acts as the glue that holds the entire lineage united. Sirawsky’s chronicling of her mother’s family is primarily derived from Helen’s own stories of life in Dravce, a small Slovakian village. Comprehensive in nature, the memoir captures many elements of nineteenth-century culture and communication with a fluid simplicity that allows the audience to fit right into the customs of that time. … (read more)

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Breathing in Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

When Snow Walks In
by Christine Candland
iUniverse

book review by Mari Carlson

“Just sitting there.
Looking forward to a murky pancake
and syrup that stares back from a small
stainless pitcher –
when Snow walks in.”

Like the title poem in this short and elegant collection, the other pieces also describe the extraordinary amidst everyday scenes and in understandable prose and sparkling details. Simple things like utensils, road signs, trinkets at a thrift sale, and foods convey the feelings surrounding memories. Compassion and empathy are immediate responses to such straightforward expressions of emotion. Like Snow, the tantalizing newcomer to the scene in the title poem, the poems invite the reader into an elevated experience of humanity through captured impressions. … (read more)

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Fast-Paced Fusion

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Memories Live Here
by Marc Sheinbaum

book review by Yousra Medhkour

“Josh had met many political leaders in his years at the Defense Department and he knew Andre was right. Fewer and fewer had any sense of history.”

In this fast-paced fusion of soft science fiction and family drama, Sheinbaum explores the lives of three estranged brothers who are forced together after their mother’s death. Josh Brodsky is a workaholic at a prestigious Silicon Valley company that seeks to bring the dead back to life through artificial intelligence (AI). Meanwhile, his two brothers, Louie and Donny, both have their own problems. The former is a gambling addict, and the latter is an entrepreneur that continues to fail whenever he tries to start a business. … (read more)

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A Case Study

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Balance Concept in Health and Nursing: A Universal Approach to Care and Survival
by Daisy Magalit Rodriguez
Daisy Rodriguez Books

book review by Barbara Bamberger Scott

“As I delved deeper into the subject, I found more evidences that indeed, balance supports survival.”

Nurse and educator Rodriguez has developed a rational system for understanding human health and the nursing processes required for it, centered on the concept of balance. In Part One of this in-depth treatise, she asserts that balance is necessary for survival, encompassing how we perceive ourselves and steps we are willing to take to deal with crucial issues. The five essential elements of balance are adaptation, equilibrium, homeostasis, health, and needs. Adaptation is the ability to accept and incorporate change. Equilibrium, both psychological and physical, affects our ability to stay on track no matter the circumstances. Homeostasis is our internal, physical, regulatory system. Health is a condition of well-being as defined and experienced by each individual. Finally, needs are qualities that range from basic survival to self-actualization. Rodriguez has devised a method she calls Balance-Health Nursing Model (BHNM), detailed in Part Two, demonstrating how nursing procedures will be enhanced when all these factors are considered. … (read more)

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Philosophical Depth

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Satan’s Gold
by Michael Ray Ewing
Grand Canyon Press

book review by Kat Kennedy

“‘How far up does this go, Director? Who else is involved?'”

In this cybercrime thriller, ex-FBI agent Tyler Jackson discovers that his nemesis, a computer hacker known as Daemon, is involved in a major hack of banking systems. Jackson has been pursuing Daemon since the hacker almost killed him the last time he tracked him down, intent on arresting him. Now, Jackson finds himself risking his relationship with his fiancée, Suzanne, as she implores him to let the pursuit of Daemon fall to the FBI. But Jackson can’t let his vendetta against Daemon go. As the extent of the cyber hack becomes evident, Jackson realizes that he has more problems than Daemon as he is also being pursued by an assassin, which puts everyone he loves in danger. With the help of a small team, he follows leads that take him to a small island in the South Caribbean Sea. … (read more)

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Clever & Unorthodox

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Curve of the Dragon – Episode 1 of 4: Chasing Shadows
by Matt Stokes
Time Egg Studios

book review by Kate Robinson

“This is the first step in what will probably be a giant chain of dangerous, potentially fatal decisions.”

The tension and action intensify in leaps and bounds as Will Taylor, a freelancing techy in Washington, D.C., with clients across the spectrum of legal and illegal, is amassing cash to search for his missing sister, a Navy Seal turned spy (unbeknownst to him). With a little luck, he stumbles onto her best friend, Carter Callahan, a hard-nosed agent gone rogue with the intent of snatching Laura back from Fractal, a clandestine paramilitary organization already on the radar of the CIA and across the pond at MI6. Taylor is relieved to know that his sister is alive, but there is a hitch to the rescue. The unlikely partners must join Fractal to pull off their plan, a daring feat since they’re already under surveillance by Fractal operatives. … (read more)

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Rapid-Fire Prose

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

My Book of Revelations: Stories that burst the bubble of believability
by Gerry Burke
iUniverse

book review by Kate Robinson

“Who represents the typical American psyche more than Homer Simpson?”

Fans of the twisted and quirky will embrace this compendium of tales that range from fan fiction to fractured fairy tales to alternate history, then emerge at the end with undampened enthusiasm for the brilliance that almost masquerades at times as kitsch. With an impressive collection of published novels, short stories, and essays to his credit, Australian humorist Burke has practiced his craft thoroughly before penning this award-winning volume. In addition to the fantasies, magical realism, and the downright weird noir, Burke also presents numerous parodies of popular literary and film characters as well as real-life celebrities. Even the story subtitles, much like the intertitles of silent movies, will leave readers in stitches. … (read more)

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Mental Struggles

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

An Undiscovered Country
by M.A. Cumiskey
AuthorsPress

book review by Yousra Medhkour

“Privately she concluded that yet another section of her near past felt like a failure. She had allowed her imagination to distort the truth and that made her fearful all over again.”

In this work of historical fiction about Ireland during the mid-to-late 1900s, Cumiskey manages to write with an articulate voice that has the air of a classic. This novel follows the life of Lorna and her family. Although initially narrated from the point of view of her father—with a few sections following her brothers, Patrick and Peter—the story centers around Lorna’s life throughout the years of her childhood and adulthood. Simultaneously, tensions rise between the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the British in Northern Ireland as the IRA seeks to end British rule. Ireland’s history is mostly within the news excerpts and Lorna’s diary entries at the beginning of each chapter. However, it still leaks into the storyline, both explicitly and implicitly, as Lorna’s life begins to mirror the chaos of a nation bloodied by war and casualties. … (read more)

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Charming Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Cheri & Me: Snippets of a Relationship
by William B. Caudle II
Authors Press

book review by Barbara Bamberger Scott

“If we can survive the years of adjustment to other personalities, we have a chance of being loved, and love in return.”

Author Caudle shares his perspective in the often-perplexing realm of responsibility, respect, and romance known as marriage. Having experienced a difficult divorce, Caudle, a devout Mormon then residing in rural Tennessee, went looking for a possible new partner in 1998. What ensued was a months’ long email exchange with Cheri, who suddenly wrote, “I love you.” Bill wanted it to be true, so the two began communicating by phone and arranged to meet. After several false starts, he drove to Cheri’s home in Utah. Shortly thereafter, the two married. … (read more)

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Hard Truths

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Last Chance
by Kelly W. Carpenter

book review by Robert Buccellato

“They tore into the Human and Toli forces in a rage…”

In the realm of literature, science fiction is perhaps the hardest genre to execute effectively. When a work in this challenging category is done well, it sparks with carefully constructed originality. This novel manages to tackle this difficult assignment with flying colors. In Carpenter’s tale, an ancient colony ship from Earth makes its way to the nearest port of call in order to make repairs. The action starts right off the bat, and it becomes clear that the human race is on its last legs. Their instinct is to settle a sparsely populated mystery planet. Dubbed “Last Chance” by the colonists, the tiny world represents humanity’s last great hope. As with every form of colonization, even fictional ones, complications don’t take long to rear their ugly heads. A long-lasting war and continued settling of other planets force the characters to face hard truths. … (read more)

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Engaging Plots

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

book review by Mihir Shah

“I wondered who we were, what for. War took his kinfolk off to die. But who were mine, and who was I?”

In Greek mythology, the legendary Trojan War is universally recognized for the carnage it caused and the notion that it stemmed from ego-fueled ambitions of attaining Helen, anointed as the most beautiful woman in the world. With this tale as inspiration, Fritsch peels back the curtain even more and spins a complex web of secrets and revelations that keep the audience engaged throughout. … (read more)

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True Harmony

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Paradoxical Return of the Feminine: Journeys to Raise Awareness and Create Peace
by Jeannette M. Gagan, PhD
Rio Chama Publications

book review by Jonah Meyer

“Exercising one’s own feminine energy is contagious: being honest and forthright about one’s psychological and spiritual states provides impetus to others to choose their own healing path.”

Though in her eighties—and proud of it—author Gagan insists that it is never too late to “emotionally and spiritually mature.” Her insightful book is a testament to that truth. The notion of feminine energy, which serves as foundational in this treatment on well-being and peaceful awareness, primarily concerns the following five attributes: grounding oneself, social relatedness, nurturing of self and others, creativity, and self-knowledge. Importantly, both males and females are capable of possessing the energy of femininity. While such characteristics may present themselves more naturally in women, posits Gagan, men are just as capable of embracing these qualities. In fact, all of society benefits from a balancing of both feminine and masculine energies from both sexes. … (read more)

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The Battle

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Sugar Creek
by William B. Caudle
Your Online Publicist

book review by Mark Heisey

“He urged his men onward. His pistol was drawn and held above his head, but he had yet to fire it.”

Jem Thorsby is a captain in the Confederate Army. Wounded outside Jonesborough, Georgia, he is pulled from the battle by an old friend, Sergeant Levy. Levy is a free black man from Florida fighting for the Confederacy after Union troops killed his family. Once recuperated from his wounds, Jem, with Levy at his side, is given command of a small company of men and charged with helping the Confederates push against the Union forces around Tennessee during the last years of the Civil War. Levy is a valuable asset, helping Jem prepare his ill-equipped men for battle. However, being a freed black man in the South, Levy often runs up against racism. Undaunted, Levy continues by Jem’s side. As an ordained elder in the Mormon church, Levy often prays for Jem and talks to him about his faith, as well. Battle, injuries, and prejudice will test these men’s unwavering love for and loyalty to each other. … (read more)

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Stop the Hurt

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Are You a Bullyrag?: Naughty or Nice
by Katheline Tate
AuthorHouse

book review by Michael Radon

“For every freckle, there is a kind thought in my head, a soft spot in my heart, and a kind word for you, too.”

Bullying takes form in every shape and size and is not a phenomenon unique to school children, though its youngest victims often struggle to understand the things that cause it. In this book, the author helps readers understand that the things that may make them a target for bullying are actually a unique feature to be celebrated and proud of. Through contrasting viewpoints, the reader can see that the grass may not necessarily be greener and that someone who doesn’t share the qualities they get bullied for might still be bullied for different things. Each page is paired with a photograph or picture that highlights the beauty to be found in the features that separate us, creating a celebration of individuality that will warm the hearts of any reader whether they have weathered bullying or not. … (read more)

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International Workforce

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

From America to a New Africa
by Jamal Abraham
Xlibris US

book review by Kate Robinson

“The illusion that a European or American white organization is going to put an African country to booming glory is absurd at best.”

Jamal Abraham, an electrical and manufacturing engineer, examines “the statehood status of Black Americans in post-Obama America.” The detailed narrative offers a theoretical strategy for upgrading underdeveloped African countries with industrial projects headed by Black Americans in exchange for land. He suggests that Egypt, Tanzania, Morocco, Ivory Coast, and Angola are suitable nations, “selected after being scrutinized on the merits of geography, natural resources, civil war status, type of government, political motivations and ideology on education.” … (read more)

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A Level of Trust

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Seeing What Is: The Education Challenges for Teachers and Their Students
by Jacqueline Cox Taylor
Xlibris

book review by Mihir Shah

“Children learn at different stages of their development, in different ways and also differently to their peers and other children.”

Twenty-first-century education has arguably been shaped with learning as an afterthought. Taylor’s text probes deep into how and when children learn best, trumping themes of common core that believe all students learn in the same style. Using Steiner’s pedagogy that focuses on three particular phases—birth to seven, seven to fourteen, and fourteen to twenty-one—the author sparks imminent and pivotal conversations, highlighted by obesity stemming from children’s’ extreme overdependence on technology. The litany of outdoor activities that had become a trademark of previous generations has evolved now into “choosing virtual reality over nature.” … (read more)

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Social Anxieties

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Beautiful Blonde Library Angel
by Phillip Parcheminer
Xlibris US

book review by Heather Brooks

“…nobody really wants to live a life completely isolated and alone, myself included.”

Parcheminer is obsessed with beautiful women. This obsession is the most readily apparent manifestation of the social anxiety that governs every aspect of the author’s life. From an early age, he is bullied, most notably for his French-accented English and his sensitivity. His peers’ ridicule, and their false belief that he is gay, leave him with the anxiety to which he most frequently applies the adjective “debilitating.” To cope, he spends as much time as possible in a world of his own creation, a world where he develops passions for female celebrities, music, truck driving, and, ultimately, writing, as inspired by a beautiful young blonde librarian to whom he only musters the courage to speak once in more than two years. That inspiration resulted in this memoir. … (read more)

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Admirable Viewpoint

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Making of Mr Irresistible
by Larry J Gould
AuthorHouse UK

book review by Toby Berry

“That money was for you to have, not for you to spend!”

From rags to riches via sweat equity describes the author’s journey in a nutshell. This memoir walks readers through Gould’s own manmade miracle called success. The author describes his dirt poor existence, living in public housing and selling his comics to get a sixpence ice cream cone like the other kids had rather than the fourpence cone he could normally afford. He explains the character-building misfortunes, the mistakes he makes along the way, the fears, insecurities, and gumption it takes to be an entrepreneurial success story. He writes about his work ethic that develops and the success that ensues. … (read more)

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A Rich Sampling

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Mosaic of My Life (Black & White Version)
by Hosain Mosavat
Xlibris

book review by Donna Ford

“I am the collection of all who have loved me and taught me, fed me, sang to me, listened to my songs…”

Mosavat was born in Iran during the 1930s. The first revolution against the Shah occurred two years before he graduated from high school in Tehran. In 1955 his father sent him to finish schooling in America, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in mathematics and physics at the University of Michigan. Mosavat made it his goal to pursue with excellence the things that interested him. His eclectic list of hobbies highlighted in this book includes photography, poetry, music, woodturning, welding, and cooking. He built his own camera before attending photography classes with Ansel Adams and other teachers of high caliber. He then constructed and formulated his own developing station/solution. … (read more)

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Big Questions

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Full Circle
by Steven Bieler
AuthorHouse UK

book review by Michael Radon

“You know what happened last time and how much it still hurts. It is best to stay alone and focus on your work.”

Dr. Dana Jones is a brilliant scientist who has created a device that opens “windows,” which in theory will allow her to look at what happened in a location across all of time. Onboard a spaceship full of other scientists and military personnel, she is given an opportunity to test her device to determine why humanity left its home planet millennia ago. When they power on the device and take readings of a red planet, the project is deemed a success. However, a mysterious power surge occurs shortly thereafter, and a crew member vanishes into thin air. The only hypothesis is far-fetched, but all the data points to time travel. Can a clandestine group of scientists replicate the conditions under a veil of secrecy and recover a rogue AI and the missing crewman? … (read more)

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Back Among the Living

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Immortal Soul: An Explanation of My Near-Death Experience through Science, Religion, and Art
by Carolyn H. Pells
iUniverse

book review by Mihir Shah

“True morality is great wisdom. It comes to us at a cost and at a time when we are able to comprehend its value.”

Near-death Experiences (NDE) have been age-old and ongoing phenomena. In Pells’s work, readers are exposed to the fruits of a half-century of painstaking effort and research from a trio of angles: philosophical, spiritual, and material. Experiencing complications during childbirth in 1968, the author describes an initial feeling of paralysis, a stopping of time that evolved into a floating sense of peace and the familiar white light at the end of the tunnel. Where this text differs from similar literature is in its ability to balance the author’s experience with impeccably researched and thoroughly analyzed examples that, at the very least, will impel individuals to reconsider their stance on topics like telepathy and reincarnation. … (read more)

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Charming Tale

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Nighttime Fantasy
by Suzanne M. Shields
AuthorHouse

book review by Carol Anderson, D.Min., ACSW, LMSW

“When I lay me down to sleep, monsters in my room do creep. Some are large and some are small, on the ceiling, on my wall.”

This colorful story, both in the tale itself and the delightful artwork, examines the fears children often have, especially when alone in bed. Beginning with a short, rhyming poem, the book then explains the story with the illustrations for each line of the poem. The child in the book has terrors that are only eased by his mother, who is there to soothe him whenever he needs such succor. A very quick read, this book provides a teaching story of the love of a child from a beloved parent. By sharing the scary pictures of the monsters, it also teaches that these monsters really don’t live in the child’s bedroom but only in their imagination and fear, a fear that is overcome by feelings of safety. … (read more)

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Love & Friendship

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Minky the Bibble
by Laurie Calford
iUniverse

book review by Carol Anderson, D.Min., ACSW, LMSW

“The Bibble woke up
at the first sign of light,
welcoming the sun after his
bumpy night flight.”

The story begins with a cute rhyme about Minky, who is bumped off a truck and finds himself alone. This situation is unusual for a Bibble, as Bibbles are pack animals. He is enjoying the new scenery, but he’s already homesick. The book then switches to talk about Jack, a young boy who loves to fish. When he goes to his favorite fishing spot, he finds the Bibble. He gives him a fish and later takes him home and hides him. But the Bibble is discovered by Jack’s sister’s cat, who becomes angry, especially after the Bibble lets out a noxious smell. Jack tells his sister about Minky, and they vow to keep him a secret. They dress him in different outfits, which Minky doesn’t enjoy, but he loves the companionship. Minky and Jack decide to be best friends forever. But in the end, just what is that popcorn smell? … (read more)

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Common Ground

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Merry Christmas, Bobby the Bear!
by Ryan O’Connor
Xlibris

book review by Kat Keennedy

“Bobby was known as the best gift giver of all the animal friends.”

In this delightful Christmas story, readers discover that Bobby the Bear enjoys Christmas more than any other time of year. His favorite tradition is his annual party for all his forest friends. After decorating his cave for their yearly soiree, he heads to the forest to gather supplies for his friends’ special presents. Bobby meets Danny the Dear, who has recently moved to Bobby’s forest, and invites him to his Christmas party. When Bobby returns to his cave, he constructs ornaments for each of his friends, including his new friend, Danny. Using his friends’ initials, Bobby makes ornaments from twigs. Everyone is excited to meet Danny, but when they discover he doesn’t celebrate Christmas by exchanging gifts, they are shocked and don’t believe they can befriend one so different. Bobby the Bear and his friends soon learn a valuable lesson about how to embrace differences in others. … (read more)

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Honesty & Loyalty

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Bobby the Bear! and His Missing Dinner
by Ryan O’Connor
Xlibris

book review by Carolyn Davis

“The sun was now behind the mountains. The moon and stars were out. And the five friends were happy.”

Bobby the Bear wakes from his afternoon nap, stretches, and begins his walk to the lake to catch his dinner. Along the way, he meets his friend Mark the Owl, who is hunting for food for his family. Resuming his walk to the lake, Bobby finds some tulips that he wants to take back to decorate his cave. In the meadow, he meets his friends Joe and Phyllis Butterfly, known to everyone as Mr. and Mrs. Butterfly. Bobby asks them to join him on his sojourn, but they are cleaning their home and can’t go. … (read more)

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Can-Do

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Little Ant Who Was Told You Can’t
by Timothy Ward
AuthorHouse

book review by Carolyn Davis

“‘Well,’ Jay muttered under his breath, ‘We will see. Hopefully, I will be accepted by the other ants.'”

On his birthday, Jay the Ant is told by his parents that it’s time for him to join the colony’s work brigade. The next day, he is woken up at 5:00 a.m. to begin his career as a provider. To show individuality, as well as to rebel a little against group conformity, Jay wears his clean basketball jersey to work. A small group of his friends chastises him, saying that the jersey is inappropriate attire for the type of work that they do. Jay defends his sartorial choices. Tony, Denis, and Davis, as well as Mr. Deac—the patriarch of the colony—show Jay exactly what is expected of him. Throughout an arduous day of unanticipated chores, Jay learns that, indeed, his clothes go through a lot of punishment in the tracking and climbing to obtain food. He also discovers why his friends knew that he was inappropriately dressed. … (read more)

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Voice in Safety

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Words from God: Rising Out of the Ashes
by LaJuana Craft Ryckeley
Writers Republic

book review by Barbara Bamberger Scott

“I have journaled through my poetry—my life.”

Poet Ryckeley has survived many challenges and here shares her experiences and feelings in the medium she carried from childhood, learned through hymns and the songs of Stephen Foster. This is a wide-ranging collection featuring hundreds of works arrayed in twelve parts, beginning with the section “Christian Poems and Studies.” The opening call to “Seize the Day’ prepares readers for the lively and thoughtful journey to come… (read more)

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Positive Parenting

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Baby and The Seed: A Primer on Good Parenting, A Book for the Entire Family
by Leland “Bud” Beamer, MD
Xlibris

book review by Nicole Yurcaba

“Connecting face-to-face and eyes-to-eyes is critical in a nurturing relationship.”

Some of the most important and significant components of human behavior and development are formed within the first two years of life. This unique poetry collection uses the metaphor that raising a baby during its most developmentally important years is like nurturing a seed of wheat. Each poem in this collection portrays a scenario that communicates one message: for positive development to occur, parents must reduce toxic stress, which severely and negatively impacts development in the womb and during childhood’s early years. Like the wheat seed, which needs the perfect conditions to grow, infants and children need loving and supportive parents and environments. By showcasing the importance of reading, music, playing, sharing chores, and caring, these poems act as small reminders that so often the simplest acts become not only the most memorable but also the most important. … (read more)

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Politics to Personal

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Enlightened Continuum: 249 Topics Illuminated by a Trio of Lanturnes
by Donald Alan Straub III
Xlibris

book review by Nicole Yurcaba

“All things are possible when we embrace change.”

From insights about honor and responsibility to grassroots movements and political figures, this collection delivers slices of time, places, and everyday life that most people dare to overlook or never consider. What some may deem as mundanity becomes fruit for introspective picking in poems like “Crisis Management.” Historical moments like 9/11 become quiet landmarks in “Fifth Anniversary of 9/11,” and President Barack Obama’s election marks a thumbs-up for America in “Barack Hussein Obama II Elected President.” Even animals like the rhinoceros and the Komodo dragon take center stage in Zen-like verses that uplift nature above all else and remind readers that respect for one is respect for all, including wildlife. … (read more)

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Good Men

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Town Called Sometimes
by Robert Fischer
iUniverse

book review by Joe Kilgore

“The two killers had traveled a great distance now. They had left a trail of dead behind them, killing and stealing as they moved south to old Mexico.”

In this volume that can be consumed in one reading, the author has managed to pack a buckboard full of violence, revenge, and retribution into a tale of the Southwest frontier during the mid-1800s. Writer Fischer pulls no punches as he traces the lives and misadventures of two unsavory characters seemingly destined for the viciousness that follows in their wake. … (read more)

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Real Magic

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Freelancers: The Black Shield and The Red Fortune
by M.A. Frost
Partridge Publishing

book review by Nicole Yurcaba

“The sword was plain, silver coloured, with spiky edges. It had a gem inlaid on the blade close to its handle. He swung the sword once and summoned a burst of dusty wind.”

Azalar and Ferend, two freelancing mercenaries, find themselves entrusted by King Rowd to train the soldiers of Selenor against an encroaching evil. As they navigate the impending war knocking on Selenor’s boundaries, an ancient evil reemerges. The two find themselves relying not only on their esteemed training but also on the unlikely friendships they make with Maiya, Princess of Selenor, and her maidservant, Lenne. When an ancient, magical sword falls into the wrong hands and unleashes a hellish magic from the past, Azalar and Ferend risk life and limb to protect Selenor and its inhabitants. As they witness the deaths of those they’ve come to defend and face narrow escapes from harrowingly adventurous situations, the two mercenaries transform from being the hunters to being the prey. … (read more)

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Making a Difference

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Exodus of Chaos
by Steven Kent Olson
Xlibris

book review by Joe Kilgore

“Porter was in awe of this woman—her honesty and logic, and above all else, her bravery.”

This novel reminds readers that as the Civil War raged in the mid-1860s, it wasn’t the only life-changing event affecting people across the United States. While Northern and Southern troops were annihilating each other in historic battles, native Americans were systematically uprooted, moved, and often eliminated as America’s colonial expansion moved inexorably westward. Author Olson chronicles the latter tragedy in an intimate story of courage, defiance, and perseverance. … (read more)

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Scriptual Fact

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Good News According to Jesus
by Donald Blosser
Matchstick Literary

book review by Barbara Bamberger Scott

“The Good News of Jesus is that God’s New Age has come to us in this life.”

Author and pastor Blosser examines Christian scripture to offer a fresh, credible viewpoint of the underlying purpose of the mission of Jesus of Nazareth. Looking at the earliest beginnings of Jesus’s ministry, Blosser notes that while John the Baptist proclaimed that a “New Age” was coming, Jesus said that it had arrived. Throughout his life, Jesus acted and taught in such a way as to implant this idea strongly in the minds and hearts of his followers. This important factor, Blosser asserts, stands in contrast to what many Christians have been taught. … (read more)

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Not Being Scared

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Mental Health Awareness: Black & Brown Pain
by Laquita D. Wright
Xlibris

book review by Donna Ford

“…one in five Americans has a mental illness, but African Americans are the least likely to seek treatment and have a long history of being misdiagnosed.”

Based on her own experience and work with minority communities, Wright believes that centuries of slavery trauma (PTSS) has recorded itself in black people’s DNA. This has, in turn, produced in them post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She uses her insight and research to explain why such statements as “Racism is a mental illness” are unhelpful. Rather, facts show that racial stigma can result in compromised immune systems and that mental issues are linked to poverty and fear of racial violence. … (read more)

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Activist and Educator

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Link-Up 2 Lift-Up: Sorting Through Our Culture Kingdom for Our Future Generations
by Doreszell Cohen
Xlibris

book review by Barbara Bamberger Scott

“In this 21st Century, Africans have humbly begun to unite cognitively, physically, mentally, spiritually, and economically for our future generations.”

Author Cohen begins her narrative with a bitter, lengthy divorce. Through this, she discovered and exercised her legal rights while seeing that the American ethos of “we the people” did not generally apply to a poor female of African descent. Being a resolute individual, she realized the need for a new “American experiment” and founded the Link-Up 2 Lift-Up to connect people with critical ideas and services. One linkage involved her meeting with a man who was reaching out to senior citizens in the mainly Africentric neighborhood where she worked. Together they began setting up lively gatherings to apprise seniors of their rights. In support of Barack Obama’s bid for the presidency, Cohen placed voter registration assistance in a local bar and grill, to the gratitude of many patrons. Some of them were unaware of their right to vote and were walked through the process by Cohen and her team. … (read more)

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Eternal Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Three Witches and The Three-Headed Dagger – Book One
by Henry Regnault

book review by Robert Buccellato

“We have another one of those weird dagger murders. What did you call it—The Eyes of Coals?”

Cadence has lived a long life when the story begins. Despite being tired of living, he remains a magnet to women as he frequently pushes his impulses to the edge. He owns an antique shop that his deceased brother’s daughter runs. His close friend and employee are captivated by Cadence’s inability to die. Both are constant companions in the protagonist’s life, yet he often treats them like budding youths, blind to the nightmares that lurk in the shadows. … (read more)

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Spanning Decades & Culture

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Clouds Over Mountains
by Matt Joseph
AuthorHouse

book review by Kate Robinson

“Mine is a simple act by a simple man who had joy in his life and suffered pain.”

This ambitious debut thriller poignantly portrays the lives of Japanese and Americans affected at great personal cost by the military attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The skillfully interwoven character narratives begin nearly sixty years later with an FBI interrogation of a United States Navy officer who discovers a body on the USS Arizona Memorial’s landing dock. Each subsequent chapter cleverly reveals a bit more information about this mysterious, elderly man until it is clear he was one of a handful of surviving Japanese naval pilots. Yatsuo Saito lives a quiet life, unmarried and childless, until his many secrets and personal tragedies propel him to his premature death in 1998. … (read more)

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History Comes to Life

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Settlement, Growth and Movement of the Czechs and Their Institutions in Cleveland, Ohio
by Stephen J. Sebesta
Xlibris

book review by Nicole Yurcaba

“Any review of the history of the Czechs in Cleveland requires an understanding of Czech political, religious, and cultural history as well as knowledge about the key historical events that influenced the Czech migrations to America and to Cleveland, Ohio.”

The history and culture of the Czech people in general and those in the Cleveland, Ohio, area especially are on full display in this book. Part historical narrative, part travelogue, this book invites readers into the Cleveland Czech settlements of Brooklyn and Kubu, Croton, Arch, and Burwell, and Na Vrsku. Readers are also invited into historical churches like St. Mary’s-on-the-Flats and the halls of cultural organizations like Slovanska Lipa (Slavic Linden). Highlights about the varying importance of music and performance to the Czechs in the Cleveland area also engage readers and take them on a musical journey through the history of various singing groups and drama societies. Before readers depart from this vibrant and fascinating culture, however, they encounter an overview of Czech history before and after World War I. They witness the heroic actions of the Cleveland Czechoslovak Legionnaires—a patriotic group dedicated to the preservation of an independent Czechoslovakia. … (read more)

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Ocean Voices

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Suntree Bay
by Amy Wort
Xlibris

book review by Michelle Jacobs

“We need to dig deeper. This story has more holes than Swiss cheese.”

A family mystery haunts Annabelle Delighkan, whose great grandparents, Eden and Henry, disappeared aboard a luxury ocean liner on their eightieth wedding anniversary. When Annabelle finds her great grandmother’s journal, the past is awakened, and Annabelle is able to bear witness to the great family tragedy and recover the truth of that fateful night. This time-traveling gem of a ghost story relies on the plucky curiosity of Annabelle and her determination to follow the trail through time, ghosts, and sheer willpower. … (read more)

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Straighten-Up for Success

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Professional Posture Program: Work-Friendly Yoga Exercises to Improve Posture, Health, and Confidence
by Walid Hafez, MD, Zachary Hafez, MD, and Amina Hafez
Xlibris

book review by David Hennessee

“In today’s technological society, you must fight for good posture every day.”

A comic meme appeared several years ago, purporting to show in images the evolution of humans from hunched-over and carrying spears to walking upright and then back to slumped over electronic devices. While the Information Age has brought numerous benefits to humankind, it has not been good for our posture. The problem of poor posture and solutions to it are illustrated in this slim, attractive manual. The authors include two medical doctors with experience in neurology, rehabilitation, and emergency medicine, while the third is a certified yoga instructor. Early chapters delineate the various ways that working on computers and looking at smart devices for long periods of time can harm posture, leading to rounding of the shoulders, stress on the spine, and tightening of the hips and other muscle groups. Later chapters include detailed descriptions and photographic illustrations of yoga poses and stretches that will correct and prevent poor posture. … (read more)

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Empowerment

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

How to Help Yourself to Be Who You Want to Be: A Simple Guide for Those Who Are Ready to Take Charge and Redirect Their Lives
by Pam Grewall
iUniverse

book review by Michelle Jacobs

“There are new beginnings everywhere, no matter how great the loss.”

On the journey of self-discovery and renewal, the right words at the right time can be like a guiding light that helps lead the way to deeper wisdom and meaningful growth. Grewall’s book seeks to shine that light through revelatory essays, fables, stories, and quotes. This practical and inspiring book emphasizes the power individuals have to change their lives and set a course for self-improvement. Wisdom abounds in many forms throughout the guide, and Grewall incorporates thought exercises and bulleted reminders at the end of each essay. She also provides morals in a bite-size sentence at the end of each fable. The essays and fables combine to tackle a range of relevant topics that will help readers begin to transform their lives through careful reflection and inspired action. … (read more)

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Whole View

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Around the World in 113 Days: A Slice of History from the Past
by James Cameron
Stratton Press Publishing

book review by Barbara Bamberger Scott

“The sea has been calm today with no waves, only undulations rolling slowly across an endless expanse of water.”

In 2008, author Cameron and his wife Connie decided to see the world on a lengthy cruise. Embarking from Florida, they passed through the Panama Canal, visited exotic Pacific islands, New Zealand, and Australia. They then traveled onward to Asia—the Philippines, China, and India. The Middle East included stops in Oman and Egypt, followed by Mediterranean landmarks: Venice, Gibraltar, Lisbon, and Madeira. Cameron’s travelogue was greatly enhanced, he notes, by the expertise provided by their many native guides. Observational passages are varied and fascinating: the once-untamed city of Singapore has become orderly and clean; New Zealanders are exceptionally eco-conscious; the tiny sultanate of Brunei contains “the largest residential palace in the world” with a watery village where half its population inhabits “matchboxes in deep stages of disrepair.” The couple found the communist city of Hong Kong surprisingly welcoming, were charmed by “the mystic city of Sintra,” and advise travelers to Egypt to prepare for “searing heat and tremendous crowds.” … (read mo re)

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Enlightenment & Peace

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Poems on Social Issues
by Paula Tan
Partridge Publishing

book review by Michael Radon

“What do you wish to speak
Speak now, you autistic child,
And your voice can be heard a million galaxies away.”

Reading the headlines every day can make one feel as if the world is balancing on the tip of a knife, constantly changing and evolving with new issues and crises that seem to crop up faster than anyone can keep up. In this small volume of poetry on the topical issues of the day, the author offers a lyrical, thoughtful perspective on things affecting people worldwide. Whether it is coping with the stress of capitalism, keeping the family unit together, the marginalization of mental illnesses, or the unique challenges faced by Christians in the modern era, each of these poems tackles a certain concern with clarity and brevity. Whether making sense of a complex world or looking for a voice of reason amidst the shouting of the masses, these poems offer enlightenment and peace. … (read more)

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Urban Fantasy

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Hell’s Embrace: The Face of True Evil Never Looked So Good
by Marc McGowan
Outskirts Press

book review by Kate Robinson

“But if you had to expire, you might as well do it saving the world, right?”

The eternal battle between light and darkness erupts in Chicago as Laustra, a powerful demon princess, meets her match in Kim Marie Makibi, a tough fifty-six-year-old social services case manager. As the tale begins, Kim has found her work-life rewarding but personal life empty since her husband died two years before. But one unremarkable Tuesday afternoon, her life changes dramatically when an unworldly client with a strange message is her only appointment of the day. Jon’s job is to educate her, not compel her to act. But his story that she and the world are at risk seems more of a personal threat than a warning. From that moment on, her life becomes odder and more threatening by the hour as she encounters what she soon learns are demons, Nephilim, and violent angel-human hybrids. Not only that, it seems Kim’s been chosen by God, and she isn’t quite sure if she wants any part of the bargain. … (read more)

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Fantastical Mystery

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Dark Nights (New Edition): First in the Until Dawn series
by Jordan E. Walker

book review by Kat Kennedy

“I suppose you are Jayde, the uncivilized, disrespectful, over-priviliged, spoiled brat, correct?”

Protagonist Jayde Hendryk is a seemingly normal teenager with all the angst most teens feel as they negotiate life with parents they don’t understand and are certain don’t understand them. She feels her mother is unloving, and her father is, at best, a bully. However, Jayde is protective of her younger brother, seven-year-old Aric, which possibly stems from their father’s propensity to be a hard taskmaster. When her mother uncharacteristically displays an unusual show of affection toward Jayde one fateful evening, she puts it out of her mind with no idea that soon tragedy will befall her family, changing her life in an instant. … (read more)

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Sci-Fi Mystery

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Demography Day
by Peter Breally
Xlibris

book review by Michael Radon

“‘That’s the problem I have, sis. I spent a whole day yesterday trying to find someone who could assure me that women were still conceiving.'”

Australian journalist Sonya James is visiting her prenatal clinic in the early phases of her pregnancy when she notices something a little too widespread to be a mere coincidence. Women around the world have mysteriously and suddenly stopped becoming pregnant. What begins as a curiosity and certainly good business for the paper she writes for quickly becomes a maelstrom that threatens to dismantle her life as countries around the world fall into a panic that humanity’s time appears to mysteriously be up. Spies and government agencies are interested in Sonya, who only observed the phenomenon and has no understanding of her own. With no answers looming on the horizon and her way of life irreparably damaged, Sonya retreats into solitude with her new daughter, seeking peace as the rest of the world struggles to grapple with what seems to be the conclusion of human life on Earth. … (read more)

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Crime & Hijinx

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

book review by Kat Kennedy

“Do you mean you intend to conduct chemical experiments similar to the series we completely in Germany during the 1930’s?”

Former Nazi Panzer tank commander Colonel Helmut Schmidt is known to law enforcement as Red Fox. After the Americans defeat his Eighth Panzer Tank Corps, the highly decorated colonel escapes capture only to be recruited to work a covert operation in the United States. However, the end of the war forces Schmidt to live one step ahead of the American military police while trying to amass a fortune and escape to South America. He is convinced that he can find the hidden treasure rumored to be hidden in the Prudely Mansion in a small Indiana town. He recruits a former subordinate from his war days to help with the endeavor. When his old lab partner, Hilda, enters the picture, he is excited by the prospect of reviving their partnership and building a lab in which they can recreate the mind-controlling formula, BrainX. … (read more)

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The Funny Side

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Big House: Toronto General Hospital from 1972 to 1984
by Hugh Cameron and Edna Quammie
Xlibris

book review by Priscilla Estes

“But this was Toronto in the ‘70s, bursting with life and full of immigrants who had just escaped from the dead hand of socialism.”

Reading this is like settling down for a leisurely conversation with old friends—if they happen to be an internationally recognized orthopedic surgeon and a superior orthopedic nurse who have rubbed shoulders with luminaries in the orthopedic world. No dry tribute to bones and scalpels, the writing sparkles with charming digressions, amusing stories, personal asides, gentle rants, self-deprecating wit, and helpings of poetry—all anchored by the fascinating history of orthopedic surgery, especially as lived in the glory days of Toronto General Hospital (TGH). … (read more)

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Endurance

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Child of Gulag, Second Edition
by Yuri Feynburg
Legaia Books USA

book review by Nicole Yurcaba

“All that Marek could do was shake his head in sheer amazement. Here was this boy, a child by numerical standards, who was charged with affairs that most adults never had to deal with.”

In heart-wrenching prose, the book tells the tale of Yule, a man damaged by a nearly devastating accident that unlocks his memories of life and survival in the former Soviet Union. Through Yule’s remembrances, life in the Soviet Union’s harsh gulags becomes real for readers as in their minds they trek past armed guards, adapt to extreme living conditions that sap ten years from one’s lifespan, and struggle to survive not only physically but intellectually in a political system built on fear, control, and conformity. Seemingly haunted by his childhood experiences in the gulag, Yule possesses a maturity, wisdom, and carefulness that makes him an outsider no matter where he travels. As Yule grows more observant regarding the injustices bestowed upon the Soviet Union’s citizens by megalomaniac dictators, his own chances of survival within the system wax and wane until, eventually, he finds himself leaving the USSR in the eventful year of 1979. … (read more)

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An Irish Tale

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Spiritual Journey: An Irishman learns how to embrace life’s challenges to find inner strength and enlightenment
by Sean Boylan
Westwood Books Publishing

book review by Bsrbara Bamberger Scott

“When we help others to find peace and love, we are also, in a hugely important way, helping ourselves.”

Born in Ireland, author Boylan has traveled both outwardly, to Bulgaria and elsewhere, and inwardly, through dreams, intuitions, and inspirations. After completing school and a short foray in salesmanship, he set up a business as a professional photographer. Through photography, he developed freedom of thought, realizing that he did his best when he did not imitate others. He established a personal and professional connection with Bulgaria when he was invited there for an annual school skiing event. He had significant psychic experiences, such as a realistic dream of his departed father and a powerful vision of a guardian angel. His childhood Catholicism gradually changed to a broader view of God and the world, opening his mind to the possibility of acting as a healer. His desire to help others, often on an international footing, prompted him to initiate start-ups for many charitable endeavors. His humiliation after a major business collapse brought further spiritual insights that he wishes to share with readers. … (read more)

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Soul-Searching

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Hounded by God: A Gay Man’s Journey to Self-Acceptance, Love, and Relationship
by Joseph Gentilini
Stratton Press

book review by Carol Anderson, D.Min., ACSW, MSW

“I learned to love my gayness – my cross – because it allowed me access to my Eros, the fluids which flow within me, the creative part of me.”

This beautifully written work stemming from the author’s personal journals explores his family history, his fear of intimacy, and his commitment to Christ, God, and Catholicism. From a young boy to becoming a well-respected counselor, his focus is on the importance of the Church’s need to accept LGBTQ people. He indicates he knew he was gay at a young age and how his family’s non-acceptance of him impacted his life. He discusses going through reparative/conversion therapy, talks about being promiscuous, falling in love with Leo, and how the acceptance of Christ through his gayness was a turning point. Influenced by spiritual guides throughout his life, the journal recounts his many difficulties, such as thoughts of suicide and learning to accept himself. … (read more)

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Deep Images

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

These Dark Pages
by Jordan Parker
AuthorHouse

book review by Mihir Shah

“So let this be a testament,
To why I love and hate,
The Past long years yet still no tears,
Turns out this was fate.”

Society has been overrun with darkness. In this poetry compilation, Parker lifts the veil back through his own experiences and observations to depict a broken world mired in despair, ranging from stress and insecurity to hate and division. Using a steady, stylistic dose of narrative poetry, the author expresses feelings of resignation while decrying a superficial humanity. Rather than simply exploring a black and white version of death, Parker does a commendable job of helping audiences appreciate the concept of “finality.” … (read more)

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Command of Language

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Other Side of the Moon: Selected Poems from 2000-2012
by Allan Mohl
Authors Press

book review by Mihir Shah

“The earth has shrunk
and there is no place to hide
except, perhaps, in Antarctica.”

This poetry compilation is a haven for exploring difficult, introspective questions that most refuse to consider, much less answer. Using the full repertoire of figurative devices, but especially imagery, metaphors, and personification, Mohl covers a wide range of engaging topics that are bound to initiate conversation among audiences. The poetry will undoubtedly hit home for the baby boomers and millennials who clearly remember the years in which the poems were composed. … (read more)

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Teenage Drama

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A Hundred Honeymoons
by J. S. Wilson
Xlibris

book review by Michael Radon

“Sally knew she could have asked him anything, but he’d only want one thing—her boobs.”

In the summer of 1960, young Sally is coming to terms with the changes that she is going through as she grows into adulthood. When a lazy Sunday morning game of hopscotch results in a chance encounter with a teenage boy from out of town, Sally is awakened to ideas and desires that leave her reeling. Reined in by her religious grandmother, Sally is at odds with what she thinks to be natural and the reputation of being a girl that’s “easy” or “puts out.” Through various phases of their lives, Sally and Todd’s relationship blooms and grows in tempestuous ways, threatening to tear them apart one way or the other. However, their link remains strong in a decade as challenging as the circumstances of their love. … (read more)

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Man’s World

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Life and Times of a Black Garage Door Guy
by V Leigh
Xlibris

book review by Kate Robinson

“I said maybe this one requires the ‘big boss man’s touch’ because ‘clearly, I’m not the one he dreamed would be installing these doors!’”

The author’s book is a commendable work that explores the depth and breadth of the human spirit from an ordinary yet supremely human working man’s viewpoint. Charming, witty, and brimming with salt-of-the-earth observations and compassion for self and others, the protagonist of this novella will keep readers in suspenseful stitches with his most compelling on-the-job encounters with customers and his off-the-job encounters with the homeless. Many will find that their only quibble with the book is that it’s far too short. Leigh effectively turns her female sensibilities inside out, suspending reader disbelief with her rapid-fire, vivid prose and a strong character voice to match. There’s no doubt that the author has not just creatively imagined her male protagonist but has also instilled some of her own life lessons into the mix. … (read more)

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NYC Love Letter

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

A New York City Adventure
by Paul Calabrese
Xlibris

book review by Michael Radon

“Open twenty-four hours all year-round, this architectural wonder offers infinite possibilities for all who explore its vast history and modern upgrades.”

For centuries, New York City has endured as a place where the American dream is most realized, a never-ending hub of activity and culture that sets the tone for the entire nation. This book takes readers on a trip through some of the most famous landmarks of The City That Never Sleeps with all the earnest sincerity of a local who truly loves their home. From the Bronx Zoo and Grand Central Station to Wall Street and Rockefeller Center, many of the Big Apple’s most iconic locations are described with details about their history, modern presence, and cultural significance. Paired with comical, zany illustrations, the energy and nonstop pace of New York City is captured on the page and shared with the reader one subway stop at a time. … (read more)

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Family Defined

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Family…: Vital to Us and Society
by Betty Fox Cooper, PhD
Xlibris

book review by Donna Ford

“Thinking about generations, we see that we are products of both societal teaching and the individualizations that we create… workable and non workable patterns and solutions.”

Cooper had taught home economics for twenty-four years, yet was surprised to observe firsthand that often modern family members lack basic life skills as taught in home economic classes. After clashing with a new principal forced her to leave school, the author walked into a second career researching for and teaching community service classes. Following her husband’s 2018 death, she continued research into the value that family brings to stabilize each individual. … (read more)

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He’s Back

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Ralphie’s Adventures Continue
by B. Tuff
AuthorHouse

book review by Carol Anderson, D.Min., ACSW

“Hurray! Hurray! Its (sic) camping day today,
Let us set up tents and head that way (sic)”

This children’s book consists of two tales in one volume, with the second story entitled, “About Rayon Portholes Blue Prints and More.” The stories are told in a rhyming style. The first one explores dogs, including Ralphie, who go on a trip to a cave where they show their bravery even though a crisis happens. One dog who stays at camp gets help from their friend, Glory Girl, a horse. They are all rescued, and Ralphie and Bernard talk about another galaxy while hoping a ship can take them to Rayon and beyond. … (read more)

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Travel Afar

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Tales from the Zookeeper’s Daughter: The Travels of Misha and Phoebe
by Ava Phillips
Stratton Press

book review by Toby Berry

“There are a lot of dangers out there…”

This remarkable children’s story comes across as a blend of classic tales like Charlotte’s Web and Are You My Mother but focused on modern thematic concerns. Misha and Phoebe are a tarantula and a bunny who are looking for Misha’s mother. Their tale is partially about habitat without ever using the word. Misha finds herself in Wyoming, freezing and miserable thanks to modern man and the accidental transport of species. Phillips explains, “Her mama was from the rain forest and was trapped in a crate of bananas and shipped to Wyoming.” Phillips also slips in subtle lessons about tolerance, trust, friendship, and differences. For example, the rabbit and spider come across a half-eaten lizard that Phoebe, the bunny, can’t imagine anyone eating. “That’s lunch?” Phoebe exclaims. Misha replies, “Yes, Like that carrot is yours.” … (read more)

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Duality of Plotlines

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Finding Truth: A Journey of a Christian and His Church
by William G. Chipman

book review by Mihir Shah

“Did God create Satan, knowing all the bad things he was going to do? Did God create us, knowing we would also rebel against Him?”

Conjure the image of a nine-year-old child, orphaned and riddled with guilt for raiding vegetable gardens to satiate his fervent hunger pangs. Living in 1883 amid the backdrop of the smallpox epidemic, Christian is the ideal child. However, the heartwrenching image of his parents’ bodies and belongings being carted away in a wagon sets him toward a path of consciousness that culminates in Christ’s truth. Facing one test after another, Christian endures, acquiring a survival mindset and a spirit forged from a deep conviction of God’s love. … (read more)

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Peace & Harmony

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Inner Bridges: Opening Your Connection to Inner Peace & Harmony
by Gayle Redfern, M.A.
Stratton Press

book review by Jonah Meyer

“Understand that you are a being on a circular trip, crossing many bridges connecting Body, Mind and Spirit.”

Redfern explains in her spiritually driven self-help book that a basic, straight-forward philosophy informs the approach she examines: “Living is meant to be simple and beautiful.” Those she refers to as the Universal Beings have already achieved such a fulfilled peaceful existence. Particular individuals on this Universal plane, she explains, have connected with her through dreams and meditations, and she shares with the reader here on the Earth plane their messages of peace and integrity, the importance of eating local, living simply, and giving thanks. The author’s work is divided into sections on basic philosophy behind building such inner bridges, the environmental connection, exploring various meditation practices, how food choices fit into the equation, embracing stimuli of all of our senses, exercise, and the role of family and social connection. … (read more)

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Ancient Codes Now

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Ancient Wisdoms: Exploring the Mysteries and Connections
by Gayle Redfern
Stratton Press

book review by Mihir Shah

“Nonindigenous people seem to spend their time concentrating on increasing their busyness, causing more damage to our society and our planet.”

To call Redfern’s work comprehensive would be underselling the remarkable scope of research, analysis, and presentation that seamlessly interact to highlight startling parallels and origin stories of myriad cultures. Imbued with thought-provoking questions that urge the reader to integrate modern technology with ancient teachings that are the root of humanity, the author’s book explores everything from the power of chanting, connecting with the spirit, and the photon band. … (read more)

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Seriously Funny

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Why Are There Monkeys? (and other questions for God)
by Brooke Jones
Luminaire Press

book review by Barbara Bamberger Scott

“It’s amazing what a dead girl can do in eight minutes. Take me, for example. I met God.”

In a near-death encounter in 1975, author Jones—at the time an atheistic, drug-using college student—talks to God. A disembodied announcement of “You are at my front door” and a pulsating light convince her. But most amazingly, God has a sense of humor. He invites her questions and fields them in a way both amusing and profound. He has neither color nor gender, and she can call him any name she likes. She asks him why there are still monkeys if, as Darwin stated, they had all turned into humans. God laughs and tells her that even Darwin told him that was just a theory. Discussing evolution, he uses a phrase that he will often repeat: “Time will tell.” He admits not always understanding why humans act self-destructively, but they have minds and hearts and must use them as they choose. Before God releases her to return to life, she asks him what seems to be the best question: “What can I do for You?”… (read more)

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War Girls

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

The Strudel Girls
by Barbara Celeste McCloskey
AuthorsPress

book review by Gabriella Tutino

“‘War is not fair, Mr. Danny.'”

Marta Schmidt, Leisel Fuchs, and Heidi Schneider are three best friends growing up in 1930s Germany. While their families may be working in some capacity for the growing Nazi Party, the girls themselves have different dreams. Marta wants to study art in Paris. Leisel hopes to attend university and become a math professor. Meanwhile, Heidi dreams of being a dancer. But life after high school ends up drastically different for each girl, as they enter adulthood near the start of World War II. Each of them must figure out a way to navigate this new and scary world, brought on by Hitler’s rise to power. A gripping story that follows each girl’s path, this bittersweet novel of historical fiction focuses on the strength and kindness of people that are necessary to survive a cruel war. McCloskey’s prose is short and sweet, succinctly conveying the protagonists’ depth of feeling, as well as building a realistic portrayal of Paris, Berlin, Budapest, and other cities that faced the harshness of Nazi Germany. … (read more)

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An Urgent Call

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Think Like a Molecule: Seeking Inspiration in the Structures of Thought
by Chuck Champlin
Authors Press

book review by Michelle Jacobs

“Thinking like a molecule is an opportunity to notice the way bits and pieces of our world combine to make new arrangements, which can have important effects.”

Champlin’s book is a celebration of the power and possibilities of human thought and imagination. The author uses molecules as a metaphor for creating something new out of our personal experiences and connections to others. As such, the universe becomes a rich reflection of humanity’s pursuit of understanding and progress. Inspired by his work at Disney Studios, Champlin has also created a conceptual tool to convey the thinking process and the imaginative spark needed to develop ideas. He calls this the Twinkle, which is not quite a light bulb but a placeholder for a newly arriving thought or idea. A Twinkle is a glimmer of thought that needs more time and focus to shine brighter. Twinkles have the possibility and power to impact individuals as well as communities or even the entire world. Champlin hopes that raising the quality of our thinking and making space for ideas and imagination will lead to peaceful co-existence, problem-solving, and purposeful, intentional living. … (read more)

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Science Charm

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Traveling with Isaac Newton
by Barbara ten Brink
Dorrance Publishing Company

book review by Barbara Bamberger Scott

“I was so thrilled to see an apple at least 90 feet from us appear to be 30 feet from us. How was it possible?”

Emma is a young English girl who lives not far from the brilliant scientist, Isaac Newton. Through his informal tutelage, she is constantly learning intriguing new things about the world. When the story opens, she has exciting news: her father, a commanding officer in the Royal Navy, is coming home, and her family will be going to the dock at Portsmouth to meet him. Her mother has cordially invited Newton to accompany them, and he gladly accepts. Then he and Emma head to the garden, where he introduces her to his telescope and astrolabe. He then invites her to use the telescope. She is amazed at what she can see. While they share glimpses at an apple hanging from a faraway tree, it falls to the ground, and suddenly Newton is seized with “an amazing thought” and returns to his lab. … (read more)

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Summer Warmth

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Fun and Fantasy on the Beach
by Huguette Castaneda
AuthorsPress

book review by Michael Radon

“Grandma knowing the secrets of the sea, tells her granddaughter, ‘if the sea wants to give you more, she will.'”

The enthusiastic young Mariella visits her grandmother’s beach house and is fascinated by the sand and the surf. For her part, Grandma shares her reverence for the ocean and the beach and teaches Mariella how to search for treasures like shells and seaweed early in the morning. Though Mariella is initially skeptical of waking up so early just to go looking for gifts, she quickly learns from her grandma the same habits and gratitude as the pair discover all kinds of interesting items as they enjoy the early morning together. Soon Mariella begins to find strange things that pique her curiosity, glittering stones that seem to magically resonate with her and show her fantastic sights or take her to amazing places she could have never imagined before. … (read more)

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Tiny Cows?

Book Reviews - US Review of Books

Eight Pound Cows
by Dr. Barbara ten Brink
AuthorsPress

book review by Tracy Kelly

“Eight pound cows would make great pets: Great, fat, furry, black, silly, docile, pets not unlike two, eight pound, white, furry, fluffy, poodles I know.”

In this adorable children’s fantasy tale, the author, who owns a small ranch in Texas on which she runs cattle, imagines her beloved bovines as eight-pound pets. Now able to be carried and hugged, the cows would be able to receive kindness and affection as never before possible. She takes the reader through a series of whimsical scenarios, including bathing and grooming her cows in the sink and then taking them to the professional groomers to be adorned with pretty bows. The author also imagines the fun of taking her barnyard friends for a ride in the car and even to obedience school. After this, they could provide therapy visits to retired ranchers to bring them joy. She envisions walking her pet cows with leashes and sparkling collars through downtown Austin, engaging playfully with the passersby. These beloved pets would settle into their idyllic life, just like puppies. They would follow commands, enjoy their meals indoors using rodeo-themed bowls, and even have beds in every room. Concluding with a picture of her own fluffy white doggies, she muses about what sweet pets her miniature cows would be, and how she would protect and love them. … (read more)

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The US Review of Books is dedicated to fair and honest coverage for all books. We are a leading book review site, often visited for professional book reviews examples.

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