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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 8, Number 4 April 2009 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf Greenspan's Bookshelf
Helen's Bookshelf Klausner's Bookshelf Laurel's Bookshelf
Micah's Bookshelf Shelley's Bookshelf Shirley's Bookshelf
Taylor's Bookshelf Vicki's Bookshelf Vogel's Bookshelf

Cowper's Bookshelf

Grammar For Grownups
Beth Adubato
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432711375, $11.95,

Our language, the way we express ourselves, the is core and key to clear, effective, efficient communication. The clarity of our language is dependent upon the rules of grammar and our compliance with them when we speak or write. But the rules of grammar can be confusing -- especially for those for whom English is a second language, or those of us who really didn't pay that much attention in our high school English classes. Academician and journalist Beth Adubato has written "Grammar For Grownups", a succinct, 52-page booklet that is a thoroughly 'user friendly' guide to the basic rules of good grammar along with sound advice for improving our use of English in our everyday communications by becoming aware of our mistakes and practicing the use of words properly. There are even several blank 'Note' pages at the end for recording any thoughts, comments or ideas of our own on the subject of good grammar. A quick and easy read, "Grammar For Grownups" is especially recommended for anyone having to prepare and deliver a public speech, seeks to improve themselves socially or professionally, as well as to anyone with a interest in enhancing their own communication skills through the application of good and grammatically correct every day speech.

Do You Know How God Loves You?
Mary Lou Cheatham
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439210154, $26.99,

God works in mysterious ways and he also shows his love in mysterious ways as well. "Do You Know How God Loves You?: Successful Daily Living" is a large book filled with inspirational thoughts to be read throughout the year to encourage Christians to make the most of their daily lives. Drawing heavily from the Bible and its verses, Cheatham gives much food for thought and hopes that readers let their minds feed to lighten their lives with knowledge of God's love. "Do You Know How God Loves You?" should be considered for any Christian seeking a daily dose of wisdom.

A Mother's Book of Love
Barbara Gardner
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439209974, $16.99,

A girl learns much about the world from her mother. "A Mother's Book of Love: To Share with your Daughter and Read to Yourself" is a guide to the many things in life that are uniquely female. Covering random tips and advice on dealing with breast exams, the unique female sex drive, finding and reading the man who is right for you, and more, author Barbara Gardner reads off advice for women, much of which would find much value for their daughters as well. "A Mother's Book of Love: To Share With Your Daughter and Read to Yourself" is a strong choice all around for the mother who cares about herself and her daughters. Also from Barbara Gardner is "Red Wine, Chocolate, and Life After 40: Ten Steps to Slow Down Aging" (9781419695902, $13.99), focusing on life after forty and how to make the most of it.

Walking in Grace
Trafford Publishing
2657 Wilfert Road, Victoria, BC Canada, V9B 5Z3
1425119050, $29.99,

The start point? Spain. The destination? She did not know. "Walking in Grace" is the story of Atman and how she made her self-dubbed pilgrimage through the Camino de Santiago in search of her truth. With no preplanned destination, she walked and hiked through the mountainous region and recently decided to publish the memoirs of her long journey as went on her spiritual adventure. A compelling read of a woman's search for meaning, "Walking in Grace" is a fine and highly recommended read.

Tales from Sarah's Shoebox
Donna Utter
Privately Published
9780615223230, $29.95

A different time and a different era. "Tales from Sarah's Shoebox" is a transcription of the day to day life of a woman in the late nineteenth century heading out westward towards Idaho. Letting readers into the personal life of a woman during this bygone age, author Donna Utter offers a snapshot of a time long past. "Tales from Sarah's Shoebox" is a fascinating read of the common person of more than a century ago.

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

Comparative Value House Buying
John J. Kuczma, Jr.
Privately Published
9780979525407 $19.95

Illustrated with full color photography throughout, Comparative Value House Buying is a no-nonsense guide filled with indispensable information for anyone contemplating the purchase or building of a home. Chapters cover the necessary concerns to check before buying a lot; the different things one should look for when inspecting a home down to the composition of the door hinges; and warnings against common mistakes or oversights that can lead to first-time home buyers getting overcharged or worse. "Take note of the front steps. Are they level? Is there any evidence that they are pulling away from the main building? Are there any cracks where they join the walls that are wider at the top or bottom? This is a strong indicator that settling problems may exist." Highly recommended not only to home buyers, but also to home sellers interested in pinpointing what most needs improvement in order to help move the property.

Gustafer Yellowgold's Mellow Fever
Morgan Taylor
Apple-Eye Productions
c/o Waldmania!
130 Maywood Dr., San Francisco, CA 94127
B001RJXBDQ, $19.95,

Seeking a cooler climate, Gustafer Yellowgold is a little, yellow colored, cone-headed being that comes to Earth from his home on the Sun and has a knack for making friends with such diverse folks as Forrest Applecrumbie (a smartly dressed pterodactyl) with whom he builds a home in the Michigan woods. Gustafer also has a pet eel named Slim and a dragon named Adsparagus, and a great many other critters of unusual distinction. "Gustafer Yellowgold's Mellow Fever" (featuring the music and storytelling of Morgan Taylor, the creator of Gustafer Yellowgold and is a veteran entertainer, song writer, and do-it-yourself illustrator) combines simple visuals with original music that will entertain and occasionally enchant you children ages 3 and up. The story-telling tunes comprising "Gustafer Yellowgold's Mellow Fever" include Getting in a Treetop; Sunpod; Melter Swelter; Butter Pond Lake; Sugar Boat; Panther Stamps Pants; Underwater Stars; Quite Easily Lost; An Erring Ant; Green Heart; and Constellation Pies. Original, entertaining from beginning to end, "Gustafer Yellowgold's Mellow Fever" is a superbly produced and technically flawless production making it enthusiastically recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library DVD collections for children.

What Tree is That?
Arbor Day Foundation
211 N. 12th St., Lincoln, NE 68508
9780963465757, $14.95,

While not something considered a must know for most, knowledge of trees can be handy in certain situations. "What Tree is That: A Guide to the More Common Trees Found in North America" is a guide to understanding America's diversity when it comes to its trees. A complete and comprehensive reference investigating over two hundred and fifty breeds of tree, "What Tree is That" is an easy to use reference. "What Tree is That" is educational and highly recommended.

The Untouchable Tree
Peter C. Stone
Skyhorse Publishing
555 Eighth Avenue, Suite 903, New York, NY 10018
9781602393387, $29.95,

The tree is nature's big heap of beauty that sprouts throughout the world. "The Untouchable Tree: An Illustrated Guide to Earthly Wisdom & Arboreal Delights" is a touching tribute to this most valued of plants, that has granted mankind food, shelter, warmth, and shade throughout their coexistence. Peter Stone offers much to think about with beautiful artwork accompanied by short stories and poems throughout. "The Untouchable Tree" is a strong pick for those who feel the same way, or just want to enjoy a blend of art, prose, and poetry.

If a Tree Falls
Douglas J. Buege
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113
9781436316088, $19.99,

Chestnut trees have been taken for granted throughout Appalachia. "If a Tree Falls: Rediscovering the Great American Chestnut" is environmentalist Douglas J. Buege's treatise on the Great American Chestnut and how, if America begins to continue to act with apathy and inaction, this treasured tree species could face extinction at the hands of a foreign fungus. Hundreds or thousands of tree species could cease to be in coming decades if conservation-oriented action isn't taken, and "If a Tree Falls" is a must read for those concerned.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

The Short Book on Happiness
David Cane
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595519910, $12.95,

Happiness shouldn't have to be a long term prospect. "The Short Book on Happiness: Transform Your Life in 10 Days" is a guide to reclaiming the happiness so often eludes people. Going over a ten-day period, Cane covers how each day one can spend a little time to change themselves and better their lives so that they may finally attain the happiness that so often eludes them. "The Short Book on Happiness" is a strong consideration for those who want to change their outlook on life.

Keith Harvey
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Star Treatment (publicity)
PO Box 133, Beaver Crossing, NE 68313
9780595531226, $12.95,

Simplicity is not a bad thing, as it attacks the basest emotions with a swiftness rarely enjoyed in today's culture. "Petroglyphs" is a collection of poetry from Keith Harvey looking to embrace this style and the basic mythology that most of humanity knows, using language as a simple and precise tool to deliver the message. A fine volume of original verse, "Petroglyphs" is something to be considered for poetry fans. "Impedimenta": He slowly speaks,/meaning he hesitates/between thought and word./He stutters/and stammers/like the Puca./Yet, even with this malady,/he transforms stored visions/through meditations/of his brother's tongue/into a magic rod.

G.G. Husak
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781419682896, $15.99,

A passeggita is a long stroll, and some have turned it into ritual. "Passeggiata: Strolling Through Italy" is a combination travel guide and memoir from G. G. Husak reflecting on the annual pilgrimage of Ms. Husak and her husband as they make a yearly visit to the country with its long, unique and flavorful history. Reflecting on what Italy has to offer in so many aspects as a tourist destination and just something to soak in, "Passeggita" is a first person account of the joys of Italy and may inspire readers to plan a trip of their own.

The Edge
T.D. Kruser
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432738365, $26.95,

Balance is a key aspect to everything. "The Edge: How to Find and Balance Yourself in an Unbalanced World" is a manual on trying to find balance in one's life and the importance of doing so. Encouraging readers to realize when they've lost the balance in their life and how to recapture it, Kruser outlines the importance of balance in life and how it affects the body and mind as a whole. A guide to finding moderation, "The Edge" is something to be considered for those who just find themselves overwhelmed.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Jennifer Chase
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd, -515, Parker, CO 81034
9781432734169, $17.95,

The life of a vigilante detective is a dangerous one. "Compulsion" follows vigilante detective Emily Stone, who has anonymously delivered the evidence needed to bring many scumbags to justice. But no good deed goes unpunished, and she soon finds herself the target of two ruthless serial killers. A delightful blend of mystery, thriller, and romance, Emily Stone's story in "Compulsion" is utterly fascinating reading that'll keep the pages turning.

A Matter of Panache
Debra Sanders
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd, -515, Parker, CO 81034
9781432728168, $19.95,

Car accident, career in public education, what's the difference? "A Matter of Panache: A career in public education, a traumatic brain injury, A memoir of surviving both" is author Debra Sanders' story of facing brain injury, and how it greatly changed her life. The brain is a person, and when it's damaged, it can change everything about someone. This story is of Debra facing the challenge of being someone who she wasn't before, and the struggle to re-attain her career and to move on with life. "A Matter of Panache" is inspiring and moving, and sends a clear message to others who have faced brain injury.

The Whitest Wall
Jodee Kulp
Better Endings New Beginnings
Liberty Ridge Media (publicity)
6289 Brunswick Ave N, Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
9780963707260, $14.95,

Your next door neighbor may be a psychopathic killer and you may not even know it. "The Whitest Wall" is the first book in the Bootleg Brothers trilogy, and follows a murder that has rocked a small Midwestern town with wrongful accusations. Someone has to set all of this right before Justice is unjustly dealt to someone who doesn't deserve it. A thrilling mystery of small town America, "The Whitest Wall" is sure to keep the pages turning.

Be Free
Danielle Ciminero & Gary Lynn
A Quiet Revolution Publishing
9780578006987, $25.95,

Sooner or later, every one of us has dreamed of simply quitting what we are doing and travel the world. Gary Lynn and Danielle Ciminero actually did just that, recording what they saw and thought as they traveled together living out their life's dream. The result is Be Free: Lessons Learned From The School Of Life", a collection of their drawings, photographs, journal entrees, anecdotal incidents, and reflective insights drawn from their encounters with the people and places of Central America, New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, and the United States. The text is composed of standard type font and the recreation of a cursive penmanship that gives the reader the feeling of reading through someone's personal journal, one that is enhanced with the inclusion of some beautifully shot and full color photography. "Be Free" is especially recommended reading for the 'armchair traveler' and anyone else who has ever wanted to travel the world and thinking about what they see, the people they would meet, and the times they would spend in cultures different from their own.

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

David Moody
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312384838, $21.95,

Danny McCoyne is a bureaucrat at the Parking Fine Processing Office; a job he loathes but as poor as the pay is he needs to keep his boring position in order to feed his wife and kids. Depressed Danny knows he has no future beyond being near the bottom of his agency's food chain.

Danny is stunned when he witnesses an apparent random act of violence. When more occur, the media dubs the assaulters as Haters. Victims are loved ones, friends and fellow workers as much as strangers. No one can explain why even as society begins to unravel as exponentially the number of attacks is beyond when the government can contend with. Danny anticipates the worst is yet to come; so he tries to keep his loved ones safe though that means hiding inside their home like convicts. He trusts no one especially the government who he thinks may be behind the sudden violence

This is a chilling thriller as the increasingly violent society forcing innocents to lock themselves and their families in houses that are prisons seems plausible due to the pace of the story line. The brutality is often vivid, rightfully so, as that cruelty is what leads to self incarceration. Fans of a dark world will appreciate this grim thriller as normality is simple survival in a Moody world gone mad.

Lynn Tincher
10307 Chimney Ridge Ct, Louisville, KY 40299
9780982006726, $11.95

In Louisville, Kentucky widow Sarah Steckler still grieves the murder of her spouse Anthony when another tragedy strikes. She calls her foster sister Detective Paige Aldridge pleading with her to come over as her son Richie is dead. Paige would do anything for Sarah who was there for her last year when an assault left her with no memory.

Paige and her partner Jay Vittidini arrive at the death scene with the evidence overwhelmingly supporting suicide. Richie's note implies he killed his dad and consequently hurt his mom. Meanwhile his death triggers memories of her kidnapping assault that she had obviously repressed and visions of homicides. Paige fears she is losing her mind with three traumas in a year and the deadly dreams; however mysterious Junna Breck visits Paige offering her help even as the detective believes her extended family is under siege from a serial killer.

This is a strange, but exciting well written police procedural starring an intriguing lead character whose family appears to be the foci of a serial killer though she has no idea why. The support cast makes the tale as Jay worries his partner may be psychologically over the edge with her theory linking her brutal kidnapping to the murder of her brother-in-law and the suicide of her nephew while Junna is enigmatic with her offer of help. Young adult fans will enjoy Lynn Tincher tense thriller as the heroine (and readers) begins to have AFTERTHOUGHTS about what has happened and she fears will happen in future Mind Bending tales.

The Fifteenth Letter
Karen Wiesner and Chris Spindler
Swimming Kangaroo Books
1934041629, $14.99,

In 1989 Nelson Salim and Zeke Carfi entered a bank to rob it while the former's wife Serena sat in the getaway car with their son Roman. When Nelson started to kill the bank manager, Zeke interceded. Nelson ended up dead while Zeke went to prison. Nelson's wife and child vowed vengeance on Zeke and his kin.

Every year on the anniversary of the botched bank job, Zeke receives a letter from his late partner's bitter widow. Fifteen years later, Zeke's twenty-four years old daughter Amber is a patrol officer assigned to the Falcon's Bend Police Department for the past two years. Now that Zeke is out of prison, Amber is confused how to deal with her father whom she worshipped as her hero when she was a small child. Still she asks him to move in with her; mostly because she hopes to keep him out of trouble. However, when she receives THE FIFTEENTH LETTER, she understands what occurred to destroy her image. Now someone is stalking Amber and her police partner Warren Jensen vows to keep the woman he is attracted to safe.

This is an exciting suspense thriller supported by a mystery (Amber's need to know why her hero turned bank robber) and a hint of romance (between the police partners). The key to this interconnected family drama is all the prime players from the Salim and Carfi families behave plausible with vengeance and death being the links. Fans will relish this fine tale as the truth will not set anyone free because the pivotal moment in the past will always haunt those still living.

Romantic Notions
Karen Wiesner and Chris Spindler
Swimming Kangaroo Books
1934041009, $14.99

In Wisconsin Falcon's Bend Police Department police officers Amber Carfi and Warren Jensen are a team at work and are now lovers off-duty; although they hide their new relationship from the brass especially Chief Sobcynzski, who loathes fraternizing. However, concealing their love for one another is proving difficult as any sleuth can see the lingering glance the pair shares.

Elderly Mrs. Frederick calls her neighbor Amber informing her that her daughter Erin Daughtry was just murdered. Amber and Warren check the locale and find the naked corpse of a young woman posed in a virginal way on her bed with a bullet through her heart, a rose between her breasts and an attached gold wedding band. They call for the homicide team and Lieutenants Pete Shasta and Danny Vincent arrive to take charge of the crime scene. Even eerier than the posed body is the accompanying note: "What is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil." Posing as Callista, Amber goes undercover to ferret out a killer focusing on the cheating boyfriend of the deceased; only to have FBI Agent Robert Lock arrive boasting he and Amber were an entry at one time.

This is an intriguing small-town police procedural with a romantic subplot between two of the cops. The investigation and its subsequent undercover operation engages the audience who like Amber will suspect the victim's boyfriend though other individuals have motives; while ironically the concealing of their romance by Amber and Warren seems to have failed as not just readers can sense the attraction. Fans will enjoy this fine cop thriller that contrasts a loving love with a lethal love.

Nancy Bush
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
9781420103403, $6.99

She awakens confused in a bed that is obviously in an Oregon hospital. Winslow County Sheriff's Department Detective Will Tanninger is at her side and tells her she is at Laurelton general Hospital; he asks her name and after a hesitation says Gemma LaPorte. Her last memory was making breakfast while it was raining outside; he tells her it has not rained near here for three days. Finally he explains that she is his prime suspect in a hit and run that critically injured child molester Edward Letton, also in the hopspital but with much more severe injuries.

Gemma suffers from traumatic induced amnesia, but could the trauma be hitting Letton as her face is battered perhaps from a steering wheel and she suffered a concussion. She also does not look close at the description provided by the young soccer player Carol Pelltor who Letton was targeting when he was mowed down. However, the mystery spins further as a serial killer who burns his victims somehow connects to Gemma's slowly returning memories.

This is an exhilarating suspense thriller that cleverly contrasts a romantic subplot between Will and Gemma with a dark mystery. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action. However, the key to this tale is the comparisons as Will and Gemma's relationship slowly turns warmer and lovingly, a serial killer turns nastier. Fans will relish Nancy Bush's taut thriller as she leaves the colorful Jane Kelly mysteries for a much darker and intense suspense.

The Reluctant Cowgirl
Christine Lynxwiler
Barbour Publishing
P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683
9781602601505, $10.97,

Heeding Sinatra's advice, Crystal McCord left Arkansas to make it as an actress in New York City. In spite of good reviews for her acting, the play she is in making a Splash folds as the critics kill it. When she returns to her rent controlled apartment, Crystal finds her boyfriend Brad who missed her performance sleeping with her roommate Sasha. Since her family called for a meeting anyway, the Arkansas traveler decides to go home to her parents' ranch to heal from the play's closing and the betrayals.

When neighboring rancher Jeremy Buchanan and Crystal meet, sparks fly. She metaphorically considers him to be her potential leading man in this regional theater, but he has a history with her type. As they fall in love, both have decisions to make and stereotypes to overcome.

How you're going to keep her down on the ranch after she's seen New York is the underlying theme in this entertaining contemporary romance in which author Christine Lynxwiler avoids dissing either the location as tastes and desires matter. THE RELUCTANT COWGIRL is a fun tale due to the misconceptions of the lead couple re the other. With a strong supporting cast, readers will enjoy this light inspirational as the wannabe in the clouds actress and the grounded rancher fall in love. See ALONG CAME A COWBOY for an even deeper Arkansas character study.

Chasing Charity
Marcia Gruver
9781602602069, $10.97

In 1905 Humble, Texas, Daniel Clark could not go through with the vows. Instead he left his fiancee Charity Bloom at the altar of the Free Grace Church and walked out. Almost immediately Charity's best friend Emmy Dane chased after him. All the townsfolk offer sympathy to the jilted woman, but she holds her head high and insists she is fine though she feels a bit humbled by their betrayal; her only pain however is the hours her widow mama put in to make a dress for her as the impoverish Blooms could not afford to buy one.

When Buddy Pierce finds oil on the Bloom property, Charity and mama are excited. He is attracted to Charity, but is reluctant to act on it as he assumes she loves another man and he rejects the notion of a rebound romance. Meanwhile Daniel has come home filled with remorse and regret having blundered by choosing high maintenance Emmy over caring Charity; he wants a second chance. However, her mama rejects him as a fool preferring Buddy for her daughter and Emmy stalks him, but the worst interference in his effort to redeem himself is the stranger who seems to be CHASING CHARITY too.

This is an enjoyable early twentieth century Texas romance starring a wonderful lead character who readers will admire for her attitude. Charity lives up to her name as she is forgiving, loyal and loving. Fans will enjoy this fine Texas oil historical romance as the heroine is pursued by the man who jilted her and by a stranger who avoids her as much as he chases after her.

The Ten-Year Nap
Meg Wolitzer
Riverhead Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9781594483547, $16.00

Ten years ago lawyer Amy took maternity leave to give birth; she has not returned to work instead raising her son. Her close friend Jill struggles with life in the Manhattan suburbs. Former artist Roberta struggles with raising a family vs. work. Finally Chinese-American mathematician Karen ponders using her skills or staying home.

These four women struggle with similar issues of whether to stay home to raise a family or go back to work. They are friends, but find little comfort sharing their thoughts of being just like their mothers as each considers bringing in income before they become too old to do so and what they want out of life even as each wonders where the time went.

This fascinating contemporary drama focuses on the premise that kids nuke dreams forcing a parent to make difficult choices between their personal desire and what their offspring needs. Although the action is limited, Meg Wolitzer gets deep into the respective heads of her four stay at home Manhattan moms. Each wonders if they made the right decision since they feel their brains have turned into mush and whether it is too late to go back to work at their dormant profession as technology has moved on.

Matthew Glass
Atlantic Monthly
c/o Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003-4793
0802118887, $24.00,

In a short period of time the world can change and not for the better as 9/11 proved. By 2033, carbon emissions have ruined the environment while sea levels have risen at catastrophic rates leading to mass evacuations of people from what were once coastlines. The Florida Peninsular is going underwater with Miami on the verge of becoming a modern day Atlantis. The newly elected President Joe Benton plans to build an infrastructure so those displaced don't fall into abject poverty and consequently take others down with them; the massive relocation will be destructive enough.

When Benton meets with the incumbent POTUS he learns that secret climate change talks with China produced nada. Benton knows an arrangement between the superpowers is critical to save the world. He is determined to partner with China, who has displaced America as the top polluter, in finding a global solution. China remains obstinate and uncooperative; reneging every time it appears a deal is set. Benton's advisors tell him the Chinese will never sign a treaty, but the resolute president tries something new that he believes they want as he knows humanity is at stake even as the obstinate Chinese leaders demand more as if extinction is impossible with their population.

Joe Benton is a good person trying to be a good president after a dozen years of Republican denial behind the no tax and no negativity to the economy even as the ocean was coming ashore. Thus China assumes he is just another status quo buy American first. This cautionary tale is fast-paced with a frenzy desperation to Benton's efforts to turn around the environment before we reach the point of no return of humans becoming the twenty-first century dinosaurs. Although the ending feels required and rants about failed governments and media to take the environment issue seriously feel intrusive, Matthew Glass provides a deep look at what a world leader who strongly wants to make change must overcome the legacy of his or her predecessors.

Darling Jim
Christian Moerk
Henry Holt & Company
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 400, NY, NY 10010-7725
0805089470, $25.00

In Malahide, Ireland, mail carrier Desmond arrives at a house to deliver letters. The kids claim the place is haunted. When no one responds to his knock, he takes a peak inside out of curiosity only to see a corpse. The police arrive to find the murdered bodies of an aunt and her two nieces.

The case remains cold although the townsfolk believe Desmond killed the three women as he has acted strange since finding the first body. Soon afterward Niall finds the diary of one of the dead sisters, Fiona. He reads about a traveling storyteller DARLING JIM who based on the entries entranced the three females. Unable to resist, Niall follows up the diary's voice claiming seducer's victims seeking to learn more about the women, their seducer Jim and a strange commentary in the journal about a wolf-prince leaving behind dead women.

This is a well written strange thriller that has the audience debating throughout whether DARLING JIM is an old fashion horror tale, a psychological suspense, or a serial killer gothic thriller. Keeping readers slightly off their contentment zone, Christian Moerk uses three subplots that intermingle; all are well written enabling the audience to understand what motivated the three dead women (especially the diary writer) and how they perceive their Darling Jim, and what induced Niall to investigate. Fans who relish something different but very entertaining will enjoy this strong suspense thriller.

Lords of Corruption
Kyle Mills
Vanguard Press
c/o Perseus Books Group
Eleven Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142
9781593154998, $25.95

Ex-con Josh Hagarty is proud of how far he has come from being a convict; his growth is symbolized by earning an MBA. However, prison taught Josh the acceptance of reality so he knows being an-con limits his employee pool as that is not a good item on a resume.

When the NewAfrica charity offers him a job to manage a farming project, he grabs the opportunity to prove him self though he knows nothing about the continent. Not long after he settles in, Josh learns the local leader of New Africa Gideon is related the country's brutal unpopular president and a goon. The impoverished nation is filled with civil dissension and his predecessor was apparently murdered for doing his job. As Hagarty begins to dig into the philanthropy he works for, he finds ugly truths and no allies except for Scandinavian aid worker Annika Gritdal and journalist J.B. Flannary. Someone is prepared to silence the trio as they have done so before, but Hagarty and Flannary see a chance for redeeming their unworthy souls and Gritdal is too dedicated to slink back to the safety of Europe.

This is an exhilarating thriller in spite of the obvious stereotyping of the lead trio and their goon opponents. The story line is fast-paced with the hero pulling off Peril of Pauline type escapes. Readers who suspend plausibility and not mind two dimensional characterizations will appreciate this action-packed diversion as LORDS OF CORRUPTION is a fun read.

Plea of Insanity
Jilliane Hoffman
1593155077, $25.95

In Miami twenty-eight year old Miami assistant state attorney Julia Vacanti leads the prosecution team in the highly visible homicide case of surgeon David Marquette. The doctor stands trial in the stabbing deaths of his wife and their two older children, and in the smothering thing of their baby. The defense team admits he killed his family, but plea insanity due to schizophrenia.

While the prosecution tries to prove Marquette knew right from wrong and is just faking a mental illness to elude the death penalty, Julia thinks of her sibling Andrew Citro, who when she was a preadolescent and he a teen was convicted of killing their parents. He remains locked away in an asylum for the criminally insane in New York. Feeling the cases are similar although the prosecutor also ponders if Marquette is a clever serial killer who committed homicides long before his mass murder of his family, Julia contacts Andrew for the first time since he killed their parents.

This excellent legal thriller focuses on the title subject, but does so with a fabulous creative twist as the heroine wonders if schizophrenia is genetic. The gripping courtroom scenes are top rate, but it is the communication between the siblings for the first time in over a decade and a half that grabs the audience. The former brings legal tension and insight into the trial process; but the latter brings greater tension and insight into the fears of Julia. Jilliane Hoffman provides an excellent character driven tale with a profound look at a PLEA OF INSANITY.

The Bellini Card
Jason Goodwin
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
18 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011
9780374110390, $25.00

In 1840, the new Ottoman Empire Sultan Abdulmecid orders the eunuch Yashim to travel to Venice to obtain a portrait of Mehmet the Conqueror painted by Bellini. However, before leaving for Italy, Resid Pasha directs Yashim to keep the expenses including the purchase down. Yashim asks his friend impoverish Polish Ambassador Stanislaw Palewski to masquerade as an American to help locate the portrait of the hero who took Constantinople from the Christians in the fifteenth century.

In Venice while Palewski conducts his search, a killer has murdered two dealers connected to the Bellini masterpiece. Soon the Polish Ambassador becomes a target of this unknown murderer, but Yashim working from the shadows keeps his friend safe while trying to obtain the painting.

The third Yashmin historical thriller (see THE JANISSARY TREE and THE SNAKE STONE) is an enjoyable fascinating look at Venice and at the Ottoman Empire. Interestingly Yashim plays second fiddle for much of the early part of the novel, but once he comes on stage, he and his adversary battle in am electrifying contest. Fans will enjoy this terific nineteenth century mystery due in part to the investigations into the portrait and the killer, but also because of the deep sense of time and place.

Shadow and Light
Jonathan Rabb
0374261946, $26.00

In 1927 the German capital Berlin is a city filled with chaos and corruption in spite of its reputation of a place with no reason to ever leave. Within the craziness of a collapsing city and country, perhaps the only oasis of a functioning government agency is the Kriminalpolizei led by highly principled Herr Kriminal-Oberkommissar "Chief Inspector" Nikolai Hoffner.

At Ufa Movie Studios, executive Herr Thyssen is found dead in his tub in what looks like a suicide. Leading the investigation, Hoffner decides the victim could not have killed himself as he finds evidence that a clever homicide was perpetuated to fool the "incompetent" cops. It might have worked if anyone but Hoffner was making the inquiry. To his surprise the investigator with a tendency to lose partners also finds his younger son working at the studio having quietly dropped out of school. Meanwhile on the case he looks at the deceased's personal and business lives with a fine tooth comb, This scrutiny leads to the convergence of politics with industrial espionage, but not a killer and to Hoffner considering a tryst with visiting American MGM official Helen Coyle. At the same time the Brownshirted thugs of Goebbels who includes Hoffner's oldest son as a loyal supporter beats up Jews, Communists and homosexuals for pleasure.

This strong German historical police procedural provides a profound sense of time and place as the audience will feel the beginning of a new darker more intense era. The story line grips readers with its fascinating look at Berlin as the Brownshirts are just starting to flex muscle and the Great Depression is in full swing here with many locals believing the unfair armistice being the cause. Hoffner is a quirky lead character as his wry comments and retorts provide further insight into the period while also working the case. SHADOW AND LIGHT is a terific 1920s Weimer Republic murder mystery.

Stephen Amidon
9780374257118, $25.00

In Stoneleigh, Massachusetts Edward Inman runs a security company while married to Alderman Meg. He and Meg know their relationship is loveless, but she will never let him go as long as she runs for public office; which she is as she tries to become town mayor. In fact, Edward loves his former girlfriend Kathryn recently divorced; they are having a heated affair.

Meanwhile college student Mary Steckl accuses wealthy Doyle Cutler of sexual abuse. The police and most townsfolk assume she is full of BS and is probably protecting her widower alcoholic father Walter from some drunken rage of his in which he injured her shoulder. Walt thinks immediately rape through his alcoholic haze. However, one person witnessed what happened to Mary at the Cutler mansion, but Kathryn's brooding nineteen year old son Conor has his own issues and so far is silent except with Doyle.

This is an interesting small-town saga with an ensemble cast including other prime participants not mentioned above like Angela the student who is also at Cutler mansion. The two major subplots of what happened to Mary and the affair between Edward and Kathryn never merge; in fact the latter just sort of vanishes without closure while the former ends violently but somehow without closure too. Fans of morality plays that border on soap opera (as everyone in Stoneleigh seems overwhelmingly loaded with angst) will appreciate this gloomy glimpse at the power of money to make people dance the affluent piper's tune.

Private Midnight
Kris Saknussemm
The Overlook Press
141 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10012
9781590201763, $24.95

Detective Birch Ritter leads the official investigation into the death of multimillionaire California realtor Deems Whitney in what looks like a suicide. The evidence points towards Deems hosing his Mercedes with gasoline and dying in the subsequent explosion. The only doubt re the case is one day earlier, the victim changed his will naming his latest wife as his sole beneficiary and cutting out his adult children.

However, his former partner, whom he has not spoken with since they split up a year ago, suggests Ritter speak with the mysterious Genevieve Wyvern. He does though he cannot fathom why; worse she shakes him up with her intimate knowledge of him that no one else knows except him. Wyvern explains she works her magic in the shadows and that men hide from everyone including themselves. To his humiliation, she dominates him making the cop her submissive little boy "Sunny" in a bondage match of what seemed equals. Ashamed of himself not because she overwhelmed him, but because he wants her to dominate him even more while his case goes nowhere unless he can overcome his lower head need for his new Mistress.

This is a strange but well written supernatural police procedural starring two lead characters that enter in a game of domination. The tough Noir like cop is overmatched in this contest against Genevieve. The death inquiry provides more of a backdrop as the deep story line focuses on the needs and motives of Ritter to even his becoming a kick butt cop once Wyvern strips him bare. Not for everyone, PRIVATE MIDNIGHT is an exciting Noir with an exotic paranormal spin.

A World I Never Made
James LePore
The Story Plant
P. O. Box 4331,Stamford, CT 06907
0981608728, $24.95

In 2004 in Connecticut, widower Pat Nolan learns his only child, twenty-nine years old freelance writer Megan, committed suicide in Paris based on a suicide note she sent him. Pat is stunned though he is estranged from his daughter mostly because he never moved on past his wife dying in childbirth three decades ago. The French ask him to come to Paris to confirm that the corpse is that of Megan.

He arrives in France and identifies the body as his daughter though he knows otherwise. Megan has left him clues of a sort to follow as if she needs him to find her. Pat quickly learns how she supported herself as an expatriate American by selling her only asset, her body to the affluent in Europe and North Africa. French Judiciary Police Detective Catherine Laurence, a recent widow due to a terrorist bombing, teams up with the American on his quest to locate Megan at the same time the Saudi government has an interest in Megan too as they believe she is alive and tied to a Abdel al-Lahani, a Saudi citizen who they connect to suicide bombings in Morocco.

The key to this exciting thriller is the cast especially the Nolan father and daughter. Pat is terrific from the stunning opening sequence when he reads his daughter's suicide note, his lie re the corpse, which Laurence's superior Inspector LeGrand accepts though he knows otherwise, and subsequently his inquiry. Megan is mostly seen through his perception of her though the audience learns relatively early why the Saudis believe she is alive. Although Laurence does not come across as plausible as the two Americans, fans will enjoy this one sitting suspense thriller.

Lavender Morning
Jude Deveraux
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9780743437202, $25.95

In Williamsburg, Virginia, the parents of Jocelyn "Joce" Minton come from different sides of the track. Her mom was the upper class elite debutante while her dad was a working class handyman. When Joce was five years old, her mom died. Her father remarried someone from his side of the tracks. Joce's maternal relatives cut her and her dad off due to his new family, which also include twin brats.

Joce fails to fit in with her new step-family, but finds her elderly neighbor Miss Edi Harcourt as an angel watching over her. When Miss Edi dies, Joce inherits her estate including an ancestral house in Edilean, Virginia. However, it is the 1941 letter that she finds that intrigues Joce. Though a bit hurt that her "grandma" Miss Edi hid her past, Joce arrives in town to investigate what happened to her beloved guardian angel during WWII. There she meets two hunks who are interested in her.

LAVENDER MORNING is a fabulous family drama filled with twists especially in involving Joce. The story line effortlessly rotates between WWII and modern times. Although too much coincidence occurs that move the inquiry too easily forward, fans will enjoy the optimistic contemporary romantic trip to Edilean and the bittersweet tragic events of the 1940s.

The Twilight Herald
Tom Lloyd
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781591027331, $15.98

The "White Eye" Isak has become Lord of the Farlan tribe following his victory at Narkang (see STORMCALLER). Aiding his claim to overall rule of the Land is possession of two crystal skulls and the sharing of his brain with the soul of dark Elf Aryn Bwr although he is not sure how much help that provides him. Still Isak returns to Tirah in triumph, only someone tries to kill him whom he assumes is baffling Azaer or perhaps a member or the entire group of the deadly White Circle. He suspects seditious actions by others, who either feel they should be in charge or he is unworthy.

Although he knows he must focus on those planning seditious acts and assassination attempts, he sees an opportunity to avenge the downfall of Lord Bahl. He heads to the divided city Scree where insanity rules due to a seemingly "controlled" drought leading to no one trusting anyone and death and danger are everywhere. Isak does not care or fear anyone even those trying to kill him; for he is on a mission of vengeance, which many of the Farlan believes means razing the small city as an example of Isak's power.

The Twilight Herald is a complex well written fantasy filled with political intrigue and backstabbing that make the Democrats and Republicans look like friendly playmates. The story line is loaded with several major action-packed subplots though most remain dangling for the future; but to truly digest especially the first quarter of the novel with so much happening from the onset the audience needs to have read THE STORMCALLER. Isak successfully takes over the role of solo star with Bahl gone as Tom Lloyd provides a deep complicated political fantasy in which Machiavelli and Borgia would feel at home.

Matthew Sturges
9781591027348, $15.98

Seelie Army Captain Mauritane is accused of treason. He is allowed to live because he is a war hero, but the disgraced officer is sentenced to life behind bars with no parole at the dark mountainous Crere Sulace prison. He has no hope for the future and barely survives the present in this ancient tomb.

That is he has no hope until the Seelie Queen Regina Titania offers Mauritane redemption and freedom if he willingly agrees to perform a suicide mission. He agrees on the condition that he selects his crew and they also receive royal clemency. Titania agrees. As the every century winter freezes the land, Mauritane, Raive the beautiful warrior elf, Lord Perrin Alt, and human scientist woirk to save the Seelie kingdom while the Unseelie Queen Mab deploys the war plan of Hy Pexho to destroy their neighbor.

Besides being an excellent quest fantasy, MIDWINTER is a superb morality play. The hero and his "misfits" must choose between trying to save a nation that incarcerated them vs. fleeing for freedom perhaps in the Contested Lands between the two Fae kingdoms. Interestingly drawing up a pro and con chart would lead to running away because death is the probable response to saving the Seelie. The two nations feel real due to a strong cast in the kingdoms, the Contested Lands that divide them, and the maybe Seelie champions who each has personal enemies. Especially coming alive is the political intrigue inside the Sturges mythos. Fans will relish the eye opening first act from one of the Shadowpack and Jack of Fables comic book team (along with Bill Willingham ), and want more in this Fae setting.

Desire Unchained
Larissa Ione
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780446400985, $6.99

Almost a year has past since the human Runa Wagner caught her boyfriend Shade with two vamps. She fled from him, which, though he misses her, was for the best as a demon breed Seminus has no future with a mortal; worse if he should ever find his bond mate, the curse will torment him for eternity.

Runa's ire over what she saw has grown into outrage with a thirst for vengeance for Shade destroying her innocence. However, her plan falls apart when Shade's breed brother Roag, who loathes him more than she does, captures him and Runa. They awaken chained together in Roag's dungeon. Shade's insane sibling's scheme is diabolically brilliant as he believes she is his brother's love bond and plans to expedite his "loving" concept.

The latest Demonica erotic romantic urban fantasy (see PLEASURE UNBOUND), DESIRE UNCHAINED, is a fabulous tale of love hurts. The story line is fast-paced from the opening sequence of three years ago when a despondent Shade thinks his brother died and never slows down as Roag spellbinds them as lifemates to destroy his sibling. Sub-genre fans will relish a visit to the Ione realm through the Harrowgate to and from New York and Sheoul demon world.

Seducing a Scottish Bride
Sue-Ellen Welfonder
0446195294, $6.99

Following the death of his second wife Ronan "The Raven" MacRuari vows no more marriages. He fears for the life of any future bride at his home Castle Dare as he believes he is either paranormally cursed or haunted by an unknown mortal adversary with access to his home; though he leans towards the supernatural because the natural explanation means a friend or family member has been killing his wives.

However, the twice widower is placed in a quandary when he must marry a MacKenzie to pay off a family debt to the clan. Laird MacKenzie sends a euphoric Lady Gelis to be The Raven's third bride. She has the gift of sight and has seen her intended in a vision. She prepares to bring sunshine into his heart while confronting the dark forces of evil who need her dead in order to possess the Raven Stone that MacRuari owns.

SEDUCING A SCOTTISH BRIDE is a great paranormal historical romance starring two caring individuals whose love puts them at odds with each other. He would rather be celibate than place his Lady Gelis in harm; she would rather battle the entire forces of hell than give up her love. Fans will read this in one delightful sitting so set aside the time.

Trouble in High Heels
Leanne Banks
9780446611749, $6.99

Since the death of her affluent martinet father, heiress Lori Granger has given away a fortune to anyone who asks. Her father's CPA firm is at a loss as to how to prevent Lori from going broke even with her late dad not trusting her with money so he added to his will that she must marry by thirty or live on his budget.

Desperate the partners assign their newest accountant Jackson James to work with the out of control Lori. He behaves different than the wimps she previously was assigned. He says no and means it. However, tired of all their meddling especially her father from the grave, Lori orders Jackson to find her a husband. He struggles with saying no as he is falling in love with his client and worse she wants him to find her a husband.

The growth in the lead characters from Oscar the Grouch and Miss Piggy to caring in love protagonists make for an amusing fun read even if this version of It Happened One Night has been told often. The accountant stoically understands the bottom line is occupied by the expendable newbies who breathe in the sh*t rolling downhill without a snorkel while Lori's monthly pittance would make Republicans in Congress ashamed of her capitalist rant. Fans will enjoy this lighthearted contemporary romance as the lead couple goes through the phases of fictional relationship from war to fragile peace to friendship to love with a few humorous setbacks at each stage.

Songs My Mother Never Taught Me
Selcuk Altun
Telegram Books
26 Westbourne Grove, London W2 5RH
9781846590535, $13.95

In 2003 in Istanbul, fifty three years old widow Dr. Ada Ergenekon dies from cancer. Her husband renowned mathematician Mursel had been murdered twelve years ago. Their twenty-seven years old only child Arda feels relief to no longer be under the thumb of his powerful mother; one week after her death he pronounces his freedom by ending his engagement to Jale, who was more acceptable by his late mom than him.

On his thirty-seventh birthday, Bedirhan Ozturk gives himself the ultimate present. He decides to retire from his vocation of twelve yeas as a hired killer. He is proud of his accomplishments of only taking out those who committed deadly crimes especially against his religion but managed to remain free due to the political cracks. Bedirhan feels strongly he can quit as he has not taken more than two hits a year.

Arda feels a need to track down his father's unknown killer protected by the religious groups. Bedirhan feels a sense of urgency to track down his unknown handler protected by the religious groups. Their goals will collide.

Several fascinating twists starting with Arda meeting and gaining assistance from novelist Selcuk Altun turn what looks to be a revenge thriller into much more as the audience anticipates the confrontation, but is not sure where the collision will lead to. Rotating perspective between A for Arda and B for Bedirhan, fans learn of each lead character's back-story with further references to literary and musical multicultural Turkey. With each chapter the reader feels increasingly a sense of a surrealistic tour of Istanbul inside a colliding universe that represents modern Turkey's struggle to balance religion and secularism.

Stephen Lawhead
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781595540874, $26.99

In the late eleventh century they fled to the forests of the March from the invaders who routed Rhi Bran y Hud and his loyal Grellen fighters from their home Elfael; William the Conqueror gave their land to Abbot Hugo. Although the forest outlaws have become a powerful force due to their skill with the longbow inside the dense forest, they know they are losing the war outside the March. Hugo accompanied by traitorous Guy of Gysburne and their ferocious Ffreinc barbarians assault Bran's subjects with a brutality never seen before as women and children are expendable to this ruthless horde.

Robin and the Grellen feel helpless while their loved ones are being butchered. They know they must confront a much more powerful enemy not as outlaws hiding behind trees in the forest, but as a freedom fighting force. Bran has strong allies like Will Scarlet the forester, Angharad the seer, Merian the warrior and especially the diabolical Friar Tuck. Leaving Will and the seer behind with the Grellen inside the March to continue the guerilla tactics, Bran and Tuck leave the forest to rally the collapsing Ffreinc forces under the rallying cry of the return of the heir. At the same time Lady Merian learns her father is dead and her brother is a puppet married to the enemy. Their efforts look even more hopeless than when they started the end game.

The final tale of the King Raven trilogy (see SCARLET and HOOD) is a terrific finish to a great retelling of the Robin Hood legend. The story line is fast-paced keeping the sense of desperate franticness that the heroes face while their people are being butchered. Fans of the saga will relish Stephen R. Lawhead's excellent rendition but should first read the previous books to obtain a better understanding of what inspires Bran and his loyal teammates to keep on going though they are dispirited and confronting overwhelming odds to become living legends instead of dead outlaws; as even the myths are written by the victors.

Face of Betrayal
Lis Wiehl and April Henry
Thomas Nelson
9781595547057, $24.99

In Portland, Oregon seventeen year old US Senate page Katie Converse goes home during the Christmas recess. However, when her family reports her missing, the media goes into a feeding frenzy searching for any nuance as Katie is the All American paragon; the press seeks clues to her whereabouts while assuming the worst occurred and intrudes on the law enforcement search for her.

Federal prosecutor Allison Pierce, crime reporter Cassidy Shaw, and FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedges uncover incriminating information that Katie is not the role model her parents and others describe. In fact the teen page was having an affair with a much older senator whose political career would be nuked if the truth came out. He will do anything including obstructing justice to conceal his involvement with Katie.

Mindful of Congressman Gary Condit and the murder of Federal Bureau of Prisons intern Chandra Levy scandal that fell off the media scope with 9/11; FACE OF BETRAYAL is a terrific political thriller with a homicide investigation as its underpinning. The story line is fast-paced but loaded with plausible twists that add taut suspense to the inquiry. Lis Wiehl and April Henry provide a superb tale that hooks the reader from the start and never slows down until the final convergence.

Between a Rock and a Heart Place
Natalie Stenzel
Love Spell
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
0505527839, $6.99

As a CPA, Daphne Forbes understands the bottom line better than her accounting peers as the daughter of a druid. However she soon learns the basic paranormal law of unintended consequences when she trips over a magical cornerstone that leaves her with puca and druid magic; of which she understands how to use neither.

For two millennia, Tremayne the spirit essence has been stuck controlling puca powers. He sees his freedom finally by assisting Daphne in using her powers; though he also accepts unintended consequences may occur as long as they happen to her. As Tremayne pretending to be Daphne's guardian tutor trains her to use her power, he finds his long forgotten heart beating with love. He needs to keep his beloved safe even if he must return to the pathetic tormented world she has enabled him to partially escape. When Daphne learns the truth about her soulmate, she vows to risk her life to save him especially from his novel self.

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HEART PLACE is an enjoyable amusing romantic urban fantasy starring a brave heroine struggling with her sudden surge in magical power and in her heart's desire; both new lifting and dangerous experiences. Though the plot is a bit thin, the story line is fast-paced from the onset as the CPA and the spirit fall in love with each of the loving pair thinking he or she will have to sacrifice their life for the other. Fans will enjoy Natalie Stenzel's fun tale and seek her previous paranormal romances (see PANDORA'S BOX and THE DRUID MADE ME DO IT).

Immortals: The Reckoning
Jennifer Ashley, Joy Nash and Robin T. Popp
Love Spell
0505527685, $7.99

"Wolf Hunt" by Jennifer Ashley. Six months ago LAPD cop Logan the werewolf saved the life of Nadia the demon Nadia. Now he receives an urgent call from her from the woody California-Oregon border that they are coming for her. He drops everything to keep her safe, but now faces a dilemma from his past as pack leader Matt and her preadolescent son Joel are involved as much as his heart is.

"Blood Debt" by Joy Nash. One hundred years ago, Leanna the Sidhe killed Jackson in Paris. He survived the encounter but was turned and became a slave to master vampire Armand Legrand. Now he is returning to Paris to kill his former overlord and perhaps Leanna too especially if she tries to prevent his achieving his life's ambition.

"Beyond the Mist" by Robin T. Popp. Poseidon has come to claim what was willingly pledged to him by Sekhmet though the ocean God admits he no longer desires her one year old grandson's soul, but even he cannot break the magical contract. He needs a soul for a soul so Sekhmet thinking the witch Jenna killed her parents offers her up. Spirit-walker Dave and Jenna are on a cruise ship run by Poseidon who comes to collect his debt. If she can free her powers repressed by her mental reaction to family homicides and with Dave's help, she might survive with her soul intact, but can she fight back once she knows the alternate price.

These are three terific Immortals' tales containing strong lead characters, super key support players, and the return of former stars inside deep paranormal thrillers. This is a winning anthology for fans and newcomers by the saga's authors who have writeen at least two novels each.

A Taste of Magic
Tracy Madison
Love Spell
050552810X, $6.99

One year ago on her thirty-third birthday, her spouse left Elizabeth Stevens. Now on her thirty-fourth birthday, Marc, the lemon she is divorced from, has ordered a wedding cake for his second marriage from Elizabeth's co-owned (with Jon Winterson) bakery, A TASTE OF MAGIC.

Her wacko but beloved Grandma Verda provides her beloved granddaughter with the perfect ever happy fairy tale wish. Having gypsy magic flow through her veins, Verda grants Elizabeth with whatever she wishes for by adding it to a cake she bakes for a special customer; what Grandma wants in return is for Elizabeth to once again "believe in the magic of a young girl's heart" (thanks to Lovin' Spoonful). Although she has doubts even with seeing Verda in action, Elizabeth finds several choices from revenge of the ex to attraction to Nate the cop, whom she met while climbing through a window at night; who will taste her wish?

This whimsical urban fantasy is a fun tale as the lead character will learn the effect of unintended consequences when she bakes her wish into a cake. Although Elizabeth is too extreme in her inconsistency that she almost seems bipolar, fans will enjoy the tale of the Gypsy girl getting exactly what she wishes for when she adds A TASTE OF MAGIC to her baked good.

Angels of Destruction
Keith Donohue
Shaye Areheart
c/o The Crown Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, #B1, NY, NY 10019-4305
9780307450258, $25.95

In 1985 in wintry Pennsylvania nine year old Norah knocks on the door of lonely widow Margaret Quinn. The older woman lets the frozen waif inside, but is surprised to learn the child insists she does not have parents and has always been on her own. Norah explains that she needed shelter from the cold night and saw the light in Margaret's home. Margaret excitedly allows Norah to stay; feeling redemption as her own daughter Erica as a teen ran away a decade ago to the West Coast with her boyfriend to join the radical Angels of Destruction.

Margaret and Norah agree that Norah will masquerade her as her granddaughter. Norah enters the school and becomes friends with a student Sean whose dad abandoned him. When Norah begins to insist she is an angel with a destructive message, some fear her while others revel in her seemingly magical happiness. However, one person in the shadows has followed her from before and struggles with what to do about her.

Obviously the bond between Margaret and Norah is the center of the tale as they even convince the older woman's skeptical sister that the child is her grand-niece. Using flashbacks, readers learn what happened to Erica on the road west. However, the key to the story line that keeps reader's attention is who Norah truly is and what is her mission in Pennsylvania.

Rescue Me
Farrah Rochon
Leisure Books
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0843962240, $6.99

Widower Alexander Holmes buried his wife six years ago, but the New Orleans-based owner of Holmes Construction has never mourned his loss. Instead, he has given up on women; preferring celibacy since he learned his spouse frequently cheated on him; a fact he has hidden from his family especially his daughter Jasmine.

Renee Moore has come to the city to help her aunt repair her home from the damage Katrina caused to it. She meets Alex at his daughter's school where she has been hired as special projects coordinator and he is has agreed to be a volunteer because he hopes his being there will straighten out of his child's recent misbehavior. They are attracted to one another, but each has doubts though both decide to take a chance.

The third Holmes brother post Katrina New Orleans romance (see DELIVER ME and RELEASE ME) is a superb tale starring two caring wonderful people trying to help others make it in a city still recovering. In fact the contrast between New Orleans and the tiny Caribbean island of St. Martin (the family travels there for a wedding) is stunning. Once again as with the previous "Me" tales, the lead characters make for a delightful entry as these two caregivers find love places each in a strange situation of receiving.

Someone Like You
Leigh Greenwood
084396135X, $7.99

Nine years ago in Rancho Los Almitos, California, nineteen year old Rafe Jerry loved aristocratic beauty Dolores de la Guerra. However, he was stunned to find his Dolores in bed with his widower father Warren. The two men fight and the older Jerry banishes his son forever. Warren and Dolores married while Rafe joined the Army.

Now his dad is dead and Rafe inherits the spread. His stepmother is as selfish as ever as she considers her wardrobe more important than food on the table. He comes home to settle matters and to find a military traitor Laveau di Viere. Adding insult, Dolores has a new lover his enemy; and a son, his preadolescent half-brother Luis. Worse are his traitorous feelings for Dolores' sister Maria

No one writes western romance better than Leigh Greenwood consistently does. His latest Night Rider thriller is an exciting action-packed entry that lives up the quality of the three previous tales (see TEXAS HOMECOMING, TEXAS BRIDE and BORN TO LOVE). The cast is strong from the bitter Rafe to the innocent Luis to the shallow Dolores and to the loving Maria; while the secondary players like Bronc and Miguel enhance the deep look at the key characters even Laveau. Fans will enjoy this story of avarice and duplicity in Post Civil War California.

The Rose and the Shield
Elaine Barbieri
0843960140, $7.99

In 1066 as William and his Normans defeated the Saxons, one of the Conquerors loyal nobles Baron Guilbert de Silva and his troops slaughtered the defenders of Hendsmille. Nine years later, the bloody Baron orders his master mason to build a cathedral that will enable him to obtain God's forgiveness for killing so many. However, unlike when he built the Baron's castle, age has taken its toll on the master Mason. His daughter Rosamund, who hates the Normans, knows her father ails and cannot lead the effort. She dresses as a male to help her dad build the odious baron's edifice.

Ross rescues robbery victim Sir Dagan. As he recuperates from his fatal wounds, Dagan realizes why he cannot ignore his young savior's delicate face; he realizes beneath that youthful male garb is a beautiful woman he desires. However, he hides his attraction because his vow is to keep his Rose safe from the abusive deadly baron. Rosamund is in love with her knight, but also loathes him for being Norman.

Fans will relish this Conqueror romance as the feisty heroine learns the hard way how destructive stereotyping can be to the soul of the person filled with hatred and bias as the kind but brave Dagan teaches her that not every Norman is a butcher like the Baron is. Although women dressing as men have been used frequently by writers like Shakespeare and in movies like Shakespeare in Love, Elaine Barbieri keeps her historical brisk with two strong lead characters and a villain everyone will despise.

The High City
Cecelia Holland
c/o Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765305596, $25.95

Late in the tenth century, with his beloved cousin Conn dead lying in a cave under Kiev, Raef Corbansson feels survivor guilt and isolation. He knows his cousin who was his best friend and who saved his worthless life. Raef feels that was such a waste as he should have died not Conn (see VARANGER). Raef becomes a rower on a ship where no one seems to speak the same language. They shipwreck near Chrysopolis with his crewmates captured by an invading army. Raef rescues his oarmate and helps save the Armada loyal to Byzantine Emperor Basil under the command of Michael Lecapenus win the battle.

Raef and the victors travel to Constantinople to celebrate, but he cannot as Conn and the magic inside him both haunt him. Emperor Basil is irate when Raef refuses to join his army and pledge dying loyalty to him especially his refusal to track down and bring home in chains if necessary the runaway Empress Helena who has joined the enemy; he soon faces a treason charge. Lecapenus and Laissa the whore help his escape from an emperor, a city and an empire he sees as corrupt.

The superb fifth Dark Ages Viking saga (see VARANGER and Conn's father's escapades in THE SERPENT DREAMER, THE SOUL THIEF and THE WITCHES' KITCHEN) is an exhilarating historical thriller that continues the adventures of the survivor of the second generation. This time much of the novel rotates between an anguished yet heroic Raef with no time to grieve and the absolute demanding Basil. Fascinatingly, Raef's saving the armada becomes yesterday's news as the Emperor demands what you will be doing for me immediately. Fans of the tenth century saga of a traveling Irish barbarian will fully relish this direct sequel to VARANGER; newcomers will better appreciate Raef's anguish if they read the previous entry first.

The Better To Hold You
Alisa Sheckley
Del Rey
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780345505873, $6.99

In Manhattan, veterinarian Abra Barrow has always been more comfortable with animals than with people as she understands the former better than the latter. Her relationship with her spouse Hunter is based on her acquiescing to his requests and to not make waves though she adores him.

When Hunter comes back from a field research study in Romania to look at the local wolf population, he behaves radically different than before he left. He cannot sit still in their apartment and he and her boss Malachy ramble about werewolves or some wacko similar theory. Hunter persuades Abra to move to rural Northside. There his suddenly barbaric attitude flourishes especially in the bedroom, but not always just with her as there is Magda. Abra considers leaving the man she loves as increasingly he acts more like a wild animal while she behaves even wilder with Red.

This is an intriguing tale with a paranormal spin, a bit of a mystery, plenty of romance and a fascinating all in the family twist. The key characters are fully developed especially the beleaguered heroine. Although the story line takes a bit long to set the cast and locale, fans will relish Alisa Sheckley's fine thriller.

Me Cheeta
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022-5299
9780061647420, $24.99

Septuagenarian Cheeta of Tarzan fame is proud of his film resume. Before becoming Weissmuller's sidekick in 1934, he was captured two years earlier in the Liberian jungle and brought to Hollywood under the name Jiggs. After performing in eleven Tarzan movies as Cheeta, he was considered too old so he was forced into retirement. He came out of the rest home for retired acting chimps to make one film in the 1960s in Doctor Doolittle (Harrison not Murphy). Still alive and residing in Creative Habitats and Enrichment for Endangered and Threatened Apes (C.H.E.E.T.A.) in Palm Springs, California, he provides his unique perspective of Hollywood.

This is a unique autobiographical fiction in that it is "written" by a chimp who tells his story in Hollywood. Cheeta provides an insider look at some of the great names especially in the 1930s and 1940s like Gable, Bogart, Rooney, and of course his sidekick Johnny Weissmuller. Although there is little about the life of an animal star in spite of the author, fans will enjoy the latest Hollywood expose as Cheeta tells about his co-stars' monkey business as the likes of Natalie Wood and Victor Mature agreeing he was a better kisser than James Dean.

Well Read and Dead
Catherine O'Connell
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022-5299
9780061673252, $13.99

While her penthouse is being renovated, socialite Pauline Cook is on Gianfranco's yacht cruising the Mediterranean. It was when the cruise for two ended she realized he was married. It is in Paris she learns that her stock portfolio mostly invested in Enron is worthless. She rushes home to Chicago to find contractor Tag McKay overseeing the renovation. She is attracted to him though he is not in her social class and besides she needs to marry a rich man right away that hopefully she can love while he keeps her in the lifestyle she is accustomed to.

Before she goes husband hunting, Pauline visits her closest friend Whitney Armstrong to pick up her cat Fleur. Whitney's husband Jack says his wife is missing and offers Pauline five million dollars to find her; he later raises the reward to ten million. With bills mounting and no income to pay them, though way out of her element Pauline begins a search that leads her to Thailand, from there to Cambodia where Jack's factory is located and back to Thailand where she begins getting answers. When she returns to the States, a woman she does not know tries to kill Pauline.

Pauline is a member of the hoi polloi jet setters in which olde money is everything and those without are not worthy of their attention except as servants. However, her inquiry takes her into worlds she never imagined; this changes her. Her husband hunting amidst the Fortune Five Hundred is amusing and ironic when she falls in love with a middle class blue collar working stiff. As Pauline matures from spoiled snobbish socialite to valuing all types of people, she makes Catherine O'Connell's fine thriller WELL READ AND DEAD an engaging read.

The Dakota Cipher
William Dietrich
9780061568008, $26.99

Ethan Gage is enjoying his stay in Paris as Napoleon has forgiven him for the Battle at Acre. His goal is to enjoy the Emperor's married sister Pauline. However, after spending a delightful night with Pauline, thugs kidnap Ethan and tie him up to some fireworks. Thanks to melted chocolate in his sleeves and luck, he escapes and looks like a hero to the crowd as he appears to be holding the torch of liberty during the gala. With Pauline's help, accompanied by Norwegian freedom fighter Magnus Bloodhammer, who seeks Thor's Hammer to free his people from the Danes, he escapes to America.

The French who reclaimed the Louisiana Territory and President Jefferson want Gage to explore beyond the Great Lakes. A reluctant Ethan and Magnus begin the journey from DC to Detroit and from there across the Great Lakes towards the un-chartered Northwest in search of blue eyed light skin Indians, woolly mammoths and Thor's Hammer; allegedly brought by Knights Templar in the fourteenth century.

This fast-paced historical thriller engages readers from the moment that Ethan knows it is time to say au revoir and never slows down as he and the Odin look alike Magnus make the westward journey before Lewis and Clark. The story line is filled with action even when Ethan has them resting in New York waiting for the election of 1800 to be decided. The contrast between Magnus and Ethan is incredible as the former is dedicated to his quest and the memory of his beloved late wife while the latter is dedicated to the woman of the moment; in fact Gage's womanizing gets him into one dangerous predicament after another whether it is in France or on the Great Lakes and beyond. Readers will relish his coming home escapades while newcomers will seek his previous adventures overseas (see NAPOLEON'S PYRAMID and THE ROSETTA KEY).

The Believers
Zoe Heller
9780061430206, $25.99

Over four decades since the 1960s leftist activism of their youths, Audrey and Joel Litvinoff had hoped their children would have some of their enthusiasm. However, instead they live radically different lives than their parents as each of the trio attempts to escape from what they perceive has become perpetual hypocritical activism. Rosa works with troubled teens which leave her questioning right from wrong as defined by her parents. Following a Castro period, Karla has turned to marriage to escape her parents and their unending drone beat of get involved. Lenny has turned to drug addiction as his escapism.

Even Joel and Audrey have changed. Joel relishes his role as star attorney to the "Un-American' while Audrey has become shrewish re her mantra you are either part of the solution or part of the problem while sipping expensive champagne. She especially turns ugly when Joel falls into a coma after a stroke and his hypocrisy surfaces.

This is an interesting family drama as the activist parents head into late middle age, their offspring rebel against their refrain in differing ways. The five Liviniff brood are fascinating antagonists with differing personalities. However, none takes charge of holding the story line together. Instead the premise feels in many ways as an ensemble cast running from each other even when all gather at the hospital. Thus the parts are intriguing and well written but are greater than their sum.

No Survivors
Tom Cain
Viking Books
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780670020492, $25.95

In 1998 in a Swiss hospital, assassin Samuel Carver slowly recuperates from a horrific torture that has left him with amnesia. He does not know his name or his occupation. Former Russian spy, Alix Petrova is taking care of her severely injured boyfriend.

While Carver lies in the hospital, dying oilman Waylon McCabe believes he will go to heaven as part of the Rapture. To insure he does before the cancer kills him, he arranges for nuclear Armageddon. At the same a frustrated Lieutenant General Kurt Vermulen warns the Pentagon and other agencies that a Middle East terrorist group no one recognizes called al Qaeda poses a viable direct threat to America. Only McCabe believes Vermulen even as he tries to buy a Russian suitcase containing nuclear weapons from the international black market where allegedly 100 such containers are up for sale even as the Feds deny it. Alix has been sent to seduce information from the General while a still healing Carver who at least knows his name, his profession, and most significant his girlfriend follows.

The sequel to the exhilarating THE ACCIDENT MAN is a fast-paced cautionary thriller that will fully engross readers with the hindsight of 9/11. Sam is at his best not because he is physically or mentally ready to return to field operations as he is not, but because he must return to the field. Using public information, Tom Cain provides a powerful condemnation of the Feds who ignore lessons learned as damage control of their image is everything whether it is the Marine base in Lebanon (Reagan), the USS Cole and the embassies in Africa (under Clinton) or 9/11 (under Bush).

Shadows of Lancaster County
Mindy Starns Clark
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736924474, $13.99

Although she still suffers nightmares, she felt she paid her dues a long time ago when she left her Dreiheit, Pennsylvania Dutch home for California. Anna Bailey changed her name from Annalise Jenson and became a skip tracer. However, the call from her sister-in-law Lydia Jenson changes all that. Anna's brother Bobby, the only person back in Amish country who had her phone number gave it to his wife last night telling her to use it if something happens; Bobby is missing.

Anna agrees to come home to search for Bobby although she ruefully knows her "J'accuse" past will surface in living color. In Dreiheit, Anna investigates the clues of her sibling's disappearance and soon links him to missing rubies. As she gets closer to the truth of what happened to Bobby and the treasure, her fears grow that he is dead and if she survives somehow this time fleeing to the West Coast may not be stabling enough for her; however this time also there is Remy Villefranche and especially Reed Thornton.

This is an exciting Christian investigative suspense thriller that hooks the audience with the shocking opening proclamation, a terrific story line and a fabulous final twist. The story is fast-paced from the moment Anna knows Annalise is coming home and never slows down as she conducts her inquiry. Although the romantic subplot feels a bit forced, Mindy Starns Clark provides her grateful audience with a strong tale of redemption with deliverance from a fabrication by the more powerful.

Fatal Lies
Frank Tallis
Random House
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780812977776, $15.00

Headmaster Julis Eichmann runs St. Florian's Military Academy near Vienna with an iron fist. However, when fifteen year old student Thomas Zelenka is found dead, Police Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt and psychotherapist Dr. Max Liebermann lead the official inquiry though the latter detests time away from Hungarian musician Trezska Novak.

On the surface, there is no evidence of a homicide though the two sleuths wonder why the victim has so many cuts and scratches all over his torso even under his armpits. Although no one cooperates, especially the headmaster, the investigators soon learn of sexual trysts between the faculty and staff with the students. Especially alarming is an alleged encounter between the dead teen and a teacher Herr Sommer as well as the pupil with the wife of the assistant headmaster. Finally they uncover a student cult dedicated to Nietzsche led by the nephew of Police Commissioner Brugel, who already loathes the use of Freudian psychology in official investigations.

Using real famous Vienna persona to anchor time and place, Frank Tallis writes a great historical mystery. The story line is fast-paced as the lead sleuths follow clues that take them into diverse directions. The whodunit is clever, but once again as with BLOOD AND DEATH IN VIENNA, it is the profound look at intellectual Vienna circa 1900 that owns the novel.

The Vampire of Ropraz
Jacques Chessex
Bitter Lemon Press
37 Arundel Gardens, London, W11 2LW, United Kingdom
9781904738336, $12.95

In 1903 in Ropraz, Switzerland, a young woman dies from meningitis. Soon after she is buried, her tomb is opened and she has been defiled by someone who sliced off a hand, mutilated her virginal genitals, and ripped out her heart. The residents of the Jura Mountain village are horrified by the depraved defilement and many believe no Godly person could have done the deed. The villagers believe something paranormally evil did the deed.. Garlic is hung everywhere and no one goes anywhere without wearing a cross; nocturnal activity is almost nonexistent.

Two more corpses are found as mutilated as that of the young girl. Suspicion falls on stable boy Favez due to his being a loner and more so because of his eyes, which are a bit more reddish than normal. He is arrested and sent to an asylum to receive psychiatric help.

This is an interesting fictionalization of a true crime incident in which the reactions to the depravity is the prime emphasis instead of the horror or the inquiry. In 106 pages, Jacques Chessex contrasts the pristine cold beauty of the region to the cold-blooded horrific defiling acts and the reactions of the locals who turn to superstition to ward off evil. Although not a supernatural thriller as the title is a metaphor and neither a police procedural investigative tale, THE VAMPIRE OF ROPRAZ is a fine historical tale that looks deep at Swiss villagers' reactions to gruesome deeds at the turn of the previous century with a fitting final spin.

Blood Magic
Jennifer Lyon
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780345506344, $6.99

Funeral director Darcy MacAlister finds arranging her beloved mom's funeral is a catharsis of sorts although hearing some speak of the deceased as if she was evil bothers her enough that her Special Forces cousin Joe notices and tells her to ignore the fools. At about the same time that she buries her mom, witch hunter Wing Slayer Hunter leader Axel Locke is worried that his sister Hannah has been attacked by a death curse. He knows only two ways to save her: either the curse is lifted or a witch must die. Axel knows if he kills an innocent witch his soul will burn, but those witches who broke their sacred vow to protect humans from demons by switching sides are another matter as their former guardians like him are obsessed with killing the traitors.

Axel abducts a terrified Darcy whom he recognizes as an earth witch. He hopes to gain her cooperation by having her lift the spell. However though she commiserates with Hannah's dilemma, she never knew that witch blood flowed in her veins. Time is running out although she agrees to try to break the curse.

This is a fabulous opening act of a wonderful urban romantic fantasy starring two intriguing protagonists with an unwanted attraction pushing them towards each other and a blood curse pulling them apart. The story line is fast-paced, but owned by the lead pair as they "naturally" squabble while struggling to save his sibling. Jennifer Lyon bewitches sub-genre fans with this terrific thriller.

Sudden Death
Allison Brennan
9780345502742, $7.99

The killer murdered vets in Austin and Las Vegas before the third victim appeared in a Sacramento alley. Each was single, between thirty five and forty five years old, and former Delta Force soldiers; they were tortured with their hamstrings cut so they could not escape. FBI special agent Megan Elliot knows she has a serial killer to contend with, but who and why remains out of reach. She turns to the military to learn more about the Delta Force, but the Pentagon refuses to cooperate; going so far as claiming a corpse due to national security.

Ex-Army Ranger Jack Kincaid runs a mercenary team in Texas. When someone tortures and murders one of his associates, a Delta Force vet, he vows justice for his fallen brother in arms. His breaking the rules leads him to frustrated by the book Megan.

Readers meet the two killers and the motive before Megan investigates the Sacramento crime scene so the tense story line is more a cat and mouse contest with death being the most likely outcome. Jack and Megan are opposites as he flaunts the rules while she embraces them. They are a wonderful pairing, but the prime reason fans will enjoy this exhilarating FBI romantic suspense is the chilling serial killing duo Karin and Ethan, but especially her.

Execution Dock
Anne Perry
9780345469335, $26.00

In 1864, now the head of the Thames River Police, William Monk is anxious to arrest Jericho Phillips and see him hung. The odious Phillips is a child pornographer who kidnaps young boys and forces them to perform perverted deeds. He makes a lucrative business as a supplier of kids to his pedophile customers and takes photos of the young in sexual acts that he sells to the stores.

Monk apprehends the lowlife, who is on trial defended by the police chief's friend Sir Oliver Rathbone at the bequest of his father-in-law; who insists everyone deserves a good lawyer. Oliver tears into the prosecution's airtight case leading to the defendant walking away free and Mon's reputation sunk into the sift on the bottom of the Thames. Monk, his wife Hester and others are more determined than ever to see Phillips hang, but rumors spread about their methods and judgment leading to condemnation of the chief and his police force as stalkers. Phillips has clients in high places who refuse to lose their pleasure connection, but when the pedophile take something Monk treasures all hell breaks loose.

It has been too long (2006 DARK ASSASSIN) since Anne Perry has written a Monk Victorian Era police procedural, but fans of the series will feel the wait was worth waiting. Readers are taken on a tour of the Thames just after Queen Victoria's beloved Consort prince Albert dies. Monk is as efficient as ever, but his efforts are purposely misinterpreted so that he seems more like Les Miserables' (by Hugo) malevolent stalking Police Detective Javert chasing Valjean over a stolen loaf of bread (note that novel occurs during the reign of Napoleon III so is the same age as the Monk thriller). Hester is a free thinking woman not afraid to act on her own so Monk has learned throughout the series to rely on her as she always comes through. Readers will enjoy this riveting historical mystery.

Robert Conroy
9780345506078, $15.00

The success of December 7th, 1941 emboldened by its total success of wiping out Pearl Harbor to include the storage fuel, Admiral Yamamoto sees an opportunity to win the war in the Pacific faster than the German blitzkrieg of France. He sends his Imperial forces on a mission to invade, conquer and occupy the Hawaiian Islands while the Americans are reeling. His army succeeds.

An ailing President Roosevelt tries to keep the morale up, but fears he is failing. The U.S. Army sneak onto the islands intelligence officer Captain Jake Novacek to keep code breaker Commander Joe Rochefort safe; as the latter is a major key in kicking the Japanese off of Hawaii and the rest of the Pacific islands now occupied. Jake is forced to put on hold his camaraderie with and attraction to Widow Alexa Sanderson, whose husband died in the first wave. Using torture, rape and murder along with frightened Quislings to keep the locals in line, Japanese Secret Police chief Colonel Shigenori Omori also makes Alexa his mistress while Roosevelt and the Pentagon plan a counterattack and Jake conducts guerilla operations on the islands.

Once again as he did with 1945, 1901 and 1862, Robert Conroy provides an alternate history focusing on a critical year based on a modification of a pivot point; this time Pearl Harbor and a spin to the aftermath in 1942. The story line is at its most exciting when the action especially Jake's guerilla activity is the concentration. Intriguingly the more fascinating segments deal with military strategy, but those sections can be dry. 1942 is the latest well written retelling of the War in the Pacific.

Highland Outlaw
Monica McCarty
9780345503398, $6.99

In 1606 Patrick MacGregor and his cousins are on their way to Inveraray Castle, home of their enemies the Campbells, who under the King's decree have outlawed their clan; Alasdair wants to win the archery contest. They stop at a tavern where they hear John Montgomery, brother to an earl, talk derogatorily about his plan to wed the Campbell mouse Stammering Elizabeth Montach to forge an alliance; besides he says she is wealthy and owns land. To John's chagrin, as he and his pals discuss his pathetic fiancee, Elizabeth enters the tavern hearing the derogatory comments. She slips as she walks out so Patrick although he knows to do nothing helps her up; he exposes himself to her dangerous brother the bloody Henchman before they escape with a diversion they created.

Two years later, Lizzie is on her way by coach to Castle Campbell where her family wants her to marry; the only man who ever showed her kindness was a MacGregor, but he is an outlaw. The MacGregor outlaws attack her coach, but Patrick realizes Elizabeth is inside and keeps her safe. He risks his life to insure she arrives at her uncle's castle safely. She assumes he is not a MacGregor, but her brave champion. As they fall in love, she learns who he really is, but vows to marry him anyway. He loves her but his clan must come first.

This is a terrific Scottish Highlands historical romance due to the deep support cast who insure the feuds remain ignited, which in turn leaves the lead couple as star-crossed lovers in which each side's kin wants the blood of the other. Fans will enjoy this fine tale as Patrick wants to kiss his Lizzie, but must dodge her brother who wants him dead because he is a MacGregor.

To Romance A Charming Rogue
Nicole Jordan
9780345510105, $6.99

In 1815 Lady Eleanor Pierce met Damon Stafford and fell in love. The Viscount shared her regard and soon they were engaged. She knew he was her life mate, but she ended their engagement when Damon flaunted his mistress in front of the ton. Heartbroken, she assumed she will end up on the shelf, but vowed to hold her head up high in polite society.

Two years later at a gala at Carleton House, Eleanor and Damon see each other for the first time since she ended their betrothal. Both feel the sparks of attraction. However, though he planned to ignore her and his heart, he is concerned over her safety as Italian nobleman Antonio Lazzara, who is courting Eleanor in hopes she will marry him, has been the victim of several dangerous accidents. Someone wants him dead and collateral damage means nothing to this adversary. Vowing to keep her safe, both try to hide their hearts, but love makes that increasingly difficult to maintain.

Though the romantic tango between the lead characters seems at times caught in a cul de sac, Regency romance fans will enjoy the "Courtship Wars" between a brave heroine and a remorseful champion as neither dare expose their feelings for fear of rejection. Eleanor's courage makes the tale as she knows she never stopped loving Damon and to be with him is wonderful yet frustrating. His guilt feeling for what he did to her makes the Viscount a refreshing Regency rake. Sub-genre readers will enjoy their two step back and forth romance.

Docketful of Poesy
Diane Killian
Perservance Press
c/o Daniel & Daniel, Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781880284971, $14.95

Byronic scholar Grace Hollister is excited with the cable film adaptation of her memoir Dangerous to Know. Invited to the set, she travels from Los Angeles to the movie location in the Lake District thinking this will be a fun English country holiday.

However when the TV movie's screenwriter dies in a hit-and-run, the producer hires Grace as the script doctor. Upon arrival on location, Grace notices several questionable incidents, but initially assumes it is a coincidence until a poisoning occurs. When her lover reformed jewel thief turned antiques dealer Peter Fox informs her someone broke into his shop, she begins to investigate thinking there is a link to the shop's B&E and the film's misfortunate happenings though she cannot see what that is and even doubts her theory. As she researches her next forgotten literary star project, Grace makes inquiries into the film crew.

The latest literary scholar amateur sleuth Grace Hollister (see SONNET OF THE SPHINX) is a terrific tale as the heroine holds together several intriguing subplots. Besides her research into a poet, she investigates the break-in into the antiques shop and the problems on the movie set. She also has some issues with Peter accentuated by a cop who wants her. DOCKETFUL OF POESY is a wonderful mystery as Grace uses her literary research skills to investigate HIGH RHYMES AND MISDEMEANORS.

Run a Crooked Mile
Janet LaPierre
9781880284889, $14.95

With the death of her husband, Rosemary Mendes decides she needs to start over. Using the money from the life insurance and encouraged by her adult sons while ignoring the rest of the family's whining she moves to rustic Weaverville, California in the remote northern Trinity Alps. She surprises herself when she becomes active in the community as she planned on being a loner, but the acceptance of the townfolk surprised her while making her feel good.

When another female newcomer Michelle "Mike" Morgan is shot to death in what is reported as a hunting accident, Rosemary has doubts as she is related to many hunters who never mistook a human for a deer. Still she reluctantly adopts Mike's dog Tank. Meanwhile during her latest recurring meal sharing with local Gray Campbell, she learns no one knew much about Mike or her dog. Deciding the escape to Trinity County bonded her to a dead woman she never met; Rosemary investigates who Mike was and why she was murdered; as the outsider believes the hunting accident was a homicide.

Leaving the Port Silva mysteries, Janet LaPierre provides a strong amateur sleuth starring a tough caring widow who is unaware initially of the danger she brings onto herself when she cannot resist the lure of the coincidence of two single females coming to town to start over. The story line is fast-paced, but provides a lucid sense of location as the real town of Weaverville comes vividly alive. Fans will enjoy the misadventures of Rosemary and her adopted "baby" Tank as they investigate Mike's murder over the objection of Sheriff Gus Angstrom who worries about her safety.

Heart and Soul
Maeve Binchy
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780307265791, $26.95

Cardiologist Dr. Clara Casey knows how far she has fallen from grace with her new position as the head of t St. Brigid's Hospital. She agreed to a one year stint at the always in financial need clinic while trying to resuscitate her medical career. She does no care about revising her dead marriage as she knows it collapsed due to her cheating spouse's wandering penis. She also has two adult daughters who are demanding and spoiled and her ex keeps sniffing around her.

Clara plans to do the best she can at St. Brigid's and ignore her family as much as possible. She finds her staff hardworking and cheerful in spite of lousy hours, crappy pay, and fractious patients. Her Polish assistant Ania is bright and hardworking although Clara knows if she had been in Ireland she could have been one of her former husband's trophies. Instead she is an indispensable addition to the staff. Nurse Fiona Ryan brings professional care taking to the patients having moved past her personal disaster of NIGHTS OF RAIN AND STARS. Outside the clinic Clara meets friendly people especially at a local restaurant. Clara is having the time of her life and considers extending her stay though her daughters and her ex object; like they have a vote on her life.

The fascination with this fine entry by Maeve Binchy is that the star of the story line Clara is off page more often than not as the spotlight is frequently on the support cast in and out of the hospital; the amazement is how well the plot stays focused even meandering to other countries. The cast is strong as always and their lives interweave in a much more complex convoluted intricacies that make the DNA matrix look like a preschool puzzle. With the return of characters like the nurse from previous novels, fans of Ms. Binchy will have a wonderful time reading her latest multifaceted look at relationships.

The Winter Vault
Anne Michaels
9780307270825, $25.00

Avery and Jean met near the St. Lawrence River. The engineer and botanist are attracted to one another, fall in love and marry. In 1964 he is assigned as part of a team dismantling, relocating, and reconstructing the Great Temple. Traumatized with the loss of their child that leaves both heartbroken, their relationship becomes a victim too as they go back to Toronto separately.

Avery returns to school as an architectural student and Jean meets Polish artist Lucjan, a Polish immigrant. However, Lucjan proves errant when it comes to relationships; as if he is unable to relax perhaps from his time in Warsaw when the Red Army more than just threatened everyone. Jean has her baggage too as she has not forgotten Avery and their history together that included two watery destructions of the past.

This is a profound tale that looks deep into the debate between historical heritage and modern day progress as Avery and Jean participate in the development of two watery graveyards that on the one hand provided great economic growth to the respective regions. The story line is character driven with the action somewhat muted to the support role as THE WINTER VAULT is more cerebrally poetically passive than active.

A Mad Desire to Dance
Elie Wiesel
9780307266507, $26.95

In the late 1990s in New York, sixty year old Polish Jew Doriel Waldman knows his nightmarish childhood has left him depressed, lonely, and believing he is going insane. He reluctantly turns to psychoanalyst Dr. Therese Goldschmidt for help though he believes the shrink will do nothing to relieve him of his demons. His attitude towards the doctor is belligerent as he rants at her in anger about his youth and his solitary future.

Doriel was born in 1936. He and his father hid from the Nazis during the occupation; his two sisters were less fortunate having been killed by the bastards and he assumes suffered much worse atrocities from these beasts. His mother was part of the Polish underground resistance; ironically, God played quite a trick on the Waldman male survivors when after the war ended she died in an accident. He further explains he feels guilty as a Jew in WW II Europe who cannot even claim being a Holocaust survivor even if he was a preadolescent at the time. Therese begins to connect with her angry recalcitrant patient as he begins to understand the traumas that have left him melancholy for five decades and a slight flicker of hope as he returns to his religion for solace but even there he finds the demon inside him.

This intense look at survivors of traumas years after the events have occurred is an intense superb but extremely difficult tale to read. The audience learns what haunts Doriel (through Therese's notes) as his memories deleted the good times leaving behind an expanded bad. Fans of Elie Wiesel will appreciate this powerful character driven tale of the long term effects of a trauma on the soul of a survivor.

Red Headed Child
Jaye Wells
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue , New York, NY 10017-0010
9780316037761, $7.99

Half breed Sabina Kane has not been comfortable in the world of the vampire that she grew up in with her mom. She has limited knowledge of her patriarchal side of the world of the mage; only enough to despise them. Amongst the vampire brood she grew up with, she is a pariah of sorts even within her maternal family only worthy of the lowly occupation of vampire assassin.

Her latest mission leads her to meeting Adam who tells her about her paternal family. She begins to widen her knowledge of other species even as her maternal grandmother demands she obey and do her job; the only task suited for one whose blood is half tainted. Her assignment is to infiltrate a rival vampire clan and kill its charismatic demonic guest or perhaps leader. The mission, if successful, may devastate the uneasy peace between the vampires and the mages, but her grandma insists she do the assignment or be an outcast for betraying her family.

RED-HEADED STEPCHILD is an exciting action-packed urban fantasy starring an intriguing heroine who grew up knowing she is worthless because of her half-breed heritage. In the vampire world of her maternal family hybrids are expendable; a belief her grandmother enforces all the time. The story line follows closely Sabina's escapades as her latest mission enables her to learn more about her paternal roots. With humorous asides starting with drinking human blood laced with cannabis to the final confrontation in Central Park, fans will relish the adventures of Sabina as she begins to obtain self-esteem.

A Madness of Angels: Or the Resurrection of Matthew Swift
Kate Griffin
0316041254, $19.99

In London two years ago malevolent mage Robert James Bakker arranged for the death of sorcerer Matthew Swift. No doubt the young man was dead as his unknown adversary left a grand canyon in his chest. His body was never recovered and his killer never found.

Matthew awakens in a strange bed, but no longer occupies his body alone. He has come back from the dead as a "we" with an "electric angel" as his co-occupant. Swift wants vengeance against his unknown culprit so he investigates what happened to him two years ago. He meets magician Dudley Sinclair, who believes Bakker and his evil cabal with the help of Matthew's seditious apprentice murdered him. Whereas Matthew is willing to die again to obtain vengeance, Dudley wants the entire Bakker cabal dead as all her evil practitioners.

Although the story line is perhaps overly simplistic and too linear, being as straight as the Bonneville Salt Flats track, fans will enjoy the "Resurrection of Matthew Swift". Swift is an enigmatic protagonist while Sinclair and Bakker seem like Yin and Yang polar opposite practitioners. The key to the engaging urban fantasy is the world of Kate Griffin filled with mages and A MADNESS OF ANGELS feels genuine enabling the reader to get lost in this alternate London.

Lullaby for Two
Karen Rose Smith
Silhouette Special Edition
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373654437, $4.99

Two and a half months ago Albuquerque homicide cop Vince Rossi became the legal guardian of now seven month old Sean Davidson. He moved back with his baby to his hometown of Sagebrush, Texas where he thought the child would receive the medical attention he needed from the Family Tree Health Center for his injured shoulder. Vince is the town's temporary Chief of Police having replaced Clinton Farmer who is recovering from a heart attack

The only problem with the facility is one of the three practicing pediatricians is his ex wife Tricia McGuire. Two decades ago the teenagers fell in love, she got pregnant and her widower dad disowned her. Vince and Tracia married, but she went into labor at twenty-six weeks; the baby died and her uterus was destroyed too. Their marriage ended with the death of their premature child. Now he is back with an infant and she remains attracted to him. Vince never forgot the teen he loved then and the thirty-eight years old woman he wants now. However, both in spite of their love for one another fear their time has passed.

Nobody does child "matchmaking" romances (see Dads in Progress trilogy) better than Karen Rose Smith consistently and refreshingly does. Using an infant in need as the impetus, Ms. Smith provides a strong second chance at love tale. The key to this and all her delightful dramas is the children do not always behave precociously - when a baby needs changing or is hungry they howl ignoring the source of contentment is sleeping. Fans of engaging family drama will appreciate the first Baby Expert story as Vince and Tracia want to share a Lullaby for three, but neither braves that first critical reaching out step; besides which it is hard to romance when your dodging urine, spit, and baby food goo.

Immortal Bride
Lisa Childs
Silhouette Nocturne
9780373618064, $5.25

During their honeymoon, Olivia Kingston-Gray vanished without a trace. Her husband Damien is stunned and grieves his loss; compounded by her body not being found as her corpse lies on the bottom of the Lake of Tears. Damien comes home to Grayson in the Upper Michigan Peninsular only to be greeted by his angry dead wife, a ghost.

Olivia believes Damien killed her though she cannot understand why especially since they just married. She seeks vengeance, but soon watching her spouse's sadness and grief concludes he never killed her. She also realizes he is danger from the evil of past blood spilled as Damien's cousin Nathan, a Native American shaman, plans to remind his relative of his heritage. Willing to lose her eternal soul to keep her beloved Damien safe, but not sure from who or what, Olivia soon realizes she possesses the impossible; the only thing she will never sacrifice even for her beloved spouse.

This is a superb paranormal romantic suspense starring a grieving lead male and an irate deceased female wanting to send him to hell; not realizing at first he is already figuratively there. The support cast is strong as it enhances the relationship between the Grays while providing the impetus of some fabulous twists. Lisa Childs writes a powerful paranormal thriller that groups the audience from the moment we meet Olivia at the bottom of the lake.

Fury Calls
Caridad Pineiro
Silhouette Nocturne
9780373618071, $5.25

The Manhattan vampire community is stunned when a couple in bloodlust apparently killed each other in Otro Mundo restaurant in Soho. Blake Reynolds investigates their deaths with the reluctant help of vampiric chef Meghan Thomas who works there. She hates Blake for converting her three years, elven months and ten days ago; but who is counting? Blake and Meghan are.

A loner for a century and a half, Blake loves Meghan but knows he can survive without her for another 150 years. Still he hopes to earn her respect and regard as he has vowed to be more considerate towards lesser species ever since he over indulged with her. His goal is to win her love. However, though attracted to him, she doubts her sire is a one blood woman man even as a serial vampire killer stalks the underground undead of New York.

This excellent vampire romantic suspense stars two vamps in love, but from the first their relationship seems stuck in negativity in spite of the BLOOD CALLS to them. Blake and Meghan are fabulous protagonists who must learn trust if their love is to have meaning and if they are to survive the serial slayer stalker. As always with the "Calling" saga, Caridad Pineiro provides a strong erotic romance filled with plenty of action on the streets of Manhattan and deep characters.

Loser's Town
Daniel Depp
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
1439101434, $25.00

David Spandau left the movies when his body failed to recover from the stunts he performed. Instead the stuntman becomes a private investigator as he assumes that has to be a much softer job than bouncing out of moving vehicles that are ablaze; and besides he does know Hollywood.

David is hired to protect movie star Bobby Dye from the threats of Mafioso Richie Stella. The drug dealing club owner has told the actor her will perform in his film or be exposed for his role with an underage deceased female; if that fails to entice the star from acting in Stella's project, the next offer he will not refuse or he will be dead too.

The key to this engaging invigorating thriller is the mean streets of Hollywood where a theatre of the absurd perform nightly using sardonic wit as a ticket to the stars, wannabe stars, and the supernova stars. The protection of Dye is the prime theme of the energetic plot, but that takes a back seat to Spandau's ballet tour of the city that introduces the readers to an eccentric crowd where Hobbits are quoted as great Noir philosophers. Fans will enjoy the strong support cast as the hero's adventures brings James Ellroy's 1953 based L.A. Confidential into the twenty-first century.

Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson
Lyndsay Faye
Simon & Schuster
1416583300, $25.00

In 1888 London is shocked by the brutal murders of two prostitutes in the East End. Inspector Lestrade knows this is no run of the mill killer and he will need help. He asks renowned private sleuth Sherlock Holmes to investigate the homicides. Already fascinated by the accounts Holmes welcomes the case.

As Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson investigate, more vicious murders occur by the same killer the media dubs Ripper for his brutality. In an ironic twist one reporter claims Holmes is the Ripper, which is why he insists the famous detective has failed to end the reign of terror.

Holmes fans will welcome Lyndsay Faye to Baker St as her Watson comes across as a winner telling readers the tale of Holmes and Ripper. Fans will enjoy the great detective's efforts even as the press badgers him to solve the case; which ironically readers do earlier than the sleuth does. Although Homes and Ripper co-starring has been used before by Carole Nelson Douglas (in her Irene Adler series) and Michael Dibdin in THE LAST SHERLOCK HOLMES STORY, etc. Ms. Faye provides a fresh entry.

Revenge of the Spellmans
Lisa Lutz
Simon and Schuster
9781416593386, $25.00

In San Francisco the court orders out of control private investigator Isabel "Izzy" Spellman to attend therapy sessions; she spends her meetings tap dancing around the psychologist. Meanwhile her parents plead with their middle daughter to return to the family private investigative firm; they warn her that without her they will probably have to sell their company. Izzy considers their blackmail while hiding from them and others in her older brother David's apartment at a time he has simply vanished form the planet. Although she has found recently sleuthing to have been very depressing (see THE SPELLMAN FILES and CURSE OF THE SPELLMANS - to see why), she considers searching for sibling.

Meanwhile she loses her bartending job because of moonlighting as a detective looking into the easy case of client Ernie Black to prove his wife is cheating or not; of course this being Izzy easy means dangerous. She also helps her octogenarian friend relocate to Florida and elude her teenage sister Rae the alleged PSAT cheater who wants her sibling back with Henry.

The third Spellman dysfunctional investigative family thriller is another out of control zany San Francisco treat as Izzy dodges her parents, her sister and her shrink to work a couple of fog-bound cases. The story line is overwhelmed with sidebars and no plot takes full control; but fans of the series will not care as the eccentric cast especially Izzy's family and friends make for a wild time by the bay.

Total Surrender
C. McCray
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312537548, $13.95

"Sweet Surrender". Her former boss Adamo kept as far away from his administrative assistant Sheila as possible when they worked together though he fantasized about making love to her numerous times; she shared his sexual dreams. Neither acted on their libido as both ethically adhered to the firm's rules. However now that he sold the company, he can act on his desire. She will learn quickly he no longer plans to keep his distance.

"Wicked Surrender". On the surface Andi is a strong woman who hides her desire to be a submissive in the boudoir. She goes bondaging where she meets Derrick who wants to be her dominator in the bedroom.

"Forbidden Surrender". Lonely lawyer Teri dreams of lust as a submissive. On a business trip, Josh plans to make her surrender to him forever.

These three erotic "Surrender" BDSM tales star dominant males and submissive females coming together in heated tales. Sub-genre fans will enjoy the anthology as C. McCray provides a world of trusting surrender to a loving dominator although the author also states the novellas were previously published as similar versions in "Erotic Interludes" on line.

P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast
St. Martin's Griffin
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312379827, $17.95

Stevie Rae's blood splashed the earth where Kalona emerged from the earth. He was imprisoned a millennia ago by the wise women of the Cherokee because he raped their women. They created out of the earth a woman A-ya who lured him into a cave and trapped him underground. He was released due to work if the High Priestess of Nyx who wants Kalona as a consort. He is one of the Fallen but looks like a beautiful and he is deadly ruthless and evil. He wants fledgling vampyre Zoey Redbird who he believes is A-ya. She and the others escape into the tunnels near their school the House of night.

A Raven Mocker, Kalona's children he got on Cherokee Woman are part bird and part human wound her. Through her friends she is kept from dying, but must return to the House of Night. She needs to be near a fully formed vampyres because she is a fledgling and is not as strong as a fully aged vampyre. Otherwise she will die. While at the school Kalona enters her dreams trying to turn her away from the Goddess Nyx because he believes she is A-ya reincarnated. They must stop him and the High Priestess Neferet who brought him back to life otherwise the whole school will abandon the Goddess and turn to the dark.

HUNTED is an appealing supernatural thriller that focuses on a fledgling vampire who must believe in the Goddess while having an affinity for the five elements when most newcomers have none or one. She is being groomed to become the High Priestess and the decisions she make shows a maturity (caused by events in the previous four novels) that belies her being a teen. The exciting story line is filled with teenage angst as Zoe struggles with choices that would cause PTSD in most adults. Like the Twilight saga, this fine entry casts a strong spell on readers.

Dream Warrior
Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin's
0312938837, $7.99

Angry Zeus punishes the lesser god Cratus for refusing a direct order. Cratus refused to murder a hybrid infant as Zeus demanded he do and expected of the offspring of Warcraft and Hate. His indiscretion led to the removal of his power and torture for several millennia. Cratus, known as Jericho, is consumed with rage and vows vengeance.

The baby he saved grows up to be Delphine, a half-human/Dream-Hunter. When two sibling original gods, Noir and Azura begin their plan to dominate the universe, Zeus needs help to stop them. He sends Delphine to bring Jericho back home because he figures they are connected by the once go saving her life. However Azura captures Delphine and bestows the half-breed as a gift to Jericho to ally him on their side or at worst stay neutral.

Although the plot is a bit thinner than the usual Dream-Hunter fantasy thriller, fans of the Sherrilyn Kenyan incredible saga will enjoy DREAM WARRIOR. Delphine is a fascinating heroine struggling to keep humanity safe when they sleep, but now deals with betrayal. She knows her only hope resides with the enigmatic brooding Cratus who saved her life when she was born and whom she needs even more so now if that is possible. Fans will enjoy their tale.

The Order of Things
Lynne Hinton
St. Martin's
9780312347963, $24.95

University research librarian Andreas "Andy" Hackett suffers from deep depression that has begun to impact her work and her everyday living. Going to the job is increasingly difficult so a desperate Andy signs herself into Holly Pines psychiatric hospital for needed help.

However, the therapy depress her further as Andy feels the staff has no interest in helping the patients; in other words it is a job not a profession. Weeks later with the insurance about to end, Andy spends her last night at the chapel where she notices middle aged African-American Lathin due to the bandages on his arms. Later, back in her room, Lathin starts talking to her through the connecting vent. He talks about his family especially his daughter Mary who is an abuse victim who has become a psychosomatic mute. She talks about how shallow life feels and her only good times in a depressing moving from one place to another childhood were with her cousin on their grandmother's farm until her best friend relative died tragically while Andy failed to help her.

This engaging character study stars an intelligent but troubled woman whose past affirms the child is the adult theory of psychology. Andy is simply unhappy as she has been her entire life except for those brief moments on the farm; even those memories are devastated by the accidental death of her best friend. Readers will empathize with her and appreciate the catharsis dialogue between her and Lathin through the vent as everyone needs a friendly listener. Ironically fans will want a happy ending, but the climax is too simple in to short a time even if confession is good for the soul.

Iris Johansen
St. Martin's
0312368119, $26.95

She goes to the hot spots of the world under the aegis of the United Nations to find the country's historical treasures and bring them out; she returns them when hostilities cease. Currently archeologist Emily Hudson is in Afghanistan seeking artifacts in a remote hard to get to village in the shadow of Hindu Kush. She and her best friend and associate Joel Levy find nothing worth saving, but as they depart they find two of their crewmembers dead.

Joel and Emily are taken hostage by a deadly mercenary Staunton who has killed the rest of her team. He and his associates seek Zeliv's Hammer and rejects Emily's claim she never saw anything remotely like what he describes. Staunton tortures Joel until he dies; the terrorist expected Emily to break and provide him the answer he demands of her, but she remains in denial.

Meanwhile her disappearance has led to an international media tsunami. CIA Administrator Ferguson blackmails freelance operative John Garret to find and rescue Emily. He arrives in time to prevent her from being raped and brings her to his haven to recuperate. However, as she heals Emily knows she has one last mission to kill Staunton, but the malevolent monster has his own plan to recapture his meal ticket starting with killing a friend of Garrett that personalizes their battle as far as the American agent is concerned.

Iris Johanson novels denote bestseller and her exhilarating over the top of the Pamir Mountains is another sure shot. The story line is filled with action but it is the strong cast and the geography that make DEADLOCK a stunning thriller. The support characters add depth with two strong enough for their own tales. Garret and Emily are drawn to one another but before they can explore their attraction, they must deal with Staunton and his unmerciful mercenary horde.

Alan Brennert
St. Martin's
9780312360405, $24.95

In 1914, Korean Regret wants to attend school, but has no money to do so because in her country females are banned from classrooms. To go to school, she must leave the peninsular; she chooses Hawaii where girls attending school is the norm. She signs up as a mail order bride and a wealthy Hawaiian agrees to marry her.

She changes her name to Jin and arrives in Hawaii. However, she finds the islands not to be a paradise as her plantation owning spouse is abusive and overindulges with alcohol and gambling, which in a vicious circle leads to more nastiness towards her. She and some of her mail order bride peers, in similar ugly marriages, flee for Honolulu where they hope to find a better way to earn a living.

This epic look at Hawaii over several decades in the first half of the twentieth century contains a ton of interesting tidbits that anchor time and place but also supersedes the coming of age character study of an Asian expatriate. Especially enlightening and extremely insightful is the WW1 and Depression Eras as the female Asians struggle with survival. Fans will appreciate Alan Brennert's deep look back as Asian immigrants making it in the Hawaiian Territory before WW II changed the paradigm.

The Tricking of Freya
Christina Sunley
St. Martin's
9780312378776, $25.95

Having overheard her mom and aunt argue even if their voices were kept low, Freya Morris knows her Aunt Birdie once gave birth to a child. However, no one says anything further as to what happened to the child. She hopes one day to meet her nameless cousin, but in the meantime writes a memoir she prays she can present to her unknown and unnamed relative.

Freya has lived in Connecticut, but her maternal Icelandic relatives live in Gimli, Canada. She learns she is a descendent of a long line of great Icelandic poets, which means her cousin is too. Whereas her aunt pushes their Icelandic heritage on Freya; her mom is Americanized. Over the decades Frey is pulled in opposite directions.

This is an odd but fascinating novel that gracefully moves between time (over two decades) and place United States, Canada and Iceland). The key to tale is the fully developed three strong females as the two sisters yank the next generation in totally opposite ways. Fans who appreciate a somewhat dark dysfunctional family saga will enjoy Freya's fable as one side of her embraces the convenience of American materialism while the other cherishes Icelandic adaptation to Norse mythology.

Undead on Arrival
L.A. Banks
St. Martin's
0312949138, $7.99

The United Council of Entities exiled the vampires from their position of power and brokered a peace between the Weres who change only at the full moon and the Shadow clans who change at will. US Military squad leader of the Paranormal Containment Unit shadow wolf Sasha Trudeau, her team, and her mate Max Hunter were involved at the conference, but Hunter is now in a bad way and it seems the pair is heading for an unhappy ending as Max is demon infested and a double dose of anti-toxins is not working.

Any moment he can turn violent and eat humans. Shadow wolves are supposed to have a natural immunity to the demonization, but his antibody system is failing to produce the antitoxin. Afraid to make love and even more fearful of hurting his beloved, Max disappears. Soon afterward, a human is found half eaten with the evidence pointing to Max as the killer. Sasha refuses to believe that her Max would kill, but her efforts to prove otherwise are thwarted by other wolves.

UNDEAD ON ARRIVAL is L.A. Banks at her best, which is claiming a lot as the author's urban fantasies are always exciting and refreshingly unique. The story line continues to build up on Crimson Moon world (see BITE THE BULLET and BAD BLOOD) especially the political intrigue and backstabbing within and between species. Although the plot is somewhat more complex than usual, fans will enjoy the character driven entry as lethal mysteries abound throughout.

Second Skin
Caitlin Kittridge
St. Martin's
031294831X, $6.99

Although Nocturne City werewolf police officer Luna Wilder has been transferred to SWAT to allegedly better use her aggressive behavior, her former partner in homicide Detective David Bryson pleads with her to assist him on a weird case. He is investigating the execution style deaths of four weres from the oldest most powerful packs.

Luna quickly finds a link to the legendary Wendigo shapeshifters who drink the blood of their victims. Neither she nor the coroner is prepared for the four dead were to reanimate into something deadlier. Luna survives their assault, but knows her unknown adversary is becoming increasingly powerful and soon will be invincible; what she also does not know is that their leader Lucas has special plans for her.

The latest Nocturne City police procedural fantasy (see NIGHT LIFE and PURE BLOOD) is an exiting homicide investigation in which the legend proves lethally real. The brass still thinks Luna is a lunatic with her obstinate independence, but also knows she gets results. However, this time failure may prove even worse than death as Lucas has chosen Luna for a chosen role in his Wendigo pack. Fans will relish this action-packed thriller from the opening execution to the final graveyard visit.

Look Again
Lisa Scottoline
St. Martin's
0312380720, $26.95

Since she laid eyes on him when he was only a year old, Ellen Gleason fell in love with the baby. The infant's mother did not want him and could not pay his bills; his father signed away his "parental" rights. Ellen adopted him changing his name to Will. They are happy together until she receives a flyer for missing children; one of them is Tim Braverman who was accidentally abducted during a car-jacking. The computer age processing of the picture is an exact likeness of her Will.

The more the picture haunts her the more she wonders if her Will is Tim. Unable to resist, Ellen makes inquiries only to learn the woman who facilitated the adoption committed suicide. Persistent she still gets the adoption records where she learns the name of the mother. Ellen tracks her family down, but they do not know where Amy is. Still unable to ignore the picture, she obtains DNA of the mother and father of Tim to determine whether they are her Will's biological parents. If yes, she considers then what.

Lisa Scottoline has written a well crafted absorbing drama that will appeal to fans of Jodi Picoult. Ellen is a brave person who refuses to let sleeping dogs lie regardless of the cost of losing her beloved son' as she goes to extraordinary measures to learn the truth. Her efforts have unintended consequences as she places her self and her child in danger from someone who wants the truth to remain buried. Although that suspense adds suspense and tension, it detracts from a strong family drama starring a woman who fears what the truth will bring, but needs to know.

Nobody but You
Francis Ray
St. Martin's
0312946856, $6.99

Caitlin Lawrence and Cameron McBride fell in love. They became engaged, but Caitlin failed to show up at the altar. The jilting destroyed Cameron's soul. He even found his vocation as a NASCAR racer no longer satisfying and vows "no" to love.

Five years later, though not passionate about car racing like he was before the jilt, Cameron is back as one of NASCAR's best drivers. He has adhered to his personal pledge of no relationships as nothing will ever take him off his game again. That is until he is hurt racing and is at Mercy Hospital for treatment when he meets Caitlin; who is there because her four and a half years old son Joshua injured his shoulder. The child Cameron never knew he sired until now. The precocious boy has his stamp on his visage.

Although the device of hiding a baby from the father has been overdone, fans of the Grayson Friends saga will relish Francis Ray's NASCAR second chance at love romance. The story line is as fast as Cameron drives on the track while focusing on the lead couple reconciling (abetted by Joshua) rather than accusing. Readers will enjoy the second lap.

Animal Attraction
Charlene Teglia
St. Martin's
0312537417, $13.95

In spite of being caught by surprise at a Tysons Corner, Virginia mall where she works as she initially thought Zach the customer and the trio were enemy gangbusters; Chandra Walker adapts well to being a werewolf. However, she does not acclimatize herself to the ritual of her new pack. She must test each male in bed and select her mate. Whomever she chooses wilt become pack leader.

Thirteen studs and little to choose between them as all are hot, built and incredible sex machines. Struggling with whom to choose, the pack comes under attack from an unholy alliance between rogue werewolves and were-panthers. Only Chandra with the right mate can save the pack.

This is an interesting heated urban romantic fantasy based on an intriguing premise that a tyro female werewolf must test thirteen hunks to determine who is her soul mate and rightful pack leader at a time when their clan is under siege. The key to the entertaining story line is the chosen female as Chandra has abandonment issues and is used to going it alone, but now has to adjust to a pack of virile males wanting her and needing to protect her like a queen. Fans will relish this fine version of sexual Survivor as time is running out on Chandra and her retinue.

Dead After Dark
Sherrilyn Kenyon, J.R. Ward, Susan Squires and Dianna Love
St. Martin's
9780312947989, $7.99

"Shadow of the Moon" by Sherrilyn Kenyon. In New Orleans, vowing to keep his clan safe, Fury seeks the adversary who assaulted a werewolf. Vowing to keep her people safe, Angelia knows her people are under siege by the furious werewolf; she hunts him. Neither expected what happened between them.

"The Story of Son" by J.R. Ward. In Caldwell, New York drinking Earl Grey while on a business visit to her nonagenarian wealthy client, attorney Claire is taken aback when the elderly woman says her Son will like her. The tea was drugged and when she regains consciousness, Claire is incarcerated with Michael the "Son".

"Beyond the Night" by Susan Squires. Fifteen years ago, Drew Carlowe was accused of theft; he swore he did not do it, but no one believed him. Now he is finally home with the goal of regaining the love of the one person he missed. He buys the allegedly haunted Ashland where he finds himself desiring the occupant Freya the "ghost" who haunts his home and his heart while possessing his body.

"Midnight Kiss Goodbye" by Dianna Love. As a VIPER, Belador warrior Trey protects humanity from evil. His current assignment is to keep human witch Sasha safe while they go after a malevolent warlord, but he wonders who will protect her from his attraction for her as his control when it comes to her bewitching him has slipped.

These are four exciting romantic fantasies starring lead characters that bewitch the audience while making the respective "worlds" seem genuine; fans of the Dark Hunter and the Companion sagas have an added treat.

Nevada Barr
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399155697, $25.95

After the tragic events at Isle Royale National Park where Ranger Anna Pigeon was forced to kill a man (see WINTER STUDY), she is on administrative leave having been diagnosed with PTSD. Needing to get away with her beloved husband, a pastor and a Law enforcement officer in Mississippi, the newlyweds go on a rafting trip not connected to the Forest Service. They plan to raft on the Rio Grande in the Big Bend National Park that borders with Mexico.

They spot a cow named Esther on top of a cliff and their group of four college students, the guide and Anna and Paul decide to rescue the animal. They get the frightened cow down the mountain and tie it onto the raft, but it overturns. One of the students finds the body of a pregnant woman trapped in branches and reeds. They free her, but she dies however Anna rescues the baby who they name Helena. Someone fires at them killing the guide and a student. Their dangerous trek back to civilization is fraught with danger. Others try to abduct the baby, but protective like a tiger Anna keeps Helena safe.

Putting aside the probability of the homicides making Anna a murder magnet, Big Bend National Park comes alive through her eyes as much as the deep caring relationship between her and Paul does even though they have spent little time together in their first year of marriage. The Mayor of Hoosier is holding court at the Big Bend Conference Center where she plans to announce her run for governor, but is distracted by her interest in Helena. Anna remains clueless why the governor like seemingly everyone else she meets is interested in the newborn. Although the infant howling in the wilderness is muted, fans will enjoy Anna's latest adventure as there are many people involved in the mystery of the mother's murder, but none have a motive to kill.

The Venetian Judgment
David Stone
0399155732, $25.95

In Venice, CIA "cleaner" Micah Dalton vows to kill the Serbian Mafioso who murdered his lover Cora Vasari. When an opportunity arises to assassinate one of the gangsters, Micah takes it as he focuses on Mirko Belajic, a peripheral player in the death of his beloved.

In London the CIA brass fears a well placed mole has killed elderly Mildred Durant, an adviser to the NSA decryption Glass Cutters team. The agency knows of Micah's Cold War decoding experience and that the Soviets had going back to Stalin and probably still have an inside source. They draft Dalton to uncover the identity of the current traitor who killed Durant in her home.

The third Dalton espionage thriller (see THE ECHELON VENDETTA and The Orpheus Deception) is an exciting action-packed tale from the opening sequence in Venice where the hero is cleaning up the Serbian mob that killed his beloved and takes off from there. The story line is fast-paced as Dalton and his CIA partner travel to Istanbul and Florida in search of the traitor. Although his partner is a stereotype of the sub-genre, fans will enjoy Dalton's latest tale, which contains an intriguing historical twist back to the FDR Administration.

Loitering with Intent
Stuart Woods
9780399155789, $25.95

After being publicly dumped by his girlfriend at Elaine's in NYC, Stone Barrington, attorney at large for a big firm, is delighted with an assignment that takes him out of the Big Apple. He heads to Key West to obtain the signature of Evan Keating on a document that will enable his father Warren to sell the family business; Evan will receive twenty million. Accompanying Stone to Florida is his friend NYPD Captain Dino Bachetti.

When they arrive at the Conch Republic they have a difficult finding Evan. When Stone finally corners the elusive man, someone hits him on the head knocking out the visiting New Yorker. A beautiful Swedish doctor helps Stone's two heads recover; he is drained and happy when he meets up with Evan again. However Stone learns Evan is getting a tiny percentage of the worth of the business and that his father committed his paternal grandfather to an institution to get him out of the way. A hit on Evan fails, but someone else is killed. Father and son are in danger though dad set events in motion. Stone and Dino protect Evan while hoping to bring the killers out into the open.

Stuart Woods has written another exciting Stone thriller filled with plenty of action on top of more action. Evan is naively innocent so people take advantage of him including the go between the hit men and his father. Putting aside the heady doctor tryst that is an enjoyable and funny sidebar, Stone is at his sardonic best as he keeps LOITERING WITH INTENT focused on Key West.

Devil's Garden
Ace Atkins
9780399155369, $24.95

In 1921, following a wild party at a San Francisco hotel, silent film star Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle is arrested for the alleged murder of actress Virginia Rappe. The evidence is circumstantial at best, but William Randolph Hearst using his colossal newspaper kingdom assaults the actor accusing him of suffocating the poor starlet with his humongous weight.

Pinkerton private investigator Sam Dashiell Hammett investigates the case for the defense. He finds at best a sloppy official inquiry by SFPD and an even more questionable autopsy; as if everyone feared the wrath of Hearst. Rightfully so, as the newspaper mogul keeps up the tirade until Arbuckle is condemned in public and his comedic movie career buried under innuendos and disinformation. Hammett finds all sorts of Hollywood scandals, but none as perverse as Hearst's unethical efforts that the sleuth believes is to save the movie career of his mistress Marian Davies at the expense of Arbuckle.

Ace Atkins' third historical mystery (see WHITE SHADOW and WICKED CITY) is a terrific silent movie era noir focusing on the notorious Arbuckle murder case. The story line is fast-paced, filled with action, loaded with real persona, and captures the era especially how influential the newspapers (specifically Hearst) as well as anyone since Citizen Caine.

The Perfect Poison
Amanda Quick
9780399155802, $24.95

In late Victorian England, Inspector Spellar prevails upon notorious lady botanist Lucinda Bromley to find out if a victim was murdered or died from a heart attack. The inspector has psychic powers that enable him to see the minutest clues at a crime scene; Lucinda has the ability to detect poison. She applies her skill and determines that he was poisoned with one of the ingredients being something she picked up when she went to the Amazon with her parents.

A member of the secretive Arcane Society, Lucinda calls on their detective agency, Caleb Jones. She explains what happened and they realize Dr. Basil Lindsey stole the poison and is trying to duplicate the founder's formula to enhance psychic powers. They broke up his lab and took away his material, but he found a new employer who allows him to pursue his research. Lucinda wants to bring him to justice before she is accused of killing the murdered man, as many in Polite Society are mindful of her notoriety due to the tabloids holding her culpable for her fiance's death. The longer Caleb and Lucinda work together, the greater their attraction grows; but he fears his psychic skills will turn him mad like his ancestor if he is not already a lunatic.

As expected from Amanda Quick, the author writes an exhilarating historical romantic suspense that is filled with a strong cast, terrific twisting plots and a sense of time running out that grip the audience with a need to know the outcome in one sitting although it is a back story. Caleb is a rational person who never allows emotion to interfere with his thought process except when Lucinda is near (think of classic Spock using logic except during the Amok Time episode when emotions forced him to go home). Lucinda is a free spirit not concerned with Polite Society, which already condemned her for her vocation and her fiance's death. Together they make a great Victorian sleuthing duet.

Above the Law
Tim Green
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446401500, $24.99

On a ranch near Dallas, charismatic Senator Tucker "Chase" Dean shoots an undocumented migrant worker Elijandro "Ellie" Torres in what the police conclude is a tragic hunting accident. With tears and a catch in his throat the cherished politician tells what happened to the media and the public. His remorse makes him even more popular and enhances his road to the White House.

However, the victim's family insists he was cold bloodedly murdered by the affluent senator. The police ignore her accusations, but Legal Aid attorney Casey Jordan decides to follow up after meeting the widow and baby before they are deported. Casey soon learns that Tucker's wife was visiting the deceased. She begins to make a case that the powerful senator's motive for murder was being the cuckolded spouse. When the DA rejects prosecuting the case, Casey sues in civil court.

The star of twisting legal thriller THE LETTER OF THE LAW returns in another impossible scenario. This time Casey takes on a super power who manipulates everyone so that he is ABOVE THE LAW. The story line is fast-paced and like Casey's previous appearance filled with terrific spins. Although the support cast comes from legal thriller typecasting, heroic Casey is a delight as a modern day Dona Quixote fighting windmills.

Jack Kilborn
Grand Central
9780446535939, $6.99

Safe Haven, Wisconsin is a somewhat isolated town of under one thousand people with only one road in and out. Everyone knows everyone and law enforcement is handled by the Ashburn County Sheriff's Office as needed.

Everything changes when a helicopter crashes in Safe Haven. Two of the occupants are dead, but not by the crash. The survivors leave on a Red Ops mission to find "Warren". Bernie, Taylor, Santiago and Ajax are not just special ops soldiers; they are trained killers who enjoy torture. With a chip inside their respective heads to keep them focused and "Charge" to give them super skills, they begin destroying the idyllic pastoral town with the brutal murders. The town is cut off as firefighter Josh Van Camp calls Sheriff Arnold Streng about the helicopter crash. They are torturing and killing everyone they meet demanding information as to where is Warren until only Josh, Arnold, sin gle mom Fran Stauffer with her young son Duncan and a runaway monkey stand in their way of finishing the mission with no witnesses left alive.

Although over the top (especially the latter half), fans will be hooked from the opening scene of this one sitting gory thriller. The action-packed story line starts off with blood and guts only to accelerate with more blood and guts flowing. The trained enhanced killers are sadistic and as nasty as one can imagine; they steal the show one intense bite at a time. Jack Kilburn provides a powerful exhilarating bloody thriller as a small town is being annihilated with sadistic military precision.

Curse the Dawn
Karen Chance
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
0451412702, $7.99

When the gods were banished from earth, those using the magic bestowed on them by Artemis banded together to create the Silver Circle. Apollo keeps in touch with the mages through the Pythians, but the Silver Circle has kept the chief Pythian under their control for millennia. Cassie Palmer is the current head Pythia, but the Silver Circle fears her independence as she refuses to bow to their control leaving her in their minds susceptible to Apollo's manipulations.

They place a large bounty on her dead or alive. Cassie thinks they are acting stupid because their action places the Silver Circle at war with Apollo's followers, The Black Circle as well as the God himself who is playing his foes like a puppeteer pulling the strings of his puppets to abet his returning to earth to rule. Master vampire Senator Mircea Basarab protects Cassie, which further aggravates the combatant Circles as they assume the undead want to use Cassie for their own purposes. No one seems to respect Cassie as her own person as she repeatedly risks her life to do what she believes is ethically right.

Karen Chance affirms that she is one of the best fantasists today with her fourth Palmer thriller (see EMBRACE THE NIGHT, TOUCH THE DARK and CLAIMED BY SHADOW). Readers will believe that vampires, mages and distant interfering Gods exist in the Chance realm. The story line starts at the speed of light and accelerates from there as Cassie has a price on her head that brings out the avaricious dregs of society; leading the audience to ponder the question of whether the end ever justifies the means. The strong support cast, mostly her enemies, enhances this kick butt heroine's tale as she knows that the enemy of her enemy may remain her enemy.

Casual Hex
Vicky Lewis Thompson
9780451412683, $7.99

Matchmaking witches Dorcas and Ambrose know that Gwen Dubois and Marc Chevalier are soulmates. They plan to hook up the Indiana resident with the French botanist. All they have to do is get Marc to leave sunny France for wintry Big Knob, Indiana.

The way to his heart lies with tropical plants so the two witches cast a spell to have special equatorial flora in the icy cold Hoosier State. Marc crosses the pond to investigate, but is distracted when he meets Gwen. However, their perfect plan runs into a snag when Prince Leo of the Atwood fairy kingdom chooses Gwen to be his bride.

The latest trip to the eerie hex capital of the world, Big Knob, Indiana (see OVER-HEXED and WILD & HEXY) is an enjoyable lighthearted story as Dorcas and Ambrose work loving magic with the usual amusing side consequences; this time a royal hex of a mess. The lead human couple is a likable pairing. They get along from the onset with the strife coming from the pushy prince. Fans will enjoy this jocular jaunt as Dorcas provides the perspective to this romantic fantasy and the hexy saga with wisdom that Paris and Atwood are no Big Knob.

Wicked by Any Other Name
Linda Wisdom
Sourcebooks Casablanca
c/o Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Rd, #139, Naperville, IL 60563
1402217730, $6.99

Seven centuries ago student witch Stasi Romanov and twelve classmates were kicked out of the Witches Academy for unruly behavior. Over the years Stasi matured somewhat; some insist experience taught her to hide her impish side though she uses a bit of magic to insure success at her lingerie shop and to sell love charms in Moorstone Lake.

However, her luck runs out when one of her luck charms fails to bring satisfaction to the client. The customer Carrie the human abomination hires wizard attorney Trevor Barnes to sue Stasi. She is outraged when she receives the summons to appear in Wizard's Court. Meanwhile Cupid decides to have impish fun when he sees the attraction between Stasi and Trevor while an unknown evil adversary is playing games with the townsfolk and an eclipse is leading to a witch hunt. As Stasi and Trevor fall in love, a taboo as everyone knows witches and wizards are oil and water, the old gang of thirteen come together to try to save the day.

This is an entertaining lighthearted romantic frolic starring two likable opposites (a given when a wizard meets a witch) and a charming support cast; except Cassie who contains no charm in her make-up as even her bone marrow can wither a love charm with her caustic personality. The story line is brisk, breezy and irreverent yet droll and amusing as Linda Wisdom cats a spell on her fans (see 50 WAYS TO HEX YOUR LOVER and HEX APPEAL).

Destiny of the Wolf
Terry Spear
Sourcebooks Casablanca
9781402216688, $6.99

With the homicides of her parents and her sister Larissa allegedly committing suicide, Lelandi Wildwood no longer feels safe amongst the red werewolf pack in spite of her brother being a member. He in fact wants nothing to do with her though she is not sure why. She wants to learn why Larissa who loved life would kill herself, but hesitates until she learns the abusive alpha pack leader plans to wed her to his brother. Lelandi leaves the pack in search of understanding why her sibling took her life. She travels to Silver Town, run by the gray werewolves who detest the red.

The greywolf leader widow Darien Silver is trying to understand why his wife committed suicide. He also needs to catch the thief stealing from the economic soul of his pack's existence the silver mine. He enters the Silver Town's Tavern only to be shocked out of his fur when he sees his wife sitting inside. Lelandi and Darien have in common learning why their beloved Larissa killed herself.

DESTINY OF THE WOLF is an enjoyable satirical werewolf romantic suspense that takes a delightful bite at the mythology of moon howling shapeshifters while also ridicules racism. The support cast serves mostly to enhance understanding of the lifestyle of the packs especially that of the grey or the lead couple who risk their lives with a need to know why. Fans will relish this wonderful lampooning of the lycan legend inside an exhilarating thriller that enables the audience to get beyond the myths into the HEART OF THE WOLF.

In The Court of the Sun
Brian D'Amato
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, 3rd fl., NY, NY 10014-3657
9780525950516, $28.95

Since the recent discover of a new Mayan codex from the seventh century, many people are beginning to believe in the Mayan prediction that the world will end on December 12, 2012. As the date of doom approaches, the Warren Group, firm believers that doing nothing will prove the Mayans right, decide on several methods to delay the end. They especially feel the first step is to send someone back in time to the seventh century when the prediction surfaced into the mind of a Mayan royal as the key to learn why the deadly forecast.

The Group believes Jed DeLanda, an expert on the Mayan's Sacrifice Game, has the perfect focused mind they need. They send his conscience back through time to 664 AD targeting the monarch; instead his conscience enters the mind of seventh-century Mayan Sacrifice Game playing superstar Chacal seconds before his host is to suicide as a sacrifice.

This is an exciting doomsday science fiction thriller that moves the audience back and forth between the countdown to 2012 and the original prophesy in the seventh century. The story line in both centuries is well written and exhilarating while Jed is a believable hero in both eras. Fans will especially appreciate the vivid descriptions of the Mayans society especially insight into the Human Sacrifice game and the purpose of the Great Pyramid. IN THE COURT OF THE SUN is a refreshing unique thriller.

Long Lost
Harlan Coben
9780525951056, $26.95

A decade has passed since sports entertainment agent Myron Bolitar and TV reporter Terese Collins have spoken to each other. So Myron is taken aback by a call from Terese currently in Angola. She invites him to meet her in Paris. He accepts her invitation especially since his latest relationship is apparently over.

In Paris, Myron's rendezvous with Terese is not the love nest he expected. Instead she informs him her former husband an investigative reporter like her asked her to come see him in France so he can reveal to her a startling revelation of monumental proportion. He was murdered before he told her his stunner. However, her reason for asking Myron to cross the pond is that some of the blood at the homicide scene included that of his daughter Miriam killed in a car accident ten years ago. With pal Win at his side Myron investigates past and present.

Clearly over the Eiffel Tower and a few other European monuments, LONG LOST is a great thriller that fans of Myron will fully relish; just leave your plausibility meter outside the reading experience. Harlan Coben hooks the audience from the opening phone call and never gives a breather as twists and spins occur throughout. Myron's Paris tryst is fun filled suspense as the hero feels French fried.

Keeper of Light and Dust
Natasha Mostert
9780525951001, $25.95

Like her mother and grandmother before her, Mia Lockheart is a Keeper; a person who uses Chi life energy to heal and protect others. She also knows that practitioners of the Book of Life and Death can drain the Chi from a victim. In her case only South London fighters belong to her keep, but she makes them safe just before they enter the ring. One of her fighters failed to tell her he was entering the ring; he died from unknown causes a few days after his bout.

A fighter Nick Duffy is someone Mia could easily love, so she has not marked him as hers. When she asks him about her fighter who died, Patrick mentions other battlers have also died in the same way in the past five years. Patrick hires Adrian Ashton as his trainer for a championship match. Adrian gets his new fighter prepared, but hides his real agenda from Patrick. Mia knows what it is and plans to stop him anyway she can, but can you stop someone who does not comes out of the shadows to reveal what he truly is.

Natasha Mostert has written an enthralling supernatural thriller that combines science, metaphysics, and Asian martial arts to forge a system that can either heal or kill. Mia is a strong woman who comes a from a long line of strong women; she is a warrior and healer. Adrian is the enigma who brings the freshness to the tale as Mia wonders if her attraction to him is because he may be her yang even as she is falling in love with Nick. KEEPER OF LIGHT AND DUST is a magical metaphysical Mostert masterpiece.

Notoriously Neat
Suzanne Price
Obsidian Mystery
c/o The Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0451226593, $6.99

In Pigeon Cove, Police Chief Alex Vega and newspaper columnist and cleaning business owner Sky Taylor are on their first date at the Japanese Restaurant Shoka's Minka. Their romantic dinner is interrupted when a herd of animals march through the restaurant including a monkey who clings to Sky. Chief Vega is notified that the animals are from Dr. Gail Pilsner's veterinary practice; she is dead and her animal hospital torched.

Sky, fluent in Spanish asks Orlando the vet questions that Alex asked her so she can translate them and get the answers from the lab tech. He mentions three men seeking drugs arrived and that he escaped the carnage. Some things he says make no sense as a witness contradicts him and the drugs were in a place anyone could have easily found them. Vega arrests Orlando, but Sky thinks he is innocent and that there is a link to her friend Chloe who is lying to her as to where she has been. Her buddy conceals that she just left Natalie's house and soon after she is murdered.

The monkey is adorable holding on to Sky for dear life while the puppies at the center of all the lies and murder are precious as the animals somewhat steal the show. The cleaning tips are informative especially house cleaning. While the relationship between the house cleaner and the cop is cute, the whodunit is fascinating mostly because people are lying about their involvement as if hiding an embarrassment is the lesser of two evils re homicide suspicion.

Ghouls Just Haunt to Have Fun
Victoria Laurie
9780451226303, $6.99

Her instinct told her to just say no, but in spite of being a medium M.J. Holliday ignores the internal warning that acquiescing to her business partner Gilley Gillespie's idea of appearing on a Bravo TV show is a loser. Instead she agrees to join a panel with three of her paranormal peers. The two partners accompanied by the medium's significant other travel to Dr. Steven Sable for the TV appearance.

When they reach the Drake Hotel, the trio learns that a woman fell from the edifice. M.J. consults with the victim and informs the cops she was murdered. Soon afterward, she meets the rest of the TV panel and concludes two of her so-called peers, Angelica DeMarche and Bernard Higgins, are fakes. However, she and the other legit member Heath Whitefeather from the Land of Enchantment soon find themselves battling a paranormal malevolent who haunts the Drake.

The latest "Ghost Hunter" mystery (see DEMONS ARE A GHOUL'S BEST FRIEND) is a lighthearted humorous haunted hotel horror thriller kept focused by "graveyard" serious M.J. and in this case Heath. The rest of the cast except for the evil haunter bring either amusement or eeriness; especially fun is when the two fake California psychics encounter their first real paranormal. Fans will enjoy the supernatural murder investigation as GHOULS JUST HAUNT TO HAVE FUN lives up to its title.

Murder She Wrote: Madison Avenue Shoot
Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain
9780451226037, $22.95

On her way back home to Cabot Cove, Maine after a convention in Chicago, mystery writer Jessica Fletcher visits her nephew Grady, his wife Donna, and their nine year old son Frank in Manhattan. Accountant Grady asks his famous Aunt Jessica to star in a commercial touting Permezzo international credit-card company as that will gain him favor with his boss; reluctantly on the advice of her agent she agrees.

At the shoot, Jessica meets the other three notables: TV cook Stella "Cookie" Bedford, industry-expose author Anne Tripper, and new age mystic Lance Severson along with the film crew, the credit card brass, and the hanger-ons. When Frank vanishes, Grady and Jessica search for him only to find the corpse of the creative director shrewish Betsy Archibald. NYPD Detective Chesney is unimpressed with Jessica's credentials and suspects either Frank or Grady as they had a motive to kill the shrew. Jessica investigates and begins to uncover motives of other people as the victim was universally hated.

The latest Murder She Wrote whodunit is an engaging tale that fans of the series will enjoy. The first half of the novel introduces the audience to the key cast members so that the latter half of the investigation by Jessica makes more sense as motives become obvious. However that technique also delays the prime fun of following Jessica while she sleuths. Still this is a fun read as Jessica stars in a MADISON AVENUE SHOOT.

Hounding the Pavement
Judi McCoy
9780451226310, $7.50

Following her divorce Ellie Engleman decides she needs company, but chooses a four legged one as she adopts a Yorkie who insists he is her Rudy, dead a decade. She also thinks she is going crazy as humans cannot communicate with canines via speech and she never heard of doggy reincarnation. Still she decides her new skill will prove handy as she becomes a Manhattan professional small dog walker to the wealthy of the Upper East Side.

She heads to the apartment of Buddy the Bichon only to find his owner Professor Albright dead and the prize winning dog missing. NYPD Police Detective Sam Ryder knows in his gut that Elle did not commit the homicide, but is doing something suspicious. Meanwhile Ellie searches for her pal Buddy fearing what will come of him from the dognapper.

This is a fun paranormal investigative tale starring a quirky heroine, a straightforward cop, and a cast of loquacious canines. The story line is amusing but avoids the trap of the "talk to the animals" cutesiness. With a nod to Dr. Doolittle, cozy fans will enjoy the competition between the amateur sleuth and the professional detective as she has a more accurate stoolie system to ask for help from than he does.

Murder of a Royal Pain
Denise Swanson
9780451226587, $6.99

Scrumble River school psychologist Skye Denison is not having an easy time of it. After several years of pleading and nagging the local Illinois school board to hire a sociologist, they employ Jackie Jennings. From the very start, Skye has a bad feeling about the newcomer who says and does things that put her in a bad light. Jackie also is territorial; sitting in Ske's chair and moving furniture without checking. She also volunteers to help with the Halloween fundraiser for Promfest.

Jackie's volunteering forces Skye to agree to help too. Skye becomes one of the three witches who in costume look alike. She hates funhouses having been left alone in one as a child. While performing her role, Skye runs across the body of one of the other witches, "Promfest" chairperson Annette Paine. While Deputy police officer Quirk quickly rules it an accident, Skye disagrees as the victim lived up to her surname. With Police Chief Wally out of town, Skye enlists coroner Simon and news reporter Kurt to team up with her to investigate the "promicide." When someone tries to run Skye over, she reconsiders her hypothesis and wonders if the culprit intended to kill a different witch.

Denise Swanson's Scrumble River mysteries are always fun to read and her eleventh "Murder of …" is as enjoyable as the previous ones (see MURDER OF A CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRY). Readers obtain a look at small-town Midwest living through a solid realistic cast especially the recurring characters, the students and their parents. The investigation is clever as Skye initially planned to stay out of it; gets involved; and changes her premise a couple of times leading to a strong whodunit with solid twists.

Satisfy Me Tonight
Fiona Zedde, et al.
Kensington Aphrodisia
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
9780758229045, $13.95

"Sexual Attraction" by Fiona Zedde. On vacation in Belgium, Kenna meets DJ Denis at a club where he is performing for the last time before crossing to America. They are attracted and want more than just a one night gig.

"Driving My Man Wild," by Sydney Molare. Berze and Jare shared a passionate relationship until their child was born and nuked their passion. She wants them to start the second act filled with lovemaking and gets some titillating ideas from nineteenth century love letters and from a ghost who thinks only of sex.

"Captive" by Kimberly Kaye Terry. Attorney Tessa is handling a law suit against a chemical company when someone tries to kill her. Her affluent father asks her former lover Gideon to protect Tessa.

These are three well written torrid contemporary romances starring likable lead characters who all have differing personalities.

Texas Men
Delilah Devlin
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758228734, $12.95

"Bound and Determined". When her friend Cody is up for bid at a charity auction, bar owner Tara buys him for the night. She ties him to her bed with plans to ride him all weekend.

"Breezy Ridin'". The judge's daughter Sarah is on her motorcycle well over the speed limit without a stitch of clothing on. The deputy sheriffs Logan and Joe pull her over, but she offers them a menage a trios. Although Logan is a master at domination and tutors the other two, it is Joe who attracts the running wild woman.

"Night Watch". Schoolteacher Amy accidentally sees deputy sheriff Logan through his open bedroom window and likes what she sees. Logan plans to convert the accidental voyeur into a willing sex partner using his masterly style.

These three BDSM tales are well written and contain full blooded lead characters who run the range of tyro to master and several bondage levels in between. Although Sarah's early behavior requires a muzzle and velvet rope, fans will enjoy these erotic tales of TEXAS MEN and women starring in domination-submissive stories.

Hittin' It
Amie Stuart
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758228567, $12.95

"Screwed: Will and Sabrina". In Texas professional hit man Will breaks the most important rule of his profession by agreeing to help Sabrina. However, he soon finds himself hiding from a hit taken out on him. When he retires, he and Sabrina hook up at his party.

"Hooked: John and Tish". Professional hit man John breaks the most important rule of his vocation by making a hit personal. However, his thirst for revenge is put on hold by Tish, who demands he escort her to a wedding. There her mob chief father persuades John that love not war is the way to live a long prosperous life.

The latest Collier brothers' tales are fun satirical contemporary romances starring two tough hombres NAILED like their sibling Wynn was. Both stories are well written with plenty of wry irony as the professional hit men take hits in their respective hearts, but in spite of being an Aphrodisia, the sheets are less explicitly soiled than usual for this imprint.

Lisa Jackson
9780758211842, $24.00

Twelve years ago Rick Bentz divorced his cheating wife Jennifer. Soon after ending his marriage, Jennifer died in a car crash. He identified the corpse. Rick left LAPD taking a job with the New Orleans police and remarried Olivia.

While driving during a storm, Rick is involved in an accident that hospitalizes him. He suddenly smells Jennifer's sweet perfume and sees her in his hospital room. After being discharged a package containing a death certificate and photos of a woman who looks like Jennifer arrives with a Culver City, California postmark. Deciding he needs to know the truth but conceals from his wife his fear that he is losing his mind, Rick heads to California wondering how she can be alive when he saw her body. At the same he arrives in the Los Angeles area, his last unsolved case at LAPD is reopened as the Twenty-one Killer apparently returns strangling identical twins on their 21st birthday. Bentz knows somehow he is the link, but not by whom or why.

The key to this action-packed suspense thriller is the viewpoint of the Bentz adversary as the audience sees a different perspective as to what happened a dozen years ago and the target of vengeance may be Bentz, but the avenue of achievement is through Olivia. The story line is action-packed from the first time Bentz's olfactory sense kicks in and never slows down as the haunting of the sleuth is by someone overflowing with MALICE towards him and his loved ones tales its' toll. (see LOST SOULS for his daughter's thriller).

Mother's Day Murder
Leslie Meier
9780758207050, $22.00

In Tinker's Cove, Maine, right wing republican Tina Nowak and left wind democrat Barbara "Bar" Hume are fighting but not over politics. Instead the pair is disputing over the relative merits of their sixteen years old daughters, Ashley and Heather as the teens compete for valedictorian.

Their war spills over to a Prom committee in which Pennysaver reporter Lucy Stone plays peacekeeper keeping the felines from a cat fight. Unfortunately, Lucy gets distracted by a high school baseball star asking her freshman daughter Sara to the prom, her daughter-in-law's suffering with postpartum depression and spending time with her newborn first grandson. Lucy is stunned to see what looks like Bar Shoot Tina on a tennis court. Lucy investigates the feuding families only to learn the mistress of Bar's philandering spouse Bart died in a car crash. Her inquiry places mother and daughter in jeopardy from someone using the feud to cover a homicide.

The latest Lucy Stone holiday cozy (see FATHER'S DAY MURDER, NEW YEAR'S EVE MURDER and ST. PATRICK'S DAY MURDER) is a fun whodunit filled with several subplots that compete for top gun even with a homicide, but ultimately converge into a nice and cozy Maine investigative thriller. Lucy is terrific as she goes from harassed to witness to doubter to investigator. Fans of the series will enjoy Leslie Meier's fun tale.

Magnolias, Moonlight, and Murder
Sara Rosett
9780758226815, $22.00

In North Dawkins, Georgia, military spouse Ellie Avery, her Air Force pilot husband Mitch and their two preschool kids Livvy and Nathan have moved to a complex close to Taylor Air Force Base. While walking their dog Rex Rottweiler, Ellie finds bones in a nearby mostly ignored cemetery that was obviously disturbed by a recent storm.

Ellie believes the remains belong to vanished reporter Jodi Lockworth, who was the previous resident of their new home. However, instead of someone missing less than a year, the skeleton is identified as two people sharing the same grave: WWI veteran Albert Chauncey who died in 1919, and African-American youngster William Nash who disappeared in 1955. Ellie investigates what happened to Jodi and Nash; not understanding the peril she places herself and her two children in from a killer watching her every move and attending a party she is hosting.

The fourth Mom Zone mystery (see STAYING HOME IS A KILLER, MOVING IS MURDER and GETTING AWAY IS DEADLY) is a lighthearted amateur sleuth cozy starring a brave woman who like most military spouses is used to taking charge of the home-front. The story line is fast-paced and the look back to 1919 and 1955 add historical perspective to the mystery. Although Ellie seems to trip over corpses regardless of what city she is in, fans will enjoy her steel magnolia resolve while also appreciate her party tips.

One Last Kiss
Mary Wilbon
0758215991, $15.00

Former Newark police officer turned private investigator Cassandra Slick lives her childhood employment choice of detective though she feels she is not quite at the kick butt level of her heroine Foxy Brown. Her wealthy white significant other and business partner Laura Charles believes Slick is better than some Pam Grier movie character as what she does is real.

Her former NPD precinct Captain and mentor Frank DeStasio asks Slick for a favor. Cop Tom Brandeal is the prime suspect for the murder of black prostitute Paradise nee Gloria Roxley in Echo Lake. Brandeal is his own worst enemy with his homophobic rants, but Slick ignores her personal disgust for him because she wants to know who killed her friend Paradise. She learns of Paradise's diary that include high class clients especially members of a private men's club with affluence and power they use without regard to others.

The latest Slick-Charles private investigative tale (see NAUGHTY LITTLE SECRETS) is a fantastic Newark whodunit due to the plausible engaging spins; each time the audience settles back smirking with the solution, Mary Wilbon provides a twist. The lead characters are a wonderful couple and the street people are a delight who refresh the mystery with their antics; fans will especially adore the amateur sleuth transvestites Dijonnaise and Buffet. ONE LAST KISS is a deep look at the mean streets of Newark through the eyes of those who are the last bastions of true Adam Smith capitalism selling their wares right on the street.

The Education of Madeline
Beth Williamson
Kensington Brava
9780758234698, $14.00

In 1872 in Plum City, Colorado, at thirty-two years of age, Madeline Brewster feels her chance for happiness has passed her by. She has never found love and besides the locals place her as out of reach due to her family owning much of the town. Making her loneliness feel worse, the spinster cannot even bury her isolation by managing her family fortune; her stepfather controls her family's wealth since her mom died.

Irishman Teague O'Neal arrives in town only to be accused of being a horse thief. The mob starts to lynch him, but Madeline intercedes. She offers the handsome rogue a deal: his life for teaching her the pleasure of being a woman. Feeling roped in, he agrees. As they fall in love, someone wants Madeline dead while Teague is willing to die to keep his beloved safe.

The lead couple is an interesting duo as none of the townsfolk would expect the spinster to fall in love especially with an Irish rogue. Although her stepfather is never fully developed beyond villainous status, Western romance readers will feel transported to Reconstruction Era Colorado to bear witness to the love between the on the self feisty female and the rakish handsome horse thief.

As Shadows Fade
Colleen Gleason
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10014-3658
9780451226327, $7.99

Dowager Duchess of Rockley Victoria Gardella Grantworth de Lacy has decided she ha had enough as she is tired; not from hunting down vampires, but from playing a macabre dance of love with vampire hunter Max Pesaro. Used to taking charge, she will make a bid for his soul although she has some mixed feelings as she still cares for her former lover Sebastian.

Meanwhile the irate Vampire Queen has threatened dire consequences on those like Victoria and her potential lovers for interfering with her grandiose schemes of domination over the human cattle. Victoria and her mates know they must close the portal that enables demons to bring hell to earth. To do this they need to obtain five magical rings and an orb.

The latest Gardella Vampire Chronicles (see WHEN TWILIGHT BURNS, THE REST FALLS AWAY, THE BLEEDING DUSK and RISES THE NIGHT) is as always an excellent Regency Era urban fantasy owned by the Venator leader heroine. The story line is fresh as a much more experienced Victoria gains confidence as a chip of the late paternal block, but her self-assurance also flows into her personal life. Fans of the saga will relish Colleen Gleason's superb entry as Victoria attends galas not for amusement as she did a few years ago, but as a hunter (of vampires, Max, and considering Sebastian too). She has come a long way baby and so has this great series that continues to amaze.

Madame Bliss
Charlotte Lovejoy
9780451225979, $15.00

In the eighteenth century waif Marianna Wren is taken into an aristocratic home where she became a servant. However, as she blossomed into a beautiful woman, she is accused of unbecoming behavior when her owner took her virginity and consequently fired her. Marianna tries to hitch a ride and is picked up by Calliope. They hit it off and the more experienced woman tutors her new friend in the vast delights of a wide variety of sex with male and female partners

Marianna loves her new freedom and changes her name to Madame Bliss. She enjoys seduction and being seduced, but deep down in her heart, Bliss knows Marianna is still that stray trying to belong to someone; she wants to love and be loved by her own personal Eros.

As Signet states, MADAME BLISS will remind readers of Fanny Hill and Tom Jones. This is the amorous adventures of a woman of pleasure in a delightfully lewd coming of age historical. Marianna is like a wren until her mentor teaches her the love and joy of blissful bisexual bawdy encounters of all kind. Fans will enjoy Madame Bliss' erotic escapades.

The Secret Wedding
Jo Beverley
9780451226518, $7.99

Heiress Caro Hill believes she is a widow, but has no definitive proof her spouse died. Since the wealthy Caro is considering remarrying, she needs to learn whether Jack Hill died as she assumes he did.

Army officer Christian Hill, Viscount Grandiston, is concerned as he hears rumors about someone asking questions re Jack Hill. He can answer the probe personally since a decade ago back in 1754 in Yorkshire he as Jack Hill married Dorcas Froggatt after killing her fiance Moore; he admits to himself he never gave his bride a second thought until now as he believed he was a widower. Now he wonders whether Dorcas is alive. In London going by the name Mr. Grandiston he investigates the investigator looking for Jack Hill while Caro masquerades as several people to thwart any threat to her owning a cutlery business.

The second not so "Secret" Georgian romance (see A LADY'S SECRET) is a fabulous intelligent tale starring two lead characters masquerading as others in order to conceal their true identity while falling in love with their spouse. A comedy of manners, misconceptions and mistakes, Jo Beverly provides an amusing historical with a touch of suspense and a hint of scandal as you like it.

Redneck Cinderella
LuAnn McLane
9780451226334, $6.99

By selling their suddenly choice property to developer Cody Dean, Jolie Russell and her widow dad have become millionaires. With Cody's help they buy a new home in affluent Cooper Creek Estates. However, their country club neighbors scorn the nouveau riche father and daughter as something less than pond scum.

Jolie sets a goal for herself to attend the Cottonwood Ball without embarrassing herself. Cody's younger brother Brett offers to help prepare her; he also suggests she obtain speech lessons and etiquette training. As the redneck tries to become sophisticated she realizes she has fallen in love with debonair Cody. However, she also assumes he can have any woman he wants so would never settle for one with dirt between her toes.

REDNECK CINDERELLA is a combination Beverly Hillbillies and Debbie Reynolds' Tammy starring a likable heroine who feels like a fish out of water as a country bumpkin amongst urban sophisticates. The lighthearted story line is amusing as Jolie tries to fit in while her dad only makes a half-hearted effort for her sake. The key to this fun frolic is no one is Cruella de Ville though their class differences make Jolie feel doltish, but as Ms. Reynolds sang in Tammy: "Whippoorwill, whippoorwill, you and I know" Jolie's in love.

The Wicked Ways of a True Hero
Barbara Metzger
9780451226341, $6.99

Three years ago, believing he was doing the right thing, Daniel Stamfield interceded on behalf of her father to stop Corisande Abbott's elopement. She begged him not to return her to her nasty father, but he believed her dad that his daughter was just an inane disobedient daughter. He brought her home to her family.

Chaperoned by her mother and accompanied by her sister, Corisande is in London for the season. Daniel is attracted to her, but still believes her father's assessment of his daughter. However, as he gets to know her, Daniel concludes Corisande was and is telling the truth. They begin sleuthing together seeking to learn who is counterfeiting money. As they fall in love, Daniel no longer regrets what he did three plus years ago as he wants Corisande as his wife while love has enabled her to forgive him. However, as they investigate together neither is confident with taking that critical first step of informing the other of how they feel.

Returning to the Regency world of THE SCANDALOUS LIFE OF A TRUE LADY, Barbara Metzger provides her readers with a wonderful romance starring two delightful intelligent protagonists. The story line is fast-paced from the intervention to the courting as Daniel, an asset to his country for his uncanny ability to know when someone is lying, finds his greatest skill failed him three years ago and apparently fails him now; as it don't work as well as kisses to reveal the truth. Regency romance readers will appreciate Ms. Metzger amusing historical due to the unique courtship of the lead couple.

Highland Rebel
Tess Mallory
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425226353, $6.99

The Highland Rebel Ian MacGregor is the hottest rock star with his songs dominating the charts and air waves. He finds his fame and fortune amusingly ironic since he is an original Highland Rebel having traveled through time from the eighteenth century. Although he plays the groupies as the "Celtic Casanova", he is attracted to band manager Ellie Graham.

Ellie loves Ian, but since her parents died she fears strong emotions so she hides her feelings from the singer and to a degree herself. When Ellie accidentally travels back three centuries, Ian follows to save his beloved. Only fate picked a time and place that leaves them between a rock of Highland rebels and the roll of the armies of the English king.

The Queen of Highlander time travel romance (see HIGHLAND MAGIC, HIGHLAND DREAM, HIGHLAND FLING and HIGHLAND ROGUE), Tess Mallory writes another whimsical tale as the roguish hero follows his love back to the era he left behind. Part of the pleasure in this delightful entry is the reaction of Ian's brother Angus to his siblings' return after his being away over two decades from home as he sets the tone and invigorates the saga.

Packing Heat
Penny McCall
9780425228050, $7.99

On her first case, desperate FBI agent Harmony Swift enters Lewisburg United States Penitentiary to free white-collar criminal Cole Hackett' because she needs his computer skills to rescue a kidnapped agent whose ransom is information; her agency geeks will not do it. Two feds try to stop her breaking him out, bur she succeeds. She tries to persuade him to help, but he points out he is no longer the naive kid who the FBI "F" eight years ago leading to is incarceration; trust of a fed is no longer in his DNA.

Shockingly, the FBI conceals the break-out, which makes no sense to Harmony. As Cole hacks into the FBI database seeking the information, Harmony reconsiders what is happening now and what happened to Cole the first time he worked for the FBI; something is not right, but she has no idea what that is and who is behind the scenes manipulating everyone including an escapee convict and a renegade agent on the run.

This fast-paced thriller stars two wonderful people on the lam as he is rightfully a pessimist and she is an optimist; as a team they slice off the top half of the glass that contained liquid to the midpoint making it filled to the top. Fans will enjoy the wild adventures of the Fed and the anti-Fed as they fall in love while working on allegedly saving a kidnapped agent, but nothing is quite the way it seems in this action packed romantic suspense.

Catherine Mann
9780425228029, $7.99

In Afghanistan, with his mentor and partner Major Nathan "Socrates" Breuer unconscious and his C-12 nose diving with smoke coming from the tail, Captain Jimmy Gage knows he must land the plane safely and pray for help to arrive fast. He succeeds in getting them to the ground, but his prayer is answered by insurgents who execute Breuer on the spot and take Jimmy prisoner. Tortured by the enemy, his only regret is he left his fallen comrade behind; vowing never again.

Three years later, Jimmy, who escaped from the enemy, is escorting a boat filled with USO performers when the vessel explodes. Jimmy rescues several survivors including beautiful Chloe Nelson. She had joined the troupe to pay homage to the late soldier who donated a kidney that saved her life. As their respective hearts hotwire love, the pair finds themselves struggling to survive while on a dangerous mission.

This exciting first Darks Ops military thriller hooks the audience from the opening suspense laden scene and never loosens the tension until the end. The key to this taut story line is the lead couple whose attraction can light up the country, but keep their romantic inclinations in check as survival and mission come first. Fans who relish an exciting military thriller with a romantic subplot will wan to fly with Jimmy and Chloe.

Gorgeous As Sin
Susan Johnson
9780425226810, $7.99

In 1891, his Grace the Duke of Groveland George Montagu Fitz-Robbins Monckton, left the countryside and his latest married paramour at the urgent request of his barrister Prosper Hutchinson. Prosper explains that if a Mrs. St. Vincent refuses to sell her bookstore on Monckton Row, his project would fail and His Grace will be out at least 90,000 pounds. The lady is obstinate.

To save his project, Fitz visits the lady in question who refuses money. He likes her courage and stubbornness so different than all the women he knows who do whatever he asks of them. He changes plan from cash to seduction as no female can resist his lure. Rosalind knows her adversary is GORGEOUS AS SIN and desires him, but she knows he will break her heart so rejects her need of him and his enticement leading to an immovable force colliding with an irresistible object.

This engaging late Victorian heated romance stars two enemy combatants insisting it is only passing lust that will go away like gas does. The gender war makes for a fine historical as Fitz and Rosalind feel they have good cause to motivate them to fight and win the battle while ignoring their respective seditious hearts and other body parts. Although the plot is a bit thin, Susan Johnson provides an enjoyable late nineteenth century romance because of heated hostility between the lead couple.

Spring Breakup
Stephanie Hale
9780425225929, $9.99

During spring break at Comfort Community College Aspen Brooks, her boyfriend Rand Bachrach to go to Vegas; her BFF Angel and Angel's boyfriend Lucas join them. At the hotel the quartet is staying at is also hosting the Miss Teen Queen Pageant.

When Miss Illinois vanishes without a trace, Aspen puts away the suntan lotion though she wonders with the heavy lights if she might need the strongest dose with some asbestos to reinforce it to represent her home state at the pageant though she lacks the necessary surgical corrections. Her plan is to go undercover to learn what is going on while she worries about her BFF who apparently broke up with Lucas. Rand is a bit peeved as she has no time for him while working the Strip.

The third Aspen Brooks teen character study (see REVENGE of the HOMECOMING QUEEN and TWISTED SISTERS) is an intriguing mix of Miss Congeniality meets Sydney White as the heroine has become a couple thimbles deeper than in her past shallower tales.. The lighthearted frolic is fun especially when Aspen goes undercover as an amateur sleuth. The BFF-BFF's BF battle is a silly distraction of a couple who fail to make the weight. Fans of Our Miss Brooks (sorry Eve Arden - couldn't resist) will appreciate her latest escapades on spring break.

A Vampire's Claim
Joey W. Hill
Berkley Heat
9780425226087, $15.00

In 1953 Lady Daniela, the rare offspring of two vampires, travel to Western Australia to claim her maternal inheritance since her mom chose sun suicide. On the trek through the Outback to Thieves' Station, Daniela meets visiting English human Devlin at a dive. They hit it off making love that night to her shock as she has met many males over her two millennium existence that rarely tickle her let alone ignite her desire.

Dev accompanies Daniela to her station and learns what she is. He assists her in her goal to rid the world of an evil vampiric despot. She wants his soul voluntarily. However, when she violates her beloved by claiming him as her servant without his permission, Daniela fears she went too far and will lose the independent Dev since he does not understand the repercussions to her by her naming him.

Besides a great vampire romance by an author marking the sub-genre fans as loyal followers, (see THE VAMPIRE QUEEN'S SERVANT and THE MARK OF THE VAMPIRE QUEEN) Joey W. Hill provides a strong sense of time and place. The story line insures readers will be in the remote Outback as Ike and Elizabeth rise to power. Filled with action and two strong lead protagonists, readers will appreciate this enticing invigorating thriller.

Kate Noble
9780425221747, $14.00

Only twenty-one year old wealthy widow Lady Phillippa Benning benignly rules the Ton. However, she hides from Polite Society her ennui with all the inanity that accompanies galas. Her only rival is the harlot Lady Jane Cummings; her adversary since they were students at Mrs. Humphrey's School for Elegant Ladies. Both are interested in the Marquis of Broughton.

However Phillippa' dropped glove ploy leads to Mr. Marcus Worth instead of the lord. Soon she realizes what Marcus' truth worth is when she concludes he is the notorious Blue Raven spy and fantasy of every female's dreams. Phillippa blackmails him into making her his partner in his effort to capture his adversary the French agent Laurant, who has escaped his efforts for ten years. He rejects her extortionist proposal, but changes his mind when he realizes there is substance beyond Almack inside this courageous young woman. However, the Frenchman has not been so elusively successful by not observing his enemies.

This is a terrific tale of "love and war" that contrasts the overabundance of Regency High Society with the dangerous world of espionage. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Phillippa knows who the Blue Raven is and never slows down as the pair team up to catch the wily Frenchman. During their adventures, the lead couple learn the true manning of a "bargain is a bargain is a bargain".

Susan Wittig Albert
9780425226094, $24.95

In Pecan Springs, Texas, herbalist and entrepreneur China Bayles is emotionally exhausted after discovering she had a half-brother Miles who wanted to get to know her; only, Miles was murdered leaving behind an orphaned daughter Caitlin to be raised by her Aunts Marcia and China. They want to make the tweener comfortable as China plans to be the best guardian she can be.

China and her friend Martha Edmond go on vacation to the Mt Zion Shaker village, a tourist attraction in Kentucky. Martha tells China about a series of "accidents" in the village culminating with an arson fire that left several horses dead. She asks China to investigate, which the sleuth does. They learn from the accounting officer Allie that some stocks are missing form the endowment trust. Soon afterward the two women find Allie murdered. They know that someone will kill especially meddling investigators to keep the truth concealed.

This is the usual great Bayles whodunit, but enhanced with a strong look at the history of the Shaker movement as Martha's grandmother lived in Mt Zion; her story rotates with the modern day mystery. Obviously Susan Wittig Albert has done a lot of meticulous research into the Shaker culture especially the belief system as the lifestyle comes across as if the audience is visiting a late nineteenth century village. Fans will enjoy China's latest tale as ironically, the crimes of the present mirror that of the past.

Love Mercy
Earlene Fowler
9780425225974, $24.95

In Morro Bay, California, Love Mercy Johnson has taken in stride recently becoming a widow as she is generally contented with her life though she still "talks" with her Cy and misses his foghorn laugh. She enjoys writing a column and taking photos for a magazine, working on her in-laws' cattle ranch and co-owning the Buttercream Cafe except for balancing the books. Her only regret is her rift with her grandchildren; she wishes she could patch things up with them, but they have long memories.

Out of the blue, her eighteen years old granddaughter, Loretta Lynn "Rett" arrives in Morro Bay after hitching across the country to escape from a relationship that turned ugly. Whereas Rett dreams of making it as a song writer or as a truck driver, Mercy wants her granddaughter in her life. Still they struggle to make amends, but the divide remains wide until a crisis forces grandma and grandchild to decide to unite or remain apart.

This is a profound character study of two women divided by a family feud that keeps each from reaching out to the other; something both emotionally need and want. Readers will admire Mercy, whose asides to Cy enable readers to understand her. Rett brings the youthful enthusiasm that anything is possible. Rotating perspective with Benni Harper playing a minor role, Earlene Fowler proves Rett's theory of life and relationships as she and her grandma hold the engaging plot together.

The Accidental Human
Dakota Cassidy
9780425225950, $14.00

Wanda Schwartz is still in disbelief from her best friends' conversion into the paranormal; Marty Andrews has become THE ACCIDENTAL WEREWOLF and Nina Blackman is now a vampire having become ACCIDENTALLY DEAD. Wanda just wants to remain boringly human.

However, Wanda is stunned when she learns she is terminally ill. She vows to live a normal human life to the fullest and hide her condition from her two best friends as long as possible. She meets Heath Jefferson, who wants to sell Bobbie-Sue Cosmetics. He is strange in a nice way but his manservant Archibald seems even odder; also in a nice way. Wanda thinks he is perfect for her final fling before she dies; Heath may be in full blooded lust, but has a different opinion.

The final "accidental" paranormal romance (see ACCIDENTALLY DEAD and THE ACCIDENTAL WEREWOLF) is a delightful, at times droll, contemporary tale starring a decidedly human heroine and Heath (read the book to learn who he is). Fans will laugh at her "F**k List" that needs some revision once Heath proves he knows his cosmic cosmetic colors. Dakota Cassidy provides a fitting twisted ending to this amusingly warm urban romantic fantasy.

Angels' Blood
Nalini Singh
9780425226926, $7.99

The Angels hire vampire hunters Elena Deveraux to capture or kill vampires who turn evil. Elena is the first choice of the Angels as she is the recognized best vampire hunter in the world. Her uncanny innate skill of scent tracking is what makes her the greatest.

However even the unflappable Elena is shocked when the Archangel Raphael wants to hire her. She has never done a job for an archangel before and finds his beauty overwhelming. The assignment is extremely dangerous: hunt down a rogue archangel, the most powerful species of all. Raphael says she only track the target as he will perform the kill, but she fears she might be part of the collateral damage of two archangels fighting.

This opening act of a new urban fantasy (after the fabulous Psy-Changeling saga) uses an interesting hierarchal spin to refresh archangels, angels, and vampires. The story line cleverly uses action to depict the relationships between the paranormal; as Angels control vampires using hunters when the bloodsuckers go rogue. Fans will relish Nalini Singh's excellent first GUILD HUNTER thriller starring a courageous heroine struggling with lust and the powerful archangel who wants her.

Never Say Sty
Linda O. Johnston
9780425227046, $7.99

She is both a Los Angeles attorney and a pet-sitter, who solved a client's litigation problem by helping to create the pet reality show Animal Auditions. It is a Survivor type show using animals who are eliminated each week until the last one standing wins a great prize. At a meeting she met tall, dark and handsome Dante De Francisco who owns the chain Hot Pets. Kendra Ballantine is attracted to him and him to her although neither welcomes the feelings.

The first animals to be judged are pot-bellied pigs, who have a sense of smell, which is a key component of the competition. One of the judges mean tempered Sebastian Czykovski who is nasty towards the pigs and their owners. When he is murdered, the detective in charge Howard Wherlon leads the investigation as the usual sleuth has a conflict of interest being a contestant. Ned and his sister Nia are the prime suspects so Ned asks Kendra to help him find the real killer. She, her former lover, his assistant and Dante create an ingenious plan to smoke out the culprit.

Putting aside the fact a professional asks an amateur for help in a murder case, Linda O. Johnson's latest Pet-Sitter mystery is a refreshing (the normal in this series- see DOUBLE DOG DARE) fascinating whodunit. Still reeling from her break up with PI Jeff Hubbard, Kendra is hesitant to begin a relationship with an also reluctant Dante, who has a secret past that does not exist on record before his military duty. As is typical in this engaging series, the animals steal the show; this time the scenes with the pot-bellied pigs are hilarious as are those with the canines. Fans will enjoy the latest pet sitter caper.

Leftover Dead
Jimmie Ruth Evans
9780425225608, $7.99

Wanda Nell and Jack got married and are living happily ever after in her trailer along with her daughter Juliet. Wanda Nell feels she is in hog heaven, not so much because of her nuptials, but to be working only one job for the first time in recent memory as a waitress at the Kountry Kitchen; Jack works at the high school and plans to start writing a novelization of a true crime story.

Jack learns about a three decade old cold case in which a naked girl was found dead on the Tullahoma County High School football field. His interest in the case stems from the way the townsfolk reacted to the homicide. Everyone wanted the Jane Doe mystery buried and forgotten. Jack consults with Wanda Nell and they conclude someone influential ended any inquiries. They investigate the murder and cover-up in spite of the danger they may face especially if that person is still alive, powerful, and observant.

The latest Trailer Park amateur sleuth (see BRING YOUR OWN POISON) is an engaging investigative tale as the newlyweds spend their honeymoon sleuthing a cold case that their inquiry turns hot (on them and the few who cooperate). Once gain life in a small Mississippi town especially in a trailer park is made interesting by the eccentric support cast. Wanda Nell remains as responsible as ever, but with Jack legally at her side. Fans will appreciate this character driven regional cold case whodunit.

Practice Makes Perfect
Julia James
9780425226742, $7.99

Legal associates Payton Kendall and J.D. Jameson do not like one another as their respective behavior is polar opposites. Thus when they are assigned to work on a case together for the first time, neither is pleased. Both want to beg off, but learn that one of them will become a partner while the other will be unemployed.

Payton inadvertently embarrasses J.D. He assumes she did it on purpose so ups the ante by striking back. She in turn feels he went too far so tries to gain the edge. As they take turns evening the score, J.D. and Payton look forward to the next hit. Soon they fall into love, but that emotion cannot survive partnership.

Although battling lawyers falling in love has been used a lot (Redford-Wingar Legal Eagles), the lead couple's fighting love makes for a brisk contemporary romance. Payton and J.D. are an engaging pairing of seemingly total opposites in hate that actually disguises their caring for the other. Fans will enjoy enemy combatants trying to checkmate their adversary only to be trumped by falling in love while wondering how their relationship will survive the naming.

Nice Girls Have Fangs
Molly Harper
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
1416589422, $7.99

It comes as a stunning blow to half Moon Hollow's librarian Jane Jameson, who has the official title of Director of Juvenile Services, to be fired. Instead of severance pay, she receives a gift certificate at Shenanigans where she gets drunk. Her car breaks down in the woods near her home and she starts to walk home. A drunken driver thinks she is a deer, shoots her, and drives away. Jane knows she is dying, but when she awakens she finds herself in the bed of Gabriel whom she met at the bar.

He is a vampire and converted her so she would not die. It takes Jane a while to adapt to her new undead existence; she informs no one about her new lifestyle except her best friend Zeb. One of her new vampiric peers gives her a care package with a reference book, The Guide for the New Undead. Jane is brought before the Vampire Council on trial for killing the vampire Walter; she insists she did not do it. Rumors spread about her sexual practices even though she is chaste. Someone writes a horrible message on her car window and tries to kill her dog by putting antifreeze in his water bowl. She is framed for another homicide. That unknown adversary keeps stalking her, but Jane is confused as she has not had any time or incident to make such a persistent enemy willing to kill others to stake her.

As a somewhat reticent mortal Jane was prim and proper; but as a vampire she has a new sense of her sexuality especially when she is near Gabriel. She also communicates with the ghost of her Aunt Jettie; these dialogues are jocular yet poignant. Molly Harper has written a bloody good vampire tale with a touch of mystery and plenty of suspense that will enthrall romantic urban fantasy fans.

Mommy by Mistake
Rowan Coleman
1416583882, $15.00

She is stuck on a train when she meets him where they talk. The next thing Natalie Curzon knows is that they are in Venice enjoying the sights in between making love. Jack tells her he will call her soon, but does not; breaking her heart. She soon learns she is pregnant and keeps her baby Freddie. When her electricity fails, she tells Gary the electrician that her spouse Freddie's daddy is in Dubai.

Natalie meets Gary's assistant teenage girlfriend Tiffany, also as a single mom is raising a child who black and tells her the same lie. The pair attends a first aid class where they meet Meg who believes her husband is cheating. They begin to form a single moms' group with two other women. Jack is back and wants to be a father to Freddie, but shows no interest in Natalie, who detests the word platonic because she loves Jack. She also wonders how to tell her new sisters that she is single having made up a spouse in Dubai.

The latest Rowan Coleman mommy lit (see THE ACCIDENTAL MOTHER and ANOTHER MOTHER'S LIFE) will remind the audience of family dramas by Eileen Goudge and Barbara Delinsky. Natalie learns the hard way that raising a baby nukes the parent's lifestyle as does her new friends who forge a support group to help control the nuclear waste. Points of view rotate so the audience knows what the prime characters are thinking and feeling, but Natalie is the focus as a likable vulnerable single mom.

Highland Scandal
Julia London
141654710X, $7.99

In 1807 the Prince of Wales demands the Lords Commissioners complete their Delicate Investigation into the behavior of his wife. Being the royal heir, George expects one outcome. However, the Lords Commissioners are finding little to uphold the accusations George is making against his spouse Princess Caroline of her sleeping around.

The latest lord the Prince accuses of adultery with the Princess of Wales is Scottish Earl Jankin "Jack" Haines. Jack assumes George will quickly drop the nonsensical charge so he goes home to wait. Instead the Prince, claiming Jack fled to Scotland to avoid conviction of the seditious act of sleeping with the Princess, hires bounty hunters to find the earl. They capture Jack and take him to their clan laird, Carson Beal who forces his prisoner to handfast with his troublemaking niece, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Drummond Beal in order to avoid her possible marriage with Gavin Gordon. Although Carson denies duplicity, Jack thinks his "host" has a nefarious reason to keep his niece from marrying Gordon and he plans to learn what that is even as he begins to fall in love with the shrew taming him.

Based on a real investigation, the second scandal Regency romance (see BOOK OF SCANDAL) is a delightful historical Scottish romance. Jack expects the accusations will soon pass but underestimates the Prince's determination. However, he adapts nicely as he goes from the fire to the frying pan and back into the fire. Lizzie acts inane at first blaming Jack for her situation and behaving dangerously foolish to avoid marrying her uncle's prisoner. She quickly comes around (thank goodness) as she falls in love. HIGHLAND SCANDAL is a wonderful tale as a real event leads to love between two Highlanders.

Sunset Bay
Susan Mallery
9781416567172, $6.99

On the plus side, Los Angeles CPA Megan Greene is doing well at work, has a great nurturing father and is engaged to a doctor. On the minus side she is somewhat estranged from her shallow younger sister Leanne and a source of scorn from her even shallower mother.

Megan's life goes into tailspin when she learns her fiance is cheating. She ends her engagement angering her mother who reminds her she had no prom date. At work, a newbie is trying to use her not as a mentor but someone whose reputation is to destroy so there is one less body to step on in the climb up the ladder. Dealing with these issues seems easy until her father tells her to grow up. However the worst blow occurs when her high school boyfriend Travis comes home as he still owns her heart, the one he broke when she was eighteen. She considers returning to what enabled her to cope as a teen: designing clothing.

This modern day Job is an intriguing character study of a woman who seems contented in her life though she has relationship issues that she has ignored until the plus side of her personal ledge implodes. The poignant story line will leave readers thinking how they will react to what one perceives as a strength turning into a potential debilitating weakness. Although too much hammers as the heroine at one time, fans of contemporary second chance at life tales will appreciate Susan Mallery's insightful drama.

Whisper of Warning
Laura Griffin
9781416570646, $6.99

Courtney Glass broke off with attorney John David Alvin when she learned he was married. She reluctantly agreed to meet him because she wants to end his harassment of her. When David arrives he is irate with her; he enters her car accusing her of harassment. Someone with a mask on enters the back of the car and pulls out a gun. He grabs her hand and puts it on the gun and pressures her fingers into squeezing the trigger killing David. She manages to grab pepper spray and hit him in his gray cold eyes before she flees from the vehicle.

Just transferred into Austin PD homicide, Detective Will Hodges leads the investigation as his new senior partner Nathan Deveraux is tied up with another case and besides has close ties to Courtney's sister forensic artist Fiona (see THREAD OF FEAR). Will knows Courtney is hiding something from him, but believes she is innocent though he fears his attraction to her might be tainting his objectivity. More evidence points to Courtney as the killer with the motive being an angry ex lover. As the victim's family and Will's new boss pressure him to arrest her; Will vows to prove the troubled woman he loves is innocent.

WHISPER OF WARNING is an exciting police procedural starring a wonderful cop and an intriguing "femme fatale". Will wants Courtney from the first moment they meet although he knows she is omitting important information. The story line is character driven mostly by this couple, but ably supported by a strong secondary cast. With a terrific plausible paradigm twist, Laura Griffin provides readers with a fabulous whodunit as Will somewhat controls his deepest urges in spite of Courtney's seductive lure.

Secrets Of The Tudor Court: The Pleasure Palace
Kate Emerson
1416583203, $16.00

In 1498, six months after the death of papa when his ship sunk at sea, eight years old Jane Poyancourt and her widowed mother Jeanne flee France following the passing away of King Charles. King Henry VII makes the grieving Jane his ward and employs the child who is the age of his daughters as their French tutor by simply speaking to them. Soon after reaching England, Jane's Uncle Sir Rowland Velville informs his young niece that her mamam died from a sudden fever.

A few years later, Jane is beautiful and remains at the court though a new handsome Henry sits on the throne now. Several members of the court want to court the displaced Frenchwoman, but she shows no interest in any of them. That changes when prisoner of war Duc de Longueville Louis D'Orleans is sent to the Tower awaiting ransom payment. She is attracted to him and is considering becoming his mistress. Meanwhile her childhood friend Guy Dunois comes to the English court and wants to become Jane's lover. Jane also investigates her mother's sudden untimely death, which leads to her spying for her royal guardian.

This interesting early sixteenth century tale lives up to its title as the audience sees another side to the Tudor courts of Henry VII and more so his son Henry VIII. The story line provides the reader with a sense of time and place especially the intrigue that engulfs the reign of Henry VIII, but does so through the amorous adventures of Jane. Fans of the era will relish Kate Emerson's fine historical biographical fiction of an actual member of the Tudor court supported by real people.

Tempted All Night
Liz Carlyle
9781416593133, $7.99

In 1830 London Lady Phaedra Northampton's quest to locate a missing woman Millie abruptly halts when Gorsky the Russian she sought to obtain information from is dead with a knife in his back. Rake Viscount Tristan Talbot also searched for the same dead Russian as a death bed wish he gave to his estranged father who begged him to complete his last Foreign Intelligent Office mission.

When Phaedra and Tristan meet, the attraction has both shocked though she denies the feelings having given up on attraction following a scandal. Tristan fears his reaction because he is the son of a failed marriage between his dying dad and a mom his father refuses to speak about. They have a common goal to solve the murder of the Russian, but differing hidden agendas; hers is to find the missing female from her village and his to please his father. Love is a hindrance to each.

This exhilarating early nineteenth century amateur sleuth romantic suspense thriller grips the audience due to the baggage both lead characters carry as they investigate their connected cases and fall in love. Phaedra has a past that makes it difficult for her to trust while Tristan wants to reconcile with his dad. Fans will enjoy their antics as both are used to hanging out with their servants rather than the Ton. Love is a pain in the butt for this pair, but the desire is overwhelming.

The After Wife
Lexi Davis
1416505261, $15.00

Los Angeles prosecutor Malcolm Smalls and Nia Youngblood have tried twenty-eight times to make love, but somehow something always happens to intercede. The twenty-four years old beauty is a virgin, but this time Malcolm expects the charm as they are in Vegas. However, once again her unknown protector intercedes and gifts Nia with a cell phone containing a video of Malcolm with Judge Victoria Bowden.

At a teenage trial presided by Judge Bowden, Nia offers defense attorney David Wrightwood the video of his opponent Malcolm with Vicky. He rejects her offer insisting he will win the case anyway and asks her out instead. As they fall in love, her protector will do what it takes to eliminate the competition even killing the persistent David if need be. Demon Lord Rephaim has waited patiently for two and a half decades for Nia to become twenty-five so he can make her his queen; no mortal regardless of his courage will prevent their destiny.

Inane title word play aside, this is a terific urban romantic fantasy built on the premise of demonic destiny vs. mortal love. The story line is fast-paced with a whimsical underside as Nia wonders if her unseen protector will ever step forward and explain his intentions. Nia accepts the mystic easily; which logically makes sense since she has lived with the paranormal as normal all her life, but a bit more back story beyond mom the witch would have anchored her disposition. Still this is an excellent romantic fantasy as the date of reckoning approaches.

Every Demon Has His Day
Cara Lockwood
Downtown Press
c/o Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th floor, New York, NY 10020
1416550526, $15.00

Constance Plyd has been waiting for months to get her husband to sign the divorce papers; she believes this is the day she has prayed for. However, before that can happen, she finds Jimmy's dead body with a screwdriver protruding from his back. At the scene is the Pride demon Yeman who killed him. He gives her his card as he and Shadow the Glutton demon know she is the Chosen One as the prophet with visions that indicate who Lucifer is to have sex with in order to begat the Antichrist.

Sheriff Nathan Garret, who years ago had sex with Constance one day and left her the next, questions her. He finds her story unbelievable, which she can understand as so does Constance. In a vision she sees a small dog wearing a pink sweater who will help her. The canine Frank turns out to be an apprentice angel who belongs to movie star Dante London. The star is coming to town to film a movie. She is the vassal chosen to carry the Antichrist, but Frank and Constance wait for more of her visions to determine when and where the seduction will tale place so they can stop Lucifer from carrying out his plan.

Combining elements from urban fantasy, religion, and chick lit elements, Cara Lockwood creates an amusing lighthearted romp starring a non-believer who has visionary powers due to her matriarchal DNA. Constance always thought her mom Abigail was a fruitcake until she began to see the truth. It takes her a while to accept her skill, but once she does even Lucifer believes she is a force to be reckoned with. Readers will enjoy this off-beat humorous yet action-packed thriller as the strong cast knows that EVERY DEMON HAS HIS DAY even if it takes eternity for it to occur.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Suzann Ledbetter
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778326366, $6.99

The insurance company hires private investigator Jack McPhee to investigate a string of robberies that has cost them a bundle of payments to insured clients. After reviewing the case file, Jack sees one thread; each of the victims owned a pet and was away at the time of the break-in. He theorizes the culprit works at a kennel.

His clues lead to dog groomer Dina Wexler, who needs a lot of money to pay for her ailing mother's exorbitant medical expenses. Jack figures that is the obvious motive, but has nothing concrete that would convict Dina in court. However, he soon has a more pressing issue to investigate when someone murders his ex-wife with the police suspecting him. Though he always goes alone, Jack teams up with the groomer and a hyper Maltese to solve the robberies and the homicide that he believes are linked.

This over the top amusing romantic mystery will have the audience rooting for the ten pound canine as long as the dog resides in someone else's neighborhood. The lead couple is a fun pairing as Jack wants no partners, but Dina gives him few choices. Fans will laugh at loud at the antics of the lead trio while lurking in the shadows is a clever killer watching their every move.

Heather Graham
9780778326373, $24.95

In the Las Vegas Sun casino, entertainer Jessy Sparhawk wins quite a lot of money at the craps table. Before the Lakota Sioux can rejoice over her gambling winnings, bodyguard Tanner Green falls on top of Jessy. Not moving once he lands on her, Tanner is dead from a knife in his back. Private investigator part Paiute Dillon Wolf pulls the body off of her.

Soon after the Tanner death, a second person who works at the Sun is murdered as the killer is cleaning the crime links, which makes Jessy a potential target. The victim, a parking lot attendant, had witnessed Tanner leave a limo just before his murder. Dillon and LVPD homicide detective Jerry Cheever investigate the two related murders in different manners. Dillon is a nightwalker, as is Jessy now since Green made direct contact by falling on her, as she keeps "seeing" him. Dillon talks with the witnesses, ghosts. He learns that nearby ghost-town Indigo, Nevada is apparently the location of a violent confrontation between the paranormal and human as it once was the location of a nasty gunfight in its old west heyday.

This is a terrific paranormal whodunit starring an intriguing hero, a dedicated cop, and a stunned entertainer whose relative world will never be the same after Green's pinpoint landing. The support cast, living and ghosts enhance the exciting story line by either adding to the investigation or to the Nightwalker ESP skill. The romance remains somewhat in the backdrop as keeping Jessy alive and catching the DEATH DEALER culprit are the objectives superseding his attraction.

The Whispering Room
Amanda Stevens
9780778326281, $6.99

In New Orleans, homicide detective Evangeline Theroux leads the investigation into the death of attorney Paul Courtland; the victim died from snakebite. A quick search by the widowed mom of a baby uncovers that Courtland's brother also died from snakebite.

Looking at Courtland's recent clients leads Evangeline to wonder if drug dealer Sonny Betts, whom she believes killed her husband, might have reason to eliminate his lawyer though she finds no evidence that would matter in court. However, when she digs deeper, the brass removes her from the case. Evangeline wonders if the Feds pressured her superiors. True-crime writer Lena Saunders insists she has critical information, but refuses to speak to anyone except Evangeline as she trusts no cops even her chosen one; picked because of the spousal murder. Saunders explanation is over the top re the Lemay matriarch destroying evil by killing her sons; her daughters live to destroy evil, but a doubting Evangeline follows the way-out lead anyway.

THE WHISPERING ROOM is a fabulous New Orleans police procedural that will enhance Amanda Stevens as a top Bayou suspense writer (see THE DEVIL'S FOOTPRINT and DOLLMAKER). Evangeline is a wonderful character who feels guilt every time she looks at her infant she sees her late husband so she wants to stay away from her child. The story line is fast-paced, filled with action, and rising suspense until the terific twisting finish will have the audience anxiously waiting for the next uneasy Ms. Stevens' New Orleans thriller.

Silent on the Moor
Deanna Raybourn
9780778326144, $13.95

In 1888 London Lady Julia Grey's brother Bellmont admonishes her for chasing after a fool who rejects her; he also lectures her older sister Portia for abetting her in this doltish escapade. Widow Julia agrees with everything Bellmont says, but leaves with Portia for Yorkshire anyway where the inquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane, whom she met when her spouse was murdered (see SILENT IN THE GRAVE) bought Grimsgrave Hall on the moors.

Upon arrival Julia is taken aback as to the dilapidated condition of Brisbane's new home and even more so by the arrogance yet defeated auras of the aristocratic former owners Lady Allenby and her daughters. Julia receives a mixed welcome from her host; he obviously wants her, but also wants her far away from him as he refuses to bridge the gap in social classes between them and fears his work will harm her. When poison enters the mix, social class no longer matters as Julia investigates the past to determine who wants to send the tenants especially the new owner of Grimsgrave to their graves.

The third Lady Grey "Silent" late Victorian mystery (see SILENT IN THE SANCTUARY) is a suburb whodunit that provides readers with a deep sense of time and place when the aristocracy is in free fall. The story line is action-packed, but driven by the strong cast. Lady Julia is at the top of her game as she has some experience in inquiry and with Brisbane as a target, she and readers learn of his past. Fans will relish this exciting historical whodunit.

Temptation Ridge
Robyn Carr
9780778326571, $6.99

Shelby MacIntyre put her life on hold for five years to care for her beloved ailing mother. Now that mom has died Shelby needs to fill the emptiness of the caretaker with no one to care for. She considers her options and decides to kick the can a bit longer by moving in with her uncle in Virgin River.

Former Army Blackhawk pilot Luke Riordan makes a living renovating dilapidated houses. When they meet, Shelby knows he is a player, but though he is not right for her at this time as she knows he will break her heart, she wants him. Luke finds himself falling in love with the nice Shelby, but hides his feelings because he wants her to see the world instead of entangling herself in a relationship soon after her mom's death.

Although in many ways Shelby is the more fascinating character, Luke steals the show with his unselfish act of pushing his soulmate to leave as the time is not right for her. However, he may be the retired military aviator, but she proves his equal matching him grit for grit as she knows he is bad for her, but is the one. The latest Virgin River contemporary romance is a charming tale of love.

New Dawn Rising
Scott Gamboe
Medallion Press, Inc.
1020 Cedar Lane, No. 2N, St. Charles, IL 60174
9781933836959, $15.95

In the distant future, the United Systems Coalition with its numerous species and the Bromidian Empire were at war (see THE KILLING FROST). However the USC triumphed overthrowing the authoritarian rule of their enemy leading to a democratically elected government. One year later, both sides of the conflict celebrate the peace until assassins kill the visiting USC leaders and a coup d'etat takes down the Bromidian government.

The son of the late deposed former ruler has prepared for the past year to retake the government with the help of people from the old regime. They are allied with pirates who are led by a new species assisting the new ruler consolidate his rule. The Avengers including Captain Arano Lakeland, his wife and some Bromidians are trapped behind enemy lines. They employ guerilla tactics to weaken the new government. A battle is space between the two forces occurs while the new species observes and waits for a chance to defeat the weakened both sides.

This is an old fashion space opera though much of the plot occurs on planet-side. The USC forces try to overturn a government that came into power through force, terror and assassination although that coup especially the murders seems too easy even arguing that the USC became complacent. There are plenty of fights between the two sides and Arano and his comrades especially the Bromidians are heroic as they risk their lives to bring back the fledgling democracy. NEW DAWN RISING is a fun outer space military political science fiction novel. Readers will wonder what the new species' will do next.

Lord of Legends
Susan Krinard
Harlequin HQN
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373773657, $6.99

In 1885 the Earl of Donnington meets and courts American heiress Mariah Marron. He wins her heart and they marry. They move onto his estate, but he never claims his conjugal rights to her shock.

Exploring her new home, Mariah finds a semi-naked male locked in a cell. She tries to help Ash, as she names her husband's prisoner, as much as she can. Her husband's explanations make no sense to the American. She spends time with her Ash and he soon learns to speak. As he heals encouraged by the tender Mariah, Ash regains his memories. He knows he is King Arion a unicorn who must go home. To do so means betraying the woman who cared for him when he was not much more than a beast; the woman he loves and who is in peril from her spouse who sought her out because of her mythical connection that Mariah is unaware of.

Filled with twists, LORD OF LEGENDS is an engaging historical romantic fantasy starring a caring heroine who is betrayed by the males in her life. The story line is fast-paced once Mariah and Ash meet and never slows down even with several spins although the ending is way over the top of Big Ben. Fans will enjoy this late Victorian rooting for Mariah, but have monster doubts about Ash and no second thoughts about Donnington.

Mischief 24/7
Kasey Michaels
9780373773664, $6.99

As always the oldest Sunshine sister, Jade remains the responsible last one standing trying to prove their father Teddy did kill Melody Brainard or commit suicide. She refuses to give up while Jolie has found a distraction (see DIAL M FOR MISCHIEF) and so has Jessica (see MISCHIEF BECOMES HER). Jade worked for her dad in his private investigative agency and assumes his last cases contain the key clues.

She is stunned when her former husband, Courtland Becket offers to help her. His ulterior motive is for a second chance at their love now that high maintenance Teddy is gone. As they investigate the cold case files that Teddy was searching before he died, their attraction remains strong, but not quite as powerful as Jade's obsession that Teddy goes to his grave a hero not a killer.

Although the readers will know early on what Teddy did and did not do in his last moments, fans will relish this often amusing romantic suspense thriller. The current day cases are resolved while the ties back to the Regency saga Romney Marsh is brilliant. Jade is the most convoluted of the Sunshine siblings as even in death her father comes before her needs; Court hopes to gain that role on his second chance, but knows Teddy must be more than just exonerated; he must receive homage from the Philadelphia police, the media, and the sisters.

The Shadow Queen
Bertrice Small
9780373773688, $13.95

No woman has ever ruled the Kingdom of Terah. However, when the monarch Magnus Hauk dies in an accident, his son is not old enough to rule. Thus his mom the faerie Queen Lara will serve as a secret regent until her offspring can formally run the nation.

To assist THE SHADOW QUEEN as she guides her son is her trusted friend Prince Kaliq at a time Terah is threatened by powerful enemies emboldened by the lack of a strong king. However, Lara's efforts to protect her children go astray when their adversary Jonah the Lord High Ruler beguiles her daughter and her twin sons openly fight leaving the kingdom divided and consequently increasingly weakened. The only thing working for Lara is her reciprocated love with loyal Kaliq.

The fifth Hetar erotic romantic fantasy is an exciting tale as Lara star of the first book is the prime focus again; which enables the audience to see how far she has come and to a degree fallen. The story line is fast-paced from the onset as the heroine realizes she can only protect her children so far, but as adults they will make poor judgments that she can do little about. The romantic subplot is hot and engaging, but also intrudes in some ways on the primary theme of what she must sacrifice to save the next generation, her kingdom, and ultimately two worlds. Fans of the series will relish THE SHADOW QUEEN while spellbound newcomers will seek the previous entries (see THE SORCERESS OF BELLMAIR, THE TWILIGHT LORD, A DISTANT TOMORROW and LARA).

The Vampire's Bride
Gena Showalter
9780373773596, $6.99

Two centuries ago the dragon horde killed the beloved Susan. Since then vampire king Layel has lived for one thing seeking vengeance on all dragons; collateral deaths are acceptable consequences. That is until he meets Amazon warrior Delilah who matches him sword thrust to sword thrust.

At the same, in the pantheon, the Gods decide to have fun with the residents of Atlantis. They create life and death contests between sentient species. The rules are simple but deadly: the squad that loses a contest loses a player. However, Layel's attraction for the female of another team could cost him his undead life; she reciprocates his feelings but does not trust love as binding

With a nod to ancient mythology, Gena Showalter's latest romantic fantasy is a wonderful tale because the author makes her two protagonists and the key support cast including the pantheons as plausible. No one is above killing as Layel especially has a two hundred years old blood feud in which he has stalked dragons, killing unmercifully. The gods are as fickle as they appear in Greek mythology. Fans who appreciate a touch of realism in the lead characters will enjoy the latest entry in the Showalter mythos (see Lords of the Underworlds saga - THE DARKEST PLEASURE, THE DARKEST KISS and THE DARKEST NIGHT).

Mother To Be
Tanya Michaels
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373782932, $5.50

In Richmond, Virginia forty-three years old realtor Delia Carlisle believes she owns the world with her success in business and with her thirty-seven year old boyfriend, Alexander "Ringo" DiRossi. However, she panics when she learns she is pregnant and not because of her age; she is not ready to marry.

Alex wants to marry his beloved Delia and raise a family with her. He proposes, but she hesitates. Besides her doubts about marriage, she does not want him trapped into a marrying her because she is carrying. Alex knows he must convince her he wants her as his wife even if they had no kids.

The fully developed lead couple engages the audience with their older woman younger man relationship. Whereas Alex has wanted to amrry Delia forever, he delayed asking for fear she will say no and end their relationship. Now he dreads that she will use her pregnancy as the excuse to not marry him. Delia is a fascinating confused individual whose bewilderment has geometrically grown in direct correlation with her pregnancy. Fans of character driven contemporary romances will appreciate the father's efforts to make the MOTHER TO BE his wife; as he already has her heart.

A Natural Father
Sarah Mayberry
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373715510, $5.50

In Melbourne, in spite of protective sex, Lucy Basso informs her mom and sis she is pregnant; mom does not miss a beat when she says Marcus will need to step up and be responsible. Instead Marcus has dumped her as he is not ready for fatherhood.

Dominic Bianco has always wanted Lucy, but never had an opportunity to pursue his desire until now. He makes it clear he is attracted her, but she refuses to believe he could care for another man's child though he is so tender, passionate and protective of her. Dominic must convince his Lucy he loves her and loves her unborn because that child is half hers.

Ignoring the biological dad as being a selfish dolt unable to accept responsibly or accountability, fans will enjoy this fine contemporary romance between a woman carrying someone else's child and a man who is A NATURAL FATHER and husband at least with her. The story line is driven by Dominic's tenderness and Lucy's doubts. Sarah Mayberry provides a fine relationship drama in which her audience will root for Dominic and somewhat lecture Lucy to move past her doubts and heed her heart and bulging stomach as even the fetus recognizes A NATURAL FATHER.

Baby In Her Arms
Stella MacLean
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373715534, $5.50

Over one year ago, the love of her life Andrew died, Emily Martin still grieves her loss. Still with her adult children in need starting with her daughter Zara giving birth to her grandchild, the widow is kept occupied though feeling scatterbrained at times.

She finds solace in the letters Andrew wrote her before he died. She also finds their good neighbor Sam Bannister comforting too. Soon after she becomes a grandmother, Emily and Sam fall in love, as she realizes her children are doing okay and do not need her to live their lives.

This engaging romance is a warm entertaining contemporary with a strong cast. Emily and Sam are likable protagonists who fall in love at a time neither feels right due to the ghost that ties them together. Although dead for over a year, Andrew is a complete character as readers get to know him indirectly through his letters to his beloved wife and through the memories of her and Sam, and somewhat her children. Although her adult children ignore their mom's needs, Stella MacLean provides an interesting character driven second chance at love.

Naughty Bits
Assorted authors
Harlequin Spice
9780373605385, $13.95

This first spicy Naughty Bits anthology is a hot (make that equatorial heat) erotic romance anthology. The short format is perfect for this sub-genre as the sexual action occurs between the protagonists. None of the erotic entries are depressors as each of the fifteen arousers is well written even in the limited format. Obviously plotting is somewhat diminished especially with the shorter tales (arbitrarily under fifty pages - some go into the sixties, but none attain 69), but no one will care as the fifteen provocateurs provide hot stimulating erotic tales that spread the gamut (as well as body parts) of the genre. These torrid Spice Briefs are fun to read; as they will leave your significant other in ecstasy especially spreading the encounters over several weeks.

A Long, Hard Ride
Alison Kent
Harlequin Blaze
9780373794577, $4.99

Racing car pit crew chief Trey Davis takes a leave of absence to deal with his late father's affairs. He plans to sell his dad's Tennessee home amongst other assets, but has one overarching goal: to learn why his father attacked a highly regarded person.

The man attacked is the patriarch of the Worth racing family. He refuses to discuss the fight he had with the late Davis; not to his family or Davis' son. His granddaughter Cardin sees the incident dividing her beloved family especially her parents. She fakes an engagement to Trey knowing her parents will unite in opposition to her marrying a racing car employer. She did not expect to want her sham engagement to turn real after meeting Trey for the first time in years as she still is attracted to him.

This is car racing's modern day equivalent of the family feud as the Davis and Worth broods are more than rivals; they detest each other. In that environs, Trey and Cardin fall in love, but will their relationship survive their families or go the way of the Montagues and Capulets? Fans will enjoy tuning up their engines; as racing cars Romeo and Juliet deal with love and feuding families.

Up Close And Dangerously Sexy
Karen Anders
Harlequin Blaze
9780373794584, $4.99

Interior designer Allie Carpenter decides to surprise her twin sister Callie with a gift by decorating her apartment. With her reluctant assistant Jason Kyoto at her side insisting orange is not his color, they break in into the apartment. Instead, Drew Miller thinking she is Callie detains Allie. He wants information about where she has been and the status of her contact with a notorious arms dealer.

Allie is stunned as she learns her sibling works undercover for the CIA. Once Drew realizes he has the wrong Carpenter, he wants to release the civilian whom he is attracted to. However, his superior drafts her to replace her missing sister. Allie agrees in hopes of finding Callie. Drew vows to keep the sister he is falling in love with safe.

This is more of a suspense thriller with plenty of villains (perhaps too many as they crowd the pages) and exciting subplots to keep the lead couple hopping. The romance between the lead couple takes a back seat except for a few interludes that feels intrusive as they are on a mission with a clock ticking. Still fans will enjoy the agent and the amateur spy fall in love while trying to rescue her twin and prevent an illegal arms deal.

Carolyn Davidson
9780373773626, $6.99

In 1890 in Eden, Dakota Territory, when she entered his Dogleg Saloon, John Roper knew instantly the bruised young girl did not belong there. Instead of offering her work there as she desperately asked, feeling sorry for the waif, he hires as his housekeeper.

Katie fails to inform her kindhearted employee that she is a runaway. For a dozen years Katie has been an abused slave to her odious adopted parents Jacob and Agnes Schrader. For the time in a long time, she feels safe and somewhat contented working for John whom she has fallen in love with. However, she also feels survivor guilt for her adopted sister, Jane still enslaved by the mean-spirited Schrader's who have found Katie.

Putting aside statehood dates (no instant messenger from DC), EDEN is an excellent western romance due to the lead couple. Roper is terrific as a reluctant hero who cannot stop himself from being a knight in shining armor. Katie is the more fascinating protagonist as she recognizes reality as a person with no rights or legal recourse a saloon is better for her than the Schrader house while also filled with guilt for Jane. Fans will appreciate this strong late nineteenth century romance as the heroine escapes from hell to find a haven filled with love in EDEN.

The Rainbow Connection
Ian Harac
Black Wyrm
10307 Chimney Ridge Ct, Louisville, KY 40299
9780982006719, $11.95

FBI Agent Matt Anders is part o the nerd patrol keeping illegal fiction from coming to Prime earth from other dimensions. He is currently undercover investigating a tip he received from Bobbie Sinderman claiming Comics and More owner Big Frank Brummerman is an illegal bootlegger of merchandise from alternate universes. At a convention, he asks Big Frank if he has any copies of classic Star Trek fourth season; never produced on Prime. Big Frank tells him to meet him later.

He and his partner Brian Friedman arrive at the meeting point when they see a munchkin obviously from Oz. Although they are not supposed to carry weapons, Brian pulls out a gun and kills the alien. Matt is stunned with the outcome of the unnecessary shooting death. His boss Julius Glen informs him nothing will happen to Brian. He also learns that Frank was killed in prison after his arrest for smuggling in the munchkin. Julius assigns Matt to investigate serendipitously Brummerman's illegal business trafficking. He starts with Bobbie and soon they are fleeing for their lives from cops in a part of Oz Baum failed to imagine and on the censored world of Kansas as well as being charged with murder on Prime for accident killing Brian.

With a nod to Butcher's Thursday Next, this is a wild satire that lampoons the INS, other Federal law enforcement agencies and Kansas. The story line is fast-paced and descriptive whether it is flying monkeys or munchkins as the key on Oz or the ban on books not pertaining to black and white "Kansas" (think of the opening sequence of the Garland movie). Fans will want to accompany Matt and Bobbie as they dodge cops on three worlds while trying to stay alive and uncover an illegal bootlegging slavery conspiracy.

One Hot Mess
Lois Greiman
Dell Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780440244776, $6.99

Los Angeles psychologist Christina McMullen has a thriving practice with eccentric patients, but it is her on again and off again relationship with LAPD lieutenant Jack Rivera that drives her crazy. Christina is surprised when Jack's estranged father former Senator Miguel calls her. He asks her to investigate the death of Kathleen Baltimore to learn if it was accidental. Miguel bribes Christina with the money to purchase a desperately needed new septic tank.

Jack and Christina are going at it hot and heavy when the doorbell intercedes; Miguel enters. Jack knows his father is a womanizer and walks out of the room livid. Christina asks Miguel to explain why he is not going to the police; he explains he needs to avoid a scandal as he plans to run for president. The shrink does an internet run on recent odd deaths and finds a picture of Carnell Ortez with Miguel. Three more are found all on different days of the week. The psychologist wonders if someone with a grudge against Miguel is taking it out on his women. Trying to uncover who the killer is could get Christina killed unless Jack gets to her first.

Lois Greiman provides her fans with a breezy amateur sleuth mystery filled with humor, intrigue and interesting characters all wrapped inside a solid whodunit. Christina takes on the inquiry though she knows it will probably turn her relationship switch with Jack to the off position. As with her "Un" cases (see UNMANNED, UNSCREWED, and UNPLUGGED), the heroine is determined to identify the killer; in this case because she took cash from the senator. Although the senator's motive for choosing an amateur, even a successful sleuth, of avoiding a scandal with the stakes so high does not cut it; fans will enjoy the latest Christina caper as the sparks with Jack seem real enhancing a fun investigative tale.

Perfectly Criminal
Celeste Marsella
9780440244677, $6.99

They work at the Rhode Island Attorney General's Office. Laurie, Shannon, and Marianna are prosecutors while Beth is a paralegal. Laurie is going to law school in the fall so their boss attorney general Vincent "the Pig" Piganno hires Brooke Stanfield to replace her. One night the foursome is celebrating their working together for six years when Shannon goes to the bathroom for a pit stop. She meets a drunken man who comes on to her; when he faints they both tumble to the floor. When he reawakens, Shannon takes him to her home, but he cannot sexually perform.

He tells her he may have killed his wife and her lesbian lover before introducing himself as Connecticut State Senator Scott Boardman. He explains he is unsure if the committed two homicides because he mixed alcohol and pills before blacking out. Shannon calls the police to take him in and he hires his attorney who tells him to be quiet. He recants his confession and is released. His public relations man insists he is innocent despite Brooke giving Shannon a phony confession. Scott admits she lieed even though he just broke up with her. When his P.R. expert is murdered, the evidence points to him, but Shannon refuses to believe it; risking her life to prove he is innocent.

The second romantic suspense thriller by Celeste Marsella (see DEFENSELESS; Mariana's tale) is a fascinating crime thriller with a ton of red herrings and plot twists though perhaps too many. Shannon is a tough person, but is also running away from her past, which is a prime reason an affair with a married man pleases her. She does not want a commitment and though her married paramour deeply loves her he cannot leave his wife which to Shannon is the perfect arrangement. Scott in many ways is the more beguiling character as many of the spins are caused by him; keeping readers interested into learning his true motives. Celeste Marsella provides fans with a strong tale reminiscent of the works of Linda Fairstein.

Then Comes Seduction
Mary Balogh
9780440244233, $6.99

The drunken rake Jasper Finley bet he could have sex with innocent Lady Katherine Huxtable within a fortnight. However, when he sobers up the Baron knows he stepped over the line even for a rogue like himself so he claims he failed to win the wager.

Three years later Jasper and Katherine run into each other at a gala. Though still an innocent she makes it clear she is attracted to the rake. He wants her so he offers her a wager seduce him into falling in love with her. Knowing failure would mean probable scandal and a definite broken heart, Katherine stuns Jasper and agrees to his bet as his wife; now she must get her husband to fall in love with her like she is with him.

The second Huxtable sister Regency romance (see FIRST COMES MARRIAGE) is a charming tale starring two delightful lead characters who gamble on love. Jasper and Katherine are a perfect pairing as each raises the stake in what turns into a scandalous love affair enhanced by overarching family issues. Mary Balogh is two for two with one sister left to come seduce the author fans and perhaps a younger brother who deserves that magical Balogh historical touch.

A Twenty-first Century Courtesan
Eden Bradley
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780553385571, $13.00

Valentine Day is a high class hooker whose clientele is wealthy and caring. One of her favorite customers is Hollywood producer Enzo Alighieri who has a wife and a mistress, but loves to pamper Valentine; whom he set up at the elite of the profession. Another client Bennett is taking her to a production of La Travolta at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, but due to work is unable to make it. He insists she attend as he knows she loves the opera.

Sitting next to her at the show is Joshua Spencer who also attends alone as his guest, his mom, could not make it. They talk and realize they share in common a love of art. He gives his card to her and asks her to call. Valentine wants to ignore Joshua because he stirs feelings she has never had, but she cannot stop herself from calling. In fact she masturbates dreaming of him and has an orgasm for the first time in her life without someone paying her to do so. As they fall in love, she knows her profession disqualifies her for any normal relationship.

This Pretty Woman spin is an enjoyable contemporary romance starring an engaging half Jewish former Valley girl and the men in her life especially the first non-paying male who makes her come. Val's clients are too nice as any woman would relish the pampering that Bennett and Enzo provides Val while the danger of her profession is ignored except for an aside or two involving some other woman. Still A TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY COURTESAN is an engaging character study as Val knows she is not good enough for the man she loves just by the simple fact she hides her profession from her Joshua.

Temptation and Surrender
Stephanie Laurens
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022-5299
9780061243400, $24.95

In 1825 using the funds she finally obtained from her portion of her late father's estate, twenty five year old spinster Emily Beauregard accompanied by her three younger sisters and brother flees her odious guardian Uncle Harold Potheridge. Emily carries an ad for the position of innkeeper-manager of the Red Bells Inn in Colyton, Devon that she hopes to obtain to feed and house her siblings while searching for her family's lost treasure.

The owner of the Red Bells Inn, wealthy Jonas Tallent, brother-in-law of Lucifer Cynster (see ALL ABOUT LOVE), has just returned from London to get away from the lofty polluted airs and get dirty running his estates. He is shocked when an obvious lady like Emily asks for the innkeeper job. He is even more stunned by his attraction for his new employee; she reciprocates but refuses to act on desire as her family comes before her heart. However, she needs his help in applying the only clue, an enigmatic riddle, to find the treasure.

This is an interesting Cynster sidebar late Regency romance starring two likable lead characters and a strong support cast including Lucifer and his wife Phyllida. Overall the story line is fun to follow as the heroine struggles between temptation and obligation, but her obsessive motive for finding the treasure after wealthy Jonas commits to her and her orphaned siblings never comes across as valid, which also leads to an overdone push and pull by Emily with her beloved. Still fans of the saga will enjoy the romance of a Cynster by marriage.

Figures in Silk
Vanora Bennett
9780061689840, $25.99

The House of York English King Edward IV is out of money so must find new sources to replenish the treasury. Though young to be a monarch, the Plantagenet ruler knows the only group with cash is the affluent merchant class who control power based on their manipulating the rivalry for the monarchy between the Houses of York and the Lancaster.

In 1471 wealthy silk merchant John Lambert suffers an economic setback, which forces him to marry his two daughters to rich spouses rather quickly. However, his offspring do not quite see life as dire as he currently does. His older daughter Jane starts a heated scandalous affair with the young monarch; eventually becoming his mistress. Thus he turns to his other child Isabel who he pressures into marrying obese silk merchant Thomas Claver. As Isabel struggles with the horrific thought of marriage to odious Claver, a stranger provides her comfort in a church. Even after doing her duty, Isabel has not forgotten the unknown person who was kind to her. When Claver dies, the stranger returns, but he is not quite the Good Samaritan the widow thought he was.

Though the romances of the siblings are critical to the story line, the key to this deep fifteenth century tale is the power struggles between the aristocracy and the rising merchant class. Jane rises in influence through her being the king's mistress while Isabel's rise to power is through her knowledge of silk-weaving and global trade as she leads an effort to supplant Venice as the silk trade center. Together John's offspring appear to be the most influential figures in England as they "control" the king and the silk. Fans will relish this powerful historical as real persona embellish the look at an early globalization era with internal partisan strife that sounds so twenty-first century as history in general terms repeats itself.

The Sacred Blood
Michael Byrnes
9780061340697, $24.95

In a recently discovered crypt underneath the Temple's Mount in Jerusalem, THE SACRED BONES OF JESUS Christ was found. Geneticist Charlotte Hennessy extracts some DNA from the remains and uses it on herself to cure herself from cancer evn as the Vatican wants the remains to "bury" them.

However, someone wants Hennessy dead and sends killers to perform the deed. They find her in Phoenix, Arizona, but though she survives the assault, they kill her lover and boss Evan Aldrich. They still go after Hennessy and her friend Father Patrick Donovan, as several diverse groups, especially those seeking to start Armageddon, want to possess the remains of Jesus. The prime faction is led by Rabbi Aaron Cohen who also sends henchmen at Israeli archeologist Amit Mizrachi and his Egyptologist lover Julie LeRoux who are investigating the remains of Jesus.

This over the top thriller is a fast-paced sequel that hooks the audience early on and maintains the readers attention through the frantic pacing. Amit and Julie are a fun pair to follow as squabbling lovers who spend much of their digging time dodging bullets while trying to prevent Armageddon. Fans will enjoy this exciting tale as theology, science, and history converge with the cat and mouse encounters over THE SACRED BLOOD.

Paul Levine
Bantam Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780553806731, $22.00

One year has past since the illegal DUI killed his ten year old son Adam and consequently his marriage to former cop Sharon and even his law career defending the underdog. Jimmy "Royal" Payne could not sink any lower, but LAPD Public Integrity Unit Detective Eugene Rigney manages to help him do so. Rigney blackmails Payne with his handling of the Molly Kraft case which could lead to jail time; instead he tells Jimmy to offer a, $50,000 bribe to Judge Rollins. Jimmy pockets, $5,000 and bribes the Judge. When exposed Rollins commits suicide, Jimmy is ostracized at court and on the run from a contempt charge, and I.A. investigates Rigney.

In Mexico Marisol Perez knows that she and her son twelve years old Agustino "Tino" must flee their hometown. The mom arranges with coyote El Tigre to take them across to the States. Before they leave she gives her son a business card of J. Atticus Payne who helped a family friend in case they get separated. The kid makes it to L.A. on a donkey forced to carry drugs while the mom is stuck at the border. The bilingual foul mouthed Tino and the bitter cynic "Himmy" hook up searching for the lad's undocumented mom while the law searches for Jimmy.

Payne is somewhat typical of a Paul Levine male protagonist (sort of a California version of Floridian Steve Solomon of Solomon and Lord), a hard shell containing a soft boiled hero. He and his sidekick keep the story line focused as they cause havoc on both sides of the border. The support cast brings the freshness to the plot and the illegal immigrant issue from kindhearted but kick butt Wanda the Whale to crazy sharpshooter Chitwood; but especially mega-farm owner Simeon Rutledge with his perspective on courage as a family carrying the young across a desert and a mountain while patriots take shots at them. Readers will appreciate this fine thriller as Payne obtains redemption with his need to help Tino at all cost.

Treasure Keeper
Shana Abe
9780553806854, $22.00

In England, daughter of a seamstress Zoe Cyprienne Lane is a drakon, but conceals her magical skills from others out of fear more powerful mages will use her as an expendable pawn. In 1782 while her fiance Hayden James is away investigating rumors of a magicians cabal from the continent causing problems. Zoe becomes fearful for her Hayden when his letters stop arriving.

At about the same time Zoe's childhood friend womanizing Lord Rhys Langford is abducted. Zoe vows to rescue Rhys, though she believes he is an ass through their psychic link, and learn what happened to Hayden. However, to do either means revealing she is drakon, which denotes she will pay an exorbitant price in the future.

Returning to the Georgian fantasy realm of THE DREAM THIEF and THE SMOKE THIEF albeit a decade later; Shana Abe provides her fans with an entertaining romantic triangle suspense thriller. The lead trio especially the courageous heroine makes for a fun gender bending tale as the least in her tribe as well as being a female tries to rescue the male drakon in her life. Clearly targeting romantic fantasy over historical in spite of the late eighteenth century setting, sub-genre readers will relish going on Zoe's excellent adventure.

Too Rich and Too Dead
Cynthia Baxter
9780553590364, $6.99

Fortyish Widow Mallory Marlowe has not felt the empty nest syndrome with her two children away at college because of her work as a travel reporter for Good Life magazine. When she reads in the paper about the success of an acquaintance from her student days at JFK HS, she suggests to her boss Trevor Price, an article on what to do in Aspen if you do not ski. She will also try to obtain an interview with her former classmate Carly Cassidy Berman, creator of ReJuva Juice and owner of the high class Tavaci Springs Spa.

In Aspen she calls Carly who invites Mallory to dinner with her, her spouse Brett and has been Hollywood director Gordon Swig. The next day Mallory attends a pitch given by Carly. Soon afterward, spa accountant Harriet Vosci finds her employer dead. Brett has an alibi provided to him by statuesque city PR beauty Astrid Norland who insists he spent the night with her. The police find evidence that makes Harriet the prime suspect. A desperate Harriet asks Mallory to prove her innocence, but the reluctant amateur sleuth keeps finding proof the accountant killed Carly.

Putting aside the obvious of Harriet asking an amateur instead of hiring a professional with a murder rap hanging over her or a lawyer to deal with her issues with Carly, fans will enjoy the latest "Murder Packs A Suitcase" mystery (see REIGNING CATS AND DOGS). The support cast is solid and Aspen comes across as being more than just a wealthy ski resort; in fact much of the first half of the tale focuses as an engaging travelogue. Amateur sleuth fans will enjoy Mallory's investigation into the city and the murder of her high school acquaintance with a hint of romance in the mountainous air.

The Dark Volume
Gordon Dahlquist
9780385340366, $26.00

Finally recovering from her fever which induced hallucinations, Celeste Temple is not thinking about being a West Indies heiress or killing her former fiance Bascombe (see THE GLASS BOOKS OF THE DREAM EATERS) even if she ponders what murdering her betrayer makes her; mostly she remains sore and weak. As she heals she wonders what happened to her allies (wanted criminal Cardinal Chang and Naval surgeon Doctor Abelard Svenson); and for that matter her other cabal enemies when the dirigible sunk off the inhospitable Iron Coast. However her biggest fear is not the cabal returning to kill her, the guilt of killing her fiance before he killed her, or even her missing companions; it is the damn "psychotropic blue glass" that has flooded her mind with thousands of memories that threaten to drive her insane.

Many seek to capture Celeste as a tool to be used and abused for her mind's memories from others. At the same time she struggles to stay free and sane, her alliance partners uncover a conspiracy as devious if not more so than the previous one they think they destroyed. A cabal is using indigo clay to enslave people by erasing their memories. This time they must deal with the practitioners of the diabolical DARK VOLUME; the trio learns that they were naive with what they thought how dangerous and deadly the psychotropic blue glass is.

This exciting sequel is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action as the heroic threesome battle old foes and new enemies. The story line is loaded with adventure as constant conflicts between the champion trio and their adversaries are the norm; although the villains feel more like caricatures (perhaps because no Bascombe surfaces). Still this is a deep tense alternate Victorian thriller that is best served with reading THE GLASS BOOKS OF THE DREAM EATERS just before perusing THE DARK VOLUME.

Deadly Desire
Keri Arthur
9780553591156, $6.99

The supernaturals, especially the vampires and shapeshifters, have made themselves known to humans; and though they are not quite equal under human law, they have the Protectorate to police their kind especially if humans are in danger. Guardian Riley Jenson's latest case involves finding a zombie killing people. She tracks the culprit to an abandoned overhang where it and two hellhounds are intently staring at a crow that is actually a shapeshifting sorceress.

While there she also meets werewolf bounty hunter Kye whose assignment is to kill the necromancer sorceress as a favor to a friend. During a fight, the crow escapes while the zombie and hellhounds are killed. Soon afterward several powerful ancient vampires are murdered with heads and feet severed; their safes are open and their contents missing. The girls they were with were killed by a zombie. Riley believes there is a link between the vampire executions and the dead girls and the sorceress. Rye stays at her side as they try to track down the crow; each step together enhances their attraction for one another. These unwanted feelings horrify both of them and distracts them enough for them to fall into a deadly trap.

Riley is a powerful hunter, but has met her equal in the as obstinate and ornery Kye. Her wolf might want him, but her heart belongs to the ancient vampire Quinn. The whodunit is cleverly developed to keep the audience guessing as to the crow's prime identity and why zombies are killing vampires. Fans of this great urban romantic fantasy will appreciate the current tale and look forward to the next installment in Keri Arthur's superb saga.

Magical Kisses: A Jewels of the Quill St. Valentine's Day Anthology
Carrie S. Masek, et al.
Whiskey Creek Press
PO Box 51052, Casper, WY 82605-1052
9781603135207, $14.95

"Magic Kisses" by Carrie S. Masek. In his dumpy apartment, Brett's neighbor Eliza sets him on blind dates while she also wonders if she will be the one to share his magical kisses on Valentine's Day. A charmer.

"Telephone Tag Winner" by Dee Lloyd. Humiliated into accepting a blind date on Valentine's Day, Ryan ends up in the hospital after a car accident instead of with her date. She leaves a message on his cell phone; only it is the wrong number that turns out to be right person when Ryan who received the message visits her. Amusing

"Winning Sylvia's Heart," by Nancy Pirri. When Sylvia's fiance Tom fails her again, she ends their engagement. Her friend Jack believes Tom is an idiot because if Sylvia was his girl ….A special story.

"The Third Kiss" by Jane Toombs. As a child her grandma told her the third kiss is magical. When Gail was twelve Augie on a dare kissed her; after graduation, Augie gave her a goodbye peck. Now thirty-five, she has no hope for love, but Augie plans to claim the third kiss. Poignant

"Atop a Wedding Cake by Karen Woods. When her spouse died sixteen years ago, single mom Cathy raised six children; five have left the nest. Now the baker's youngest child is getting married, but instead of the groom's face on the cake, she Freudian slips the father Trey "Atop a Wedding Cake". Very funny

"In Cahoots With Cupid" by Karen Wiesner. Kaleidoscope Office Services owner Angela always has cared about others, but rejected the one man who brought her to a fever pitch because he was five years younger. Attending a wedding as the Maid of Honor in which Kiowa is the best man, he plans to finally win her heart. Very moving

Anthologized in "Magical Kisses: A Jewels of the Quill St. Valentine's Day Anthology", these are six entertaining often amusing contemporary romances starring charming lead characters as each author exceeds the high expectations of the Jewels of the Quill (see CHRISTMAS WISHES) and Valentine's Day.

Hard to Handle
Karen Wiesner
Whiskey Creek
1603134697, $14.95

As part of the Network, Dez Luttino and Nova Granger have worked as part of a team that he led on several missions. However, his superior assigns Dez with a strange task as he has mentored her skills in the past. The Network leadership believes strongly that Nova can be one of their best operatives if she can gain one more skil; she must learn to trust her teammates. His seemingly impossible assignment is to get her to have faith in his being there for her.

This will prove his toughest assignment ever as Nova when she was five years old was raped by her father and his friends. Her childhood ordeal has proven doubled edged as she feels for the victims, but rejects closeness with any man even teammates on a mission. Dez begins his quest to earn the trust of a suspicious Nova. As he succeeds in reaching her heart, she reaches his too; they begin to fall in love. Sent on a mission to keep a father and daughter safe, Nova has doubts as the man they protect is pushing a law that allows marriage at any age. However she feels a strange affinity to the mute child until she learns the total truth about her mission and her beloved.

The eighth Incognito thriller is an exciting romantic suspense tale that digs deep inside the soul of an adult who suffered a childhood trauma that never left her and impacts her adult relationships. Filled with plenty of action, the story line is somewhat different than the previous magnificent seven due to Nova who brings plenty of psychological baggage with her on the mission. Karen Wiesner writes an excellent entry filled with angst and action.

Smoke & Whispers
Mick Herron
Soho Press
853 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
9781569475645, $25.00

In Newcastle, England, a corpse is fished out of the River Tyne. Freelance publisher and Ostrich farmer Sarah Tucker identifies the corpse as her friend private investigator Zoe Boehm.

The police assume Zoe committed suicide, but Sarah takes exception to that conclusion as the woman had a zest for life. Instead she believes Zoe was murdered in a way to make it look like she took her life. With the police seemingly contented with their conclusion, Sarah considers her late friend's inquiry into Alan Talmadge, who murdered middle-aged women but made their death appear to be an accident or a suicide. With the premise too coincidental, Sarah investigates who Talmadge is and if he killed ZoeThis probe makes her a target for suicide.

The key to this superb investigative thriller is the ostrich farmer who comes across as a rare legitimate amateur sleuth as Mick Herron "sells" Sarah as a detective with a motive. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Sarah identifies the corpse and never slows down as she makes inquiries into her late buddy's last case, which puts a bulls-eye on her head. Although the climax can be seen clear across the Channel, SMOKE & WHISPERS is a fantastic English amateur sleuth.

No More Dying
David Roberts
9781569475393, $25.00

In 1939 England, M15 sends Lord Edward Corinth to Lady Aster's estate of Clivedon in Buckinghamshire to determine the relative strength of the Hitler appeasers headquartered there and to uncover the identity of Nazi super assassin Der Adler. At the same time his fiancee Communist Party sympathizer reporter Verity Brown arrives to ascertain the sympathies of the American Ambassador to England Joseph Kennedy.

However, soon after their arrival, a Communist comrade and two other visitors are murdered. Corinth and Brown team up on the investigation with clues leading to the IRA or the Kennedy clan. Both wonder if Der Adler is behind the homicides with a plot to destroy the growing Anglo-American alliance by taking out the prime English supporter Winston Churchill.

Although the climax seems too typical of the sub-genre for what is a very complicated pre WWII thriller, fans will appreciate the latest Corinth-Brown historical tale. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the engaged couple arrive at the Astor estate and never slows down until the final confrontation with a killer. Corinth is his usual decadent elitist self while Brown has begun doubting the Communists. Fans of the series will enjoy their preparations for their marriage begins with stopping a killer whose goal is to destroy the cross Atlantic alliance.

The Trail of the Wild Rose
Anthony Eglin
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312365479, $24.95

Recently returned from a horticultural visit to China, Peter Mayhew is driving his motorcycle when he is run off the road. The other driver does not stop and Peter is rushed to an Oxford hospital in critical condition, The victim rambles incoherently about the Asian journey so a colleague ask retired botanist Lawrence Kingston to talk with Peter and see if he can make sense of what the man is saying.

Kingston learns the expedition was seeking wild roses, but soon afterward someone murders Mayhew in his hospital room. Thames Valley Detective Inspector Sheffield leads the police investigation into the homicide while Kingston interviews the other people who accompanied the victim to China. However, the cops and Kingston are stunned when Mayhew's half-sister Sally comes to to the morgue to identify her brother only to insist that the cadaver is not him; she also says Peter allegedly died in a fall in China. As the retiree digs through the mud, he begins to uncover fraud, double crosses and murder as more members of the quest die.

The fourth English Garden mystery (see THE WATER LILY CROSS, THE BLUE ROSE and LOST GARDENS) is an engaging amateur sleuth that showcases the world of historical botanist hunters seeking obscure exotic plants around the globe; mindful of Darwin's trip on the Beagle. The story line is fast-paced once Sally makes her assertion and never slows down although the ending seems to easy and intermittently Kingston's life intrudes on the plot. Still this is a fun modern day meeting of Darwin and Agatha Christie in And Then there Were None.

Tight Lie
Don Dahler
9780312383503, $24.95

Someone hammers Hollywood actress Holly Ann Cramer with a cappuccino machine, rapes her and murders her with six vicious stabs to her heart. Because the homicide is excessively violent implying a crime of passion, LAPD suspects the victim's boyfriend, all star baseball player Joniel Baker, who was ending their relationship but swears he did not kill her.

Joniel asks his friend private investigator Huck Doyle to investigate the murder as the prime suspect does not trust the police to look beyond him. Huck, who has a law degree that he does not use and is a licensed private investigator who has license that he does use when he is not sinking the putt on the PGA tour, which is frequently, reluctantly agrees. Complicating the case is a second victim also containing DNA that implicated Joniel. With the help of his disgraced father and his paraplegic brother, Huck begins to believe Joniel's claim he is being set up

The Doyle family makes this a fine sports mystery as the Huckster narrates the whodunit with a string of enthusiastic birdies about golf, murder and the collapse of society. His two relatives are total opposites when it comes to investigations; dad the ex LAPD cop says the end is all that matters while the brother the ex FBI agent insists the means is just as important. Although the inquiry is conveniently helped, sub-genre fans especially golfers will enjoy Don Dahler's delightful debut as Huck beats par for the course.

Solomon Jones
9780312348380, $23.95

Municipal Court of Philadelphia Judge Myra Weaks is ruling whether Karima "Cream" Thomas must stand trial for the death of her boyfriend, Duane Faision (see C.R.E.A.M.). As the Judge states there is efficient evidence for Ms. Thomas to stand trial for murder and the accused insists an accident during a shoot out occurred, a scream is heard by all inside the courtroom by someone outside.

Karima, worried about her mom's reaction to the recent tragic events, recognizes the voice and rushes out to the hallway. There she finds her mother Sharon Thomas dying from a puncture wound in her neck; the Ice Pick serial killer has struck. Karima vows to avenge her mom's death. However, as the killer goes on a rampage murdering anyone he had the slightest grudge with, Karima follows his icy blood trail looking for a confrontation.

This is a wild satirical sequel starring a kick butt African-American heroine who takes no prisoners as shown by the opening argument between her and the Judge over the merit of her late drug dealing boyfriend and never slows down as Cream takes readers on a tour of the city. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action while the audience anticipates a final grudge match winner takes all between the diabolically brilliant profiling Ice Pick killer and the heroine, mindful of Cleopatra Jones.

In a Gilded Cage
Rhys Bowen
9780312385347, $23.95

Following a particularly cold New York winter, two friends of Molly Murphy persuade the private investigator to join the "Vassar Wants Votes for Women" march in the annual Easter Parade. On Fifth Avenue where the parade is held, Molly meets Emily Boswell and several of her socialite friends. They cause a disturbance and NYPD's finest arrest Molly, Emily and the other women.

Molly's fiance exasperated police captain Daniel Sullivan gets the females released from their cell, but is uninterested in the women's right to vote movement. Meanwhile Emily hires Molly to investigate the deaths of her missionary parents and the loss of their estate that she should have inherited; she cannot pay much of a fee because she is eeking out a living at a drugstore.

As always with this excellent early twentieth century Manhattan mystery series (see TELL ME, PRETTY MAIDEN), the time and place make for a terrific read. The Boswell inquiry and another investigation are cleverly drawn emphasizing that Molly's sleuthing business is booming, but it is Rhys Bowen's description of Easter Parade New York that makes for a vivid look back to the beginning of the last century.

Chinatown Angel
A.E. Roman
9780312375003, $24.95

In New York City, commercial actor Kirk Atlas hires private investigator Chico Santana to find his missing teenage cousin Tiffany, Chinese-Cuban American. His inquiry takes Chico to Queens where Pilar Menendez offers him money not return Tiffany to Kirk. Soon afterward, Chico observes someone pushes Pilar from the rooftop of her Astoria building.

Chico learns that Tiffany's brother died from a heroin overdose and her father Samuel runs HMD Financial. The sleuth locates Tiffany and Irving Goldberg Jones, who is in hiding after writing a story about a person forced to OD on heroin. Still the case fails to tie together even as more deaths follow. He is abducted by Kirk's crazy father, and an incriminating sex tape seems to be getting around the city.

This is a fun urban noir that lampoons the sub-genre as Chico is the man who has turned his life around since his wife Ramona kicked him out of their apartment and under the Pelham 123. Chico's amusing asides as he escorts the audience through the boroughs make for a lighthearted tale. Fans who enjoy a tough hero will want to join Chico's tour of Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx.

Manna From Hades
Carola Dunn
9780312379452, $24.95

Widow Eleanor "Aunt Nell" Trewynn runs a charity shop in the village of Port Mabyn in Cornwall. At the store, Aunt Nell's dog Teazle finds a corpse of a young male in the storeroom. She notifies Detective Inspector Scumble who initially thinks the victim is a bum. He does not want to investigate with his partner on sick leave and he stuck with Aunt Nell's resolute niece, Detective Sargent Megan Pencarrow, but has no choice as a murder occurred.

Aunt Nell drives the gruff senior investigator crazy as she seems to omit critical information because she is forgetful. She is actually more interested in a suitcase of jewelry left at the store that turns out to be stolen loot from a London jewelry. As Aunt Nell and the Vicar's wife Jocelyn work the case, Scumble grumbles about amateurs and London cops.

This 1960-s 1970s English village mystery is a wonderful character driven police procedural-amateur sleuth whodunit. The ensemble cast brings to life the small Cornish village through key players who are fully developed with differing personalities. Fans will enjoy Carola Dunn's new series as she moves forward in time four decades from her super Honourable Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher 1920s mysteries without missing a beat.

Murder In Four Parts
Bill Crider
9780312386740, $24.99

In Texas the Clearview Community Barbershop Chorus musical director florist Lloyd Berry invites Sheriff Dan Rhodes to join as a baritone. Dan is shocked by the invitation as he knows he cannot sing worth saving his soul and so does everyone else including Lloyd knows that as a fact. However, he rejects the offer stating he is too busy with law enforcement.

Soon afterward while Dan searches for an apparent chicken eating gator, someone bashes in Lloyd's head. He questions the chorus members and is taken aback by the amount of discord; the feuds are palatable leading Dan to wonder if one of the members killed Lloyd. Other incidents divide Dan's time, but as he digs into Berry's past, the sheriff finds several irate enemies with motives.

MURDER IN FOUR PARTS is overall a fun often amusing thriller although the prime investigation never accelerates though the trademark sidebar inquiries with the eccentric cast are humorous. Dan is his usual self as he takes his time to insure he is doing things right. Although not quite as exciting as past Rhodes tales (see OF ALL SAD WORDS and MURDER AMONG THE OWLS), the latest Sheriff Rhodes police procedural is an engaging amusing small town mystery.

The Mao Case
Qiu Xiaolong
9780312538743, $24.95

The Beijing leadership is concerned with the sudden appearance of wealth by a seemingly impoverished young artist living well above her means. Normally no one would think twice of Jiao's affluence, but she is the granddaughter of Xie, a film star who Chairman Mao personally liked; additionally Jiao's mother died during the Cultural Revolution cleansing. Needing expeditious subtly to determine if the painter is peddling "Mao material" five decades old that could embarrass the Party and China, the brass hand the Top Secret case to Shanghai Police Department's Special Case Chief Inspector Chen Cao; known for his success, speed and especially discretion.

Chen begins with the mother whose life was explored in a bestseller. Using Cloud and Rain as access, Chen goes undercover pretending to be an author conducting research into a historical novel. This enables him to meet Jiao and her friends at the still alive Xie's run down home. There the older woman hosts a group who cherishes the pre-Communist culture until murder leave Chen suspecting grandmother and or granddaughter as the killer(s) especially their shared convenient alibi.

The sixth Chen Chinese police procedural (see WHEN RED IS BLACK and RED MANDARIN DRESS) contains a strong investigation, but it is the profound look at the early Mao days in comparison to modern day China that brings the uniqueness to the story line. Chen is at his best with his asides about brass, bureaucrats, and bull as he diligently works the "Mao material" inquiry that turns into a homicide; he is more comfortable with the latter as the former is loaded with pompous interference. Mindful of the Bush Administration concealing Korean War Era documents that have been declassified for years and open to the public in the government archives, fans of the Shanghai inspector will enjoy his latest case as a reluctant Chen knows the penalty of dealing with anything Maoist even decades old.

The Tourist
Olen Steinhauer
9780312369729, $24.95

Six years ago Milo Weaver left his CIA field job as a "tourist" to sit at a desk in the New York City office; he knew it was time as the cold means no hesitation whatsoever. After taking some bullets to the chest in Vienna, Milo knew he would never be the same. He has since married and has become a father living with his loved ones in Brooklyn, which has helped Milo somewhat move past the adrenalin rush of undercover operations.

However, once a tourist always a tourist even if the courage has left you scared. His former boss informs him that a sheriff has arrested Samuel Roth for a domestic abuse incident in Blackdale, Tennessee; Samuel is thought to be the ferocious assassin Tiger and the brass want Milo to confirm his identity. However, the simple assignment turns ugly leaving Milo on the run from unknown adversaries and law enforcement who believes he is a cold blooded killer; his biggest fear is that his beloved spouse and daughter are in peril from his enemies.

THE TOURIST is fast-paced and filled with non-stop action yet as is the case with Olen Steinhauser's saga in an unnamed Eastern Europe twentieth century Communist series, the frustrations and anguish of the hero owns the story line. Mindful of Patrick McGoohan's character John Drake in Secret Agent Man, Milo is burned out and suffering from PTSD compounded when friends betray him leaving his family vulnerable. He stoically accepts that Johnny Rivers' lyrics is right "with every move he makes another chance he takes odds are he won't live to see tomorrow".

Kingdom of Silence
Lee Wood
9780312340315, $25.95

In 2001, with hoof and mouse disease leading to the slaughter of cattle, veteran US Marshal Kim Prescott escorts convicted felon Eunice Connor, a member of the violent Justice for Animals Defense Alliance (JADA), from the UK to the States. Their plane stops at Heathrow where the law enforcement official and her prisoner disembark when a motorcycle rider shoots Prescott and Connor; killing both.

Authorities on both sides of the pond assume JADA secrets were kept concealed by silencing permanently Connor. Yorkshire Detective Superintendent Keen Dunliffe leads an undercover operation to bring the JADA chief to justice using tyro Constable Rachel Colver as bait; a plan he dislikes as Rachel may easily become collateral damage. Nothing goes smooth on the maneuver, but Dunliffe keeps a stiff upper lip as he tries to complete the mission and get Rachel out safely; two goals that seem in conflict.

The second Yorkshire Dunliffe police procedural (see KINGDOM OF LIES) is an action-packed thriller that starts with an explosive opening and never slows down through a volatile middle until the explosive climax. Dunliffe is terrific as he struggles between the moral dilemmas of the potential sacrifice of one person vs. the safety of many. JADA also adds ethical questions though the group has chosen to sacrifice humans for their animal rights cause. Fans of British police procedurals will enjoy this fine entry even if the operation is somewhat by the sub-genre book.

Flipping Out
Marshall Karp
9780312378219, $24.95

Southern California residents are stunned and frightened when several spouses of cops are murdered by a serial killer with an apparent grudge. LAPD assigns homicide detectives Michael Lomax and Terry Biggs to lead the investigation. The common threat besides the jobs of their husbands is all the victims belong to the LA Flippers; a group making money even with the housing bubble bursting by flipping out houses for sale.

Lomax and Biggs interview the surviving members including the only no cop wife popular mystery writer Nora Bannister, but nothing makes sense as all the ladies do together is flip houses. More murders follow as several suspects surface. However, Terry is especially concerned as his wife is one of the surviving flippers.

In their latest Southern California police procedural (see THE RABBIT FACTORY and BLOODTHIRSTY), LAPD Detectives Mike Lomax and Terry Biggs feel incredible pressure beyond the usual brass, media and political harangue as this case is personal. It is so much so it even intrudes on their poker game. Although the plot is thin, fans who enjoy a facetious funny yet suspenseful investigative thriller will want to read flippant FLIPPING OUT.

Love with the Perfect Scoundrel
Sophia Nash
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0061493287, $6.99

She has been jilted and widowed so Grace Sheffey, the Countess of Sheffield, knows first and second hand love hurts. She refuses to ever fall in love again. Sick of pretending to be happy amidst her inane friends, Grace leaves Cornwall heading to the Isle of Mann only to be stranded by a blizzard.

Michael Ranier finds the marooned Grace and takes her to the safety of his remote home Brynlow. Grace accepts his hospitality while thinking society would condemn her for being in his home without a chaperone. In fact her Polite Society friends would insist frozen death is better than the scandal. However, as the commoner and the lady fall in love, he liberates the passion she has buried and her contentment enables her to also get the best sleep in her life, but his secrets threaten to reinforce her belief that love hurts.

This is a terific Regency romance starring two wonderful protagonists who find passion and love in a remote wintry setting, but each has reasons to believe love hurts so they fear their relationship as much as they want it. Fans will relish Grace's musings re the Ton that death is preferable over scandal. Although the ending is a bit too soft as chokes are made easier, LOVE WITH THE PROPER SCOUNDREL is a wonderful historical romance due to the fiery nature of the heroine.

Close Encounters
Katherine Allred
9780061672422, $7.99

In the distant future, humans are divided between Naturals created in the traditional way and GEPs developed to the buyer's specifications in test tubes as genetically engineered people. Each GEP is indentured to a boss until they are old enough to produce and go on their own.

Kiera Smith of The Bureau of Alien Affairs is much more evolved than the usual GEP as she is stronger, faster, heals quicker and is an empath. She is sent to the planet Orpheus Two, where the Buri race faces extinction as the natives have dropped to under 100 living. Dynatec corporation claims the planet since the Buri will be gone within 100 cycles. Buri leader Thor Sparks and Kiera are attracted to one another and he actually makes her feel she belongs to him; an alien feeling for the GEP loner. His people also welcome her as one of them rather than the usual treating her as an intrusive outsider. She will insure Dynatec adheres to the rules, but the firm wants to expedite their take-over by immediately annihilating the dwindling indigent populace. Kiera risks her life to keep her adopted people safe.

This excellent science fiction tale contains characters whether they are Naturals, GEPs or aliens that seem plausible. The audience will root for the "David" Buri to somehow triumph against the Goliath Dynatec Corporation. Kiera struggles with the awakening of new emotions as the Buri welcome her as an insider showering her with love and respect; something Naturals never have done before as she is used to being a tool to them. Thus when Thor and his people get through to her, she lowers her natural barriers for the first time in her life. Though in some ways too simplistic with the evil industrial giant trying to destroying the pristine native world, Katherine Allred provides an entertaining strong thriller as CLOSE ENCOUNTERS in this case includes the heart and soul of a GEP who never understood she had a soul and her heart that did anything besides pumping blood.

Don't Let It Be True
Jo Barrett
9780061241178, $13.99

Houston socialites are noted to hide scandalous secrets from their past with being outed as a Democrat perhaps the most hideous skeleton in the upper crust closet. However, Kathleen Connor King's secret makes concealing being a donkey seem minor. The oil heiress is broke leaving her ranch and King Foundation in jeopardy and is considering canceling the vaunted annual family sponsored charity fund raiser. Her own trust fund went bust for a good cause when she financed the Pediatric Cancer Center at a time she was ignorant of her family's poverty level.

Her live-in boyfriend former Enron lawyer Dylan Grant is stunned when he learns his recently deceased father destroyed the family estate and his inheritance. Apparently the oil properties were lost to nouveau riche Bo Harlan in a poker game. Kat and Dylan compare notes and come up with a grand but legal scheme to keep up appearances, win back the Grant oil revenues, and avoid a Vegas mobster

Although lighthearted and the ending can be seen from the moment the lovers realize they are broke, this is an amusing satirical spin on the American dream of earn wealth the old fashioned way through inheritance. The lead couple is a likable pair though neither thinks in terms of gainful employment because it could spoil their image; instead they choose a ruse to take back the loot Bo won. Mindful of the movie Fun with Dick and Jane, fans who enjoy a soft spoof will want to read DON'T LET IT BE TRUE.

Seduced by Your Spell
Lois Greiman
0061192015, $6.99

Widow Madeline Fallon has an image of a proper lady that she maintains amongst Polite Society as a cover. Beneath the masquerade of a prim aristocrat she is talented member of the Lavender House coven. When young women begin to disappear, Madeline investigates.

Jasper Reeves has loved Maddie from the moment he first met when he saved her life. He hides his deep regard for the widow, but joins her on her dangerous inquiry in order to keep his beloved safe. However, Jasper also has recently suffered from sexual visions of him with Maddie that he believes is an attempt to cast a spell on him by an unknown adversary for an equally unknown motive; he needs no spell to envision him making love with Maddie. When Maddie returns his desire, neither is sure if it is love or a dark deadly enchantment.

Readers will appreciate Lois Greiman's superb Lavender House investigative historical romantic fantasy (see UNDER YOUR SPELL) due to a strong atmosphere of enchantment that feels real. Accompanying the lead couple on their inquiry, the audience will feel the desire, the suspense and the spells that keep Jasper and Madeline together and hopping. Filled with twists readers will be seduced by Ms. Greiman's spell.

Bride of a Wicked Scotsman
Samantha James
9780060899400, $7.99

In Ireland Clan McDonough possessed the legendary Celtic relic Circle of Light seemingly forever. Over time with so much fortune bestowed on the clan, a belief grew that the Circle of Light was a special gift that even St. Patrick came to see. The clan felt they were the guardians, but to lose the Circle of Light meant to lose prosperity. When the Black Scotsman McBride stole the Circle of Light, Clan McDonough fell into poverty and a sense of disgrace for failing their mission.

On his deathbed, Clan McDonough leader Lord O'Donnell forces his daughter Maura to vow to take back what is theirs and save the clan. Duke Alec McBride, a descendent of the thief, arrives in town. When Maura meets him to beg he give her the Circle of Light, they are compromised. Outraged and holding her culpable they marry; something she did not plan when she went to beg. Neither is aware of the enchantment of love between them as each tries to top the other in a game of seduction.

BRIDE OF A WICKED SCOTSMAN is a fabulous historical romance with a touch of whimsical fantasy based on a Celtic legend. Misleading title aside; Alec and Maura are fully developed rivals competing for the upper hand in their relationship with the stakes being the Circle of Light artifact. Fans will enjoy the battle between the Scotsman and the Irish lady as love proves the most powerful magic of all.

The Scent of Sake
Joyce Lebra
9780061662379, $13.99

In Kobe when her two year old brother Toichi died because she failed to watch him closely, Rie is filled with guilt. A few weeks later, her father Kinzaemon IX informs the grieving Rie that she is the "future of the Omura House". Her interpretation of his simple statement defies societal beliefs. Instead of marrying the next sake brew master, as a woman entering a brewery sours the products, she decides she must save the House of Ohura. She detests her mother's adage that a female must always live for the male by "killing the self".

Her parents arrange her marriage to Johei in order for them to produce the next heir. However, she realizes her husband is an incompetent womanizer who will destroy the House of Ohura if left in charge. Rie vows their product White Tiger will be number one sake in Japan, which means defying the demands of her womanizing spouse to raise his children (with a geisha) and by tradition he take charge of the House of Ohura. Over the years she proves a superior business person and her diverse ideas make the House of Ohura strong; her father gives the official brewery seal to her not Johei.

This late nineteenth century Japanese tale focuses on the venerable sake brewing industry through four generations of a family. Rie is the link between her parents, her children and grandchildren as she holds the interesting story line together. What is fascinatingly is how she changes from warm and caring to cold and dominating towards family members. Only the sake eventually receives her warmth. Genre fans will appreciate this deep historical tale that provides insight into late nineteenth century Japanese culture and tradition through the eyes of someone who defies the norm.

Pleasures of the Forbidden Valley
Diana Mercury
9780061450952, $13.99

Completing her postgraduate work in cultural anthropology, Diandra takes a breather to wander the Himalayas seeking her "Shangri-la", the legendary Lost Valley. From remote village to even more isolated villages she asks the locals, but no one offers her the slightest clue. About to give up on her obsession for now, Diandra is euphoric when she meets Hama, who claims he comes from the fabled forbidden Lost Valley. He is heading home and has agreed to guide her there.

However, he had a stipulation that she readily accepted. He will take her there only as his wife. Coveting the valley, she acquiesces to his terms. However, Diandra did not fully understand what she agreed to when she married Hama; she learns she is also the wife of his three brothers. She falls in love with one of the siblings Yeshi as she wonders how the PLEASURES OF THE LOST VALLEY could prove so ironically cruel.

This is an intriguing contemporary romance with a bit of whimsy. The key is the Lost Valley, which Diana Mercury vividly portrays through the eyes of the brothers whose differing personalities add depth to the view and the fresh naive perspective of the outsider. Although Diandra goes from intrepid explorer to suddenly frightened maiden (except in heat) disrupting the story line, readers will enjoy Ms. Mercury's spin on Shangri-la.

Wrongful Death
Robert Dugoni
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416591009, $25.00

Seattle attorney David Sloane has won an astronomical eighteen jury trials for his clients in a row. His current case is perhaps his most difficult to date, a wrongful-death suit against the federal government; a sure defeat for the seemingly invincible plaintiff lawyer.

His client Beverly Ford insists her husband James a national guardsman died in the current Iraq War due to underperforming body armor that the Pentagon knew it was inadequate, but in spite of safer options did nothing. David is stunned when an investigation into James' unit reveals several other soldiers died under questionable circumstances after returning to the states. He wonders if someone is trying to cover up the truth of what happened in Iraq by eliminating the witnesses, but soon fears his inquiries have jeopardized his loving dependents.

The second Sloane legal thriller (see THE JURY MASTER) is an action-packed, fast-paced tale that in spite of vividly described legal proceedings and maneuvers comes across more as an investigative cat and mouse tale. The story line is loaded once Sloane takes on Ms. Ford as a client and never takes a breather until the finish. Although the plot is thin and a deeper look at how difficult suing the Feds is would have been enlightening as what is provided is fascinating, fans will enjoy WRONGFUL DEATH, which never slows down until the end.

The King's Grace
Anne Easter Smith
9781416550457, $16.99

In 1485, Richard III, having incarcerated his two nephews Edward and Richard in the London Tower a few years earlier, dies in battle. Everyone including their illegitimate half-sister and frequent visitor Grace Plantagenet assumes the young York Princes who vanished were killed by him. Thus Henry of the House of Tudor claims the crown and ends the War of the Roses.

A few years later Perkin Warbeck arrives in London insisting he is the Duke of York, the younger Prince Richard and the rightful King of England, since he also claims his older sibling was killed by their uncle. Though her half-sister is the queen of King Henry VII and she herself is on the outer fringe of the court's retinue, Grace needs to know the truth whether Perkin is Richard or a ruse set in motion most likely by a bitter desperate Duchess Margaret to put the House of York back on the throne.

Using an ultra minor real person with links to all the major players in the late fifteenth century as an amateur sleuth, Anne Easter Smith provides the audience with a deep look at the fates of the two princes. The story line is driven by the heroine who wants to be truly accepted by her family as she figuratively swims the polluted Thames trying to determine if the claim is genuine. Fans will enjoy her efforts as Ms. Smith brings to life a court loaded down with Machiavellian-like politics and backstabbing while the major players on the English stage are given the minor treatment as support cast.

An Accidental Light
Elizabeth Diamond
Other Press
2 Park Ave, 24th Floor, NY, NY 10016
9781590513019, $23.95

As it was starting to get dark police officer Jack Philips is driving home when thirteen years old Laura Jenkins runs out of the blue into the road from behind a bus. He has no time to break and kills her. Although the inquest exonerates Jack, he cannot forgive himself as he goes over each second of the tragedy wondering what he could have done different; perhaps turning on his headlights. He remains traumatized as he sees Laura everywhere. He fears for his two daughters and thinks of his mom's suicide when he was a teen. Unable to work Jack goes on medical leave and unable to talk to his wife Samantha his marriage crumbles.

Laura's mother Lisa is as depressed as Jack is and ties her daughter's accidental death to the heart attack that killed her father when she was about Laura's age. Like Jack she sees Laura everywhere. She turns to psychics as she feels her daughter's ghost is trying to reach her. Her spouse Derek ignores his wife's pain. Instead he stalks his daughter's killer. Jack wonders if the unhinged man is considering an eye for an eye while also pondering whether the teen's ghost is real and trying to tell him something.

The key to the psychological ghost story is the aftermath on two families sharing an accidental tragedy. Both families deteriorate following the death of Laura although Sam and Derek are never developed beyond the roles of spouse and parent; on the other hand Jack and Lisa are full blooded grieving parents with similar past histories. Fans will wonder if Laura is actually there and if yes, why as Elizabeth Diamond provides a deep family drama that mixes the paranormal with the psychological.

Magic Strikes
Ilona Andrews
Ace Books
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780441017027, $7.99

When the shift started the world we knew ended. Waves of magic swept over the world making technology inoperative and creating magical wielders along with creatures from myths real. People use magic even when technology works as the latter is rare.

Kate Daniels, a liaison between the Mercenary's Guild and Guild and the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, is a mercenary willing to do anything for a fee a long as it is on the side of good. Shapeshifter Derek asks her to deliver a note to a combatant in the Arena where gladiators fight one another for glory. Derek is caught by the Reapers and is tortured and left for dead. Jim, Chief of Security for the Alpha Beast Lord of Atlanta, maneuvers it so his team must fight in the Arena to obtain vengeance for Derek. Kate joins with a need to fight the Reapers. She will do what is necessary to kill them but not before learning who is behind the Reapers because she thinks it is someone close to her in blood, a person she needs to murder.

Ilona Andrews has written a compelling urban fantasy filled with intrigue, magic and action in a world in which technology collapsed under the tsunami of magic. The heroine is a kick butt person who fights for what she believes in no matter the odds because failure to do so means her adversaries triumph. Thus she has no qualms about battling the most powerful foes especially the deadly Reapers. Fans of Charlaine Harris and Kim Harrison will want to read MAGIC STRIKES.

Sarah Monette
0441015964, $24.95

In a desperate effort to start the Cymellunar Summerdown engine that he believes is the only chance to free Caloxa from Corambis, rebel Prince Gerrard Hume dies in his attempt. His lover the Margrave of Rothmarlin Kay Brightmore is not only blinded during the failed coup, the Corambis' Duke of Glimmering captures and incarcerates her.

Exiled to Bernatha, gay wizard Felix Harrowgate worries about the health of his half-brother former thief and assassin Mildmay when the latter becomes very sick. Needing money for his sibling, Felix returns to what he knows best when short funds, prostitution, but Corambis' thugs gang-rape him. However, the ritual assault starts the Clock of Eclipses, which, like the Summerdown engine, only the most powerful of wizards, someone of Felix's caliber, is capable of aborting and this preventing mass destruction; but he has to face the jealous Council of Corambis wizards for his insurgent heretic practices.

The final Harrowgate quest fantasy (see VIRTU, MIRADOR and MELUSINE) is an exciting finish to a strong saga. In some ways Felix has gone full circle, but in most ways he has matured so he is a force to be reckoned with especially with Mildmay having his back. Fans will relish the conclusion though it helps to have recently have read at least The MIRADOR while newcomers will be lost in Corambis without reading the previous three tales.

WWW: Wake
Robert J. Sawyer
0441016790, $24.95

Blind teenage mathematical genius Caitlin Decter is a wonder with her effortless ability to surf the Internet. Her brain compensating for her lack of sight has embellished her other senses enabling her to easily travel the web.

Caitlin is euphoric with the experimental implant that will enable her to see. However, instead of normal vision, the processor placed inside her allows her to "see" the Web. As she explores her new cyberspace imageries, she realizes another sentient being exists. Caitlin begins to believe that every minute the other seems more aware of its cyber environs and perhaps much more. This "webmind" has become aware of an external existence outside the internet dimension.

This is a terrific opening act as Robert J. Sawyer introduces his readers to the complex WWW though his two lead characters, the teen heroine and the webmind. The story line is much more complex and diverse than described above as the explorations by Caitlin and the webmind lead the audience to all sorts of places around the world such as the Chinese freedom bloggers as the new conscience learns globalization of its dimension. Extremely well written and complex making Tron look like pre-school, this is a terrific first tale in what looks like will be a great trilogy that is also being serialized in Analog (started in November and ending in March).

Dragon's Luck
Robert Asprin
9780441016808, $15.00

Siblings Griffen and Valerie McCandles were raised as humans unaware that they were the offspring of two half-dragons until their unique powers started to manifest. Dragons are a selfish species with a need to accrue more power, which makes them ruthless and avaricious. Griffen is different perhaps an anecdotal proof of nurturing over naturing, but he is only interested in running the gambling empire his mentor turned over to him. A George, a mercenary who kills dragons for a fee, is impressed with Griffen, who is learning to use his new skills. West Coast dragon Flynn watches the New Orleans based Griffen with a close eye trying to ascertain whether this new hybrid is a threat to him or will he be an asset if he decides to bring him into his organization. His lover Mei also keeps a close surveillance on Griffen because her Asian dragon cartel has their eye on him.

Griffen is content with his lot and cares about his friends including the ghost of the former Voodoo high priestess Rose. She asks him to host the Conclave where the various supernatural groups are coming to town to talk and have fun. Griffen agrees to be the moderator for the Conclave. His prime function is to keep the diverse parties from brawling with each other. However, when one of the conventioneers is murdered, someone insures Griffen looks like the culprit. Out of respect for their host and to keep the human police from meddling in supernatural species affair, the Conclave search for the killer.

Because Griffen is atypical of the dragon species, he has many diverse supernatural friends who come through for him when he is framed. That paranormal support cast is three dimensional with the various groups containing radically different overarching personalities; while within a group multiplicity exists just not as lucid. The whodunit is fun sort of a paranormal version of Fritz Lang's M with the supernatural hunting the killer instead of the criminals.

Mistress of the Revolution
Catherine Delors
New American Library (NAL)
c/o Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451225955, $16.00

In the mid 1780s fifteen year old aristocrat Gabrielle de Montserrat and commoner Pierre-Andre Coffinhal meet and fall in love. However, her older brother rejects such a union as Pierre is beneath their lofty social status. Instead he forces his younger sister to marry the much older, wealthy, and abusive Baron de Peyre. He is cruel to his young wife; so when he dies after Gabrielle gives birth to a daughter she rejoices.

The teen widow and single mom Gabrielle arrives at the court of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette. There she becomes the mistress of Count de Villers. However, soon after her arrival, the Revolution explodes in Paris. Gabrielle is arrested and faces the wrath of the Revolutionary Tribunal where lawyer Pierre-Andre, still outraged by the Montserrat scorn several years ago sits in judgment and Lady Guillotine awaits in the open for her.

Though the underlying theme is a bittersweet love story, MISTRESS OF THE REVOLUTION is much more as the plot contains a deep look at the political intrigue and machinations with the Guillotine hovering for rumored missteps stealing the show. Catherine Delors has written a strong French Revolution Era historical as Gabrielle is a great protagonist who holds the plot together while the key men in her life provide a profound look at what society allows them to do to a woman before, during, and after the Revolution; nothing changes for the second class female. Her encounters with the major historical figures circa 1789 seems unnecessary and distractingly forced yet fans of historical tales will relish Gabrielle's adventures to avoid a date with Lady Guillotine.

The Family Jewels
Carolyn Hart
NAL Heat
0451226372, $15.00

Jewel thief Olivia is addicted to sex; any male will do when she has the tickle, but especially those she can steal gems from. Jewel thief Paul is addicted to sex; any female will do when he has the tickle of "impulse control". They know each other intimately, but she has an issue with his sleeping with her sister.

Olivia uses sex to rob victims. She loves her life of crime and sex. Paul feels the same way about his. They collide when they both try to steal the same jewels from an aristocrat. She purloins them with her loins and he steals them from her; leading to a challenge to see who can make the other submit to their superiority.

This is an interesting character study of two amoral unrepentant thieves who use sex as a weapon. The story line is driven by the rivalry between the lead couple although the climax (pun intended) feels out of place for this libido obsessed dueling duo. Fans who prefer a more ethical relationship in their heated tales need to pass; but those who enjoy something different starring dishonorable antagonists will want to read THE FAMILY JEWELS; as Olivia and Paul have the heart of unprincipled sex thieves.

Fire Raiser
Melanie Rawn
Tor Books
1403 Flatiron Building, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765315335, $24.95

Evan Lachlan and his Witch wife Holly McClure have moved from Manhattan to her hometown in Pocahontas County, Virginia. It is the place with the most concentration of witches in the country and while Holly is a Spellbinder who uses her blood on spells so they won't unravel. While her husband Evan is running for county sheriff, she loves the way he takes in stride her family's magical skills.

He takes a break from the rigorous investigation into an apparent serial arsonist burning down churches using magic as the ignition trigger. The couple attends a fundraiser for Evan at the Westmoreland Inn and Spa. Upon arrival the pair chokes on the magic that fills the air. Holly's cousin Cam finds a doorway not visible without magic. They all enter only to find some hideous things on the other side and even more horrifying is there is no return exit out.

Melanie Rawn has written a terrific spellbinding action-packed fantasy thriller that will remind the audience of the works of Kelly Armstrong. Readers who became acquainted with the lead couple in SPELLBINDER will especially appreciate how far they have come as a couple since their initial volatile magical meeting. FIRE RAISER is fast-paced and loaded with action from the onset, but ignites when the cast (and spellbound readers) decide to see what is beyond the door.

A Forthcoming Wizard
Jody Lynn Nye
9780765314345, $27.95

After the events that occurred in AN UNEXPECTED APPRENTICE, smallfolk Tildi Summerbee possesses the Great Book. She knows the responsibly is awe-inspiring as the guardian of the tome that includes the Runes that control the Runes of every living thing or object; a species can be extinct with a simple written deletion. Tildi vows to keep the sacred icon safe while the Knights of the Word vow to keep the guardian from escaping their surveillance of her.

However though Tildi understands she holds something incredibly powerful, she remains ignorant of the awesome supremacy of the Great Book until a knight dies while trying to alter his individual Rune. Tildi's so-called protector Abbess Sharhava wants to take the Great Book from her to bring to her order's scriptorium while Knemet the Maker has other plans for using the tome; their motives vary as does their means, but both plan to take the Great Book from Tildi in some way. Although frightened with her responsibility and filled with doubts that a halfling smallfolk like her can do the job, Tildi surrounded by a loyal protective circle of friends especially Rin the centaur and her former mentor Serafina the wizard, refuses to yield the tome to anyone; instead she keeps the Great Book under her control to insure it is used with moral principles and not to further someone's corrupt affluence.

Although this engaging fantasy takes a bit long to get past the introduction to Tildi's new world order, A FORTHCOMING WIZARD is a fascinating thriller. Once the stage is set, the story line accelerates into a fast-paced read. Tildi remains the center holding the plot together as she has come a long way from her days disguised as her late brother serving as AN UNEXPECTED APPRENTICE to Serafina. Fans with some patience will appreciate Joy Lynn Nye's second Great Book saga.

Calculating God
Robert J. Sawyer
0765322897, $14.95

Hollus the arachnid space traveler arrives on earth in Toronto. The "ET" enters the Royal Ontario Museum stating: "Take me to a paleontologist". She has come to the third planet to discuss her people's empirical evidence of the existence of God that they share with another alien race; her mission is to find other sentient species in order to add data supporting their theory.

Hollus meets dinosaur expert atheist Dr. Thomas Jericho. She explains to the earth scientist that on her homeworld and that of another planet five extinction events occurred concurrently; they hypothesized based on that limited data that these events have occurred on every planet with sentient life throughout the galaxy. She explains to the stunned Canadian, who still struggles with meeting an alien, the grand unifying theory of Creationism. Hollus finally makes the case that science has one goal: CALCULATING GOD in order "to discover why God has behaved as he has and to determine his methods".

Although most of this profound science fiction novel is passive as the two scientists debate the existence of God, this is a terrific tale that will have the audience pondering how they would we react if an ET arrived with strong empirical evidence that God exists. The story line mostly focuses on Hollus the believer and Thomas the non-believer who wants to believe as he is dying from cancer. There is also a limited but fascinating look at the reactions of various people from the Intelligent Design crowd to the Darwinists and all sorts in between who have their own agendas. Fans of cerebral science fiction will relish the visit from a theistic evolutionary ET spider.

Blood Groove
Alex Bledsoe
9780765321961, $24.95

In 1915 in Passelwaithe Wales, Judge Sir Francis Colby agreed with the villagers' claim that Baron Rudolfo Zginski was a vampire since the accused did not breathe or have a pulse. Although some of the myths re vampires proved false, a crucifix was thrust into the heart of Rudolfo. The Judge buried the corpse where he felt no one would find it in his home state of Tennessee.

Six decades later, Tennessee pathologist Dr. Rosberry performs an autopsy on a man with a crucifix sticking out of his remains. When she removes the stake, Zginski awakens but is crazed with a need for blood; he drains the doctor. To survive in this modern world, Zginski must learn the common technological advances; when he finds a vampire nest living in the shadows, he knows who will teach him. He selects Fauvette turned at fourteen years old as his guide to 1975 America. Soon Zginski is shocked with what the young vamps believe is deadly as the Lugosi-Lee legends (after his first time) has become the fact. He offers to train them in remedial and advanced vampirism, but they must become his loyal subjects. Most refuse as products of the social unrest of the times make "slavery" unacceptable. However, Zginski will soon be tested when Fauvette is snatched.

The time and place are keys to this unique vampire thriller as Zginski who was an egomaniac for centuries in his previous existence has to adapt to the radical changes WWI and WWII brought and more so to the strong civil rights movement (just a few years after the assassination of Dr. King). Thus Zginski instead of being a king of the local vampires as he expects becomes more of a fatherly mentor to the ignorant brood. Alex Bledsoe has written a terrific unique urban historical fantasy as the aristocratic displaced lead character finds life in 1975 Tennessee is not simple or anything like his past and has a major impact on how the newbies think especially the innocent the charmer Fauvette.

Dancing on the Head of a Pin
Thomas E. Sniegoski
c/o New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
0451462513, $14.00

It was Paradise until the Morningstar let pride and jealousy turned him away from the Creator. He and his allies went to war against those loyal to the Lord. Angel fought angel until Heaven was filled with the dead. Although Archangel Remiel of the host of the Seraphim fought on the winning side against Lucifer and his rebels, he witnessed the atrocities that his squad of angels committed in the name of the Father. He left Heaven in disgust and came to earth where he hid his angelic side to live amidst humans and even loved a human. It has been a few months since his beloved wife died and the grieving Remy Chandler, as he calls himself, finally returns to the life of a twenty-first century Boston private investigator.

Alfred Karnighan hires Remy to find some ancient weapons; artifacts stolen from his collection, which is secured by a thick steal door in his basement. The Fallen want the weapons as does the Nomads, angels allegedly inspired by Remy who left Paradise after he did. They are neutrals who come and go between heaven, hell and earth have a grand plan to use these weapons. To prevent a second tragic war, Remy casts off his human cloak returning to the warrior archangel Remiel goes along with a Fallen and a Repentant angel hoping to go home one day if forgiven, into hell.

The allegorical title referring to medieval philosophy aside, DANCING ON THE HEAD OF A PIN is a powerful urban fantasy starring a hero who knows heaven's occupants were changed by the war; so he wants no part of the new heaven (see A KISS BEFORE THE APOCALYPSE). Still when it matters, Remiel's gut loyalty to the Creator leads him to defend heaven as he loathes the Fallen especially Lucifer whom he holds culpable for Paradise Lost. Readers will feel for Remy and pray he finds redemption and happiness amidst the humans he admires.

Turn Coat
Jim Butcher
9780451462565, $25.95

Harry Dresden is a wizard working as a private investigator in Chicago. As an innocent youngster he broke one of the most sacred cardinal rules of the White Council of Wizards and was going to be executed but he got taught right from wrong by a kind mentor who convinced the council to give him probation. Warden Chief Morgan has watched Harry for years waiting to pounce when the lad makes that inevitable mistake; they have tangled several times since and their animosity remains stratospheric.

Morgan comes to Harry's home looking ill and injured as the Wardens are after their former leader. The weary Morgan explains he was seen over the corpse of Aleron La Fortier holding the murder weapon. Additionally a bank account in his name was found containing millions; phone records show Morgan talking with someone inside the Vampire Red Court. The wizards knew that one of them was selling information to the enemy and that the wardens were investigating, but now all the evidence hangs Morgan. The unknown adversary sends a Skinwalker, a semi-divine god to start a war between the wizards and the White Court Vampires who feed on human essence. Harry knows Morgan is not the traitor so he sets up a scheme to uncover the betrayer and hopefully prevent hostilities.

This is a great Dresden tale as the hero has come a long way from his days as a rebel with a cause though he still defends the underdog with a passion. The story line is entertaining as Morgan turns to his detestable enemy Harry because of the reasons he loathes Dresden; the wizard's known rebellious nature to defend the downtrodden. Fans will relish this entry as Harry tries to out the real TURN COAT before a war of magic ignites Chicago and beyond while trying to keep an anxious Morgan from charging into the fight like a cow kicking over an oil lamp to Dresden plan and the city.

Blue Diablo
Ann Aguirre
9780451462640, $6.99

Corine Solomon has the ability to hold an object and know its history as she can determine who possessed it; sometimes she can even see its future as to who will own it next. As a handler, Corine wants to help people, but feels overwhelmed with their needs as much as she worries about those who fear her "gift". On her last operation with her then lover Chance at her side, she accomplished what she set out to do, but almost died achieving her goal. Even though she loves Chance, she left him while he was sleeping to keep herself safe. She starts over in Mexico City running a pawn shop.

Eighteen months later, Chance walks into her store informing her that his mother is missing. He asks Corine to help him find her; she agrees. They find a button where the woman was Last seen. Corine holds the button and sees the woman binding four demons using chicken blood. When she touches his mother's purse at the police station, Corine hears the words "la Zona"; the red light district in Nuevo Laredo. A wizard magically attacks Corine to prevent her from finding Chance's mother but she and Chance persevere even if they both might die.

The first Corine Solomon urban detective fantasy is a great tale filled with magic, paranormal powers, demons, and spirits bound to the necro. The heat between the lead couple is palpable, but Corine fears her love for Chance will weaken her and put him at risk. Ann Aguirre makes her realm feel realistic as her heroine and her beloved investigate the disappearance paranormal style. This is an enthralling romantic urban fantasy.

Laurell K. Hamilton
0451462521, $14.00

At five years old half-elf Keleios proves to have paranormal skills that with focus and training would make her a powerful enchanter and prophetess. However, not long after displaying her talent, the evil wicth Harque killed Keleios' mom; the child vowed to avenge her mother's death one day. Her thirst leads her to hell where she becomes marked by demonic evil. A third power also surfaces; that of a sorcerer, which sends her back to school at Zeln's Keep learning to control her latest skill. Through all this Keleios has not forgotten her cause.

However, while at Zeln's Keep, she envisions an assault that slaughters many of the dwellers and those who survive the butchery will be brutally enslaved; the Keep will be no more betrayed from within by Keleios' roommate Fidelis whose mentor is Harque. Keleios struggles to put together a counter team, but few are comfortable with the tainted one. She manages to gain a few allies as Lothor the healer (whose price is her), Tobin the royal mage, Master Eroar the shape-shifting dragon, and Poth the feline sorcerer join her. They fail due to betrayal and become prisoners of Harque, who is the mastermind behind the destruction of Zeln's Keep.

This reprint of Laurell K. Hamilton's first novel is an exciting sword and sorcery coming of age thriller (though no Blake, stake, or vampires). The story line is action-packed as battle after battle occurs as the beleaguered heroine and her teammates struggle with survival. Although the world is never developed beyond seemingly a war zone that is not explored beyond the battlefield and neither is the key villainess Harque, fans of the author will enjoy Ms. Hamilton's debut quest fantasy rooting for Keleios to succeed against impossible odds.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Time & Memory
Poems by William S. Trout
Edited by J. Terry Zeller
American Literary Press
8019 Belair Rd. Suite 10, Baltimore MD 21236
9781934696194 $12.95

William S. Trout was an English Instructor at Millersville University in Pennsylvania. He was a shy, reclusive man who wrote beautiful poetry in his private moments. Trout did not submit his work to journals. Nor did he share his work with anyone, until a former student began to visit and correspond with him by mail. We have this former student, J. Terry Zeller, to thank for this priceless book. Trout died in 1980, but his spirit and essence live on in these exceptional poems. Through skillful use of rhyme, assonance, rhythm, and cadence, Trout's work was brilliantly conceived and executed by a master wordsmith.

From the first page, I particularly enjoyed Trout's placement of words, the sound and "feel" of them. Many of his poems are untitled, as is this excerpt from the first poem:

Across the autumn overlaid
With mantling cold, you went; shears snipped
Deep crimson dahlias, mop heads made
Of lemon light, flutings tipped
Rose and cream….

Many years have passed since I experienced the chill bumps of pleasure that came from reading classic poetry. Trout's work here reprised those chills, those little thrills that well-constructed poetry can bring. This excerpt is one such example from his work:

Let them there, to run below,
These small bright figures malice-strung;
I see a scarlet sweater glow,
Hear a glibly glancing tongue
Dead two decades - Let them swarm,
Desolately multiform.

Trout sees beyond the everyday and mundane. He memorializes the moment sunlight slants through trees, highlighting the colors of fruit and flower in this excerpt from fond memory:

There is a small sting latent in this drowsy light - gold, crisp,
On the clear horizon to the north, where all the changing leaf-stains fuse
To purple, to grape-colour, colour that smells of wine. Chrysanthemums,
Small and bronze, poise by the gray pickets; and, in the orchard,
beyond, the Baldwins bruise
Against the bough as they fall, to nestle in the streaming grasses
that bend and whisper over them…

This is poetry in its finest form. Trout's work has my highest recommendation.

The Hardship Post
Poetry by Jehanne Dubrow
Three Candles Press
P.O. Box 1817, Burnsville MN 55337
9780977089260 $13.95

Jehanne Dubrow has lived on three different continents and earned degrees from two universities. Her work here reflects that life, those accomplishments, while reflecting the common bond all humans share. Dubrow's poetry is contemporary, with soothing shadows of classical pentametric cadence. The poems here are rich with female intensity, strength, and sometimes-terrifying allusions as she leads readers "through passageways both bright and sinister."

"Baggage" speaks to life's cruelties and insecurities for those who are Jewish. Memories of the Holocaust and perpetual afflictions live in the marrow:

Even America could not
fix DNA, defect that made
us find the door in any space,
a gene that warned me when to slide
the suitcase from its hiding place….

"Always Already" is a poem of macabre power, a reminder, a warning that the past can come full circle if we let our guards down, even for a moment. Consider this excerpt in example:

We are always resigned
to be the mountain made of shoes,
always the everlasting bruise
of magic numbers, always
the prophets of our own blazing,
our self-consuming star. We are
and always were the puckered scar
that never disappears
beneath the skin….

"Yahrzeit" is a poem harrowing in its simplicity: (The yahrzeit candle is burned on the anniversary of a loved one's death.)

It's not
the vessel of the flame
that counts, but how sorrow
strikes its match in us. Loss
is loss: a sudden spark,
and just as suddenly, the dark.

Dubrow memorializes Judaism - both ancient and modern - and firmly anchors her place in the world with these poems. This first collection of Jehanne Dubrow's work is the winner of Three Candles Press First Book Award. The book is exceptional and highly recommended.

Heart Blossoms
Connie Marcum Wong
Shadow Poetry
1209 Milwaukee Str., Excelsior Springs MO 64024
9781932447989 $10.00

Connie Marcum Wong is an accomplished poet and mentor / teacher to other poets around the world. Her considerable skills are reflected here in the form of kyrielle, acrostic, haiku, reverse etheree, cinquain, and constanza - a poetic form she created.

Her heart connection to the world is reflected in her poetry. This excerpt from "Roses" is one example of her universal philosophy:

Stranger, you are no stranger to me.
That energy that gives you life
dwells in me too, making us one.

She has become a warrior for the impact of poetry and its enrichment of our lives. She works tirelessly to enhance its importance. Consider this excerpt from "Reflections:"

Poetry can open locked doors, closed minds
Tear down walls, restore faith in the divine
Reach out and touch the untouchable.

I enjoy this poet's love of humanity, a tenderness she shines like a light through her words. "In Buddha's Shadow" reflects that tenderness for her fellow travelers:

We are beings of the springtime
here to gain enlightenment
to help our inner light to grow.

It matters not the purse to carry,
nor how our appearance is perceived,
only that love and kindness flow.

Connie Marcum Wong's philosophy is one of love, kindness, and generosity of spirit. Her poetry is rich and substantial and highly recommended..

Mali Poems
Llyn Clague
Pure Heart Press/Main Street Rag Publishing Company
PO Box 690100 Charlotte, NC 28227-7001
9781599481838 $14.00

Llyn Clague devotes his fourth book of poetry to memories of a trip to Mali. He's carried these poetic images back with him in his heart: the fragrance of bamboo and jasmine; roads mauled by rains and baked by sun; the wide smiles of a beautiful, joyful people. The eloquent "Prologue" poem brings readers into Clague's creative thought process:

Ask at the outset:
why a passel of poems
about a trip to Mali?

Isn't it about the grit and flower of the world,
not the acrobatics of language?

…the essence of a trip abroad
is in the soft implosion at a child's smile,
the needle-like eureka! at the why
of a strange custom, and the hollow in the belly
at how some fellow humans pass their lives -
what happens when the external world
hits us.

When Fulani villagers give Clague his Malian name, he is no less uncertain than he was as a child worrying that Llyn could be a girl's name too. Yet, there are differences he can feel:

But the villagers look at me more knowingly,
and I have an uncertain sense they see
through my skin.

Shadows of our past accompany us wherever we go in our small world. Clague's past confronts the present when he meets a Malian who studied engineering in Russia, an experience shared in "Sand Glitters Like Fresh Snow:"

…shielding our eyes
against the glitter of the sand,
we vow to speak Russian
and share our Russian personas
with each other - da! -
the black engineer in Mali
and the white former Yalie.

Clague accompanies the fortunate readers of this book as our poetic guide through scenes that vibrate like shimmering sunlight.. The delightful giggle of a Malian child, the spinning of colorful garments and communal firing of pottery, the cacophony of open air markets, all come alive through Clague's skillfully woven words. If you've never been to Mali, these poems will transport you there.

Confessions of A Shanty Irishman, 3rd Edition
Michael Corrigan
Visual Publishing
P.O. Box 9949, College Station TX 77842
9781602642973 $13.95

When I received this 3rd edition for review, I doubted Michael Corrigan could improve on the original. That 1st edition introduced me to his writing and I've been a fan ever since. I said about the 1st edition that Corrigan has a gift to share, that he served himself up to readers like a rich meat and potatoes stew. That part is still true, but the 3rd edition has been skillfully enhanced and expanded by a gifted wordsmith. In the seven years between the 1st and 3rd editions, Corrigan has matured in years, voice, and experience. His memoir has taken on a tender quality that shines amidst the pathos and humor that was this writer's life.

Corrigan began life in San Francisco in a home shared by his Irish immigrant grandfather who worked hard and proud to make America his home; by a calm and sensible grandmother who unfailingly nurtured all three men she loved; and a handsome father who worked and paid the bills despite his losing battle with the demon drink. Moving in and out of Corrigan's life are kinfolk who are all apples off the same Irish tree, each with their own personality and contribution to the author's childhood memories. A mother who abandoned her Irish Catholic husband and infant in search of fun is an occasional visitor, a mystery throughout the author's life.

The prose here is quintessential Irish, distilled down to its purist form. Through joyful word pictures and dark sorrows, Corrigan shares his grandfather's humor and guidance, his grandmother's patient strength, his father's innate goodness that far outshines any weakness. These three supporting linchpins of his life take Corrigan from infancy to young adulthood as he discovers the fair sex and struggles with his Irish Catholic faith. San Francisco is his playground, his education, the place he will always call home. One by one, he loses his family. Friends who remain with him through life fill that empty place, but never completely. The author's relationship with his father is a powerful undercurrent throughout the book. His father dies young, a dissipated remnant of the once darkly handsome charismatic man who raised his son without a mother. The author's memory of that day haunts me:

"The old days of Irish wakes with ice lifted off the corpse for drinks had passed. Now it was only a rosary, and relatives listened to the priest reciting before the open coffin. I wondered if the Vikings weren't right to put the body on a ship and riddle the vessel with fire arrows, rather than lay the body out for morbid viewing. I couldn't accept that plastic-looking empty husk as my father. Thomas. It was too much of a contradiction, a furious denial of what he had been in life. Where was the person who took the wheel of his brother's boat and waved at the home movie lens? When would we hear that warm baritone again with its Bing Crosby resonance?"

Michael Corrigan's voice is strong and resonant. The additions to and enhancements of this 3rd edition made an already exceptional book better. The prose is crisp, the characters lively and fully developed, and the memories richly shared. Highly recommended.

From the Quickening
Thomas Sheehan
Pocol Press
6023 Pocol Drive, Clifton VA 20124
9781929763399 $17.95

Quickening: to make alive; to make sharper; to shine more brightly. As with all his writings, Sheehan's latest book of 19 short stories features his signature prose that is sharp, shining with life. I can't explain my reaction, but reading Sheehan's work often brings a tearful response. It's the joy of the environments he creates, the life in his characters, the sudden jarring shock of life's despairs and realities, and the words he uses to entice and enthrall readers.

In "The Emergence of Slow Purple" for example, a widower returns to his home town a hollow shell of what he was once. He's given up on ever being whole again, until he meets a woman who insists her name is Slow Purple. His reaction to the woman's essence is strong, immediate, hopeful: "The name, I thought immediately, came with colors attached, a host of them, ablaze in intention, sunlight and moonlight, a bloom in a side yard a whole house lives for, the air filled with a suggestion of simple purple essence, presence of the violet, yet a soft bloom, the coy lavender of it."

The ending of "Fourth of July Homecoming" is an unexpected surprise and not what the three 12-year-old friends planned. The object of their celebration is the shell of an old mill beside the river: "So Snag and Chris and Charlie B came together on the specially appointed night, the national holiday, and crept up on the backside of the Old Scott's Mill, closed tight as an angry man's fist, sitting there beside the old, slow Saugus River. It was a mill as marked as time itself, whose existence seemed to transcend the town and its beginnings. Now and then it became a shell of nacre the way an early bronze moon could make it eerie and distant and out of this world. It was a piece of another time, another dimension, for none of them could begin to imagine the gallons of workers' sweat that had seeped into the floors of the structure for parts of two centuries." The ending is typical Sheehan, weaving past and present together in a touching paean to humanity.

Those brief examples from two out of nineteen stories can't begin to provide a proper review. Through prose that takes on a life of its own, Sheehan creates serenity out of loneliness and crafts triumph from deep sorrow. He builds quirky or greedy or heroic characters from bits of memory and coaxes readers into loving them. These are the gifts of a skilled wordsmith, and Thomas Sheehan is certainly that. Highly recommended.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

King Max of America
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113
9781436366106, $19.99,

Unusual problems call for unusual solutions. "King Max of America: How King Max became President of the United States . . . and how he conquered the Ugly Beast" is a political statement composed in a unique manner of fiction. Using the standard of the everyman as his protagonist, he offers his ideas to conquer the ugly beast of America's problems, from Iraq to Energy Crisis, to family issues. "King Max of America" is intriguing reading, sure to entertain and enlighten.

It Was You, All Along
Gary Spinell
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd, -515, Parker, CO 81034
9781432720025, $16.95,

The power to succeed isn't randomly blessed on people; it's inherent in all of us. "It Was You, All Along: An Easy to Understand Guide on How to Create the Reality you Desire" looks to push readers to better embrace themselves and find the power to make themselves succeed. Hard work is important in creating one's ideal life, but there is more to it than that and author Gary Spinell explains why. With an inherent spirituality, "It Was You, All Along" is a manual for any who wish to be inspired and push themselves further.

Memoirs of Suzanne Tiller
Jon W. Wiles, translator
Infinity Publishing
1094 New DeHaven Street, Suite 100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
074145081X, $11.95,

Some women resist traditional roles with all of their might. "Memoirs of Suzanne Tiller: The Story of an Extraordinary Woman" tells of a woman who lived during the first eighty years of the twentieth century and made every one of them count. A war nurse, a stunt pilot, a partisan, a soldier, and an agent for the French colonies in Africa, Tiller was a woman of many skills and led an exciting life through all of her long years. "Memoirs of Suzanne Tiller" is expertly translated by Jon Wiles, and is a satisfying read all the way through.

The Bridegroom Comes! and America in Prophecy
Richard Ruhling
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
1439221359, $9.95,

The end of all things is on the back of the mind of many. "The Bridegroom Comes! and America in Prophecy" is a dual sided book exploring two sides to the apocalypse, written by Dr. Richard Ruhling. 'The Bridegroom Comes' explores relationships and how poor choices can destroy one's life. 'America in Prophecy' investigates America's role in possible end of days scenarios, drawing from the book of Revelations. "The Bridegroom Comes! and Ameria in Prophecy" is intriguing reading for Christian readers who think the end might be nearer than one would believe.

Bruce Kaler
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439205564, $12.99,

Being a healer can turn out to be so unhealthy. "Turnabout" follows Fred Pomeroy, a doctor who wishes all there was to his job was tending to the sick and injured. His life turns ever more chaotic, as his ex-girlfriend throws a malpractice suit at him, and the bureaucracy of the system may send Pomeroy to the poor house if he doesn't find someway to defend himself from the system. A story of what many physicians face, "Turnabout" is excellent reading and a highly recommended thriller.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

Murder Takes the Cake
Evelyn David
Echelon Press Publishing
9735 Country Meadows Lane 1-D, Laurel, MD 20723
9781590806180 $13.99

Evelyn David is actually a partnership between Marian Edelman Borden and Rhonda Dossett. Marian is an author of ten non-fiction books and hails from New York. Rhonda lives in Oklahoma and is the coal administrator for the state. The most interesting facet of their relationship is that they have never met in person. MURDER TAKES THE CAKE is the follow-up to their first effort, MURDER OFF THE BOOKS. Both books feature Whiskey, an Irish wolfhound.

Rachel Brenner leads an interesting life. After her divorce from a meandering husband, she landed a job in a funeral home. Mac Sullivan runs a private detective agency. What do they have in common? Rachel and Mac have an uneasy relationship bound by their past experiences. But after Rachel discovers the inventory at the funeral home doesn't jibe with their invoices, she inveigles Mac to look into the problem. Hilariously, the skittish Mac thinks she's trying to pin him down regarding their relationship:

"'What?' Mac was confused. Somehow he'd misread the whole situation. Maybe she wasn't breaking up with him. Can you even break up with someone you really haven't dated yet?

'The missing caskets? Did Jeff already tell you about them? There's about $20,000 worth that we can't find. Jeff is talking about running some kind of sting operation to catch the thieves.'"

Tales about mid-life detectives scream out for laughter, and the Evelyn David team complies with aplomb. They add a wedding between Mac's goddaughter and a spoiled little rich kid who has the sensitivity of a hockey puck to keep the plot lively. Characters abound, from the endearing Rachel and Mac to the confused teenager who is brought into line by Mac's office manager, JJ. Whiskey, Mac's Irish wolfhound and Snickers, Rachel's cat, also fit into the mix and promise to have many future exploits.

MURDER TAKES THE CAKE is light-hearted fun, with a little mystery; a little romance; a little family dysfunction; and several out-of-the-ordinary adventures thrown in to make it a fun-filled whodunit. It's worth reading just to sort out all the characters.

Robert I. Katz
Willowgate Press
PMB #86248 Route 25A, East Setauket, NY 11733
9781930008120 $13.95

Robert I. Katz is a Professor of Clinical Anesthesiology. He currently holds a position at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Besides publishing the award winning book entitled Edward Maret, he is the author of two prior mysteries entitled SURGICAL RISK and THE ANATOMY LESSON, both of which feature Richard Kurtz and Detective Lew Barent.

Richard Kurtz is a surgeon with a blond Jewish girlfriend. He is moderately satisfied with his life, although he does get a little antsy at times. He is also a Karate expert, which serves him in good stead during the "restless" times. He lives in East Manhattan in a luxury apartment. His friend Detective Lew Barrett is a burned out homicide detective, who, although he welcomes Kurtz in some situations, has fits when Kurtz takes the law into his own hands.

A little old lady who happens to be from one of the wealthiest families in New York almost expires on the operating table, and it is Dr. Kurtz who saves her. But while she is near death, she has an out-of-body experience and predicts the death of a young hospital administrator and the possible involvement of one of Kurtz's cooperating surgeons. The police seem to be making miniscule progress, so it is up to Dr. Kurtz to hunt down the killer and a tale of fortunes made and lost. But the killer seems to be stalking more than young women:

"The wound in Barent's head was shallow but still bleeding. There was a pretty good chance that Barent had suffered a concussion, a smaller chance that the temporal artery beneath the bone was ruptured, in which case Barent's dizziness was only the first sign of an accumulating epidural hematoma, an injury which would probably kill him unless he got into surgery fast. Barent squinted down the street and blinked his eyes."

Robert I. Katz uses his medical expertise to create a suspenseful medical mystery which grabs the reader from the first page and takes us on a ride we won't soon forget. His instincts for plot and character are flawless, and his hero is both human and, in ways, a high-functioning warrior. SEIZURE is fun on all kinds of levels! You can't put it down.

Russian Roulette
Austin S. Camacho
Intrigue Publishing
7707 Shadowcreek Terrace, Springfield, VA 22153
9780979478840 $14.95

Austin S. Camacho spent years as a military news reporter for the American Forces Network. He now works as a public affairs specialist for the Defense Department. He is the author of four previous Hannibal Jones mysteries: THE TROUBLESHOOTER; COLLATERAL DAMAGE; DAMAGED GOODS; and BLOOD AND BONE. He currently lives in Springfield, Virginia.

Hannibal Jones, troubleshooter extraordinaire, has a new experience when a well known Russian assassin pays him a visit in his office and convinces Hannibal, at gunpoint, to take his case. It seems that the love of his life (assassins have hearts too) is about to marry a rich, sleazy, African businessman of dubious morals. Gee, what a choice…assassin or crook! At any rate, Jones gamely takes the case when the assassin convinces Hannibal that his own girlfriend, Cindy Santiago, is at risk should he fail:

"'…But why would I take your case? Do you really think you can force me to investigate at gunpoint? I could walk out that door and just keep going. Or, I could call the cops and let them come in here and yank you out. Why on earth would I invest any of my time and energy into helping you stalk this girl who doesn't appear to need help or to be interested in you at all?' Ivanovich's voice deepened and became a bit harder, as if he wanted to be very sure that Hannibal understood him clearly.

'Because, my arrogant friend, I have very competent associates watching Miss Cintia Santiago, associate at Baylor, Truman, and Ray and daughter of Reynaldo Santiago who lives upstairs from you. My associates are invisible, obedient, and deadly. If you fail to find the answers I need about Dani Gana, your beloved Cintia Santiago will die.'"

With that motivation Hannibal Jones swings into action, with the menacing Ivanovich invading not only his psyche, but his personal space and life. Jones is game, though, and picks his way through a complicated maze that centers around the Russia House. Camacho employs his usual rich layers of plot; fascinating characters; and plenty of action to keep the reader mesmerized in his latest Hannibal Jones installment

And on the Surface Die
Lou Allin
RendezVous Crime
c/o Napoleon and Company
178 Willowdale Ave., Ste. 201, Toronto, Ontario, M2N 4Y8
9781894917742 $15.95

Lou Allin was raised in Ohio, but was born in Toronto, Canada. She earned a Ph.D. in English Renaissance Literature and then headed back to Ontario to teach writing and public speaking. She published five Belle Palmer mysteries, one of which was shortlisted for an Arthur Ellis Award. AND ON THE SURFACE DIE is her first Holly Martin mystery, and this time the backdrop is the beach.

Sooke on Vancouver Island SHOULD be paradise. The weather is mild; there should be low crime; and Corporal Holly Martin has moved into her father's sumptuous home. It seems that her greatest challenge will be enlisting the confidence of Ann Troy and Knox Singh, her small but able staff. But on the first day a scuba diver has found the body of a star swimmer from an area high school. How could an Olympian level swimmer die, unless it is murder? To add to the fun, Holly calls West Shore to send out an Inspector, and she gets more than she bargained for:

"His cold battleship-grey eyes flicked up and down. 'Whitehouse is the name. I've been sent out here by an officious boss on a fool's mission, and I intend to wrap it up as fast as I can. So let's be clear.' He paused ominously. 'What exactly do you have? What have you done? And don't omit the slightest detail. Some of it may have to be redone. More to the damned point, why the hell did you wait how many days before calling in?'"

Lou Allin writes a heck of a mystery. Not only is her backdrop breathtaking, but she identifies nearly early plant and twig in the place. Her literature background provides her with the tools for truly monumental writing. Characters jump out on the page, as does the sadness and tragedy of a young life cut short by stupidity. She is mindful of the problems facing today's adolescents and weaves probably the number one drug problem of today into her plot in a masterful fashion.

Holly Martin is an interesting character, and her challenges as she assumes command of a small, understaffed RCMP office are considerable. But she manages her first investigation masterfully, in spite of the many layers of roadblocks. A great read!

A Little Bit of Larceny
Darlene Cox
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd., 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432721541 $12.95

Darlene Cox lives in Seattle, Washington. A LITTLE BIT OF LARCENY is her first Joanne Moore mystery.

Joanne Moore is from a small town in Iowa. Her father is a doctor, and her parents had her at a late age. Feeling a little aloof, Joanne buried herself in books and studying. But she has one friend who has guided her through her life…the town's librarian, Miss Crittendon. Joanne makes a bad marriage due to her inexperience, and finds it necessary to take steps to avoid her schizophrenic husband, who refuses to go away. Miss Crittendon dies and leaves her worldly goods to Joanne, and to Joanne's shock and dismay there is a safe deposit box that contains unexpected items. She consults a lawyer, who turns out to be the only person she can trust:

"'Then for now,' he concluded, 'let's leave the questions of the other matters, that is, the revealing of the notes and contents of the safe-deposit boxes until after you've read the journals. I should advise, however, that as far as the law is concerned, it is your legal responsibility to turn the note over to the sheriff. As to the contents of the safe-deposit boxes, yes, they would probably be confiscated until it was known how they were obtained. If by illegal means, the county or state would retain them; if not, then they would need to be included in the inventory of the estate, and taxed accordingly. Again, I believe the answer lies in the journals.'"

Darlene Cox creates a murder mystery with a conundrum in the middle, sort of like a cookie with a soft chocolate surprise in the center. From the first page, A LITTLE BIT OF LARCENY is suspenseful; with a mysterious past full of intrigue. The idea that the actions of others can totally usurp one's life is rife, and poor Joanne Moore is forced to grow up rather fast and become a cunning and world-wise young woman. Her transformation from the beginning of the book up to the surprise ending is quite dramatic.

Ms. Cox, who is somewhat of a mysterious figure herself, produces a bang-up first mystery. Hopefully she will continue in the same vein, as she is sure to pick up a host of readers who will love her debut mystery! Great job!

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Dark Lilly E.
V. Sullivan
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd, Parker, Colorado 80134
9781432721046 $22.95

Before I say anything else, let me tell you that you will definitely need to set aside a good amount of time to read this book. It is a very long book with layers of stories craftily intertwined into each other, and characters that will need your full attention in order to fully appreciate the total package before you.

The story centers around a five-member all girl band. These ladies are definitely a group that are brimming with expectations of their success and work hard towards that goal. Dark Lilly E. is the character that stands out from the group and that much of the storyline will focus around. She is a vibrant woman, assure of herself in many areas, but also struggling in others. She is interesting and gives much to the fullness of this read.

When Dark Lilly E possibly has spotted a serial killer who is terrorizing the area, things truly begin to heat up. Mysteries and unanswered questions begin to pile up and weave themselves within each other creating a maze of suspense and intrigue, surrounding not only the killer, his victims, but also the band members, and other characters introduced into the picture. Perhaps there are some secrets that when revealed will rock the world of these upcoming stars, perhaps not! As more and more characters are introduced, the plot thickens, and the story becomes more layered with relationships, past happenings, and present mysteries.

Personally I liked the part the detective played in this story. I felt Detective Trumaine added quite a bit to the storyline. I also enjoyed the ladies banter with one another, on many topics, and the way the author put in information about phobia's was a nice touch as well.

The one downside that I had was trying to read around the language. I felt at times it took away from the story, although I am sure the author was using it to make the story more realistic, in keeping with the characters. However, be forewarned of this before the read. Other than that, you will find a very deep, layered suspenseful read ahead of you. One that has very well developed characters, interesting locals, and suspense with unanswered questions until the final conclusion.
Our author, V.L. Sullivan, definitely put his heart and soul into his work and has brought forth a story well worth your consideration.

Diary of a Dead Man
Walter Krumm
Bridgeway Books
PO Box 80107, Austin, Texas 78758
9781934454220 $12.95

The computer can be a gift to us. It connects us with the world, allows us to find information on just about any subject we want, but what happens when it becomes an evil tool? Ask, Cameron Taylor, the main player in this outstanding work by author, Walter Krumm.

Cameron has a good life, a loving wife and children, a decent job, but Cameron yielded to temptation. One day he a instant message popped up on his computer from a lady. Cameron took the bait and his life spiral downhill from that moment on.

Wait! This isn't you usual 'He cheated and got caught,' story. Oh no! This tale takes you into the lowest depths of sin and evil, from blackmail, to murder, our main character is set up to take the blame while another walks away with the fortune. But this scheme touches more than the life of one man, it has snagged many and keeps them in its clutches bleeding their identity and their very lives. Is there no way out? Now Cameron's wife and family are in danger, showing that it is often the innocent who suffer from the sins of others. Cameron is now on a race with time to save his life and the life of his family, but who can he trust? What a ride!

This is an outstanding book. The author did an exceptional job of building the storyline, piece upon piece, giving you little hints of who maybe behind the hideous complex of evil that has many men in its grip. The author shows how when we yield to one temptation how it can splinter into so hurting so many lives and bringing us to destruction. His character development was top notch, bringing in each one as needed to layer his story, and his writing kept you digging and digging trying desperately to figure out who was behind the complex evil. The ending was extremely satisfying, leaving you with the feeling that even when things are as dark as they can be, there can still be hope if you try to right a wrong. Well done.

All in all, I give this book my highest recommendation. Very well written, a real page turner with an exceptional ending. Well done!

The Legend of Honey Hollow
Jeanne McNaney
Illustrated by David Cochard
Ovation Books
PO Box 80107, Austin, TX 78758
9780979027598 $16.95

As we begin this delightful tale we meet Grendel, a polar bear and Serenity, a brown bear cub, and several others as the story moves on. Grendel is tired. He has been floating on a big piece of ice all the way from the Arctic Sea just to get to Honey Hollow. Why? Because his home land is being destroyed, and his life was at risk. He had to reach Honey Hollow where there is clean water, the air is pure and life is great.

Grendel shares with the other bears at Honey Hollow all that is happening to his land back home, and they share with him their stories as well. Man has invaded all of their spaces, causing death and misery. The problem worsens when suddenly man invades Honey Hollow and a solution must be found before all the bears are destroyed. The bears turn to a very unlikely source for help, children. Will the bears and the children be able to stop the destruction that is taking place? You will have to read this book to find out.

The Legend of Honey Hollow is a wonderful book. The illustrations are absolutely adorable, and the expressions on the bears add so much to each situation that they are experiencing, whether it be a joyous or troublesome one. I also enjoyed the identification of the different bears and where they lived. The story is a sad one, in part, but one that I applaud the author for sharing. Jeanne McNaney brings to life the environmental issues that the bears of the world are facing. She did a great job in bringing the bears down to a level where children (and adults) can relate to them in a personal way, thus making their problems, which are our problems as well, more real. Not only does she bring to light the environmental problems, but she shows how working in unity for one common good can bring victory. I feel she also brings out the importance animals have in our world, something that is often overlooked by many.

The Legend of Honey Hollow is a book that every child and adult should read. In our fast paced world we tend to forget the sacrifices taking place and the harm that is being done to those who share it with us, just to have more of one thing or another. We need to stop and think before we plunge into another's space on this earth, be it human or animal, and realize the consequences of our actions. Very well done. Highly recommended.

Eclipsed by Shadow
John Allen Royce
Micron Press
71 Prince Street, Suite #35, Boston, MA 02113
9780972412155 $27.95

Meagan, like her mother, loves horses. When a new fold is born and the fold's mother dies Meagan begins a bond with this horse that will take her on an adventure of a lifetime. A mysterious neighborhood lady shares with Meagan and her mother a legend, one of "The Great Horse," a horse that has been part of history since the beginning of man. A horse that is supernatural, one that was meant to help Adam and Eve. She tells them she believes Meagan's horse may well be the next "Great Horse." Meagan's mother dismisses this tale as just a myth, but Meagan is not so sure.

It seems others are interested in her horse as well and plan to have him at any cost.This puts Meagan and the horse in grave danger. While trying to escape from a horse abduction, Meagan mounts her horse and to her surprise is taken to flight above the earth, and travels in time, and so Meagan and her horse begin the ride of their lives and the adventures begin. We are taken from prehistoric America, to Rome and medieval times, and are introduced to characters both cruel and tender as Meagan desperately tries to piece together what is happening and bring both herself and her horse safely home. Quite a ride!

I enjoyed this book. I really had no idea of the extent the subject matter would have in educating me to the history of the horse. I truly admire horses, although I have never been one to ride them, I have always enjoyed their beauty. In this book I learned so much about their past and what an important role they played in the development of mankind. Some of the events left me disturbed, others were intense, but each episode was definitely a learning experience. The characters were well developed and the locals were defined in an exceptional way, definitely bringing you right in the center of the action.

Final analysis: Well written, exceptional story, interesting characters, and a learning experience. It doesn't get much better than that.

Protecting Your Home From Spiritual Darkness
Chuck D. Pierce & Rebecca Wagner Sytsems
Regal Books
PO Box 3875, Ventura, California
9780830736379 $9.99

For many Christians knowing that certain things bring demonic influences into their home is not something new, however it is often taken from one extreme to another. Is everything demonized? How can you tell the difference. Just where is the balance?

In this outstanding book author, Chuck Pierce will break down what to look for, how to discern what you find, and what to do about it. Not every old piece of jewelry is evil, not every ceramic cat is demonic, but it can be. The enemy has a way of hiding in the most unsuspecting places, happy for the chance to bring misery into your life and the lives of your loved ones.

You will also learn how to cleanse your land of the curses that have been placed on it, and believe me all land has some problems that need correcting. Think that strange? Not so. Just what has happened on the land your house is sitting on, say going back one-hundred years? Or what about that weird feeling you get in a certain room in your house? I think you get the picture, now you need to know what to do about it. This book will give you a heads-up.

I also liked the personal experiences that were shared, and stories of others who have encountered problems with objects, buildings, and land having unwelcomed inhabitants tagging along for the ride. Very interesting, and enlightening.

This is a great book that will help you to understand what you are dealing with and what to do about it in a very practical way. You are also given some very useful prayers at the end of the book, and some recommended reading for more help. I highly recommend this book for every serious Christian. Great read.

Coming Unglued
Rebecca Seitz
B & H Fiction
141 Forest Blvd. Nashville, Tennessee
9780805446913 $14.95

Kendra has some deep seeded problems. Dark secrets and pain that she just can't seem to release. Her decisions in life are often not wise choices as her conception of herself is anything but good due to her troubling past. Thank God she has her sisters, and those around her that care and are ready to step up to the plate and do battle for her happiness. She will learn what is important in life and the importance of those who love her, but her way to that decision will not be an easy one.

In this novel we enter the life of Kendra and her sisters, boyfriends, family and friends. We travel with them as mysteries are unraveled, hidden emotions and deep sorrows are brought forth, problems confronted and battles fought and won. It is a story of family, unity and learning to let go at times when it isn't easy to do so, and hold on when that is even harder to do. It is a story of sharing, and learning when it is important to keep silent. It is a story of life, love, and commitment, right, wrong and the grey in-between.

I liked this book. It was at times very upbeat and at other times very serious and mysterious.
Kendra's deep emotional turmoil boiled and bubbled until you knew it would explode like a heated volcano. Good job. The characters were very realistic and the twists and turns of their lives keep the story flowing nicely. The author did a great job pulling you into the storyline and keeping you moving along with each event that transpired,and the ending was great. Very good book.

Last Chance
Miralee Ferrell
Summerside Press
11024 Quebec Circle, Bloomington, Minnesota 55438
9781934770399 $12.99

In this wonderful book we are taken to Last Chance, Texas, where Ben and his daughter, Alexi live. I was impressed that Last Chance, Texas, is a real town, although the story is fiction. Ben and his daughter are horse ranchers. Ben has taught Alexi everything he knows about ranching and horses. As the story goes, Ben finds goal on their property and while telling a friend he sees that someone has overheard their conversation, but he doesn't know who. Ben knew that the knowledge of the discovery of gold would bring trouble so he contacts his friend, a friend that unbeknown to him had died. Ben had helped this friend and he knew that he would return the favor. His friend had a son, Justin, who also had a three-year old son. Justin comes to Last Chance to repay the favor to Ben but before he gets there Ben dies.

Now to add a little spice to the read, Justin thinks Ben has a son named, Alex, not a daughter named, Alexia. However, he is pleased to meet such a strong and beautiful girl and Justin accepts a job from Alexia and stays on the ranch. Justin and Alexia begin to form a relationship of trust one with another, but there is another fellow in the mix, the man who owns the ranch next door, Carter. This man is well-off and perhaps the best catch in the area for any single woman, and his sights are on Alexia. However, there is evil underfoot and the lives of Alexia, Justin and his son are in danger, but who is the one who will stop at nothing to obtain the goal, and what really happened to Ben that killed him and who truly is responsible?

This is an excellent read. The author takes you right into the heart and soul of her characters and their lives. She layers mysteries that play upon mysteries, intertwined with the characters in the story and weaves their emotional responses well into the read, and that becomes an important part of the entire picture. I believe what I like about this story, and this author's writing in general, is that she writes with her heart, not just her head. Anyone who writes with their heart adds the realism of life into their story and that makes such a difference in the impact of enjoyment that the story brings to the reader. This book is truly rich in realism and you quickly become one with the characters, their lives, and the challenges they are facing. I have to say this is an exceptional read, one that I am proud to give my highest recommendation. Watch this author, she is definitely going places. Well done, Ms. Ferrell.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Loving Our Cats
Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen
Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing LLC
9781935096085 $14.95

I like animals, no as a matter of fact, I love animals. However, I haven't had a cat around me in many years, probably because my 4 German Shepherds would not particularly want the company. However, this did not stop the pure enjoyment I received from reading this book. As I began this read I was so amused that I actually laughed out loud at some of the antics of these furry little creatures. I had forgotten how playful, crafty, and loving cats can be.

This book is broken into 12 sections such as: Learning To Love "The Cat", Purr-fect Pets, and Saying Good-bye, to name a few. Under each section you will find stories that warm your heart and bring tears to your eyes, stories that bring out more than a giggle, and some stories that you will shake your head and say, "You have to be kidding?"

I loved this book, it was just as good as the one on Dogs that I finished not long ago. I'm telling you, if you love cats you will adore this book, and even if you don't you will still walk away never looking at them the same. I never really knew that cats could be such faithful companions. They definitely are not like dogs, and they certainly let you know that, but I have to admit they are a 'class act.' I'm so glad that I got to read this book and recommend it to all who want to know, just what is going on in the mind of your cat and why they do the things they do. Trust me, highly interesting and very entertaining, to say the least.

Great book! Fun and heartwarming read! Strongly recommended.

The Seven Day Year
John R. Karp
LuLu Co.
9781435724730 $14.95

It isn't often that I get to settle down and curl up with a book that takes me back in time, but not too far, just far enough to remember the good-old days with a smile. In this outstanding book by author, John R. Karp, we are taken to the summer of 1946 in the life of the Kilroy family. Mom, dad, sister and brother, this family brought to memory many similar days that I have known in the past, and treasure in my heart even now.

We start out in this story becoming familiar with the different personalities of our family. Jackie, our main character, a young boy who is experiencing the joy of his youth, mom, ever ready to make peace and the glue that holds the family together, (sound familiar), Dad, hard working and a bit bull-headed, but a good provider, husband, and father, and sister, Lucille, a young lady definitely not wanting to be bothered by her silly little brother, or his friends. Add into the mix Jackie's friend, Kuter and you have the perfect group for one wild week at Cranberry Pond. What is Cranberry Pond? A place this family goes to every year to enjoy a week of boating, swimming and relaxing by a pond in a cozy cabin. I remember going to one similar during my own childhood and I loved the way the author brought this place to life, right down to the owner, Moody. A man who had quite a past and who shared many of his stories with Jackie and Kuter, and you the reader. Interesting man and a plus to the storyline.

We also meet Uncle Buster and Aunt Gert, who come to spend a few days with Jackie and his family. Talk about adding color to the read, this couple will have you giggling all over the pages with their antics, personalities, and behavior. Throw in Kuter being trapped in a snapping turtle den, a deputy shooting the Sheriff's big toe, and Uncle Buster and Aunt Gert running around in wooden shoes and you get the picture of this wild weekend. Of course before you even take that ride you are given the treat of meeting some of Jackie's, to say the least, strange neighbors in his hometown. Take the family that lives next door who seem to enjoy battling with each other more than life itself, and you go through the horror of Jackie accidently shooting out a neighbor's window with a BB gun borrowed by Kuter just a few days before their trip to Cranberry Pond. However, quite an interesting development happens that was definitely a life-saving situation for the two young boys in this situation.

I have to say that I absolutely loved this book. The entire story took me back to a time that filled my heart with giggles I had long forgotten. It is a story of humor, family, adventures and pure reading enjoyment. This book is a must read, well done, and will leave you with a smile and a skip in your heart. I am proud to give it my highest recommendation. Excellent.

Hearts of Stone
Kate Gessner
Author House Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781438929118 $10.99

Have you ever heard of the 'Night Watchmen'? Those who the Lord assigns to warn , sound the alarm and proclaim events about to take place, or dangers lurking around the corner. Have you ever had a dream that you cannot forget, one so vivid that you replay it over and over again in your mind? What happens when your dreams become reality, but no one will listen? What happens when warnings are shown to you for our world but a deaf ear is turned to them? This is the problem our author faces in her life as she is one who receives dreams from the Lord to warn mankind.

In this work, "Hearts of Stone," Kate shares with the reader the beginning of her life with dreams, the content of many, and how she desperately tried to share the warnings she received but meet on most occasions a brick wall. She opens her heart as she takes us on her journey to understand why she was given these dreams, and finally her acceptance that God would take them where they need to go, and would allow them to be heard by those who need to hear. She realized that she could not make mankind accept or understand what was being given to her, she was only, as they say, the mail man with a letter that could be read or thrown away unopened.

I know from experience and being in the ministry for over thirty-years that God does indeed speak through dreams and visions. I feel something's can be prevented or at least lessened through prayer and repentance, although I fully understand that there are events that must take place in these times, and nothing will prevent their happening. We may not always understand the ways of God, but we need to be open to Him. It is His choice who He uses and His way of delivering His messages.

I appreciate, Kate, and her commitment to the Lord, her courage to keep going forward, and her love for God. It isn't easy to be a spokesman and one who rings the siren, but through Kate's heart of devotion and trust in a God who is always there, she will carry on until His return. Final words: God does speak to His creation, we just need to listen. A book well worth your time. God bless you Kate! Keep looking up!

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Surviving Life as a Dumbass
Michael E. Webster
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595470785, $16.95,

Stupidity only has to be a temporary thing. Some people are never cured. "Surviving Life as a Dumbass: It Doesn't Have to be a Life Sentence" follows Navy man and college graduate Michael E. Webster as he screws up his life as a slacker, alcoholic, obese loser of a man. It took a long time for him to realize his mistakes, but he doesn't shy away from them. "Surviving Life as a Dumbass" is an enlightening read.

Far From Beyond
Rick Ng
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595478361, $15.95,

Irony is used as humor, but it isn't very funny for David Onslow. "Far From Beyond" is a thriller following the successful medical scientist David, who has found he has an extra chromosome, creating a growth in his brain that will soon kill him. Before he can be treated, his doctors meet violence, with one of them winding up dead. Onslow, trying to race against time, finds himself a fugitive of the law, with the mysteries piling up far faster than he can solve them. "Far From Beyond" is an exciting thriller that draws very well from the author's expertise.

The Way
Robert H. Johnston
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
0595411568, $12.95,

Agnostics have much to teach about religion. "The Way: The Spiritual Journey, the Path to Glory" is the testimony of one man reaching out to his faith much more than he used to. Placing experience over achievement in the value of one's life, Johnston has a very positive message in the book, that encourages readers to better embrace Christ. "The Way" is a strong pick for Christian readers who want to increase the importance of faith in their lives.

G. Lloyd Helm
Publish America
P.O. Box 151 Frederick, MD 21705
1413775772, $24.95,

Sometimes concepts are forgotten in time, and sometimes they are recovered once more. "Design" is the latest novel from experienced science fiction writer G. Lloyd Helm. The story centers around a planet's rulership and a lost book about the concept of 'Design'. Mysterious circumstances push key people around, and the world of Javi may never be the same. "Design" is a novel meant to make readers think, and it achieves that quite well.

John Taylor

Vicki's Bookshelf

Tales from Outer Suburbia
Shaun Tan
AAL / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545055871 $19.99

An exchange student who's really an alien, a secret room that becomes the perfect place for a quick escape, a typical tale of grandfatherly exaggeration that is actually even more bizarre than he says... These are the odd details of everyday life that grow and take on an incredible life of their own in tales and illustrations that Shaun Tan's many fans will love. Cerebral, emotional and endlessly inventive, "Tales from Outer Suburbia" is another brilliant visual work to stimulate brains of all ages from the creator of the affecting book "The Arrival."

Books of Umber: Happenstance Found
P.W. Catanese
1230 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416975199 $16.99

Twelve-year-old Happenstance awakens in a cave with no memory of who he is or how he came to be there. Soon a mysterious trio arrives to take him away: the explorer Umber, the shy archer Sophie, and Oates, whose strength and honesty are both brutal. Hap and his new acquaintances narrowly escape the cavernous underworld and make their way to Lord Umber's bustling jewel of a harbor city, Kurahaven. Once there, Hap learns that Lord Umber is an extraordinary man -- he's a merchant, adventurer, inventor, royal adviser, and chronicler of all things monstrous and magical. But Umber's accomplishments can't answer the question closest to the boy's heart: Who is Happenstance? Desperate to uncover clues in his new, baffling surroundings, Hap accompanies Umber on dangerous and unusual missions. But Hap soon learns that there are powerful enemies inside the kingdom, and a ruthless assassin is hot on his trail. Faced with many unknowns, Hap knows one thing is certain: There's a reason Umber has chosen him...if only he could determine it. P. W. Catanese's richly spun fantasy chronicles one boy's quest for answers and hope in a world riddled by knowledge and power corrupted.

Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Hatchling
Kathryn Lasky
Blackstone Audiobooks
P.O. Box 969, Ashland OR 97520
9781433226229 $29.99

In the seventh book of Kathryn Lasky's "Guardians of GaHoole" series for tweens, a hatchling has been born: Nyroc, son of Kludd, the fallen leader of the Pure Ones. Nyra, his mate, is determined that her hatchling, Nyroc, will fulfill his father's terrible destiny: the vicious oppression of all the owl kingdoms. But Nyroc is a poor student of evil. A light grows in his heart, fed by scraps of forbidden legends of nobel owls living in pease, and strange news of a place where goodness and nobility reign. He must summon all his courage to defy his destiny -- and the embodiment of evil that is his mother. This unabridged edition read by Pamela Garelick is on five CDs with tracks every three minutes for easy bookmarking

Patricia A. McKillip
Blackstone Audiobooks
P.O. Box 969, Ashland OR 97520
9781433223983 $59.99

Brenden Vetch has a gift that connects him to the agricultural world, nurturing gardens to flourish and instinctively knowing the healing properties each plant and herb has to offer. Receiving a personal invitation from the wizard Od to become a gardener for her school in the great city of Kelior, he finds a home among every potential wizard who must be trained to serve the Kingdom of Numis. But unknown to the reigning monarchy is the power possessed by the school's new gardener-a power that even Brenden isn't fully aware of, and which is the true reason Od recruited him. This unabridged edition read by Gabrielle DeCuir is on 10 CDs with tracks every three minutes for easy bookmarking.

Marvels in the Muck: Life in the Salt Marshes
Doug Wechsler
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church St., Honesdale, Penn. 18431
9781590785881 $17.95

Not far from most ocean beaches lie beautiful salt marshes that grow in the bays that form behind ocean beaches and where rivers flow into the sea. Twice a day, ocean tides roll in, mixing salt water with fresh water. And twice a day, the tides flow out again, exposing the marsh's muddy bottom, thick with plants and crawling with food for birds and other predators. This place is home to a riot of birds, reptiles, crabs, insects, and other creatures. They've adapted to the muddy and salty habitat. The salt marsh is not so friendly to humans, but it's the only place to be for many creatures and plants. Breathtaking photographs and fascinating facts reveal the secrets of the salt marsh and celebrate this squishy and surprising habitat.

Ocean Liners
Karl Zimmermann
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church St., Honesdale, Penn. 18431
9781590785522 $17.95

Ocean liners, those majestic and glamorous passenger ships, once sailed all the world's seas. The busiest route of all, known as the 'Atlantic Ferry,' crossed the North Atlantic. The liners that sailed there played important roles in times of both peace and war. Ships such as England's Britannia, Holland's Statendam, and Germany's Amerika transported the rich and famous, as well as millions of immigrants to North America. The Titanic, among the most famous of ocean liners, steamed into legend on the night of April 14, 1912, when it collided with an iceberg. Other liners, such as the Luisitania and the Normandie, were destroyed during the two world wars. Over time, airplanes changed the nature of travel - and the role of the ocean liners.The last of the great ships that had been built for transportation turned to offering passengers the pleasures of cruising. Today's cruise ships are dramatically different from the liners of old. Bigger than ever, they are like small cities on the water. From the Great Britain, perhaps the first great ocean liner, launched in 1843, to today's Freedom of the Seas, which has fifteen decks and carries 4,375 passengers, Karl Zimmermann tells the fascinating story of ocean liners - their history, development, and culture - through an informative text and a rich array of photographs.

The Musician's Daughter
Suzanne Dunlap
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
1599903326 $16.99

Murder and love -- from the halls of Vienna's imperial family to a perilous gypsy camp Amid the glamour of Prince Nicholas Esterhazy's court in 18th-century Vienna, murder is afoot. Or so fifteen-year-old Theresa Maria is convinced when her musician father turns up dead on Christmas Eve, his valuable violin missing, and the only clue to his death a strange gold pendant around his neck. Then her father's mentor, the acclaimed composer Franz Joseph Haydn, helps her through a difficult time by making her his copyist and giving her insight in to her father's secret life. It's there that Theresa begins to uncover a trail of blackmail and extortion, even as she discovers honor -- and the possibility of a first, tentative love. Thrumming with the weeping strains of violins, as well as danger and deception, this is an engrossing tale of murder, romance, and music that readers will find hard to forget.

The Wild West
Allison Lassier
Capstone Press
151 Good Counsel Dr., P.O. Box 669, Mankato, Minn. 56002
9781429623421 $27.99 (list), $20.99 (school/library)

This "You Choose Book" is one in a series of four interactive history books, that allow readers to explore multiple perspectives and learn for themselves the value of seeing history from many points of view. This series includes "The Wild West," "The Civil Rights Movement," "The Dust Bowl," and "World War II" and all feature three main story paths with 12-20 possible endings; photos and art; introduction to set the scene and provide context; and an overview of the event or era. "The Wild West" is set in 1876 and provides the reader with destination and destiny choices such as whether to tame the Wild West as a lawman, steal a fortune as an outlaw, or head to Dakota Territory to try to strike it rich. An engaging method of teaching history by putting the reader in the driver's set.

Yourspace: Questioning New Media
Heather E. Schwartz
Capstone Press
151 Good Counsel Dr., P.O. Box 669, Mankato, Minn. 56002
9781429619936 $23.93 (list), $17.95 (school/library)

Two new titles in Capstone's Media Literacy series - "Yourspace: Questioning New Media" and "What's Your Source: Questioning the News" -- give young readers the tools they need to evaluate the barrage of media messages that reach them every day. Value assumptions, product placements and cues to act are embedded in each media message. This fun series embraces media as entertaining and useful but also empowers readers as they learn a systematic way to question pop culture and to recognize how influential media messages are. "Yourspace", for instance, focuses on how media messages from cell phones, MP3 players, and the internet influence what you wear, what you buy and even how you talk, so readers can intelligently evaluate media messages.

Bring Me Some Apples and I'll Make You a Pie
Robbin Gourley
Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin
251 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10003
9780618158362 $16

Long before the natural-food movement gained popularity, before greenmarkets sprouted across the United States, Edna Lewis championed purity of ingredients, regional cuisine, and the importance of bringing food directly from the farm to the table. She was a chef when female chefs -- let alone African American female chefs -- were few and far between, and she received many awards for her work. With lyrical text and glorious watercolor illustrations, author/illustrator Robbin Gourley lovingly traces the childhood roots of Edna's appreciation for the bounties of nature. The story follows Edna from early spring through the growing season to a family dinner celebrating a successful harvest. Folk rhymes, sayings, and songs about food are sprinkled throughout the text, and five kid-friendly recipes and an author's note about Edna's life are included at the end.

Mars and the Search for Life
Elaine Scott
Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin
251 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10003
9780618766956 $17

Despite the fondest desires of science fiction fans, everyone knows Mars isn't inhabited by little green men. In fact, Mars is a desolate, hostile world, with unbearably cold temperatures, no atmosphere to speak of, and violent dust storms. But could there ever have been life there, in some form? And if so, what happened to it? And could life exist there again one day? Maybe even human life? Elaine Scott takes readers on a journey through history and space and then into an exciting future as she explores the growing body of evidence that water -- and therefore the potential for life -- was present on Mars at one time. Even more titillating, the possibility of human habitation now hovers on the horizon, maybe within the next 30 years -- an exciting prospect for young readers, some of whom may be among those first colonists.

1963 Birmingham Church Bombing
Lisa Klobuchar
Compass Point Books
7825 Telegraph Road, Bloomington, MN 55438
9780756540920 $24.99 (school/library)

"1963 Birmingham Church Bombing: The Ku Klux Klan's History of Terror" is one of four new titles in the "Snapshots in History" series for grades 6 through 8. Each book combines historical photographs, eyewitness accounts, maps, and primary-source documents to tell highly-narrative, gripping accounts detailing major and frequently controversial events in U.S. and world history. "1963 Birmingham Church Bombing" is a thoughtful telling of the savage time when America's most violent, shadowy racist organization terrorized African Americans. Specifically, the book focuses its lens on the tragic death of four young girls who were preparing for their church worship service in Alabama's Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, when a KKK bomb blew the building apart. The devastating event gave momentum to the civil rights movement, leading to the passage of important federal civil rights laws. Other new books in the "Snapshots" series are "The Bataan Death March: World War II Prisoners in the Pacific," "Dred Scott v. Sandford: A Slave's Case for Freedom and Citizenship," and "Tiananmen Square: Massacre Crushes China's Democracy Movement."

Teens in Pakistan
J.M. Bedell
Compass Point Books
7825 Telegraph Road, Bloomington, MN 55438
9780756540432 $24.99 (library price)

Designed with today's reader in mind, the "Global Connections" series offers a new twist on traditional country books. Told from the perspective of the readers' peers - and delivered with maps, indigenous language definitions, pronunciation guides, and key statistical reporting data - the series provide an attractive, interesting and personal look at world geography and contemporary culture. Titles include "Teens in Argentina," "Teens in Greece," "Teens in Pakistan," and "Teens in Thailand." For school library and institutional use targeting ages 10 to 12, grades five through seven.

Nikola Tesla
Michael Burgan
Compass Point Books
7825 Telegraph Road, Bloomington, MN 55438
8790756540869 $25.99 (school library price)

With more than 100 titles, Compass Point's "Signature Lives: Modern America" series presents stories of significant lives that changed the world. The 112-page biographies detail the events and eras that drove the actions of each historic individual; the newest subjects are poet/activist Maya Angelou, chemist Percy Lavon Julian, and physicist Nikola Tesla. Teslas' biography, for instance, delves into the dramatic period in late 19th Century United States history when advances in technology and society itself transformed lives, and how Tesla's 20th century inventions - including the alternating current electric power system that lights the world today - proved to be so revolutionary. Rich back matter includes a subject-specific timeline with a world timeline, source notes, select bibliography, glossary and index.

3 Willows
Ann Brashares
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385736763 $18.99

"The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" continues in this spin-off coming-of-age novel about a trio of different young teen girls. Polly has an idea that she can't stop thinking about, one that involves changing a few things about herself. She's setting her sights on a more glamorous life, but it's going to take all of her focus. At least that way she won't have to watch her friends moving so far ahead. Jo is spending the summer at her family's beach house, working as a busgirl and bonding with the older, cooler girls she'll see at high school come September. She didn't count on a brief fling with a cute boy changing her entire summer. Or feeling embarrassed by her middle school friends. And she didn't count on her family at all. Ama is not an outdoorsy girl. She wanted to be at an academic camp, doing research in an air-conditioned library, earning A's. Instead her summer scholarship lands her on a wilderness trip full of flirting teenagers, blisters, impossible hiking trails, and a sad lack of hair products. It's a new summer, a new sisterhood, and a new set of characters for a new audience: middle school girls.

Hollywood & Maine
Allison Whittenberg
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385736718 $15.99

With a new boyfriend, her own room (finally!), and a modeling agency trying to convince her to sign with them, Charmaine Upshaw's life is just about perfect. But a surprising face appears at the dinner table: ex-con Uncle E. Uncle E skipped town a few months ago after Charmaine's parents put up $1000 bail, leaving them in a bind that forced her mom to go back to work. Mom and Dad seem happy to see Uncle E, and her little live-in cousin Tracy John thinks he's the greatest thing since sliced bread. But Charmaine is not fooled. Meanwhile, Charmaine struggles in her first romance and ponders the idea of taking Hollywood by storm. Does she have what it takes to see her name in lights? Only if she can survive the 10th grade. . .

Kisses and Lies
Lauren Henderson
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385734899 $16.99

After discovering that someone saw what looked like Dan's emergency EpiPen in A-lister Plum's designer handbag, Scarlett and her tough American sidekick, Taylor, sneak into a posh London nightclub, where Plum has a private table. Scarlett is stunned to discover a piece of evidence that might implicate another girl in Plum's exclusive circle, Lucy Raleigh. Which means Scarlett must cast a wider net in order to catch the right suspect. Back at school, groundskeeper Jase is hoping to take Scarlett's mind off her troubles with some heart-stopping kisses. Scarlett can't help but feel guilty for indulging in romantic rendezvous when she should be hunting down Dan's killer. However, once Scarlett finds out how Lucy is connected to Dan, she knows she must drop everything and travel to the McAndrew estate in Scotland to hunt for more clues. But when she arrives, Scarlett becomes the target of a dangerous hunt herself.

The Last Synapsid
Timothy Mason
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385735810 $15.99

Faith, Colorado, doesn't get many visitors. But this spring, a mysterious creature is lurking on the mountain. Fiercer than a mountain lion, it's been hunting pets and leaving their remains scattered over the mountainside. But what is it, and what does it want? Only Rob and his best friend, Phoebe, are brave enough to investigate. What they find on the mountain is the Last Synapsid - a squat, drooly creature that looks like a dinosaur crossed with a wienerdog - that claims to need Rob and Phoebe's help. Having wandered into a time snag from his own era, 30 million years before the dinosaurs, "Sid" is chasing a violent carnivore called a gorgonopsid. The Gorgon has become fascinated by humanity and refuses to return to his proper place in time. But if he doesn't, history will re-align, humans will never evolve, and Rob and Phoebe will end up as nothing more than characters in an elderly synapsid's dream. For ages 8-12.

Michelle Baldini and Lynn Biederman
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385735407 $15.99

"The smart thing is to prepare for the unexpected." So reads the fortune cookie fortune that Amanda receives at the beginning of her family's vacation to Florida. Amanda knows all about preparing for the unexpected -- her mother, whom she calls The Captain, is always hard on Amanda, and it's just when Amanda lets her guard down that the very worst comes through. Looking for acceptance, Amanda turns her attention to boys, and doing whatever she can to be popular at school. That includes making out with the gorgeous senior Rick in his car after school -- even though he has a girlfriend. And when Rick offers her The Deal -- a real, official date to the Homecoming in front of everyone, in exchange for her virginity -- Amanda jumps at the chance. But no matter how you try to prepare for the unexpected, sometimes you can't. Sharp, chatty, and brutally honest, this debut novel is compulsively readable and heartbreakingly real.

Animal Life
Charlotte Uhlenbroek, editor
375 Hudson St., NY, NY, 10014
9780756639860 $50

Do you really know what makes animals tick? Here are the answers, portrayed in awe-inspiring action sequences and explained in in-depth prose. Thematically arranged by behavior trait, "Animal Life" explores and explains every aspect of animal behavior, including courtship rituals and sex lives, family relationships and defense mechanisms, hunting techniques and feeding habits. Side panels explore some of the field research on animal behavior and explain important conservation issues. The introductory chapters on the Animal Kingdom and on animal anatomy help explain how different animals have evolved and adapted to their environments, adaptations that may be relevant to particular behaviors. Destined to be the ultimate authority on animal behavior, this book also looks at key behavioral concepts such as how animals learn to behave and the role of instinct in the learning process. "Animal Life" is an American Museum & Natural History book edited by Charlotte Uhlenbroek, who spent four years in the forests of Gombe, Tanzania, completing her doctorate in chimpanzee communication under the auspices of world-famous Jane Goodall.

Thomas Marent
375 Hudson St., NY, NY, 10014
9780756641320 $30

"Frog" is a celebration of the fascinating range of the planet's frogs and toads. Published to coincide with Amphibian Ark's "Year of the Frog" and designed to build awareness of environmental change causing many species of amphibians to disappear at an alarming rate. The aim of the year's campaign is to generate awareness to the greatest species conservation challenge in history. Author/photographer Thomas Marent -- author of "Rainforest" (2006) and "Butterfly" (2008) -- started photographing natural history subjects, particularly birds and butterflies, in the mountains of his native Switzerland.

The Adventurous Deeds of Deadwood Jones
Helen Hemphill
Front Street
20 Battery Park Ave., Asheville, NC 28801
9781590786376 $16.95

When Prometheus Jones wins a horse with a raffle ticket he got from Pernie Boyd and LaRue Dill, he knows things won't go smoothly. No way are those two rednecks going to let a black man, even a freeman from the day of his birth, keep that horse. So as soon as things get ugly, he jumps on the horse, pulls his cousin Omer up behind him, and heads off. They hook up with a cattle drive out of Texas heading for Deadwood, South Dakota. Prometheus is a fine hand with a horse and not so bad with a gun, and both skills prove useful as the trip north throws every twist and turn imaginable at the young cowpokes.

Star Wars the Clone Wars: Paper Model-Making Kit
G.P. Putnam's Sons / Penguin Putnam
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780448450049 $19.99

This Klutz-like gift package is a sure-fire winner for young "Star Wars" fans, especially those now hooked on the new, popular "Clone Wars" series. This put-it-together-yourself kit is pure simplicity, to be sure. No bells and whistles here, just a basic a paper model making kit for three out-of-this-world characters: R2-D2, an AT-TE walker and a clone trooper's helmet. Each model has a slightly different degree of difficulty, so kids (and their own parental Jedi Master parental units) can work their way up from Padawan to Jedi Knight to the ultimate master of the universe. Sort of. Basically you just press out the card pieces and clip them together. Like I said, it's a simple concept for simple fun. So simple, it's best for tots as young as three. Nice oversized bookshelf design for packing it all up again for another day.

Boy Minus Girl
Richard Uhlig
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375839689 $15.99

Les wants the girl. He thinks she's amazing, exotic, perfect. But he doesn't know how to talk to her, kiss her, or make her realize that he's the best and only guy for her in the whole wide world. Once he masters these things, she'll be his! Easy-peasy, right? The gulf between dream girl and real girl is explored and made somewhat less vast in this bawdy yet romantic not-quite-coming-of-age. Teens will relate to 14-year-old Les's hilarious and squirmy longings, and the fulsomely awkward efforts he puts forth to make his real life match his fantasies. The story also portrays the perils of unexamined hero-worship, and the strength and humanity of people that may seem plain and boring, but who stand up for what is right when called upon to do so. It is a tale both hilarious and thoughtful, in which, to paraphrase the old Rolling Stones adage, one boy figures out that even if you indeed can't always get what you want, if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need.

The Devil's Paintbox
Victoria McKernan
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375837500 $16.99

When orphans Aiden and Maddy Lynch first meet trail-rider Jefferson J. Jackson in the spring of 1865, they're struggling to survive on their family's drought-ravaged Kansas farm. So when Jackson offers an escape -- a 2000-mile journey across the roughest country in the world -- Aiden knows it's their only choice. They say there are a hundred ways to die on the Oregon Trail, and the long wagon journey is broken only by catastrophe: wolf attacks, rattlesnakes, deadly river crossings, Indians, and the looming threat of smallpox, "the devil's paint." Through it all, Aiden and Maddy and a hundred fellow travelers move forward with a growing hope, and the promise of a new life in the Washington Territory. But one question haunts them: who will survive the journey? In an adventure-filled and historically accurate new novel, Victoria McKernan captures both the peril and the stunning beauty of the frontier West.

Carl Hiaasen
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375834868 $16.99

Mrs. Bunny Starch, the most feared biology teacher ever, was last seen during a field trip to Black Vine Swamp. The school's headmaster and the police seem to have accepted the sketchy, unsigned note explaining that her absence is due to a "family emergency." There's no real evidence of foul play. But still, Nick and Marta don't buy it. Something weird is definitely going on. Bestselling author Carl Hiaasen is a columnist for the Miami Herald and is the author of many bestselling books, including "Sick Puppy," "Nature Girl," "Hoot" and "The Downhill Lie." He lives in Florida.

Drummer Boy
Loren Long
Philomel / Penguin
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399251740 $17.99

In a wintry little town, a drummer boy appears on a child's doorstep. And when it is still and quiet, the drummer boy plays, boom pum pum boom pum, and warms the child's heart. But one day the drummer boy is accidentally knocked into the trash, sending him on a journey he never imagined - a journey on which he continues to play his drum, warming the hearts of others, from a rat to an owl to a snowman. And in a touching conclusion, his own heart is warmed as he plays to his most perfect audience: the baby in a manger. Loren Long brings this story of an unforgettable little drummer boy to vivid life with his magical art.

Kimiko Kajikawa
Philomel / Penguin
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399250064 $16.99

Ojiisan, the oldest and wealthiest man in the village, doesn't join the others at the rice ceremony. Instead he watches from his balcony. He feels something is coming -- something he can't describe. When he sees the monster wave pulling away from the beach, he knows. Tsunami! But the villagers below can't see the danger. Will Ojiisan risk everything he has to save them? Can he? Illustrated in stunning collage by Caldecott winner Ed Young, here is the unforgettable story of how one man's simple sacrifice saved hundreds of lives. An extraordinary celebration of both the power of nature and the power each of us holds within.

I Want to be Free
Joseph Slate, E.B. Lewis
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399243424 $16.99

The moving, poetic text of this Black History Month picture book release is based on a story from the sacred literature of Buddha. In it, a runaway slave has broken the chains that bound him, but as he sets out for the land of the free, he still carries the weight of an iron ring around his ankle. As long as it remains, and as long as the Big Man hunts him, he'll never truly be free. But rescuing an orphaned slave child from certain capture gives him the strength to keep moving on, and miraculously, the child's love and gratitude are all that is needed to destroy the shackle once and for all. A powerful story, beautifully rendered.

River of Dreams: The Story of the Hudson River
Hudson Talbott
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399245213 $17.99

The Hudson River has been a source of inspiration and a means of livelihood to all who have lived along its shores. It played a key role in the settling of the New World and the outcome of the Revolutionary War, and was the birthplace of the environmental movement. Now Hudson Talbott pays homage to the river that shares his name in a gorgeously illustrated, fascinating account of the river's history. Each appealing spread sheds exciting light on the river's strategic, economic and cultural significance. Packed with facts, timelines and maps, this is a wonderful introduction to a wide range of topics including the Age of Exploration, the Erie Canal, the Industrial Age, American arts and literature and the environment.

The Black Stallion and the Shape-shifter
Steven Farley
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375845314 $15.99

After being injured while racing in Ireland's famous Foster Stakes, the Black and Alec head to the Irish coast to recuperate. While there, they are charmed by the pleasant people and intrigued by tales of the kelpie, a shape-shifting creature of myth who carries unsuspecting riders off to a watery grave. Alec meets a lonely local girl, Mora, who has found a stray pony. Alec, recognizing her love of horses, teaches her to ride. But when Mora disappears, Alec realizes that she has been carried off by the mythical kelpie. Now, Alec and the Black must race the shape-shifter, not realizing that if they lose, not only will Mora be lost forever, but so will the Black. Author Steve Farley is the son of Walter Farley, the man who created the Black Stallion and wrote 20 stories about the best-loved literary horse of all time.

Bones of Faerie
Janni Lee Simmer
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375845635 $16.99

Janni Lee Simner's first novel for young adults is a dark fairy-tale twist on apocalyptic fiction -- as familiar as a nightmare, yet altogether unique.

The war between humanity and Faerie devastated both sides. Or so 15-year-old Liza has been told. Nothing has been seen or heard from Faerie since, and Liza's world bears the scars of its encounter with magic. Trees move with sinister intention, and the town Liza calls home is surrounded by a forest that threatens to harm all those who wander into it. Then Liza discovers she has the Faerie ability to see -- into the past, into the future -- and she has no choice but to flee her town. Liza's quest will take her into Faerie and back again, and what she finds along the way may be the key to healing both worlds.

Moonlight on the Magic Flute
Mary Pope Osborne
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375856464 $11.99

In their latest "Magic Tree House" adventure, Jack and Annie head to 18th-century Austria, where they must find and help a musician by the name of Mozart. Decked out in the craziest outfits they've ever worn - including a wig for Jack and a giant hoopskirt for Annie -- the two siblings search an entire palace to no avail. Their hunt is further hampered by the appearance of a mischievous little boy who is determined to follow them everywhere. But when the boy lets the animals out of the palace zoo, Jack and Annie have to use the only magic at their disposal to save themselves and the naughty little fellow.

Here Lies Arthur
Philip Reeve
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545093347 $17.99

Gwynna is just a girl who is forced to run when her village is attacked and burns to the ground. To her horror, she is discovered in the wood. But it is Myrddin the bard who has found her, a traveler and spinner of tales. He agrees to protect Gwynna if she will agree to be bound in service to him. Gwynna is frightened but intrigued, and says yes for this. Myrddin serves the young, rough, and powerful Arthur. In the course of their travels, Myrddin transforms Gwynna into the mysterious Lady of the Lake, a boy warrior, and a spy. It is part of a plot to transform Arthur from the leader of a ragtag war band into King Arthur, the greatest hero of all time. If Gwynna and Myrrdin's trickery is discovered, what will become of Gwynna? Worse, what will become of Arthur? Only the endless battling, the mighty belief of men, and the sheer cunning of one remarkable girl will tell.

Skeleton Creek
Patrick Carman
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545075664 $14.99

Strange things are happening in Skeleton Creek . . . and Ryan and Sarah are trying to get to the heart of it. But after an eerie accident leaves Ryan housebound and forbidden to see Sarah, their investigation takes two tracks: Ryan records everything in his journal, while Sarah uses her videocam to search things out. . .and then email the clips for Ryan to see. In a new, groundbreaking format, the story is broken into two parts -- Ryan's text in the book, and Sarah's videos on a special website, with links and passwords given throughout the book. An ingenious print/video hybrid perfectly designed to catch the attention of new media savvy tweens.

The Sword Thief
Peter Lerangis
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545060431 $12.99

"The Sword Thief" is the third book in the "The 39 Clues" series, but it's more than a book in a series where a different noted children's author contributes a title. It's a lottery card in a solve-the-mystery game where readers piece together the clues through the books, a growing set of trading cards with extra leads, and an interactive game at With more than $100,000 worth of prizes at stake, readers are easily hooked - and the fast-paced story doesn't let them down. In book three by Peter Lerangis, Amy and Dan Cahill have been located once again, this time in the company of the notoriously unreliable Alistair Oh. Could they have been foolish enough to make an alliance? Spies report that Amy and Dan seem to be tracking the life of one of the most powerful fighters the world has ever known. If this fearsome warrior was a Cahill, his secrets are sure to be well-guarded . . . and the price to uncover them just might be lethal. Coming next in the ten book series: book four on June 2 by Jude Watson; and book five on August 11 by Patrick Carman.

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things
Lenore Look and LeUyen Pham
Schwartz & Wade Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375839146 $15.99

Alvin Ho is an Asian American second grader who is afraid of everything -- elevators, tunnels, girls, and, most of all, school. He's so afraid of school that, while he's there, he never, ever, says a word. But at home he's a very loud, always-talking superhero named Firecracker Man, a brother to Calvin and Anibelly, and a gentleman-in-training, so he can be just like his dad. Between being a superhero and a brother, he's got a lot to say. From the author of the ALA Notable "Ruby Lu" series for middle grade girls, comes a funny and touching chapter book for everyone, especially boys and beginning and reluctant readers -- that introduces a truly unforgettable character. This is the first in a new series.

Lincoln through the Lens
Martin W. Sandler
Walker & Company
175 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10010
0802796664 $19.99

He was born in the backwoods of Kentucky in a humble log cabin, but Abraham Lincoln was savvy enough to embrace the new technology of his time -- photography -- to propel him all the way to the White House. This simple man with lofty goals was willing to use any means necessary, including the power of photography, to save the union and free the slaves -- leaving behind an unmatched legacy of sacrifice, service, and achievement.

More than one hundred images of Lincoln's life and times provide a complete portrait of this revered president and the events that defined him. From the only confirmed existing picture of Lincoln before the historic Gettysburg Address to his second inauguration -- where he is unknowingly surrounded by John Wilkes Booth and his coconspirators -- to the execution of his murderers, this eye-opening, inspiring visual journey provides a fresh take on one of the most documented and beloved figures in American history.

Peter Rabbit Baby Book
Beatrix Potter
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780723262848 $12.99

In this book parents can record every significant event in their child's first year of life. Illustrated with Beatrix Potter's classic drawings, and with many spaces for photographs and three envelopes in which to store keepsake items, this baby book will bring joy and memories for a lifetime. Illustrated in an invitingly soft artwork style, this beautifully designed book is also part of the launch of the publishing program for "Peter Rabbit . . . Naturally Better," a new initiative which promotes books and products that are made from safe, recyclable, sustainable and ethically responsible sources.

Alligator Bayou
Donna Jo Napoli
Wendy Lamb Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385746540 $16.99

In 1899, Calogero, his uncles, and cousins are six Sicilian men living in the small town of Tallulah, Louisiana. They work hard, growing vegetables and selling them at their stand and in their grocery store. To 14-year-old Calogero, newly arrived from Sicily, Tallulah is a lush world full of contradictions, hidden rules, and tension between the Negro and white communities. He's startled and thrilled by the danger of a 'gator hunt in the midnight bayou, and by his powerful feelings for Patricia, a sharp-witted, sweet-natured Negro girl. Some people welcome the Sicilians. Most do not. Calogero's family is caught in the middle: the whites don't see them as equal, but befriending Negroes is dangerous. Every day brings Calogero and his family closer to a a terrifying, violent confrontation. Author Donna Jo Napoli is the award-winning author of many distinguished books for young readers, among them "The King of Mulberry Street" and "Daughter of Venice."

Sunny Side Up
Marion Roberts
Wendy Lamb Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385736725 $15.99

Start with one quiet, perfect life. Add: Mum's new boyfriend, his two kids, one best friend (with a big crush), one sworn enemy, and a long-lost grandmother. Flavor with a dash of laughter, a pinch of jealousy, and plenty of secrets. Cook on high all summer long. .. . . Eleven-year-old Sunny (short for Sunday) is an only child, an introvert, a dog lover, and part owner of Pizza-a-Go-Girl. She and her mum live near the beach in Australia. Good thing, because this summer is one long heat wave. But the temperature isn't the only thing that's making Sunny hot: her perfect life is about to change in a million ways! First-time author Marion Roberts has worked as a chef and taught people how to cook, but started writing because she wanted a job she could do in her pajamas.

Vicki Arkoff
Senior Reviewer

Vogel's Bookshelf

Opening Africa
Philo & M.J. Pullinco
MPI Publishing
9780954490621, $8.99,

Africa is painted as a horrible place by many, but there is still much hope to be embraced in the culture of its people. "Opening Africa: From Finding Obama's Tribe to Founding Nairobi" is a memoir of the travels of James Martin, a man who did much to try to forge a stronger bond between Africa and the western world. Learning African languages and its many cultures throughout it, the story is both about Martin and the continent he learned to call home. "Opening Africa" is utterly fascinating reading, a strong choice to any who want to better understand Africa.

The Thought Diet
Neil A. Hansen
Privately Published
9780615207483, $19.95,

Think fat, you'll stay fat. "The Thought Diet: The Mental Steps to Achieving the Body You Want" is a look at how the mind plays a huge role in weight loss. A healthy emotional and mental well-being is needed to give the body the signals it needs to burn calories and fat, lest it be panicked and use its instinctual desire to retain weight, fearful for survival. A fine and intriguing read, far more than number crunching with calories on the road to weight loss, "The Thought Diet" is a must for anyone who has tried everything and failed to lose weight.

Time And Fevers
E. M. Schorb
Author House
1663 Liberty Dr, #200, Bloomington, IN 47403
1418406627, $27.95,

One of the primary functions of poetry is to create within the mind and emotions of those who read or hear it seminal insights into themselves, the world, and existence itself, past, present or future. To be a first-class poet requires a fluency of language, mastery of a vocabulary sufficient to express seminal, original thoughts set down with rhythm, with imagery, and with descriptive evocation that communicates flawlessly with the recipient of the poetry of verse. Such is the case with the collected poetry of E. M. Schorb as compiled within the pages of "Time And Fevers: New And Selected Poems". Much (but not all) of his poetry has been previously published in a large number of diverse magazines and journals. A very highly recommended addition to personal, academic, and community library American Poetry collections, "Time And Fevers" is an award-winning anthology that will aptly serve to introduce Schorb to a wider and equally appreciative audience. 'Poetry in Motion': It was disheartening when physics told us / the universe was alien, indifferent. / I'm glad it's changed its doubting tune back to / the music of the spheres, of sorts; / especially now that I again see you / walking in the garden as you used to do / long, long ago. You haven't changed a bit-- / gripping your brocade with one small hand / and with the other feinting flowers at the bees. / I'd have thought that I'd gone made before, / but n more since the famous physicist has said, / upon accepting his Nobel, "It's poetry, / out there, and deep in here," pointing at his head. / "The microscope and telescope look in and out / but not across the warp and woof of time." / And that's where you go walking in the garden / (the garden of the old house that is gone, / the garden that's a parking lot downtown), / feinting at the bees with your hand of flowers / and lifting your brocaded summer gown.

Polk Gulch
Blaine Dixon
Privately Published
No ISBN, $36.95,

San Francisco was and continues to be a refuge city for gays. "Polk Gulch" is a compilation of photographs assembled by Blaine Dixon and showcasing the area of Polk Street between California Street and Geary that was the gathering place for the gay community prior to the establishment of the Castro District. This photographic record showcases Polk Gulch in its heyday in 1980 where a former colony of North Beach bohemians gave why to a neighborhood of gay bars, Halloween gay parades, a series of elegant restaurants and shops, as well as male prostitutes and drug addicts. A true collection of historical 'snap shops' which is also available in a hard cover edition ($49.95), "Polk Gulch" is a remarkable and memorable body of work which is especially recommended for personal and academic library Gay Studies collections and 20th Century American Photographic Studies collections.

The Rented Veil
Darryl Odom
Privately Published
Westwind Communications (publicity)
9781607250999, $14.95,

Throughout recorded Judeo-Christian history, the concept of donating a portion of our income (known as a tithe) to support our religious communities has been an obligation of the faithful. In "The Rented Veil: The High Cost Of Worship", author and minister Darryl Odom asserts that the notion that a 'tithe' is ten percent 'off the top' of one's income is a misunderstanding of the tithe as presented in the Bible. For Christians, the tithe is not a debt owed to God, but a freewill offering of ten percent of a person's 'increase' or profit. To support his premise Odom refers to the key verse of Deuteronomy 14:22 (KJV) as the basis for his interpretation. Highly recommended as thoughtful and thought-provoking reading, "The Rented Veil" also addresses such issues as the purpose of the tithe, saving and stewardship as holy obligations on the same plane as the tithe, building wealth, spending habits, and nine steps to financial success for the faithful Christian.

Paul T. Vogel

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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