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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 9, Number 4 April 2010 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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



Cowper's Bookshelf

Night Glitter
Jill Shure
Syntax Books
c/o The Bookmasters Group
30 Amberwood Parkway, PO Box 388, Ashland, OH 44805
Marich Communications (publicity)
7024 Melrose Avenue, Suite 310, Los Angeles, CA 90038
9780982410516, $14.95, www.syntaxbooks.com

The deadliest things have the prettiest faces. "Night Glitter" is a follow up to Jill Shure's previous novel Night jazz, as the protagonists fall upon the tough times of the 1930s and as Jeri is forced out of their New York hometown and finds herself in Hollywood and finds a more eventful life that she really wants, trading the New York underworld for the Hollywood underworld. "Night Glitter" is a riveting thriller and drama, and a top pick.

My Flag Grew Stars
Kitty Gogins
Privately Published
9781439258194, $18.99, www.kittygogins.books.officelive.com

World War II changed everything, both on a world level and a personal level. "My Flag Grew Stars: World War II Refugee's Journey to America" provides biographical insight into two teenagers in Olga Wagner and Tibor Zoltai, telling their tales of how they came to America after residing in a chaotic Europe for decades. A German conscript and someone who saw danger in remaining where they were, "My Flag Grew Stars" is an enlightening look at history on the personal level, highly recommended.

Reset Your Buttons
Mary Elizabeth Murphy
AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449006242, $14.99, www.starresources.biz

How you react is more important than a lot of things when dealing with people. "Reset Your Buttons" is a self-help guide form Mary Elizabeth Murphy as she urges people to reevaluate how they react to negative things in their life, or get their buttons pushed. With plenty of wise wisdom on how to condition oneself better, "Reset Your Buttons" is a solid guide full of wisdom.

A Courageous Battle
Susan Bracken
Privately Published
9780986487910, $19.95, www.susanbracken.ca

Power over one's mortality is something few truly have. "A Courageous Battle" tells the story of Lacey Wilson, a woman facing cancer after a lifetime of pain. Wanting to end the pain by her own hand, she seeks to end her own life before the cancer does it for her. But her continuing love conflicts with her own choice of death with dignity, as her dying days are left struck with conflict. "A Courageous Battle" asks many intriguing questions, proving a poignant and powerful read, highly recommended.

A Physician's Plight
Katherine Klein
Privately Published
9781450506380, $13.95

Stress and the occupation of physician are no strangers to each other, and a chaotic home life does not help things. "A Physician's Plight: A Memoir: Professional Success... Personal Disaster" tells the tale of Katherine Klein and the rough going she has with her derelict husband as their marital tensions strain and their children pulled apart. Faced with the unfairness of the courts that favor non-earners in a relationship, she tells how her life in dealing with the sick is a stress relief versus her personal life. "A Physician's Plight" is an intriguing read that shouldn't be missed for readers of personal memoirs.

The Moon, The Snow
Nan Weizenbaum
Privately Published
9781449961602, $10.00

Love all too often comes out as something unreliable. "The Moon, the Snow" tells the story of Aurora, a woman who naively left her education in pursuit of her boyfriend. But when her boyfriend wants nothing to do with her, she's left alone and abandoned in an unfamiliar part of the country. Doing regrettable things, her story is one that rings all too common for many women in the country. "The Moon, the Snow" is a top pick and very highly recommended read for literary fiction fans.

Playing The Lying Game
Gini Graham Scott
Praeger Publishers
c/o ABC-CLIO
Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911
www.abc-clio.com
9780313383519, $44.95, www.amazon.com

The old saying that there are 'lies, damn lies, and statistics' seems to be born out every day by news reports from the spectacular falsehoods upon which Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme was founded, to the prevarications that seem to be the daily fare of our politicians. It's this phenomena of lies, falsehoods, and deliberate deceptions that are the focused of "Playing the Lying Game: Detecting and Dealing with Lies and Liars, from Occasional Fibbers to Frequent Fabricators" by Gini Graham Scott. This is a 240-page compendium of information and insight into the adult use of lies from the occasional fibber to the compulsive liar. Identifying and detailing six categories of lies, "Playing the Lying Game" is a simply fascinating read. Of special note is Gini Scott's 'Lie-Q Test' for determining how knowledgeable the reader is with respect to detecting prevarications and untruths whether they are encountered in the business world, the family, our friends and associates, or just the ones we tell ourselves. Superbly written, informed and informative, "Playing the Lying Game" is very strongly recommended for personal reading lists and community library collections.

The Modern Mixologist
Tony Abou-Ganim
Surrey Books
c/o Agate Publishing
1501 Madison Street, Evanston, IL 60202
www.surreybooks.com
9781572841079, $35.00, www.amazon.com

The cocktail is perhaps the most iconic of upscale party-time mixed drinks. In "The Modern Mixologist: Contemporary Classic Cocktails", Tony Abou-Ganim draws upon his more than twenty years of professional experience and expertise to compile a superbly illustrated instructional compendium of cocktail recipes. Beginning with an informed and informative history of 'mixology' and the basic tools of the trade and fundamental techniques in building cocktails, "The Modern Mixologist" offers drinks ranging from an Apricot Julip; a Blond Mary; and a Fresh Fruit Bellini; to a Margarita Primo; a Neighborhood Negroni; and a Spiced Cider Toddy. Ideal for the novice bartender and with much to recommended it to even the experienced professional, "The Modern Mixologist" will prove a welcome and popular addition to personal and community library instructional Food & Beverage reference collections.

Rolex
Kesaharu Imai
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310
www.schifferbooks.com
9780764333804, $69.99, www.amazon.com

Rolex is an icon in the watch-making industry, a brand name that connotes elegance, reliability, and innovation. A profusely illustrated compendium of their wristwatch creations drawn from more than fourteen different model lines, "Rolex: 3,261 Wristwatches" is a seminal work with each showcased watch being shown in full color and captioned with technical details, reference numbers, and year of manufacture. The result is an impressive, 256-page illustrated reference that is strongly recommended for personal, professional, and academic library reference collections.

Finnish American Rag Rugs
Yvonne R. Lockwood
Michigan State University Press
Manly Miles Building, Suite 25, 1405 South Harrison Road, East Lansing, MI 48823-5245
www.msupress.msu.edu
9780870138645, $29.95, www.amazon.com

Among their contributions to American popular culture, Finnish immigrants are especially noted for weaving ordinary rages into extraordinary rugs. "Finnish American Rag Rugs: Art, Tradition, and Ethnic Continuity" by Yvonne R. Lockwood (Curator of Folklife Emeritus, Michigan State University Museum) is a profusely illustrated, 256-page compendium of impeccable and original scholarship providing an informed and informative history of Finnish settlement in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, with a special focus on their tradition of rag weaving, a homespun craft that over the centuries in their homeland had reinforced their ethnic identity, attitudes, beliefs, and values. A simply fascinating read which will prove to be of immense interest to cultural anthropologists and needlecraft enthusiasts alike, "Finnish American Rag Rugs: Art, Tradition, and Ethnic Continuity" is highly recommended for both academic and community library collections.

A Field Guide To Coastal Flowers Of The Pacific Northwest
Phillipa Hudson
Harbour Publishing
PO Box 219, Madeira Park, BC, Canada, V0N 2H0
www.harbourpublishing.com
9781550174731, $7.95, www.amazon.com

An eight-fold pamphlet printed on sturdy plasticized paper and featuring 112 beautifully rendered color photographs, "A Field Guide To Coastal Flowers Of The Pacific Northwest" is a superbly produced and 'in your pocket' portable guide identifying and showcasing an impressive variety of flowers to be found while hiking through both the countryside and the 'urban wilds' of the Pacific Northwest. Each plant photography is provided with both its English and Latin names, its distribution range, as well as average height and flower size. Informed, informative, and very handy, "A Field Guide To Coastal Flowers Of The Pacific Northwest" is the perfect 'quick and easy' reference guide.

Recipes For A Beautiful Life
Julie Keye & Madaline Hall
Privately Published
www.recipesforabeautifullifebook.com
9781439249703, $19.99, www.amazon.com

Superbly illustrated with full color photography throughout, "Recipes For A Beautiful Life" is a unique blend of images, scriptural verses, simple recipes for effective homemade facial products and herbal bath treatments. The concept of a 'healthy spirit in a sound body' deftly presented in a 102-page compendium which is a decided joy to browse, an inspired and inspiring read, and a practical assemblage of do-it-yourself, user friendly personal hygiene and skin care product projects that can be confidently recommended for both personal reading lists and community library collections.

Mary Cowper
Reviewer


Dunford's Bookshelf

Where Discovery Sparks Imagination
John D. Jenkins
American Museum of Radio and Electricity
1312 Bay Street, Bellingham, WA 98225
www.amre.us
9780979456909, $34.95, www.amazon.com

Superbly illustrated with more than six hundred historical photographs of electrical apparatus that begins with discoveries of the 17th Century upon which was based the subsequent invention of electric motors, electric lights, the telegraph, the telephone, and the invention that created a true electricity-based mass culture, the radio, "Where Discovery Sparks Imagination" by John D. Jenkins (Board President of the American Museum of Radio and Electricity) is an informed and informative 224-page compendium that is a fascinating survey of the ingenuity and artistry that went into these developing technologies from their inception onwards. A work of impressive historical scholarship reinforced with pictorial images of machines, gadgets, appliances, and even toys, "Where Discovery Sparks Imagination" is a brilliant presentation, a unique history, and a welcome addition to personal, academic, and community library collections.

Dive In Style, second edition
Tim Simond
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10110-0017
www.thamesandhudsonusa.com
9780500286302, $34.95, www.amazon.com

Now in a fully updated and significantly expanded second edition, "Dive in Style" by scuba diving expert and underwater photographer Tim Simond is the perfect instructional and travel guide featuring twenty-six exotic destinations ranging from Belize to Fiji and from Indonesia to Tanzania. Some 760 spectacular photographs superbly illustrate "Dive in Style, which features especially memorable destinations for the snorkeling enthusiast from the Four Seasons Bora Boar in French Polynesia, to Zighy Bay in Oman, to Amanyara in the Turks and Caicos. Informed and informative, "Dive in Style" is a beautiful browse, ideal for trip selection and planning, and a welcome addition to personal and community library reference collections.

Crash To Cash
D. B. Sussman
Disability Research
214 N. 31st Street, Suite 1200, Allentown, PA 18104
9780615294889, $39.95, www.amazon.com

In "Crash To Cash", Dr. D. B. Sussman draws upon his more than thirty years as an orthopedic surgeon treating thousands of auto-injury trauma victims, witnessing first-hand that under present American law it is more likely that the financial beneficiaries of those tragedies will be the lawyers, the doctors, and the insurance companies, than it would those injured men, women, and children. That's why his 626-page compendium of sound, real-world practical advice and strategies for developing, compiling, and presenting appropriate, relevant, and persuasive medical and legal data will enable anyone who is injured, or who has a loved one or family member injured, in an auto accident of any kind will be able to deal effectively and successfully with trial lawyers, indifferent judges, uniformed juries, expert witnesses, and more. From collecting evidence at the scene of the accident, to finding competent legal counsel, utilizing disability laws, to protecting oneself from scam artist lawsuits, and so much more, "Crash To Cash" is uniquely 'user friendly', comprehensive, and superbly organized. Of special note are Professor Sussman's cogent suggestions for reforms of the current legal system with respect to personal injuries. Unique and deftly written, "Crash To Cash" is very strongly recommended for personal, professional, academic, and community library instructional reference collections.

Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies
Suzanne Schwalb & Margaret Rubiano
Peter Pauper Press, Inc.
202 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains, NY 10601
www.peterpauper.com
9781593596477, $9.95, www.amazon.com

An elegant 'slip into your shirt pocket' sized compendium of lore and legends, "Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies: Compendium Monstrum" is an impressively informed and informative accumulation of facts and basic data focused on three of the most popular of mythological creature. From clinical lycanthropy, to the dietary habits of the undead, to the descriptive phenomena of these creatures around the world, "Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies" is a fascinating and superbly illustrated browse. Of special note is the 'Tracking the Beasties' visual aid and the 'Further Investigation' resource list. Enhanced with extensive notes, deftly drawn sketches, fold-out maps, a red-ribbon marker, a comprehensive index, and more, "Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies" is a thoroughly 'user friendly' and highly recommended guidebook for dedicated students of these creatures of the night!

Gaza Graffiti
Mia Grondahl
The American University in Cairo Press
c/o International Publishers Marketing
22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, VA 20166
www.internationalpubmarket.com
9789774163210, $29.95, www.amazon.com

In 1987, graffiti on the walls of buildings was the only form of 'mass media' that the residents of Gaza had to express the political views. There were no Palestinian newspapers, radio, or television. What began as impromptu and hurried political slogan scrawling, over time became more sophisticated with various political groups represented by their own select graffiti artists. At one point, Hamas began offering evening classes for those who aspired to become Palestinian graffiti artists. For seven years, Swedish photography and journalist Mia Grondahl visually documented Palestinian graffiti and has compiled her work, along with an informed and informative commentary, in "Gaza Graffiti: Messages of Love and Politics", making this a unique and seminal source of information and insight into the social, cultural, and political life of Gaza residents. "Gaza Graffiti" is a seminal contribution to Palestinian Studies and highly recommended for personal, academic, and community library collections.

Michael Dunford
Reviewer


Greenspan's Bookshelf

Physics Of Growth And Replication
Yuri K. Shestopaloff
AKVY Press
142 Kennard Avenue, North York, ON, Canada, M3H 4M5
9780980966756, $57.95, www.amazon.com

The focus of Yuri Shestopaloff's 174-page treatise "Physics Of Growth And Replication" is on the physical mechanisms governing the growth and replication of living organisms. This is a facet of the underlying causality of the development of organic life that is every bit as essential to our understanding as are the biological, genetic, and biochemical factors. Shestopaloff provides an informed and informative introduction to the general mathematical equation describing the growth of the cell -- which is the basic structural unit of all living organisms. Of special note are the graphical illustrations augmenting the deftly written text, making "Physics Of Growth And Replication" a highly recommended read and a significantly contribution to personal, professional, and academic library reference collections and curriculum supplement lists.

2010 National Building Cost Manual
Dave Ogershok, editor
Craftsman Book Company
6058 Corte del Cedro, Carlsbad, CA 92009
www.craftsman-book.com
9781572182233, $53.00, www.amazon.com

An essential element of any architectural enterprise undertaken by a contractor is the financial one. How to calculate estimates is the focus of "2010 National Building Cost Manual". Under the knowledgeable editorship of Dave Ogershok, this newly updated 30th edition of an industry standard encompasses all of the significant cost estimating variables necessary to working up a reliable budget based on materials, design features, area, shape, wall height, number of floors, and support requirements. Of special note is the thoroughly 'user friendly' CD that is included with this edition of "2010 National Building Cost Manual" that will enable the easy and reliable calculation of total 'in-place' estimates, including regional cost adjustment factors. The results can be readily printed out, emailed, or saved to a detailed PDF report. From cost-estimating single-family residences, to restaurants, to churches, to modular buildings, to fire stations, and so many other categories of construction, "2010 National Building Cost Manual" is an essential addition to professional reference collections.

The Giant Chess Puzzle Book
Zenon Franco
Gambit Books
www.gambitbooks.com
info@gambitbooks.com
9781906454203, $26.95, www.amazon.com

The creation of international chess grand master Zenon Franco, "The Giant Chess Puzzle Book" is an impressive 288-page compendium of one thousand and one elegant chess puzzles begins with one hundred positions suitable for the novice and then progresses to a concluding one hundred positions at the grandmaster level of play. Of special note are the themed sections and graded tests backed by computer-verified solutions and featuring explanations of instructive points. Chess is a game of tactical solutions requiring careful calculation and strategic planning. In compiling this impressive assemblage of chess problems, Zenon Franco draws upon his extensive researches to incorporate previously unpublished puzzles that will be new to the chess enthusiast. The result is a unique and enthusiastically recommended addition to personal and community library collections offering a wealth of challenging play for any and all chess enthusiasts regardless of their current level of experience and ability.

For A Reason
T. Thomas Ackerman
PublishAmerica
Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705-0151
www.publishamerica.com
9781615466474, $29.95, www.amazon.com

Until Daniel Keller met Jenny Sullivan, their lives were fairly ordinary. But when a tragic mistake brought them together they found their lives abruptly and mutually involved and becoming anything but ordinary as they seek to understand if things good and bad and unexpected truly happen for a reason. "For A Reason" is an extraordinary 356-page novel by T. Thomas Ackerman, a talented new author with an obvious knack for storytelling, making this debut work highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library contemporary fiction collections.

Able Greenspan
Reviewer


Helen's Bookshelf

Simple Stunning Bride
Karen Bussen
Stewart, Tabori & Chang
c/o Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
115 W. 18th St., 6th fl., New York, NY 10011
www.abramsbooks.com
9781584798385, $32.50, www.amazon.com

For a great many women, they begin thinking about their wedding day as soon as they are old enough to start playing with dolls. While the magazine industry has experienced the same reductions in readership as the newspapers, there is one category of magazine that continues to flourish -- the bridal magazines. Now aspiring brides-to-be have a new resource for ideas and examples for creating their own wedding day plans in "Simple Stunning Bride: Celebrating Your Style All the Way to the Big Day", a 128-page and profusely illustrated compendium of pertinent information by professional wedding planner Karen Bussen. "Simple Stunning Bride" begins with invaluable and practical advice on getting started; wedding traditions and roles, 'staying sane' during the process; the dress and accessories; fitness; beauty (drawing upon advice by celebrity artists); and the actual wedding day itself. Of special note is the concluding chapter featuring inspiration and insights from 'real world' experiences of brides. Enhanced with the inclusion of a Resource Guide and a thoroughly user friendly Index, "Simple Stunning Bride" will prove to be an exceedingly popular addition to any community library collection, and a 'must' for anyone seeking to make their wedding day a life-time memorable experience.

Cuisine For Whole Health
Pauli Halstead
Hood River Press
www.cuisineforwholehealth.com
pauli@cuisineforwholehealth.com
9780615299594, $29.95, www.amazon.com

Healthy eating does not mean drab cuisines and uninspired table fare. Not when the kitchen cook has access to Pauli Halstead's "Cuisine for Whole Health: Recipes for a Sustainable Life"! More than just a collection of easy and delicious recipes (which it features in abundance), "Cuisine for Whole Health" also offers informed and informative counsel on successfully minimizing carbohydrates, getting daily protein requirements cared for, identifying those oils and fats that will improve the nutritional quality of what we eat, foods to avoid for our body's sake, as well as key ingredients along with where they can be found. Of special note is the sage advise on how to save money by eating sustainably -- for both ourselves and our Mother Earth. The gourmet quality, palate pleasing, appetite satisfying, 'kitchen cook friendly' recipes range from a Pacific Rim Tuna Salsa, to a Hearty Vegetable Soup with Pesto, to a Grilled Tomato Ketchup, to Short Ribs Braised in Zinfandel, to Baked Figs with Lavender and Almond, and so many more!! If you only have room on your kitchen shelf for one more cookbook, make it Pauli Halstead's "Cuisine for Whole Health: Recipes for a Sustainable Life"!

The Birth Of Hope
Jeane Rhodes
Privately Published
9781449506551, $12.95, www.amazon.com

Hope is a child of teenage parents who were in foster care when she was conceived. "The Birth Of Hope" by Jeane Rhodes is a deftly written novel about this child and her parents, presenting the reader with an engaging story that will cultivate a renewed respect for, and appreciation of, the stages of human from its prenatal environment through birth. Of special note is how a supportive community of adults, friends and mentors is so essential for the success of a young couple struggling with the realities of parenthood. Although a work of fiction, author Jeane Rhodes obviously draws upon her real-life experiences and expertise having worked in a foster care system as a therapist and manager, making "The Birth Of Hope" a superbly presented account and an especially recommended addition for personal reading lists and community library collections.

Historic Walking Guides: Madrid
Beebe Bahrami
DestinWorld Publishing Ltd.
www.destinworld.com
9780955928161, $12.99, www.amazon.com

Madrid is note just the capital city of Spain, it is also the cultural center of Spanish society and one of Europe's most beautiful cities. That's why Beebe Bahrami's "Historic Walking Guides: Madrid", a usefully portable, 154-page compendium, map illustrated series of walking tours is so very highly recommended for tourists wanting to make truly memorable experiences when visiting this historic metropolis. Informed and informative "Historic Walking Guides: Madrid" reveals where artists and writers gathering, along with Madrid's medieval buildings, wine taverns, restaurants, hotels, and museums. Travelers will benefit substantial from Bahrami's suggestions, and the utility of being able to plan walks by theme, enhanced with maps, times and distance information. Anyone intending to spend a day, a week, or a month enjoying what Madrid has to offer would be very well advised to take full advantage of Beebe Bahrami's "Historic Walking Guides: Madrid"!

Heart's Way
Paula Andrelchik
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533161201, $8.95, www.vantagepress.com

The lives of soldiers often have very tragic ends. "Heart's Way" tells the story of two Air Force Bomber pilots and the stories leading up to their terrible ends. Two soldiers, driven to succeed, drive their way through the ranks and risk their lives in heroism. A fine novel of the military, "Heart's Way" is a choice read that shouldn't be missed.

Life's a Pinata
Rosella Rhine
iUniverse
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, 47403
9781440182105, $20.95, www.iuniverse.com

Just because it doesn't go according to plan doesn't mean it can't be good. "Life's A Pinata: Full of Surprises" is a memoir from Rosella Rhine reflecting on her chaotic life and how it was nothing like the serene nuclear family picture of perfection. Honest, she states a life of whirlwind that took her through the 50s and 60s and gives her own unique perspective on these chaotic times. "Life's a Pinata" is a fun memoir, recommended.

Pink Slips and Parting Gifts
Deb Hosey White
iUniverse
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440158049, $20.95, www.iuniverse.com

Normal people don't get rich, only the weirdos do. "Pink Slips and Parting Gifts" tells the tale of Corporate CEO Jeffrey Elkins sells his company and finds that multi-millionaire life is filled with its own unique quirks and challenges. Author Deb Hosey White paints a fun and entertaining picture of business men and the men who work under them as well as the CEOs themselves. "Pink Slips and Parting Gifts" is a choice and highly recommended novel that shouldn't be ignored.

The Gift of a Lifetime
Barbara J. Peters
AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449046590 hc, $22.95
9781449046583 pbk, $13.95, www.authorhouse.com

Too many marriages fail and are denied the lifelong bliss. "The Gift of a Lifetime: Building a Marriage that Lasts" is an advice guide from Barbara J. Peters as she gives her own advice and wisdom to try to find what they need to make their marriage work and relish their marriage further in life so that it lasts longer and stays stronger as time rolls on. Drawing on her expertise as a professional counselor, "The Gift of a Lifetime" is a strong pick for those who want to start the journey of life on the right foot together.

Helen Dumont
Reviewer


Kaveny's Bookshelf

Freefall
Joseph E. Stiglitz
W. W Norton & Company Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393075960, $27.95, www.amazon.com

2001 Nobel Laureate in Economics Joseph E. Stiglitz book "Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy" was released in late February 2010. It is really a no nonsense analysis, tersely written and quite accessible, of the real economic cost of the Illusion of the ideology of the self regulatory market as being the only possible economic reality which must exist out of logical necessity. What gives Stiglitz analysis traction, or better yet purchase or bite, is that he has had access to what French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu referred to as the 'fields of power' through his chairmanship of president Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors and the Vice president of World Bank until he was fired from that position in the late 1990s for his critique of the handling of the Asian financial crisis. He characterizes the handling of that crisis as being similar to the Obama administration handling of The Wall Street bailout, which he characterized as something they would have rejected during his Chairmanship of the World Bank if it came from a "Banana Republic".

What adds force to his position is his willingness to be bipartisan in a critical sense as he documents both the Bush and Obama response to the present crisis with its roots in the repeal of the Glass-Steagall (Banking) Act of 1933 by President Clinton's administration in 1999. Incidentally Joe Stiglitz was born a year before me in 1943, and started college in 1960. I must admit that I am very moved by his living his life according to the Kennedy precept which asks not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country. From this position he moves to an implicit and explicit economic critique of the social under- valuation of public knowledge, and the almost idolatrous rewards for alleged private technical expertise, which in the broadest sense generates generational social costs which all of us must bear, from the college freshman who faces the specter of lifetime of indentured servitude, to the generation X's who now will be working well past the Mid-Point of the 21st Century before they can retire. (Like you Dr. Kemp.)

So the question any informed reader will ask is this: What can Joseph Stiglitz tell me that I don't already know about the inadequacy of free-market fundamentalism to inform economic policy in the 21st Century? I think the answer to that question lies in his approach and methodology which he carries out systematically through all ten chapters and 352 pages which include 53 pages of end notes organized by chapter, but sadly no Index. The book demands a closer reading then I can give at this point and it would be best were it to be supplemented by numerous internet resources featuring his appearance as a distinguished lecture in a number of venues. I would also note that it is refreshing to see him positioned on the same podium with Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine, and Peruvian Economist Fernando Desoto at a 2009 City University of New York symposium on power, property rights, and ideology, in which even Naomi Klein ranked as a distant third. The idea being that ideology is in fact a pragmatic expression of existing power relationships and will morph according to groups' or individuals' power seeking behaviors. For example those who hold positions of economic power, who for irrefutable reasons must be regulated, will promote ideologies of de- regulation which maximize their apparent, but not necessarily real, self-interest.

The first handful of chapters do in fact discuss causality and blame for free fall crisis and I will go into further depth on them in a later version of this project but what I like best about Stiglitz is that he is kind of a Huey Long of economics theorists. What I mean is just like Huey Long as progressive governor of Louisiana rose to national political prominence with his cry to "spread the wealth ", so Joseph E. Stiglitz is willing to spread the blame for the present state of affairs.

But perhaps the most refreshing part of his analysis deals with his structural origins of the present crisis of the last sixty-five years since the end of the Second World War when the US produced half of the world GNP as it was called then, and the population of the planet stood at two million.

Yet it would be inaccurate to characterize as a social critic like Noam Chomsky, or an economic historian simply trying to say something about the recent past, because he states in many instances that the economics profession must be forward -looking dealing with the present and future. So that means that though his work is evidence-based and logically coherent it goes father in a sense to create what in philosophical discourse course we call synthetic knowledge, really a means to move from logical coherence to empirical verification.

Perhaps an example of this might be the way he treats the concept of risk and moral hazard which in an economic sense is supposed link action with consequence and future risk with future benefit in an ideal situation. Perhaps the best example I can think of an effective operation of the principle of moral hazard is my own participation in the State of Wisconsin Variable Annuity portion of the Wisconsin Retirement fund which I chose when I first accepted a classified position with The University of Wisconsin Madison in July of 1971. By the time I retired on January 9, 2000, it had accrued a principle of $299,000 plus a $20, 000 sick leave credits on an investment of less $3000 of my own deferred compensation. Last year I suffered a 33% benefit decrease but no loss of principle and this year I will see an 31% increase. Of course I am very fortunate that my retirement income is stabilized by the safety net of Social Security, some other small investments, and of course my wife's income and my investments were managed by highly competent professionals and out of my hands effectively. But the point is I made choices, received benefits and paid for my own loses. I can say at least in this case the concept of moral hazard worked well for me as it was conceived forty years ago and actualized in the Wisconsin Retirement Fund.

But the question that Stiglitz raises is how did we as a society in forty years come from a logically coherent concept of moral hazard to what he calls cooperate welfare and the ideology of too-big-to fail, as well as welfare for corporations at the expense of those segments of society which are least able to pay the cost in terms of decreases transfer payments, such unemployment compensation, food stamps, and public health free clinics, and of course protective services,. As he says "What economic sense does it make to lay off public school teachers in order to build roads when in fact the entire transportation infrastructure needs to be reformed?"

Perhaps the most interesting section of the book is his, in his forward looking chapter nine "Reforming Economics", where he argues for modeling which does not reflect a desired state of affairs, or justify personal preferences. Rather he really wants are models which work on a systemic and level lead to better outcomes. What I mean by this is models which on a structural level deal with the problems of the disappearance of the old American working middle class, and the vanishing of social mobility as several generations have known it. He has an excellent chapter "From Global Recovery to Global Prosperity, and another which suggests the need for a "New Capitalist Order", and a "New Society" as the World stands on the razors edged between danger and opportunity. To rephrase this in my own words one must note since the collapse of first wave Globalization in 1914, the world as we know it has moved through war, famine, population growth, and income growth & disparity, and environmental degradation. The West as we know it as has only barely survived a suicidal century, which has never the less been lit by ironic beacons of hope. H.G. Wells referred to the 20th Century as a race between education catastrophes. In the words of Sony & Cher the Beat Goes On, or to say it another way, the Dreams 19th Century died in 1914 in Flanders's Field in Belgium and the 20th Century is now just about over.

Philip Kaveny
Senior Reviewer


Klausner's Bookshelf

Windward Passage
Jim Nisbet
The Overlook Press
141 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10012
www.overlookny.com
9781590201947, $25.95, www.amazon.com

In the Caribbean, the Vellela Vellela partially sinks to the bottom of the shallow sea with smuggler Charley chained to the mast. Inside the small sailboat besides its chained captain on the dry section of the ship is a log with ten pages torn out and ripped off, the DNA of POTUS concealed inside of cocaine, and a partially written novel. None of this makes sense as whoever chained Charley and stole the log pages left behind a fortune.

In San Francisco Charley's sister Tipsy wants answers while drug lord Red Means wants his cargo. They combine their quests taking the booty, trying to learn who killed Charley and several answers to a myriad of why questions like why leave the loot behind, why tearing pages from the log and why the president's DNA was even on board Charley's vessel.

This is a gripping conspiracy thriller that captures the attention of the audience from the moment Charley knows time is running out on him and never let's goes as the reader wants to know the answers to the ton of whys. Fast-paced throughout, the two amateur sleuths follow broken clues in an effort to learn the truth and possess what was left behind. Timely yet eerie in many ways, fans will enjoy this strange but exhilarating tale as political bias trumps over logic, fairness and common good in Jim Nisbet's strong suspense.

Noir
Robert Coover
Overlook
9781590202944, $24.95

As soon as the femme fatale entered his office private investigator Noir knew she was trouble and wanted to tell her to take a hike. However, she is beautiful and besides his unpaid office assistant who believes she is the boss Blanche would kill him if he rejected a paying customer. She explains she was a nurse to the dying wife of a wealthy man; when the spouse died she became wife number two. Now her husband is a murder victim and she hires Philip M. Noir to find his killer and protect her from his partner Mr. Big.

As Noir investigates without even knowing his client's name, he fails to keep her safe from a killer. Stunned, he goes to the morgue to look at the corpse, but the body along with her clothing is missing. Noir searches for clues to who killed his paying customer as Blanche labels his work as "The Case of the Vanishing Black Widow". Receiving beatings and dishing out more, Noir works the crappy dives, the middle class dives and the affluent dives with his best progress occurring when he is knock out; when he is conscious Noir goes backwards.

Not for everyone, this is a great insane investigative thriller as if Max Smart turned into a Noir private investigator working the mean streets, tunnels under the streets, and a few less populated by even rats locales. The jocular story line focuses on Noir's horrific sleuthing skills that lampoon the sub-genre starting with the detective who has no idea who his client is except she is loaded (money and boobs) nor who her late husband was. With perhaps the wildest final twist of the year to aptly climax the insanity, fans who relish a satirical sleuthing spin will appreciate the escapades of Robert Coover's zany antihero Philip M. Noir with the M being a family thing.

Glaen
Fred T. Lybrand
Barnabas Agency
109 S. Main Street, Corsicana, TX 75110
9780578046525, $14.99 www.glaen.com

College grad student Annie is shocked and confused when her mother calmly informs her that she is divorcing Annie's dad. She had thought her parents were happy together and there for one another. As she looks around her, Annie notices the downside of her younger sister's relationship and those of her BFF Jennah. Relationships make no sense as a person gives up so much in return for being hurt so conceals the truth to abate the hurt.

Annie signs up for a class on Original Non-Fiction 101 taught by Professor Glaen Breuchis. On her first day in class, Annie looks around to find she is the only pupil. Professor Glaen explains that the administration is well aware he is teaching a class with only one student attending. He begins mentoring her to learn what is important in relationships is the truth. By being honest with others, Annie finds out that others will respect and admire you and most will reciprocate with veracity.

This is an interesting approach to encouraging and mentoring people to be honest and sincere in their relationships with others. The cast is solid especially the professor and his sole student while the fascinating story line simplistically focuses on Annie (and readers) learning how best to relate. Using a character study fiction, Fred T. Lybrand provides an engaging self help primer.

Black Jack Derringer
Karen Koehler
Skullvines Press
mail@skullvines.com
No ISBN, $16.95 www.skullvines.com

At the bar in the misnamed New Hope bounty hunter "Wild" Alice West notices the albino card player, Mr. Treen no last name and believes he is her dream ticket. Wild Alice thinks he can be her front as women are not allowed to do man's work in Skillet. She also knows that Mr. Treen no last name will be the wealthiest dead man in town tonight as winning at cards without a gun is perilous.

However, she reconsiders her first musings and decides the muto-man is actually a derringer man. So when he proves her right by pointing his gun at the groin of someone accusing him of cheating, she is elated. He is perfect for her. She tries to hire him, but he tells her she is the perfect bounty hunter without need of a pig of a partner. Two misfits team up trying to earn a living by bringing in bounty.

The first Ace Of Spades novella is a superb western fantasy in which Karen Koehler quickly establishes her world and key players in a fast-paced, but very short tale. Wild Alice and Mr. Treen is a wonderful pairing as each has secrets and issues. Support players like those at the bar and muto man Goliath enhance the landscape and the lead couple. Fans will enjoy this superb quick read and look forward to the second ace, but first must decide whether the 102 page post-apocalyptic thriller is worth the cost.

One Hundred Great French Books
Lance Donaldson-Evans
BlueBridge Books
240 W. 35th St., Suite 500, NY, NY 10001
www.bluebridgebooks.com
9781933346229, $15.95 www.amazon.com

This is a terrific introduction to French literature from the Middle Ages to modern times. Each entry is summed up briefly with a commentary so that no more than two pages are provided on those included. Starting with the classic Song of Roland and including well known works by renowned authors like Sartre, de Troyes, Pascal, Moliere, Racine, Hugo and others; One Hundred Great French Books is a great introduction to some of the best works ever. However, what makes this so complete is genres normally ignored by English literature anthologies, but not by Lance Donaldson-Evans. For instance the editor also includes the comic book Asterix by Goscinny and Uderzo. With a wide gamut of genres, formats and centuries including twenty-fist century works like W, or Memory of Childhood by Perec, readers will relish this fine easy to use guide that says oui oui Francais.

Freedom by any Means
Betty DeRamus
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
www.simonsays.com
9781439126752, $15.00, www.amazon.com

These fifteen well written true stories focus on courageous individuals trying to either escape from slavery or applying extraordinary methods to enable blacks to escape from slavery. The first entry "The Big Bluff" sets the tome when freeman John Bowley arrives at a Maryland Slave auction to take his family with him as they are up for sale. In "Waters of Hope" slave Arnold Gragston rowed escaping slaves across the Ohio River to safety; others like black barbers Daniel Strawther and Jerry Jones did likewise. Others are equally brave like Nelson Gant who risks his life and freedom for his love of Anna Maria Hughes or putting their money where their mouths were like James Henry Cole and Clara Brown as economics was as big if not bigger roadblock to freedom. Although some of the record is missing requiring Betty DeRamus to speculate, the overall courage is documented. Divided into three sections, this is a winning historical as readers obtain a wider perspective of the risk people took for freedom not just for themselves, but for loved ones and even strangers; summed up in the last entry of "Don't Call her Mammy" re Mary Ellen Pleasant, the "mother of the civil rights movement in California".

The 13th Hour
Richard Doetsch
Atria
9781439147917, $25.99

In Byram Hills, New York, the police arrest Nick Quinn for murdering his wife Julia. The case seems air tight against Nick as Julia called 911 implying Nick was hurting her just before she was shot in the head. The murder weapon has his prints and his hand has gunpowder residue. He had the means and opportunity and though not as clear the motive.

While Nick is left alone in the police interrogation room brooding, grieving and frightened, a stranger arrives offering Nick a chance to go back twelve hours in time. However, he can only do so at one hour intervals. Nick welcomes the opportunity to simply prevent his wife's murder. Yet as he returns to the past, he begins to understand time is not isolated or linear as an event as multiple repercussions; what seemed so simple turns out convoluted as he is soon dealing with a plane crash and other links that he never tied to his wife's death.

This is a fascinating complicated time travel thriller that grips the audience throughout though only Nick seems multifaceted as everyone else is stereotyped to enhance his degree of difficulty. The story line is fast-paced even as the more the protagonist works his quest the more intricate the plot turns. Readers will want to go back in time with Nick as he learns turning back the hands of time is not easy.

Johnny Porno
Charlie Stella
Stark House Press
2200 'O' Street, Eureka, CA 95501
9781933586298, $15.95 www.starkhousepress.com

In 1973 in New York City John Albano was fired from his carpentry job and his union card revoked for knocking out a foreman. He earns a living driving for a car service and as a courier collecting receipts for the Mafia's showing of Deep Throat; his job as a mob runner has led to his nickname Johnny Porno. However, Johnny knows his salary is a pittance and he has child payments to make to his ex wife Nancy married to spouse three; Johnny is numero two. Thus he considers asking for better paying work from his employer, but fears doing so.

Meanwhile Nancy's first husband Louis tells her they can make a bundle by ripping off Porno and leaving him holding the empty bag with his employer. Nancy has doubts not out of caring one iota for the father of her son, but because of the risk as he hubby three is a nice Philharmonic employee. As the police look at the dealings of Johnny's boss Eddie Vento and investigate a crooked cop, Jonny is caught in the crosshairs.

Although over the top of the Empire State Building, Johnny Porno is a terrific Nixon Era crime caper reminiscent of Elmore Leonard. The story line is fast-paced, filled with action and violence, and stars a seemingly hapless chump struggling to survive in a cesspool. With the fun look at pop culture in circa 1973 enhancing the plot, readers, especially boomers, will enjoy Johnny Porno's New York joy ride.

The First Thing and the Last
Allan G. Johnson
Plain View Press
P.O. 42255, Austin, TX 78704
www.plainviewpress.net
9781935514411, $22.95, www.amazon.com

In Boston on his wife Katherine's birthday, David Stuart explodes into a rage. As he has done before to Katherine, he batters her while blaming her for causing him to use his fists on her. This time Katherine knows it is different as he hits her face and slams her head several times; he always avoided that. When he grabs their preschooler Ethan, she begs him to give their child to her. He throws him against the wall breaking Ethan' s neck. She knows she is next, but grabs a knife and kills him.

She is rushed to the hospital. In spite of massive internal bleeding to include removal of her gall bladder, and emergency repair to her ripped liver and kidneys, the cops wonder whether she is a murderer. At the hospital and later on in her parents' home, her family cannot cope as they blame themselves for not intervening and her for not leaving.

Vermont resident Lucy Dudley reads in the Globe what happened and visits Katherine at the hospital and invites her to live on her farm; she decades ago survived a similar ordeal. Katherine leaves for Vermont where Lucy hopes to help her heal.

This poignant shocking look at an abuse victim during a deadly assault from her loved one enables readers to see inside Katherine's head as she is battered and Ethan killed. The afterward is also intriguing with the cops and even her brother wondering if she used excessive force while her parents try to avoid any culpability for not intervening. The two women help one another as they develop a loving friendship though Lucy's efforts towards aiding Katherine in coping with her trauma are more obvious. The First Thing and the Last is must reading as Allan G. Johnson gets deep into the mind and soul of an abuse victim.

Stress Fracture
D. P. Lyle
Medallion Press, Inc.
1020 Cedar Lane, No. 2N, St. Charles, IL 60174
www.medallionpress.com
9781605421346, $24.95, www.amazon.com

After retiring from homicide investigations, Dub Walker became a forensic consultant to the FBI's Behavioral Assessment Unit and a noted author on the topic. However, he returns to field work when his close friend Sheriff Mike Savage is brutally murdered in Alabama. Apparently this psychopath has viciously killed two other people.

The annihilator kills with rage and Dub knows he will not stop. He even knows who the predator is. Iraqi veteran Brian Kurtz came home with a severe case of PTSD; the Neuropsychiatric Research Institute gave him an experimental drug that for no apparent reason failed to calm him down, but instead turned him into a sadistic vicious beast. Dub must hunt down the animal, who has residents of Huntsville in a panic.

The key to this strong police procedural medical thriller is the killer whom ironically the audience meets at the beginning of the tale as Kurtz the monster receives empathy from readers who know he must die to end the blood rage. Dub is terrific as the hunter who feels the prey is stalking him. Expecting a High Noon showdown, fans will enjoy this entertaining cautionary tale as underneath the non-stop action, D.P. Lyle warns readers of the excessive use of drugs.

Stolen Promise
Lisa Marie Wilkinson
Medallion
9781605420691, $7.95

In 1806 England, Jade flees from the Lowara gypsy camp as she rejects a forced commonly bartered marriage to abusive Dimitri. She does not get very far away when she meets half-breed American gypsy Evan Dark. He rejects her pleas to either take her to safety or ignore her; instead Evan takes her back to the Lowara encampment.

However, her family forces the two to marry Roma style as he should not have been with her without a chaperon. Evan proclaims their nuptials as bogus. He returns to the States planning to marry his American fiancee Gloriana Clayton, but brings Jade and her battered (by Dimitri) sister Liberina with him as indentured servants. On his South Carolina plantation Rosefield, Gloriana realizes Evan is falling in love with Jade so she plans to insure he goes through with his marriage to her; doing whatever it takes to get rid of the gypsy.

This is an intriguing historical due to the refreshing concept of a Roma romance crossing the ocean to South Carolina where Evan is local aristocracy in spite of his grandfather's blood. The story line is driven by the romantic triangle, but that is no contest as Jade is a moral individual trying to do right by her sister while Glory is an avaricious unethical person willing to do anything to further her position in society their respective. Although having Glory with no redeeming quality is a detractor, Lisa Marie Wilkinson provides readers with an entertaining early nineteenth century romance.

Starlight & Promises
Cat Lindler
Medallion
9781605420936, $7.95

In 1891 near Tasmania in a previously uncharted part of the Furneaux Islands, English Earl Richard Colchester and James Truett are stunned t o see from their ship using a spyglass a Smilodon. They discuss bringing home to England this previously thought extinct for ten millennia saber-toothed tiger.

Instead of a hero's welcome, pirates kidnap Richard and leave him on an island. Back in Berkshire County, his niece Samantha, praying she is right that her beloved explorer uncle is alive, organizes a rescue mission. She persuades renowned zoologist Professor Christian Badia to help her find her uncle. Famous for his big cats' research, he agrees, but hides his personal quest from her. As they begin to fall in love, he learns the only way to shut her up is with a kiss, but the professor will betray his beloved; just as he believes she betrays him with his former best friend.

The action-packed late Victorian Era romantic adventure is fast-paced from the moment the saber tooth tiger appears and never slows down until the finish. The cast is strong as the audience observes the explorers and naturalists encourages over five decades after Darwin to search for live animals and fossils like the missing link. Although Sam's behavior seems too reckless, fans will enjoy this deep historical romantic thriller.

Imaginary Jesus
Matt Mikalatos
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
www.tyndale.com
9781414335636, $14.99, www.amazon.com

Matt Mikalatos thought his robed and sandaled buddy was Jesus. However, he awakened to the fact that his companion is an Imaginary Jesus. Thus he decides to search for the real Jesus in present day Portland, Oregon, Seattle, and ancient Judea. Thus begins Matt's quest for finding the real Jesus and not the imaginary ones most people create out of need or false ones making proclamations as he encounters as many Jesus as there are Elvis impersonators; even observing one being punched out.

This is an intriguing often difficult adventure tale to follow as Mr. Mikalatos turns Christian fiction upside down while exploring its central lead character; as the author insists most often the individual creates a mental construct of Jesus. The quest is inane yet amusing and fun as Matt seeks the truth to so many complicated questions like free will and the real Jesus. Not for everyone, Imaginary Jesus is an interesting search in which the author irreverently asks: Will the real Jesus please stand up?

Sworn to Protect
DiAnn Mills
Tyndale
9781414320519, $12.99

Even after two years, Border Patrol Agent Danika Morales has not gotten over the execution murder of her immigration activist husband, Toby. She believes Toby kept secrets from her about his activities because he knew she would not support him breaking immigration laws she enforces. Her brother-in-law Jacob, also a border patrol agent, has become a dictator of sorts; demanding her and his family adheres strictly to the rules.

Illegal immigrants are being brought over the border and work for free as a form of an indentured servant to the person who paid their transportation into America. One of these mules is Danika's nanny Sandra; Danika believes her employee's papers are in order making her legal. When her partner is shot, he is rushed to the hospital where Dr. Alex Price cares for him. Alex knew Toby and when he meets the widow, he falls in love with her though like her late husband did he keeps secrets from her. Danika cuts him out of her life when she learns what he had hid from her, but he takes a bullet intended for her. As she begins to believe again, Danika places herself in danger as she feels the attempt to kill her is tied to Toby's unsolved murder.

Fans of Kathy Herman and Dee Henderson will want to read Sworn to Protect; a thriller filled with action, intrigue and romance. Readers obtain a glimpse into the dangerous lives of border guards confronting deadly coyote transporters and their illegals cargo who are looking for a better life in America. Although the latter seems somewhat abated with the recession, the audience will want more works starring courageous Danika.

Disaster Status
Candace Calvert
Tyndale
9781414325446, $12.99

The emergency room of Pacific Mercy Hospital has a sudden deluge of farm workers arrive, some are barely conscious with respiratory distress and foam coming from the mouth. The staff quickly goes into emergency mode as more patients appear. They later learn that a plane carrying pesticides crashed into a building containing chemicals, blending into a toxic mix that spread rapidly.

During the crisis, charge nurse Erin Quinn meets fire department Fire Captain Scott McKenna. Based on a previous tragedy, he is a by the book first responder while she believes thinking out of the box is needed to save lives. In spite of their vast philosophical divide, they have feelings for one another that each ignores as her father abandoned the family and he feels guilt for not freeing his sister from her churlish husband leaving their son parentless. Erin decides Scott is just like every ma n she met. Yet she also believes his nephew Cody needs her expertise as he suffers from a bad leg infection that might lead to amputation. As they continue to work the crisis while falling in love, Cody makes friends with someone who vows to protect him no matter what the cost is.

Hopefully Disaster Status is the first book in a new series that readers will enjoy due to the heroic first responders working diligently during a frantic medical crisis that overwhelms their resources. The lead heroes are stubborn, but can be counted on when the chips are down. Fans will admire both as they try to do what each feels is right especially when the need is crushing.

Hand of Fate
Lis Wiehl with April Henry
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
www.thomasnelson.com
9781595547064, $24.99, www.amazon.com

As he is about to go on the air, Portland, Oregon radio talk show host Jim Fate opens an envelope he just received while inside the broadcast booth. He releases a toxic gas into the contained area and quickly dies from the poison gas that most likely is Saran.

Also inside the envelope is a copy of the play Talk Radio that later was turned into a movie. The story is based on the life and death of Denver radio host Alan Berg who was murdered. The Triple Threat Club members (pregnant federal prosecutor Allison Pierce, FBI special agent Nic Hedges and TV crime reporter Cassidy Shaw) decide to investigate who killed Fate.

The second Triple Threat thriller (see Face of Betrayal) is an exciting whodunit that readers will enjoy as the women team up seeking a killer. Each of the lead females also struggles with a personal issue that humanizes each of them but also detracts from the murder mystery. Still fans will full relish the latest escapades of the Triple Threat team as they work the Hand of Fate case together.

Deadly Deals
Fern Michaels
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, NY, NY 10022-6222
www.kensingtonbooks.com
9781420106862, $7.99, www.amazon.com

In DC after trying but failing for years to have kids, late thirties couple Rachel and Thomas Dawson are euphoric when he donated sperm to a surrogate mom and eventually brought home their twins. It cost them, $100,000 collected by Baron Bell but they felt it was worth every penny as did their parents whom lent them some of the cash. However, not long afterward a lawyer informed the couple that his client the surrogate mom wants her kids. They lost their children, are broken and Bell vanished.

Rachel visits lawyer Lizzie Fox though she cannot afford the fee. The attorney contacts the vigilante Sisterhood who learning of the baby-selling ring scheme and come to Washington to bring rightness to the madness even as a snowstorm hits the city.

Long time die hardest fans will fully relish the latest escapades as the crew still wait several books for their pardons, but keep doing good deeds; newcomers will find it difficult to grasp how the Sisterhood got to this point and less than devout faithful will question why one more. Still the ensemble vigilantes are solid, the angst of the Dawson duet powerful, and the activity of Mr. Wonderful and his baby selling insidious. Overall this is an enjoyable White Christmas in DC with the Sisterhood saga.

Harrier Klausner
Diablo
Georgina Gentry
Zebra
9781420108507, $6.99

His white mother was raped by his Sioux father. He suffered the same fate when rancher Hurd Kruger and his men tortured and raped him. They failed to break him. Instead they hardened his heart with a need to one day avenge his affront. He became a mercenary gunfighter waiting for the right moment to encounter Hurd.

By 1892 fifteen years since the atrocity he suffered occurred and now Diablo as he is known, is traveling to Wyoming to confront and kill his demon. He learns Kruger plans to marry Sunny Sorrenson; which gives Diablo a powerful weapon to use against Hurd. Diablo assassinates Kruger's men, steals from his adversary, and abducts Sunny. However, instead of capturing her, she captures his heart as he revises his goal to keeping her safe.

This is an exciting western romance starring a nasty hero who finds redemption when he falls in love with brave caring Sunny. The story line combines a harsh dark backdrop of sexual predators assaulting the innocent with the pureness of the relationship between the lead couple. Interestingly whereas as she brings out his inner decency; he brings out her inner fortitude. Readers will enjoy this saga of vengeance and redemption battling for control of a soul in the wild west.

To Be Seduced
Ann Stephens
Zebra
9781420108675, $4.99

In 1661 Lord Richard Harcourt fears he will drown in his overwhelming debts. His plan is simple. Richard will abduct and force a biddable heiress to marry him.

Wealthy Bethany Dallison needs to find an escape from her pending marriage of doom to odious Mr. Ilkston. She believes Lord Richard has provided it when he kidnaps her. Knowing she must marry her abductor to save her reputation, she accepts his proposal. As the pastor reads the weddings vows to Bethany and Richard, she explains the rules of their marriage especially her money. Stunned by her brazen remarks but also admiring her courage, Richard thinks he cans educe his wife to do what he desires as she is an innocent and he a veteran rake. The gender was has begun one touch and kiss at a time.

To Be Seduced is an enjoyable jocular seventeenth century romance starring two obstinate strong lead characters who each believes is taming the shrew. Although the political squabble between Parliament and King Charles II crowned that year never comes across as disruptively meaningful (even with Richard caught between the fighting factions), fans will appreciate the war of the Harcourts wondering who will be on top.

Audrey And The Maverick
Elaine Levine
Zebra
9781420105520, $5.99

In 1868, Virginian financier Julian McCaid returns to his ranch in Defiance, Dakota Territory. He muses how far he has come from his rustic rough roots as he plans on marrying a Southern belle .

However, he has one flaw with his perfect pan for the perfect family: Audrey Sheridan. She has issues caused by the return of Julian. Sheriff Kemp and his henchmen order her to cause havoc and distraction for Julian; or he will kill her family of young orphans. She steals Julian's money and obtain job as a cook on his spread. As she admires her employer and falls in love with him, she knows she cannot afford to be distracted by her heart as the sheriff is the crooked deadly law in town. At the same time Julian is revising his plan for the perfect family.

This western romance sequel to Rachel and the Hired Gun stars another Virginian who falls in love in the Wild West. The cast makes the tale fun to read as the lead couple has some history, a present and apparently a doubtful future. The villain is terrific as Elaine Levine purposely makes him over the top of the Mount Rushmore (not built yet) as a nasty who uses orphan kids to extort what he wants. Readers will enjoy the escapades of Audrey and the Maverick who repaints his vivid picture of the perfect family.

Deadly Seduction
Cate Noble
Zebra
9781420101713, $6.99

The CIA mission in Thailand went badly. Several agents were captured, tortured and experimented on by the enemy. For two years these operatives were prisoners before they were rescued. Max Duncan was one of the CIA agents tested with mind-control brainwashing to turn him into an amoral assassin controlled by the enemy. He survived mentally only due to brief contact s with imprisoned Taz.

Max is home in San Diego, but struggles with thoughts that he knows did not originate with him. "Prisoner" of his mind, CIA sends Langley's Dodd Treatment Center's Dr. Erin Houston to help him and Taz. However, each flees separately with Max taking Erin with him. Although she was assigned to help them regain their mental balance, she has her own issues re her father's recent suicide that makes no sense to her. They team up seeking to find and insure Taz is okay as they flee enemies of both of them including someone at Langley.

The sequel to Dead Right is an exhilarating romantic suspense thriller that is entertaining but leaves several dangling threads; One of them Taz's tale is probably a future sequel, which makes sense as Deadly Seduction is Max's adventures. More germane to this story line is her father's death remains unresolved. Still this is an enjoyable thriller as the relationship between the doctor and her patient nicely over time on the lam evolves into capture-captive and ultimately loving couple. Fans will relish going on the run with Max and Erin.

Miss Julie Renews Her Vows
Ann B. Ross
Viking Books
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
www.penguin.com
9780670021550, $24.95, www.amazon.com

Miss Julia warns Mr. Pickens that he better not break the heart of her late husband's mistress four months pregnant Hazel Marie. Pickens, married three times, swears they will marry. Hazel Marie's son Lloyd is elated with his new daddy while Miss Julia and her second husband Sam plan a bridal party though the bride is not invited as the hostess lies to her guests that Hazel Marie married in San Francisco a few months ago.

Pastor Larry Ledbetter invites Sam and Julia to a marriage counseling seminar hosted by a Christian shrink Dr. Fred Fowler. Sam agreed, but Julia is panicked that Fred is the host. After her cheating first husband died, Fred was nice to lonely grieving Julia until they began kissing in the chapel; Ledbetter caught them. Fred blamed Julia. She fears Sam's reaction to her being labeled a loose woman.

The bridal party is a success although home nursing helper Etta Mae Wiggins is late. Everyone accepts why Hazel Marie is not there as she had a doctor's appointment and that she and Mr. Pickens married. Soon afterward to get out of going to Fred's seminar Julia claims to be ill and bedridden; and Etta Mae calls Julia from jail asking for Binkie the lawyer. She was accused by her client Francie Pitts of knocking her out and stealing a bracelet. Miss Julia continues to dodge Fred while working on proving Etta Mae's innocence.

Miss Julia is her usual flustered self managing to make a mountain out of a mole hill to the delight of her myriad of fans. As always, the support cast is strong as they enhance the heroine's fears and shenanigans while she also takes care of her friends and family. Although. Miss Julia's behavior re not telling Sam the truth lacks her usual ethical fortitude, readers will let that slide as her escapes make for a fine cozy.

The Moonlit Earth
Christopher Rice
Scribner
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
www.simonsays.com
9780743294072, $25.00, www.amazon.com

Following her being fired from her position as head of the Siegel Foundation, a Northern California not for profit firm facing bankruptcy, due to her radical methods, thirty year old Megan Reynolds returns to her mother's home in Cathedral Beach near San Diego. Megan is disappointed as she tried to so hard to reach the homeless kids wandering the mean streets.

In Hong Kong, a terrorist attack leaves sixty dead. The FBI believes Megan's flight attendant brother Cameron in conjunction with apparently his gay lover from the middle East Majed committed the atrocities. Megan vows to prove her naive but kind-hearted sibling would never harm anyone and starts a dangerous journey to prove she is right beginning with finding Cameron who vanished without a trace.

This is an excellent thriller that plays out on two levels: the international terrorism and the personal terror. The key is Megan who has faith in her sibling that he would not do these atrocities; she holds the fast-paced complicated plot together as she searches for her brother and the truth, praying her assertion is the truth. Readers will enjoy this exhilarating tale of a good caring person traveling a part of Asia that middle class American civilians avoid.

Of Midnight Born
Lisa Cach
Love Spell
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
www.dorchesterpub.com
9780505523990, $7.99, www.amazon.com

Woden goes camping with his country cousin Rhys near Le Gayne Fortress. Rhys entertains his young relative with stories about the ghost haunting the nearby castle. That night while Rhys sleeps, Alex sees shooting stars in the clear sky followed by a beautiful spirit trying to reach out to him.

Over two decades later Alex returns to the fortress to observe the path of the shooting stars. The ghost he saw when he was a ten-year-old child returns. Soon the specter Serena Clerenbold knows love. She risks her existence to reach out to Alex who also has fallen for the five hundred-year-old apparition that allegedly killed her spouse on their wedding night. As everyone who cares about Alex worries that he is losing his mind, he and Serena risk all for a love that crosses time and planes struggling to find an existence.

OF MIDNIGHT BORN is a powerfully passionate otherworldly historical romance that will thrill fans of the sub-genre. Though the story line turns extremely somber at times, Lisa Cach defuses the moments with well placed humor. Alex is a great lead character, typical of the late Regency hero in novels, as he struggles with seductive dreams battling his belief that love hurts. However, the plot belongs to the independent and brave Serena who willingly jeopardizes her essence for love.

Dragon Unmasked
Kathleen Nance
Love Spell
9780505528148, $7.99

New Orleans New Eyes (NONE) editor-publisher Adam Zolton seeks the Mage who destroyed his sister's mind. Obsessed he would do anything including sacrificing others to find and destroy this Dragon. However, instead of locating his prey, he finds a serial killer murdering mages; his assumption is the Dragon is the culprit.

Adam informs healer Dr. Grace Armatrading that her powerful mage Aunt Faith was murdered and she is next on the list as the killer wanted her relative's magical library. Grace has an undesirable past with Adam in which he dumped her to pursue his fixation; thus she distrusts him. However, suffering from recent blackouts that remind her of epilepsy, Grace has few other alternatives than to trust the man who hurt her especially since she also tries to prevent a devastating computer virus from taking affect.

The latest NONE romantic urban fantasy (see PHOENIX UNRISEN) is a terrific paranormal investigative thriller in which magic and the information age technology are on the verge of a war. The story line is fast-paced, driven by the lead couple and a psychopathic mage practitioner, and though over the top of sea level and below New Orleans is an entertaining one sitting action-packed tale.

Touch Of Evil
Colleen Thompson
Love Spell
9780843962444, $7.99

On the rural Texas-Louisiana border Widow Preston County Sheriff Justine Wofford is completing her late husband's term, but has no support. Her deputies believe she is incapable of the job; the state is investigating corruption charges, and the Dogwood Sentinel editorial wants her hanging just like the three band victims of an apparent serial killer as suicide seems a stretch to Justine though statistics say serial suicides occur. To add insult to literally her on the job injury, her former lover Dr. Ross Bollinger treats her for a blow to her head. He has only recently returned to work after a virus caused heart damage that enhanced his already broken heart after his a rdent affair with Justine ended a few months ago; not that the sheriff is handling their heated affair and break up any better.

A break in into the home of Ross' niece Laney is investigated by Justine. The sheriff loathes this inquiry because it brings her back into Ross' circle and besides Laney is a prime suspect in the three suspicious deaths. However, subsequently another homicide of a deputy places Justine on the top of the suspect list.

Touch of Evil is an action-packed police procedural romantic suspense enhanced by a strong ER medical thriller subplot. The cast is solid especially the beleaguered sheriff and the emergency room doctor. However, it is the investigation that owns the novel as evidence points to serial suicides in what looks like a band member's pact until the deputy dies. Although perhaps there is too much negative activity engulfing Justine that threatens to overwhelm the whodunit, Colleen Thompson provides an entertaining gripping thriller.

The Long Way Home
Robin Pilcher
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
www.stmartins.com
9780312354350, $25.99, www.amazon.com

Claire Barrington loves her Scottish stepfather Leo Barclay who is her only living relative besides her spouse Art. So when Leo suffers a stroke, Claire accompanied by Art leaves New York's East Village and their restaurant Barrington's to help Leo recuperate. However, the man she adores and who has called her daughter for years making her feel good about life is not the same as he is no longer capable of caring for himself.

Claire prefers to arrange things as much as possible so Leo can remain home; Art suggests they buy the estate and establish a conference center while building a nearby cottage for Leo to reside in. The vultures arrive with plans and schemes. Marcus and Charity, his children from his first marriage who never forgave their dad for marrying Claire's mom and raising her; want him placed in a home so they can sell the place. Claire's childhood friend Jonas Fairweather suggests a public auction to raise money for Leo's care. Remaining competent, Leo chooses Jonas' concept, but Claire distrusts her friend's motive when another bidder surfaces who she assumes will want to tear down the place and replace it with a major development.

The story line is an entertaining look at how relatives act when a beloved elderly family member becomes too ill to care for themselves, but remains mentally competent. Leo is the terrific focus of the rest of key players as each has different ideas re his future. Although his malicious offspring and the contriving scheming childhood friend never come across as more than as more than one dimensional boors, fans will enjoy the three way fight as Claire and Art want the best for Leo while hurtful Marcus, horrid Charity, and opportunistic Jonas want the best for themselves.

The Killer
Tom Hinshelwood
Dunne
9780312558048, $25.99

In Paris mercenary assassin Victor shoots fifty-eight year old Latvian Andris Ozols and retrieves a flash drive from the corpse. Mission accomplished with ease, he leaves the body in the alley and goes back to his expensive Hotel de Ponto not thinking twice about the case or client as this was another easy one.

However, Victor finds his assertion false when two other hit men supported by others try to kill him at the hotel. He knows he is a target and speculates the motive is on the flash drive, but who remains unanswered. He survives the Paris assault barely and flees deeper into the content, but is being followed as other attacks to eliminate him occur. He knows he is embroiled in some sort of espionage scenario that leads to Africa where all converge on Victor and the flash drive.

Filled with twists mostly caused by double and triple crosses, thriller fans will relish the action-packed The Killer which never stops for a breathing break. Victor holds the storyline together as he goes from smooth remorseless paid killer to target of other professional killers including legalized government assassins. Sub-genre fans will enjoy his escapades to stay alive.

Eye of the Mountain God
Penny Rudolph
Dunne
9780312545468, $24.99

Professional photographer Megan Montoya moves from Pennsylvania to Santa Ynez, New Mexico accompanied by her eight years old autistic child Lizzie. Megan hopes the move will help her career and her daughter.

Soon after the two females arrive in their new home, Megan finds inside her newspaper left outside five green colored arrowheads. A local jeweler informs her they are emeralds and an archaeologist believes they may be the four hundred plus years old Pima arrowheads of legend. valued at approximately a million dollars a piece. She thinks the find will answer her financial crisis although she wonders what happened to their newspaper delivery boy. Meanwhile Save the People organization hires her to photograph the poor women and children of the nearby mountain villages. Someone searches her home and she begins to think everyone she meets has a hidden agenda; her paranoia proves real when a terrorist threatens an attack while her daughter becomes caught in the middle.

This is an over the top of Wheeler Peak thriller as a seemingly zillion zingers target the Pennsylvania transfers. The audience will root for marvelous Megan and lovely Lizzie. However, the myriad of subplots never converge into a cohesive story line though the heroine has a bulls-eye on her forehead. Still readers will enjoy Megan's misadventures in the not so Land of Enchantment.

Alexandra, Gone
Anna McPartlin
Downtown Press
c/o Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th floor, New York, NY 10020
www.simonsays.com
9781439123331, $15.00, www.amazon.com

In Dublin, thirty something Alexandra Kavanagh disappears. Her husband Tom is stunned with his loss as she had no reason to vanish in his opinion, but if something bad happened to her he does not know and cannot seek closure.

Tom runs to into Alexandra's best friend when she was growing up, Jane Moore on a stick elevator. Jane muses to the time when the pair drifted apart in their teens when she became pregnant. Now seventeen years since giving birth, she is a single mom, running an art gallery, her volatile mom, and managing her sister Elle's painting career. Tom is taken aback by her energy as Jane urges him to search for his wife. Jane, and the other stickees (Elle and reclusive web designer Leslie Sheehan) join Tom on an Ireland-wide quest, but nothing new surfaces re Alexandra, Gone. However, the group finds separate solace as the sister s resolve their traumatic pasts, Leslie comes out of her hermit existence to make friends and Tom moves forward with his grief.

This is an interesting character study of four people seeking the missing connection that binds them. Each member of the quartet comes across unique with issues, but the bonding of friendship enables all of them to move on. Ironically the prime link Alexandra never is fully developed as insight into her is inductive through for instance songs she enjoyed. Thus the entertaining story line lacks any tension re Alexandra, Gone, but instead the humor and tautness come from the foursome's personal problems.

An Absence So Great
Jane Kirkpatrick
WaterBrook Press
c/o Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
www.waterbrookpress.com
9781578569816, $14.99, www.amazon.com

In 1910 eighteen years old Jessie Ann Gaebele is proof that single young women are going places no one dreamed possible just a few years ago. She has demonstrated skill as a photographer in Milwaukee though gender bias is rampant even when she is buying supplies or obtaining customers. Jessie Ann dreams of one day returning to her hometown of Winona, Minnesota to open up her own photography studio as currently she fills in for those ailing from mercury poisoning. When she triumphantly opens that studio in Winona she will prove to herself that she has not just come a long way, she had made it. However, she also knows her broken heart was an enabler to get her to leave Minnesota for the eastern side of Wisconsin.

Still as she struggles with male proprietors thinking they can accost a single woman, she also misses her home like the annual boat race, but especially Fred Gottlieb. When he arrives in Milwaukee for the photographic conference to receive an award, Jessie Ann wants to flee, but her time alone taking care of herself has given her courage. She will be polite and congratulate him, but keep her feelings hidden while keeping a distance. However, Jessie is unaware that Fred has an agenda of his own.

Reaching back once again to her family tree for the sequel of her grandmother Jessie Ann as a late teen (see The Flickering Light for the earlier years), historical novelist Jane Kirkpatrick provides readers with a terrific "biographical fiction". The story line is fast-paced but owned by the lead couple especially the brave heroine who as a pioneer makes it in an era when single young women did not hang out shingles as craftsmen. The support cast like Marie Harms, daughter of the boarding house owner where Jessie Ann stays, enhances the profound look at how far women have come in a century.

Here Burns My Candle
Liz Curtis Higgs
Waterbrook
9781400070015, $14.99

In 1745 Edinburgh, Highlander Lady Elisabeth Kerr marries royalist Lowlander Lord Donald Kerr. She conceals from her spouse that she is a pagan worshipper who believes in the ancient auld ways; he hides secrets from her as well.

Meanwhile his mother Lady Marjory hides gold underneath her floor, adores her adult sons, and struggles with remorse and guilt, which is buried in Greyfriars Church cemetery. Her other son Andrew and his wife Janet worry over her family and its impact on them as danger mounts with Prince Charles Edward Stuart leading the Jacobyte revolt into Edinburgh. The secret of the five Kerr's explodes open threatening all of them and others.

Here Burns My Candle is a well written inspirational historical tale that takes a bit of time to establish the time and place, and to introduce the relationships between the key characters and the flaws of each of them. Once done, the story line rapidly accelerates as rebellion seems imminent and no one in Edinburgh and perhaps all of Scotland can avoid it. Caught in this explosive rebellious time is the Kerr family as their personal issues also ignite. Fa ns will enjoy this entertaining evangelical eighteenth century character driven tale.

A Jew Must Die
Jacques Chessex
Bitter Lemon Press
37 Arundel Gardens, London, W11 2LW, United Kingdom
www.bitterlemonpress.com
books@bitterlemonpress.com
9781904738510, $12.95, www.amazon.com

Like Asia and North Africa, Europe is on fire as Hitler's bloody war spreads in all direction across the continent. Only Switzerland nestled in the Alps seems immune, but the economy is severely impacted throughout the nation as unemployment and bankruptcies are rising rapidly. Also even in this nation, dark Nazi nightmares exist as some locals work their insidious master plan.

In the Swiss market town Payerne, local Nazi leader Fernand Ischi blames the 500 unemployed out of 5000 citizens on the Jews. He encourages teaching them a lesson for being God's abominations by taking their property. On April 16, 1942, Swiss Nazis salute the Fuhrer and his final solution when they persuade sixty years old Jewish cattle merchant Arthur Bloch to enter an empty stable. Once inside they hammer him to death with a crowbar and cut up his body placing the parts into milk containers to float away on the nearby lake on Hitler's birthday. None even show the slightest remorse as Jews deserve this treatment as Ischi believes the first sacrifice takes him on his way to becoming the regional gauleiter leader of the Swiss Nazi Party. That is until the containers fail to float away; Kaddash is prayed for Arthur as it will be for six million others for eternity.

Based on a true horror story just like Jacques Chessex's previous tale The Vampire of Ropaz, A Jew Must Die is a gripping translation of a superb French drama that will have readers shocked that such a hate crime occurred. The cast drives the novellas as the audience sees what motivates the monster and his goons to violence, the regional Jewish community to fear, and the local townsfolk to horror. Without preaching, Monsieur Chessex leaves readers to wonder why God tolerates acts of intolerance in his name.

Neverland
Douglas Clegg
Vanguard Press
c/o Perseus Books Group
Eleven Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142
www.vanguardpressbooks.com
9781593155414, $15.95 www.amazon.com

When Beau is ten years old he, his parents and twin sisters go to Gull Island, Georgia to see his granny. Also visiting at the same time is his cousin Sumter and his parents. The children watch their parents get drunk every night and say terrible things to each other. Sumter has a teddy bear called Bernard that he clings to while his father calls him a sissy who should act like a boy instead of a girl.

It is Sumter who finds the abandoned shack on his granny's property and he calls it Neverland. He brings Beau to it and introduces him to the god he worships in a crate. Strange inexplicable things happen in this shack as they worship the god. He puts his hand in the crate as do his sisters when they come to Neverland and feel something bite them. A blood sacrifice is made as the children put their blood in the crate. Beau and the children believe they fly over Gull Island and see the ghosts of dead children; Sumter communicates telepathically with Beau who believes what happens is real. He knows that some things are inexplicable because his dreams come true. It is when Sumter wants them to make the final sacrifice that Beau turns against him risking his life to stop it from happening.

Douglas Clegg is a talented horror writer who manages to creep out his audience with a very visual picturesque storyline so that the reader feels as if they are inside the storyline. This is dark atmospheric work, gothic in tone that makes the readers question whether the events Beau experiences have more than one explanation. Neverland is a scary work written by an author soaring to the top of his game.

The King Commands
Meg Burden
Brown Barn Books
119 Kettle creek Road, Weston, CT 06883
www.brownbarnbooks.com
9780979882418, $8.95, www.amazon.com

The Northlands and the Southlings have an uneasy detente though there is little difference between the people who inhabit the two lands. In the Southlings where there is no monarch, they embrace the power of Healing while the Northlands call it witchcraft. Southling Ellin Fisher lives in self-imposed exile in the Northlands because she developed telepathic skills that caused the concerned Guardians to assassinate her father and try to kill her (see Northlander) in spite of her healing prowess.

Northlands King Alaric welcomes Southlings especially those with magic to stay in his kingdom; Ellin is one of his guests, but he exiles her back to her homeland for trying to heal his father's killer. Alaric's youngest brother Prince Garreth accompanies Ellin to her country. When she cross the border to Southlings, she realizes the Guardians have made life much worse for everyone as they grow stronger attacking those with forbidden magic and fostering conflict with their Borderland neighbor. She joins a cell of True Southlings with powers similar to hers and becomes an apprentice to a full fledged Healer. A crisis back in the Northlands sends Ellin and Garreth back there where they learn the Guardians are employing magic to cause civil war in the kingdom to the north. King Alaric declares war on the Guardians, but to win he will need the magic of the Southlings.

Although targeted for young adults, older readers will also enjoy the second Borderlands fantasy filled with plenty of intrigue, romance, and adventure. Readers will admire the lead couple as they act like ordinary people though one is a royal and the other a magic practitioner. Fans will root for them as they escape harrowing situations. With strong political spins throughout like a king needing magic to win a war but many of his subjects believe that is taboo, Meg Burden
provides a deep thinking yet action-packed fantasy thriller.

Foodchain
Jeff Jacobson
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
http://gale.cengage.com/fivestar
9781594148200, $25.95, www.amazon.com

He was distracted by the blood he saw his mom cough up while attending a racing horse at Arlington. Not paying enough attention to his patient, promising veterinarian student Frank Winter takes a kick to the left side of his head leaving him with brain damage and ending his career. Frank still owes his college debts to Castellari who has plans for him to make remittance.

Sergio and Guilio abduct Frank and Red for a horse doping that ended up on the news when the steed died. The boss of the two thugs Castellari does not like public mistakes so they must pay. They are dumped at a zoo for circus animal throwaways. There the felons toss Frank into an alligator tank, but he escapes with the help of a lion. He flees, ending up in Whitewood, California where he meets the town monarch Horace Sturm who is dying, like his fiefdom. Horace persuades Frank they can make money while humanely dispatching the starving zoo animals with safari hunts.

Pulling no punches Jeff Jacobson hammers at the hunting for sport community and at animal abuse, abandonment and neglect with a tale that Sam Peckinpah would have loved to film. The vivid in red story line is fast-paced from the moment that Castellari's thugs arrange a visit to the zoo for Frank. Aptly named as the animals are in the ooze below the Foodchain, readers who enjoy plenty of guts, blood and gore will join Frank on his joy ride; those who prefer cozies will want to pass.

The Toyman Rides Again
Robert S. Napier
Five Star
9781594148538, $25.95

In Tacoma, Washington, veteran and former investigative reporter Jack Lorentz enjoys selling collectible toys to baby boomers though he only makes a modest living at the Olden Daze co-op. August Baldwin enters his shop and says he recognizes the smell of death by shooting (see Love, Death, And The Toyman). He explains to Lorentz that he wants to hire him to protect the reenactor Charles Swanson playing the role of General George Armstrong Custer. He feels with Jack's recent reputation, he might keep away those who want to harm the reenactor playing the role because someone has threatened him.

Jack is to play the part of reporter Mark Kellogg who died at the battle of Little Big Horn. However, after a previous skirmish, on the way to the site where the current battle will rage, Native Americans led by Harold Two Bears and Professor Abigail She Stands In Light attack the company. When the dust settles, Custer-Swanson is dead with Two Bears' knife in him. Police Sergeant Cooper arrests Two Bears while Abigail asks Jack to snoop as she believes her friend is innocent. Attracted to the professor, Jack knows she had access to Two Bear's knife. As he makes inquiries, Jack alienates everyone.

This is a fun Reagan era whodunit starring a reluctant former investigative journalist who feels guilty that he failed at his mission though he knows Swanson as Custer was impossible to protect. The story line provides a fascinating deep look at reenactors, but an incident with a new recruit seems over the top of Granite Peak. The whodunit is entertaining as the reader knows whom most likely killed Custer yet not sure how. The Toyman Rides Again is a fun mystery.

Saintly Remains
Tony Perona
Five Star
9781594148569, $25.95

In Jasper, Indiana at West Jasper High School, two students shot five of their peers to death before committing suicide. On the wall of the school library was left a cryptic verse that hinted at a satanic cult ritual. However, the cops found no evidence of such beyond the enigmatic message so they assumed athletes bullied the two as four of the five were on teams. The fifth victim Keri Schoening was ruled to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Keri's murder hammered at the gut of Joan Bertetto, a close friend of the victim's mom Susan. With her spouse reporter Nick she attends the funeral of Keri.

Soon afterward, Nick and Joan are visiting her still in shock parents in Jasper. However, strange things occur starting with the skinning of the family cat Mr. Jangles and the snatching of Keri's corpse from the cemetery. His paper asks Nick to investigate as other animal abuses have been reported. He soon begins to revise the theory that the jocks were the target to the belief that satanic worshippers wanted Keri who was known to believe in Jesus.

The latest Bertetto investigative mystery (seer Second Advent and Angels Whisper) is a timely mesmerizing thriller. At times graphic with the violence to animals, Saintly Remains is fast-paced throughout as the clock ticks down with the next teen victim being prepared for sacrifice. Tony Perona has another strong entry in what is one of the better mystery series.

The Cost of Love
Drue Allen
Five Star
9781594148675, $25.95

US Citizenship and Immigration Services Commander Martin sends his top field operative to White Sands Missile Range to look at a corpse. In the contained facility, septuagenarian Dr. Kowlson warns Dean Dreiser not to puke inside his hazmat suit when he sees the body of a young woman, who died from a biological weapon. Dean holds in his bile until he leaves.

With less than two weeks before the threat goes hot, the few clues focus on Roswell, New Mexico where Dean works undercover as a bartender at E.T. He is joined on the mission who is undercover at E.T. by twenty-something expert Dr. Lucinda Brown; whereas Dean believes her lack of field experience makes her a handicap, Kowlson and Martin chose her as t he only person capable of defusing the weapon of mass destruction. They diligently work together to try to prevent the terrorist threat from an unknown group from occurring, but with limited success even as two more bodies are found that prove the enemy knows the American responder system, but with the days ticking away, these killers ask for nothing.

This is an exhilarating bio-terrorism attack that grips the reader when Dean sees the first corpse and holds it together long enough to drive away before vomiting and never slows down from there as the clock is ticking and the terrorists are experimenting. Dean and Lucinda are a wonderful pairing as they are attracted to one another, but understand the mission comes first. Although the final coda seems a minor stretch not quite as long as White Sands is, fans will appreciate this tat romantic suspense thriller.

Moonglade
Mary Fremont Shoenecker
Five Star
9781594148859, $25.95

In Saco Bay, Maine, Paul Fontaine provides sailing lessons to Clare "CeCe" Chamberlaine when she shouts to him that there is a corpse on a nearby buoy. The skipper of Julie's Dream assumes she is wrong, but she states as an emergency room nurse she has seen dead bodies, Clare declares this is a human corpse as it has hair. He radios the Coast Guard.

Maine Marine Patrol Sergeant Remi Windspirit leads the investigation into the death of the Jane Doe. The autopsy confirms that the victim was murdered and that she was a Native American. After questioning Paul and CeCe, Remi seeks clues. With CeCe pleading with her, Tante Margaret, who raised her, uses her psychic gift to assist on the inquiry until she is hurt. As the case takes strange twists, CeCe and Remi are attracted to one another, but he remains focused on his investigation.

The second Maine Shore Chronicles (see Finding Fiona) is a fun Pine Tree State cozy starring two likable lead characters, a strong key support cast who share billing with the stars and a vivid look at coastal Maine. The investigation is action-packed while the romantic subplot serves as a charming lighthearted secondary subplot. Fans will enjoy Mary Fremont Shoenecker's fine whodunit.

Six Mile Creek
Richard Helms
Five Star
9781594148545, $25.95

Prosperity in Bliss County North Carolina was a rural small town of framers and their families until the developers in nearby urban Parker County saw money to be made. The town was turned into a bedroom community suburb.

After leaving the Atlanta Police Department, Judd Wheeler took the job of police chief in his hometown; his staff consists of two deputies. One of them Marbury calls to tell him Donnie Clift is dead; Judd proves it was a suicide. Not long afterward the body of Hispanic teen is found near Six Mile Creek. Morgan Sheriff's Department Investigator Neerjah Patel declares a homicide occurred and the body had been moved. The parents of Gitana "Gypsy" Camarena arrive at Judd's office to ask about the victim as their daughter went missing three days ago. Judd knows they are illegals so they failed to report her vanishing; he also knows the dead girl is Gitana. As he investigates her murder Judd finds many townsfolk want the illegals gone and this case dropped.

This is a taut regional police procedural with three groups distrusting one another and Wheeler caught in the middle trying to do the right thing. The homicide raises the anxiety amongst Hispanics especially illegals, the long time farm families who demand a return to the past, and the affluent suburbanites who prefer CSI on TV. With racism, discrimination, and loathing, Wheeler and other law enforcement officials have their work cut out to solve the case and keep everyone calm. Six Mile Creek is a superb whodunit due to the rising tension.

Mistress Of The Underground
Lisa Childs
Silhouette Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
www.harlequin.ca
9780373618316, $5.25, www.amazon.com

In Xantrax, Michigan, former attorney Paige Culver buys Club Underground. However, something has somehow gotten inside her head telling her she does not belong here. A patron warns her to leave or else become the special.

Paige's former husband, Dr. Ben Davison is furious fueled by fear to learn his beloved ex wife owns and operates Club Underground. He knows first hand her new bar is the in-place where his patients go for some blood letting fun as only vampires can. Ben will do anything to keep his love safe including hiding the essence of who their patrons are even though concealing the truth from her cost him his marriage.

The fully developed characters especially the lead couple and their shared customers make for a strong second chance at love romantic fantasy that sets the table simply with the opening line that Xantrax has replaced Detroit as Michigan's biggest metropolis. Fast-paced and filled with action, Paige demands the truth while Ben hides the truth. Lisa Childs provides a strong story of love is not enough to forge a relationship because distrust is much more powerful.

Wolf Trap
Linda Thomas-Sundstrom
Silhouette Nocturne
9780373618309, $5.25

In the Miami area, during a full moon, Dr. Parker Madison is in his Otherworld form when he finds brutally assaulted Chloe Tyler. He gives her first aid and rushes her to Fairview Hospital. However, when she acts strange, he recognizes the signs as he is undergoing the same transformation; he quietly takes her from the hospital to a specialized psychiatric facility.

Chloe is changing into a werewolf, but the staff of "monster" ward especially Dr. Jenna James is used to dealing with werewolves as is police detective Matt Wilson as both howl during the full moon. Chloe and Parker are attracted to one another as is Matt and Jenna, but all four knows first hunting down a rogue killing werewolf comes before love. However, neither couple realizes they are the prey of this paranormal psychopath.

The latest Werewolf police procedural romance (see Red Wolf) is a faster than moonlight thriller. The superb cast makes for a fun full moon over Miami hunt for a predator who stalks the fearsome foursome. Although Chloe converts too easily into a werewolf, readers will enjoy this dynamic paranormal romantic suspense.

The Texas Billionaire's Baby
Karen Rose Smith
Silhouette Special Edition
9780373655144, $4.99

Gina Rigoletti and Logan Barnes were sweethearts in high school in Sagebrush, Texas. Their relationship ended fourteen years ago when she left town for college. Now she has come home to join the nearby Lubbock Family Tree Health Center to open up her Baby Grows infant and toddler development service.

CEO Logan Barnes hires the firm to look at his fourteen month old son Daniel who is way behind in development. He has doubts about having the woman who broke his teenage heart in their lives, but needs her expertise. As she works diligently and kindly with Daniel, Logan and Gina know the attraction remains strong. However, he still grieves the death of his wife Amy to cancer and she never moved passed a date rape at school.

This is a wonderful family drama second chance at love tale as only Karen Rose Smith can provide. The story line is driven by the needs of Daniel as Gina and Logan recognize their past and present feelings must take a back seat to the child. Even with that the adults and their issues are fully developed leaving readers to admire Ms. Smith's skill at a heart-wrenching contemporary; the author is four for four with her superb baby Experts saga.

An Unfinished Score
Elise Blackwell
Unbridled Books
2000 Wadsworth Boulevard, #195, Lakewood, CO 80214
www.unbridledbooks.com
9781936071661, $24.95, www.amazon.com

As she prepares dinner for her husband Ben, their deaf daughter Adele and best friend Petra, concert violist Suzanne Sullivan hears of her lover's death over the radio. She conceals her grief over the death of her beloved orchestra conductor Alex Elling. She avoids a meltdown due to their shared love of music, which gets her through the meal, his funeral and the next few weeks.

A couple weeks after Alex is buried, his widow Olivia begins calling Suzanne leaving messages hinting at exposing her. Olivia demands Suzanne complete her late spouse's final score or else face ridicule and worse when she is revealed to her family and the orchestra as a cheating spouse. Unable to mourn in public, Suzanne detests the extortion but also wants closure by honoring her beloved so she decides to complete An Unfinished Score that Alex was composing in honor of his cherished lover.

Although overwrought with too much angst, An Unfinished Score is an enjoyable character driven tale. The two female rivals (over who "owns" Alex's memory) dominate the stage in spite of seemingly the entire Chicago and St. Luis orchestras and her quartet performing. The audience will enjoy this fine tale of grieving in silence.

Bound In Blood
P.C. Hodgell
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
www.baen.com
9781439133408, $14.00, www.amazon.com

In 120 at Knorth Hall, twins Jame and Torisen as the lords of the Kencyrath honor their fallen comrades by naming those warriors whose blood splattered on the sacred banners. These fallen comrades deserve the best, however, Jame is aghast when she realizes more than just blood is on the death banners. The souls of these intrepid fighters are trapped inside the banners honoring them.

While working on how to liberate the fallen, she finds proof that her cousin Kindrie is, like her and her brother, a full-blooded Knorth. This is a two edged sword in her mind as she welcomes him as her family equal, but the implications are they can manifest the Three-Faced God, a deity who abandoned the Kencyrath to their fate after a betrayal several thousand years ago. Confused with what to do on any front, Jame returns to Randon College near Tentir to continue her studies, determine the best courses of action and avoid causing unintentional consequences. She also worries that her evil uncle somehow still lurks in the shadows and even more hates being in charge, which seems much more difficult than surviving and going at it with responsibility for just yourself.

The latest Kencyrath thriller is an intriguing tale although for the most part the overarching plot does not move forward much. Jame struggles with expectations of others as the once heroic action figure finds it rather difficult to accept the leadership mantle; she now accounts for others including creatures who have tried to kill her. The subplots of Tori (who struggles with living up to the reputation of his twin especially when in Tentir many mistake him for her) and Kindrie (beyond Jame learning he makes the triad possible) barely budge. Although it helps to have read the previous Seekers' entries, Bound in Blood is a fascinating character study as Jame the courageous heroine must switch from warrior to leader.

Grey Matters
Clea Simon
Severn House Publishers
michelle@severnhouse.com.
9780727868404, $28.95 www.severnhouse.com

Harvard doctoral candidate Dulcie Schwartz feels a bit overwhelmed as a third year grad student trying to get her adviser Professor Bullock to approve her thesis concept on the gothic novel The Ravages of Umbria and its author. After meeting with distracted Dr. Bullock at his home, Dulcie leaves only to find the corpse of fellow graduate student Cameron Dessay lying on the front step. She especially did not like the pompous comp lit transfer who the females dubbed "de sigh", but would not wish him dead.

Although she has solved a mystery recently (see Shades of Grey) Dulcie would prefer to stay out of this one so she can focus on her treatise and advise undergrad Raleigh Hall. However, Cambridge PD Detective Carioli invites her to the station in Red Square for questioning and upon meeting the self assured Raleigh while watching her friend Lloyd Pruitt react with fear, Dulcie wonders if she can avoid sleuthing especially when her late cat Mr. Grey appears telling her to have faith in her own abilities while her new kitty purrs.

This is a terrific academic amateur sleuth with a bit of the paranormal enhancing the entertaining story line. Fast-paced, readers obtain a deep look at academia at Harvard, which wraps around the murder mystery. Dulcie is a superb lead protagonist who holds the plot together while encouraged by the ghost of Mr. Grey to rust herself as he does. Grey Matters is a wonderful investigative thriller.

The Sandbox
David Zimmerman
Soho Press
853 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
www.sohopress.com
9781569476284, $25.00, www.amazon.com

In the middle of the Iraqi Desert at Forward Operating Base Cornucopia, known by those misfortunate to be stationed there as Sandbox, U.S. Army Private Toby Durrant was worrying about his pregnant fiancee, but not for long. An ambush kills two soldiers while a shocked Toby pees in his pants.

Still stunned, Lieutenant Blankenship assigns Toby to quietly scrutinize the information provided by their translator and afterward question two prisoners suspected of belonging to the insurgents. Besides a lack of language skill, Toby is further confused why him as he has no interrogation experience or training. Nothing makes sense to him, but fearing something darker engulfing him, he almost pees again in his pants when the two Iraqi prisoners are found dead. Military Intel arrives to interrogate Toby; asking him questions about Blankenship.

There is lot more going on in the desert, but what makes this a great Iraqi war saga is Toby, an ordinary individual who has made several mistakes in his life, but now is caught up with something that could unfairly leave him holding the bag. He has learned the path sh*t travels in the military as corruption at the top means those at the bottom pay the price if exposure occurs. Pulling no punches, David Zimmerman paints a grim military thriller of a grunt just trying to survive the folly of war fought as a suits' capitalist endeavor.

Provocative in Pearls
Madeline Hunter
Jove
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
http://us.penguingroup.com
9780515147629, $7.99, www.amazon.com

Two years ago they married, but failed to consummate the act before she vanished. Verity Thompson, daughter of a late inventive and successful iron making firm, was assumed to have died, but legally since no body existed seven years must pass before she is declared dead. Her husband, frustrated Lord Grayson Bridlington, failed to get one pence that he needs to help his tenants.

Now, the Earl with his recently married friend Summerhays (see Ravishing in Red) finds Verity alive and well living on a country estate. He insists they are married while she insists they annul the marriage as she was coerced by her odious guardian her cousin Bertram who extorted her cooperation by threatening a mother and son she loves. As the couple becomes acquainted they begin to fall in love, but the specter of her missing Michael stands in their way.

This is a super Regency romantic mystery starring two likable individuals who come from different walks of life with plenty of issues between them. The story line is fast-paced as Madeline Hunter provides another strong historical focusing on an independent woman and the earl with a temper who is unsure whether to strangle her or kiss her. Fans will enjoy this fine tale as well as its predecessors knowing two Rarest Bloom ladies to go (and hopefully the fascinating Castleford too).

The Ragtime Fool
Larry Karp
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
www.poisonedpenpress.com
9781590586990, $24.95, www.amazon.com

At one time, Brun Campbell was the sole white student of ragtime master Scott Joplin. However, that was seemingly ages ago for now in 1951, The Ragtime Kid is an old man who cuts hair in Venice, California, but continues to push Joplin 's reputation hoping to get some good publicity for the ragtime great.

In Joplin's hometown of Sedalia, Missouri, plans to honor him in a special ceremony have divided the area. Many are proud of what the late great ragtime guru did, but the Klan has other thoughts. When word of a Joplin journal surfaces, Brun and a seventeen years old New Jersey ally Alan Chandler are exhilarated and want it published so the profits will allow the leaders of Sedalia to create a Joplin-Ragtime museum. Historian Rudi Blesh also wants to publish the journal as a book. Others including close friends of Joplin do not want it published while the Klan wants to destroy the diary. The Klan believes killing including blowing up a filled auditorium is acceptable.

The third Ragtime historical tale is a superb thriller with a seemingly cast of thousands deftly played like a maestro by Larry Karp. The multiple sub-plotted story line is fast-paced as several diverse interests converge in Sedalia. The deep look at racial relations and divisions during the end of the Truman era as well as how those who knew Joplin prefer to pick and choose their history as nostalgia wants positive memories which makes for a strong character driven mid twentieth century thriller.

The Significant Seven
John McEvoy
Poisoned Pen
9781590587058, $24.95

In Chicago FBI agents Karen Engel and Damon Tirabassi ask Jack Doyle to help them work a cruel case of animal brutality to fix races at nearby Heartland Downs. They explain a new form of "sponging" has occurred in which a sponge placed in a horse's nasal passage to cut off half of the oxygen flow prevents an odds on favorite from running a solid race. Though they do not have his lower anatomy like they did when they used him before, Jack agrees to go undercover at Heartland.

Back in 2002, The Significant Seven, who met as students at the U of Wisconsin three decades earlier, won the Pick Six and use their winnings to buy racing horses. They have local success thanks to Badger Express. As Jack is undercover at Heartland, professional killers are assassinating the Significant Seven one at a time, but supplement their hit list with Jack whose investigation crosses over.

This is an exhilarating thriller as Jack works a cruelty to animals betting fix case, which leads him to a serial killer investigation. The story line is faster than Secretariat ran the Belmont as Jack finds himself in several Close Call predicaments. Mystery fans especially those who enjoy the Sport of Kings will appreciate this entry and the series as John McEvoy enhances the whodunit with horse racing tales.

Eight for Eternity
Mary Reed and Eric Mayer
Poisoned Pen
9781590587027, $24.95

In Constantinople in A.D. 532, two criminals escape custody. Emperor Justinian is informed and is very concerned as each supported rival chariot racing teams at the Hippodrome and he knows how sports fans are insanely fanatics. He orders his loyal Lord Chamberlain, John to investigate.

John quickly finds the corpses of both men in a cistern. Meanwhile, as the city is torn by rioting that impedes his investigation, two influential nephews of a former ruler declare their support of General Belisarius encouraging him to lead a rebellion; they want to rule.

This is a great ancient historical mystery series that ironically uses numerals in the titles (see Seven for a Secret), but never goes by the numbers in telling the story. The current entry is a strong period piece that highlights the riots of 532 AD and the rivalry to snatch the throne from Justinian. John's inquiry provides fans a deep look at Constantinople in the sixth century wrapped inside a strong investigation. Sub-genre fans will believe Mary Reed and Eric Mayer are eight for eight and want nine for reading soonest.

Hell Gate
Linda Fairstein
Dutton
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10014-3657
www.penguinputnam.com
9780525951612, $26.95, www.amazon.com

A Ukrainian ship carrying human cargo to New York sinks near Rockaway Beach in Queens. Many die with the few survivors talking in their native tongue about abuse and brutality. Thirty women were part of the cargo to be employed in the lucrative sex trade; however one of the females died before she fell into the icy water. New York County Sex Crimes Office ADA Alexandra Cooper is at the scene shocked by the inhuman behavior and vows to find out who killed this Jane Doe.

Married Manhattan Congressman Ethan Leighton flees the scene of a car accident that he caused being under the influence at the about the same time his lover Mexican immigrant Salma Zunega calls 911 to report his threatening her. Soon afterward she and their child Ana vanish. Mayor Vin Statler demands resolution, but not expected it to occur at Gracie Mansion nor the snakehead rose tattoo tying the cases together.

The latest Cooper thriller is a terrific entry (see Lethal Legacy) that hooks the audience immediately and never misses a beat though there is even more going on than the two prime subplots. Fast-paced throughout, fans will appreciate Hell's Gate as Linda Fairstein provides a deep look at human trafficking in which pure capitalism rules over basic commonly accepted rights with the United States as a major economic partner in spite of solid law enforcement efforts to prevent it.

Tooth And Claw
Nigel McCrery
Pantheon
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th fl, New York, NY 10019
www.pantheonbooks.com
9780307377029, $25.95, www.amazon.com

In England, Detective Chief Inspector Mark Lapslie finds his synesthesia worsening so he has special compensation to work from his house; sound is the sense that gives him his most difficult challenges as often he nauseatingly tastes noise although he is beginning to hear smells making noises. His wife and child left him even before his olfactory sense changed as he is impossible to live with due to his condition. His sometimes partner Sergeant Emma Bradbury arrives at his house to take Lapslie to th e Essex home of TV newscaster Catherine Charnaud, a torture murder victim who was horribly skinned alive. Before arriving Emma gives Mark headphones to keep noise away from him.

Meanwhile psychopath Carl Whittley continues to experiment with explosive devices while constantly fighting with his profiler mom and watching his dad remain bedridden. He is riding high since he skinned Catherine. He plans even more gruesome homicides.

Rotating perspective between a psychopath and a cop with synthesia, Nigel McCrery provides an intriguing English police procedural psychological suspense. Lapslie's sensual issues along with Whitley's obsessive compulsive behavior deadly impulses overwhelm the investigation. Readers who relish a psychological comparative study of a cop and a killer adjusting to their respective worlds will want to read Tooth and Claw and its predecessor Still Waters; as for those who prefer a more typical British police procedural needs to pass as the lead duo supersede the case.

Bloodprint
Kitty Sewell
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
www.simonandschuster.com
9781416585152, $16.00, www.amazon.com

Although Key West was not considered in a direct path of tropical storm Angelina, the island takes a nasty hit. A resident all her life, Madeleine Frank can never look at the place the same way since her spouse Forrest died in the storm. Needing to escape her loss, Madeleine flees Florida for Bath, England, where she opens up a psychotherapy practice.

Her latest patient Rachel Locklear seems at first like a classic domestic violence victim as her former lover and father of her child has pimped her and wants both back under his brutal thumb. However, as the sessions continue, Madeleine is stunned to find Rachel's past somewhat mirrors her own dark childhood growing up in a household where her Cuban mother was a powerful Santera priestess; her mom currently lives in a nearby mental institution as she suffers from acute paranoid schizophrenia. Soon the pasts of both women will collide with their present leaving each with no hope for the future.

Although there are some subplots especially the ants that feel pointless as they fail to enhance the psychological suspense or insight into the beleaguered heroine, BLOODPRINT is an engaging thriller. Madeleine is an interesting character as Key West can no longer be home for her and Bath is becoming questionable. Rachel purposely is a bit underdeveloped as the woman in trouble so that the audience will wonder whether she is manipulating her therapist; her actions and Madeleine's reactions lead to the heroine's peril just like her demented mom warned her. Even though this story is not on the level of ICE TRAP, Kitty Sewell provides a fine contemporary thriller that combines a violent significant other with Santera beliefs converging on two frightened but brave women.

Eleanor the Queen
Norah Lofts
Touchstone
9781439146118, $15.00

In the twelfth century, Eleanor of Aquitaine was probably the most influential woman in Europe. She married French King Louis VII and accompanied the devout ruler on the failed Crusade in the Holy Land; there she was not just an idle observer. However, though she gave him two daughters, she could never fully get past his male advisors who her spouse preferred to heed. Fifteen years after they married, they divorced. Back in Aquitaine, she met teenager Henry Plantagenet, twelve years her junior. They marry and one day soon he became England's King He nry II of England. They had many offspring and seemed a perfect couple until she discovered his infidelity with Rosamonde. Her furor led to a family schism between her husband and their sons as she lingered in prison for almost two decades.

This is a superb biographical fiction tale starring a strong medieval woman who was queen to two powerful kings in two countries. Eleanor comes across somewhat as a modern female, which attracted powerful men to her, yet ironically also led to her troubles with them. Twelfth century France and England are vividly described as is the failed Crusade. However, even with several powerful rulers in her life, Eleanor the Queen rules over her spouses and offspring monarchs in Norah Loft's fine historical fiction novel.

No Mercy
Lori Armstrong
Touchstone
9781416590958, $25.00

Army sniper Mercy Gunderson has come home from Iraq to South Dakota filled with guilt for failing to return to see her dad one last time as he jus died. On medical leave due to a retinal detachment that makes being a sniper impossible and nightmares, Mercy must decide what she should do with the ranch she inherited form her father. Making the decision difficult is how to care for her reckless sister, single mom Hope and her irresponsible teenage nephew Levi recently collared by Sheriff Dawson for theft.

Someone hits Mercy in the back of her neck in a parking lot and soon afterward an unknown adversary shoots Levi in the head and heart leaving him dead. Mercy knows she has to tell Hope, but plans to also investigate her nephew's murder. Soon she uncovers the shocking truth behind that homicide and another, but is running out of time as a determined killer targets the Gunderson brood.

This is an action-packed South Dakota amateur sleuth mystery starring a trained killer soldier who has a ton of emotional family baggage; perhaps too much. The story line starts a bit slow as the audience meets the players with their emotional issues especially the kick butt heroine. Once the introductions are finished, the story line is fast-paced driven by Mercy's frenzied need to know who. Fans will enjoy the aptly titled tale as the heroine shows No Mercy to her enemies.

Island Sting
Bonnie J. Doerr
Leap Books
marketing@leapbks.com.
9781616030025, $11.99 www.leapbks.com

Following her parents' divorce, Kenzie Ryan left New York City to live with her mom Maggie on Big Pine Key 30 miles from Key West and 100 from the Mainland. . Hardly settled in the wildlife refuge location, Kenzie rescues a Key deer from drowning with the help of local Angelo who explains the animal is part of an endangered species.

However, Kenzie learns someone is poaching and killing the dwindling Key deer populace. She and Angelo team up to catch the poacher, unaware of the danger as the hunter soon changes game from deer to stalking amateur sleuthing teens.

Island Sting is an engaging young teen environmental investigative mystery starring two solid young caring teenagers. The story line is fast-paced and the whodunit contains several viable suspects. Readers will enjoy the adventures of Kenzie and Angelo as they try to protect the endangered Key deer from a poacher. Note that this is a major rewrite of preadolescent tale Kenzie's Key targeting a slightly older audience and includes recent events like a reference to White House party crashing for instance.

Freaksville
Kitty Keswick
Leap Books
marketing@leapbks.com.
9781616030018, $16.99 www.leapbks.com

In Stony Creek, California, Maxwell females can see the future, which is hard on sixteen years old Kasey. She wears gloves to avoid touching anything or anyone as that triggers her skill; worse her mom sees everything.

Kasey has a vision starring mysterious English foreign exchange student Josh Johnstone. Her sight leads her to co-starring with Josh in Romeo and Juliet and a kiss. However, someone wants to harm either him or both of them starting with a stage light falling and there being locked in the basement. When they see a ghost, each knows who the malevolence is who is after them, but neither knows how to send the mean spirit to its final resting place even though she has the gift of sight via touch and he is a werewolf.

This is an enjoyable teen romantic urban fantasy starring a Romeo and Juliet couple harassed by genetics and paranormal incidents. Although blogging provides an interesting modern feel to the plot, this is also a big detractor as Miss Manners wisely says: "Don't go public with your so-called private life." Still young adults will enjoy Freaksville as the cast is solid even the ghost and Kasey's BFF could support her own tale.

Imperfect Birds
Anne Lamott
Riverhead Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
www.us.penguingroup.com
9781594487514, $25.95, www.amazon.com

Entering her high school senior year, seventeen year old Rosie Ferguson is a high achieving teen. Rosie is beautiful, an A student and a good athlete. Her mother Elizabeth is proud of her daughter.

Elizabeth feared the move to Lansdale in Marin County, but she, her husband James, and her daughter apparently adjusted rather easily though she prays Rosie stays away from the youth drug culture as she knows she herself uses alcohol to numb emotional excess. She and James vigilantly watch Rosie for signs of abuse and use as the square sells everything. However, in spite of their vigil, they fail to notice her daughter's mendacity until it is almost too late. Risking their marriage, James and Elizabeth intervene while Rosie objects.

Rosie and Elizabeth return (see Rosie) in this profound gut wrenching family drama. The story line captures teen behavior with a strong need to ignore parental authority while also demanding privacy and the typical subsequent parental reaction. The lead trio is an awesome combination of love, defiance, and anger as Anne Lamott provides an intelligent psychological family drama.

Matthew's Story
Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
www.penguin.com
9780399156212, $24.95, www.amazon.com

In Bet Guvrin, eight years old Levi diligently studies to become a priest. He is a happy child who loves God, his parents and adores his baby brother Chavivi. One night soldiers of Herod the Great arrive at his home and kill his sibling; as they have all killed all infant males since the Magi claimed the Christ was born. Herod insists he is the King of the Jews and not some pretender.

Levi still believed in God but his adulation turned to loathing as he blames the Lord for his baby brother's death. He rejects the priesthood and instead becomes a Roman tax collector. His people detest him as he becomes wealthy at their expense, but he feels empty inside until he meets Jesus. He becomes his disciple and changes his name to Matthew and follows him loyally. Jesus tells him he will feel the pain Matthew felt when He follows his Father's wishes.

Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins use a contemporary interpretation to tell Matthew's Story, a disciple who transformed from youthful pious believer, to odious sinner to saint thanks in part to Jesus. The use of modern day vernacular makes it easier on the audience to understand the message and power of Christ especially in altering Matthew's life; though in fairness some readers might question free will. As with Mark, Luke and John, Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins provide a strong biblical biographical fictional account of a disciple of Jesus.

The Creation of Eve
Lynn Cullen
Putnam
9780399156106, $25.95

In 1560 sixteen years old Elizabeth of Valois becomes the third wife of King Felipe of Spain. S he was a student of Michelangelo and her being a woman; so King Felipe selects female artist Sofonisba "Sofi" Anguissola to mentor the new queen on painting. Both feel isolated in the backstabbing royal court where squabble is the norm and affairs persistent. The painter and the royal forge a friendship that goes way beyond teacher and pupil as each realizes they can rely on the other to have their back.

Told mostly through the perspective of the renaissance artist, The Creation of Eve is a superb historical fiction that reads more like an autobiography of the sixteenth century artist. The Spanish court of King Felipe is a deathtrap for the naive as the queen and the painter quickly learn. That insidious atmosphere of two outsiders is a prime impetus for each to turn to one another in friendship. From the First Notebook entry in 1559, this fine tale contains a strong eye on the era that sub-genre readers will relish The Creation of Eve.

Lucid Intervals
Stuart Woods
Putnam
9780399156441, $25.95

Lawyer Stone Barrington and his former partner when he worked for NYPD Dino Bachetti are at Elaine's when Herbie "the loser" Fisher enters carrying an attache case. He rushes over to Stone hiring him on the spot to be available when he needs an attorney. Stone and Dino knows something is bit off in the universe when Herbie pays Stone, $1 million as a retainer. Herbie explains he won several with the lucky lotto, but the lawyer and the cop are skeptical.

Soon afterward British intelligence officer Felicity Devonshire retains Stone to find vanished former operative Stanley Whitestone, who disappeared a dozen years ago, but remains a person of interest by his former agency. Apparently, he was seen in New York recently. Jim Hackett, owner of a large private security firm, also employs Stone, who believes there is a reasonable chance he is Whitestone. Like a bad penny, then there is Stone's crazy ex-wife Dolce Bianci causing havoc. In his life.

This is an entertaining Barrington thriller that is filled with action and increasingly peril for the hero, but also somewhat tempered smoothly like good bourbon with jocularity. The two cases are fun and Dolcie brings her usual insanity to the mix as she is Loitering with Intent. As expected even the British spy joins the great Kisser for some boudoir activity as Stuart Woods provides an enjoyable blending of babes, bourbon and sleuthing in his latest Barrington tale.

The Burning Lamp
Amanda Quick
Putnam
9780399156465, $25.95

In the late seventeenth century alchemist Nicholas Winters developed the Burning Lamp to enhance his arcane skills, but the cost was an insanity curse to his descendants. Only a woman of special power, a dreamlight reader, can work the artifact and prevent the descent into insanity. His enemy Sylvester Jones formed the Arcane Society to police practitioners and remain vigilant in watching the Winters' brood.

In the late Victorian Era, recently orphaned fifteen years old Adelaide Pyne is sold to a brothel. Her first customer Mr. Smith shows her a special lamp with it's' power not activated. Smith uses a crystal to kill the brothel owner, but Adelaide shocks him with her dreamlight skill when she puts him to sleep. Although unsure why, she runs away with the lamp and his money.

Thirteen years later, London Director of the Consortium crime lord Griffin Winters seeks a social reformer who has raided brothels though he does not own whorehouses. He needs this woman and the Burning Lamp to prevent his descent into insanity. He arranges through a mutual acquaintance to meet the Widow. She recognizes he uses shadow magic to conceal himself, but he is excited when she easily spots him. Griffin explains he needs h er to prevent his fall into insanity. She mentions possessing the Burning Lamp which was stolen from his parents the night they were murdered. They are attracted to each other and she agrees to help him. However Smith abetted by crime lord Luttrell is coming for her and the lamp.

This exhilarating Arcane Society Victorian romantic fantasy moves forward the overarching theme of the Dreamlight trilogy (see Fired Up) but easily stands alone. The lead couple is an interesting pairing of a crime lord and a social reformer although he never displays criminal activity; while Jones and Jones play support roles. Although the two villains never quite live up to reader anticipation, fans will relish this superb thriller.

The Executor
Jesse Kellerman
Putnam
9780399156472, $25.95

Harvard University kicks out thirty year old graduate student Joseph Geist for slacking; the philosophy major was doing none of his class work. Reeling from that blow though he knows he is at fault, Joseph takes a second shot to the gut when his girlfriend ends their longtime relationship.

Needing gainful employment that does not require work, he answers a personal ad in the Harvard Crimson. Elderly Austrian expatriate Alma Spielmann seeks a meaningful conversationalist to discuss and argue issues. He answers the call and is hired. They become more than just employer-employee as the pair becomes friends. She invites him to move into her Cambridge house for free room and board; he accepts her offer. However, Alma's nasty nephew Eric resents the non-family freeloader though ironically he depends on his aunt's generosity for his finance and he occasionally visits her to see if t he old hag's health is failing.

This is a superb psychological suspense thriller that grips the audience once the triangle is set as fans of Jesse Kellerman anticipate something bad is going to happen but wonder to whom. The three key players come across as real with Joseph caring for his employer and Alma for her employee with angry Eric stirring the mix. Jesse Kellerman is at the author's best with this strong character driven thriller that will readers wondering throughout who if any will be left standing.

Murderous Procession
Ariana Franklin
Putnam
9780399156281, $25.95

In 1176, King Henry II of England orders his most trusted friend and adviser, his Mistress of the Art of Death, Dr. Adelia Aguilar to escort his ten year old daughter Joanna to Sicily where she will marry her second cousin King William. Adelia knows the area quite well having studied medicine in Salerno, Italy.

The trek proves dangerous as there are several assassins who want to strike at King Henry by killing his daughter and by one insidious killer Scarry, who wants Adelia dead. Some members of the wedding party are murdered as they journey across the continent. However though seeking the killers, Adelia never loses sight that keeping Princess Joanna safe is all that counts.

The fourth Mistress of the Art of Death historical mystery (see Grave Goods) is an entertaining tale based on the real wedding journey of Princess Joan. The deadly trek hooks the audience although the historical aspects overwhelm the whodunit. Still readers who enjoy a late twelve century tale will want to join Adelia, Joanna and their companions on they travel from England to Sicily.

Nowhere To Run
C.J. Box
Putnam
9780399156458, $25.95

Wyoming Game Warden Joe Picket investigates a hunting complaint in a remote section where a female runner vanished years ago. Entering the woods, Joe feels a creeping sensation up and down his spine that someone is stalking him.

However, paranoia can prove genuine when someone ambushes Joe. He barely escapes from the woods. Joe reports that survivalists and a female attacked him. His account leads to a media frenzy as a runner's parents pray their daughter is alive as this is the first time they can hope and a horde of rent a soldiers arrive to free the woman from the survivalists.

Nowhere to Run is an exhilarating Picket thriller that grips the audience once Joe knows he has a stalker tracking him and never slows down until the final climatic denouement. This thriller is fast-paced throughout with terrific twists that hook fans even deeper into the story line. Like Joe, fans will wonder when is government too intrusive yet when must the government intrude on the lives of competent individuals making rational but outside the box choices that places no one else in harm.

The Bride Collector
Ted Dekker
Center Street
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
www.hachettebookgroup.com
9781599951966, $24.99, www.amazon.com

In Denver, Quinton Guild believes young beautiful women need to be the Brides of Christ. To insure they accept their destiny to be with God, he murders them. However, he glues his chosen ones to a wall and slowly drains them of their blood.

FBI Agent Brad Raines is assigned the investigation into ending the killing spree of this Brides of Christ psychopath. He is getting nowhere in his efforts to find the serial killer until he decides to discuss the case with unique consultants. Brad visits the Center for Wellbeing and Intelligence, an institution filled with gifted but insane people such as schizophrenic Paradise who can see the final moments of life of a dead person. Now The Bride Collector wants to marry forensic psychologist Nikki Holden to Christ.

This is an exciting serial killer thriller that is fast-paced when the psychopath is front and center especially performing the macabre marriage rituals and when Brad meets the institutionalized insane. The story line slows down when Brad introspectively overly philosophizes whether it is better to love or not to love as loved ones die; yet ironically his discourse on who is mentally healthy vs insane is brilliant; albeit also slowing down the pace. Still Ted Dekker provides his audience with a terrific thought provoking whodunit as readers will wonder who is locked away and why.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Helen Simonson
Random House
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
www.randomhouse.com
9781400068937, $25.00, www.amazon.com

In Edgecombe St. Mary, sexagenarian English Widower Major Ernest Pettigrew grieves the death of his younger brother, Bertie. As a memento of growing up together, Ernest wants Bertie's antique Churchill shotgun, which is part of a set in which he owns the other piece. However, his sibling's wife Marjorie refuses to give it to him. Meanwhile Ernest's son Roger salivates over selling the Churchill collection.

Ernest is attracted to Pakistani shopkeeper Widow Jasmina Ali who he buys his tea from and enjoys discussing literature especially Kipling with her. He wants to court the single mom though Roger interferes as does the village socialites; each has their own reason while her nephew Abdul Wahid demands she give him the shop as women should not be storekeepers by themselves. However the major plans to ask the shopkeeper to accompany him to the dance at the club unaware of the volatile theme.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is a great contemporary English village romance with a very modern day theme of two subcultures clashing when a person from each group falls in love with someone from the other side, a Romeo and Juliet taboo. The story line is character driven by the strong lead couple who has feelings that is unacceptable by their families and friends. Jocular and poignant, Helen Simonson writes a relevant tale of forbidden love even for middle aged military veterans who risks his place in the village by taking a last stand for what he wants.

Postcards from a Dead Girl
Kirk Farber
Harper
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022-5299
www.harpercollins.com
9780061834479, $13.99, www.amazon.com

His former girlfriend Zoe began sending Sid Higgins postcards from all over Europe. However, the cards are all over a year old and Zoe seems to have fallen off the face of the planet. He decides to travel to Europe to make sure zany Zoe is okay though he doubts he will locate her.

Sid easily arranges his getaway as a perk working for a New Jersey travel agency. Before crossing the pond, he opens his soul to his boss, his neighbor, the mail carrier, his sister the physician and his best listener Zero the dog.

This is an amusing often poignant tale that takes the audience deep inside of Sid although he can be irritating to the point fans will emulate his sister by shouting at him to get a life and move past a relationship that has been dead for a couple of years. Zero makes the story line fun with his precious reactions to his owner's tales of woe is me when all he wants is chow. Although Sid's obsession can be wearisome at times, Postcards from a Dead Girl is a profound character study.

If You Follow Me
Malena Watrous
Harper
9780061732850, $14.99

American girlfriends Marina and Carolyn move to Shika, Japan to teach English to Japanese students. Although in Japan struggling to understand trash collection methods, the two female Yanks also have a hard time learning the native language. Still they teach in the same classroom with Hiroshi the translator assisting them.

The pair squabbles at times over what seems afterward mostly inane like what to do with the garbage while reflecting how they met at a grief support group. In fact Marina went on this trip so she could find some closure and move beyond her father's death. As Marina turns to Hiroshi as a friend and to her students as a mental escape, Carolyn withdraws from her, the students and their translator. Ironically while Carolyn grieves deeper for her loss, Marina feels her father's encouraging presence pleading with her to live life to the fullest.

If You Follow Me is a wonderful character driven tale of two Americans in Japan reacting to the culture shock in dramatically opposite directions. Marina and Carolyn are fully developed protagonists with the former embracing the country and the latter retreating from the country. The comparisons between the two Americans refresh an often told tale of an individual coping with a dramatic change in lifestyle (see Love In Translation by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga).

Amberville
Tim Davys
Harper
9780061625138, $10.00

Eric Bear has come a long way from when he used drugs, gambled and was a runner for mob chieftain Nicholas Dove. Now Eric is married to a wonderful woman Emma Rabbit though he still hears rumors about his cronies from the old days.

Dove hears some of the same rumors including one that he is on the portentous Death List of those who will soon vanish. He visits his former employer to offer a deal. If Eric gets his name removed from the ominous Death List, his stuffed thugs will not rip apart Emma. Erick knows he cannot perform this quest alone; so he enlists his former gang teammates Tom-Tom Crow, Sam Gazelle and Snake Marek, who like him are reformed former felons. The quest to find the top secret foreboding Death List and its even more clandestine author begins.

Amberville is an enjoyable parable that uses stuffed animals to tell a combination mob gang good and evil fable. The story line is at its fast-paced most exhilarating during the gang sequences. The plot slows down at times when the tale turns into a dissertation on the nature of evil; though ironically that segues is the more fascinating subplot. Readers who prefer something wildly different will want to peruse Tim Davys' intriguing allegory.

Balancing Acts
Zoe Fishman
Harper
9780061711800, $13.99

The four women graduated from Boston University ten years ago. They knew one another other, but would not consider themselves close friends. Each had dreams. Charlie was going to own wall St; Naomi was going to be a famous photographer; Sabine w as going to write great novels; and Bess was going to be a famous investigative reporter.

They meet at the ten year college reunion in Manhattan. Charlie left Wall St. to open with partners Julian and Felicity a yoga studio in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn; Sabine edits romance novels; and Bess writes for the celebrity gossip tabloid Pulse. None are happy though Charlie is probably the closest even with her studio in financial trouble she has boyfriend issues. She invites the three other grads to come to Brooklyn for yoga; they agree and over six weeks of an introductory class all four realize their lives are unbalanced; becoming true friends each tries to bring some balance to their lives.

Though sisterhood bonding is not a new concept, Balancing Acts is an entertaining tale as each of the four women face their issues over the six week yoga course and soon form a tight bond that helps each balance responsibilities and rekindle burned out dreams. A superb support cast enhances the audience's understanding of the quartet. Readers will root for each one of the leads to balance their respective acts as these likable females soon are there supporting one another.

The Barbary Pirates
William Dietrich
Harper
9780061567964, $25.99

In 1802 American diplomat Ethan Gage, accompanied by his brilliant insane scientist companions, British rock hound (geologist) William Smith, French zoologist George Cuvier, and American crackpot inventor Robert Fulton, is back in Paris. Napoleon orders the foursome to investigate whether Archimedes' renowned mirror exists or is a fantasy as rumors of the death ray gizmo abound.

The quartet begin the quest from Toulon crossing the Mediterranean towards Tripoli, but quickly run into adversarial conditions caused by the brutal Egyptian Rite cabal still planning to dominate the globe with plans to use the fabled death ray on the opposition. Gage is across the Mediterranean where he is joined by Lady Aurora Somerset and Astiza the Egyptian while the Barbary Pirates see his expedition as plunder while Gage and company sail in Fulton's impractical sub to Tripoli with plans to continue to Malta and beyond.

The latest Gage swashbuckling pulp fiction is a great over the top of the Tibesti Massif as the hero and three lunatic savants join him on his latest escapades. The story line is fast-paced throughout as Gage never has a chance for a breather. Fans who relish Indiana Jones in Napoleon Era Mediterranean will relish the Barbary pirates adventures as Gage has left America again (see The Dakota Cipher) to cause havoc in Europe and Africa.

Five-Star Fleecing
Maura Stone
A WinS Publication
Trish@MauraStone.com
9781449932299, $25.00 www.maurastone.com

In 1995 after losing her legal position at a firm doing questionable practices, Linda Lane obtains a job as assistant resident manager at the Manhattan luxurious Supreme Superior Hotel. Her boss Herr Ganiff explains the rules of working at a five-star hotel and assigns her to work up a plan on how to keep their high roller s happy while also bringing in some middle income.

However, Linda observes all sorts of questionable practices at the hotel owned in absentia by a Japanese trio. In fact, she sees theft, poor handling of guests and a management team that takes care of itself exclusively. As she tries to ignore what she observes, Linda thinks of her father who told her to never back down from an ethics scenario as she did as a lawyer.

This is a superb scathing satire of the hospitality business at a time when Wall St. is in the news with Too Big To Fail bonuses to many of those who failed. The cast is eccentric and over the top of the Empire Sta te Building with me-me attitudes that stun idealistic newcomer Linda Lane who cannot understand the philosophy that the guest must not get in the way of bonuses. Maura Stone provides a well written tale of avarice, American style of capitalism.

At the Gates of Darkness
Raymond E. Feist
Eos Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022-5299
www.harpercollins.com
9780061468377, $26.99, www.amazon.com

Insane necromancer Belasco called up and sent demons to destroy Midkemia. However, a shaky alliance between enemies, especially Pug the Black Sorcerer of Sorcerer's Isle and the Conclave of Shadows led by field agent James Jamison defeated the Demon King Maarg and his horde (see Maarg Rides a Dread Legion). Although they won that battle, the war is far from over as Belasco has other demonic contacts ready to fight.

In the Valley of Lost Men, Belasco regroups with Dahun the demon as they unite in a level of dark magic never tried before. Still healing physically, they have no time to do so mentally especially to grieve for so many valiant, who died in their just cause, James warns the band of Midkemia protectors that the next battle has begun. James, Pug, Amirantha the necromancer, Brandos the warlock, Sandreena the Knight-Adamandt, the Star Elven siblings, and others set out to end the latest deadly threat; none of the brave heroes and heroines expect to come back alive.

The second Demonwar fantasy is an exciting thriller that continues the latest demonic assault on Midkemia. The story line is fast-paced and fun to follow as the various cast of heroes and the two prime villains make their magical skills and species seem genuine. Well written even long time fans wondering when Pug will start receiving medicare will think two ways about Yogi Berra's comment "deja vu all over again" as Raymond E. Feist like Mantle and Maris hits back to back home runs though his saga has that sameness feel from the previous series. Still readers will enjoy the latest battle against the demon minion.

Cat of the Century
Rita Mae Brown
Bantam Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
www.randomhouse.com
9780553807073, $26.00, www.amazon.com

Ever since Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen remarried her ex husband successful veterinarian Fair, she has been happier than she has been a in a long time; dating back to when he cheated on her during their first marriage. They live in Crozet, Virginia; a town where all the animals regardless of species can talk to each other except humans. Harry's cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and her corgi Tee Tucker wish they could so they can warn her of danger and tell her where bodies are.

Several residents travel to William Woods University in Fuller, Missouri to celebrate Harry's beloved sassy Aunt Tally on her hundredth birthday. There is a lot of tension between the alumnae attending; especially between Mariah D'Angelo who owns a ritzy jewelry store and stockbroker Flo Langston. Their overt animosity divides the attendees into three groups, supporters of each and those who wish they would leave.

Things turn strange when Mariah abruptly leaves. It is learned that Flo was going to accuse Mariah of selling fakes in her store. When they return to Crozet, Mariah sends threatening emails to Liz Fillmore who sided with Flo and Terri Kincaid who sells high end ceramics at her shop. When Flo is killed by a sniper and Mariah is found murdered at the University, Harry and her sleuthing menagerie investigates who the killer is and why that person did it.

Any Mrs. Murphy Anthropomorphic mystery is a special treat as affirmed by Cat of the Century. The love between Harry and Fair shines throughout especially as he gives her space she needs to be herself even when she investigates. There are plenty of suspects with motives in a well constructed cozy that readers will enjoy in this one sitting read.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon
Sarah Addison Allen
Bantam
9780553807219, $25.00

With the death of her mom Dulcie, Emily Benedict moves in with her maternal grandfather whom she never met in Mullaby, North Carolina. She hopes to better understand what motivated her mother to abruptly run away from home and never return. However, not everyone welcomes the daughter of Dulcie while the new comer finds life with her gentle giant grandfather kind yet odd especially accentuated by the changing wallpaper.

Julia Winterson welcomes Emily with a cake. She hopes to pay off her dad's debt, which would enable her to shut down his restaurant and leave town to open a bakery elsewhere. Sawyer hopes she will stay and give him her heart as she owns his. Win Coffey and Emily are attracted to one another too, but their families are at the heart of the secrets that the outsider seeks to learn.

This is a warm whimsical tale with a strong message of don't relive past transgressions forever especially when the present provides a chance for a different future. Readers will be hooked to learn the Dulcie-Coffey secret and root for the two couples to make it. Not even Dean Smith paints Tarheel magic as well as Sarah Addison Allen does (see Garden Spells).

Rebels And Lovers
Linnea Sinclair
Bantam
9780553592191, $7.99

Two years have passed since information technology guru Devin Guthrie last saw his beloved Captain Makaiden "Kaidee" Griggs, a widow. Although her being his family yacht pilot makes her unacceptable as his wife because Devin would have to defy J.M. his powerful father and CEO of Guthrie Global Systems. Devin also knows he still loves her.

He is unhappy when his martinet father orders him to marry into another prominent family as damage control. Devin's older brother former admiral Philip defected to the Alliance (see Hope's Folly) and is openly rebelling against J.M. and the Empire. However, when Devin's nineteen years old nephew Trip vanishes, Devin investigates hoping to find the teen before he is hurt. Devin learns the lad's bodyguard was murdered and Trip barely escaped. He follows his fleeing relative to Dock Station Five where he encounters Kaidee and a perilous scenario in which apparently Empire and Alliance forces seek his nephew and him dead or alive.

Rebels and Lovers is a superb action-packed romantic suspense science fiction thriller. The taut story line never slows down from the moment Devin tastes a bit of freedom and adventure in his desperate pursuit to bring his nephew home safe. Readers will appreciate Linnea Sinclair's strong entry as the dangerous suspense thriller starring a strong lead couple makes for an astounding tale.

How to Defeat Your Own Clone: And Other Tips for Surviving the Biotech Revolution
Kyle Kurpinski and Terry D. Johnson
Bantam
9780553385786, $14.00

Somewhat tongue in cheek, this is a terrific look at cloning that simplifies using humor without dumbing down DNA sequencing. The authors answer key questions and provide warnings. One particular caution is allowing your DNA sequence to appear on the Internet that will remind readers of Miss Manners' warning about social networking. Readers will ask how do I defeat a clone who has been enhanced to be superior. Answer is experience and knowledge. The future appears to be chocolate-flavored broccoli that Bush 41 would enjoy, but not to worry as humans have a long time history of genetic engineering in farming and animal domestication. So although stem cell research appears to have cures for illnesses, Kyle Kurpinski and Terry D. Johnson make a serious Dr. Frankenstein case that good intentions pave the road to hell with unintended consequences. So be prepared to out think your healthier clone. This is a great science book that combines jocularity with easy to read and understand biotechnology.

Tales of the Otherworld
Kelley Armstrong
Bantam
9780553807882, $25.00

The second Otherworld short story collection (see Men of Otherworld) is a superb compilation that enhances knowledge of characters in the saga. As stated by Kelley Armstrong in the Introduction to the eight story anthology, "Beginnings" and "The Case of El Chapacabra" were written previously and placed on the author's website. In "Rebirth", Aaron learns of his vampire bloodline. "Bewitched" half-demon Eve and corporate sorcerer Kristof prove opposites attract. Logan Jonson seeks his "Birthright" when at eighteen he is about to meet his father Jeremy Danvers and unwittingly the pack for the first time. Elena of "Bitten" fame tells of her "Beginnings". The wedding of the year between Lucas Cortez and Paige Winterbourne brings "Expectations" to fans who know everything will go wrong. In "Ghost" the house seems empty with Elena and Clay gone but Daniel threatens his former pack mates. Three weeks and counting down to the nuptials, but the engaged couple feel as if they are going through "Wedding Bell Hell" with the slow countdown. In "The Case of El Chupacabra", Lucas and Paige investigate murder. These are terrific entries, but only fans of the Otherworld series will appreciate them as, like Ms. Armstrong has done on-line, they fill gaps in the series.

The Battle Sylph
L.J. McDonald
Leisure Books
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
www.dorchesterpub.com
9780843963007, $7.99, www.amazon.com

Her father arranged for Solie to marry a forty-five years old obese man. She refuses so believing her maiden Aunt Masha would taker her in, Solie flees her village. However, she fails to arrive at the haven she seeks. Instead she is captured by soldiers working for the prince of Eferem who expects a visit from a Battler Sylph. To bind him to the royals, they need a virgin sacrifice; hence the plan is to kill Solie the moment the Sylph crosses over as that enslaves them to the killer of his "queen".

However, the soldiers underestimate their helpless prisoner who escapes their binds and calls to the Sylph "Hey You". He kills the prince and immediately the named Heyou and his queen Solie flee together. Outraged King Alcor Baldorth sends royal warriors and other Battle Sylphs to chase after this abomination of a female master of any kind of Sylph, but especially the most fearsome type, the Battler.

This is a great opening romantic fantasy with a delightful tongue in cheek attitude that enhances the fun of the action-packed tale. The story line is fast-paced from the opening failed binding and never slows down as everyone knows females cannot be masters of sylphs. As Solie and Heyou rock their kingdom, readers will appreciate their escapades of trying to find haven, which is how she got into this mess in the first place. The Battle Sylph is a superb first act.

Renegade Riders
Dawn MacTavish
Leisure
9780843963229, $7.99

In 1875 in Canyon County, Arizona Territory, Trace Ord shoots the horse thief trying to steal his steed Diablo. He assumes the person he shot is a young boy, but when he goes to help him, he finds he shot a beautiful woman. He rem oves the bullet from her shoulder and gives her a chance to heal though he demands she explain why she was out here alone and took his horse. She refuses to answer beyond saying her name is Mae.

Not long afterward she steals Diablo for the second time. Her escape fails when four men grab her. Trace meets an older man who he calls the Preacher. They team up, but are unable to track Mae any further due to a storm. Instead they head to the Lazy C Ranch where Trace has business as a renegade rider seeking evidence that the owner Jared Comstock was stealing horses from his clients. With Preacher helping, Trace learns Mae is Jared's wife and Comstock was riding Diablo. However, nothing is quite like it seems as Trace is to learn while trying to rescue Mae and Diablo and obtain the proof of rustling by the lazy C.

This is a terrific tribute to the late Dawn MacTavish. Known for her Regencies and as Dawn Thompson her paranormals, as well as the well written Renegade Riders, shows her audience the depth of her skill with a western romance. The lead couple is a fabulous pairing as each has doubts about the other's loyalties yet take a dangerous risk for the other. Although Preacher's insistence on helping is not adequately explained until the very end, fans will fully appreciate the late twists that add excitement to a strong tale in which the lead couple exchanges shoulder scars.

In For a Penny
Rose Lerner
Leisure
9780843963359, $6.99

In 1819 Lord Nevinstroke learns his father died leaving the family broke and in overwhelming debt. His sister Louise offers to marry a wealthy man even odious Lord Jasper, but Nate chooses to be the sacrifice. He is already attracted to the daughter of an affluent brewer Penelope Brown so he asks her to marry him, but is honest about his need. She accepts as long as he abides by her list and he agrees to her terms.

At his family estate Loweston, Nate and Penny are stunned with what they find as the situation is even bleaker than they thought. The tenants are angry and their neighbor Lord Jasper stalks Louise. Worse his mom treats her daughter-in-law like dirt. Still even with his break up with his friends (Thirkell and Percy) and his mistress Amy, Nev seems happy as does Penny, but the past has a way of interfering with the future.

In For a Penny; in for a zillion pounds stars two delightful lead characters from different walks of life and a strong support cast who enhance the class differences that is the prime theme of the tale. Regency romance readers will relish Rose Lerner's wonderful historical.

Relentless
Bobbi Smith
Leisure
9780843962826, $7.99

In the late 1860s in Texas, fifteen year old Grant Spencer learns his beloved father Dan the sheriff of Grand Bluff was gunned down by a drunk in the line of duty. When he buried his dad, Grant vowed to pursue outlaws relentlessly. Thus he joins the Texas Ranger as soon as he can.

Ten years later in Canyon Springs, Texas stagecoach driver Charley Martin looks forward to the end of his six day run so he can spend time with his beloved wife Anne and their seventeen year old daughter Justine whom they call Dusty. However, this time he comes home to find his wife dead from a fever. He takes Dusty dressed as a male on his driving trips.

One year later, Grant and his partner Frank Thomas chase after the deadly Les Jackson gang. At a dance he meets Dusty and they are attracted to one another. However, he has a graveyard mission that drives him as capturing outlaws relentlessly is his life so he plans to leave her behind. However, fate intervenes when the ruthless killing Jackson abducts Dusty; Grant relentlessly pursues him vowing to rescue his woman.

This is a terrific western romance starring an obsessed male and a courageous adaptable female. The killing gang seems like they come from an old TV show or a John Wayne movie, but add tension with their lack of caring about life. Fans will root for this couple and for Frank who meets his woman and learns love is Relentless when it comes to the heart.

Kindred Spirits
Marilyn Meredith
Mundania Press
6470A Glenway Avenue, #109, Cincinnati, OH 45211-5222
www.mundania.com
9781594267352, $12.95, www.amazon.com

The wildfire is spreading rapidly down the Sierras threatening communities like Bear Creek. Resident Deputy Tempe Crabtree tries to insure everyone has been evacuated from the nearby foothills to the shelter run by her spouse Pastor Hutch Hutchison. However, firefighters prevent her from continuing near the home of half Tolowa Native American artist Vanessa Ainsworth.

Soon afterward, Tempe learns that a woman and dog died in the inferno near Vanessa's home. However, bullets killed both of them. Detectives Richards and Morrison lead the investigation that is going nowhere as Vanessa's former husband has an air tight alibi so the victim's ex boyfriend remains the top suspect. The cops scornfully send Tempe to Vanessa's hometown of Crescent City where her cousin lives because they assume an Indian to Indian chat will get them information as Tempe is part Yanduchi. Though on a personal level the trip proves fruitful; on an investigative level it goes nowhere though she picks up two stalkers along the way. However, ever since CALLING THE DEAD awakened her skills, Vanessa's spirit visits her. Tempe accompanied by Hutch continues to help the lead detectives, but her second trip is not well received as this the killer stalks her.

This is an exciting police procedural enhanced by a profound look at the historical atrocities towards Native Americans and the current bias of the lead detectives whose overt attitude makes it lucid that they need consideration of others training. The story line is fast-paced as Tempe works the case encouraged by the spirit of Vanessa, learns more about her heritage, and struggles with her relationship with Hutch.

The Scorpions Strike
C.L. Talmadge
Healing Stone Books
info@greenstoneofhealing.com
9780980053753, $16.95 www.greenstoneofhealing.com

The priests of the powerful Temple of Kronos continue their domination over the Toltec empire because King Kefren is too weak-minded to challenge the fundamentalist wing. The priests accuse Lord James Mordecai of heretical crimes against the Temple of Kronos by violating the purebred code when he sired a half-breed daughter Helen.

Both are punished for this gregarious transgression as James is brutally whipped and the Supreme Lord applies the Toltec death-mark to Helen, which allows a legal murder of her. Although festering with anger, James fails to act for fear of causing a civil war at a time the barbarians are attacking the borders. Meanwhile; Helen's secret lover Colonel Jackson Orlando keeps her alive until with the help of Maguari the Mist-Weaver and Academy Grand Master Isaac Sudras she finds a deadly toxin buried in her father's welts. When her stepmother Lady Samantha Poseidon becomes pregnant Helen saves her life and that of her unborn half-brother from an attack intended to kill Helen as the priests are still after the half-breed.

The third GREEN STONE OF HEALING fantasy is an engaging tale that has a unique feel to the plot as the key lead players are tied up by their ethics. James must choose between the kingdom and his daughter so does nothing beyond feeble protection of his offspring. Helen struggles with her fears for her father and his land as she has become a focus of those who would demonize the opposition; so like her dad is unsure what is best for him and his people. With an easy to manipulate ruler, Temple of Kronos fanatics proclaim religious supremacy enable them to assert heresy even knowing they emaciate the kingdom. Father and daughter only respond to their machinations making for a fascinating entry.

Outcast
C. L. Talmadge
Healing Stone Books
info@greenstoneofhealing.com
9780980053784, $16.95 www.greenstoneofhealing.com

Healer Helen Andros will do anything just about to prevent a civil war so though they only recently met she leaves the estate of her father Lord James Mordecai taking shelter in the mountains of Southern Alta Province. There she joins up with the Altairs, family of her lover Colonel Orlando Jackson. Helen and Orlando's mom Marlin become close as each provides nurturing while his father Jason is dying.

Soon after Jason is buried, Maguari the Mist-Weaver warns that Lord James' life is in jeopardy as is his kingdom if he fails to perform his role as the Lord Protector. Judith Altair pleads with Lord James to take action or face dire consequences but he remains inert. Helen flees again fearing betrayal will harm the family of her beloved. She goes into isolation, but meets the Sheen kids Jeriko and Deborah whose mother died last year and father Obadiah has become the Sin-Eater. Fearful, she visits Obadiah to obtain permission to watch over his offspring; they become friends and soon Maguari mentors them on using energy and especially Helen on applying her green stone. At the Temple of Kronos, a scheme to destroy Lord James via abduction of Helen is set in motion as she is betrayed again.

Book Four of Green Stone Healing fantasy is a terrific tale as the plot against Lord James moves forward as does a series of assaults on his daughter. The story line is fast-paced throughout while readers will admire Helen for her nurturing and healing, which seems an instinctive intrinsic part of her soul. With a strong support cast to enhance what is happening to a kingdom, a father, and a daughter, fantasy readers will enjoy this fine entry while wondering what Helen will do with her new skills.

Fallout
C.L. Talmadge
Healing Stone Books
info@greenstoneofhealing.com
9780980053746, $16.95 www.greenstoneofhealing.com

On Azgard, Lord James Mordecai recognizes adult physician Helen Andros as his daughter from a liaison with Miriam Andros (see Vision). However, their union is not harmonious as each brings a different past to the father daughter relationship. He demands offspring loyalty and she wants much more from him.

Meanwhile Exalted Lord Toltec King has healed from his debilitating drug induced coma and is interested in Helen's skills as a natural healer and as a surgeon as she brought him back to the living. He orders her to marry her second cousin Lord Justin Atlas. She now knows the Green Stone she wears enhances her medical abilities, but is unsure why. However, she is worried about what will happen to her father, who stands trial for seditious acts. At the same time Justin's father Prince Enoch Atlas believes he is finding the secrets of the priests of the Temple of Kronos in the use of life and death kura energy, which if successful will further his ambition.

The second Green Stone of healing tale is a terrific fantasy starring a large cast held strongly together by the confused heroine. The story line is fast-paced throughout and never slows although much goes on in several subplots. Enoch is a great villain with plans to raise himself and his House to the Exalted Lord level as C.L. Talmadge continues to expand on her deep political fantasy that requires the audience to read the first tale in what is so far a great saga.

The Poison Throne
Celine Kiernan
Orbit Books
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
www.hachettebookgroup.com
9780316077064, $14.99, www.amazon.com

Dying Lorcan Moorehawke returns from the Northland after a five year mission accompanied by his fifteen year old daughter Wynter to their former home Kingcourt, but are not welcomed as befits the Protector should be. That is they feel unwelcome until Victuallor Heron greets them warmly.

Wynter is stunned with changes at Kingcourt as everyone fears the king with good cause as he has turned brutal. His heir Alberon was forced to flee for his life and his other son Alberon's half-brother Razi sits uncomfortably on the regal Chair that belongs to his sibling while trying to remain loyal to his older brother and his sire; not an easy task. Razi welcomes home his childhood friend Wynter at a time rebellion and civil war seems imminent with the kingdom split in two between loyalists to a mad monarch and rebels. Wynter will soon find herself caught in the crosshairs of this division between her father loyal to the king and Razi and his cohort Christopher Garron considering the overthrow of the monarch.

This is a superb young adult political fantasy filled with plenty of intrigue as everyone at Kingcourt is impacted by the ruler's apparent insanity. The story line fast-paced, but loaded with a strong cast who brings out the depth of life in a dictatorial deadly monarchy. Young teen readers will relish the courageous escapades of the heroine who must choose between her father and her kingdom.

The Midnight Mayor
Kate Griffin
Orbit
9780316041232, $19.99

Matthew Swift was a sorcerer who would have been better off dead, which he believes he once was; as he muses that the Terminator and the Knights Templar would have quit if they had to deal with the 'electric blue angels' buzzing inanely inside his brain. Unless you are a voyeur, who wants to listen in on some puke talking sex over a telephone? Alas, the once proud sorcerer is back with his head aching from telephone lines, and electronic gizmos.

However, having the buzz inside his head pales when he learns someone or perhaps something assassinated the powerful protector of London, The Midnight Mayor. The Aldermen, aware that someone of power committed the atrocity, accuse Swift. His first thought is flight, but he decides to investigate instead. He quickly realizes the invincible eternal magical wards that keep the city safe are being breached. London Wall has cryptic graffiti on it and the Tower ravens are dead. Each step he takes he uncovers a greater nightmare as Swift considers flight again as his conclusion is not very comforting.

The Midnight Mayor is a strange refreshing urban fantasy starring a reluctant hero whose inquiry into what is going on and by who or perhaps better said as what makes for a fine thriller. The whodunit is cleverly devised as Swift finds wards failing while dodging a female human assassin who loathes sorcerers and their ilk. Complicated and not an easy read, Kate Griffin provides sub-genre fans with a deep tale of magic failing with ironically the only individual who might save the city is a target for death by those he is trying to protect.

Changeless
Gail Carriger
Orbit
9780316074148, $7.99

In an alternate world during the Victorian Era, the supernatural species like the vampires and weres are part of society with the same rights as mortals. Queen Victoria employs vampires as advisors and the weres as soldiers fighting to expand the empire. The weres are being recalled from India with plans to deploy them to Africa.

In London near the Thames, the supernaturals are becoming mortals and no preternatural like the Soulless Lady Alexia Tarabotti is responsible for it. A preternatural can turn a supernatural into a mortal for the length of the touch but were Lord Conall married Alexia anyway. The curse heads to another part of London and then ro Scotland where Conall is heading. Using a dirigible, Alexeia, her sister, her milliner and others flies to Scotland.. He has business with his old pack but Alexei who works for the Queen is trying to learn why the humanization plague is occurring. Her life is in danger, but she has no idea from whom.

Gail Carriger has written an enthralling alternate historical urban fantasy. The romantic subplot between Conall and Alexia enhances the feel of the period while the action is fast-paced throughout. Alexia is a fascinating protagonist who risks her life knowing that being Soulless means when she dies she is dead period with no next plane to move onto. Somewhat too modern in outlook rather than Victorian, the audience will enjoy her second adventures in paranormal Victorian England.

The Mage in Black
Jaye Wells
Orbit
9780316037808, $7.99

In a world when mortals don't know that vampires, werewolves, faeries, and mages exist, Sabina Kane is an unusual hybrid offspring of a vampire and a mage. Her vampiric grandmother Lavinia the Alpha of the Dominae raised her though she loathed her as an abomination of nature. When Grandma Dearest tried to kill her, she escapes with the mage Adam. They head to New York for her to meet her mage blood side of her heritage especially her twin sister Maise, head of the Hekate Council.

Maise opens up her heart to her sibling, but as an enforcer and a Dominae assassin, to stay alive she has trust issues. Her goal is to destroy her grandmother, but to do she needs to learn magic. She never expected to get involved with the mages nor anticipate an unknown enemy will come after her, but Sabina has no choice. She must deal with the leader of the pack and try to survive the assault of Eurynome the demon summoned from beyond to specifically kill her. Evidence surfaces that prove Sabina betrayed the mages costing them their alliance with Queen Maeve of the faeries at a time when the mages consider open war with the vamps. Sabina escapes incarceration with plans to go it alone until she finds proof that her heart is right about the mages especially Maise.

Jaye Wells' latest urban fantasy picks up where the Red-Headed Stepchild ended, but goes in a different direction as the heroine leaves behind the vamps to connect she hopes with the mages. She holds the exciting story line together as she struggles with backstabbing political intrigue (talk about realism) and making new relationships especially with ever trusting Maise. Filled with plenty of action focused on Sabina as well as humor mostly by her familiar Giguhl who has never found a moment in which he is not causing trouble without trying. The Mage in Black further defines the fascinating unique "Wellsian" mythos.

Murder of a Wedding Belle
Denise Swanson
Obsidian Mystery
c/o The Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
http://us.penguingroup.com
9780451229618, $6.99, www.amazon.com

Scrumble River school psychologist Skye Denison also serves as a consultant to the police department run by her boyfriend Wally Boyd. Six months ago, the Chief of Police asked Skye to marry him, but though she loves Wally she keeps putting him off with excuses as she fears placing her heart on the line again.

Trouble starts for Skye when her California cousin Riley decides to marry her powerful millionaire fiance in Scrumble River. She reluctantly agrees to serve as maid of honor but when elitist snob wedding planner Belle Canfield informs Skye that her Cuz named her as her wedding assistant on this event, Skye becomes extremely upset. Although she tries, she cannot get out of working for the stern taskmistress who antagonizes everyone she meets until Belle pushes someone over the edge and murders her. Skye assists Wally on the homicide investigation while also putting together the marriage ceremony as the paid wedding planner.

As always with a Scrumble River police procedural (see Murder of a Royale Pain) Denise Swanson combines humor and romance within an intriguing homicide investigation while the support cast feels like friends. There are plenty of suspects just on the wedding list and Skye using her psychological skills find many with strong motives, but must ferret out who would act on the desire. Readers who have put together a social event like a wedding will commiserate with the heroine, as she finds relief in working the Murder of a Wedding Belle.

'Til Dice Do Us Part
Gail Oust
Obsidian
9780451229427, $6.99

Claudia Connors returns home after spending time in Vegas. Her retiree buddies the Bunco Babes welcome home one of their charter members. However, she shocks the group when she introduces them to her new husband, actor Lance Ledeaux.

They are further stunned when Lance explains to the babes that he plans to direct and perform in a play in which he wants all of them to have roles in the production. The normally suspicious babes are won over by his offer and his general charm. However Kate McCall overhears a fight between the newlyweds over expense and becomes concerned for her friend. Soon afterward during rehearsal, someone loaded a gun with real bullets, leaving Lance dead and the cops suspecting his wife killed him. Kate leads the Bunco Babes' investigation into the homicide.

This is an entertaining amateur sleuth as the Bunco Babes reject the notion of tossing dice during visiting hours to the state pen. Fans will enjoy the camaraderie of the BFFs as they Whack 'n Roll their way through their investigation with humor, concern and catching optimism. Gail Oust rolls an eleven with this enjoyable winner.

The Night Killer
Beverly Connor
Obsidian
9780451229601, $7.99

After visiting Roy and Ozella Barre who donating their arrowhead collection to the museum; Forensic investigator and museum curator Diane Fallon is driving down a winding mountain road on a dark and stormy night. Lightning strikes a tree, which falls onto her vehicle; a skull falls from the tree through her windshield. A man asks her if she is okay; when she mentions the skull, he grabs her.

Diane breaks free of him and flees trying to return to the Barre home while the stranger releases his dogs. However Diane reaches their home only to find both dead. She owes her life to a stranger who got the dogs off her scent. Diane informs the local sheriff what happened including facts about her rescuer. She has doubts the sheriff can solve the case and another couple is discovered murdered in the same brutal manner as the Barrres were. Frank, the stranger who saved her life, is a private investigator hired to find a missing girl and her boyfriend. Against all advice to th e contrary, Diane investigates, but a killer stalks her.

Fans who enjoy the forensic cases of Kat Scarpetta and Temperance Brennan will want to read the Diane Fallon mysteries. The protagonist holds three jobs, but does each one quite well. Loaded with non-stop action, viable suspects and an incredibly deep atmosphere of danger, The Night Killer is a strong entertaining whodunit.

Reunion
J.L. Penn
CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
PR@CreateSpace.com
9781442146860, $11.95 www.createspace.com

In Maryland, thirty-seven years old budget analyst Jessica Stratford loves her husband Kyle in a double income no kid homes. She has several close friends from high school which include Candace and the rest of the posse. Meanwhile seemingly everyone she knows is on Facebook so she joins not expecting to stay on that often.

Unable to resist, Jessica looks up David Miller who she had a crush on in high school. They communicate over Facebook and learn about each other as he lives in Maryland and has a wife and children. They agree to meet and soon Jessica has to decide on remaining faithful and married to Kyle or going with David who swears he loves her.

This is a superb contemporary tale that uses the instant communication connection of Facebook to enable Jessica to link with David. The cast makes the story line work as the support characters especially Candace are strongly developed whether they just appear on the social network or in person and the lead triangle believable. Though the dynamics of David's family is somewhat ignored, readers, especially those on one of the social network sites, will relish this terrific tale wondering who she will choose.

Butterfly Tattoo
Deidre Knight
Samhain Publishing
577 Mulberry Street, Suite 1520, Macon, GA 31201
www.samhainpublishing.com
9781605045443, $16.00 www.amazon.com

In Hollywood due to an electrical failure at her office, former TV actress Rebecca O'Neill meets bisexual electrician widower Michael Warner accompanied by his eight years old stepdaughter Andrea Lauren Richardson when he answers her call. The two adults are attracted to each other instantly, but Rebecca suffers from PTSD following an assault several years ago. Her assistant Trevor informs her that the electrician's gay life partner just died.

Michael has his emotional issue since his life partner Dr. Alex Richardson died in a car accident caused by a DUI driver that has physically and emotionally scarred his stepdaughter whom he does not know and resents him. Rebecca empathizes with Andrea as she became a producer after a brutal assault disfigured her banning her from TV and movie roles. As the three emotionally scarred individuals become better acquainted, a potential family bond of love forms, but each fears trusting in such a fragile feeling that they know from experience is fleeting.

Rotating perspective especially between the two beleaguered adults, Butterfly Tattoo makes a strong case that love and nurturing makes a family. The three lead characters are profound as each has suffered a loss while the support cast enhances the audience understanding of what motivates the prime trio. With a couple of wonderful twists, readers will appreciate this strong deep look at love and family that affirms caring relationships comes in a zillion different packages.

Bound By Temptation
Lavinia Kent
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
www.avonbooks.com
9780061734090, $7.99, www.amazon.com

In 1819 in Norfolk thirty year old widow Clara, Lady Westington, wakes up fully dressed but tied to a bed. She has been tied naked to a bed so this is a new experience as is her not knowing how she got there. Known for her sexual scandals that Clara toasts her beloved late spouse with, Clara realizes she is tied up by Jonathan Masters, the lord of prim and proper.

He caught her stealing so tied her up, but is unsure what to do with her. Neither wants the other yet desires one another. They actually become acquainted and begin to understand the ghosts that drive each other; hers being her late husband and his being what he allowed his runaway sister to do. As they fall in love, Clara and Jonathan consider marriage but each concludes separately that is unfeasible.

The second Masters family Regency romance (see A Talent For Sin) is a straightforward tale that sub-genre fans will fully relish as Lavinia Kent never takes her eye off the ball of focusing on the changing lead couple relationship yet also provides supporting depth. Clara and Jonathan are complex characters with each having personal issues that have led to their recent behavior, which converges with his tying her to his bed. Bound b y Temptation is a strong historical that will bind readers into wanting more masterful novels by Ms. Kent.

The Marriage Ring
Cathy Maxwell
Avon
9780061771927, $7.99

In 1810, prim and proper Richard Lynsted is outraged to learn an actress is extorting money from his uncle and father. He goes to the theatre where the "Scottish Songbird" performs with plans to confront and tear into the hide of this brazen Grace MacEachin after he proves she is a low life blackmailer.

Grace is outraged with the haughty aristocrat who accuses her of being a felon. She admits to blackmailing his family, but her motive is not money. Instead she believes his family destroyed hers when she was a little girl and disgraced her father with accusations of embezzlement. Now she plans to prove her dad did not take the money. Stunned by her assertion and her beauty, Richard accompanies Grace to Inverness where she believes the evidence can be found even as an unknown adversary wants the falling in love pair dead.

This is a refreshing incredible Regency romantic suspense thriller in which the lead couple investigates what really happened years ago and learn more than they bargained for as family secrets of all sorts surface on both sides. The story line is driven by the amateur sleuths who fall in love, but as they find one family skeleton after another while someone tries to kill them, each changes their initial perception of the other and even more emotionally shocking of their respective families. The Marriage Ring is a great historical.

The Wild Marquis
Miranda Neville
Avon
9780061808708, $7.99

Known throughout the Ton for his rakish behavior the Marquis of Chase relishes chasing women but his ultimate objective is recovering a rare medieval manuscript Burgundy Hours once owned by his family. When he learns the artifact is being sold at auction as part of the Tarleton Collection, he hires rare book expert Juliana Merton as his purchasing agent.

Widower Juliana instructs her client on the care of a book collection and finds the rake has redeeming values he conceals from society. He is especially aware of his reputation as a rogue and how that could prevent him from becoming guardian to his beloved sixteen year old sister. At the same time he sees beneath the veneer of the bookworm widow to a warm caring heart. As they fall in love, Cain notices a pattern of accidents occurring with Juliana at the center. He believes someone wants her dead either because of her book knowledge or related to the death of her spouse whom Juliana believes was murdered.

The first Burgundy Hours Regency romance is a wonderful pairing of two people who the Ton would frown on them marrying but would encourage trysts. The lead couple makes the tale as they quickly learn not to judge a book by its cover. With the interweaving of rare book collection during the Napoleonic Era enhancing the fine story line, readers will enjoy the adventures in love and danger of the Wild Marquis.

The Hellion And The Highlander
Lynsay Sands
Avon
9780061344794, $7.99

Averill Montgagne nurses comatose Kade Stewart who saved her brother Will when both were prisoners for three years. When Kade talks to her, she knows he is healing after two weeks of being unconscious. He got them along with his cousin Ian and two others out of the Infidel prison and to England only to be hurt when their boat crashed.

He learns three men have rejected his nurse; her dad has arranged for another oaf to meet her. She has red hair and the devil's mark on her cheek as well as she stammers when nervous. Will tells Kade the English reject her due to her stammer and hair color. Kade likes Averill, but she lacks the spirit he needs when he challenges his drunkard dad for the laird of Stewart. Her dad hides her hair and mark and makes her drunk so she will not stammer when she meets Lord Seawell who is nasty to Averill. When his mom calls her ugly and he agrees, she punches him in the nose and pukes all over them before leaving.

Kade tells Will he will marry Averill. He tells her she is pretty and they agree to marry. After the wedding, she is nervous over the bedding so he uses fruit to relax her before they make love. They leave for Stewart with Will and his men as their escorts. The place is a disaster as his father and two brothers are drunks. Averill adds drops to their whisky making them puke whenever they drink while someone tries to kill Kade, but had not counted on his ferocious wife.

The story line is exciting and fast-paced as the lead couple is a nice pairing since he enjoys her clever mind. The humor involving to tup or not to tup adds fun to an entertaining historical although the villain once revealed proves to be a weak character.

Ashes of the Red Heifer
Shannon Baker
L & L Dreamspell
P.O. Box 1984, Friendswood, TX 77549-1984
9781603181600, $17.95 www.lldreamspell.com

In the Israeli kibbutz, veterinarian researcher Dr. Annie Grant knows the moon above is the same one she sees when she is home in Nebraska yet life is different as represented by sirens in both places denoting diverse scenarios. She is working on a vaccination to end the deadly BA 23 virus that threatens bovine and appears capable of crossing species lines to humans. Annie hopes her efforts will save millions of cattle before the virus crosses over as expected to people; she prays this will be her ticket back into the good graces of her family on the Cornhusker ranch.

However, others have interest in Annie's work but not to save lives as a bomb interrupts her research at a critical stage. Third Temple Zionists, Muslim fundamentalists, and Rapture Christian converge on Annie as each feels she is God's chosen one to fulfill an ancient prophecy, but the three groups have different plans for her success or failure. Forced to leave for Jerusalem, Annie and her project friends Hasim and David are kidnapped by fanatics who demand she create the biblically perfect red heifer so the Jews regain God's blessing as his Chosen Ones. Muslims want her dead before she genetically engineers the red heifer and the Rapture Christians declare end of days has begun so the Jews and Muslims must be slaughtered; BA 23 is a heavenly means.

This is an exhilarating apocalyptic thriller that grips the auricle from the moment the bomb explodes at the Kibbutz research center and never slows down as the three prime religious descendants from Abraham converge on a Nebraskan. Caring Annie learns that good intentions is the road to hell as various groups try to use her to foster their agenda while claiming God's right to do so. Ashes of the Red Heifer is a terrific tale that effortlessly merges genetic engineering with biblical beliefs.

Reckless
Andrew Gross
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022-5299
www.williammorrow.com
9780061655951, $25.99, www.amazon.com

Intruders enter the Greenwich, Connecticut home of Wall Street equities trader Marc Glassman, his wife April and their teenaged children, Evan and Becca. The two adults and Becca are murdered.

Private securities investigator Ty Hauck learns of the killing of his friend April at a time when he is assigned to investigate the questionable dealings of financier Dieter Thibault. Hauck plans to also make discrete inquiries into the murders of the Glassman family. He soon teams up with US Treasury agent Naomi Blum as his two investigations soon tie together, but progress is hampered by someone who seems to be several steps ahead of them.

Before Too Big to Fail became a mantra that still remains a truism; fans would have said this conspiratorial financial thriller was over the top of Wall St. and Big Ben, but no more. Hauck is at his bull dog best while Blum brings out even more obstinacy in the hero as they become the trains that won't quit. Fans will enjoy their escapades as the enemy has reaches into the highest levels of cross Atlantic governments in which Too Big To Fail remains as strong as before the great recession meltdown. This is a great Hauck tale as he goes private (his cases when he was a police detective in The Dark Tide and Don't Look Twice) with the economy still open to blackmail.

Secret Daughter
Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Morrow
9780061922312, $23.99

In 1984 in indigent Dahanu, India Kavita gives birth to her second daughter. She grieves what will happen to her child as poverty forced her husband Jasu to arrange the death of their first female baby. This time, however, Kavita names her infant Asha and gets her into a Mumbai orphanage so that she might have a chance.

In San Francisco, Indian expatriate Krishnan persuades his wife Somer, who cannot have children, to adopt a child from his homeland. They go to Bombay where they adopt Asha although Somer fears their daughter will only bond with her father because they are both Indian while she is American. Meanwhile Kavita grieves for her two daughters, but finally gives birth to a son. Years later while at college in California Asha obtains a journalism fellowship that enables her to visits Mumbai.

Interestingly the opening sequence that focuses on cultural gender issues in an abject impoverished environment are slow and lack the intensity one would expect with such a dynamic social concern. However, once Asha returns to India, the story line goes extremely deep into gender questions that haunt modern India as well as identity concerns that trouble the heroine who wonders whether she is Indian, American or Asian-American. Readers will appreciate this profound look at the value of girls when poverty rules.

Laughed 'Til He Died
Carolyn Hart
Morrow
9780061453090, $24.99

On the small South Carolina barrier island of Broward's Rock lives Max and Annie Darling. Annie owns the mystery bookstore Death on Demand while Max runs an inquiry agency Confidential Commissions.

Jean Hughes, director of Haven, a youth recreation center, is not having her contract renewed due to the lobbying of her former lover affluent and influential businessman Booth Wagner. Jean asks Max to help her keep her job because her sister is dying and they want to stay here. However, Booth succeeds in forcing Jean to give up her position. On the night she is to announce her resignation, someone kills Booth. The evidence mounts that Jean killed her ex lover, but both Darlings think otherwise as they believe Jean would never risk anything at that this time due to her beloved sibling's failing health as separation is unacceptable. Max and Annie learn that Booth made a myriad of enemies that include his family and ex wife. However, pressure on Max mounts when Annie and Booth's heir end up in the crosshairs of a killer.

The Darling Death on demand mysteries are always a special treat because the investigation seems genuine with a plenty of suspects and the loving relationship between Max and Annie enriches the whodunit story lines. Carolyn Hart's latest cozy is filled with strong characterizations including a killer in plain sight, but readers will find it almost impossible to determine who that person is even with clues also in plain sight. Carolyn Hart provides another Darling regional mystery.

A River in the Sky
Elizabeth Peters
Morrow
9780061246265, $25.95

In 1910 Egyptologists Amelia Peabody and her husband Radcliffe Emerson learn their son Ramses has been kidnapped in Palestine. Though the information is sketchy, apparently German archaeologist, Frau Von Eine and her Muslim partner Mansur abducted Ramses.

Amelia and Radcliffe rush to Palestine focusing on rescuing their son and preventing a looting of biblical treasures in Jerusalem by an amateur Morley interested only in money. At the same time, Ramses focuses on escaping captivity. Although they have no idea what the motive is, his parents deem their best chance of locating their son is avaricious Morley who has links with Von Eine.

This is a terrific look at Palestine in 1910 as archeologists, professional and amateur descend on the biblical treasures of the country. The story line is fast-paced throughout, as the escapades of Amelia and Emerson, and separately those of Ramses are gripping. Although the key element behind the kidnapping never elucidated, fans will enjoy this fine "memoir" in a strong early twentieth century series.

Beautiful Assassin
Michael White
Morrow
9780061691218, $24.99

In 1996, reporter Elizabeth Meade muses over her obsession started a decade ago as the Soviet evil empire imploded when she first heard of the Russian sniper Tat'yana Levchencko. Elizabeth searched for clues about the Communist with Hollywood looks and a friend of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt during WWII. Now in Eastern Colorado she will confront an elderly widow begging to learn the true story of Tat'yana Levchenko.

At first hesitant as she does not want to be another Trotsky, the old woman tells how a poetess, mother, and wife became an empty nest widow avenging sniper Soviet-American heroine before being labeled a Communist spy. In 1942 the Germans without regard to civilians bombed and fired from the air at villagers in the Ukraine. A pilot saw her beloved three year old Masha and killed her. The sniper was born on that day as she joined the army. She became the top sniper and soon was invited to the White House by Eleanor Roosevelt. They became friends as they toured the country together. While Stalin demanded she spy on the Americans, Tat'yana realized these were not soft fat cats as described by Soviet propaganda. The American media began a blitzkrieg accusing her of being Stalin's pawn. She disappeared until now when a persistent reporter interviews an elderly widow.

This is a superb 1940s drama seen through the eyes of a woman five decades later after she vanished. Her story is one of sadness as she loathed the murdering Nazis killing them, but also detested the Cold War participants who "killed" Tat'yana in their abusive disregard for her which was worse in many ways than the Germans who overtly tried to kill her. Yet she also brings rays of hope that the human spirit can overcome almost anything as she did with her late second husband Walter and someone else even while telling her heartbreaking tale. This is a winner that condemns nations for their expendable deployment of individuals.

The Khan Dilemma
Ron Goodreau
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
www.iuniverse.com
9781440151231, $18.95, www.amazon.com

At night in Las Cruces, California, Bernard Harris is out walking his dog near a house when a body flies through a window onto the street. A man rushes out the door waving a gun as he charges towards Bernard. Stunned but calm, Bernard takes out a sap from his pocket and conks the attacker on the head; knocking him out.

Police Detective Dale Cox arrives at the crime scene in twenty minutes, but to his amazement two FBI agents from the San Diego office are already there. Adding to his amazement is the apparent culprit Muslim Raheem Khan went after the passerby instead of shooting the outsider like he did two people; the one tossed through the window and one inside. Nothing adds up as the Clay County DA Rich Danko dumps the difficult prosecution on his most likely rival in the upcoming election Max Siegel as this high profile case is political suicide. Well aware what his boss is doing, Max is not prepared for attempts on his life, interference on his case from DC and much worse.

The Khan Dilemma is an exhilarating police procedural legal thriller that grips the audience from the opening scene until the final confrontation that will remind fans of a serious version of the Coen Brothers Burn After Reading. The story line is fast-paced but driven by the idealistic persistency of Max who refuses to give up as he peels away one concentric circle after another seeking the truth. Ron Goodreau provides an entertaining thriller with a strong cast as Cox immediately sets the tone with his logical observations at the crime scene in which 1 and 1 is not 2 and this is the binary system.

The Ruling Sea
Robert V. S. Redick
Del Rey
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
www.randomhouse.com
9780345508850, $27.00, www.amazon.com

Almost everyone believes that the ship Chathrand sunk at sea. However, the vessel did not, but chances are great it will sink as Thasha Isiq and her two companions Pazel and Neeps know they must cross The Ruling Sea; something no ship has ever done and their Captain Nilus Rose refuses to try. They have no choice if a world war is to be avoided as they possess the powerful Nilstone.

Others want to gain the Nilstone in order to use its power for personal gain. In particular the wizard Arunis, irate over his defeat at the hands of vanished peer Ramachni and the sea travelers (see the Red Wolf Conspiracy), chases after the Chathrand because the Nilstone will enable this spell-caster to ignite a war between empires. Others like Felthrup the Rat and emperors and queens with more ambition than sense also wants the Nilstone. However, there remains one even more insidious evil lurking in the bowels of the ship that makes the wizard, the rat, the emperor and the queen look benign at the same time the heroes know their goal may not exist.

This is a super sea quest fantasy sequel that continues the adventures of Thasha and her comrades, but their most powerful ally Ramachni has left to heal. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action, but it is the cast who make The Ruling Sea a great thriller. Thasha and her allies know the risk they take sailing on water in which no one has allegedly crossed to a land that probably does not exist except in mythology. At the same time there are plenty on board and giving chase who want what they possess. Robert V. S. Re dick writes a great tale of heroes and villains as the second Chathrand Voyage heads south into the dangerous uncharted sea.

Oath Of Fealty
Elizabeth Moon
Del Rey
9780345508744, $25.00

Due to the efforts of the farmer's daughter Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter, who as the paladin saved the kingdom, half-breed elf Kieri Phelan sits precariously on the throne. He must protect his nation from enemies beyond their borders and worse from insidious traitors inside. King Kieri also understands he must earn the trust of his people who have doubts he has the strength and fortitude to rule. Although he never sought the crown, the former military captain vows to do what is right by his people.

In neighboring Tsaia where Kieri has many enemies, Prince Mikeli is to be anointed monarch. However, the powerful Verrakaien mage lord families attempt a coup. Mikeli counters while Dorrin Verrakai who did not participate must prove her innocence as a non blood using mage if the prince is to become king. Meanwhile the Gird has directed the paladin to perform other tasks. Thus two new kings must find new allies if they are to succeed at governa nce that helps their respective nations.

This is a terrific spin off from the wonderful The Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy (see Sheepfarmer's Daughter, Divided Allegiance, and Oath of Gold) in which fans will relish the new entry and newcomers do not need to go back to read the previous saga first; as Elizabeth Moon deftly interweaves the past into the storyline. The story of two kings and kingdoms is Ms. Moon at her best as political, military and economic intrigue threatens two rookie monarchs with the most dangerous enemies of each at court.

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Backlash
Aaron Allston
Del Rey
9780345509086, $27.00

It is widely believed that the Sith were eradicated, but there remains a Lost Tribe on the Planet Kush. They use the dark side of the Force and eventually plan to spread out to rule the galaxy. Grandmaster Luke Skywalker and his son Ben meet Sith Master Lada Rhea, who they killed, and her apprentice Vestara Khai, who is on intent on killing them in the mysterious Maw where a force wielding creature resides.

This sentient being is sending out messages to Jedi who when children hid in the maw and now are going insane. Han Solo and his wife Leia are criminals after taking insane Jedi from Coruscant to a safe haven in the Transitory Mists. Their activity is an affront to Galactic Alliance Chief of State Natasi Daala who is furious and whose goal is to make the Jedi become subservient to her. Luke and Ben track Vestara, the Sith apprentice without a master, to Dathomir where they become embroiled in a clan war in which dark side Force practitioners abet Vestara.

The fourth Fate of the Jedi science fiction thriller is loaded with action and plenty of intrigue which fans of the saga will expect. The story line is refreshed by a deep look at a new world and its culture. However, it is Vestara who makes the thriller work as she is a unique Sith unlike any seen before; incredibly she steals the show from the Skywalkers and Solos. By nature she is evil, but by nurture she shows signs of the light. Readers will relish this strong entry as Vestara brings new meaning to the dark and light sides of the Force.

El Borak and Other Desert Adventures
Robert E. Howard
Del Rey
9780345505453, $18.00

These thirteen tales consist of eight starring Francis "El Borak" Xavier Gordon, three headed by Kirby O'Donnell, one very short story led by Steve Clarney and one untitled other El Borak. The tales take place in Asia with the Irish-American heroes battling against the odds at a time when imperialistic Europe tries to retain control of India and Afghanistan, etc. Although the "Wild East entries are fun to read especially those of Texas gunslinger El Borak who risks his life repeatedly for his Asian friends, much of the background seems ancient; in fairness Depression Era rationalization of the world comes clear. Still Fans of Howard will appreciate the heroic escapades of the three expatriate Americans in a vividly described harsh desert and mount ainous landscape; but especially the actions of El Borak who comes across as the most realistic and believable than the other two adventurers.

Jade Man's Skin
Daniel Fox
Del Rey
9780345503046, $15.00

The Dragon in Chains is no longer locked in the Straits of Taishu. Instead she soars in the sky free with an obsession to take her vengeance on those who chained it. However, the beast has not been able to rid itself of her liberator, Han the apprentice scribe who remains telepathically tied to the dragon.

At the same the exiled young Emperor remains alive because of the dragon, but also feels like a bird in a gilded cage as he is trapped in the mountains of Taishu Island by his enemies and the beast. He is changing due to jade exposure that leaves him more powerful, angrier and frustrated as he no longer wants to hide in the mountains . His first step back is taking control of the city of Taishu as the Emperor strikes back. General Ping Wen believes capturing the Jade Throne is his first step to what he should be - Godhood. Besides counting his losses over the years, pirate Captain Li Ton tries to take over the military as the civil war continues unabated. The exiled Emperor's favorite concubine Lady Mei Feng is also in the mix cleverly out maneuvering the ambitious general. However, out of the sea comes the Li-Goddess who comes after the dragon, but collateral damage of people is no concern to her.

The second medieval fantasy captures the essence of Chinese mythology with an even deeper more complicated tale than the Dragon in Chains. The story line is fast-paced with several subplots brewing as various individuals want power; some want godhood power. The point of view changes, but never slows down as the dragon unchained is a strong tale as the conflict expands.

The Hualapai Cycle
Jason Walters
Black Wyrm
9781893860872, $11.95 http://www.blackwyrm.com

"Desert Dawgs". In the Black Rock Desert, Chris and James ignore warnings while driving on the isolated Playa until they hit a big dog who is breeder Tyson's "significant other".

"Phat Albert". PH tells Sheriff Sal that a gigantic mountain lion killed horse breeder Barker, his two big dogs and a steed; he escorted a hunter and his son after the animal.

"Judas Horse". He betrayed his species of wild horses running free by luring them into a man's trap until he learns they will be sold as dog meat.

"Big Momma". At the Burning Man festival, Oberon warns Uncle Hank he will relocate if they fail to do something about Big Momma the dust coyote who sexually kills people.

"Tweaker Creek". Iverson the fireman arrives at Hank's Hualapai Club drenched in blood and tells Hippie what happened at Smoke Creek; home of meth tweakers, coyotes and kids.

"Crippled Stray". Since her Joe died and her children moved away, old Maude is lonely and wants to die even after she rescues a crippled stray calling him Joe and bonding with the wild beast.

"Mexican Cowboy". Lupe the vaquero asks his beloved Shuttup Amy to marry him; this may be the first time that someone shut up loquacious Amy, who flees to the Granites.

"Guerrerro's War". Sheriff Sal informs Guerrerro that he arrested his best friend Hippie for murder because Senator Willow caught him burying a skull. Guerrerro acts strange as he works to free his buddy.

These are eight well written but dark and stark tales of life in and around Hualapai on the Black Rock Desert; home of the Burning Man annual festival and even rock punker Sid Vicious recognizes the eeriness.

No Chance
Christy Reece
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
www.randomhouse.com
9780345517784, $7.99, www.amazon.com

On Kalamina Island in the South Pacific, Gabe Maddox and Skylar James met, apparently fell in love and married. However, happily ever after ended before it began as her wealthy father Jeremiah managed to split the couple. Their last exchange between them was Gabe's note of departure.

Eight years later, when his beloved daughter is kidnapped, a desperate Jeremiah hires Last Chance Rescue unaware that Gabe is one of their operatives. Gabe takes charge of the mission in which Skylar was kidnapped trying to learn what happened to her best friend Kendra.

The latest Last Chance Rescue (see Rescue me and Run to Me) is an exiting romantic suspense second chance at love, if they survive, thriller. Gabe hides his anger over feeling she betrayed him and desire behind a stoic do the job and move on mask; while Skylar remains frustrated that he left before she could return to him and worried over Kendra. With a several twists including a great late shocker, fans will root for this couple to rescue their hearts as well as their lives, but No Chance for the former and little chance for the latter.

Deception
Jonathan Kellerman
Ballantine
9780345505675, $28.00

Windsor Preparatory Academy teacher Elise Freeman is found dead in her apartment in Studio City. The victim is found lying in a tub of dry ice. Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Weinberg assigns the homicide investigation to Lieutenant Milo Sturgis with a stern warning to keep the exclusive Brentwood school out of the inquiry as much as possible though he offers no explanation; veteran cop Milo is used to personal agenda restrictions from superiors..

Milo is concerned with his boss' admonition because Elise left behind a DVD accusing three of her peers of sexual harassment. He believes the case must start with them. Psychologist Alex Delaware assists Milo on the case and soon the pair find a teacher with plenty of skeletons that those involved with her want to remain interred. However, one of them has killed before and is willing to kill again to keep the bones buried.

As always in this remarkable police procedural, the lead pair of Milo and Alex make for a fine story line as they debate the merits of the case and much more. The investigation is totally hampered by Chief Weinberg placing a major stipulation on Detective Sturgis; this adds depth and a sense of realism to the whodunit. Fans of the long running series will enjoy Deception as the investigators seek Evidence while walking the tightrope of brass interference.

Drift
Sharon Carter Rogers
Howard Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
www.simonandschuster.com
9781416566533, $13.99, www.amazon.com

He is a Drifter currently trapped in a cemetery because his last human tether Simon whom he was with for five years, is buried there. Boy has met two other essences like him, but assumes there are many more out there. One ripped his head off while the other ignored his existence. However, currently he feels the cold because unlike guardian angels, drifters have bodies; he also has mental issues as he does not understand where his species fits in God's master plan.

Now twenty years old Baby Doll knows her "father" Charlie Murphy took her from her biological dad when her mom lived with him. When her mom died, Charlie "adopted" Baby Doll as his by simply changing her surname to his; no one would challenge a crime kingpin like him. She grows up not sure why she lives in a gilded cage.

When Boy the Drifter meets Baby Doll the daughter of the mob chief, they become immediately tethered to one another. Neither quite understands the connection that binds them to each other, as he has no earthly idea what God wants him to do for Baby Doll and she is fearful of the reaction of the God who controls her life, and what her adopted father will do to Boy. In one week all hell occurs.

Drift is a superb paranormal thriller that grips readers from the onset when we meet Boy who remains tethered to his dead human while meeting two other entities who are Drifters like himself. The story line is fast-paced throughout as the audience wonders what will happen to Boy and his tethered mate Baby Doll, who will prove to be their enemy and finally who will remain standing above the ground as Sharon Carter Rogers provides a fascinating unique thriller.

Never Look Away
Linwood Barclay
Delacorte Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
www.randomhouse.com
9780553807172, $25.00, www.amazon.com

In Promise Falls, New York David Harwood is a reporter for the Standard. He has been married to Jan for five years and they have a four-year-old son, Ethan. They seem like the perfect American family. Recently David has become concerned about Jan. She tells him dark things that frighten him. Depressed all the time, Jan believes the two men in her life would be better off if she was not in their lives. Jan talks of suicide so a desperate David suggests she visit their doctor or perhaps a psychologist. She angrily yells at him no as she refuses medical treatment.

David investigates the opening of a private company run prison owned and operated by Star Spangled Corrections. Inmates will work to pay for their keep and bring the firm profits. David believes something is off kilter with the deal that CEO Elmont Sebastian has made with town leaders; enhanced by a warning not to write anything derogatory or scandalous while his editor at the Standard refuses to print his prison articles. The Harwood trio visits Five Mountains amusement park where first Ethan and then Jan vanish while a frantic David searches for them. Ethan is found, but Jan is not and the police suspect her husband of foul play.

This is an exhilarating psychological investigative thriller starring a near hysterical lead protagonist who becomes the target of an investigation as no one seems willing to help him. The story line is fast-paced while nicely set up so that the reader comprehends David's need to learn and expose wrong doing while also feeling how deep Jan's depression goes. From there the tale takes off once the family becomes separated at the amusement park. Fans of taut suspense will relish aptly titled Never Look Away.

Big Girl
Danielle Steel
Delacorte
9780385343183, $28.00

Victoria Dawson loves her younger sister Gracie, but always felt inferior to her sibling. Her parents especially her father confirmed that belief making it clear she was a failed test before they got it right. Mom just sits silently in affirmation.

Victoria leaves home accepting a job at an elite Manhattan school, but her verbally abusive dad calls her a loser for taking such a position. She begins to have an obesity issue and firmly believes she is unlovable although she seems to have everything going as a swinging single in New York.

This is a fascinating character study of a woman who seems to have everything, but lacks self esteem after growing up being told she was a worthless loser while her sister was perfect. Victoria is an intriguing individual who rates herself as useless because that is all she heard from her parents. The problem with this family drama is just how verbally abusive her parents are towards the Big Girl as they are so over the top with their nastiness towards their first born vs. their kind nurturing of their second child, t hey lack credibility and are two dimensional. Still in spite of the cardboard vicious parents, fans will root for Victoria to realize how much she has going; overcoming negative fostering.

Going, Gone
Laura Crum
Perservance Press
c/o Daniel & Daniel, Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781880284988, $14.95, www.amazon.com

Forty-five year old retired horse veterinarian Gail McCarthy is married to a man younger than her. Together they raise their six year old son; home-schooling him. Gail believes the three of them could use a vacation so they paick up their things, take their horses and go to the Sierra Nevada foothills to camp on land belonging to her former boyfriend, Lonny Peterson.

Lonny arrives at their camp to greet them. Accompanying him is another childhood friend of Gail, sheriff's deputy Bret Boncantini. Lonny explains that Bret arrested him for the murders of his girlfriend Lorene Richardson and her brother Cole; they ran livestock auctions. Neither Gail or Bret believe Lonny killed them, but the lead detective believes he did as the female victim was seen fighting with the suspect over her dating her former spouse Kevin Moore and Lonny's gun was by the body with only his prints on it. Finally a witnesses places Lonny at the crime scene at about the time of the homicides. Bret is limited on what he can do so Gail investigates following a lead that Cole was involved in illegal dealings. However, a calculating killer watches her carefully preparing for one more murder if needed.

The Laura Crum mysteries will obviously be enjoyed by amateur sleuth aficionados, but also by horse lovers. Going, Gone is an entertaining whodunit as several murders including a child occur in front of a pristine stark natural background. Gail stands by her friend and being a civilian can do what Bret as a law enforcement official cannot even as she breaks laws to prove her case. Although the typical amateur sleuth risking their life is an intricate part of the strong plotting, fans will enjoy Going, Gone as there are plenty of viable suspects with Lonny remaining at the head of the class.

Midnight Fires: A Mystery with Mary Wollstonecraft
Nancy Means Wright
Perseverance Press
9781564744883, $14.95

In 1786 Mary Wollstonecraft assumes life for her could not get any lower as she accepts humiliating work in County Cork, Ireland as a governess to the daughters of Lord and Lady Kingsborough. Still, one must eat and single women have few options. Thus Mary plans to make the best of her stay at Mitchelstown Castle.

Mary has given herself two rules to abide by. First she plans to write a novel. Second and foremost she is determined to stay out of the castle political squabbles. However, her resolve vanishes with the deaths of a sailor, the former governess, and an aristocrat. She believes a serial killer is on the loose and investigates seeking the link only to find several people with motives, but none with reasoning to kill the trio.

This is a terrific Georgian mystery with Mary Wollstonecraft starring as an amateur sleuth. Her investigation is clever as it enhances the overall theme of class and gender differences. Mary is the perfect guide for readers to look at the great divides in the late eighteenth century Ireland as she will one day soon write her famous manifesto. Nancy Means Wright provides an excellent historical mystery starring a superb heroine.

Atlantis Redeemed
Alyssa Day
Berkley Books
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
http://us.penguingroup.com
9780425233030, $7.99, www.amazon.com

In 202 BC, a raging Poseidon punished Brennan for his cavalier behavior. For the next two millennia plus Poseidon cursed Brennan with feeling no emotion as a just penalty. However, that is only part one; the second half of his chastisement is that once he meets his soulmate, twenty two hundred centuries of no emotion will explode like a supernova but each time they separate he will fail to recognize who she is; that time is now.

In Atlantis Prince Conlon informs Brennan that mortal reporter Tiernan Butler is their contact, as she is investigating evil experiments on shapeshifters by a consortium of humans and vampires. From a photo and then in person he knows she is the one. However, as they work together to unravel the truth at a scientific convention, the curse appears to destroy their chance of everlasting love and also catching the sinister scientists behind the shapeshifter scheme.

The twisted curse refreshes the latest Warriors of Poseidon adventure (see Atlantis Unleashed, Atlantis Unmasked, Atlantis Awakening and Atlantis Rising). The lead couple is a terrific pairing as Tiernan deals with Brennan and his curse while seeking an evil group preparing to destroy Atlantis and much more. Fans will relish the latest oceanic romantic fantasy as Alyssa Day moves her overarching plot forward with a wonderful entry.

A Kiss to Kill By
Nina Bruhns
Berkley
9780425233832, $7.99

In Manhattan, private protection firm Storm agents follow Dr. Gina Coppozi to keep her safe from al Sayika operatives especially her former lover CIA Black Ops ground Zero unit operative Greg Van Halen. She vows to kill him for selling her out to the terrorists. Gina also knows he is nearby watching her to obviously kidnap her for his handlers. Storm agents Alex Kane and Kick Jackson are part of the surveillance team, but are called off it to attend a meeting as NSA insists there is increased al Sayika chatter.

Alex loves CIA Special Agent Rebel Hayward and knows she loves him too, but he refuses to act on their mutual feelings as he feels unworthy of her. She is sent to Chesapeake Bay to investigate a threat posed by a yacht Allah's Paradise and told by her boss she will work for Storm on this mission. Alex is assigned to join her.

In DC Metro Police detective Sarah McPhee leads the investigation of a dead woman Asha Mamoud. CIA agent Wade Montana calls Sarah to question her about Asha. Soon all will converge in DC as a diabolical traitor has set up everyone to take a deadly fall.

This is a great tale in which several subplots rotate nicely before blending together into a fast-paced romantic suspense thriller. The ensemble cast comes across as different and fully developed characters. Although A Kiss to Kill By can stand alone; it helps to have read the previous tales (see If Looks Could Chill and Shoot to Thrill) to better understand the references to the past. Still this is a terrific Storm entry.

Mistress of Rome
Kate Quinn
Berkley
9780425232477, $15.00

In the reign of Emperor Domitian, Thea of Judaea lives in Rome having been purchased as a slave to Lepida Pollia. However, her owner becomes spiteful and outraged when the Jew and Arius the Barbarian gladiator become lovers. Lepida plans to end their relationship as she wants the savage as her pet.

Instead Thea survives as a singer concealing her son from her enemies. However, the Emperor Domitan becomes obsessed with Thea and makes her his present toy. She survives again her new lover's excesses only to have Lepida expose her to the Emperor of having a secret lover Arius and an offspring. Thea knows she must do something to save her family (her son and her lover), but how remains out of reach.

Mistress of Rome is a great late first century historical thriller driven by a strong cast especially the title character. Thea is a great lead protagonist, but in many ways Rome circa 82 AD owns the tale as the city comes across dark and decadent starting at the top with the brutal Emperor. Readers will relish this deep look at the Roman Empire ruled by a paranoid emperor who has cause for his paranoia, which he caused in the first place.

Promise of Pleasure
Cheryl Holt
Berkley
9780425235089, $7.99

In 1814 in rural England twenty five year old Mary Barnes is treated with disdain by her half sister eighteen years old spoiled Felicity who abuses her as a poor relation servant. Mary's widowed stepmother Victoria is as horrific towards her; only widow step-sister Cassandra does not mistreat her. Wastrel Viscount Jordan Winthrop is staying at Barnes Manor as he is expected to propose to Felicity for her money; while Mary has waited a decade for her neighbor Harold Talbot to marry her.

Jordan meets Mary and assumes she is a servant. He flirts with her and tells her she is pretty. She later sees him making love with Lauretta. She flees from him, but he watches her in the woods where she kisses Henry who is upset by her boldness; she also is upset as she felt nothing.

Victoria tells him who Mary he is, which stuns him as he know he treated her shabbily. He kisses Mary and tells her he wants to do it again. Peddler Philippe Dubois sells her the Spinster's Cure with the understanding she not pay until it proves successful by getting her true love to marry her. She drinks the potion ready for Harold to appear, but Jordan does instead. Desperate after another nasty incident with Felicity, Mary puts potion in his wine. That night he sneaks in her room. Soon they are having a tryst. Felicity, Victoria and Jordan's mistress Lauretta try to end the relationship between the lovers.

The first Spinster's Cure is a fun adult version of Cinderella with a strong lead couple and a solid support cast who with several neat twists seem to have stepped out of the fairy tale into the Regency sub-genre. Ironically, the wicked stepmother and stepsister mirror the fairy tale, but neither possesses any redeeming qualities while Philippe is a superb spin on the fairy godmother. Fans will enjoy this fine Regency romance as Jordan must choose between love and money.

Jared
Sarah McCarty
Berkley
9780425232408, $15.00

Jared Johnson smells a weak vampire female trapped by two Sanctuary male vampires on Renegade land. He thinks of the vampire civil war six months old as Sanctuary tries to find female breeders. Jared ignores the woman and kills both males. She is upset with him for not showing them mercy. As Jared and Raisa Slovenski argue, they flee enemy vampires. He finds her blood that she needs, but she says no as the human couple are a good pair ; he wonders how she survived alone.

They reach the D'Nally werewolf ranch where the weres are attracted to Raisa. The alpha Ian asks why she is so weak and offers her blood; she says it is wrong and rejects his offer. She faints and is dying from a lack of blood. Jared offers his blood and she says this is right and takes some. For the first in her three centuries as a vampire she does not have an allergic reaction to blood. Jared tells her she is his "Sunbeam". She says she liked being turned while he hated it. Her cousin brought her to America to work as a whore; but she refused so was beaten to near death before the conversion. He says some bitch converted his brother who changed him. As they fall in love with the enemy in pursuit, their respective nineteenth century pasts interfere with their current lives.

The lead couple is a super pairing and the support cast is extremely well drawn. The story line is fun to follow as the lead couple fall in love while dodging the enemy and each other with a great twist re their relationship. Although a bit more back story on the Shadow Wranglers vampire schism would help newcomers in understanding, rural romantic fantasy fans will fully relish Jared's tale and seek out his brother, Caleb's entry.

And Falling, Fly
Skyler White
Berkley
9780425232347, $15.00

Olivia the fallen angel is depressed with how far she has sunken just because of wanting. She has become a vampire who will never know desire.

Neuroscientist Dominic O'Shaughnessy has a history he wishes he could rewrite or at least bury. He is ashamed and prays he will one day atone though he remains haunted by visions he cannot rationalize.

Olivia and Dominic meet at the L'Otel Matillide, the subterraneous Hotel of the Damned. She has lost all hope while he hopes to find some hope. However, with one another they may find something more than hope if they take a chance but both knows that the something more can be damnation of the dead.

This is a complicated read as the atmosphere and brooding lead couple enhances a metaphysical story line that demands the audience to ponder what is life, death, and a sort of nothingness. The readers will empathize with each of the lead couple whose darkness makes neither likable, which in turn enhances the feeling of hopelessness as if they checked into the Hotel California for the damned. Although the relationship moves too quickly towards love for a despairing, distrusting duo like this pair, readers will consider the meaning of life and whether death is its antonym.

Broken
Shiloh Walker
Berkley
9780425232415, $15.00

In St. Louis Sara Davis is attracted to her new neighbor, Quinn Rafferty. Alas she knows nothing can come of it as she is on the lam from someone who wants her dead. However, Quinn reciprocates and refuses to stay distantly friendly as he has a nasty past too.

As Sara and Quinn become closer, she still conceals her dark secrets from him as he does with her. However, as they fall in love, fate twists them to the wind when his next skip as a bounty hunter is Sara.

This is a terrific romantic suspense thriller that grips the audience from the onset as Sara knows she could easily fall in love with Quinn, but must instead avoid him. The story line is fast-paced yet filled with angst as he has issues having initially been raised by an abusive addict until his father and twin brother (see Fragile for Luke's tale) rescued him two decades ago. If Sara was to pick the perfect man to love her, he is it because as an adult he never forgot the abuse so he personally prefers beating up abusers. Readers will enjoy this terrific thriller as fans will wonder if Quinn has finally found happiness only will he give away the Elusive Butterfly Of Love (Bob Lind).

Witch in Time
Madelyn Alt
Berkley
9780425232613, $23.95

Over the last nine months in Stony Mill, Indiana, the sensitives feel a chaotic energy surge sweeping the town and leading to murder and mayhem. The witches and the sensitives are friends so arrange a coalition led by Liss the witch who has deliberately developed her powers and encourages her co-worker Maggie O'Neill to do so too as she is a strong empath.

Maggie gets involved in the chaotic energy when she goes to the hospital with her boyfriend Marcus Quinn to see her sister Mel giving birth. The spirits follow Maggie into an elevator where she overhears a conversation that implies someone's death. A few days earlier student Jordan Everett died from an enlarged heart caused by steroid use. Not understanding what the spirits are telling her, Maggie remains with Mel overnight. She overhears an argument between a woman who just gave birth and a man who is not her husband. Her sister's husband vanishes while Maggie believes Jordan's death is linked to another death a few days after her sister gave birth to twins. Now she has to prove her assertion with evidence beyond witchery and intuition.

Madelyn Alt's paranormal amateur sleuth mysteries are always fantastic fun. With a good deal of sensual feelings exchanged between the heroine and her significant other, A Witch In Time has cross genre appeal to romance readers too. Maggie works the case with the spirits trying to tell her the solution, but they are too cryptic, which both frustrates and motivates her. Readers will enjoy this refreshing tale in an original series as learning who the culprit is from those beyond will not hold up in court.

Farm Fresh Murder
Paige Shelton
Berkley
9780425233870, $7.99

Becca Robins is making blackberry jam at her farm she shares with Hobbit the dog when her sister calls. Allison manages Bailey's Farmers Market where Becca sells her jams and jellies. She asks her sibling to come over immediately so Allison does. The police are there as is the corpse of Matt Simonson, who to the shock of the vendors was murdered.

Becca fails to recognize Matt because as Allison explains to her he just started working there. Allison further says that her best friend Abner is the prime suspect because they had a loud public argument, a bouquet made from his flowers is on the dead body and he has vanished. Later Abner calls Becca pleading with her not to investigate, but she refuses to abide by his request. Becca interviews other vendors, which leads to her puting the puzzle pieces together and placing herself in danger from a killer observing her every move.

The first farmer's Markey Mystery is a fine and riveting amateur sleuth mystery with more suspects than Abner has flowers in a bouquet. Besides a strong heroine who refuse to believe her friend is a killer, the support cast is superb as they bring out what goes on behind the scenes of a Farmer's Market environ while enhancing the investigation. Putting aside the sub-genre's recipe of placing the amateur sleuth who is already questionable as a detective in deadly peril, fans will enjoy Farm Fresh Murder as Becca determined and intrepid seeks the killer.

Master Of Fire
Angela Knight
Berkley
9780425233351, $7.99

In South Carolina, Greendale County Sheriff's Office Lieutenant Logan MacRoy is excellent at several law enforcement specialties including arson investigator, forensic chemist and bomb expert. However, he conceals from his colleagues his roots as the offspring of King Arthur the vampire and Queen Guinevere the magi. A dormant vampire, Logan has not made the move to become bloodsucker.

Recently chemist Giada Shepherd has become a full majae. Arthur assigned her to keep Logan safe from a serial killer murdering the latent with the caveat not to engage in sexual activity with his offspring as that would trigger the vampiric conversion. Giada's only ally is the mystical ancient Smoke the cat who assists her, but he cannot keep her and Logan from being attracted to one another.

This is a terrific entry in the Mageverse urban fantasy series (see Master of the Night and Master of the Moon) as the mortal son of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere is under attack while recently promoted majae chemist Giada risks her life and her heart to protect him. Fans will enjoy this pairing as the romance is hot with sexual healing while an insidious killer goes after Logan using magically enhanced bombs with no concern about collateral damage yet also the overarching theme moves forward.

Something about You
Julie James
Berkley
9780425233382, $7.99

In Chicago, Assistant United States Attorney Cameron Lynde cannot believe that in the Peninsular Hotel room next door are the Olympic gold medal champs in sexual gymnastics. When she thinks the event is over, she hears a murder take place. FBI agent Jack Pallas knocks on her hotel door to get her story as the case has implications in DC. They have a history together, but he loathes her with a passion; she knows she does not deserve his hatred, but accepts his feelings as legitimate as he does not know the full story.

Back in Chicago, Jack blames Cameron for his exile to Nebraska for three years when he was undercover on an organized crime investigation that she aborted. Assuming he is the target of a cosmic joke, to his chagrin, he wanted her then and still wants her now, but refuses to act on his desire because she betrayed him once before. As they work together, Cameron affirms what she already knew that she loves Jack.

This entertaining police procedural romantic suspense is a fast-paced read due to the argumentative lead couple. Cameron and Jack are terrific as they argue, fuss and fight over how to take down an organized crime mob while falling in love.

Naked Edge
Pamela Clare
Berkley
9780425219768, $7.99

Being a half-breed has made journalist Katherine James for the most part feel out of place in both of her cultural heritages. Her white father deserted her and her Native American mother so Katherine never met him and has no desire to do so. The Navaho have been kinder to her so she chose to stay with them. However, she has vowed to never fall in love as her mother was devastated by that emotion.

At Mesa Butte, Park Ranger Gabe Rossiter helps Kat after she is trapped by a landslide. Not long afterward, Gabe joins a raid on a sweat-lodge ceremony where he spots Kat. Like her though his reason differs, he vowed to never fall in love again having been hurt badly the first time. When her grandfather is murdered, Gabe and Kat team up to learn the truth, placing them in danger from a vile killer and each questioning their feelings.

This is an entertaining investigative romance starring two likable protagonists who have the sweat lodge ceremony intrusion between them even as they fall in love. The wilderness scenes are terrific, but the vivid description of the contemporary Navaho lifestyle never seems to gel as the background to the inquiry by Gabe and Katherine. Still fans will enjoy this exciting romantic suspense of two people trying to kick love to the curb while their joint investigation into strange deadly happenings at mesa Butte place both in danger.

Holly Blues
Susan Wittig Albert
Berkley
9780425232606, $24.95

It is Christmas time and the wonderful smells of the Yuletide season spices up Pecan Springs. Although China Bayles runs Thymes and Seasons Herbs and works with her partner Ruby Wilcox catering events with Party Thyme and their Thyme for Tea Shoppe, she looks forward to the holidays. That is until her husband's former wife Sally Strahorn enters her office. Sally suffers from dissociative identity disorder so is an unfit mother, a liar, and a thief depending on which personality surfaces.

Sally tells China she is broke with no place to go; China knows she should say nothing, but agrees to put her up for now. Sally makes friends with China's niece, whom she and her currently out of town spouse have adopted. A man calls the shop and then China's home asking for Sally both times. China confronts Sally, who says he is Jess Myers, her former friend turned stalker. Myers is soon spotted in Pecan Springs as Sally vanishes. China learns that Sally is a person of interest in the hit and run death of her sister Leslie. Preferring to believe that Sally did not murder her sister or another woman killed in the same way, China and Ruby investigate in a case that places them in danger.

A China Bayles amateur sleuth is always special as the key characters change over time. The secondary cast gives the series a sense of continuity while the inquiry feels genuine as the two partners simply ask questions while pretending innocence. Even Sally seems a bit more mature. Although, placing oneself in danger is an amateur sleuth occupational hazard that China has accomplished eighteen or so times, Holly Blue is a terrific whodunit as the case take s personal spins for the heroine.

Mad, Bad And Blonde
Cathie Linz
Berkley
9780425233405, $7.99

In Chicago, her fiance Alan sends Faith West a text message that he is not coming to marry her as she waits at the altar. Rather than weep, the sharp-shooting librarian decides to go on her honeymoon to Positano, Italy by herself.

There she meets Caine Hunter, who gives the Heimlich to some guy trying to impress Faith by choking on a French fry. Caine and Faith share a heated night, but in the morning she checks into her new paramour. He works for her father's rival insuring she does not steal a client from them. However, that is only the shallow segue of what he wants. He believes her father caused his dad to commit suicide after accusing him of embezzlement so he plots to destroy West through his daughter.

Mad, Bad and Blonde is an interesting lighthearted contemporary romance that looks at how far family loyalties should go. Fans will want to know whether the Dark Knight or the kick butt librarian is right about their dads while also wondering how Jane Austen would feel attending games at Wrigley Field writing about the Cubs.

Rachel's Garden
Marta Perry
Berkley
9780425232361, $14.00

In Pleasant Valley, Pennsylvania, Widow Rachel Brand has no time to grieve the death of her husband Ezra in an accident. Instead she has a farm to keep and three young children to raise by herself though she knows her Amish neighbors will offer help.

Ezra's best friend Gideon Zook, who survived the accident, wants to honor his deceased buddy by completing a project he was going to do for his wife. Ezra intended to build a greenhouse for Rachel. However, her family pressures her to sell the farm instead of starting a nursery. However, questionable accidents leaves Gideon and Rachel to wonder if someone covets the land so much as to drive the widow away and to reconsider what happened to Ezra even as they fall in love.

The second Pleasant Valley Amish romance (see Leah's Choice) is an interesting look at two people who lost their first cherished mates who are falling in love but are in denial about how they feel. The lead couples makes the tale as the ghosts of Ezra and Naomi stand in their way as Gideon is unable to move on; somewhat because he suffers from survivor guilt and somewhat from his disbelief that one can love twice. Fans will enjoy a trip to Lancaster County as Marta Perry provides a charming second chance at love romance.

Bound, Branded And Brazen
Jaci Burton
Heat
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
www.newamericanlibrary.com
9780425232699, $15.00, www.amazon.com

"Bound". Although her two sisters will be there, Valerie McMasters does not want to go home to her family's Bar M Ranch where she fears she still wants her former husband Mason, the foreman, but leaves Dallas for the Oklahoma spread to attend Uncle Ronald's funeral.

"Branded". When horse trainer Gage teaches Brea McMasters the wild side of riding, she realizes he ties her heart as well as her body in knots of desire, but how to lasso him in seems out of reach.

"Brazen". Jolene McMasters knows she will need to walk on the wild side to get rancher Walker into her life permanently.

This is an engaging contemporary romantic trilogy that will have readers playing M.A.S.H. as the three McMasters sisters frolic on the ranch hog tying the men they love. Although Brazen fails to match the emotional intensity of the other B tales, fans will enjoy Jaci Burton's heated ranch romances.

Delicious
Shayla Black
Heat
9780425232422, $15.00

In Lafayette, Louisiana, famous stripper Alyssa Devereux owns a popular strip joint, but is also is opening a restaurant. She has persuaded celebrity chef Luc Traverson to serve the first day meals.

Luc has doubts as he had the sexual time of his life with Alyssa three months ago, but fears a repeat performance as he still wants her. Alyssa shocks him with her business skills and her education. However, even more stunning she tells him he is the only man she slept with in several years and would like a repeat performance. She also wants to know what dark secret he hides form her as she senses he is concealing something personal. He is sterile, but wants children while feeling morally her lifestyle rules her out. When she is threatened by local activists, Luc defends her, but will he admit to himself and then to her he loves her?

The third Wicked Lovers heated romance (see Wicked Ties and Decadent) is a terrific tale of a man who keeps humming to himself I'm Not In Love (10 CC) because the adulation of his affection is a stripper. Alyssa proves to him and readers she is much more than a stereotyped stripper as her business acumen is superb; though that is two edged as it simplifies Luc's personal moral dilemma yet also makes the heroine wonderfully complex. Fans will enjoy this deep Bayou Wicked Lovers' saga as Luc loves Alyssa although she is not his the opposite of the image of his paragon mate.

As Young As We Feel
Melody Carlson
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
www.cookministries.com
9781434764973, $14.99, www.amazon.com

In Clifden, Oregon, the four females named Linda met in the first grade and became friends. They agreed to use their middle names to ease identification in the Four Lindas club. The quartet vowed to remain BFFs, but high school has a way to break up forever clubs.

Almost five decades have passed since the women first formed the Lindas club. Each went their separate ways with Janie becoming a New York attorney; Abby feeling the pangs of her empty nest with the kids gone; Marley as a failed artist lost her elan and free spirit attitude; and Charlotte the starlet whose Hollywood time is over. Each has decisions to make in their middle years, but though they had lost contact until now, they remain BFFs having each other's back.

This is an entertaining character driven tale starring the Four Lindas who in their early fifties face differing crises, but with their BFF namesakes do so with courage and encouragement. Although the plot is thin, fans will relish that with faith and friends in your heart, a person can achieve so much more to overcome what eats at their soul. Melody Carlson provides a wonderful inspirational that will have fans wanting to see how the Four Linda's rock Clifden.

The Dragon Factory
Jonathan Maberry
St. Martin's Griffin
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
www.stmartins.com
9780312382490, $14.99, www.amazon.com

Otto Wirths and Cyrus Jakoby prove evil lives forever as these brilliant cretins implement a plan to finish Mengele's master race eugenics program. Cyrus especially has worked for several decades to turn the world 100 percent Caucasian by turning genetic diseases contagious..

The Department of Military Science (DMS) is perhaps the only organization capable of preventing the triggering of the Extinction Wave, but they are preoccupied with an NSA threat to their existence. However, while DMS struggles with political threats, SAM, a child inside the Jakoby compound, sneaks out a video to DMS that awakens the agency to the pandemic threat of global ethnic cleansing. Joe Ledger and his Echo team try to prevent the final solution of destroying much of the world's population; but they are unprepared with the genetic experiments that created mythological creatures, a super-race of soldiers and subservient NEW MEN.

The sequel to Patient Zero pays homage to The Island of Dr. Moreau by Wells and Jurassic Park by Crichton in this exciting thriller. Fast-paced, filled with action, and several surprising twists, fans will enjoy this over the top science fiction thrillers.

Born To Be Wild
Christine Warren
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
www.stmartins.com
9780312357191, $7.99, www.amazon.com

Veterinarian Dr. Josie Barrett knows there is a lot more under the sun, well the moon, in Stone Creek, Oregon. So being aware of the healing prowess of the dominant sentient Others, she is stunned when Sheriff Eli Pace carries into her clinic with a wounded female werewolf . Something is obvious not right in Stone Creek as the lupine fails to self heal as the shifters remarkably do rather swiftly or change into her human form.

Other werewolves are also assaulted. Desperate Eli the lion shapeshifter asks the town vet to help him investigate what seems like a dangerous virus to shapeshifters, which puts the sheriff at risk. She agrees. As the human and the half lion fall in love, each knows uncovering the apparent biological weapon and who is behind it remain front and center.

The key to this strong urban fantasy romantic suspense is that the growing love between the lead couple enhances their desperate search for answers. Thus the exciting investigation into biological warfare is the prime story line with the romance a wonderful subplot. Christine Warren provides another winning Other paranormal thriller (see Big Bad Wolf and You're So Vein).

If You Were My Man
Francis Ray
St. Martin's
9780312573690, $14.99

In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina at Widow Nathalyia Fontaine's seafood restaurant Fontaine, the owner and police officer hostage negotiator Rafael Dunlap meet. Both feels love at first sight. However, Rafael has commitment issues due to his line of work; while Nathalyia has to deal with her troublesome sister, Theresa, who just arrived and has not dated since her spouse died four years ago. Nathalyia employs her sibling who begins stealing from her.

Although both have doubts, Rafael and Nathalyia begin seeing one another. However, Nathalyia is put on a spot of choosing between a hard place and a rock, so she ends their relationship though that breaks her heart. Her sacrifice fails to keep her beloved Rafael safe as she considers telling him the whole truth.

With a strong supporting subplot involving the heroine's BFF enhancing the prime theme of a second chance at love tale, fans of Francis Ray's Invincible Women saga will appreciate If You Were My Man. The story line is a deep entry, made profound by Nathalyia having to make difficult selections. Readers will relish this fine tale.

Whiter Than Snow
Sandra Dallas
St. Martin's
9780312600150, $24.99

In April 1920, the Swandyke Avalanche came down Jubilee Mountain in Colorado killing twenty schools kids; only four survived.

The parents wait anxiously as everyone digs frantically. Age, race, religion, gender and occupation no longer are dividers. Estranged sisters Lucy and Dolly pray for their five kids between them to be safe while the former's husband Henry takes charge and the latter's Tom gets drunk. Black widower Joe fears for his beloved Jane. Jim and Grace also worry about their offspring. Elderly Minder keeps the Civil War cemetery clean, but now fears for his grandson Emmett. Essie is a popular French hooker who is actually a New York Jew; she hopes one day to be a real mom to her Sophie raised by a nanny. All share in common their fear that their child may be dead.

The ensemble cast seems genuine before and during the disaster; especially poignant is the reaction of panicked parents as race and occupation no longer matter. Time and place come across as key elements. Although the first abrupt change in whose background story is told comes out of nowhere, readers will adapt to the switching perspectives that enable fans to know how the cast will react to the tragedy.

The Heretic's Wife
Brenda Rickman Vantrease
St. Martin's
9780312386993, $25.99

In 1528 at Gouch's Book and Print Shop, siblings John and Kate Gough obtain banned protestant bibles and translate them into English at a time when the Lutheran reformation is outlawed. When John is caught and arrested, he saves his life by recanting his sins. His sister Kate understands why he repudiated his activity, but refuses to retract her actions and beliefs.

Kate meets and falls in love with biblical translator John Frith. He takes her to safety in Antwerp as religious wars seem imminent in England. King Henry VIII is increasingly frustrated with the Pope's inaction on his petition to sanction a marriage to his mistress Anne Boleyn so he begins to look towards the Lutheran doctrine. To the contrary, Catholic supporter Thomas More burns heretics to keep England loyal to the Vatican. In these dangerous times, Protestants are subject to a heresy death penalty especially inside of England but even those who fled to tolerant Holland.

This is a refreshing superb Tudor historical that focuses on the impact of the religious wars on the working class. Perhaps the biggest adjustment for readers is Sir Thomas More as a fanatic willing to torture and burn heretics, a far cry from A Man for All Seasons. With a rare for novels of that era modern day relevance, Brenda Rickman Vantrease pulls no punches as she provides a profound look at what the royal-papal dispute does to the every-person English.

Never Cry Werewolf
L.A. Banks
St. Martin's
9780312943004, $7.99

After dealing with the warring werewolf clans in New Orleans, Captain Sasha Trudeau and her black-ops team, which report to the Paranormal Containment Unit, are sent to NORAD in the Colorado Rockies. The men who oversee various parts of the military are displeased with the squad's performance because humans died and the public accepted the fact that supernaturals exist.

A second team led by human Colonel Madison, who detests and fears the paranormal, are sent to New Orleans to give an unbiased account. Sasha knows he will get his unit killed and start a war that will end with millions killed because the colonel is unaware of the various species, their governing boards or their unique power. Ancient were-leopard Junq Suk forms an alliance with Vampire Elder Vlad. He gives her a young body into which she transfers her essence into goes on a killing spree making it look like werewolves were hunting humans. The unholy pair hopes the humans eradicate the werewolves who they want punished for their transgressions. The vampire also plans to regain his position as head of the United Council of Entities by proving the wolves broke protocol and by working with an Unseelie Fae who has her own agenda. Sasha tries to minimize the damage Madison does because she doesn't want the city flooded in blood.

Never Cry Werewolf is a marvelous magical military urban fantasy. Sasha finally comes to grips with her feelings about Hunter who is injured trying to prevent a war from breaking out. She also comes to grip with her half-human and half shadow wolf nature. However, what makes this latest action adventure Crimson Moon tale so good is L.A. Banks uncanny skill of using the military via her heroine, the brass and Madison to make the supernatural natural.

Eight Days to Live
Iris Johansen
St. Martin's
9780312368159, $27.99

Found all around the world, the cult worships Judas Iscariot, who they believe was God's Chosen One to betray Jesus in order to fulfill a biblical prophecy. The members know for certain that Judas is in Heaven sitting next to God. They meet annually on April 1 to provide a human sacrificial blood offer in Judas' name.

Jane McGuire is having an art show of her work at the Denarve Gallery in Paris. Someone wants to spend a fortune on "Guilt", a picture of a man whose face is tortured by internal demons. The Judas followers believe Jane committed blasphemy with her painting; so they decide she shall be this year's sacrifice. The picture came to her in dreams, but the cult thinks with the vivid details within the portrait she has been to the holy place where an ancient treasure is concealed. They try to grab her, however Jane escapes, but not before learning she is to be their Offering. Jane calls the expert for advice, her adopted mom Eve Duncan and her lover Joe. Two men are after Jane with differing motives, but share in common that her loved ones are expendable.

Eight Days to Live is Iris Johansen at her very best in a fresh switch in which Eve and Joe play secondary roles while Jane stars. She calls on Caleb, a man with psychic powers who applies them in such a way that Eve does not approve. However he remains Jane's only hope to survive the next eight days. This is a gripping one sitting suspense thriller.

The Book of Spies
Gayle Lynds
St. Martin's
9780312380892, $25.99

Rare book expert Eva Blake knows justice is a sham when she is convicted of her husband's death in a car accident in which she insisted throughout she was the passenger. While she unfairly remains behind bars, The CIA during a forensic financial sweep in the Middle East learns of the rumored Library of Gold where priceless ancient tomes are allegedly stored; they even obtained a copy of the Book of Spies sold on the black market by a "librarian". The spy agency knows Eva's husband was a believer that the Library of Gold exists so offer Eva a deal which she accepts.

Freed from prison with the job of locating the library, Eva is stunned when she sees her spouse alive as she went to jail for his death. Even more shocking is that she realizes that her husband was not just a myth believer, but is the director of the Library of Gold. When she meets Judd Ryder he tries to persuade her that his motives involve the murder of his espionage agent father whose death he ties to the keepers of the Library of Gold. However, as she has quickly learned during her inquiry, Eva trusts no one, not even the Feds who released her from prison or a son insisting he seeks a killer because the Library of Gold influential agents are everywhere.

This is an exciting treasure hunt espionage conspiracy thriller that grips the audience the moment the CIA enlist Eva to conduct their research and never releases the reader as the heroine becomes paranoid with justification during her dangerous investigation. The story line is fast-paced throughout even with a seemingly cast of thousands support characters that Cecil B. Demille would appreciate. However, Eva and to a lesser degree Judd make this an enjoyable read as trust no one is the norm.

On the Night of the Seventh Moon
Victoria Holt
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312384319, $14.99

In 1859 English spinster Helena Trant is on vacation in Germany enjoying everything about the Black Forest as she reminisces about her bookselling father's vacation there and her mother's musing about woods. However, while on a picnic Helena gets separated from her companions. Later on the Night of the Seventh Moon, a mist engulfs and frightens her though she keeps reminding herself that Loke the God of Mischief is mythology.

A horseman rescues her though she is not sure from what. His noble horse takes her to his shelter. There Siegfried and Helena begin to fall in love, but she also fears her mysterious rider as she does not understand the nightmare that engulfs her champion and now her.

This is a reprint of a solid gothic romance written by legendary Victoria Holt in the 1970s. The story line is classic gothic with a brooding hero, an innocent damsel in distress and a mysterious castle in the mists of the Black Forest. Although the narrow path of the story line is obvious with no spins occurring outside the sub-genre boundaries, sub-genre fans will enjoy Helena's student adventure in the euphoria and nightmare of love and life.

Knock Me For A Loop
Heidi Betts
St. Martin's
9780312946739, $7.99

Talk show host Grace Fisher goes to the hotel to visit her fiance hockey star Zack Hoolihan only to find him with a naked woman. Outraged, Grace penalizes him with a life suspension when she publicly ends their relationship.

Already mentally down after losing Grace and playing poorly, Zack injures his knee and his placed on the injured reserve list. He feels like a loser knowing his beloved distrusts and loathes him though he never cheated on her and his professional hockey career is over. However he has renewed hope when his Grace visits him.

The third magic yarn romance (see Loves Me, Loves Me Knot and Tangled Up In Love) continues the misadventures in love between Zack and Grace. Ironically readers know Zack is innocent as we know he has no idea how she got into his room while on the road but mentally (and physically) hurt by his beloved's distrust of him. Grace's outrage of his betrayal of her could fuel a major city for years. This tale is well written and entertaining though why Zack tries to win back his love instead of moving on as she cross checked him with a high stick and refused to listen to him. Still fans will appreciate this fine contemporary sports romance wondering whether Grace can believe Zack is faithful to her.

Spring Break
Kayla Perrin
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312547288, $14.99

On Artula, following a break up with her boyfriend Ryan Sinclair, college student Ashley Hamilton vanishes. Her disappearance occurs just after she meets New York editor Jason Shear who had come to the Caribbean island to investigate human trafficking; his sister had disappeared without a trace while on spring break here in 1987. Jason finds out that nineteen women have disappeared in the last seven years.

Ashley's best friend Chantelle Higgins searches for her after the local authorities ignore her plea for help. On the other hand Jason agrees to assist her in her investigation into what happened to Ashley. At the same time Ashley's frantic family arrive on the island; someone murders an informant willing to talk to Chantelle.

This is a superb romantic suspense that looks deeply into human sexual trafficking through the constant questioning by the courageous Chantelle who refuses to stop asking the why. The story line is fast-paced throughout as the frantic desperation of the heroine and the family of the abductee turns into a frenzy of extreme anxiety due to hopelessness as what increasingly looks like a lost cause. Although several late twists detract from an otherwise strong thriller, fans will enjoy this cautionary tale of being smart and safe while on Spring Break.

Geosynchron
David Louis Edelman
Pyr
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
www.prometheusbooks.com
9781591027928, $16.00, www.amazon.com

When MultiReal technology failed to provide anymore probability solutions to decision making, civil war explodes between Len Borda and Magan Kai Lee while rebellion mounts elsewhere as Quell has escaped incarceration and has found a willing ally Josiah. The human solar system looks to be on the verge of a second Autonomous Revolt; the last destroyed much of civilization centuries ago.

While the proponents behind MultiReal struggle with the realism that their program is gone, they also deal with law suits. Suddenly, in the chaotic void appears MultiReal-D. It is the same as its predecessor except it can provide multiple time lines for up to 60 seconds; expanding probability mathematics to incredible degrees, bur may be too late as the legal suits expand and the hostilities grow while Natch is nowhere to be seen even as he receives desperate virtual pleas from Surina..

The final Jump 225 is a great finish to a terrific technological science fiction thriller. Somehow David Louis Edelman paints his vision even darker and grittier than in the previous extremely dark and gritty tales (see Infoquake and MultiReal). A sort of cyberpunk modernizing of WarGames, Geosynchron is superb story as the complex myriad of subplots come together in Natch who must choose mankind who treated him like excrement or himself who is his only true love; MultiReal-D would predict bet your life on the latter as that is the overwhelming odds.

Gardens of the Sun
Paul McCauley
PYR
9781616141967, $16.00

The Three Powers Alliance of Greater Brazil, the European Union, and the Pacific Community won the Quiet War. To the victors go the spoils, but first the winners must deal with the conquered Outers and their cities on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn before plundering the scientific and technological advancements of the defeated leading to prison camps and forced cooperation. A century of enlightened pragmatic rationalism in the Milky Way has returned to the Dark Ages of repression.

Some Outers escape the deadly incarceration of the "Final Solution" fleeing to the Uranus moon of Miranda, but chased further away from the sun by the Greater Brazil armada to Neptune's moon Triton. An enigmatic leader directed allegedly by a future version of himself and followed by Outer "Ghost" cultists takes Outers further out in the solar system to Nephele. There the surviving Free Outers change colonization techniques from permanent to portable as they construct detachable "Gardens of the Sun" habitats. Meanwhile other Outers push diverse surviving techniques starting with the natural habitat genetic genius Avernus with her "gardens" and the human pragmatic cutting by Sri Hong-Owen. Thus beyond the inner planets where the sun is weak, humans still seek the light of knowledge while on earth people demand freedom having learned of the heroism of the Outers even in defeat. .

This is a fascinating science fiction sequel to the Quiet War, which makes two strong assertions. First even in the deadliest of dictatorships, there are tiny lights of enlightenment trying to find a means to get free, and second that war makes the victors pay exorbitant costs and consequences. The story line is action-packed as the Free Outers flee further away from the sun using diverse paths to freedom while the totalitarian axis of evil sends troops in pursuit to eradicate the survivors in spite of problems back home caused by the war. Paul McCauley provides a thought provoking yet exciting fast-paced futuristic thriller.

Empire in Black and Gold
Adrian Tchaikovsky
PYR
9781616141929, $16.00

Since the revolt decades ago that overthrew the ruling Moths, the city-states of the Lowlands have lived in prosperous peace with one another. The Beetles are probably the most powerful, but they prefer trade as merchants and development as engineers over war. The Spiders are the most aristocratic with their lofty attitudes while the Ant cities prefer internal squabbling with one another as to who has the most royal queen. The Flies live a nomadic lifestyle flying all over the Lowlands. Finally the deposed Moths and their foot soldiers Mantids live in the nearby mountains with hopes of returning to power.

On the northeastern side of the Great Barrier Ridge is the invincible Wasp Empire. They believe peace can only be achieved through conquest. The Lowlanders ignore the threat as the Beetles are becoming wealthy selling weapons to the Wasps who are at war with the Dragonfly Commonwealth; the ants are too busy with internal fighting; the Moths are angry over losing power; and the Spiders and Flies disregard anything outside their respective lifestyles.

Beetle Stenwold Maker fought and lost against the Wasp military defending Myna almost twenty years ago. Few are interested in his warning, as he is considered a crazy victim of battle fatigue. However, he has operatives inside of the cities ready to counter the Wasp agents' subversive activity. His key followers are his Spider foster daughter Tynisa, his Beetle niece Che, the combat hardened Dragonfly royal Salma and Totho the apprentice engineering Beetle. They fly to Helleron on a key mission but may be too late with betrayal and Wasps awaiting their arrival.

With a not so subtle message that racism divisiveness leads to everyone losing and is normally not the answer but sometimes is; Adrian Tchaikovsky provides a powerful fantasy that uses various insect species to create his world. The story line is action-packed once the customs of each genus is introduced. Readers will be hooked early on with this terrific opening act as the insects are personified but within their species prime traits.

Petrodor
Joel Shepherd
PYR
9781616141936, $16.00

War seems imminent between Lenayin and Bacosh as leaders on both sides discuss their advantages and the merits of the fight; no one cares that soldiers and civilians will die. Although she would prefer to stay out of the mess, Svaalverd style master bladeswoman Princess Sasha continues her training under the tutelage of the great warrior, Kessligh,. She and Kessligh want to prevent the combat that will devastate her homeland.

In exile after leading a rebellion against her father, Sasha and her mentor are in the affluent port city of Petrodor to attempt to keep the dispute from turning into war. While her sisters are being married to the highest political bidder in an obvious effort to obtain allies, Sasha turns to the serrin from beyond the Bacosh; of whom she understands somewhat their strange culture, but has doubts she can trust them even her friend Errollyn. War still seems to be coming in spite of Sasha's efforts.

The second Trial of Blood & Steal is an exciting fantasy that provides an interesting look at the political-military-religious complex. The story line is action-packed but has the second book feel as little progress is made. Still with the maturing of Sasha taking a setback as she has become increasingly obstinate and egoistical rejecting advice, fans who read Sasha will enjoy this fine tale; newcomers will be lost as they will not know the cause of the seemingly coming war.

Within the Hollow Crown
Margaret Campbell Barnes
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139, Naperville, IL 60563
www.sourcebooks.com
9781402239212, $14.99, www.amazon.com

Unlike his father Edward the Black prince, his grandfather Edward III, or his namesake Richard the Lionhearted, Richard Plantagenet never wanted to be king. However, in 1377 at eleven years old, he is crowned ruler of England under the control of a Regency Council led by his Uncle John of Gaunt. He hated their control and was pleased with parliament's dissolution of the Council though his Uncle John remained his top advisor. However, it was his happy marri age to Anne of Bohemia that gave him the strength and spirit to make difficult decisions in a strife torn kingdom; as his prime goal was to end the Hundred Years War and other such conflicts. He proved successful at fourteen when he ended the Peasants' Revolt. England prospered under his valiant rule until his beloved Anne died in 1394. Richard II was never the same and soon was betrayed by his cousin.

This is a fascinating work of biographical fiction that will remind readers of the Shakespeare tragedy as a great ruler falls apart after his heart dies along with his beloved Anne. Written in 1948, Within the Hollow Crown holds up as a strong historical fiction that brings to life the late fourteenth century England, a place where intrigue and betrayal outlive a monarch trying to bring peace, harmony, and prosperity to his kingdom.

The Stolen Crown
Susan Higginbotham
Sourcebooks
9781402237669, $14.99

King Edward IV marries Elizabeth Woodville in secret. Elizabeth's family, including her six year old sister Kate, is escorted to the royal court. Over time with maturity Kate overcomes her amazement of the regal world to marry the Duke of Buckingham, Harry Stafford.

However, both her biological and marital families are caught in the War of the Roses between the houses of Lancaster and York. While King Edward IV fights to remain on the throne, Harry has to choose between loyalty to his brother-in-law and his best friend Richard, Duke of Gloucester who covets the crown.

"The Stolen Crown: The Secret Marriage That Forever Changed The Fate Of England" is an entertaining biographical fiction that enables the audience to observe the late fifteenth century royal power struggles through the observations of the beleaguered queen's younger sister and her spouse. They, especially Harry, are yanked between extended family loyalty and his friend. Fans of English historical fiction anchored by facts will enjoy the exciting saga of The Stolen Crown.

Legend of the White Wolf
Terry Spear
Sourcebooks
9781402219054, $6.99

While their partners Cameron MacPherson and Vin Summerfield remain in Seattle as the former hunts only criminals and the latter hates flying, David Davis and Owen Nottingham are in Maine hunting black bear. Their guide Kintail Silverman, co-owner with Lila Grayson of Back Country Tours, takes them deep into the wilderness when thirtyish David suddenly suffers a heart attack. Owen knows David and pleads with Kintail to save his friend; he will pay any cost. Kintail agrees and suddenly one of his purebred white wolves leaps at the two private investigators.

Faith O'Mallery is town searching for her former boyfriend Hilson Snowden who stole her father's research paper. Her father tells her not to read the paper once she recovers it. At a hotel, she enters an occupied room as the desk clerk gave her the wrong key. He says his name is Cameron and he is a private investigator from Seattle seeking his missing two partners. They team up in search of his buddies and her dad's paper, but neither is prepared to what they find as she learns her dad is not insane with his sociology study and he that his friends live. Soon they will understand the howl of the wolf for its soulmate as their new loupe garous pals are in danger of extinction from Dark Angels.

The fourth werewolf romantic suspense thriller (see To Tempt a Wolf, Heart of the Wolf and Destiny of the Wolf) is a super entry as two dedicated individuals combine their mission only to fall in love at first bite. The pristine descriptions of Maine and elsewhere add to the feeling that a werewolf pack runs free in the tundra. Fans will relish this strong paranormal entry as no one does tales of the wolf better than Terry Spear does.

Lessons in French
Laura Kinsale
Sourcebooks Casablanca
9781402237010, $7.99 www.Sourcebooks.com

Nine years ago, the love of her left her for the continent. Since the Duc Trevelyn Davis d'Augustin left for France, twenty-seven years old Lady Callista Taillefaire has been jilted three times though she is not sure why. Now he is back and she suggests they become engaged so she can have an even number of marital jilting.

She wants nothing to do with the Duc although she also knows she still wants him. Instead she prefers raising cattle and making Hubert the love of her life as her bull would never break her heart; perhaps a few of the cows but not her. However, when Trevelyn is convicted of forgery and apparently headed away from England, Callie cannot just let him go.

This is an intriguing Regency romance that in many ways is typical of the genre although somewhat refreshed by Trevelyn's interesting military escapades and a great final twist re why the heroine was jilted trice. More emphasis on Trevelyn and his past with his insalubrious uncouth valet would have added an additional invigorating element as why the aristocrat keeps this brute; yet fans will still enjoy this fine second chance at love.

Warrior Ascended
Addison Fox
Signet
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
www.newamericanlibrary.com
9780451229380, $7.99, www.amazon.com

Enyo the Goddess of War plans to steal five Egyptian Summoning Stones that will enable her to rule the world. Themis the Goddess of Justice to abate the mass destruction that Enyo has set in motion creates immortal warriors to fight for her cause of balancing the scales.

One of Themis' fighters Leo warrior Brody Talbot is assigned to protect museum curator Ava Harrison. She is grieving her father's murder, but excited over running his exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan where the ancient summoning stones her dad found are going to be displayed. Her only concern besides her father's death is the hunk of an archeologist Brody working with her. As they fall in love, she has horrific visions that she believes are stone induced.

The first Sons of the Zodiac saga is a superb urban fantasy romance starring an eons old warrior and a mousy curator. The story line is action-packed as the Goddesses battle through minion over possession of the stones. Fans will enjoy the Fifth Age of Man as the Leo Warrior Ascended with the mortal he protects to fight the forces of Enyo.

Most Eagerly Yours
Allison Chase
Signet
9780451228949, $7.99

In 1830 the four orphaned Sutherland sisters became close friends of Princess Victoria. She trusts the siblings with her own safety so she asks them to go undercover to investigate potential threats the Crown. They agree.

Victoria believes her cousin Lord Munster George Fitzclarence is plotting something seditious and nasty. She asks Laurel to pretend to be a widow in order to learn if he is and if yes what he intends to do. At the same time she begins her masquerade ploy, agent Aidan Phillips is working undercover to identify who is behind a financial scandal that includes homicide. Aidan is attracted to the widow, but fears she is Fitzclarence's partner.

The first Sutherland called to duty; Laurel is a superb early Victorian Era heroine. Her cat and mouse dangerous game with Aidan is fun to follow as neither trusts the other while sharing in common a need to uncover Fitzclarence's seditious acts and a need of love. Fitzclarence was a real historical person which enhances the story line by bringing a genuineness to the entertaining plot. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy the opening act of Her Majesty's Secret Servants as dueling investigations lead to a traitor and love.

Chick With A Charm
Vicki Lewis Thompson
Signet
9780451229366, $7.99

Her family adores Lily Revere though they know her free spirit ways gets her constantly in trouble. Lily knows she is nothing like her perfect sister, but never cared until now. A witch, she wants attorney Griffin Taylor, but though she sees something in his eyes that she believes is desire; he never makes a move.

She needs an escort to accompany her to her sister Anica's wedding (see the amusing Blonde With a Wand) and figures it might as well be someone she wants beyond a casual date. She casts a spell to get Griffin to take her because he desires her. Her incantation works, but the more she learns of him, the deeper she falls for him. As she falls in love, Lily owes him the truth though she expects her heart will be broken when he learns how she deceived him.

The second Babes on Brooms urban fantasy is a jocular over the top of Chicago Wild and Hexy tale. The humorous story line is driven by Lily's needs and desires for an escort with her choice being the man she wants who has ignored her until she gives him a mickey love spell. Fans will enjoy lighthearted Chick with a Charm as the heroine knows that without the love potion her chance of gaining Griffin's regard is on a par with the Cubs winning the World Series.

In the Midst of It All
Tiffany L Warren
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
www.hachettebookgroup.com
9780446195164, $13.99, www.amazon.com

Teenager Zenovia has spent her entire young life caring for her schizophrenic mother. Tired and seeing a foreboding future of always being there for her mentally troubled mom, Zenovia does her best. When members of the Brethren of the Sacrifice Church arrive, Zenovia feels welcomed by them and though skeptical knows adding God into their lives will help them especially with her mom's excitement re the bible.

Seventeen years ago, Audrey saw her future husband in a vision; now she sees her one day spouse Phillip in person at the church. They marry, but instead of Zenovia's life improving, it turns nasty as her stepfather and the rest of the flock want Audrey to stop taking her schizophrenic medication that prevents her mom turning violent, but the congregation insists she is suffering from demonic possession. With the help of church peers, Zenovia works hard at school and obtains a college scholarship to escape; knowing one day the call she dreads will come.

This is a timely inspirational tale with a strong message that people should look closely at who interprets God's words; sort of a historiographer evaluating the history writer's background. Profound, Tiffany L. Warren provides a thought provoking exhilarating story line with a deep message encouraging people to apply the free will God has granted us to make your own interpretation and decision; as those who conveniently let others do so may be led by false profiteering prophets.

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
Seth Grahame-Smith
Grand Central
9780446563086, $21.99

Born in 1809 in Illinois, a land dispute drove seven years old Abraham Lincoln, his older sister Sarah and their parents across the Ohio to settle in Indiana. In 1818, Great Uncle and Aunt Tom and Elizabeth Sparrows become ill from the milk sickness, they suffer greatly until a blessed coma and finally death took them both. Soon afterward his mother Nancy dies from the disease. Abe leaves home after his soulmate his mom is interred.

Abe learns that his beloved mom was murdered by a vampire who took Nancy Hanks Lincoln's essence when her spouse failed to pay his debts on time. Young Lincoln vows vengeance on these evil creatures who would collect payment by murdering people. He studies diligently to learn all things vampire and their mortal allies, slave holders.

This is an intriguing biographical supernatural fiction in which Seth Grahame-Smith "constructs" the secret life of the president from The Journal of Abraham Lincoln. The story line is set up to use the journal as if it was really written by the sixteenth president, but unknown until found by Seth Grahame-Smith; and supplemented with facts and pictures from Lincoln's life. Fascinating in many ways, Mr. Grahame-Smith provides a well written "historical" account of President Lincoln. However a lack of hypothesis speculating why no one leaked the undead facts, including Mr. Lincoln, to the general populace, who should have known anyway about he existence of vampires influencing America for instance using slave owners as minions and slaves as food.

Touched by an Alien
Gini Koch
DAW Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
www.dawbooks.com
9780756406004, $7.99, www.amazon.com

In Arizona, marketing manager Katherine "Kitty" Katt completes jury duty. Crossing the street after leaving the courtroom, she sees a minor fender bender, but the male driver gets into a rage shouting at the woman in the other vehicle. The man sprouts wings and starts slicing up the woman with his sharp feathers. Kitty takes out her expensive Mont Blanc pen and stabs the out of control male in his jelly like back. He dies and Alpha Centauri based secret agent Jeff Martini asks her how she knew what to do; Kitty says it just felt right. As the cops arrive at the scene, Jeff takes Kitty with him.

Kitty learns superbeings exist but unlike comic book superheroes they are not. Instead ET parasites have mutated ordinary people. Jeff and his peers from Alpha Centauri explain they came to earth tracking a nasty alien who has apparently has taken control of a nasty terrorist chief. As Jeff and Kitty are attracted to one another, she learns how to use weapons of evil alien destruction like hair spray.

This is an enjoyable science fiction tale that lampoons comic book and movie superhero thrillers. The story line feels like a amalgam of Earth Girls Are Easy merged with Evolution. Although at times the parody overwhelms the action, readers who enjoy a fun at times inane Space Invaders spoof will want to read Touched by an Alien.

What A Demon Wants
Kathy Love
Kensington Brava
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6222
www.kensingtonbooks.com
9780758231956, $14.00, www.amazon.com

In New Orleans, Ellina Kostova's older brother Maksin (see demon Can't Help It) explains to her he hired a bodyguard to protect her. She asks her sibling why would a demon, actually a half-demon, like her need a bodyguard though she has a resume filled with violent encounters. He responds with to keep her safe from her unknown stalker.

Wannabe writer half breed vampire werewolf Jude Anthony moves into Ellina's home to her jubilee as he is a hunk. They are attracted to one another, but her reaction is humiliating as horns and scales appear on her body; he simply ignores his wants as she is a client not a sex partner. As each dances around their desire, the stalker turns dangerous.

This is an entertaining romantic suspense urban fantasy starring two likeable individuals. The story line is fast-paced throughout although the romance supersedes the suspense and urban fantasy elements. Still readers will enjoy Kathy Love's fine tale and hope for more in the same setting with a deeper profound look into the emotional state of former mortals turned immortals while those whom you loved turned to dust centuries ago.

Without Mercy
Lisa Jackson
Kensington
9780758225641, $25.00

The Blue Rock Academy is the last chance for troubled delinquents who have had run-ins with the law. Seventeen year old Shaylee was ordered there by a judge after a string of crimes to include theft and possession, etc. Her sister, unemployed teacher Julie "Jules" Farentino, knows Shaylee needs help, but fears Blue Rock may not be the answer. One of students Lauren Conroy disappeared from their school and she has never been found.

Acting on her feelings especially after consulting with her cousin's husband, who was a T.A. at Blue Rock, Jules applies for a teaching position at the academy. Posing as a teacher at Blue Rock is Cooper Trent who was hired by Lauren's parents to find out what happened to their daughter and to Jules' chagrin the only man she ever loved. When Jules arrives at the exclusive Oregon school, she finds the place in an uproar as two bodies were found. As Trent and Jules team up, t heir feelings emerge though they try to deny them. If they can survive the dangerous undercover cloak and dagger, each wonders whether their relationship will endure afterward.

Lisa Jackson can always be counted on to deliver a pulse pounding original thriller. Jules is an ordinary woman who loves her disturbed half-sister so much she places herself at risk to learn what is going on at the academy that put her sibling over the edge. Filled with surprising twists, fans will be stunned and entertained throughout as Ms. Jackson provides a tense undercover romantic suspense.

Succubus Shadows
Richelle Mead
Kensington
9780758232007, $15.00

Succubus Georgina Kincaid knows the unknown is stalking her as the beast can enter her mind, influence her thoughts, and get her to do almost anything. She barely prevents the mental invader from persuading her to commit suicide. Georgina realizes how difficult it is to defeat a foe of which you have no earthly or hellish idea of what it is.

Since her employer archdemon Jerome and her angel friend Carter cannot detect any malevolence around her or inside her, each fears for Georgina's sanity. Making matters worse is her BFF Maddie asks her to be a bridesmaid at her wedding to Seth; the man Georgina loves while Simone the sexy succubus spins Seth's soul.

Succubus Shadows is a refreshing lighthearted humorous frolic with a profound depth to the exhilarating urban fantasy story line. Georgina is troubled on two extreme fronts: the jocularity subplot focuses on who will end up with Seth while the seriousness theme concentrates on the assault on her mind from an unknown entity that is driving her mad and having her consider suicide. Readers will fully appreciate this fine entry as Richelle Mead makes a case that there is a lot of landscape between the polar extremes of heavenly goodness and hellish malevolence.

Cool Like That
Nikki Carter
Kensington Dafina
9780758234421, $9.95

Her mom Gwen has some doubts about Gia spending the summer in New York City especially since Ricky is going to attend the same enrichment program although the pair are just best friends. Gwen and her spouse Gia's stepdad LeRon set rules for the two high school seniors as does Ricky's mom.

Gia desperately wants her crush Ricky to make a move on her, but so far he has not so she prays the summer with no parents or siblings will encourage him as she wants to be his squeeze and not just his BF. When he does not and another cutie Rashad makes a move, Gia apparently adopts a new crush. Ricky is crushed as he wants her to be his girl.

This is an engaging young adult romance starring a teen drama queen and the two hunks in her life. Once Rashad forms the triangle, the fun begins and never slows down until the final beach scene. Readers will enjoy Cool Like That as Gia's soundtrack in her head includes Chrisette Michele, Beyonce, Ledisi and Mraiah Carey, etc, but should also have her singing ancient history's Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind? (Lovin' Spoonful)

The Secret of the Glass
Donna Russo
Kensington
9780758226921, $15.00

In Venice the renowned Murano glassmakers feel the pressure of laws that insist they must remain inside the city and limit females. Zeno Fiolario is one of the best artisans, but his equally talented oldest daughter Sophia must hide her skill serendipitously taught to her by her father or both will be severely punished. When Zeno becomes ill, Sophia as the oldest of his daughters accepts marriage to middle-aged Pasquale da Fuligna, who covets owning the Fiolarios' glass factory.

Pasquale brings his fiancee to the Doge's palace, where she meets Galileo. The scientist, in trouble with the Church, commissions her in secret to construct a secret lens for him. Encouraged by her beloved impoverished courier, she creates a glass device to enable long distance sight. However, her association with Galileo places her and her family and beloved in trouble with the papacy.

This is a superb historical fiction tale that brings to life the age of Galileo in Venice through the eyes of an illegal Murano glassmaker. Ironically, like Galileo who is in heretic trouble with the Church; Sophia violates the gender restriction law. She learns skill is irrelevant. Readers will relish this strong seventeenth century story as The Secret of the Glass is due to the maker.

Decadent Master
Tawny Taylor
Kensington Aphroisia
9780758246950, $14.00

After her fiance ends their engagement because she has vanilla sexual tastes, Wynne Fischer decides to try something radically different to prove to herself she is much more than a one act trick. She visits the infamous S & M bondage club Twilight seeking something special that will excite her libido to an out of control frenzy.

Masters of desires vampires Rolf and Zane introduce the obvious naive human to sensational dominance. However, one look from vampire temporary club manager, Rolf's brother Dierk puts her in heat. To his shock the master dominator wants more thane a night or two with the tyro submissive as he is jealous when others sniff around. He claims she belongs to him even though his king orders him otherwise.

This is an entertaining erotic vampire romance in which the bondage scenes easily supersede the paranormal elements. Although the plot is much thinner than Dierk's full blooded lower head, fans who enjoy a heated frolic between a Decadent Master of desire dominant and his rookie but quickly turning into a debauched submissive will appreciate Tawny Taylor's erotica.

Some Like It Rough
Kate Pearce, Susan Lyons, and Anne Rainey
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758238986, $14.00

"Some Like it Rough" by Kate Pearce. Luke comes home ready to persuade his two best friends Julia and Paul that a menage a trois is the best thrill around.

"Private Eyes" by Susan Lyons. Office assistant Haley goes undercover as a stripper on a case, but catches her firm's investigator Ry, who wants a private Montana showing.

"Cherry on Top" by Anne Rainey. Massage therapist Cherry dreams of being client Dante's submissive while he fantasizes of dominating her.

These three heated contemporary eroticas contain interesting plots and lead characters in diverse sexual scenarios.

Mint Juleps, Mayhem and Murder
Sara Rosett
Kensington
9780758226839, $22.00

At Taylor Air Force Base in North Dawkins, Georgia, everyone is stunned by the strangulation murder of popular Squadron Commander Colonel Lewis Pershall who was at an off base golf course at the time he was killed. His stunned wife Denise realizes the Sheriff's department investigating her spouse' s homicide believe her to be the prime suspect. She asks Ellie Avery, wife of a member of her late husband's squadron, to investigate because she knows Ellie has a reputation as a successful amateur sleuth (see Magnolias, Moonlight, and Murder).

Ellie makes inquires that lead her to learn someone is threatening her husband Mitch and their cousin although Mitch hid it from her; that culprit sent them strange squadron coins. Also an air force widow sent hostile menacing letters to the victim. As accidents seem to follow Mitch, Ellie looks closely at other officers who envied and loathed Pershall.

The fifth Ellie Avery military homeland amateur sleuth tale is a great whodunit that deftly balances an intelligent strong investigation, increasingly dangerous incidents targeting Mitch, and life on the CONUS air force base. The cast is superb as the Avery family reunion showcases dependents and other civilians on a base while the inquiry is top rate as Avery uncovers three suspects with two having easy access. Fans will appreciate drinking mint juleps alongside of Ellie while seeking who is causing mayhem and murder.

The Room and the Chair
Lorraine Adams
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
www.randomhouse.com
9780307272416, $25.95, www.amazon.com

USAF Captain Mary Goodwin flies her F-16 over the Washington DC area protecting the friendly skies. However, her jet suddenly has engine trouble and she is forced to eject from the cockpit. Although she cannot prove it, she feels something odd happened to her plane. Mary is almost imme diately deployed to Afghanistan, which she finds odd with the rapidity the military sent her to theatre.

Washington Spectator night editor Stanley Belson finds the incident over the Potomac also strange especially with how fast the Air Force got Mary out of DC. He has his top gun Vera Hastings investigate the incident. Unbeknownst to either woman, top secret intel chief Will Holmes knows what happened but insures damage control is spun taut as he allowed an anti-suicide test using an unwitting subject too soon.

The key cast members are somewhat stereotyped to enhance the suspense, especially in the Middle East, and to strafe bomb the political-media complex in which the truth is irrelevant as only ratings (for the media and for the politicians) are out there. Ironically the State-side chapters pale next to the Middle East sections as the incidents overseas are harrowing and breathtaking with a wide range of reactions while inside the United States decadence and lying rule. Although too many threads are left dangling, fans will appreciate this deep look at a perilous complicated world in which medicated Americans are served tea.

The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart
Mathias Malzieu and Sarah Ardizzone
Knopf
9780307271686, $22.95

In 1874 in Edinburgh, newborn Jack is near death from a frozen heart when his teenage mother abandons him. Midwife Dr. Madeleine attaches a cuckoo clock to his heart to get it started. Her desperate effort saves Jack's life and she raises him as her son while tending to the needs of her prostitute clients.

However as he grows up, Madeleine constantly reminds him to never fall in love as his heart will fail him. When Jack sees Miss Acacia, a street singer who is as tiny as he is, he falls in love. This stimulates his heart to a point where if it does not ease off it will kill him. At school, Joe warns Jack to back away from Miss Acacia as she is his. They brawl until Joe loses an eye forcing Jack to flee to Paris. There he meets magician-clockmaker Georges Melies who tells him to ignore his man-made heart-clock and use his God-made heart to find his Miss Acacia.

With a nod to Oz, The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart is a wonderful whimsical historical fantasy with an underlying message of a person must follow their heart which leads to the road to happiness. The story line is fast-paced though a late spin involving the return of Joe detracts from the lyrical romantic tale. Still fans will enjoy this fine fantasy as Mathias Malzieu and Sarah Ardizzone provide a warm story of love.

Parrot and Olivier in America
Peter Carey
Knopf
9780307592620, $26.95

In France, the aristocratic parents of Olivier-Jean-Baptist de Clarel de Barfleur are concerned with the safety of their son after his involvement with Louis XVIII, Napoleon III and Charles X. To keep him away from the guillotine, they ship him to the former colonies struggling with the concept of democracy.

Knowing how easily Oliver gets into trouble, his father hires John "Parrot" Larrit the impoverished printer's son is sent with him as his secretary. Neither like nor respect the other. Oliver's haughty mouth gets them in trouble in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and points in between while Parrot expedites them from one incident after another; having gotten his first hand training in the Australian penal colony.

Rotating perspective, this is a great fictionalized account of Alexis de Tocqueville's travels in America. Jocular yet poignant, readers will appreciate the same event as seen radically different by the son of the aristocrats vs. the son of a widower engraver. Parrot and Olivier in America will make the short lists for historical novel of the year.

The Third Rail
Michael Harvey
Knopf
9780307272508, $24.95

In Chicago, at the Southport L Station, Robles sees the woman alone by the stairs and fires a shot into her temple. Soon afterward he slices the throat of building manager Halter who welcomed him as a new tenant as Robles prepared for his next shoot. From the room's window he fires at a passing train exploding a passenger's head. Soon following that spree, the sniper kills three commuters on Lake Shore Drive, but failed to assassinate former cop turned private investigator Michael Kelly's girlfriend Judge Rachel Swenson.

CPD and FBI work the case, but Chicago mayor John J. Wilson hires Kelly off the books as the sleuth is actively involved as the killer taunts him via cell phone. Soon the sleuth believes there are two culprits working in harmonious synchronization while also wondering if somehow the murder spree is not quite as random as assumed; perhaps even going back three decades to when as a tweener Kelly survived an elevated train tragedy.

The third Kelly Windy City Noir (see The Chicago Way and The Fifth Floor) is a superb thriller that grips the audience with the first shot fired and never slows down until the final confrontation. The story line effortlessly switches from Kelly's first person viewpoint starting with a gun butt to his head and a profound third person look into the heads of deadly duet. The Third Rail is a fabulous Chicago cat and mouse investigative tale that never wastes a twitter of a moment even with a great twist that turns Kelly into a city hero though he never fires the key shot.

Something Out There
Richard Bausch
Knopf
9780307266279, $25.95

These eleven superb short stories take seemingly inconsequential events that occur on a larger stage like snow storms and floods to argue what is sacred about a relationship. Using a sort of butterfly effect Richard Bausch leaves his audience pondering whether it is better to not love than lose freedom as relationships require ceding something and fail to last anyway as constant compromise or accession becomes the norm. All the entries are well written although some have appeared in other publications. Especially superb are "Reverend Thornhill's Wife" who has a great caring spouse but remains so unhappy she takes an Internet stranger to their bed; "Byron the Lyron" who only loves his dying octogenarian mother as does his former boyfriend; and "Blood" as a younger brother obsesses over his sister-in-law. Metaphoric symbolism abound as nature is meant to be loose and wild not fundamentally churched as in "Sixty-five Million Years" while power outages is the norm for those trying to maintain a relationship as told in "Son and Heir" and the title tale. Readers will appreciate the profound look at the evanescent "One Hour in the History of Love" as Mr. Bausch makes a strong case that to err is human; to relate is divinely impossible.

Occupied City
David Peace
Knopf
9780307263759, $25.95

On January 26, 1948, in the Occupied City of Toyo, a man claiming to be Dr. Yamaguchi Jiro of the Ministry of Health and Welfare arrives at the Taikoku Bank at closing to explaining to management that dysentery has broken out in the neighborhood. He claims the Occupation sent him to provide medication to those most likely exposed to the disease. They take the medicine, but rather quickly after taking it, twelve die and four fall into a coma.

Dr. Jiro, if that is his name, leaves with all the money. He is a mass murder because he has poisoned his victims. The lead detective is frustrated with the descriptions of witnesses that vary while the media and others claim the incident was a biological weapon experiment by the occupiers but an American Occupation doctor scoffs as that thinking the idea is inane.

This is a super historical whodunit as twelve different people including one of the dead with various perspectives explain how they see what happened while providing a profound look at Tokyo just after World War II as that is how they filter the homicides. Each "lights" a candle for a city weeping, but brings their baggage and psychological defense mechanisms to cope with the horrific mass murder at a time when the country struggles with esteem having lost the war.

Frame-Up
John F. Dobbyn
Oceanview Publishing
61 Paradise Road, Ipswich, MA 01938
www.oceanviewpub.com
9781933515632, $25.95, www.amazon.com

Best friends John McKedrick and Michael Knight graduate from Harvard Law with each accepting a professional position with a legal Bostonian legend. Michael works for his mentor trial attorney Lex Devlin; John becomes an associate of notorious mob lawyer Benny Ignola.

Michael is worried about John as the longer one is associated with the lawyer to mid mob management, the more difficult it would be to practice law in cleaner circumstances. Michael's fears for his buddy prove underestimated when he awakens in the hospital having survived the car bomb blast that killed John, mob style. The police arrest Peter Santangelo, son of the Mafia chief Dominic. Lex asks his junior partner to defend Peter as the former muses how three friends four decades ago, (Lex, Dominic and Father Matt Ryan) chose diverse paths, but are brought back together due to two friends choosing different paths.

Mindful of Cagney-O'Brien in Angels with Dirty Faces, Frame-Up is a terrific character driven legal thriller that is at its best when the focus is on two generations of best friends going down diverse paths. The story line remains exhilarating, but loses some of the profundity of comparing decisions of seemingly similar people when Michael follows clues re illegal art sales to Amsterdam. Still fans will relish John F. Dobbyn's superb tale with plenty of dirty rats, beautiful women, but no grapefruit.

Necessary Heartbreak
Michael J. Sullivan
Gallery
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
www.simonsays.com
9781439184233, $15.00, www.amazon.com

When his wife died giving birth to their daughter Elizabeth fourteen years ago, Michael lost his faith and most of his heart was interred with his spouse. The only person he cherishes is his offspring as he keeps everyone else at a distance.

One day when the father and daughter are carrying crates into their church, they find a trap door in the sub-basement. Unable to resist, they enter and begin walking a long tunnel. When they finally exit, the duo find themselves in Jerusalem one week before the execution of Christ.

Initially the time travels assume they stumbled into an incredible movie set, but soon realize otherwise when they observe a Roman soldier harming a man. They intercede only to have Mike incarcerated in the same prison as the person he tried to liberate. Another Roman soldier helps Mike escape, but later learns he wants something from him: Elizabeth. The man blocks the entrance to the tunnel forcing the Sullivan duet to remain in first century Jerusalem. Leah, who believes Mike should know her, provides food and shelter. As attraction between her and Mike grows but they know he and his child do not belong there. Leah is willing to sacrifice herself if needed to enable the love of her life and his daughter to go home.

Michael J. Sullivan has written an exciting refreshing biblical thriller in which his namesake hero meets Jesus who prophesized his coming and a who's who of the final days. The story line adheres to the Bible yet provides a secular spin with no preaching. Readers will enjoy this fine tale of two people displaced in time and place; people who have a role as frustrated watchers of the last days of Christ; unable to change what they knows as history.

Full Moon City
Darrell Schweitzer and Martin H. Greenberg (Editors)
Gallery
9781416584131, $15.00

Full Moon City contains fourteen dark werewolf and one leaning more towards vampire (Darrell Schweitzer's "Kvetchula's Daughter") urban fantasies written by some of the genre's most renowned authors. None ar e clinkers, but only a few can be considered as super. For the most part the environs are places not anticipated in werewolf tales such as the Plaza Hotel in Esther M. Friesner's where "No Children, No Pets" prevail but six years old Emmeline lives next door in Central Park; at Houston Community College where the Lycanthropy Support Group meets in "The Truth About Werewolves" by Lisa Tuttle and Carrie Vaughn's Kitty returns to Vegas in "Kitty learns the Ropes". More typical locales are used too but less frequently like in Ian Watson's "The Weredog of Bucharest"; the Bayou is the setting for Peter S. Beagle's "La Lune D'Attend" and Hollywood in "I Was a Middle Aged Werewolf" by Ron Goulart. In my opinion the best contribution is Holly Black's "The Aarne-Thompson Classification Revue" as the werewolf actress looks deeply at conversion. Overall this is a very good collection worth reading only by fans of the modern take on the werewolf mythos

Shameless
Karen Robards
Gallery
9780743410618, $25.00

Although the Napoleonic Wars are over with the little dictator dead, in 1817 the British War Office still seeks out French sympathizers. Near the top of their wanted dead list is dangerous half British-half French assassin Neil "Angel of Death" Severin.

When Neil and Lady Elizabeth Banning meet, each is instantly attracted to one another after he rescues her from her latest rejected suitor. However, Beth is unaware that her hero is playing a deadly game with her brother-in-law planning to use her as a pawn in a deadly cat and mouse contest. However, his scheme is devastated when he falls in love and when sex slavers kidnap his beloved Beth to sell at auction in Trelawney Castle. In spite of knowing the risk he takes, Neil attempts a rescue that if he succeeds puts him in jeopardy with the Home Office.

The third Banning Sisters Regency romance (see Scandalous and Irresistible) is a great fast-paced adventure tale from the moment Neil crashes the ball and never slows down. The lead couple is a terrific pairing as she rejects suitors though that hurts her reputation and he has a death warrant issued for his head. With a wonderful twist, Karen Robards provides a fabulous historical tale.

Embers
Laura Bickle
Juno Books
c/o Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
www.pocketbooks.com
9781439167656, $7.99, www.amazon.com

Residents of Detroit are perhaps at their lowest levels of hope and highest levels of rage perhaps since the summer of 1967 and not just because of the Lions. Arson is the norm as chaos prevails much of it caused from those beneath the rotting city.

Detroit Fire Department Arson Investigator Lieutenant Anya Kalinczyk is one of the few who understands the threat of human despair fed by phantoms of the night. Because of her Lantern skill as a "human bug zapper" Anya and her familiar, Sparky the five foot salamander hunt ghosts. Her current fire inquiry shocks her as the evidence points to Drake the Lantern who she is attracted to but fears him as he raises a powerful essence from beyond who will arrive on Devil's Night unless Anya and Sparky can prevent this catastrophe from occurring even as she accidental swallows Mimi the demon

Urban fantasy fans will relish this superb entry of a kick butt female who takes her day and night jobs seriously. Anya knows fire investigation and paranormal inquires are dangerous and acts accordingly. The fast-paced story line follows her exploits on the mean streets of Detroit and the even meaner underground. Sub-genre fans will wonder which Lantern will prevail with Sirrush from beyond.

Defeat The Darkness
Alexis Morgan
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
www.pocketbooks.com
9781416563457, $7.99, www.amazon.com

Devlin Bane is concerned with the instability between Earth and Kalitia especially around volcanoes in the northwest. He asks limping Paladin warrior Hunter Fitzsimon who recently left St. Louis for Washington to investigate especially near Justice Point, where he suspects avaricious folks on both sides of the barrier will destroy anything or anyone for money.

Hunter rents an apartment from tea shop owner Tate Justice. She is curious about her hunk upstairs while he fears his desire for her. Tate follows him into the nearby woods to learn the secrets he strenuously conceals from her. He kisses her senseless, but leaves himself wanting more though he fears he will have to choose between love and his mission; she now knows his secret involves keeping earth safe though she is not sure from what.

This is a terrific Paladin romantic urban fantasy as the hero may have come back from the dead but suffers from PTSD while the heroine will learn the meaning of the full verse from Alice in Wonderland: "curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction it brought him back". Filled with action, anguish and love, fans will enjoy Defeat the Darkness with its dual meaning title.

Term Limits
Vince Flynn
Pocket
9781439148105, $9.99

In Washington DC everyone demands favors or else will take their money and influence to someone who will grant that favor. The American system is built on trading favors, not stock. Senator Fitzgerald was in DC for over four decades; his job as he knows it is to get reelected. However that will never happen as an assassin breaks the senator's neck in his home. Next stop for the Johnson's Brothers Plumbing van is putting a bullet through the head of Congressman Koslowski. The final victim of the night is Senator Robert "Prince of Pork" Downs.

Everyone in DC is frightened from the military like precision of the assault. The FBI finds no clues to the murdered Congressman though the Fitzgerald's homicide differs in means from the other two. Quoting Jefferson, the killers announce a plan to form a new perfect union since the leaders of the present United States chose corruption and reelection over ethics and what is good for the people. Everyone points at everyone else in the usual blame the donkey game. Only fed up first term Congressman Michael O'Rourke, a former marine planning on not rerunning, begins to put together who is behind the assaults.

This is an exciting thriller from the onset and never slows down as Vince Flynn makes the case that party affiliation or political philosophy of those in power is irrelevant as only reelection matters. Although originally published during the Clinton era, the underlying premise holds up through the Bush administration and looks likewise for Obama. Congress is worse as it is has career participants who even when they leave still hold power as lobbyists, etc. The recent Supreme Court decision on election funding will exponentially increase peddling, which adds to the timely reprinting of Mr. Flynn's cautionary political thriller. Perhaps the only Rapp on Term Limits is Rapp never shows up.

Tempt Me If You Can
Janet Chapman
Pocket
9781416595441, $7.99

Shipping mogul Ben Sinclair receives an anonymous letter that claims he sired a son sixteen years ago. Stunned, Ben drops everything to rush to rural Medicine Gore, Maine to learn the truth whether he left Kelly Sands pregnant before she dumped him abruptly.

Arriving in Maine, Ben learns that Kelly vanished a decade ago and her younger sister Emma has raised her nephew Michael. He conceals his identity while registering as a guest at Emma's sporting camp because he fears he will not be welcomed especially with his explosive past. Michael quickly realizes his beloved aunt and his biological father are attracted to one another even as they argue, fuss, and fight. As the adults fall in love, the past explodes in the present.

The second Sinclair sibling story (see The Man Must Marry for Sam's tale) is an engaging contemporary romance that focuses on Ben being unaware until now that he has a teenage son. Although the premise of an unknown offspring is not new (see A Corner of the Universe by Rebbie Macintyre, for instance) the cast makes for a fine tale. Fans will relish the romance between the father and the aunt, manipulated by a clever teen as the past and present collide in Maine with the impact being everyone's future if they survive some late suspense.

A Different Light
Mariah Stewart
Pocket
9781439155103, $7.99

In Woodside Heights, New Jersey, although she tries to put on a good pretense for her daughter Callie's sake, Athena Moran has not been able to move on past the death of her police officer husband John; killed in the line of duty. Nothing seems to turn her on anymore although she hides her grief and lethargy for the sake of their child and their friends who see the grieving widow as a reminder of what could happen to them.

Since she is the daughter of a former councilman and the wife of a slain cop, Mayor Dante Rossi offers Athena work in his office. She accepts. However, Athena is stunned when Dante asks her to run as his replacement. Although she wins, Dante still runs the city. Reporter Quentin Forbes is attracted to Athen, but detest that she is just Dante's puppet. He attacks her in the paper, which hurts her as she cannot understand his vendetta. Everything changes when Her Mayor meets Ms. Evelyn, who mentors Athena on redevelopment and living with gusto, which angers her puppeteer and his cronies.

Although this is a reprint of a Clinton Era political romance, A Different Light remains relevant with its simplistic instead of Mr. Smith goes to Washington, Ms. Moran remains in New Jersey. Initially blind to the corruption that surrounds her, Athen matures in political savvy without losing her idealism as she sees the town in A Different Light. Fans will enjoy this fun tale even if there are no instant blogger twitting on everything.

The Heavenstone Secrets
V.C. Andrews
Pocket
9781439154953, $7.99

The two Heavenstone sisters live with their parents in an old Kentucky mansion. The older sibling Cassie is the perfect Heavenstone as she behaves properly everywhere. The younger sister Semantha is prettier, but somehow pales next to her accomplished older sibling.

It is hard to live up to the perfect definition of her parents when everything frightens you which is what Semantha feels. Her biggest fear is that of Cassie who always orders her around when their parents are not there to see the other side. When mother becomes ill and hospitalized, Cassie takes over her role in the household. She scares Semantha even more as the younger Heavenstone feels like a criminal under interrogation by her sibling and fears what her sister is doing to her and her father even as she conceals something that will be obvious in a few months.

The concept of good seed bad seed has been a round a long time (Bette Davis in Dead Ringer, Whatever happened to Baby Jane? and Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte). However, V.C. Andrews keeps it fresh due to Cassie as the perfect teen Machiavellian manipulator though it helps that her pathetic parents prefer not to dig below the surface. Semantha overkills the victim defense as much of the story line she whimpers about her fear of her sister and just about everything else. Although entertaining as readers will wonder if hormones running wild will bring a backbone to Semantha The Heavenstone Secrets contains no Flowers in the Attic.

Devil's Keep
Phillip Finch
Pocket
9781439168561, $7.99

It has been ten years since Ray Favor and his three teammates (Arielle Bouchard, Mex Mendoza, and Winston Stickney) were part of the Black Ops cell Bravo One Nine. They worked for the government on assignments, which typically ended up violent and homicidal. Now they have gone their separate ways with Favor a multi-millionaire who misses the adrenalin rush of the good old danger days.

Teenager Maeivic Valencia accepts a job in Manila. She texts her brother when she arrives in there, but he never hears another word from her. Her twin Ronnie goes to the office that hired her, but they insist she never reported to work. He believes they are lying, but they knock him out and take him to the same island prison where Maxine is held.

Mendoza receives a call from family in the Philippines wanting his help in finding the missing twins. Thinking this will be easy, he and Bravo One Nine go to Manila only t o learn the Russians are running a monstrous operation on an isolated island where the twins are incarcerated. Brave One Nine unite for a dangerous rescue mission.

Phillip Finch is a great thriller writer whose latest novel is filled with action at a faster than light pace as a sort of Mission Impossible episode. The heroes are an entertaining quartet though the audience will suspend some belief that they remain in Bravo One Nine shape a decade after coming in from the heart of the cold. Still the linear story line will have the audience's attention throughout as this is an enjoyable tale.

Bride of the Wolf
Susan Krinard
Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
www.harlequin.ca
9780373774777, $7.99, www.amazon.com

In 1881 in Pecos County, Texas, Holden Renshaw finds his boss, owner of the Dog Creek Ranch, dead in what looks like a riding mishap. Holden has doubts about it being an accident as Jedediah McCarrick was a superb rider. He finds the bags that Jedediah hid as if the man knew he was going to be killed. Inside the bags are his three wills with the unsigned last one giving the ranch to a mail order bride Rachel Lyndon coming from Ohio. The first dated will gives the spread to Jedediah's nephew Sean while the last signed will bequests all to Holden.

Rachel arrives and insists she is Jedediah's wife; Holden knows that is a lie, but says nothing. Holden and Rachel are attracted to one another, but distrust each other. However, she proves to be really good with his baby recently dumped on him by a dying prostitute. Each has secrets as she was kicked out of her home by her grandma and rejected by her lover, but a miscarriage left her barren. He is wanted as the dangerous Heath Renier and can change into the wolf without blinking. Neither expected how far Sean will go to manipulate everyone to do what he wants.

This is an exciting werewolf historical romance starring two likable but fragile (mentally that is) individuals who feel love arrived at an inappropriate moment. Ironically, Sean, in spite of being over the top of the Guadalupe Mountains, is the most fascinating character in the fast-paced story line. Although a late Ranger twist seems wrong even considering paranormal justice, fans will enjoy this fine tale while wondering what will happen when everyone learns Jedediah is dead.

His Best Mistake
Kristi Gold
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716241, $5.50

In Houston, magazine sportswriter Kevin O'Brien learns he has aplastic anemia, a disease that can prove fatal. He also learns chemo treatments leave half of the patients sterile. Panicking, he decides to do what he believes is the right thing by his girlfriend of eight months Dr. Leah Cordero. He dumps her so she does not have to grieve his death.

One year later, Leah visits Kevin to tell him he sired a daughter Carly with her. However, before getting to the point, she tells him she is going home to Mississippi to practice medicine there and is seeing another man. He is stunned and pleads with Leah to move into his new house at least until she completes her residency and goes back with Carly to Mississippi. Although in love, she remains distrustful and irate that he hid his health issue from her

This is an entertaining family drama starring a likable lead couple and a supporting cast who enhance the understanding of Kevin and Leah. Leah is great as her ire seems genuine; on the other hand Kevin's concealment appears false as he has no reason except perhaps fear to do so. Still fans will enjoy his efforts to win the trust of the mother of his baby as he already has her love.

The Iron King
Julie Kagawa
Harlequin
9780373210084, $9.99

As Meghan Chase nears her sixteenth birthday, she finds her world turning weird. That is saying a lot for someone who always felt like an outsider ever since her dad vanished without a trace ten years ago.

When she comes home from school after a disastrous tutoring session, she finds her four year old half-brother Ethan growling like a trapped wild beast and their mother unconscious on the floor. Her best friend Robbie explains that the fey took the real Ethan and replaced the lad with a changeling. To save Ethan, Meghan, who kind of knew her background, must embrace the fact she is the half fey daughter of a king caught in a civil war.

Targeting young teens, The Iron King is an entertaining fairy tale centered on Meghan. She is a likable teenager who seems genuine with her doubts and acceptance of taking direction from adults especially in her case males. Readers will enjoy the saga but will want congenial Meghan to turn more aggressive and kick butt as she lacks any assertiveness although that makes her and her escapades feel real as she is only fifteen.

Too Hot To Handle
Nancy Warren
Harlequin Blaze
9780373795307, $4.99

Manhattan based jewelry designer Lexy Drake is an expert on modernizing antique family jewels. Charles Pendergraff III hires Lexy to create a special wedding ring. She is immediately attracted to her handsome suave client. For the first time in her professional life, Lexy considers breaking her iron rule of never mixing business with pleasure, which she does.

However, late one night, Lexy arrives at her studio to be greeted by her worst nightmare. Charles is stealing another customer's jewels, the Isabella Emeralds. Instead of lying, he grabs her and flees into the night. Soon afterward her studio turns into an inferno. After it cools down, a corpse is found. Hurt by Charles' betrayal and somewhat believing her "escort" is an arsonist killer, Charlie tries to convince the woman he loves he is not a murdering jewel thief, but danger stalks them.

Too Hot to handle is a terrific romantic suspense starring two intriguing lead characters. Lexy is a likable individual whose heart has been stomped on by a man who asks her for her trust. Charlie is the more fascinating protagonist as the audience wonders whether he is guilty on all accounts. As always Nancy Warren provides a strong tale that grips the reader the moment Lexy enters her studio late at night.

Possessing Morgan
Bonnie Edwards
Harlequin Blaze
9780373795338, $4.99

Repo woman Morgan Swann has loved Kingston "Mac" McRae since she was a teen. In fact, her hero is why she changed her lifestyle from juvenile delinquent stealing cars to honest member of society. Although she knows her infatuation will never prove fruitful, if by chance it should, she wants his respect as well as his love.

Morgan is assigned to repo his fancy car parked in his driveway. Being stalked, Mac, who runs his investment firm from his home, sees a woman about to steal his vehicle. Mac races outside only to no longer care about the car except for the backseat where he wants to take the lovely thief. After clearing the air, they begin seeing one another as Morgan learns dreams do not hold up to the real thing and Mac finds his heart possessed.

This is an exhilarating romantic suspense although the thriller elements take a backseat (figuratively not literally) to the growing love between the lead couple. Morgan with her history and her current occupation brings the freshness to this fun brisk tale.

Surprise Dad
Daly Thompson
Harlequin American
9780373753017, $4.99

Boston attorney Earl Ritter calls Mike Foster, owner of a diner in Serenity Falls, Vermont, with news that Evan Howard and his young wife Celine died in a car accident. Furthermore the lawyer states that Evan nam ed Mike guardian of his eight month old son Brian. Mike is stunned that he has a half-brother as Evan Howard was his estranged father. He thought his big issue was to franchise or not, but now Mike has a funeral and an infant to deal with

When Allie Hendricks was sixteen she worked at Mike's diner. Her goal was to become a doctor, but she is home from medical school. Mike cannot believe how beautiful the former employee has become and how easily she nurtures his sibling. However as they fall in love, she plans to complete her dream, but practice medicine elsewhere.

The solid cast makes for a fine Green Mountain State family drama as the lead couple is a terrific pairing and the secondary characters bring out the love they feel. Readers will enjoy this wonderfully warm Vermont romance summed up succinctly and nicely by Evan in a letter to his oldest son to be delivered only if he dies.

The Family Man
Trish Milburn
Harlequin American
9780373753048, $4.99

In Horizon Beach, Florida detective Sara Greene seeks a fourteen years old runaway David Taylor, which is how she met Adam Canfield, a Beach Bum in her mind who could never be a family man, which is all she needs out of a male since she is raising her almost adopted daughter thirteen year old Tana and her legally adopted child three year old Lilly. That is her belief until he rescues a drowning boy.

Adam ran away as a teen from a troubled home so commiserates with the Taylor teen. However, perhaps it is meeting the three Greene females, but though he wants no responsibility he allows Taylor to stay in his home for now. Soon he and Dara fall in love, but she must determine whether his entry into her relations could hurt her fragile family and he must decide what to do about David and whether he can handle being The Family Man.

This is an entertaining family drama starring a fabulous secondary cast who brings out the best in the lead couple. Although fans will admire Sara, Adam is the more fascinating protagonist as his childhood is slowly presented to Sara and the audience though readers will know in general ideas by his comments for instance a fourteen year old can take care of themselves and once David enters his life. Trish Millburn provides a strong contemporary as the hero has a second chance at life if he risks his heart while the heroine has already done so.

Let It Ride
John McFetridge
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
www.minotaurbooks.com
9780312599485, $24.99, www.amazon.com

Sunitha Suraiya dreams of leaving depressed Detroit, but to achieve her goal she needs money. Working at massage parlors is petty cash; robbing them is just a little more petty cash as is holding up better spas with its white wealthy women. So Sunitha is planning a major heist.

After spending time playing soldier in Afghanistan, Vernard "Get" McGetty is back in the Motor City selling drugs. His contact is JT, chief of the Ontario Saints of Hell biker gang, who dreams of being the druglord of the province and eventually the Dominion. They met in Afghanistan where a drug partnership was formed. Sunitha realizes Get is her mechanism to leave town as he has access to JT who owns a ton of gold bullion he plans to use to buy drugs and she plans to steal from him while cops on both sides of the border salivate over dreaming of a drug war.

This is a wild crime caper starring people with a different moral take than most American-Canadian residents. The exciting Noir story line is character driven especially by Sunitha, Get and JT. Although there is too much going on at times, fans will appreciate this zany tour of Detroit and Toronto with everyone answering whom do you trust with the answer no one not even the person staring back at you in a mirror or worse a person you may love.

Drink the Tea
Thomas Kaufman
Minotaur
9780312607302, $24.99

Years ago, jazz musician Steps Jackson and groupie Colette Andrews had a heated affair. Recently Steps learns he sired a daughter with Colette; an offspring he never knew existed. He pleads with his friend private investigator Willis Gidney to find his child.

Gidney agrees to work the case, but cautions Steps that he only works as a sleuth for hire part-time; his day job remains at a record warehouse. He quickly finds a name, but not much else. Still, after seemingly going all over DC, Gidney catches up to Colette. When he asks her about Bobbie and Steps, Colette angrily tells him to leave or the cops will escort him away. At the Cove jazz joint, Gidney receives a shocking call from Colette, who asks to meet with him. However, thugs assault him. When he awakens from unconsciousness, he learns the cops suspect he killed Colette.

Putting aside a major key coincidence, fans will fully enjoy the first Gidney tale. The story line is fast-paced as he works his case through a DC that is murkier than the Potomac. Readers will especially appreciate his childhood that surfaces at odd times, but does so as an essential part of the personality of the hero. Drink the Tea is a fine DC private investigative mystery.

The Inheritance
Simon Tolkien
Minotaur
9780312539078, $24.99

In 1959 in London Stephen Cade is on trial for murdering his famous war hero and Oxford historian father. The case is obvious as the evidence condemns Stephen. He and his father were estranged for a long time and he only goes to see him when his dad cuts him out of his will. Soon after they argue, the older Cade is shot to death by a gun with the younger Cade's fingerprints on it. He is convicted rather quickly and sentenced to die .

Oxford and Midland CID Police Detective Inspector William Trave finds the evidence too overwhelming for someone as intelligent as Stephen is. The prosecutor tells him to let it go as this was a crime of passion not intelligence. Unable to ignore his gut as five other people were in the crime scene mansion on that fatal night with tales that fail to match then and in 1944, Trave finds ties to Normandy where the famous late famous war hero apparently was part of an incident that left French civilians dead.

This is a super historical police procedural that brings to life England during the Cold War as Trave finds one revelation after another tying 1959 to 1944. The story line is fast-paced throughout although the audience figures out who the culprit is well before the cop does. Fans will enjoy Simon Tolkien's entertaining whodunit as the investigation brings out a sort of historiographic feel to the plot with readers observing how the English in 1959 recall Normandy in 1944.

Silent Auction
Jane K. Cleland
Minotaur
9780312586553, $24.99

Antiques dealer Josie Prescott arrives at the Rocky Point, New Hampshire lighthouse for an appraisal. However, instead of a friendly greeting from Frankie the caretaker, nephew of her dear friend Zoe, she finds him lying dead on the kitchen floor with a blow to his head that left a major indentation on his skull.

Josie realizes that along with the murder there was also a theft. Specifically, someone stole a valuable scrimshaw tooth from the collection. The police investigate while Josie provides antiquing consulting services to help them with their case.

The latest Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery (see Killer Keepsakes) is a terrific cozy in which the heroine is not a more successful than the police amateur sleuth competing against the cops, but instead provides consulting services especially into scrimshaw. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Josie stumbles over the corpse of Frankie (an occupational hazard of the sub-genre). The audience will enjoy Josie's escapades as the whodunit seems genuine and clearly fun as are the antiques tips and glimpses behind the scenes of a dealer.

Scandal on Rincon Hill
Shirley Tallman
Minotaur
9780312386979, $24.99

In the year of our Lord 1881 in San Francisco someone stabs to death botanist Nigel Logan. The corpse is found on Rincon Hill, a couple blocks from the Woolson family home. Adding to the connection is that the night before the homicide, Nigel and Judge Horace T. Woolson attended the same party.

SFPD Police Sergeant George Lewis accompanied by the Judge's son crime reporter Samuel investigates. Also looking into the murder is the Judge's other offspring Sarah the attorney. A few days later, Logan's friend Deacon Hume is killed; seemingly by the same culprit. The police arrest Chinese immigrants as the case is going nowhere so they need suspects even if there is not one drop of evidence. Sarah defends the Asians although many on Rincon Hill including a predator want her to lose the case.

The latest Woolson historical mystery is a superb San Francisco Victorian tale (see The Cliff House Strangler) that is a great period piece legal thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the moment George wakes up Sarah by tossing pebbles at her window and never slows down. Although the climax can be seen from the top of Nob Hill to the Tenderloin, fans will enjoy this exhilarating Americana novel.

Off Track
Clare Curzon
Minotaur
9780312375324, $25.95

Lee Barber drives for the Misbourne Line in Thames valley. He dreams of leaving this junker for the modern European express on the content. However, though conditions are foggy, he slightly overshoots the Denham Golf Club Station. Someone named Ince reports him, darkening his career and ending his dreams.

N LA few days later an intoxicated Lee sees a man with a briefcase containing INCE written on it; so he assaults him in a rage. His victim turns out to be microbiologist Piers Egerton who worked for Immuno-Neutralizing Combat Exercise; Piers was meeting reporter Max Harris to expose the horrid research he and others were doing to animals. Soon afterward, Max's significant other Thames Valley police detective sergeant Rosemary Zyczynski looks for the missing Piers while someone abducts Lee's five year old daughter Jenny. Everything converges on the Barber home including a corpse.

This is an interesting Thames Valley police procedural though not the strongest of entries as too much coincidence occurs especially with the Harris-Zyczynski connection to the whistle blower and the seemingly uncommon name of INCE starting a series of events. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Lee chokes Piers and never slows down as the lives of several people have gone Off Track.

Liars All
Jo Bannister
Minotaur
9780312612399, $25.95

In South Downs, Bobby Carson purposely runs down Tom Sanger and Jane Moss; Tom dies and Jane is severely injured. Bobby stops not to see if the couple is okay, but instead he steals a black star sapphire necklace that Tom just gave to his fiancee.

Bobby pawns the necklace, but is caught soon afterward by law enforcement. Bobby's mother Margaret feels sad and melancholy as she had high hopes for her son; she hires Brodie Farrell of Looking for Something? to find the necklace and give it back to Jane.

This is a superb Brodie Farrell mystery (see Closer Still) as the two moms share a special camaraderie with Margaret knowing her offspring is a psychopath and Brodie's child Jonathan is very sick. Besides the moms and their sons, the support cast enhances this extremely emotional investigation especially Jane's friend and assistant Daniel Hood and Brodie's ex Detective Superintendent Jack Deacon. Fans of the excellent series will realize this is one of the best as readers will muse over the things we do for love.

Glazed Murder
Jessica Beck
Minotaur
9780312946104, $7.99

In April Springs, North Carolina, population 5001, Suzanne Hart is the one who bought a coffee shop with her divorce settlement. She calls her cafe the Donut Heart, which requires her to prepare pastries at 2:00 AM to open four hours later. To reduce expenses, Suzanne moved back in with her mom while also eluding her former spouse Max who makes it clear he wants her back with him.

One night with all the businesses shut, Suzanne notices a car parked in front of her store dumping the body of Patrick Blaine before speeding away. She is stunned as she and Patrick became friends with him being a steady customer of her shop. Though she knows better, Suzanne feels obligated to investigate partly because she distrusts State Police Inspector Jake Bishop who leads the official inquiry. Sparks fly between the cop and the donut maker, but in the shadows watching both of them is the culprit ready to kill either if they get too close to the truth.

Everyone warns Suzanne not to pursue a killer; but she insists justice must be served. Although why she obsesses as she does will be asked by even the amateur sleuth audience used to feisty females investigations by those with no business doing so made even stronger by Jake being a good honest cop. Readers will admire Suzanne's fortitude.

And she makes the tale with her small town relationships with her mom, her employee, her cop and her ex "The Great Impersonator". Glazed Murder is an enjoyable Tarheel whodunit that stars an obstinate innately good person albeit misguided by charming.

Blood Hima
Naomi Hirahara
Minotaur
9780312545550, $24.99

In Los Angeles septuagenarian Japanese-American gardener Mas Arai is unhappy that his friend fellow Hiroshima survivor Haruo Mukai drafts him as his best man in his marriage to Sumako Hayakawa. The wedding rehearsal is obvious a forerunner of things to occur as that proves a disaster. Soon afterward her family accuses Haruo of stealing two ancient Japanese Girls' Days hina dolls from them. Besides the theft the purification rite the dolls represent is tainted so Sumako ends the engagement.

Although he hopes otherwise Mas fears Haruo stole the family heirlooms to pay off his latest gambling debt as his friend is a betting addict. Mas investigates the theft by tracing the dolls' trail, which takes him to drug dealers making him fear his friend is guilty and homicides; several of which occurred decades ago, making him believe his friend is not.

The latest Mas mystery (see Snakeskin Shamisen) is once again a wonderful amateur who-done-it that enables the reader to see deeply into the Japanese-American lifestyle. The story line is fast-paced as fans will enjoy accompanying Mas as he follows the clues of the dolls past and present through the Great Los Angeles area.

Naked Moon
Dominic Stansberry
Minotaur
9780312364540, $24.99

No one walked away from the top secretive Company until Dante Mancuso did. To do so he had to take with him secrets that would expose the Company of illegal activity if something happened to him. Dante settled in his hometown of San Francisco becoming a private investigator who tried to avoid anything remotely tied to his previous employment.

Meanwhile SFPD Special Investigations Officer Leanora Chin investigates Dante's cousin Gary who operates a crooked warehouse. Gary knows if he cooperates with the cop, the Wu Benevolent Association will sever that tie by killing him. Feeling caught between the Rock and the bay, he contacts his cousin's former employee who promises to assist him if Dante performs a Company task. Feeling triangulated, Dante seeks a way out without harming his loved ones as he knows the firm will demand more favors of him or else his cousin and others will go down.

With a nod to John Grisham's The Firm although Dante is much better prepared than Mitch McDeere, Dominic Stansberry provides a great San Francisco treat. The North Beach thriller is fast-paced from the moment the impassive Dante calmly realizes his options and never slows down as he works the mission with subtle plans of what he must do if he is too ever be free of his insidious former employers whose grip is tighter than a stay at the Hotel California.

Slow Fire
Ken Mercer
Minotaur
9780312558352, $25.99

Knowing he needed a change in location to kick his heroin addiction, narcotics detective Will Magowan leaves LAPD to take the position of police chief in Haydenville, California. His wife chose divorce rather than accompany him to the northern rural part of the state to reside in a trailer.

Will almost immediately needs to apply his homicide detecting skills when the corpse of Caitlyn Johnson is found near a kayak. Soon afterward, Will gets involved in a bar shooting, other violence, and an incident with former Hell's Angel convicted killer Frank Carver who has become a writer and philanthropist. He also struggles with the town's greatest growth industry, meth production; the reason Mayor Bonnie Newman hired him but threatens to fire him as instead of abating the flow, it has increased. Will finds a meth stash at the cabin of Henry Bell, but the mark suicides rather than provide Will with information. The police chief believes good citizen Carver is t he drug king, but proving it is difficult as nothing works to catch him.

Slow Fire is a fast-paced rural police procedural that shines a spotlight on the small town meth problem that has not felt the impact of the recession; in fact is a growth industry. Will is a fascinating hero who struggles with addiction, his wife leaving him, and the threat of losing his last chance job. Fans will enjoy his stressed out life although some spins seem a bit over Mount Shasta.

The Bad Kitty Lounge
Michael Wiley
Minotaur
9780312593001, $24.99

In Chicago Greg Samuelson goes ballistic when he learns his wife Amy is having an affair with Eric Stone. Fuming, he burns Stone's car. Soon afterward, at the Holy Trinity Church someone shoots Greg in the face and kills his boss, Sister Judy Terrano, the Virginity Nun; under her tattoo of a cat was written with a marker "Bad Kitty".

Greg, who previously hired private investigator Joe Kozmarski to catch his wife in the act, rehires the sleuth to make inquiries into who shot him. As Joe digs and finds more corpses, long time civil rights activist William DuBuclet demands he drops the case or else. Stone tries to hire Joe to conduct surveillance on DuBuclet as the case ties back to the 1960s Bad Kitty Lounge where teens met to hear music, smoke weed and use dope, and have sex.

This a superb Chicago Noir (see The Last Striptease) as Joe deals with a client he dropped after the BMW arson incident at a time he considers leaving the Windy City with his two dependents, his mom and his young cousin. Joe tells the tale from the opening inferno over egg fu young until the final wrap up though at times his escapade s seem over the top of the Sears Tower. The audience will enjoy this fabulous investigative thriller as the spins and twists keep Joe and the reader off kilter throughout.

Sherlock Holmes: The American Years
Michael Kurland (Editor)
Minotaur
9780312378462, $25.99

This is a super ten story collection that cleverly chronicles young Holmes in America and Mexico where he meets famous luminaries and solves cases before he becomes the great Baker St. sleuth.

"Inga Sigerson Weds" by Richard A. Lupoff. In 1875 Holmes and his sister arrive in New York for a family wedding.

"My Silk Umbrella" by Darryl Brock. Holmes and Mark Twain meet in Hartford at a baseball match.

"The Old Senator by Steve Hockensmith. Young actor William Gillette and Holmes meet years before the former plays the latter on stage.

"The American Adventure" by Gary Lovisi. In 1876 Holmes meets Dr. Joseph Bell before falling in love with vivacious married Diana Strickland.

"The Sacred White Elephant of Mandalay" by Michael Mallory. In Connecticut, Holmes and P.T. Barnum discuss fooling the public.

"The Curse of Edwin Booth by Carole Bugge. Booth the stage actor hires Holmes to help him with a "curse".

"The Case of the Reluctant Assassin" by Peter Tremayne. Holmes travels to an Irish town in Nebraska to solve a mystery.

"Cutting for Signs" by Rhys Bowen. On a stagecoach in the New Mexico Territory, robbers make the mistake of holding up Holmes.

"The English Senor" by Marta Randall. Working a case in Mexico, Holmes learns a key lesson that the cold detailed facts are critical, but as significant is the heart behind the details.

"The Stagecoach Detective" by Linda Robertson. In Lakesport, Holmes works the case involving "The Royal family of Silverado".

Deep In The Woods
Chris Marie Greene
Ace Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
http://us.penguingroup.com
9780441018208, $15.00, www.amazon.com

In London, vampire hunter Dawn Madison leads her team on a mission to destroy the Underground. They have captured a female master who they interrogate; learning there is another master who, like their prisoner, can shapeshift.

At Queenshill School, the Underground turned the coeds into undead teens who are willing to die to rescue their female master from Dawn. Dawn's team leader and lover Costin remains bound to Jonah's vampire body, which is costing him his Soul Traveler power at a time he needs every resource he possesses to defeat the Underground as he has gone under the school's ground in search of the master.

Following the Los Angeles Underground mission accomplished, Dawn's search for the London Underground continues in the latest Vampire Babylon tale (see The Path of Razors), but the culture is radically different yet as dark and gritty. Dawn remains a lean mean fighting machine but since that short stretch as a vampire turned back to human, she struggles with an internal fuse that ignites too easily. Complex relations make the Vampire Babylon series a top notch urban fantasy filled with twists, turns and challenges fans have come to expect from Chris Marie Greene.

Silver Borne
Patricia Briggs
Ace
9780441018192, $24.95

Even though the human population knows that vampires, werewolves, and fae exist, it does not preclude mortals from fearing the paranormal. Mechanic Mercy Thompson is a shapeshifter who can turn into a coyote, but is mated with her beloved alpha werewolf Adam. His pack feels a coyote is beneath them on the food chain and using their mind control powers try to persuade Mercy that she is not good enough for their leader.

While an outraged Adam is trying to ferret out who is destroying his pack and messing with his Mercy's mind, she has two other problems to contend with. Her friend Samuel the werewolf struggles with his human side so his beast keeps him alive while Mercy tries to give him a reason to live. A fairy wants her to return a powerful tome that a fae lent her; she kidnaps her friend Gabriel to insure Mercy cooperates, but the bookstore is shuttered permanently and Mercy knows the queen will try a double cross.

The fifth Mercy Thompson urban fantasy is filled with action, romance and fae intrigue; perhaps the deadliest kind on the planet. Filled with various subplots that tie deftly together, the continuing adventures of Mercy and Adam make for another entertaining entry in a strong saga. However, it is Patricia Briggs' world-building skills on a par with early Laurell K. Hamilton that make Silver Borne a winner as readers will believe in shapeshifters, fae and vampires, oh my.

Directive 51
John Barnes
Ace
9780441018222, $25.95

In 2007, National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 51 was signed to allow the executive branch to claim extraordinary power during a catastrophe. A couple of decades after the announcement of NSPD 51, the Office of Future Threat Assessment Assistant Secretary Heather O'Grainne leads an inquiry into a potential homegrown terrorist cell, Daybreak. The vision of this diverse group is the destruction of the Big System that each member believes destroyed the American way of life.

Rumors about the group has O'Grainne panicking as apparently Daybreak possesses the nanotechnology to destroy two centuries of technology. Around the globe catastrophes occur leaving billions dead and American going backward in technology. With the government failing faster than society is, NSPD 51 is implemented, but perhaps too late as the two spirals of death and technological collapse continues unabated.

Directive 51 is a fascinating near future thriller that looks deep into what would happen if modern day technology somewhat predicted where we would be in twenty years or so suddenly stopped working and reverted back to the early nineteenth century. The frantic effort to prevent the collapse of the world seems too little and too late as the Feds work at a snail's pace while the Daybreak antiterrorists move out faster than the speed of light. Although the story line adopts too easily Stalin's alleged commentary that "The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic", fans will enjoy this cautionary tale that proclaims that sometimes you get what you wish for.

Coyote Destiny
Allen Steele
Ace
9780441018215, $25.95

With the disaster that devastated the governments of the Western hemisphere, those Americans, Europeans and Asians who can flee the Earth do. Their destination is the 47 Ursae Majoris system where they plan to rebuild the world.

Captain Sergio Vargas transports thirty-four earthlings to Coyote. However, as they are about to cross the star traversing gateway from Starbridge Earth, an explosion occurs on the receiving side. Apparently the Robert E. Lee had exploded with communication down except for an SOS from a lifeboat. Vargas calmly switches mission to rescue the survivor and hopefully more from the Robert E. Lee disaster, but only finds one person; a monk amidst the ruins of Boston claiming he is God.

The second half of the latest Coyote interstellar outer space colonization is a superb finish to Coyote Horizon. The story line is fast-paced and filled with non stop action as Vargas believes the cause of the calamity is a member of his crew. Fans of the Coyote saga already know Allen Steele consistently provides thought provoking tales of interstellar exploration while newcomers need to read at least the first half of this duology Coyote Horizon to understand what led to the escapades in Coyote Destiny.

WWW: Watch
Robert J. Sawyer
Ace
9780441018185, $24.95

Mathematical prodigy Caitlin Decter was born blind. When she was fifteen years old she underwent an experimental treatment of an implant inside her brain enabling her to see the world for the first time. However an unexpected consequence of the procedure is her uncanny ability to also see World Wide Web space. Thus a new sentient entity is born inside her head, of whom Caitlin calls Webmind (see WWW.WAKE).

As Webmind relishes learning all about Caitlin's physical world, top secret government watchdog agency Watch learns about Webmind as part of their scrutiny of Internet terrorist threats. They want Webmind removed from the Net because they fear it is a security risk. Whereas Caitlin feels protective of Webmind, her parents fear the intelligent being could lead to an unintended harming of their daughter from a public already concerned that Big Brother is watching.

This is a great middle book due to the powerful characterizations especially Webmind who provides first entity perspective. Caitlin is a superb teenager trying to keep her friend safe while her parents have always been protective of her. In fact protectiveness of others is the overarching theme as even the Watch contains individuals trying to keep the public safe. Readers will fully appreciate Robert J. Sawyer's brilliant WWW tale, but should read Wake first to better understand how far Webmind has come and potentially could go; that explains the fears of the Watch group.

Changes
Jim Butcher
Roc
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
www.penguin.com
9780451463173, $25.95, www.amazon.com

To Chicago's only listed wizard Harry Dresden his affair with Susan Rodriguez feels like yesterday and eons ago. They were madly in love until she was assaulted by one of his adversaries Bianca coming after his Achilles' Heel. Susan fled Harry and the States for South America to keep as much of her humanity as possible while struggling with her new needs for blood and a thirst to destroy the Vampiric Red Court whose blood rage Bianca infected in her.

However, Susan hid from Harry and the Red Court a tiny secret. Red Court Duchess Arianna Ortega learns that Susan gave birth to Harry's daughter Maggie. The evil vampiress realizes Maggie is an even better tool to destroy her group's greatest foe Dreden whom she holds responsible for her husband's death. She abducts Maggie planning on a ritual sacrifice with a death for a death. A distraught Susan turns to her former lover Harry informing him he has a preadolescent daughter and she has been kidnapped by the Red Court. Raging almost out of control, Harry ignores the White Council of Wizards who would prefer a half-breed to die for the so called better good mentality of maintaining the peace with the vampires who have wrecked South America. He is willing to go dark side to save his offspring's life.

Jim Butcher is credible as this time Dresden is saving his child that he never knew existed. Fast-paced, but character driven throughout as the obsessed wizard seems almost over the edge, but long time fans will know his dark jocular asides prove he still is Harry; just with a personal mission. Changes is a great entry as Harry faces fatherhood if he can save his daughter's life from an equally raging vampiress.

Hell Fire
Ann Aguirre
Roc
9780451463241, $6.99

Don't look for Kilmer, Georgia on a map or even waste your time trying GPS; don't bother with Google as nothing is written on and off the net about Kilmer. To psychics the town appears to be a dark hole or a bleak unmentionable spot in the ether.

Now after years away Corine Solomon is coming home to Kilmer to learn why a dozen people killed her mother. Accompanying Corine on her quest is her ex-boyfriend Chance who wants a second chance with her, and suspended Texas police officer Jesse who wants a closer relationship with her. From the moment the trio enter the town, they feel engulfed by a miasma of evil that gives the place a distorted look of a mid twentieth century sitcom. The threesome share in common psychic gifts, but each is different. A handler, Corine's is psychometry, who everyone covets. She uses her touch skill to learn the twelve is eradicating systematically those with the gift; next on their methodical hit list is Corine. She sees in a vision they killed her mom who died in her arms but not before her dying mother created a spell to transfer her power to Corine, who does not plan to become the next sacrificial lamb of the dirty dozen.

After the horrific events in Texas that the trio triumphed over (see Blue Diablo), they plunge into another supernatural encounter that involves using psychic skills to the max or end up dying. The characters come across as believable, especially the lead threesome, the town and its residents. This makes for an exciting time in Georgia as the enthralled audience will wonder whether even Charlie Daniels can fiddle his way out of this Hell Fire. Ann Aguirre is an author to watch for because in years to come she will be one of the best second generation urban fantasists.

Shalador's Lady
Anne Bishop
Roc
9780451463159, $24.95

When she was Queen the first time, Cassidy of Bhad was too weak and plain so her retinue deserted her to join the stronger court of much prettier and more powerful Queen Kermilla. At the same she is dethroned, the deceitful Queens ignored the honorable Rules of the Blood and ruin Dena Nehele leading to revolt.

As the Rose-Jeweled Queen Cassidy expands her efforts to cleanse the entire realm and affirm she deserves being the ruler, Cassidy continues to grow in moral fiber, which enables her to grow in power to cleanse the land of the taint.

Fans of the long running Black Jewels saga will relish this terrific entry; newcomers need to at least read the previous entry The Shadow Queen to better understand the action-packed entry though perusing previous books would be even better as Anne Bishop paints a complex realm.

Velvet Haven: The Immortals of Annwyn
Sophia Renwick
NAL
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
www.newamericanlibrary.com
9780451229182, $15.00, www.amazon.com

Annwyn is the Otherworld and mortals are unaware of its existence. The realm is home to all types of supernaturals with the link between that of the humans and that of the paranormal being Velvet Haven, a night club owned by half-breed Rhys MacDonald, whose father abdicated as king of the Sidhe to marry a mortal. Rhys' shapeshifting cousin Bran, angrily sits on the throne, while suffering from the Legacy Curse that requires him exclusively to mate with the species he loathes humans.

When the ninth murder of a Sidhe occurs and the first female victim, Bran knows he must delay his search for his missing brother, Carden, who vanished into the Wasteland centuries ago. Instead he must focus on stopping the serial killer at a time when his visions show him dead, a victim of a warrior. Since evil initiated on the other side, Bran goes to Velvet Haven seeking a woman to replenish his energy and clues to the deadly predator; unaware that a connected killer is also on the mortal plane. At his cousin's club he meets mortal nurse Mairi MacAuley whose essence arouses him as never before. She rejects him as she assumes he is a player, but he persists unawar e that their attraction could be the cause of his death

With much more going on than described above especially with her friend Rowan and the fallen Suriel for instance, Book One of the Annwyn Chronicles is a tremendous romantic fantasy with religious overtones that will stun readers. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Mairi and Rowen enter the velvet Haven and never stops for even a heart beat. The cast is strong especially the support cast who make the Otherworld seem genuine. Sophia Renwick provides fans with a twisting tale of salvation from even death.

Boca Mournings
Steven M. Forman
Forge
c/o Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
www.tor-forge.com
9780765319883, $24.99, www.amazon.com

Eddie Perlmutter retired from the Boston Police Department looking forward to sun and fun in Boca Raton, his new home. However, though he intended to mind his business, the almost sexagenarian cannot sit idly by while crimes and injustice occurs which is why the local paper calls him the Boca Knight. He knows he suffers from something a shrink called "compulsive explosive disorder" although he would have said hyperactivity, but cannot stop from helping those in trouble. Thus he opens up a private investigative agency with a staff of himself.

Business is booming as Eddie resolves situations his style which includes beating up some punk. His preference is first to teach respect of others but does not mind using fistic "poetic justice" to achieve his goal. Eddie understands the difficulty of using fists on an eighty something bagel felon or quacks allegedly practicing medicine when to him they seem more like financiers. However, even Mr. Johnson tells him to take it easy on his lower head as Eddie works cases involving Neo-Nazis and the Russian Mafia that will abet his retirement wish of visiting other countries.

Once again over the top of Britton Hill, the second Boca Raton private investigative tale contains an amusing series of cases deftly handled in unique ways by the hero. The story line is at its best when Mr. Johnson remains covered especially as the Boca Knight heroically deals with a myriad of social issues with depth and passion. Humorous yet profound as Steven M. Forman scrutinizes human rights of gays, when a Neo Nazi's First Amendment rights clash with that of a Jew, and a scathing look at health care in a state wi th so many seniors who go without.

A Whisper to the Living
Stuart M. Kaminsky
Forge
9780765318886, $23.99

Russia's Office of Special Investigations Chief Inspector Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov leads the investigation into who the Bitsevsky Maniac serial killer is. The victims are elderly people murdered by a hammer or similar blunt instrument relentlessly bashing them. Most of the corpses have been found in Bitsevsky Park with a few just outside; hence the media nickname.

Desperate to end the killing spree as over forty people have lost their lives to this psychopath, Rostnikov offers himself up as bait by hanging around the park that has been turned into a graveyard by the predator. At the same time his team struggles to protect a British journalist who wants the cops to stay always while h is investigating Moscow prostitution and the chief's son Iosef works a double homicide in which a popular boxing champ apparently killed his wife and her alleged lover his sparring partner.

Although the audience knows from the beginning the identity of the Maniac, fans will relish Rostnikov's latest police procedural as he dangles himself to catch a horrific prolific killer. That subplot, which is the main thread of A Whisper to Living, pays homage to one of the grandmasters of mystery writing Stuart M. Kaminsky who passed away in October. The other subplots pale in comparisons feeling more like filler. Still fans of a terrific modern day Moscow police procedural will enjoy Rostnikov's apparently final act (see People Who Walk in Darkness and the classic Cold red Sunrise).

The Hittite
Ben Bova
Forge
9780765324023, $25.99

The Empire of the Hatti had defeated the Babylonians, Egyptians and many more, but face defeat from within by treachery. The emperor was stripped of his clothing by his sons and hence the Gods abandoned Hatti. Lukka leads his military unit home seeing the capital Hattusas ablaze from a distance. When they arrive inside the burning city they see gangs of drunken youths looting and killing. Lukka finds his dying father who informs him that his wife and sons might live, but are gone as property of the slavers.

He concludes his family would be sold in Troy. Leading his force to Troy, he finds the city under seize by the Achaians, whose lack of discipline makes Lukka ill to need them as an ally. He learns his spouse is a slave and vows to rescue her anyway he can and to learn the fate of his sons. Thus he begins the construct of a wooden horse that if he understands human nature should enable him to see "the face that launched a thousand ships".

This is an interesting retelling of the Trojan Horse with the above description only the beginning as the reader also for instance obtains Helen's side of the saga instead of the usual male machismo as she is all these super hunks' Achilles heel. Lukka is a fascinating military leader who understands war has three offspring: death, maiming and slavery. He knows when his men fight, some will die, some will be maimed, and maybe a few captured and tortured as slaves. Fans will enjoy Ben Bova's rendition of part of Homer's the Iliad

Not Less Than Gods
Kage Baker
Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
www.tor-forge.com
9780765318916, $25.99, www.amazon.com

In London in 1825, unmarried Lady Amalthea R. gives birth to a boy. Neither aristocratic parent wants to raise him so Dr. Nennys leaves the newborn with Mr. and Mrs. Bell who recently gave birth to a stillborn. They reluctantly take the unwanted infant into their home, but mostly ignore him. Eventually Dr. Nennys ships the neglected child, Edward Bell-Fairfax, to boarding school.

Edward joins the British navy, but his childhood and his unique skills of instant reaction thinking and super strength make him a loner, who fails to fit in with bands of brother warriors. He leaves unwelcome again, but Edward joins the Company of scientists and undercover agents. Dr. Ludbridge tutors Edward who is amazed with the friendly acceptance of him as well as the annual message from the future. The teacher and his prize student travel to the continent where Edward tries to influence the outcome of the Crimean War. He learns from his effort that to achieve his idealistic vision of a better world, good intentions are not enough and dirty deeds are sometimes the only solution.

This work of speculative fiction is an intriguing look at the past of one of the more fascinating Company characters; before Edward and botanist Mendoza becomes a pair. For die hard fans of the recently completed saga only who will appreciate how far Edward came from being unwanted, abused and neglected with only sinister Dr. Nennys interested in manipulating the child to take advantage of his uncanny skills. Yet through all that he remains an idealist who finds his niche with the Company and his soul with Mendoza.

Serpent Moon
C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp
Tor
9780765364258, $6.99

The Sazi still struggle with understanding alpha werewolf Eric Thompson's howling skill that somehow interferes with airwaves; his problem is though he can do it, he is unable to control his howling talent. Recently converted by a horrific assault into a Sazi, Holly Sanchez becomes a healer and is sent to the Outback to find Eric by Wolven

However, she has learned that a Sazi relatives support group plans to use an elixir on the werewolves that will return them to Homo sapiens. At the same time the scheme to resurrect Marduc the snake goddess is nearing fruition. Holly and Eric team up to prevent two probable tragedies from occurring.

This is a great entry in the Tales of the Sazi mythos as Marduc arrives on the scene seemingly invincible. The story line is fast-paced and filled with non stop action as previously secondary character Holly proves she with the Canadian wolf can hold an exhilarating story line together in Colorado. With no time to catch a breath once the lead couple meets in the Outback, readers will fully relish the latest Sazi romantic urban fantasy as nothing less than love and saving the world at the same time is at stake.

Black Blade Blues
J.A. Pitts
Tor
9780765324672, $25.99

In the Seattle, Washington area Sarah Beauhall works as a blacksmith and budget movies props guru. In between, instead of sleeping with her girlfriend Katie who frightens her with words of love, she is a medieval warrior reenactor. During a filming of Elvis versus the Goblins, her favorite unique sword is broken. To avoid costly delay, she agrees to repair the blade; a dwarf working as a goblin extra on the set offers to assist her.

The sword turns out to be the legendary Gram, which Nordic legend says Sigurd used to slay the dragon Fafnir; at least that is what her new "assistant" claims. However, evidence is on the way as a evil shape-shifting dragon and the Corpse Gnawer are coming to take Gram from Sarah, anyway they can.

This is a humorous entertaining Norse fantasy in twenty-first century Washington State. The fast-paced story line is action-packed as mythology and modernism converge on the heroine who holds the tale together as she struggles with shapeshifting dragons and other evil essences as well as with her relationship with Katie. Although too much circumstances occurs, readers will enjoy Black Blade Blues starting with the gender debate of the black sword Gram.

In the Darkest Night
Patti O'Shea
Tor
9780765361707, $6.99

In Seattle, novice mage Farran hides from her family the Taireil and more so from the Gineal who want them dead. However, she knows she is fortunate to remain alive after Seth the demon attacked her. Farran needs help so she asks exiled Gineal Kel Andrews to keep her safe.

Kel has issues having barely survived being a tortured hostage. He sees Farran like a sister struggling against a world of maliciousness as he suffers nightmares from his captivity. As they fall in love, danger mounts from paranormal and human enemies, and almost as perilous their personal fears.

The latest Light Warrior romantic urban fantasy (see In the Midnight Shadows and Edge of Dawn) is a terrific action-packed thriller that opens with a powerful setting the background scene with references to Crest gel for instance to counter balance Seth. The story line is fast-paced throughout, but accelerates when the heroine faints at the doorstep of the hero. The sub-genre audience will be enthralled with Patti O'Shea's latest Light Warrior battling In the Darkest Night.

The Dark-Eyes' War
David B. Coe
Tor
9780765316400, $27.99

The Southlands are filled with weary people tired of the constant war. Yet everyone anticipates another bloody battle as the dead crone's curse continues to take its toll; ironically this includes the hag who originally issued it. Now opposing mages with conventional forces gather and converge on the plains for what should prove the final battle.

The Eandi army abetted by a cursed Mettai unit prepares for battle with the mages and depleted soldiers of Fal'Borna. At a time when the magical plague is spreading and giving hope to the Eandi, they lose their magical prowess as their spells fail. Although outnumbered, the Fal'Borna forces have made the plains the final battle.

The third Blood of the Southlands fantasy (see The Sorcerers' Plague and The Horsemen's Gambit) is a great finish to a strong trilogy. The final battle is terrific; one of the best in years with a reasonable but surprising ending. The lead up is as good. Fantasy readers will relish David B. Coe's great saga as The Dark-Eyes' War affirms he is one of the best at world-destruction.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer


Laurel's Bookshelf

Angels Are Watching Over Us
Niki Behrikis Shanahan
Pete Publishing
PO Box 282, Tyngsborough MA 01879
9780972030168 $12.99 www.eternalanimals.com

According to a recent Gallup poll, 75% of Americans believe in angels. In this same poll, 81% believe in Heaven and 86% believe in God. This book has two powerful benefits. One, even non-believers will find help and comfort in it and, two, believers will find proof positive that angels do exist. The writer backs up all information about angels with passages from the Bible, and shares real-life testimony from people who have experienced angelic interventions.

Angels have a special job to do, assigned by God. Throughout time, they have been His ministers and messengers. They were created before humans for specific purposes. Angels can look like people or can be invisible. They may have a shining appearance, or look like creatures. Whatever their appearance, they appear in the worldly plane for a reason. For example:

The Angel Gabriel delivered a message from God to Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, and to Mary, mother of Jesus, about the birth of their sons;

An angel delivered the message to the shepherds about the coming Messiah;

An angel told Joseph to escape to Egypt with Jesus and Mary to avoid Herod's wrath;

An angel told the women at Jesus' tomb that he was alive, risen from the grave.

Only three angels are named in the Bible. Michael is a warrior, an archangel, and the patron angel of Israel. Gabriel is a special messenger from God. And Lucifer is a fallen angel, ejected from Heaven by God to become Satan on Earth. In addition to these three named angels, there are several types or hierarchies:

Archangels - chief among angels;

Seraphim - angels with six wings whose main purpose is to worship God;

Cherubim - have four creature-like faces and act as guards;

Fallen angels - ejected from Heaven with Lucifer to become his demons. The Bible makes it very clear that even Lucifer and his fallen angels fear God and have less power than the angels in Heaven.

Niki Behrikis Shanahan is an exceptional writer. A wealth of detailed information is presented here in an interesting way that is easy to read and understand. Readers will particularly enjoy the personal stories from people who have met angels first hand during crises in their lives. This book is highly recommended to anyone who ever wondered if angels actually exist, or those who are convinced they do.

The Law of Distraction and Interruption…That's Life
Joe Carroccio
Good Life News, Inc. Publishing
www.thelawofdistractionandinterruption.com
9781615848966, $16.95

Everywhere we look around us today we're bombarded with bad news or catastrophic events. Do we allow life's happenings to distract us from our goals and interrupt our momentum? To quote the title page: "Life's distractions, if you allow them, will keep you from achieving your goals and dreams. Interruptions either slow you down or completely stop you from what you set out to accomplish." With humor and large doses of refreshing common sense, Joe Carroccio provides readers with helpful ways to avoid the paralysis that comes from distractions and interruptions.

Any number of life events can drive us to distraction: fear; love; marriage; children; family members; friends; religious beliefs; money; technology; and health to name only a few. We get bogged down in the moment, lose focus and concentration, convince ourselves we've lost our skills and coping abilities. Carroccio gently guides readers into examining the reality of such events: No, we have not lost our skills. We lost our focus for awhile, lost time but not our ability to overcome obstacles. He discusses in depth the various techniques of circumventing distractions and interruptions. Among the techniques outlined are prioritizing, time management, meditation, prayer, making choices, optimizing circumstances, and dealing honestly with ourselves and others. He shows us how to think positive, to visualize what we want and need, and to block outside influences from controlling our lives.

A lifetime of helpful wisdom is packed into the pages of this book. Joe Carroccio is a Renaissance man who has lived to share the lessons learned through trial, error, and triumph. He has over 40 years of experience in marketing, management, technology, communications, energy management, and the Arts. The information he shares is sensible, helpful, and attainable by anyone of any status or culture. If life's happenings have bogged you down in paralyzing doubt, you need to read this book.

Going Rogue: An American Life
Sarah Palin
HarperCollins
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061939907 $15.99

When a friend gave me her copy of this book and suggested I read it, I hesitated. I'm neither a Palin supporter nor a detractor so had no political axe to grind with a review. But the day was rainy and I like to read so I planned to skip read the highlights and call it good. After the first couple pages, I settled in and read. I read all of one day and part of another. And I didn't skip read because Palin's life story is fascinating and she's definitely not the stupid twit the talking heads of every stripe make her out to be. After reading her story, I had a very different view of who Sarah Palin is, and why she is so wildly popular with some and so despised by others. She's a strong woman who lives her beliefs and walks her own path, and that is not how things are done in American politics.

From childhood, to marriage and children, to the Governor's office in Alaska, to the 2008 presidential election, Palin gives readers a bird's eye view of life from her personal perspective. She answers questions about the joys of serving as a politician, and the sorrows of being the butt of political machinations and media pot shots. She tells us what she thinks and why, how she feels and why, and what drives her. She shares herself with readers, wanting us to know the real woman behind the sound bites.

I enjoyed this book and discovered a Sarah Palin that should have been revealed during the election if the media had done its job properly. By the last page, I couldn't help but wonder what might have been different if McCain-Palin had won the presidential election.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer


Lorraine's Bookshelf

The Ultimate Organizer for Moms, Pregnancy Through Year Five
Natasha Tabori Fried & Lena Tabori, editors
Welcome Books
6 West 18th Street, 4th Floor, NY, NY, 10011
9781599620763, $24.95 www.welcombooks.com

"The Ultimate Organizer for Moms" is a beautiful gift book for new mothers and mothers-to-be, complete with many photo slots, handy cover pockets, sections on pregnancy, health and development, and first, second, third, and fourth & fifth year. Vintage illustrations and childhood favorite quotations are found in loving abundance, and many suggested journal entry blanks are provided to allow the mother to record her child's many milestone events. With a background of pastel yellow and further deeper colors for illustration, "The Ultimate Organizer for Moms" is sure to comfort and sustain a mother's love and nurturing of her child while leaving a legacy of an heirloom record for the child to treasure further when grown.

Celebrating Mom: Share, Remember, Cherish
Jim McCann, editor, founder of Celebrations.com
Andrews McMeel
1130 Walnut Street, Kansas City, MO 64106
9780740796593, $9.99 www.andrewsmcmeel.com

"Celebrating Mom" is a loving collection of quotations, pictures, poems, experiences, and dreams that honor mothers. Collected by the founder of 1-800-FLOWERS, a leading florist/gift company, "Celebrating Moms" is the perfect Mother's Day gift to accompany flowers, fruit, or any loving gift destined for a mom. All the quotations are sensitive and carefully chosen, and all the illustrations enhance the message of gratitude for the gift of mothering. "Celebrating Mom" is sure to please any recipient whether mother or other important nurturing figure.

Hey... Hey.. Think Out Loud!
Jared Tinlin, author
Simon Goodway, illustrator
Kid Adventure Pack Publishing
P.O. Box 35174, Albuquerque, NM 87176
9780984224715, $9.25 www.kidadventurepack.com

"Hey... Hey... Think Out Loud!" is a creative child author's work that will excite and stimulate kids everywhere to learn, journal, write, imagine, and read. Written in rhythmic verse that delves into a kid's experience of daily events and observations, "Hey... Hey... Think Out Loud!" is inspiring to students, teachers and parents. "Hey...Hey... Think Out Loud!" is the imaginative work of an eight-year-old, who was encouraged and helped by his parents, teachers, and especially by his grandfather Al Hurricane, famous musician and former honorary chair for the National Education Association of New Mexico for the Read Across America campaign. Humorous, colorful cartoon illustrations help enliven the author's joyful ideas and secure the prospective potential of kids learning, reading, and writing.

Give Teens a Break!, A Positive Look at Teens
John R. Morella, Ph.D.
Millennial Mind Publishing
5442 So. 900 East, #146, Salt Lake City, UT 84117
9781589825833, $22.00 info@americanbook.com

"Give Teens a Break!" is a psychological self help guide for both teens and adults, based on the premise that many adult perceptions of teens and teen behavior are warped by myths of teen irresponsibility. Offering solutions or problem approaches based on educating both adults and teens, "Give Teens a Break!" offers some new tools and information about teen-parent-adult communication and learning. "Give Teens a Break!" is both a scholarly psychological text and a personal journal of family experiences with adolescence. It offers facts, data and statistics but also presents individual experiences as a touchstone or marker. Practical approaches win out and the clinical experience of the author's adolescent counseling services (in a community college setting) add to the appeal and attractiveness of "Give Teens a Break!" After chapters on historical perspecitives on adolescence, debunking myths and stereotypes about teens, teen alcohol and drug use and sexuality, and parent -teen conflict, there are a few final chapters on messages to teens, odds and ends, and conclusions. Chapter 11 lists web site resources for information and assistance with many problems encountered by teens, including National Suicide Prevention Hotline, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys Town, Alcoholics Anonymous for Teens, Teen Screen, child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and many more similar sites. "Give Teens a Break!" is a helpful, positive handbook for teens and adults who are involved with them.

The Eagle and the Rainbow
Antonio Hernandez Madrigal, author
Tomie dePaola, illustrator
Fulcrum Publishing
4690 Table Mountain Drive, Suite 100, Golden, Colorado 80403
9781555917289, $8.95 www.fulcrumbooks,com

"The Eagle and the Rainbow: Timeless Tales from Mexico" is a beautifully illustrated collection of Mesoamerican indigenous traditional tales from Tarascan, Mayan, Huichol, Tarahumaran, and Aztec sources. Each chapter tells a different traditional tale illustrating desired qualities, beliefs, attitudes, or strengths in its heroic characters and sacred beings. At the end of each chapter tale is an information summary about the tribe's cultural identity, history, geographic location, and current population and conditions as well as customs and beliefs. The legends include The Eagle and the Rainbow (Huichol), Tahui (Tarahumara), The Boy Who Cried Tears of Jade (Mayan), Tribe of the Deer (Tarascan), and Legend of the Feathered Serpent (Aztec). Some of these tales are more well known than others, but all are ever fresh and fascinating. "The Eagle and the Rainbow" is directed towards a midgrade audience of students ages 8-12, and also contains a helpful glossary of related indigenous terms and names at the end.

My Holy Bible for African-American Children
KidzBibles
c/o Zondervan Publishing House
5300 Patterson Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310719878, $24.99 www.zondervan.com

"My Holy Bible for African-American Children" is a King James version release of a special Bible for African American children ages 7-10, complete with bible book introductions, dictionary concordance, and colored artwork from 32 award-winning African American contributors, plus the complete text of the King James version. In addition, appropriate supplemental texts and resources (such as related spiritual verses, or poems, or reinterpretations of famous passages) are also highlighted along with the colorful illustrations. Insightful inserts such as "Faith and the African American Community (after p. 566)" help place the traditional Bible readings in an historical context for young African American readers. Complete with a special dedication page, "My Holy bible for African-American Children" will fill an established need for a large, special audience.

Huichol Art and Culture: Balancing the World
Melissa S. Powell and C. Jill Grady, editors
Blair Clark, studio photographer
Museum of New Mexico Press
P.O. Box 2087, Santa Fe, NM 87504
9780890135631, $39.95 www.mnmpress.org

"Huichol Art and Culture: Balancing the World" is a beautiful full color collection of images and studies of Huichol art and culture from the extensive Zingg collection housed at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe. Including views of yarn paintings, textiles, prayer arrows, votive gourd bowls, feather work and beaded jewelry, as well as many sepia and black and white vintage field photographs of Huichol AmerIndians taken by Zingg and others, "Huichol Art and Culture: Balancing the World" is being released to coincide with a special exhibition to open at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on April 11, 2010. Both the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and the Laboratory of Anthropology, a related, older research institute, have collaborated to produce this beautiful volume documenting a remarkable collection. In addition to the editors, contributors include, Peter T. Furst, Stacy B. Schaefer, Hope MacLean, and Susanah Eger Valadez. A lengthy section of Notes, Glossary, Bibliography and Credits and Collection Information are accumulated at the end of the book along with further acknowledgments. Documented by stunning studio photography of the vast collection, "Huichol Art and Culture: Balancing the World" presents a fascinating window into the religious views and seasonal cycle celebrations of the Huichol, or Wixaritari AmerIndians of western Mexico.

Keeping Your Smile
Jeff A. Johnson
Redleaf Press
10 Yorkton Court, St. Paul, MN 55117
9781933653853, $17.95 www.redleafpress.org

"Keeping Your Smile: Caring for Children with Joy, Love, and Intention" is a self-help book for professional child caregivers with many practical and inspirational suggestions, tips, and helpful ideas. The basic premise ofr "Keeping Your Smile" is to address the common issue of planning and providing care and maintenance for the caregiver, which is you, the adult reader. Not surprisingly, many caregivers exhaust their resources in a total commitment to caregiving demands that leaves them depleted, unhealthy, tired, and resentful. "Keeping Your Smile" is all about finding proven ways to prevent that burnout and keep caregivers' batteries recharged and working well. As its title indicates,"Keeping Your Smile" is a joyous work of love and intention, with many useful strategies and exercises to simplify and organize a busy caregiver lifestyle so that the valuable work they contribute can continue at its best.

We Want You to Know
Deborah Ellis, author
Ann Featherstone, editor
Julia McAlpine, photographer
Coteau Books
2517 Victoria Avenue, Regina, SK Canada S4P OT2
9781550504170, $21.95 www.coteaubooks.com

"We Want You to Know: Kids Talk About Bullying" is a collection of interviews of kids who have experienced bullying, both as receivers and aggressors by the Name It 2 Change It Community Campaign Against Bullying in southern Ontario, with additional supplemental writings from sources at Haldimand-Norfolk REACH, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Canadian International School in Tokyo, Raising Voices Uganda, and the international school in Antananarivo, Madagascar. The interviews are with children aged 9-19 and some of the bullying experiences they describe are hair-raising. "We Want You To Know" speaks in the actual voices of "kids who have been bullied, kids who have bullied others, and kids who found the strength within themselves to rise above their situations and to endure (p. 11)." Perhaps the single most important mission or teaching of "We Want You To Know" is that bullying practices must be clearly exposed and admitted in order for change to occur, kind of a "bullying transparency" policy to encourage real problem solving and skill building in all communities where bullying exists. The author is careful to specify that each child who was interviewed for "We Want You To Know" voluntarily to tell their stories, and decided what things they wanted left out of their stories, including their photos and names. "We Want You To Know" ends with two crucial sections titled Redemption and Conclusions. Redemption "means reclaiming our lives from fear, from shame, from frustration (p. 114)." Redemption leads to questions about how to begin the process of change and growth beyond bullying. The Conclusion holds the single most important statement of the book: "Bullying is not inevitable. It doesn't have to be a normal part of childhood...Respecting others and respecting ourselves leads naturally to respecting the world and all who live in it. We don't have to settle for what we've learned so far. We can al learn more, reach further, and become the great people we were all meant to be (p.115)." "We Want You To Know" is a valuable resource for anti-bullying curriculum that is so crucial to all schools and communities, but it is more than that. It uses the painful heroic experiences of the bullied to begin to build windows to a better future. Additional resources for kids, for teachers, and for parents are listed at the end of the book. Many quotations taken from kids around the world who wrote essays on bullying are sprinkled throughout the text. These provide additional inspiration.

Siblings, You're Stuck with Each Other, So Stick Together
James J. Crist, Ph.D. & Elizabeth Verdick, authors
Steve Mark, illustrator
Free Spirit Publishing
217 Fifth Avenue North, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401
9781575423364, $8.95 www.freespirit.com

"Siblings, You're Stuck with Each Other, So Stick Together" is a great mental health handbook to the thorny problem field of sibling relationships, the search for peace and harmony. This creative, colorful, humor-laden book contains tons of ideas and suggestions for ways to enrich and improve anyone's given sibling relationships. Some specific topic areas are: How Birth Order Affects Your Relationship, Top 10 Sticky Situations and Survival Secrets, 5 Ways to Forge a Fabulous Friendship, a Note for Parents and Caregivers, and many more. "Siblings..." is particularly helpful in that it focuses on strengthening and developing positive sibling relationships rather than just subjecting the rivalry or negative aspects of the relationship to analysis and scrutiny. Special sibling problem areas that are dealt with also include half siblings, step siblings, adopted siblings and siblings with special needs. In addition, the Note to Parents and Caregivers includes advice on When Professional Help is Needed, such as "If one child bullies the others, fighting happens often and ruins family plans, or if a child's self esteem suffers.. (p. 115)" "Siblings, You're Stuck With Each Other.." is a practical and fun resource for kids, parents and mental health and teaching professionals.

Library Incentive Parties
Dr. Carol Thompson
UpstartBooks
401 S. Wright Road, Janesville, WI 53547
9781602130463, $17.95 800-448-4887

"Library Incentive Parties" is a great planning guide for teachers, librarians, and parents who home school to create fun celebrations as culminations of themed programs designed to motivate kids to read. "Library Incentive Parties" contains great plans, ideas, and unit activities for 13 different high interest units for kids in grades K-5. Some of the unit titles include Hit a Home Run with Reading!, American Girls Read! An American Girl Tea Party, Shake Your Bookie!, Reading Pays, B.E.A.R. (Be Enthusiastic About Reading!), and many more besides. Each chapter-unit has an Incentive Summary, Food and Decoration Ideas, Bulletin Board Display suggestions, a Cafeteria Menu, Suggested Incentive Activities, Reference Questions, Suggested Reading, and Related Web Sites. There are many high interest areas for readers to explore, and "Library Incentive Parties" is a helpful template or model for how to design a successful unit on many topics of interest. There are also forms designed for invitations, awards, publicity, and related games and tokens. "Library Incentive Parties" is a sure way to combat overstimulation and direct kids into positive reading and learning experiences.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer


Micah's Bookshelf

Ivy League Wealth Secrets
Keith R. Soltis
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432746506, $24.95, www.outskirtspress.com

Buy low, sell high is supposedly the secret to business, but there's far more to it than that. "Ivy League Wealth Secrets" is a collection of business tips and tricks from Keith R. Soltis, stating the ideas that all of the most successful people truly use to make the most of their money and keep it, combating the drains of wealth such as taxes, lawsuits, and more. "Ivy League Wealth Secrets" has many intriguing thoughts and ideas and well worth considering, highly recommended.

The Joining
Vishara Veda
Xlibris
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781441559487, $19.99, www.xlibris.com

Sometimes what brings people together is bigger than both of them. "The Joining: From the Silence Beyond Time" tells the story of two people who through the greater universe, are drawn together and find that their something bigger than them and a greater reason for them joining together. Vishara Veda draws from the metaphysical, stating the novel is based on the true story, making "The Joining" something to be considered by those interested in the genre.

Business Relationships That Last
Ed Wallace
Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
9781608320011, $19.95, www.greenleafbookgroup.com

A good partnership is something that is invaluable for successful businesses. "Business Relationships That Last: 5 Steps to Transform Contacts Into High Performing Relationships" is a guide to creating good business partnerships that stay strong and remain as such through the years. Ed Wallace writes that eighty eight percent of successful businesses remain as such through strong relationships with other businesses and even their competitors. With a five step process to help business friendships stay strong, "Business Relationships That Last" is not a read to be missed for any corporate leader.

Ancient Wisdoms
Gayle Redfern
AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449057602, $17.50, www.authorhouse.com

Humanity in its most base form has not changed much in the tens of thousands of years in its existence. "Ancient Wisdoms: Exploring the Mysteries and Connections" looks at the ancient history of mankind and how it has led up to what we are today. Spiritual, profound with plenty of interesting topics in history discussed, Gayle Redfern does well in presenting a thought provoking read, making "Ancient Wisdoms" a read that should not be missed.

White Coat Fever
Roland S. Jefferson
AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781438951522, $25.99, www.authorhouse.com

Doctors are rich, powerful, and important, and huge attractors of women. "White Coat Fever" is the story of four individuals in 1960s middle America as they try to find love and more importantly fortune. Following two women in search of their romance or at very least their meal ticket and two doctors, one with lecherous leanings and one with a shaky past. "White Coat Fever" is an intriguing and enthralling read set in the civil rights era, highly recommended.

Inner Mountain
Harry Willis
Lulu
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
No ISBN, $12.95, www.lulu.com

Education gives you everything you need to succeed except a path through life. "Inner Mountain" tells the story of two individuals finding their way through life. Gil faces a life of leaving his recently widowed mother behind, and Rex is faced with a skill that's useless unless he can play through the pro. With their friendship, they try to find their way through life, and "Inner Mountain" proves an insightful read.

The State of Rural Roads in Cameroon
Achiri Mongo
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road, -515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432744113, $23.95, www.outskirtspress.com

If there's no travel, there's no trading, and no trading leads to a poor economy. "The State of Rural Roads in Cameroon" is Achiri E. Mongo's decrying of the state of the rural roads in the country of Cameroon, discussing the fact that the poor state of these roads leads to the lack of growth of the economy and how improving the roads could do wonder to helping the country grow and catch up to the rest of the world. "The State of Rural Roads in Cameroon" is a top read for those concerned about international issues.

Fragile
Chris Katsaropoulos
Luminis Books
13245 Blacktern Way, Carmel, IN 46033
Mary Glenn McCombs (publicity)
2817 West End Avenue, Suite 126-274, Nashville, TN 37203
9781935462279, $14.95

When your own life is shattered, sometimes the pieces needed to repair them lie in the broken lives of others. "Fragile" tells the story of three individuals who face their life long celibacy, their loveless marriages, and their own self loathing. An elderly virgin still yearns for her lost lover, the lost lover faces the passionless life he chose, and a mother bottomed out of her luck wondering what drove her to try to end her own life. Poignant and thought provoking, "Fragile" is a fine piece of fiction to add to any collection.

Yo, Tyrania
Ric Weiss
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road, -515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432752088, $17.95, www.outskirtspress.com

Bringing something centuries in the past to the twenty first century is no easy task. "Yo, Tyrania" is a humorous novel following New Jersey native Eula Gibson as she's changed with bringing Tyrania, a backwards country in the mountains of Europe up to the modern standard with a modern and functional government. Centuries of progress is no easy task, as Ric Weiss presents an insightful and entertaining read. "Yo, Tyrania" is well worth a look.

Saving Rachel
John Locke
iUniverse
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440172441, $17.90, www.iuniverse.com

Lust makes one wander, but lust isn't something deserving of death. "Saving Rachel" tells the story of a man driven between his two loves in life, his wife and his mistress. When a cruel and self-righteous criminal places a man between what his love and lust, in a deadly decision that no one should ever have to make. An intriguing thriller with a healthy dose of morbid comedy, "Saving Rachel" is a fine fiction read for crime readers.

Sin No More
ML Nay
Xlibris
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781450012881, $31.99, www.xlibris.com

The corrupt priest is something all too common in our world. "Sin No More" is the tale of the 1970s is a drama of the Catholic church as vigilantes within the church seek to bring Father Edward Mueller, a suspected rapist, to justice before the church higher ups can cover up his cruel and vicious acts against the people of Carollton, Michigan. An exciting drama and thriller, "Sin No More" is a worthy read and highly recommended pick.

The Horrors Of Andersonville
Catherine Gourley
Twenty-First Century Books
c/o The Lerner Publishing Group
241 First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1607
www.lernerbooks.com
9780761342120, $38.60, www.amazon.com

That well known judgment that 'war is hell' refers to far more than just the battlefield. Case in point -- civil war prison camps, the most infamous of which was a Confederate 'prison' camp for their Union Army captives and called 'Andersonville'. Although it only existed for the last fourteen months of the Civil War, Andersonville became legendary for its appalling conditions documented in the diaries of its prisoners and the trail transcripts of its commandant. Originally designed to hold 10,000 prisoners, when the war ended it contained 32,000. During the intervening fourteen months a total of some 45,000 prisoners were held, of which fully one third of them died due to the horrific conditions of their confinement. Now the whole story of Andersonville, including its politics, mismanagement, intrigues, and associated personalities is laid out in Catherine Gourley's "The Horrors of Andersonville: Life and Death Inside a Civil War Prison", a 192-page history written and illustrated specifically for young readers ages 9 to 14, making it a core addition to school and community library American History and Civil War Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Micah Andrew
Reviewer


Shelley's Bookshelf

Mud to Ashes
Gayle Wigglesworth
Koenisha Publications
3196 63rd Street, Hamilton, MI 49419
9780980009842, $19.95, www.amazon.com

Gayle Wigglesworth retired after forty years as an executive in the banking industry and turned to writing mysteries. She presently has five Claire Gulliver mysteries published, and is working on the sixth in that series. MUD TO ASHES is her stand-alone mystery in which Wigglesworth explores the art world…in particular potters. Pottery is Ms. Wiggleworth's second passion, and traveling is her third.

Karo Meisner hit the mid-life bump in the road when her husband began to update his wardrobe, became more and more critical and remote, and bought a new sports car. With a sigh of relief, she moved to Belle Vista and on to the second half of her life. She purchased a nice little house by the beach, secured a job writing pamphlets for a local bank, and joined a local potter's group.

It should have been an idyllic lifestyle, and in many ways it was. But she stumbled on a dead body while taking her two new dogs to the beach for a walk, and life seemed to take on a much more sinister tone as the police zeroed in on her movements:

"Lieutenant Myers apparently did, judging by the numerous questions he fired at her. Karo thought they would never finish. She found herself explaining far more about her life and situation than she thought was pertinent, but eventually he seemed satisfied. She headed back toward the path over the dune quickly, anxious to get home, realizing too much of the day had already gone by."

Wigglesworth manages to set a very nice tone to a mystery that has many facets. On the one hand, Karo Meisner is a comfortable heroine who is likable and down-to-earth in her quest to create a new life for herself full of cooking; pottery; new friends; and her lovable dogs. On the other hand, there is an undercurrent of pure evil almost everywhere Karo turns. How does she deal with it? As any middle-aged woman, she is at first patient and understanding. But when the murderer exposes themselves, Karo can fight with the best of them. MUD TO ASHES is an excellent whodunit, and Karo is a character the readers will want to see in more installments.

Mysterious Encounter
Michael W. Griffith
Bedside Books
c/o American Book Publishing
5442 South 900 East, #146, Salt Lake City, UT 84117-7204
9781589825581, $22.00, www.amazon.com

Michael W. Griffith was born in Alabama, but presently lives in Bangs, Texas. He worked in the nuclear power industry for twenty-five years as a nuclear modification planning consultant. His original expertise was in technical writing. This book is a result of his love of adventure, prospecting, rock hounding, and firearms.

Two college friends, Frank St. James and Max Dunne, embark on a "sail around the world" adventure after college. They are still full of high jinks, and this comes in handy when they stumble on an old treasure and rescue a Polynesian boy after a fierce storm. That experience enables them to outfit their own sailing vessels and live a life most of us can only dream of. But, true to form, Frank tangles with a modern day pirate who calls himself Diablo after a distant relative who was a blackheart pirate. The story of hidden treasure and exploding boats propels our boys, now accompanied by Frank's sister, Lorelei, and his assistant, Candy, back out on the ocean to discover untold riches:

"'Yeah, Lorelei and I want to hear the whole story. We want to hear all the gory details,' Candy insisted. 'We don't really know much either. It is an uncharted South Pacific Island we discovered while rescuing a native boy we nicknamed BOB. The rest is a mystery to us, as well.'" The remainder of the day was spent loading supplies and gear aboard the Sea Nymph, for a three and a half day sail to Bob's Island. We agreed to leave first thing in the morning."

MYSTERIOUS ENCOUNTER is the product of a truly original mind, and the ride takes the reader from the first page and doesn't release him or her until the final chapter. Griffith consolidates his love and knowledge of various points in both the Caribbean and the South Pacific to produce a story worthy of Robinson Crusoe or Captain Jack. He makes the reader feel that he is right there on board a gorgeous sailing boat that has all the modern conveniences, plus some James Bond additions. The addition of Chance, a spider monkey Max saved and brought up, adds spice to their adventures. A good read!

The Secret of the Bradford House
Albert A. Bell, Jr.
Ingalls Publishing Group, Inc.,
PO Box 2500, Banner Elk, NC 28604
www.ingallspublishinggroup.com
9781932158878, $11.95, www.amazon.com

Dr. Albert A. Bell, Jr. has taught in Holland, Michigan at Hope College since 1978. He served as Chair of the History Department from 1994-2004, which is a long time, since Chairs generally rotate every three years or so. He earned his Ph.D. from UNC-Chapel Hill. His M.A. was earned from Duke, and he also holds a Masters in Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His wife is a psychologist, which probably helps quite a bit when writing books for the middle school audience.

THE SECRET OF THE BRADFORD HOUSE is Dr. Bell's second Steve and Kendra mystery, following up THE SECRET OF THE LONELY GRAVE. Steve and Kendra are lifelong friends. Kendra is an excellent tennis player, and when Rachel and her family move into the area, she immediately zones in on Steve. Steve isn't quite old enough to be interested in girls yet, and he is confused and angry by his father and mother's divorce and his father's subsequent marriage. When his father e-mails him and announces that he and his new wife are expecting, Steve's feelings become even more intense. In the meantime, a young couple moved into the old Bradford House and is renovating it to become a bed and breakfast. But the house has other secrets that catch Steve, Kendra, and now Rachel's interest. A spirit is restless, but is there really such a thing as ghosts?

"Kendra handed me the binoculars and I gave her the camera. I still couldn't make out anything but a blurry light. It was a funny color, not quite like a light bulb, but I couldn't tell if that was from the light or just from the dirt on the window. The light flickered a couple of times, then went off."

Dr. Bell conjures up just the right amount of mystery in this second installment of middle school angst. This is a time when kids are first experiencing hormonal changes, and life can become quite frustrating. Dr. Bell's advice and sense of adventure strikes just the right note to help youngsters to figure out the world around them.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer


Shirley's Bookshelf

The Sun and The Moon
Brian D. McClure, author
Buddy Plumlee, illustrator
Universal Flag Publishing
PO Box 4354, Lisle, IL 60532
9781933426099, $14.95, www.amazon.com

In this wonderful children's book we discover that the sun and the moon are angry with each other, name calling, and bickering begin as turmoil fills the atmosphere, Sadly, the sun tells the moon his light does nothing which truly hurts the moon's feelings. The sun also decides he will no longer shine his light. Of course you can imagine what happened once the sun withheld it's light. The earth and everything upon it was in serious trouble.

If this isn't stop it could be the end of life as we know it. However, this isn't the entire story, there is more, much more intertwined within the pages of this tale. A lesson for all of us to learn.

The story is written to bring out the dangers of speaking hurtful words and how doing this not only affects those involved but also everything and everyone around them. The author does a wonderful job in explaining that within the story. He shows there are always consequences to our actions, even from our words. I have to say that is a truth that needs to be exclaimed around the globe....words definitely do hurt, as do our actions.

The illustrations are colorful, and expressive, definitely bringing to life the story in both mood and local. I loved the expressions on the moon's face, exceptional. I also like the way that the author brings humans into the story showing the comparison with what is happening to the sun and moon and what happens among humans. Good job.

All in all this is one outstanding work that will enrich not only a child's life but any adult who is fortunate enough to read it as well. Very highly recommended. Well done.

Love Finds You in Bridal Veil Oregon
Miralee Ferrell
Summerside Press
info@summersidepress.com
9781935416634 $12.99 www.summersidepress.com

Author, Miralee Ferrell, has again brought to the table a tale that will wrap it's fingers around your heart and keep the pages turning. This is a mesmerizing story about a good hearted All American man and an independent free spirited woman who fall in love over the falls of Oregon. The question is which man is the one God is sending for her? Will the memories of love gone by be rekindled, or will a new love overshadow the past. During her spiritual trials within she encounters a pile of challenges and crosses paths with an array of characters, The most notable of which are a couple of orphan children on the run. Each character no matter what part they play within the storyline is well defined. Their personalities, good and bad bring danger, adventure, and action to the story. Along the way she discovers who she is and what she truly believes. The story is riveting.

Ms. Ferrell uses her craft of writing to bring the local fully into your mind's eye, taking you to each nook and cranny, fall and countryside as the story travels along. Her firsthand knowledge of the town's past definitely added to the content of the read. This is truly a book that is well worth your time. It's full of constant twists and turns that will leave you wanting more and the depth of the characters will leave their presence with you as though you truly met them. Another triumphant read by an amazing author. Highly recommended.

Web of Deceit
Darlene Cox
A Little Bit of Larceny
c/o Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road, Parker, CO 80134
9781432746148, $16.95, www.amazon.com

There are times in life when you meet certain people and wonder how they became what they have. You often wonder did their childhood have a bearing on their outcome? In this story with our main character, Peter Brock, it certainly did. Growing up in a foreign country to very poor parents Peter was not ready for the ridicule he would face from the more well to do children when his family moved to America. Peter decided at a very young age that he would overcome all challenges and be a winner. Unfortunately for Peter his web of deceit and his plot for final victory would not turn out the way he hoped it would. Peter never factored in the cunning of others and so the story begins and ends.

I enjoyed this book. Our author definitely has a way of drawing the reader into the entire risky world of our main character. I found that even though Peter was a man who was cunning and deceptive, underneath he had a tenderness that he would not allow to show, yet you sensed there was more to Peter than meets the eye. The author brings this out and to me the ending was excellent, yet be it sad. This book keeps you rolling along with a tight story of one man who put it all on the line and fell by the wayside. Well done, a very good read.

Kill Dress
John Young
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road, Parker, CO 80134
9781432749675, $11.95, www.amazon.com

I wasn't sure about this book when I first received it and saw it was about a dress that kills, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. We meet five friends, five young woman who are living life to the fullest and there friendships run deep. They take a trip to Louisiana and there they meet a woman with a strange past. It seems her ancestors made cloths that seduced men and brought them to their knees. Of course the girls do not know this and when Kim sees a dress she is working on and the old woman offers to make her one, she quickly accepts not knowing the price she would pay. As the story progresses the dress changes the lives of these woman forever as death takes its toll and the survivors struggle to end the madness.

I have to say this book really did hold my attention. The author is a very good writer blending the characters together when there are so many is not easy to do. The story line moved along nicely and it was mysterious, creepy in a way, but definitely held your attention. It will definitely make you think twice before you allow just anyone to make you a dress. Good read!

Gifts of The Heart
Karen Boes Oman, Illustrated by: Marilyn Brown
Createspace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9780982571408 $11.95 www.createspace.com

The day before Christmas as Grandma and Grandpa travel along with their cars filled with their grandchildren's presents, the unthinkable happens. A storm hits the car and the gifts are scattered all over Mother Goose Land. As they begin their search for the presents they find something they didn't bargain for, the true gift of Christmas, the true meaning of love.

This is a beautiful book, the story is not one you would expect to read, not the norm, but takes you into a land where joy is found in unexpected places and brought through unexpected people. Your children will gasp and giggle, sigh and smile and be delighted at the wonderful ending of this tale. Illustrations are great, colorful and true to life. All in all a very nice book, wonderful story with a true message of the joy of love and top-notch illustrations. Recommended.

The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes To School
Laurie Anderson
Simon & Schuster Books
Avenue of the Americans, NY, NY 10020
9780689858093, $16.95, www.amazon.com

Inside this delightful tale we meet, Zoe. A young girl with one green eye and one blue eye, who has quite a head of red hair, hair that shares in many aspects of her life. Why her hair could turn on the TV, get Zoe a cookie and play on the computer all at one time, now that is some busy hair. Zoe loved her hair as did her parents and when she started school her teacher enjoyed her hair as well, but things were to change once she entered first-grade. After all, rules must be followed, how does Zoe make her hair acceptable to her teacher and fellow students? The adventure begins.
I loved the illustrations of this book. They are big, bold, colorful and fun, and you do not have to imagine how massive Zoe's hair is because it flows from page to page before your eyes. I felt that brought the story alive.

I'm not exactly sure if there is a lesson behind this story or just one that is plain fun, especially for a little girl to enjoy. Zoe and her first-grade teacher do come to a satisfying compromise concerning her unruly hair, but really, with this book the fun is just enjoying the antics of Zoe and her hair and enjoying the outstanding illustrations within. I liked this book, it was really cute, colorful and fun. Enjoy!

Maybe Yes, Maybe No, Maybe Maybe
Susan Patron
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americans, NY, NY 10020
9781416961765, $5.95, www.amazon.com

I am the mom of three children, and although they are grown with children of their own, I remember the turmoil that my middle child experienced. Similar to the children in this book, PK, Megan and Rabbit, my middle son also had to deal with a 'Gifted,' older brother and the cute little baby of the family. It wasn't always easy, and as you will find in this tale, it isn't always easy for PK, the star of our story, either.

As we read along, we find that Meagan, the oldest, is talented in many ways. She uses big words, and is able to achieve just about anything she puts her mind to. Megan is also 'almost' a teenager and she is beginning to change in ways that PK just doesn't understand, or like for that matter. And little Rabbit, well, she is the baby after all, so where does that leave PK? Everything is only intensified when mom decides they need to move. What else can go wrong?

We soon discover that PK indeed has a talent of her own, and it is that of storytelling. Why PK can tell a tale that will keep all interested from beginning to end, but PK must experience something's before she begins to uncover her own abilities and she realizes her world isn't as upside down as she feared.

I read this book to my granddaughter. At first we weren't sure where the author was going with the story, but it soon became clear. Our author, Susan Patron brings forth the turmoil PK is experiencing being the middle child. She does a nice job in identifying the feelings that a middle child experiences and often hides. I liked how she allowed PK to open up to her mother, who definitely gave her some wisdom.

If you have a middle child they will certainly identify with the story, and all your children will profit and hopefully be more understanding to each other by reading it.

Stressed in Scottsdale
Marcia Fine
L'Image Press LLC
6333 Daedalus Drive, Cicero, NY 13039
9780615315133, $14.95, www.amazon.com

Beginning this book I had a little bit of problems with it holding my attention, but wait, that soon was halted as I was plunged into the hectic and all too familiar life of, Jean Rubin. As I followed the happenings I actually at times felt she had been spying on my life and taking notes. Here is a woman who really wants to get it all together, she longs for less stress and more relaxation. Will she ever achieve her goal?

As the story rolls on and we meet her husband, mom, kids, grandkids, co-workers and friends we fully understand why she breaks down, now the problem, how to bring her back up. I found her husband endearing, although not really having a clue, her mom, well let's just say she was a mom, and her children are like so many thinking mom can do it all. You have to laugh, don't you? And of course we cannot leave out her zany friends, who although have Jean's welfare at heart, do not always take the time to stop and think. Crazy!

I loved some of the antics of her friends trying to help Jean out of her slump and help her to relax. My favorite part of the entire book is when her friends take her to loosen up and she has to do motions with her body that she doesn't do in the privacy of her own home. I laughed out loud, somehow remembering my own self in similar situations.

Listen, if you are stressed, and who isn't, this book is for you. You will, relate, have pity, get mad, and maybe be glad you are who you are instead of being Jean. I do promise you some laugh out loud moments in this read, and isn't that what life is all about. Very enjoyable!

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer


Taylor's Bookshelf

Voices Under Berlin
T.H.E. Hill
CreateSpace
704 East Side Drive, Bloomington, IN 47401
9781434839732, $14.95, www.amazon.com

The setting for this deftly written spy novel is divided city Berlin during the height of the 1950s Cold War. What sets "Voices Under Berlin" apart from so many others of similar venue is not just the focus on the American military linguistics resources and personnel, including cryptographers and intelligence analysts, but also the author's combining a genuine gift for humor with a deft literary astuteness in telling a story that fully engages the reader quite literally from first page to last. Simply stated, "Voices Under Berlin" is a terrifically entertaining 312-page read and an enthusiastically recommended addition to community library collections and personal leisure time reading lists.

The Other Side of the Jackie Robinson Story
"Big" Ed Stevens
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 East Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781607991120 $15.99 www.tatepublishing.com

The Other Side of the Jackie Robinson Story is the personal testimony of Ed Stevens, the first Major League Baseball player to be replaced by a black player (Jackie Robinson, the legendary and skilled sports hero who broke the color line in baseball). Why did the Brooklyn Dodgers choose to replace him? Stevens (who later played for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1948-1950, then worked as a major league scout for 29 years) offers an insightful testimony that only someone who was there in that place and time can give. An absolutely absorbing true-life story, offering a truly unique insight into one of the most fundamentally transformative events in sports history.

Are You There Where You Always Wanted To Be?
Anonymous with Mike Meier
Privately Published
No ISBN $TBA

Are You There Where You Always Wanted To Be? Get Everything You Want From Life Without Starting From Scratch is a candid, broad-ranging self-help book. Instead of simply pointing the reader in the right direction, like most self-help guides, the author explains in plain, no-nonsense terms the lessons he learned the hard way throughout his life. Are You There Where You Always Wanted To Be? disregards political correctness to cut to the heart of common problems and self-delusions people encounter during the course of their lives. From why plastic surgery will not improve absolutely anything in one's life, to the foolishness of trying to ignore or disregard the natural impulses from 50 millions years of evolution, to how a little music can make almost anything more enjoyable, to how any man can successfully attract women (put on a "song and dance" - play a little guitar for them or cook for them, express interest, and be willing to accept the risk of rejection and move on to the next prospect). A down-to-earth guide that doesn't pussyfoot around, Are You There Where You Always Wanted To Be? is a worthy and practical choice for anyone seeking solid advice and direction in their life.

Jackfruit
David EXN Nghiem
Booklocker.com
PO Box 2399, Bangor, ME 04402-2399
9781601459220, $18.95, www.davesnewadventure.com

On the ground, at a gradual pace, one can view the change of the world in a detail not available elsewhere. "Jackfruit: A Bicycle Quest Through Latin America" chronicles David Nghiem's travels as he takes his mountain bike and supplies and rides through the vast part of the world known as Latin America. As he goes through the jungles and cities, he sees the gradual change in culture and people, while facing the harshness of nature all along the way. "Jackfruit" is an exciting read, well worth picking up.

The 2 Keys To Business Success
Paul E. Anders
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432750947, $15.95, www.outskirtspress.com

What good is a consultant when you can't tell a good one from a bad one? "The 2 Keys to Business Success" is a business guide from Paul E. Anders emphasizing the importance of common sense in the business world, a resource that is all too scarce. With two simple tips that he hopes that managers will follow and be inspired by, "The 2 Keys to Business Success" is a read that business leaders should not miss, but embrace fully.

The Last Ute Chief
Les Davenport
AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449035730, $14.49, www.authorhouse.com

It takes a truly driven individual to defend a country who hates him. "The Last Ute Chief" tells the story of a United States Ranger serving during the Vietnam War. Boyd Barfoot, an Ute American Indian, fights through discrimination to earn the respect and adoration of his peers and the encounters he finds during his time at war. "The Last Ute Chief" is an insightful read that will prove highly entertaining.

Deserted Ocean
Norman Holy
AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781438964935, $19.99, www.authorhouse.com

The ocean is a highly valuable resource that must be used well. "Deserted Ocean: A Social History of Depletion" discusses the decline of the oceans as a resource for humanity as it's being overused and depleted at a rapid rate. Norman Holy states there needs to be serious government policy change to keep the ocean from withering, and states how it can be done. "Deserted Ocean" is a choice pick for those who are concerned about the health of the oceans.

John Taylor
Reviewer


Vogel's Bookshelf

A Personal Journey into the Quantum World
Jean Paul Corriveau
iUniverse
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440148255, $36.95, www.iuniverse.com

The very nature of the universe is the ultimate discussion for many scientists. "A Personal Journey into the Quantum World: God's Silent World" is Jean Paul Corriveau's personal scientific discussion of the universe, offering his own opinion on the foundation of it all and how it blends into the world of science, technology, religion, and what lies ahead for humanity on a personal and big picture level. Full of intriguing thoughts and ideas, "A Personal Journey into the Quantum World" is a fascinating and highly recommended read.

Coppola
Chris Coppola
NTI Upstream
180 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 700, Chicago, IL 60601
Smith Publicity (publicity)
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9780984053117, $24.99, www.ntiupstream.com

The nightmare never ends for a pediatrician in war. "Coppola: A Pediatric Surgeon in Iraq" delves into the tale of Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Chris Coppola, a war surgeon who with a defiant act of kindness, finds himself in a parade of tragedy from critically injured Iraqi children. Through his works, he gains reputation throughout Iraq as a healer, and here he tells his story of working in harsh conditions for a greater good. "Coppola" is a riveting, and dually depressing and uplifting read, highly recommended.

Family Power...
Ed Hollenberg
AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449059262, $22.99, www.authorhouse.com

A good family is worth more than anything else. "Family Power...: Managing the Challenges: With Words I never Learned in Any School" is Dr. Ed Hollenburg's argument for the power of family as a support system. Describing what a family could and should do to work together, discussing topics such as creativity, working out family conflicts, the importance of compassion and choice, Dr. Ed Hollenberg gives much food for thought. "Family Power..." is a must for anyone who wants to empower their family.

Sex, Lies, & Spinnakers
Steve Van Slyke
CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9780982554906, $18.99

The drive for justice can trump a lack of experience. "Sex, Lies, & Spinnakers" tells the story of Vivian and Mitch as the novice sailors find their mentors murdered. The blame is placed on fishermen, which seems all well and good until they realize they are innocent men. Faced with a huge ocean to pursue over, "Sex, Lies, & Spinnakers" is a thrilling drama that many readers will love.

Metafizzical Essays and Others
Nicholas Hancock
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432749224, $19.95, www.outskirtspress.com

There's much to be learned when you don't intend to learn anything. "Metafizzical Essays and Others" is a collection of essays from Nicholas Hancock, as he gives readers a piece of his mind, something he states isn't all that useful. A teacher by trade, he aims for this book to not do any of that, and provides much in the way of humor, and unintended wisdom. "Metafizzical Essays and Others" is an entertaining and top pick for readers.

Paul T. Vogel
Reviewer


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Editor-in-Chief
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