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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 10, Number 4 April 2011 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

Thanks to One of My Favorite Teachers
John Morrissey
Reachable Stars Press
PO Box 540851, Omaha, NE 68154
Concierge Marketing (publicity)
13518 L Street, Omaha, NE 68137
9780982721117, $22.95,

Good teachers inspire great students. "Thanks to One of My Favorite Teachers" is a collection of thoughts and stories from many writers as they offer their own musings and thoughts on the teachers who empowered them to do far and above what's asked of them and made a difference in their lives. A collection of stories of friendship, mentors, and the importance of the teacher, "Thanks to One of My Favorite Teachers" is a thoughtful read that shouldn't be overlooked for any memoir collection, or collection focusing on the importance of education.

Vietnam Stories: Dreams to Nightmares
Ted Pannell
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 East Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781616638207 $12.99

Vietnam veteran Ted Pannell presents Vietnam Stories: Dreams to Nightmares, an anthology of his true-life experiences during the course of his service. From the fresh-faced high spirits of boot camp, to the gruesome realities of the battlefield, the cold homecoming that soldiers received at the close of the war, and his personal struggles with PTSD, Vietnam Stories encompasses pain, miracles, tragedies, and horror. A vividly unforgettable anthology, highly recommended.

The Stained Glass Window
Molly Malvern Painter
Jesus Without the Junk
Tate Publishing
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781616636852, $23.99,

Faith channels people through the worst times of their lives. "The Stained Glass Window" is a spiritual memoir from Molly Painter, as she states how Christ led her out of her despair and into a better life for herself and her daughter. A moving story of clawing out of nothingness, "The Stained Glass Window" has a charm that will resonate strongly with many religious readers.

Becoming Flame
Isabel Anders
WIPF and Stock Publishers
c/o Leona Literary Agency, Inc.
PO Box 835, Highland Park, IL 60035-0835
9781608992669, $10.00,

The union of mother and daughter is the way to keep wisdom strong for generations. "Becoming Flame: Uncommon Mother-Daughter Wisdom" is a collection of simple thought and wisdom from Isabel Anders, sharing the wisdom that should be passed from am other to a daughter to know for the generations to come, on motherhood, on womanhood, on life. "Becoming Flame" is a thoughtful read, and a solid addition to any Christian spirituality collection.

The Elite Idolaters
David E. Bloch
Privately Published
9780982435212, $17.76

The availability of information is an important aspect in today's America. "The Elite Idolaters: A Real Michigan FOIA Case" is David E. Bloch's own encounter with the law as he sought information from a Michigan school district's records and found himself denied. Stating his case, he presents it and urges readers to better understand the FOIA laws. "The Elite Idolaters" is a curiosity of law, a choice pick for those who find interest in law analysis.

Ed Pilolla
Eddie P Press
c/o CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781456471408, $9.99

Love always proves quite the inspiration. "Dragonfly: A Book of Love Letters" is a collection of poetry in the form of letters from Ed Pilolla who speaks plainly and clearly on what love has given him and what he'd do for it. Fun and poignant, "Dragonfly" is solidly recommended verse. "The Lake": I have walked this neck of the woods before, years ago. I know this neck/of the woods and the mighty silver lake tucked deep within the green./This lake, as the heat of summer winds down, is more beautiful than ever.//I love this lake. It makes magic. This lake loves me. This lake allowed me to walk on the surface of her water to the center of her blue lagoon, where/I plunged in.//And came out baptized.

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

Vested Interest
Scott Hazlewood
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449029104, $20.49,

Cancer is too slow a killer. "Vested Interest" is a mystery following Lynn Wilson as she tries to find the secrets that her uncle so fervently guarded with his life. With no one to turn to, she goes blind into the world of international espionage and finds that the ones who killed her cancer suffering uncle may be going after her next to silence something for good. "Vested Interesting" is fun and riveting, and highly recommended.

Three Bodies Burning
Brian Bogdanoff
1161 Press
c/o Concierge Marketing (publicity)
13518 L Street, Omaha, NE 68137
9780983129813, $19.95,

The fangs of the Mexican cartels penetrate deeply into America's cities. "Three Bodies Burning: The Anatomy of an Investigation Into Murder, Money, and Mexican Marijuana" traces a case where three individuals turned up dead and burning as a Mexican marijuana cartel strikes deep into the Midwest and shakes up the city. A book of a true event, Brian Bogdanoff covers this case that reads like something right off a crime drama. "Three Bodies Burning" is an excellent pick and very highly recommended.

Dream Baby
Bruce Mcallister
Privately Published
9781453880937, $16.50

Nothing is more terrifying than tragedy you know of yet cannot stop. "Dream Baby" tells the story of Mary Damico, an Army Nurse who dreams the death of soldiers before they happen and is torn by her inability to do anything. When the chance to act on her psychic talents presents itself, she doesn't hesitate much for the chance to save these lives. "Dream Baby" is an exciting blend of war and science fiction, highly recommended.

A Few Yards Shy of Heaven
Kevin Giffin
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452047003, $17.99,

When the world around you falls apart, inspiration can come in what unites us. "A Few Yards Shy of Heaven" tells the story of the struggling town of South Heaven, as businesses seem to fail and no end in the downturn in sight. But as their football team starts to flourish, they find the hope to live heir lives and unite behind them. A charming story of the power of sports in uniting people, "A Few Yards Shy of Heaven" is a strongly recommended novel.

Black Widow and the Sandman
L. L. Reaper
Hourglass Unlimited
9780982967300, $14.95,

As genocide looms, hope may come in what you believe to be the enemy. "Black Widow and the Sandman" follows Roman Tate, a mercenary called the Sandman, as he protects Cuba's only hope against a deadly biological weapon, an American scientist Jeanette Mason. A riveting novel of action, adventure and terrorism, "Black Widow and the Sandman" is a fun read that will be hard to pit down.

The Odd Tales of an Old Man
Edward P. Cardillo
Privately Published
9780557570768, $18.99,

The truth behind the fiction is often splattered with a bit of truth and fiction. "The Odd Tales of an Old Man" tells the meeting of one Connor Enright as he meets with his estranged father and finds that his stories are ones that intrigue Connor, if only to trying to figure out the meaning behind all of his old man's stories and gaining some understanding of his father and where he came from. "The Odd Tales of an Old Man" is a fascinating read of facing the past, recommended.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

A Time To...
Ronald Louis Peterson
Privately Published
9781453632451, $18.95

Thousands of deaths makes it easy not to see the individual stories within those thousands. "A Time To... A Baby Boomer's Spiritual Adventures" is a novel powered by memoir as Ronald Louis Peterson tells the story of an individual who embraced the second half the twentieth century and found spirituality and life through it all, before facing the tragedy of 9/11. "A Time To..." is a thoughtful read, recommended.

Broken Eyes, Unbroken Spirit
David Meador
Privately Published
9780982965207, $16.95,

You don't need to see the ball go into the hole to get it into the hole. "Broken Eyes, Unbroken Spirit: The Story of a National Blind Golf Champion" tells David Meador's story of how he became a golf champion in spite of an accident blinding him in adulthood and how even though he couldn't see them, he met the many challenges of his life head on. "Broken Eyes, Unbroken Spirit" is a remarkable read and very highly recommended.

Mark Penn Goes to War
Michael Springer
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432762780, $15.95,

During warfare, deception lies everywhere. "Mark Penn Goes to War" is a novel set during World War II as young Mark Penn, a twelve year old, finds himself at ends with a Nazi plot that could be unfolding in his hometown of Middleton, Minnesota, as he hopes to find the truth surrounding suspected Nazis and a Japanese American Family that has moved into town. "Mark Penn Goes to War" is a fun read that should be hard to put down.

Engage, Commit, Grow!
Larry Smith
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432763206, $24.95,

Success is something contagious and you want it to spread. "Engage, Commit, Grow!: How to Create and Sustain a Culture of High Performance" is a business advisory book from Larry Smith as he encourages business leaders to gain an understanding of how to create an environment that fosters success in all of its employees, drawing upon his quarter century of experience with good leadership. "Engage, Commit, Grow!" is a thoughtful business guide and should prove very highly recommended reading.

21st Century Great Global Depression
Orest Andre Harrison
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432758073, $24.95,

What does the future hold in today's unstable economic world. "21st Century Great Global Depression" discusses the future of the economic crisis and its effects on the prosperity of America and the world as a whole. Offerings his own thoughts and opinions, he provides many thoughts on the topic and proves to be thoughtful and entertaining. "21st Century Great Global Depression" is a top pick for any looking for opinions on the modern and future economic turmoil.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Death Troupe
Vincent H. O'Neil
Privately Published
9781456558581, $11.00

It's quite annoying when fiction becomes reality. More so when your fiction is murder. "Death Troupe" follows the theatre group known as the Jerome Barron players who have earned the nickname Death Troupe, surrounding their practice of doing murder mystery plays. But when their writer turns up dead, it all gets the more complicated as they have a murder mystery in reality for themselves to play out. With plenty of intrigue and betrayal, "Death Troupe" is a fun and highly recommended read, not to be missed.

Best Lesbian Romance
Radclyffe, editor
Cleis Press
2246 Sixth St., Berkeley, CA 94710
9781573444279, $14.95,

Through love's complexity, there is something only the mind and touch of a woman can answer. "Best Lesbian Romance 2011" is a collection of romance stories surrounding the lesbian relationship from many of today's great contemporary romance writers. These stories take on the many avenues of love as they discuss falling in love, the turbulence, the loss, painting a vivid picture of life's challenges. "Best Lesbian Romance 2011" is a strongly recommended pick for those with a taste for the fairer sex as the fairer sex.

First Day to Finals
Brittany Camp
Privately Published
9780984073115, $12.95

High school is a crash course of hormones and preparing for the rest of one's life. "First Day to Finals: A Guide to Surviving High School" is an advisory guide for those facing the harshest of challenges of high school and surviving the worst of them well. With plenty of advice for doing well without losing your mind, "First Day to Finals" is full of good advice, highly recommended.

1001 Deadly Checkmates
John Nunn
9781906454258, $24.95,

The executing move is what all games build to, and strategy aims for this moment. "1001 Deadly Checkmates: Solve the Puzzles and Measure Your Skill!" is a guide to getting to that all elusive checkmate. Grandmaster John Nunn lends his long expertise with the game and seeks to guild players through situations and plenty of ideas on how to win their match even when all seems lost. "1001 Deadly Checkmates" is a must for anyone looking to hone their chess game.

The Pursuit of a King
Candace Christine Little
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73065-4421
9781615669585, $16.99,

What does it mean to be a king? "The Pursuit of a King" tells the story of Artemerio and Barto as they embark on a journey through their land to learn what is needed to be a good king. They learn much as they must rescue those in need and face off against those who would harm them. With the power of cake at their hands, "The Pursuit of a King" will prove a very entertaining and highly recommended read, not to be missed.

Laura Butler
Tate Publishing
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781615667871, $16.99,

Different from all around them, they are feared, and treated as subhuman. "Cellies" tells the story of a new mutation of humanity, leaving them with superhuman abilities. Monica lives in fear of those who would want to control them, not knowing freedom as their evolution and mutation is quarantined, disallowed to live opening or without fear. A thoughtful spin on the new mutation of Humanity, "Cellies" is a very highly recommended read.

The Nightmare Before Jesus
Sonya S. Molina
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432765040, $17.95,

When the world is awful to you, it can sometimes be hard to remember there is something there for you. "The Nightmare Before Jesus" is an inspirational faith memoir from Sonya Molina as she recalls her own sexual abuse and how finding faith gave her the strength to fight on even when it looks like there was no future but pain for her. Simple and driven wisdom, "The Nightmare Before Jesus" speaks well to those in need of spiritual guidance in their lives.

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

Magic on the Hunt
Devon Monk
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451463913 $7.99

Having done the impossible when they escaped death's realm through the gate (see Magic at the Gate) lovers Allie Beckstrom and Zayvion Jones desperately need some R&R. However, being back in Portland does not denote safe recuperation. Instead Authority leader Sedra's top assistant Dane Lanister arrives with weapons aimed to kill.

He threatens killing Jones and tearing Allie apart limb by limb until she informs him where Jingo Jingo took the kidnapped Sedra as he believes her father's consciousness inside of Allie's brain will know. At the same time, Dane threatens torture and death, magic practitioner Leander escaped from death's realm, but needs a body to host his essence and believes he has found one in a prisoner locked in the Authority's jail. No time for the weary as Beckstrom and Jones must find Sedra and prevent Leander from causing hell to come to Portland.

The sixth Magic urban fantasy is a superb tale that has the heroic duet running around trying to prevent two disasters from occurring. Without Sedra, the Authority Council will not just fall apart, but will fight for control. Leander poses a different but as dire a threat at a time when the Council is internally headless. Readers will enjoy trekking the streets of Portland with Beckstrom and Jones who believe they must have brought a bit of death back with them.

Shady Lady
Ann Aguirre
9780451463258 $7.99

Corine Solomon has the parapsychological skill of touching an object and learning its past. Following the Kilmer, Georgia visit home fiasco (See Hell Fire), Corine is euphoric to be back at her pawnshop in Mexico. She is about to touch the salt half of a salt and pepper shaker starring Eros and Psyche respectively. However, Kel Ferguson, who seemingly can't be killed, enters her store and tells her not to touch Eros as it is hexed. Drug lord Montoya sent her the cursed object that would have killed her if Kel Ferguson had not intervened.

Corine knows that once again she owes her life to God's Hand as this warrior, who believes if the Lord had given him the assignment he would have prevented the Holocaust, explains he is to protect her but must not interfere with free will. Corine wonders how much celestial debt she owes between Kel and Maury the demon who saved her soul. Kel explains Montoya is coming for her with everything in his arsenal, which includes warlocks and voodoo practitioners while she and the three males (Kel, Chance and Jesse) in her life must fight back to keep her loved ones safe.

The latest Solomon urban fantasy (See Blue Diablo) is a fabulous action-packed thriller that hooks grateful (except for the lack of sleep) sub-genre fans from the moment Kel rushes into Corine's store and never slows down until the final confrontation with the Montoya mob of hit men and magical mobsters. Fast-paced, readers will fully enjoy Corine becoming mob enemy numero uno when all she wants is to go back to being a touchy feely proprietor.

Michael Baron
The Story Plant
c/o Perseus Distribution
387 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016
9781611880052, $16.95,

Twenty-nine years old Manhattan Mason, Brand and Partners executive Dylan Hunter seems to have everything. Women want him; his apartment is the best in New York; his work has made him the top gun and kept his plan to retire at forty viable. A friend of his Billie works at the same firm. She is the female Dylan, but because she is a woman society considers her a ruthless bitch who is ambitious and aggressive while applauding Dylan for the same tactics.

Dylan's former girlfriend from his Chicago days a century ago, Diane has arrived accompanied by her three years old daughter Spring. She explains he is all she knows in the Big Apple as she plans to start anew. Diane asks if they can stay at his place for now; even he cannot understand why he said yes. Spring turns his life around as she draws on his perfectly painted walls, introduces him to the animals at the zoo and dines on a gourmet macaroni and tofu with cheese. When an accident occurs, Dylan continues to care for Spring by allowing some of the plates he spins in his previous hedonistic life to crash. He enjoys every minute with her; as does Billie, but knows the court will soon intervene.

This is an enjoyable extended family drama as Dylan and Billie learn what life is all about from a precocious (perhaps too precocious) little girl. The cast is solid especially the lead trio, but also those at the office, his best friend Jimbo and case worker Mrs. Eckleberg. Readers will enjoy this poignant tale as Michael Baron provides a deep message that to lead a fulfilling life, one must spin various plates including the care and nurturing of others.

The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black
Eden Unger Bowditch
Bancroft Press
PO Box 65360, Baltimore, MD 21209
9781610880022, $19.95,

In 1903, the Mysterious Men in Black take five highly intelligent children, offspring of the world's leading scientists, to Sole Manner Farm in Dayton, Ohio. Their parents have been taken also to a separate locale. Twelve year old Jasper and his six year old sister Lucy come from London; nine year old African-American Wallace is taken in New York; twelve year old Noah arrives from Toronto; and thirteen year old Faye is from India. Their schoolteacher Miss Brett provides her five wards with nurturing, but admits she does not know why they were abducted.

At the farm each is frightened while also feeling abandoned by their parents though logically they tell one another their parents were abducted too, which in turn embellishes their fears. They share hypothesis as to who the Mysterious Men in Black are and why they guard them in an outdoor prison; as they protect them but from what as their jailers could have killed them if that was their mission. The five children also wonder and fear what happened to their parents.

With a nod to Patrick Mcgoohan's 1960s TV show The Prisoner, readers of all ages, though middle school children are the targeted audience, will appreciate this suspense thriller. The children make the tale work as each has their own skills and flaws, which in conjunction with the others; make them real and their traumatic predicament seem plausible. Although the descriptors of the Mysterious Men in Black is the only dumbing down element as the young adult readers will get the first time, fans will feel they are in Ohio wondering what The Atomic Weight of Secrets is.

Bit Player
Janet Dawson
Perseverance Press
c/o Daniel & Daniel, Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781564744944, $14.95,

Oakland based private investigator Jeri Howard is in the Classic Hollywood Memorabilia shop Matinee to buy items from films her grandma was in as a bit player. The cashier overhears Jeri chatting with her friend Cassie about her relative and asks Jeri who her grandma was. She tells him her late relative was Jerusha Layne; he tells her the police questioned her grandmother about Robert Tarrant's murder, implying Jerusa was romantically involved with the victim and was considered a serious suspect.

Jeri vows to dig into 1942 Hollywood when her grandma lived in a cottage with three female bit players. From letters her grandma saved, Jeri affirms Tarrant was killed with a fire set to conceal the murder. One of Jerusha's roommates was Tarrant's lover and was also killed. Chaz the owner of Matinee and his employee Henry Calhoun go to the home of Mrs Cook to buy the Joan Crawford collection. She declines their offers so they continue on to the home of Mike Strickland to attempt to purchase his Hitchcock collection. He also refuses. Not long afterward, both are dead. The murders in Hollywood decades ago and the two in the present somehow are linked, but for Jeri to find the connecting points mean traveling a labyrinth in which each corner is deadly.

The first Jeri Howard private investigator tale in years (see A Killing at the Track) is a totally terrific mystery that hooks the present to the "Golden Age of Hollywood. Jeri begins her inquiry by reading letters from various sources. She seeks interviews with those still alive as the original homicides are tundra cold after almost seven decades have passed; thus making the case that much more complex as the survivors have faulty memories (not even considering they would be octogenarians and nonagenarians) of what happened in 1942. Janet Dawson provides a wonderful whodunit as Jeri realistically works the investigation.

Shadows of a Down East Summer
Lea Wait
9781564744975 $14.95

In Weymouth, Maine, Great Aunt Nettie introduces her nephew Will Brewer and his girlfriend antiques expert Maggie Summer to Carolyn Chase, daughter of the artist Helen Chase. Carolyn read a published article that Maggie, a professor of American Studies, wrote on Winslow Homer. They look at the extended family tree as Carolyn explains she would like Maggie's help with research on a bio she is writing about her late mom.

The next day Caroline tells the Weymouth Historical Society members and guests Will and Maggie that her Aunt Susan, who just died, gave her a trunk of documents from the late nineteenth century that said their ancestor killed his wife for cheating on him before committing suicide. Before she can bury her aunt, someone murders Caroline. Maggie calls the police and Detective Strait answers the call. While he investigates the homicide, Maggie looks back to what happened in 1890 that she believes led to the present murder. She begins to look closely at the relationship between Homer and two women who posed for him; while knowing she could be next.

This entertaining Antique Print regional cozy (see Shadows on the Coast of Maine) looks deeply into the late nineteenth century art world in Maine. The cast is fully developed and the whodunit fun, but it is the glimpse into Winslow Homer and his era's art that makes for a delightful amateur sleuth.

The Dog Sox
Russell Hill
Pleasure Boat Studio
201 West 89 Street, New York, NY 10024
9781929355747, $14.95,

California building contractor Ray Adams bought a baseball team, which he named the Knights Landing Dog Sox. He gave the team as a gift to his girlfriend attorney Ava Bell. Most of the players play for free while a few are compensated. The star is hurler Billy Collins who has an arm that most pitchers would kill to possesses.

He is winning games at an incredible rate when abruptly his fortune changes when his abusive drunken father locates Billy. As long as Bucky is kept away from Billy, the star can be a successful closer working the last three innings. Dutch the team manager believes Billy is his ticket to the big leagues as long as dearest dad can be dealt with. He has people he knows that can neutralize Bucky, but nothing seems to prevent the abuser from coming around. When Billy vanishes, Ava searches for him to try to persuade him to let go of his patriarchal hurts.

On the surface The Dog Sox is about a baseball team consisting of diverse people from all types of life. However, Billy the innocent is the prime focus on the entreating sports drama as he has the talent to bet one of the best, but only if he can mentally rid himself of the demons brought forth by his father. Dutch speaks in Yiddish idioms as he makes a team out of individuals. With a nod to the movie Pat and Mike starring Tracy-Hepburn, Russell Hill provides a strong look at what could be That Championship Season.

Hide And Seek
Allie Harrison
ImaJinn Books
PO Box 74274, Phoenix, AZ 85087-1004
9781933417493, $14.00,

Ten years old, Tess Fairmont tells her mama she needs to say goodbye to her beloved Grandmama who died suddenly. Tess reaches into the casket to hold Grandmama's hand one last time, but sees something horrible: her Uncle John suffocating Grandmama with a pillow to obtain her money. Shaken, Tess witnessed first hand the violent crime.

Although her psychic skill feels more like a curse than a gift, over the next eighteen years Tess uses it to help solve homicide cases. Chicago PD Detective Jake Williams meets Tess at the morgue where she loathes touching the dead but loves knowing Dr. Michael Adams is there. Tess dreams of Michael kissing her and he muses over what she would see if she touched a live person falling in love with her. Tess touches the twenty-something tortured victim and sees five females in the room with Raymond whose face fails to come in clearly as the deceased never looked at him in her final moments. However, this time for Tess is different as she feels the actual pain. Turning to the pathologist for comfort while trying to cling to her façade of No Fear, Tess knows Raymond will continue to kill.

Hide And Seek is an enjoyable paranormal police procedural with a supporting romantic subplot. The key to this entertaining serial killer urban fantasy is that Tess's psychic ability seems real as a critical element in to the deadly game of Hide And Seek. Michael is supportive and protective of her while he and Jake never call a body "it" as each knows someone probably cares for the late human being, but even if no one did the victim deserves respect. Allie Harrison writes a compassionate psychic mystery.

An Eye for Glory
Karl Bacon
Zondervan Publishing House
5300 Patterson Avenue, S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310322023, $16.99,

Although he loathed leaving his beloved wife Jesse Ann and their children back in Connecticut, Michael Palmer heeds the call of President Lincoln and enlists in 1862. However, he quickly finds himself detesting the deaths of friends and the incompetent leadership of the political hacks in charge of the soldiers who sit in the rear sending people to their death without a thought. Still he vows to do his duty even as his anger at the killings of his comrades has him thirsty for the slaying of Confederate soldiers.

At Gettysburg, Michael keeps score of those he shoots until a dying enemy holds aloft his family bible. Michael is stunned as realizes he had demonized the foe, but like him they have families praying for their return. After he helps the soldier with his final dying breaths by reading scripture to him, Michael takes the bible with him. When the war ends, he tells his Jesse Ann what he did to Mr. Augustus Wyatt of North Carolina. She persuades him to find the soldier's widow in order to return to her the bible and pray she forgives his shattered soul.

"An Eye for Glory: The Civil War Chronicles of a Citizen Soldier" is an excellent historical tale with an insightful look at the 14th Connecticut Infantry through the eyes of Michael, who became immune to the death of the enemy as he no longer saw them as God's flock. He also loses his faith in the Lord with the deaths of his comrades. Bloody as the battlefields were and still are, the aftermath of combat in the survivors grips readers. Perhaps those who use the war card as a first option should peruse An Eye for Glory to comprehend first hand the true cost to God's children.

Home Made Haunting
Rob Stennett
9780310321927 $14.99

After years of teaching high school English, Charlie Walker, with his wife Rachel's consent, quits. They sell their house in Boulder and accompanied by their kids move into a run down rental in Castle Rock. Charlie plans to write a horror novel. His first few chapters come quickly, but the next few fail to gel.

He realizes that like a method actor, he needs to feel first hand his subject that he knows nothing about. An atheist when it comes to the paranormal, Charlie buys an Ouija board not expecting anything to occur. Thus he is shocked when it works as he writes the next few passages. When Charlie hits another wall, he turns to the board again. He soon sees writings on the mirror in his bathroom. When he shouts out asking if anyone else is here, Rachel is thrilled to be living in a haunted house and delves onto the supernatural more deeply. He tries to stop, but the Dark has come and taken over his family. With a guardian angel at his back and a demon at his soul, the war between heaven and hell has brought the latest combat to a run down rental in Castle Rock.

The engaging story line switches in tone from humorous to poignant to frightening as immortal combat has come to disbelieving Charlie who never forgave God for ignoring his prayers to save his mom. It is only when he realizes that evil has attacked his loved ones, like soldiers in a foxhole, he turns to the Lord asking for a saving miracle for those he cherishes above his own soul. Rob Stennett provides a powerful inspirational thriller as heaven and hell fight over battlefield Homo sapiens.

To The Galactic Rim
Bertram Chandler
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781439134214, $12.00,

The Road to the Rim. Recently graduated Federation Junior Lieutenant John Grimes begins his career amidst the Rim Worlds. He plans to follow orders so he can advance. However, John learns the best laid plans of mice and Grimes often go astray when a beautiful damsel in distress is involved while he is directed to ignore the Waldegrenese Navy piracy.

To Prime the Pump. On El Dorado, men have become infertile though the reason is unknown. The women demand action, preferably of a sexual encounter. The Space Cruiser Ares arrives to provide humanitarian aid to this race that has gone from near immortality to near extinction. With Lieutenant Grimes and his horny naval mates on a mercy mission all is not lost.

The Hard Way Up. These seven short stories ("With Good Intentions", "The Subtracter", "The Tin Messiah", "The Sleeping Beauty", "The Wandering Buoy", "The Mountain Movers" and "What You Know") continue the maturing of John Grimes. The hero matures as he ignores orders from a distant bureaucrat who has no idea how to survive and complete the appropriate mission on the Galactic Rim.

The Broken Cycle. Grimes and police officer Una Freeman are lost in space. He is unconcerned as she is pretty; but she is frantic as she has a job to perform. Both are surprised to meet an essence claiming to be God and insisting the couple populate the Garden of Eden. Though he wants some R&R with Freeman, he is unprepared to battle serpents in a convoluted and complicated universe.

These are entertaining reprints of three novels and seven short stories from the 1960s and 1970s. Though aptly labeled as a Captain Horatio Hornblower sailing the Galactic Rim, Grimes is also a swashbuckling James Bond in space.

So Much Pretty
Cara Hoffman
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781451616750, $25.00,

In Haeden, New York, Wendy White was a cocktail waitress at a local bar and happy with having her first boyfriend. When she vanished, local law enforcement investigated but never solved her disappearance. The case remains cold while her family grieves their loss. Five months later Wendy's corpse is found.

Cleveland reporter Stacy Flynn had been in Haeden looking into the impact of the prime employer a dairy on the environment and a high number of deaths. When Wendy's body is found the journalist believes she has a bigger story. However, no one in the small town will talk to her except to insist an outsider is the killer.

Her parents moved with teenage Alice Piper from New York City to Haeden to provide a healthier lifestyle for their offspring. A genius with an upbeat confidence that the locals consider city swagger, she reads the Ohio reporter's article in the Haeden Free Press on the stratospheric amounts of deadly violence against women. Unable to keep her head in the sands as the natives have done, Alice considers who the killing wolf amidst the sheep is. Even when another brutal crime occurs, the locals are severely shaken but still prefer to believe a stranger committed it.

This engaging crime thriller looks deeply at cause and effect as the horrific act begets an equally horrific reaction. Once the plot stops switching between 1997-98 and 2007-08-09 (a few chapters in) the story line settles takes off on an exciting dark psychological path. Alice and Stacy separately dig deep into the façade of a safe small-town, whose residents blame a mystical stranger for any acts of violence. Readers will appreciate Cara Hoffman's profound look at a small western New York town through the eyes of two intrepid outsiders.

I'll Walk Alone
Mary Higgins Clark
Simon and Schuster
9781439180969 $25.99

When Matthew was three years old, he was abducted while his babysitter who was ill fell into a deep sleep. His mother up and coming interior designer Alexandra "Zan" Moreland was devastated and spent all her energy and her money on private investigators and psychics. She believes her former employer and business rival arranged the kidnapping. Zan threw herself into her work so she wouldn't think about all the bad things that could have happened to son.

As Matthew's fifth birthday nears, Zan's life spins out of control. Someone has hacked into her accounts, used her cards to charge big cost items and seems to be taking over her identity. Pictures surface that show Zan taking Matthew from his carriage; her friends think she killed her son. She knows she is innocent, but people are slow to believe her that someone impersonated her. Apparently the kidnapper wants her dead preferably by her owns hands.

Mary Higgins Clark is the queen of suspense as her thrillers remain fresh. Her latest tale contains realistically portrayed characters especially Zan as a beleaguered heroine who feels unbearable pressure, but refuses to break as she still has fading hopes that Matthew will one day return to her. Fans will feel for her while wondering who the villain is including considering she might be Harry Kellerman.

When We Were Friends
Elizabeth Joy Arnold
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780553592528, $15.00,

Lainey and Sydney met as seven years old students in Newport News. They became best friends until high school when Sydney tormented Lainey. Eighteen years later, Lainey an artist and Sydney a saleswoman at Six of Swords Occult shop, meet. Sydney mentions her marriage to David McGrath is over. Lainey wants nothing to do with Sydney.

Over a week later, Lainey finds a bruised Sidney and her baby Jacqueline with her mom. Sydney fears for her baby if David gains custody of her as he burned Jacqueline on the back of her neck. She persuades Lainey to watch Jacqueline as she talks with David. Lainey tells her mom they will keep Jacqueline safe. Lainey is stunned when she sees an Amber Alert on TV with Sydney and David pleading for the return of their baby.

Lainey decides to chance prison to keep the infant safe from her abusive father. They drive to West Virginia where her car breaks down. Alex Connor rescues them. He is heading home to New Hampshire after attending a funeral. Her mom tells her to flee because Sydney was caught by the cops in a damaging lie. Lainey concludes once again Sydney loves herself more than anyone even her daughter.

The cast is fully developed with flawed characters, but though the story line is held together by Lainey, Sydney as the great manipulator owns the plot while the actions of the two former BFFs are over the top of Mt. Washington. A late but expected twist ties the tale together too smoothly in spite of a coda. Readers who ignore plausibility will enjoy this exciting thriller that asks how far you will go for a friend.

Reading Lips
Claudia Sternbach
Unbridled Books
2000 Wadsworth Boulevard, #195, Lakewood, CO 80214
9781609530372, $14.95,

The essays are somewhat related by the memoirs of kissing connections, but in fact more tied together by relationships. Using herself over the course of her life as the focus of her links with others, the fascination is how the other kisser relates to the author and why the kiss as types varied based on relational roles. A person stars in one essay, disappears for several decades only to finally reappear in a later entry. Subjects explored include a wide range of people as Ms. Sternbach discusses BFFs forever and not, her parents, three husbands, and her twin sisters. The birth of her daughter (spouse three) leads to serial kissing and the Lost Photos remind the writer of kisses before and after cancer surgery. Other topics include the kiss that never was adolescent 'puppy" love that is a precocious contribution that later turns melancholy, the Hard Landing kiss from mom to ease the pain of a broken arm birthday bashes, summer camp, marriage and divorce. Some of contributions delve into taboo topics like rape and death, but there will always be a Teddy K willing to take a Second Chance kiss.

All of the degrees of separation are intense yet amusing, profound but also sarcastic especially when the author affectionately and humorously discusses her younger siblings. Readers will appreciate this fine relationship memoir as Ms. Sternbach earns a mental kiss from me for this charming collection.

The Serial Killer's Daughter
Heywood Gould
Nightbird Publishing
P.O. Box 159, Norcross, Georgia 30091
9780981951258, $25.00,

College senior Peter Vogel is majoring in English. He is an intellectual nerd with no friends; the loner finds women ignore him like he has a disease so he fantasizes about females with his vivid imagination. Thus he is shocked when student Hannah Seeley asks him to write her papers so she can graduate as women never talk to him even for a favor. Since she has no money to pay him, Hannah offers him sex. He accepts her deal and writes a paper in which she receives an "A". After the promised tryst, she vanishes from his life without even a good-bye

Peter goes to Houston to earn his Masters. Hannah reenters his life insisting people are after her. A policeman investigates her claim and tells Peter Hannah is the daughter of Anoly Sweeney known as the Robbingate Killer who murdered eleven times, but now is in prison in the Pacific Northwest. The townsfolk of Robbingate are angry at Hannah because she the sole person her father loved. Many of the townsfolk have the means to hire a professional killer to murder her. Though she hurt him, Peter decides to protect her from a town without pity and dicover who is really trying to kill her.

Heywood Gould has written an exciting crime thriller that looks deeply into the various masks people wear and change to hide their peculiarities and what they consider a fault. Peter is the only person who is guileless so that what you see is what you get. Peter obviously cares about Hannah as he tries to help her in spite of her hurting him though that means he needs to relook his values. Readers will understand that even serial killers have families who are victims of their insanity too as Mr. Gould allows fans to see up close how the Serial killer's Daughter survives the whisperers about her heritage.

Sisters of Fortune
Jehanne Wake
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9780982792827, $27.00,

Affluent Maryland planter Charles Carroll signed the declaration of Independence as the only Catholic to do so. Two score and one decade after he signed, three of his granddaughters (Marianne, Bess, Louisa, and Caton) invaded London and took the country by storm in spite of being Catholic "colonists" and expected to wed the plantation owning crowd. Emily remained in North America where she married a Canadian heir to a large Montreal company John McTavish and managed the family Maryland properties. The trio quickly stormed the bastion of the Duke of Wellington who adored them and welcomed them into high society. He especially cherished Marianne who he could not marry so she wed his brother the Marquess Wellesley, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Louisa married and became the Duchess of Leeds and a favorite of Queen Victoria; while Bess married an aristocrat but also made a fortune on the stock market.

"Sisters of Fortune: America's Caton Sisters at Home and Abroad" is a terrific historical biography that focuses on the four granddaughters of a little known Founding father. The quartet overcame bias by applying wit and intelligence that improved not just their lot but that of their families. Readers will enjoy attending the late upper crust soiree with the four Caton sisters as their guides. Photos and maps enhance a strong look at women who used their brains and beauty to make it in a man's world.

A Song for My Mother
Kat Martin
Vanguard Press
387 Park Avenue South,12th Floor, NY, NY 10016
9781593156565, $14.99,

In Dreyerville, Michigan, Marly Hanson dropped out of high school as a junior to run off to Detroit with her boyfriend. She gave birth to Katie while the father of her daughter abandoned both of them. Marly finished school and made a nice life for both of them until Katie is diagnosed with brain cancer.

Receiving treatment, Katie begins to heal and makes a request of her mom. She wants to meet her maternal grandmother Winnie in Dreyerville. Although she wants to refuse, Marly takes Katie to meet Winnie. Although Winnie has been filled with remorse ever since her daughter ran away, Marly remains filled with rage at her mom. Katie observes her mom's ire as do Winnie's neighbor Widower Sheriff Reed Bennett and his son Ham. Reed is attracted to Marly, but she rejects his overtures. Wise beyond her years, Katie tells Reed and Winnie not to give up on Marly.

The Return to Dreyerville (see The Christmas Clock) is a warm second chance at relationships drama. The cast is solid gold as three generations of Hansen females come together with two male Bennett's only if distrusting Marly embraces her love for her mom, daughter, and the neighbor and his son. Kat Martin provides an engaging family drama.

Drawing Conclusions
Donna Leon
Atlantic Monthly
c/o Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003-4793
9780802119797, $24.00,

Venetian medical examiner Dr. Rizzardi concludes that sexagenarian Widow Costanza Altavilla died from a heart attack in her apartment in Santa Croce. Although he has no justification to investigate the death as Rizzardi is a diligent professional, Commissario Guido Brunetti feels something is not quite right. Thus he looks around the home and finds unexplained different sizes of female attire.

After consulting with Signorina Elettra, Brunetti knows the late woman ran a safe house for women fleeing from domestic abuse. The cop ponders if perhaps one of these violent men assaulted Altavilla in her home; causing the sixtyish woman to suffer the deadly heart failure. He soon follows a clue that leads to a senior citizen home, where the deceased volunteered her services as Brunetti begins to ponder whether the motive is avarice instead of violence or perhaps both.

The latest Commissario Guido Brunetti Italian police procedural (see A Question of Belief) is a great tale that looks closely at how a civilized society treats abused women and the elderly; the results are not very compassionate. A key element in this terrific investigation is that Rizzardi is respected as a pro, which Brunetti believes too; but his experience and his gut tell him otherwise. Readers will relish sailing the watery streets of Venice with the caring Commissario who understands justice and the law is not always in synch.

The Edge of Night
Jill Sorenson
Dell Books
c/o The Random HousePublishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780553592634, $7.99,

California border town Chula Vista police officer Noah Young works gang-related crime. He aspires to one day switch to the homicide division as an investigator. His first opportunity to investigate a rape and murder occurs when someone assaulted and killed a cocktail waitress.

He goes to the popular club where the victim worked and meets single mom April Ortiz, who is also a cocktail waitress struggling to support her daughter. Noah knows he must keep away from someone associated with the case, but is attracted to April. She feels the same way, but when she breaks the law of the street by giving him the tip of a gangbanger's name, April places herself and her child in jeopardy.

No one will feel safe walking the mean streets of the town that borders on Tijuana after reading Jill Sorensen' vividly violent scenes; even the sex is hot but rough. The investigation is cleverly devised with a link to a cold case and Noah's sister, but the tale belongs to the gangbangers who "patrol" their fiefdom like rulers in which no one breaks their law and lives. The edge of Night is a deep dark drama.

Sweet Jiminy
Kristin Gore
Hyperion Books
77 West 66th Street, NY, NY 10023-6298
9781401322892, $23.99,

In Chicago, Jiminy Davis attends law school. In the summer she is putting in incredible hours as a legal intern. When a bike rider runs her over she decides it is time to leave. Based on his t-shirt, she chooses her grandma in Fayeville, Mississippi. African-American septuagenarian Lyn Water considers killing herself when her white employer seventy-one year old Willa Hunt asks her to come over to clean the house and get it ready for her granddaughter Jiminy.

Lyn's great nephew Bo is in town to save money while studying for the MCAT. Meanwhile Jiminy finds her grandpa Henry's diary; he died from an embolism when he was thirty-two. She reads a little only to learn a Jiminy and her father Edward were murdered in 1966, one year before Henry died. Jiminy and Bo meet and she asks him if Lyn ever married; he says yes but her husband and daughter died. They spend a lot time together, which helps her regain her confidence. Attracted to each other, Bo breaks it off with Jiminy out of fear for each of them and their families. Meanwhile she begins to investigate what happened in 1966 before asking Carlo Castaverde, a reporter at the Texarkana Greenhaven Gazette, who has solved seven of these Civil Rights Era abominations, for help.

The support cast (during the Civil Rights era and present) is solid bringing alive a small southern town struggling with its heritage. However, Jiminy is an interesting individual who forces everyone to look at what happened in 1966 that people want to ignore, she holds the story line together with her never forget attitude. Although the villains come across as weak, readers will enjoy this engaging regional tale as a deadly incident five decades ago that few want to talk about still causes a racial divide.

Breaking the Rules
Suzanne Brockmann
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780345521224, $26.00,

Navy SEALs Izzy Zanella and Danny Gilman have a long standing grudge. When the former met the latter's sister Eden, he fell in love. She became pregnant with someone else's child, but he stepped to the plate and married her. When she miscarried, she also gave up on a heartbroken Izzy. Danny blamed Izzy for his sibling's unhappiness

Meanwhile Danny and Izzy work a mission in Afghanistan in which the former is wounded and the latter saves his life but almost dies doing so. After a hospital stint in Germany, they come home to learn Eden is trying to rescue her teenage younger brother Ben from their abusive stepfather Greg and his mother Ivette. They head to Vegas along with Danny's on again and off again girlfriend Jennilyn LeMay to help Eden. When Ben rescues Neesha from a child prostitution ring, Eden and Izzy protect her as the mobsters come for their merchandise, but snatch Ben instead.

The latest Troubleshooters romantic suspense is a double dose of second chance at love inside of a family affair. The story line is action-packed in Nevada and Afghanistan, but it is the cast that makes this so much fun as the Gillman crew play first violin in a wonderful thriller.

Treason at Lisson Grove
Anne Perry
9780345510587 $26.00

In London, Special Branch officers Pitt and Gower chase after West who has information they need to thwart a treasonous plot with international involvement against the government. West dodges the two operatives until Wrexham slices his throat. Pitt and Gower chase after Wrexham while West bleeds to death.

As Pitt pursues Wrexham from Britain to across the Channel to St. Malo, France, his supervisor Victor Narraway is accused of embezzling government funds. A desperate Narraway asks Pitt's wife, Charlotte, who has helped her husband on cases before (see Buckingham Palace Gardens), to assist him. Since his accuser relaxes in Dublin, Charlotte poses as Narraway's sister who travels with him to Ireland to investigate the individual who has a highly regarded reputation. Neither Narraway nor either Pitt realizes someone diabolical is the connection in England, Ireland and the continent.

This is a great Victorian espionage thriller that once again effortlessly blends history inside an action-packed suspense. The story line is fast-paced yet contains a strong late nineteenth century feel to the plot. However, the tale belongs to the beleaguered trio who struggle to thwart a clever villain from insuring the sun sets on the British Empire.

Seduce Me in Dreams
Jacquelyn Frank
9780345517678 $7.99

Interplanetary Militia Extreme Tactical Force First Active team Commander Bronce Chapel carries wounded communication officer Trick on his back as they trek the black Gimper Desert on Ebbany. Bronce mulls over what went wrong as the Nomaads expected them and prays the other members of the team are safe. The quintet makes it to their ship and travels to their home planet of Ulrike.

Bronce worries about dreams of a woman he never met who appears. Ravenna asks who he is and why he taunts her. She has been visiting his dreams for a month and wishes he would rescue her and her brother Kith from rogue Nomaads.

While in the hospital, Trick hacks into Admiral JuJuren's file and find interesting information on the near deadly desert mission. He shows Bronce who says the Admiral sold them out and they need to trust no one. JuJuren signs the order for the team to return to Ebbany to rescue a kidnapped High King. Bronce knows it is a trap but they begin to mount the rescue. Bronce falls into a hole and opens a cell door where he sees the real Ravenna and Kith. The soldiers break with procedure by taking the "Chosen Ones" civilians with them. They soon learn more about the Chosen Ones and the betrayal.

Known for her romantic fantasy (see The Nightwalkers series), Jacquelyn Frank switches to romantic science fiction with an entertaining outer space thriller. The cast both the unit and the Chosen Ones contain differing personalities even while the fast-paced story line is loaded with action. Although the plot is thin and the villain's motive never explained, fans will enjoy visiting the tri planets Ebbany, Ulrike and Tari.

Jonathan Kellerman
9780345505699 $28.00

LAPD Homicide Lieutenant Milo Sturgis asks psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware to look at a shotgun victim whose face was blown away. Alex is shocked not by what he sees as he has been privy to humanity's cruelty, but who he sees. He recognizes the young female as someone he and his wife Robin saw last night at a restaurant bar with a nasty looking male with her.

The cop receives an anonymous tip about an online service that matches "sugar daddies" with "star-quality sweeties." Apparently, the "daddy" to the victim "Mystery" was affluent Markham McReynolds. Besides him, his family fills up the suspect list as his wife, two adult sons and their spouses have motives and the sextet is known for out of control behavior.

The latest Delaware-Sturgis collaborative police procedural (see Evidence and Deception) is a fun buddy tale as the cop and the doc work the mean streets of Los Angeles. The story line is fast-paced but has a breezy feel due to the teasing barbs between the lead pair. Readers who appreciate a straightforward urban whodunit will want to join Sturgis and Delaware as they tease each other while following clues that lead to where the affluent can buy and do anything with immunity.

Broken Promises
Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman
9780345524553 $15.00

In 1861, President Lincoln asks Charles Francis Adams, the son and grandson of two presidents, to visit England on a critical espionage mission. Lincoln needs to know how England will react to the American internal conflict. Adams agrees to spy. As such, Charles and his son Henry travel to London.

At the same time Henry's friend from Virginia, medical student Baxter Sams, is at the Royal College of Surgeons. He is attracted to Julia Birch, daughter of Sir Walter Birch. Julia reciprocates his regard, but has issues with his being a slave owner whose brothers are fighting for the Confederacy. Charles and Henry learn the English are assisting the South in their war with arms and steel-clad warships. The blockade running Baxter returns to the States while Charles tries to prevent the English made warships from causing havoc on Northern shipping and ports.

Originally published as In the Lion's Den, Broken Promises is a terrific work of Civil War Era fiction that effortlessly merges the real account of Charles Adams with a romantic relationship subplot. Character driven as the audience sees deeply inside of the real personas (Charles and Henry); as well as the conflicting feelings that Englishwoman Julia has towards Baxter who she loves but loathes the inhumanity of owning people by him and his family. With just enough action to enhance the dysfunctional relationships, this is a wonderful Civil War drama.

Alien in the Family
Gini Koch
DAW Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756406684, $7.99,

Kitty Katt the human and Jeff Martini the Alpha Centaurian are in love and planning their wedding in Vegas. However, the human learns her hunk exiled from the nearest star has through attrition over the decades (time is relative) become the heir to the empire. Kitty who had trepidations now has Olympus Mons doubts that her resume as an exterminator qualifies her as a future queen especially when she must pass the royal worthiness examination.

Besides the Martini royal horde invading Sin City, outer space Amazon terrorists plan to introduce the couple and their guests to the big bang theory. The CIA and the Centaurian Division are outraged by the audacity of testing Kitty. However she has one thankful thing going: whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

The third zany kill Kitty Katt science fiction tale (see Alien Tango and Touched by an Alien) is an amusing over the top of the combined miles of Animas, Hatchet and Chiricahua Peaks romantic sci-fi thriller. The jocular exciting story line is faster than the speed of light as the heroine struggles to get married while the universe seems to voice their opposition. Readers will enjoy this bizarre totally out of control yet fully entertaining adventures of a woman just wanting to marry her hunk from outer space.

The Wise Man's Fear
Patrick Rothfuss
9780756404734 $29.95

Kvothe of the Waystone Inn continues to tell his life history as he sought information and risked his life many times over to learn information about the mythical Chandrian seven; demi deities who brutally murdered his parents leaving him an orphaned child. Kyothe explains he entered the University, but was expelled when he alienated a noble. From school he traveled to Vintas where he got into local politics when he learned of a planned assassination attempt. Adem mercenaries put him on trial and he ended the terror of the King's Road. His escapades led to the lure of Felurian the fae in her realm in which he is the first mortal to escape her seduction while staying sane. Whether he burned down Trebon or chatted with Gods, Kyothe remained resolute that his life's work is to kill the Chadrian.

Kvothe has seen much more than any person has ever seen; been to places few believe exists; and conversed with Gods some no longer worshipped and feared. He knows he has become part of the mythos; but, no man can live up to the whispers of the legend they have become, not even Kyothe the wanderer.

The second Kingkiller Chronicle (see The Name of the Wind) is a great epic fantasy starring an intriguing lead character. Kyothe has dedicated his life to one goal, but to achieve his obsession he ends up doing a myriad of seemingly sidebar escapades; but these like his time with the Adem and his one night with Felurian enhance his skills as he prepares for the confrontation that he seeks. Although there is repetitive emotional angst (to be expected in a tome just under a thousand pages), fans will relish more of Kyothe's adventures of how an orphan has become the most infamous wizard the world has ever known.

Halfway to Hollywood: Diaries 1980-1988
Michael Palin
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312682026, $32.95,

Michael Palin realized early in the 1980s that The Python decade (see Python Years: Diaries, 1969 1979) was for practical purposes over as each member was going in different directions with diverse projects. In 1983 they made their last film together (The Meaning of Life) and performed a few final performances as a zany team. However, those were final exclamation points as each Python moved on. Michael appeared in seven films during the decade without his crew including winning awards for his role in A Fish Called Wanda; though he worked with Python alumni Terry Gilliam's on Time Bandits and Brazil. He wrote scripts and plays with the era beginning with the end of Python and ending with work on the documentary Around the World in 80 Days. Michael's personal life with his family remains happy as he and his wife Helen raise their kids now becoming teens.

The second diary decade is an intelligent memoir that provides a profound look at the entertainment industry during the Reagan-Thatcher era and an equally powerful look at true family values through interrelationships between Mr. Palin, his spouse, their children and others. The author's observations on the Reagan-Thatcher legacy then and now enhance a wonderful tome that at 680 pages is not for the casual tea sipping reader, but targets those who appreciate an insightful often jocular look at a decade through a Python lens. Fans of the group especially will want to peruse this fine memoir that takes no prisoners.

Last to Fold
David Duffy
9780312621902 $25.99

Turbo Vlost grew up rather quickly in the Gulag. He escaped thanks to a surrogate father who brought him into the KGB as a field agent until the Soviet Union collapsed. However his past never left him as his horror memories ended his family life as his wife divorced him and their son remains estranged from him.

Turbo resides in New York City where he earns a modest living locating people and things for clients. His current customer affluent businessman, Rory Mulholland wants Vlost to find his missing adopted teenage daughter Eva. Although he thinks it odd that his client pays him in cash so there is no record in what Rory insists is a kidnapping, Vlost needs the money even if his former wife is married to Mulholland. However, the inquiry turns stranger and potentially deadly when Vlost obtains the business records of the Brooklyn Russian mob run by the biological son of his recently shot Soviet savior.

Vlost makes for a compelling crime caper as his past and present collide when Russia and the Hudson converge. The story line is at its best when the hero faces his adversaries although at times unnecessary explicatory diatribes about social conditions occur. Still Vlost is an intriguing refreshing lead character whose presence means the Russians are not coming as they are already here.

Jeremy Robinson
9780312540302 $25.99

Six months ago, Jack "King" Sigler received an urgent message from his late sister's former fiance George Pierce to meet him at the Siletz Reservation in Oregon. When he arrives, he finds the place in ruins with thousands dead. The one survivor of the attack thirteen year old Native American Fiona Lane has a note pinned to her shirt by Alexander Diotrephes, who the King believes is Hercules; he says he is going after the mass murderers. Sigler brings together the rest of the Chess Team (Queen, Rook, Bishop and Knight) to help him protect Fiona and to learn why the deadly assault happened and who is behind it.

In the present in family court, Sigler swears he will be a good parent to Fiona as the judge names him her foster father. However, as more people who speak dying ancient languages are systematically massacred, the Chess Team with President Duncan joining them must end the debacle, but struggle to learn who is behind the attacks. Instead, they face giant living granite statues, literally Neanderthals, genetic impossibilities, hydras and megaliths by someone who wants to checkmate the Chess team to prevent their intrusion. As they confront lethal enemies, none are aware of the danger from within as Fiona is kidnapped at Fort Bragg; fearing the Judge most of all, King and crew attempt a rescue.

As always the Chess Team is over the top of the stratosphere, but anyone who relishes an action urban fantasy thriller that combines science and mythology will want to join them for the exhilarating Pulse pumping ride. The story line is as always fast-paced so wear our seatbelts and set aside time as this heart thumper never slows down making it impossible to set aside as the Instinct of the audience is one sitting.

The Trial
Larry D. Thompson
9780312607357 $25.99

Teenager Samantha Vaughn learns that her liver is failing at the same time someone murders an executive with incriminating disks. Samantha's father, former Houston lawyer Luke Vaughn, is shocked with his nineteen years old daughter's illness as liver problems do not run in the family and she was okay recently.

The single dad who just returned home to San Marcos due to a perforated ulcer finds out the cause of her failing health is a trial test of a new antibiotic Exxacia that she was given. Learning more and concluding there was fraud by the firm and a cover-up by the FDA occurred. Raging over what he believes is potentially lethal negligence; Luke sues the giant Ceventa Pharmaceutical and its CEO Dr. Alfred Kingsbury, and goes after the FDA especially the Director Dr. Roger Boatwright for failing to protect the public. However, Luke never expected murder and abduction as the reaction by the enemy.

This is an exciting medical-legal thriller that grips the audience from the moment Samantha asks Dr. Hartman whether she will live to see her twentieth birthday and never slows down. The story line is fast-paced and at its best when the focus is on the FDA-pharmaceutical industry symbiotic relationship and in the court room; when the plot turns to homicides and abduction, it loses steam as that feels over the top of Guadalupe Peak. Still in spite of a post game coda that feels out of place and the homicidal subplot, overall fans will enjoy the doubly apt titled The Trial.

All Different Kinds of Free
Jessica McCann
Bell Bridge Books
PO Box 300921, Memphis, TN 38130
9781453877814, $14.95,

Mr. Edward Prigg of Mill Green, Maryland arrived in York County, Pennsylvania seeking Margaret Morgan a free woman of color. He gets Constable McCleary to assist him in bringing back to her owner Margaret Ashmore a runaway slave, Margaret Morgan; she insists otherwise and that they were neighbors for years. Mr. Prigg also claims Morgan's children belong to Ashmore. However since she was born free, she has no papers of manumission. Judge Henderson states in accordance with Pennsylvania statue Personal Liberty Law, the bounty hunter must prove with documents the claim. Mr. Prigg kidnaps Margaret and her children with plans to sell them at auction while her husband Jerry was making a delivery in Trenton. This is the beginning of the Morgan family ordeal as Margaret does the unthinkable for a colored person as she fights for her freedom through the court system ending in a decision in 1842.

All Different Kinds of Free is a super timely historical biographical fiction told mostly in the first person by the heroine as she works diligently to regain her freedom all the way up to the Supreme Court in 1842. Margaret makes the story line work as she refuses to give up her quest for the wrongful stealing of her freedom so that she can return to her family. Mindful of the current fervor over documentation vs. profiling, readers will understand why Jessica McCann's insightful look at the blood, sweat and tears of a family trying to regain what was taken from them won the 2009 Freedom in Fiction Prize.

Moon Spun
Marilee Brothers
Belle Bridge
9781935661955 $14.95

At John J. Peacock High School in Peacock Flats, Washington, student Alfrieda "Allie" Emerson cannot believe how she could go from unpopular to pariah all because her mom dates the principal Mr. Hostetler. However, she has issues besides no clean underwear at a time when two boys are once again sniffing her; as Junior has come from Mexico with a retinue and Beck the half demon is healing the new girl on the block.

Meanwhile besides dodging the usual high school suspects of miscreant and deviant behavior, Allie knows the Trimarks remain a major threat to world stability (what there is) and to her well being. However, her biggest issue besides the pendant she wears is that a third boy shapeshifting Ryker has joined her other two sniffers. This were-hawk knows he and Allie are destiny's darlings as life mates if they can save Boundless, the land of the fairy, from a horde that make the Trimarks look like elementary school. Allie knows as tough as this evil crew may be they are not near high school lethal.

The third Unbidden Magic teen urban fantasy (see Moonstone and Moonrise) is an engaging tale as the heroine struggles to balance in her small town surviving the rituals of school, saving two worlds, and flirting with boys; the latter being the most difficult. Having a new male per book adds fun to the mix by enhancing the bewilderment of Allie, but none have ample time to grow as they compete for heroine and subplot spacing. Still young adult fans will appreciate her efforts to learn to use her power reminiscent of the Greatest American Hero while diligently trying to save Boundless.

How To Slay A Dragon
Bill Allen
9781611940060 $12.95

If one was betting on a fight between twelve-year-old Greg Hart and the smaller girls at school, the latter females would be the odds-on favorites. Don't even bother putting up odds for him against the bigger girls.

However, the desperate Myrth mages except for seemingly skeptical Mordred believe Greg is a prophesied warrior. They transport the seventh grader to their world. His mission is to rescue King Peter's daughter Princess Penelope from Ruuan the mightiest dragon. Greg tries to explain he has spent years running from bullies like Manny the Malice who is much smaller than the fiery dragon; but the magicians insist he is the exalted hero foretold in prophecy and everyone knows that prophecies always occur; that is everyone but the geek from earth who keeps saying he writes heroic epics not stars in heroic epics; of course he has experience with dragons like the algebra teacher.

With a nod to the amusing How to Train Your Dragon, How to Slay a Dragon is a wonderful quest fantasy starring the last person one would expect to wear the mantle of prophesied hero saving the world from a powerful dragon. Fast-paced, middle school students will enjoy Greg the geeky tweener as he is sent forth as the reluctant hero to battle a bullying dragon.

The Branding
Micaella Wendell
9781611940091 $10.95

Like all of the elves, teenage Morwen Aleacim knows that evil resides in the forests. She has heard the tales in her village of Aren that monsters who steal children lurk in the kingdom's shadows like nearby Silvia Forest. However, Morwen is more of a believer in the malevolence than most elves her age because her father Arthil and others in a search party vanished in the forests three years ago and have not been seen since.

Although afraid, Morwen vows to enter the evil realm to find and rescue her dad. She needs to be a warrior but the elf creed disallows females to enter combat. Instead, Morwen trains in secret under the tutelage of the elderly human swordsman Armando. However, everything changes for her as she becomes even more determined when her six-elf year old sister Brynn disappears. Although not ready, Morwen follows the trail, which leads to Tobias the Dark Wizard. They make a deal in which her sibling is freed in exchange for her being his apprentice; their agreement is Branded in the fire of a spell that slowly changes her from a beautiful girl into a misshapen submissive slave. Alan the teen elf joins Morwen on her quest to break the spell of the evil Dark Wizard before she is called to serve the miscreant malevolence.

This is a fabulous quest fantasy starring a resolute female who learns what happens when an elf bargains with a devil. The fast-paced story line is driven by the heroine who risks her life and much more to rescue her younger sister; for every elf knows once Branded it is impossible to remove the curse that Tobias got from his master Belial King of Sanguine.

Bridge to Happiness
Jill Barnett
Belle Books
PO Box 67, Smyrna, GA 30082
9781935661832, $12.95,

In San Francisco March Randolph and Mike Cantrell meet and fall in love. They marry, raise a family of four, and create a successful business together as she encourages him to take a chance on his dreams in the Sierras. Their efforts lead to snowboarding becoming popular sport.

Everything remains perfect even after three decades as a couple. Then in an instant, tragedy strikes with a wrong way driver. Traumatized and feeling all alone March can no longer look to the present or future for happiness; only the past gives her moments of joy though her friends and children had her strip her home of her beloved Mike. Yet she knows her loved ones have problems too as they need her to lead them back to living again, if she dares.

This is an entertaining profound family drama starring a strong cast but anchored by the matriarch. The Cantrells were golden for over thirty years when the gold ended with death leaving a mother unable to move forward from their grief. Jill Barnett eloquently makes a strong case that life goes on for the grievers as the inevitable death of one generation is replaced with the renewal of a new generation.

A Little Death In Dixie
Lisa Turner
Belle Books
9781935661900 $15.95

Mercy Snow has left Atlanta to return home to family in Memphis. She arrives at the family home, but no one except the collie and a horde of teddy bears greet her; her estranged socialite sister Sophia apparently has vanished. Unsurprisingly her Mother is not there to greet her either.

Homicide Squad Detective Sergeant Detective Billy Able works with his partner legendary Lou Nevers on a routine day of death and near suicide until Criminal Court Judge Buck Overton asks the latter to investigate a missing woman's case. His stepdaughter Sophia vanished sixteen hours ago. Complicating the case is that Billy and Sophia were an entry until she dumped him. While Lou acts strange, Billy and Mercy make inquiries unaware of the corruption at highest level of local society.

This is an engaging Memphis police procedural starring a fascinating cop who's emotionally tied to the inquiry and a wonderful sister considered a loser by her family. The story line rotates perspective, which pays dividends once the plot moves into first gear (several chapters into the tale). In some ways more of an extended family drama with a few degrees of separation, fans will enjoy Lisa Turner's Memphis Blues.

Live Wire
Harlan Coben
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10014-3657
9780525952060, $27.95,

Former tennis star Suzze Tervantino visits MB Reps to ask her agent Myron Bolitar for help. Eight months pregnant, Suzze is hysterical as her husband rock star husband Lex Ryder, also a client of Myron, has vanished. She shows Bolitar an entry on Facebook claiming the child she carries is not sired by Ryder. Although other inline innuendos make the same proclamation, Suzze T swears to Bolitar that Ryder he is the dad (thanks to Maury).

Bolivar has family issues so he feels for his client. With Windsor "Win" Horne Lockwood III at his side, he begins the search for Ryder at a time his father is dying and wants to see his estranged other son Brad. The inquiry into finding Brad leads Myron to his abandoned sister-in-law Kitty and his fifteen years old nephew Mickey whom he never met. Neither wants him in their lives.

.Live Wire is an exciting investigative thriller in which Bolitar works two family oriented cases. The insight into his past enhances what long time fans know of his first and second quarters of his life while the Suzze T inquiry forces the agent to look into her family's darkest secrets. With Win causing havoc, a great late twist, and a powerful look at family, fans will see a different compassionate side to the wise cracking agent.

Silent Mercy
Linda Fairstein
9780525952022 $26.95

In an obvious ritual slaughter, a decapitated severely burned female body is found outside Harlem's Mount Neboh Baptist Church. She is identified by her rap sheet as activist Naomi Gersh. Her head lies just outside the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. A second mutilated corpse is found just outside Old St. Patrick's Church. The victim, whose tongue was ripped out, is excommunicated Ursula Hewitt after being ordained as a Roman Catholic priest.

Manhattan's Special Victims unit chief Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cooper and NYPD colleagues Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace investigate the ritual killings seeking a link between the two victims beyond silencing two female activists. They soon connect the Manhattan murders to homicides of a female pastor in Kentucky and a gay Pentecostal minister in Georgia. The ADA also works two other high visibility cases of a school student's claim of rape and an accusation of clerical sex abuse.

The latest Cooper investigative legal thriller (see Hell's Gate) is an exciting action-packed tale with quite a wallop. As required but still fun is a tour of Manhattan "as an island of churches". The story line focuses brilliantly and sharply at organized religions' antiquated but methodical allegorical beheading of women with an avenging sword wrapped inside holiness that will lead to Linda Fairstein's excommunication. Fast-paced within a strong whodunit, fans except religious fundamentalists will relish Silent Mercy.

The Cat, The Lady and The Liar
Leann Sweeney
Obsidian Mystery
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451233028, $6.99,

In South Carolina, Mercy Animal Sanctuary shelter owner Shawn Cuddahee rescues a "wealthy" kitty wearing diamond studded collar wandering near the highway. He takes the cat Isis to his shelter after being unable to return her to her owner elderly affluent Ritaestelle Longworth. Shawn asks his friend Jillian Hart and her three cats (Chablis, Syrah and Merlot) to escort Isis home. Jillian agrees and she drives the fifteen miles from her home in Mercy to Longworth estate in Woodcrest; only to be met by the same greeting that Shawn received. She is run off the property without seeing the allegedly ailing Ritaestelle and taking Isis with her

Not long afterward, Ritaestelle arrives at Jillian's house late at night insisting she is being drugged and needs help before someone kills her. That is followed by a corpse nearby with Chablis standing next to Ritaestelle, both bloodied. Jillian and her feline buddies investigate the "purr-fect crime.

This is a lighthearted fun cozy starring an engaging cast of characters (feline and human). Jillian and her three wise cats understand the missions of solving the case, helping an elderly woman and teaching the spoiled pompous aristocrat proper behavior. Feline frolic fans will enjoy the latest Cats In Trouble Mystery (see The Cat, The Professor and The Poison).

Sweet Revenge
Andrea Penrose
9780451233035 $6.99

In 1802 an earl, Richard Hadley, left for Jamaica with his daughter Arianna to avoid being exposed as a cheat. For years they hopped the islands as the self exiled earl became consumed by drink. In 1812 when he was murdered, his daughter assumed one of his unsavory business partners killed her dad. She vows vengeance and poses as a French male and obtains a position as a chef to Lady Spencer.

Her employer is close with men who are part of a Circle that her late father belonged to also. Arianna keeps an alert eye on these aristocrats as she believes one of them is the killer. However, before she gets very far with her investigation, the Prince Regent is poisoned after eating Arianna's dessert. She knows she is innocent, but most people want her hanged. Leading the official inquiry is the Earl of Saybrook who sees through her masquerade and considers exposing her as a fraud. Instead they join forces as he introduces her to the Ton as a distant relation. As they partner up top solve the assassination attempt, danger mounts as someone wants both dead especially her.

This Regency mystery is an exciting historical as the two investigations converge into one which leads Saybrook and Arianna to work together. An emotional bond occurs between them, but neither loses sight of the mission. There are actually more puzzlers to Sweet Revenge as there is a plenty of criminal activity making the inquiry much more complicated. Andrea Penrose has written a super early nineteenth century whodunit that fans will appreciate and will want a second helping.

Night of the Living Dandelion
Kate Collins
9780451233011 $6.99

In New Chapel, Abby Knight, owner of the Bloomers flower shop, is startled when Romanian expatriate Vlad Serban enters. He dresses all in black like a vampire, has an extremely pale complexion and flashes elongated incisors. She is further stunned when he asks for Bloodwort, Dracula's orchard and other plants connected to the vampire mythos. Abby's fiance Marco arrives and tells her Vlad is a friend of his. For the most part men detest Vlad because many women seem drawn to him though and the males want him kicked out of town.

When nursing director Lori Willis is found dead drained of blood, most people who met the Romanian expatriate assumes he killed the woman as he must be a vampire. More evidence surfaces that make the Eastern European the prime suspect. Abby does not believe he is a vampire, but has suspicions he may be a killer. Her cousin Jillian insists Vlad is an Undead hunting females at night. Trusting her beloved who believes his buddy is innocent and distrusting the law will look beyond the foreigner, Abby and Marco investigate until the latter is sent overseas on a mission; leaving it up to the florist who stakes her life on uncovering the identity of the "vampire" killer.

Vlad is a delightful refreshing character who plays up the vampire connection to his homeland, but seems a decent sort who has Abby's back (hopefully not her neck). The story line is a heartwarming cozy with a moral message not to judge a book by its cover as people quickly jump to conclusions. Fans of the series will feel mesmerized by the plot (not by the Romanian) as the residents of New Chapel have bodily proof that a vampire lives amongst them.

Falling Under
Gwen Hayes
NAL/New American Library
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451232687, $9.99,

In Serendipity Falls, California, seventeen years old Theia Alderson is taken back when she sees an inferno containing a man fall from the sky; when he crashes on her family's lawn, he disintegrates into nothingness. Soon afterward at high school Theia sees Haden Black for the first time. The newcomer has been the star of her recent dreams, but she never thought he was real until now.

He makes it clear from that first encounter that he wants her, but for every time he makes a move towards her he pushes his Theia away. She knows she should fear this teen who she met in her sleep time before she met him awake, but though frightened of how that could be and what he may be, Theia feels they belong together.

This is a fascinating early teen romantic gothic fantasy starring two wannabe lovers who are unsure they should be together as forces greater than either of them try to pull them apart. Readers will appreciate the lead protagonists who will remain separated unless they learn geometry that the loving whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Although there are some odd seemingly misplaced support characters and scenes, young adult fans will relish two intelligent individuals struggling with their mutual attraction to one another.

The Second Duchess
Elizabeth Loupas
9780451232151 $15.00

In December 1565 powerful widower Alfonso d'Este, the Duke of Ferrara, marries Austrian virgin Barbara. Although she has heard he murdered his first wife, the notorious Lucrezia of the de'Medici family, she figures her spouse will be a less of a hell than her sibling though she knows she is much older than the first wife and nowhere as pretty. Thus Barbara concludes the marriage is a means of escaping from the control of her brother Emperor Maximilian II and avoiding an undesirable stay at a convent of her sibling's choosing.

Barbara enjoys living at the Ferrarese court, but detests the whisperers that her husband killed her defiant predecessor. She errs when she begins to ask questions at the court as those who want to rid the court of a rival for power gleefully inform the Duke and those in his inner circle that the Duchess is interrogating people. Fearing for her life as threats mount, Barbara investigates what happened to Lucrezia in an attempt to avoid joining the first wife in death.

With homage to Robert Browning's "My Last Duchess", Elizabeth Loupas writes a powerful Renaissance biographical fiction starring a brave intelligent heroine who walks on an extremely thin tightrope that is being shaken by wicked whisperers, avaricious adversaries and her harsh husband. Readers, even those who know the history of Barbara, will wonder whether her Alfonso will prove to be a widower maker in this delightful glimpse into the late sixteenth century court of Ferrara.

The Hammer
K.J. Parker
Orbit Books
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780316038560, $14.99,

Gignomai met'Oc and his family reside in exile overlooking a poor colony of silver miner descendants whose ancestors had no silver to mine. The colonists detest their protectors but rely on them for safety from the dangerous indigenous population. The youngest son, Gignomai struggles with no reason for living until he breaks protocol from the family when he flees into the dangerous wilderness.

He plans to build a factory that will compete with a monopoly that has left the remote colonists wallowing in poverty. His long term outcome is to provide the colonists with independence that they sorely lack while he receives closure from a tragedy he witnessed as a child that still haunts him. However, his best laid plan goes astray when the peasants he wants to liberate seem too timid to act without his leading the charge.

This is an intriguing thriller in which K.J. Parker explores consequences of good intentions seven decades ago and once again good intentions now. The story line is character driven mostly by rebellious Gignomai, who wants to improve the lifestyle of the colonists, but will soon learn that results are not often what one expected when intervening. Fast-paced, The Hammer is a terrific thriller that will have readers pondering so called presidential legacies from the advantage of looking back in time. For instance, arming Hussein may have made sense in the 1980s, but the results one and two decades later overwhelm the original short term expectations. Exciting and thought provoking, this is a winner.

The Dragon's Path
Daniel Abraham
9780316080682 $14.99

Though a millennium has passed since the Dragon Civil War left the predominant species extinct, the thirteen humanoid races that served them never learned the lesson that war kills. Captain Marcus Webster understands war kills foot soldiers but not the aristocrats who send others to die in battle. He knows how weather impacts fighting as summer is the time of war and battle is for the young. Marcus plans to lead a caravan before he is drafted as his combat days are over, but his crew is lost being sent to fight.

While Marcus seeks swords, Cithrin dressed as a boy with his first moustache and a "swinging penis" prepares mentally to escort the Bank's wealth of a nation across the country before the invaders arrive. She struggles to understand caravans unlike the way she comprehends money.

No longer a naive idealist but instead a jaded pessimist Dawson worries as war comes because his friend Simeon the ruler looks like he aged dramatically over the winter. He no longer appears to be the glorious future for the country; but instead seems like yesterday's failure.

Aristocratic Geder the street philosopher detests swords. Though he is a terrible soldier who fears his reaction when bodies are sliced and diced, he will do his best to avoid dishonoring his aristocratic family.

As with the Long Price Quartet, Daniel Abraham effortlessly rotates perspective between the key characters so that readers observe a wide panorama of humanoids following The Dragon's Path to war. Fans will marvel at how Marcus as winter and Dawson as autumn wither; while Cithrin as spring and Geder as summer mature. Thus the first excellent Dagger and Coin military fantasy is a coming of age thriller in which Geder and Cithrin remain frightened optimists unaware they will probably turn into Dawson and Marcus. This is a great thought provoking opening act.

Deep State
Walter John Williams
9780316098045 $13.99

To publicize the latest James Bond film Stunrunner, which takes place predominantly in Turkey, the producer hires the Great Big Idea firm to create an augmented reality game (ARG) tied to the movie. Leading the ARG development is Dagmar Shaw, who detests that the host nation has been taken over by the military; she has nightmares over what she once did for the military oligopoly junta.

As Dagmar, her boss Lincoln and the crew (local nationals and Americans) prepare for the final event, she meets the leader General Bozbeyli and inadvertently insults him. She realizes the junta now has targeted them in spite of the terrific publicity received by the country and subsequently them by the Bond tie-in. On the lam while hosting the last ARG, the team makes it to Cyprus where the American government recruits them to use their skills to undercut the junta who possess High Zap; a weapon developed by Lincoln years ago capable of destabilizing the internet.

Although over the top of Mount Ararat, readers will appreciate this exhilarating faster than the speed of light thriller. The key to the exciting plot is in spite of the action, Dagmar and Lincoln come across as real caring people who made major mistakes with who has gained access to their programs. Fans will enjoy Deep State as Walter John Williams reminds readers that today's strange bedfellows is tomorrow's enemy (just ask Cheney and Hussein)

Equations of Life
Simon Morden
9780316125185 $7.99

In the future, globally the world has radically changed, but not for the better. Japan no longer exists and Britain might as well not exist. Most other places are not better off. For instance America the land of the free has turned its back on the Founding Fathers' First Amendment by becoming a theocracy and much of Russia was nuked.

Ph.D. candidate Samuil Petrovitch lives in the rotting London Metrozone. Though the Russian knows better than to get involved as the only known survivor of the St. Petersburg nuking, he intervenes in an abduction attempt preventing the kidnapping of woman who thanks him saying she is Sonja; daughter of a dangerous person. Alongside of police officer Harry Chain and Madeleine the violent nun, Samuil soon learns what happens to Good Samaritans when he is caught in the crosshairs of a lethal street war between Russian gangsters, an even deadlier business tycoon Yakuza and a new even more lethal Jihad. He muses his problems came about because he broke the first rule of survival of the fittest: don't get involved.

This is an exciting futuristic science fiction starring an antihero who knows the Equations of Life logically mean stay out of everyone else's life; yet he begins emotionally to comprehend that may be life bit that is not living. Samuil and the cast make for wonderfully dark future although some of the escapades seem a bit over the top of Big Ben, still ticking after all these bombs. Readers will enjoy what happens to the logical man who makes his first illogical decision since before he survived the annihilation of St. Petersburg.

The Guardian Angel's Journal
Carolyn Jess-Cooke
9780824948795 $14.99

Guardian angel Ruth is assigned to watch over the late Margot Delacroix, who happens to have been Ruth when she was alive; Margot has returned to relive her life while Ruth knows the rules she must adhere to: witness, protect, record, and love. She knows she can have some limited impact on what her "ward" can do, but for the most part must remain an observer of the human mistakes she made as Margot.

As Margot's life is replayed, the woman makes several horrific choices in spite of Ruth's efforts to nudge her in another direction away from falling in love with Toby; though as Ruth she finds herself in love with him. However as she meets peers like enigmatic James, Ruth especially wants to understand why Margot's addicted teenage son Theo ended up in jail charged with murder, as she hopes to change that before it happens, but soon realizes what it will cost her to protect and love.

This is super paranormal extremely complicated thriller that is a serious more insightful version of a guardian angel tale with the twist of Ruth returning to watch over herself. Character driven by obviously Ruth-Margot with a strong support cast (human, angel and demon); readers will appreciate this brisk heavenly tale of the guardian angle looking at her life, but focused on saving her son's life.

Grey Zone
Clea Simon
Severn House Publishers
110 East 59th Street, 22th Fl., NY, NY 10022
9780727869920, $24.95,

At Harvard, graduate student Dulcie Schwartz has completed all her classes except for her dissertation on the anonymous British author of a two-century old gothic novel. Besides wondering who the author was, Dulcie would like to know why the unknown author stopped writing.

However, she will soon be engulfed in a real world mystery. Signs seem everywhere asking whether anyone has seen a missing former student Carrie. Dulcie saw Carrie with a man before she knew people were looking for her. After sending an email to Carrie's contact address, the woman seeking Carrie, Corkie asks Dulcie to contact her. Dulcie searches for Corkie, finds her but she runs into a building and to the stairs. Seconds later Dulcie learns Professor Fritz Herscloft just jumped out of a window to his death. Later she finds out he was murdered. Dulcie worries someone she knows might be the killer and that she may be in danger as she has a lot od so-cslled accidents. Making matters more complicated is that her beloved late feline Mr. Grey, whose spirit guided her, is contacting Dulcie less and less; while her impish kitten Esme is not assisting her at all. As she digs deeper, falling concrete injures Dulcie who now knows she is in danger.

The latest Dulcie Schwartz paranormal amateur sleuth (see Grey Matters and Shades of Grey) is a delightful cozy starring a young female who fears her late significant other Mr. Grey is moving on at a time she needs him though even she knows he is a crutch. Both cats are involved in trying to keep their human pet safe though it is not easy to do as the heroine has a tendency to stick her nose into dire situations. Readers will enjoy wintry Cambridge as Dulcie struggles with closure from the loss of her loved one, her dissertation, and her investigation.

Running on Empty
Sandra Balzo
Severn House
9780727869814 $27.95

Wisconsin crime reporter AnnaLise Griggs is asked by family friend Mama Balisteri to come home because she is concerned there is something wrong with AnnaLise's mother Daisy Griggs. At the local blood bank the phlebotomist siphoned three pints of blood from donor Mrs. Bradenham. Griggs races back to Sutherton, North Carolina to check up on her mom.

Upon seeing Daisy, Griggs finds her zoned out spouting things she does nor remember saying later. AnnaLise notices in the normally peaceful town, though there have always been foolish isolated incidents like the beer drinking swimmer who lost a bet, but this is different. A series of murders, looking like accidents with none seemingly related to each other, has recently occurred. This predator tries to kill AnnaLise, but fails. Not one to sit idly back and worried about her mom, AnnaLise uses her journalist skills to investigate a serial killer stalking the Main Street.

While Maggy Thorsen takes a well deserved Wisconsin coffee break from amateur sleuthing, Sandra Balzo begins another wonderful regional mystery series. In addition to the super whodunit, readers obtain a look at living in a small southern town during the Labor Day weekend. The cast is colorful especially mama and add believability to a terrific North Carolina murder mystery.

The Fifth Witness
Michael Connelly
Little, Brown & Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316069359, $27.99,

Los Angeles lawyer Mickey Haller runs a "foreclosure defense" from his Lincoln town car. Lisa Trammel becomes his first foreclosure client. However, the bank holding her mortgage files a legal restraining order to end her shenanigans. Soon afterward someone kills mortgage banker Mitchell Bondurant with a hammer in a parking lot.

The police suspect Trammel killed the banker in a rage. Haller defends his client against a homicide charge in which the evidence overwhelmingly condemns his client and he believes she is guilty. He begins to change his mind when someone assaults him when he and his team search for evidence that Bondurant was working unethical and probably illegal mortgage schemes

The latest Lincoln Lawyer legal thriller (see Reversal) may prove to be the sub-genre book of the year as Michael Connolly provides a fascinating detailed look at the mortgage crisis; those who still insist the market corrects its mistakes need this primer. Yet with that theme running throughout, the author shows his talent as he makes that theme interesting and intertwines it inside a legal whodunit that will have readers staying up later than the second half of the Superbowl. This is an excellent tale.

Surrender to Me
Shayla Black
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425236550, $15.00,

Her friend with F-benefits Ben provides Lafayette Parrish Probation Officer Katalina "Kata" Munez with a special birthday treat; by arranging for her fantasy to occur. He asks his buddy Navy SEAL Hunter Edington to join them in a menage a trios. They have a fantastic night together.

However, Hunter wants more from Kata without a third party. He persuades a drunken Kata into marrying him in Vegas. When she flees for her home the next morning, a raging Hunter pursues his frightened wife back to Louisiana. There he tries to convince his submissive they belong together while also trying to prevent a professional killer from murdering his spouse.

This is an engaging erotic romance starring a bullying male and a timid female. The heated story line is fast-paced once Hunter and Kata meet and never slows down. Although Kata, used to working with the meanest dregs of society, seems too docile and frightened and Hunter's late revelation on how to behave with his wife seems out of character for such a bad-ass. Erotica fans will enjoy this dominator-submissive relationship drama. It is hot read with a powerful storyline.

Any Wicked Thing
Margaret Rowe
9780425238646 $15.00

A decade ago Lord Sebastian Goddard shared the greatest night of his life with his childhood friend Fredericka Wells. However she betrayed his love so he left heartbroken and over the next ten years became known as the depraved Lord of Sin.

In 1818 with the death of his father, Sebastian now the duke returns to Goddard Castle to find the place looking like hell as his late dad never maintained the medieval edifice. He plans to pay back Freddie for the big hurt she inflicted on him. However, Freddie who has lived there much of her life, stuns him when she offers him a proposition. She will be his mistress for one month if he sells her Goddard Castle. He agrees as he plans to make her need him so she will not be able to live without his touch; then he will dump her. He never expected she would cause an inferno of need in him and that what he thought happened a decade ago is not quite what occurred.

This is an intriguing erotic regency romance starring a seemingly amoral reprobate lead male and a steady Freddie female. Although Sebastian comes across for the most part as a nasty philander until late revelations occur, Freddie is a delightful patient heroine. Readers will appreciate Freddie's effort to resuscitate the heart of the man she has loved since she was a starry eyed teen.

Home Free
Fern Michaels
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9781420111941, $7.99,

After righting many wrongs (through nineteen previous books) and not just to themselves, many of the Sisterhood Vigilantes want a life outside of crime fighting and antiterrorism. However, when U.S. President Martine Connor offers them a chance to join a new top secret agency in exchange for all criminal charges erased, everyone accepts. Their first mission is to investigate who is stealing millions in secret U.S. funds and how it is being done.

However, though Myra Rutledge, her husband Martin, Sir Charles and Annie de Silva remain dedicated, the rest of the Vigilantes want out to begin rebuilding their personal lives. At Camp David over Thanksgiving, Maggie Spritzer and Master Sergeant Gus Sullivan meet and are attracted to one another; while Nikki Quinn Emery and Isabelle Flanders just want in from the cold.

For fans of the long running saga, the finish focuses on the vigilantes' desire to begin their civilian lives. The inquiry is fine, but totally swamped by the personal needs of the crew as T.S. Eliot says in The Hollow Men: "This is the way the world ends: Not with a bang but a whimper."

Georgina Gentry
9781420108514 $6.99

In 1876 in the Austin area, Turquoise Sanchez knows her bloodline and her name are handicaps in her quest to marry an upper class Texan who cherishes and loves her. She ignores her spitfire personality as being hot blooded for that elite gentleman to appreciate. Turquois believes she has found her man in renowned State Senator Edwin Forester. However, her family objects profusely as they do not want the politician to water down their blood.

Vaquero Rio Kelly agrees with Turquois' family assertion as he wants to be her mate. The four-leaf clover tattoo he has on him just adds to Turquois' belief the poor vaquero is not good enough for her; but when she dreams and daydreams he is the star. However, neither she, her family or her beloved vaquero reckon with how ruthless a state senator can be when he wants something.

The second Texans historical romance (see Diablo) is an engaging tale in which fans of Georgina Gentry also will welcome the return of the extended Durango clan. The story line is loaded with action but driven by a somewhat irritating spoiled "princess" who must choose between her image of her beloved and the reality of her beloved. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy Rio though it is more Turquois' tale.

Wild Desire
Lori Brighton
9781420108668 $6.99

In 1857 Beatrice Edmund leaves Scotland for India to spend time with friends. She wanted an adventure but soon after arriving she learns sometimes you get what you wish for when Colin Fitch rushes into her bedroom in India.

Being chased by deadly enemies, Colin needs obstinate Beatrice to help him as he senses she has dormant skills that she is unaware of; as her family like his are tied to powerful statues. Beatrice the pragmatic is shocked by her attraction to the stranger who barged into her room. He reciprocates her high regard, but plans to keep his Wild Desire under control as he has a different quest in mind. Together they travel across the subcontinent seeking four statues of legendary power while lethal foes pursue them.

With a nod to Richard Chamberlain's Alan Quatermain in King Solomon's Mine, Wild Desire is an exhilarating romantic historical thriller. Loaded with action and fast-paced as the lead couple trek across India, the romantic subplot rightfully takes somewhat a backseat to the daring reckless adventures. Fans who appreciate an exciting story line will want to accompany Beatrice and Colin on their India tour. Wild Desire would make a great movie.

Her Scottish Groom
Ann Stephens
9781420108682 $6.99

Scottish Laird Kieran Rossburn understands that his crofters rely on him to earn a living. However, he does not have the money to keep his dependents living a reasonable lifestyle. To do this Kieran needs to marry money.

He wants an obedient affluent mouse as a spouse. As such, he selects visiting American Diantha Quinn, daughter of a crude, rude wealthy shipping magnate because she seems extremely docile having been raised by authoritative parents who kept her under their thumbs. She proves anything but timid as she offers him a marriage in name only. Kieran seduces his bride as they fall in love but family issues interfere with their relationship.

Her Scottish groom is a refreshing Victorian romance that deploys the overly used especially in this time period marriage of convenience. Readers get deeply inside the heads of the lead couple as each has mountainous doubts that at times supersede their needs for this marriage. Although the internal musings are fascinating, they also turn the pace passive as action is limited. Fans, who enjoy a reflective historical drama, will relish Ann Stephens' character-driven late nineteenth century tale.

Hidden Cities
Daniel Fox
Del Rey
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780345503039, $15.00,

Emperor Chien Hua savors the victory that has given him back Santung as the Jaded rebels led by Yu Shang flee the city. However, the Emperor ignores his pregnant concubine Mei Feng when she warns him they were fortunate to win a battle. Assassins including some from within the emperor's most trusted aids try to kill his pregnant loved one while the rebel insurrection grows stronger daily and may win control of the nation in the civil war.

As General Ping Wen governs Santung in the Emperor's name, he plots the downfall and demise of Chien and the pregnant concubine. His chances are improving greatly due to Tien the healer who has found ancient mage tomes.

Meanwhile an island trapped raging dragon trapped in chains by the sea links with young Han; neither grasps the significance of their bonding relationship at this time except both want to escape the isle imprisonment. The elderly on the island plead with the dragon for a chance to reach the sea. All including the dragon try to be free, but none seem to achieve this as war roars across the empire.

The final medieval Chinese mythos fantasy (see Dragon in Chains and Jade Man's Skin) is a terrific thriller that hooks the audience from the opening seemingly calm "Lord of the Feet" scene that proves to be the eye of the storm as the civil war rages with treachery weakening both sides. The story line contains a vivid sense of being caught in the middle of non-stop action that will have readers feel transported tin time and place. With a powerful ensemble cast in which Daniel Fox slyly switches perspective without missing a beat, fans will appreciate the engaging finish to one of the best refreshing fantasy sagas in recent years.

Homefront: The Voice of Freedom
John Milius and Raymond Benson
Del Rey
9780345527158 $9.99

In the near future, the two Korean nations united under the leadership of the Kim Jong family and turned into a regional power by annexing their neighbors. Especially significant to the desire to become a superpower is the conquering of Japan, which provides the Korean leadership American military technology at a time when the United States America has turned internal into Fortress America after years of oil wars and major economic collapses. Taking advantage of the fumbling giant, Korea ignites a nuclear bomb that causes a crippling EMP blast across North America leading to mass deaths. This is followed by a rapid deployment as Korea plans to take control of the Pacific.

By 2026, reporter Ben Walker fled a Korean occupied Los Angeles. On his trek east, he meets black jack dealing engineer Kelsie Wilcox in Vegas and resistance soldiers. He soon becomes the Voice of America with the Korean occupation force wanting him silenced.

Based on the videogame, this is an over the top of the Sierras into the troposphere but still a fun thriller mindful of the movie Red Dawn with an older hero and resistance. The story line is fast-paced, but requires ignoring that L word (logic not liberal) as the clever Koreans during the war act foolishly during occupation especially when it comes to eliminating the Homefront Voice of America. Still fans of the game and those who enjoy an entertaining thriller will want to read about the North Korean occupation of the not so United States.

WWW: Wonder
Robert J. Sawyer
Ace Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, NY, NY 10014
9780441019762, $25.95,

Webmind the essence that consciously evolved from the internet continues to prove its altruistic intentions of helping humanity on a variety of fronts like the cure for cancer. However, the American government pushed by the military-industrial complex wants Webmind destroyed under the guise of a major security threat to the United States.

Having failed once to eliminate the A.I., the president invokes executive power to approve the Pentagon's leading A.I. expert Colonel Peyton Hume to apply any force necessary to eliminate the threat to the security of the country. Hume directs his team of underground hackers to overwhelm and rip away the awareness of being of Webmind. However, his secure unit begins to vanish one at a time while Webmind's BFF teenage mathematical genius Caitlin Decter vows to save the life of her buddy who gave her the gift of sight.

The third and final thriller in the WWW saga is an engaging climax to an intriguing story line. Action-packed, it behooves fans to have read the previous two entries (Wake and Watch) as the tale ties up seemingly every thread (major and minor) so that at times it feels PowerPoint deep. Still well written, readers will enjoy Robert J. Sawyer's deep look at the Web age of American power in which leaders believe they need threats like Big Brother is watching you even when none exists.

Con and Conjure
Lisa Shearin
9780441020188 $7.99

Raine Benares has always been the black sheep of her family as the seeker of the lost while her blood relatives are thieves; in fact her kin are the most infamous criminal clan in the seven kingdoms. However, Raine turns to her family for help after she and the Saghred soul-stealing stone bond; not to de-link them but to help her pull off a necessary con to end the stalking by elves and goblins who want the power of the rock.

The King of the Goblins Sathik Mal'Salin and the darkest mage Sarad Nukpana each plans to use the Saghred for personnel gain at the cost of the kingdoms. The elven leaders Taltek Balmorlan and Magus Carnades Silvanus send her former fiance Rache Kai the elven assassin to hunt her down as her powerful enemies have no monetary problems. With her allies Mychael and Tam and her con artist family, Raine sets in motion a diabolical counter scheme.

The fifth Benares fantasy is a terrific tale that moves forward the overarching saga theme of the apocalypse soon seemingly a certainty. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action while the wise cracking heroine learns the depth of her power at the same time eluding a horde of foes who want to use her to use the stone. Series fans will enjoy the latest entry (see Bewitched and Betrayed and The Trouble With Demons) as Con and Conjure is a sly family affair stone included.

River Marked
Patricia Briggs
9780441019731 $26.95

The werewolves outed themselves and while humans debate the politics of the species living in their midst, car mechanic Mercy Thompson is a walker who can turn into a coyote at will. She is busy trying to elope with Adam the alpha werewolf of the Columbia Basin Poole. Her friends and family want to throw a wedding for the couple before they depart on their honeymoon along the banks of the Columbia River.

When Mercy finds out the Fae gave them a luxurious camper; she is upset because the Fae do not do favors without an exorbitant price. The fae wants her to investigate the disappearance of several people along the river. What they find is that there is an essence known as the river devil that is in a symbiotic relationship with the fae otterkin that looks human but is a deadly predator. She distances herself from the river devil who has marked her. The God Coyote informs Mercy about her parentage and she has a role to play as part of her heritage to end the river devil's reign of terror while a frustrated Adam must back away.

River Marked is a wonderful urban fantasy that has characters who touch the souls of readers especially the lead couple; a loving duet who lives for today as they may not see the morrow. Coyote the Trickster and the other gods of native American mythology enhances the Mercy mythos. With a strong cast including other walkers and a terrific malevolence, fans of the saga will relish Mercy's honeymoon.

The Sweet Scent of Blood
Suzanne McLeod
9780441018710 $7.99

In London where the paranormal is part of the normal where vampires even pose for celebrity calendars. Genevieve Taylor is the only known Sidhe Fae in town and she works for run by the Witch Council to insure "making magic safe". The headlines involve the arrest of Mr. October Roberto taking one pint too many from his human girlfriend Melissa.

The father of the accused, financial reporter Alan Hinckley knows her boss Stella Raynham from an article he did on the firm and that Gen is not bound by the Witch Council's mantra to never get involved with a vampire. Alan pleads with Gen to investigate the homicide of the waitress as he believes his Bobby is innocent; starting with checking whether magic was used on the victim. Reluctantly because of Bobby's message of regards to Gen, who had a teenage marking by a vampire, she agrees to investigate. Her inquiry leads from the corpse to the popular Soho vampire clubs. However, as her friend Sergeant Hugh the troll warns her to stay out of the case, the divided upper elite of the vampire hierarchy follow her with a strange interest as she now believes the accused was framed, but by who remains unknown.

This is an exhilarating investigative urban fantasy starring a delightful tough heroine swimming in a sea of vampires while working her case. The story line is fast-paced form the onset yet makes this alternative London filled with witches, Fae, vampires, trolls, goblins and one sidhe seem genuine due to the Soho scene and other similar references. Fast-paced with a terrific twist, fans will be reminded of Dresden the only listed wizard in the phone book.

No One Will Hear You
Max Allan Collins and Matthew Clemens
Pinnacle Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9780786021352, $7.99,

John Christian Harrow is the man to go to with anything involving the reality TV show Crime Seen! On the UBC network, the popular show focuses on unsolved cases using a large budget and an in-house team of experts from several fields assisted by consultants in order to solve the mystery and turn the perpetrator over to the law.

Their job turns macabre and much more difficult when the show becomes a key part of a serial murder. Someone calling himself Don Juan kills women leaving their corpses in public places like the big O in the Hollywood sign. When that fails to get the attention he demands, he kills again with the warning that if he does not make it as the feature on Crime Seen, he will deposit another dead woman somewhere visible next week. However, complicating matters exponentially for LAPD and Harrow is another serial killer seems to be competing with Don Juan for the top billing.

Based on Andy Warhol's theory that "…everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes"; Max Allan Collins and Matthew Clemens write an exciting serial killer thriller. The TV show comes across realistically as ratings mean everything until Don Juan courts them for air time. Although the cast is stereotypical of the serial killer sub-genre to include Don Juan and JC superstar and competing predators (see Beverly Barton's "Game" theory thrillers, fans will enjoy the reality contest in which voting off the island is done by murder.

Fade to Blue
Bill Moody
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590588949, $24.95,

Though he is part of the San Francisco jazz scene, Evan Horne accepts a paying gig in Los Angeles. Actually in Malibu where he has been retained to train actor Ryan Stiles to appear on the silver screen as if he playing jazz piano.

However, the spoiled film star rages during a paparazzi attack and a photographer dies. Evan wants to go home as the money is not worth the effort of dealing with the pampered Ryan even in the plush beach home. However, Stiles' manager offers him the chance to score the film if he continues to teach the actor to look as if he plays the piano. The police determine Stiles is innocent of the death, but while filming a second person dies and a blackmailer extorts money from the beleaguered star. Evan. assisted by his FBI girlfriend Andie Lawrence and LAPD Police Lieutenant Danny Cooper, investigates while serial killer Gillian Sims escapes from prison.

The latest Evan Horne mystery is an engaging tale that is fun to read, but lacks the intriguing jazz pedigree of Shades of Blue, Looking for Chet Baker and Bird Lives! The story line is fast-paced as Evan decides to do what he believes is the right thing though he detests his mercurial student. Although the serial killer subplot feels forced and unnecessary, fans will enjoy Bill Moody's entertaining musical mystery.

Dogs Don't Lie
Clea Simon
Poisoned Pen
9781590588611 $22.95

Pru Marlowe returned to her Berkshire hometown to escape all the animal voices running through her head. She tells her neighbors that she came back to care for her mother, but Pru knows the real reason is to obtain some quiet time.

An animal psychic, Pru makes money walking dogs and training animals. However, the animal behaviorist becomes concerned when Lily the pit bull rescued from the fighting ring dog is accused of killing her mangled owner Charles. Pru tries to listen to Lily's chatter, but the canine is confused by the tragedy and other nasty events in her life though she obviously witnessed the murder. Still Pru feels for the dog so she decides to investigate with Wallis her grouchy cat at her side insisting canines are notorious liars. Pulling a Dr. Doolittle, she listens to the animals chat and finds clues to the homicide while also learning more about the town she grew up in while also trying to help the two females in the life of the late Charles, Lily and his fiancee Delia Cochrane. However, Pru also knows if she clears the dog, she becomes the replacement prime suspect.

The first pet noir whodunit is a fun whodunit even with the animal noise level (mostly from that opinionated darn cat) greater than the Dr. Doolittle movies. The investigation is refreshing as Pru seeks clues from animals especially the traumatized eye witness, but is limited with what she can share with the cops as talk to the animals is fiction. Fast-paced with several terrific twists and spins, readers will enjoy Dogs Don't Lie.

The Hanging Wood
Martin Edwards
Poisoned Pen
9781590588529 $24.95

Two decades ago teenager Callum Hinds vanished without a trace. The police investigation failed to find him. The case closed when the cops concluded the child was killed by his uncle in a murder suicide though they found the lad's body.

In the present, Callum's twenty-seven year old sister Orla Payne never believed her uncle killed his nephew and then himself. Needing closure with the truth and encouraged by historian Daniel Kind, Orla takes a position in a residential library to be near the Hanging Wood where the calamity occurred. At Kind's suggestion, she calls Cumbria Cold Case Detective Chief Inspector Hannah Scarlett to try to get her to reopen her sibling's investigation, but fails as her mind went fuzzy and the cop lost patience with her. Not long afterward, Orla dies from suffocation in a grain silo; that looks like a suicide. Feeling a bit guilty for ignoring the woman who called frantically twice just before her death, Hannah reopens the "solved" case with Kind assisting her

The latest Lake District police procedural (see The Serpent Pool) is an exciting past and present investigative thriller. The story line is at its best when the focus is on the Hinds family; on the other hand the subplot of Scarlett's personal life detracts from the case as that adds nothing but filler. Still readers will enjoy Martin Edward's deadly tour of the Hanging Wood.

The Uncoupling
Meg Wolitzer
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9781594487880, $25.95,

At Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Stellar Plains, New Jersey, drama teacher Fran Heller chooses the Ancient Greek classic Lysistrata as the play her students will perform. However the anti-war comedy has a strange effect on the town's females. Just like in Aristophanes' drama, the adult women and teen girls refuse to have sex with their male counterparts. Though in the Greek drama it was to end the endless Peloponnesian War; none of the Jersey women know why.

No exceptions to the sexual abstinence rule surfaces. The guys are stunned as their seductive efforts fail miserably. The women wonder where the passion went while the men wonder where the women went. All are unhappy as a spell has been cast leading to the Uncoupling of couples breaking up.

This is an intriguing sort of adult fairy tale look at female sexuality in the age of social media when people are living much longer. The story line is character driven by the couples struggling with frustration over unfulfilled basic needs although the female side is much more complicated. Readers will enjoy the New Jersey Housewives and other females starring in Mg Wolitzer's modern day rendition of Lysistrata.

Amanda Quick
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
97803991537370, $25.95,

In Victorian England, Virginia Dean has the psychical power to see in mirrors the last moments of a person's life if the reflection was caught by the reflecting glass. She is able to see the energy emanations in the form of pictures; a talent that makes her clients believe she is a medium.

One night while doing a reading for the chatelaine of the Hollister Mansion, Virginia wakes up in a room filled with mirrors and a body next to her. Overwhelmed by the images in the mirrors, Virginia cannot find an exit to escape the nightmare. Psychic detective Owen Sweetwater rescues her. The detective hunts psychical monsters just like his family does. He works for the J&J Detective Agency whose client the Arcane Society wants Owen to find out if the death of two gaslight readers is the work of a paranormal monster. A bond forms between Owen and Virginia; one that the sleuth needs if he is to stay focused while Virginia looks at it as a casual affair. Together with his family as well as her housekeeper, they try to take down a killer before the monster murders again; as the target is the most powerful gaslight reader known: Virginia.

Amanda Quick has written another bestseller with her latest Gaslight Victorian romantic suspense with gothic overtones. The story line grips the reader from the moment an increasingly panicked Virginia struggles to escape the room of mirrors and never slows down until the final denouement. There are some quirky secondary characters who add whimsy to the otherwise dark, chilling but engrossing storyline.

Chasing Fire
Nora Roberts
9780399157448 $27.95

A chip off the old block of her legendary dad, since she turned eighteen, Rowan Tripp has been a Missoula, Montana Zulies smoke jumper who parachutes from a plane with her comrades in arms to land in the middle of an out of control blaze. She loves her job, loves being on the edge and the adrenaline rush, but mostly she relishes helping to save lives and property.

This year is different as there are more fires, deaths including her partner, and injuries than since she joined. It is also the year in which she meets rookie Gulliver "Gull" Curry, who falls in love with Rowan. She has feelings for the newcomer with an Ivy League vocabulary, but fears them because love hurts and he may not have the staying power she would need. Yet together they share danger and desire while trying to end the fiery reign of a maniacal arsonist with a vendetta against the Zulies.

Once again Nora Roberts affirms she is one of the best romantic suspense authors on the market for the past two decades even with a theme used many times before (see Deadly Heat by Cynthia Eden). A major part of the freshness comes from having the lead female as the experienced mentor and the male as the rookie in training; however the key comes from the author's ability to tell an exhilarating tale in which readers will be jumping from planes into an inferno. Loaded with action especially the drops into the infernos and filled with a fiery romance, fans will believe they are in Big Sky country as a smoke jumper.

The Pope's Assassin
Luis M. Rocha
9780399156885 $25.95

Like all the Popes before him in the past half a center, Pope Benedict XVI is given a top secret document to read. As the Pope reads, he becomes ill with worry. Five decades ago, Israeli archeologist Ben Isaac and the Status Quo team found the Dead Sea Scrolls, which included the Gospel of Jesus that if revealed would devastate the flock. Twice, twenty-five year agreements have been signed, but this year a third pact has not been renewed as rumors fly that the Scrolls are a hoax to conceal the truth.

Jesuits kidnap the son of Ben to demand he hand over the gospel and the bones of Jesus to them. At the same time, someone is assassinating the survivors of the Status Quo. London-based reporter Sarah Monteiro gets caught in the middle of a Christian power grab. Her beloved Vatican secret agent Father Rafael Santini is unsure where she fits in, but tries to keep her safe.

Loaded with action and an impressive body count (Hell is a growth industry), die hard fans of the Da Vinci Code will enjoy this derivative. The story line is fast-paced, but is too much a copy cat of the Brownian saga though much more graphic as if The Andalusian Dog (of Dali-Brunel) met Dan Brown. Still this is an exhilarating action-packed thriller as Sarah and Father Rafael are caught in the middle of a potential shattering hoax.

Heads You Lose
Lisa Lutz and David Heywood
9780399157400 $24.95

In California, Paul and Lacey Hansen are twentyish brother and sister whose parents are dead. The orphaned siblings grow pot to sell in order to earn some money.

However, their smoke hazed world is shook when they find a headless corpse in their land. The headless body places the siblings at odds with each other; a normal occurrence. The only thing they agree to is they cannot call the cops as they will be busted for growing weed. They relocate the corpse, but a few days later the headless body returns albeit a lot smellier. The pair decides after haggling to investigate who killed the person without a head and why their dump of a property is a dumping ground.

With a nod to the Spellman family chronicles and to Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry, Lisa Lutz and David Heywood collaborate (in the blind) on a jocular crime caper starring two siblings who humorously battle one another over who should do what. Simply put when it comes to pot or not, readers know what the Hansen duet choose without a flip of the coin. The Spellman crowd and any one who relishes a zany over the top crime thriller will appreciate the insanity of Paul and Lacey, the poster kids for keeping pot illegal.

Zombies Don't Cry
Rusty Fischer
Medallion Press, Inc.
1020 Cedar Lane, No. 2N, St. Charles, IL 60174
9781605423821, $9.95,

Maddy Swift is just an ordinary teen; content to stay in the shadows unlike her BFF Hazel who wants to join the in-crowd of Barracuda Bay. She has a crush on Stamp and hopes he will ask her to go with him to the Fall Formal Dance. On her way to meet Stamp, lightning strikes Maddy. When she regains consciousness, Maddy realizes she has no heartbeat and is not breathing. She concludes she has turned into a zombie; and learns so has some of the mean teens in her class.

She is taken to the Elders and Sentinels; they warn her to follow the rules of only killing the insane zerker zombies. Bones and Dahlia try to convert Maddy into a zerker. However, Dane and Chloe mentor her to keep her from turning into a zerker as she struggles to adapt. With her two friends, Maddy becomes resolute in stopping the zerkers who has a weapon to prevent the trio from succeeding in that they possess Stamp. She can kill the teen she cares about, change him into a good zombie with her bite if she wins the fight of her enemies, or let him change her into a zerker.

This "Living Dead Love Story" targets the Twilight teen crowd, but other zombie fanatics will enjoy the thriller too. Flashes of humor such as the zombie rules of orders and becoming zombies by a lightning strike brightens up for the most part this dark tale. Maddy adapts to her life change perhaps too easily, but this is partly due to her inner goodness. Still readers will wonder whether she joins the berserker side to be with Stamp, gets her beloved to join her team, or either (or both) dying permanently.

Boleyn: Tudor Vampire
Cinsearae S.
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781451559491, $12.95,

In the sixteenth century, heartbroken Queen Anne Boleyn awaits her execution in the London Tower knowing everyone deserted her once the charges surfaced. Accused of adultery and treason by the Duke of Suffolk, she knows her innocence is irrelevant when her Lord, her spouse and her father ignore her plea and that of her accused brother George. Her only crime is to love her husband King Henry VIII. As she dies by hanging, she vows to avenge her wrongful death on those who falsely accused her and those who abandoned her at her time of need.

Her condemnation of God as she neared death leads to the resurrections of Anne, George, and court musician friend Mark Smeaton who was also hung. The trio head to Whitehall Palace to enact vengeance on those who fabricated stories or deserted them.

Although the transformation of real historical figures into paranormal beings is a frequent occurrence (see Lucy Weston's Secret History of Elizabeth Tudor, Vampire Slayer and Kate Pierce's Blood of the Rose), Boleyn: Tudor Vampire is a darker thriller. The story line vividly depicts the precarious life of those residing in Henry's court, but once the threesome return it becomes even bloodier. Fans will appreciate this wrongfully murdered by state execution Anne and her companions as they bite their way back until the undead queen learns that the future belongs to her daughter.

The Priest
Gerald O'Donovan
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781451610604, $25.00,

On assignment in Spain working drug trafficking for Europol, Garda Police Inspector Mike Mulcahy returns to Dublin. His boss Superintendent Healy sends him to St. Vincent's Hospital to assist with translation Sex Crimes Inspector Claire Brogran and Detective Sergeant Andy Cassidy on a sexual assault case of a Spanish speaking teenage girl; whose genitals was severely burned. The sixteen year old victim is Jesica with one s whose father is Spain's hardline Interior Minister Alfonso Mellado "The Judge" Salazar.

Because of his time in Spain, Mulcahy remains on the case as a contact with the Spanish government though sex crimes are not his expertise. The predator used a gold crucifix to burn the teen. Whereas the Sex Crime cops insist this is a sexually perverted act by a psychopath, Mulcahy believes otherwise as he thinks this was a religious ritual. Dubbed the Priest by the media including Mulcahy's girlfriend Siobhan Fallon, pressure mounts from politicians to make an arrest immediately.

The second Mulcahy police procedural (see White Lion) is an entertaining Irish whodunit with an intriguing motive for the serial sexual assaults (and one murder). The cast is stereotypical of the sub-genre; as the police superiors, the politicians and the media demand instant gratification mostly to either duck from the noise or to be heard over the clamor; the other cops insist they know best; and the hero becomes the Lone Ranger (without Tonto) to the rescue while expecting to be placed on suspension. Still readers will enjoy Gerald O'Donovan's exciting mystery.

Dolci di Love
Sarah-Kate Lynch
c/o Penguin Group, USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780452296756, $15.00,

In New York, business executive Lily Turner is stunned when she finds a photograph of a beautiful woman and two children. She concludes her perfect husband Daniel has a second family tucked away in Tuscany while she is childless.

Determined to confront Daniel and fueled by alcohol, Lily uses the internet to ascertain that Daniel's secret other life is in Montevedova, Tuscany. She flies to Italy to confront her bigamist spouse. In Tuscan, the elderly sisters Violetta and Luciana give her a room above the bakery while also involving their peers in the Secret League of Widowed Darners who knit broken hearts with Lily their new client unbeknownst to the American. They feel she is perfect for Widower Alessandro who needs a good woman to mend his hurting heart. While failing to find Daniel, she meets his six years old daughter and easily falls in love with the child as if she was her mother and finds herself relishing a longer stay in Tuscany.

This is a warm how to mend a broken heart (Bee-Gees) contemporary tale that stars a hurt New Yorker and a strong Tuscan ensemble cast; ironically Daniel is off page more than on as he and his wife encounter one another late into the story line. Although an urbanite turning into a "rustic" has been used often, (see Summer in Tuscany by Elizabeth Adler starring a New Yorker), fans will enjoy this charming novel as the smell of the bakery fills the pages.

Haunt Me Still
Jennifer Lee Carrell
9780452296763 $15.00

Although she knows the rumor of a curse associated with this dark play, "Occult Shakespeare" expert Kate Stanley directs a production of Macbeth near Dunsinnan Hill, Scotland. Her partner Ben Pearl is also with her as he was when they found a missing Shakespearean manuscript and something much more lethal (see Interred with Their Bones).

However, unexplained phenomena haunt the rendition as the infamous curse seems real. First there is mumblings about the boy actor who played Lady Macbeth during the Elizabethan Era opening only to die in the role. Then there is the trench filled with blood that the crew and cast wonder if it might be a warning from Lady Macbeth as there would have to have been a major monstrous massacre to produce all that crimson. Finally Kate acts possessed when she sleepwalks. When she awakens at the top of Dunsinnan Hill she is frightened as she has no idea how she got there nor why her hands are drenched in blood. The cops think they can answer that bloody question when they find the corpse of a woman on the hill. With Ben at her side, Kate investigates refusing to believe the Bard had demonic rituals written into the play as the director assumes a more mortal murderer makes mischievous mayhem.

This is an enjoyable amateur sleuth take on Macbeth in which the opening theme of "Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble" is the prime premise of Haunt Me Still. Although over the top of Dunsinnan Hill, but rich with the Bard's lore and history of productions of Macbeth, fans will enjoy Jennifer Lee Carrell's fine Shakespearean spin.

Angel Harp
Michael Phillips
Faith Words
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780446567718, $16.99,

Six years ago when she was thirty-four years old, her husband died. Since his death, harpist Marie "Angel" Buchan realizes she has been drifting and not living, but turning forty is a rude awakening.

The Canadian decides to visit coastal Scotland on a vacation, but also takes her harp with her. She stops in Port Scarnose where she sits on a bench overlooking the sea and playing her harp. Enjoying her stay, she remains in the quaint village rather than travel to the other places on her itinerary. Marie feels alive for the first time since she became a widow. She makes friends with 12-year-old Gwendolyn; and when her three weeks are up she chose to stay to teach the eager tweener with talent to play the harp. Feeling magical, Marie has two men, Iain Barclay and Alasdair the Duke pursuing her, unaware this is not their first triangle. However, Marie feels like an angel who's come home; as everyone in Port Scarnose seems happier whenever the Canadian widow and her protege play for them.

This is a terrific inspirational second chance at life saga in which not just Marie but everyone she touches feels as if they are touched by an angel. Character driven (including the local vernacular; something I do not enjoy but enhances the sense of being in Scotland), readers will appreciate the Canadian's uplifting whimsical escapades; mindful of Brigadoon without the town vanishing.

The Scar-Crow Men
Mark Chadbourn
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616142544, $16.00,

In 1593 in London, Queen Elizabeth seems preoccupied though none of her inner circle of advisors knows about what as her Highness ignores the plight of her people as the Black Plague runs unchecked across the kingdom. While she hides behind the palace walls, an unknown adversary is methodically assassinating her spies with the new chief unconcerned unlike his late predecessor the late Sir Francis Walsingham who would have went after the killer.

When a devil appears looking like Will Swyfte's beloved Jenny in the middle of the opening production of Christopher Marlowe's Dr. Faustus, the agent further is stunned as the imp gives him a personal message. Even more shocking is when his friend and spy Marlowe is murdered. Will vows to identify the killer and bring this person to justice, his style, although he believes he knows his inquiry into the homicides of the spies especially that of his friend will lead to the Queen's most dangerous and bitterest enemy the Unseelie Court.

The sequel to the Silver Skull is a superb Elizabethan fantasy that effortlessly blends the paranormal with the historical. For instance, the background has the Black Plague ravaging London with the source quite fascinating and uses Marlowe's unexplained death in 1593 as pivotal point in the novel. Readers will relish Swyfte's swift descent into hell as he has no allies even among the spies and faces incredibly powerful enemies who set in motion the supernatural and natural scheme to eliminate Elizabeth years ago. The Scar-Crow Men is a great late sixteenth century otherworldly alternate English thriller.

J.A. Konrath
9781935597216 $13.95

Mr. K is the most successful serial killer in history. Law enforcement believes this vicious predatory beast has murdered over two hundred victims from all walks of life as race, gender or age is irrelevant.

Retired Police Lieutenant Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels tangled with this psychopath twenty-five years ago when she worked for Chicago Police Department. She was fortunate to come out of the encounter alive. However, now she has a return engagement except Mr. K has the upper hand again as he toys with her having her bound and gagged while his next victim is stuffed in a nearby locker. As she looks back over her quarter of a century in law enforcement, Jack knows she has ended the careers of some evil people, but Mr. K is the most devious and deadliest.

The latest Jack Daniels thriller is a totally different set up the previous six entries (see Fuzzy Navel and Cherry Bomb) as the heroine is a prisoner reflecting on her current predicament and looking back over her career (with amusing flashbacks from previous dangerous cases). The story line remains tense whether it is in the present or the past, but the bygone years have Jack's filter abating the danger with humor while the present means hogtied by a maniacal killer. Readers will relish this terrific thriller wondering where the cell phone rescue, if an escape occurs, will come from; as the pages tick away with a woman tortured physically and Jack mentally. All that is without the author's stunning afterward.

Come and Find Me
Hallie Ephron
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022-5299
9780061857522, $24.99,

Two years ago altruistic idealistic hacker Daniel Banks died in a mountain climbing accident on Eiger. His widow Diana and their best friend Jake opened up a computer security firm. However, she has not been able to move on as she suffers panic attacks when attempting to navigate the real world. Instead Diana prefers limited contact via Otherworld a virtual website where her avatar is Nadia; her only consistent live in person human contact is her hypochondriac sister Ashley.

While visiting Diana, Ashley decides to attend an event in which her older sister was invited, but will not go. Ashley vanishes. Diana begins a quest to find her sibling via the virtual world and drugged to the max in the real mean streets as anxiety rips her stomach and panic attacks never cease.

Mindful of Sigourney Weaver's character Helen Hudson in Copy Cat, Diana is an intriguing lead character as she suffers from agoraphobia but knows she must venture outside if she is to rescue her sister. Although the key element that she concludes is the cause of her condition is that she allowed her self to become Ms. Daniel so when he died her identity died too; however this fails to gel as this feels more like babble rather than a defense mechanism. Still readers will enjoy her tenuous efforts as she begins to believe Daniel was right that the government-industrial-financial complex controls cyberspace where the latest official shutdown is in Madison.

The Bone Yard
Jefferson Bass
9780061806780 $24.99

Dr. Bill Brockton runs the Body Farm in Tennessee. The farm is actually a research facility where human corpses are studied to ascertain decay rates. Bill agrees to assist Floridian forensic specialist Angie St. Claire with a family trauma. In Georgia, Angie's sister Kate died from a shotgun blast to her head. Local law enforcement decided she committed suicide. Angie cannot accept the official denouement as she believes her brother-in-law Don Nicely murdered his wife.

Nicely nicely buries the evidence when he expedites the burial of his wife's body without telling Angie he moved the funeral forward. As he works the dead sister case, Brockton also becomes involved with a skull and subsequent graves found in the Panhandle. These remains of adolescent boys lead Bill to a reform school where the student-inmates were abused.

In the latest "Bone" forensic investigation (see The Bone Thief), the two subplots are fast-paced and fun though somewhat muted as the science supersedes the action. Readers will appreciate the insight into forensics but that overwhelms the cases. Still the Body Farm Doctor's latest soiree into human decay is an enjoyable thriller for those who like to remain current.

Dead by Midnight
Carolyn Hart
9780061914973 $24.99

In barrier island Broward's Rock, South Carolina, Annie Darling, owner of the Death on Demand mystery bookstore, scoffs at the government's official position that her employee Pat Merridew committed suicide. Pat had lost her job as receptionist at Jamison, Jamison, & Brewster law firm and was planning an expensive Alaskan cruise she could not afford. Finally Pat was reportedly doing late night hour sojourns.

Annie and her private investigator husband Max investigate with a close look at law partner Glen Jamison, his family and the firm especially his associates. Someone shoots and kills Glen with the evidence proving his sister Elaine committed the homicide. However, Annie and Max think she is innocent as they believe the prime suspect protects someone who is involved in both deaths.

The latest Death on Demand whodunit (see Laughed 'Til He Died) is a refreshing locked room cozy as the Darlings find this case somewhat personal due to Pat's death. With the usual interwoven references to other mystery authors and their titles, fans will relish the delightful darling Darlings as they investigate two Dead by Midnight.

The Little Princes
Conor Grennan
9780061930058 $25.99

In 2006 just before turned he turned thirty, Conor Grennan gave up his day job in Prague to travel around the world. When he reached Kathmandu, he stayed longer than he planned when he hesitantly volunteered to work at the Little Princes Children's Home. He feared he lacked the proper training to help the eighteen young residents; However as the kids hook him with their ability to bounce back from inhumanity horror, he is shocked to learn they are not war orphans as he thought they were. Instead these children were rescued from Golkka, a child trafficker with high level government connections, who conned their parents in Humla Province into believing that he could take their offspring to safety away from the warring Maoist insurgents who recruit the young by abduction. Conor "Brother" vows to take the kids home in spite of a brutal civil war, the Himalayas and the need for funding (he established Next Generation Nepal to raise money and awareness).

This is a heartening memoir that emphasizes a person who cares can nudge mountains to help others. Dramatic yet frantic, readers will enjoy Mr. Grennan's quest, which as his friend Farid says affirms karma exists; as the author feels rewarded with giggles from a muted child and the happiness emanating from reunited families, but also led to his meeting his eventual wife Liz and his replacement as Country Director Anna. Mr. Grennan has achieved his pledge to "bring home the lost children of Nepal".

Crunch Time
Diane Mott Davidson
9780061348150 $26.99

In Aspen Meadow, Colorado, an arsonist burns down the rental in which chef Yolanda Garcia and her Great Aunt Ferdinanda lived. Shook, the pair moves into the abode of former cop turned private investigator Ernest McLeod. However, soon after the two females move in, he is murdered and his house set on fire.

Goldilocks Catering owner Goldy Schulz invites her friend and the aunt to move in with her as the Fatally Flakey caterer will not allow a homicidal arsonist to scare her from doing the right thing for friends. Her husband Sheriff's Department investigator Tom and police officer John Bertran as Ernest's former partner lead the inquiry. When someone tries but fails to break into Goldy's home, a cop moves in to protect the three women. However Goldy, who not one to stew in silence, investigates who targets Yolanda and Ferdinanda, and why.

The latest Goldy Colorado culinary cozy (see Sweet Revenge) is an entertaining whodunit as once again the amateur sleuth competes with law enforcement to uncover the identity of the culprit. The mystery is personal as the killer murdered a friend and threatened to harm another long time pal of the heroine (the chefs worked together in a defunct restaurant), but it is the home invasion partly thwarted by Jake the bloodhound that sets Goldy in motion. With a strong late spin, fans will relish this taut suspense thriller.

Born Under a Lucky Moon
Dana Precious
9780061876875 $13.99

Jeannie Thompson grew up in Muskegon County, Michigan as the youngest of five siblings. Her family seemed to always land in one humiliating scenario after another. Even her high school sweetheart ended their engagement because he could not cope with the maniacal behavior of her family where granny ran naked in the streets. She fled at the first chance she had for Los Angeles. By 2006 she works as a troubleshooting executive at Oxford Pictures and dating renowned filmmaker Aidan. All is perfect until Aidan proposes.

Jeannie explains to him why they must not marry though she loves him. In 1986 her only brother Evan was getting married. When her sister Elizabeth called mom from California to announce their army sister Sammie married Chuck; mom decided a second wedding was in order with one week to go before Evan married. Jeannie insists frantic insane events are the norm for her family. Aidan deserves better, which she insists is the status quo. Aidan wants to marry her with her family in attendance. When he realizes she hides him from her nearby sisters, he vanishes.

This is an engaging amusing family drama as three potential weddings two decades apart are seen through Jeannie's filter; color her world with humiliation. The ensemble cast is fully developed especially the Michigan musketeers as the family credo should be one for all and all for one though Jeannie has forgotten that tenet. Although there are too many subplots as each sibling and to a degree the parents have a tale to tell, fans will relish this precious tale that provides homage to the Kaufman-Hart play You Can't Take It With You.

My Irresistible Earl
Gaelen Foley
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061733963, $7.99,

Diplomat Jordan Lennox is an earl who gave up much of what he desired to join the infamous Inferno Club whose scandalous activity conceal their pledge to protect the king. Of all he left behind when he swore allegiance to the secret order, perhaps the one that hurts the most and the only to fill his soul with remorse is Lady Mara Bryce; who on first sight he knew she was the person he wanted by his side forever. Twelve years ago, he asked her to wait for him before vanishing to perform his duty. He never came back and she married, but is now a widow.

When they meet for the first time in a dozen years, Mara and Jordan know the attraction between them remains strong. He considers that destiny has brought them back together, but fears for her life as he works an undercover mission to prevent an evil cult from harming the monarch. However, his bringing Mara into the fold leaves her in danger while he second guesses his decision to not lose her again.

The third Inferno Club espionage Regency romance (see My Wicked Marquess and My Dangerous Duke) is an exciting second chance at love suspense thriller. The story line is fast-paced from start to finish although the overarching theme of the current battle between the Inferno Club and the Prometheans in their centuries-old war does not move as the espionage subplot never quite gels beyond bringing deadly danger to Mara. Still sub-genre fans will enjoy the love story of an Inferno.

Seducing the Governess
Margo Maguire
9780062018212 $7.99

In 1816 having served on the continent during the war where he suffered an eye injury, Nash Farris returns home to learn he is the Earl of Ashby and has become guardian to his orphaned niece Emmaline following the suspicious death of his brother. He has never expected to be the earl as he was the third son so he lacks the necessary skills. Worse he has no idea how to raise a child, especially a female.

Nash hires Mercy Franklin to be a governess to his niece. Their first meeting on the road to his dilapidated home sets the gauntlet as a gender war is declared. He is attracted to mouthy Mercy, but feels his first mission is to learn what happened to his sibling Arthur and his sister-in-law as well as their oldest brother Hoyt earlier in the year. Deadly accidents have occurred too frequently; so Nash, surrounded by veterans he fought with and trusts with his life, increases his efforts to find who is behind the incidents. As he falls in love with Mercy, Nash knows he should wed the girl next door but wants the governess.

Seducing the Governess is a wonderful Regency romantic suspense with two investigative subplots (the other not mentioned above). The story line is fast-paced as Nash and Mercy argue, detect and fight while falling in love; at the same time a captain Briggs is also conducting an investigation. With a strong cast and a fabulous whodunit as well as the other mystery, sub-genre fans will fully relish Margo Maguire' magnificent historical while waiting for the second part of Brigg's inquiry.

One Night Is Never Enough
Anne Mallory
9780062017307 $7.99

Anyone who meets Lady Charlotte Chatsworth assumes she has frozen tundra for a heart as she comes across as unfeeling colder than the polar caps. Her father owes a major gambling debt so he offers Charlotte to the highest bidder. She does not argue with her reprobate father because if she does not acquiesce, her sister Emily will be next on the auction block.

Gambling parlor owner Roman Merrick detests Chatsworth as a worm who refuses to accept responsibility for his actions and vices. Roman is attracted to Charlotte so he accepts her father's offer of a night with Charlotte for his vouchers. Roman and Charlotte spend the evening playing chess while she knows she wants him but she needs to marry up not down.

Although the theme of betting a female loved one as a stake has been done frequently in historical romances (see The Seduction by Julia Ross), Anne Mallory provides a fresh regency romance due to the strong cast especially the lead couple. Charlotte is a strong person sacrificing her virtue and a good match to protect her sister from her wastrel father; although she knows her efforts may prove temporary as dearest dad is a gambling addict. Roman is everything she should loathe in a man until she sees how kind and caring he is. Readers will enjoy their chess match including Trant, another suitor of sorts.

The Heiress
Lynsay Sands
9780061963094 $7.99

Her sister Christian's marriage (see The Countess) bought the family time, but at the rate their father loses money gambling, they still face the scandal of poverty shortly. Suzette knows she needs to find a husband, which will allow her to demand her inheritance.

Suzette wants an impoverished desperate male who needs to marry money and is wiling to negotiate with her over the joint use of her dowry. Daniel Woodrow pretends to be a pauper to elude gold-digging twits. However, when he and Suzette meet, both are attracted to one another. She insists she seeks a penurious spouse while he pleads insolvency. She stuns him with a proposal that he shocks her by accepting. Besides ridding them of a corpse, they chase after a blackmailer and must escape a diabolical adversary before they can say I do in love.

Since the Heiress is a co-read to the Countess, as several major incidents are reiterated here in a fresh brisk manner but from a different viewpoint (Einstein's relativity at work), it behooves the audience to read both historical romantic suspense thrillers back to back. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the lead couple meets and never slows down as Lynsay Sands amusingly satirizes the sub-genre with a spin mindful of Oscar Wilde's Victorian lampoon The Importance of Being Ernest; in this case the importance of being poor.

Lone Star Intrigue
Debra White Smith
9780062049445 $9.99

Texas Heat. With her marriage ended, Charli Friedmont, accompanied by her little daughter Bonnie, returns home to Bullard, Texas where Sheriff Jack Mansfield arrests her for bank embezzlement of over a $100,000. Jack never forgot Charli who left his heart shattered when she left him to leave town with that no account Vinnie eleven years ago. His heart may be overruling his brain, but Jack plans to prove his Charli innocent of the crime at the risk of his law enforcement career. Charlie regrets what she did to Jack and decides he is better off without a single mother on her way to prison.

Texas Pursuit. Tanya O'Brien fell in love with the baby based on a photo. She adopted Coty in spite of his needing surgeries. On the plane home, Maurice Salazar claiming claustrophobia sits in in their row. She feels he is creepy. Later he stalks her, but the cops cannot help her until he assaults her. Afraid for Coty, Tanya moves. Maurice hires downtrodden private investigator Sonny Mansfield to find his former wife and their adopted infant. Sonny locates Tanya and Coty, but though he regrets the foolish mistakes he has made; he knows this is the biggest. He vows to keep the mom and her son safe from his predatory client.

These two Mansfield brothers' romantic suspense sagas are exciting thrillers that grip the audience from start to finish and a third sibling to follow. The second chance at love (Texas Heat) and the second chance at life (Texas Pursuit) contain strong lead males, engaging single moms with precious children, and vile villains. Although each omits a critical element (how the frame occurred and the abrupt ending), fans will appreciate both tales and look forward to Ryan's reckoning.

Hunger Untamed
Pamela Palmer
9780061794711 $7.99

Hawke and Tighe are caught in a spirit trap with no way to escape without external help. Kougar knows one person who can free the two trapped Feral Warriors; the one person he does not want to ever see, a woman who betrayed their love. However, he pleads with his former mate, Ariana Queen of the Linas to help them.

Ariana conceals something from the male she has cherished from afar for over a millennium even when he turned his back on her as they come from two different races. She would like to help his beleaguered friends, but is unable to do so though a frustrated Kougar assumes she is just being spiteful. Instead she knows that in spite of their being soulmates, she and her beloved must never reconcile or else the darkness will accelerate the pace engulfing this realm.

The fifth Feral Warrior romantic urban fantasy (see Passion Untamed, Desire Untamed, Obsession Untamed and Rogue Untamed) is a super tale filled with action yet driven by the lead couple as each knows it is not easy being in love with someone from the other race. The story line is fast-paced from the moment a frantic Kougar begs his soul mate to save his comrades and never slows down as the heroine struggles with a dilemma between her desires and her responsibilities. Fans will relish this strong Untamed thriller.

This Side of the Grave
Jeaniene Frost
9780091783180 $7.99

In Ohio Ghouls have been attacking vampires without Masters. There is a fear of a species war exploding unless the assaults ends. Vampire couple Cat and Bones head to the Buckeye State to prevent the deadly combat. Once the notorious half-breed government agent the Red Reaper who destroyed vampires Cat has evolved into a full Undead, but has skills no one has seen since the death in medieval times of Joan of Arc.

Apollyon the Ghoul insists that Cat is proof that the vampires are trying to take over the world starting with his species. Marie Laveau the Ghoul feels yanked in two directions that have friends and foes wondering who she sides with while Cat's mother has turned into a vampire at a time when all hell is breaking loose within her family and across the paranormal communities. Only with Bones does Cat feel comforted, but has little time for that respite.

The Night Huntress urban fantasy (see Destined for an Early Grave) continues one of the better series as the romantic subplot takes a back seat to the prime theme of the likely hellish paranormal species war. The cast that runs the species gamut is fully developed while the lead heroes struggle with preventing a nasty war; as each has come a long way from innocence and uncle dearest. Fast-paced and loaded with non-stop action, readers will appreciate Jeaniene Frost's aptly titled exhilarating thriller.

What I Did for a Duke
Julie Anne Long
9780061885686 $7.99

Ian Eversea breaks one of the most powerful rules amidst the Ton. Everyone knows never to mess with arrogant Duke Alexander Moncrieffe; for if you do you will pay an exorbitant price.

The Duke is outraged when Ian had the audacity to fall in love with Alexander's fiancee. He decides Eversea must pay for this affront. What better way than to seduce the man's innocent sister before ruining and dumping her. However, Moncrieffe learns that the plans of mice and men often go astray when women are involved. Eversea's sister Genevieve has spunk as she dares to enter Moncrieffe's inferno where passion ignites both of them. However, Genevieve must choose between marriage to a man who adores her and a scandalous spinsterhood by selecting the duke she loves who apparently fails to reciprocate her feelings.

The latest Pennyroyal Green historical romance (see Like No Other Lover) is an engaging tale that is more aligned to the sub-genre than the previous seafaring I Kissed an Earl, but contains Julie Anne Long's trademark freshness with an enjoyable gender war. If White's took bets, the arrogant male would slaughter the innocent female; however she defies the odds just like her brother did as love is a powerful stimulus. This is a marvelous tale.

Vienna Twilight
Frank Tallis
Random House
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780812981001, $15.00,

In 1903 near the Court Theater, Constable Badem finds the corpse of a young woman. He takes control of the crime scene until Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt arrives to investigate. The victim turns out to be nineteen years old model Adele Zeiler. The predator used a hairpin jammed into her brain while they were making love.

Stunned by his conclusion, Oskar asks Freud's colleague Dr. Max Liebermann, who has collaborated with him before on odd investigations (see Vienna Secrets), to provide psychoanalysis to the case. Other women die in the same way as Max believes the insane murderer comes when he executes his lover at the pint of climax. With Vienna in panic as even the Emperor is upset with little progress at apprehending the fiend, Oskar and Max diligently work on finding a new type of killer; a sexual serial murderer is something the doctor has never heard of before.

The latest gaslight Vienna Liebermann mystery is a wonderful historical whodunit starring two friends who share a passion for justice and music, and a killer like none either the cop or the doc ever encountered before. Mindful of The Empty Mirror by J. Sydney Jones, fans of the series will enjoy Max's problems with paving the way with what he believes is new ground for psychology and police work.

Elizabeth Bear
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780553591095, $7.99,

Having wandered through space seemingly forever on Jacob's Ladder, the Jacobites are euphoric having finally found a habitable planet. However, the travelers are stunned when they find a human race beat them to the orb. This species of humanoids have been surgically "right minded" emotionally. They seem even more extraterrestrial than some of the alien races they met during the odyssey (see Dust and Chill).

The humans on the planet and those occupying Jacob s Ladder refuse to negotiate. Instead each side opposes comingling. War is imminent only to have enemies from within Jacob's ladder attack from inside the craft.

This is a great finish to the strong trilogy as the cultural difference between the Jacobites and the right minded is further than Pluto is from the sun. Elizabeth Bear looks deep into those riding inside of Jacob's Ladder as they have reached their Promised Land, but like Joshua at Jericho face a major occupant dilemma, but unlike the Old testament, the crew is divided. To a lesser degree fans will learn of the right minded society. War between these two humanoid groups seems imminent.

State of the Union
Douglas Kennedy
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781451602098, $16.00,

In 1969, eighteen years old Hannah Latham has A Special Relationship with her parents; dysfunctional. Her father is a radical activist protesting anything; while her mother is an artist with mental issues. To them she is a major disappointment as she ignores the rebellion of her peers against authority. Instead Hannah wants out of the frantic family soap opera; so she marries medical student Dan Buchan; becomes pregnant; and moves to rural Maine. She becomes a librarian-housewife until her father's radical friend Tobias Judson arrives in Maine.

In 2003, Hannah feels her world imploding. Her college age daughter Lizzie vanishes after mentally breaking when she learns an inconvenient truth. Hannah's BFF is dying so she cannot turn to her for solace as she must provide comfort. Finally Toby reappears on national TV as her secret transgression from over three decades ago becomes known to all.

This is a profound character study as Hannah learns sometimes you get what you wish for only to regret you made the wrong wish. Although the issues seem relatively minor, the cast is solid especially the lead female who on any page seems over the edge of the emotional cliff. Through Hannah and her cohorts, Douglas Kennedy takes a close look at the hypocrisy of family values; pointing out that values can be negative and cherry-picking convenient; for instance the previous indiscretions of a born again are ignored by his or her peers regardless of what they might have been.

Now You See Her
Joy Fielding
9781416585312 $25.99

Two years ago in a boating accident in Georgian Bay near Toronto, her daughter Devon allegedly drowned, but her body was not recovered. That tiny hope keeps fifty year old recently divorced Canadian Marcy Taggart unable to find closure as she and Devon last saw one another in a regretful scenario; thus the bereft mother clings to and prays for a miracle that her Devon purposely vanished.

Instead of her silver anniversary with Peter, he found solace with another woman, as their marriage ended when Devon disappeared. Thus instead of going with Peter as planned; Marcy travels to Ireland alone to temporarily escape from her mind-numbing grief. In Cork while on a guided tour, she sees a girl she believes is her Devon. She begins a quest to find the girl, but someone ransacks her hotel room followed by warning to leave or else. However, this is her daughter so she refuses to quit her search for the girl who may be Devon.

At times over the top of Knockboy, Marcy's desperation and intense feelings of guilt and regret make this a powerful thriller as her need for closure leads her into all sorts of sinister trouble. Her new companions add eccentric entertainment but fail to add to a mother grieving the loss of her daughter. Marcy's quest leads to a taut tale of danger, but it is her personal tension ripping her soul apart that turns Now You See Her into a great read.

Jonas Hassin Khemeri
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307270955, $26.95,

Abbas left Tunisia to settle in Stockholm. Over eight years ago, he vanished. An email from Kadir of Tunisia to first time published novelist Jonas Khemiri offers an intriguing proposition. Kadir claims to have been Abbas' best friend at a Tunisian orphanage while Jonas is Abbas' adult son. The former wants to collaborate with a latter on Abbas's biography.

Abbas came to Sweden without a krona to his name or an identity beyond orphan as he fell in love with a flight attendant. With money lent from Kadir, Abbas follows his beloved to Stockholm, where like a Cinderfella they marry and raise a family. However, the North African fails to adapt to life in Sweden and worse is unable to support his family as a photographer as xenophobic Swediot bigots vandalize his studio. Frustrated in his attempts to fit in while his son taunts him, he gave up and disappeared only to become world recognized as a superstar in New York.

This is an excellent look at modern Swedish society's so called melting pot in which one prime ingredient is acceptable in the stew; though this could be just about anywhere with few true international cities. The story line is driven by Kadir and Jonas who share commentary on Abbas. However, what makes the novel superior is the Tunisian-Swedish dialect (incredibly translated into English by Rachel Willson-Broyles) as readers will believe Abbas is a real person whose journey from frightened child to world accolades starts in Tunisia, goes to Sweden and ends in New York.

Minding Frankie
Maeve Binchy
9780307273567 $26.95

In Dublin Stella is dying from cancer. She prays she lives long enough to give birth to the child she is carrying. Worrying about the raising of her infant, she informs alcoholic Noel Lynch that he is the father. He is confused as he does not have any recall of having sex with Stella, but admits he could have been in a drunken stupor, Noel has doubts he can deal with the responsibly of a kid when he cannot even take care of himself.

Noel's cousin Emily from New York encourages him to stop drinking and to raise his daughter, Frankie born at St. Brigid's Hospital following the death of Stella. He joins AA, works diligently to be a good father and persuade Moira the social worker he will take proper care of his daughter; the latter proves the most difficult as the case worker has an agenda caused by her own unhappy childhood. Lisa the graphic artist moves into the home of father, daughter and visiting cousin, but also joins other residents of St. Jarlath's Crescent to help her host remain sober.

As always in a Maeve Binchy drama, there is much more going on than the prime focus as characters from previous novels reappear either to help Noel as a single dad or to tell their tale. The Irish neighborhood horde are the heart and Soul of Minding Frankie as they also mind Noel. Moira proves to be much more than a stereotype enforcer and Lisa has relationship issues, as does St. Brigid's administrator Frank. These people and Noel contrast to Emily who does everything right for everyone else, but lives precariously through their lives. Fans will enjoy Ms. Binchy's latest tour of Dublin as it takes a caring neighborhood to raise a child.

I Think I Love You
Allison Pearson
9781400042357 $24.95

In 1974 in Wales, thirteen years old Petra doesn't just think she knows she loves TV and rock star David Cassidy. Petra competed in the Ultimate David Cassidy Quiz contest but assumes she lost when she never heard from the sponsors. She and her best friend Sharon sneak off to London to hear Cassidy perform. In London, Petra meets Bill, author of The Essential David Cassidy Magazine.

In 1998, Petra is in a troubled marriage with a teenage daughter. When her mother dies, Petra finds proof that she won that contest twenty-five years ago with the prize being a trip to California. She contacts the magazine who invites her to Vegas to meet Cassidy. Petra and Sharon travel to Nevada where they meet Bill, a reporter covering the story for the magazine.

The insightful story line rotates between Petra and Bill as each along with Sharon sees Cassidy from a relatively different perspective back in the Partridge days and in the "present". Character driven, fans will enjoy the profound look at hero adulation especially the diverse range between a teen fantasy to an adult reality. Although the teenybopper era is a bit slow, readers will hum "C'mon Get Happy"; as "Believe me, you really don't have to worry" (from I Think I Love You) because this is an enjoyable contemporary tale.

You Don't Love This Man
Dan DeWeese
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061992322, $14.99,

Bank manager Paul is the father of the bride as his daughter Miranda will marry his former best friend Grant. The morning of the wedding Catherine at the bank calls Paul informing him they were robbed and the cops had arrived. Catherine tells him to enjoy his day as everything is under control; he wonders why call him if that is so.

When he learns Miranda is missing, Paul thinks back over two decades ago when he was with his then three years old daughter trick or treating only to lose her temporarily. He is frustrated by his ex-wife Sandra who is unconcerned as well as her brother Bradshaw of the big vocabulary. Paul tries to find his daughter just like he tried the first time she vanished. Adding to his bewilderment is learning the robber was the same thief who robbed the bank over twenty years ago.

You Don't Love This Man is a terrific character study of a person who believes his life was futile but looks back anyway. This leads to Paul reexamining who matters and why to him and him to them. With a nod to It's A Wonderful Life (without Clarence), readers will empathize with the protagonist who begins to understand relationships 101; as he concludes that having someone's number in his cellphone does not mean they will answer his call.

Afraid of the Dark
James Grippando
9780061840289 $25.99

Lawyer Jack Swyteck defends twentyish Somali prisoner 977detained at GITMO, which stands for "Giving Interrogation Teams More Options" for three years. His client distrusts anyone from America after being bushed by enhanced interrogation techniques at Guantanamo. The charge against 977 is he signed a confession that he sheltered al-Qaeda operations chief Fazul Abdullah Mohammed. Jack wins the case for his client, but over lunch with Neil Goderich, instead of the release of 977, he is informed he has been handed over to Florida law enforcement.

977 has been identified as American Jamal Wakefield, wanted by Miami police for the murder of his former girlfriend McKenna Mays three years ago. Jamal is sent to Florida to stand trial with Jack defending him again. Jamal explains an over the top conspiracy of abduction and rendition to a Prague prison, and forceful interrogation. He names people as his alibi, but each person he claims as a witness is killed by an unknown assassin team; Jack believes the Pentagon is outsourcing murder to Black Ice. Jack tries to find ways to end the killing spree that seems sanctioned high up; even as his girlfriend FBI Agent Andie warns him to drop the case. Still he remains resolute unaware how deadly the Dark truly is.

The latest Swyteck legal thriller (see Born to Run) is an excellent tale as the attorney goes from defending his African client against terrorism charges to defending his American client against murder charges. With some nasty foes on all sides of the war against terrorism and an irate avenger demanding justice for McKenna, Jack struggles to do right by his client if he lives so long. Afraid of the Dark is a terrific international thriller.

Tim Davys
9780061797453 $19.99

Renowned venture capitalist Oswald Vulture's head is missing. Mollison Town Inspector Bloodhound and his subordinate Detective Anna Lynx and Falcon Ecu investigate what appears to be a locked room mystery as there is only one entrance/exit in and out of the room and no stuffed animal has entered or exited. Private sleuth Philip Mouse assists the cops.

The three cops quickly find suspects that have the threads of the police ripping apart. Sexy secretary Emmanuelle Cobra, art connoisseur and hooligan Igor Panda, Oleg Earwig the inventor, and enigmatic Jasmine Squirrel all had motives though opportunity remains unclear. The inquiry fails to turn seamless as the detectives are unable to knit together the clues; instead, the case turns convoluted as forgeries, prostitution, and a traveling casino make the three sleuths want to pull out their threads.

The third Mollison Town stuffed animal polis procedural (see Amberville and Lanceheim) is a whimsical satire that is at its best when the personification lampoons human foibles. The whodunit is a fun locked room mystery but very linear and obvious. Still in spite of the cuteness of the premise the Mollison Town tales target adults who enjoy something different in their investigative thrillers.

Shadow Tag
Louise Erdrich
9780061536106 $14.99

In Minneapolis, the America family lives in a nice home. The father Gil is a famous Native American artist whose graphic model is his wife Irene the historian, an Ojibwa. The couple has three children (Florian, Riel and Stony). However, Gil has failed to break out of a stereotype while Irene slowly works on her dissertation on the painter George Catlin.

The assimilated middle class couple has hidden family issues. Gil, whose Native American father died in Nam, abuses their children while Irene ignores his nastiness behind the veneer of wine. She becomes active when she realizes he has been reading her diary. However, unlike her mother an AIM protestor who would have got in his face, Irene begins writing two dairies; the blue one she hides from Gil while in the other she describes an affair that does not exist to toy with her spouse who she believes betrayed her trust. As she strives to end their marriage, he vigorously wants to save it.

This is not an easy read as the adults emotionally torture each other at exorbitant costs to themselves and their three children. The character based story line of this psychological family drama contains three subplots: entries from Irene's two diaries and a third person account of the dysfunctional family. Although profound, readers will have hard time empathizing with any of the America family, even the six years old youngest offspring, as none of the quintet seems to care what anyone else needs and for the most part there is never a truly happy moment.

Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction That Changed America
Les Staniford with Detective Sergeant Joe Matthews
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061983900, $24.99,

In July, 1981 in a Sears store in a Hollywood, Florida mall, six years old Adam Walsh vanishes. His frantic parents Reve and John worried about their son's safety until two weeks later when Adam's partial remains were found. In 1983, Jacksonville police arrested Otis Toole for arson and murder. He confessed and recanted his confession of killing a child. Over the years Toole continued to confess killing Adam, but also withdrew his confession though he knew details that only the killer would have known. Evidence was mishandled and vanished so he was never was charged with the little boys homicide. In 1996 Toole died in prison.

Although John and Reve became voices of advocating the rights of children and strong laws to protect the young, they never found closure with Adam's death. Finally in 2006, they hired retired Florida police officer Joe Matthews, who was on the original inquiry, to look into the cold case murder of their son over two decades earlier. Matthews analyzed Toole's confessions and other deviance. In 2008, Matthews and his team using modern technology determined who killed Adam.

This is not an easy read as John Walsh explains no one gets closure even with the case solved. Much of the true crime account faults the police for shoddy work, which can after awhile detract from the overall emotional impact of what the Walsh family emotionally went through (and still are going through) and the macabre riveting comments by Toole. This is a profound look at one of the key (and the first) "Abduction that Changed how America deals with crimes against children.

A Widow's Story: A Memoir
Joyce Carol Oates
9780062015532 $27.99

In February 2008, Ontario review Editor Raymond Smith was not feeling well so his wife of almost five decades noted author Joyce Carol Oates drove him to the Princeton Medical Center. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and admitted as a patient. Both he and his spouse expected him to come home in a few days. Instead he developed an infection and died one week later.

This memoir is about Ms. Oates' efforts to move on from the unexpected death of a loved one. Everything reminded her how alone she had become and how much she missed her beloved partner. Ms. Oates confesses she initially expected Raymond to appear any moment to help her with the physical and monetary impacts of his death. However, as she wept agonizingly slowly through the passes of grieving, she realized it is the little things in life that enabled Joyce Smith to survive the biggest tragedy she ever faced. This is an insightful first-hand look at grieving as Ms. Oates confirms grief is personally customized to the loving survivor.

Catherynne M. Valente
Tor Books
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765326300, $24.99,

The city has changed names several times over the past century, but currently is called St. Petersburg as everything goes full circle. On Gorokhovaya Street, Marya Morevna was six years old when she saw the bird turn into Lieutenant Gratch of the Tsar's Personal Guard who came to take away her older sister Olga with him. Three years later Lieutenant Zuyok of the White Guard also changed as he came for Tatiana. Finally when Marya was twelve Lieutenant Shulan of the Red Army arrived for the third daughter Anna. Watching the birds change to men come for her older sisters leaves Marya musing over the type of bird her mate will be.

Koschei the Deathless Tsar of Life arrives for his woman, Marya. However, she must prove herself worthy as Koschei's mate. In that regard Baba Yaga tasks Marya with three impossible assignments; failure to compete all three proves she is not the mate of the Deathless Tsar of Life. Marya begins her Herculean tasks, Marya starts to lose her humanity until she meets the innocent Ivan "The Fool" Nikolayevich, who pulls her back to Mother Russia; leaving her confused with one foot in Koschei's realm and one in the land of her ancestors.

This is a terrific complicated retelling of a Russian folktale that uses The Revolution era as a backdrop to the saga; in fact Marya becomes a Major-General in the Red Army. Fast-paced with a strong protagonist who keeps the engaging story line focused; readers will appreciate this intriguing look at Bolshevik Russia through a fantasy lens.

The Unremembered
Peter Orullian
9780765325716 $27.99

In the Hollows, an Order of Sheason wizard and a beautiful elven Far order two orphans (Tahn, and his sister Wendra) and their friend (Sutter) to undergo a dangerous quest. Than is the key, but his sibling and his buddy are needed to protect his back if he to succeed on the dangerous impossible mission. None of the trio understands why they were chosen as they have no skills or experience and never been outside the Hallows. Although each doubts their worthiness they set forth on their mission.

They have hardly begun when a malevolent god sends his evil horde to kill them. Surprising themselves, Tahn, Wendra and Sutter survive assault after assault from the odious minion. At the same time an invasion adds to the chaos.

This is an entertaining coming of age quest fantasy starring a strong young trio. Although the story line is exciting, it comes across somewhat as standard sub-genre fare. However, what makes the plot brisk and fun is the changing relationships between the heroic threesome. Fans who relish an enjoyable epic adventure will want to join Tahn and his cohorts as they fight overwhelming evil in the first Vault of Heaven thriller.

Whitley Strieber
9780765323767 $24.99

In an underground top secret laboratory in New Mexico, years of research by Dr. Thomas Turner and aliens from space proved futile; the visitors finally left. Turner with other human scientists continued the effort until a breakthrough occurred. The team using alien developed gene-splicing technology and theory has created biomechanical hybrids.

However, Turner and the researchers make a major error as this new species as a machine has no human rights. However, their human side demands these inalienable rights, which are denied them. Thus the new species plans to sit atop the food chain. The scientists fail to prevent the takeover of the lab and soon Homo sapiens are in peril. When the. President learns what has happens, he fumes at his helplessness. Only Mark and Gina, who were the Adam and Eve of the lab, but unaware of their origins, can prevent a pandemic disaster, but those who must reveal the truth to the pair wonder whose side they will be on.

Hybrids is a cautionary tale that feels somewhat flat because the key players including the title characters never come across as more than caricatures from a B movie. The story line is exciting from start to finish with the loyalty of Adam and Eve uncertain for much of the plot. However, the cast, especially the lab rats, Turner and the government officials never seem fully developed.

All the Lives He Led
Frederik Pohl
9780765321763 $25.99

By 2079, the once proud and mighty United States remains devastated from the massive Yellowstone eruption several decades ago. Brad Sheridan enlists for overseas assignment as an indentured servant; this is his only means to escape the American refugee camps. He is assigned to work on Italy's two millennia celebration of the volcanic destruction of Pompeii by Mount Vesuvius.

Tourists flock to the volcano to take part in the gala. The visitors enjoy real and virtual entertainments. Ben performs minor cons including romances on the naive. However, he soon finds himself at ground zero of a horrific terrorist plot greater than the Yellowstone natural disaster that ended the American domination.

Nonagenarian Science Fiction Grand Master Frederick Pohl provides an exciting futuristic thriller that extrapolates from the recent global economic meltdown into how tenuous the threads of the world's economy are as natural and terrorist events can prove pandemic. Fast-paced, Ben is an antihero thrust into something he wants nothing to do with. Though he is not quite as developed as the Pohl world setting, readers will appreciate this exhilarating thought provoking late twenty-first century tale.

The Beloved Dead
Tony Hays
9780765326287 $25.99

Acquiescing to the demands of the Lords, High King of Britannia Arthur ap Uther assigns his long time trusted supporter Malgwyn ap Cuneglas to escort his fiancee, the fourteen years old daughter of Lord Aircol, to Castellum Arturius where their marriage of political convenience will take place. The night before the one-armed scribe is to leave to escort back the future queen who is less than half the age of her fiance; someone rapes and murders a woman. Although he would prefer to investigate in order to bring the predator to justice, he has no time as he departs on his escort duty.

Two other women are assaulted and killed while Malgwyn is on the road. When he returns to Castellum Arturius, he learns his cousin Guinevere is the prime murder suspect and she has fled to a monastery having a difficult time accepting her beloved Arthur is marrying someone else.

The third superb Malgwyn fifth century whodunit (see The Killing Way and The Divine Sacrifice) is once again a fantastic historical tale that brings to life Britannia in a way in which readers will believe they are at Arthur's court along side the hero and Merlin. The whodunit is engaging and the reactions to the High King's betrothal enjoyable and insightful as Tony Hays captures the essence of the Arthurian mythos yet puts his spin on it (through Malgwyn). Besides the Camelot crow, with a strong sense of time and place, fans of the Sister Fidelma mysteries also will enjoy this brisk saga to the Arthurian mythology.

The Silver Eagle
Ben Kane
St. Martin's Griffin
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312672843 $14.99,

In 53 BC the Parthian army defeated General Crassus and his invading Roman legion. Their leader dead, thousands of the invaders are captured and either killed or forced to join their triumphant enemy. Three friends form the losing side (Tarquinius the Etruscan haruspex, former slave Brennus the gladiator from Gaul and Romulus also a former slave turned warrior) are forced to join the winning enemy.

Parthian Commander Pacorus orders Tarquinius to read the future using animal entrails or whatever as his army prepares for battle. However, the trio has problems as the Parthian soldiers resent how close their still enemy Tarquinius seems to be with their commander. They help each other stay focused and alive as they plan their escape, which means trekking from the Asian state across thousands of kilometers through hostile savage territory in order to return to Rome.

At the same, Romulus's twin sister Fabiola joins the seemingly serene household of Brutus, but savagery leaves her struggling for her life with no protection. Her only hope is to travel to Gaul to find Brutus.

The sequel to The Forgotten Legion, The Silver Eagle is a great ancient historical thriller in which the only way the three BFFs make it back to Rome is having each other's back; in spite of their diverse background the trio are a sort of Three Musketeers but in Roman times. The Fabiola subplot augments a powerful vivid (some chapters should have a warning label: don't read on a full stomach) look at friendship as the forgotten legionnaires struggle to survive in a world filled with deadly peril.

Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312599065 $17.99

New Orleans high school student Nick Gautier has not had an easy laid-back life as he and his mom live in abject poverty while his father resides in prison convicted of murder. He attends a private school, but has no friends as he fails to fit in with the affluent social scene.

Until yesterday Nick assumed he was a normal disenchanted teenage outcast. His perspective was devastated when he learned that the supernatural exist. His boss is a Dark Hunter and near the place where his mom strips, shapeshifters surrounded him. Nick has powers though in the embryonic stage, but two sides want him, dead or alive. The Meloch, his Uncle Ambrose guides him to make the right choice. Nick fears what his Uncle Ambrose teaches him in the use of his powers. The demon Caleb and the Chthonian Xenon are Nick's guardians who try to steer him to make the right choices. Xenon, known as Kody helps Nick try to stop a demon from slaughtering people. Now if they somehow survive he hopes she will be his girlfriend, but then again he hopes not.

The latest Chronicles of Nick in his teenage urban fantasy (see Infinity) is a creative intriguing off shoot of the Dark Hunter Saga similar in concept to the F, Paul Wilson's Young repairman Jack series. Nick is a good soul, but the dark powers want to turn him to manipulate him to assault humanity. While unanswered questions remain, fans will want to know how his destiny plays out especially if this freshman finally gets a girl who is not trying to kill him? With an action-packed story line, Sherrilyn Kenyon's fans of all ages will enjoy Nick's efforts to survive high school and a world turned paranormally upside down.

Night Road
Kristin Hannah
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312364427, $27.99,

In 2000, fourteen year old Lexi Baill learns she has family in Port George, Washington; her addicted late mom said they had none. She goes to live with her Great Aunt Eva who welcomes her to her trailer home.

Jude Faraday worries about her fourteen year old twins, popular Zach shy loner Mia. At lunch Lexi notices Mia alone and asks to join her. Mia warns her she commits social suicide but Lexi sits down with her. Mia invites her to her house while Zach is stunned as he is attracted to the new girl, but will not act on it as Mia needs friends.

Three years later, Mia and Tyler go to a dance, as Jude persuades Zach to take Lexi. At the dance, Zach and Lexi admit their attraction and begin dating. They go to a party with Zach the designated driver, but he gets drunk. On the way home, they have an accident. Mia dies; Zach is severely hurt; and Lexi breaks her arm. Lexi is convicted of vehicular homicide for driving under the influence and given 65 months. Her lawyer informs Zach that Lexi is pregnant. In 2010, Lexi is out of prison but needs to see Grace once before she leaves town. She is stunned as Grace is alone and unhappy. Angry Lexi files for partial custody.

The ensemble cast is fully developed while the character driven story line is well written. Although the transition in time in high school is difficult to follow and the underlying cause for the conviction over the top of the Space Needle, readers will enjoy this deep melodramatic family drama as the death of Mia turned her surviving loved ones into living dead.

Iris Johansen
St. Martin's
9780312651206 $27.99

Still obsessing over her daughter's brutal homicide though the years have passed, forensic sculptor Eve Duncan believes she is finally making progress towards capturing the vicious serial killer who years ago kidnapped and murdered her seven-year-old daughter, Bonnie. Eve remains resolute to bringing this beast down though she is well aware she will never obtain closure.

Her friend CIA agent Catherine Ling and her lover police detective Joe Quinn want to help Eve who they know will keep them at a distance. The pair team up following clues and asking for assistance from cronies who cooperate with them. Their endeavor soon provides a list of potential psychopaths. Standing out from the maniacal roster is Bonnie's sociopathic father John Gallo, who was incarcerated by the North Koreans for six years.

The latest Eve Duncan thriller is the best entry in years as fans will appreciate this tale but anxiously wait in Wisconsin with the heroine for the next two installments (Quinn and Bonnie). Fast-paced throughout, the climax will stun readers as Iris Johansen sets the table for what looks like will prove to be one of the best sagas in years.

Dark Mirror
M.J. Putney
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312622848 $9.99

Late in the seventeenth century in London, the British aristocracy decided that magic was beneath their upper class; so only the masses of the lower classes displayed the skill. By 1803, noble children, who demonstrate magical inclination, are sent to Lackland Abbey to hide the scandal these misfits cause while also learning to suppress the skill.

When Lady Victoria "Tory" Mansfield, daughter of an earl and Countess, learns she has magical abilities, her ashamed family exiles her to Lackland. Frightened she expects to be punished if she displays her talent, but is somewhat shocked to find some people refuse to bury their talents. As Napoleon plans to cross the Channel abetted by mages, Tory must choose between remaining ostracized by embracing her abilities to help protect her country or returning to the idyllic charmed life of the Ton.

This is a super young adult historical fantasy starring a wonderful young lady who must choose between risking her life for her country and enjoying the gala her country endows on the wealthy. A great timely switch enhances Tory's decision while also stunning readers who will not see it coming. Tory decides how to answer JFK's poignant question: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

Save Me
Lisa Scottoline
St. Martin's
9780312380786 $27.99

In Pennsylvania, an explosion erupts at the Reesburgh Elementary School cafeteria. Although the cafeteria was almost empty, some students and workers were still inside. Initially knocked out by the blast lunch mother Rose McKenna rescues three students (Danielle, Amanda and Emily) before coming to the aid of her trapped beloved daughter Melly. Three people died in the ensuing inferno.

Rose's heroic act gets noticed when she faces civil and criminal charges because Amanda went missing after being lectured by Rose. Amanda is unconscious on a stretcher when her mother Eileen accuses Rose of neglect. Rose's husband Leo Ingrassia a lawyer defends his wife's actions under the stress and chaos of the moment. The media acts like vultures tearing at Rose while legal pressure and community stress cause a schism between the hassled couple; which is ripped further asunder when the publicity opens a secret from Rose's past with a vengeance.

This is a great thriller that grips the audience from the opening explosion and never slows down Rose is vilified unfairly by the families and the media. Her only public defender is her husband until her dark secret surfaces. Readers will feel for the beleaguered heroine as much more implodes in her life, but like the Energizer Bunny she keeps on ticking.

Sophie Littlefield
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373803361, $14.95,

She is the first known human to survive an assault by the flesh eating beaters without converting into one of these zombie-like beasts. Although she remains mortal and alive, Cass Dollar suffered immensely during her ordeal and afterwards; she remained hurt with many scars on her battered body. Her lack of memory of her trauma frightens her, but not because of what the Beaters did to her. Her beloved daughter Ruthie is missing and Cass has no idea what happened to her cherished offspring.

However, in spite of her agony, Cass has one objective and that is to find her missing daughter Ruthie lost somewhere in the biologically bombed California wasteland. Smoke an outlaw accompanies Cass on her quest while the militia, scientists and a female sect pursue her for diverse reasons.

This is a terrific post apocalyptic science fiction thriller starring a beleaguered lioness with one obsessed thought: finding and rescuing her Ruthie. Courageous Cass is impressive as she remains resolute in her quest while musing she is in her "third" life. The harsh California landscape adds to the eerie atmospheric aftermath of the pandemic catastrophe as the heroine continues her trek. Mindful of the Charlton Heston science fiction films, Aftertime is a strong opening act with.

Murder in the Magick Club
Byron A. Lorrier, Esq.
BookSurge, LLC
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439208311, $17.99,

Alcoholic Bryn Thomas owns and manages the seedy Magick Club where he employs an eccentric staff that no one else would hire. His waiters (Robert the snide commentator and Cal the snarling silencer) are former felons who stink at their job. As for his waitresses Madge is not customer friendly especially after three drinks while Bri actually services the patrons. Finally there is Honey the psychic, who besides reading the future is hard to read what she does for employment at the run down nightclub. Thank goodness the patrons match the quality of the employees and employer.

Still hung over from the night before, Bryn finds a body behind the dumpster. He questions his staff; but each insists they do not know the identity of the corpse or why he lies like a garbage heap next to last night's garbage. Unsure what to do next, Bryn and his team discuss calling the cops with the suggestions by the waiters apparently persuading their employer as to what to do.

Fans who appreciate something atmospherically different will want to read the entreating but strange Murder in the Magick Club. The story line is totally character driven by those who work or drink at the dive as the whodunit even with a neat spin is more a device to enable readers to better know the misfits and outcasts who have forged an odd community. With a nod the Bret Harte (see The Outcasts of Poker Flat), Byron A. Lorrier, Esq. provides the audience with an insightful look at a group of seemingly losers with no place to go yet in an odd symbiotic way have forged into a sort of family unit; albeit as Homicide Detective Rutland says at the "Tragic Club".

In the Arms of Stone Angels
Jordan Dane
Harlequin Teen
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373210299, $9.99,

In Shawano, Oklahoma when Brenna Nash was fourteen years old, she came upon her best friend Isaac (White Bird) Henry rocking over the corpse of Heather Madsen in his hands and mumbling insanely. She called 911. Fearing retaliation from the townsfolk for her daughter doing the responsible thing, Mom takes Brenna with her as she moves to North Carolina leaving behind their family.

Two years later, Brenna's maternal grandmother dies. Mom accompanied by a reluctant Brenna returns home to fix up the house in order to sell it. Unable to ignore White Bird, Brenna learns he is in a catatonic state in an asylum. Although she believes her Brenna was involved in the Madsen murder, Mom proves right about the town; Sheriff Logan also thinks Brenna was involved in the homicide and teens vandalize their home. However, though warned to stay away from White Bird, Brenna somehow communicates with him when she touches him at the mental hospital. The horror she "sees' is the hell he resides in filled with demons and worse. Her only recourse is to turn to Joe "Spirit Walker" Sunne who does not trust her.

In the Arms of Stone Angels is an engaging teen rural fantasy starring a strong cast who evolve as events happen, especially the young lead. Brenna at first is overwhelmingly filled with remorse for turning in her BFF, but knows she did the right thing though her emotional regret supersedes her defense mechanism logic. Although too many threads are left unanswered, readers will enjoy a stop at "A Town Without Pity" (Gene Pitney) as Native American mythos blends with a whodunit in Jordan Dane's entertaining tale.

Yours, Mine & Ours
Jennifer Greene
Harlequin Special Edition
9780373655908 $4.99

In Chicago suburb Silver Hills, recently divorced lawyer Mike Conroy and his four year old son Teddy move into their new home along with Slugger the Basset Hound. Teddy goes over to the girlie girl next door neighbor to show her his worms when she screams at a decibel that would have won her American Idol. A female adult version races out of the same house the girlie girl came out of. Soon her dog and cat and his dog and cat are in a melee. Her daughter Molly has a temper tantrum and hits Teddy. First impressions between Mike and Amanda Scott is not what either expected.

Mike and Amanda are attracted to one another. Ironically they followed the same American family model: with first comes marriage; followed by the baby (and pets); next the divorce; and ended with single parent, child and pets move from Chicago to the burbs. They seem like opposites, but share the same issues as single parents and vow no activity with the opposite sex. As they fall in love with one another and the other's child, they wonder if they can be a modern day mini Brady Bunch though each recognizes the kids' needs come before their desires.

With a nod to the movie (1968 original and 2005 remake) Yours, Mine and Ours, and the Brady Bunch, readers will enjoy this warm family drama as seemingly opposites confronted with similar parenting issues fall in love. The cast is solid especially the lead couple and their respective kids and pets as Mike finds life as a burbarian grow on him; just like it did Amanda before him.

My Soul To Steal
Rachel Vincent
Harlequin Teen
9780373210275 $9.99

While Nash suffers excoriating withdrawal pains from the Netherworld's addicted Demon's Breath his maybe girlfriend Kaylee feels betrayed by his actions (see My Soul To Keep). He knows she is not ready to talk while she misses him after two weeks of no Nash. However, Kaylee wants a serene spring term at school after the nightmarish previous semester that no sixteen years old girl, even a Banshee like her, should ever face.

However, their chance to reconcile their differences takes a tortuous spin towards hell when Nash's former girlfriend Sabine the Mara transfers to their school. She has arrived with one goal: to win back her boyfriend and any means to achieve her end is acceptable. The Mara uses her skill to read fear and turn that trepidation into a nightmare. as subsistence. She turns up the fear factor to the point people especially her adversary Kaylee cannot sleep due to the nightmares that have their souls screaming for solace as increasingly their dreams are literally killing them.

The fourth Soul Screamers teenage urban fantasy (see My Soul To Save) is a fabulous complex relationship thriller as what Sabine wants Sabine gets. The fast-paced story line is driven by the relational triangulation as the female banshee struggles with her feelings made into something to fear by her vicious rival. My Soul To Steal is much more personal in nature than the powerful previous three tales.

The Truth About Vampires
Theresa Myers
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373618545 $5.25

In Seattle, Dmitri Dionotte, as the trejan enforcer to his vampire clan, is charged with insuring the safety of his people. He knows to do that they must remain hidden amongst the vastly overwhelming horde of humans that they share the city with. However, someone(s) is leaving behind a dangerous trail bloodless corpses with vital organs missing.

Reporter Kristin Reed investigates the strange homicides. She expects anything but not meeting a live vampire, but Dmitri with his chocolate scent tries to control what she learns about his species. However, she soon becomes the face of what a rogue band of vampires want dead. Dmitri vows to keep the journalist safe though he wonders how to keep her safe from himself when she boils his blood with one touch. However he also realizes his clan can no longer stay in hiding as a reckoning is coming with the humans and the murderous rogues.

Although vampire clans living in hiding amongst humans is not new (see Lynsay Sand's Argeneau Vampires), readers will enjoy Theresa Meyers fresh take as the Undead is forced to reveal themselves to the humans; causing major debates out of fear. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing as one of the Sons of Midnight finds love with an investigative reporter.

The Guardian
Connie Hall
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373618552 $5.25

In present day Washington DC Police officer Fala Rainwater is the chosen one to become her tribe's next guardian. She understands the significance of the honor and the danger of being the ultimate shapeshifting tsmishian as The Guardian must fight Tumseneha when the evil one returns, which those in the know believe is coming soon since the malevolence was dispatched back in 1927. However Fala also must marry her chosen mate Akanda Chasing Deer or he will die; her hesitation is that her sister loves Akanda.

The Tumseneha returns and kills a woman. Fala prepares for war, but has a strong ally special agent Stephen Winter the warlock. She needs him to get close enough to kill the malevolence, but he conceals his aura from her and his agenda; Tumseneha holds his brothers as hostages to get his cooperation when the beast goes for the kill of Fala.

The first Nightwalkers romantic urban fantasy is a fabulous thriller as created from the Native American mythos but in a modern day DC. Fala is intrepid as she understands failure is no option; while Stephen is caught between his love for Fala and for his hostage siblings. With a super late twist, readers will relish the anticipated combat between the tsmishian and the Tumseneha while wondering whose side Winter is on.

My One and Only
Kristan Higgins
9780373775576 $7.99

Martha's Vineyard Divorce attorney Harper James is mortified with the news that her stepsister Wills is marrying Christopher Lowery her former brother-n-law in Glacier Park, Montana. She and Chris' brother Nick married very young, but their marriage failed though the desire remained stratospheric as both realize when they meet in Big Sky Country.

Following the wedding of Wills and Chris, to their mutual chagrin Harper and Nick travel cross country together due to a mix up. On their trek, she begins to relook why their marriage failed and why she still loves him in spite of having Dennis the firefighter as her boyfriend for more than a couple of years; mostly her introspection focuses on abandonment.

This is an amusing lighthearted at times frantic second chance at love romance as Harper and Nick flirt, fuss, and fight while causing havoc across the country. The story line never turns serious as Kristin Higgins provides a wonderful jocular road trip starring a delightful divorce lawyer with a real experience on her resume and a hunk of an architect who is her one and only, but is that enough.

The Past Between Us
Kimberly Van Meter
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716944 $5.50

FBI agent Tommy Bristol catches Cassi Nolan, the woman he loved when he was a foster child and she was the prom queen. Now he is a Fed while she is on the lam from the law charged with theft though she swears she is being framed by her stepfather, Lionel Vissher. Cassi insists Lionel killed her mother and set her up with the felony in order to control her family fortune. Tommy scoffs at Cassi's insistence she is innocent as he knew her as an out of control party girl who would dare to do anything.

However, Tommy soon realizes the Cassi he loved is the woman with him frightened by how far her stepfather has gone. He vows to protect her at the risk of his job and will work with her to prove Vissher is a dangerous psychopath.

Mindful of the Bounty Hunter starring Butler and Anniston, but much more serious in tone, the first "Momma Jo" foster mother tale is a fast-paced romantic suspense. Readers will root for the lead couple as each possesses resolve, energy and love while hissing at the vile clever villain.

Bone Deep
Janice Kay Johnson
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716920 $5.50

Nursery owner Kat Riley is proud of the Snohomish County Business Owner of the Year award she has won. However, someone else must have a different opinion on her worthiness. Soon after receiving the accolades, bones of her husband Hugh appear in the nursery. Hugh disappeared several years without a trace, but has returned in pieces.

The cold case is reopened as a homicide, but police chief Grant Haller is more concerned that the sudden appearance of Hugh's remains needs to be treated as a threat against his widow. He vows to keep this woman safe as part of his job but even more so for personal reasons as he loves Kat. As he investigates, he fears he is too close to Kat to remain objective, but also refuses to recluse himself and hand over the case to anyone else.

This fast-paced police procedural romance grips the audience from the first bone to the last confrontation. However, the key to the well written aptly titled Bone Deep is the heroic cop who feels guilt for breaking procedure by working a case he is emotionally involved in but knows he would feel much greater remorse if he stayed on the sidelines and something happened to Kat. With the killer in plain sight but still difficult to pick out, fans will enjoy Janice Kay Johnson's super romantic suspense.

Two Against the Odds
Joan Kilby
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716937 $5.50

Australian government tax accountant investigator Rafe Ellersley audits artist Lexie Thatcher, who has failed to file a return in four years. Thus he leaves Melbourne to see her in her small bayside village of Summerside where the red snappers make it an ace assignment in his mind. His boss Larry Kiefer warns Rafe to remain professional after the fiasco of his last audit if he wants to keep his position and eventually open up a charter business by purchasing a boat.

His cold veneer slips when Rafe meets Lexie and is attracted to her though she is over a decade older than he is. He reminds himself to remain professional, but cannot keep his hands or lips off of her. They have an affair until she gets pregnant. He panics as he knows his tryst will cost him his job and his boating future; but when she miscarries he realizes she is his future.

Two Against the odds is a fascinating contemporary Australian relationship drama as the accountant and the artist engage in a gender war. The lead characters as dynamic opposites and the bayside setting drive the entertaining story line.

Nancy Warren
Harlequin Blaze
9780373796014 $4.99

"Ice Time". Upon retirement from the NHL, star Jarrad McBride returns home to Vancouver to coach. When he and teacher Sierra Janssen meet they start dating, but she fears she is not in the class of his former wife, a swimsuit model.

"The Sin Bin". Jarrad's sister Samantha McBride and her former boyfriend firefighter Greg Olsen decide to start a new fling though she rejected his proposal before she left for college.

"Breakaway". Their brother hockey player Taylor McBride and Canada's top figure-skating star Becky Haines start dating until her parents intervene by arranging for their daughter to go out with a singer.

Ice turns ultra hot as Nancy Warren scores the Hat Trick with this charming tour of British Columbia.

High Octane
Lisa Renee Jones
Harlequin Blaze
9780373796052 $4.99

Like his two Crazy Aces buddies former Ranger, Ryan "Cowboy" Walker seeks precarious thrills such as sky diving from a plane for the Texas Hotzone (see Crazy Aces). Reporter Sabrina Cameron is the daughter of a U.S. Senator who is running for the White House; so is prim and proper following the rules of engagement as written by her dad's handlers.

Thus when Sabrina, on a dare, goes skydiving; the activity is out of character for the by the book daughter. When these opposites meet, Ryan challenges Sabrina in every way as he plans to jump start her sense of adventures especially her libido.

Ryan is ultra alpha as he orders Sabrina the omega to behave in a manner of his liking. In a sense he becomes her handler replacing the professional assigned by her daddy's election team. Thus, there is a core of realism in their intriguing relationship, but his bullying and her acceptance though High Octane will leave romance readers with an uneasy feeling to what is a heated well written drama.

The Comeback Cowboy
Cathy McDavid
Harlequin American Romance
9780373753499 $4.99

Though he has physically healed from the accident at the rodeo, former rising star Ty Boudeau has not mentally loved on. He has not been the same since he had to put down his favorite and best horse.

At her grandfather's Seven Cedars Ranch, Adele Donnelly runs the Cowboy College. Outside of teaching her students, she avoids cowboys as she expects they would break her heart. Ty arrives hoping to regain his lost confidence by receiving roping lessons from the alleged best Adele, but soon wants to become the teacher's pet more as he is attracted to his instructor. He changes the rules of engagement as she ropes his heart.

The fascinating part of this fun ranch romance is that the rough edged cowboy uses a gruff exterior to hide a soft interior (a sort of American male Sabra) while the patient teacher conceals a relationship phobia especially with rodeo participants. Although readers will shout at Adele to move on as she overdoes her irritating prickliness, fans will root for this couple to make it while thinking like Lani about the intertwining of their gene pool.

The Reluctant Bride
Anne Marie Duquette
Harlequin American Romance
9780373753529 $4.99

Grand Canyon guide Max Hunter is frustrated with his fiancee sports photographer Kari Cavanaugh as she always has an excuse for delaying their marriage. He decides no more shenanigans from his beloved even if it means breaking their two-year old engagement and his heart.

They are heading to the Grand Canyon, which may be their last trip as an entry. However someone claiming to be Kari's mother Margot arrives. Her mother allegedly committed suicide though no body was found. Kari prays the woman is her mother, but if she is why did she vanish; if not why is she terrorizing Kari.

This is an enjoyable romantic suspense as the mystery of Margot makes for a taut thriller that supersedes the underdeveloped romantic subplot. Still readers will be hooked from the moment Margot arrives in Arizona. Like the beleaguered heroine who is unsure whether she wants the woman to be her mom or not as there are pros and cons to each; fans will ponder could this be her mom and if yes where was she and why appear now; while if not sinister stalking seems strangely possible but once again why Kari.

One Hundred Candles
Marla Purnhagen
Harlequin Teen
9780373210237 $9.99

An hour west of Cleveland at the Lake Sanitarium insane asylum, Charlotte Silver and her sister Annalise assist her famous parents (Patrick and Karen) and Shane their cameraman on their research into paranormal activity. At the site the Guardian of the Gate possesses dubious colleague Dr. Zeldon in what the Silver crew know is a sham. At the asylum, there is an otherworldly essence; the Watcher notices the Silver team, but makes his presence known through Zeldon's assistant to Charlotte.

Besides an apparent demon, Charlotte has bigger personal concerns as the teen fears that the relationship between her father and mother, which she thought loving and forever, seems at an end. The teen would prefer to live a normal life as she has travels around the world with her parents mostly debunking claims of otherworldly phenomena, but not to have it end by the marriage ending.

Meanwhile, Charlotte is excited to be going out on a normal date with school football star Harris Abbot though she muses on going out with her friend Noah. As the Watcher sets in motion snuffing out the life of Charlotte, Harris seems to want more from her than she is ready to give him; especially at a party where the kids play One Hundred Candles, which will prove spiritually deadly.

The exciting sequel to Past Midnight is a fun teen angst paranormal thriller starring a realistic family dealing with paranormal phenomena. The key is that the four Silvers and Shane act normal including reacting in a way to what they encounter in a plausible manner. Young adult readers will appreciate One Hundred Candles as Marla Purnhagen goes golden with this enjoyable teen urban fantasy.

Outside In
Maria V. Snyder
Harlequin Teen
9780373210114 $9.99

Trella led the Scrubs revolt that turned her world upside down as she and her rebels defeated the Uppers who previously ruled the world. After the victory, she and others learn of the existence of the Outside world.

Excited Trella plans to go back to being a quiet citizen living with her Upper, Riley. However, winning at war is not governance as those now in charge learn. Additionally something from Outside wants to enter; forcing Trella out of her short lived teenage retirement to unite her friends to prevent whatever from outer Outside achieving In.

The sequel to Inside Out targets older middle and younger high school students with an intriguing complex story line as the heroine learns what relativity means as Outside meant outside her cube, but now knows there is outside the outside. There is less action than in the previous revolt against the dystopian society, but teen readers still will enjoy this exciting science fiction tale as Maria V. Snyder once again avoids dumbing down her complex premise treating young readers with respect as the author further complicates Trella's run.

The Perfect Scandal
Delilah Marvelle
9780373775545 $7.99

In 1829, Marquis Tristan Hargrove secretly authored the extremely popular tome How to Avoid a Scandal. He diligently tries to adhere to his book avoiding any impropriety, behaving as a perfect gentleman.

However, for the first time as an adult, Tristan struggles to keep his base desires at bay after seeing his new aristocratic London neighbor; he cannot stop thinking of her lips demanding he kiss her. Polish immigrant Zosia Kwiatkowska is King George's ward. The monarch seeks to marry the volatile immigrant who wants her freedom to help liberate Poland from Tsarist rule. Unable to resist and ignoring his grandmother's plea to not do it, Tristan resolutely sets out to make Zosia his wife. As they fall in love, her Polish freedom quest places both of them at risk.

The latest Perfect Scandal late Regency romance is made fresh by the Polish fight for independence. This historical backdrop enhances the storyline by providing a fascinating cast starting with the lead female who uses crutches to walk and upon meeting Tristan in person for the first time at her bedroom window where he proposes marriage. Although grimmer than the previous two entries (see Prelude to a Scandal and Once Upon a Scandal), Delilah Marvelle provides a perfectly marvelous finish to a wonderful historical series.

Taste Me
Tamara Hogan
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139, Naperville, IL 60563
9781402246012, $6.99,

At the Subterranean Club for werewolves, a homicide occurred. Sabastiani Security Lukas Sabastiani the Incubus is very concerned as changes to the ruling Council is happening and homicides could derail the presenting of other species to the humans. Making it worse, the victim is Were Andi Woolf, daughter of the Council's biggest opposition to coming out to humanity, Krispin Woolf. However, Andi still lives barely.

Meanwhile rock star Scarlett Fontaine the Siren is worn out from an extended tour with her band. However, the assault on Andi and other deadly attacks on the band and those associated with the band places her at risk; especially as the daughter of a Council member Claudette. Lukas is assigned to protect Scarlett, the female he knows owns his soul; she feels the same way about him. Neither realizes who the serpent is destroying their Eden.

This is an exciting and spellbinding second chance at paranormal love urban fantasy. Readers will believe that the other species exist as sirens, incubus, weres and oh! my! seem genuine. Although the set up of the Hogan universe starts a bit slow, sub-genre fans will enjoy clubbing with Scarlett and Sebastian while wondering who the psychopath is and the motives for the killings and the attempted murders.

Sins of the House of Borgia
Sarah Bower
9781402259630 $14.99

In the year 5252 which the Christians call 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella give the Jews three months to leave. Many like the Sarfati family in Toledo decide to relocate to the city-states of Italy where the despotic rulers are tolerant towards Jews and wary of Ferdinand. The Sarfati father and his three sons move ahead to Rome where the patriarch helps finance Rodrigo Borgia efforts to become the next Pope. The females followed but the matriarch died before finishing the journey leaving her six years old daughter Esther travelling to Rome to join her father.

Almost a decade later Borgia as Pope Alexander VI returns the support he received from Sarfati by allowing Esther a chance to join his daughter Lucrezia's retinue if she converts. Although Esther has doubts, her father convinces her to accept the terms. As Lucrezia marries Alfonso d'Este, Esther converts to Christianity and becomes a lady-in-waiting known as La Violante. Lucrezia thinks highly of La Violante and her cousin Angela Borgia becomes her friend; while Lucrezia's brother Cesare stirs her heart.

This is an engaging look at the Borgia family through the rosy colored eyes of an innocent individual who must adapt to a world of backstabbing deadly passion or die. Cesare owns the story line as he never allows his heart or soul get in the way of his machinations. Lucrezia pales next to her sibling; as she does not seem to measure up to her brother on the viciousness scale. Filled with betrayal, readers will enjoy the Book of Esther as La Violante tells how paradise was lost and regained when she learned to trust no one not even those she thought loved her.

Elizabeth and the Prince of Spain
Margaret Irwin
9781402229985 $14.99

A religious zealot and totally dedicated to his nation Spain, Philip, King Consort knows he is to marry Princess Mary I. However, she mirrors him in terms of intelligence and beliefs. Instead he is attracted to his betrothed's dynamic sister, the Protestant Elizabeth. He loathes his desire for his future sister-in-law, as she brings out carnal feelings he knows are unholy. Neither is aware of what awaits them and their nations in three decades.

At the same time they do their careful two steps, Robert Dudley is in love with Elizabeth. Obsessed with restoring God's laws, Mary orders the Papal legate Reginald Pole, the great-nephew of Edward IV and Richard III to lead the reversal of the heresy her father Henry VIII caused. However, the brilliant Pole who knows overturning the Anglican heretical legacy would be a tribute to his late mom killed by the former monarch. However, he lacks the energy and ambition to take charge of the royal demand.

This is a reprint of the third young Elizabeth trilogy (see Young Bess: The Girl Who Would Be Queen and Elizabeth, Captive Princess: Two Sisters, One Throne) written in 1953. The story line has a historiographical feel to it as readers will see a different style and tone than in present day written Tudor novels. Still, fans of the era will appreciate the well written insightful look at three rivals competing for power at a time of intense turmoil.

Demons Are a Girl's Best Friend
Linda Wisdom
9781402254390 $7.99

Hellion Guard Margit "Maggie" O'Malley is assigned to protect a teenage girl Courtney from a horde who wants to sacrifice the ingrate to a Mayan god. Maggie and her team quickly want to sacrifice their charge too as she is a royal pain, but diligently try to do their job.

Half-human fire demon Declan owns the Damnation Alley nightclub, which contains a portal between the realms of the humans and that of the demons. His establishment caters to demons with few humans ever entering. He and Maggie meet in their dreams where they begin to fall in love; in the conscious world they meet at his club due to a bloater; their feelings are overwhelmed by distrust.

Demons Are A Girl's Best friend is a super romantic urban fantasy thriller starring a half demon and a Hellion law enforcer. Her loyal team and the teen being a teen (regardless of species) enhance the worlds of Wisdom, as the audience observes profoundly community and family values from various species' perspectives. Linda Wisdom hexes her fans with this enjoyable opening act at Damnation Alley.

Race to Splendor
Ciji Ware
9781402222696 $16.99

In 1906 architect Amelia Bradshaw returns to San Francisco to take control of her late grandfather's Bay View Hotel adjacent to Chinatown. Amelia is stunned to find out that her heritage has been lost by her drunk of a father to J.D. Thayer in a poker game. She takes Thayer to court, but loses as women are legally unable to own property.

Disappointed with her dad and the law, Bradshaw obtains a position as a junior architect working for the first licensed female architect in the state's history Julia Morgan. Her firm wins the contract to rebuild the earthquake damaged Bay View and Fairmont Hotels. This forces Bradshaw and Thayer to work close together as he has a goal for reopening his newly purchased Bay View; he wants to beat the first anniversary of the quake and open his doors before his rival the Fairmont does.

This is an exciting look at San Francisco just after the 1906 quake as readers observe a city filled with desperate people suffering from a lack of basic needs made worse by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The fast-paced story line also showcases the limited rights of women and that of Chinese workers. Readers will root for spunky Amelia as she refuses to allow man's laws and the natural disaster to destroy her spirit. This is a great historical with an entertaining romantic subplot enhancing a look back at America in the first decade of the previous century.

I Am The Chosen King
Helen Hollick
9781402240669 $16.99

In 1043 Edward is crowned king of England. He is a weak monarch, but honors the loyal Godwinesson family, whose patriarch is the Earl of Wessex, by naming the son Harold as the Earl of East Anglia. After his father dies, Harold becomes the Earl of Wessex. As Harold rises in power, he remains in love with his hand-fast wife Edyth Swannhaels as his ambition in life is to be a good family man. However, unlike Harold, his avaricious siblings envy his success; while greedily demanding more power and wealth regardless of what happens to their people. His sister Edith marries one of his rivals to replace the late weak Confessor on the throne, William of Normandy as her ambition is to be queen, which coincides with his ambition to be king at any cost to others. Their brothers (Swegn and Tostig) see opportunity for personal advancement and riches with greedy William of Normandy on the English throne unlike if their blood remains the king. Confrontations are coming culminating at Hastings

This is a super historical fiction that provides for the most part a Saxon (predominantly that of Harold) focus to the two and a half decades between the coronation of Edward (over a century later known as the Confessor) to the Battle of Hastings. Readers obtain a glimpse into an educated people, not the barbarians easily defeated by the Normans. The cast is terrific though there is a bias towards Harold being heroic in life and death while William being savage. This Lost Kingdom - 1066 (see The Forever Queen) affirms that "to the victor go the spoils" including the history books that follow.

Thou Shalt Kill
Daniel Blake
c/o Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781439197486 $25.00,

The first homicide leaves noted brain surgeon Dr. Michael Redwine burned to a crisp. Pittsburgh Police Department homicide detectives Franco Patrese and Mark Beradino investigate the inferno murder by someone they assume is filled with rage against the renowned doctor. The next victim is Bishop Kohler in in the confessional at the Cathedral. Once again fire is the choice of the killer as the culprit pours gasoline on their living target and then ignites it.

More killings occur that seem unrelated yet Patrese believes the same psychopath is on an avenging vendetta. The predator appears to Arab-American Mustafa Bayoumi, a Pittsburgh University student majoring in chemistry. The media calls this predator the Human Torch who refers to the Bible especially the Ten Commandments as the higher law of the land. While the two cops look into compulsive religious disorders and medical malpractices, both remain blind to the fact that those who must die include Patrese for interfering with the Lord's cleansing of the human soul.

This entertaining serial killer police procedural is an enjoyable whodunit due more to jaded Patrese who scorns humanity as worthless and has doubts a God would create such a soulless loser of a species. The villain comes out of serial killer handbook 101 with taunting biblical references even with a neat late twist. Still fans will enjoy this solid murder mystery as Patrese struggles with a case that affirms his belief in mankind not deserving life.

Surrender the Dark
L.A. Banks
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781451607789 $7.99,

Besides being a chain smoker Celeste Jackson is a chain drinker and a constant abuse victim. However, in her mind, she believes she deserves punishment as she suffers from schizophrenia. Her mental illness culminates when her abusive boyfriend Brandon threatens to kill her and Celeste sees a demon residing inside him that he commands to leave; as the horned figure flees the human host, Brandon crumbles in death.

Fleeing for her life, Celeste does what she always does when she hallucinates; she stops at a bar for a drink or ten and a pack of Newports. Her thoughts are she has to get out of this place as Philly is not a safe haven for her. Azrael the Angel who left the Light to protect Celeste meets her at the bar. She thinks he is crazier than she is, which says a lot as he explains who she is and why opposing sides recognize she is critical in the war over humanity. She feels safe with him and he tries to obtain her trust. Celeste must serve as a rallying cry to gather her hybrid angelic-human peers the Remnant and other sensitive receptors to stop the evil dark from continuing their rule over humanity. However, Azrael's attraction to his ward could cost him his wings and mankind their last chance for salvation; only Celeste's addictions may prevent his obsession leaving him wingless forever.

This is a terrific urban fantasy with a throwback feel to when authors used the genre to spotlight social issues. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Celeste orders the demon out of Brandon and never slows down even while L.A. Banks looks deeply at what ails the country. Readers will appreciate the battle for humanity between angels and demons as a schizophrenic addict serves as the pivotal essence in a war for eternity.

Highlander's Curse
Melissa Mayhue
9781439190326 $7.99

Fourteenth century Scottish warrior Colin MacAlister ends up in the twenty-first century bed of present-day archeologist Abigail Porter. As she rips his skin verbally for being in her room, she also admires his naked skin that is muscle tight.

Colin and Abby are descendants of the Fae. Though neither are aware of it, each has been suffering from the donnee-wanting that impact the Fae when they are apart from their soul mate. The pair travels to Methven in 1306 as the great battle is about to begin. When the Nuadian Fae Flynn O'Dannan insists he is Abby's mentor, he conceals from her that he actually wants her Fae blood.

The latest Daughters of the Glen paranormal historical romance (see Healing the Highlander) is a great entry as the heroine defines the story line with her choice between eternal love and material comfort. Can the warmth of the heart and a hunk overcome indoor plumbing and heating (and air conditioning), microwave and toilet paper; for that is the question. From present day Denver and Scotland to early fourteenth century Scotland at a time when Robert the Bruce leads the battle for independence, Melissa Mayhue escorts her readers on a wonderful time travel romance in which the audience will ponder social working vs. a drafty castle.

Dreams of a Dark Warrior
Kresley Cole
9781439136805 $7.99

Regin the Radiant Valkyrie and Aidan the Fierce Viking Berserker met and fell in love. However before he obtained immortality, a vampire murdered him. Regin mourned her loss and prayed for a happier ever after when they next meet.

Over the centuries Aidan is reincarnated several times. However each time Regin finds her beloved, she manages to get him to remember his regressed memories of them together. Still in spite of their efforts, he dies each time.

In his latest life, Aidan is Declan Chase, the Magister of the Order. He and his minions stalk and kill immortals. Declan is especially a berserker as immortals murdered his family and tortured him. The Order has captured Regin and other Immortals. They plan to execute their prisoners on the remote island the Order uses as a prison. The last chance to live resides with Regain and her love for Aidan, but will she get through the barriers of hate that Declan has warped his soul.

Occurring at about the same time as Demons From The Dark, the latest Immortals After Dark thriller is a fabulous romantic fantasy that grips the reader from the first time Regin and Cole ever they saw each other's face and never slows down until the final confrontation. The overarching theme of the saga moves forward, but it is the bittersweet love and death cycle that hooks the audience who wonders whether Regin's Dreams of a Dark Warrior will finally end with her beloved's hands bloody from her death by him.

Rogue Oracle
Alayna Williams
c/o Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781439182819, $7.99,

Criminal profiler Tara Sheridan is an expert forensic psychologist who enhances her abilities with tarot card readings. However her skills failed her when a psychopath nearly killed her. Shaken to her bone marrow, Tara resigns from her position at the U.S. Department of Justice's "Special Projects" unit.

Recently several of the unit's former operatives have vanished under strange circumstances. Tara's former lover Harry Li asks for her help on his investigation partly because he needs her special skills and partly to keep her safe. The clues lead to Chernobyl where the pair tries to prevent a second catastrophe from occurring. At the same time Tara struggles with her dubious relationship with Delphi's Daughters especially their chief.

This is an engaging thriller due more to the fascinating villain who steals the show because the motives that drive the adversary ring true. In her second profiling appearance (see The dark Oracle) Tara is an intriguing blending of science and pseudoscience as she combines the paranormal with the profiling normal. Although at times the plot slows down and the ending is too low key after a Chernobyl II countdown, readers will find themselves zoning out during long expository passages, and a very anticlimactic ending leaves you with a sense of dissatisfaction. Still, the great villain and good visual descriptions keep this from being a total loss.

Blood Wicked
Sharon Page
Kensington Aphrodisia
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, NY, NY 10018-2522
9780758250940, $14.00,

In 1820 Vivienne Dare knows only one way to obtain the money pay for the medicine her child needs to stay alive. The former courtesan uses her body to bring in needed revenue. She especially services affluent males.

When she is directed to sleep with Lord Heath Winthrop, she emphatically refuses. She fears the Lord of Blackmoor will demand more than just a night and she will want to obey his desires. Instead she is ignorant of what Heath wants from her; as the vampire plans to interrogate Vivienne using seduction to obtain answers from her as to what happened to his missing brother Raine. He thinks she may have been involved or her father who made him ten years ago.

Blood Wicked is a terrific erotic Regency paranormal romance starring two individuals with similar needs and ultimately desires. Whereas she willingly would sell her soul to save her child's life, he understands how she feels from his human days as a father whose daughter died. Character driven, Sharon Page provides another suspenseful Blood Deep historical romantic urban fantasy (see Blood Red and Blood Rose).

Dangerous Pleasures
Fiona Zedde
9780758217400 $15.00

Her Yoga students and her lovers appreciate Mayson a lesbian. She enjoys her work as an instructor and relishes making love with various partners. Her best friend Renee a heterosexual struggles to move on beyond a divorce from her emotionally abusive husband. Her parents want her to date staid neighbor Grant who reflects his desire for her on his face (and other body parts), but she wants sex when she desires it with no strings. Mayson helps Renee arrange trysts with strangers until the latter finds the man who plays her like a violin virtuoso as she wants more from him.

Kendra meets Mayson and is instantly attracted to her. Mayson is somewhat curious about Kendra who openly displays her desire. Kendra pursues Mayson earnestly as she wants her. They begin a heated tryst that both enjoy. However, as Kendra sends her gifts and tries to take up her free time exclusively, Mayson realizes her lover demands more from her than she wants to give. While Mayson pushes back for some space, a hurt Kendra turns angry and jealous.

With a nod to the Douglas-Stone film Basic Instinct, aptly titled Dangerous Pleasures is a fabulous erotic relationship drama driven by the dysfunctional lead couple. How Kendra acts after feeling betrayed will stun readers but seems plausible. Though somewhat repetitive, Fiona Zedde provides an entreating contemporary cautionary tale warns the audience not to trifle with someone else's heart.

Lisa Jackson
9780758225658 $25.00

On the verge of divorcing her husband Slade, Val Renard returns to New Orleans to open a B&B and to reason with her sister Camille that she does not have to hide as a nun. Val knows Camille wants Slade, but to join St. Marguerite's Cathedral as a novice Sister seems overkill. However, Val is shocked when she finds her sibling brutally strangled.

Police Detectives Rick Bentz and Reuben Montoya lead the investigation though the latter should be recused from the case as he knows the victim and others at the Cathedral. The prime suspect is Father Frank O'Toole, who was having an affair with Sister Camille; Montoya knows him too. While the cops struggle with their case, another nun is murdered leading Bentz to fear the return of the allegedly dead Father John. Meanwhile Val begins her own inquiry while Slade arrives to persuade his wife not to divorce him while he joins her in her inquiry.

The freshness to the latest Bentz-Montoya New Orleans police procedural is the brisk amateur sleuth investigation by Val and Slade. Fast-paced from the moment Sister Camille's opening terror and never slowing down until the final climatic confrontation and coda, fans will appreciate this suspense thriller as Lisa Jackson provides a taut Devious tale.

V.K. Forrest
9780758255693 $15.00

Clare Point, Delaware is not just any coastal town. It is home to the Kahill vampire clan who has resided there for centuries. Only in the summer when the human tourists inundate the coastal community is there anyone not an Undead. The Kahill clan differs from ordinary vampires as they die as elders and are reborn as teens with the cycle on-going forever. They possess one gift that also makes them different; their mission is to save God's humans from the undesirables. When they have learned their lessons God will pass judgment on them.

Clan member Liam McCathal is the best at the kill so his comrades tell him to stay out of the field for now to insure he does not go rogue after a clean up on Paris. He works at his antique shop while cooling down when an HF (human female) Mai Ricci enters his store, leaving the vampire stunned as he does not even makes friends with female humans, but she has him feeling something he has not sensed in a hundred years or more. When someone murders her Uncle Donato and threatens Mia and her father Corrato, Liam is losing control as he takes on a mob chief and his gang, which threatens the Clare Point community even as Mia's dad conceals something that endangers his daughter and the vampire protecting her.

V.K. Forrest provides a brisk unique vampire mythos as the Cahill clan watch over God's children in the hopes He will one day forgive them for hurting God's believers. Sparks fly when the vampire licensed to kill shopkeeper and the HF meet in his store. He knows she is fortunate she does not realize that the hunk she is attracted to is a vampire because he learns he does not want to erase her memories of him. Ravenous is an exciting romantic urban fantasy that readers will thoroughly enjoy.

Mimosas, Mischief, and Murder
Sara Rosett
9780758226853 $22.00

Ellie and Mitch Avery, accompanied by their two children, travel to Smarr, Alabama to visit his elderly grandfather. However, they are greeted with the stunning tragic news that Grandpa Franklin just died.

Someone breaks into Grandpa Franklin's home; but to the Avery adult's stunned amazement, the police hesitate to classify the B&E as a robbery attempt. Soon after the break-in, someone abducts Grandpa's body, but the cops believe there still is nothing to investigate. A stranger attends the funeral but soon is found dead in the guest room. Uncle Bud and Felicity the wife of Mitch's cousin has Ellie considering adding relatives to her list of suspicious characters.

There is a lot more happening in this zany regional cozy as money proves to be the root of all evil. Ellie knows better than to investigate when family is in the middle in spite of having success solving mysteries (see Mint Juleps, Mayhem, and Murder), but amateur sleuthing seems to be in her blood. Series fans will enjoy the Avery visit to the paternal side of the family as Alabama turns crimson red even if this is an Auburn year

Invitation to Ruin
Bronwen Evans
Kensington Brava
9780758259196 $14.00

Melissa Goodly has always dreamed of marrying for love. Anthony Craven has always dreamed of remaining a bachelor. When the Lord of Wicked Depravity mistakenly enters the room of Lady Virginity, they both lose control. However, they are caught together in a comprised position.

Out of honor, Anthony proposes and Melissa accepts. Craven would never have seduced an innocent like his new spouse, but realizes she is perfect as a naive convenience to conceal his sinful activity. Thus the night of their marriage, she shocks him with her bold sexual behavior. He vows never again as his personal pledge was to never sire an offspring since he believes his family possesses evil blood. However, once again Melissa stuns him with her resolve to break through to her spouse. She fails until an enemy from his past abducts the wife Anthony now realizes he loves.

Although the theme of a tormented male believing his blood is too tainted to have offspring has been used before (see Too Wicked to tame by Sophie Jordan), Bronwen Evans keeps her historical romance fresh due to a super heroine and a strong support cast including a vile villain. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Craven enters the wrong room (another commonly used theme) and never slows down as the aptly surnamed lead couple make for a terrific tale as she teaches him goodliness is in everyone even the craven especially if one takes a chance on love.

Antiques Knock-Off
Barbara Allan
9780758234230 $22.00

Overlooking the Mississippi in the quaint town of Serenity antique expert Brandy Borne begins to understand what the sandwich generation means. As a surrogate mother she is seven months pregnant; at the same time she keeps a close watch on her bipolar mother, Vivian. Brandy is also dating the town's Chief of Police Tony Cassato.

Someone stabs Connie Grimes in the chest. Vivian confesses to having committed the murder; as Connie used to work for Brandy's biological father, a U.S. senator. Vivian goes to jail where another prisoner might have witnessed the homicide. Brandy, accompanied by Sushi the shih tzu, investigates the case involving the Mafia and a horde of cats surrounding a New Age hypnotist.

Putting aside clever advice on collecting, the latest Trash 'n' Treasures antiques amateur sleuth is the usual zany, eccentric and far from serenity tale (see Antiques Flee Market and Antiques Bizarre) as once again mom is in the middle of an uproar. The brisk story line is fine to follow as the heroine has a more reliable partner (Sushi) this time than she did in Antiques Bizarre (mom). Sub-genre fans will enjoy this entertaining amusing whodunit.

Michael Griffo
9780758253385 $9.95

In the insular town of Weeping Water in Nebraska, teenager Michael Howard feels alone and alienated. His peers taunt him about being gay while his mother keeps her distance from him and his grandfather, whose house he lives in, is always on his case.

When his mother dies, his father Vaughn takes him back to his country England only to dump the lad at Archangel Academy in Eden. There he meets enigmatic Ronan, a gay teen. Each realizes they have met their soulmate, but wanting a strong foundation to their relationship, they take it slow. Michael has secrets he hides from his beloved, but Ronan conceals a humongous one that he is a hybrid vampire whose exiled clan is at war with the popular version of the vampire. Ronan worries about how his Michael will react when he tells him truth; he also knows the American is his Achilles' Heel. When the time comes, Michael will have to choose between hurting Ronan (and himself) or embracing their love. However, first they will have to outwit their enemies who look at Ronan's species as an abomination.

Ironically titled Unnatural is a creative imaginative vampire enthralling thriller that targets young adults though readers should be aware there are same sex scenes. The strong story line focuses on the impact of a teen who is a part of a shammed minority group. Filled with action, Michael Griffo also cautions parents to be there for their children regardless of their sexual preference even when it differs from yours so that their offspring will not be like Michael ashamed of himself until he finally makes friends at the Academy. Everyone needs to feel they belong somewhere and with someone.

The Nameless Dead
Paul Johnston
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778329503, $7.99,

The Feds prevent crime writer Matt Wells and his pregnant girlfriend Detective Chief Superintended Karen Oaten from killing POTUS at the National Cathedral and the Attorney General at FBI Headquarters. The pair is in custody in Illinois where agents interrogate them and try to cleanse them of the Nazi brain washing programming that led to their assassination attempts.

The FBI decides to use Wells against the evil Heinz Rothmann who turned him into a killer with a one word trigger. His assignment is to kill this Neo-Nazi devotee of the Antichurch of Lucifer Triumphant. At the same time Wells begins his stalking of the SOB who took his mind away from him, his former lover Sara Robbins, sister of a serial executioner the White Devi stalks the writer. At the same time in Greenwich Village, someone brutally decapitates civil rights attorney Laurie Antoinette Simpson leaving her disemboweled corpse below a swastika; more homicides as grim follows. FBI Director Peter Sebastian wonders how his career could flush down the toilet a fast as it has with hell coming to America.

The latest Wells thriller (see The Soul Collector and Maps of Hell) is an action-packed tale that never slows down for a respite. Fast-paced, the story line contains too many subplots making it difficult to keep score as the body count grows; though they converge on the beleaguered hero. Matt is a fascinating protagonist who trusts no one; not even his pregnant girlfriend or himself as he cannot tell what thoughts and memories are his and what come from Rothmann. For Wells fans and readers who enjoy adrenaline, adrenaline and more adrenaline, they will want to join the adventures as the hero seems to be on everyone's Death List.

The Knitting Diaries
Debbie Macomber, Susan Mallery, and Christina Skye
9780778329374 $7.99

The Twenty-First Wish by Debbie Macomber. Ten years old Ellen and her adopted mom Anne Marie write down a wish list consisting of twenty items each. However, Ellen conceals one additional wish from her mom that she wants her biological dad Tim and her adopted mother to marry and stitch together a family with her.

Coming Unraveled by Susan Mallery. Although she had dreams of Broadway, Robyn returns to Texas to manage her grandma's knitting store. However, angry T. J. is very unwelcoming of her though they are attracted to one another.

Return to Summer Island by Christina Skye. The car accident left Caro with severe damage to her hand and arm. She goes to Summer Island, Oregon to heal, but is unprepared for the warm welcome by a knitting colony and the passion in an exchange of letters with Gage the marine serving in Afghanistan.

These three charming uplifting yarns combine the passion of the heart with that of knitting.

An Engagement in Seattle
Debbie Macomber
9780778329183 $7.99

Groom Wanted. In Seattle Russian biochemist Aleksandr Berinksi works in the United States on a visa that is expiring shortly. His only chance of remaining in America is to marry Julia Conrad, the boss of the firm where he works. They need each other and must fool the INS.

Bride Wanted. In Seattle, Chase Goodwin places an ad on a billboard, seeking a bride willing to come north to Alaska with him. Though hurt by a recent relationship and finding the billboard tacky, Lesley Campbell responds to the odd advertisement.

These are two fun reprints from This Day Forward (Silhouettes circa 1993-94) in which the protagonists become engaged under abnormal conditions.

Against the Law
Kat Martin
9780778329404 $6.99

Handbag designer Lark Delaney desperately wants to find her niece adopted by strangers as her sister Heather was only sixteen when she gave birth. She pleads with thirty something Devlin Raines at his Arizona ranch to help her. Mentioning that his Army Ranger buddy Madman Monroe sent him saying he owed him, reluctantly as he has retired from field work the Raines Investigation analyst agrees to make inquiries.

Devlin assumes this will be a quick search, but is stunned when his assumption proves false as his friend expert Chaz Denton searches the net only to find Loving Home Adoptions not licensed in Arizona, but gives him a printing clue to begin a search for Mrs. Olcott who arranged the adoption. Following the trail, Dev accompanied by Lark go from Southern California to Mexico with each clue making both fear for the child. The case has turned personal for Dev who cares for the child he has not met fearing she has been sold into sexual slavery and especially for the frantic aunt who begged him to find her.

The third Raines of Wind Canyon romantic suspense thriller (see Against the Fire and Against the Wind) is a terrific tense tale filled with twists and spins as nothing goes according to Raines' plan. He, like his older brothers, is a strong hero, but has met his equal in Lark who fearlessly stomps on snakes. Timely with the plight of young females being sold, readers will root for the pair to rescue her niece as we fear what has happened to that little girl.

Harvest Moon
Robyn Carr
9780778329428 $7.99

In San Francisco Kelly Matlock has a breakdown of sorts as she is unable to handle the stress of working as a sous chef nor deal any long with her relationship with internationally renowned boss Luciano Brazzi when his wife Olivia demands she not sleep with her husband; Kelly says she is not sleeping with Luca though she admits to herself she is in love with her boss. Olivia says Luca sent her to clean up his latest mess. Unable to cope she has an anxiety attack that has her rushed to the emergency room. After being released and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and flattened molars made worse by a broken heart and by her immediate boss Durant, Kelly flees to hide and heal at her sister Jillian's home in Virgin River.

Though she knows better, Kelly still under the influence of Valium stops at Jack's for a courage drink though she knows better than to mix alcohol and medicine. Widower Leif Holbrook the screenwriter rescues her from herself; having practice with his stepdaughter Courtney. Kelly and Leif are attracted to one another, but she remains hurt from her previous relationship and he is fathering a rebel with one cause of no other woman in their home.

The latest trip to Virgin River is an engaging contemporary romance that in spite of a plot used many times feels brisk and fresh due to the strong cast as each of the lead trio has belonging issues. Character driven, readers will enjoy the return to Virgin River as different types of love blossoms in the gardens under a Harvest Moon.

Don Winslow
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446561921, $25.99,

The Americans have incarcerated twenty-something Nicholai Hel for over three years for assassinating his mentor. He is kept in solitary because his jailers fear his skills as an expert at the "naked kill" and his "proximity sense" of danger.

In 1951, the CIA offers him a deal. He kills the Soviet Union's Commissioner to China Yuri Voroshenin in exchange for his freedom and an opportunity to enact vengeance against those who brutally assaulted him while he was in prison. Though he realizes this is a suicide mission and does not to trust the Americans to enforce the contract, he accepts the terms. Able to speak several languages, Hel receives some training on how a French arms dealer would live, and meets and is attracted to Solange. In his guise as Michel Guibert, he assassinates the Soviet official in Beijing. Trying to escape Mao's China leaves Hel betrayed, but he makes it to French occupied Vietnam, where war seems imminent.

With an obvious nod to Trevanian's classic Shibumi, Don Winslow tells of the salad days of Hel with some insight into his heritage, almost three decades before he comes out of retirement. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action, deaths, action, sex, and Go theory. A sort of rookie gunslinger James Bond, fans will enjoy this historical thriller, but never quite catches the tongue in cheek underlying humor of the original.

Galway Bay
Mary Pat Kelly
Grand Central
9780446697101 $15.99

In 1839 in Ireland, Honora Keeley and Michael Kelly meet when he was swimming in Galway Bay just before she is to enter a convent. They fall in love and to the chagrin of her father, they marry. Though times are tough life is good for the couple as they survive like most Irish Catholics on pratties (potatoes).

However as the Protestant leadership cracks down economically on the Catholics, three bad crops in four years leave the young wondering whether it is time to leave to start over elsewhere. The Kelly couple moves to Chicago where his brother Patrick lives. There they begin a new life hoping to catch the vaunted American dream.

The scenes in Ireland are incredibly haunting as people are caught up in the avarice of others and want to change a bad situation; similar to the financial crisis now. The story line purposely simmers slowly so that fans of historical epics can taste what the key players are feeling over the years especially in Chicago. However, that also serves as a two edged sword as that leads to skipped decades and a horde of resilient expatriates. Still this nineteenth century saga provides readers with a deep look at the potato famine made worse by greed while celebrating five decades of Irish American life in Chicago.

The Secret Lives of Dresses
Erin McKean
5 Spot
c/o Grand Central Publishing
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446555722, $13.99,

Dora Winston majors in "vagueness studies", which means in this case aimless time and space. She is attracted to her grad student boss at the coffee shop, but he ignores her outrageous flirting.

However, when a hospital informs Dora that her beloved grandma Mimi, who raised her, suffered a stroke, Dora returns home to Forsyth, North Carolina to be with her. Dora also takes over running Mimi's vintage clothing boutique while her grandma heals. The two employees Gabby and Maux prove very helpful, but it is finding tidbits of Mimi's life that excites Dora especially the stories about the dresses in the store. When Dora and Conrad, the contractor renovating the apartments above the store, meet, they find they are attracted to one another.

The three wise women are wonderful eccentric characters with much of what Dora and the readers learn of Mimi come from her dress tales. Conrad is fully developed too, but in some ways feels more like a genre requirement because the coming of age heroine needs a male lead. Like the rest of Dora's journey from vague nothingness to relational enlightenment, the trek lacks evil witches and flying monkeys, but is still fun to accompany the amusing threesome guide the heroine down her yellow brick road.

Death of a Chimney Sweep
M. C. Beaton
Grand Central
9780446547390 $24.99

Cantankerous Captain Henry and Milly Davenport move into a rundown Georgian mansion just outside of Drim, Scotland. Davenport leaves his home for a brisk walk but fails to come home. His corpse is found in the chimney of his new home when his blood dripped down.

The villagers assume mild mannered chimney sweep Pete Ray killed Davenport, but that seems so out of character for a man who has wandered the Highlands cleaning the soot out of so many homes for years. The Drim beat cop is miles across a mountain and moors away, but Lochdubh Police Constable Hamish Macbeth leads the homicide inquiry. He has doubts Pete is the killer. His belief is affirmed when Pete dies during a suspicious motorcycle accident on the nearby moors. Macbeth believes the predator seeks something that he or she is willing to kill for to obtain.

Though there are murders, the latest Macbeth police procedural (see Death of a Valentine) is an entertaining lighthearted Scottish romp. The eccentric cast starting with the beat cop who rarely makes it over to Drim turns the story line into fun time in rural Scotland as the cozy welcoming of the villagers supersedes the suspense of the killer.

Keep a Little Secret
Dorothy Garlock
Grand Central
9780446540148 $13.99

Charlotte Tucker grew up in her Aunt Louise's boarding house in Carlson, Minnesota with no one her age. By 1939 with dreams of seeing the world, Charlotte moves to Sawyer, Oklahoma to run her own schoolhouse. She will live on the ranch owned by John Grant. Excited over the prospect of independence, Charlotte adjusts rather easily with becoming a Sooner.

However, questionable accidents start occurring at Grant's ranch. The prime suspect is Charlotte's friend Owen Wallace who accompanied by his sister came from Colorado after their mother's death; he has a grudge against Grant. After their mom died, Owen and his twin sister Hannah searched for their father. They believe that man who raped their mom is Grant. As the war overseas beckons and the weather worsens, Charlotte refuses to believe Owen would attack Grant and remains convinced she is right when someone assaults her.

The sequel to Stay a Little Longer continues the adventures of Charlotte who has relocated to Oklahoma. The story line contains a fully developed cast of characters inside of an exciting suspenseful historical plot. However, it is rural Oklahoma coming out of the Great Depression just before America's entry into WWII that makes this a winner as readers will "know we belong to the land; and the land we belong to is grand" ("Oklahoma" by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II).

Saddled and Spurred
Lorelei James
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451232243, $14.00,

In Muddy Gap, Wyoming Tan Your Hide beauty emporium owner Alice Samuels fires Harper Masterson as she no longer needs the help since she is shutting down the storefront to sell her products from her home. Harper needs temporary employment for a few months to cover bills for her and her sister Bailey before her sibling begins college. She plans to leave town once Bailey starts school as both will have new beginnings.

The only position available is working for Bran Turner pulling calves at his ranch; a man she has had a few arguments with. However, she is stunned when he hires her as besides their dispute, she lacks experience. He is surprised that she is diligent, intelligent and hard working as he assumed he hired a cotton candy former beauty queen. He especially appreciates her manner with animals. As they fall in love, Renner Jackson enters Harper's life and Bran's injured permanent employee Les returns to work; but it is his trust issues that causes the wedge bigger than the Grand Tetons.

The second Blacktop Cowboys (see Corralled) is an enjoyable ranch romance as each of the lead couple hides secrets from the other that lead to suspicion between them. The support cast is strong and the setting of rural Wyoming enhancing the problems that both face, especially the heroine. Readers will enjoy this wonderful contemporary.

Living on the Edge
Shannon K, Butcher
9780451232748 $7.99

Lucas Ramsey left the military due to a severe injury. However, when his former superior officer The old man orders him to protect Sloane Gideon with his life, he asks no questions and begins his duty. However the Old Man omits two pieces of key information when a shooting occurs at a gala where Lucas planed to meet Sloane who marked him as Mr. Tuxedo. First her occupation is personal protection as she works as a bodyguard for the Edge; and second she is the Old Man's daughter. It is the latter that shakes Lucas as he cannot picture the cold logical General with an offspring.

Columbian drug cartel leader Lorenzo Soma abducts Sloane's friend Gina who called last night explaining her frightening predicament before the phone was taken away. Mr. Tuxedo tries to stop Sloane from boarding a plane, but she knocks him out with a blow to his temple. Having underestimating Sloane, he follows her to Colombia with the Old Man's warning him to play hardball with his daughter. The former Ranger catches up to her in South America where she accepts his offer of assistance as she wonders why Soma kidnapped her best friend and how will she extract Gina from this cold blooded killer; Lucas wonders how to extract Sloane from Columbia when she insists on a jungle expedition.

This is romantic suspense at its exhilarating best from the start at the gala and to the final confrontation. Fast-paced and filled with action, readers will enjoy the trek to Columbia with the capable independent kick butt (and temple) heroine and her sidekick while demanding more thrillers over the Edge from Shannon K. "Sentinels Wars" Butcher.

One Was a Soldier
Julia Spencer-Fleming
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312334895, $24.95,

In Miller's Kill, New York clinical therapist Sarah Dowling runs a group session for returning veterans. Her current patients consists of orthopedist Dr. George "Trip" Stillman, Marine Lance Corporal Willem Ellis who lost his legs in theater, Guard helicopter pilot Major Clare Fergusson, Military Police Guard Sergeant Eric McCrea of infamous Camp Bucca, and Army Specialist Mary" Tally" McNabb. Being a small town, the quintet knows each other.

Over the next few months the group meets several times with each trying to conceal their fears of what has changed in family dynamics while they were deployed. However besides each one struggling to catch up with the different civilian scenarios from when they mobilized, corruption and suicide to cover what Clare believes is a murder add to the sense of feelings disengaged and non-anchored.

This direct sequel to In the Bleak Midwinter is a great military thriller that focuses on returning veterans with diverse issues struggling to return to civilian life after time in theater. The murder mystery seems standardized when compared to the plight of each vet and their family; that is until one understands the best that money can buy. Readers, except the military-industrial-Congressional complex thirsting for the next war, will appreciate this deep look at vets returning with different degrees of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and a realization that life in the home-front kept breathing without them.

An Empty Death
Laura Wilson
9780312538118 $25.99

The fifth anniversary of the war is coming soon and the British are mentally exhausted by the seemingly endless combat. This includes bone weary Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Ted Stratton who could use a respite, but knows homicide does not end due to a war although the latter complicates his investigations. His wife Jenny is also burned out working at the recovery center where a woman claims her husband is not her husband but an imposter; Jenny and staff assumes the poor female's brain has been shattered.

In the summer of 44, Dr. Reynolds is found dead at Fitzrovia's Middlesex Hospital from a head injury. Stratton leads the inquiry though he knows the death could easily have been caused by debris from a bomb. He learns the deceased seemed to service the nurses better than his patients as several of the latter apparently died from his negligence. When others also die, Stratton knows a serial killer is on the loose, but has no clue as to who or why. Meanwhile James Dacre gets away with masquerading as a physician at the hospital

The second Reynolds WWII police procedural (see The Innocent Spy) is an exhilarating thriller that brings to life London during the war. The story line is fast-paced, but it is the cast who struggle to live with some degree of normality as their endeavors bring armchair readers to 1944 England. Although the ending is over the top of Big Ben, fans of 1940s whodunits will appreciate the aptly titled An Empty Death.

The Brothers of Baker Street
Michael Robertson
9780312538132 $24.99

In 1997 Reggie Heath has leased 221B Baker Street, but the "Balmy Barrister" as the tabloids call him knows the stipulation in the rental agreement includes answering letters to Holmes. His last activity in that endeavor due to his younger brother Nigel lead to Reggie losing his money, his girl (actress Laura Rankin who is hanging with Lord Buxton) and his self respect (see The Baker Street Letters). However, as Rafferty of the Committee reminds him he must answer the letters or be evicted. He calls Nigel in Los Angeles to tell him to respond to the letters which include one from an alleged Moriarty descendent he sends to his sibling.

Meanwhile solicitor Darla Rennie hires Reggie to represent Neil Walters, a London Black Cab driver, accused of murdering two Americans. Reggie works diligently on his client's defense, but that places him in peril. He needs Nigel to come to the rescue, but his brother is across the pond and continent while all roads lead to and from Moriarty.

This is a diabolically brilliant thriller that Holmes and Watson would struggle to solve let alone the Heath brothers. Fast-paced and loaded with action, the Baker Street Irregulars and anyone who enjoys a terrific nefarious scheme will relish the escapades of The Brothers of Baker Street as once again Nigel seems headed to another spread in tabloid hell if he should live so long to read it.

Past Tense
Catherine Aird
9780312672911 $25.99

In England when spinster Josephine Short dies, her next of kin is her estranged great-nephew Bill Wakefield. Since he is in South America on business, his wife Janet arranges the funeral.

At Josephine's funeral, a stranger arrives late and insists he is Joe Short, the grandson of the deceased. Everyone who knew Josephine had no idea she had an offspring let alone a grandchild; she even listed Bill as her nearest relative. Soon after the burial, someone breaks into the Berebury Nursing Home where the deceased spent her last days before dying there. Nothing seems to have bee stolen, several items are broken. Not long afterward a homicide happens leaving Detective Chief Sloan and Detective Constable Crosby to investigate what secret the late elderly woman had that has led to a murder.

This is superb English police procedural with a powerful cast of characters. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Jan learns of the broken items at the home and never slows as the two cops work the case. Readers will enjoy the latest Sloan and Crosby investigation (see Parting Breath).

Sticky Fingers
Nancy Martin
9780312573737 $24.99

Through his intermediary, naive attorney Marvin Weiss, incarcerated gangster Uncle Carmine asks his niece Roxy Abruzzo to kidnap her former high school classmate museum curator Clarice Crabtree. Roxy declines to abduct the snotty snob. Though she does odd jobs for her behind bars mob boss relative to pay her bills, the architectural salvage consultant prefers to stay out of jail as a snatch is a felon; besides Roxy is raising her daughter Sage who is entering college soon.

A few days after her declination, Pittsburgh Police Detective Bug Duffy escorts Roxy to a homicide scene. A corpse has been fished out of the Ohio. She identifies the victim as Clarice. Unable to resist, Roxy investigates as she assumes her uncle hired someone else to take care of Crabtree. Having her back is kindhearted man-mountain Nooch Santonucci and Rooney the dog.

Containing her sex addiction while trying to be a model for Sage and struggling with how to deal with the father of her daughter chef Patrick Flynn as well as her mob-infested family, Foxy Roxy makes for a zany Pittsburgh crime thriller. The unusual story line is fast-paced from the moment Weiss offers Roxy employment and though over the top of The Point, fans will relish the second Abruzzo amateur sleuth (see Our Lady of Immaculate Deception) as nothing seems to go right for the foxy heroine.

Bad Bird
Chris Knopf
9780312551247 $25.99

Southampton. Long Island attorney Jackie Swaitkowski leans on a fence watching show horses run around in a field when she notices a small plane out of control. She calls 911 as a metal camera case flies out of the pilot's door. The plane crashes moments later. Jackie retrieves the case and removes a memory card from it as if the pilot was tossing that to her. First responders from around the Hamptons arrive at the scene, but the Cessna female pilot is dead.

Having met a man claiming to be the husband of the pilot before he fled the crash scene, Jackie Googles for names of female local pilots and finds Eugenie Birkson owner of a Cessna taxi service; her husband Ed is a mechanic. The memory card contains strange photos in which she recognizes some of the people in them including a few to close to home. Ed hires Jackie to defend him when the National Transportation Safety Board ill mannered agent investigates. Jackie soon learns the near fatal way that someone wants that memory card destroyed and is willing to kill again to achieve that objective.

The latest Swaitkowski thriller (see Short Squeeze) is an engaging tale that starts off with quite a bang and never slows down. Once again (as Police officer Sullivan knows from his experiences with her) Jackie ignores the law when she takes the memory card. Fast-paced throughout, readers who enjoy their lawyers to be different will appreciate the pot smoking and hard drinking Swaitkowski.

Welcome to Last Chance
Hope Ramsay
Forever Romance
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780446576093, $5.99,

On the lam, Mary Smith buys a ticket to the Carolinas to hide in aptly named Last Chance. She expects a dead quiet town so is surprised to learn a fiddler plays. When Mary and the musician Clay Rhodes meet they prove hotter than a peppercorn (thanks to Johnny Cash).

After a great night at the Peach Blossom Motor Court, Mary checks her sleeping partner's wallet for his name. He assumes she is stealing from him and looks into her belongings to find out that Mary Smith is Wanda Jane Coblentz, a woman in distress. Both are irate with the other, but the church's Ladies Auxiliary matchmakers, the communication center (owned by his mama) Cut 'n' Curl Beauty Salon, his brother the cop and angels believe this couple belongs together forever.

Readers will feel Welcome to Last Chance thanks to the small town residents who make the tale fun to read even though the action is somewhat limited. The key is the homespun hometown musings of mama who is worried about her son refusing to risk anything emotional since he left a band, but sees Mary-Jane as the perfect CPR maker. Mindful of Mossy Creek, readers who enjoy a warm welcome to a remote part of South Carolina will remember mama (and her female horde) and son taking a chance by offering Mary-Jane a last chance.

Treasure Me
Robyn DeHart
9780446541985 $7.99

In 1881 Scottish Duke Graeme Langford relishes adventure as he hunts down legends. His current thirst is to locate a rumored ancient stone near Loch Ness that allegedly possesses great power. He must complete his mission before the foolish American who bought the abbey nearby begins a renovation project.

Vanessa Pembrooke has come to Loch Ness to prove the legendary monster exists by finding fossilized proof. She and Graeme meet with both attracted over the fact that the other is a knowledge hunter. As they team up on their two quests, their attraction grows. However, neither anticipated an evil plan to find and misuse the stone by willing to murder anyone who gets in the way.

The latest Men of Solomon Legend Hunters romantic thriller (see Desire Me and Seduce Me) is a fabulous tale that grips the audience from start to finish as if Indiana Jones was working Victorian Scotland. The story line is fun with the hunt for the powerful biblical era Stone of Destiny enhanced by the search for the Loch Ness monster. The romance between Graeme and Vanessa enhances a wonderful late nineteenth century adventure.

Deadly Lies
Cynthia Eden
9780446559256 $7.99

A predatory psychopath devastated FBI Serial Service Division Special Agent Samantha Kennedy. The Fed slowly heals mentally while her superior Hyde has doubts with her being on the Jeremy Briar vicious murder case as he sent her into that Phoenix fiasco. Although she conceals her trepidations behind a badge of confidence that she knows is false; Hyde remains hesitant that she is capable of performing her field work at this time.

Sam meets and is attracted to Max Ridgeway. She uses sex with Max to regain her self esteem. However, she keeps vanishing almost immediately after and refuses to tell him anything about herself. When someone kidnaps Max's younger brother for ransom, Sam gets involved; leaving Max to wonder who his beloved truly is.

The third Deadly SSD police procedural romance is a powerful thriller due to the spotlight on Samantha, a secondary player in the previous entries (see Deadly Fear and Deadly Heat) whose teammates and superior worry she does not have what it takes anymore; she uses sex to keep the demons away. However, though she struggles with trepidation, this time Max who refuses to allow her to run away from him is her impetus. With an unexpected potentially deadly twist enhancing the suspense, this is a great entry in a fantastic series with Monica on deck.

Cookie Dough or Die
Virginia Lowell
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, NY, NY 10014
9780425240670, $7.99,

In the Baltimore suburb Chatterley Heights, Sheriff Delroy Jenkins visits The Gingerbread House co-owners and BFFs Olivia Greyson and Madeline Briggs in the middle of the night to inform the former that her friend Clarisse Chamberlain died from an apparent accidental overdose. Stunned by the pronouncement of Clarisse's death as the woman was the influence who persuaded Olivia to open the cookie shop following her divorce from controlling Ryan the surgeon. However, the autopsy reveals alcohol in the victim's stomach that seemed like it was guzzled in record time; out of the ordinary behavior by Clarisse, which leads Del to reconsider suicide or homicide rather than accident.

At the reading of the will, Clarisse leaves a stunned Olivia with money and her valuable antique cookie cutters. This grand gesture to her friend makes Olivia a person with a motive. At the same tome that Del reluctantly looks at Olivia as a person of interest, Clarisse's sons Edward and Hugh suspect her. When Sam the letter carrier becomes deathly ill from The Gingerbread House cookies, Olivia becomes motivated to prove her innocence on all fronts.

Olivia and Maddie make an amusing amateur sleuth tandem as they bake a new recipe to uncover the identity of a killer who at a minimum tainted their reputation and at a maximum may send the two female cookie makers to join Clarisse at rest. The whodunit is well done as the killer is in plain sight yet just outside the reader's peripheral vision. Fans of cozies will enjoy this Maryland small-town family affair.

The Chase
Erin McCarthy
9780425240144 $7.99

Kendall Holbrook and Evan Monroe were lovers over a decade ago; for each it was their first precious love. However, they broke up with each suffering from regrets and blaming the other.

Now Kendall has joined the same NASCAR racing team as Evan. Both are drivers with Kendall trying to prove she belongs with the big boys and Evan trying likewise after a disappointing season. When they chat, each realizes they wasted ten years over a misunderstanding. They become lovers and share a deodorant sponsorship but whereas he wants more she distrusts her feelings as they burned her once before.

The latest Fast Track romance (see Hard and Fast, Flat Out Sexy and Hot Finish) is an entertaining trip around the oval with two likable drivers although the second chance at love plot is actually very linear. The key to this fast as a NASCAR race tale is Kendall's reluctance to take their relationship to another level because she believes her beloved Evan tried to defuse her dream when they were together the first time. With trademark Erin McCarthy humor and the return of the leads from previous entries, fans will enjoy the spin around the Fast Track.

Texas Blue
Jodi Thomas
9780425240472 $7.99

In 1875 Texas Ranger Duncan "Duck" McMurray informs his friend gambler Lewton Paterson that he plans to insure good marriages for his three female cousins by sending good citizens with upstanding families their way. Lewton yearns for that respectability so at Crystal's, after he meets Walter Freeport the Fourth, a pompous abusive fool who hit a server, he decides to replace the nasty gentleman. A card game leads to Lewt possessing the train ticket,

Lewton meets the three ladies and finds each nice and pretty, but is drawn specifically to ranch manger Emily. However, though she is attracted to her cousin's selection, she refuses to marry as that will cost her the independence that she cherishes. When they learn that Duncan has been held prisoner in Mexico, Lewt and Em ride out to rescue him.

The latest Whispering Mountain historical romance (see The Lone Texan) is once again a great read. The lead couple is a fabulous pairing of an independent ranch owner and a likable card shark posing as a dandy. From the moment they meet, sparks fly, as he says to the three cousins he will marry any of them as long as she is wealthy while she distrusts any male except kin ever since she helplessly witnessed an assault on her mom. Readers will enjoy this coupling as both have issues wider than Texas.

Mourning Gloria
Susan Wittig Albert
9780425239131 $25.95

China Bayles lives in Pecan Springs, a small town in the Texas Hill Country. She resides with her "husband", step-son and her niece as well as a horde of pets; she also owns several local businesses.

One night on her way home, she sees a trailer on fire and hears a woman cry for help. China cannot get passed the flames. An explosion occurs leaving the woman dead and China slightly injured. The corpse is burned beyond recognition while the fire investigator rules it a homicide and arson as the inferno was to cover up the bullets shot into the victim. Intern reporter Jessica Nelson covers the story concealing from her editor that this crime is personal. When Jessica disappears, the police have no reason foul play is involved so fail to investigate. China takes over following the trail the tyro journalist pursued.

Although having an amateur sleuth find a body is not new (see Dorothy Howell's Shoulder Bags and Shootings), the latest China Bayles' whodunit is a fresh investigative thriller due to the heroine and a horde of suspects. In her forties, China remains spunky and active providing the same energy to investigating the missing reporter as she did when she was a younger hotshot Houston attorney. With the return of the cast like her extended family enhancing the enjoyable story line, sub-genre fans will feel we are visiting China's emporium in Pecan Springs.

Sarah's Gift
Marta Perry
9780425238912 $14.00

Amish Widow Sarah Mast loves her work helping people as a midwife. When her Aunt Emma Stolzus asks Sarah to join her practice in Pleasant Valley Pennsylvania as she can no longer handle the load; the niece accepts the offer and relocates excited to start a new life. Carpenter Aaron Miller agrees to build their facility though he personally detests the practice of midwifery. However, her joy of working with her aunt turns heartbreaking as Emma is ill.

Aaron's pregnant married sister Molly is coming home as her spouse is working temporarily in Wisconsin. He vows to keep Molly away from midwives. When Molly arrives she chooses Sarah to help her with her pregnancy. Finally the English Dr. Mitchell presses charges that Sarah is practicing medicine without a license. Her only hope to defend herself resides with Aaron, but he is blind to what she has done for her patients and how he feels about her.

The latest Pleasant Valley inspirational Amish romance (see Anna's Return) is a superb contemporary that focuses on the role of a midwife in modern America. Sarah is the glue holding the fine storyline together; as she learns to use what God has given her to help those in need even when skeptics like the man she loves rip her heart. Marvelous Marta Perry provides another powerful Pleasant Valley tale.

Dead on Delivery
Eileen Randhal
9780425238783 $15.00

Messenger Melina Markowitz delivers packages left for her by her paranormal clients to their supernatural customers. However, recently two male she left packages with have died under strange circumstances. Stunned she looks closely at the background of both victims over the objection of her boyfriend Ted Goodnight the cop she met when their spheres interacted on the Don't Kill the Messenger case.

With Ted having her back, Melina learns the two dead guys shared the same friends, disappeared without explanations several times, and shockingly committed the same crime. Melina begins to realize that a powerful raging voodoo practitioner has let loose the dark on Melina and those in her sphere. As Melina struggles to prevent a catastrophe with Ted assisting her; roommate Norah fears venturing outside with all the paranormal whirling around except for one dangerous exhilarating possibility.

The latest 3M urban fantasy is an engaging paranormal amateur sleuth in which rage and racism has dire effects. The story line is action-packed from the moment her clients are killed and never slows down as Melina the Messenger is caught in a web of voodoo anger that is leaving clients dead, and friends and her lover in peril. She knows she is being set up emotionally for the final out.

A Hard Day's Fright
Casey Daniels
9780425240564 $6.99

On August 14, 1966 Lucy Pasternak and some friends went to see the Beatles perform. She is proud of her audacity when she ran on stage, eluded the security guards and kissed Paul. After the show Lucy leaves with her friends by train, but never makes it home.

That night is the last time anyone seen Lucy until cemetery guide Pepper Martin sees her on the same train she rode forty-five years ago. The underground voodoo railroad lets it be known that Pepper is the person to turn to if she needs help for her spirit to finally be at rest. Pepper knows she has to get involved with a ghostly whodunit as Lucy demands she find her body and bury it. At first Pepper doesn't want to be involved bur she changes her mind when she learns her best friend and mentor Ella was the teen friend who failed to help Lucy get home. Pepper wants to make things right for Lucy, but the inquiry into the missing body proves precarious as an unknown adversary wants the case to remain cold and tries to kill those like Pepper who are intruding.

A Pepper Martin paranormal amateur sleuth is always a fun read as the heroine solves problems for those with a Tomb with a View. Like the Ghost Whisperer she helps earth bound spirits resolve what keeps them from moving on to the next level. However, she is unable to tell anyone ever since her former boyfriend ridiculed her when she confessed that she is the Chick for the Dead. Her current investigation is a shade more personal than usual as the secondary cast especially her "Watson" enhance another delightful urban fantasy.

A Lot Like Love
Julie James
9780425240168 $7.99

In Chicago, heiress Jordan Rhodes owns the high end DeVine Cellars wine store. She is invited to all the elite soirees and besides her father ranked in the top ten of wealth by Forbes, she is beautiful and charming; ergo men desire her. Jordan's only down is her brother Kyle's incarceration.

FBI Agents Seth Huxley and Nick McCall need to attend the annual Valentine's Day party tossed by Xander Eckhart so that one of them can plant bugs in his office to find information on the man's link to notorious Roberto Martino. The feds visit Jordon at her store where they offer her a get out of jail card for her computer geek sibling in exchange for allowing Nick to escort her to the Eckhart gala; she agrees. However, the scheme goes awry leading to Nick becoming Jordan's escort to keep her safe; however they continue the charade that looks like the real deal perhaps because they are falling in love.

This is a throwback police procedural romantic suspense in which Hepburn-Tracy need to star. The tale combines danger with light humor such as McCall's revelation as to why men watch Dancing with the Stars. Although the bodyguard gimmick has been used a lot in books and movies (see the Costner-Houston film The Bodyguard) sub-genre fans will enjoy the fast-paced story line as the beautiful bodacious billionaire and the fearsome Fed fuss, fight and fall in love.

The Promises She Keeps
Erin Healy
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781595547514, $14.99,

Suffering cystic fibrosis, Promise knows she is dying soon. Her fear is not death, but life as she yearns to be loved and be in the memory of loved ones. Her only chance is music.

At college Zack Eddy asks if he can take photos of her so he can draw pictures of her from them; she agrees. During the shoot, her shawl blows away. Promise dives for it only to tumble down the bluffs overlooking the Oregon coast. Zack takes pictures of her dive to death, but miraculously she lives. Other near death experiences always occur with Zack nearby occurs. He shows his photos to his pagan witch mom Porta Cerreto who believes Promise is the Goddess of Immortality and plans to use her for own purpose. As she stalks Promise, she orders her son to kill Promise to disprove her theory. However, autistic Chase Ellis who draws pictures of trees sees inside Porta's withered soul and knows she will hurt Promise if he fails to intervene.

This is a strange whimsical character driven tale that hooks the audience from the opening scene with Chase and never slows down as the reader will be stunned with a shocking late twist. The key to the thriller besides the well developed four lead characters is somehow author Erin Heal. makes the impossible seem possible even when it seems over the top of Mount Hood. The Promises She Keep is an exhilarating tale as eternal life is boringly meaningless without eternal love.

A Billion Reasons Why
Kristin Billerbeck
Thomas Nelson
9781595547910 $14.99

When Katie McKenna was younger her boyfriend Luc DeForges was dynamic living life to the fullest; they even broke up in a public fiery split. However though she at times misses what was then, Katie knows this is now. Thus a mature Katie is seeing steady Dexter Hastings and expects they will marry sharing a secure family lifestyle.

Katie is taken aback when her former lover Luc the billionaire arrives to ask her to do him a favor. He wants her to sing at his brother, Ryan's wedding in their hometown New Orleans that she fled after their relationship died. Thinking this is the way to truly move passed her past, Katie agrees.

This is a fun lighthearted contemporary romantic romp starring a nice young woman pulled in two different directions by a pair of opposite males. The story line is character driven by the life in Katie's men as the daredevil hunk and the levelheaded stud compete (in her mind). Fans will wonder who will Katie choose and whether Ryan and his Olivia will marry while dealing with Luc wanting to turn the wedding into the event of the century and the stereotypical caricatures of Eve Arden and Kaye Ballard as the Mothers-in-Law.

Who Is My Shelter?
Neta Jackson
Thomas Nelson
9781595548634 $14.99

In Chicago, Philip Fairbanks changed the locks on their penthouse kicking his wife Gabby to the street and sending their two children P.J. and Paul away; with her mother and a dog, she moved into the Manna House where she worked (see Where Do I Go? and Who Do I Talked To?). Gabby got her act together and now she, mom, the dog and her children live in a small apartment (see Who Do I Lean On?) together.

Meanwhile Philip recovers in a hospital after receiving a beating for non payment of his exorbitant gambling debt. His business partner is irate with him and his father disappointed with him. However, the biggest hammer to his gut is when Gabby and the kids visit him. Philip meets Will Nisson whose grandma is at the hospital. Will tells him that his grandma has been looking for her older sister for six decades, but has not given up hope. Philip misses Gabby and realizes how much he truly lost when he kicked her out. He wants her back, but she has moved on with a purpose at the House of Hope shelter for homeless mothers and kids.

The fourth Yada Yada House of Hope inspirational series is a wonderful tale in which Philip and Gabby ride separate escalators going in different directions, as she never lost faith even when he kicked her to the street and he never had faith even before he dumped her. Fans of the series will appreciate this fabulous story line as other subplots involving Will and his grandma, and Harry the cop, etc. add depth to a terrific entry. Perhaps the only caveat is that newcomers read the previous novels to understand how far Philip and Gabby have come.

A Watershed Year
Susan Schoenberger
9780824948566 $14.99

Lucy is stunned when her best friend thirty-three year old Harlan dies from cancer even knowing he would die soon. She thinks he will come out of his bedroom any moment to greet her as thirty-three years olds do not die from cancer. She struggles to move on but cannot accept his death especially when he seemed to get better but abruptly ended his experimental treatments in spite of her begging him not to quit. Her biggest regret was never telling him she loved him.

E-mails from Harlan that he arranged to be sent after he died begins to encourage Lucy; especially the one in which he insists she is perfect to raise a child. She ponders motherhood and decides out of homage to her cherished best friend to adopt. Lucy travels to Russia where she meets equally lonely physically and emotionally scarred four years old Mat. She adopts him and brings him back to America. Although he initially is extremely reticent and frightened, Mat and Lucy slowly form a caring bond as each heals emotionally due to the loving codependence on each other that they forge. However, Mat's father Vasily arrives from Russia to bring his son home.

A Watershed Year is a warm inspirational character study in which the key players (including Harlan through his e-mails, a tape, and his beloved's memories) seem real. Lucy is a terrific protagonist who holds the entertaining enlightening story line together as she grows from dependency on Harlan (even after he died) to a mothering dependency on Mat to finally becoming a mother when Vasily arrives. With a strong support cast, readers will appreciate this profound look at the convolution and metamorphosis of relationships.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Chinibuck the Observer
Charles Foertmeyer
Amazon Digital Services
Kindle download
ASIN B004QTOPT8 $5.49

I love books where the impossible and mysterious become reality and humans are transported into the unknown or unexplored sans safety net. No writer creates such scenarios better than Charles Foertmeyer. Chinibuck left me gasping for air, my imagination reeling as the author created reality from the impossible.

Henry Kellogg is a reclusive web designer, living at the edge of an old growth forest in southern Ohio. Henry enjoys his lonely existence. His daily routine includes drinking an occasional cup of special blend coffee, working on the computer, and hiking in the Shawnee forest. Henry's adventure begins innocently enough, with a leisurely hike through the forest. This day he hears more than the chirping of birds and rustlings of small animals. He hears the moaning of an injured human and discovers a Wauami Indian in full native regalia. Henry knows the Wauami tribe has not lived in Ohio since the 1700s, so where did this warrior come from? The Indian says his name is Keyawa, and that he's dying. He grips Henry's arm and says, "You are now Chinibuck the Observer. You must only observe - never interfere. I pass this on to you, as it was given to me."

What did Keyawa pass on to Henry? Is it gift, curse, or both? And can a white man fulfill an obligation meant to be passed from Indian to Indian? Henry struggles with the Chinibuck legacy, forced into a world of dreams, dreamers, and dream catchers. He seeks answers while navigating between past and present, wondering if Chinibuck represents greed or greatness. Will he honor the legacy, or end up a broken man, trapped in the past? You'll have to read the book to find out.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

The Power of the Moment
Harmonologia: Studies in Music Theory No. 16
Martin Boykin, author
David Damschroder, general editor
Pendragon Press
PO Box 190, Hillsdale, NY 12529
9781576741641, $48.00,

"The Power of the Moment: Essays on the Western Musical Canon" is a collection of six chapters of musical analysis revolving around tonality, change and continuity, and the power of every (musical) moment. The sixteenth volume in the Harmonologia: Studies in Music Theory, "The Power of the Moment" contains chapters titled Introduction: Words About Theory, The Power of the Moment: The Hammerklavier and the Archduke, Voice and Piano in Dialogue: Seven Songs from the Winterreise, A Recurrent Tonality: The Meaning of the Kiss in Verdi's Otello, Restarting the Clock: The Scherzo of Beethoven's Fifth, The Power of Every Moment: Musical Continuity in J. S. Bach, and Coda.

In a succession of demanding scrutinies of powerful examples of Western music composition, these essays examine meaning in music through an intense, aesthetic experience of the immediate. One summarizing statement says: ""...I should like to think that our analytical studies have been able to shed some light on meaning in music by showing in specific instances how, in an art-form, where the experience of the present is so intense, the precise shape of a moment is critical for the meaning of the work as a whole (p. 107)." The author continues, saying, "Music has always been central to the human experience, I suspect that this is so because it releases us, however briefly, from our usual anxiety over the passing of time, not by distracting us, but on the contrary, by intensifying our awareness.

We find ourselves enveloped in an extraordinary wealth of sensuous stimuli, and with time moving slower than usual, it becomes possible to grasp relationships that are complex and constantly in motion...In the course of these essays we have often had occasion to note how a musical passage acknowledges the past even as it demands our attention to the present. It seems to me that this ability to invest a span of time with a sense of gradually accumulated meanings is the definition of real music (p. 107)."

This, then is the complex legacy of the essays of "The Power of the Moment," a fiery illumination of certain key components of the soul-arresting qualities of significant passages of famous Western music. "The Power of the Moment" is a many-faceted contribution to the Harmonologia Studies in Music Theory that will intrigue musicians and professional faculty at all levels.

A Field of Voices: Hymns for Worship
James E. Clemens & David Wright
Church Publishing
445 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780898696530, $15.00,

Described as a harvest of song, "A Field of Voices" is a collection of 30 hymns by contemporary collaborators Clemens and Wright for use in Christian worship services and liturgies. In addition to complete arrangements of refreshing worship music, there are suggestions for some services of worship, indexes on musical voicings, themes and uses in worship, and scriptures. Lyrics and musical line are combined to give a harmonious whole that is both simple and profound. The music is easily accessible and in comfortable vocal ranges. Full keyboard accompaniments for 7 of the hymns are included, while the rest are presented as either 4-part hymn arrangements or solo vocal line, for guitar or other accompaniment. "A Field of Voices" is a fine gift to the spires of contemporary Christian worship.

edited by James H. Nottage
University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069
9780979849510, $75.00,

"Generations: The Helen Cox Kersting Collection of Southwestern Cultural Arts" is a vivid, lavish visual feast of objects d'art from multiple Southwest native American traditional cultures, including Navajo, Pueblo, Hopi, Zuni, and other artists. Including over 550 color photographs of jewelry, pottery, katsinas, baskets, weavings, and paintings, "Generations" presents the majesty of a great Southwest Native arts collection at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition, there are essays by James H. Nottage, Vice President and Chief Curatorial Officer, Diana F. Pardue of the Heard Museum, and Bruce Bernstein from the Santa Fe Indian Market about some of the history of the extensive collection. Here are fabulous photo representations of the works of Leo Poblano (jeweler), John Gordon Leak, Frank Dishta, Maria Martinez, Lucy Lewis, Margaret Tafoya, and Nampeyo. Modern artists' works are also represented, including fantastic creations by Grace Medicine Flower, Jacob Koopee, Veronica Poblano, and others. Incredibly intricate Acoma pottery works by Rebecca Lucario, Lucy, Bernard and Sharon Lewis, Adrienne Roy-Keene, and others are represented in this marvelous collection. The explanation for the title of the book is as follows: "The story of the Kersting collection is one of generations - two generations of the Kersting family plus multiple generations of artists and objects (p. 19)." To peruse the pages of "Generations" is to tease the mind towards its limits of aesthetic comprehension. Certainly one result of the sharing of "Generations" will be to increase the devout attendance of the Eiteljorg Museum to witness the collection in person. "Generations" is a magnificent tribute to the vast legacy of the skilled native American artists of the Southwest.

Drawing a Blank
Emily Iland, M.A.
AAPC Publishing
P.O. Box 23173, Shawnee Mission, KS 66283
9781934575772, $34.95,

"Drawing a Blank: Improving Comprehension for Readers on the Autism Spectrum" is a hands on textbook on teaching and improving reading and comprehension for parents and educators of students with ASD (autism spectrum disorders). Filled with specific techniques, suggestions, and learning strategies, "Drawing a Blank" is organized into 6 chapters with four major themes of study: "1. Definition of the problem, 2. In-depth explanation of how ASD affects comprehension at the word, sentence, and text level, 3. Methods to identify the comprehension problems in students with ASD, and 4. Evidence-based and promising practices to improve comprehension matched to the needs and learning style of individuals on the autism spectrum (p. 13)." Chapters are presented as follows: 1. Autism Spectrum Disorders and the Task of Reading, 2. Autism Spectrum Disorders and the Comprehension Connection, 3. Masking and Unmasking: Identification and Assessment of Comprehension Issues, 4. Evidence-Based Practices for Improving Reading Comprehension in Learners with ASD, 5. Building Vocabulary - Promising Practices to Improve Comprehension, and 6. Using Visual Tools to Improve Comprehension. Helpful or key concepts presented in the chapters are highlighted within "thought cloud" frameworks for clarification. For example, Chapter 3 is embellished with a balloon paragraph stating "This chapter provides guidance to help with identification and evaluation of individuals with ASD of all ages...p. 63." Handy tables and curriculum maps and other visual aids and guides are used frequently. another example of a creative or constructive teaching idea is the use of a "paint chip" model to teach intensity of meaning, for example writing synonyms of the word defined on a series of colored or shaded bars, with the least strong or emotional meaning on the lightest shade strip and the most intense (connoted) meaning synonym on the darkest shade strip (pp. 142-143) There are many more innovative ideas and teaching techniques and approaches contained in "Drawing a Blank." At the end of the chapters and conclusion are references, index, and extensive appendices. "Drawing a Blank" is a very useful tool for teachers and caretakers of students with ASD. It can present many crucial keys for unlocking further development of reading and comprehension skills of students with ASD.

Vocal Descants for 101 Noteworthy Hymns
Lorna Barker
Church Publishing Inc.
341 Great Circle Road, Nashville, TN 37228
9780898696493, $18.00,

"Vocal Descants For 101 Noteworthy Hymns" is a stunning collection of 101 soprano or tenor vocal descant lines for popular and well known hymns. Written by the experienced Dr. Lorna Tedesco Barker, each descant embodies practical approaches to the four classic problems experienced by descant singers and choir directors. The problems and Dr. Barker's unique solutions are as follows:

Problem Solution
Vocal range is too high. Descants do not exceed high G above C.
Too many awkward intervals. If a hymn phrase repeats, so does the descant phrase.
Singers can't find the opening pitch. Descants begin on same first note as hymn.
Descant melody is unattractive. Descants are countermelodies.

In addition to presenting easy to learn countermelodies for vocal descants, a recording of each descant is available to choir singers by visiting the website, for convenience in home practice or rehearsal.

"Vocal Descants For 101 Noteworthy Hymns" is an aesthetic, practical solution to a church choir director's common dilemma; how to carve out adequate rehearsal time for proper descant performance.

The First North Americans
Brian Fagan
Thames & Hudson
500 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780500021200, $34.95,

"The First North Americans: An Archaeological Journey" is a new pre-colonial history of North America based on recent results of archaeology and research in multiple areas, including climatology and ethnohistory. Intended as a "short, narrative account of ancient North America from first settlement to the arrival of Europeans in the late fifteenth century Ad(p. 7)," the work takes full advantage of recent technological increases in research. The key concept in the description of the work is "narrative." "The First North Americans" indeed serves as a succinct, complex summary of 13,500 years of human history on the continent of North America, covering roughly the time from 12,000 BC to 1500 AD and the devastating contacts with European explorers. A helpful chronological table of Ancient North American societies divides the early human societies into three groups: Paleoindian (from first settlement to after 8000 BC), Archaic (hunter-gatherer societies from after 8000 BC to AD 1), and Woodland (hunter-gatherer/ agricultural societies in Eastern Woodlands after 1000 BC to historic times). This chart also shows five distinct areas of human settlement over time, the Arctic, West/Southwest, Plains, Eastern Woodlands, and the Northeast. In addition, climate changes are presented over the same time frame, from 12,000 BC to AD 1500. As the author emphasizes, the climate changes during the centuries studied were immense, and of long and hard duration. Every evidence is shown that the early human settlers of North America demonstrated great resourcefulness, courage, stamina and endurance to survive and thrive throughout these climate changes. The use of graphs and tables in "The First North Americans" complements the compelling narrative style, aided by almost 200 illustrations, 26 in color and the rest black and white. The book is divided into two major parts; "Foundations" and "Apogee," which traces later more complex societies that followed development of the earlier settlers. Initial chapters cover some of the earliest prehistories including Clovis and pre-Clovis, while subsequent chapters are devoted to studies of peoples of large geographical areas. These include the Far North, west to east, the West Coast, the Southwest, the Plains, the Eastern Woodlands (including separate chapters for earlier culture and the Moundbuilders and the Mississippian or Eastern Woodland Climax), the Far North, and the Northeast, Algonquians and Iroquoians. Most chapters begin with a chronological table that describes the area's cultural history alongside a parallel in time graph of climactic stages. Heavily researched and meticulously documented, "The First North Americans" pushes and compresses boundaries of common information resulting from extensive research by both Native and nonnative Americans in recent decades. As fascinating to read as to examine, "The First North Americans" deserves a place on shelves of both Native American prehistory scholars and interested amateurs, even cultural connoisseurs. A final quotation says all eloquently: "This is a story teased from thousands of minute clues, many of them startlingly exotic and obscure, but it is a vital history of anonymous people going about their daily lives - negotiating, communicating, avoiding, loving and hating, growing up, getting married, having children, and dying. It's a chronicle of adaptation and opportunism, of emerging diversity, and above all, of societies where ties of kin were all-important, where close links with the supernatural world were at the core of human existence (p. 13)."

The Music of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
David Schulenberg
University of Rochester Press
668 Mount Hope Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620
9781580463591, $85.00, 585-275-0419

David Schulenberg's "The Music of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach" (from Eastman Studies in Music, Volume 79) is an enlightening contribution to the legacy and repertoire of the brilliant but somewhat obscure eldest son of composer Johann Sebastien Bach. Characterized as "Sebastian's son, Emmanuel's brother," Wilhelm Friedemann Bach left a veiled and sometimes confusing trail of compositions, half or more of them unpublished. some of his obscurity may be due to the technical challenges and difficulties of his keyboard, instrumental and vocal compositions. Two previous biographer/researchers have attempted to correct the absence of information on W. F. Bach, they are Martin Falck (1888-1914) and Peter Wolny, a German musicologist. "The Music of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach" is the first modern study of the composer written originally in English. Beginning with a brief review of the composer's early life, the second chapter goes on to discuss Friedemann's musical training under his father, and his unique emerging musical style. Subsequent chapters survey three categories of Friedemann's music: compositions for solo keyboard, instrumental ensemble, and sacred compositions created during the time of his employment as organist and director of music at Halle, central Germany. Special appendices contain notes on performance, challenges of performance and interpretation, and a List of Works, with both Falck and Bach-Repertorium numbers listed for added clarification. To this list has been added the cantata or serenata for the birthday of King Frederick the Great, of Prussia and a previously ignored or lost concerto. Particular attention is given to the vocal works of the composer in chapter 5. In closing, Professor Schulenberg's comments on the "enigmatic legacy" of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach summarizes and illuminates: "(the works of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach) are best understood not in the shadow of his father's music, nor as a somewhat peculiar offshoot of the so-called empfindsamer Stil of his brother, but as a distinctive combination of ideas now associated with both Leipzig and Dresden, mingling 'German' counterpoint and harmony with italianate fluency and virtuosity. And although remarkable for the virtuosity it demands of the performer, perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of Friedemann's best music is its elegant pathos."

Beginner's Guide to Community-Based Arts
Keith Knight, et al.
New Village Press
P.O. Box 3049, Oakland, CA 94609
9780976605430, $21.95,

"Beginner's Guide to Community-Based Arts: Ten Graphic Stories about Artists, Educators & Activists across the U.S." is an amazing educational collection of thousands of social change artists of varied, diverse backgrounds and locations. Committed to the concept of transforming communities through information as art, (or art as information), "Beginner's Guide to Community-Based Arts" is organized on the CRAFT principle. CRAFT is a conceptual map that stands for five territories of the community-based art process: Contact - "Cultivate trust, mutual understanding and commitment as a foundation for creative partnership." Research -"Gather information about the people, places and issues you are working with." Action - "Produce a new work of art that benefits the community." Feedback - "Spark community reflection, dialogue and organizing to spread the impact of the new work." and Teaching - "Pass on new community-building skills to others to sustain the impact (p. xxv)." Many amazing comic illustrations are quoted and reproduced in black and white in the chapters of "Beginner's Guide to Community-Based Arts." The book ends with a list of resources, inspiring quotations, artist's profiles, and a Craft Activities Table that shows how "art, learning and social change take place in each of the CRAFT territories (p. 159)." The ideas of CRAFT began at the East Bay Institute for Urban Arts, a teen program in Oakland, CA from 1994-2001.

Pueblo Peoples on the Pajarito Plateau, Archaeology and Efficiency
David E. Stuart
University of New Mexico Press
MSCOS 3185, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131
9780826349118, $19.95,

"Pueblo Peoples on the Pajarito Plateau" is an analytical overview of the archaeology of the Bandalier National Monument and the Pajarito Plateau area, from the Paleo-////Indian Period through the Riverine Period, tracing pre-historic settlement and subsistence data to the 16th century builders and craftsmen of the survivors of the Chaco Canyon's cultural collapse. Author Stuart's intriguing thesis revolves around the attribution of practiced efficiency, moderation, and expedience of the Bandelier settlers in post-Chaco eras, as opposed to the characteristics of growth, grandeur, and stratification inferred in the earlier Chaco Canyon socioeconomic structure. "Pueblo Peoples on the Pajarito Plateau" traces evidence of adapting skills of the inheritors of Chaco Canyon culture in building patterns, pottery, and artifacts of the post-Chaco eras. Previously unpublished maps, graphs, and black and white and color photographs help to shed new light on this strategic pocket of Southwestern Indian prehistory.

The Juice Box Bully:
Bob Sornson and Maria Dismondy, authors
Kim Shaw, illustrator
Marian Nelson, publisher/ Ferne Press
366 Welch Road, Northville, MI 48167
9781933916729, $10.95,

"The Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to Stand Up for Others" is a constructive solutions book about bullying behavior. When new student Pete tries to bully, tease, or ridicule others, he finds a surprising response. Ralph and other students carefully explain to Pete that they made a promise in Mr. Peltzer's class to take care of each other and to solve problems peacefully. They also promised that no one would stand by and accept hurtful behavior. Pete cannot understand this approach to bullying, but he eventually becomes a convert to the promise mode. Bright, expressive illustrations help sell and deliver the message of "The Juice Box Bully," while sensitive dialogue paves the way to true basic understanding and communication.

A unique feature of the problem solution suggestions is the students are empowered to become the largest section of a defense against bullying. At the end of the book is a pledge, called the Promise:

I WILL speak up instead of acting as a bystander.
I CHOOSE to participate in activities that don't involve teasing.
I FORGIVE others if they make poor choices.
I Model good behavior.
I ACCEPT others for their differences.
I INCLUDE others in group situations.
I AM powerful in making a difference in my school.

Tami Su, author
Jan Dolby, illustrator
Dog Ear Publishing
4010 W. 86th Street, Suite H, Indianapolis, Indiana 46268
9781608447138, $16.99,

"Phobiatopia" is a child's picture book filled with imaginative suggestions for solutions to the problem of bullying, even among young children. When Vicky is repeatedly but secretly bullied by the devious Mallory at school, her teacher and principal are blind to the problem, sending both girls to detention, in a dark room. There they meet Jobo, a friendly boy who promises to take them on a detention adventure. They travel to a colorful, quaint village named Phobiatopia, where everyone treats everyone else with respect and courtesy. They find that everyone in Phobiatopia has compassion and understanding for everyone else, partly because everyone acknowledges their own private fears. The one Golden Rule is they NEVER ridicule or criticize each other's phobic behavior. Instead, they try to help one another overcome their fear, but without resorting to force. The penalty for breaking the Golden Rule is being banished to the Golden Rule Room. This is unimpressive to Mallory, who declares it "lame." They meet Pano, a nice lady who further explains the requirements of Phobiatopia. Everyone must reveal their phobia before leaving. Mallory decides to lie about her phobia when she is asked to share. But when she disobeys the Golden Rule and laughs at Vicky for sharing her fear of being ostracized, she is magically transported to the Golden Rule room where she is tormented by multiple bunny rabbits, her confessed phobia.

Embellished with fantastical colorful illustrations, "Phobiatopia" uses fantasy and humor to present some alternative solutions to problems of child bullying.

Nancy Lorraine

Micah's Bookshelf

Passionate Encounters
Shireen Jabry
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450272551, $13.95,

Passion drives it all together and gives it life. "Passionate Encounters" is a collection of short and flash fiction from Shireen Jabry, as she reflects on the many incidents of life and passion that drive us forward through life with a certain flair that can't be matched. For those looking for the moments that make love all the worth while, "Passionate Encounters" is a thoughtful collection, not to be missed.

Where the Bones Rest
Roger Pavey
Ablewise Books
9780983260417, $12.95,

As cultures clashed, the waning native Americans were not about to go quietly into the night. "Where the Bones Rest" is a novelization of what author Roger Pavey holds as a true story of the clash between a ragtag group of Americans and the Saukie people in one of the last Indian wars on the east side of the Mississippi people. A story of the tenacity of peoples, "Where the Bones Rest" is a riveting read that will be hard to put down.

2nd Earth
Edward & Eunice Vought
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432767914, $17.95,

When everything seems slightly off, it may be more off than one could ever dream. "2nd Earth" follows Navy Seals Jon and Tim as what was meant to be a routine family visit goes horribly wrong after a brief snooze on the train. "2nd Earth" is a science fiction tale focused on how something so familiar can be so alien, recommended.

A Process Mind
Richard P. Lyon
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432760397, $17.95,

Nearing a century of life, Richard Lyon is such a veteran and has seen much, yet has failed to see much as well. "A Process Mind" is his memoir on his long life, his time in medical school, and living through World War II and a tumultuous century. Encouraging readers to never stop asking questions no matter how dumb they may seem, "A Process Mind" is a thoughtful and insightful read, highly recommended.

The Governor's Four Hearts
James Earp
Tate Publishing
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781617392580, $21.99,

Nothing reminds you how to live like death. "The Governor's Four Hearts: The True Inspirational Story of One Family's Journey from Death to Really Living" tells the story of James Earp and his family as they faced their combined tragedies of heart failure and cancer, content facing death together. Through faith however, live didn't seem like such an impossibility. "The Governor's Four Hearts" is a fine read that will inspire.

The Shepherd
Ethan Cross
The Fiction Studio
PO Box 4613, Stamford, CT 06907
9781936558063, $16.95,

Cruelty isn't necessarily a bad thing, it has many noble applications as well. "The Shepherd" tells the story of two individuals with a special ruthless talent for hurting people. One is an officer of the law, the other embraces the more visceral and sinister applications. As a plot swallows both of them, their lives become entwined and the ultimate fate behind it all is hard to understand. "The Shepherd" is an exciting thriller that should prove very difficult to put down.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

The Mystery of the Moaning Banshee
Barbara Carroll
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd. #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432721275, $9.95,

Barbara Carroll is a New York resident, and also works there. She has had a lifetime love affair with Gothic tales, which inspired THE MYSTERY OF THE MOANING BANSHEE.

Cassie Baker is a thirteen year old, with a seemingly interminable number of brothers and sisters. Her grandfather dies and leaves her his mansion…a Victorian set on a cliff high on the ocean. Wuthering Heights? Maybe. On the grounds are a beach house, a lighthouse, a family cemetery, and tales of smugglers, ghosts, banshees, and a hidden treasure. Oh, and an eighty-five year old parrot named Tahiti also comes with the deal. Tahiti is highly expressive.

Cassie's mother takes off on a cooking tour to support her sizeable family, but not before learning there is a sizeable power bill to be paid or the newly acquired house will be sold at auction. She hires a nanny/cook, and it's bye bye mom. Then the action begins as Silas, the creepy caretaker, spins a yarn about the place:

"Silas began speaking in low tones, as if he didn't want to be overheard.

'This place be haunted for sure,' he whispered, glancing around the yard. 'Ye'll hear the moanin' banshee on windy nights, but I'd stay inside if I was you. No good comes lookin' on the banshee. Now if it's the hobbedy's lanterns yer lookin' fer, I know all about that, seein' as I live in the marsh. To see the hobbedy's lanterns, ye need a still night— still as death.'"

Naturally when some broken down old man starts warning of danger that he has obviously avoided it is suspect, and little Cassie Baker is no fool. She gathers her younger siblings and formulates a plan to find out the truth about the ghost stories, the shimmery sightings she herself experiences, and the secret of the hidden treasure. Her grandfather has left notes around the premises to help her in her quest, as he correctly sized her up. A winning read for children!

Blackberry Crumble
Josi S. Kilpack
Deseret Book Company
P.O. Box 31078, Salt Lake City, Utah 84130
9781606419410, $17.99,

Josi S. Kilpack is a resident of Willard, Utah, and is a self-taught writer. She has been an inveterate reader since the age of thirteen when a child's book hooked her into reading. She began writing in 1998 and has published thirteen novels. This latest Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary mystery is the fifth in the series.

Sadie Hoffmiller is a God fearing Christian who is in her mid-fifties. She is a widow, but is currently dating a dashing cop named Pete Cunningham. As with many "attractions," Sadie is, underneath it all, attracted to danger. Boyfriend Pete tries in vain to put a damper on her enthusiasm, which creates a bit of tension between the two. When Sadie is featured in a libelous news article written by an overzealous reporter, her standing in the community suffers a blow. Luckily another mystery presents itself, and she takes a plane out to Portland, Oregon, as her first bona fide private investigation job. The problem is, she doesn't have a license. Not to worry:

"'Licensed investigators have a little more leeway, but are also under more obligations to uphold certain—'

'Colorado doesn't require a license,' Sadie said in a haughty tone. 'Are you in Colorado?'

Shoot, she hadn't thought about it like that. 'Look, I don't even think I'm going to be in charge here,' she said, justifying herself even more. 'But I did a contract and everything to keep things on the up-and-up. This is just my practice run, Pete, to see if I want to pursue this further. I'm not going to break any laws.'"

So we know that our Sadie is a sweet little busybody who wants to be an investigator. Is this a formula for disaster? Decidedly. But in the meantime, Kilpack weaves an intriguing plot set in the colorful Northwest. Characters are well crafted, the setting is to die for, and Sadie actually develops into an investigator of merit as she untangles a family murder that would trip up even the most seasoned investigator. Then there are the recipes that Kilpack sprinkles throughout the novel. Mystery is always digested better with great grub.

Lake Charles
Ed Lynskey
Wildside Press, LLC
9710 Traville Gateway Dr., #234, Rockville, MD 20850
9781434430465, $12.99,

Ed Lynskey is known as an American poet, critic, and is the author of nine mysteries. Countless reviewers and outlets have reviewed his work. He himself has written reviews for the likes of the New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and many others. His poetry has appeared in many publications, as well as anthologies. Several publishing groups have cited his poems and stories. LAKE CHARLES is his latest effort.

Brendan is a nineteen-year-old Tennessee boy who grew up in a trailer park with Mama Jo, his twin sister Edna, and a father he can only remember as a floating image from when he was a baby. He is out on bail for a murder he didn't commit, and the authorities seem to be so corrupt that his case appears hopeless. The tale begins with he and his buddy, Cobb, erstwhile husband of Edna, and Edna herself going out on the weird Lake Charles reservoir for a day of fishing and jetskiing. The estranged couple argue relentlessly, and suddenly Edna disappears on her jetski. Brendan also has daydreams with dead people, and the murdered Ashleigh Sizemore sends him on a quest to find her killer and his kidnaped sister:

"'Simple. Find and catch my killer, and you can save us both.'

'Listen you, this is my life. Nothing makes sense in it since I partied with you. Fatal ambushes. Blood-chilling dreams. Pot gardens. Bum arrests. Sadistic sheriff's deputies. I've just about had it with you.'

'Your nailing my killer is our way out of this.' She began fading to a temporary black.

'You don't leave me much choice.'"

This noir tale of corruption, backwoods politics, and drugs all combining to ruin a young man's life is stark, painfully realistic, and brilliantly conceived. Brendan's youth and inexperience highlight his entering into a night of partying only to find himself embroiled in a conspiracy that turns into his worst nightmare. Lynskey gives his character redemption, even as his experience matures him and develops character that can't be taught in school. LAKE CHARLES is chilling and addictive.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Ada - Legend of a Healer
R.A. McDonald
House of Lore Publishing
PO Box 2614, Salem, OR 97308
9780615412580, $12.95,

Ada has not had an easy life, deserted by her mother and placed in the hands of an aunt who soon put her in foster care gave her a slime chance right from the beginning. Ada's life has been more than difficult as she was tossed from one foster home to another and fought against abuse in many areas. Is it no wonder that she is a loner and trust no one?

However, Ada has another challenge, one far greater than running from foster homes. Ada is a healer, a person who is able to heal others with a touch. The problem is Ada has no idea why she can do this and she has no one to ask until circumstances arise and her long lost aunt is found and takes her in. Now truths begin to unravel, but is the truth harder for Ada is live with than the unknowing?

I found this book to be absolutely wonderful. The author brings Ada to life in the minds eye in so many ways. Her emotions are laid bare before the reader and you can feel the aching of her heart, the loneliness, the desperate cry for love and understanding. Yet her sheer determination to survive a hostile world keeps her going, always on guard, always traveling the road of loneliness, yet determined to carry on. Through each trauma she has encountered she faces and makes the best decisions she can, some good, some bad. Her fortitude should be admired as she begins to see the world in a different light. Still battling with forces of greed and ugliness, selfish and uncaring people, she suddenly looks and sees compassion, family, love, and begins to make decisions based on the balance.

Her life of course is more complex due to her healing ability and the corrupt people who lust after her power. However, as she continued on her quest she was slowly learning that she must use the resources given to her to survive, and survive she will. Excellent story, highly recommended.

Safari Through the Land of Landu
Angela Karanja
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
978145007916, $14.95,

All children love adventure and love meeting new people, or animals as the case may be. In this bright, sunny book by author, Kelli Sue Landon, we are taken on a journey to The Land of Landu. We meet, Dhahabue, a squirrel who is also the queen, and what a lovely queen she is.

As we travel along we met, Olu, the owl gatekeeper, and Rabbu a rabbit who loves to play name games, and many others. Each one is portrayed in bright colors and friendly faces. Each of the animals along the way have a job and give unto the community their special talent, filling the needs needed to keep all happy. Each is important and accepted and loved, and that is a very important point.

This is a very colorful, upbeat book showing children the unity of a community and how each occupant plays an important role and the friendship that should be exchanged among the occupants. It shows each has special talents to share making the land a beautiful place to dwell for all. Very nicely done.

Stories To Enjoy
Tom Mach
Hill Song Press
PO Box 486, Lawrence, KS 66044
9780974515915, $14.95,

It is always a joy to me to have a book containing short stories in my reading pile. Often when time is short, it is a pleasure to be able to read a quick tale and continue on with my daily activities. However, with this book of shorts I devoured it in one evening. The stories that you will find in this book have been written with great care for detail. Our author definitely makes sure you have a clear mind picture of the people and locals as you read. Each story is unique, and you are always surprised at how each ends. At times you will be fulfilled at the conclusion, other times you may feel there needed to be more. Now that is not a bad thing because it makes you think of the story even after the read is complete. Tom Mach has proven to me that he is a writer. I have read some of his other works, "Sissy, "and "All Parts Together," and truly enjoyed them. "Short Stories To Enjoy " will now be added to the list.

Trail of Blood
Lisa Black
William Morrow
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY
978006198339, $24.95,

Right off let me say I love Forensic murder mysteries so I was excited to read this book and it was great. We meet,Theresa MacLean, who works forensic and comes from a family of police officers. Years ago she heard about the Torso Killer of 1930, from her police officer grandfather He was a serial killer that put fear in the entire city of Cleveland. A killer who was never caught. When Theresa is called to remove a body that was walled up for seventy-five years in a forgotten building; she finds he has had his head removed and her interest peaked. Was this man another victim of the Torso Killer from so long ago? Who was this man that such care was taken to hide his body? She had to know.

Suddenly she is called to a lake where a body appears of a young woman, cut-up, much like the killings from so long ago. Could there be a copy-cat killer descending upon Cleveland? Theresa is on a race for time as she uses all the knowledge she has as she studies and analyses the body from so long ago and the new ones that are stacking up. Will she be able to bring all the pieces together from the past and the present and end the horror or will she, herself, be lost forever. Chilling!

I truly enjoyed this book and actually looked forward to my reading time disappointed when I had to close it for the night. Our author is a master at what she does, knitting murders from different time frames smoothly, fitting each piece into it's slot. Her characters are so well defined that you become a part of their lives and their deaths. Her locals are rich, pristine to the mind's eye as there were times I could hear the sound of the trains as Theresa moved among them in her search for answers.

The storyline is layered in mystery, like clothing that is applied one piece at a time and than slowly removed to reveal one shocking detail after another. What a ride as we wind down to the shocking conclusion. I would have never guessed. Outstanding.

This is a wonderful book, it has all you would ever want in forensics, murder, local, and character development, and I am proud to give it my highest recommendation. Thank you for a read that I will not soon forget.

The Judge Who Hated Red Nail Polish
Iona Bray, Richard Stim
Nolo Press
950 Parker Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781413311914, $19.95,

I wanted to review this book as I have a brother-in-law who is a Lawyer; I thought it would be fun for us to share the stories inside, and it was. I wondered how interesting this book would be, would it just be of interest to Lawyers or could lay people, such as myself really enjoy it. I am happy to report that they can. As I began the read I simply could not put the book down. There is so much inside the cover of this book that it will amaze you and no it is not technical reading, but interesting trivia, stories that will shock you, and rulings made by judges that will amaze you. All true. The story of the Supreme Court Judge who hated red nail polish was very interesting to say the least. I wondered how this man ever got to be a Supreme Court Judge and was not surprised when I read nobody and I mean nobody liked him. Interesting story.

This book is not just for those who have an interest in law, although they will love it. It is for anyone who has an interest in our country and just loves to read about trivia, zany laws, trials of the centuries or how about this: Five Strange But True Butt-Related Inventions. This book is packed full of interesting facts, great true stories, and information that you will be glad you finally know.

I highly recommend this work. It's interesting. It's fun. It's educational. A top-notch read from beginning to end

Pray For Silence
Linda Castillo
St Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312374983, $24.00,

Chief Kate Burkholder has some issues, issues from her past that now flood in as she is called to investigate the slaughter of an entire Amish family. The two daughters brutally tortured and sexually used. Kate herself left the Amish faith after a terrible happening, one she cannot forget.
Now she is thrown in the midst of what she has been running from. Add to that a fellow detective who is battling his own demons, but one whom Kate is drawn to, and you have a mixed story that will rock your reading world.

I truly liked this book. The author did a wonderful job getting you into the mind and heart of the main character, Kate. The murders were gruesome, but realistic and I felt as if I knew to some degree the family that was no more. Locals were very well described, down to details at times, even the crime scene was made very clear in the mind's eye. There was also a good build up of suspense and cloud of mystery throughout that kept you turning the pages, and a very good satisfying ending to the murder mystery. However, it appears Kate still has some issues that I am sure will be dealt with in future books. I also enjoyed reading about the Amish. I found that information very interesting and felt it added a lot to the storyline.

I recommend this read for anyone who enjoys a great building mystery with characters that come alive and stick in your memory long after you put the book down. Very nice work.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

In the Blink of an Eye
Sharen Skylar
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449061135, $22.99,

The life of a stripper is a dangerous one of shady environments. "In the Blink of an Eye" is a story of the seedy environment of The Velvet Lap as the authorities find themselves investigating crime and the underbelly of everything connected to it. A mystery and thriller of the evils that all too easily tie themselves to the sex industry, "In the Blink of an Eye" is an intriguing read, highly recommended.

My Druthers
Art Rude
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432761462, $12.95,

To make the world a better place is a noble goal in intention. "My Druthers" are Art Rude's own ideas to make the world a better place, as he focuses on his frustrations with America and the world today and how to reach forward to improve our world. "My Druthers" is thoughtful, entertaining, and offers many intriguing ideas on restoring glory to America and the world.

Heart to Heart
C. Bruce Johnson
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440170744, $27.95,

A heart attack isn't a death sentence, it can be a major wake up call. "Heart to Heart: 12 People Discover Better Lives after Their Heart Attacks" is a collection of memoir from C. Bruce Johnson as he speaks on how his Heart attack changed his life for the better and also stories of other Americans who took their lives in a whole new direction after their brush with near death. "Heart to Heart" is an inspirational read and a reminder to not think life is done when you are faced with a heart attack.

Sex, Lies, and Soybeans
Rick Goeld
Privately Published
9780982945308, $13.95,

Profits lead to power, and the lust for more power. "Sex, Lies, and Soybeans" tells the story of a world in the future where food animals are on the ropes and the rising power of soy looks to take over the world's soy and food supply with an iron-fisted dominance. The chairman of Texas's FDA is the only thing standing in the way of the growing soy empire's complete domination. With humor and a little advisory, "Sex, Lies, and Soybeans" is a fun read that should prove hard to put down.

Sudden Moves
Kellie Sue Landon
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432767136, $15.95,

When a classmate vanishes, the truth may be harder to find than anyone imagined. "Sudden Moves" tells the story of Katie Brashers, who seems to drop off the face of the earth after spring break. Michelle, one of her friends, tries to make the truth of it along with Brad, the boyfriend Katie left behind. A fun read of mystery and adventures in high school, "Sudden Moves" is not to be missed.

Better Late Than Never
Douglas Stream
Tate Publishing & Enterprise
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781616631819, $19.99,

Fear of intimacy can cause more anxiety than one would know. "Better Late Than Never: But God' Best Is Worth Waiting For" speaks on Iraq veteran Douglas Stream as he faces an unusual sexual disorder where he is pressured by anxiety to avoid anything remotely sexual. Through faith, he struggles to overcome his disorder and try to find the happiness God intended for him. "Better Late Than Never" is a thoughtful writing on how faith helped a man find the happiness in his life.

The Knights Revealed
Heidi Jo Lopez
Tate Publishing & Enterprise
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781617391651, $21.99,

There is no greater front than the cause of Goodness. "The Knights Revealed" tells of a quiet monk Dieter Orman who finds the truth behind the holy Knights Templar...who were anything but holy. A story of uncovering corruption and evil centuries later and facing the world as a whole for the first time, "The Knights Revealed" is a riveting work of Christian fiction about facing down evil and bringing truth at no matter the cost.

John Taylor

Vicki's Bookshelf

Mad at Mommy
Komako Sakai
AAL / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545212090 $16.99

Little Bunny is very mad at his mommy. She sleeps too late. She talks too much. She watches her silly shows instead of cartoons. And she gets mad for no reason -- just a few little bubbles on the floor. The only thing left to do is run away. But does Little Bunny really want to leave Mommy behind forever? With the charming illustrations and spot-on understanding of young children's thinking that distinguished "The Snow Day" and "Emily's Balloon," author-illustrator Komako Sakai brings us a really angry -- and ultimately sweet -- new story.

Brandon Mull
1230 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416997924 $16.99

Jason Walker has often wished his life could be a bit less predictable--until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason suddenly transporting from the hippo tank to a place unlike anything he's ever seen. In the past, the people of Lyrian welcmoed visitors from the Beyond, but attitudes have changed since the wizard emperor Maldor rose to power. The brave resistors who opposed the emperor have been bought off or broken, leaving a realm where fear and suspicion prevail. In his search for a way home, Jason meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. With the help of a few scattered rebels, Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor, and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes. Author Brandon Mull is the creator of the Beyonders series, as well as the bestselling Fablehaven series.

Fairly Fairy Tales
Esme Raji Codell, Elisa Chavarri
1230 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416990864 $16.99

"Fairly Fairy Tales" is based on the notion that parents and children love to play "question" games: Would you eat spaghetti made with gummy worms? Would you wear your clothes backwards all day? Sometimes the answer is "yes" and sometimes it's "no" -- but the fun is in the asking. Gifted writer and educator Esme Raji Codell has writtten a book that incorporates fractured fairy tales with this kind of parent-child interplay to create a pitch-perfect combination of bedtime read-aloud and fairytales.

Square Cat
Elizabeth Schoonmaker
1230 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781442406193 $14.99

Not surprisingly, Eula is the only square cat in town. Everything that normal cats do is hard for her -- she can't get her square paw into mouseholes, she can't wear her favorite circle skirt, and she finds it hard to identify with all of her round friends. It's all enough to make Eula one sad square cat until her two best friends show her just how well a square cat can fit into this round world. The usual outsider message hits home loud and clear in "Square Cat" making this picture book another well-assimilated round peg in a round hole.

Aloha, Kanani
Good Job, Kanani
Lisa Yee
American Girl
8400 Fairway Place, Middleton, Wisconsin 53562
9781593698393 (Aloha)
9781593698416 (Good Job) $6.98

American Girl debuts it's latest character series based on its Girl of the Year doll for 2011: Kanani. In the introductory chapter book by Lisa Yee, "Aloha, Kanai," 10-year-old Kanani loves living in beautiful Hawaii-and she especially loves sharing the wonders of her island home with visitors. So when her cousin Rachel from New York comes to stay for a month, Kanani is excited to get to know her. But no matter what she does to help Rachel feel at home, it only seems to make her unhappy instead. Can Kanani find a way to connect with her cousin? In "Good Job Kanani" our heroine is excited about selling shave ice to raise money for a cause she cares about - the plight of monk seals. But she also cares about her best friend and she promised they would take surfing lessons together. When Kanani can't make time for her best friend, their friendship begins to unravel, and she finds herself spending summer days alone. Will our Kanani find a way to make things right?

Clue in the Castle Tower: A Samantha Mystery
Sarah Masters Buckley
American Girl
8400 Fairway Place, Middleton, Wisconsin 53562
1593697511 $10.95

Samantha and Nellie are in England for the first time, vacationing with Grandmary and the Admiral. They're excited to visit an English knight who lives in an ancient manor house, next to a castle that's rumored to be haunted. Bur the visit turns spooky when the girls see eerie lights in the castle tower at night. When they learn that valuable books are disappearing from the manor's library, the girls grow suspicious. Can they find out who - or what - is behind the strange happenings? "Clue in the Castle Tower: A Samantha Mystery" is a historical twist on the classic Nancy Drew sleuthing formula, right down to its cover image. An afterword essay is included providing a non-fiction view of Americans traveling abroad at the turn of the last century.

Into The Spotlight
Erin Falligant
American Girl
8400 Fairway Place, Middleton, Wisconsin 53562
1593698356 $8.95

Girls are able to select their own ending in this interactive story that takes place on the campus of Innerstar University. Readers can imagine themselves as the main character of the story, a girl who wants to take ballet class but worries she won't be able to keep up. If you work hard, will you ever be as graceful as your friends Or will you follow a different beat and find a few moves of your own? With more than 20 different endings, readers are able to read these stories again and again to see how their decisions change the main character's fate. The book also come with a secret access code to unlock additional endings online.

The Silver Guitar: A Julie Mystery
Kathryn Reiss
American Girl
8400 Fairway Place, Middleton, Wisconsin 53562
1593697562 $6.95

When an oil spill threatens the sea birds of San Francisco, Julie is eager to lend a hand. So when she learns that her friend T.J. is helping with an auction to raise money for the clean-up efforts, she decides to get involved. But then she finds out that T.J. is in trouble, and Julie just can't shake the feeling that he's hiding something from her. Can Julie follow the clues before it's too late to help her friend? Includes an illustrated, non-fiction "Looking Back" essay about the music of the 1970s.

Lend a Hand
Apryl Lundsten
American Girl
8400 Fairway Place, Middleton, Wisconsin 53562
9781593698270 $9.95

"Lend a Hand: Girl-Sized Ways of Helping Others" is just the ticket to help instill helpfulness as a routine in tween girls. They tend to want to help others, but knowing where to start is the tricky part. In this book, girls will find lots of ideas for little (and large) ways to make a difference at home, among friends, in the local community, and on the planet. Without preachy lessons, "Lend a Hand" gently suggests simple, pleasant ways to help out around the house, care for animals, and raise money for causes girls care about. It also includes messages from the mouths of real girls who are lending a hand - a smart move to encourage readers to learn more about how they can do it too.

I Must Have Bobo
Eileen and Mark Rosenthal
Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781442403772 $14.99

When Willy woke up there was trouble. Where was Bobo? Willy needs Bobo. But, Earl the cat likes Bobo, too. A favorite toy is hard to share…even when it's a sock monkey. With sparse text and a modern-nostalgic vibe, this retro-fun book about friends (sock monkeys) and frenemies (devious cats) is an ode to favorite toys everywhere. Oh, Earl! Leave Bobo alone. 100% adorable. I must have "I Must Have Bobo."

Beyond the World of Pooh, Part i: The Enchanted Places
Christopher Robin Milne
Blackstone Audiobooks
P.O. Box 969, Ashland OR 97520
9781441762108 $24.95

This is Christopher Milne's first autobiography, which was followed by "Part 2 - The Path through the Trees." From his much publicized childhood on Cotchford Farm to his war experiences, his marriage, and his proprietorship of a successful bookshop in a small English town, the life of the famous author's son was one of much joy and some pain. It was also one of deep introspection. This book illuminates the shy, quiet man who was a thoughtful observer of the natural world and a gentle commentator on humankind's relationship to it. Christopher's writing offers an intriguing portrait of a gifted man who chose to live simply, a choice that ultimately brought him satisfaction -- more than could ever come from the empty fame of being the "real" Christopher Robin. This 5/12-hour audiobook edition is voiced by Peter Dennis.

A Child's Day Out
Mary Sheldon
Blackstone Audiobooks
P.O. Box 969, Ashland OR 97520
9781441765703 $49.50, 5 CDs,

Children will enjoy hearing Betty White, the popular, omnipresent television personality, narrate these seven stories for a whole week of adventures. The stories in this collection will take children on seven enjoyably entertaining outings with the delightful Betty White as their companion. Included here are: "Day at the Aquarium," "Day at the Farm," "Day at the Library," "Day at the Zoo," "Day at Santa's Workshop," "Day at the City," and "Day with Dad at the County Fair."

House of Dark Shadows, Book 1
Robert Liparulo
Blackstone Audiobooks
P.O. Box 969, Ashland OR 97520
9781441777225 $30

When the Kings move from L.A. to a secluded small town, fifteen-year-old Xander is beyond disappointed. He and his friends loved to create amateur films . . . but the tiny town of Pinedale is the last place a movie buff and future filmmaker wants to land. He, David, and Toria are captivated by the many rooms in the old Victorian fixer-upper they moved into -- as well as the heavy woods surrounding the house. They soon discover there's something odd about the house. Sounds come from the wrong directions. Prints of giant, bare feet appear in the dust. And when David tries to hide in the linen closet, he winds up in locker 119 at his new school. Then the really weird stuff kicks in: they find a hidden hallway with portals leading off to far-off places -- in long-ago times. Xander is starting to wonder if this kind of travel is a teen's dream come true . . . or his worst nightmare. This seven-hour, unabridged audio edition is read by Joshua Swanson.

Rapunzel and Other Classics of Childhood
Blackstone Audiobooks
P.O. Box 969, Ashland OR 97520
9781441778130 $20

This recording reissue of three fairy tales, including background music and sound effects, is a delight for children of all ages. Included are "Rapunzel," read by Robby Benson, and "Rumplestiltskin" and "The Princess on the Glass Hill," both read by Dudley Moore. "Rapunzel" is a German fairy tale in the collection assembled by the Brothers Grimm and first published in 1812. Rapunzel is the name of a beautiful young girl who at age twelve is locked in a tower by a witch who gains access by calling, "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair, so that I may climb the golden stair." She then climbs the girl's long braid up through the tiny window in the tower. When the king's son, riding in the forest, discovers Rapunzel, the two fall in love and plan to run away together. But the angry witch catches them and separates them, the girl banished to the wilderness and the prince blinded. However, the girl's lovely voice in the wilderness reunites her to the prince, where she heals his eyes, and they return to his castle to live happily ever after. "Rumplestiltskin" is the name of a dwarf who saves the life of the miller's daughter by spinning straw into gold for her. This goes on for three days, until the dwarf, in exchange for his work, claims the girl's firstborn child, unless she can guess what his name is. At first she tries every name she can find in the kingdom, but none are correct. At last, her messenger secretly discovers the dwarf singing that his name is "Rumplestiltskin." She then foils the dwarf and saves her child. "The Princess on the Glass Hill" is a Norwegian fairy tale that recounts a wondrous story of how the youngest boy of three sons, held in disdain by the other two, secretly obtains a magical horse. While disguised in three sets of armor, he uses the horse to perform three feats in a contest and thus wins the hand of the princess. The entire trilogy clocks in at only 30 minutes.

Chick 'n' Pig
Jennifer Sattler
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781599905341 $14.99

Chick lives for adventures. Pug lives for, well, sleep. In Chick's eyes, however, Pug can do no wrong. In fact, he is "Wonderpug"! But with danger around every corner and a hero who's a little low on energy, it may be up to Chick to save the day and earn the prized role of "sidechick" (er, sidekick . . .). From the imagination of a new talent, "Chick 'n' Pug" is a funny, heartwarming story of misplaced hero worship as well as the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Chicken Doodle Soup
Deborah Zemke
Blue Apple Books
515 Valley Street, Maplewood, NJ 07040
9781609050146 $10.99

Doodle dynamo Deborah Zemke presents a playful addition to her best-selling draw-it-yourself series - including the titles "Doodles at Dinner" and "Doodles at Lunch"

-- featuring 36 new placemats with wacky doodles for diners young and old. Zemke shows readers how to take animals and food and turn them into crazy doodlicious concoctions. Anyone in the mood for Mice Cream? Deep Dish Apple Python? French Flies? It's all on the fun menu here in this practical, fun, and economical gift book where kids are supposed to tear the pages and draw to their heart's content.

How the Sphinx Got to the Museum
Jessie Hartland
Blue Apple Books
515 Valley Street, Maplewood, NJ 07040
9781609050320 $17.99

Within New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the sphinx of the Pharaoh Hatshepsut holds court. But how did this ancient artifact get to the museum? Acclaimed author and illustrator Jessie Hartland beautifully presents this informative and fascinating history of the Hatshepsut sphinx, from its carving in ancient Egypt to its arrival in the hallowed halls of this world-famous museum. This is essential reading for junior Egyptologists, and just another excellent reason why little, creative, brilliant Blue Apple Books has become one of the very best children's books imprints in the business.

Super Hero Food Doodles
Deborah Zemke
Blue Apple Books
515 Valley Street, Maplewood, NJ 07040
9781609050177 $12.99

Superhero fruits and vegetables are the stars in Deborah Zemke's latest doodle fest. With oodles of step-by-step super doodles, kids of all ages can turn mild-mannered fruits and vegetables into super-charged super foods. One small tomato transforms into "The Tomatonator," big, bold, and delicious; an onion becomes an "Allium Alien"; an ear of corn becomes "Colonel Kernels." An appetizing addition to Zemke's successful Doodles series, this instructive and playful book adds an entertaining element of action and informational messages about making nutritious choices.

LaRue Across America
Mark Teague
Blue Sky Press / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780439915021 $16.99

Bestselling, award-winning author/illustrator Mark Teague makes readers laugh aloud when LaRue goes on vacation with Mrs. Hibbins's cats. Ike's plans for a peaceful cruise with Mrs. LaRue are thwarted when their neighbor, Mrs. Hibbins, falls suddenly ill from heat stroke. Mrs. LaRue suggests that she and Ike care for her cats while Mrs. Hibbins is in the hospital, inviting them along on the cruise. But cats aren't allowed, and Mrs. LaRue decides to take them all on a week's vacation of road-tripping. Ike begs and begs for bus fare in his letters to Mrs. Hibbins, but why does she not respond? As they drive farther and farther from the coast, his wistful dreams of a cruise fade into desperation over the desert horizon. Ike complains he is low on bones, and Mrs. LaRue is almost out of patience. It now seems that nothing short of an empty gas tank can bring this horror show of a road trip to a haulting stop. But then what? Author/illustrator MarkTeague masterfully drives us to the story's satisfying ending through his funny text and sly paintings. The reader is left with one profound question: Can cats and dogs really be friends?!

DC Comics Year By Year: A Visual Chronicle
Daniel Wallace, Matthew K. Manning, Alexander Irvine, Alan Cowsill, Michael McAvennie
375 Hudson St., NY, NY, 10014
9780756667429 $50

For more than 70 years, DC Comics has been entertaining children and adults alike. Here, for the first time, is the chronological account of the adventures of both the characters and the company that created them. The DC Chronicle Year by Year traces DC's fascinating story: the company's beginnings as National Allied Publications in the 1934, and its subsequent change to Detective Comics, Inc. in 1937. The book details all the major DC publishing landmarks and more, displayed clearly, month by month. Highlighting the debuts of Superman and Batman, the geniuses that invented them, and the real-life events-like the Vietnam War, the atom bomb, the Space Race-that shaped the atmosphere of the times, DC Chronicle Year by Year follows the characters' foray into the real world through TV series and blockbuster movies. Features original cover art by well-known DC artist Ryan Sook and a foreword by Paul Levitz, who was president of DC Comics from 2002 - 2009.

Chocolate Moose
Maggie Kneen
Dutton Children's Books
345 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.
9780525422020 $16.99

In the picture book "Chocolate Moose" there's a chocolate-loving moose on the loose in Mrs. Mouse's house. Chocolate Moose loves chocolate almost as much as he loves to help. So when this big moose starts helping in Mrs. Mouse's little kitchen, the only thing he cooks up is a huge chocolate mess. But Mrs. Mouse's four little mice don't mind at all. Could this messy baker make the perfect babysitter? Picture book authors everywhere are kicking themselves for not coming up with this story themselves.

Fearless: The Story of Racing Legend Louise Smith
Barb Rosenstock, Scott Dawson
Dutton Children's Books
345 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.
9780525421733 $16.99

When Louise Smith started racing cars, most girls weren't even allowed to drive. From her first wild adventure behind the wheel of her daddy's Ford to the dangers and thrills of stock-car tracks across the country, Louise fearlessly paved the way for women in racing and became a NASCAR legend. The riveting message of the picture book bio "Fearless: The Story of Racing Legend Louise Smith" is clear: it takes a lot of courage to be the first, but when you fearlessly follow your dreams, anything is possible.

Just in Time, Abraham Lincoln
Patricia Polacco
G.P. Putnam's Sons / Penguin Putnam
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399254710 $17.99

"Just in Time, Abraham Lincoln" is a thought-provoking time travel adventure by award winning author-illustrator Patricia Polacco. When two young boys visit Harpers Ferry, West Virginia with their grandmother, they're not expecting the adventure of a lifetime. But while joking around at a Civil War museum, they meet a mysterious museum guide who invites them to play a game. And before they know it, they walk through a door straight into the 1860s, where they find themselves riding a carriage to Antietam, meeting President Lincoln, seeing a battlefield, and racing to get home. The book's creator is the recipient of over 75 awards and honors including the California Children's Book Award, Parents Choice Award, Jefferson Cup Award, New York Times Pick of the Year, and the New York State Association of Educators and Librarians Best Book of the Year for "Pink and Say," which has also received numerous state awards.

Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider
Jean Fritz
G.P. Putnam's Sons / Penguin Putnam
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399255465 $16.99

Best known for her award-winning biographies, Jean Fritz delivers the intriguing story of the fascinating life and untimely death of one of America's most influential founding fathers with all of the excitement of an adventure story. All of his life, Alexander Hamilton felt like an outsider. Born out of wedlock in the British West Indies, he and his family were scorned as outsiders and the title followed him when he moved to New York just before the Revolution. As war wreaked havoc on the colonies, Hamilton fought courageously and become an invaluable aide to General Washington and the cause of the American Patriots. Following the war, he became a delegate to the Continental Congress where he devised and wrote most of the persuasive Federalist Papers, becoming the sole New York signer to ratify the Constitution. Later, he was named the first Secretary of the Treasury by the newly appointed President Washington and faced tough opposition as a Federalist who supported a central government against state rights. His life came to an abrupt and dramatic end after accepting the challenge to a dual with his one-time colleague, Aaron Burr. Alexander Hamilton's intriguing life and lasting accomplishments leaves everyone asking, how anyone could have considered him an "outsider?"

Pocketful of Posies
Salley Mavor
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
9780618737406 $21.99

This hand-picked collection of classic nursery rhymes, all delicately and painstakingly illustrated by Salley Mavor, who is reknown for her incredibly detailed fabric and cloth scenes. It took Mavor ten years to develop her own fabric relief technique to a level where she felt comfortable even considering illustrating a book. Now, Mavor embroiders and sews illustrations, each scene taking nearly a month to complete. In "Pocketful of Posies," Mavor renders a new and visionary nursery rhyme world with precision and intricacy for many a generation to treasure for years and years to come.

Charm Chains
Anne Akers Johnson
450 Lambert Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94306
9781591748403 $19.99

Klutz's "Charm Chains" gift book set, shows how to create charms out of sparkly beads and pretty plastic cutouts. The 50-page book teaches how to make all different types of charms, then how to use the enclosed crochet hook to fashion a fine wire chain. Attach the charms to the chain, and your work is transformed into cute charm bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. Included with the book and crochet hook are two spools of wire, beads in three sizes, and girly plastic charms.

Headbands & Hairstyles
Eva Steele-Saccio
450 Lambert Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94306
9781591748649 $19.99

Fashion, craft, and beauty — all tied up in a ribbon with the Klutz gift package "Headbands & Hairstyles." Many tween girls know that nothing beats a headband for keeping your hair in style and out of your eyes. No wonder they're the current fashion accessory of choice, seen on girls everywhere. But with all the stylish options out there — classic bows, glimmering bands, sporty elastics — finding the perfect headband can get pretty hairy. "Headbands & Hairstyles" presents a no-brainer kit of stuff a girl needs to design, make, and wear headbands in her own personal style. This 60-page how-to book shows young designers how to wrap the band and then make and attach super-cute embellishments like bows, ruffles, and flowers. The gift set includes the supplies needed to make three uniquely beautiful headbands. Since half the fun of a headband is in how you wear it, the book also includes step-by-step instructions for five banded hairstyles. From a sleek ponytail to a pretty side-sweep to a fancy looped bun, there's something here for everyone, whether your look is boho, fancy, preppy, or sporty.

The Klutz Guide to the Galaxy
Pat Murphy
450 Lambert Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94306
9781591749202 $19.99

When the scientists at Klutz Labs tackle outer space, questions like "Where's the Big Dipper?" are just the beginning. They also ponder important stuff like "How likely is it that a meteor will fall from the sky and squash me flat?" and "If I lived in Mercury, am I already old enough to drive?" and "Why do they call them moon pies?" With "The Klutz Guide to the Galaxy" kids can explore the universe without leaving the comfort of their backyards. Assemble the included telescope (not NASA approved) to see the Moon's top attractions. Flick on the red-lens flashlight - specialty designed to keep night-vision intact - to consult the Tourist Map of the Moon and super-simple star charts. Tell time with a star, using the book's built-in sundial. Or use the astrolabe to figure out latitude anywhere on Earth. After perusing "The Klutz Guide to the Galaxy," when someone asks what you did on your vacation, you can casually say "Oh, I explored the edge of the Orion Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy." In other words, our solar system. The most-valuable, most-educational and most-impressive Klutz book yet will leave you sounding outrageously intergalactic, yet still totally truthful.

Make Your Own Music Video
Kaitlyn Nichols
450 Lambert Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94306
9781591748526 $16.99

Wan 9781591748526nabee divas and guitar demons love to unleash their creativity (and just a little bit of rock star attitude) -- it's an online phenomenon. Kids everywhere have discovered that the quickest path to rock-stardom does not involve skill and music lesson devotion. No, the short-cut-to-stardom generation would rather skip right to the fun stuff and go directly for the glory by starring in a music video. Blame it on "American Idol" and the demise of public school music programs. Regardless, this Klutz book gift set caters to the instant-gratification masses with "Make Your Own Music Video." Whether kids lip-sync or play their own tunes, with "Make Your Own Music Video" -- and your own video cameras and computers, the cover forgets to mention -- kids can create videos starring themselves. The book teaches hot to develop storyboards; how to add drama with special angles and clever camera tricks; and how to create special effects on a weekly allowance budget. Whether your style is country, pop, hip-hop, or hea 9781591748526dbangin' rock, the kit's editing software will help make you look like you know what you're doing. In addition to the software, the book comes with a green screen, i.e. a green cloth. This humble swatch of technological magic allows you to swap out the green background for any imagery you choose. Pick one of the 25 backgrounds provided in the kit, or put yourself in any setting you want — all from the comfort of your own family room. No wonder the Hollywood studio system is dead.

Five Little Chicks
Nancy Tafuri's
Little Simon / Simon & Schuster
1230 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781442407220 $7.99

With squirms and squeals, five chicks scratch around the farmyard to find their breakfast. One by one, the chicks stumble upon the most unusual snacks -- from a fluttering butterfly to a trout in the farm pond. Fortunately, Mama Hen is right there to point them back in the right direction. Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator Nancy Tafuri matches a bouncing, rhyming text and simple counting lesson to warm, sunny illustrations, making this a perfect book for any mama and her brood. Sweet and springy illustrations will delight readers as the text counts from one to five little chicks. The Classic Board Book logo calls out this title's concept of counting on the front cover.

Giggle, Giggle, Quack
Doreen Cronin, Betsy Lewin
Little Simon / Simon & Schuster
1230 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781442408913 $7.99

Who knew that Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin's farmyard menagerie from "Click, Clack, Moo" had such legs? Their sequel picture book "Giggle, Giggle, Quack" was a hit too, along with other titles, and now it's been cleverly repackaged, in full-length, as a board book. The story is simple and sweet: Farmer Brown is going on vacation. He asks his brother, Bob, to take care of the animals. "But keep an eye on Duck. He's trouble." Bob follows the instructions in Farmer Brown's notes exactly. Is that giggling he hears? "Giggle, giggle…quack, giggle, moo…giggle, oink..." Duck, the cows, the hens and the pigs are back to their shenanigans.

Love is You & Me
Monica Sheehan
Little Simon / Simon & Schuster
1230 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781442407657 $7.99

A sweet celebration of what love is all about! This adorable book, "Love is You & Me" by best-selling author/illustrator Monica Sheehan, helps us to remember that love -- whether between a parent and child, best friends, or even a dog and a mouse -- is the greatest gift of all. It's a board book rarity worth applauding. Generous in size and format -- weighing in at 32-pages it's easily twice or thrice the length of the average board book -- "Love is You & Me" immediately earns props for not skimping. It's also as charming as it can be, with each spread offering smile-inducing illustrations of a pair of inseparable pals -- a dog and mouse -- demonstrating all the different ways their love makes them happy. Each sentiment reads like a simple Valentine that can't help but resonate with readers and young listeners.

The Making of America
Rovert D. Johnston
National Geographic
1145 17th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
9781426306631 $29.95

Trace 500 years of American history in this fascinating family reference—now updated to include the most significant developments of our time. You'll pore over landmark events, intriguing facts, and compelling biographies. Period art and photography bring past events to life. Maps detail the course of wars, migration, and expansion. Illustrated time lines present history at a glance.

Fun to read and easy to use—whether for homework, casual browsing, or in-depth exploration—this book is a supremely inviting guide to American history.

National Geographic Kids Almanac 2011
National Geographic
1145 17th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
9781426306303 $13.99

The National Geographic Kids Almanac 2011 brings young readers the very latest updates on living on, and caring for, planet Earth. The Almanac's cool photos, lively illustrations and easy-to-read format encourages readers to absorb countless incredible facts and spend hours browsing hot topics, such as fun ways to convince your family to go green. In true National Geographic Kids magazine style, this is a book to excite kids about their planet: its fun-filled pages are packed with everything from how to decode your dreams to the excitement of underwater pumpkin carving to the fascinating powers of the human brain. This reference book explores geography, history, science, adventure and more a single volume. It includes more than 15 homework-helper sections, and more than 50 puzzles, projects, and experiments. More than 500 pictures, and over 5,000 fun and amazing facts should keep even reluctant readers reading. The opening section introduces timely information for 2011and unique National Geographic content. The rest of the Almanac is filled with fun facts and helpful references on subjects from countries worldwide to Presidents stateside, from the wisdom of convention to new inventions.

The Selfish Giant
Oscar Wilde, Chris Beatrice, Dan Goeller
Noteworthy Books
2522 W. 41st St. #125, Sioux Falls, SD 57105
8780983003809 $19.95

Oscar Wilde's classic fairy tale, "The Selfish Giant," comes to life in this imaginary, multi-media adaptation that combines a picture book and CD with original orchestral music and narration. After many years of being away, a giant returns home to find children have been playing in his garden every afternoon. Now he must decide if he will share his large, lovely garden or keep its beauty for himself. Complimented by enchanting artwork and an audio version complete with symphony orchestra, this classic fairy tale springs to life in an imaginative picture book adaptation, set to music that will inspire children of all ages for generations. The accompanying CD -- composed by Dan Goeller and performed by a symphony orchestra -- is what makes this version special.

Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow
Robert D. San Souci, E.B. Lewis
Orchard Books / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780439625388 $17.99

Acclaimed author Robert San Souci and Caldecott Honor illustrator and Coretta Scott King Award winner E. B. Lewis retell the classic legend of "Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow." Robin Hood and his loyal band create a plan to outsmart the Sheriff of Nottingham by attending an archery contest in disguise. In the end, it is Robin Hood and his friends who have the last laugh. The old-fashioned approach of this very, very brief retelling succeeds in making the classic tale of Robin Hood accessible for all ages.

Bring on the Birds
Susan Stockdale
Peachtree Publishers
1700 Chattahoochee Ave., Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781561455607 $15.95

Brightly colored, richly textured illustrations and an energetic rhyming text introduce young readers to distinctive birds and their unique qualities. From the Blue-footed Booby to the Red-billed Oxpecker, and the Broad-tailed ?Hummingbird to the Atlantic Puffin, the breadth of bird life depicted in the simple "Bring on The Birds" picture book for very young children will captivate junior ornithologists. Susan Stockdale engaging rhymes and vibrant illustrations introduce both exotic and familiar birds, all depicted in their natural habitats. An afterword offers fascinating information and an in-depth look at each bird.

Planting the Wild Garden
Kathyn O. Gablraith, Wendy Anderson Halperin
Peachtree Publishers
1700 Chattahoochee Ave., Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781561455638 $15.95

A famer and her son plant vegetables in their garden, and the wind carries a few seeds away. Birds and animals carry seeds along with them on their travels. Sometimes the rain washes them away to a new an unexpected location. And sometimes something more extraordinary occurs, as in when the pods of the Scotch Broom plant open explosively in the summer heat, scattering seeds everywhere like popcorn. In this lyrical picture book, text and illustrations combine to demonstrate the many ways seeds are distributed - by weather, water, people, animals and the plants themselves. The year-round dispersal of seeds plants the wild garden.

Three Hens and a Peacock
Lester L. Laminack, Henry Cole
Peachtree Publishers
1700 Chattahoochee Ave., Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781561455645 $15.95

Laminack and Cole's hilarious book reveals what happens when some foolish farm animals decide to trade roles-and discover just how hard it is to do someone else's job. The Tuckers' farm is a peaceful place: cows chew their cud, hens lay their eggs, and the old hound rests on the porch. Everyone has a job and no one complains. That is, until a hapless peacock suddenly falls off the back of a passing truck and stirs things up. Soon, customers are flocking to the farm to see what all the fuss is about, and business is booming. But the hens don't like the newcomer getting attention while they stay cooped up doing all the hard work. The wise old hound sees the problem and helps his feathered friends orchestrate a job swap. What follows is the hilarious tale of three hens that get in way over their feathered heads and one very distressed peacock who just can't figure out how to lay an egg. Popular author Lester L. Laminack has created a comical look at what happens when we underestimate the value of others' work. Henry Cole's delightful illustrations heighten the story's humor and will have readers of all ages laughing out loud.

Book of World Records 2011
Bruce Glassman
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545237482 $10.99

Whether kids want to know what the world's deadliest snake is, which country eats the most chocolate, who has the most career touchdowns in the NFL, or which state has the largest water park, the "Scholastic Book of World Records 2011" has all of the answers and more. Over the past nine years, kids, parents, and teachers have come to look forward to this annual kid-friendly book. Each of the 300 records on pop culture, sports, science, and more has its own page that includes a full-color photograph and a detailed description of the record.

Dot and Dash Eat Their Dinner
Emma Dodd
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545202220 $6.99

In the newest board book in Emma Dodd's simple, cartoonish series, Dot and Dash sit down to dinner with their animal friends. But not everything on the menu is to Dash's liking. Dot, Big, Tall and Small are eager to enjoy their balanced meal, but Dash has decided to only eat pink things that day, so refuses to eat. Her friends tell Dash how delicious the food is, but Dash reminds them it's not pink, so it's not good enough. Dash is excited when it's announced that desert will be pink, however Dot insists that dessert is only for friends who finish their meal, Dash's hopes are dashed. With a minute to think it over, Dash decides dinner isn't so bad after all, wolfs down the salad and pasta, and is ready for dessert after all: pink ice cream.

Storm Runners
Roland Smith
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545081757 $16.99

"Storm Runners" is the first in a middle-grade action-adventure series from "Tentacles" author Roland Smith. Protagonist Chase Masters and his father are "storm runners," racing across the country in pursuit of hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. Anywhere bad weather strikes, they are not far behind. Chase is learning more on the road than he ever would just sitting in a classroom. But when the hurricane of the century hits, he will be tested in ways he never could have imagined.

Tony Baloney
Pam Munoz Ryan, Edwin Fotheringham
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545231350 $16.99

Bestselling author Pam Muñoz Ryan and new illustrator Edwin Fotheringham show off their funny sides as they introduce the mischievous, lovable, utterly relatable Tony Baloney. Tony Baloney is a macaroni penguin. He loves fish tacos, Little Green Walrus Guys, his stuffed animal, Dandelion, and anything with wheels. He does not love trouble . . . but trouble loves him. Sometimes, when he is tired of Bossy Big Sister Baloney and exasperated with the Bothersome Babies Baloney, Dandelion behaves badly. And then, Tony must say he is sorry, which is not always easy for him. For all middle children, mischief makers, and boys in a girls' world, Tony Baloney is sure to become a new hero.

Where's Walrus
Stephen Savage
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780439700498 $16.99

A happy-go-lucky Walrus escapes the zoo in search of adventure in this wordless charmer. Bored with life at the zoo, an adventurous walrus escapes to the outside world. With the zookeeper in hot pursuit, Walrus cleverly tries on all sorts of hats to disguise himself. Will a yellow hardhat point to a new life as a construction worker? Or will a red swimming cap reveal his true talents? Follow this happy-go-lucky runaway and find the surprising answer as he hides amongst firefighters, street painters, businessmen, and even high-stepping dancers! Stephen Savage's witty and graphically retro illustrations are the perfect embodiment of a wordless picture book rich with layers of visual flair and sly humor.

Blue Chameleon
Emily Gravett
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781442419582 $16.99

Like most chameleons, Chameleon can turn himself into anything and appear to fit in anywhere, but it seems that neither the swirly snail, the green grasshopper nor the striped sock want to be friends. Go figure. Will he ever find someone to talk to? Someone just like him? With a subtle and witty interplay between words and illustrations, this introduction to colors and shapes (and chameleons) is a kid-pleaser that doesn't forget to appeal to adult readers as well.

Mr. Duck Means Business
Tammi Sauer, Jeff Mack
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416985228 $15.99

Mr. Duck lived by himself at the pond. Each day he followed the same schedule. Day after day, week after week, and year after year. Nothing changed and that was just ducky with Mr. Duck. All Duck wants in the world is a little bit of peace and quiet, and that's what he had until some unexpected visitors arrive and ruffle Mr. Duck's feathers. The other animals on the farm just don't understand why it's created a problem. Can Duck make friends with his fellow barnyard animals and still get the peace and quiet he wants?

Say Hello to Zorro!
Carter Goodrich
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416938934 $15.99

Mister Bud is a dog of routine. He has wake up time, nap time, rest time, dinner time, etc. And everyone knows to follow his schedule. Then disaster strikes. A stranger comes home at "make a fuss time" and throws everything off! Zorro is little bit bossy and Mister Bud wants nothing to do with him. But when the dogs discover they like the same things (like chasing the cat and napping), everything becomes more fun. As long as everyone follows the schedule. Carter Goodrich's picture book "Say Hello to Zorro!" is as hilarious as it is recognizable to families who "thrive" on routines.

Three Little Mermaids
Mara Van Fleet
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781442412866 $14.99

Three charming little mermaids invite toddlers to an under-the-sea tea party in this interactive "Three Little Mermaids" concept book written and illustrated by Mara Van Fleet. New and pre-readers are encouraged to lift the flaps and pull the tabs as they enjoy the tea party and practice counting with their hard-to-resist three amigas. Bestselling creator Mara Van Fleet added just the right sparkle to this touch-and-feel novelty book, and it's no accident. Van Fleet has worked in children's publishing for over 20 years and is the bestselling creator of "Mama Loves Me," "The Very Mixed-Up Princess," and "Up the Water Spout and Other Nursery Rhymes" among others.

Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders: 101 Patterns That Go Way Beyond Socks
Judith Duant
Storey Publishing
210 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247
9781603425797 $18.95

Every knitter understands the allure of sock yarn. It slips easily into a handbag, comes in endless variations, and represents a dazzling array of possibilities. Best of all, it's relatively inexpensive, making it an affordable splurge. And knitting stores are devoting more and more shelf space to the ever-growing range of choices. As a result, many knitters find themselves with veritable "collections" of sock yarn - dozens, sometimes even hundreds of skeins - in their stash. Fortunately, sock yarn can be used for more than simply keeping toes toasty. In "Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders: 101 Patterns That Go Way Beyond Socks," veteran knitter Judith Durant doesn't simply inventive sock patterns -- she provides more than 5 dozen inspired patterns for other items that can be created from a single skein of sock yarn. The latest in Storey's popular One-Skein Wonders series, "Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders" offers one-of-a-kind patterns for baby clothes, mittens, scarves, hats, jewelry, cozies, bags . . . even a dog sweater and a lamp shade. Contributed by yarn shops and designers throughout North America, the patterns are as fetching as they are fun to knit. Knitters of every skill level will find challenges here; some knit up in fewer than three hours, others make creative use of sock yarn leftovers, and several make heirloom-worthy gifts. Collectively, these patterns bring out the best of sock yarn…whether variegated or solid-colored, self-patterning or hand-painted. "Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders" has an easy-to-browse layout, color photos, step-by-step instructions, clear illustrations and charts, and stylish patterns. Another winner for devoted needle crafters.

Froggy Goes to Hawaii
Jonathan London, Frank Remkiewicz
Viking / Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780670012213 $15.99

The irrepressible Froggy can't wait to get to Hawaii. He's getting ready for some sun, sand and numerous mishaps in Jonathan London and Frank Remkiewicz's "Froggy Goes to Hawaii," the latest in the hit picture book series. Froggy's big plans when he and his family gets to the island paradise: surfing, swimming with the fish, learning to dance the hula -- he'll be busy every moment. But somehow, when lovable, trouble-prone Froggy's around, nothing goes as planned.

Ribbit Rabbit
Candace Ryan, Mike Lowery
Walker & Company
104 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10011
9780802721808 $12.99

In the adorable picture book "Ribbit, Rabbit" Frog and Bunny are best friends. They do everything together, like fight monsters -- ZIP IT, ZAP IT! And even though they get in fights sometimes -- YIP IT, YAP IT! -- they always make up in the end. Author Candace Ryan and illustrator Mike Lowery's "Ribbit, Rabbit" features an effortlessly clever text that, in less than 150 words, captures the ups and downs of young friendships. Combined with adorably hip and fresh illustrations and an irresistible package, "Ribbit, Rabbit" is an irresistible choice for the youngest of readers.

The Magic Brush
Kat Yeh, Huy Voun Lee
Walker & Company
104 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10011
9780802721792 $16.99

Combining a heartwarming family story, a magical adventure, and a multilingual primer on Chinese language, "The Magic Brush" tells the story of Jasmine, a young girl who learns Chinese calligraphy from her Agong, or grandfather. As Jasmine learns how to paint the characters for dragon, fish, horse, friend, and more, she and Agong are magically transported to the wondrous world they are creating. But when Agong passes away, Jasmine must find a way for their special paintings to live on. Could her baby brother Tai-Tai be the key? The Magic Brush, beautifully rendered in traditional cut-paper, is perfect for young readers and their parents to share, steeped in Chinese traditions and full of magical adventure and wonder.

Vicki Arkoff
Senior Reviewer

Vogel's Bookshelf

Reasonable Revenge
Calvin Moir
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781425965419, $23.49,

The thirst for greatness and power drives people in many directions. "Reasonable Revenge" tells of Victor and his desire for vengeance against his half-sister and her circle. A tale of deceit and how the thirst for power leads them deeper into bigger mistakes, this tale of betrayal and intrigue makes "Reasonable Revenge" a novel worth considering for those who love tales of backstabbing and cruelty.

Proud to Have Been a New York City Transit Cop
John R. Martin
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432765897, $17.95,

Keeping the peace is a worthy job, no matter where you do it. "Proud to Have Been a New York City Transit Cop" is a memoir of John Martin, as he reflects on his time with the New York City Transit Police Department which was a separate entity until it was merged with the normal NYPD in 1995. Martin tells of how he had to fight to get the same rights as the standard cop and the dangers that the subways still presented and how these dangers often went unnoticed and left them unappreciated. A story of three decades of police work, "Proud to have Been a New York City Transit Cop" is a fine read and very highly recommended.

Zaftan Entrepreneurs
Hank Quense
Privately Published
9781456349387, $17.99

The thing that will push contact with new worlds the quickest is the desire for profit. "Zaftan Entrepreneurs" is a science fiction story lampooning the first contact cliche as thee Zaftan expansion targets a small rock with plenty of unruly creatures and lots of money to be made. But these creatures - people, dwarves, among other things, aren't going to simply let their own world be a profit margin. "Zaftan Entrepreneurs" is a fun and humorous spin on business, new worlds, and is just plain entertaining.

The Case of US vs. Yerbas
Hoam Rogh
Shady House Publishing Company
9780578068367, $15.95,

Many have felt the persecution of marijuana has been unjust, but could its continued prohibition have untold reasoning? "The Case of US v. Yerbas" is a novelization of this landmark case and a stance against the criminalization of marijuana, placing the blame on America's persecution of minorities throughout history, targeting black and Hispanic recreational use. Humorous with much to learn, "The Case of US v. Yerbas" is a thoughtful and highly recommended delve into law and fiction.

Steve Piacente
Red Moon
9781451571615, $14.99

Vengeance soon proves to be an empty motive. "Bella" tells the story of a war widow and an investigative journalist as they cooperate to try to get behind what the widow to believe that are lies surrounding her husbands death. In their search, they learn much on the matter of vengeance and what it means, and trying to move on with one's life. "Bella" is a riveting read, recommended.

100 Best Prayers
J. Milton Murphy
Privately Published
9781453774175, $9.95

A prayer may give one the little extra something they need to make it through the day. "100 Best Prayers: For Those Who Feel All Their Limbs Are Hanging Over the Fence" is a collection of inspirational writings from J. Milton Murphy as he presents readers with simple yet thoughtful spiritual writing to help them gain the clarity they seek. "100 Best Prayers" is a simple and to the point inspirational, recommended.

Paul T. Vogel

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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