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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 14, Number 4 April 2015 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

Beyond My Dreams
Peter Marmureanu
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
c/o Bohlsen Group (publicity)
9781491745397 $25.95

Beyond My Dreams: From Communist Romania to the Oval Office is the true-life memoir of a world-class tennis player who defected from the oppressive Romanian government in 1975. Author Peter Marmureanu grew up in poverty, but his tennis skills offered a way out. Even as he played at prestigious international tournaments, he was forced to become a courier for the Securitate, traveling with packets of top-secret documents concealed in his racket cover for delivery to Romanian embassies. Choose to escape Romanian control, he sought refuge in America; Donald Rumsfeld and President Gerald Ford helped secure his citizenship. For years, he lived under FBI protection and carried a handgun for his own safety, given the assassination threats that shadowed Romanian defectors. For the sake of his family, Marmureanu eventually dared to return to Romania, where he witnessed firsthand the beginning of a resurrection that would topple the controlling Communist regime. A life story that reads like an adventure novel, Beyond My Dreams is enthusiastically recommended.

Reading Champs
Rita M. Wirtz, MA
LifeRich Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Bohlsen Group (publicity)
9781489702081 $18.99

Language arts/reading specialist and K-12 instructor of forty years' experience Rita M. Wirtz, MA presents Reading Champs: Teaching Reading Made Easy, a straightforward guide to teaching children how to read. Created to be accessible to parents, caretakers, and professional educators alike, Reading Champs offers a step-by-step approach to building fundamental literacy skills. Chapters discuss sight word recognition, the cueing process, extensive systematic phonics sequences, language structure analysis, ways to help build reading comprehension, and much more. "As an informal measure [to assess a child's reading proficiency], ask the student to put down one finger on a page each time there is an unknown word; after five fingers, select another book." Literacy skills are more important than ever in today's technology-driven world, making Reading Champs worthy of the highest recommendation.

Naughty Girl's Guide to Las Vegas
Sienna Sinlcaire
Naughty Girl Press
1158 26th St., Suite 207, Santa Monica, CA 90403
c/o Black and Blue Star (publicity)
9780985212322 $29.99

Naughty Girl's Guide to Las Vegas is a travel guide written especially for travelers seeking the most sizzling side of the Vegas experience other than the Strip. From places to karaoke with porn stars, to nudist or swinger resorts, strip and sex clubs, pole dancing resorts, or even a visit the Erotic Heritage Museum, Naughty Girl's Guide to Las Vegas will spice up a Vegas trip and then some! Address, phone number, and website information is presented with each saucy highlight. Full-color photography illustrates Naughty Girl's Guide to Las Vegas throughout, including the occasional nude pose, but there are no pornographic images (though some of the featured destinations certainly sell pornography)!

Good Cop, Bad Daughter
Karen Lynch
Nothing but the Truth, LLC
980 Magnolia Ave, Suite 6C, Larkspur, CA 94939
9780988375451 $28.95

Good Cop, Bad Daughter is the tell-it-like-it-is memoir of one of San Francisco's first female cops. Karen Lynch had a counter-culture upbringing (complete with holding "The Man" in contempt), but when the San Francisco Police Department was forced by court order to hire women, she embarked on a personal mission to prove that women could indeed be cops - to her bipolar mother's extreme dismay. As she worked to become a fully functional part of what was once a men's club, she became increasingly concerned that she might have to face her mother not as a daughter, but rather as an arresting officer - a fear destined to become reality, in a clash of private and professional lives. Vivid, poignant, and candid, Good Cop, Bad Daughter is unforgettable to the end.

From King to Obama
Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Middle Passage Press
9780692370711 $12.95

Enhanced with an index for easy reference, From King to Obama: Witness to a Turbulent History, A Memoir is the recollections of political analyst/activist, author, and journalist Earl Ofari Hutchinson, who has spoken with a vast number of famous individuals including Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, Richard Pryor, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Sugar Ray Robinson, Wilt Chamberlain, and many more. A sweeping "you-are-there" ticket to the stage of history, From King to Obama is a riveting read from cover to cover. Highly recommended!

I'm Bored! What's Next?
Eric Unruh, MSW, LCSW and Gary Unruh, MSW, LCSW
Lighthouse Love Productions LLC
7680 Goddard Street, Suite 215
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
9780982420430 $4.99 pbk. / $2.99 ebook

Licensed clinical social workers Eric Unruh and Gary Unruh present I'm Bored! What's Next?, a 40-page guide to understanding ADHD in children. Written to be accessible to parents and caretakers of all backgrounds, I'm Bored! What's Next? explains that the name "attention deficit disorder" is misleading - ADHD children tend to be hyper-focused, but they cannot always control what their own minds focus upon. ADHD kids have difficulty visualizing how long tasks will take, or what steps are needed to prepare, and become extremely frustrated when they must undertake boring tasks. Understanding how one's ADHD child feels is the first step to learning how to help them grow and thrive; I'm Bored! What's Next? is an invaluable asset for this purpose.

Forever Blue
Carl Ross
Privately Published
9781505699678 $20.00 pbk / $5.00 ebook

Forever Blue: Adventures, Lessons, and Purpose - True Stories of My Life as a Police Officer is the true-life testimony of author Carl Ross, who has spent over four decades of service in the world of police work. Ross tells of an officer so enraged he attempted Russian Roulette to extract a confession (this did not end well); horrifying emergency calls; memories of those who died in the line of duty; a year-long manhunt; tales of corruption in the force; and much more. Peppered with vivid and fascinating anecdotes, Forever Blue is the next best thing to a ride-along in a police car, and enthusiastically recommended.

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

Master Stress: Tame Your Inner Monster: A My Guide
Rebecca Richmond
Richmond Pickering Ltd
9781910141038, RRP $19.00 / 12 Brit. pounds

Master Stress: Tame Your Inner Monster: A My Guide offers a discussion of the pros and cons of stress (and, yes, 'con' is part of the process - which may prove a surprise to readers familiar with the numerous books on the market that advocate 'banishing stress' from one's life).

Here, stress is regarded as something to recognize and manage; not something to eliminate - and that's an important distinction between the approach of Master Stress: Tame Your Inner Monster and many of its competitors.

The first prerequisite for successfully using this guide is (as with any self-help guide) a willingness to listen and learn. You'd think this would be self-explanatory and that any potential student of the subject would already have this part firmly in mind. But it's amazing how many self-help readers are, in fact, looking for miracles on a platter in the form of a step-by-step program that requires a minimum of thought. Master Stress: Tame Your Inner Monster is not about quick pop psychology but lasting change.

Chapters address issues of beliefs, values, and self-limiting processes that lead to feelings of entrapment and stalled objectives. They focus on how stress is created, examining the intersection between attitude, belief, and life events and pointing out common places where the process tends to stall.

Visualization techniques, meditation, and self-inspection: all these tools are provided to novices who may not have considered applying them to stress management before: again, the prerequisite here is a willingness to venture beyond familiar territory. An added bonus is a chapter on 'What You Can Expect to Experience' - something most books assume prior familiarity with (and therefore leave out.)

This isn't just a general coverage. Common sources of stress - from breaking up a relationship to managing one's time and money, recognizing one's power to say 'no', and understanding the consequences and choices involved in taking action - are reviewed in chapters that document the process of assessment, prioritizing, and taking control.

The all-encompassing chapters in Master Stress: Tame Your Inner Monster are quite wide-ranging, and so readers focused on emotional adjustment or recovery alone may be surprised to see such topics as personal money management in the mix. But keep in mind that these are common stress factors and, as such, are included to illustrate how diverse sources of stress can be mastered.

From successful goal-setting to giving some reign to one's unconscious mind and understanding the elements of success, Master Stress: Tame Your Inner Monster isn't just about alleviating stressful conditions: it's about creating techniques that utilize stress to better advantage. Its approach will delight any who want hands-on self-help insights.

Straight from the Gut: Battling Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Vivek Sardana
$14.99 paperback, $3.99 e-book
ISBN: 9781497457003
Ordering link:

Straight from the Gut: Battling Inflammatory Bowel Disease is not a 'how-to' book; nor is it pure autobiography. Instead, it straddles the line between the two as it chronicles the author's struggles with IBD, the many treatment options considered and tried, and their impact on his life.

Other books on the subject of IBS or IBD provide one approach or another: they either are purely autobiographical and focus on one person's experience or path, or they adopt the tone of an informal medical guide as they survey traditional versus alternative treatment options fellow sufferers can consider.

Vivek Sardana had a different purpose in mind: to use the progression of his disease and the choices it presented at each juncture as a pivot point for explaining anatomy, physiology, procedures, and the psychological challenges posed by each decision.

From his disease's impact on his family, pleasures, work life and freedom to the involvement of his physicians in all aspect of his evolving health challenges, Straight from the Gut pulls no punches and makes no attempt to soften the blows of the progression of a chronic disease, but ultimately offers readers hope as Sardana repeatedly navigates the pros and cons of painful procedures and uncertain recoveries.

Expect a series of powerful, explicit descriptions of bowel struggles that reach into daily life and demand adjustments, responses and life-changing decisions at every turn. Also expect a personal story that tempers its medical crises with the author's interest in his native India and his journeys there for personal connections and alternative treatments alike. Also, anticipate the author's respect for all of his medical providers, which blends with graphic accounts of surgical procedures and recovery processes.

How does one live with a progressive, life-altering disease that constantly offers new twists and turns? How does one assess all medical possibilities and work with physicians to choose the best options? And how does one still maintain hope and a love of life against all the daily odds of a body-wracking illness?

Straight from the Gut promises neither pat answers nor even a pain-free future for its author or readers, but simply holds out Sardana's experiences as an example of handling life's daily slings and arrows - even at their most extreme. It tenders hope and even a glimpse of attitude adjustment... and this, perhaps, is Sardana's greatest strength and the foundation of a work that stands out from the crowd as a reference recommended for any fighting IBS or IBD.

Zombies of Chronos
Tom Ciolli
Tom Ciolli, Publisher
9781495134241, $3.99,

Ordering links:

Zombies of Chronos is set in 2135, when inhabitants of the planet Chronos (described in previous adventures) have successfully closed the worm hole connecting their galaxy with another and thus liberated their world from the tyrannical Mining Syndicate, leaving them self-sufficient and isolated.

But even though they're rebuilding their world, they're not free from threats elsewhere; including aliens of the future whose bodies, flash frozen during space battle, are reanimating with unusual modifications and dangerous abilities, forcing Zach's crew into yet another impossible series of confrontations.

Familiarity with the prior Chronos books is recommended (but not absolutely essential) to absorbing the fast-paced events in Zombies as the colony faces its greatest challenge yet: the specter of a seemingly-endless supply of reanimated soldiers with high-tech abilities

It also should be mentioned that readers should cultivate a sense of humor and an ability to pick up the tongue-in-cheek dances between protagonists along the way: an unexpected facet in a story that centers on a new breed of human telepaths on a planet riddled with problems.

Ciolli's approach can best be categorized as 'military science fiction with a side dish of humor' - an unusual pairing in any sense of a genre read - and will appeal to followers of military science fiction who enjoy a dash of levity injected into scenes that would otherwise likely become overly steeped in serious confrontations and angst.

Here is a military sci-fi plot that is satisfyingly unpredictable, punctuated with moments of levity and fun, and replete with witty descriptions of alien/human encounters, special abilities newly recognized, and time-traveling fiascos between telepaths who are facing a new breed of zombies sporting special abilities and a passion for biting off more than they can chew.

Can Zack and his soldiers shut down the zombie invaders? There are costs in any impossible endeavor, and readers familiar with Zack's prior approaches and sacrifices will find Zombies a satisfying new adventure building upon further challenges and alien encounters.

Willows Weeping
Ella Reigns
9789187751752, $18.00,

What usually takes chapters to tell is narrated quickly in a few swift, poignant paragraphs in the opening of Willows Weeping: a father betrayed, a mother abused, the kids in foster care. So it's evident that the crux of this story doesn't assume the usual path of focusing just on these very early events, but chooses to place its focus over an entire timeline of experience.

As the confusion of foster care and the specter of several caregivers emerges, family relationships and interactions are explored - and always with a first-person emphasis on the effects and perceptions of this confusion on the child/protagonist. Events unfold in a whirlwind of fast-forward action: new neighbors, a sexually abusive (female) neighbor and her stepfather, a return to an alcoholic household, and further confusion.

In many ways the author's early years, as narrated here, reflect this whirlwind of angst as she absorbs what she can, makes uncertain sense of questionable situations, and sets her psychological timer on 'survival' mode. It's autobiography in its true sense of the form because it's evident that as she narrates the memories of her youth and its ups and downs, so are experiences relived for reader and writer alike.

Juxtaposed with the abusive situations are a loving grandmother who lives next door and whose warm, bakery-filled kitchen offers comfort and "a safe place to escape to when things got hectic in our home".

As Reigns faces her mother's hospitalization and the challenge of keeping up appearances to the outside world while surviving an unsupportive, often dangerous home life, she finds herself longing for more: "They never cared about the stresses I had to face every day, on top of taking care of things at home. I didn't want to be the oldest any more. I just wanted to be a normal parents were a nightmare, my brother was a pain, and I was a hormonal teenage girl stuck in a family that I couldn't believe was really mine."

With a mother good at 'making big scenes' and a failed family counseling session that pinpoints the source of the problems as the parents and not the author, things go from bad to worse.

The evolutionary nature of abuse is a strong thread that links the scenes and struggles presented in Willows Weeping. Situations don't magically resolve as the author ages: they become more complex as she begins to understand the psychology of blame, abuse, and the cycles of responses it presents between generations. 'Unsupportive' doesn't begin to describe the levels of pain the author experiences not just from extended family, but from her own father and mother.

And the sexual abuse continues: it's as though she's a magnet for predators, as her own father becomes involved. Even as she realizes "My parents were great at enabling each other." (an epiphany many books on the subject don't clearly outline), Reigns also comes to acknowledge other truths about her life.

And the image of the weeping willow? That, too, is passed down between generations as the family moves to a duplex with her mother's favorite tree in its front yard, and Reigns acknowledges "Since my mother was always weeping, I guess it only made sense that the tree represented what was inside of our home. I had grown up with my very own Weeping Willow, my mother. The tree went through the four seasons of change, just as my mother's mental instability went through the cycles of her illness."

Half the book focuses on this soul-stifling childhood. The other half sparkles with hope as Reigns comes into her own: "Just because my mother couldn't survive on her own, didn't mean that I couldn't. I was going to prove it could be done."

The end result is a wrenching, powerful personal reflection of past, present and future, documenting the survival process in a manner that will be familiar and inspiring to any who come from a stifling, unsupportive family in search of achievement and success.

The essence of a life well lived against all odds is what makes Willows Weeping an ultimate success story.

D.J. Adamson
Horatio Press
9780990307822, $9.99

Because Eagle's Park was once home to Indians, it's the perfect place to look for arrowheads. Perhaps due to a young boy's early impressions of the Native American culture surrounding him, Outre also reflects lovely metaphorical descriptions of Native culture, Iowa lands, and its evocative environment ("This story started with a young Indian girl walking down to the lake before the area was called Eagles Park. Max said she came to smell the flowers and wash off the long winter."), delivering a saga of a young boy who dreams of becoming a hero.

Dreams have a way of assuming reality; and so Outre's young protagonist embarks on a trajectory to achieve his goals. Seven years later, as death begins to strike, stories turn into frightening realities and a small community is hit with a series of demises that begin with the end of a storyteller and move out from there: "Max Lamott was a storyteller when I was a kid. He became a legend after he died."

The first inkling that one is about to receive a saga not of a young boy's coming of age but of a grown man's challenges evolves from this point onward, seven years later, when teen Jake faces the mystery in a dying man's last legacy.

The entire town's talking about it - and during the evolution of events and Jake's discoveries, the underbelly of small town interactions and sentiments are presented in a series of subtle insights slipped in almost as side thoughts rich in perspective: "Diddleman's dad drank his breakfast and his mom gave most of her money to the church, praying for a miracle she'd wake up to the life as she dreamed it." Taken individually, these kinds of observations may seem mild; but woven neatly into the plot, they become lovely metaphorical descriptions that support a greater good.

At times the story line breaks up a little with minor editorial flaws ("As the trees thinned out telling us we were getting closer to the lake. It's when I started hearing the hum Diddleman had mentioned. It was a low buzz, like when you stand under power lines."); but this is a work-in-progress and it is hoped an outside editor will clear out the inconsistencies, because the rest of the description is powerfully written.

As a small town faces possibilities ranging from murderers to aliens, the boys find themselves participating in the cutting edge of what could be a criminal investigation or a confrontation with unusual forces. A storm of contention assumes both physical and psychological proportions as Jake's family becomes mired in the evolving conflict, leaving him alone to settle scores and investigate possibilities: "I was tired. The type of tired where every movement seems like an effort. But not sleepy. My mind was running like a horse once the gate had open. Nest? Nest? Then it came to me. My dad was telling me where he'd seen my mom and sister. A place where only I would know."

Though the protagonist is young, Outre isn't recommended as a young adult read so much as an adult mystery that centers around bloodshed and intrigue and dances lightly around the usual mystery devices to keep its story line unpredictable.

Although this is, ultimately, a mystery, don't rule out the alien involvements, either. They may be all around us: it remains to be seen whether they are in Jake's small town (i.e. you'll just have to read Outre to find out!).

All the Roads
J. Cotter
Paperback: ISBN: 9781505398687, $13.99
Ebook: ASIN: B00QR01C40, $2.99

It's been 18 months since Jay has spoken to her: 18 months during which the conflicts (and the love) between Jay and Elle have made a distant possibility of a reunion between two introverts moving on different trajectories away from one another. More importantly, it's been a time of growth and change for a writer who chooses long hauls on the road over love and the girl who has embarked upon her course in life, away from him. This is about to change when Jay enters a random coffee shop and runs into Elle.

In a way, little has changed. The initial attraction between them sparks immediately even in the discomfort zone, and even though it's been a year and a half since they last spoke. In another way, everything has changed: enough so that she can let their chance encounter slide away, seemingly easily, while his inclination is to either hang on to the moment or try to return to what was.

It's shaky ground indeed; and as readers move forward through the interconnected (yet stand-alone stories) that comprise Jay and Elle's lives and relationship, they gain a sense of not only the passage of time and its accompanying transformations, but why Jay and Elle continue to dance around one another, not quite able to let go completely.

Sure, it's about loss and change - but it's also about reunion, second chances, and the uncertainties of life. And that's the path All the Roads takes with gusto, moving protagonists and readers forward from the point where things fell apart to where they ultimately join again.

To call this process a 'romance' would be partially correct because Jay and Elle haven't let go of one another completely: and, perhaps, they never will. But to call it a passionate reunion using the traditional sense and formula of the romance genre would be to do this book a grave disservice. All the Roads is as much about choices, circumstance, bonding and separation, and the waxing and waning of life, as it is about love.

If this comment sounds confusing, consider the fact that Jay and Elle aren't quite bonded. Consider the forces behind their breakup, which are slowly revealed in all their complexity. Then consider the many forks in the road which are outlined here. If it all sounds like a journey - well, it is. All the Roads considers their relationships not only with one another, but with the wider world at large in its relentless drive towards friendship and reconciliation.

It's hard to reveal the gist of such a complicated matter without spoilers entering the picture. Suffice it to say that in the process of this self-discovery and change, Elle and Jay make some decisions not just about each other, but about their overall, independent courses in life. It's not only love that shines from such a process: it's understanding - and, ultimately, that's the journey that All the Roads presents.

It's recommended for readers of thought-provoking life stories who like their sagas best delivered as interconnected segments of experience.

Ride Your Heart 'Til It Breaks
Deborah Hawkins
ISBN 9780988934733 (ebook) $2.99
ISBN 9780988934740 (paperback)

Carrie Moon has loved before, and the result was devastating - and so she's wound up her love in a neat ball of 'the past' and hidden it well away as she pursues her successful legal career and marriage to one of the partners in the firm. She's through with her ex, Stan - and finished with the uncertainties of his brand of love - but all this is about to change when she runs into him once again.

It's not too often that a professional woman can say she skirted the ethical line of the law for the sake of love. Not everyone can recover from such a blunder. Having barely extracted herself from a career-crusher and a romance that left her bruised and broken, Carrie would seem the last person to return to the scene of such a crime.

But love rarely is logical and matters of the heart exist more from a wellspring of passion than sensibility, so when Stan returns to threaten her carefully-reconstructed world, staid lawyer Karen once more turns into Carrie, the girl who loved, lost, and swore she would never love in that fashion again.

The first thing to note about Ride Your Heart 'Til It Breaks is that it comes from an author who is, herself, well versed in the legal profession. The inner sanctum of the legal community, its ties, its encounters, and its special challenges thus all come to life under the hand of experience, not just research; and the result adds an extra dimension to the saga and elevates it beyond the usual singular romance.

Another important note: Carrie has loved, lost (at great cost to herself and her career), and redirected her life - so why would she want to return to a crime scene that seemingly holds little reward? In the process of such consideration it becomes evident that affairs of the heart are anything but logical and anything but predictable: elements which translate to a good read in Ride Your Heart 'Til It Breaks.

The third thing to note about this story: it's about passion about rediscovery. That Carrie moves through her loveless marriage and the legal worlds methodically, with an underlying need for something more, makes for a protagonist who questions her carefully-construed world and is, however reluctantly, willing to consider new opportunities despite experiences of the past.

The result, more than most romances, is complex and truly indicative of changing matters of the heart and the intersection of social and political worlds in a legal community replete with strict perspectives and associations born more of convenience than of love.

In short: there's nothing 'formula' about the character, romance, or interactions in Ride Your Heart: only a simmering set of choices and consequences that will keep readers guessing until its satisfying conclusion.

Shoulderdice and the No Trespassing Woods
Lauri Tibbits Nelson
Prepublication Manuscript

It's always been called the 'No Trespassing Woods', but Barnaby didn't believe that was a serious label, until the barbed wire fence sprung up to surround his former wild woods playground after the land was sold to developers. His family has been enjoying the woods for five years and his earliest nature memories were formed there; so the prospects of no access and paved-over nature are daunting.

But this is the tip of the iceberg in exploring the changes affecting Barnaby's entire world in Shoulderdice and the No Trespassing Woods, an odd-sounding title that invites middle school readers to want to investigate further.

Barnaby's plight is one that affects so many kids who find that their favorite vacant lots, woods, or wild places succumb to development. He finds it difficult to stay away from a place which once seemed like an extension of home: "He didn't mean to disobey his mom and dad, but the woods were the one place in the world where everything felt just right. He went there when he was happy and he felt even better. He went there when he was sad, and it cheered him up."

But there are other wild places to investigate and other places Barnaby can adopt, as he comes to realize when he enters a unique flower shop in search of a gift for his mother and discovers a wizened little old man and a sense of magic permeating one of the few places in town that's not in a modern building or shopping center.

It takes a sassy, talking plant named Shoulderdice, a newfound affection for reading (thanks to the plant's obsession), and a strange discovery in a cave to lead Barnaby on an incredible journey that might just change the course of what seems inevitable.

From its odd-sounding title to an unusual association between a boy, a dog, and a sentient plant, Shoulderdice and the No Trespassing Woods holds the rare ability to stand out in a crowd of middle school fiction. Young readers looking for something different, magical, and engrossing won't be disappointed.

The only prerequisite is a willingness to accept magical circumstances. The rest of the story's strength is firmly embedded in strong protagonists, believable conflicts, and cemented in a healthy dose of magic.

The Boy from the Woods
Jen Minkman
Storm Publishers
ASIN: B00S8UIL9G $3.99

Julia's love for Michael can best be described as unrequited: he's the hottest guy in school, so after just a few dates (and after they have sex) he can afford to dump her and move on; but for Julia, this is one of the most crushing events of her life. To have loved and lost is truly worse, for her, than just watching the golden boy from afar; especially since it's obvious he used her.

One would think this would be the end of a story; but it's just the beginning when Julia rescues Michael during a storm after a motorcycle accident, only to find he professes to a changed personality due to a blow on the head.

At this point it becomes a matter of trust as he pursues her with romance in mind once again, and as the now-savvy Julia distrusts his intentions and the 'miracle' of his emotional turn-around. It turns out there's something more to the story - and here's where it gets delicious.

Have you ever wanted to believe the leopard could change his spots so badly that you've contemplated repeating past, predictable patterns of defeat against all odds and logic? Have you ever wanted to 'believe' so much that anything that gets in the way of that belief is rejected? And have you ever seen a total transformation that required proof to be believed?

All this and more is faced by a spunky female protagonist who finds herself on the wrong wide of romance with seemingly a second chance for success ... but, is it real? That's Julia's dilemma - and one not easily resolved. There are no pat answers available, and that's one satisfyingly realistic aspect of the story: "She didn't want to avoid Michael. She wanted to know what was up with him, what had changed him, but at the same time, her inner voice of reason agreed whole-heartedly with Gaby."

As Julia probes events, more dangers and challenges come to light - and the fact that she doubts both circumstances and herself, at times, lends to the strength and believability of the plot: "Julia indecisively stopped behind a big tree next to the boy's residence, her eyes fixed on the front door. Now what? Was she absolutely sure this guy had done something wrong - or was she about to saddle another innocent person with a bunch of sinister motivations and make a fool of herself for the second time today?"

Especially notable is the presentation of how Julia grows and evolves (relatively quickly, too!): "This place had stayed the same - it was she who had changed from the inside out. And that was a pity. After all, Michael had told her to keep dreaming. He didn't need her to change or turn into a down-to-earth, responsible grown-up anytime soon."

Well-written and presented with a few surprises, The Boy from the Woods is leisure reading teens will appreciate.

But, be forewarned - this isn't strictly a romance - it includes a dose of the paranormal. Just how does this happen? Therein lies the heart of The Boy From the Woods.

Rick Johnson
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B00T0V3ZPM, $3.99

Book covers aren't typically mentioned in a book review unless they're outstanding, but Silversion's deserves this note. It's a standout illustration, portraying a city tucked beneath towering buttes, looking as though it floats on water. As if this picture for the third appearance of 'Wood Cow Chronicles' weren't draw enough, consider the plot, which involves dragons, Helga's ongoing rebellion, a mysterious new city that offers its own unique dangers, and the dilemma of a High One faced with impossible odds and foes.

Now, Helga's a force to be reckoned with, and just one cog in the wheel of rebellion that is hard at work to overcome centuries of slavery and embedded patterns and attitudes. She never intended to be a revolutionary, never intended to be the spearhead of a juggernaut of revolt, and most of all, never intended to undertake an epic journey in the process.

Sci-fi and fantasy readers who enjoy characters who fall into their roles instead of marching in will find much to appreciate as Helga makes her way through a world that not only is changed, but desperately needs changing. Sci-fi readers should also be advised that all the characters here are animals. Those who don't appreciate animal protagonists should simply look elsewhere for their entertainment.

And, being Book Three, Silversion holds only a one-line mention of prior events. In order to thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the setting that's been built, it's highly recommended that readers consult the prior books to get a thorough sense of the many, many protagonists who move through the Wood Cow world.

Those with such affections and familiarity will find this latest book gripping: there's the usual attention to detail that paints an evocative image of the world of the Cows: "When bugles blew the call for the evening's Roast Mess, sounding over the cliffs and crags surrounding the ancient fortress, the echoes seemed to die away faster than usual. It seemed as if the sound fled over the strange wilderness of great precipices and pinnacles, broken and split by long-ago earthquakes."

That Johnson takes the time to portray these settings lends depth to the complexity that is Silversion, creating a rich atmosphere through which readers move as if on an epic quest alongside Helga, whose concerns become larger than her personal circle of interests. That the story is anything but predictable - and actually, quite complex in nature - is a tribute to using this time carefully, even adding in subtle doses of humor to some of the animal encounters: "I'll decide what's possible or not possible!" the Skull Buzzard scowled. "We can't be too careful, you see - Frinnets are always a pack of trouble. Ever since that Weasel riled them all up some years back, it's never been the same up there."

The stakes are truly high for every player here, from the High One to Helga's group. Lead by lunatics, rebels, and game-players, the battles are hard fought and feature unpredictable, uncommon heroes and villains - and that is yet another strength of the series.

Legends are made under such conditions. Surely, the legend shaping Helga's Wood Cow world is one that fantasy readers will relish for its unusual flavors, atmosphere, and winding, well-detailed story line that compliment a beast of a story that creates an evocative 'you are there' world to immerse its readers: "There was merry-making that evening, such as the lonely river had never seen. Smoke from many fires, as beasts roasted Sweet Milk Honey Bread on sticks, and crunched baked crawdad. "

In a genre replete with formula writing, it's difficult to say that a new arrival feels truly original; but Silversion is all this and more, and will delight fantasy fans looking for something different - beasts and all.

Ukrainian Phrasebook, Dictionary, Menu Guide & Interactive Factbook
Masha Drach & Olga Kravtsova
Rodnik Publishing Co.
ISBN: Kindle: 9781929482955
EPUB: 9781929482948
Price: $4.79
Publication dates: Kindle: May 1, 2015; EPUB: August 1, 2015

The Ukrainian Phrasebook, Dictionary, Menu Guide & Interactive Factbook is something different in the world of phrasebooks; so if you're expecting something static and stationary (i.e. something that involves mere look-up), then think again: it's interactive, which lends the process and results a completely different (and more effective) feel.

First of all - how many stand-alone Ukranian phrasebooks are on the market? Virtually none. How many include facts about the country? None. And how many offer a format that lends to interconnected learning? None.

The opportunity for users to search for phrases and vocabulary with quick mouse clicks and movements, plus the inclusion of a wide range of facts (many clickable links) about Ukraine, makes this phrasebook a standout approach in the relatively flat world of phrasebook references.

But that's not all to like about The Ukrainian Phrasebook. In addition to its Ukraine-centered focus and its organization and multifaceted presentation, the phrasebook holds the additional advantage of being arranged like a dictionary of clickable key words and clear definitions. This lends to more than phrase lookup: it becomes a learning tool in addition to an interpretation device, and features the rare ability to do more than parrot needed phrases in a pinch.

The letters of the alphabet are divided into subsections, search results include the ability to include an 'x' in the string to limit one's search to specific results, and the inclusion of Ukrainian lettering, standard English phrases, and short facts about Ukrainian culture and life (accompanied by website links) makes for a title that is, in reality, more than just a phrasebook.

The result might startle those who expect a singular production, but that's the beauty of this extended approach: it's a production that moves neatly from mere definition to higher-level learning and delves into the area of cultural education. Readers who want JUST a phrase book will find it a handy approach; but, really, it's especially recommended for those who want more - particularly since information on the Ukraine tends to be scattered and relatively hard to find.

What Makes It Worthy
David Paul Kuhn
Publisher: CLM
Paperback Price: $16.95 eBook Price: $9.95
Publication Date: July 21, 2015

This novel about the American political process, What Makes It Worthy, could not come at a better time. At a point in American history where houses are divided, sentiments run high, and alliances between press and political figures are at an unprecedented peak, along comes a novel to nail all these actions and place them in perspective.

What Makes It Worthy uses fiction to probe what's wrong in Washington; but more importantly, it reveals how these interplays of politics and business actually work, using believable protagonists and the fictional form to drive home points that would, in nonfiction, prove weighty and challenging to average readers.

What's it like to live in such a world, move in such circles, and to negotiate alignments and pacts in the name of public interest? What Makes It Worthy offers an inside look at the social and political maelstrom of action swirling through the corridors of D.C. politics.

One device employed by Kuhn to make all this come alive (and make sense) is the building of powerful protagonists, both male and female - and this, in itself, reflects some of the modern changes D.C. has seen as female political figureheads come into their own to influence a traditionally-male pursuit of holding office.

The character that opens the saga thinks it's "time for a grand gesture", and he's not far from the truth: everyone thinks the same in What Makes It Worthy, and these gestures and efforts are being already made in many circles. In a world where politics takes place in bars and at parties as much as in chambers and meeting rooms, the characters become more three-dimensional and substantial than if the author chose to portray Democrats and Republicans solely in their 'native business world' of the White House.

As readers move through a vivid, personal story, it's the people interactions that are striking. One would expect the novel to be replete with political exchanges (and it is), but not necessarily the depth of personal relationships explored here - which, after all, are the foundation of any decision or belief system's evolution.

Under Kuhn's hand, the realities of conflicts that become landslides, relationships that become matters of political convenience or manipulation, and cultural and social settings that separate D.C. from the rest of America make sense. Under his pen, politics lives and breathes in the form of human interaction as much as political process. And as differences surface, so they are explored in both personal and political circles: "'s not like D.C.'s an intellectual's ideal," Cait continues. "People there really do live politics. It even permeates bar talk." (Even?? It's in such settings that the real 'work' is done!)

Race. Abortion. Political elitism. Sensationalized news reports. Fickle media, and fickle images of heroism. All this and more represents the feel and process of the American political system.

Wrap it all up in a novel that delves into these circles and reveals their underlying motivations and influences and you have a story that truly explores the American system not just from an insider's viewpoint, but from the very real experiences of human beings just like you and me: people that tend to ask too little or too much of life, but rarely get it right - even in love. And yes, add a dose of romance to the political cocktail: it's just what this drink needs to make it perfect!

While God Slept
Emily Kemp
9781311536747, $9.99,
From Amazon as hardcopy or for Kindle for $14.99

Note: Also available from Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble (for Nook), Flipkart, Kobo, OverDrive, Oyster, and Scribd.

While God slept, a little girl grew up in a chaotic family environment. While he slept, she became a whore. And as he continued sleeping, she somehow kept on growing. This book is Emily Kemp's memoir of that process, and its appearance at a time when a virtual storm of similar memoirs are hitting the market only serves to show how wide-ranging and familiar is the story of a child surviving a badly broken home.

It's the movement from 'broken' to 'mostly happy' which is the draw, here - this, and Kemp's astute observations of life. While God Slept is all about movement, circumstance, and choice; and while it's a difficult read in many ways, the author's vision is unique, realistic and penetrating even when she's handling her 'clients': "It was hard for me to imagine Floyd being sensitive to his wife's feelings. He'd aggressively insulted me and didn't appear to give a shit. I had pretended his sick perversion was normal, and as a successful sex worker I was a decent actress, but I couldn't believe he thought I was sincere. My background was in therapy; I had a master's degree in counseling. All of my former training had apparently turned me into a person who could hear just about anything and maintain a pleasant smile. My single act of interpersonal rebellion was that I stopped nodding in encouragement while he spoke.

I wanted to win karmic points for being compassionate but I wanted Floyd to hate himself..."

More so than most such memoirs, it's more about the adult navigating an equally-chaotic world than the child surviving to reach adulthood - and this sets While God Slept apart from so many similar-sounding stories.

On the face of it, the memoir centers on Kemp's job as a sex worker and her observations of clientele and herself. Drugs, sex, and perversions are part of the process, so if it's a memoir focusing on the child's experience which is desired - look elsewhere. There's swearing, ribald circumstances, sordid details - and an attention to exploring the underbelly of the sex industry.

Sometimes that hits frighteningly close to home. Sometimes the reader feels the author's pain and never-ending violations are just too much.

But that's the point: while god slept, things happened. They continue to happen. Such is Kemp's life and the world she lives in. This read will drag you in, walk the streets with you, and presents a world relatively few know about. In the end, you'll feel like that's a blessing - especially as the author seems to emerge a stronger woman than she began. Is there hope after all? Read While God Slept to find out...but don't expect sugar and spice or even happy endings. It's more like salsa and sorrow.

Plot Fiction Like the Masters: Ian Fleming, Jane Austen, Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Story-building
Terry Richard Bazes
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Publishers
259 Bear Ridge Road, Pleasantville NY 10570
ASIN: B00U6EC800
ISBN: 9780692399569 $9.99

The opening of Plot Fiction Like the Master, a foreword written by Benjamin Cheever, holds both a surprise and a pointed observation of what is wrong with many a self-help writer's guide: "If many of the other How-To-Write-A-Book books were entitled How Not To Write A Book, we'd have a better world and better books as well." Instead of exploring the possibilities inherent in writing fiction, too many books focus on what not to do - to the point that the would-be author is left with a series of admonitions about common pitfalls and failings and not with the tools needed to actually produce viable writing.

Plot Fiction Like the Masters is more of a nuts-and-bolts kind of approach to the process and focuses on what to do and how best to do it, offering a satisfyingly positive contrast to this approach and providing a toolkit of possibilities to authors who are just getting started in the fiction genre.

So, what do Ian Fleming, Jane Austen and Evelyn Waugh have in common (aside from being famous and acclaimed fiction writers)? Their styles and plots are quite different, but are here used as three specific, diverse examples of what can be done within the fictional framework to produce an exceptional piece. And it's through these pointers that budding authors really get a sense of what works, and why.

What follows analyses the works and methods of these three writers and considers how they translate to effective devices and approaches a fiction writer might apply to their own works: "Those of us who make up stories might benefit by pausing to consider the dramatic purpose served by this moment of pain and uncertainty just before the lovers finally come to understand one another in the last pages of the novel."

Part of the willingness to absorb the important messages herein will include an ability to see the value in an analytical approach that contrasts three very different authors' successful methods and considers how these, in turn, translate to one's own writing. Thus, readers who want a 'quick and dirty' toolset without any accompanying literary analysis might want to look elsewhere ... but, that would be a shame.

The power and persuasive approach presented in Plot Fiction Like the Masters can't really be transmitted without actually examining the work of said masters - and Terry Richard Bazes does so with a literary outlook that defines what makes a work of fiction a masterful standout in the realm of literary accomplishment: "The pyramidal pattern in each of these novels (the way their plots have

been designed as a consecutive series of incidents that introduce a conflict, build it to a crisis and finally bring it to closure) should not be confused with the logical order of construction - the sequence of steps their creators took

as they went about the process of improvising incidents and characters before assembling them in their final form. In other words, the order of incidents in a completed plot - arranged from the beginning to the end of the story -- is not necessarily the same as the order of their creation."

So, would-be fiction writers should expect a guide far more detailed and complex than the usual 'how to' title - and far more valuable, as a result. It analyzes and contrasts its authors with a solid eye to considering what devices work in literary fiction, and why - and this makes it an invaluable resource indeed.

Nickerbacher: The Funniest Dragon
Terry John Barto
Author House LLC
Paper: 9781496954541 $15.15 34 pages
ebook: 9781496954565 $3.99

There's plenty to recommend in Nickerbacher: The Funniest Dragon, a comical dragon story that sports exceptionally colorful pages, fun drawings throughout by Kim Sponaugle, and a tale that lends particularly well to parental read-aloud for kids looking for stories about dragons.

It's a 34-page saga of a sweet-tempered (but fierce-looking) dragon who is charged with guarding a princess - but his dreams are quite different than his task; for he longs to be a stand-up comic instead: something that clearly doesn't lend to his dragon stature and his allotted task in life.

Nickerbacher only wants to make everyone laugh, and his princess charge is supportive of his dreams; but he still believes them impossible, until a prince appears who harbors his own impossible dream.

"It doesn't matter what I think. It's what you know in your heart that matters." This is the underlying lesson in a whimsical, fun story that is simply delightful to read and supported by vibrant, fun illustrations: everything a parent could wish for in an entertaining picture book with an inspirational message.

Wildlife Heroes
Jack Roberts
Curious Kids Press
ASIN: B00MD0884U, $4.95, 50 pages

Joy and George Adamson were two of the most famous early wildlife conservationists in the world; but today their names are less likely to come to mind than that of Elsa the Lion in Born Free. But if you remember Elsa, you're remembering the Adamsons: she was their 'baby' and it's pleasing to see that Wildlife Heroes: The Story of Joy and George Adamson finally acknowledges the Adamsons' overall importance in conservation for a younger audience.

The Adamsons raised a lion cub and they trained her to survive in her native African bush (something most said couldn't be done), and Elsa succeeded in returning to her wild roots and raising cubs in the wilderness. But Born Free was about something more than Elsa herself: it alerted the world to the threat from poachers and their devastating effects on Africa's wildlife, and with this the Adamsons truly made their mark on the world.

In much the manner that Born Free brought Elsa to the world's attention, so Wildlife Heroes brings the Adamsons some much-deserved limelight. In much the way that Elsa's plight and activities became part of homes across America, so Wildlife Heroes offers kids an opportunity to finally get to know the Adamsons and their work. And with much of the importance of Born Free, so Wildlife Heroes fills in many gaps for a young audience that too rarely receives accounts of wildlife heroes over stories of animals.

Vintage black and white photos throughout, 'Think About It' notes concluding each biographical chapter sketch, and sidebars of facts about African wildlife make this more than a biography alone: it's a multi-faceted saga of Africa's challenges in wildlife management, concluding with a timeline of events that begins with George Adamson's birth in India and concludes with the separate murders of both Joy and George.

Source notes, a list of works consulted, and a glossary keyed to bolded words throughout the text make Wildlife Heroes a special recommendation for sparking the interest a young conservationist in the advanced elementary to early middle school grades.

And the Wind Whispered
Dan Jorgensen
Bygone Era Books, Ltd.
Price: $21.95 (trade paperback) $6.99 (ebook)
Release Date: June 1, 2015

Some of the best reads on the market aren't genre reads per say: that is, they incorporate elements of two or more genres and straddle their lines so neatly that it's hard to assign them a 'box' to live in. Such is the case with And the Wind Whispered: does one define it as a historical western, a mystery, or a novel? In reality it should be marketed to all three reader groups; because its genre-busting attitude produces a powerful read that defies easy categorization but lends it a vibrant immediacy not readily part of other stories that attend to stricter definition.

It should be noted that as murder mysteries go, there's the usual wide net of characters. It should also be mentioned that unlike the majority, the mystery begins with two aspiring reporters in the old West who stumble on a murder that proves the tip of the iceberg.

While this Western setting is an intrinsic part of the story, it doesn't 'take over'. Don't expect And the Wind Whispered to ride off into the sunset of neat formula writing and quick conclusions: it tackles its action slowly and relentlessly, ambling down the main boardwalks of a Western setting with spurs clinking and enough attitude to draw in even readers who usually eschew the Western novel for its trite and too-predictable settings.

The combination of these two disparate scenarios not only works: it works well. Take the scenes and impressions: they sparkle with life and unexpected encounters with some of the Wild West's most famous figures, further illustrating that murder investigation is not the end-all of the story: "Lil shrieked and jumped to her feet nearly knocking William off his seat in the process. "Annie?" she gasped, pointing at the woman, before rushing toward her. "You mean like in Oakley?" She waved her arms wildly. "It's Annie Oakley!" She half-pushed Buffalo Bill out of the way and threw her arms around the diminutive woman. Lil looked around excitedly and then back at Annie. "My name's Lil Marr and I want to be a sharpshooter just like you!" The words were tumbling from her mouth in rapid fire. Not letting go of Annie, she looked back over her shoulder at the others. "Annie Oakley! She's my hero!" "No kidding," Nellie said drily. "Who would've guessed?"

And, yes, humor is a big part of the mix - but once again: to describe this story as a 'humor piece' would limit its scope and presentation to a particular audience anticipating particular devices - and And the Wind Whispered is anything but staid.

Buffalo Bill. Bat Masterson. Nellie Bly. A minstrel show with an attitude. Big crowds, hard drinking, and powerful female personalities that do far more than swoon and simper. There's trouble in Hot Springs - and it's about to get a lot hotter before some of the protagonists achieve resolution.

It's rare to find a work that is a real delight in its uniformly feisty, believable protagonists who work within a plot that holds no boundaries. And the Wind Whispered is a remarkable achievement, no matter what genre you're partial to.

Fatal Greed
John W. Mefford
Sugar Hill Press
ASIN: B00KP3TUQW $3.99

Fatal Greed represents Book One of the 'Greed Series', a set of interconnected stories about an employee who primarily worries about the usual job-related threats of unemployment or handling corporate politics, until murder and subterfuge enter the picture and force him into assuming the role of a detective.

Michael never wanted to turn investigator; never wanted a job that rocked his world: all he wanted to do was go to work and do his job well. That goal is about to be transformed by circumstances beyond his control - but, curiously, the story doesn't open with Michael or his job, but with the s/m sexual encounter of a girl who dreams of freedom even while trapped in a twisted partnership.

The third-person story turns personal with usage of the first person fairly quickly as Michael faces the usual pressures of a fast-paced tech firm on the verge of moving to a higher level of productivity, only to discover that everything has changed virtually overnight when the company is bought out. So far, so predictable: but when Michael discovers a woman murdered and then goes home to find his neighbor arrested for her death, his life begins to change.

Suddenly death is not only hitting too close to home; it's involving and changing everything familiar to him - and so Michael moves from being an IT expert to a detective, donning an unexpected (and unwelcome) mantle of danger as he probes corporate politics and greed.

Now, because 'fatal' and 'greed' are part of the book's title, one does anticipate these elements in the plot. What is less expected is the level to which John W. Mefford takes his theme as real business pursuits and political pressures are juxtaposed with evolving connections between professional and personal life.

In the process of making his discoveries, Michael finds that even his closest friends are no longer comfortably predictable: "I replayed my friend's comments, even his slight movements, and I couldn't understand it all. None of it made sense. There was a story there, buried inside, and only he knew what had transpired. He seemed troubled, tormented even - the exact cause I couldn't discern. But seeing Reinaldo's every movement dictated like he was subhuman, was most disturbing. It showed me how fragile life as we know it can be."

Speaking of 'comfortably predictable' - don't expect this facet in Fatal Greed: its special skill lies in taking inevitability and turning it on end; and so even the most seasoned murder mystery or thriller reader will find this a cut above the usual, capturing the twists and turns of a IT employee who finds himself not on the cutting edge of business change, but the cutting edge of murder and greed.

That's the mark of a real winner as Fatal Greed follows this transformation process and draws its audience in for an unexpected result that holds (be forewarned) a cliffhanger of an ending, bespeaking of more to come.

Lethal Greed
John W. Mefford
Sugar Hill Press
ASIN: B00LFNC5T0 $3.99

Following closely in the footsteps of Fatal Greed is Book Two of the 'Greed' series, Lethal Greed, which follows protagonist Michael's ongoing evolution as he moves away from the job in Book One and successfully re-careers as a result of his confrontation with and investigation into corporate greed.

But the greed factor doesn't end with Book One: it continues in Lethal Greed, which focuses on an onslaught of urban drug-related deaths and Michael's investigation of killers who are involved in a woman's kidnapping and teen overdoses.

It's rare to see a series addition which can be read either as a stand-alone story or as a logical extension of Book One: usually series titles are interconnected enough that the follow-ups don't do well on their own. Not so with Lethal Greed, a Cheshire cat of a read that can go either way: gaining power as an expansion of the original story line, or holding its own with a brand new audience who may not have read Fatal Greed. (However, it must be said that the characters are really flushed out in Fatal Greed, so once one has absorbed Lethal, enthusiasts will want to consult Fatal Greed for the additional details.)

It's hard to easily categorize these stories because they don't fit neatly into the box of either 'mystery' or 'thriller' reading - and, therefore, hold the potential of attracting either audience. International intrigue, urban affairs, an investigative reporter who has his hands full, and characters re-introduced from the previous book provide a backdrop of color and action that succeeds in not only capturing action, but takes the time to create a uniquely engrossing setting, as well: "Many of the women gathered around the oval coffee table with a glass inlay. Emilia momentarily thought of the irony. She'd received the Mexican antique coffee table as an extra appreciation gift from her employer a couple of years back. She wondered how many lines of coke had been snorted on it before it had entered her home. She blinked her eyes to dismiss the momentary sting of guilt.

"Emilia, you must tell me what you put in these snacks," said one lady, who had traveled from Nacogdoches for this party.

"The frozen snack is a paleta - looks like a popsicle. I've made it in a couple of flavors. You have the cappuccino flavor. The other one is made from orchata, a cinnamon-based Mexican rice drink."

While thriller readers used to less detail may chafe at the bit of setting and landscape, those who always look for more depth will simply love these tidbits of detail that enhance the story line and lend a realistic feel to events.

As a result, Lethal Greed stands out from the crowd and once again paints a powerful story of one man's continuing foray into dangerous new territory: this one driven by addiction.

Greed Manifesto
John W. Mefford
Sugar Hill Press
ASIN: B00OAC62JM $3.99

These three 'Greed' titles were read back-to-back, so while it's possible that this reviewer has become prejudiced about their draw, it's not likely that this is the case. Each book stands well alone but builds on its prior characters and plot in such a way that their interconnected stories become nearly a unified production with the rare ability to also be independent.

Take the beginning of Greed Manifesto (which is Book Four in the series): its opening is entirely different than its predecessors and sets the scene by promising more changing action: "I'm conscious...I think. A brisk, cutting wind slapped my left side, churning in my ear like I'd been engulfed by a giant wave. Thumping heartbeats hammered my chest cavity. Sticky eyes peeled apart, unsure what I'd see, where I was. Shooting a glance left and right, I leaned against a wrought-iron railing, my back wedged against a massive stone building, my butt planted on a city sidewalk, legs splayed out like I'd been taking a nap."

The setting moves to San Francisco in this story, where Michael is once again involved in changing his life; having embarked on a new direction that, surprisingly, returns him full circle to the specter of murder. He just can't get away - even when he's suffering from amnesia from a beating that left him for dead.

Drugs, a brutal murder, international intrigue, and a San Francisco setting: it's all here, wound into the psyche of a man who finds himself on the right side of justice and the wrong side of a greedy world that doesn't just run in corporate circles.

What makes Greed Manifesto stand out from a crowd of thriller/mysteries on the market? Quite simply the fact that it takes time to develop its character and plot and doesn't just rely on the power of previously-developed characters and books; and the fact that its protagonist Michael is always looking to change not just his career, but his life, with unexpected results. Now, this may mean that some thriller readers who expect nonstop staccato action will find it too 'slow' for their sensibilities, but it's not the intention of Mefford to create a 'quick and dirty' production here - and that's to his credit.

Unlike most series titles which assume a 'same old' sense, each book retains sparkling originality and preserves its unpredictable path, which makes all of them winners in their own right.

Booker - Streets of Mayhem
John W. Mefford
Sugar Hill Press
ASIN: B00R9W3SJM $3.99

The setting is Texas, again, where a white supremacist group is wrecking mayhem on the city of Dallas, exploding a bus containing mostly children.

Booker is a cop turned P.I. and has long been committed to solving the city's crimes, so this particularly heinous act of terrorism has him involved on a personal as well as a professional level - and the price to pay, if he can't track down the criminals, will change his world.

There are many novels about terrorism these days, and many more about P.I. investigations. Combining the two approaches in a mystery/thriller format is nothing new either. What is new here, however, is the additional facet of a biracial cop in Dallas facing down bomb scares that threaten his family, decisions that lead to his getting bounced off the police force, and a series of questionable options that have him searching for the right path and the right thing to do at nearly every turn: and these facets are nearly as engrossing as the thriller itself.

Issues of racism face him at every turn. Threats to his family escalate. And by presenting these scenes through Booker's eyes, a delicate, artistic approach evolves that perfectly captures his observations and psyche while delivering punches of surprise throughout: "Taking in a deep breath, I knew that drama could bring people closer or tear them apart. For the second time this week, I could feel myself drawn to my daughter's gorgeous mama. The same woman who swore she never wanted to see my face again. The same woman I left at the altar."

It's too rare to see the personal so deeply embedded in the political, and too rare that a P.I. or thriller format reaches out to embrace the life and motivations of the investigator himself. Many may make the effort. Few succeed.

Booker - Streets of Mayhem stands out from the crowd primarily because of its approach to juxtaposing Booker's life with outside events and influences. Add scenes from the perp's perspective and psyche and you truly have a heady mix of viewpoints and clashing purposes.

This first book in the new Booker investigative series does more than set the scene: it provides just the kind of spirited interplay of characters that leaves readers wanting more at the end. And, thankfully, there is more to come in the Booker stories.

Booker - Tap That
John W. Mefford
Sugar Hill Press
ASIN: B00TC1W24U $4.97

It's not terrorism; but it is murder. One moment Courtney wowed the public with her performance; the next moment, she's dead.

And Booker is finally starting to relax and enjoy a relationship with Britney (a former fifth grade school teacher with an eye for style and culture) too, and is finally starting to relax after the series of events (described in Streets of Mayhem) that nearly led to the loss of his beloved daughter.

In the community chaos that follows (and especially in the aftermath of another performer's murder, which proves that the first wasn't just about jilted love, or a one-time event) Booker finds himself hot on the trail of another perp: a very different beast who leads him out of town and into the heart of more personal confrontations where closely-held secrets and relationship challenges rock his world.

One wonderful aspect of the Booker series is its gritty first-person observations which are candid, real, and absorbing: "I understood Britney's intent, wanting to peel apart all of my layers, maybe work through some type of healing process on the ones that still touched sensitive nerves. But at age thirty-one, and seemingly in a good place in my life, I had no reason or desire to walk down a path of self-actualization."

A caveat: readers of crime fiction who seek pure entertainment will find this in droves in the Booker series; but it's psychological depth that sets it apart from competitors, and John W. Mefford takes time to create these psyches, weaving them into the course of events. If you're seeking one-dimensional thrillers or P.I. stories that focus more on the process of deduction than the interplay of characters, you're missing something in these books.

The Booker series is about the perp, the investigation, and about the investigator: how he grows through the process, and his choices in both public and private life. It's the latter facet that keeps the story line not just moving, but barreling forward with involving action.

Add in departmental politics which keep rearing ugly heads and facts and choices Booker must make for the greater good and you have a story line that sizzles not just with action, but with insight on underlying motivations of all its characters: "From my perspective, Sims was a walking red flag. How no one at Internal Affairs had caught on to his game was the greatest mystery of the twenty-first century. Months ago, when word spread about the internal investigation into drugs being stolen from the evidence room, relief hit me like a muscle relaxer. But in the end, they focused on just one cop - Felix. It was obvious Felix felt compelled to cover for Sims for a multitude of possible reasons. Who knows? Regardless, my newest tool and I were poised to capture this drug deal on a memory card. Then, I could finally take it to Henry in the DA's office and watch that son of a bitch, Sims, roast like a gluttonous pig."

Booker - Tap That isn't for the casual adventure reader. It's for the thriller/P.I. reader who wants more than a vivid plot, but expects the characters to match up with their action. Tap That does more than match plot with psychological tension: it excels in it, making it one of the top recommendations in the genre.

Daemon Seer
Mary Maddox
Cantraip Press
2317 Saratoga Place, Charleston, IL 61920
Paperback ISBN: 9780984428175 $13.99
E-book ISBN: 9780984428182 $2.99
Purchase link:
Author website:

It seemed like a miracle when two teens escaped the clutches of a sadistic killer, but 'miracle' was only partially involved: so, too, was the daemon who saved their lives.

Fast forward ten years and not only is the threat back (in the form of another killer -what are the chances of that?), but a flurry of supernatural beings have arrived: daemons who want to claim Lu as their own. The problem is, Lu is already 'owned' by the daemon Talion - and now it's time for the ceremony that will make that relationship official, even if Lu is totally against it, cognizant of the misery the women in her family have suffered in daemon relationships over the years: "I stopped a sarcastic comeback from forming in my mind, but he knew it anyway. Darkness twisted in his molten eyes. Pain flowered inside me. Its roots clutched my guts and unfurled until they claimed every muscle, bone, and nerve. My body exploded in agony. I knelt in the grass, bent over, my mouth gaping. The pain stopped as suddenly as it came but left me weak. I stayed on my knees."

Horror and fantasy blend in a story line that includes supernatural daemons, evil humans, a complex female relationship forged in strife and bound by mutual support and respect, and more.

Here is the stuff that superior horror is made of, with more than a dose of fantasy thrown in to capture audiences outside of the usual horror circles. They are stories of bonds forged and broken, heritage challenged, human killers encountered and fought, and the costs of love, marriage, and bondage.

Here, also, are gifts that come with consequences, ribald language (be forewarned), psychos and killers (both human and not), attempted rape, and scenarios where the perceived good guys become bad. So, if it's an engrossing saga of ownership, possession, and change that is desired in a fantasy that fuels its passions with overtones of horror, then Daemon Seer is the item of choice.

Daemon Seer is anything but predictable, and holding a dash of violence, it's compelling. And if prior fans of Mary Maddox recognize the characters from Talion (which followed the two girls' original encounters with demons and psychos alike), be advised that this is not so much a sequel as the beginning of a new adventure, and thus is presented as Book One of a projected series.

Home Is Where Your Boots Are
Kalan Chapman Lloyd
Lloyd Words LLC
5906 S Knoxville Ave, Tulsa, OK 74135
ISBN 9781312888289 $6.99
Ebook ISBN 9781312888302 $3.99
Available on; Amazon, iBooks

Lilly is a lawyer, with all the legal savvy and sass a Southern-born professional belle can muster. She's left her small town for Dallas, only to return home to the Oklahoma fold, heart in hand, in the aftermath of a failed relationship. Only one thing helps keep her boots on the ground; and those are her girlfriends.

Home Is Where Your Boots Are is a 'chic lit' story with Southern spice. It's about a woman successful in law but not in love, a small town that harbors its own share of oddities and personalities, and it's about leaving and returning home to the South.

Be forewarned: as with many, many novels these days, this is the first in a projected series ('The MisAdventures of Miss Lilly, Volume One'): something that won't prove a sad fact to any who enjoy reading this story of the vim and vigor of a life in flux.

From dalliances with married men to creepy happenings at the local hospital, Home Is Where Your Boots Are is entertainment reading at its best, with the friendship factor keeping everything warm and well-connected: "...that's the kind of friends we are. We just wait each other out. Same as how you knew I was hell-bent on screwing up my life with that loser in high school and instead of getting mad at me, you just held me and prayed for me. I've been praying for you, sister. I knew you'd come out of it, the same way I knew you'd be home eventually."

It should be mentioned that dialogue is an intrinsic part of the action and story line; and that it's exceptionally well done.

A dash of intrigue, a dose of romance, the flavors of small-town Oklahoma Southern sentiment, and stir: now, here's a story line simmering with goodness, that women partial to Southern belles and life's mishaps will find a fun and entertaining read!

My Mother's Journals
Suzanne Whitfield Vince
Prepublication Manuscript
Publication Date: March 16, 2015

Olivia Hunter's life once went according to plan: in a set trajectory with few surprises. But that was before her mother's deathbed confession, her father's stroke, and before her many miscarriages - all of which have left Olivia uncertain about her future. It's not all disaster: she has a good job, and love. It's just, also, not a set course in life - and nothing she can take for granted.

Olivia's revelations aren't new and they aren't necessarily surprising to the reader; but when a stranger delivers a box of her mother's writings after her mother's death, the truth is about to become even stranger as Olivia delves into her secret life and uncovers some surprising parallels to her own experiences.

Part of what family connections are all about is making these kinds of connections which identify common threads, patterns, and the places where belief systems either intersect or stray. As Olivia's journey through her own life begins to parallel to her mother's world, so she begins to reassess her on/off again relationship with Jonathan and her choices in life.

As strange journeys overtake her, her probe into biological roots, foreign family connections, and her own psyche becomes more insistent. Will she have the courage to change her world and life? My Mother's Journals provides her with just that impetus; and in the course of understanding her mother's choices, she comes to more clearly see her own.

A warm, winning 'chic lit' story provides readers with a saga from the eyes of a woman who finds her perceptions are upside down, and who is tasked with putting them right again (but, in a new way)...and that's a fine odyssey, indeed; one that takes readers along for a rollicking psychological ride.

Managing Bubbie
Russel Lazega
9781499126297, $12.95,

The author's grandmother was a "true Miami Beach Jewish bubbie" who admonished the new college student author to write about her life story: something that he ignored at the time, but which would come back to haunt him ten years later.

Managing Bubbie may be the result of a direct order, but there's nothing compelling readers to pick it up - nothing but the promise of a hilarious, fun read about a cantankerous, determined, warm achiever who brought her children to a new world and raised them well.

Her name was once Lea, not 'bubbie'. Once, she came to a country her Polish parents had visited and left. Once, she changed worlds. And in Lazega's world, family interactions swirl around her outrageous statements and their equally ribald results: "Family brunch can be an exercise in comparative misery. Distant relatives twelve times removed travel from far up the street to relive old wrongs and resurrect fights long forgotten. They stop for fish and a few short words, quibble over quiz shows and return to their worlds full from the day and the morning's quarrels. I guess it's a brief break from the South's summer heat, which blisters and boils, festering new waves of old complaints."

Family memoirs permeate the biography and autobiography markets. There are Jewish brunches galore; there are much-celebrated, fun family characters who enjoy the limelight on the written page as much as they did at the head of the family table. They will live forever in the former position - as does Bubbie, here, in Managing Bubbie.

Conversations between Bubbie and family members are juxtaposed with biographical reviews of her life events and create an especially satisfying story line that moves neatly between the two approaches and rounds out events with personal perspective: something many stories fail to achieve in their drive to choose one approach (third-person story-telling) over another (first-person experience).

From imprisonment to freedom, the rise of fascism in Europe and a great escape, Bubbie's life is always the center of action and activity, offering trials, challenges, hope, and keen, penetrating observations.

In the end it's the personal voices of not just Bubbie but the author which blend to create a powerful tribute to a powerful woman: one whom readers, too, will come to care for: "So many people - even strangers - opened their homes for us, brought us food vhen ve vere hungry. Today you don't open your door for nobody - they kill you. I don't know. Maybe - ve needed each other more back then. Ya, it vas different then."

The author's response captures, exactly, which this story reaches out so much more powerfully than one might expect from a biography of one's grandmother: "If I didn't know better, I'd say she's nostalgic for the bad old days - like she longs for a simpler time when everybody knew exactly why they were all killing each other. Or maybe, it's just as plain as the notion that shared struggle is still something shared."

Any who want to be moved by their biographical reading; to feel part of a family circle and part of past and present Jewish worlds abroad and in America, will find Managing Bubbie a powerful experience.

HOA Wire
Kenneth Eade
Times Square Publishing
97815078622885, $14.00 Paperback, $2.99 Kindle

There is big a difference between crime and detective novels and courtroom dramas. In one, the action takes place on the streets; and in the other, the main story takes place in the courtroom. HOA Wire represents the latter, and will appeal to fans of Grisham and any other writer who spins a solid yarn based on courtroom drama and realistic experiences.

While it's Book Three in the Brent Marks legal thriller series, newcomers will find it quickly accessible. It revolves around the murder of a homeowner's association president, where lawyer Brent Marks finds himself standing square in the center of a maelstrom of puzzles in which every town resident is a potential suspect and no easy answers are apparent.

Readers aren't bludgeoned over the head with clues that are obvious leads, and they aren't teased by the presence of a protagonist who might know the answers, either. Brent Marks is well-educated and trained, but is just as puzzled as readers - and it's his process of discovery that succeeds in creating an involving story of just how a crime is solved.

Key to an unusually successful approach are the tidbits of information about courtroom proceedings which are added not just to embellish a tale, but to provide realistic atmosphere and lend clues on how decisions are made: "Brent was sure that the jury had no doubt that the urine sample tested positive for ricin, but the judge instructed them that no urine test was in evidence, and that they could not consider the testimony about it. It was a good win for Brent, but not enough to win the case. You could be sure that the jury would be thinking about the positive urine test when they deliberated, whether or not they discussed it amongst themselves."

Witnesses, cross examinations, and instances where even the professional lawyer makes errors are all brought out and considered in the bigger picture of crime and punishment processes, where judges can influence outcomes and approaches: "Sorry's not good enough. When something's broken, sorry can never bring it back. Now I know your case is important, and that you're zealous in your defense of your client, but I don't want to declare a mistrial in this case. So please, don't make any more inappropriate comments."

The obvious prerequisite for enjoying this approach is affection for courtroom dramas, because this is the centerpiece, here. Readers with such an interest will find HOA Wire successfully weaves crime and courtroom to such a degree that the unexpected conclusion comes as both a successful, logical outcome and as a real surprise. With its real insights on HOA processes and neighbor disputes, HOA Wire is a deft exploration of attorney-client ethics on the line, and is crime/courtroom writing at its best.

Playing to Win in Business
Shirley A. Weis
Towanda LLC
11445 E. Via Linda, Suite 2492, Scottsdale, AZ 85259-2638
9780986306600, $17.95

It's rare to see a business book from a woman who moved into corporate circles from the lower rungs of the ladder and built a successful career; much less in an organization that became one of the most famous in the world: the Mayo Clinic. But Shirley A. Weis did just that, moving from a nursing job to the boardroom and then to a respected senior leader role in one of the most politically-changed atmospheres in the country. Her principles for winning business games to move up the ladder thus come not from ideals, but from tested principles developed 'in the field', and offer concrete experiences that teach women how to thrive in the cutthroat business world.

There are many unwritten rules in this environment: actions and interplays that typically lock women out of higher echelons and reserve big-stakes rewards for men. While some books would maintain that higher levels are unobtainable, Weis is proof that this can be done - and done well, while managing a family.

Speaking of 'management', the book also tells how to interact with males on the same playing ground as a manager, and how to gain respect during the process even while being part of a dual-career couple.

This is not to say that Playing to Win is filled with professional detachment: far from it. Weis adds an element of personal experience and autobiography throughout, teaching how to reassess skills to improve one's game, how to confront common challenges in a manner that lends to positive change and results, and how to understand not just the rules of the business game, but the nature of how it's played.

The goal is increased success, to be sure - but it's also respect. Thus, Playing to Win in Business represents Book One of the 'Just Respect for Women' series, and serves up powerful tools for change. No aspiring female business leader should be without this!

Mission Veritas
John Murphy
Booktrope Editions
9781620156957, $18.95 Paperback, $4.99 Kindle

How do you take control of a planet without violence? By advocating peace. The only problem is: when you kill in the name of peace, someone will know. And even if that person is only a teenager, he holds the potential for bringing the whole system down.

Vaughn is such a teen and harbors such a personal knowledge: his parents were killed by the Carthenogens; the very aliens who came in peace. He's been a rebel in Thailand ever since. And now things are about to change yet again as their real intentions are revealed and mass murders take place.

Too bad that they now control the media, so no reports are getting through. Too bad that they now control the military, so there's no resistance. Too bad they missed Vaughn and other survivors, who embark on what amounts to Earth's last attempt at freedom.

Mission Veritas is a riveting blend of military fiction and space invader drama, and while the main protagonist is a teenager, to call this 'young adult' reading or limit its audience to teens would be wrong on so many levels. Adults will find it equally captivating; especially as action involves Vaughn's entry into an elite group of resisters known as Black Saber, who train their members on a rugged planet, Veritas, where secrets are hard to keep.

Action swirls around interpersonal relationships and conflict as Vaughn finds himself just one more teen candidate in a world where rebellion is a given and talents are vigorously tested.

Despite the introductory facts of aliens consuming Earth, all the action takes place on Veritas. It's a combat mission with a purpose, and does not disappoint in either its pace, plot, or character development.

Purposes are clearly stated and a somewhat unusual training ground off-Earth becomes a logical choice clearly explained and explored: "Veritas - the Roman goddess of truth. The planet on which you are about to carry out your qualifying mission is earthlike, spectacularly beautiful, rugged - and deadly. The atmosphere is breathable. However, it will make you light-headed and sleepy, and it will lower your inhibitions. You will speak what's on your mind. You will reveal the truth."

Most 'military science fiction' is fairly one-dimensional when it comes to characterization: the fact that the protagonists in Mission Veritas are realistically presented makes its story line more absorbing than the majority of military sci-fi genre reads.

How does a participant with a vested interest in hiding undertake a mission purported to reveal all? That's one of the central themes of Mission Veritas, and one that fuels the action as candidates discover the real truth behind Veritas during a mission that will provide readers with many action-packed and unexpected moments.

For Their Own Good
Bradette Michel
Harvard Square Editions
2152 Beachwood Terrace, Hollywood, CA 90068
9781941861042, $22.95,
Publication Date: June 15, 2015

There's plenty of evil conducted in the world in the name of goodwill and good intentions, and this is a key emphasis in For Their Own Good, a novel which revolves around 19th century insane asylums. But the power here lies not just in its theme, but in its perspective; which opens with a bang as an asylum worker comes to realize that their intentions are not being served by the institution: "Dr. McFarland told us we were the only ones who could cure the unfortunates under our care. Our benevolent kindness would lead them to sanity. Our Christian love would break through their irrational actions. At first I believed him, but it was not long before I learned of unspeakable acts committed on those lost souls. Many nights I returned to my quarters shaking, my skin covered in sweat at the evil I had witnessed in the name of treatment. My time in the asylum overflowed with events I could not have foreseen, events so momentous I was changed forever."

In 1857, who is going to believe that the insane are being abused by the institution designed to help them? Who is going to consider their rights? And who is going to save them?

Four women patients and protagonist Dr. Adam Fletcher are alone in their world, and it's a dangerous, abusive one; so readers need to anticipate a good degree of angst and violence in the process of exploring this underbelly of society.
Embedded in these stories of condoned violence against patients are intriguing social observations of women and their role in society: patterns of the 1800s which are brought to life in vivid, wrenching dialogue and detail: "Now, Adam, we do not want our patients to experience lasting injuries, but sometimes we are forced to break entrenched patterns of behavior with dramatic techniques. After some time, Angelique will begin to tolerate and accept union with a man. Her lunacy is quite severe. And you say her attitude was one of quiet submission? More feminine?"

Harsh reality comes to light as Adam explores the rationale of society and institution alike in defining and 'managing' women's 'insanity'. As Adam explores the women in his world, so he takes readers' hands and hearts and leads them through very different personalities and how they navigate a system of oppression: "Pearl was pretty in a slight, insubstantial way. She had acquired the manners and mien of those in my class, but she was nothing like the women I knew. Her desperation at having no shelter had led to a plan for survival, not defeat: "I walked into Miss Maude's and did what I had to do." Pearl's instincts were her weathervane. She never hesitated to heed the direction to which her heart pointed."

In the end what is presented isn't your usual one-dimensional portrait of abuse, but a social commentary that use the asylum environment to pinpoint attitudes, beliefs, and rationales behind mental illness treatments and socially acceptable behaviors: a powerful survey that brings physician and patient perspectives to life and leads Adam on a journey into strange worlds.

Gripping and heart-wrenching, For Their Own Good is a pick for any who want both a social and psychological observational piece about asylum life and women's subjugation.

The Catacombs
Jeremy Bates
Ghillinnein Books
9780993764677, $13.95

Some books use different approaches to characterization as their 'hook' and others have a twist to their plot, but few sport the attraction of The Catacombs, a novel in 'The World's Scariest Places' series, set in the catacombs of Paris. Why should the setting be such a draw? Because in creating a story that revolves strongly upon a sense of place (and an unusual place, at that), it succeeds in making a horror story like none other.

There really could be no better place for horror than the Catacombs, when you think about it: an ancient burial place for the dead, they hold antique mysteries and a foreboding reputation as "the world's largest grave". What better place to discover something rotten? What better locale in which to expose a video camera with mysterious footage; and what other option is there than to investigate?

A group of lighthearted friends with a thirst for uncommon adventure decide to embark on some personal problem-solving of their own and find themselves (predictably) buried in more than they bargained for in The Catacombs.

Up until now, everything's somewhat predictable. The horror stage is set: so what else is new? Plenty, even if you're a horror genre enthusiast.

For one thing, the Catacombs are almost an initiation rite among this group: a place where former identities are set aside and new possibilities emerge: "In the catacombs, the above world does not exist. We do not speak of it. You are free of your old life, free to reinvent yourself any way you like. With that new identity comes a new name." It's ritual at its best, it thrives on unpredictability and challenges, and it's about to get a lot more deadly than anyone in the group anticipated.

The first-person story of growth and challenge fuels the underlying horror in The Catacombs: readers live every footstep, every decision, and every uncertainty in a gripping story that is hard to put down. The protagonist, a feisty female whose new moniker is 'Stork Girl', is anything but staid and retiring and drives a story replete with as many twists and turns as the Catacombs themselves hold.

It's the 'you are there' feel that creates compelling tension throughout: "Look? she thought. Look where? It was permanent night, black everywhere...only it wasn't, not anymore. From an indeterminable distance away, a faint light appeared. Someone was coming." Readers don't just follow the story line; they are in the Catacombs right there with the protagonists, reliving the decisions and choices that come with exploring the unknown.

It should be mentioned that action moves between the first-person and the more observational third-person tone: this could be confusing to readers used to a straightforward plot that features one or the other; but under Bates' hand, it makes sense.

There's a fine line between the living and the dead, as this story evolves. With most horror reads, there's also a fine line between acceptance and plots that are too predictable. If it's one thing that can be said about The Catacombs, it's that the combination of a back-and-forth perspective that enhances overall events and a focus on action that is less than anticipated makes for a read that will delight horror fans who want their novels steeped in psychological suspense as well as action.

The Street Rod Mystery
Judy Iverson
1508436541, $8.95

In any given murder mystery, setting is nearly as important as character development. After all: place a murder in an uninspiring setting and it's a dull read from page one. Perhaps that's why so many murder mysteries are set in scenarios that are vivid and alive - such as The Street Rod Mystery, which opens at the State Fair Grounds where a twisted killer searches out his victims among the attendees and builds an unusual focus on bygone eras, old times, and a vanished girl.

When a 'Back to the Fifties' theme goes horribly awry, the investigation doesn't just surround a fair or a theme; it goes back in time to an era when murder was still shocking and crime didn't pay, bringing with it an investigator who has his hands full of puzzles and a killer with a penchant for the past.

But, we're jumping ahead, here. The Street Rod Mystery offers a killer's fantasy with its roots in past and present worlds, and as mother Delia and killer Tim find their lives entwined, the deadly story emerges.

Some better editing might have made the story smoother ("Tim hung-up the phone, satisfied he had the right person.")

but while intermittent grammatical snafus should be noted, they don't significantly detract from the overall strength of the mystery's theme and changing perspectives as protagonists interact and worlds collide.

And when Delia falls prey to danger, it's only her ability to think quickly and artfully which can make her outcome different than those who went before her.

As she comes to know her own survival instincts and strengths, which go beyond being the mother of twins and adopting a degree of versatility in her attitude towards life and death, Delia finds herself facing an ordeal with no single logical outcome.

Involving, psychologically well-drawn, and with strong roots in past and present, The Street Rod Mystery is a story that holds many insights on how a 'new normal' can develop in one's secure, predictable world, and is a pick for murder mystery readers looking for more than your usual 'whodunnit' approach.

You Think I'm Dead
Louis Romano
Vecchia Publishing
Publication Date: June 1, 2015
9780986047022, $TBA

Detective Vic Gonnella's decision to retire from the police force isn't a hard one for him: he's received more fame than he ever wanted in his last case, and the media attention has more than supplemented his pension. It's time for him to leave the world of high-profile investigations.

There's even talk of baby-making, marriage, and a new life.

Not so fast. Just when everything seems settled (including his long-time girlfriend's decision to leave the force with him), things take a turn in another direction with a little boy's spirit and an old, unsolved murder that rises up to haunt the living despite their dreams for a life far from death and angst.

As Vic and Raquel join forces to probe one of the deepest mysteries of their lives, they find their chosen course of romance and love is altered; and as they stumble upon the mind games of a truly cunning perp, they return to the NYPD to form new relationships in light of fresh information.

Hidden truths, FBI involvements, the ghost of a child first sad, then terrified, a woman who has visions and two cops who believe in her ... all this supercharges a story that blends a touch of the supernatural with a 'whodunnit' investigation that bonds two lovers into the most challenging case of their lives: a case that winds up receiving aid from an unlikely source - a serial killer.

You Think I'm Dead posits what happens when the living can't let go - and when the dead can't stay dead. The characterization is well-done, neatly juxtaposing action-packed scenes. Even more compelling is the realization that the case is actually based on a real, unsolved Philadelphia murder from 1957.

Is a wedding in the picture, along with a proper burial? And is a killer the perfect problem-solver in a puzzling story of a child's death? Question everything: certainly the story line of You Think I'm Dead does this, itself, and proves a satisfying and engrossing read for detective fans who like more than a dash of romance between their investigators and some unlikely alliances between killers and cops.

P. J. O'Dwyer
Black Siren Books
P. O. Box 186, Lisbon, MD 21765
9780984899753 (e-book)

Forsaken is the third book in the 'Fallon Sisters' trilogy, and while it stands well on its own, when taken in conjunction with the other characters and settings in the trilogy it promises to provide yet another perspective on the vision of love and freedom that unifies the themes of all three books.

Those with such a background will find, here, a story that centers around Dani Flynn, who has become entangled in an Irish pimp's escort service in Ireland, and who flees for her life when a money deal turns bad. She's spent her life surviving on very little - but she wants more. And so a journey to America, land of opportunity, seems in order.

You would think another country an ocean away would be enough to keep Dani safe from the transgressions of her past. You would think nobody would know these facts. But a savvy American sheriff with a nose for trouble and a sixth sense for liars sees Dani as a problem right away, and things only get worse as she navigates the stormy waters of Washington County in search of a home where her sordid past can't catch her.

Old habits die hard, though; and even ghosts buried some distance away can have occasion to rise up and haunt. And so Dani's newfound job with horses involves a certain degree of illicit actions and intrigue. As her past threatens to catch up with her, so romance also catches her unawares.

When horses and love entwine, Dani slowly comes to find her new home holds more than safety or salvation: it comes with new opportunities and new passions that bring her, unexpectedly, full circle to a homeland she had fled.

Money, privilege, the luck of the Irish, and horses: all are bound up in a saga of high stakes played on many levels; emotionally, economically, and politically. From issues of trust to building new lives on the ruins of the old, Forsaken completes a horse-and-romance-oriented journey begun in Relentless.

The result is a succinct story line that crafts a events swirling around a compelling protagonist whose life evolves in new directions. Can one truly change the course of one's destiny? Is a long journey to a foreign land enough to evoke lasting changes? Forsaken probes these transitions and is a powerful analysis of what it takes to truly get ahead: a lesson in life and love that we all need, to not just survive, but thrive.

Beauty and Chaos
Michael Pronko
Raked Gravel Press
9781942410003 $TBA

Anyone with an interest in Tokyo will want to consider the fifteen years of experience that's gone into Michael Pronko's Beauty and Chaos, an essay collection that comes from a professor with much experience in the city, who can bring it to life through flowery written descriptions.

Just what is so special about Beauty and Chaos, and what sets it apart from your usual Japanese cultural observation or travelogue? Plenty! For one thing, many of the essays center on the ironies and inconsistencies of Tokyo. Readers thus gain a much clearer vision of the city's incongruities and attractions than your usual where-to-stay and what-to-see one-dimensional survey. Take train platforms, for example: "Such adrenaline-charged situations are rare, though. Typically, platforms most often offer space for solitude. Like Giacometti statues, thin and crinkly, surrounded by vast open space, the platforms are filled with people standing utterly alone. The occasional crowd around them makes no difference, they are framed by a huge open area that creates an anonymity and loneliness like no other place in the city."

Under Pronko's hand, something as simple as eating with chopsticks becomes not just a cultural observation but a dance of understanding and insight: "The chopsticks enact the food, display it, and energize it. Everything wiggles in the air. This re-created motion is clearest especially when eating uncooked foods, which are so common in Japan, and complement chopsticks well. Pieces of fish, especially fish, become re-animated by the motion towards the mouth. The sashimi lives swimmingly again for a moment before being tucked away."

Just with these few passages, lifted laboriously from a plethora of wealthy, full-bodied writings, one can see that to truly know Tokyo and plan for a visit there, Beauty and Chaos should be right there at the top of the travel guides and trip planners. Without it, it would be all too easy to miss the city's unique attractions and unique cultural attributes - and that would be a shame.

Beauty and Chaos is a rare gem of exploration that holds the ability to sweep observer/readers into a series of vignettes that penetrate the heart of Tokyo's fast-paced world. Anyone planning a trip to the city (and many an armchair reader who holds a special affection for Japan) must have this in hand - and, in mind. Very highly recommended.

Louis Romano
Vecchia Publishing
41 Grand Avenue Suite 401, River Edge, NJ 07661
9780986047008, $12.95,

Intercession is the first book in a Detective Vic Gonnella crime series and opens with a bang - or, rather, a rap on the door of a rectory where a late visitor intent on making a confession turns out to be something quite different ... something from his past that the good Father Deegan can no longer escape.

What evolves from this encounter is a serial killer who leads Detective Gonnella and his sidekick and romantic partner Raquel on a trip out of the country to hunt down a murderer with connections to the church, and a deadly plan that promises to elude even their combined force.

One important note about Intercession is that everything is not as it seems: it's a twisting plot that at first leads in one direction; then in another. Another note is that it tackles some of the most venerable institutions in the world and winds them into a killer's mind and purposes, introducing a (somewhat predictable) element of pedophilia and church connections into the mix.

There's nothing new about this approach, but what is captivating is Louis Romano's focus on the lasting effects of violence on all involved, and how intolerance and sadism in religious structures create social monsters that, decades later, live out and address this brutality through their own heinous acts.

Fake belief, false love of god and man, and disturbing reflections on social structures designed to protect and shelter - all these are unexpectedly wound into the overall murder mystery/detective thriller format to create something just a little different; and while some of the story line is predictable from the outset, there are still enough surprises and superior characterization to keep the reading riveting and the action swift.

As Vic wonders if Raquel is "another fantasy he can't have" and both become mentally drained by their pursuit of an elusive killer, romance seems far in the side wings of deadly story. All this leads to a sum greater than its parts, ultimately making Intercession a multi-faceted, absorbing mystery.

Swim a Crooked Line
Al X. Griz
Cray Cray Bird Publishing/Level 3
26500 W. Agoura Rd., 102 Suite 413, Calabasas, CA 91302
9780692286531 $2.99

There's a lot of football in Swim a Crooked Line; so readers who are not at least somewhat interested in the sport might not take kindly to Swim a Crooked Line's sports focus. That said, football is not the only thing taking place, here; so to say it's a 'sports novel' would be doing it an injustice.

The story line opens with a grizzly nightmare: the protagonist's arm is caught in a mechanical machine and is being ground away, threatening his life. Only it's not just a nightmare: it really happened. Thirteen years later John's flashback dreams still force him to relive the experience.

So what does this have to do a football prodigy and a family's journey? Plenty; because all this is woven into an overall story line that may have begun with tragedy, but which evolves to show how farming, family, football, war and emotions entwine.

If this all sounds like a lot to pack into one story - it is. Be forewarned: this is no light creation. It takes time to create realistic protagonists and probe their lives and thoughts, it is replete with college football references throughout, and it captures the spark and drive of competitive sports.

From how new recruits are turned into fighting men on the American front lines to farm boy dreams of football, Swim a Crooked Line is raw Americana ideals, dreams, and experience at its best, providing a well-developed and inspirational read that successfully charts a family's evolution and involvements.

As their world expands to include the new football jockey, so does the family come to embrace new goals and additions to its flock - and so its members also grow and change as social situations affect their perspectives.

It's refreshing to find a multi-faceted, complex story that is both well-detailed and inviting. It's a winning combination to pair the story of an expanding family with such wider concerns as the effects of war on troubled soldiers come home from conflict. Passages capture the psychological perspectives of those who leave home to return changed: "Chad looked up at the moon, suddenly feeling the killing urge again. He couldn't figure out what it was he needed to kill. The young man didn't want his sister to know what he was thinking. Chad knew he'd be a lot better off if he had some of his juice. The nurse, doctor, and certainly Dee D. didn't know it, but there was a former Marine down the hall at his dorm who'd been slipping him thirty extra milligrams of methadone every night to help him sleep."

Sports, family troubles, romance and recovery all successfully entwine in a saga unified by football and forgiveness alike. Best of all, it's solidified by an author who takes his time building plot, action, and realistic psyches so that readers become not just involved, but immersed. Even those with limited interest in football (and such is a preferred prerequisite for fully appreciating this story's progression) will find Swim a Crooked Line an absorbing read.

Diane C. Donovan, Senior Reviewer
Donovan's Literary Services

Dunford's Bookshelf

Kosher Movies
Rabbi Herbert J. Cohen
Urim Publications
c/o Lambda Publishers
527 Empire Boulevard, Brooklyn, New York 11225
9789655241853, $25.95, 290pp,

Synopsis: A film critic and Rabbi, Herbert Cohen offers views films as potential life lessons, and defines a "kosher movie" as one that has something valuable to say about the human condition in "Kosher Movies: A Film Critic Discovers Life Lessons at the Cinema". A survey spanning many genres, Rabbi Cohen presents films as tools for self-discovery and for navigating challenges of life. What do romantic comedies really say about love? What can Cast Away teach us about the value of time? What parenting lessons can we learn from Dead Poets Society? Exploring 120 stand-out movies from the past 30 years, Cohen shares inspiring personal anecdotes about self-growth, relationships, parenting, aging, dealing with adversity, and more.

Critique: An original and novel approach to the study of cinema, "Kosher Movies: A Film Critic Discovers Life Lessons at the Cinema" offers a wealth of insightful commentaries for an impressive and diverse roster of films. The films discussed are deftly comprised into ten major sections: Parenting; Improving Yourself; Growing Older; Adversity; Relationships; Sports; Decisions; Second Chances; Time; and Ethics. Thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Kosher Movies: A Film Critic Discovers Life Lessons at the Cinema" is an especially recommended addition to both community and academic library collections. It is also a fully accessible volume of commentary that will prove to be of immense value for non-specialist general readers interested in cinematic studies, ethics, human behavior, philosophy, and personal growth.

The Poacher's Moon
Richard Peirce
Random House Struik
c/o Casemate Publishers
908 Darby Road, Havertown, PA19083
9781775841784, $14.00, 144pp,

Synopsis: When wildlife conservationist Richard Peirce learnt about the targeting of three private game reserves in South Africa's Western Cape in 2011 and the butchery of some of their rhinos, he embarked on a crusade to raise public awareness about the horrors of rhino poaching. "The Poacher's Moon: A True Story of Life, Death, Love and Survival in Africa" is the story of Higgins and Lady, two rhinos from the farm Fairy Glen that defied the odds by surviving a brutal attack. Peirce keeps the reader spellbound as he recounts the series of attacks and their aftermath in chilling detail: the unbearable savagery, suspect police work, shady characters, mysterious happenings and death threats. Reading like a crime thriller, this account of dogged survival, compassion and triumph - along with desperate strategizing to outwit the poaching mafia - will have wide appeal. Color images throughout, taken as the drama unfolded, bring the subject even more vividly to life.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and holding the reader's rapt attention from first page to last, "The Poacher's Moon" is an extraordinary account that is by turns informative and thought-provoking. "The Poacher's Moon" is occasionally alarming and always entertaining. A very highly recommended addition to community and academic library collections, for personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Poacher's Moon" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Nightmares of Terror
Ken R. Abell
Resource Publications, Inc.
160 East Virginia Street, Suite 290
San Jose, CA 95112-5876
9781498219655, $26.00, 228pp,

Synopsis: "Nightmares of Terror", continuing the saga that began in Ken R. Abell's "Days of Purgatory" (9781620322857, $25.00 PB, $9.99 Kindle), is set in and around Dodge City in 1882. Several characters are having their sleep disturbed by dreams that are flares from the past or harbingers of the future. Deacon Coburn, flint-eyed and tenderhearted, aids others and comes to terms with hardscrabble troubles by applying gritty faith. An outlaw is on the rampage; his life has been violent and he's realizing that hell is a real place. A former prostitute is seeking a new life, while a teenager stretches her wings. One strong man is having a crisis of faith; another is in a mess of troubles not of his making. Two women are expecting and due at roughly the same time. A Texas cattleman arrives in the Queen of the Cowtowns to conclude a business deal, which unbeknownst to him, forces a onetime slave to come face to face with a seedy episode from bygone days. All these threads are woven together in a compelling narrative in which the supernatural is commonplace and real. An overarching theme is voiced by Eliza Weitzel: "Faith is all about having confidence that whatever will be will be, and by God's grace we have the hope that he sustains and supports us no matter what."

Critique: A gripping read from first page to last, "Nightmares of Terror" once again documents author Ken r. Abell's impressive ability to deftly craft a riveting and original novel replete with inherently interesting characters and unexpected plot twists and turns. Very highly recommended reading, it should be noted that "Nightmares of Terror" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Alan Feldman
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
9780299303341, $17.95, 104pp,

Synopsis: In his poetry collection "Immortality", Alan Feldman takes his title from Zhivago's interpretations of the afterlife: "Your soul, your immortality, your life in others." In a collection of original verse where the dead do speak, Feldman's poems in his first segment, "Self-Portraits," are more likely to be about others than about himself. The segment "Partners" reflects on marriage and divorce, the latter an "uncontested victor over marriage, / the way the flood is champion over the flood plain." In the section "Offshore" Feldman writes about travel to Uruguay, his impractical love of sailing, and his wonder at Walter Cronkite's obtuseness about Vietnam. In his final segment, "What Now?," he asks about meaning itself. Babysitting his tiny granddaughter, he thinks of sailing - hours of boredom punctuated by moments of terror - and wonders if even this suggests something world-encompassing he's "still hoping to find a name for. / If it isn't joy."

Critique: An impressively skilled wordsmith, "Immortality" documents Alan Feldman as an outstanding master of the free verse format and one whose work is both thoughtful and thought-provoking on the part of his readers. "Immortality" is very strongly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic Contemporary Poetry collections.

A Dangerous Idea
Peter Metcalfe & Kathy Kolkhorst Ruddy
University of Alaska Press
PO Box 756240, Fairbanks, AK 99775-6240
9781602232396, $24.95, 150pp,

Synopsis: Decades before the marches and victories of the 1960s, a group of Alaska Natives were making civil rights history. Throughout the early twentieth century, the Alaska Native Brotherhood fought for citizenship, voting rights, and education for all Alaska Natives, securing unheard-of victories in a contentious time. Their unified work and legal prowess propelled the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, one of the biggest claim settlements in United States history. "A Dangerous Idea: The Alaska Native Brotherhood and the Struggle for Indigenous Rights" tells an overlooked but powerful story of Alaska Natives fighting for their rights under American law and details one of the rare successes for Native Americans in their nearly two-hundred-year effort to define and protect their rights.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of thirty pages of Notes; a three page list of References; a one page list of Cases Cited; and a twenty-three page Index, this is an impressively researched, written, organized and presented history of the Alaskan Native American human and political rights movement. "A Dangerous Idea: The Alaska Native Brotherhood and the Struggle for Indigenous Rights" is a detailed and documented work of seminal scholarship that is an essential and core addition to community and academic library Native American Studies reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

The Education of Augie Merasty
Joseph Auguste
University of Regina Press
University of Regina
3737 Wascana Parkway, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, S4S 0A2
9780889773684, $21.95, 105pp,

Synopsis: An estimated 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children were taken from their families and sent to government-funded, church-run schools, where they were subjected to a policy of "aggressive assimilation". These schools did more than attempt to mold children in the ways of white society. The children were taught to be ashamed of their native heritage and often suffered physical and sexual abuse. "The Education of Augie Merasty: A Residential School Memoir" is the personal story of one such native child.

Critique: Now a retired fisherman and trapper, Joseph A. (Augie) Merasty offers a courageous and candidly intimate chronicle of life in a residential school. A personal story of ultimate triumph over governmentally enforced tragedy, "The Education of Augie Merasty: A Residential School Memoir" is exceptionally well written and should be a part of every community and academic library Native American reference collection and supplemental studies reading list. A truly extraordinary memoir by a truly extraordinary man.

Hump Pilot
Nedda R. Thomas
History Publishing Company, LLC
PO Box 700, 15 Heyhoe Woods Road
Palisades, New York 10964-0700
9781940773209, $18.95, 320pp,

Synopsis: Based on the true life exploits of a World War II pilot flying the dangerous route over the Himalayas, the book brings to light a little known facet of World War II. Flying the Hump, was the name given by American pilots to flying over the treacherous air currents of the Himalaya Mountains during World War II. It was an extremely dangerous but necessary route American pilots traveled to bring vital material to Chinese troops in China and American and other Allied forces in the Pacific. The materiel transported, critical to the Allied war effort in the early days enabled them to persist while the industrial might of the United States was retooling.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized, documented, and presented, "Hump Pilot" will prove to be a valued and seminal addition to personal, academic, and community library World War II Military History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. Impressively comprehensive, "Hump Pilot" is as engaging a read throughout as it is informed and informative. A first class military aviation history!

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Home Is Where My People Are
Sophie Hudson
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414391731, $15.99, 256pp,

Synopsis: All roads lead to home. It's easy to go through life believing that we can satisfy our longing for home with a three-bedroom, two-bath slice of the American dream that we mortgage at 4 percent and pay for over the course of thirty years. But ultimately, in our deepest places, we're really looking to belong and to be known. And what we sometimes miss in our search for the perfect spot to set up camp is that wherever we are on the long and winding road of life, God is at work in the journey, teaching us, shaping us, and refining us - sometimes through the most unlikely people and circumstances. In "Home Is Where My People Are: The Roads That Lead Us to Where We Belong", author Sophie Hudson takes readers on a delightfully quirky journey through the South, introducing them to an unforgettable cast of characters, places, and experiences. Along the way, she reflects on how God has used each of the stops along the road to impart timeless spiritual wisdom and truth. Nobody embodies the South like Sophie Hudson, and this nostalgic celebration of home is sure to make even those north of the Mason-Dixon line long to settle in on the front porch with a glass of sweet tea and reflect on all of the people in our lives who - related or not - have come to represent home. Because at the end of the day, it's not the address on the front door or even the name on the mailbox that says home, but the people who live and laugh and love there, wherever there might happen to be.

Critique: Part nostalgia, part homage to southern traditions, part travelogue, part memoir, "Home Is Where My People Are: The Roads That Lead Us to Where We Belong" is an inherently fascinating and wholly entertaining read from first page to last. Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Home Is Where My People Are: The Roads That Lead Us to Where We Belong" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Calabria: The Other Italy
Karen Haid
Mill City Press
322 First Avenue N., 5th floor, Minneapolis, MN 55401
9781634132305, $14.95, 280pp,

Synopsis: Once the hub of the Mediterranean, Calabria now dangles, largely ignored, at the bottom of the Italian boot, struggling for survival, acceptance and a place in modern Italy and the world. Little-known even to Italians outside the nefarious activities of its 'Ndrangheta' mafia organization, Calabria allures with its simplicity and rewards with an underlying complexity, as in savoring an artisanal cheese, appreciating an ancient Greek masterwork or interpreting a particularly expressive phrase in the local dialect. "Calabria: The Other Italy" paints a compelling picture of contemporary Calabria and Southern Italy, weaving observation, personal anecdote, salient historical information and social commentary into a nonfiction narrative that combines travelogue with an exploration of everyday life and culture. At times humorous, at others poignant, this engaging work portrays the joys and challenges of the "other Italy."

Critique: Calabria was known in antiquity as Bruttium or formerly as Italia, is a region in southern Italy, forming the "toe" of the Italian Peninsula. The capital city of Calabria is Catanzaro. The most populated city and the seat of the Calabrian Regional Council, however, is Reggio. It is bordered to the north by the region of Basilicata, to the west by the Tyrrhenian Sea, and to the east by the Ionian Sea. The region covers 15,080 km2 (5,822 sq mi) and has a population of just under 2 million. The demonym of Calabria in English is Calabrian. "Calabria: The Other Italy" is part history, part travel guide, part memoir -- and as informed and informative as it is engaging and entertaining, making it very highly recommended for community and academic library collections, as well as the personal reading lists for non-specialist general readers with an interest in this inherently fascinating provincial section of Italy.

In Parallel Light
Jeanne Lohmann
Fithian Press
c/o Daniel & Daniel Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781564745712, $14.00, 96pp,

Synopsis: These pieces display a remarkable collection of memories and fantasies, beautifully expressed. Poet Jeanne Lohmann uses short prose sketches to recall her girlhood, from jump rope klutz to drama queen, with nostalgia for streetcars and old movies. She shares what she learned about war from being a volunteer in post-WWII Europe. She remembers sensual experiences throughout her life from blueberry pie to encounters with men - some welcome, others intrusive. Her writing about aging, widowhood, and loss is honest and wise. She takes her reader for walks in the forest and on the beach. Many of these pieces are fantasies, dreams, magical stories -- some humorous and others frightening. Some of these sketches read like mood pieces, and others like polished short stories.

Critique: A remarkable collection of prose pieces by a remarkably insightful and entertaining writer, Jeanne Lohmann's "In Parallel Light" is a fascinating and rewarding read that is very highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community/academic library Literary Studies collections.

The Witch Of Painted Sorrow
M. J. Rose
Atria Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
Meryl L. Moss Media Relations
9781476778068, $25.00, 384pp,

Synopsis: Sandrine Salome flees New York for her grandmother's Paris mansion to escape her dangerous husband, but what she finds there is even more menacing. The house, famous for its lavish art collection and elegant salons, is mysteriously closed up. Although her grandmother insists it's dangerous for Sandrine to visit, she defies her and meets Julien Duplessi, a mesmerizing young architect. Together they explore the hidden night world of Paris, the forbidden occult underground and Sandrine's deepest desires. Among the bohemians and the demi-monde, Sandrine discovers her erotic nature as a lover and painter. Then darker influences threaten--her cold and cruel husband is tracking her down and something sinister is taking hold, changing Sandrine, altering her. She's become possessed by La Lune: A witch, a legend, and a sixteenth-century courtesan, who opens up her life to a darkness that may become a gift or a curse

Critique: "The Witch Of Painted Sorrow" is a provocative and magical spellbinder of a gothic novel. Set against the lavish spectacle of 1890s Belle Epoque Paris, author M. J. Rose takes her readers on a deftly crafted adventure that is superbly crafted from beginning to end. A terrific read by a terrific author, "The Witch Of Painted Sorrow" is very highly recommended for community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Witch Of Painted Sorrow" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99) as well as in an Audio Book CD format ($21.77).

Lulu Anew
Etienne Davodeau
NBM Publishing
160 Broadway, Ste. 700, East Wing, New York, NY 10038
9781561639724, $27.99, 160pp,

Synopsis: At the end of yet another unproductive job interview, Lulu, on a whim, takes off for the shore just to get away from it all. She's got a husband and kids left bewildered but it's nothing against them. This is just her time, getting away from the grind and with no other plan than savoring it. Surprised at her own temerity, she meets other people on the edge of the world. It wasn't meant to be for long. It wasn't meant to be anything but in the end thrilling, fun, and possibly dangerous, this improvised experience will make of Lulu a different woman.

Critique: Etienne Davodeau is a French comics author who has won multiple awards and authored numerous critically acclaimed graphic novels. "Lulu Anew" is his latest and his best graphic novel to date. Very highly recommended for personal and community library graphic novel collections, it should be noted that "Etienne Davodeau is a French comics author who has won multiple awards and authored numerous critically acclaimed graphic novels" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Eat Local For Less
Julie Castillo
Ruka Press
8224 Yellow Springs Road, Frederick, MO 21702
9780985574864, $19.95, 288pp,

Synopsis: Packed from cover to cover with sage, down-to-earth advice on finding, buying, growing, and preparing great food from local sources, "Eat Local for Less: The Ultimate Guide to Opting Out of Our Broken Industrial Food System" is an important resource that shows readers how to bring what's on their plates in line with what's in their hearts. For anyone concerned about animal welfare, economic fair play, family cohesion, community well being, or the impact of human activity on the environment, "Eat Local For Less" is a compendium of practical know-how, showcasing another whole food system that has been quietly producing delicious foods in ways that don't wreck any ecosystems but actually improve some of them. These are the foods lovingly produced by small-scale farmers and family-run cottage businesses, not corporations. They're made in small quantities close to the community by people who cherish their land and work hard to keep it healthy. Millions more Americans would love to eat this bounty, but many worry that eating fresh, local food is too difficult or expensive. Here, readers will discover how to: buy a tomato that actually tastes like a tomato instead of insipid mush; navigate CSAs, farmer's markets, buyer's clubs, co-ops, and more; fit cooking into a jam-packed modern lifestyle; get kids to eat their vegetables -- and love them; and do it all for even less than they're paying now for industrial food. The results will help them derive more pleasure from meals, enjoy better health, experience a deeper connection with nature, nurture a robust local economy, and support a fairer world -- simply by sitting down to a deliberately chosen, lovingly prepared meal.

Critique: A cornucopia of useful information on eating better and in line with an ethical stewardship of the land and food animals, "Eat Local for Less: The Ultimate Guide to Opting Out of Our Broken Industrial Food System" is enhanced with the inclusion of 16 recipes ranging from Southwestern Twice-Baked Potatoes; Pumpkin Loaf; and Granola Cereal; to Parsnip Pudding Pie; Virginia Peanut Cookies; and 100 Clove Garlic Soup. For anyone seeking to break free from the dominance of corporate farming and 'big box' chain food stores, "Eat Local for Less: The Ultimate Guide to Opting Out of Our Broken Industrial Food System" is especially recommended. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Food & Nutrition collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Eat Local for Less: The Ultimate Guide to Opting Out of Our Broken Industrial Food System" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

The Rainbow Juice Cleanser
Ginger Southall
Running Press
c/o Perseus Book Group
250 W. 57th St., Suite 1500, New York, NY 10107
Dalyn Miller Public Relations
9780762457342, $17.00, 192pp,

Synopsis: "The Rainbow Juice Cleanse: Lose Weight, Boost Energy, and Supercharge Your Health" is a revolutionary program that employs the nutritious, healing properties of a rainbow of vegetables to kick start weight loss and improve overall health. While most juicing books include recipes for high-sugar fruits, "The Rainbow Juice Cleanse" explains that most fruits can actually ruin a detox for people looking to lose weight or for anyone who has diabetes or blood sugar issues. Instead, "The Rainbow Juice Cleanse" shows readers how to properly "shop the rainbow" of produce with a plan that entails consuming red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet fresh, raw, organic juices. In just seven days, readers will detoxify their bodies and lose up to seven pounds of fat! Each day of the program focuses on a different color of the rainbow, ensuring the best possible nutrition profile and guaranteeing positive results. By "drinking the rainbow," readers will shed pounds and experience anti-aging, renewed energy, and a better balanced body. Also included are 50 food and juicing recipes and 20 full-color photos.

Critique: Juice Cleansing is a fasting method and a detox diet in which a person consumes only fruit and vegetable juices to obtain nutrition while otherwise abstaining from food consumption. Juice fasts may last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. The juice consumed during a juice fast is not the type commercially available, but rather that produced from freshly juiced fruits and vegetables. Ginger Southall has a doctorate in chiropractic and is a wellness consultant and consumer health advocate. In "The Rainbow Juice Cleanse: Lose Weight, Boost Energy, and Supercharge Your Health" she draws upon her experience and expertise to provide an instructive guide for readers wanting to utilize the benefits of juice cleansing with thoroughly 'kitchen cook recipes' organized into chapters focused specifically on Juices; Smoothies; Shakes; Soups; Entrees and Sides; Salads and Dressings; Desserts; and Approved Foods. Enhanced with a two page list of References, a two page list of Web Resources, and a thirty-five page Index, "The Rainbow Juice Cleanse: Lose Weight, Boost Energy, and Supercharge Your Health" is very highly recommended reading and a valued addition to any personal, family or community library specialized cookbook collection.

Splinters of Light
Rachel Herron
New American Library
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
Kaye Publicity
9780451468611, $15.00, 464pp,

Synopsis: Ten years ago, Nora Glass started writing essays about being a single mother of a six-year-old daughter. Her weekly column made her a household name, and over the years, her fans have watched Ellie grow from a toddler to a teenager. But now Nora is facing a problem that can't be overcome. Diagnosed with a devastating disease that will eventually take away who she is, she is scared for herself, but even more frightened about what this will mean for her sixteen-year-old daughter. Now Nora has no choice but to let go of her hard-won image as a competent, self-assured woman, and turn to the one person who has always relied on her: her twin sister, Mariana. Nora and Mariana couldn't be more different from one another, and they've always had a complicated relationship. But now the two sisters will have to summon the strength to help them all get through a future none of them could have ever imagined, while uncovering the joy and beauty that was always underneath.

Critique: A terrific novel by a terrific novelist, "Splinters of Light" is a superbly crafted story that is very highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Splinters of Light" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Investing in the Health and Well-Being of Young Adults
Richard J. Bonnie, Clare Stroud, Heather Breiner, editors
National Academies Press
500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001
9780309309950, $77.00, 502pp,

Synopsis: Young adulthood (ages approximately 18 to 26) is a critical period of development with long-lasting implications for a person's economic security, health and well-being. Young adults are key contributors to the nation's workforce and military services and, since many are parents, to the healthy development of the next generation. Although 'millennials' have received attention in the popular media in recent years, young adults are too rarely treated as a distinct population in policy, programs, and research. Instead, they are often grouped with adolescents or, more often, with all adults. Currently, the nation is experiencing economic restructuring, widening inequality, a rapidly rising ratio of older adults, and an increasingly diverse population. The possible transformational effects of these features make focus on young adults especially important. A systematic approach to understanding and responding to the unique circumstances and needs of today's young adults can help to pave the way to a more productive and equitable tomorrow for young adults in particular and our society at large. "Investing in The Health and Well-Being of Young Adults" describes what is meant by the term young adulthood, who young adults are, what they are doing, and what they need. This study recommends actions that nonprofit programs and federal, state, and local agencies can take to help young adults make a successful transition from adolescence to adulthood. According to this report, young adults should be considered as a separate group from adolescents and older adults. Investing in The Health and Well-Being of Young Adults makes the case that increased efforts to improve high school and college graduate rates and education and workforce development systems that are more closely tied to high-demand economic sectors will help this age group achieve greater opportunity and success. The report also discusses the health status of young adults and makes recommendations to develop evidence-based practices for young adults for medical and behavioral health, including preventions.

Critique: Beginning with an informed and informative Summary and Introduction, "Investing in the Health and Well-Being of Young Adults" is deftly organized into eight major sections: Young Adults in the 21st Century; Relationships; Education and Employment; Civic Engagement and National Service; Public Health; The Health Care System; Government Investments in Marginalized Young Adults; Next Steps. Enhanced with the inclusion of five appendices: Open Session Agendas; Diversity and the Effects of Bias and Discrimination on Young Adult's Health and Well-Being; Youth-Focused national Service Programs; Biographical Sketches of Committee Members, "Investing in the Health and Well-Being of Young Adults" is an impressive model of collaborative scholarship and very highly recommended for academic, NGO, and governmental Contemporary American Demographic reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should also be noted that "Investing in the Health and Well-Being of Young Adults" is also available in a Kindle edition ($49.99).

Meditation as a Way of Life: Philosophy & Practice
Alan L. Pritz
Quest Books
c/o The Theosophical Publishing House
306 W. Geneva Road, Wheaton, IL 60187
9780835609289, $17.95, 288pp,

Synopsis: Among primers on meditation, "Meditation as a Way of Life: Philosophy & Practice" by Alan L. Pritz is exceptional in how it guides readers who treasure inner growth and are looking for reliable direction on how to achieve it in an authentic and sustainable way. Pritz is an experienced student of the Indian yogi Paramahansa Yogananda, able to distill the teachings of many other spiritual traditions and religions, including Christianity, into an interfaith perspective that will appeal to all seekers of the divine. Specific elements include the foundations of spiritual practice; the benefits of energy-building exercises, affirmations, and healthy lifestyle regimens; instructions in mantra practice and inner-sound meditation; techniques for effective prayer; and guidelines to measure inner practice. "Meditation as a Way of Life: Philosophy & Practice" presents an accessible narrative and universal themes make it enjoyable to read and life enhancing to apply.

Critique: Meditation is a practice in which an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content, or as an end in itself. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Meditation as a Way of Life: Philosophy & Practice" is an ideal introduction to mediation for the novice while having a great deal of value for those more experienced with meditation practices. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' throughout, "Meditation as a Way of Life: Philosophy & Practice" is very highly recommended for community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Meditation as a Way of Life: Philosophy & Practice" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Eyes Have I That See
John Julian
Paraclete Press
PO Box 1568, Orleans, MA 02653
9781612616407, $18.00, 96pp,

Synopsis: From rough folk-verse to high-flown poesy, from a nine-line rhyme to a six-hundred-line epic, both the style and genre of the poetry in "Eyes Have I That See" covers a broad range of poetic possibility. This is the first volume of John Julian's poetry ever published, revealing an important new American poetic voice.

Critique: An extraordinary flair for free verse poetry, John Julian's word conjured images will linger in the mind and imagination long after this slender volume has been finished and set back upon the shelf. 'The Bee': The golden-hunered past, / the stones on which the thrones / of thousands stand, / begins to turn, / and antique appetite for crowns / rolls menacingly/ there behind my blood. / My shoulders feel a thirst / for purple, / but I fly.

A Stitch In Crime
Cathy Elliott
Abingdon Press
PO Box 801, Nashville, TN 37202
Thorndyke Press Large Print
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print (USA), Inc.
PO Box 1230, West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
9781426773655, $13.99 (paperback), 240pp,
9781410479433, $29.99 (large print), 380pp,

Synopsis: Thea James has accepted an assignment as co-chairperson for Larkindale's first quilt show extravaganza. Juggling the new assignment with running her antique business, she's already feeling frayed when things start to unravel. Mary-Alice Wentworth, a much-loved town matriarch, respected quilt judge, and Thea's dear friend, is covertly conked on the head during the kick-off Quilt Show Soiree, throwing suspicion on her guests. It also appears that a valuable diamond brooch has been stolen during the attack. The family is furious. But is it because of their mugged mother or the missing diamonds? When a renowned textile expert goes MIA and the famous Wentworth heritage quilt disappears, Larkindale's reputation as a tourist haven is at risk. Thea attempts to piece the mystery together and save the town's investment in the quilt show before Mary-Alice is attacked again -- with far worse results.

Critique: "A Stitch In Crime" is a riveting good read. Author Cathy Elliott has a positive gift for deftly crafting complex storylines with all manner of unexpected twists and surprising turns. Very highly recommended for mystery/suspense fans and community library collections, it should be noted that "A Stitch In Crime" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.97).

Helen Dumont

Kaveny's Bookshelf

Back to School: Amazon Instant Video on Demand (Amazon Digital Services, Inc.) $2.99 - $12.99.

Roots: The Enhanced Edition: The Saga of an American Family, Kindle Edition with Audio/Video
By Alex Haley (Amazon Digital Services, Inc.) $9.99

Roots: The Complete Miniseries 1 Season 1977 Amazon Instant Video on Demand (Amazon Digital Services, Inc.)34.99 complete

Midnight: A Gangster Love Story [Kindle Edition] by Sister Souljah's (Amazon Digital Services, Inc.) $7.99

Blade Runner (Amazon Digital Services, Inc.) $12.99

The last several years my life has been like Rodney Dangerfield's in his 1986 classic comedy, "Back to School" I have been am back in school. I would like to make a few comments about my love hate relationship to the academic world which I have strong reason to believe is reciprocal.

I have about the same relationship to the academic world as a problem patron does to his favorite neighbor tavern. I make trouble, get warnings, I am asked to leave, stomp out swearing to do something really interesting. As I start to do this something interesting I again realize that the academic world has something I need to continue and find myself back in the game. Universities are to me like banks were to reformed bank robber Willy Horton. When asked why he robbed banks he simply answered. "That's where the money is." I would say the same thing about ideas, but also collegial relationships with others who share my interests. So for the next several months it is my hope to share some my research interests with the readers of Kaveny's Bookshelf, by drawing attention to important fiction and non-fiction authors, and also deal with the relation books have with other media, as the distinction between text and media become ever more permeable.

An example of this comes from my lifelong interest in Afro-American and postcolonial literature in a very a broad sense. Somehow I had missed "Roots: The Enhanced the Saga of an American Family" [Kindle Edition with Audio/Video by Alex Haley which first appeared nearly forty years ago as part of the American Bicentennial, and went on to become an award winning six part mini- television series. When I purchases it for a course on postcolonial literature I chose the Kindle Edition with Audio/Video and found myself watching five or six mini video interviews with Alex Haley (1921-1992) on my Kindle Fire with audio, video, and text to speech capabilities, and feeling as if I were talking to a great man who in not more than fifteen minutes taught me more about the African American Slave Trade than I had learned in a lifetime. It turns out that even though mortality rates on slave ships going to America was around 33%, the mortality for crew members was even higher, evoking the phrase "those who do evil, suffer evil in return." I also watched the six part mini-series "Roots" partially because of my academic work on the multi modal text, most particularly book into film, focusing my attention to the way the videos portrayed the complexity of rights of passages into to manhood for young African males. It was much more than simply having to kill a lion with a steel spear. It the entire process was as complex and mind expanding as any post-graduate curriculum, with the final exam taking place at age fifteen. Reflecting on that coming of age process leads me to my next review, where the issue becomes coming of age in an Urban Jungle, and the importance of not only physical but cognitive development.

"Midnight: A Gangster Love Story" [Kindle Edition] by Sister Souljah (Amazon Digital Services, Inc.)

In Sister Souljah's novel "Midnight: A Gangster Love Story" a great deal of narrative time and space is focused on the major theme, protagonist Midnight's development of his warrior skills as a martial artist and his accumulation of street smarts. Interestingly, a much smaller amount space, though perhaps of greater significance, is dedicated to the thematic ideas of his familiarity with Chess and the Oriental board game Go, which are signifiers of Midnight's cognitive development. In the first twelve references to Chess he goes from not knowing how to play to being a worthy opponent to his friendly neighborhood Jewish bookseller Marty Bookbinder.

In a conversation with his mother, Umma, Midnight articulates survival as a basic and recurrent theme of this novel, that is the theme of his mother's and sister's survival. This survival was something with which he was entrusted by his absent father, a North Sudanese warlord, seven years before when Midnight, at the age seven, and his pregnant mother pass through New York City customs on Halloween 1979. This passage highlights this theme as it is expressed seven years later in 1986 as Midnight, at the age of fourteen, has grown in the manhood of a young warrior and martial artist seeking to marry his beautiful Japanese artist Akemia, and is reflecting on his mother's advice:

"I knew what Umma was saying and asking me to consider what was right. And I knew that that whatever I chose to do that meant the world to her. But at that moment, I felt like five different things - boy, a man, a Muslim, an African and the son trying to grow up in America without being fucked up like everybody else." (pp223 -224)

In creating her iteration of the genre of Urban Fiction, a term which has gained respectability with recognition by the World Catalog International Bibliographic Utility, she has represented a world where there are no soccer moms, helicopter parents, play dates, and single parent families are the rule rather than exception.

Chapter one (pp1-6 I am not who you think I am) is where Sister Souljah's representation of her protagonist Midnight becomes an international geopolitical critique of American Urban minorities' circumstances, which reflect faintly the darkness of the human spirit that the 18th Century British philosopher Thomas Hobbes created in his "Leviathan" written shortly after the end of the Bloody English Civil War. These comments by Midnight are an example of Sister Souljah's ability to put the great ideas of The Enlightenment into "City Speak," the language mentioned by Harrison Ford in the 1982 director's cut of the science fiction film "Blade Runner".

"And everything you eat, wear, do, or watch is a product you could be manufacturing and selling for the right price. Instead of getting a product or building up a skill or talent, they would turn around and sell their own sisters and mama." (Pp33-34)

I have read all four of Sister Souljah's books in this order, "Midnight: A Gangster Love Story", "The Coldest Winter Ever", "Midnight and the Meaning of Love", "And a Deeper Love Inside: The Porsche Santiaga Story", all of which work together to form a kind of Urban Fiction multi-generational family saga, which in some sense reminds me of the "History of Middle-earth" volumes which pull together the back story of "The Lord of the Rings". For purposes of this article I am treading "Midnight a Gangster Love Story" as if it were a standalone, with the hope that in a future review I can address the remainder, the work of this brilliant and controversial writer.

Sister Souljah's use of the protagonist Midnight's apprehension of the nuances of the game of Go in his conversations with his martial arts Sensei, is a variation of the theme of survival. It now moves from a literal level as the protagonist Midnight must go to Japan to reclaim his wife Akemia who has been kidnapped by her father (p 481-482). The rite of passage is not that he has defeated his teacher, but that his understanding of Go signifies the passage into adulthood on a cognitive level, now labeled by Piaget as "The formal operational stage of cognitive development." This is the thing he will need more than any level of physical or martial dexterity

Philip Kaveny
Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

William Nicholson
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781476740409, $26.00,

Wannabe screenwriter Alice Dickinson finds information on the nineteenth century married brother of Emily Dickinson. She leaves her English flat traveling to Amherst, Massachusetts to learn more about then fiftyish Austin's affair with his married neighbor; twenty-something Mabel Loomis Todd. Alice plans to write a script on the illicit duo abetted by Emily the enabler whose home served as the rendezvous haven between her sibling and a professor's spouse. As Emily and Mabel get to know each other, they also connect in a way that survives the death of the poetess.

Friends arrange for Alice to reside at the home of Professor Nick Crocker. They soon begin a tryst that mirrors the older man younger woman entanglement of whom the visiting Englishwoman is researching.

The absorbing historical subplot provides captivating glimpses into a little known part of the late poetess' life with the addition of written documents augmenting this segue but also slowing down the pacing. The present day tryst comes across as intrusive since readers want more Emily, Austin and Mabel, and much less Alice and Nick.

The Dhulyn and Parno Novels Volume One
Violette Malan
Daw Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756410469, $9.99,

"The Sleeping God." The Mercenary Brotherhood assigns psychic Dhulyn Wolfshead and former noble Parno Lionsmane to escort orphaned Mar-eMar to her royal relatives at Tenebro House in Gotterang, Imrion. The pair expects no trouble, but the supernatural magical Marked have reasons known only to them to prevent them from succeeding. The zealous New Believers think that the Marked are conjuring a way to awaken the Sleeping God and consequently destroy the world. They want Parno and Dhulyn stopped. Neither adversary nor the Brotherhood knows the Green Shadow is playing on everyone's fears. Aware their mission could prove lethal; Parno and Dhulyn risk their lives to keep Mar safe.

"The Soldier King." At the Valley of Limona battlefield the war ends with the Nisveans accepting the surrender of Tegrian's Prince Edmir. Though on the winning team, Dhulyn and Parno quickly become appalled when their side's leadership violates acceptable battlefield practices and the surrender agreement with a plan to use the prince as a hostage. Accompanied by Edmir, Dhulyn and Parno flee camp to escort the young royal to his kingdom only to find the Blue Mage has made the prince's home unsafe.

This omnibus reprint of the first two Dhulyn and Parno fantasies (respectively published in 2006 and 2007) contains sensational sword and sorcery tales. Both are fast-paced and anchored by the heroic pair's trusting camaraderie of only each other. Although somewhat typical of the sub-genre and the lead duet do inane things out of character, fans will marvel at the adventures of Dhulyn and Parno who know years before The Blacklist's Redd that your enemy's enemy is most likely also your enemy.

A Confederation of Valor
Tanya Huff
Daw Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756410414, $16.00

"Valor's Choice." 150 years ago, the Others attacked the nonviolent Confederation. None of the Confederation species could fight back as killing sentient beings goes against their nature. Instead they welcome three semi-feral species (Humans, Taykan and the Krai) to join them as their protectors. In the present on the Confederation vessel Berganitan, Sh'quo Company Sergeant Torin Kerr leads a unit guarding a multi-species diplomatic delegation heading to negotiations with the warrior Silsviss. However, on the Silsviss planet, a transport is shot down over a Silsviss Wilderness Preserve where deadly native teen adolescent males fight for survival against each other and intruders. To rescue the beleaguered Dornagian diplomats, Kerr leads a counterattack, but instead of retreat from the superior force the local horde charges at the off-worlders relentlessly.

"The Better Part of Valor." Sergeant Kerr is proud to be a marine fighting the Others, a race that covets Confederation territory while refusing to negotiate. General Morris assigns her a top-secret mission to investigate a spaceship that is neither Confederation nor Other in a far corner of the galaxy. When Kerr boards the alien ship, she learns the hard way that it is sentient and doesn't like anyone inside it. Trapped on board the ship with a group of the Others, Torin must escape or die.

These reprints from 2000 and 2002 respectively of the first two Valor military science fictions are exciting thrillers with a courageous intelligent heroine keeping the plots centered and moving forward. The key remains the genuineness of the various three-dimensional species.

Dave Bara
Daw Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756409968, $24.95

Centuries ago the Corporate Empire of Man expanded to almost a thousand planets, but corruption and incompetence led to a devastating eight-decade civil war. The Corporate Empire collapsed with most of the former member systems turning inward. Not too long ago, Earth Historians began reaching out to other systems offering technological support that led to the forming of the loose Union.

In the present, word arrives on one of the original rebellious planets Quantar that their lightship HMS Impulse, allegedly on a first contact mission in the Levant system, was attacked by a hyperdimensional wave leaving several dead. Quantar Royal Navy Grand Admiral Nathan Cochrane informs his son Lieutenant Peter Cochrane that the latter's girlfriend died in the attack and that the real mission was to investigate whether hyperdimensional anomalies in that sector threatened the Union. Finally he promotes and reassigns Peter from leading teams on the HMS Starbound to take charge as the senior naval officer on board the Impulse to continue its secret mission and prevent the vessel from retaliating against any remnants of the First Empire. Nothing goes right as he, his supervisor Commander Dobrina Kierkopf and others are under assault from former empire's technology while an Earth Historian takes control of the Impulse.

Anchored by complex outer space multi-systems, a primogeniture hierarchy and an intriguing civilization history focused on the effects of war and the renaissance, the first Lightship Chronicles is a hyperspeed very entertaining military science fiction. Filled with action and in spite of the reader anticipating almost every critical time how the hero will react to the dangerous scenarios he confronts, fans will want to join Peter on his mission.

The Thorn Of Dentonhill
Marshall Ryan Maresca
Daw Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756410261, $7.99

Veranix Calbert majors in magic at the University of Maradaine. However, instead of studying or partying at night, the student targets destroying his father's murderer, Dentonhill crime king Willem Fenmere.

Up until now Veranix has been less than a gnat in his feeble assaults against his formidable foe; but tonight his luck changes when he hijacks a shipment containing two magical artifacts that Fenmere's thugs were delivering to the Blue Hand Circle mages. Deploying his loot, Veranix turns from helpless wannabe into the powerful disruptive Thorn. Not long afterward, at the same time Veranix faces expulsion issues at college; Fenmere, the Blue Hand Circle and other mages and other lethal foes compete for the honor of assassinating The Thorn.

The first Maradaine crime fantasy is an enjoyable thriller starring an obsessed avenging lead and an equally fascinating villain. The electrifying storyline is fast-paced and filled with action, but lacks depth re the physics of magic in the intriguing world of Marshall Ryan Maresca. Still The Thorn of Dentonhill is a rousing opening act with more to follow.

Allure of Deceit
Susan Froetschel
Seventh Street Books
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228
9781616140175, $15.95,

On their honeymoon in India, Photizonet CEO Michael and his pregnant wife Rose Sendry die in a terrorist attack. The affluent Michael's will established the GlobalConnect foundation headed by his grieving mom Lydia. She feels out of her Michigan element hosting fundraising events in Manhattan as the face of the foundation whose annual goal is to distribute $400 million to no more than fifty charities that focus on developing nations. Instead Lydia lives to learn why her son was the target.

Pearl Hanson heads a small rural Texas-based organization that runs an orphanage and natural family planning programs. She requests a grant to deploy her programs to Laashekoh, Afghanistan where GlobalConnect development director Paul Reichart performed miracles. In the small Afghan farm community, village leader Parsaa struggles with what to do about a family whose matriarch committed filicide ostracizing the innocent other young female members. However, now he also has to deal with some know-it all "Tex-is" females who just want to help while he and the other villagers just want to help them go home.

With more examples than just the second paragraph above, Allure of Deceit is a powerful expose of the Ugly American believing in the divine right of exceptionalism and other equally as arrogant western intruders insisting they know what is best for a culture no one tries to understand. Instead all that money floating around leads to cutthroat competition, greed and intrusive poor decisions that create a cesspool outcome. The discerning storyline starts leisurely yet gripping as Susan Froetschel introduces her readers to the underbelly of charities working in poor nations, but also accelerates when Americans go missing where they are not wanted.

The Amish Clockmaker
Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736957380, $13.99,

In Lancaster County, as construction to expand Zook's Feed and Tack is about to begin, proprietor Matthew Zook reflects back to the 1950s when his Grossdaedi established the successful store that decades later his Daed almost bankrupt. However, a legal dispute with the Starbrite owners of the nearby under construction hotel arises. Their lawyer Purcell insists the Raber and Sons Clockmakers land that Zook's Grossdaedi bought from the Raber matriarch six decades did not include this acre as she did not own that piece; her son Clayton did. They plan to find and buy the land from him. .

In 1955 facially scarred with a severe limp Clayton fell in love with his next door neighbor Miriam, but she treated him like a friend. Not long after his father died, when she became pregnant out of wedlock, he married her though she carried someone else's baby. She lost the child and behaved weirdly until she fell from a cliff. Though there was a lack of evidence his Amish community believed Clayton pushed his wife so treated him as a pariah until he left never to be seen again. Matthew plans to prove Clayton's innocence, find the man and obtain his signature.

The third Men of Lancaster County drama (see The Amish Groom and The Amish Blacksmith) is a fantastic entry in a fabulous series. The storyline consists of three tremendous subplots: a short look at Matthew; his family and his expansion plan; an extended 1950s glimpse into Clayton and the Raber family; and a short present day Matthew cold case search for a self-exiled man excommunicated by family and neighbors six decades ago.

Rough Justice
Sarah Castile
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250056603, $7.99,

In Montana Sinner's Tribe Motorcycle Club leader Jagger Knight emphasize strict adherence to the rules that he expects the membership to follow just as he does. He also avoids emotional attachments ever since his beloved was assassinated as part of a failed coup d'etat.

Arianne Hunter is the first daughter of volatile Viper, the divine right chief of the Black Jack MC. After a lifetime of fearing what her father especially knowing what he did to her mother, she wants out of the lunatic testosterone milieu; but cannot leave behind her addicted brother Jeff, who will do anything for paternal approval.

Arsonists burn down the Sinner's clubhouse and shoot a member Gunner in the leg; but they capture one of the intruders. Axle wants the arsonist dead to send a message, but are stunned when their prisoner is female. Jagger and Arianne are attracted to each other, but both ironically know he must kill her or face open hostility from fifty bikers. She insists she did not set the fire and his heart wants to believe her, but this enemy combatant was caught right there. Even as Arianne remains the prime suspect, Jagger concludes a member cut a Faustian deal that betrays him and the club.

The first Sinner's Tribe Motorcycle Club is a contemporary West Side Story set in the world of the Friends of Anarchy. Sarah Castile cleverly interweaves club rules into the narrative, which enables the audience to better understand the subculture. Fast-paced from the opening inferno and never slowing down until the final confrontation, readers will feel transported inside dangerous environs where loyalty is the prime commandment.

Daughter of Gods And Shadows
Jayde Brooks
St. Martin's Griffin
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312591113, $16.99,

Several millennia ago, Sakarabu the demon and his savage horde attacked the native populace. Mkombozi the Redeemer fought against the malevolent, but between the evil rampage and the "savior's" berserker rage left Theia destroyed. Those who survived the onslaught fled to earth where they hid their origins and the magical skills they possess from the indigenous population.

Four thousand years later, Sakarabu's feral legion arises with assaults on the purebred earthlings; who when killed reanimate as bloodthirsty zombies. The only hope to save the planet from the apocalypse rests with an extremely reluctant twentyish manicurist. Eden Moore rejects her Guardian, her otherworldly ancient history and the three Omens; her refusal leaves mankind facing extinction.

This is an exciting end of days' urban fantasy held together by an intriguing disinclined heroine and her wicked adversaries. There are too many extended flashbacks to Theia (a prequel novella would have been a better choice) that take readers out of the main storyline of saving earth, and much of what we learn about the magical species is passive discussions rather than action. Still this is a thrilling opening act as no reader will ride the Staten Island Ferry or visit other NYC hot spots in the same way.

It's Up To Charlie Hardin
Dean Ing
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781476780306, $16.99,

During WWII in Austin, with school out for summer, the parents of twelve year old Charlie Hardin admonish him to stay out of trouble. "Captain" Charlie, his dog Lint and his best human friend Aaron Fischer fight Nazis though their older adversary Jackie Rhett would adamantly disagree as to who the American is and who the Axis is. Charlie and Aaron agree that Jackie is a momzer though the Captain has no idea what the Yiddish word means.

Charlie and Aaron get into an egg war with Ray Kinney and Jackie, but an innocent bystander Felice Gutierrez gets hit; so all the boys are in trouble. When a nasty neighbor threatens Lint, Charlie creates a pumpkin slingshot to keep his BFF safe. After dispatching the ghost in the pipe, their adventures leads Charlie and Aaron to a Nazi counterfeiting operation and a search for missing enemy Jackie. All this and more occur in Texas in the summer of 1942.

Targeting tweeners, WWII (on the home front) readers and Mark Twain fans, this droll homage to Tom Sawyer is an amusing look at life in 1940s Austin through the eyes of a young boy. Consisting of a series of short adventures, readers will appreciate the escapades of Charlie and company though the protagonist's relating them to the audience at times makes the exploits seem passive.

As Time Goes By
Hank Davis, editor
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781476780528, $14.00

"Gibraltar Falls" by Poul Anderson. Five millennia before his birth, Time Patrol agent Tom fell in love.

"Triceratops Summer" by Michael Swanwick. Vermont residents accept triceratops on roads and yards.

"The Chronoclasm" by John Wyndham. Gobie insures tomorrows follow the future he knows.

"The Girl Who Made Time Stop" by Robert F. Young. Roger meets Alayne from a planet orbiting Altair; she applies Aparicio stealing second.

"The Other Now" by Murray Leinster. Jimmy buried his wife, but believes he can change the accident that left her dead.

"A Dry, Quiet War" by Tony Daniel. War at the End of Time veteran Henry returns home to encounter feral cybernetics.

"Six Months, Three Days" by Charlie Jane Anders. Doug sees a linear future; Judy sees a decision-making tree.

"The Day of the Green Velvet Cloak" by Mildred Clingerman. Mavis meets traveling Titus at the Book Nook.

"A Wow Finish" by James Van Pelt. Durance and Hoffman travel back in time to attend the opening of Casablanca.

"Backtracked" by Burt Filer. Sally asks Fletcher why he backtracked ten years.

"So Little and So Light" by Sarah A. Hoyt. She lands at 1066 Hastings seeking a time breacher.
"The Price of Oranges" by Nancy Kress. Harry worries about his granddaughter being miserable when he sees her next week so he travels five decades ago for a solution.

"The Secret Place" by Richard M. McKenna. During WWII, he searched for the crystal, but found Helen.

"Palely Loitering" by Christopher Priest. Myrkle and his family choose crossing the Tomorrow or Yesterday Bridges.

This beguiling anthology contains fourteen short stories with additional enjoyment coming from comparing how each decade starting with the 1950s to the present dealt with time travel thrillers.

Castaway Planet
Eric Flint and Ryk E. Spoor
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781476780276, $25.00

The Kimei family of six and an alien friend Whips the Bemmius Novus sapiens travel on the colony vessel Outward Initiative carrying over 1000 colonists to the Tantalus system. They were included because the new world needs biologists like the patriarch Akira and physicists like the matriarch Laura. Halfway into their journey and seemingly light-years from any known habitable orb, during the weekly evacuation drill an accident due to a radiation surge propels the broken LS-5 lifeboat containing the seven from the mother ship.

Though rescue is doubtful, fortune is on their side when their one chance to find a planet with the most basic needs to sustain life succeeds. However out of the frying pan into the fire, Planet Lincoln potentially could prove a death trap. Led by their parents, the four children (the two teenagers Caroline the geology student and Sakura the student pilot and their two younger siblings Hitomi and Melody) along with Whips work closely together to survive and preferably thrive.

As implied by the dedication, this thrilling science fiction is a cross between Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and Johann David Wyss' Swiss Family Robinson in a Jules Verne Mysterious Island-like outer space world. Character driven by the family and friend cast, but especially by the girls and Whips, this is an excellent opening act in a new Boundary saga (see Portal and Threshold).

Cobra Outlaw
Timothy Zahn
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781476780344, $15.00

On Aventine, Dominion of Man Commodore Santeros abducts Paul Broom, patriarch of the Broom Cobra warriors. Santeros plans to use the dangerous MindsEye technology on his prisoner's brain to learn the location of Qasamaa, a planet allegedly containing the most advanced armaments known. Believing the weapons will give his side the advantage in the next interstellar war with the Troft, Santeros will offer a deal that Qasama cannot refuse if they do not want annihilation on an extinction level.

At the same, freedom fighters revolt on several planets (to include Aventine Cobra warrior felons Lorne and Jody Broom) against the hated Dominion, who has committed massacres and other violent "crimes" against humanity. On the other side of the upcoming war, Cobra warrior Jason Broom poses as an escaped slave on a Troft prison planet searching for allies who oppose war with the humans.

Although overly complex with several subplots besides the three above that at times decelerate the overall interesting storyline, Cobra Rebellion Book 2 (see Cobra Slave) remains a fine military science fiction thriller. The prime overarching themes continue to be deftly developed as freedom fighters and peace in our time advocates struggle to keep two superpowers from a war that these third (and fourth) innocent parties will suffer consequences of mass destruction.

Butterfly Kills
Brenda Chapman
The Dundurn Group
3 Church Street, Suite 500, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5E 1M2
9781459723146, $14.99,

In Kingston, Ontario, Queens University student Leah Sampson works the help line. Her latest twelve hours shift was extremely arduous leaving her with doubts about pursuing a counseling career. While walking Leah home, her former boyfriend Wolf informs her he accepted a job with the school system, but before starting will be going west for a brief vacation. After seeing Leah to her apartment, an intruder attacks her.

In a hospital; battered Della Munroe accuses her husband Brian of beating and raping her. KPD Staff Sergeant Jacques Rouleau and Officer Paul Gunderson investigate the spousal accusation and the Simpson homicide. Soon Birdtail Reservation aboriginal Detective Kala Stonechild returns from several months incognito in the Ontario wilderness and agrees to temporarily help on both cases even as third case surfaces for the overworked KPD staff.

Twelve years old Dalal Shahan finds the diary of her missing older sibling Nadirah whose family failed to report her disappearance to the police. The pages contain entries of abuse including plans to force her to marry Mr. Khan. With Nadirah vanished, her parents substitute her seven year old intellectually disabled sister Meeza to wed Mr. Khan.

The second Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery (see Cold Mourning) is a tremendous Canadian police procedural with each fascinating investigation well written and brilliantly intertwined. With excellent police work anchoring the storyline and enhanced by spotlights on the diverse population especially Asian immigrants and Native-Canadians, Brenda Chapman authors a winner.

The Replacements
David Putnam
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G, Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781608091379, $26.95,

Former Los Angeles County Sheriff's Violent Crimes Team superstar and paroled convict, Bruno Johnson served his time. After being released, he and his mate Marie rescued eight abused children; but also knowing they broke the law the adult couple, accompanied by the kids, fled to Costa Rica where he opened up a bar.

Thus when a former law enforcement peer Barbara Wicks enters his establishment, he assumes she came to arrest him and escort him back to the States. Instead the Montclair, California Police Chief pleads with him to help rescue two children abducted by Jonas Mabry; as the kidnapper demands a million dollars delivered to him by his "hero" Bruno who saved his life when he was a five-years-old victim. However returning home most likely means a return to prison while staying in Central America will leave two kids dead and probably more to follow.

The three-dimensional characters (especially the villain) turn this urban jungle sequel to The Disposables into a fantastic cat and mouse thriller. Loaded with suspense that intensifies throughout, Jonas proves a very competent puppeteer pulling the strings of valiant desperate Bruno and equally brave Marie.

Killers Of The King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I
Charles Spencer
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781620409121, $30.00,

Haughty with rigid adherence to the Divine Rights of King doctrine, Charles I angered Parliament and much of his English subjects with his iron fisted intolerant rule until a revolt led to his fleeing to Scotland for sanctuary. However instead of asylum, Scottish soldiers sold him to the English. On trial in front of a jury of 83 carefully selected commissioners, the monarch is found guilty with 59 choosing death. After the deposed ruler is executed, Oliver Cromwell imposes a rigid theocracy especially targeting Catholic Royalists and their families. When Cromwell dies, with the support of now out in the open royalists, the son of the late Charles becomes king. King Charles II proclaims the Declaration of Breda amnesty with noted exceptions.

This is a fabulous fast-paced seventeenth century historical that escorts armchair historians through the decade consisting of the final days of Catholic King Charles I, the Cromwell Protestant regime, and the Restoration of King Charles II. Readers meet key royalists, Cromwellians (particular the regicides) and restorers. The two common themes during this tumultuous internal strife are survival under the opponent's oppression with role reversals occurring; and those in charge persecute those who were not with nobody seemingly able to learn anything from being hounded except implementing revenge when they are back on top.

The Tell-Tale Heart
Jill Dawson
Harper Perennial
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062348807, $14.99,

Fifty years old university lecturer Patrick spent decades of debauchery until his doctor tells him he has no more than six months to live due to a severely damaged heart. Patrick receives a second chance when a healthy fifteen years old boy dies in a tragic accident. At Papworth Hospital using the beating heart technique, doctors successfully transplant the lad's organ inside Patrick.

Once recovered from the surgery, Patrick finds what pleasured him for years now leaves him ennui. He discusses this with his doctor who insists no evidence exists that cellular memories from the donor comes with the organ. Needing to know about the lad, Patrick learns he has Littleport resident Drew Beamish's heart beating inside him. With an obsession to learn who was this teen who gave him a second chance, Patrick looks into Drew's life and that of present and past relations including the early eighteenth-century relative Willis involved in a bread riot.

The engaging Tell-Tale Heart is an enthralling story that provides readers with perspectives from the recipient, the donor and the ancestor. There are two intriguing overarching themes: that the austere Fens has a thriving beautiful ecosystem for those looking beyond the bleak; and whether it is cellular or not a transplant changes the recipient's outlook (think of Ghost Whisperer's episode Mended Hearts) in many ways including a degree of separation to the late donor as close of what twins share. Although the Willis subplot adds depth to the premise of expanded memories beyond one's experiences; it also interferes with the more appealing contemporary subplots.

Fiercombe Manor
Kate Riordan
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062332943, $25.99

In 1932 London, twentyish Alice Eveleigh falls in love with a married man. Their tryst leaves her pregnant and except for her ashamed parents alone since he lied about a divorce. To save their foolish daughter's reputation, they tell everyone that Alice is a recent widow and exile her to her mother's friend Fiercombe Manor housekeeper Mrs. Jelphs in the Cotswold.

At Fiercombe Manor, Alice finds the diary of Lady Elizabeth Stanton, an ancestor of current heir Tom Stanton. In 1898 pregnant Elizabeth prays her second child is a boy to satisfy the unyielding demands of her domineering spouse who scorns his firstborn Isabel for being the wrong gender. As Alice and Tom become friends, the visitor wonders what happened at the end of the last century to Elizabeth and her two offspring.

Though the mirrored decades-apart subplots technique has been used a lot in recent years, Kate Riordan's execution is lively with the unsympathetic Mrs. Jelphs as the link between the sympathetic mothers. The historical roles of women in 1898 and 1932 make for a mesmerizing comparison while on the other hand the mystery fails to flow as nimbly as their plight.

The Swimmer
Joakim Zander, author
Elizabeth Clark Wessel, translator
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062337245, $27.99

Retired and passively rusticating in Virginia, the guilt-ridden widower explains to his late wife why she died. In the summer of 1980, they and their baby lived in Damascus where his real work was that of an undercover CIA field agent. He was holding their child and looking out their apartment window as his spouse entered their car and turned on the ignition when it exploded. The horrified husband knew he was the intended victim.

In the present at Sweden's Uppsala University Ph.D. candidate Mahmoud "Moody" Shammosh researches the privatization of war for a book he is writing. His brother in arms comrade Lindsman offers to sell him damaging documents from his CIA contractor days. Moody, accompanied by the widower's baby European Union Swedish aide Klara Walldeen, heads to Paris. Obtaining proof of War, Inc. (nod more to the movie than the game) Moody and Klara flee for their lives. However, those chasing after the couple failed to account for a reanimated father willing to die and kill to keep his baby safe (similar to Liam Neeson's character in Taken).

Rotating perspective between the widower's first person account of his activities that eventually killed his mate and his soul, and the present day third person viewpoint of the pair on the run, The Swimmer is a fascinating leisurely-paced thriller filled with surprising twists. Each subplot is well written enabling the reader to understand the widower's regret, guilt and need for redemption, and the peril the graduate student and the aide are in from those wanting the contracting of war crimes kept secret.

The Diabolical Miss Hyde
Viola Carr
Harper Voyager
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062363084, $16.99

In Victorian London, Lizzie Hyde detests hiding in the shadows while her Eliza Jekyll works the homicide crime scene with hoity-toity Inspector Harley Griffin. The late Dr. Henry Jekyll's daughter is a chip off the old block; as a forensic practitioner of legal medicine investigating serial killing and other horrific cases, and having a feral inner "partner" Lizzie share her body.

Eliza examines a dead victim whose limbs are nowhere in sight. She concludes the lunatic used a bayonet to commit the murder and a saw to remove the body parts; in other words the maniac planned the kill in great detail and precision. The "Chopper" leaves behind more corpses minus body parts. Captain Remy Lafayette of the Royal Society joins the duet on their search for the Chopper, but Eliza, knowing he hunts the "unspeakable" like the Fae who have gone aground, fears he has a hidden agenda re her alter ego.

The Diabolical Miss Hyde is a rousing steampunk police procedural starring a lead who engages the reader in both her personas. The opening crime scene investigation sets the tone as Eliza diligently does her job while Lizzie with her asides yearns to be in charge. Although there is a lack of depth to aspects of Viola Carr's London such as not enough on the unspeakable and the royal government censorship of magic and science, the first Electric Empire whodunit is a terrific Strange Case of Miss. Jekyll and Miss Hyde.

Hush Hush
Laura Lippman
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062083425, $26.99,

Twelve years ago, Melisandre Harris Dawes left her infant daughter to die in an overheated car. The jury accepted her postpartum psychosis defense and found her not guilty by reason of insanity. Divorcing her husband Stephen and legally giving him custody of their two other children (five years old Alanna and three years old Ruby), Melisandre moved overseas.

With a camera-person poised to film her, Melisandre returns to Baltimore allegedly to reconnect with her teenage daughters while also creating an insanity defense documentary. Through attorney Tyner Gray, Melisandre hires hesitant Tess Monaghan and her partner Sandy Sanchez (see After I'm Gone) to provide personal security. While many locals starting with the ex, his wife and her kids fume over an infanticide killer's return; someone demonstrates their rage over the injustice by threatening to harm Melisandre and her security team.

The twelfth Tess Monaghan Private Investigator mystery combines an insightful family drama from the maternal viewpoint (including Tess' concerns re her toddler and Melisandre's need to reconnect), a profound complex look at the insanity plea and an appealing mystery. Series fans will appreciate Tess' latest winner (see The Girl in the Green Raincoat).

The Cat, The Devil, The Last Escape
Shirley Rousseau Murphy and Pat J.J. Murphy
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062269102, $24.99

Though he blames that darn ghost cat Mistro for his failure to snatch the soul of a descendent of "escapee" Russell Dobbs whom he lost a wager to decades ago; frustrated Satan remains diligent in tempting non-dangerous sexagenarian convict Lee Fontana. On the opposite coast, Mistro also tries to guard (from the devil) his former human pet preadolescent Sammie Blake whose dreams are omens of what to come.

Satan's henchman Brad Falon commits a lethal robbery, but insures the evidence leads to the arrest of Sammie's father Morgan to get him out of the way when he takes the man's wife Becky. With Mistro guiding them, Lee and Brad meet inside Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. Experienced with life inside prison, Lee mentors Brad on survival. Soon the pair plots a scheme after a breakout that requires conning the devil, protecting the newbie's two beloved women and finding proof that frees Blake and convicts Falon.

The second soul wars conflict between The Cat and The Devil (see The Cat, the Devil, and Lee Fontana; and Mistro's debut in the Joel Grey saga Cat Bearing Gifts) is a wonderful supernatural thriller due to a fully-developed cast. This time the audience understands why Mistro believes enigmatic Fontana is worth saving. Readers will figure out early on the connection between the cat, the child and the convict; but relish the convergence of the past, present and future when "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" (The Charlie Daniels Band).

The Forgetting Place
John Burley
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062227409, $14.99

After graduating from John Hopkins five years ago, psychologist Dr. Lise Shields has worked at Menaker State Hospital, just south of Baltimore. The thirtyish woman accepts her patients are sent to this Maryland facility to be forgotten by family and society as incorrigibly insane, but still likes her job.

However, her latest patient Jason Edwards is different than all the others she has treated as he arrives without the usual advance notice or medical information; her superior Dr. Charles Wagner explains Jason suffers from a violent trauma. As Lise begins to doubt Jason belongs at this institution, she remains the good bureaucrat except for efforts to learn why he was sent here; which Wagner thwarts. The FBI accosts her and Lise fears either she inherited mental illness from her Uncle Jim or someone wants her dead.

Although the key late twist seems obvious relatively early, this is a tremendous psychological suspense that makes a solid argument that truth and realism are in the eye of the beholder. The engaging storyline hooks the audience with its dark melancholy atmosphere mindful of the TV show Bedlam (sans ghosts), Lise's troubled first person account and Jason's haunted history.

The Long And Faraway Gone
Lou Berney
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062292438, $14.99

In August 1986 at the Pheasant Run Twin Theater in Oklahoma City, a man with a stocking over his face and carrying a shotgun demands manager Bingham tell him how many employees are there and to open the safe. Bingham asks the robber to leave his staff alone, but the man and his cronies round them all up and place them face down on the floor. The killers execute the employees, but for some unknown reason let one of them Wyatt Rivers live.

In September 1986 sisters Julianna and Genevieve Rosales enjoy the Oklahoma State Fair. Leaving behind at the fair her twelve year old younger sibling; Genevieve walks away never to be seen again. Though the case is unsolved OCPD assumes she was murdered.

In 2012, a case returns private investigator Wyatt to the city he never wanted to come back to; as he remains haunted with a need to know why him since the mass murders over twenty-five years ago. Nurse Julianna also remains fixated on 1986 with an obsession to learn what happened to Genevieve. After a quarter of century of no progress, Julianna finally finds hope for closure from an online posting of that fatal night at the fair.

This great drama grips the reader with a need to know almost as strong as the traumatized protagonists. Rotating perspective between the PI and the nurse in the present, The Long And Faraway Gone looks at the long term impact of trauma on people suffering from PTSD, survivor guilt and an over two decade unfulfilled need to know why bad things happened to innocent people like they were before the respective tragedies, but not to them.

The Kind Worth Killing
Peter Swanson
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062267528, $25.00

In a Heathrow bar while their flight to Logan is delayed, affluent Bostonian businessman Ted Severson meets Lily Kintner, an archivist at the city's western suburb Winslow College. Perhaps it is the gin or just his rage, but he tells his new drinking buddy that he obsesses over murdering his wife Miranda for cheating on him. An experienced killer who has turned death into an art form, Lily calmly offers to take care of his spouse.

In Boston, Ted and Lily begin meeting to develop their execution plan. At the same time BPD Detective Henry Kimball investigates Lily who he believes is at the center of several homicides. However, as Ted gets to know his accomplice, he begins to believe he stepped out of the frying pan into the fire and knows what he must do to extinguish the flame before it engulfs him.

Starting with the irony of Lily reading Patricia Highsmith's The Two Faces of January, this contemporary rendition of Strangers on a Train is a terrific twisting crime thriller. Rotating perspective between the psychopath, the desperate husband (who soon will learn what desperate truly means), the obsessed cop, and the wife; this is a great character-driven suspense.

Search & Recovery: Anniversary Day Saga
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
WMG Publishing
1845 SW Highway 101, Suite 2
PO Box 269, Lincoln City, OR 97367
9781561466153, $18.99,

On the fourth Anniversary Day of the bombings that left so many dead on the moon, affluent and adrift Berhane Magales sadly reflects back with guilt to the last time she saw her mom. She was nasty to her mother as they rode the train together until her mom said goodbye for the last time when soon after their departing she died in the terrorist attack. Today of all days her fiance Torkild dumps her.

Powerful Luc Deshin attends a business conference with 100 other moguls in Yatu City. Although he started the meetings years ago, Luc finds them increasingly gaudy and boring displays of wealth. He remains focused, but cannot wait to get back to Armstrong.

Bombs destroy several domes leaving thousands dead and Armstrong Mayor Soleski assassinated. Torkild finds Berhane and gets her to safety, but she now knows what she must dedicate her life to doing even as she believes that will anger her father. As some of his dedicated employees died, irate Luc sets two goals. Though transit is crippled, he will get home ASAP applying a method few can use to insure his wife Gerda and their son Paavo are safe, and he will return to his criminal roots to hunt down and kill the perpetrators.

With a nod to the serials of yesteryear, the fabulous fourth Anniversary Day Saga science fiction continues the monthly releases (see Anniversary Day, Blowback and A Murder of Clones). Each novel contains a complete storyline, but also keeps the overarching theme fresh in fans' minds by building off what was just read. Action-packed and headed by a powerful cast, this is another tremendous entry in a superb saga.

The Foundling's War
Michel Deon, author
Julian Evans, translator
Gallic Books
59 Ebury Street, London, England, SW1W ONZ
Meryl Zegarek Public Relations
9781908313713, $16.95,

In the summer of 1940, the French psyche is devastated but with the party must go on attitude in spite of the Nazi blitzkrieg leading to the abject surrender at Vichy. At a "victory" parade in Clermont-Ferrand honoring Sergeant Tuberge with the Croix de Guerre, an irate Palfy the con artist shouts out that the recipient is a coward and other epithets. Patriots are irate at the interruption while the cops go to arrest Palfy and his companion twentyish Jean Arnaud. They flee the scene with Palfy musing one day having the sergeant's guts and Jean fantasizes about having just met one of the women of his dreams (along with Chantal and other mademoiselles) Claude.

After hiding in a brothel, the trio flees Clermont-Ferrand for Paris where they find the city keeping the lights on during the German occupation. In the former capital, they meet the gamut of black market entrepreneurs, but it is Claude who carries danger with her that places the two buddies and her in life threatening situations.

The sequel to The Foundling Boy is a unique intriguing glimpse into French endurance especially embraced by the less scrupulous during the Nazi occupation. The likable leads make the tale as still somewhat innocent Jean and his unflappable roguish mentor Palfy never take life serious even when trapped in a perilous situation. Their penchant for diving head first into the fire is over the top of the Eifel Tower, but also enables the reader to understand survival of the fittest, which rarely is the most moralistic or altruistic, during an oppressive reign.

The Magician's Daughter
Judith Janeway
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
MM Book Publicity
9781464203404, $14.95,

Early in the morning, the Great Valentina performs an act seeking to find a missing rabbit to pull out of a hat. However, someone steals the donations because her "hat man" Jeff failed to protect the loot and the twenty-something magician overhears a teenage "Anime" girl mention Beth Hull to her father. Shocked Valentine Hill knows the name Beth Hull intimately though has not seen her Mommy Dearest Elizabeth Hill, who uses that alias in her cons, in almost a decade. Valentine chats with Ashley but ignores the dad whom she catalogues as a "Creep" rather than an "Uncle". Ashley tells her that her father's public girlfriend Beth lives in San Francisco. Jeff arrives to say he is playing a gig in Berkley, but Valentine rejects him. Afterward she arrives home to find Jeff ransacked her room and took her money.

In Pacific Heights, Valentine goes to see her mom only to be stopped by all muscle no brain Dwayne. When she awakens from a beating lying near a corpse, FBI Agent Eugenia Philips takes her to her next door apartment where they chat re Beth. Trusting no one, she escapes from Phil only to end up in a SFPD car with Homicide Inspector Lopez interrogating her.

The above paragraphs represent parts of the first two chapters in perhaps the most action-packed crime thriller in years. Over the top of Lafayette Park, but filled with numerous taut twists and red herrings, and starring a great protagonist (mindful of the leads in Now You See Me), the misnamed Magician's Daughter is a spectacular first Valentine Hill Mystery.

Satan's Lullaby
Priscilla Royal
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464203565, $14.95,

In 1278, Abbess Isabeau of the Mother House Fondevraud Abbey of East Anglia sends her brother Father Etienne Davoir and his retinue to investigate subordinate Tyndal Priory in Norfolk. The first inspection in almost a decade includes besides the normal review, a look into rumors of misconduct amongst the religious members of the Order.

When one of the haughty friar's clerks Jean becomes ill, Sub-infirmarian Sister Anne realizes he suffers from too much wine. Not long afterward, Jean dies. Father Davoir blames his death on Brother Imbert, but Prioress Eleanor and Sister Anne insist there is no such person. Sister Anne further states she gave instructions and a potion to the man Father Davoir sent to her. Father Davoir calls her a liar, accuses her of murder and furthermore wonders aloud if Prioress Eleanor ordered the kill to hide her sin of carnality. Though he prefers to be with his pregnant mate, the local king's justice agent Crowner Ralf knows this case is hard because the only suspects are people he cares about: Sister Anne, Prioress Eleanor and his best friend Brother Thomas.

The latest Prioress Eleanor and Brother Thomas Medieval Mystery (see A Killing Season and Covenant with Hell) is an engaging whodunit with an insightful glimpse at thirteenth century England. The conflict between the regular cast members and the newcomers (mostly Father Davoir and his party) bring tension to Priscilla Royal's intense historical.

The Never-Open Desert Diner
James Anderson
Caravel Book
c/o Pleasure Boat Studio
201 West 89th Street, New York, NY 10024
9780912887104, $25.00,

Owned and solo operated of Desert Moon Delivery Service, thirty-something Ben Jones drives his rig as a subcontractor making deliveries to people he knows along desolate Utah Highway 117. His business is failing as there is not a big call for packages amongst the eccentrics residing on this relatively deserted desert road. Thus when he notices a stranger, he is stunned. Even more shocking to Ben is the naked squatter playing a cello that has no strings. Over "music" Ben and Claire meet.

Claire's arrival reminds locals of a four-decade old gruesome crime that occurred at The Well-Known Desert Diner (locally referred to as The Never-Open Desert Diner) that all prefer to forget, but no longer can. Ben, the diner's acrimonious owner widower Walt Butterfield, Preacher John doing seemingly eternal penitence with his large cross, Fergus and Duncan Lacey and pregnant teen Ginny react differently to the stranger whose arrival ends their sanctuary.

With a captivating barren landscape anchoring this riveting desert noir, armchair readers will feel they are riding with Ben in his van visiting places on 117 like the diner. The gripping desolate atmosphere mindful of the film Petrified Forest and a fully-developed cast make for a terse thriller in which the past resurrects itself with the arrival of the naked cellist.

Covenant's End
Ari Marmell
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616149864, $17.99,

After being away from home for just under a year in self-exile, Widdershins the thief, accompanied by her god Olgun whom no one else worships, begins the journey back on an eerily empty road to Davillon. In town she expects most, if not all her friends, to shun her for deserting them.

After sneaking into her hometown, Widdershins finds out her adversary Lisette also is back. Lisette is much stronger than ever; fueled by her vendetta against Widdershins and a Faustian deal she made. Widdershins quickly realizes her enemy has powerful partners inside the ruling class and worse the supernatural realm. To defeat Lisette, she and Olgun desperately need allies; but most of her friends distrust her and remain angry at her for leaving without them.

The fourth and final fantastic Widdershins fantasy (see Lost Covenant, Thief's Covenant and False Covenant) brings the heroine, her god and her antagonist home for an excellent climax that resolves the major subplots. The protagonist's trademark schizophrenic debates with her deity add biting satirical humor especially when she overhears casual phoniness and transgressions. Readers will relish Widdershins to the rescue of those who scorn her but wonder who, if anyone besides Olgun, will have her back.

The Wide World's End
James Enge
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616149079, $18.00

The sunkillers continue to deplete the sun's energy. Their solar draining begins to freeze the planet leading to deadly confrontations caused by food shortages. Inside the Wardlands, the Graith of Guardians assigns Morlock Ambrosius to stop the sunkillers from killing the planet. Reluctantly leaving his beloved mate Aloe Ojai behind; Morlock, accompanied by his sister Ambrosia Viviana, his dwarf friend Deor and Kela the former enemy combatant Khnauront, set forth on a mission to save the sun before their rock turns totally frozen.

At the same time the Graith of Guardians task Aloe to investigate the assassination of family friend, top of the hierarchal Earno. Her inquiry places her and her loved ones who remain inside the Wardlands in peril as increasingly the evidence points to the Graith of Guardians.

The third A Tournament of Shadows early years fantasy (see A Guile of Dragons and Wrath-Bearing Tree) is a fantastic finish to the trilogy prequel as the saga fits deftly with Morlock the Maker latter years (see The Wolf Age, Blood of Ambrose and This Crooked Way). Rotating perspective between the prime two well written sword and sorcery subplots (and tossing in the hero's dad Merlin), series fans will relish knowing why Morlock chose self-exile from all he cherished.

Someone To Watch Over Me
Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250051479, $25.99,

In Reykjavik, Josteinn Karlsson retains attorney Thora Gudmondsdottir to appeal the arson homicide conviction of his Down's syndrome friend Jakob Porbjarnardottir. Karlsson insists Jakob's previous lawyer failed to use key evidence that pointed to someone else as the fiery killer of five people.

Taking on the case, the attorney quickly finds two oddities. First an unknown source sends her texts that lead Gudmondsdottir to proof of rape and unwanted pregnancy, and several financial felonies; which provide two potentially radically different motives for the deadly inferno than what convicted Porbjarnardottir; however those in the know fearfully refuse to testify. Second Karlsson seems to pop up everywhere her inquiry takes her.

The fifth Thora Gudmondsdottir mystery (see The Day Is Dark, Ashes to Dust, Last Rituals and My Soul To Take) is a terrific legal thriller that brilliantly uses the horrific impact on the lower classes by the country's financial implosion to tell a tale of cover-up, avarice and arson. Although the storyline is overly complicated leading to stretches of passivity, Someone To Watch Over Me is an absorbing Icelandic tale.

All Hail The Queen
Meesha Mink
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781476755359, $14.99,

In Newark after avenging the murder of her son with street justice (see Kiss the Ring), Naeema Cole retires her alter-ego Queen she hopes permanently. However, the relationship between Naeema and her husband Tank is currently off which she says is permanent. Though she knows to stay out of it, Naeema gets involved with a young teen female Mya who she hopes to save from the boys' serial sexing her, her mother ignoring her, and her stepfather abusing her.

After booting Tank's lover out of his life, Naeema attends a gala headlined by Fevah with Tank and his crew providing the rap superstar protection. When Tank goes to open the limo for her to step out of the vehicle, shots hit him. As Tank fights for his life in a New York hospital, Naeema, realizing who the real target was, reincarnates Queen to determine who of three suspects tried to kill her beloved spouse; but also faces perilous exposure by someone who knows her and her man.

Though All Hail The Queen contains a similar overarching premise to its prequel, the storyline remains fresh as Queen works the inquiry in her unique way. Fast-paced throughout, urban-lit fans will hail the return of the Queen.

Where Secrets Sleep
Marta Perry
Harlequin HQN
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373779604, $7.99,

Interior designer Allison Standish plans a week away to clean up the affairs of her recently deceased grandmother she never met and sell her inheritance Blackburn House. However, when she sees her boss sleeping with her boyfriend, Allison leaves Philadelphia immediately for Laurel Ridge.

In the Amish town, Allison finds Blackburn House filled with stores and offices; and that her grandma's will includes a stipulation that she successfully manages the house for a year before she inherits the property outright to dispose of it anyway she wants. Allison befriends quilt shop owner Sarah Bitler; and is attracted to Mayor Nick Whiting a carpenter. However not every local welcomes the big city outsider with an unknown using any means to drive Allison back to Philadelphia.

Moving from her "Watcher In The Dark" trilogy (see Abandon The Dark, Home by Dark and Search The Dark), Marta Perry authors a delightful romantic intrigue anchored once again in Amish country (see the Plain series). Allison keeps the storyline focused as she makes new friends, finds love and wears a bull's-eye that someone targets. Although the suspense is somewhat low-keyed, Where Secrets Sleep is a pleasant thriller.

First Time In Forever
Sarah Morgan
Harlequin HQN
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373785049, $7.99

The late Hollywood superstar Lana Fox named her half-sister Emily Donovan as guardian to her six years old daughter Lizzie. Angry with her deceased sibling for saddling her with responsibilities she feels inadequate to deal with starting with her niece and worse the paparazzi feeding frenzy, Emily and her charge flee to Puffin Island off the Maine coast.

Following the deaths of his parents, as the oldest offspring Ryan Cooper gave up his youth to raise his younger siblings. Once his responsibility ended, he fled Puffin Island; vowing to be a globetrotting journalist with no emotional attachments and never returning home. However, the Pulitzer Prize winning Ryan is back on the island seeking escape.

When Ryan and Emily meet, each is attracted to the other. However, though he empathizes with the over her head single "mom" and likes the vulnerable little girl, Ryan tries to keep his distance from both; but his heart begs to differ.

The first Puffin Island contemporary romance is a wonderful family drama starring three hurting individuals who reluctantly find comfort and emotional support with each other. Character-driven by the lead trio, readers will cherish their fumbling efforts to come together.

Wild Horses
B.J. Daniels
Harlequin HQN
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373779567, $7.99

In Montana Olivia Hamilton and Cooper Barnett are in love, but the engaged couple also vehemently argue too much. During a heated fight, angry Olivia drives off in a snowstorm, but has an accident. A stranger saves her life only to drug and rape her.

Soon after her harrowing experience, someone blackmails Olivia; she believes the extortionist is her sexual predator. Pregnant she tells her fiance of the assault and that the fetus may not be his. Stunned and depressed, Cooper reacts poorly to Olivia's revelations. He comes to his senses when Cooper realizes the danger his beloved faces. Turning to the law to find the rapist, Copper relies on himself to keep his Olivia safe.

Moving from the Beartooth saga, B.J. Daniels provides a satisfying Montana Hamiltons' opening act. The storyline is at its touching best when it focuses on the bickering yet loving lead couple. However, the romantic mystery loses some momentum when the plot falls to a first book syndrome by veering into the lives of several other characters (many of whom I assume will headline future dramas). Still Wild Horses is a solid Big Sky novel.

Taking Fire
Lindsay McKenna
Harlequin HQN
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373785056, $7.99

In the Hindu Kush, hermitic Marine Corp Sergeant Khatereh Shinwari observes the Taliban setting up an assault on a SEAL team of four. Her handler tells her no help is coming; at the same Petty Officer Michael Tarik learns from his Camp Bravo home base no immediate air rescue is available. Though she risks her safety by exposing herself, Khat the sniper begins killing the enemy. In spite of her efforts, Michael is injured in an RPG explosion while his three companions flee. Khat brings Mike into the safety of her cave where she works on his head wound and a broken arm. As he heals, Khat and Mike forge a bond until his air rescue arrives.

Khat arrives at Camp Bravo where she and Mike continue to fall in love. However, she soon retreats to her mountain sanctuary, but Mike arranges for her to use Camp Bravo for supplies. He soon joins her on the mountain seeking geographical Intel until they separate when she targets the Taliban.

The seventh Shadow Warrior military romantic thriller (see Never Surrender and Breaking Point) is perhaps the best entry in an awesome series due to courageous "Krazy Khat" who makes a strong case for women in combat. Mike proves her equal as he works on the most difficult task of his life; overcoming his beloved's penchant for solitude.

Search and Seduce
Sara Jane Stone
Harlequin Blaze
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373798391, $5.50

A year and half has passed since SEAL Darren Benton died in combat. Though still mourning her loss and needing to honor her late spouse, his grieving war widow Amy is finally ready to move on. Her plan is to open up a facility to breed and train military war dogs. Family, friends and her deceased husband's military cronies see her as a grieving widow with no chance of success.

The only exception is Darren's best friend Air Force pararescue jumper Mark Rhodes, who from a Theater distance encourages her to go for it. Over videos, the widow and the jumper begin to fall in love. However, both fear losing their friendship when they meet in person for the first since the funeral as Mark arrives for her grand opening.

This Uniformly Hot! military romance (see Command Performance) is an interesting contemporary starring two fully developed protagonists and the memory of the beloved person who connects them. Although the premise is not new, Sara Jane Stone provides a pleasing rendition.

A Conard County Baby
Rachel Lee
Harlequin Special Edition
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373658725, $5.50

Carrying her fiance's child conceived when he raped her and receiving no support from her wealthy parents who disown her for ending her engagement, Hope Conroy fled Dallas with no plan except escape. She applies for a nanny position on a Conard County, Wyoming ranch. Though Cash Cashford has doubts the beautiful Texan can handle his angry thirteen years old daughter Angie as she seems more like a runaway debutant, he hires her out of desperation.

Surprising herself as much as Cash, big city Hope fits in somehow in the rustic environ. She especially gets along with Angie; or at least as good as anyone can. As the two adults fall in love, both tacitly agree her unborn and his teen come before their desire.

The latest Conard County: The Next Generation (see The Widow of Conard County and Reuniting with the Rancher) is a pleasing character-driven contemporary starring a three-dimensional trio; especially the traumatized heroine who lives up to her name by never giving up Hope. Fans will appreciate Rachel Lee's fine ranch family drama.

Wolf Born
Linda Thomas-Sundstrom
Harlequin Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373009398, $5.75

Though off-duty, purebred Wulf Miami police officer Colton Killion responds to a shooting of a cop when he is stunned to smell an extremely rare full-blooded female Lycan mentally calling to him. Though he knows he will regret this afterward, Colton ignores his every instinct screaming at him to run to her; instead he continues his race to help the officer down. At the scene he learns of the mass murder of the Connelly family of four whom he knows having recently helped build a swing set for the two now dead kids. In Florida with her dad, female Lycan Rosalind Kirk sadly controls her powerful desire to follow the Wulf who rejected her invitation into the park.

Not long after their "meeting", a vampire assault on a Lycan residential street leaves Colton's family dead. The violent attack affects Rosalind who was staying nearby by activating her banshee heritage and grieving Colton who has become the extremely uncommon ghostly werewolf. Now all the paranormal want her for her banshee power's ability to use the skills of any Other species she touches. Attracted to Colton, Rosalind chooses flight over fight to keep her beloved cop safe; but she underestimated the need a male Wulf has to protect his mate.

Leaving the Vampire Moons saga (see Immortal Obsession and Guardian Of The Knight) Linda Thomas-Sundstrom returns to the Wolf Moons series (see Blackout, Red Wolf, Wolf Bait and Wolf Trap) with a captivating romantic urban fantasy that also include previous headliners. The lead couple is an interesting pairing whose relationship and their respective reactions to the vampire attacks bring realism to the Others species.

Sentinels: Alpha Rising
Doranna Durgin
Harlequin Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373009381, $5.75

Several intruders attack Lannie Stewart on his land near Descanso, New Mexico. One stabs him, but that just infuriates the alpha wolf who retaliates. Realizing they lost, the adversaries flee. Though his inner wolf demands pursue and assault, Lannie knows there is time to learn who these thugs are and why the confrontation.

Immediately after the altercation, Lannie abducts twenty-four year old Holly Faulkes from her family who concealed her nature from the Sentinels and their enemy the Atrum Core. She makes it clear she wants to return home, but her two "babysitters" ignore her command as Lannie is in charge. He wants to protect Holly by bringing her into the pack with his influential song, but to Lannie's chagrin she refuses to accept what she is. Attracted to each other though neither embraces their feelings, they fall in love while an unknown new foe plots against the Sentinels, and the Atrum Core lurks nearby.

The relationship between the leads brings freshness to the seventh Sentinels romantic fantasy (see Lynx Destiny and Kodiak Chained) as both are spirited, strong and stubborn. The electrifying storyline lacks any closure to any of the complex subplots; thus making this novel feel like a set-up drama to what looks like an awesome climax.

The Twins' Rodeo Rider
Tina Leonard
Harlequin American
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373755547, $5.50

In Texas, based on the legend of Bridesmaids Creek, the wrong woman for him Daisy Donovan plans to marry Cisco Grant. Suz Hawthorne will do anything to null and void the magic that makes Cisco belong to Daisy. Agreeing with Suz, Cisco marries her in overt defiance of the legend.

Though she loves her spouse, Suz panics over their flouting the legend and sends Cisco away with the stipulation he cannot return unless she asks him to come home. She also conceals from her husband that she is pregnant. As the months pass, Cisco misses his beloved wife while Suz struggles with what she believes is right for them and her desire to have her husband hold her.

The third Bridesmaids Creek whimsical romance (see The SEAL's Holiday Babies and The Rebel Cowboy's Quadruplets) is a pleasing contemporary due to the town, the legend and the overly patient male lead. Although Suz's actions are inane especially made worse when considering her initially stepping up to the plate, series fans will like visiting Bridesmaids Creek.

Your Bed Or Mine?
Joss Wood
Harlequin KISS
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373179152, $5.99

Tori Phillips arrives at her latest boyfriend Mark's apartment to find him having sex with Cinnamon. His reaction to being caught is to invite her to join them in a menage a trois. Disappointed more in herself (than the cheating rat) for picking another loser in a long line of pathetic cretins; Tori returns to her Notting Hill flat vowing to her BFFs eternal no male ban.

New roommate Matt Cross meets Tori just after he overhears her celibacy vow. Both in heat from the onset in spite of her no man pledge and his commitment phobia especially with a flatmate, Matt and Tori figure a little sex cannot hurt anyone except little proves not enough.

The key to this This Flat in Notting Hill contemporary (see The Morning After The Night Before by Nikki Logan, Sleeping With The Soldier by Charlotte Phillips and Enemies With Benefits) is Matt's ability to see past Tori's swagger clown mask to her doubts, wants and vulnerabilities. Though he is love-shy and aware he needs to avoid what he assumes will end up a messy entanglement with a roomie, Matt cannot stop himself from diving heart first into the unknown particularly since Tori jumps in with him.

A Place Called Home
Eleanor Jones
Harlequin Heartwarming
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373367122, $6.50

When Ellie Nelson's car broke down in Little Dale, Lake District, she calls her fiance Matt to pick her up. Irate as he is in the middle of a major business deal, Matt gets her; but drives like a maniac racer on country roads seemingly trying to break the land speed record. As Ellie holds on for dear life, he clips a fox. Ellie leaves the BMW to check on the animal, which obviously needs medical attention. When she refuses to abandon the injured cub, Matt abandons her.

Tarnside Veterinary Center informs Ellie she is near Cravendale wild animal sanctuary. Cravendale volunteer veterinarian Andy Montgomery arrives. Several years ago, Andy broke her heart when he turned to another woman; soon afterward Ellie left Little Dale to attend art school in Manchester. As Ellie paints the wildlife, she and Andy realize they remain attracted to each other. However Andy also concludes he needs her trust if he is to have that second chance his heart craves and yet ironically distrusts her as he expects her to leave after her show. Complicating matters further for Andy is he must overcome the one thing he believes she will never forgive him; not being there for her when her mom was dying and worse knowing he cannot tell her why he failed her.

Eleanor Jones writes an interesting second chance rural British romance. How the triangle reacts to the injured fox cleverly but too simply symbolizes their personalities; as the vet and the artist deeply care what happens to "Creatures Great and Small" (see The Country Vet for the first novel in this series) while the businessman chooses to leave the creature to die.

Enemies With Benefits
Louisa George
Harlequin KISS
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373179169, $5.99

In London as Christmas nears, reclusive Dr. Poppy Spencer feels alone since her three flatmates found significant others (see The Morning After The Night Before by Nikki Logan, Your Bed Or Mine? by Joss Wood and Sleeping With The Soldier by Charlotte Phillips). However, the last person she wants to see club owner Isaac Blair, who knows her better than anyone, arrives at her apartment.

Poppy decides there are benefits to having Isaac crash her flat though she knows she will struggle to deal with the heartbreak comes next year. Still they decorate her place for the holiday, get drunk together and have sex. Poppy becomes melancholy knowing Blair soon will leave her, but he seeks a different end to their current Enemies with Benefits relationship.

This Flat in Notting Hill contemporary is a cheerful Christmas romance in which the leads have a history to overcome. Even without any veering from the most obvious straight and narrow course, the storyline remains a warm holiday tale with readers rooting for the protagonists to make it.

Sleeping With The Soldier
Charlotte Phillips
Harlequin KISS
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780263911480, $5.99

In London, Lara Connor fears her plans to own the Notting Hill boutique lingerie market may collapse due to the noise pollution from the flat above hers. Every night for weeks the incessant banging from upstairs interrupts her sleep. All she knows is that this Alex Spencer is some of kind of war hero who never rests.

Since his return from theater, Alex struggles with PTSD that is at his worst when he goes to bed. When the flatmates finally meet; her plan to confront him changes into wanting him. He feels the same way, but accepts he is damaged goods; not good enough for any female especially the woman he loves.

This Flat in Notting Hill contemporary (see The Morning After The Night Before by Nikki Logan, Your Bed Or Mine? by Joss Wood and Enemies With Benefits) is a discerning drama as Charlotte Phillips captures the essence of a PTSD-ailing veteran's struggle to readapt to civilian life. The lead relationship augments the insightful look at the protagonist's emotional disorder as the heroine initially assumes Alex suffers from affluenza until she finally understands her beloved brought home war demons eating his soul; however her comprehension only makes it harder on her.

White Gardenia
Belinda Alexandra
Gallery Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781476790312, $16.00,

Having fled their homeland after the Tsar abdicated, many White Russians settle on the border in Harbin, China. There Victor Grigorovich Kozlov and Alina Pavlovna meet, marry and have a child Anya. When Anya turns thirteen her father dies in an accident. Not long after his death, Russian Communists take control of Harbin from the Japanese occupied Chinese; severely mistreating their former countrymen. Incarcerated Alina returns home to Mother Russia to most likely die in a labor camp and abusive Tang possesses Anya. Family friends smuggle her out of Harbin.

In Shanghai Anya stays with Moscow-Shanghai nightclub owner and opium addict Sergei and his avaricious wife Amelia. When their ward turns fifteen, she begins to work at her guardian's nightclub where she meets manager Dimitri. A year later, Anya and Dimitri marry. Her husband deserts her when the Communists seize Shanghai forcing all foreign devils out of the country. Anya manages to get to The Philippines where she makes new friends amongst the Russian exiles in a Tubabao refugee camp before relocating in Australia.

This reprint of a mid-twentieth century epic grips the fans with a profound look at what happened to White Russian expatriates decades after they fled their homeland. The storyline starts vivid yet fast-paced; slows down in the middle though retaining the vibrancy; and accelerates with an exhilarating climax. Real events and a strong support cast anchor Anya's saga; as she struggles to survive in a seemingly ever changing but ever cruel world while craving one impossible dream: reuniting with her mother.

Christopher's Diary: Echoes of Dollanger
V.C Andrews
Pocket Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781476790626, $7.99,

In Charlottesville, construction company owner Burt Masterwood's teenage daughter Kristin accompanied him to his latest job; inspecting twice burned down Foxworth Hall. A fourth cousin on her late mother's side to the lunatic Dollanger family who lived in the mansion, Kristin found the diary of oldest child Christopher. She read his account of being locked away in the attic for years with his three younger siblings until one died and the survivors eventually escaped (see Christopher's Diary: Secrets of Foxworth).

Obsessed with the then teenage diarist, Kristin wonders if her school peers are right that she inherited the family insanity taint; especially with as her fixated fascination growing with every page. However, her Dollanger passion seems harmless compared to her boyfriend Kane Hill's preoccupation with the tragic family. He wants to reenact the Dollanger incarceration by pretending to be Chris to Kristin's Cathy and have sex with her while role-playing.

The second Christopher's Diary entry continues the retelling of the Dollanger family drama but from the viewpoint of Christopher instead of Cathy. The intense psychological thriller contains a present day lead couple as mentally disturbing as Grandma Dearest. However, a radical departure from Cathy's journals comes across as a shocking forced attempt at freshness that instead takes fans out of the storyline. Those able to quickly embrace the change will enjoy the journal; while purists will suffer strokes.

Duane Swierczynski
Mulholland Books
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780316403207, $26.00,

In Philadelphia, college honors student Sarie Holland writes to her dead mom informing her with what is going on in her life. Thus she tells her late mother that she attended a party in which drugs and alcohol were prevalent. When one of the revelers D. needed to get a book, he enlisted the only sober person at the gala Sarie to drive him. While she sat in her car waiting for D. to return, PPD Narcotics cop Benjamin Wildey arrived and inspected the vehicle, finding drugs. To escape jail; time for possession, Sarie agreed to become Wildey's criminal informant.

Sarie proves a quick learn of the illegal drug trafficking market with astonishingly uncanny instincts. However, seeing her as his ticket for advancement, the ambitious impatient Wildey rushes the teen in a lethal situation. Law enforcement and killers stalk Sarie sharing the same goal of executing CI 1373.

Canary is an exhilarating police procedural that is over the top of the Liberty Bell as the metamorphosis of the college student into a superheroine CI seems extremely unlikely though the audience will root for her to survive and successfully counter. Sarie's actions and reactions on the mean streets make for a wildly enjoyable crime drama.

Cooler Than Blood
Robert Lane
Mason Alley Publishing
9780692223932, $14.99,

Billy Ray Coleman drives south heading to Fort Myers Beach carrying $284,000 that he expects will soon send his brothers after him. His first and last thought about the Sunshine State is that he never had sex there. Thus he feels euphoric when he spots, selects and assaults eighteen year old Jenny Spencer on a Fort Myers Beach

With his girlfriend Kathleen on board, Jake Travis sails the Gulf on his boat the Impulse when his cell rings for the second time, which like the first time he ignores Susan Blake's desperate call. An attractive acquaintance Susan tests his loyalty to Kathleen as she begs him to find her missing niece Jenny since local police ignore her plea insisting the teen likely ran away since she recently did just that. Jake and his P.I. partner Garrett Demarcus search for Jenny, who apparently killed her attacker and unbeknownst to the sleuths ran off with his money. However, the inquiry becomes muddled when the investigation leads to a link to Kathleen's one-time mob-ties and soon afterward even more obfuscated.

The second Jake Travis mystery (see The Second Letter) is a superb suspenseful private investigator noir. Jake is a sensational sleuth as he keeps the exhilarating storyline focused while pursuing the teen and dodging mobsters. Kathleen and Susan add depth to the inquiry, but also challenge the protagonist's efforts to remain monogamous. Although Jenny comes across more as a jaded adult similar to the other two females tormenting the hero than a teen, Cooler Than Blood will elate the subgenre audience.

I Loved A Rogue
Katharine Ashe
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780062229854, $7.99,

In 1807 Cornwell, in a rage and abetted by two others, Squire Shackleford's son Thomas beats up Taliesin Wolfe the Gypsy lad for his audacity with the vicar's oldest of three adopted daughters. Though Taliesin loves Eleanor Caulfield and believes she loves him too, he leaves town for her sake.

Over eleven years later, having never forgotten the woman he left behind, Taliesin returns to his beloved Eleanor while she attends her father's marriage. Fated to wed royalty, Eleanor remains in love with the rogue who deserted her. Having survived a shipwreck along with her siblings when they were babies, Eleanor plans to begin a quest to learn who her biological family was. Encouraged by the persistence of his beloved's sisters (see Ravenna in I Adored The Lord and Arabella in I Married A Duke) supposedly to keep her safe, Taliesin agrees on traveling with his (he hopes) Eleanor.

The final Prince Catchers regency is an electrifying twisting suspense in which the terse intrigue supersedes the wonderful romance. I Loved A Rogue is a gripping drama that answers the overarching mystery within an excellent second chance historical.

Megan Hart
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778318040, $14.95,

Elise Klein loves being a Dom to her male subs with her latest partner being Esteban; while her mother and older sister loathe her lifestyle especially the BDSM photo-shoots. While modeling at an exhibit, Elise meets her twin brother Evan's co-worker Niall Black. To her astonishment she is attracted to him although she never moved past the one who abandoned her several years ago.

Reciprocating Elise's desire and well aware of her sexual appetite from the gala where they just met, Niall explains to her he is uncomfortable with the thought of being her submissive. Their relationship seems dead until they see each other again at her nephew's bar mitzvah.

Complex Elise turns Vanilla into a beautiful BDSM relationship romance with her acting on, in spite of family scorn, what she wants; yet ironically she remains obsessively attached to a person she cannot have. That is until Niall shows her the true meaning of loving intimacy while he also struggles between his and her desires. Whereas the meandering storyline moves at a leisurely-pace, erotica readers will cherish this heated character-driven (by the protagonist and enhanced by a three-dimensional support cast) contemporary.

A Real Prince
Debbie Macomber
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778315513, $7.99

"The Bachelor Prince." San Lorenzo is in financial trouble due to the nearby strife in the Balkans shutting down the only close international airport and thus keeping tourists away. Heir to the throne his family has kept for seven centuries and a Duke University grad, Prince Stefano Giorgio Paolo travels to America seeking a very wealthy bride to keep the country from declaring bankruptcy. His secretary selects shipping magnate's daughter Priscilla Rutherford as the bride. However, in the States the royal falls in love with Hope Jordan who can save his heart, but not his kingdom.

"Yesterday's Hero." Septuagenarian department head Dr. Brewster explains to marine biologist Leah Talmadge that the Diamantina Islands leadership has a long history of Puritan ethics and will not allow opposite sex singles to share a room. Thus she and photographer Cain Hawkins agree to a marriage of convenience that they agree ends when they finish their whales' expedition. On the islands neither expected to fall in love.

These reprints of 1994 and 1986 romances respectively are likable tales that follow the most likely courses. Due to the background, ironically each reads like a historical.

Echo Lake
Carla Neggers
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778317432, $7.99

Former diplomat Vic Scarlatti retires to Knights Bridge. He hires Sloan & Sons Construction to renovate his historical home that overlooks Echo Lake. Ignoring the objections of her overly protective five brothers Heather Sloan leads the restoration. Additionally due to unnerving incidents, Vic asks his friend Diplomatic Security Service agent Brody Hancock to investigate if someone threatens him; while his doubting protege expands that to protecting his former mentor though that means going home to a place he swore as a teen never to return.

Adding to Brody's infuriation at being back in his birth town is constantly running into the Sloan siblings who he loathed when he last resided here. However more exasperating is seeing Heather almost every day as Brody is very attracted to her; she reciprocates but doubts he has any staying interest in her.

The fourth Swift River Valley romantic mystery (see Cider Brook, That Night On Thistle Lane and Secrets of the Lost Summer) is a pleasant second chance (loose definition) at love starring two total opposites. The wintry Massachusetts background is picturesque as the audience will believe they are chasing Vic's canine in the snow alongside underdressed for the weather Heather. However, the appealing novel also feels overly busy with too many albeit well-written subplots distracting from the fabulous main storyline.

Waking The Dead
Heather Graham
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778317449, $7.99

In 1816 Henry Sebastian Hubert enjoys "year without summer" off Lake Geneva with friends George, Lord Byron; Percy and Mary Shelley; and Claire Godwin. As part of an artistic contest among the friends, Henry paints the haunting Ghosts in the Mind portraying a murder.

In present day New Orleans Danni Cafferty visits her friend Niles Villiers' Image Me This Gallery. Ecstatic Niles shows her why he is elated; he received 100 computer-generated giclee prints of Ghosts of the Mind in which the current owner of the original resides in The Big Easy. Meanwhile former cop turned private investigator Michael Quinn returns from Texas to look into horrific harrowing homicides. Soon Quinn joined by Cafferty start to wonder if the Hubert painting is the malevolent cause.

The second Cafferty & Quinn (and Wolf) urban fantasy (see Let The Dead Sleep) is a taut paranormal murder mystery with a powerful cast entrenched in a vividly haunting atmospheric New Orleans and a seemingly seeped in evil Swiss castle. The case hooks readers from the opening nineteenth century Swiss scene and keeps its hold until the climatic confrontation. Although that final face to face fight is marred by the killer's boasting soliloquy (pet peeve of mine), this remains an enjoyable supernatural thriller.

Full Tilt
Rick Mofina
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778317456, $7.99

In Rampart, New York, RPD Detective Ed Brennan rushes to the hospital where a third degree burned mid-twenties white female dies after seemingly being tied up in a fiery barn on the vacant Rose Hill insane asylum cemetery. Near the inferno the cops find an abandoned truck belonging to Carl Nelson, who left an apparent murder-suicide note.

Following her coverage (and active involvement) of a Texas child abduction case (see Whirlwind), Newslead rewards investigative journalist Kate Page with a position in their Manhattan headquarters. The Children's Searchlight Network calls Kate to tell her that the Rampart Police Department seeks someone who recognizes a tiny guardian angel charm identical to what she possesses. Soon afterward Ed calls a hopeful Kate to inform her that a murder scene contained this piece of jewelry on a necklace. Two decades ago, Kate survived a car accident in which her younger sister Vanessa and their foster parents apparently drowned. Feeling guilt for not being able to hold onto her sibling, Kate leaves her young daughter with a friend and takes the train to Rampart. Kate soon learns of the serial killings of multiple prisoners locked away for years inside Rose Hill by a brilliant psychopath.

The second Kate Page investigative mystery (see Whirlwind) is an adrenaline pumping chilling thriller from start to finish; with the case extremely personal. The gripping storyline maintains readers' attention throughout; as we increasingly anticipate the closing clash between the heroine and the serial killer, and also wonder (along with Kate) if Vanessa is one of the dead.

It Must Be Your Love
Bella Andre
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778317319, $7.99

Documentary filmmaker Natasha Lawrence shows the subject of her latest project rock superstar Ford Vincent a clip she found from five years ago; just prior to his rise to music royalty status. Natasha says that he is great every time he performs, but Ford was incredibly special that night. By the way he looks at the screen now and on the video at the woman; Natasha encourages him to go after love.

Ford thinks back to when he and Mia Sullivan fell in love in Seattle, but she refused to accompany him on the road so their relationship ended when he left town. Mature he realizes how stupid his demands with no compromise were and being on the highest level of the music pantheon pales next to being with his beloved Mia. Thus he returns to Washington State prepared to sacrifice his career for his Mia.

The eleventh Sullivan romance (see Kissing Under the Mistletoe) is a marvelous second chance contemporary. The lead couple is a fantastic pairing of opposites who struggle to find a compromise that will allow them to continue their respective vocations yet be together. The Sullivan brood welcomes him and embraces their relationship while readers will sing "It must be your love or no love at all" (Etta James).

War of the Wives
Tamar Cohen
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778317487, $14.95

When Simon Busfield died in what looks like a suicidal leap into a river, he left behind two widows, Selina and Lottie, without divorcing either. The late bigamist's wives are 180 degrees different in outlook. The deceased's first wife of twenty-eight years Selina is sophisticated and the queen of organize; while his other spouse of seventeen years Lottie is artistic and the queen of disorganize. Selina arranges the funeral that Lottie attends when a stalker expresses his condolences for her loss. Thus Simon's two spouses and their respective offspring meet for the first time at his burial.

The widows are far from merry with the shocking news of their late husband's infidelity. As they struggles between denial and anger, Selina and Lottie share in common a need to know why he had two families and why he committed suicide if that is he actually took his own life. To do so they must put aside their raging War of the Wives. Thus the depressed widows bargain with each other to forge a detente in order to uncover the secrets of whom the man each spent years with truly was.

The intriguing storyline follows the Kubler-Ross's Five Stages of Grief while rotating the lead between the two wives in each phase. The two families have more problems than Job and myriad of secrets than the CIA possesses; both elements at times overwhelm the overall fine tragicomic family drama.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Rhythm of Math: Teaching Mathematics with Body Music
Keith Terry & Linda Akiyama, authors
Crosspulse Media
P.O. Box 3388, Oakland, CA 94609
9780990601906, $39.00,

"Rhythm of Math: Teaching Mathematics with Body Music -A Kinesthetic Approach" is a 162-page spiral bound manual plus 52 minute instructional DVD that uses a kinesthetic approach to teach mathematics principles grade levels 3-5 that are aligned with Common Core Mathematics Standards. Featuring easy to learn body rhythm techniques, "Rhythm of Math" teaches kids to use feet, hands, and voices to create rhythm experiences that teach math concepts through the "Body Music Rhythm Blocks" technique. These creative writers know that traditional body music is not a new educational concept, but an easy to apply, hands on method that is fun, engaging, and efficient for helping children understand math principles. Early examples of body music sited include games of hambone (a traditional style of African American body music), and jump rope rhyming games and chants, such as Double Dutch. The notebook is organized into lessons and chapters centered on teaching basic rhythm blocks and a system of notation that involves using a string of key rhythm symbols such as an asterisk for a clap and a circle for a pat. To begin, each days lessons have components of preparing to teach, rhythm activities, math activities, and composition and math application activities. Lesson objectives are clearly outlined in the beginning of each lesson, and examples of students' homework and black and white photos are inserted into the curriculum description pages. The content is enriched by the DVD explanations, and the level of complexity of the lessons gradually increases. A Rhythm of Math Student Journal from pages 113 to 129 is intended to be reproduced for student use when the teacher has purchased and is using "The Rhythm of Math" to teach math principles. Likewise a Going Further section (pp. 132-158) presents enriching homework assignments for lessons 1 through 8, on reproducible pages. "The Rhythm of Math" is further extended and enriched by two separate rhythm game instructions and a rhythm glossary. "The Rhythm of Math" is an excellent example of the use of kinesthetic learning, a fun technique using body rhythm practices to incorporate and implant mathematic teaching principles. Specific suggestions for aligning lessons with Common Core Curriculum math principles are frequently integrated into the lessons.

Parents for Sale
Dr. Nicole Audet, author
Sunny Heston, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781496957443, $21.99,

"Parents for Sale" is an exciting, entertaining story that teaches children some basic concepts of responsibility in caring for a family pet such as a dog, as well as a treatment of the subject of the fundamental value of loving, caring parents. The Clark parents are fed up with their twins, Luke and Lucy, reneging on their caretaking responsibility for their dog, Pistachio, a golden retriever. The Clark parents inform the twins that their dog will be sold because they are failing to walk her in the rain and fill her bowl with food and water. The twins are very upset at this decision despite their inattentiveness to Pistachio. They decide to change the for sale sign when their parents are gone, so that it says "Parents for Sale!" This unusual idea has many unexpected revolutions. The twins manage to get into all kinds of troublesome situations dealing with their efforts to sell their parents. Finally, a confrontation with a scheming witch who wants to eat their parents, Pistachio comes to the whole family's rescue. There are many unexpected twists and turns, but by the end, kids will learn that loving parents are a rare and precious commodity, and responsibility to care for your pet is a serious commitment. Cheery color full page illustrations keep the interest high in this early chapter book. "Parents for Sale" is ideal reading for kids age 8 and up.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

Violent No More
Michael Paymar
Hunter House Publishers
PO Box 2914, Alameda, CA 94501-2914
9780897936651, $24.95, 336pp,

Synopsis: "Violent No More: Helping Men End Domestic Abuse" is for men who have struggled with or are currently being violent in an intimate relationship. Filled with real stories of men who have harmed the ones they love and found the courage to change, this highly acclaimed book has helped thousands acknowledge and reform their abusive behavior. Author Michael Paymar doesn't sidestep the unpleasant reality of domestic violence. Included here are the sometimes shocking first-person accounts of violent men, along with those of battered women. More importantly, many of these stories illustrate the ways in which men were able to stop their use of violence and control. This revised third edition contains four new chapters which address the challenges faced by practitioners who work with domestic violence offenders or victims, and the particular struggles faced by combat veterans returning from war, many of whom come home with PTSD and other mental health issues. With group exercises and individual goal-setting plans to help men find healthy ways of responding to conflict, change the cultural conditioning that condones violence, and avoid reverting to old patterns, "Violent No More" is an essential guide for men dealing with violence issues, as well as for the professionals who assist in their efforts to improve.

Critique: Domestic violence (also domestic abuse, spouse abuse, intimate partner violence, battering or family violence) is a pattern of behavior which involves violence or other abuse by one person in a domestic context against another, such as in marriage or cohabitation. Intimate partner violence is domestic violence by a spouse or partner in an intimate relationship against the other spouse or partner. Domestic violence can take place in heterosexual or same-sex relationships. Domestic violence can take a number of forms including physical, emotional, verbal, economic and sexual abuse, which can range from subtle, coercive forms to marital rape and to violent physical abuse that results in disfigurement or death. It is illegal, immoral, and socially unconscionable. It can also be generational with children learning it from their parents. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Violent No More: Helping Men End Domestic Abuse" should be a part of every community and academic library collection -- and made mandatory reading for any man arrested for or engaging in domestic abuse. "Violent No More" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.97). It should be noted that there is an accompanying workbook available and also highly recommended: "Violent No More Workbook" (9781630267612, $19.95 PB, Kindle $10.96).

The Single Dad Detour
Tez Brooks
Kregel Publications
2450 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
Litfuse Publicity
9780825443602, $14.99, 192pp,

Synopsis: Conventional wisdom holds that fathers have few parenting skills and that mothers always know best. The single father is often considered a mythical creature, found only in sitcoms as an object of humor or pity. Where does that leave real single dads? Too often, it makes them susceptible to overcompensation or apathy. Tez Brooks knows those feelings all too well. He's traveled that road with his own children after an unexpected divorce. "The Single Dad Detour" is the result of his journey and the lessons he's learned along the way. It's a guidebook for the rocky road of single fatherhood, extending encouragement, confidence, and challenges, using specific examples from dads who've survived parenting and have hope to offer. There are no unreachable requirements for perfect fatherhood here and no twisty theological mysteries -- just authentic, down-to-earth wisdom from one dad to another.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is inspired and inspiring, "The Single Dad Detour" is a 'must read' for any and all fathers who find themselves on their own and caring for their children. Specifically written for divorced fathers, "The Single Dad Detour" will prove to be invaluable for fathers who find themselves sole caretakers of their children through the untimely deaths of their wives. Practical, constructive, pragmatic, comprehensive, and thoroughly 'user friendly', "The Single Dad Detour" should be a part of every community library's Parenting Skills collection. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Single Dad Detour" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Death Comes For The Deconstructionist
Daniel Taylor
c/o Wipf & Stock Publishers
199 West 8th Avenue, Suite 3, Eugene, OR 97401
9781625649317, $22.00, 180pp,

Synopsis: Jon Mote (a grad school dropout and serial failure) has been hired to investigate the murder of his erstwhile mentor, Richard Pratt, a star in the firmament of literary theory. Feeling unequal to the task, Mote skitters on the edge of madness, trying to stifle the increasingly threatening voices in his head. His only source of hope is the dogged love of his mentally disabled sister, Judy, who serves as cheerleader, critic, and moral compass. "Death Comes for the Deconstructionist" follows Mote and his sister through the streets and neighborhoods of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota--from crime scenes to the halls of academe. Mote's investigation uncovers a series of suspects--including the victim's wife, mistress, and intellectual rivals. Along the way he stumbles onto the victim's terrible secret, one that prompts the discovery of an equally dark mystery from his own past. These revelations hasten Mote's descent into darkness, putting both him and Judy at grave risk. Death Comes for the Deconstructionist is a tragi-comic mystery, a detective story that is at once suspenseful, provocative, and emotionally resonant. It asks not only ''whodunit'' but whether truth is ultimately something we create rather than discover.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, "Death Comes For The Deconstructionist" clearly documents author Daniel Taylor as having an impressive storytelling talent in general, and a mastery of the mystery/suspense genre in particular. A thoroughly entertaining read from beginning to end, "Death Comes For The Deconstructionist" is highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library collections.

Micah Andrew

Richard's Bookshelf

Spies in Disguise at Gettysburg
Mary Morgan
Buttonwood Press, LLC
P.O. Box 716, Haslett, MI 48840
9780989146227, $7.95, 158 Pages,

Clues, Cameras, Shrewd Junior Detective Observations, and another National Park Mystery Solved.

Ben and Bekka Cooper's fifth grade class have been selected to participate in a reenactment of the three day Civil War battle that took place in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1863. Classes from five states in addition to the Coopers class from Lansing, Michigan were also selected to participate in the reenactment; two other states from the North and three from the South.

The story is filled with mystery, suspense, and excitement as Ben, Bekka, and their friends expose a criminal plot during their stay at the park. Other highlights include lessons on good sportsmanship, team work, and the importance of building character. There are also opportunities to learn practical lessons about family camping, cooking in trenches, and practicing the golden rule.

Mary Morgan understands what preteens like to read. "Spies in Disguise at Gettysburg" is the third book in the "National Park Mystery Series." Dawn McVay Baumer's clever illustrations add a visual impact that will add to the entertainment appeal of the reader and also capture their imagination and interaction with the story. The dialog moves the plot forward and helps develop the believable, memorable characters.

"Spies in Disguise at Gettysburg" is an ideal story for family night read "alouds" and as well as for many, many, discussion starters. The book is also an important addition to your church or home school library.

Grit in Your Craw: The 8 Strengths You Need to Succeed in Business and in Your Life
Robert Luckadoo
Southern Flair Communications
PO Box 4274, Brandon, MS 39042
9780990785606, $12.99, 128 pages,

Finding Personal and Business Success, Through Discovering Your Life Purpose

"Grit in Your Craw - The 8 Strengths You Need to Succeed in Business and in Your Life" is solid advice based on developing eight essential strengths for success in your personal and business life. This fast moving narrative reads like fiction.

I became totally engrossed in the reading experience; the book provided me with a positive sense of optimism, and made me feel good about my day, my opportunities past and future.I found some personal "take a-ways" from Luckadoo's writing. These include:

The importance of strategic planning
Having long and short term goals
A plan for embracing the 8 qualities of the book in accomplishing my aspirations and goals
The rewards of discipline resulting from the productive use of time

Robert Luckadoo, coach, entrepreneur, pilot, race car driver, insurance professional, and family man uses life stories to illustrate each of the eight essential strengths needed to succeed. His writing is highly creative conveying a positive outlook which produces contagious optimism, important to creating client acceptance and confidence.

A unique feature of the book that sets it apart from similar self-improvement books is his Gospel centered Worldview. The book is designed for performance based professionals and anyone looking for life strategies and direction for finding their purpose in life. Highly readable, highly recommended.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Jesus Culture: Calling a Generation to Revival
By Banning Liebscher
Destiny Image Publisher, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768405378, $16.99, 220 Pages

Revelation, Relevancy, and Reformation for a New Breed of Revivalists

In his book "Jesus Culture: Calling a Generation to Revival" Banning Liebscher begins by describing what a new breed of revivalists looks like and how we are living in the greatest hour of history. He draws lessons from the relationship of Moses' authority and Joshua's courage to illustrate the importance of spiritual covering and the power of alignment in ministry. He goes on to introduce the reader to God's extravagant love and how we can ignite revival fires across the world. He challenges the reader to see the connection of a life of prayer and a life of power. In the final chapters he calls the reader to accept responsibility, and the role of "risk taking" in the realm of the supernatural.

He tells the story of God's call on his life, of his childhood salvation experience, of a teenage encounter with Jesus, and of being overwhelmed with a sense of gratefulness for God's presence, of his anointing, and of being captivated with Jesus.

Banning describes a wholehearted consecration to prayer and revival, and of the strong desire to join others for the purpose uniting together on the "brink of a new wave of global revival; fanning the flames of revival" He tells how God used prophetic words, revelation, and dreams to call him to raise up and guide a new breed of revivalists: a generation of anointed revivalists, a remnant raised up to change the course of history.

I was deeply moved by Banning's articulate/word patterns and fervor as he describes the new revivalist, as burning ones (igniting fires) abiding in the love of Jesus and burning with passion for Him.

The book is filled with wisdom for life, insights into scripture, and keys for successful and victorious living. Banning discusses cultivating God ordained relationships, unity and discernment. Banning brings a message of life changing principles written with authority and passion. Each chapter includes profound questions which stimulate (awaken) self-examination, commitment, and a challenge to wholehearted living

Page after page Banning conveys a sense of urgency for a new focus to individual destiny, and to pursing holiness with a new passion. Banning's writing draws the reader in with an irresistible power and contagious sense of expectancy. He has convinced me that we are living in "the greatest hour of history."

"Jesus Culture: Calling a Generation to Revival" is a book for anyone passionately desirous of seeing supernatural power released through their life.

A copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Sooner Than You Think: A Prophetic Guide to the End Times
Sid Roth
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768406092, $ 14.99, 272 pages

Revelation, Revival, Remnant, and Readiness

Bestselling author, Sid Roth, known internationally for his television program "It's Supernatural!" brings the writing of twelve highly recognized prophecy teachers in his book "Sooner Than You Think: A Prophetic Guide to the End Times." The book is a clarion call to watch with vigilance and expectancy at a time when all seems to be getting darker. Roth reminds the reader that God's desire is to flood us with light so that we might be ready for a great end time's revival

Paul McGuire leads off with an end time's preview that reads like fiction. He encourages Christians to take the Bible in one hand and the daily news in the other to find personal peace in the midst of these "tumultuous" times. L.A. Marzulli looks at the warning of the great deception, the signs of the times, and the similarity of the days of Noah stressing the importance of knowing we are ready.

Sid Stone sheds light on the first and second comings of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, on the feasts of Israel, and revelations into the teaching of the book of Revelation. Mark Biltz goes back to the very beginning to help the reader understand the Biblical calendar with a clear message to be alert and watching for the Lord's return.

Tom Horn leads the reader through a prophetic maze of prototypes and patterns, Armageddon, and the infiltration of demonic elements into our national identity. Anne Rowen, John Shorey, and Ron Cantor detail the stance taken by the pre-tribulationist, the mid-tribulationist, the great tribulation, and the Anti-Christ. David Brennan and Pat Schatzline interpret teaching of prophecies on the judgments and on the remaining remnant. Dr. Jim Richards challenges the reader to trust God's promises, to follow Him, and to rely on Him for sustenance throughout these last-days.

Each contributor's work is well researched, written with authority and presented with clarity. "Sooner Than You Think" is an important study in Eschatology and is worthy of note by every concerned Christian watching for the Lord's return, inviting them to join others in becoming a part of the coming Last-Days Revival by alerting as many as possible of the salvation provided through Jesus, the promised Messiah, and preparing them for these final days.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Dream Journal
Bill and Beni Johnson, Danny Silk, Banning Liebscher, and Kevin Dedmon
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310 Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768406085, $14.99, 192 pages

A Journal for Recording Your Dreams, Visions, and Prophecies

Over the years I have often pondered the significance of Joel's Old Testament prophecy on dreams, visions, and prophecies. From time to time I have read books and articles on the subject. I have always been an active dreamer; my day dreams have often turned to vision and my night dreams continue to intrigue me.

Throughout my spiritual journey I have made a practice of recording highlights from inspirational reading and devotional thoughts, influencing my spiritual walk. These have been in the form of gratitude journals, spiritual journals, God sightings, and various topical 40 day adventures with God.

In recent years I have read books by each of the contributors of the "Dream Journal," Bill and Beni Johnson, Danny Silk, Banning Liebscher and Kevin Dedmon. So, I was immediately drawn to this journal. The book is designed to encourage the personal practice of writing down your dreams and visions and for recording revelations from your quiet times with God.

A word of introduction and helpful instruction is provided for getting the most benefit from keeping the journal. A positive model prayer is provided for beginning your dream journey. Each journal page is lined for easy recording of your personal entry with an inspirational thought, theme to follow, or a suggestion for your writing.

I have been amazed to find how this practice is helping me recognize the voice of God, keeping me focused on Jesus, as the spirit gives me an awareness of God's presence, in an attitude of expectation.

"Dream Journal" will be especially helpful for anyone beginning the practice of writing down your dreams as well as those already established in recording their dreams, visions and interpretations. Highly recommended.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Prosperous Soul - Your Journey to a Richer Life
Dr. Cindy Trimm
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc
P. O. Box 310 Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768405167, $15.99, 278 pages

Transformation Growth Principles for Fulfilling Your Destiny

Dr. Cindy Trimm captures the essence of living in the abundance of a life focused on Christ in her book "The Prosperous Soul - Your Journey to a Richer Life." She writes to inspire, encourage, and empower the reader to live and love from a pure and prosperous heart.

I was personally challenged to answer some tough questions: What is God's call on my life? Can I envision His destiny for me? What is my motivation? What drives me? What am I pressing toward? How do I want to "finish well?"

The book is divided into two parts. Step by step I was able to formulate an action plan for determining answers to my questions as I followed Dr. Trimm's insightful instructions for initiating a fundament change of heart. (Part one). In Part Two: I was challenged to embrace the "40 principles and practice for a more prosperous life."

I am eagerly looking forward to completing the Study Guide and devotional Interactive Guide to Living a Richer Life, as well as going through the DVD study that reinforce the principles introduced in this book.

"The Prosperous Soul" is packed with amazing insights, practical instruction, and logical conclusions for finding completeness in each of the eight realms that make up wholeness or wholeheartedness in the Christian Life.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

40 Days to a Prosperous Soul - Your Interactive Guide to Living a Richer Life
Dr. Cindy Trimm
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310 Shippensburg, Pa 175257-0310
9780768405224, $14.99, 194 pages

God's Divine Plan for a Truly Richer Life and a Prosperous Soul

"40 Days to a Prosperous Soul - Your Interactive Guide to Living a Richer Life" is designed to be a daily devotional companion to the book and curriculum in the Prosperous Soul Series. The daily devotions provide positive reinforcement for continuously, walking in freedom, living authentically, and pursuing a life of wholeness.

The devotionals in this volume are correlated with Part Two of the Prosperous Soul book, and are interactive and action driven. Each day includes a short narrative based on the day's theme, key suggestions essential for experiencing a richer life, profound interactive questions designed to help the reader make decisive answers the questions: Now What? How do I continue to experience abundance in every area of my life?

Each daily devotional provides an action plan which addresses practical steps for implementing a personal application. I found the days dealing the subjects of: focus, joy, empathy, and purpose especially beneficial.

The "40 Days to a Prosperous Soul - Your Interactive Guide to Living a Richer Life" is a powerful resource tool for prospering in every area of life. Enriching, empowering, and personal.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Prosperous Soul Study Guide
Dr. Cindy Trimm
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768405217, $14.99, 160 Pages

A Transformation Journey in Abundant Living - A 40 Day Journey

"The Prosperous Soul Study Guide" is designed to be integrated as a resource guide in the Prosper Soul Curriculum. Throughout the course Dr. Cindy Trimm, bestselling author and speaker, demonstrates how "abundance is a choice." In each of eight weekly group sessions participants will watch an instructional DVD led by Dr. Trim, participate in an interactive group discussion, and become involved in envision exercises.

The study guide is intended to be used by each individual participant during the week. Each day's lesson follows the topics introduced in Part Two of "The Prosperous Soul" text book and includes: Suggestions for implementing one of the 40 key practices for prospering your life, a theme related scripture verse, a suggested envision action, a prosperity mediation, and a prosperity declaration.

Some of the other unique features I found both interesting and helpful include: A fasting Journal, an exercise for prospering intellectually... recording brainstorming notes on the topic "Studying," an assignment dealing with strong emotions, and the application for responding to relational situations.

"The Prosperous Soul Study Guide" is an important plan book for anyone ready to commit to a 40 Day Transformational Journey in Abundant living.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Overcoming Crisis: The Secrets to Thriving in Challenging Times (Expanded Edition)
Dr. Myles Munroe
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768404791, $16.99, 272 pages

Time Tested Principles for Suviving Crisis

In this expanded edition of "Overcoming Crisis: The Secrets to Thriving in Challenging Times." Dr. Myles Monroe, respected international Christian leader and bestselling author, offers practical advice for converting crisis into opportunity and growth. He coaches the reader by encouraging them to develop attitudes and principles which will help them reach their true personal potential.

Munroe cuts through to the heart of the matter as he describes the emotional responses to crisis and the resulting consequences. He maintains that management is the number one "Kingdom Key" for overcoming crisis as he explores in detail seven keys for managing crisis. He uses the Old Testament example of the life of Joseph to illustrate these management principles.

Fast moving chapters provide the reader with invaluable guidelines and principles for facing issues of job crisis, family disappointments, and other difficult situations. He then introduces ways for maximizing the benefits of crisis. This expanded edition includes questions for reflection and for personal or group study.

The final chapter entitled "10 Ways to Rise Above Crisis" provide s an added permanence to the value of the book. Like the chorus or last refrain of a song, these thoughts capture the essence of the earlier concepts or truths and should be read and reread often.

Munroe's writing is Biblically sound, financially practical, and economically feasible. This is a book for reading, reference, referral, study, assimilation and application.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Richard R. Blake, Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

Jayak Nepal!
Martin David Hughes
Simi Books, Ashville, N.C.
Jessica Glenn (publicity)
9780990578406, $19.50 (PB), $2.99 (Kindle), 336pp,

Martin David Hughes is Canadian born, and now resides in Asheville, North Carolina. He is a Chiropractor who specializes in feet. He has traveled throughout the Indian Continent and is a keen hiker of the Himalayas.

Benjamin Creed is a recent grad of Berkeley whose parents were Peace Corps volunteers in Nepal. Nepal has recently reopened their Peace Corps program after years of internal strife, and Ben's group is the first group in. He settles in Pepsicola Townplanning, where he meets and works with a doctor in a tiny, poor medical clinic. Little does he know that not only will the doc help him resolve emotional issues, but also he will determine his future path:

"'Yes, indeed there is.' A look crossed his face, but before I could prepare, he switched back to the topic I had tried to avoid. 'Not the least of which is how to better mask your answers to elude a lengthy explanation. Look, Benny-bhai, I know there is more to your presence here in Nepal than you're willing to admit. I know this. I sense a strong yearning within you to come to terms with something beyond your immediate ability to reconcile. I suspect your bashfulness and your presence here have much to do with a wound from your past, although this is simply conjecture...'"

Hughes takes the reader through not only the geographical thrills in Nepal, but also get us inside the culture. His characters mesh with the surroundings to pull the reader into the nature of Nepal, from its poverty to its spirituality. Hughes also gives a credible description to the travails of the Peace Corps, although his characters are fictional. All in all, JAYA NEPAL is a multi-layered book guaranteed to please those who like to take trips through books. Ben's journey educates us.

Imaginary Things
Andrea Lochen
Astor + Blue Editions
419 Lafayette St., Fl 2, New York, NY 10003
9781941286111, $10.49 paper/$5.49 Nook,

Andrea Lochen is a writing instructor at UW-Wisconsin-Waukesha. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband. IMAGINARY THINGS is the follow-up to her critically acclaimed novel, The Repeat Year.

Children have enormous imaginations, particularly only children. But what would happen if their secret childhood friends were dinosaurs and tigers? Single mother

Anna Jennings is about to find out, when she and her four-year-old son David move back to her grandparents' home and small town. Anna is coming off a bad relationship with David's father, who is bipolar and dangerous. Suddenly Anna is able to not only see David's machinations, but feel them as well:

"King Rex appeared almost immediately this time, my eyes detecting him all at once. He popped out of thin air like a magic trick. I hovered nearby, pacing slightly, too anxious to stand still or sit down. Across the street from the parking lot was an old cemetery, and it was unsettling watching the dinosaur dart to and fro in front of a backdrop of crumbling tombstones and monuments."

Anna's childhood friend, Jamie Presswood, has also come back to town to take care of his mother, who has MS. He and Anna quickly establish the rapport they enjoyed as children, but Anna must come to terms with her own past before she can move forward to solve her "imaginary things" dilemma and rescue both herself and her child.

IMAGINARY THINGS is a compelling novel, exquisitely written. Lochen's characters jump out from the page, including the beasties, which are as huge as Anna's doubts.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

After House
Michael Phillip Cash
Create Space
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781500600365, $11.95, 212pgs,

In this read we meet a mother and her daughter, Olivia. Mom, Remy, and Olivia and Remy are trying to start their lives over after leaving Olivia's husband. They rent a old house that unfortunately has other occupants living in it. Thus the challenges, and somewhat 'spooky' life begins. Why are things happening to Remy? Who is this strange Ghost who will not leave their house? Mystery follows mystery. This was a good book with a good story line, a dusting of mystery and strange happenings all twisting together to make a good read. Well done. I believe you will enjoy.

Chinese Turkestan
Ryan Pyle
Ryan Pyle Productions
9780992864408 $25.36,192 pages,

This is a book dedicated to the China people. The author shares with you why he produced this book, and some of his own reflections of the Chinese living. As you turn to the photo's they have few written words, few lines of explanation as you view each picture. No, instead I feel the author is hoping that you will open your mind and heart to see what is happening in each one, what he has discovered. He wants you to take in their expressions, their surroundings, their life styles. I believe he truly wants others to open there hearts and look with their inner man to share the vision that he sees of these people and their lives. It was a learning experience to me. Some pictures were uncomfortable to see, others made me smile. It was a world I knew little about, and this book opened my mind and for that I am appreciative. This book would be priceless for school learning as well.

Run Holly Run
Walter Rouzer
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
BOOR67OKU, $TBA, 214pgs,

This novel caught my attention right from the beginning. The Location was a catcher for me. A young girl and her family move to live in a mansion that is dated, and is in what I call a cozy town. Our main character, Holly, the daughter, seems to have a gift of seeing into the Spirit realm.

In doing so she sees things that other do not, except for Charlie, a friend she discovers and shares her adventure with, as he seems to be connected to the mystery that is unfolding around them. Danger Danger Danger seems to be screaming all through this read, but where is the danger coming from, and what are those on the other side trying to say?

I really enjoyed this read, it was adventurous, had some giggles in it, well played characters, mystery, and some creepy moments. Very well done, enjoyable. I hope this becomes a movie. Recommended.

Oliver and Jumpy
Werner Stejskal
Kindle Books
978162517462, $TBA, 35pgs,

In this delightful read we meet Oliver and Jumpy. Oliver is a tomcat, who is very lucky to have a beautiful home and friends who love him. In this story it has snowed and Oliver and his friends will take you with them as they gather to enjoy all the benefits of fun that a snowy day brings. You will also share another story with Oliver his memories of his mom and how she cared for him as he was growing up. Very loving and sweet story. And a short tale about "Egging" this one sharing how to care for another. However my favorite was the one with snow. This is a light hearted adventure that children and adults will enjoy sharing, and if they are lucky enough to live in a area where it snows they will connect with Oliver and his friends as they enjoy the benefits of snow. Very nice illustrations with these stories that definitely bring them to life. I think your children, and yourself will enjoy these tales. Nice job. A really fun read.

Joel Ohman
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781500189600, $9.99, 226pgs,

In this book we are taken to a time where each person's value is decided by how smart they are, how much they can give to the community, etc., and they receive a number, and are treated good or bad by how high their number is. Therefore they are living in a world of 'Throw Away People".

We meet Charley who grew up under this rule, but after losing a loved one to their rules awakens to battle the wrong. /we travel with Charlie until he finally escapes and heads towards a new life.

I actually enjoyed reading this book, but at times it did make me feel uncomfortable as I can see that in our own world this mindset is stirring, and that troubles me. Perhaps it is because of my belief in the end-times that stirred the emotions within me, perhaps it is seeing people acting the way some of those in this story acted. However, to me this made it a good read because it truly touches on what may be in the future. I hope not. To end, writing was good, the Author did a good job in allowing the emotions of the characters to come through. I feel it was a good read and enjoyed it. I just hope it never comes to pass. Recommended.

Good The Goblin Queen
Becket Quin
9781941240229, $9.64, 286pgs,

In this read we meet a young girl named, "Good" who certainly does not seem to fit with her family and the life they live. she longs for a different life and after making a wish upon 'many' stars things begin to change for her and the adventure of her life begins as well.

This book was quite different than those I am used too, but in a good way. Good walks into a world that is alive with many different characters that draw both Good and the reader into the story. She begins an adventure of a life time and the reader is allowed to share this with her. The story moves along quickly and holds your attention and the illustrations that are placed here and there throughout the read helps to bring the story alive. This is not perhaps what you are use to reading but it will definitely hold your attention and the attention of a younger reader. A fun read that I believe will be enjoyed.

Shirley Priscilla Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Missing Persons
Bruce Piasecki
Square One Publishers
115 Herricks Road, Garden City Park, NY 11040
Jane Wesman Public Relations Inc.
9780757004124, $17.95, 224pp,

Synopsis: Bruce Piasecki, the author of the immensely popular book "Doing More With Less: The New Way to Wealth", is now presented "Missing Persons: A Life of Unexpected Influences", a compendium of seventy vignettes in which Piasecki channels his poetic side. This memoir is one part autobiography and one part creative non-fiction written in vignette form, recounting the author's formative relationships and experiences with intimacy and longing. Readers are introduced to his mother, and father, his interracial brothers and sisters, his early and late business partners, his lovers, his daughter and his wife. "Missing Persons" is told in a unique third person narrative that provides intrigue for the reader as they follow the protagonist through loss, passion, self-invention, a litany of fears and dreams - each revealed in eloquent prose. Through his uniquely informed perspective, Bruce allows us to understand the power of memory and how it influences us.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Missing Persons: A Life of Unexpected Influences" is a fascinatingly candid and informative read. Very highly recommended, especially to Bruce Piasecki's legions of fans based on his "Doing More With Less", his personal story and stories set out in such a unique literary fashion is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library American Biography collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Missing Persons" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Hardwood Glory
Barbara Olenyik Morrow
Indiana Historical Society
450 W Ohio Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202
9780871953612, $17.95, 256pp,

Synopsis: The late John Robert Wooden (October 14, 1910 - June 4, 2010) was an American basketball player and coach. Nicknamed the "Wizard of Westwood," as head coach at UCLA he won ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period, including an unprecedented seven in a row. Within this period, his teams won a then-record 88 consecutive games. He was named national coach of the year six times. As a player, Wooden was the first to be named basketball All-American three times, and he won a Helms Athletic Foundation National Championship at Purdue University in 1932, seven years before the birth of the NCAA Tournament. Wooden was named a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player (inducted in 1961) and as a coach (in 1973), the first person ever enshrined in both categories. Only Lenny Wilkens, Bill Sharman and Tommy Heinsohn have since had the same honor. One of the most revered coaches in the history of basketball, Wooden was beloved by his former players, among them Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton. Wooden was renowned for his short, simple inspirational messages to his players, including his "Pyramid of Success". These often were directed at how to be a success in life as well as in basketball.

Critique: An impressively detailed and documented biography by Barbara Olenyik Morrow, "Hardwood Glory: A Life of John Wooden" is a "must" for the legions of John Wooden fans. Enhanced throughout with black-and-white historical photos, "Hardwood Glory" is enthusiastically recommended for community and academic library 20th Century American Biography collections.

The Lazarus Game
Stephen J. Valentine
Sweetwater Books
c/o Cedar Fort, Inc.
2373 West 700 South, Springville, Utah 84663
9781462115549, $19.99, 320pp,

Synopsis: An amazing new video game has the power to resurrect the brightest minds of the past and see what they'd create in the modern world. There's just one catch: it requires another person's soul. Carter Chance, who is a teenage genius, must find a way to stop his generation from exchanging their souls for a computer-generated fantasy. "The Lazarus Game" is an action-packed thriller delves into the enticement and dangers of virtual reality.

Critique: A superbly crafted and fully entertaining fantasy action/adventure novel, "The Lazarus Game" demonstrates author Stephen J. Valentine's undeniable gift for creating a deftly crafted, complex, engaging novel that will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Fantasy/Science Fiction collections. Highly recommended for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts, it should be noted that "The Lazarus Game" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Solider Of Crusade
Jack Ludlow
Magna Large Print
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print (USA), Inc.
PO Box 1230, West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
9780750539357, $35.50, 400pp,

Synopsis: It's 1096 A.D and the Pope has called for a crusade to free Jerusalem. Half the warrior knights of Europe have responded. Among them is the Norman, Count Bohemund, one-time enemy of Byzantium, whose help is required if progress is to be possible. In company with his warrior nephew, Tancred of Lecce, Bohemund must once more cross the Adriatic to the lands of the Byzantine Empire. His first task, pushing back the infidel Turks, calls for an uneasy alliance with old enemy Emperor Alexius. But can the Crusaders trust the wily Emperor, and is he really on their be on their side?

Critique: "Solider Of Crusade' is the quintessential historical crusader action/adventure novel the grabs the reader's total attention and holds it firmly from beginning to end. Hallmarked by a complex and deftly woven storyline replete with unexpected twists and turns, "Solder Of Crusade" is a thoroughly entertaining read and one that will prove to be an enduringly popular addition for personal and community library Large Print fiction collections.

Sam Hawken
Serpent's Tail
3A Exmouth House, Pine Street, London, England, EC1R 0JH
Meryl Zegarek Public Relations
9781846689420, $14.95, 384pp,

Synopsis: Jack Searle is an American widower, bringing up his stepdaughters alone in the border town of Laredo after losing his wife to cancer. Jack often takes the girls to visit their Mexican family over the border in Nuevo Laredo. Marina, the elder sister, persuades him to let her go there one night to attend a concert with her cousin Patricia. Jack wants to say no - Nuevo Laredo is a very dangerous city, controlled by drug cartels. But eventually he agrees. Marina and Patricia head out to the concert, but they never come back. A frantic hunt begins, with Jack leading the way. But this is Nuevo Laredo, and girls go missing all the time here. He's lucky to find that a good cop, Gonzalo Soler, is leading their investigation, but soon the whole police force is suspended due to endemic corruption. To have any chance of finding Marina and Patricia, Jack and Gonzalo must take the law into their own hands. Their efforts to find the girls become more and more dangerous, and they uncover truths about the city of Nuevo Laredo that neither one of them ever wanted to face.

Critique: A sophisticated and deftly crafted mystery suspense thriller, "Missing" is a fully engaging read from beginning to end and marks author Sam Hawken's as an unusually talented novelist of the first order. A note of realism embellishes this work of fiction that will give the reader the feeling of having been torn from the contemporary annals of Mexico's criminal cartels. Very highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. For individual reading lists it should be noted that "Missing" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.09).

They Were Heroes
David K. Devaney
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402
9781612517896, $34.95, 296pp,

Synopsis: Sergeant Major David K. Devaney's "They Were Heroes" presents moving portraits of warriors who have not yet been fully celebrated. His stories recognize the individual and collective heroism of those who fought in these deadly conflicts and placed their lives at risk to assure the safety of their fellow Marines. For these Marines, no Medal of Honor is enough for their bravery. Nonetheless, though not his main purpose, Devaney calls attention to the practice of awarding medals itself, that often these warriors received awards that were below what their deeds merited. No less disturbing is the revelation that medals were often awarded by rank, and not always by action. The lives presented in "They Were Heroes" call attention to the fact that many heroes of these deadly conflicts have gone unrecognized.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "They Were Heroes: A Sergeant Major's Tribute to Combat Marines of Iraq and Afghanistan" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. An impressive and highly recommended addition to academic and community library 20th Century American Military History & Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "They Were Heroes" is also available to non-specialist general readers with an interest in the Iran and Afghanistan conflicts in a Kindle edition ($23.88) as well.

A Cross Of Thorns
Elias Castillo
Craven Street Books
c/o Linden Publishing
2006 South Mary, Fresno, CA 93721-9875
9781610352420, $19.95, 235pp,

Synopsis: The Spanish missions of California have long been misrepresented as places of benign and peaceful coexistence between Franciscan friars and California Indians. In fact, the mission friars enslaved the California Indians and treated them with deliberate cruelty. "A Cross of Thorns" describes the dark and violent reality of Mission life. Beginning in 1769, California Indians were enticed into the missions, where they and their descendants were imprisoned for 60 years of forced labor and daily beatings. The chilling depictions of colonial cruelty in "A Cross of Thorns" are based on little known church and Spanish government archives and letters written by the founder of California's mission, Friar Juniperro Serra (who advocated the whipping of Mission Indians as a standard policy), and published first-hand accounts of 18th and 19th century travelers. Tracing the history of Spanish colonization in California from its origins in Spain's 18th century economic crisis to the legacy of racism and brutality that continues today, "A Cross of Thorns" is one of the most thought-provoking books ever written on California history.

Critique: There are few things so un-Christian as the forcible conversions of Native Americans at the hands of the Roman Catholic church in 18th and 19th century California. Exceptionally well written and presented, "A Cross of Thorns: The Enslavement of California's Indians by the Spanish Missions" is an extraordinary work of historical scholarship and a compelling read from beginning to end. As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "A Cross of Thorns: The Enslavement of California's Indians by the Spanish Missions" is an essential and highly recommended addition to academic library Native American reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. Especially appropriate for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in Native American history, it should be noted that "A Cross of Thorns: The Enslavement of California's Indians by the Spanish Missions" is also available in a Kindle edition (7.99).

Life Sentences: Literary Judgments and Accounts
William H. Gass
Dalkey Archive Press
University of Illinois
1805 S. Wright Street, MC-011, Champaign, IL 61820
9781564789174, $17.95 (PB), $28.95 (HC), $11.99 (Kindle), 368pp,

Synopsis: "Life Sentences: Literary Judgments and Accounts" is an impressive and engaging anthology of new essays ranging from reading and writing to form and thought from one of America's master writers. Beginning with personal, both past and present, These essays emphasizes William H. Gass's lifelong attachment to books and then moves on to ponder the work of some of his favorite writers (among them Kafka, Nietzsche, Henry James, Gertrude Stein, and Proust).

Critique: An essential addition to the Gassian canon, "Life Sentences: Literary Judgments and Accounts shows William H. Gass at his erudite best and is a 'must' for academic library Literary Studies collections. For those to whom this is their first introduction to William H. Glass, it should be noted that several of his literary works are available from the Dalkey Archive Press including: Caretesian Sonata and Other Novellas (9781564785022, $13.95 PB, $9.78 Kindle); Finding a Form: Essays (9781564785299, $15.95 PB); A Temple of Texts: Essays (9781564784681, $14.95 PB), $11.84 Kindle).

17,000 Classroom Visits Can t Be Wrong
John V. Antonetti & James R. Garver
1703 North Beauregard Street, Alexandria, VA 22311-1714
9781416620082, $28.95, 190pp,

Synopsis: Most seasoned classroom teachers are skilled at planning instruction and determining what they will do during the course of a lesson. However, to truly engage students in worthwhile, rigorous cognition, a profound shift is necessary: a shift in emphasis from teaching to learning. Put another way, we know that whoever is doing the work is also doing the learning and in most classrooms, teachers are working much too hard. John V. Antonetti and James R. Garver are the designers of the Look 2 Learning model of classroom walkthroughs. They've visited more than 17,000 classrooms examining a variety of teaching and learning conditions, talking to students, examining their work, and determining their levels of thinking and engagement. From this vast set of data, they've drawn salient lessons that provide valuable insight into how to smooth the transition from simply planning instruction to designing high-quality student work. The lessons John and Jim have learned from their 17,000 (and counting) classroom visits can t be wrong. They share those lessons in "17,000 Classroom Visits Can t Be Wrong: Strategies That Engage Students, Promote Active Learning, and Boost Achievement ", along with stories of successful practice and practical tools ready for immediate classroom application. The authors also provide opportunities for reflection and closure designed to help you consider (or reconsider) your current beliefs and practices.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "17,000 Classroom Visits Can t Be Wrong: Strategies That Engage Students, Promote Active Learning, and Boost Achievement " is strongly recommended to the attention of novice classroom (K-12) teachers -- and has an immense value for even the more experienced classroom instructors. "17,000 Classroom Visits Can t Be Wrong: Strategies That Engage Students, Promote Active Learning, and Boost Achievement " is a critically important acquisition for academic library Education Studies reference collections.

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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