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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 8, Number 8 August 2009 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Buhle's Bookshelf

P.A. Hendrickson
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439216279, $18.99,

It all comes down to one thing when trying to save his people. "Dreamstone: A Dreamer Can Change the World If He Is Willing to Sacrifice His Reality" tells the story of one Joebin Vassiter, the leader of a group who are the only ones who can save his homeworld of Prothia from annihilation. Doubt lurks in his heart. He must find the dreamstone, or his people are doomed. "Dreamstone" is a science fiction adventure that fans of the genre will enjoy.

A Legendary Journey
Robert Allen Russell
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595502806, $12.95,

There are those protecting Earth, but sometimes Earth needs to protect itself. "A Legendary Journey" is a science fiction adventure following the lives of children who grow up to discover that they are half-alien, and they are humanity's last hope to stand against an intergalactic force bent on the Earth's destruction. Science fiction fans will relish "A Legendary Journey".

Teacher Accused
Alvin Granowsky
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595490721, $18.95,

The path towards tolerance and acceptance is never easily achieved. "Teacher Accused" tells the story of one Glen McLean, who travels west in order to find a new life. A homosexual man, he tries to promote tolerance in the classes he teaches, and finds a strong backlash in a small Texas town. Accused of sodomizing a student, he must clear his name to keep his cause alive. "Teacher Accused" is a fine and moving read about gay rights, highly recommended.

From an Otherwise Comfortable Room
Roger Sakowski
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432729769, $15.95,

The memories of an old man are endlessly fascinating and intriguing. "From an Otherwise Comfortable Room" is a collection about fictional old man William Homer Omkowski, as he ponders his life and the strange people he has met, from poets to druids. Intriguing and entertaining writing from author Roger Sakowski, "From an Otherwise Comfortable Room" is a top pick.

J.M.G. Le Clezio, author
C. Dickson, translator
David R. Godine, Publisher
PO Box 450, Jaffrey, NH 03452
9781567923865 $25.95 1-800-344-4771

2008 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature J.M.G. Le Clezio presents Desert, a novel about the struggle for survival of a desert warrior culture, "the last free men". Consisting of two alternating viewpoints in contrast over the course of a century. Beginning in a North African desert in 1909 with the migratory journey of a young boy and his "blue men" desert warrior people, forced out of their land by French colonial soldiers, and interwoven with the story of an orphan girl in modern Marseille descended from the desert people, Desert is an enthralling and unforgettable read, flawlessly translated from the original French by C. Dickson. At once both a personal human story and a saga of the (often cruel) legacy of colonization, Desert is highly recommended particularly for public and college library collections.

King of the Bowery
Richard F. Welch
Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
The Gatehouse M010C, 285 Madison Avenue, Madison, NJ 07940
9780838641767 $50.00 1-609-655-4770

King of the Bowery: Big Time Sullivan, Tammany Hall, and New York City from the Gilded Age to the Progressive Era is a scholarly, in-depth examination of Timothy D. "Big Tim" Sullivan, colloquially known as "King of the Lower East Side" or even "King of the Underworld" due to his behind-the-scenes influence in early twentieth century New York City politics. Sullivan became the single most powerful New York politician by 1909 by capitalizing on changing demographic patterns and recruiting the loyalty of Jewish and Italian newcomers into his primarily Irish organization. A reputation of corruption dogged him, particularly since part of his income came from involvement with the underworld in general and gambling in particular (throughout his life he emphatically denied that he profited from prostitution). His tabloid-worthy life ended in a bizarre death, which in turn spawned a wealth of conspiracy theories. King of the Bowery is an unforgettable look at the seamy side of turn of the century New York politics, as well as the roguish life and times of an amazingly charismatic (albeit morally questionable) public figure.

A Son of the Fur Trade
John Francis Grant, author
Gerhard Ens, editor
University of Alberta Press
Ring House 2, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6G 2E1
9780888644916 $34.95

Published in its entirety for the first time, A Son of the Fur Trade: The Memoirs of Johnny Grant is the collected memoirs of John Francis Grant (1833-1907), who during the course of his eventful life in the Canada-northwest U.S. fur trade experienced and wrote down his perspective upon a host of historical events. In particular, Grant offers a unique perspective on events in Native American history, as he often lived and worked in Indian-controlled territory and even fell in love with Indian women. An authentic window into bygone era, A Son of the Fur Trade is an excellent primary source and especially recommended for college library collections; its smooth, accessible prose makes it surprisingly enjoyable reading for casual browsers as well as historians.

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Stolen Passports
Lillian Jaslow-Schwartz
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533160716, $13.95,

Before the greatest atrocity of the twentieth century, life for European Jews wasn't exactly paradise. "Stolen Passports: An Identity Quagmire" tells the story of an adopted child growing up in Austria during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A saga of both familial and societal conflict, "Stolen Passports" is an intriguing read of a culture of years gone past, recommended.

Animal Vista
George Vincent
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595485635, $15.95,

Some view the profession of healing as a job; others view it as what they were born to do. "Animal Vista" tells the story of one Hiram, a man who takes his job as a veterinarian as a lifelong calling. As he grows old, he has to look to the next generation. His son does not share his love for animals, and seems to regard the family business with more of a corporate mindset. As Hiram faces family issues, an epidemic seems to be affecting his town's horses. A riveting read for animal lovers, "Animal Vista" is a fine and recommended pick.

Return of the Dittos
Dale Andrew White
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439227329, $13.99,

Short story anthologies often bring a variety and freshness that novels can't quite match. "Return of the Dittos: And Other Short Stories" is a new collection of stories from acclaimed short fiction author Dale Andrew White. A unique assortment of stories, each as entertaining as the last, "Return of the Dittos" is a collection that short fiction lovers must get.

Death Piled Hard
W. Patrick Lang
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440123887, $18.95,

Both sides of every conflict have those who would do everything they can to make sure their side is victorious. "Death Piled Hard" tells the story of one Southern spy doing what he can to attain Southern victory during the American Civil War. Devereux works to avenge his fallen brother; it's up to him to thwart the plans of Union General Ulysses S. Grant and gain a chance at Confederate victory. A thrilling novel of Civil War espionage, "Death Piled Hard" is a highly recommended read for both Civil War and thriller fiction fans.

Building Blocks for Relationships
Gaspar Garcia
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595491568, $14.95,

The relationship with one's beloved is a delicate thing. "Building Blocks for Relationships" is Reverend Gaspar Garcia's book of advice for readers who want to strengthen their relationships so that their family may be stronger for years to come. Stress relief, finances, children, and more are all discussed; the result is a well-rounded compendium of wisdom. "Building Blocks for Relationships" is a top pick.

Ball Cap Nation
James Lilliefors
Clerisy Press
c/o Menasha Ridge Press
2204 - 1st Avenue South, Suite 102, Birmingham, AL 35233
9781578603404 $15.95 1-888-60-HIKES

Award-winning journalist (and ball cap collector) James Lilliefors presents Ball Cap Nation: A Journey Through the World of America's National Hat, an amazing history of the baseball cap accessible to readers of all backgrounds, from sports enthusiasts to serious-minded scholars of fashion and headwear. Chapters cover the origin of the ball cap, how caps are made complete with a tour of a factory, the hobby of cap collection (which is practiced by such notable individuals as major league pitcher David Wells) and how to get started in it, the etiquette of where and where not to wear one's ball cap, the best method for cleaning and preserving one's caps, and much more. A "must-read" for anyone who loves or is intrigued by the classic icon of Americana that is baseball cap!

John Burroughs

Cowper's Bookshelf

The Weight of Silence
Shelley Seale
Dog's Eye View Press
PO Box 888, Hot Springs, SD 57747
9780980232370, $16.50,

India has a good chunk of the planet's population, but their stories often go unheard to western ears. "The Weight of Silence: Invisible Children of India" is a memoir from author Shelley Seale, reflecting on her journeys through the Indian subcontinent and her encounters with the indomitable spirit of the people who reside in the cities, with a focus on the children. "The Wight of Silence" is an eye-opening and intriguing read.

Bellie Fit Basics
Monique Hollowell
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595519170, $15.95,

Getting one's body back after a pregnancy is a challenge many women face. "Bellie Fit Basics: The Ultimate Guide for a Fit Pregnancy and Fabulous Recovery" is a personal trainer and mother's guide to transitioning from maternity to fitness. Drawing upon author Monique Hollowell's own experience, "Bellie Fit Basics" gives many tips and tricks for staying fit during pregnancy and picking one's exercise regimen back up after the birth. "Bellie Fit Basics" is a must for any mother who values her fitness.

Tick Tock, Stop the Clock
Lois W. Stern
Infinity Publishing
1094 New DeHaven Street, Suite 100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
0741453592, $19.95,

One doesn't need thousands of dollars of plastic surgery to enhance one's appearance. "Tick Tock, Stop the Clock: Getting Pretty On Your Lunch Hour" is a collection of economically affordable ways that one can improve one's appearance without the need of expensive surgery. Author Lois Stern distills the advice of many professionals into a solid compendium of knowledge. "Tick, Tock, Stop the Clock" is a something to consider even for those who are beautiful but would like to be more so.

Unpredictable Crossing
Jonna-Lynn K. Mandelbaum
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432740245, $14.95,

Horrible things are only made worse when the last of the evidence is erased. "Unpredictable Crossing" tells the story of a survivor of Mozambiquean Genocide, and how she is put face to face with the man who is most directly responsible for the slaughter of her people. How will Tristi deal with the horrific memory, and could Colonel Perreira be out to finish the job? "Unpredictable Crossing" is a story that reflects upon a devastating real issue in today's world, highly recommended.

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

Butterfly Journey Songs
David Koenig
The Harp Song Press
9355 Lincolnwood Drive, Evanston, IL 60203
9780963735799, $15.00

The soul is ever changing, and many have compared it to a butterfly. "Butterfly Journey Songs: (The Soul in Flight)" is a collection of short, simple poetic songs about the soul as a butterfly as it metamorphoses through the stages of its life. Touching, moving, and insightful, "Butterfly Journey Songs" is a highly recommended pick for spiritual and poetry readers.

Fifty Confessions
Paul Kiritsis
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440124495, $12.95,

Letting one's heart out can do wonders, and Paul Kiritsis chooses to do so in the form of poetry. "Fifty Confessions" is his collection of work, drawing from Kiritsis' restrained thoughts and feelings. "Fifty Confessions" is heartfelt and will have readers feeling Kiritsis' emotion. "Shooting Star": When a little spark from the night sky/Plummets from the canopy of stars above,/ somewhere, someplace,/A being of light has been born./So make certain you light a candle,/And make a heartfelt wish/That it never be touched by the darkness/Of what it's like to feel completely alone/In a world void/Of both heartfelt light and heaven.

A Collection of Poems
Lela H. Coley
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533155071, $7.95,

A mother's love and a mother's love for poetry is what's presented in "A Collection of Poems". An original anthology of simple yet poignant work by poet Lela H. Coley, "A Collection of Poems" is something to consider for those looking for work from the heart. "Listen": To clear up doubts and misunderstandings/listen!/To create a uniqueness that surpasses the art of/becoming/listen!/To span the corridors of the mental traffic jams/listen!/To life high the banner of camaraderie with man and/God/just/listen!

The Mute Button
Sudee Hubbell
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533160556, $7.95,

With much of her life behind her, author Sudee Hubbell now pursues her passion of poetry in "The Mute Button". A collection of poetry drawing from her long life of experiences, "The Mute Button" comes at readers with charming and soulful works. "The Mute Button" is a solid collection, recommended. "The Mute Button": With a clatter and a roar/And a mighty oath they swore-/Came the TV flying, through the door/While they shouted, "Nevermore!"//So keep your finger on the mute button/And meanwhile here's something new to read/ As you might like.

A Lover's Quarrel with the Evangelical Church
Warren Cole Smith
Authentic Publishing
1820 Jet Stream Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
B&B Media Group (publicity)
109 South Main Street, Corsicana, TX 75110
9781606570289, $16.99,

Evangelism is a labor of love, but there are those who would exploit that love. "A Lover's Quarrel with the Evangelical Church" tells the story of Warren Cole Smith, a former evangelist who has some harsh words with the way much of evangelism is going these days. In particular, Smith is highly critical of what he perceives as Evangelism's movement away from the core message of Jesus Christ. The result is a no-holds-barred insider's perspective. "A Lover's Quarrel with the Evangelical Church" is a very much recommended read.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Living Beyond War
Winslow Myers
Orbis Books
Price Bldg, PO Box 308, Maryknoll, NY 10545
9781570758270, $16.00,

The military of the forces loyal to Saddam Hussein could not dream of holding a candle to the full force of the United States military. But if this is the case, why hasn't victory been simply declared? "Living Beyond War: A Citizen's Guide" is author Winslow Myers' anti-war writings explaining his own beliefs and views. While war is something that can't be avoided in many cases, it's simply not an efficient way to resolve conflicts in the modern era. "Living Beyond War" is a very much recommended read.

From Joshua to Jesus
Andrew Cort
Privately Published
9781438211428, $10.95,

There are hundreds of years missing between the old testament and the new one. "From Joshua to Jesus: A Brief Chronicle of the Kings, Empires, Legends and Ideas, That Paved the Way to Bethlehem" is a book attempting to bridge this gap through history and explain how the world became ready for the arrival of Jesus. "From Joshua to Jesus" is an intriguing religious connection and is highly recommended.

Discovering Your Authentic Power
Michael Reid Davis
Vantage Press, Inc.
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533160174, $8.95,

Self-improvement comes in part from accepting oneself and then accepting others. "Discovering Your Authentic Power: How to Live a Simpler and More Meaningful Life Every Day" is a self-help book with simple and clear message that unity and love come from accepting the similarities in all people. "Discovering Your Authentic Power" brings a clear message and is worth the consideration.

The Audacity of Faith
Marvin A. McMickle
Judson Press
PO Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851
9780817015541, $17.00,

Barack Obama's election to the presidency means many things to many different people, but what does it mean to Christianity? "The Audacity of Faith: Christian Leaders Reflect on the Election of Barack Obama" discusses the significance of America's first black president, and what he could mean in terms of faith and Biblical prophecy. "The Audacity of Faith" is of strong consideration to any collection discussing modern Christian issues.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

When That Day Comes
Louise Alberto McAtee
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432735869, $9.95,

The chronicles of life are never as basic as one wants them to be. "When That Day Comes" is the story of one family's day to day challenges. Their struggle inspires empathy and hope; everyone will find someone to relate to within author Louise Alberto McAtee's work. "When That Day Comes" is a solid and recommended read.

Pursuing Happiness
Mary Lou Peters Schram
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781438954820, $15.00,

Life and Liberty are pretty clear, but the pursuit of happiness is another story. "Pursuing more time." is a novel from Mary Lou Peters Schram, focusing on how four distinguished women from the same neighborhood each go about their pursuit of happiness in their own ways. Charming and highly entertaining, "Pursuing Happiness" is a novel many women will relish.

Zen and the Art of Being Slim, Rich, and Adored
Diane B. Sheehan
Alliance Book Company
562 Blevins Branch, Bakersville, NC 28705
9780982115497, $10.99

A little cruelty is a good thing. "Zen and the Art of Being Slim, Rich, and Adored" is a simple and motivating collection of short stories to drive and inspire - through slight and inspirational satire. The result is a collection which will help many readers gain an appreciation for life, and make them realize what is truly important when put in another light. "Zen and the Art of Being Slim, Rich, and Adored" is a unique approach to inspiration.

Wolf Song Visions
Linda Reade & Scott Reade
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439233993, $18.99,

Past lives are of endless fascination to many. "Wolf Song Visions: The Earthwalk of Lela and Kahla Remembered" consists of recollections of the shared past life of four hundred years ago, of authors Linda Reade and Scott Reade. Of especial interest to past life phenomena students, professional or amateur, "Wolf Song Visions" is something to consider for any metaphysical studies collection.

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

June Bug
Chris Fabry
9781414319568 $13.99

In a Wal-Mart parking lot that looks identical to the zillion others she and her dad Johnson have parked in overnight while touring the country in their RV, seven year old June Bug half looks at a poster for missing children. She has to take a quadrillion looks but knows for sure the picture of nine years old Natalie Anne Edwards of Dogwood, WV staring back at her is that of June Bug.

She challenges her beloved father to explain what is going on and fears the kindhearted John is not her dad but a kidnapper living a vagabond life with her. She demands the truth and John knows he owes her at least that as he takes his beloved daughter back to the cross point where their lives pivotally changed knowing he will probably face the law, the media, and her.

Chris Fabry brings a wonderful modern day West Virginia spin to Victor Hugo's Les Miserable sprinkled with the philosophical tenet of Kahil Gibran's The Prophet. The story line is driven by the solid cast, but anchored by precocious June Bug with her need to know who she is. Mr. Fabry provides a delightful family drama that Mr. Hugo and Mr. Gibran, would enjoy as much as readers will.

Branwen's Garden
Brad Parnell
Chimney Ridge Ct, Louisville, KY 40299
9780982006764 $11.95

Fifteen year old Robert has accepted that he has none of the Good Samaritan genes of his older brothers and sister. When his sister Margaret asks Robert to come over, he only agrees to hear her good deeds or dad reconciliation lectures because he has a crush on her roommate. Mags gives him a package containing family history dating back to the seventeenth century to Samuel More, who abruptly vanished. He knows this is a clever ploy to get her younger brother to reconcile with their dad, but Robert also understands his father tried to buy his affection since the split a few years ago with his mom who gave her son her love with no strings.

Robert translates the documents and with his friend Cam head to a nearby Natural Bridge where Cam holds the "key" that opens a portal that Robert crosses over into the land of Gwerinatha. He almost immediately is attacked by a six legged "log" whom he gives the sneaker to. Robert meets Louie the talking wolf, who takes him to his pack. As Robert learns about this strange world, he also finds out that Sam vanished on this side too. However, Robert's goal of going home is interrupted when he discovers the local human heroine Branwen is missing. With the help of Branwen's family and friends, Robert goes on a trek to rescue her.

The first Legend of Gwerinatha is a terrific entertaining middle school coming of age fantasy starring a young man learning about responsibility once he meets Louie and learns of BRANWEN'S GARDEN. The slacker lead protagonist is well aware of his so called short comings back home, but is okay with it. That changes when he becomes a heroic champion trying to find his ancestor and Branwen as a stranger in a strange land in which only the teen girls seem normal to him. Fans will enjoy his escapdes and look forward to Cam's trek into Gwerinatha.

Mr. Darcy, Vampire
Amanda Grange
9781402236976 $14.99

In October 1802, Elizabeth Bennett believes she is the luckiest woman in England because this is her wedding day to her beloved Mr. Darcy. It is actually a double wedding as her sister Jane is marrying Mr. Bingley. The ceremony goes off without a hitch. After the gala instead of going to the Lake District, Darcy tells Elizabeth they are heading to Paris since the truce remains steady between Napoleon and England.

In France, she meets Darcy's friends, exuberant sybarites who disapprove of the marriage because of her bloodline. They feels he should have wedded one of his own. Elizabeth won his heart but though he loves her Darcy fails to consummate their marriage. From Paris they visit his uncle in the Alps, but at the chateau, t his blood relative tells them to go when a mob storms the places because they disapprove of Elizabeth. They head to Venice where she finally learns the truth about her husband when he kills one of his own kind. She must decide whether they separate, a thought she loathes, or consummate the marriage knowing what he is.

Mr. Darcy's reservations, temperament and apparent aloofness are explained in a most unusual way by Jane Austin guru Amanda Grange (see the diaries saga) as he hides what torments him from his beloved. Readers tour the content with the pair, but see Europe through Darcy's eyes that also enables the audience to learn more about him, past and present. Weird but entertaining as Ms. Grange understands Darcy as if he is a living "undead" family member she knew back during the Napoleonic Era.

Among Us Women
Joan Lerner
BookSurge Publishing
9781439228807 $15.99

Elderly Jewish grandmother Rose grieves the death of her husband yet feels guilt and anger because she also feels free as her late spouse was abusive and demanding. She seeks an activity that will help society (and herself) opting for rescuing unborn babies slated for abortion. Almost forty Jane wants a baby, but her husband proclaims he is gay and leaves her. Jane is in shock but also angry and upset towards her spouse. Eva is an activist African American who has an abortion when her married white lover demands she get rid of the fetus. She is angry and remorseful for not standing up to what she wants and considers kicking him to the curb.

These three women meet over the baby issue and though they share differing perspectives and generational gaps, they find a common interest in their love for interior design. Each struggles with decisions that will haunt them regardless of the choices they make as these are not easy to make. There only solace is in interior design

AMONG US WOMEN is an intriguing tale of three females coming together to forge a sisterly bond though each is radically different in age, appearance, beliefs and most important in terms of reality temperament. The character driven well written story line is inspiring without preaching as Joan Lerner makes the case that everyone needs someone is a basic human need mindful of Maslow's hierarchy. Readers who enjoy an uplifting character study will appreciate the tale of three women finding a connection to one another through their joy of interior design.

Hidden Currents
Christine Feehan
9780515146479 $7.99

Psychic though many will say psycho businessman Stavros Gratsos kidnaps Elle Drake who had just returned to her family home Sea Haven. Although Elle and her six older sisters are also psychics, Stavros has somehow been able to electronically disable their telepathic abilities. Her siblings are distraught, but plan to do whatever it takes to rescue the youngest of this generation Drake brood.

Sea Haven Deputy Sheriff Jackson Deveau has loved Elle from afar forever and vows to save his beloved. Elle has reciprocated his feelings so that a telepathic link built on love connects them in spite of Stavros' gizmo. He along with the Drake clan extract Elle from the psychopath, but not before Stavros tortured and raped her. Jackson is there for his emotionally shattered beloved and she begins to mentally heal due to his nurturing. However, Stavros wants her back and threatens all her loved ones leading to the extended Drake family (stars of the previous six entries) taking on a maniac and his horde of mercenaries.

The seventh and final Drake sister romantic fantasy is a strong finish to a powerful series. The lead couple is a likable pairing as both have issues; especially timely and poignant is the consequences on an individual who was tortures. The villain is a clever and brilliant but insane psychic whose demented vile mind enhances the plot as he forces the return of all the Drake sisters and their mates to unite to counter fight this lunatic.

Sydney Bauer
9780515146592 $7.99

Deane University economics major nineteen years old Jessica Nagoshi is the daughter of a billionaire Japanese businessman. Her boyfriend is final year law student James Matheson who also attends Deane. Their relationship is concealed especially from her family.

That secret is out in the open when she is found brutally murdered on her father's estate in Boston although James lies to Boston homicide detectives Lieutenant Joe Mannix and Detective Frank McKay by denying they were dating Soon afterward his alibi collapses when his best friends interviewed by the cops connect him to the victim and her murder. With John Nagoshi pressuring the District Attorney's Office for a resolution and ADA Roger Katz hammers the cops, James is being accused of murdering his girlfriend in a crime of passion. His legal mentor Boston attorney David Cavanaugh would prefer to stay out of the highly charged case especially with Nagoshi using his affluence and influence to hang James, but knows he cannot; he represents his student. His team finds several viable suspects especially the deceased's brother and James' friend who set up the alibi to deliberately collapse.

In his third legal thriller (see UNDERTOW and GOSPEL) Cavanaugh is terrific as he works a case he never expected in his wildest dreams. The rest of the cast is solid especially the cops, the accused in jail, the other suspects, the legal team including David's girlfriend and John; the only character stereotyped is the ADA whose ambition rivals Lady Macbeth as he cares not for the truth if it is in his ruthless path. Starting as a police investigation that effortlessly switches to a legal thriller, ALIBI is a strong whodunit filled with plausible suspects particularly David's pro bono client.

TSI: The Eyam Factor
Paul McCusker & Walt Larimore, M.D.
Howard (Simon & Schuster)
9781416569718 $13.99

Under the ice and snow of Greenland lies a top secret research laboratory filled with all the deadly diseases known to man. Something happens in one of the labs allowing the genetically engineered super strain of the Ebola virus escaping into the entire facility forcing the government to blow it up. In the African country Gabon, a cult led by David Mosley is infected with this lethal strain; all of them commit suicide to end the horror except the leader's son Aaron.

Aaron is a carrier spreading the disease wherever he goes and leaving behind horrific agonizing deaths. A task force mobilizes seeking the carrier while in England they seek a vaccine, but need someone with the disease. Their efforts lead them to the village of Eyam where the Black Death decimated the place in the seventeenth century that isolated itself while the legendary Blue Monk administered to the ill and dying. The scientists feel there are some similarities with today's outbreak and the cases in 1666 so they seek the grave of the Blue Monk who's DNA may provide a cure for the modern day epidemic. Time is running out as the pandemic virus threatens to make humanity virtually extinct.

The action never stops in this fast-paced thriller that sends a cautionary message without preaching. Mindful of Hoffman's Outbreak, the plot cleverly uses the real tragic history of the Ebola virus that killed several people in Gabon in 2001 and the seventeenth century Black Plague assault on the villagers of Eyam. Although the lead characters are not fully developed, they bring heart and soul to their desperate search to find the Blue Monk's remains. The TSI team makes the science of disease epidemics especially viruses easy to understand but never dumbed down; that is the core of a super thriller that is timely with the Swine Flu outbreak.

Self's Murder
Bernhard Schlink
9780375709098 $15.00

After his last major case (see SELF'S DECEPTION), German private investigator Gerhard Self is thinking he is too old for this type of work. As he drives home to Manheim with his girlfriend Brigette during a nasty snow storm, Self notices a car in the ditch and stops to assist a stranded driver, banker Bertram Welker.

Upon learning that Self is a sleuth, Welker hires the investigator to uncover the identity of a silent bank partner as he is writing the history of the establishment that he co-owns. Self accepts the easy assignment, which pays extraordinarily well. However the detective has self doubts about his client when the bank's archivist mysteriously dies in a car crash just after giving the sleuth an attache case loaded with money. He digs a bit into his client's past to learn he became a widower last year when his wife died a hiking accident. Two deadly accidents are two to many so Self investigates Welker.

This is a super German private investigator mystery with several super twists that will leave readers and the weary hero guessing as nothing is quite like it first seems including a stranger claiming to be the son of Self. The story line is fast-paced but totally owned by the sleuth as his inquiry into the silent partner leads him to inquire about his client. Fans will enjoy the translation of Bernhard Shlink's entertaining German mystery and seek the previous two thrillers (see SELF'S PUNISHMENT).

Hell's Gate
Stephen Frey
9781416549659 $25.00

Powerhouse litigator thirty-five year old Hunter Lee of Manhattan's based Warfield & Stone is in Bozeman, Montana seeking a settlement for his clients from Bridger Railroad. He claims they did not take care of the tracks and as a result an accident released poisonous gas that blinded in one eye in two children. He wins a large amount of money for his clients, but at the moment of his greatest triumph, he is served with divorce papers. Hunter is stunned to learn his wife cheated on him with the one man in New York he trusted. Disgusted he leaves the Big Apple for Fort Mason, Montana home of his brother Strat.

His sibling informs Hunter that lately there have been too many fires that turned into infernos and he believes they are deliberately set so that someone is making a hell of a profit as putting out blazes costs money. Hunter is concerned for his brother who seems in deep with investigating something that is dangerous especially with no evidence to back his claim. The lawyer meets several interested people including a senator, a businessman, and a woman he likes, but soon realizes everyone has an agenda hidden about the fires.

Stephen Frey, known for his fast-paced financial thrillers, turns 180 degrees into a more typical suspense tale that his fans will still enjoy. The hero's trust in people is shattered after the betrayal with only his brother as a person he can be rely on to have his back. He comes to town and quickly thinks Paradise but revises that to paradise lost as he now knows he has entered HELL'S GATE; with the infernos getting increasingly dangerous and the residents of this Eden obvious to him are keeping secrets. Hunter becomes a crusader with a belief in doing the right thing though the cost can be lethal. Still he is an everyman getting involved and by trying he becomes a superman even if he fails. Fans will appreciate Mr. Frey's latest venture as every man can become a super man if they only go for it.

Best Friends Forever
Jennifer Weiner
9780743294294 $26.99

In Pleasnt Ridge, Illinoss, Addie Downs and Valerie Adler became best friends forever when the latter moved on the same block as the former when both were nine years old. They remained BFFs until high school as Val becomes part of the in crowd while Addie becomes the school joke.

Fifteen years later, Val is the weathergirl on the local news while Addie is the caretaker of her troubled brother. Val can have any guy while Addie goes Internet dating only to find loser after loser. They have completely lost contact with each other until the day Val arrives at Addie's house with blood splattered on her. She insists she needs her BFF to help her out of a tight spot as she has enacted vengeance on her former boyfriend Dan Swansea. Police chief Jordan Novick investigates the disappearance of Dan, but he has a problem that he never anticipated with this case; love at first sight not with beautiful Val, but with homely Addie.

This is an amusing lighthearted chick lit crime thriller starring two BFFs who became BEs (best enemies) only to finally clear the air between them and return to being BFFs. The story line is jocular insanity over the top of the Sears Tower that readers will relish with every laughing yet profound moment. This is chick lit at its best.

Eye of the Whale
Douglas Carlton Abrams
1416532544 $25.95

Scientist Elizabeth McKay's basic hypothesis is that if we can understand the complicated songs of the humpback whales, we will geometrically improve our comprehension of the animal kingdom. Her Research turns into an obsession that devastates her marriage and costs her friends who believe she breathes solely to prove her theory.

However, she finds her on site work disturbed by whaling interests. Business and fishing interests push to hunt whales and begin a marketing campaign to turn the watery mammal's whale meat into an acceptable delicacy. When a humpback becomes endangered by swimming up the Sacramento River, McKay notices the song changed making her wonder what's going on; dramatically she concludes the whales are mourning the loss of clean oceans as human pollution has led to birth defects.

This action-packed eco-thriller contains an intriguing premise in which the whales warn humans through their songs that the oceans needed for life to thrive are dying. However, the cautionary warning at times is like a tsunami overwhelming its own message. Still overall this is a fun tale that pays homage to the movie Star trek IV although only Elizabeth and the whale in the Sacramento River are fully developed. Fans will enjoy Douglas Carlton Abrams' entertaining EYE OF THE WHALE as the humpbacks alert the human scientist that the end of days is upon us as they sing their version of Marvin Gaye's still fresh and even more relevant Mercy, Mercy Me The Ecology Song.

Cat in a Topaz Tango
Carole Nelson Douglas
9780765318626 $24.99

In Las Vegas, public relations specialist Temple Barr convinces her reluctant fiance, former priest turned radio show host Matt Devine to enter a charity sponsored Dancing with the Celebs contest at the Oasis Hotel that will raise money for charity. Temple agreed to emcee the Junior Division as her on-line zany teenager Zoe Chloe Ozone; Matt is in as well as tough Homicide Lieutenant Carmen "C.R." Molina is in that division.

Temple told him it would be fun, but soon accidents occur. Carmen bullies Temple to help her when her teenage daughter Mariah vanishes. Also working the disappearance are the teen's father, Rafi Nadir, chief of security chief at the Oasis Hotel and of course Temple's significant other hardboiled detective Midnight Louie. Everyone fears the Barbie Doll who has stalked teens.

The twenty first alphabetically correct Midnight Louie caper is a terrific entry in spite of the whodunit being somewhat low-keyed. Temple's former boyfriend Max Kinsella is a minor player as he remains off stage in Europe struggling with killers and amnesia but not struggling with a blonde. The story line is fast-paced even when Louie takes time outs to seduce a feline femme fatale. Fans of the series will enjoy this entertaining feline urban noir while newcomers will appreciate a short summary of who's who.

Eye of the Storm
John Ringo
9781439132739 $26.00

As the Posleen horde invade the Earth, Lieutenant General Michael O'Neal is shocked with the proof he has found that that the Machiavellian Darhel oligarchy of the Galactic Confederation has controlled humans like puppeteer with puppets; most humans are pleased with the arrangement. O'Neal considers a countermeasure, but his vaunted military unit is destroyed by the more powerful Galactic Fleet and he is arrested as an insurgent heading to Fleet Penal Facility after a rigged trial.

However, the Hedren attack the Galactic Confederation putting it at risk of being conquered. The only person capable of a military counter attack is heading to prison. Darhel leader Tir Dal Ron must decide between freeing O'Neal to lead the human troops or watch his Confederation go down in flames; if he chooses his prisoner he must also find a way to persuade the general that saving the Darhel is the only way to save his species.

The latest in the Human-Posleen saga (see A HYMN BEFORE BATTLE and SISTER TIME) is a terrific military science fiction thriller with social and political implications. LTG O'Neal struggles between the desire to overthrow the oligopoly and the knowledge people are satisfied with their lot. As always the battle scenes ring true and are great fun to follow. Although some key points set up in previous entries in the saga (helps to have read them though not absolutely critical) are flash-points instead of developed consequences of prior actions, fans will enjoy John Ringo's exciting return to his human-Posleen worlds as a new threat has arrived.

The Venona Cable
Brent Ghelfi
9780805088946 $25.00

The murdered corpse of elderly American cinematographer Everett Walker is found in a Moscow warehouse. The Russian police charge master criminal and espionage agent Alexei "Volk" Volkovoy with the homicide for several circumstantial reasons one of which is he made pornographic videos at the "studio".

Additionally Walker was blackballed by Hollywood in the 1990s due to the release of the previously Top Secret Venona Cables that incriminated him with many spies. He had come to Moscow seeking Volk. The American possessed a microdot of a decrypted 1943 cable concerning a meeting between Churchill and Roosevelt and a photo of Walker with Volk's disgraced father, Stepan, who mysteriously vanished in 1974. Volk knows the only way he can prove his innocence is to investigate his father in order to ascertain whether Stepan was a GRU military intelligence operative or a traitor. With only Valya at his side, he quickly realizes both the Russians and the Americans are clueless as to whom the genuine agents were, who were the moles, and who were the triple/double crossers, but each side wants Volk stopped from uncovering the truth.

This action-packed thriller grips readers from the opening moment when Volk realizes how much trouble he is in and how little time he has to extract himself from pending disaster. Readers will enjoy his latest exploits as he struggles to stay one step ahead of the Russian and American police and espionage groups. The ties to 1943 are brilliantly forged as Volk learns that the sins of the father are often carried on the backs of their offspring.

Tamed by a Laird
Amanda Scott
Forever (Hachette)
9780446541374 $6.99

In 1374 in Annandale, Scotland, her guardian Lord Dunwythie informs the Baroness of Easdale seventeen year old Janet, called Jennifer, that he will select a husband for her. Outraged as she believes he shouts nonsense that she no rights, except what he grants her, Jennifer decides a stranger would be a better choice; preferably one that does not stay. His selection Reid Douglas is not who the teen wants.

At her betrothal gala, after a drunken Reid pawed her, Jennifer enjoys a show of traveling minstrels and opts for a final fling before she is forced to say I do. Since her maid Peg's brother Bryan is a part of that performing troupe, Jennifer joins them. She surprises everyone with her singing skills and is joined on stage by Sir Hugh Douglas, her betrothed's older brother, who has hidden his identity while roaming with the minstrels. As they fall in love, they must trust each other with the truth while also preventing an odious scheme that will harm Scotland.

Once again, Amanda Scott provides her fans with a super Scottish medieval romance starring two terrific lead characters and a strong support cast who either bring out the essence of the era or the main players. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Dunwythie dispatches Sir Hugh to bring home the runaway Janet; only to fall in love while Reid was sleeping it off.

Knight of Desire
Margaret Mallory
9780446553391 $6.99

Given no choice in the matter, Lady Catherine was forced to marry an abusive spouse. Outraged by what has become of her, she vows to find a way to insure her son Jamie is never in her situation especially keeping him safe from his mean-spirited father. Catherine finds a means by giving information to her friend Prince Henry on Welsh rebel activity led by her husband. Her efforts lead to the death of her brute of a husband.

In 1405 King Henry IV proclaims her guilty of sedition and declares her lands forfeit and gives them to his loyal soldier William FitzAlan. The ruler also informs Catherine she has a choice of marrying William or dying in the Tower. William distrusts his new wife, but cherishes her beautiful body. As they become acquainted they fall in love, but trust is a more difficult bond to build; without it an unknown adversary may leave both dead.

The key to this terrific medieval romance is in the background as Margaret Mallory provides the audience with various viewpoints on the Welsh rebellion without hindering the changing relationship between the widow and the king's selected second husband for her. Thus the reader obtains a the perspective of real persona to include the Prince of Wales Hal, his mentor Hotspur and rebel leaders like Owain as well as fictional characters like the heroine, her late spouse (in retrospect) and William. The romance is strong but typical of the sub-genre. Fans will desire more deep historical romances from Ms. Mallory.

One Scream Away
Kate Brady
9780446541527 $6.99

After just a few years behind bars, Chevy Bankes is paroled from prison to hunt, attack, and kill female prey. During his time in jail, he obsessed over the woman who sent him away; blaming her for his incarceration though he assaulted her. Chevy is honing his craft torturing and murdering women with his plan to come for Beth Denison and her daughter Abby.

He calls her from the phone of his first victim just to say hello and warn her Abby is his target before Beth. As more women die, Beth's only hope to keep her daughter safe seems to be former FBI agent Neil Sheridan, but he is burned out having worked this case very poorly once before. She doubts she can rely on him while he sees her as his redemption for failing to keep a victim safe from Bankes. Together, they might stand a chance; separately they will be lucky to survive the ordeal from this lethal predator who waits inside Beth's home for the right moment.

This is a terrific serial killer thriller that keeps the expected romance for the most part in the background; in fact the romantic subplot is unneeded distracting baggage. Beth and Neil are strong flawed characters whose past has returned with a vengeance; while Chevy is a more typical literary serial killer. Fans of tense cat and mouse confrontations will want to read this tense tale as Kate Brady is an author the sub-genre can bank on.

Breath of Fire
Tammy Kane
Love Spell
9780505528162 $6.99

As a Mattaen Initiate, Karl is trained to be a great warrior. When he reached the village filled with superstitious peasants, he scorns the irrational villagers proclaiming they are murderers; while their leaders defend their actions by claiming a dragon demanded and expected a virginal sacrifices or else. He was not volunteering when they tied him to the rock as their virginal sacrifice. Unchained he could not defeat a dragon if they existed, but chained, he fears if true he is dead.

Elera Daughter of Shane kills the dragon and charges as her price, the virgin sacrifice for a night to do what she wants with him. Her virgin prize Karl wants to say no, but she entices him to crave her. When she steals a kiss, he can no longer adhere to his vow of chastity as the Mattaen Initiate Brotherhood requires. She takes him and he wants her to take him again as he desires more, but by doing so he feels guilt for betraying his Brothers who raised him.

The key to this romantic fantasy is the world of Kane seems real especially the paranormal. The story line is fast-paced form the onset when a mocking Karl becomes the sacrifice and never slows until the final spin though in between there are world building, romance and plenty of action. Tammy Kane breathes new fire into the dragon mythos with a strong opening act.

A Stroke of Magic
Tracy Madison
Love Spell
9780505528117 $6.99

In Chicago, Enchanted Expressions graphic designer Alice Raymond has a slight problem. It is not being single and pregnant as she kicked her cheating ex to the curb. It is not the fact that her hormones are geometrically out of control due partly to the fetus inside her and to a degree due to her crush on her boss, Ethan Gallagher. Finally it is not the fact that she can see her late great-grandmother and have her wishes come true. Her dilemma is the Gypsy's curse that proclaims for her now unborn daughter to live a happy life; Alice must find her soul mate before the infant is born.

Her libido insists it is Gallagher, but Alice no longer trusts that part of her body. Ethan was engaged to his forever significant other who ended their relationship after a fortuneteller told her he was not her numero uno. He vowed never again will he allow a "paranormal" con artist to intrude in his life. However, now he believes he has found his significant other in Alice, but she rants like she visited "Wonderland" about dead relatives and gypsy curses. Though he fears she is a certifiable fruitcake, he loves Alice, but even he is unsure whether he can stand by her when she keeps sprouting about her unborn being cursed.

Fans will enjoy this delightful paranormal romance filled with two wonderful lead characters and a strong support cast. Alice is a believer but Ethan is a doubter, which makes for a fun relationship for readers but not for them. Anyone who enjoys A TASTE OF MAGIC will appreciate this lighthearted frolic as once again, Tracy Madison provides a charming whimsical urban fantasy.

Stephanie Rowe
Love Spell
9780505527752 $7.99

During a family outing climbing an Alaskan mountain, disaster struck killing everyone except Kaylie Fletcher. She vowed never again. However, in the middle of the night Kaylie receives a call insisting her mother also survived. Although she thinks this is some sicko's joke, Kaylie needs to know the truth just in case.

She hires bush pilot Cort McClain to fly her in his Cessna to the cabin of her friend Sara. Cort is attracted to his customer, but avoids her like she has a contagious disease as her city ways and wardrobe is out of his ex-wife's lifestyle of the un-famous wannabes. She also wants Cort, but knows he is an adventurer thriving on adrenaline highs while she is the opposite at least since the tragedy. They soon find their respective best friends savagely murdered and the maniacal killer wants Kaylie next. She believes only Cort can keep her safe, but even he has doubts that thet will survive against a surreal vicious psychopath.

The thrill in this super romantic suspense is the cat and mouse war between a deadly predator and a frightened heroine who wants to hide but has no choice as her adversary is coming for her. The romance between the pilot and the family survivor is more of a detractor from a strong tense tale enhanced by the Alaskan locale that adds a sense of stark lonely beauty just like Kaylie.

Hitler's War
Harry Turtledove
Del Rey
9780345491824 $27.00

In 1938 England and France were prepared to tear away the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia and cede it to Germany until the leader of Sudeten Germany Konrad Heinlien takes refuge in Germany. A Czech assassinates him giving Hitler the excuse to invade. Neville Chamberlain and Messer Daladier refuse to sign the treaty that Hitler offers them. Hitler declares war.

The Czechs fight bravely, but are easily overwhelmed by the superior Nazi army abetted by Slovakia independence supporters. The German war machine quickly conquers Holland, Belgium and Lichtenstein. While leaders of both sides map strategic objectives, individuals struggle with the effect of the hostilities. Peggy Druce came to take the waters at Marianske Lazne but ended up a neutral stuck in Berlin unable to go home. The Goldmans always thought they were Germans first and Jews second until the Third Reich destroyed their beliefs. Their son joins the German army under a false name. Besides the prime fronts, there are other local wars like the Spanish Civil War where American Communists fight against Fascist forces. In China, the Japanese have invaded China while American marines have a ringside seat to the pacific Theatre. However, the biggest news is the German blitzkrieg heading towards Paris.

Harry Turtledove once again changes a pivotal point in history and provides his answers to what if Chamberlain said no to Hitler. In HITLER'S WAR, neither side is at full readiness especially the Allies who were stunned when war broke out as they adhered to their belief that they fought two decades earlier "the war to end all wars." Mr. Turtledove shows the impact of war on individuals who are powerless and quickly lose all hope. Although the alternative history premise is fun to follow due to a strong execution, it is the little people who bring heart and soul to the epic of "war what is good for, absolutely nothing: (Edwin Starr).

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Abyss
Troy Denning
Del Rey
9780345509185 $27.00

Tensions are rising to a dangerous feverish pitch on the planet Coruscant where the seat of power of the Galactic Alliance and the Jedi Temple are located. Increasingly at an epidemic rate Jedi Knights are falling prey to a strange illness that lead them into believing people they have known for years are actually doppelgangers. The Galactic Alliance Chief of State Natasi Daala wants the Jedi Order subservient to her government and Princess Leia and her husband Han Solo try to thwart her ambition.

Still seeking the cause of Jacen Solo's downfall into the dark side of the force, Luke Skywalker and his son Ben head to Maw Cluster, a mysterious dangerous sector where the Force is very potent. They come upon a space station populated by the dead and the dying. The strongest of the living the Mind Walkers show the father and son team how to leave their bodies and travel to an orb strong with the Force to fond some of the answers they seek.. They know Jacen was in this sector and visited that orb before he became Darth Cadeouss, dictator of the Imperial Empire who killed millions in the civil war. The Skywalkers also fight a lost tribe of Sith who want them dead as a step towards regaining what they feel is their right to rule the galaxy.

The third novel (see OMEN and OUTCAST) in this nine book Star Wars saga is an exciting tale as the story line moves forward on both major plots. The Maw segue is the more fascinating of the two as the worlds and people inside this sector provide a fresh element to the Luke Skywalker legend with readers wondering if he and his son will fall into an abyss that will lead them to the dark side of the Force. The Solo-Leia entry is also enjoyable though somewhat similar to past tales; as the pair and their daughter battle the ambitious ruler. Fans will relish the strong latest entry in the Fate of the Jedi.

Demon Redcoat
C.C. Finlay
Del Rey
9780345503923 $7.99

In 1779 the American War of Independence continues unabated. Having helped General Washington by using his magical skills, Proctor Brown decides it is enough as all he sees is blood flowing on both sides of the dispute. He, his wife Deborah the witch and a few friends relocate to a New England farm although the General pleads with him to help them in Europe. Even if he wanted to get back involved, he will not leave his nine month pregnant spouse.

Deborah goes into labor, but as she gives birth to a daughter, the powerful Balfri the demon enters through an unguarded chimney. Proctor with the help of Abigail, Lydia and Magdalena force the demon outside, but the elderly Magdalena died doing it. Proctor knows now he has no choice but to take the fight to those who summoned Balfri, the European witches of the Covenant. Proctor heads by sea to Europe with black freewoman Lydia pretending to be his slave. On the ocean, he meets John Adams and in France, he meets Benjamin Franklin, but the Covenant uses minor mages and witches to destroy him while in the States Balfri attacks Deborah and her daughter Maggie as there is power in possessing an infant

This is a terrific alternate historical fantasy that continues the saga of Proctor Brown who is considered a "Traitor to the Crown" for helping the American rebels along with his loved ones, during the American Revolution in which magic plays a key role in the outcome. The story line is action packed from the moment that Balfri attacks the house and never slows down crossing the Atlantic or in France and England. Fans of alternate histories will want to read the entire series (see THE PATRIOT WITCH and A SPELL FOR THE REVOLUTION) as well as this thriller as the magic seems genuine and real persona like Adams and Franklin play major roles, but the audience will wonder whether Cornwallis or Washington will surrender at Yorktown as the magic is flying on both sides of the big pond.

Robin Cook
9780399155703 $25.95

New York City forensic pathologist Dr. Jack Stapleton lost his first wife and two kids in a plane crash. Though it was not easy he moved on and remarried medical examiner Laurie Montgomery. However, his happiness is dampened when he learns their newborn son is diagnosed with deadly neuroblastoma cancer.

He seeks a cure for his offspring, but also needs something to take his mind off his worries. He finds relief for his mind when he performs an autopsy on a healthy college student who received treatment from a chiropractor leading to her dying from vertebral arteries. Jack begins research into alternative medicine planning to expose charlatans taking advantage of desperate ailing people.

Jack's classmate Metropolitan Museum of Art biblical archeologist Shawn Doherty leads a dig under Saint Peter's, which leads him to Jerusalem and Venice where he makes a shocking discovery. The Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York Kevin Murray learns what Shawn has found and wants his old college classmate stopped from revealing his find. He turns to their friend Jack to prevent the revealing of a skeleton allegedly of the Virgin Mary that could rock the foundation of the religion, but the ME sees instead a potential miracle if Shawn's find is authentic.

The story line starts off as an exciting medical thriller with a desperate personal spin that makes Jack's inquiry into alternative medicine a combination of exposing fakes and yet praying to find a miracle that works to save his son. The plot then takes a dramatic spin into Brownian religious thriller turf though a link to the desperate search for a miracle remains. That twist detracts from a strong personalized medical thriller that turns into an over the top (or perhaps under the ground) thriller though fans will still enjoy Robin Cook's action-packed INTERVENTION.

Even Money
Dick Francis and Felix Francis
9780399155918 $26.95

The first day of the Royal Ascot horse races gala was like any other opening at the prestigious event and Ted Talbot, his co-worker Luca, and their assistant Betsy are taking book from the punters. Out of the crowd comes an elderly man demanding to speak with Ted. He insists that he is Peter James Talbot, Ted's father. This is a shocker as Ted was raised by his paternal grandparents who claimed his parents died in a car crash.

Peter informs his still stunned son that he has two half-sisters living in Australia, but before they can get into a car, two thugs demand the older Talbot hand over the money. During the subsequent brawl, James is injured and rushed to the hospital where he dies. Ted goes to his dad's hotel room and finds proof that his father was involved in an illegal activity. The thugs still demand their loot and the code used on chips that are imprinted and then inserted into the horses. Ted's life is in jeopardy but he also wants justice for his father and the insurance these punks will not go after him or his loved ones in the future. He ignores the cops because the lead police officer investigating his father's death assumes he is guilty of something.

Dick and Felix Francis once again affirm that a father-son writing team can provide quality mysteries. Readers are caught up in British horse racing (a trademark of father) and the shenanigans that occur away from the track including some instigated by Ted. Still he receives plenty of empathy as criminals are coming after him as the likely recipient of his father's legacy, he has a mentally ill wife institutionalized, and a co-worker wanting to be his partner in the family business. With plenty of thrills, chills, and spills EVEN MONEY is a sure bet.

Order in Chaos
Jack Whyte
9780399155772 $26.95

In 1307, King Philip IV of France declares all Knights of the Templar as outlaws. With the support of Pope Clement V, the monarch orders his armies to arrest all the knights and confiscate their treasure. They are to kill any who resist and torture those caught so reveal the hidden cache. The Pope directs the Holy Inquisition against the Templars.

The double prong assault leaves the Templars with little protection. Those still free are rodents hiding in holes. Warned by the Grand Master, Templar knight Sir William St. Clair leads some of his peers and Widow Lady Jessica Randolph to Scotland where King Robert Bruce offers them sanctuary in return for them joining his side against the English and rebels allied with their enemy. Knowing their time is over, William releases his men from their sacred vows and after the battle at Bannockburn pledges to find the mythical Merica.

The final tale of the Templar saga (see KNIGHTS OF THE BLACK AND WHITE and STANDARD OF HONOR) comes across more as a historical account rather than an action-packed medieval suspense thriller. Readers learn in great detail re what and why the Pope and the French king conspired to destroy the religious order. Still fans who relish deep doses of realism that feel as if you are there will enjoy Jack Whyte's fascinating final account that is filled with early fourteenth century betrayals, counterplots and little action as William and his followers discuss freedom more than fight for freedom.

The Holy Bullet
Luis Miguel Rocha
9780399156007 $25.95

In 1978 compromised candidate Pope John Paul I, in office a little over a month, is dead just after he announced plans to clean up the House of God everywhere. Soon after his death, the College of Cardinals elects Polish exile Cardinal Karol Jozef Wojtyla as Pope John Paul II. In 1981 an assassination attempt critically wounded the Pope, but he survived; another attempt a year later failed totally. In 2005, Pope John Paul II died.

Soon after his death, rumors spread that the two assassination attempts were not done by crazed lone gunmen, but part of a Vatican conspiracy to prevent reform within the Church. However, it is ironically the death a year later of an octogenarian archbishop in Arizona that serves as the catalyst of a search for the truth to learn who ordered the two failed assassinations.

Although too many wry commentaries detract from a fascinating sequel with a similar premise as that of THE LAST POPE, fans will enjoy this Vatican conspiracy thriller. The story line moves back and forth between the early 1980s (and occasionally late 1970s) and this decade. The fun in this tale (and its predecessor) is in the past although overly descriptive and slower than the modern day subplot filled with more action. Readers who enjoy Vatican conspiracies will appreciate the HOLY BULLET, an intriguing but at times slow paced thriller.

A Journey, a Reckoning, and a Miracle
K.J. Fraser
O Books
9781846942068 $29.95

"Spring". Seventeen years old Lucy believes the rapture will be soon forthcoming. She is on a pilgrimage to sites of mass violence to bring solace to those who died for no reason.

"Summer". Judith believed in Bush's war and enlisted. In Iraq she survived but lost all four of her limbs and is blind from a nasty incident. She is bitter as she sees vivacious Condi in her mind selling unnecessary deaths to the public like selling a brush to a bald person. However, her family and Joseph makes Judith feels she is still special as one of God's children and her own whimsical comedic attitude begins to pull her through.

"Autumn". As Bill proposes to Lucy and she accepts, they kayak down the Mississippi near St. Louis when her vessel tips. Mark and his wife using modified swift boats rescue them. If the saved duo were Bushies Mark might have tossed them back into the river. As he, his wife, Lucy, Bill, Judith, Joseph, and others pray for George's soul hoping he will apologize for the war dead though they assume he is more likely to co-star with Dick as stand up comedians doing a neo-con revival show changing the facts.

These three interrelated contemporary tales are fascinating though can turn heavy in their condemnation of the righteous right especially condemning the Iraq War sold by chicken hawks at an exorbitant price to Americans. The book is timely with references to violence in the 1990s as another Democratic president is in the White House enabling the extreme right to justify their right to kill. Fans will be stunned by amount of poignancy and emotion as the cast is solid even that of a caricature of a humbled George seeking redemption. Overkill yes, but well written and intensely interesting as the audience joins K.J. Frasier on A JOURNEY, A RECKONING, AND A MIRACLE.

Taken by Sin
Jaci Burton
9780440244554 $7.99

During the Realm of Light recent battle victory over the sons of Darkness, demon hunter Dalton refused to follow a direct order to kill half-demon Isabelle Deveraux. Instead he abducts her and takes her to a hidden locale in the Louisiana bayou because he believes she possesses something that will insure his side's total triumph. To his chagrin, he is uncertain whether he took her because she is valuable to his cause, innocent in spite of the demon residing inside her, or he just wants her.

Michael is irate with Dalton's disobedience, but cannot worry about that as he is now in charge of the hunters. His biggest problem is the apparent appearance of a demon that can walk in sunlight; something thought impossible for the nocturnal evil breed. However, at the same time that demons search for Dalton's refuge so dos Michael's troops; while the apparently traitorous demon hunter and the half demon fall in love; another impossible happening.

The twin sequel to THE DARKEST TOUCH occurs soon after the previous thriller. The fast-paced story line works on two levels: that of a forbidden romance and as an action-packed urban fantasy. Although it helps to have read the prior novel as Isabelle is a key player in it, Jaci Burton provides another trademark dynamic paranormal romantic suspense as the eventual outcome of the demon war will determine the very planet's existence.

Speak of the Devil
Jenna Black
9780440244936 $6.99

Demons travel to the mortal realm and possess a body like the demon King Lugh resides in the body of American's foremost exorcist Morgan Kingsley. Lugh is trapped in Morgan's body because his brother Dougel wants to wear the demon crown and can only become the king if the monarch dies. Morgan has her own woes, but even she admits they pale next to that of her "guest".

An exorcism killed the host Jordan Maguire Junior; senior is suing Morgan for negligence and wrongful death. As soon as the suit was filed, the US Exorcism Board suspended Morgan's license pending an investigation. Matters turn worse when someone sends her a human arm. Morgan knows someone is after her as the assaults escalate and she fears she will be framed for murder. Lugh's war council does their best to protect Morgan because if she dies, their king returns to his realm where his sibling waits to kill him. As Morgan's stalker keeps the pressure on her, the person also threatens her loved ones.

Jenna Black is consistently one of the best urban fantasists on the market today with her kick butt heroine being kicked around this time. The irony of this entertaining saga is Morgan's job is exorcising demons out of humans and back to their realm while she has the ruling demon inside her. This time her troubles overflow to her family and friends as an unknown assailant has her on the ropes. Although the overarching Cain and Abel demonic rivalry barely moves forward, fans of Kim Harrison and Jacquelyn Frank will enjoy the escapades of Morgan Kingsley, exorcist extraordinaire.

JoAnn Ross
9780451227768 $7.99

They were adversaries in a military courtroom years ago. However, now former JAG officer Julianne Decatur and ex-Air Force combat controller Dallas O'Halloran work for the government's top secret THOR group. Although on the same side, there remains a bit of antagonism due to her efforts to court-martial some of his brothers in arms. Yet they are also attracted to one another.

They have been assigned to investigate the apparent suicide of a Navy pilot. The pair quickly finds contrary proof affirmed by two other suspicious deaths. Julianne and Dallas begin to wonder if a serial killer or a conspiracy to conceal something is leading to military murders. At the same time each understands the irony of them falling in love with one another as not so long ago they were natural enemies.

The newest High Risk romantic suspense (see SHATTERED and FREE FALL) is an action-packed thriller that never decelerates until the finish. The lead couple makes the tale work. Their changing relationship from antagonists (in a military courtroom) to teammates to lovers provides a deep character driven entry to one of the better high octane sagas on the market today.

Jessica Anderson
9780451227706 $7.99

Sasha Ledbetter desperately searches for her vanished Mayanist father Dr. Ambrose Ledbetter. She is shocked when she locates his remains in an ancient temple. However, she has no time to mourn her loss; as Xibalba worshiper and high chieftain Iago capturers her. He tortures her seeking information about those who oppose his effort to bring back the demon Banol Kax into the world.

Nightkeeper warrior Michael Stone learns where Sasha is and leads a successful rescue mission. Michael and Sasha are attracted to each other, but he tries to ignore his feelings because he fears passion will ignite the dark side of his nature while Sasha wonders if her disbelief in her late father's theory of Nightkeepers enabled her to disavow that she might be one of them. However, both recons finding a missing critical Mayan depository which comes before their desire for one another, as Iago is not waiting for love to uncover that same ancient library.

As Michael discovers new powers that he must learn to use, the doomsday clock is ticking against the Nightkeepers warriors as the demon and his adulating horde push the end of days. Michael and Sasha are a terrific pairing who may be in love, but each wonders whether the Final Prophecy's kismet leaves them no choices; their feelings for one another may be predestined and disturbingly to both neither can say no. Fans will enjoy the latest exhilarating Mayan Final Prophecy urban fantasy thriller (see DAWNKEEPERS and NIGHTKEEPERS) with the philosophical debate of free choice vs. predetermination while time is running out on those who want to save the planet from Xibalba.

Mating Game
Janice Maynard
9780451227140 $15.00

Chicago photographer Nola Grainger cannot believe the stipulation in her late grandma's will; to inherit the Resnick, Georgia estate she must be married in one month and live there six months. Nola has no plans to pull a stunt of saying vows and then divorcing or annulling the nuptials as she believes saying I do should last a lifetime.

Back in her hometown where her grandma raised her after her parents died when she was ten, Nola finds three spousal contenders. Billy was her high school boyfriend who broke her heart. Businessman Marc is her current lover; at least he was until she left Illinois for the deep South. Finally handyman Tanner seems quite a catch. All three are desirable and likable, but only one can go down the aisle with her. However, there is also someone in the shadows who plans to insure Nola remains a spinster for the next four weeks even if it means dangerous accidents must occur.

This is an engaging heated romance whose characters somewhat overcome an overly used plot device. The story line is fast-paced from the opening scene in which the lawyer (out of Mayberry) of Nola's late grandma explains the stipulations and never slows down as the lead female is coldly and boldly in a three set tennis match. Fans will enjoy Nola's stable wondering which stud will exchange vows with her.

Best Wishes Always
Lucy Flynn
9780451227492 $6.99

The death of her fiance Ryan left Sparrow's Nest Antiques dealer Larrisa Smith unable to cope with her grief; she even wears two watches with one being his. It takes her quite a while to truly return to society as she has been only going through the motions. A palmist reads her palm and informs Larrie she has an incredibly long life line, but must continue to avoid antiques.

A woman demands Larrie buy her late brother's estate. Larrie is unable to refuse though she prefers not to do so. Among the items is an ancient brass lamp that leaves her dreaming of a genie John Trelawny who grants her three wishes. She wishes to go back in time, which he grants her. Larrie realizes she is not dreaming and feels that John the genie is maneuvering her, but is not sure to what purpose though she hopes her last wish is one he can grant her.

This is a whimsical romantic fantasy starring a woman grieving her loss and a genie grieving his status. The story line is owned by this pair as she quickly realizes she is falling in love with a Machiavellian genie while he finds her love might be the thing to end his "curse". Time travel, genies, and bereaving heroines make for warm wonderful whimsy.

Mystic Warrior
Patricia Rice
9780451227478 $7.99

Four years ago warrior Murdoch Le Droit was banished from her home, the Mystic Isle of Aelynn. Now with the death of the island's leader, the gods announce that Murdoch is their chosen oracle. However, no one knows where Murdoch is.

The spirit guide to healer Lissandra Olympus persuades her to find Murdoch and bring him home and to seek the mysterious missing Chalice of Plenty; both are needed to save the Island. Lissandra locates Murdoch, but is shocked when he rejects her plea to come home as he is needed as the new oracle; which he also scoffs at because the Gods would never select an exiled warrior who has no control over his paranormal skills. He also knows he still desires Lissandra as he did before he was kicked off Aelynn. She also realizes why her spirit guide told her to venture forth as she must heal his spirit in order for him to accept what has been predestined by the gods. Her skills may not be as powerful as her love.

As the "Mystic" saga goes full circle (see MYSTIC GUARDIAN and MYSTIC RIDER), Patricia Rice does so with a great entry. While the mortals are overwhelmed by the French Revolution, the Isle of Aelynn is in deep trouble with the savior being the person exiled several years ago who wants nothing to do with his homeland. Fans will relish this super romantic fantasy as Lissandra learns how to heal Murdoch comes from her heart not her skill.

Fade to Black
Leslie Parrish
9780451227485 $6.99

FBI Special Agent Dean Taggert leaves the Violent Crimes Unit to join the newly created Cyber Action Team; the mission is to investigate Internet-related murders.

Dean has seen a lot of ugliness when he worked VCU, but nothing in his experience has him prepared for the current web case. The Reaper, a psychopath, hosts Satan's Playground, where this maniac murders victims for his members to see live on the Internet. Shockingly Satan's Playground's groupies bid on the method of death that the Reaper employs. Clues send Dean to Hope Valley where he hopes to prevent another on line killing with the help of local Sheriff Stacey Rhodes.

The first Black Cats romantic suspense thriller is a terific tale that uses the two lead characters even their attraction to one another to emphasize the gritty cyberspace serial killer theme; mindful of the movie Untraceable. The story line is fast-paced with Dean as the Black Cat agent working the case; he and Stacey are a formidable pair but their opponent is one hell of a villain and his groupies will remind the audience of the Manson family. Leslie Parrish opens her new saga with a great police procedural.

Best Served Cold
Joe Abercrombie
9780316044967 $24.99

Nineteen bloody years of civil war with no end in sight as each side of the armed conflict claims the high road, but those living in Styria know differently as hostilities and atrocities are the norm. Duke Orso thinks he can end the war and be named King of Styria for doing so. He believes assassinating infamous General Monza Murcatto, a bloody mercenary known rightfully as The Snake of Talins, is all he needs to do.

The attempt fails though Monza is severely injured and her brother is dead. As she heals, she vows to cut off the heads of Orso and his collaborators. She brings together a team of killers who have no consciences or care about collateral damage. They kill Orso and his six co-conspirators, but now Orso's family and that of his dead partners vow vengeance.

Returning to the world of the First Law saga, Joe Abercrombie provides his fans with a great sword and sorcery fantasy that contains his trademark dark humor and gender bending cast. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Orso sets up the failed assassination and never slows down as vengeance fuels each side to raise the ante. BEST SERVED COLD is simply a super thriller in which a head count has literal connotations.

Sandman Slim
Richard Kadrey
9780061714306 $24.99

For eleven years James Stark slaved as a gladiator killing monsters in Lucifer's venue amusing the masses of fallen angels. However, he is finally home currently walking down the mean magical streets of Los Angeles seeking vengeance. He investigates who murdered his girlfriend with intent to dispatch the cretin to hell and seeks to kill black magician Mason Faim, who dispatched him to Lucifer's abode.

James quickly slices off the head of black magician Kasabian, a lousy practitioner; Kasabian's head becomes James' companion as he hunts for Faim, but so far has failed to find him. Homeland Security agents accost him; a psychopathic angel assaults him, and he is unsure what the Kissi want from him, but knows it cannot be good.

This realm filled with angels, demons and Homeland Security agents is a bleak violent world that will stun the audience with the severity of survival that Richard Kadrey writes in convincing gripping detail. For instance satirizing the waterboarding debate: angels should never be alone as there are many who will use torture on them to get what they want: apocalypse now. James is a terrific antihero who keeps the exciting story line centered with his deadly grudge having spent over a decade as a boy toy in Lucifer's venue, but his quest is interrupted by dangerous predators.

Semper Human
Ian Douglas
0061238643 $7.99

Across the galaxy, all hell has exploded with many colonial planets and other orbital habitats in jeopardy; billions could die. The Galactive Associative has tried to maintain the peace and prevent internal hostilities from destroying much of humanity, but the leaders recognize they failed especially after the Xul Incursion in 4004. One year later they call for desperate measures to prevent the beginning of the end as rebels are springing up seemingly everywhere. They awaken General Garroway and his Star Marines from eight and a half centuries of deliberate cybernetic-hibernation sleep; a super squad who chose cybernation in 3152 in case they were ever needed again.

However, the almost millennia induced coma has left Garroway and his United States Marine Corps warriors unprepared for a society in which the rules of engagement they adhered to are considered obsolete by self interested politicians who have plans on manipulating the reanimated marines for personnel power gain as the common good is superseded. Still Garroway and his corps begin the counterattack only to realize the greater peril is not from within or even just the invincible Xul, though great threats to the well being of mankind. A hazard so insidious the past, present and future are simultaneously in danger of being eradicated by the unbeatable Xul and the Great Annihilator whose plan is eliminate any trace that humanity ever lived or lives.

This is the exciting finish to the Inheritance trilogy with the third book (see STAR STRIKE and GALACTIC CORPS) of the third saga (see the novels of the Heritage trilogy and the Legacy Trilogy). The story line is fast-paced and resolves much of what has occurred in the last twelve centuries; answering the key questions in an exhilarating way. Garroway and his unit are terrific, but Ian Douglas continues to show his scorn of politicians as once again cowardly politicos get in the way of the heroic marines so long term fans will finish the saga with the thoughts of well written and very entertaining, but a nagging sense of deja vu.

The Devil's Punchbowl
Greg Iles
9780743292511 $26.99

Former Houston prosecutor Penn Cage is elected mayor of his hometown Natchez, Mississippi on an economic platform to save the dying city. Currently five steamboats off the old slave market square offers casino gambling. With the looser atmosphere comes the high rollers and along with that Penn knows come vice and crime.

His childhood friend card dealer Tim Jessup tells Penn that the casinos offer dog fighting and dangerous sexual activity. Tim promises to bring proof to Penn, but before he can, he is found viciously murdered as a warning to other do-gooders. However, those running the illegal show while city officialdom wink threaten Penn and his family as they believe Tim gave him evidence as they tortured that confession out of him before they killed him. Another friend sneaks Penn's family out of town; knowing his tweener daughter is safe the mayor is ready to clean up the floating casinos though their enemy seems to anticipate every move made against him.

The return of Penn (see TURNING ANGEL and THE QUIET GAME) is an exhilarating thriller that never slows down once Tim warns him about what is happening on the casino boats. Penn remains an ethical individual who refuses to turn away from the crime especially the violence as several other leading citizens prefer to do. Fans will relish Greg Iles strong tale of gambling on the Mississippi to bring jobs, but part of the employment opportunities are illegal and dangerous.

206 Bones
Kathy Reichs
9780743294393 $26.99

Forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan is confused as to how she got where she is. Somehow, Brennan is badly injured and tied securely in what appears to be an underground tomb. As she regains her senses, slowly flashes of what happened to her begin to appear in her mind.

Based on an anonymous tip to authorities, Brennan arrived in Chicago with Andrew Ryan of the Serete du Quebec where she is being accused of erring in her autopsy of Canadian heiress Rose Jurmain. Meanwhile back in her Montreal lab, Brennan links Jurmain's death to the brutal murders of other elderly women by a particularly nasty serial killer. As she explores her premise further, she is just beginning to understand she is a trapped rodent in a deadly cat and mouse game.

This is a super thriller that contains several strong subplots; especially intriguing is the challenge to the heroine's competency from an unknown source who seems to know forensics. Much more personal than usual, the courageous Dr. Brennan feels like a hunted animal who though wounded goes after her predator. Kathy Reichs provides a strong entry in one of the better mystery series of recent years.

Heart of the Assassin
Robert Ferrigno
9781416537670 $25.95

The century and a half Muslim fundamentalist called reverently the Old One continues his campaign to become the Messiah of the worldwide Caliphate. He has nuked the modern day Sodom and Gomorrah, New York City and Washing ton DC; and stunningly also took out Mecca for breaking the faith.

His drive to power and a new Muslim world order seems unstoppable as with the help of his daughter Baby, he plans to merge his Islamic Atzlan Empire with their southern neighbor the Bible Belt. Perhaps the only person in his way of a sure final triumph is Fedayeen soldier Rakkim Epps assisted by his wife Sarah, who is trying to unite America in opposition. To succeed she must find the fragment of the true cross buried in the radioactive rubble of DC.

This is a superb but frightening apocalyptic thriller that brings 1984 into the twenty-first century using theocracies as the bases for religious ideologies that easily lead to the flow of blood. The story line is fast-paced throughout in spite of its epic overarching story line (started in PRAYERS FOR THE ASSASSIN and continued in SINS OF THE ASSASSIN). The heroic American couple and their prime adversary the Old Man seem real even though the latter is a century and a half old. Fans will enjoy High Noon between them as nothing short of the future of mankind is at stake.

The Last Ember
Daniel Levin
9781594488726 $25.95

Until the accident that killed his best friend and kicked him out of Rome's American Academy, Jonathan Marcus wanted to become a field archeologist. Filled with guilt and remorse, he studied law and became an attorney with a suit representing some of the most scurrilous rogues in the fine arts.

He is sent to Rome to destroy the reputation of a U.N. antiquities expert. There he meets his girlfriend from the Academy Dr. Emili Travia, whom he never forgot. She is searching for the legendary two millennia old Tabernacle Menorah stolen from King Herod's great Jerusalem Temple and brought to but lost in Rome. The sacred Menorah is allegedly to be eight feet of pure gold. Muslim Sheik Salah ad-Din searches for the precious menorah too, but if he obtains it, he will melt it down for the gold and even more so for religious reasons.

This is a terrific Brownian like religious thriller that never slows down once defrocked archeologist Jonathan returns to Rome and never looks back until the thrilling finish. The cast is solid and believable while the action is unabated but interweaved with historical information. Daniel Levin provides an exciting tale that will have readers breathless throughout.

Ms. Taken Identity
Dan Begley
5 Spot (Hachette)
9780446506182 $13.99

PhD candidate Mitch Samuel writes an epic tale about life on the farm, but like all his other manuscripts, the publishing industry rejects it. He explodes ripping each paper of his book and a magazine owned by a neighbor. Feeling guilty for ripping up People, he goes to the bookstore to buy a replacement. While there he goes over the top in a fiery rage when he sees Katharine Longwell's latest numbing novel.

He steals a copy of The Cappuccino Club planning to put it in a bonfire but begins to read it while sipping coffee at Starbucks. Katharine sees what he is reading and joins Mitch. He tells her that his cousin is considering writing a chick-lit tale and Katharine offers to help her. Mitch assumes chick lit should be easy - dump down. However, he cannot think like a chick lit aficionado so he tries Oprah and a dance class accompanied by his roommate's sister Marie, a hairdresser. To his shock he likes Marie and being with her though as an intellect he cannot fathom why.

This is an amusing satire of gender sub-genre stereotypes using hyperbole to exaggerate the acceptable roles. This makes for a humorous story line, but also leaves Mitch as an unlikable intellectual snob who mocks chick lit and its fans as being shallow morons; he bites the hands that might feed him. Still chick lit fans contrary to the protagonist's scorn will enjoy the lampooning of their sub-genre while hoping Mitch is exposed as one of their writers.

Love Finds You In Treasure Island, Florida
Debby Mayne
9781934770801 $12.99

In Treasure Island, Florida, Amanda Burns owns a bicycle shop that also sells skateboard. Except for her high maintenance sister, Amanda is happy with her life though she would not mind some romance. That is if annual customer Jerry Simpson was the other.

Every year he rents a tandem, but nobody has ever seen him with anyone or for that matter riding the bicycle built for two. This year when he arrives, Amanda decides to learn more about her mysterious favorite customer. She learns he comes to the island to see his parents on their anniversary and rents the tandem for them. This summer she reaches out to him and with the encouragement of his mother they spend time together finding love, but what happens when it is time for him to leave the beach.

This is terrific character driven relationship drama that showcases how a person needs cherished loving companionships. Jerry is close with his grandfather and his parents and them with him. Amanda has close friends, but would like to really get to know Jerry; what she knows already has her heart pumping with admiration and desire. Jerry is a caring soul who would do anything for his loved ones and though attracted to the bicycle store owner, he is shy on acting on his feelings. Fans will agree that love is the treasure to be found on the Floridian island (and elsewhere) as the lead couple, their loved ones and readers will affirm.

Dune Road
Jane Green
9780670020867 $25.95

When Kit divorced Wall St. workaholic superstar Adam, she left him with the Highfield, Connecticut country house. Instead she moved from the mansion having left the manor to live in a nice home near the beach town's Main Street raising their kids there.

She works as a personal assistant to renowned writer Robert McClore, a widower who avoids the world. Kit has made new friends like her yoga partner Tracy and lives next to a reliable neighbor in eight something Edie. As Kit decides to become Robert's second wife though he has shown no romantic inclination towards her or anyone and she is seeing Steve, her previously unknown half-sister Annabel arrives from England to meet her. However, the biggest problem she faces is she begins to believe she still loves her ex.

Remaining on the New England shore (see BEACH HOUSE) Jane Green provides her fans with an interesting character study starring strong avaricious women living a very shallow existence until one of the card carrying members drops out. Thus the audience compares Kit's revelations on what matters vs. the greedy desires of her former BFFs make for a strong story line. Unnecessary late suspense detracts from the comparative character study as the sudden action subplot feels out of place. Still watching Kit change so that she no longer fits with the gourmet gossip group makes for an overall fine read.

Cast in Silence
Michelle Sagara
9780373803002 $14.99

Elantra is a wonderful city ruled by the dragon emperor. He, his court and most inhabitants care nothing about the Fiefs (slums) that are located across the Ablayne River. There are several fiefs each ruled by a fief-lord who live in towers that rest upon the Old Ones magic. Private Kaylin Neya of the Hawk police force lived in the Fief Nightshade and wears his mark. She has performed remarkably well working her way out of the dirt of the fief by being on the right side of the law.

Life is about to become perilous for Kaylin because a seer has told her that something dangerous will soon strike the Fief; if it is not contained it will spill over the entire city and change all it touches into something reprehensible. The heart of the troubles resides in the fief Barren where she lived for six months before escaping. Now the Barren Fief is no longer stable. Kaylin, another Hawk and Dragon Lord Tiamaris travel to Barren on a fact finding mission. Caught up in a shadow storm, they are thrown into the past in which no Fiefs exist and Elantra is just starting to form. What they learn in the Barren tower helps them understand what is happening in their time; when they return they think they have a chance to defeat the seemingly invincible foe.

Readers who have followed the Elantra "Cast in …" chronicle (see FURY, SHADOW, COURTLIGHT and SECRET) learn about the Fiefs where the towers are located; this brings freshness to the overarching fantasy. Kaylin is much more confident as she no longer fears her past. She is doing her best to prevent the shadow spreading and destroying her city; she does this even if the cost is her life. Michelle Sagara's CAST IN SILENCE is a great entry in a magical fantasy saga.

In the Garden of Sin
Louisa Burton
9780553385311 $15.00

"The English Courtesan". 1626 was the year that changed Englishwoman Hannah Leeds. She heard courtesans sponsored by Domenico Vittori lived pampered lives in a castle and she wants that. She meets with him and he introduces her to Mademoiselle Elle. They like what they see in the wannabe mistress especially her beauty, her charm and her intelligence. If Hannah can move past her virginal innocence to sensual seducer, her next stop is the Castle of the Hidden Grotto in France. There she will become courtesan to legends and myths in a place where all sexual fantasy occurs including converting an English virgin into a legendary courtesan for the ages.

"Hunger". In modern day Greenwich Village, Anton Turek watches from the shadow as Galiana Solsa picks up Oxy at the bar. In the alley he orders her to get on her knees, but the mortal does not understand who he is messing with as she easily brings him to his knees and takes what she wants from him. Anton wants Galiana, but the vampire knows to get his Goddess he must somehow prove her equal. He feeds his hunger for her in the Castle of the Hidden Grotto where seduction often means death for one or both parties; in this case he feels his undead death will be worth the price of having her.

Fans of Louisa Burton's erotic fantasy saga through the ages will relish the return to the mysterious Castle of the Hidden Grotto (see HOUSE OF DARK DELIGHT and WHISPERS OF THE FLESH) with two delightfully decadent novellas. The two erotic entries share much in common in spite of the several centuries gap between when they occur. Each tale is well written as fans will believe in the sexual escapades of the immortals with mortals. Although newcomers might have some early adaptation issues due to no initial background (a consistent problem), the audience will enjoy another heated spin IN THE GARDEN OF SIN.

The Goodbye Cousins
Maggie Leffler
9780385340472 $15.00

When Diotima "Di" Linzer's was eleven years old, her mom kidnapped her and took her to England making it almost impossible for her father to find her. Now a single mom with a two-year-old child, Di returns to the United States hoping to obtain some normality; something she feels she never had in England. In Pittsburgh, her engaged cousin Alecia and her fiance Ben take in Di and her son into their apartment.

Di obtains a position as a nanny to Gusty, a diabetic troubled teen whose wealthy father Augustus Catalano is divorcing his mother Mazie. On the estate, she meets the gardener, Dave after driving on his manicured lawn. To her fickle chagrin, she is attracted to her employer and her fellow employee; at the same time Alecia's relationship seems on the verge of collapse.

The sequel to THE DIAGNOSIS OF LOVE (Ben's sister Holly's tale) is a terrific straightforward relationship drama. The two cousins have problems with commitments as each struggle in their own way with the men in their lives. With a nod to Neil Simon (and Herbert Ross), fans will enjoy the aptly titled THE GOODBYE COUSINS.

Fear the Worst
Linwood Barclay
9780553807165 $24.00

Car salesman Tim Blake has his teenage daughter Syd staying with him for the summer. She works the desk at the Just In Time Inn but one day fails to come home from her job. The days pass without a word from her and the cops have no clues though they assume she is just another runaway. Tim searches for his daughter. He asks people if they have recently seen her, but no one has. One of Syd's friends sets up a website so if someone does they can contact Tim ASAP.

A woman Yolanda Mills emails Tim saying she saw Syd in a shelter in Seattle. Tim travels there, but he does not find Syd or Yolanda. He returns home to find someone broke into his house; everything is wrecked but nothing seems taken as if they searched for something. He calls the police who find cocaine in his home, but the cops believe it is a plant. Tim keeps searching and the results are car chases, getting shot, finding the enemy, killing the enemy and setting up an investigation that surpasses what the police are doing.

Readers who enjoy the thrillers of T. Jefferson Parker and Joseph Finder will relish Linwood Barclay's latest tale. The story line is enthralling to watch an everyman hunting for his beloved daughter as he fears the worst has happened to her; however he will soon learn that there are even more terrible things than he nightmares imagined; his blunders bring plausibility to the plot. Filled with twists and suspense, the audience will be spellbound to learn what happens next.

Mark of the Demon
Diana Rowland
9780553592351 $7.99

On her first homicide case, Beualac police detective Kara Gillian needs help capturing a serial killer who has murdered thirteen taking their souls with him. Instead of other cops, she uses her inherited occult skills as a demon summoner to conjuror up a minor demon to help her stop the Symbol Man. However, the mage is stunned when her ritual brings her demon lord Rhyzkahl.

At the next murder scene the wastewater plant, Kara senses a trace of magic, but before she can follow up, she is stunned when FBI Agent Ryan Kristoff arrives. She needs his help, but also fears the price she will pay to bring in a killer thought dead three years ago; as Kara knows Ryan's touch burns her soul.

This romantic police procedural fantasy is a fast-paced thriller starring two fascinating lead characters who each understands catching the Symbol Man comes before their personal desires. The investigation is top rate as paranormal clues are as important to solving the case as the mundane (poor choice of words with what happens to the victims). Sub-genre fans will welcome Diana Rowland into the fold as the author brings a fascinating twist to forensic science and police work with the exhilarating magic murder mystery MARK OF THE DEMON.

The Bride Will Keep Her Name
Jan Goldstein
Shaye Areheart (Crown)
9780307345929 $24.00

Still in her twenties, Manhattan's Peter Hoyt Gallery manager Madison Mandelbaum feels she is living the American dream as she is marrying the man she loves expatriate Englishman NBC investigative reporter Colin Darcy in one week. However, she begins receiving odd emails, phone calls and text messages from an unknown person claiming her fiance is not the likable caring person he portrays. At first Maddie ignored the comments as junk, but begins to reconsider because the sender seems to know Colin intimately.

Each implies that Colin killed twenty-five year old aspiring artist Rebecca Farris, an employee of Elite Escorts. As she prepares for the wedding, Madison confronts Colin, who insists he had nothing to do with the homicide of the call girl. Concerned she might be marrying a tyro Jack the Ripper, Madison begins making inquires that lead to her catching her beloved in a major lie. She digs deeper with an obsession to know the truth before she says I do.

Though a contemporary amateur sleuth, this fun over the top of Citi Field is a throwback to the 1930s madcap comedies; in fact readers will envision Hepburn-Grant starring in this screwball tale. The frantic-paced story line is driven by Madison whose mantra imprinted in her by her mom over the years is "Be careful what you wish for". Fans will relish her frenzy as she prepares for marriage while investigating her future husband.

The Night Counter
Alia Yunis
Shaye Areheart (Crown)
9780307453624 $24.00

Lebanese immigrant Fatima Abdullah is dying, but shows no interest in a reconciliation with her estranged husband Ibraham or for that matter with her children sprawled all over the country as she prefers to ignore their issues. She has no desire to see any of her ten offspring; their children except Amir or even her pregnant great-granddaughter; they did not want to hear her prattle about her 1001 Arabian Nights countdown.

Instead she stays with her gay grandson Amir, who welcomes her insanity in Los Angeles as an actor who knows his town is filled with crazies so his attitude is why not one more with his blood. For the last 992 nights ever since Scheherazade visited her demanding she tells her stories, Fatima has complied. When her tales end, Scheherazade insists so does her life; as happens with everyone. With nine to go, the octogenarian expects to be dead next week even as Ibraham wants to be there for her; as does the FBI who believe the Abdullah family are a sleeper terrorist cell because of Amir's name and his association with a former lover under federal surveillance due to his former lover Amir being under federal surveillance.

This is a terrific tale that keeps the audience wondering whether Fatima suffers from dementia or is a clever modern day fantasy. Fatima obviously owns the fast-paced novel as she begins her final countdown to what she expects is her death. Her family especially heartbroken Amir, whose lover dumped him during the countdown, provide solid support as all of them except her host assumes she is certifiable; whereas her host thinks she is an eccentric lovable kook. Scheherazade plays a key role, but like the Memorex commercial one will ponder is she real or imagined as does the circular logical FBI finding perceived terrorists under any Arab sounding rock. Alia Yunis provides a powerful modern day family thriller with the twist of the FBI "interrogates" Scheherazade.

Lime Tree Can't Bear Orange
Amanda Smyth
9780307460646 $14.00

In Black Rock, Tobago, half-breed Celia D'Abadie's mom died giving birth to her while her absentee Caucasian father deserted her to return to his home in Southampton, England. Her maternal Aunt Tassi raises her lovingly. Everything is great until Tassi marries Roman. He is abusive and ever leering and stalking Celia. When she is sixteen, her uncle rapes her.

Celia flees her home for Trinidad where she meets William Shamiel. He and his family take the teen into their home. She obtains work as a maid to the family of Dr. Emmanuel Rodriguez. His English wife Helen is mentally on the verge of collapse as everything sends her to hysteria while his two kids are precocious when mom is not around. However, the move to Port of Spain that starts off uplifting soon turns ugly too for Celia.

Celia and the locale of Trinidad-Tobago refresh the often told tale of a naive young country bumpkin forced to come of age rather quickly in the city. The teen's adventures on both islands bring them to life for the reader as Amanda Smyth escorts her audience beyond the tourist sections to the heart of the islands. Celia is terrific as a hybrid who has always felt like an outsider with no protector from male predators though her aunt tries somewhat. Though the plot is somewhat thin, fans will enjoy Celia's quest to find a place where she feels she can sleep at night safe and secure and as important to her well being knows where she belongs in life.

Nicola Keegan
9780307269973 $25.95

When Philomena "Pip" Ash was nine months old, her parents entered her in a baby water class; she amazed everyone when, unlike the other kids who plopped and fell, she began smoothly moving through the water. Olympic coach Ernest K. Mankovitz trains Pip turning her into an unbeatable swimming robot who wins gold medals in three Olympic Games.

Over the years of her success, Pip's older sister dies of cancer, her father is killed in a plane crash, and her mother collapses mentally with an endless string of nervous breakdowns. The pool is where Pip denies her ghosts, but she never learns to relate. However, as her career winds down, Pip finds herself increasingly dealing with the demons that haunt her as she can no longer sublimate her feelings by swimming.

Character driven, this is a super look at a person whose only psychological defense mechanism over the years of tragedy is swimming, but now with her career waning, even the pool is no longer a haven for her. Pip is terrific with her cursing about life's unfairness as all the emotions she psychologically avoided by swimming away from them are igniting inside her now. With a candid look at real and metaphoric death (as this is not just the demise of a person) through the confused mocking lead character, whose convoluted ramblings can be difficult to follow, SWIMMING is a gold metal winner.

In the Heart of the Canyon
Elisabeth Hyde
9780307263674 $25.95

Colorado River rafting guide JT Maroney has a diverse group joining him on his 125th whitewater trip down the river. J.T. is especially concerned with the experience level or lack thereof by some of his passengers.

Unemployed Peter Kramer seems only interested in getting into the pants of the assistant guide Dixie Ann Gillis. The Frankel couple, seasoned seventy- something rafters who unbeknownst to J.T. Ruth conceals that Lloyd suffers from Alzheimer's. The sexagenarian pair Boyer-Brandt, mother Susan and obese teen daughter Amy Van Doren, Evelyn the Harvard professor, and the four Compsons of Salt Lake City round out the rafters. The strangers assemble for thirteen days of Forming, Storming, Norming,. Performing and Adjourning IN THE HEART OF THE CANYON

This is an exciting insightful look at how groups even doing outdoor activities work as the audience gets a deep look at the entire cast including the leader. "OMG" to quote Amy, the story line gets into the heart of its ensemble cast to include the river. Although an emergency spin feels contrived to add unnecessary life threatening action, but instead almost drowns the prime plot; fans will enjoy this profound look at group dynamics in the wild.

Jericho's Fall
Stephen L. Carter
9780307272621 $25.95

In the Colorado Rockies, former CIA chief Jericho Ainsley lies dying from cancer. He asks in his royal demanding way for ex CIA operative Beck DeForde to come see him. Fifteen years ago, they began an affair that ended Jericho's political power although he still had economic influence when the scandal broke. She assumes he wants to say good-bye.

Almost immediately upon entering the foreboding gigantic home, Beck learns that those who operate in the dark fear what Jericho will reveal to his former lover. Jericho explains he distrusts his family who would sell him out in death for a buck and the spy agencies who only care about polishing their tarnished images after selling out to the last president. He trusts only Beck to do the right thing about the information he plans for her to hold. Both understand what that means from the onset as others have come to this remote house high in the Colorado Rockies to take out two former agents and obtain the information Jericho possesses.

Switching from his complex societal legal thrillers (see THE EMPEROR OF OCEAN PARK, NEW ENGLAND WHITE and PALACE COUNCIL) Stephen L. Carter provides a more standard type but exhilarating espionage thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the opening moment when Beck philosophizes that she is traveling to her past in more ways than just visiting her dying former lover whose career died along with hers when their tryst was exposed. She is a terrific heroine holding the exciting plot together while Jericho is the more complicated fascinating character. The author's fans will appreciate this fine tale, but will also miss a revealing of the "dark secrets" behind the pivotal moments in history that the victors prefer to hide from the masses.

Vanilla Ride
Joe R. Lansdale
9780307270979 $24.95

In East Texas, unlikely sidekicks Hap Collins and Leonard Pine behave like identical twins though the former is white heterosexual and the latter is black homosexual. These two kick butt buddies believe in the code of LDRSHIP (loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage); they are there for each other.

Being Good Samaritans, they rescue the granddaughter of a friend Marvin Hanson from local drug dealers. However, their actions embarrass the Dixie Mafia, who cannot allow this affront to their friends go unnoticed. They send a horde of trained killers to take out the dynamic duo, who enjoy the war. As the body count explodes to the point they may need a stadium to hold the corpses, the humiliated Dixie Mafia send their top gun Vanilla Ride to kill the pair starting with her blue eyes, blond hair, and killer smile.

The return of the kings of deadly chaos Hap and Leonard will delight fans as they once again get involved in an outrageous caper that leaves plenty of corpses in which the title Vanilla Ride probably should have been Cherry Ride. The story line is fast-paced, filled with action as Joe R. Lansdale satirizes the epic crime thriller with a super insane only in Texas thriller.

A Monster's Notes
Laurie Sheck
9780307271051 $30.00

Almost two centuries ago the Monster met Mary Shelley who wrote the famous novel about him that he knows is somewhat a biography. Created by scientist Dr. Victor Frankenstein, the Monster has remained alive all this time struggling with a need to know. Mostly he is haunted by his inability to comprehend why Victor made him only to discard him.

He muses about Mary whom he met when she was nine visiting her mom's gravesite and told his story by writing letters to her late radical feminist mom Mary Wollstonecraft and her philosopher dad William Godwin. Mary also kept a diary in which she mentions the Monster, her husband Percy and her siblings. Perhaps it is because of that encounter the Monster muses that he too keeps a journal of sorts especially of his interest in the cosmos, Arctic exploration, robotics and AI, and Google as he seeks another like him. He ponders when he dies can he go to heaven or even hell since his creation is unique. However, it is Father who he worships and loathes that much of his writings always turn to as his favorite possessions are the letters from Henry Clerval who gave him his only real insight outside of the encounters with Victor.

This is a deep but not easy read as it takes a little time to adapt to the format. However, it is worth the effort as Laurie Sheck gets inside the head and heart of the Monster two centuries since he met young Mary. The story line has a whimsical amusing undertone, but is profound with the belief that a key human element is the need to belong. With religious connotations throughout, fans will enjoy A MONSTER'S NOTE as Ms. Sheck enables the audience to see the world from the perspective of a somewhat shunned outsider.

Skeleton Justice
Dr. Michael Baden and Linda Kenney Baden
9781400044320 $25.95

New York City deputy chief medical examiner Dr. Jake Rosen and his girlfriend lawyer Philomena "Manny" Manfreda are very busy working difficult complex cases. Jake and the police investigate the assaults of "the Vampire," who has knocked out five people with ether before siphoning blood from the unconscious victims. Manny is defending one of the two "Preppy Terrorists"; private-school students charged with setting a bomb in a mailbox that severely injured a federal judge.

Jake realizes the Vampire knows what he is doing medically though with a European flavor until one of the attacked dies. Manny rejects Jake's advice to not handle the Preppy Terrorist case, as she feels her client is unfairly being held responsible because his partner is an ambassador's son so immunity has surfaced. Neither expected their seemingly exclusive cases to merge over an allegedly dead politician.

The fun in the second forensic-legal thriller (see REMAINS SILENT) is the relationship between the lead couple who bring love, obstinacy and professionalism into the mix. The story line is fast-paced as the two subplots start off their separate ways, but consolidate into an over the top conspiracy cover-up thriller. Fans will enjoy the tale though ironically readers will anticipate the merging of the plots while considering the underlying conclusion that vicious murdering rulers rarely are punished.

The Girl Who Played With Fire
Stieg Larsson
9780307269980 $25.95

Swedish Millennium magazine publisher and reporter Mikael Blomkvist is considering an expose of the extensive sex trafficking trade in Eastern Europe. He knows the article will cause a stink in Sweden when the elite are exposed as participants. However, just before the release of the damaging report, the lead journalists are murdered and the evidence including fingerprints on the weapon point to Lisbeth Salander.

With an outraged cry from the media and the government, some of whom headline the dead reporters' sex trafficking article, to hunt down this vicious killer, Salander knows she must put aside her beach reading of Fermat to uncover the real culprit. Blomkvist knows the tattooed Salander is innocent and using his investigative skills as a crusader he also begins making inquiries.

The second Blomkvist and Salander Swedish thriller is a super whodunit that brilliantly combines action-packed sequences with cerebral treatises. The story line is fast-paced from the opening salvo and never slows down even when the heroine discusses mathematical theories as Blomkvist and Salander independently and united investigate the homicides with neither expecting the trail to take them to her past though their previous combined inquiry (see THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO) should have warned them.

I Shot You Babe
Leslie Langtry
Making It (Dorchester)
9780843962918 $6.99

He is considered the family odd duck as Coney "Cy" Bombay has a PhD in philosophy and enjoys working on the carney circuit as a mechanic as he has for the last dozen years while his traveling companion is Sartre, a guinea pig. Post-grad student Veronica Gale interviews Cy in Wisconsin, but she walks away angrily when he glibly makes commentary on their similar background as he like her was a two decade plus student, but he moved on with dreams of Henry Kissinger impersonations. Perhaps his proclamation that his ambitious cousin's goal is driving an ice cream truck drove her off.

His family assigns Cy an assassination in Mongolia. While waiting there for the right moment, Cy enjoys the Mongolian Naadam Festival when he is stunned with the arrival of Veronica. As he wrestles with Ronnie, he wonders how to combine a murder with romance as his desire for her is killing him especially when she asks him to help her find out who the Anderson killer is.

The final Bombay assassination romantic suspense thriller is a fabulous finish due to irreverent Cy, his "son" Sartre, the locale, and the rest of the family. Veronica (don't call her Ronnie) seems more of a straight woman to the comedic lead male as he is Grouch Marx to her Bud Abbott (forgive the mixing of comedians). Fans will enjoy the capers of cousin Cy as the curtain comes down on the wonderful Bombay brood, who prove the Republicans are right as a family that kills together stays together.

Bobbi Smith
9780843962819 $7.99

In the 1870s Texas, Ranger Lane Madison goes undercover masquerading as "rancher" outlaw leader Dan Cooper in order to bring to justice his gang of train robbers. However, the law enforcement official is unprepared for the arrival of his mail-order bride, Destiny Starling.

She conceals from her kindhearted new spouse the fact that she is a RUNAWAY heiress running scared from a vile stepfather she left behind in St. Louis. They fall in love even with each pretending to be someone else. However, the outlaw gang wants Lane dead and collateral damage is quite acceptable; in fact encouraged. Those villains masquerading as upper class citizens have come to take home Destiny and collateral damage is part of their plot as she must have the proper husband.

Once the Cecil B. Demille crowd makes their appearances, this Reconstruction Era romance takes off at the speed of a RUNAWAY train. Lane and Destiny are a fascinating pair as they fall love with the other's persona; leaving the audience and them to wonder if they overcome the fabrications; as the algebra of multiplication of negatives means love will blossom although so many want Lane dead.

Chosen Woman
Shirl Henke
9780843962482 $7.99

In 1873 inside a mansion in St. Louis, law enforcement official Jack Dillon meets the woman he has been hired to protect when Fawn Stanhope calls him a runt as she is as tall as him. Being almost six feet, he thinks to himself she is an amazon, but though he wants to flee before she challenges him to a wrestling match, a paying job keeps him there even when she proclaims he is no bodyguard. Her nine year old sister Delilah explains to Jack that Fawn has always had visions that frustrate and scare her as she struggles with their interpretation.

Fawn hides from Jack that she recognizes the cocky Irish-American as the charismatic Red Wolf in her dreams. Jack has been hired to escort Fawn to the Cheyenne where she will become their medicine dream guide though she never lived with that side of her heritage. He knows from their first meeting she will not be an easy client. Her supportive parents also want Jack to prevent the stealing of the land from their extended family and the sending of the Cheyenne children to orphanages. As they fall in love in between her bashing him, she risks her life to prevent the plotters gaining deeds from the elderly who mysteriously die soon afterward and he does likewise to keep his CHOSEN WOMAN safe.

This is an exhilarating Reconstruction Era romance with a powerful touch of Native American beliefs that places a spotlight on a period of American shame with the mistreatment including murder, abuse, and abduction of Indians. The story line is fast-paced from the opening meeting between the lead couple as the amazon looks down on her troll and never slows down as readers wonder what the Grand Design will be for this fine pairing.

Urban Gothic
Brian Keene
9780843960907 $7.99

Tyler and his girlfriend Kerri, Brett and his significant other Stephanie, and Javier and his lady Heather drive from the burbs to attend the Monsters of Hip Hop show in Philadelphia. Tyler wants some weed so despite the protests of the others, he drives to Camden to buy some. They get lost in the Hood and their car breaks down. Some young blacks walk over to their vehicle; the outsiders are fearful of what will happen to them so take shelter in a nearby mini-mansion that needs extensive repair.

After they get inside, the door locks; they are unable to neither open it nor escape through a window because they are filled up with plaster A giant with a misshapen visage and body kills Tyler and plans to have sex with him now that he is dead. The others are attacked by misshapen midgets and creatures that do not seem to be human. The surviving suburbanites fight back knowing the monsters will use them as food. They have only one chance to escape when a middle aged man and though afraid the black youths try a rescue.

Brian Keene can always be counted on for providing a frightening horror novel that scares the hell out if his fans. In many ways URBAN GOTHIC is a thin plotted slasher movie except the characters don't quite fit as they understand survival means teaming together not wandering alone begging to become a victim. The trapped group never quits as they fight to the end to stay alive against the monsters. With plenty of blood, guts and gore that will make the strong queasy, fans of graphic horror thrillers will enjoy this trek into Camden.

The Dragons of Ordinary Farm
Tad Williams and Deborah Beale
9780061543456 $16.99

Their mom informs Tyler and Lucinda that they will send four weeks with the Pierho family while she goes on a singles retreat. Lucinda begs her to send them almost anywhere else though her choice would be dad; Tyler has given up the fight. A letter arrives from Great Uncle Gideon Goldring whom mom thought died a century ago inviting his great niece and nephew to spend time on his farm in Standard Valley, California. Mom informs the "King and Queen of Romania" that they will visit their great uncle for six weeks. Lucinda moans they went from fish smell to cow excrement; Tyler is silent.

The farm is not what the kids expected nor is Uncle Gideon who seems distracted and panicked though they have no earthly idea why. The workers (Mr. Walkwell, Colin and his mom) are not welcoming. Tyler and Lucinda soon meet the not ordinary farm animals starting with a "dragon" cow in the barn and a griffin. Both wonder how no one has discovered the rather nosy unicorn herd. They meet other strange creatures. As an excited Tyler investigates what is going on and why Gideon seems on the verge of a nervous breakdown, he persuades his moping sister to join him on a trek through time and reality; not quite fully realizing yet why they were brought to the farm.

The first part of this exciting fantasy escorts the young readers around the farm through mostly Tyler's exploration; Lucinda is still in an unlikable snit. This enables the older elementary school audience to meet the not so ordinary farm animals and the workers. That in turn sets the stage for Lucinda (having moved from sulk to awe) and Tyler's most excellent adventures that take up most of the fast-paced story line ending with a great climax. Young fans will want to join the outsiders on their incredible summer vacation (imagine how they will explain what they did when they return to school).

Thrumpton Hall: A Memoir of Life in My Father's House
Miranda Seymour
9780061466564 $24.95

In 1944, twenty-one year old George FitzRoy Seymour ecstatically bought the house of his dreams Thrumpton Hall in Nottinghamshire, England; the home his Foreign Service parents abandoned him in with relatives when he was two. To make the purchase he marries wealthy Rosemary Scott-Ellis. However, the estate and the manor house instead of his wife became his significant other as everything he did from that pivotal point was to keep his house in perfect order. He expected his children to be as perfect as the house and ripped author Miranda Seymour for being a fat teen. He also did not hide his sexual preference for young males.

This is a fascinating memoir that is made even stronger by the author being the daughter of the subject and her key disclaimer that she does not know all the skeletons. George is an intriguing individual who knew the intricate history of his house especially as the first minor to reside there in over three centuries. His childhood abandonment impacts his adulthood at a time in which the aristocracy is in rapid decline following WWII. He obsesses over owning and maintaining THRUMPTON HALL. Readers will appreciate renowned biographer Miranda Seymour's look at growing up with a father who cherished his house as his significant other and loved the edifice seemingly more than he did his family.

Faye Kellerman and Aliza Kellerman
9780061687211 $16.99

California high school student Kaida is on a field trip to Carlsbad Caverns when there is a horrific van accident. Kaida spends a terrible night with two other students Zeke Anderson and Joy Tallon in a cave. The next morning she awakens to find herself in her California bed with her class trip to come next week. Something is not quite right besides the time disparity, but she is unsure of what.

The strangest thing Kaida notices is health care or the lack of as there are no doctors or hospitals. People who are ill are left to recover naturally or sent to the desert to die. Kaida knows this is not her California as the only people who do not look at her as insane over medical care is her two van mates.

This faster than the speed of light action-packed science fiction targets middle school students with an intriguing message about health care. The story line's hyper speed overwhelms the cast even the transplanted trio who are the stars and the world they somehow enter. Still young adult fans will enjoy this accelerated ride that never slows down for a nanosecond.

Triple Cross: How Bin Laden's Master Spy Penetrated the CIA, the Green Berets, and the FBI
Peter Lance
9780061189418 $16.99

This biography is a shocker from the onset as Peter Lance does more than just look into the life of Al Qaeda operative Ali Mohamed; he asserts this man was the driver behind many of the terrorist attacks over two decades culminating with 9/11. Using chutzpah to a degree unheard of, he became an American citizen after marrying an American, but all that time "Ali the American" served as Chief of Security for bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri. He was an FBI informer and worked with the CIA in Europe while still holding his real job, serving as Chief of Security for bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri (can't say that duality enough). Then there is the Able Danger segue that will have readers floored that this man got away with what he did.

This well written stunner will leave readers wondering about our government claims of protecting us when he was welcomed to top secret information while setting up terrorist missions. Affirming the title of Triple Cross he applies to his subject, Mr. Lance exposes the government agencies whose failures the author asserts fundamentally led to 9/11; a horrific incident that could and should have been prevented. Perhaps the most frightening aspect is the implication of what else is the feds hiding. This is one nonfiction that has to be fiction; as the audience will continually say no way with each new revelation supported by strong evidence of yes way. Why didn't Cheney waterboard Mohammed who is in the Witness Protection Program having never been convicted of his crimes against humanity.

Pop Salvation
Lance Reynald
9780061672972 $13.99

Seventh grader Caleb Watson has always felt different than his family or his schoolmates at the exclusive private academies he has attended. He has never been quite able to understand why he feels this way or explain it to anyone including himslef; he just does.

That changes on a field trip to the Hirshhorn Museum where he sees Andy Warhol's homage to Marilyn Monroe's Lips. Caleb begins to worship the pop icon who as the lad learns was born a sickly effeminate Czech in Pittsburgh but died a legend. He changes his look so that he appears as close to Warhol as possible and begins making strange movies like his hero did. Caleb soon has groupies that include his gay partner Aaron; his Sedgwick in Sonia, and his Monroe in runaway male Rocky Horror fan Brit. They test the Warhol existence to the limit and beyond as "turn on, tune in, and drop out"; which means acid, cross dressing, suicide and fetishes.

This is an interesting look at teen outcasts in Regan Era Georgetown. The fully developed, alienated in different ways, characters drive the story line as each of the Warhol-Rocky quartet seek a reason to belong and think by emulating the late artist or the movie they are achieving this. Although the plot reads less like a novel and more like a biography, fans will enjoy the desperate antics of Caleb and crew as they turn to the world of Pop for salvation.

The Condition
Jennifer Haigh
9780060755799 $14.99

In 1976, the marriage between Paulette and Frank McKotch is teetering on the brink of collapse because he wants sex and lots of it and she doesn't. They are spending the summer together with their three kids at Cape Cod with plans to sell the beach cottage when the vacation ends. However both are stunned to learn their thirteen years old daughter Gwen has been diagnosed with Turner Syndrome, a chromosome deficiency that keeps an adult in the body of a pre- puberty child. Gwen's parents disagree about how to proceed; Frank seeks medical answers while Paulette wants to keep Gwen safe.

Two decades later, Frank and Paulette long divorced have never married again. Their son Bill lives with his beloved male partner and works as a cardiologist in Manhattan, but hides his sexual preference from his parents. Their youngest child Scott teaches school and is married with two kids. Gwen lives alone working at a museum. On a vacation, she falls in love with her guide. However, Paulette, still protecting Gwen, orders Scott to find his sister and bring her home. His mission forces each of the five McKotches to relook their relationships and their lives.

This is an intriguing character driven tale that looks deeply at how a health condition impacts everyone in a family; even one that is dysfunctional. The cast drives the story line as each seems real though in many ways the rest of the family besides Gwen show their traits by how they act towards her. The key to this touching tale is the way Jennifer Haigh avoids turning THE CONDITION into a five tissue box soap opera; as readers will feel for Gwen who demands no tears as she is a self sufficient adult.

Secret of the Seventh Son
Glenn Cooper
9780061721793 $7.99

In New York, the victim receives a postcard of a coffin just prior to being murdered. The FBI assigns the case to Agent Will Piper, who has no interest in a serial killer investigation as he nears retirement. Young agent Nancy Lipinski is tasked to work with Will, who has even less interest in mentoring a rookie.

The clues outside of the postcards are nonexistent as the psychopath is careful to leave nothing behind. Meanwhile Will is ugly to Nancy over her being overweight and even nastier to his junior partner when he drinks excessively while investigating or when he is hung over. However, as they begin to find ties to a medieval scenario and he sobers up, Will and Nancy begin a romance.

This is an engaging mystical FBI thriller with a supernatural tie to the SECRET OF THE SEVENTH SON born in 777. The story line is fast-paced when Will stays sober long enough to not have a hangover; but too much of the plot is tied up by his drinking, which after the first time the audience got the message. Still fans will enjoy the legendary profiler ready for the pasture of toasting his past glory and the rookie who brings him back to life.

A Secret Alchemy
Emma Darwin
9780061714726 $14.99

Following the death of her husband, modern day historian Una Pryor is in England visiting her family and taking care of business. To escape her grief, she researches the lives of the fifteenth century Woodville siblings, Anthony and Elizabeth.

Elizabeth was married to Sir John Gray, but when he died the young widow pursued and married Edward IV; they have ten children, but when the king dies none of them take the throne as his Brother Richard acts swiftly. An earl, Anthony tries to save his nephew Ned from his fraternal uncle and get him crowned as the rightful king. Meanwhile Una turns to estate's handyman, Mark Fisher whom she has loved forever for solace.

A SECRET ALCHEMY is an interesting fiction that rotates Una's present life with fictional historian's deep look at the court dominated lives of Anthony and Elizabeth. The action is mostly off page, but ultra fans of fifteenth century royal intrigue will enjoy this fine entry somewhat overwhelmed with the details of how the Woodville siblings struggled to survive the internal battles for the throne.; which he and her sons (the Princes in the Tower) did not.

The Rise and Fall of Communism
Archie Brown
9780061138799 $35.99

Mr. Brown puts together a deep perspective on the Communist phenomena touching on the writings of Marx and Engles in the nineteenth century and those who were precursors of the "founding fathers"; loosely like Locke's influence on America's "Founding Fathers". Obviously the prime focus is in the twentieth century but also somewhat in this past decade. Although the author looks at the final five survivors of Communism (Cuba, China, North Korea, Viet Nam and Laos) and their attempts for footholds in Africa and the Caribbean, the tome mostly focuses on the Soviet Union and the Eastern Europe Bloc behind the Iron Curtain, which Mr. Brown admits has been his major area of study. The insight into the Gorbachev-Yeltsin transition period is especially powerful and enlightening as Mr. Brown insists that Gorbachev's reforms led to unintended consequences for the party and the empire. In every case except for the rather short Prague Spring, Trotsky's theory of the party substituting for the workers always led to harsh dictatorships and usually to internal power struggles especially when change at the top occurred. Well written throughout the large volume, the conclusions are profound based on solid arguments; for instance the surviving nations all claim the purest form of communism, as each governs differently and that the utopian socialist workers' state has never been attained. However, once again it is the fall of the Iron Curtain that is the most insightful section of a fascinating look at THE RISE AND FALL OF COMMUNISM.

The Art of Racing in the Rain
Garth Stein
9780061537967 $14.99

In Seattle Enzo the mixed breed dog believes he is different from most if not all other canines as he knows he has a human soul and looks forward to his reincarnation as a man. He adores his human companion Denny and loves their bachelor existences. Denny works at an auto repair shop trying to obtain the capital needed to become a racing driver. Enzo supports the dream by watching racing on TV especially tapes involving his best friend and has become an expert on the subject, but is frustrated with his inability to communicate with his two legged buddy.

Denny meets and falls in love with Eve. They marry but the woman and the dog mistrust one another. Denny is away racing when Eve goes into labor; she turns to Enzo as her coach. Enzo loves the new baby, Zoe, but also fears for the mom as her "odor" smells rancid. Eve becomes ill and dies. Her parents who loathe Denny sue for custody of Zoe although they know they have no chance of winning. Instead they arrange for their fifteen years old niece to seduce Enzo, but he rejects the teen. Still she screams rape and now his case is weak. With Enzo still riding shotgun, Denny keeps fighting.

Told by Enzo, THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN is an engaging inspirational tale that encourages people to go after your dreams. The story line is filled with metaphors especially comparing life to race car driving on an oval track. Although the in-laws' shenanigans seem unreal particularly compared with a dog thinking like a human, fans will enjoy this fine uplifting anthropomorphic saga of life as seen through the personification of a thinking person's dog.

The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu
Michael Stanley
9780061252495 $25.99

Botswana Assistant Superintendent David "Kubu" Bengu investigates the murders of two men at the remote Jackalberry bush camp. Both Sipho Langa a black South African tourist and the Goodluck Tinubu were guests. The problem with the identification of the latter based on his fingerprints is that Goodluck died almost three decades ago during the Rhodesian civil war.

The third Zimbabwean Ishmael Zondo has vanished with the cops assuming he is the killer on the run tying him to drug trafficking though camp manger Dupie says he took him to the airport. Bengu thinks otherwise as he feels Goodluck is the key to solving the homicides. So he is surprised that many people including his own father thought highly of Goodluck as a teacher. The case is going nowhere for him with the pressure upstairs to find the missing third guest and at home when his wife Joy is attacked.

The second Kubu Botswana police procedural (see A CARRION DEATH) is a terrific whodunit that focuses on the investigation, but also showcases the author team's love of the landlocked South African country. In fact the leisure stroll through the countryside while making inquiries provides a deep look at this nation, but does take time from solving the case. Fans, especially those of The No.1 Ladies´ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith will enjoy this engaging "geographical" murder mystery as Michael Stanley provides a deep look into this democracy.

My Goat Ate Its Own Legs
Alex Bennett
9780061719684 $12.99

These thirty-one short shorts (none are more than fifteen pages) are entertaining and surprisingly several contain twists that will catch the reader off guard. None of the entries are clinkers, but a few are extremely profound about the "human" condition like "Dating Death" in which a suicide victim and Death begin seeing one another, Genghis Brown a rat of a species meeting the Prince of Darkness and "Anger Management" due to low levels of aggression. The title story is a stunner as the audience learns why the goat did what it did and its human owner did what he did afterward; but the kid only chomped himself to survive while his parents modestly but swiftly dine on their children as a gourmet delicacy. Irreverent yet relevant as even God has been divorced and Cyrano knows he has been put through a Bennett rinse cycle, fans who relish something different in their shorts (no pun intended as that would be to light for this collection), mostly humorous, but always hyperbolizing society with the uncanny dark stripping of the pompous. This is an odd winner, but best served over several weeks so the reader will be less likely to anticipate the mocking spins on human civilized society.

I love You, Beth Cooper
Larry Doyle
9780061732775 $14.99

At the Buffalo Grove High School graduation the poster boy for geek Denis Cooverman gives the valedictorian speech. In his talk to his peers, he decides to go for the ultimate set down and the impossible dream. He names those who are bullies and abuse victims; he also tells those shocked people assembled for the graduation ceremony that "I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER" although he expects abject rejection from the cheerleader.

Shockingly, instead Beth encourages Denis, which outrages her boyfriend Kevin, who wants to kick some geek butt. Even more stunning Beth comes to Denis's graduation party with her two BFFs Cammy and Treece. Thus the three females join Denis and his only guest, his maybe gay pal Rich. Fuming Kevin and his army crash the party planning to beat the snot out of the geek; the Coove with Rich and the ladies flees into the night.

This is a humorous over the top nerd's excellent adventure as the Coove and company are on the run from the army. Fans will enjoy the tale as long as the plausibility meter is left on idle. Mindful of the Keanu Reeves film The Night Before, in so many ways as Coove learns that his perfect heroine is human with flaws.

The Ugly Man
Dennis Cooper
9780061715440 $13.99

These eighteen short stories take a dark amusing look at sex, gore, and gory sex. Ironically the title story is an extreme short yet gets the message across of gore, death and sex. involving a dying diseased person turning hookers into "angels of mercy". Other entries are grosser though there is an ironic humor to most. "Jerk" for instance is an apropos description of a puppeteer. The title of the weird "One Night in 1979 I Did Too Much Coke and Couldn't Sleep and Had What I Thought Was a Million-Dollar Idea to Write the Definitive Tell-all Book About Glam Rock Based on My Own Personal Experience but This Is as Far as I Got" seems longer than the entry. There are also longer contributions starring sadists who are also "ugly men" torturing, mutilating, and raping teenagers. Those tales that are explicit stone serious are not easy to read; nor are the "scripts. On the other hand, those with a mocking edge like "The Anal-Retentive Line Editor" are super as where else can you find a running war between an editor and a writer over the latter's gay erotic thriller. THE UGLY MAN is typical Dennis Cooper as the author will tickle his fans with his pickle while also shocking the sh*t out of newcomers with his quirky look at death, gore, and sex.

Good Things I Wish You
A. Manette Ansay
9780061239960 $25.99

Recently divorced, forty-two years old Floridian Jeanette Hochmann is struggling with balance. She works at the university, is raising her four years old child virtually alone, and is writing her novelization of the four decade relationship between nineteenth century German pianist Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms, her spouse Robert's protege as composers. Jeannette, a child prodigy classical pianist, hopes to bring freshness to the legendary triangle, but instead feels lethargic and despondent following her acrimonious divorce war.

Through an agency Jeanette meets slightly older entrepreneur Hart, the first man she dates in nineteent years. He coincidently comes from Clara's hometown Leipzig, Germany. Hart kindly helps her with translations of her research from German to English though they seem to have nothing in common except they are attracted to one another. In fact she realizes his ten year old daughter, a musical prodigy, is much more like her than Hart is. As they travel Germany and Switzerland together, their relationship heats up yet increasingly seems to emulate that of Clara and Johannes.

This is a fascinating look at the legendary triangle between the Schumann duo and Brahms in which the nineteenth century subplot with original photos and letters is extremely gripping; but in turn makes the modern day entry seem intrusive. The cast in both centuries are fully developed, however once again the historical persona steal the show. Although GOOD THINGS I WISH FOR YOU might have been better as an exclusive look at the historical relationship, fans will enjoy A. Manette Ansay's fine tale of how convoluted life is then and now.

Havana Nocturne
T.J. English
9780061712746 $15.99

Just after WWII, the American government deported Mafia boss "Lucky" Luciano sending him home to Sicily. However, instead of crossing the Atlantic, Luciano landed in Cuba where financial genius Meyer Lansky was setting up shop. Cuban dictator Batista and the island's laws encouraged gambling investment. Soon Havana became the center of gambling, prostitution, and nightclubs while also turning into the central bank of mob activities in North America. Tourism flourished. While the United States struggled with the beginning of the civil rights movement in the 1950s, Havana was the true melting pot, as the Mafia welcomed anyone willing to spend. Everything collapses when Castro's revolution kicks Battista and the mob off the island in 1959.

True crime author T.J. English provides a fascinating look at the Mafia in Cuba from the end of WW II to the Communist takeover. His theory is that Batista worked for Luciano as opposed to the prevalent belief that the mob chief was a welcomed "guest" of the dictator as long as he paid for the privilege. Fans will enjoy the deep look at the mob controlled activities in Havana and the author's contention of "How the Mob Owned Cuba ... And Then Lost It to the Revolution".

Herbert's Wormhole
Peter Nelson and Rohitash Rao
9780061688683 $12.99

His parents have rooted for their ten year old son Alex to win his Alien-Slayer 2 game so they can have some peace; he promised them that once he was victorious he would spend the rest of the summer outside. Thus when he wins, his parents rejoice as he has been driving them crazy over the first half of the summer.

His parents send their six-grader to their brilliant neighbor Herbert Skewg, who shows the preadolescent his latest invention that creates a wormhole shortcut through the space-time continuum. The pair journeys a century into the future to find their hometown run by the kind six tentacle G'Daliens who need a hair make over. The humans and the G'Daliens welcome the time travelers in a friendly way though the latter's diction sounds somewhat Aussie. Herbert and Alex soon become embroiled with preventing a scheme to take over by an outraged G'Dalien Gor-Don who was rejected by a human woman.

Filled with numerous drawings on almost every page by Rohitash Rao, HERBERT'S WORMHOLE is an enjoyable older elementary school science fiction with a sort of youngster's smirk to the fun story line. Fast-paced once the dynamic duo meet the G'Daliens and the future humans, young readers will enjoy Peter Nelson's exciting futuristic thriller though at times the illustrations distract from the plot especially when they depict something different than the prose on the same page. Still this is a fun romp that will have the audience traveling back to the future with Alex and Herbert.

Jennifer McMahon
9780061689338 $24.95

While attending Sexton College in Vermont the four students became best friends; forming the Compassionate Dismantlers. Now graduated, they live together in a remote cabin where they go forth committing bodacious harmful acts that increasingly are out of control. However, when their leader Suz Pierce dies during a stunt, the three survivors dismantle their group.

A decade later, two of the members Henry DeForge and Tess Kahle remain married but separated while raising their nine-year-old daughter, Emma. The suicide of a friend from college leaves Henry and Tess fearful that their motto Dismantlement Equals Freedom" will destroy them especially since a private investigator digs into the past. Emma tries to bring her parents back together, but that leads instead to the revival of the Compassionate Dismantlers.

DISMANTLED is an intelligent fascinating character-driven thriller that rotates between the present and ten years ago. The cast in both decades are strong though unlikable so that the reader sees what motivated the Compassionate Dismantlers and what drives Henry, Tess and Emma; the melancholy child steals the show with her sad outlook of a bleak future. Filled with eerie but plausible twists and spins, fans of something different will relish this wild roller coaster ride.

Heroic Measures
Jill Ciment
9780375425226 $23.00

For forty-five years retired teacher Ruth and artist Alex Cohen have lived in their East Village co-op, but now the elderly couple finds the five flights unbearable and their cherished Dorothy the Dachshund can no longer move her back feet making it that much more difficult for them. Thus they plan to sell the apartment hoping for a million dollars and find a more convenient abode somewhere closer to the ocean perhaps as far south as the Carolinas.

As they wait to host an open house, Alex has been adding illustrations to "ancient history FBI files of Ruth. However, the police begin an evacuation when a driver Abdul Pamir loses control of a gas tanker blocking the Midtown tunnel. Residents begin panicking that another 9/11 is happening and the media adds to the fears with the "Danger in the Tunnel" reporting that imply terrorists since the driver is named Abdul. While all this is going down (should say "up"-town) Dorothy becomes ill and needs to see a veterinarian and their realtor says terrorists like Abdul who became frightened of mobs, police, and reporters assaulting him takes hostages, which makes the Cohen pad worth a lot less.

HEROIC MEASURES is a super look at an edgy America in which the media and the politicians play up the 9/11 card at any time, which leads to more nervousness as if the country has turned into a collective neurotic perhaps even psychotic mess. The story line reads like a Manhattan thriller in which any moment the Midtown Tunnel will explode and Abdul will kill his hostages yet does so with a profound focus on the three subplots of New York real estate, an aging couple struggling with an ailing canine, and the media-politician marriage of convenience to hyperbolize the truth. Jill Ciment has written a great "domestic" thriller.

Moon Shell Beach
Nancy Thayer
9780345498199 $15.00

Clare Hart and Lexi Laney were best friends attending high school on Nantucket and went to the U of Mass together. When developer Ed Hardin proposes marriage to Lexi, she accepts though she does not love him. She figures he is her ticket off the island and she will do everything to be a perfect wife to him. She never looked back.

That is until now. After a decade of a poor relationship filled with sorrow, regret and abject loneliness filled with lovers, Lexi decides to divorce Ed. She returns to Nantucket where her once BFF Clare does not trust her to just pack one day and leave without a warning. As the pair begins to rekindle their past friendship, Lexi is attracted to Clare's long time on and off boyfriend Jesse.

This is an entertaining beach novel that focuses on the friendship between women. The story line is fast-paced and breezy although readers will not have to worry about drowning in the somewhat shallow plot. Clare and Lexi are fascinating lead characters yet not as deeply explored as they should be; still they share in common (besides being Townies) a propensity for picking unfaithful men making for a walk on MOON SHELL BEACH worth the time for fans of second chance at friendship tales.

Sucker for Love
Kimberly Raye
9780345503664 $7.99

At a Dead End Dating gala, Esther, a Born vampire client who is five century old (who's counting - she's not) Lilliana Marchette, vanishes. Hostess of the evident, pink loving vampire Lil learns that the warlock Mordred Lucius abducted the vampire with plans to use her in a ritual as an Undead sacrifice. Mordred plans to regain his youth and obtain immortality.

Lil is told to mind her business as Mordred is too powerful to confront. However, she believes interfering is her business as the warlock stole a client from her. She begins her quest to save Esther's vampiric life (an anti oxymoron) while avoiding the warlock. However, the party attendees and crashers from her mom, her best friend, and her brother's girlfriend refuse to let her go it alone; making stealth somewhat difficult.

The latest Dead End Dating (see JUST ONE BITE) is a terrific paranormal amateur sleuth as Lil and her cronies take on the worst dude in town without her significant other Ty, a bounty hunter working a case. The story line is a fun filled over the top of the Empire State Building caper as pampered Lil feels she is responsible for matchmaking her clients and since Mordred is not one of them, he can't have Esther who is one of them. Fans of the series will enjoy Lil and the stable as they challenge Manhattan's meanest malevolent mage Mordred the Warlock.

The Alpine Uproar
Mary Daheim
9780345502551 $25.00

The weekly Alpine Advocate newspaper covers the brawl between car mechanic Alvin De Muth and trucker Clive Berentsen at the Icicle Creek Tavern. De Muth was killed and Berentsen arrested by Skykomish County Sheriff Milo Dodge for the homicide. The paper's editor-publisher Emma Lord has doubts as the witnesses contradict one another as to what they saw and none saw the actual killing blow. House & Home editor Vida adds to her concerns when she insists most locals despised De Muth.

Unlike the law and the townsfolk, Emma and Vida believe there is enough doubt to warrant further inquiries, which they do. Meanwhile Milo who is not just covering his butt decides on a second autopsy of De Muth because he begins to doubt also since no one admits they saw the punch that killed him. A traffic fatality of a young man high on drugs leads Emma to believe a dealer is in town but that and the death remain unsolved even as she ends up in a cat fight with a woman wanting to kick her butt in.

The latest Alpine journalistic mystery is an engaging whodunit with a support cast seemingly that could fill up Qwest Field, but as always belongs to the reporting BFFs especially Emma. The story line is fun to follow as Emma tries to tie together seemingly unrelated events. Although not a new underlying theme of a universally loathsome person getting murdered, fans will enjoy Emma and Vida seeking to find the truth when chaos and satisfaction prevail.

Run To Me
Christy Reece
9780345505446 $6.99

Filled with guilt Ethan Bishop quit Last Chance Rescue (LCR) when an operation he led left teammate Cole Mathison dead. However, when Noah McCall, head of the private international LCR, tells Ethan that he needs him on a special mission that he trusts only Bishop to perform, he agrees to return for one last assignment. Evidence supports that Cole's widow, Shea Monroe has joined the enemy.

Infamous felon Donald Rosemount had Shea abducted. He gave her a drug mix that erases a person's memory and personality traits sort of like an etch-o-sketch. Now the martinet master is ordering her to carry out his projects. Ethan recaptures the woman he cherishes, but fears Shea will never be the same; still his love for her demands he not quit on her.

The exciting third LCR romantic suspense (see RETURN TO ME and RESCUE ME) is even darker and grittier than the previous two entries, which is saying a lot as the lead characters in all three "me" tales have had horrific experiences. The story line is owned by Shea, a victim of total control that goes beyond brainwashing into a frightening zombie like obedience. Whereas she is unique, Ethan is similar in outlook as for instance Noah is; which makes the tale even stronger as he is passionate about his feelings of remorse re Cole, love for Shea, and a craving to destroy Ethan for what he did to his beloved. Another terrific thriller that fans will relish.

Summer House
Nancy Thayer
9780345498205 $24.00

Needing to escape from banking, thirty year old Charlotte Wheelwright leaves Boston to to stay on her nonagenarian grandma Nona's estate. Her family of bankers supports her move because everyone has been concerned about Nona living by herself as the elderly woman has been mumbling frequently about long ago events and people dead. To occupy herself Charlotte starts a garden.

Over the next few years she loves working the land with her only stress occurring when the family invades for the annual get together to discuss financial matters. Her garden begins to turn a profit as she sells some of her organically grown items. However, her white collar banking family objects to her selling her efforts as that is beneath the upper crust Brahmins that the Wheelwright clan believes they are. This summer they plan to make Charlotte stop as they once did her mom Helen, but she might have an ally in her mother who isangry with her spouse for cheating on her.She supports her daughter to do whatever she wants.

This tale is an interesting look at the wealthy upper class through the eyes of a rebel (with a cause). Charlotte has found happiness working her garden, which was acceptable for an affluent woman of leisure, but once she becomes a middle class peddler than everyone except Nona and mom turn on her. Image is everything to the Wheelwright clan. Although the plot is extremely thin with the conflict seemingly minor and most of the support characters unlikable snobs, fans of contemporary family drama will still want to read Nancy Thayer's SUMMER HOUSE.

Desperado City
Rebecca Coleman
9781605420561 $7.95

The teens know this is the last time they will work at the Catskills theme park DESPERADO CITY as they have just graduated from high school. Though shook up, none seem particularly interested in the death of a younger teenager in the "Haunted Hotel".

Danielle prefers snowboarding and gossip with her BFF Sophie's who is stringing males who want her against one another. Sophie's brother, Nick may be a born again religious fanatic, but also is a lady's man as he interprets the bible literally when it comes to females. On the other hand nerdy Adam wants Sophie, but she uses him as jealousy bait to hook the fireman Joey. The owner's son Toby fears he will inherit DESPERADO CITY.

Somewhat a whodunit that is resolved early, DESPERADO CITY is more a teen character study with so much self-torment and tsuris that the amount of runaway hormones on the loose is over the top of the Catskills. The cast is strong as individuals, but as an ensemble can be overwhelming; sort of like having too much sugar. Still this is an interesting look at teenage brooding and anxiety amplified by a homicide.

Sorrow World
Raymond L. Atkins
9781934755631 $24.95

Wendell Blackmon left home when he was sixteen after he tossed his abusive father into a well. Reva lost her parents and had her leg amputated due to a drunken train engineer. Wendell is sailing in the South pacific, but comes home because his ship needs repair. He and Reva meet in a bar and feel an instant connection as if they lived and loved in past lives. On the second date, Wendell proposes because he loves her and wants to be a father to her son. She accepts and they marry before he has to ship out again.

When he returns, they start their life together, but just as they adapt, he is called up again and sent to Korea. When he returns this time, they move to Sand Valley, Alabama where he becomes the police chief. After decades of no violent crime, a murder occurs of a woman who claimed to be a free spirited witch; her burned remains found on Sorrow Wood land. Wendell investigates only each clue about the mysterious woman and her violent death leads back to his and Reva'spast.

This is the story of two ordinary people who fall in love and marry. Yet as everyday as that sounds; their tale is very poignant reminiscent of Erich Segal's Love Story. The story line takes place during WW II, the Korean Police Action, and up to 1995 when the homicide occurs. Though the police procedural suspense comes late, fans will enjoy love through the ages on a par with the epics of Barbara Delinsky and Danielle Steele.

Let Sleeping Dogs Die
Liz Wolfe
9781934755655 $7.95

Photographer Skye Donovan is euphoric as she has been hired on her first big assignment; pictures for an eighteen month calendar for The Pet Place national chain of pet stores. The models are mostly trained cats and dogs, but there is also an iguana and a snake in the mix. Her friend Connie who got her the shoot is getting married to r in the Caribbean leaving Skye worried about doing the calendar shoot without her assistance.

The session takes place on the estate of the Pet Place CEO Frank Johnson. The venue is perfect and everything is smooth until Skye goes to the house to get some water when she finds Frank dead with marks on his neck indicating strangulation. Skye's boyfriend Portland Police Detective Scott Madison leads the investigation, which gives the pair a chance to rekindle their on and off and now on relationship. They both learn that the victim had numerous enemies; neighbors who were irate over his canine population that allowed no one to sleep; a business partner who believed he was cheated out of his fair share of the profits; and a client who was outraged when Frank failed to sell him the puppy he was promised. Scott wants Skye to stay out of the case not in his bed; while she agrees with the bed but investigates anyway like a bulldog placing herself at risk.

Besides dealing with the animal antics, Skye copes with her hysterical friend who is giving birth in a week or so and with her back on boyfriend. The romance between the detective and the photographer adds realism to the mix as they find out that Frank messed with seemingly half the population of the northwest making it difficult to choose who killed him. Fans will enjoy Liz Wolfe's delightful police procedural-amateur sleuth combo.

Sew Deadly
Elizabeth Lynn Casey
9780425229101 $6.99

After seeing her fiance with another woman at their engagement party, Tori Sinclair moved to isolated Sweet Briar, South Carolina. As the newcomer in town, the transplanted Yankee librarian knows the eyes of the world are upon her not just due to her roots; the former librarian was forced to retire so Tori stands in judgment with the Sword of Damocles hovering over her. Making matters worse, her predecessor Dixie Dunn spreads lies about Tori.

At a sewing social, Diane gives Tori dirty looks and makes sarcastic comments about the new resident. Tori has a dream for a special place for children to get them to read and she gets the board's approval in spite of Dixie's caustic opposition. Tori finds the body of the town's sweetheart Tiffany Ann at her back door. Inspector Daniel McGuire leads the inquiry with Tori as his prime suspect because rumors state she is after third grade teacher Mike who the victim loved. Most of the townsfolk assume Tori is the killer as they believe all the innuendos and rumors. Tori believes she must identify the culprit before she is either arrested or run out of town.

There is more than one murder for Tori to cope with; but what drives her batty is the bulb on her porch keeps disappearing; her appointment book and a slide projector vanish. The people want to know who the killer is before they allow Tori any welcome. Thus the local support cast brings realism to the plot as they seem like us. The first Southern Sewing Circle amateur sleuth is an enjoyable regional whodunit starring a reluctant heroine and the locals ready to lock her away.

Laced with Magic
Barbara Bretton
9780425227527 $15.00

Chloe Hobbs lives in remote quiet Sugar Maple, Vermont, running the Sticks & Strings yarn shop as a half human heir to the sorcery that keeps her town safe for the paranormal inhabitants and summer tourists. However, she has upset her neighbors especially the witches and fae when she and purebred human police officer policeman Luke MacKenzie becomes lovers.

Luke's former wife Karen arrives hysterically insisting the ghost of their deceased daughter Steffie needs their help. Simultaneously, her long time enemy Isadora the fae is CASTING SPELLS over control of the child's spirit and that of the town. Chloe's family has always protected her town so she prepares for war though this sorceress would prefer a knitting battle.

This is a lighthearted satirical blending of a knitting cozy with a paranormal romance in a New England village fantasy (urban seems to denote a bit bigger of a community). The story line is breezy as Chloe and Luke struggle with small-town gossip and saving Steffie's spirit with a stitch and a spell. Never serious except for knitting tips, fans will enjoy Barbara Bretton's fine tale LACED WITH MAGIC of love. Chloe believes she can do anything including CASTING SPELLS with Luke at her side; however he is distracted as High Noon comes to the Green Mountain State.

The Belly Dancer
DeAnna Cameron
9780425227787 $14.00

Leaving New Orleans with her new husband, Dora Chambers vows to be a good wife. To obtain her spouse's approving regard, she joins Chicago's Fair's Board of Lady Managers. However, her efforts do not register with him as he remains distant and colder than the city's weather in winter.

The Fair's Board of Lady Managers assigns Dora to the seemingly nasty task of monitoring the belly dancing exhibition at the World's Fair. While the prim and proper female elite laugh at Dora, she finds the assignment fun, likes and admirers the dancers and is attracted to their manager, Hossam Farouk. He is an enigma to her as his voice says he distrusts her, but his eyes say he wants her. Inside the pavilion, Dora feels free unlike outside where she lives in a gilded cage.

The setting of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago provides more than just a wonderful backdrop as people from around the globe show off the best of their respective societies. In that venue, the innocent heroine, while trying to please her husband's family and friends, becomes Dora the "Explorer". However what she mostly scrutinizes is herself as she wants to break out of the chains society places on women, but also fears the consequences. THE BELLY DANCER is a terrific historical tale that proudly salutes the nineteenth century suffragette movement leaders and their everyday troops while also affirming society is so much stronger when barriers of specifically group aimed restraints are limited.

Colonel Brandon's Diary
Amanda Grange
9780425227794 $14.00

In 1778 eighteen year old James Brandon loves his father's ward Eliza and he hopes to marry her one day soon; she reciprocates his feelings and his dream. When his parents arrange a match between his Eliza and his brother womanizing drunk Harry, his heart is broken as his father has the final word. Eliza marries while heartbroken James joins the military.

After being stationed in India for years and going up in the ranks, James comes home having inherited Delaford though he hopes maturity hides his love for his sister-in-law. He is stunned to find a dying Eliza in debtor's prison. James frees her from her incarceration, but can only watch her die from the consumption that has wracked her lungs. Heartbroken, he raises Eliza's illegitimate daughter, but at fifteen years old she runs away. Fearing for his ward, James begins to fall in love with Marianne Dashwood, but she is in love with Willoughby.

COLONEL BRANDON'S DAIRY occurs before and during the events of Sense and Sensibility as Amanda Grange provides the back story as well as filling in the gaps from a key male's perspective in the Jane Austen classic. The cast stays true to the original but is enhanced by Amanda Grange especially the seemingly fickle Marianne, but once again this is a male's diary so we see everything through his filter. Fans of the great Ms. Austen will appreciate the homage to Sense and Sensibility as Ms. Grange has done with Persuasion (see CAPTAIN WENTWORTH'S DIARY), Pride & Prejudice (see MR. DARCY'S DIARY), Mansfield Park (see EDMUND BERTRAM'S DAIRY) and Emma (see MR. KNIGHTLY'S DIARY).

The Lancelot Murders
J.M.C. Blair
9780425228135 $7.99

Camelot is a leaky aging castle that contains secret passages and crumbling ruins yet remains the seat of power of King Arthur of Britain. His is not an easy rule ever since his Queen Guinevere hatched plots to unseat him and replace him as the ruler of the realm. Guinevere resides at Corfe Castle, better known as Spider House. Her lover Sir Lancelot lives with her. Merlin and Arthur learn they married and she has met with the Byzantine Empire representatives as if she and her new "spouse" are the true monarchs instead of the love-struck fool on the hill.

She is throwing herself a birthday bash in which foreign ambassadors from all over Europe are coming. Merlin, who gets touchy when called sorcerer as he believes he is a scientist, persuades Arthur into allowing the gala to happen; only he will meet with the European VIPs. Things go awry culminating with Lancelot standing over the corpse of Guinevere's father while assassination attempts are made on Arthur. Merlin concludes the Queen's sire was murdered and finds the weapon. He believes Lancelot is innocent, but considers allowing the seditious knight to take the fall. Reluctantly at Arthur's bequest, Merlin head to the castle of Guinevere's parents to find the clue that will catch the sly killer.

This is not the Camelot of legend, but instead a country filled with intrigue, double crossing, betrayals, and ambitious people especially an unfaithful queen who believes she is better suited to rule. Arthur pines for his treacherous wife and by default allows Merlin to set the standards of rule based on justice for all. This angers the aristocracy of whom many support the bodacious seditious queen as she demands a return to the proper order of noble superiority. Ironically Arthur is an average person except for his steadfast belief in creating a better society while dealing with backstabbers starting with his beloved. As with THE EXCALIBUR MURDERS, J.M.C. Blair provides a majestic and enthralling mystery

Sweet Restraint
Beth Kery
9780425227695 $15.00

Thirteen years ago FBI Special Agent Shane Dominic fell in love with Laura Vasquez, but she married a Chicago cop Huey Mays instead. Their paths have not crossed until now; Shane has busted Huey. Soon after his arrest on international corruption charges Huey is found murdered.

Shane realizes Laura may be in danger from the same culprit who murdered Huey to insure silence and that same killer will not chance Laura knows something about her late husband's operations. Shane abducts her in order to keep her safe and to learn what she actually knows so he can go after the lethal big shot. However, as they fall in love, he also knows she is his submissive, but she fears going back into a relationship with a dominant even if she loves him; as her late spouse crossed the line into abuse.

The story line starts off rather fast as Randall Moody warns Huey that Shane is coming for him; Huey knows his life is over, but regrets not killing Shane and his wife. The plot slows a bit in the middle as the lead couple turn away from the investigation to forge a BDSM relationship. Still SWEET RESTRAINT is a spanking fun police procedural erotic romantic suspense

Atlantis Unmasked
Alyssa Day
9780425223222 $7.99

In St. Louis at the rebel regional headquarters, a vampire attacks Michelle, the best friend of Diana the Huntress descendent Grace Haviland. Atlantis priest Alaric saves her life, while Grace and Atlantis Seven warrior Alexios rush her to the hospital. Alexios is worried about Grace as vampires killed her brother ten years ago. They kiss, but Alexios flees as he remembers the hellfire that scarred his face and soul.

Some time later rebel squadron leader Grace is swimming off St. Augustine when the Seelie High Court Prince Rhys arrives to ask her to arrange a meeting between him and Atlantis for next week. At the same time in Yellowstone Alexios and his friend Lucas are attacked by shapeshifters and enthralled by vampires. With the help of two other Atlantans, they dispatch the pack. Alexios and his Atlantis mates return home for the birth of the royal heir as human Queen Riley gives birth to Prince Aidan.

Grace learns that Vonos the Primator vampire leader in DC possesses the Vampire's Bane in his place in Florida. The Atlantans want the gem as part of Poseidon's Trident so they can raise their island to the surface. Alexios arrives at Grace's post to train the rookies but is miserable with desire. He tells her how Anubis burned his face when she captured and tortured him for two years and his vow of celibacy to Poseidon. As they fall in love, each knows retrieving the gem and training their soldiers come before their needs.

The latest romance between an Atlantan and a human is enhanced by his vow of celibacy while the over-aching theme of the urban fantasy war remains exciting and the support cast is solid especially with the birth of the heir to the Atlantis throne. Although the climax seems too simple for such a complex tale and series, fans will relish the newest cross breed thriller.

Sapphire Dream
Pamela Montgomerie
9780425229064 $7.99

Brenna Cameron is in Castle Stour in Scotland seeking information about her mysterious past. She puts on a sapphire pendant and somehow she ends up on board a pirate ship the Lady Marie off of Scotland in the late seventeenth century. She also finds out she is wanted for piracy when Brenna thinks how as she just arrived in 1687.

Pirate Captain Rourke Douglas wants nothing to do with the strange newcomer though he assumes she is tied to his family prophecy. However, due to her he also loses all he earned at sea. Needing time to regroup, Rourke goes to his family home as Viscount Kinross, but provides protection to Brenna to both their amazement. As they fall in love, Brenna wants to return to her time, but soon finds herself in a Gordian knot of saving her beloved or herself.

This is a fabulous time travel paranormal romance starring an intriguing lead couple. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and never decelerates even with several terrific plausible twists and spins. Readers will enjoy SAPPHIRE DREAM, but set aside time because putting it down before completion is not an option.

Wicked Little Game
Christine Wells
9780425228487 $6.99

In 1816 the Marquis of Vane has wanted to make love with the married Lady Sarah for what in his mind has been eternity. However, he conceals his feelings as best he can as honor would not allow anything otherwise.

Sarah's spouse Brimsley Cole offers Vane a deal he cannot refuse when he pimps his wife; one night with Sarah in exchange for 10,000 pounds. Although he knows he will regret it, Vane says no. However, her husband pulls a stunt that has a frightened Sarah run off to her "champion" for protection. She and Vane enjoy a night of passion. When Sarah's husband is found murdered and Sarah is the only suspect, Vane vows to keep his beloved safe by uncovering who made her a widow.

This is an exciting Regency romantic suspense thriller that takes off from the beginning when Cole pimps his barren wife, takes a wonderful twist (unless you are Cole), but never slows down until the final confrontation. Fast-paced throughout fans will enjoy the ride as Vane and Sarah fall in love while seeking to identify the killer and protecting her ten years old stepson whose late father ignored him leaving the lad unprotected in the slums.

Double Play
Jill Shalvis
9780425228685 $7.99

An All Star pitcher for most of his major league career, Pace Martin knows he is nearing the end of playing baseball; his playing through injuries speeds up his retirement. Currently, he has a bad shoulder that requires either extended rest or surgery before it becomes permanently damaged. Still, Pace knows his team Santa Barbara Pacific Heat needs him as their ace while they make a playoff run.

Although she prefers otherwise, reporter Holly Hutchins is assigned to interview Pace and expose team secrets. He has no patience for a journalist while she has no time for an adult playing a kid's game. However, both are attracted to one another from the first at bat. When the secrets make it into print, his teammates blames Holly, but Pace knows his beloved is highly ethical. The reporter and pitcher plan to expose the leak who obviously is someone inside the clubhouse.

This lighthearted baseball romance is a fun frolic filled with thrilling play that also showcases the extreme pressure on athletes and those who cover the players to perform now; Pace especially understands what was done before quickly becomes yesterday's news. Fast-paced throughout, fans of sports romance will enjoy going to the ballgame as this tale is a nine inning romp.

Love Is A Four-Legged Word
Kandy Shepherd
9780425227848 $14.00

When octogenarian multimillionaire Walter Stoddard died, he left his estate to his beloved soul mate, his dog Brutus. Walter's lawyer Tom O'Brien is now Brutus' attorney. Tom is concerned about Brutus' designated guardian Madeleine Cartwright as he assumes the woman must be a gold-digger who in her twenties took advantage of an old man.

He first meets her with an oven mitt cooking brownies. She becomes suspicious of him when he refuses to sample one. She is either a great actress or clueless that the old guy living above her in Pacific Heights was wealthy; in fact she thought of him as an impoverished grandfather. He further explains the twenty-one day rule. Cynical at first, he begins to believe she is innocent and naive even as he falls in love with her. She reciprocates, but nether expected a distant relative to arrive claiming the estate starting with Brutus.

This amusing contemporary romance affirms WC Field's point to never co-star with animals as in many ways the ugly Brutus steals the show though he needs neutering as she seems to begat a pup a page. The story line is lighthearted fun with first impressions nuked over the three weeks of new rules that Bill Maher would salute and fans will enjoy.

Breaking Midnight
Emma Holly
9780425228678 $6.99

In 1933 Upyr Elder Edmund Fitz Clare is shocked with the affront when he regains consciousness. A rival group of shapeshifters apparently abducted him and chained him inside some dungeon. He can only guess that he remains in London and that their plan is to use him as an expendable bargaining chip.

Edmund is unaware how far his enemies plan to go as they want nothing less than world domination; to succeed Edmund and his faction must be removed. Mortal Estelle begins having visions of her missing lover in which she sees him in bondage. She is not sure what to do, but the kidnappers are aware of her and plan to take their fight to her and her family; only Edmund can save them, but he is incarcerated.

The second Fitz Clare historical urban fantasy (see KISSING MIDNIGHT) is a super tale filled with plenty of intrigue and suspense as the hero is trapped but more worried about his loved ones than himself. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Fitz begins to understand his predicament and never slows down as he knows he must find a way to escape. Fans will feel they have been transported to a unique Depression Era London courtesy of Emma Holly.

Branded by Fire
Nalini Singh
9780425226735 $7.99

With her DarkRiver sentinels mated, Mercy Smith feels somewhat abandoned, but also knows as an alpha, few men will meet the demands of her cat and human needs. However, the worst that could happen is she is attracted to an alpha male, SnowDancer Lieutenant Riley Kincaid. Mercy is unaware that Riley loathes the concept that he desires the female equivalent of him.

Someone abducts a young changeling, which frightens the law abiding packs. They fear a new threat has surfaced that could cause havoc if not stopped early. Mercy and Riley with the support of their respective packs team up to uncover a conspiracy to undermine the peace. They must rescue the changeling while each has reasons not to pursue their attraction, but neither can prevent the pull from getting stronger.

The sixth Psy-Changeling romantic suspense fantasy (see, MINE TO POSSESS, SLAVE TO SENSATION and CARESSED BY ICE, etc.) is a super entry in a great series. The world of Singh seems genuine as the sentinels, their mates, and their enemies come across as real. Fans will enjoy the mission that Riley and mercy team up on as two alphas in love will leave the audience wondering who will end up on top.

Dragons Prefer Blondes
Candace Havens
9780425227800 $14.00

Socialite Alex Caruthers lives a dual life. First she runs nightclubs around the globe and second she is a dragon slayer Guardian, hunting down the Ahi predators who attack humans. Her world is filled with no free moments for romance beyond a quickie and the irony of believing only a crazy person would become a Guardian.

Dragon warrior Ginjin stuns her when he declares her to be his soulmate. They have not had what might loosely call an amiable relationship as he has tried to kill her on several occasions. She informs her new paramour that he is too late. She insists she is already in a heated relationship with the head of security, Jake before she is forced by powers much greater than her to accept her enemy as her bed partner. The only problem with the queen of one night trysts is Jake raises her desire way beyond that of the heat any dragon can muster.

The latest Caruthers sisters' kick-butt urban fantasy (see THE DEMON KING AND I) is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action as readers will enjoy the heroine's musing asides re life's unfair complexities. Alex feels like she jumped from the fry pan into the fire after she announces Jake as her fiance whose kiss heats her soul (let alone her body). Filled with jocularity, Candace Havens provides another entertaining romp as dragons may prefer blondes, but this blonde prefers a human hunk.

Bundle of Trouble
Diana Orgain
9780425229248 $6.99

In San Francisco, office manager Kate Connolly takes a leave of absence to give birth to Laurie. However, mom and daughter connect instantly and Kate asks herself how she is going to return to work in six weeks when this bundle of joy calls to her to stay with her. Her spouse Jim reminds Kate that they live in a double income city.

The police pull out of the Bay the corpse of a murdered male whom the medical examiner thought might be Jim's estranged brother, George; his bags were on the pier nearby. Jim gives information to the ME, which proves the victim is not his brother. Instead Brad Avery was fished from the water. Brad's family hires private investigator Albert Galigani to uncover who killed her son. Neither he nor SFPD can find George, but both assume the missing man's brother and sister-in-law knows more than they are telling, which is nothing. Kate searches for the elusive George only to get in trouble with the police and an unknown adversary who might be George.

The keys to this straightforward whodunit are Kate's adjustment to motherhood to include her daily to do list and hard boiled Galigani who is amused by the new mother teaches her the ropes of investigating. In other words chick lit meets Noir in Dana Orgain's fun mystery.

Now & Then
Jacqueline Sheehan
9780061547782 $13.99

Former lawyer Anna O'Shea returns from a vacation in Ireland when her brother Patrick asks her for a favor that he cannot do as he is injured from a car accident. He wants her to pick up his sixteen years old son Joe from a Newark jail. She goes from the airport to the jail and takes Joe to her home after getting his release.

In the middle of the night, Anna finds Joe searching her still unpacked luggage. He is especially enthralled by some cloth Anna bought overseas. When she angrily grabs at the cloth, aunt and nephew are transported to Ireland prior to the infamous Great Potato Famine. As they acclimate poorly to being over a century and a half from their time, Anna joins an Irish smuggling cartel begins to fall in love with a rebel cartographer while Joe is attracted to a beautiful teen.

In some ways Madigan the Irish wolfhound steals the show in this enjoyable time travel romance in which the twenty-first century aunt and nephew struggle with life in nineteenth century Ireland in which plugged in means nothing. The story line is fast-paced as romance and magic help Anna and Joe overcome the lack of a Starbucks or electronic gizmos. However, even with love everywhere, the anchor to this fine tale is the deep look at Irish-British strife that forces the newcomers to take sides.

Curing the Blues with a New Pair of Shoes
Dixie Cash
9780061434389 $13.99

Salt Lick, Texas is proud to host an Elvis gala as the singer remains popular though he died four decades ago. This year the townsfolk are especially excited because the legendary blue suede shoes that their hero wore when he sang the tune is going to be on exhibit.

However, the valuable relic vanishes to the shock of the locals. Nobody steps on their Elvis and gets away with it so the Domestic Equalizers (when they are not styling hair), Debbie Sue Overstreet and Edwina Perkins-Martin investigate seeking who is wearing blue suede shoes. Not long afterward, the pair replaces the missing artifact with ancient slippers belonging to Ed's husband, who they assume will believe he misplaced them. They try to contact Adolf Sielvami, Keeper for the King Museum in Las Vegas, who sent the shoes, but he and his shrine apparently do not exist.

With another gumshoe cozy (see DON'T MAKE ME CHOOSE BETWEEN ME AND MY SHOES) in between matchmaking of reporters and preparing for the Elvis horde invasion, Debbie Sue and Edwinna have plenty to do while Ed searches for his missing slippers. Lighthearted fun, Dixie cash pays homage to Elvis while gently mocking fanatics who sight the "King" in every fast food joint in the country and treat anything he touched as a precious artifact. With a nod to Chaucer's The Pardoner's Tale, fans will laugh out loud at the latest escapades of the Texas cowgirls.

Dark Time
Dakota Banks
9780061687303 $7.99

In 1692 Susannah Layhem is accused of being a witch and jailed; her baby is born and dies while she is incarcerated. She no longer cares that she is innocent and the facts would bear out her contention; but that did not matter to her accusers including her husband and his brother and wife. After she dies in the holy bonfire, Rabishu the demon recruits her to become his top gun assassinating people. For three centuries she did his bidding, but abruptly says no when the demon assigns her to murder a baby as she never stopped grieving for her dead infant Constanza .

The demon is as stunned as Susannah is when she realizes she somewhat is freed of her Faustian contract although she will still have to kill mortals. Now residing on earth as Maliha Crane, she hopes to regain her soul so she can stop her killing after three centuries of doing the demon's bidding. She writes mystery novels and tries to save humans in an effort to balance her karma and is involved in the investigation of the homicides of two hackers.

Although the plot is extremely thin especially when it converts from historical to modern day urban fantasy, fans will enjoy meeting Susannah-Maliha and the worlds of Dakota Banks (including eerie dark Midworld). The first paranormal Mortal Path thriller is light fun as Rabishu is outraged at Malilha saying no for the first time as she hopes to obtain some redemption for her dark soul.

The Secret Diaries Of Charlotte Bronte
Syrie James
9780061648373 $14.99

The Bronte sisters (Charlotte, Emily, Maria, Elizabeth and Anne) grew up in the nineteenth century in the Yorkshire moors of Haworth along with their brother Branwell under the parenting of their father the local Perpetual Parson and their Aunt Elizabeth. Their mom died when she was eight. Whereas the three girls enjoyed stories, their brother turned to alcohol. At school, Charlotte being ugly was placed last to select for anything until she began telling stories to her fascinated classmates. After leaving school, Charlotte realized her choices of employment as a single most likely spinst er woman was teaching or being a governess. She chose to try writing, as did her sisters, using pseudonyms to gain publication without their father knowing it. Ironically she hides her writings from her dad who she is the most dedicated to him of all his offspring. She also begins keeping a diary that opens with a stunner, a marriage proposal in 1845. Well aware that "my heart is knit to him, her father's curator and their next door neighbor Arthur Bell Nichols. After she dies, he destroyed much of what she wrote to him.

This is a super historical biography that uses a diary to tell the tale of Charlotte Bronte, author of Jane Eyre. Using a first person perspective brings depth to the great author even that much more, but also detracts from how others see her and events like her sisters and Arthur as they come across through a Charlotte filter. Still this is an excellent biographical fiction that looks profoundly at a great nineteenth century writer as Syrie James does her research to tell the story of Charlotte Bronte as she did with THE LOST MEMOIRS OF JANE AUSTEN.

Don't Tempt Me
Loretta Chase
9780061632662 $6.99

Twelve year old Zoe Lexham disappears while on a family trip to the Middle East. She spent years in a harem after her father foolishly took the family on a tour of the dangerous Eastern Mediterranean and was abducted in Egypt; there she learned to speak openly and honestly about sex. When she finds her way home in 1818, Zoe knows she has no prospects for marriage; being too old and worse ultra scandalous.

Lord Lucien de Grey may be a shallow rake, but as a Duke with money he can go anywhere in the Beau Monde and thus he could help his childhood friend become accepted by those in Polite Society. However, Lucien is attracted to Zoe and though she reciprocates, she fears his reaction to learning what happened to her years ago even as the danger that exiled her has returned to complete the job.

DON'T TEMPT ME is an enjoyable Regency romance starring two fascinating lead protagonists. The roguish Lucien learned never become deeply attached to anyone especially avoiding love and passion when his parents died when he was ten years old; he knows love hurts. Zoe realizes that scandal is her rightful name having spent years in a harem and learned (by osmosis) about sex; ironically the men want her because she is beautiful and assumed to be an expert in the boudoir, but has a secret that would stun any who ever found out though none except her beloved stand a chance. Fans will enjoy Lucien's chase of Zoe whose reputation is to bolt into trouble.

Four Dukes and a Devil
Cathy Maxwell, Elaine Fox, Jeaniene Frost, Sophia Nash and Tracy Anne Warren
9780061787362 $6.99

"The Irish Duke" by Cathy Maxwell. Having been jilted at the altar, Susan warns her younger friends to avoid rakes especially "The Irish Duke", but when they meet neither can resist the lure of the wager.

"The Duke Who Came to Dinner" by Elaine Fox. On Cape Cod, Sam almost burns himself with his scalding coffee when he sees the naked woman on the bike. Humiliated Virginian Gray "Ghost" prays no one seen her. Sam pursues her with the help of his matchmaking roguish criminal canine.

"The Devil to Pay" by Jeaniene Frost. In DC Blake buys Crack hoping an overdose will kill him. However, thugs mug him but he kills them as the demon inside him insures he lives. Elise the vampire lives alone under a train station. When they meet they fall in love, but must remove the demon, which means the host dies.

"The Catch of the Century" by Sophia Nash. The new Duke John has become the latest catch among the Ton. He meets schoolmistress Victoria when his Coachman almost ran over her and her three young male students. He is attracted to her feistiness; he considers the teacher to be "The Catch of the Century".

"Charmed by Her Smile" by Tracy Anne Warren. In 1809, Duke Quentin kisses India which leaves them both wanting more. However as she has problems especially with "Peter the Pest" he has doubts because he wants her to have more chances with life than a week of falling in love.

These are five terrific romances with four loosely connected by a lead duke while Jeaniene Frost's entry is radically different as an urban fantasy. Still, fans will enjoy this fine collection as each contribution is well written starring solid lead characters. As a bonus, fans of Sophia Nash will recognize some of her protagonists from previous tales as support players.

Surrender to the Devil
Lorraine Heath
9780061733994 $6.99

She and her two friends Earl Lucien "Luke" Langdon (see IN BED WITH THE DEVIL) and club owner Jack Dodger (see BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND DESIRE) escaped London's mean streets and Feagan's den of child thieves and urchin con artists. Whereas the guys have become accustomed to Polite Society, Frannie Darling (as she calls herself because of her earliest memory of Feagan calling her that) hates the Ton; she prefers the slums of the rookeries rescuing orphans. She earns a living as Jack's bookkeeper.

Earl Sterling Mabry meets and falls in love with Frannie. She is attracted to him too, but prefers to pick his pocket instead. Haughty especially when he wants something and he WANTS her, he pursues her with due diligence, but has no idea she reciprocates though she loathes the idea of loving an arrogant aristocrat. As they fall in love, they get in trouble with vile criminal elements that leave them fighting to survive, but Frannie assumes she caused the assaults somehow when Sterling conceals from his beloved he is the prime source of their danger.

The latest Oliver Twist twist is a fantastic entry in a clever well written saga that stars the latest adult version of one of Feagan's child thieves and the Earl who loves his Frannie Darling. The cast once again makes this fast paced tale super fun to read as Loraine Heath provides another excellent Victorian romantic suspense that hooks audience from the moment Frannie out-arrogance the super conceited Earl.

For the Earl's Pleasure
Ann Mallory
9780061579141 $6.99

Abigail Smart and Valerian "Raine" Danford were best friends as children, but social status separated them as he is heir to a duchy and she is the daughter of a merchant. Besides her paranormal "gift" makes her more unacceptable even as a companion. Her family thinks she is crazy and at times they feel she needed special treatments. Whenever they caught her talking to herself, they sent her to institutions; no one believed she talked with ghosts as it was easier to accept she was insane.

After her latest release, Abigail meets Raine. They want each other, bur she believes he is a rake who would never accept her gift and he shows with his eyes he desires her, but knows she is unacceptable beyond a fling. When he is attacked and knocked out, Raine somehow communicates with Abigail. As he remains comatose for several days, they begin to fall in love. However, though he plans to ignore family obligations that insist he marry acceptable Celeste; Raine knows when he returns to the living, he must confront his enemies while pretending not to care for the woman he loves though that will hurt her in order to keep her safe.

This is a terrific paranormal historical romance starring a unique lead female and a more typical male. The story line is fast-paced from the onset as Raine agrees with Abigail's family that she is bedlam material and accelerates as they fall in love on an astral plane. Fans will enjoy Anne Mallory's engaging numinous Regency romantic suspense.

My Wicked Marquess
Gaelen Foley
9780061733956 $7.99

In 1815, following his Grand Tour, Lord Max St. Albans needs to pick a wife. His solicitor gives him a list of five eligible ladies with four meeting his stipulation of no scandal as he tries to improve the family name. The fifth Daphne Starling excites him because she jilted his childhood enemy Albert Carew, who has spread scandalous gossip about her. Max follows Daphne into the dangerous Rookery where she visits an orphanage. When some locals accost her, Max coming out of a hooker's joint acts like a drunk to divert them. She reluctantly leaves but stops to inform the constable. Max beats up the thugs.

Max knows Daphne will not do as his wife; as his image as a member of the decadent Inferno Club makes him need a respectable miss. However, he liked her grit and her caring about others. He needs to patch things up with her because she believes he was whoring when he was just observing her activity. At the ball, Daphne stops dancing with her friend Jono White when she notices Max staring at her. He knows she is the one for him when Albert and his odious brothers assault her. Max intercedes and warns Albert to stop the gossip.

Max's mentor Virgil informs him two of his Inferno Club Order comrades made it back after defeating their enemies the Prometheus Club, who backed Napoleon; but millions were lost at the stock markets and one team led by Drake was killed in Bavaria. He tells his friends he will marry Daphne, but has his work cut out to balance his undercover role with his pursuit of her.

The romance between the lead couple is exciting as the readers ironically know his secret while his wife does not. Although no overarching prime subplot is resolved, Regency fans will enjoy the current battle between the Inferno Club vs. the Prometheans in a centuries-old war; which also establishes future novels.

1416589864 $14.00

In Philadelphia, Leah Baker lives with hood Kenny Courtland, who runs the local drug trade and various other schemes. She loves Kenny, but does not like the way he is always looking for a scheme to make money. His latest scam involves a car accident to con an insurance company. He arranges to fake a crash with Leah pretending she was the driver while he and another couple are passengers. The cops come and arrest the four because they happened to be staking out the location that Kenny picked and witnessed the event.

The police free Kenny and the other couple after they blame Leah. She realizes her boyfriend left her to take the fall. Detective Daily offers her a deal in which her record will remain clean if she betrays Kenny like he did her. She calls Kenny from jail and tells him the cops want her to be a snitch on Alliance Collision owner Vic. Kenny detests Vic who fired him when he worked for the man, but arranges through the man's son his homie Nasir who owes a major debt to him to get Leah a job at his dad's garage. Soon after she is employed, Leah and Nasir begin to fall in love, but an affair could prove as dangerous as being a snitch trying to hang Kenny.

CHASER is a fast-paced street romantic suspense starring a young woman who learns the hard way what matters in life. The cast drives the story line especially the lead triangle though the support players are fully developed too. Fans who relish a different kind of contemporary romance will want to read Leah's tale of struggling to survive the mean streets of Philadelphia.

Lady Jasmine
Victoria Christopher Murray
9781416589174 $15.00

A plotter all her life in order to gain positions of wealth and respect, Jasmine Larson Bush knows she is fortunate that her beloved spouse Reverend Hosea Bush forgave her lies and plots. A lesser man would have kicked her to the curb for her Jezebel transgressions (see TOO LITTLE TO LATE and TEMPTATION. She has vowed to God (and her husband) to always tell the truth and to stop her Machiavellian machinations and tells both her lies in a massive confession.

When his father is shot in an accident, Hosea is named temporary pastor of the City of Lights Riverside Church though he has doubts and so does several selection board members. Jasmine relishes the glory and respect she and their daughter will receive as the wife and child of the pastor. However, the one transgression that she hid from her beloved Hosea surfaces when a blackmailer demands money. Jasmine used to fighting the opposition goes after the blackmailer with plans to counter blackmail by threatening double exposure and those board members who loudly objected to her husband as the interim pastor. As she charges into the frays she wonders if God and Hosea will forgive her this time.

LADY JASMINE is a terrific inspirational contemporary tale that is filled with church intrigue, a light mystery, humor and pathos. Fans will appreciate LADY JASMINE as she falls back into her scheming ways though her cause is not quite as ugly as in the past, her method is as she considers the end justifies the means but also learns once again how merciful the Lord is towards those who trip up.

Megan Hart
Harlequin Spice
9780373605323 $13.95

Bess McNamara Walsh is separated from her husband Andy after almost twenty years of marriage and two sons. She is sad, but goes to the beach house where she spent wonderful summers while attending college.

Bess thinks back to waitressing and her friends back then. Mostly she fantasizes about Nick Hamilton, whom she wanted, but left to marry Andy. She never forgot him and wonders what became of him especially when she walks on the sand; a place where they had the sex of her life. When she meets Nick again, they go back to love making as if they never missed a moment let alone two decades. However, though it is as great as her memories, something is not quite right about Nick. Bess concludes she either must move on from a past love that in the present is only a whisper of what it once was and her present life; the ghostly loving memory of Nick, the alive Andy, or perhaps someone else.

This is an exhilarating whimsical paranormal erotic romance starring a mother of two finding a second chance at love with the one who failed her two decades ago. Although she learns why he failed to come for her as he promised, she goes to him. Fans will appreciate this strong contemporary as Bess must choose between life and death.

No Hero Like Him
Elaine Grant
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373783182 $6.25

Rodeo bronco rider Seth Morgan suffers a severe injury that forces him off the circuit while he heals. Clair Ford desperately needs a cowboy to teach riding at her newly opened summer horse-riding camp for troubled kids. Thus she hires Seth who needs something to take his mind off not participating in the rodeo.

However, Seth finds Claire keeps his brain from wandering back to the circuit; although she is also attracted to him, bull riding comes between them. He cannot give up his first love for his second love especially with his obsession to climb back on the bull that nearly killed him while she cannot cope with the danger of his profession especially his fixation to challenge the matchmaking bull that brought them together.

This is a super triangle relationship romance in which a bull stands between the lead couple making it as each in their way obsesses over that animal. The story line is driven by the conflict between Claire and Seth in which love does not seem enough as he needs to climb back on the bull who nearly killed him and she needs him to avoid that bull and his peers. Elaine Grant provides the audience a terrific contemporary romance.

A Ranch Called Home
Candy Halliday
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373783205 $6.25

When Bill Coulter died at the World Champion Rodeo Finals in Vegas, his brother Gabe hired an investigator to locate his five years old nephew Ben. Gabe obsesses over bringing the child to his Colorado family ranch to raise the boy though he also has doubts whether the lad he never met is his blood.

In Conrad, Texas Ben's mom Sara Watson is a lioness protecting her cub from the Coulter clan; she is always ready to run away with her son and start anew though that means poverty; she does not trust anyone who shares Bill's DNA. She tells Gabe who looks just like Ben what he can do with his $50,000 as his nephew will remains with her though not in the lap of luxury. Gabe reassesses his pre-meeting perception of what Sarah would be like and likes what he has found out about her. He offers her a deal to come live on the ranch as his wife in a marriage of convenience so they both can be there to raise Ben, but also there will be no conjugal relationship between them. However, neither expected the inferno attraction between them as Gabe wants their marriage to be totally real, Sarah does too but assumes he wed her to bring Ben "home".

This is an intriguing ranch romance due to the lead characters desire to protect Ben although the marriage of convenience seems unnecessary and somewhat contrived. The story line grips the audience when Gabe meets Sara waitressing in Conrad where the locals are as protective of her as she is of Ben. With real people in Texas and especially Colorado, fans will enjoy this "Cowboy Country" contemporary.

Caitlyn's Prize
Linda Warren
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373783199 $6.25

Following the death of her father Dane, Caitlyn Belle learns the family High Five ranch is in financial trouble due to her late dad's gambling debts that he somewhat paid off by the money making selling gas and oil royalties. Their neighbor Southern Cross ranch Judd Calhoun explains she has six months to turn a profit or sell the ranch to him at fair market value. Several years ago she ended their engagement when he refused to say he loved her; instead he felt he was honest when he responded he has no idea what love means.

When someone begins vandalizing the ranch, Caitlyn, who distrusts Judd with her heart, knows he is her only hope to save the spread though he might be the saboteur as part of his vengeance for her dumping him. Judd holds a mean grudge not forgiving her for dumping him, but every time he looks into her eyes; his icy heart melts though he works extra time to refreeze it.

The first Belles of Texas is a fabulous ranch romance starring two beloved enemies as the heroine will not marry for anything less than a shared love while the lead male insists honesty is more important than an undefined whimsical emotion like love. Her late father's beliefs that sound Regency in nature in which women should not deal with finances is ironic because he left his daughters and their grandmother in fiscal trouble. The story line is fast-paced yet also enhanced by the strong support cast making CAITLYN'S PRIZE a great opening "Cowboy Country" second chance at love romance.

Endless Summer
Julie Kenner, Karen Anders and Jill Monroe
Harlequin Blaze
9780373794812 $4.99

"Making Waves" by Julie Kenner. Laci Montgomery plans to be pro surfing's superstar without her ex-boyfriend, Taylor the "betrayer" Dutton; he has other plans about riding the waves.

"Surf's Up by Karen Anders". JC Wilcox and Zack Fanning meet in the surf at a time she may have to leave due to no sponsorship. However, the surfing legend who cannot participate due to an injury wants to live his dream of winning through JC so wants to sponsor her with all his heart.

"Wet and Wild by Jill Monroe". Rookie of the year Andrea "Drea" Powell needs a sponsor, but has no takers due to her reckless abandon on the waves. Kirk Murray seeks a new surfer to support; preferably a wild and wet winner. When they meet, the waves reach epic levels.

These three interrelated Hawaii surfing romances are lighthearted beach fun starring likable protagonists and an apt title paying homage to Bruce Brown's documentary.

Make Me Yours
Betina Krahn
Harlequin Blaze
9780373794836 $4.99

In 1887 English widow Mariah Eller owns and runs the Eller-Stapleton Inn. When nobles to include Bertie the Prince of Wales get drunk at her inn and start causing problems, Mariah calmly outsmarts them.

Bertie is hooked by the brave intelligent tavern owner and orders her to be his royal mistress. The only way for her to avoid Bertie is with a husband. She once gain outwits the male aristocracy when she decides to go after Bertie's loyal friend Jack St. Lawrence. He wants her, but fears the reprcussions of stealing the Prince's propsed next mistress and worse worries how his family will react to her occupation. He underestimated the force of his Mariah.

MAKE ME YOURS will be on the best of the year list of historical romances as this is a great jocular late Victorian with a great fresh concept. Mariah is fantastic as all she wants is preventing the drunks from wrecking her tavern, but consequently must deal with the unwanted adulation of the royal; as one thing leads to another and another, etc. Jack is caught between a hard place and an even harder place as he is in love with the tavern owner who is supposed to be the prince's woman not his; and of course he expects the scorn of his aristocratic family if he chooses Mariah. However soon the prince, Jack who knows nothing, and even a pauper will learn not to mess with the wind they call Mariah.

Bachelor CEO
Michele Dunaway
Harlequin American Romance
9780373752690 $4.99

In Chenille, Iowa, Chase McDaniel is the only one of his siblings who loves working at the family firm, McDaniel Manufacturing. He knows his grandfather will retire soon and expects to be named the next CEO; as he has earned it. Instead his grandfather orders him to take a year long leave of absence to determine whether this is what he wants.

While on his enforced vacation that is more of a prison sentence Miranda Craig of Chicago replaces Chase at the company. He is attracted to her from the moment he saw her bent over with a flat tire, but is also angry with her for taking his indispensable place. When his grandfather becomes ill, Chase returns home to take charge of the company, but Miranda battles with him every step of the way including falling in love.

BACHELOR CEO is an amusing family drama starring a matchmaking grandfather who worries that his "heir" to the business has no life so he decides to make his grandson find one. The romance between the two wannabe CEOs is jocular as they follow the classic path of meet, fight, detest and love. Although neither Chase nor Miranda is very deep beyond the job competition, fans will enjoy their gender war wondering who will be on top in the boardroom and the bedroom.

A Father For Jesse
Ann Roth
Harlequin American Romance
9780373752706 $4.99

Emmy Logan arrives at Halo Island in the Pacific Northwest seeking a fresh start for her and her troubled eleven year old son Jesse. She knows Jesse needs a strong male role model especially after the teen street gangs of Oakland tried recruiting him, but also does not want a man in her life.

After raising his twin brothers starting when he was eighteen and they were ten following the deaths of their parents, Mac Struthers is looking forward to no responsibilities for others. Thus he thinks the new neighbor is cute, but she has an angry son that he can do without. Although both detest the attraction between them, neither can ignore it though they try. As they fall in love, each knows a disturbed tweener takes precedent over their feelings.

The key to this fine contemporary island romance is Jesse as his mom wants what is bet for him and though he wants to remains aloof and different, so does Mac who cannot help but care. The lead couple is attracted to one another, but understanding that the troubled tweener comes before their desire. Fans will relish this delightful tale as the well written romance is enhanced by a troubled tweener.

Round The Clock
Dara Girard
Harlequin Kimani
9780373861224 $5.99

Anna Marie Williams works as an Information Specialist at the Virginia Department of Health and Human Services. She has two wishes in life: to tell her drama queen martinet boss the "Cobra" to shut up and to spend a night with Desmond Rockwell, her unrequited high school love. Neither will happen though her boss' tirades impact her minimally as she grew up abused by her parents and most of her foster parents. At night Anna Marie is Malika the exotic dancer at Sin Palace.

During her last performance in Sin Palace, Desmond shows up and is excited about Malika; he wants to meet her outside of the club, but she is wary of the big hurt once he meets shy Anna Marie. The next day lawyer Glenn Thornberg of Thornberg and West calls to inform her of a surprised inheritance. Anna Marie tells her boyfriend Bruno and her boss she is leaving him and her job. Next she is invited to join the Black Stockings Society and her life continues to improve as Desmond makes it clear he wants her.

The fourth Black Stocking Society (see POWER PLAY) contemporary romance is a super tale due Anna Marie, one of the best lead characters of the year. The story line is driven by the heroine who trusts no one including her younger sister Tracie and her inability to tell the truth re Malika for instance may cost her the love of a lifetime. Fans will enjoy this terrific entry as Anna Marie freshens up the latest visit to the Black Stocking Society.

Intimate Seduction
Brenda Jackson
9780373861200 $5.99

Princeton Professor Natalie Ford returns home to take over temporarily her injured Aunt Earline's cleaning business in Charlotte. She finds the work tiring and actually falls asleep in the bed of one of her aunt's clients, playboy businessman Donovan Steele. He is shocked by how beautiful Sleeping Beauty is.

Natalie is attracted to Donovan, but also believes men are frightened by an intelligent woman. Although she vowed never to hide her intelligence, she conceals her brains and her profession behind the image of a cleaning lady. As they fall in love, he begins to believe she is damaging a business deal of his; his distrusts grows when he learns what she actually does for a living.

The latest Steele Family romance (see IRREVERSIBLE FORCES, RISKY PLEASURES and BEYOND TEMPTATION) is a fabulous contemporary romance starring two fabulous protagonists who fall in love. However their relationship foundation is cracked because Natalie hid the truth as to who she is leading to suspicion by him that she is sabotaging his business as he knows something is not quite right. The audience will fully relish the latest Steele. Brenda Jackson is an incredible storyteller.

Sand, Sun ... Seduction!
Stephanie Bond, Leslie Kelly and Lori Wilde
9780373837342 $5.99

"Enticed" by Stephanie Bond. Atlanta attorneys Kimber Karlton and Gil Trapp are leaving for a vacation together in the Maldives, but nothing goes right except for her meeting pilot Finn Meyers.

"Propositioned" by Leslie Kelly. In St. Lucia, Trinity's Surfside bartender Liz Talbot is unhappy to see her former husband's boss Jack Beaumont in town. She has always wanted him, but never acted on her feelings. He admits he feels the same way. However, though she wants a tryst she distrusts him associating him with her sleaze of an ex.

"Fevered" by Lori Wilde. Fleeing his latest scandal, engineer Armando Cutler runs off to Costa Rica to escape from the media especially the tabloids. Reporter Macy Gatwick follows him in search of a story. Neither the journalist nor the engineer expected an attraction that leaves both shook to the core.

With three great exotic locations, these enjoyable contemporary romances are fun in the sand and sun while filled with warm seduction.

David L. Golemon
9780312376635 $24.95

The navies from around the world are at a loss to prevent the Leviathan from attacking and sinking all types of vessels from the surface or under the sea. None of the countries have found the ability to stop the Leviathan from controlling the sea. However, the unknown Captain of the Leviathan warns the world's rulers that they will unleash nuclear weapons of mass destruction around the globe if the surface dwellers do not stop their polluting of the oceans.

The American president sends his top team, the Event Group to stop the oceanic terrorists whose actions are reminiscent of Verne's classic Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. As they begin their counter thrust, the top secret American team is unaware that the Leviathan has a traitor inside their headquarters. This turncoat enables the enemy to take the fight to the Event Group with plans to kidnap the leadership, to insure the breakdown of command and control, and to use as hostages in the event of negotiations.

Using the Event Group in a modern day rendition of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea thriller, David L. Golemon provides his fans with an enjoyable tale. The story line is fast-paced on land and at sea although very linear with obvious actions and reactions except for a late exciting twist. Fans of Jules Verne or Mr. Goleman will take delight in LEVIATHAN, an exciting story that pays homage to great French author.

Chambers of Death
Priscilla Royal
Poisoned Pen
9781590586402 $24.95

On her way back to Tyndal Priory, Prioress Eleanor, Brother Tomas and potential postulant Mariota are caught in a dangerous storm so need shelter especially with Mariota being very ill. They are fortunate that Master Stevyn, the steward overseeing the estates of Lord Henry de Lacy, offers them a place to stay as much longer in the torrential rain could have sent Mariota to her maker.

From the moment they enter the manor house, the guests sense dark indiscretions and secrets abound amidst their host family. Mistress Constance remains celibate though married to Stevyn's heir, Master Renulf, who has a rather poor opinion about women. The steward's wife Mistress Luce is cuckolding him with Tobye the Groom. The second son defies his father when he chooses not to become a priest as expected by his family and society; instead he just stalks around the manor When Tobye is murdered, the sheriff does not want to investigate the family for fear of retribution so instead arrests the cook to shut the case. Eleanor begins an investigation as she believes the cook is innocent especially when a servant is stabbed; however even the Prioress is unaware how dangerous her inquiry will prove, but she will find out rather quickly the hard way.

The series (see FORSAKEN SOUL) takes place during the early years of the reign of Edward I; a time when people firmly believed that imps and Satan walked the earth influencing evil behavior. That sense of life along with a deep look at the cultures of the Church and aristocracy anchor time and place. Eleanor is a strong person who in spite of her religious beliefs insists that some evil is not Satan spawned. Instead she assumes Tobye's homicide and several murders that follow are caused by a human predator. Fans of medieval mysteries will appreciate another great whodunit by a Royal master of the sub-genre.

The Fitzgerald Ruse
Mark de Castrique
Poisoned Pen
9781590586297 $24.95

In Asheville, North Carolina, lovers former U.S. military CID Chief Warrant officer Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson are opening up a detective agency. Their first client elderly Ethel Barkley hires them to retrieve a lockbox she claims holds a valuable F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscript as she wants to rectify what she did when she was young and stole it from his estate.

Sam and Nakayla take the sealed box bringing it to their office. Not long afterward, someone breaks into their office, kills a security guard and steals the box. Both sleuths are stunned and wonder whether the theft and murder might be connected to a conspiracy to keep concealed a 1930s era American fascist organization that if revealed would destroy some reputations. As an alternate supposition the pair considers the premise that rogue mercenaries want pay back for the bounty they feel Sam stole from them in Iraq; the injury to his leg that lead to amputation and the end of his military career apparently is not enough. However the case spins further out of control when someone kills their client.

The second Blackman-Robertson private investigative tale (see BLACKMAN'S COFFIN) is a superb mystery with several fascinating subplots. Enhancing the exciting entry is the lead sleuths whose teasing manner seems genuine as one would expect of professional teammates who respect each other. THE FITZGERALD RUSE as the prime case adds a literary feel to a delightful thriller.

Freezer Burn
Gayle Carline
9781590806074 $13.99

Former cleaning lady Peri Minneopa is now a licensed private investigator though she does not carry a gun. She promised her lover Placenta Police Detective Skip Carlton that she would only work safe cases like background checks and taking photos from a distance of cheating spouses. Her latest case involves a client Benny Needles who is a Dean Martin fanatic seeking an ice tray in his freezer used by his hero with an autograph he doesn't want rubbed off by the ice.

Instead she finds a severed hand with an expensive ring on a finger. Benni swears he has no idea whose hand it is, where the rest of the body is, and how it got into his freezer. Skip questions Benny and believes the frightened Martin aficionado is telling the truth that he is innocent and ignorant re the hand. They trace the ring to a homeless woman who admits she stole from a woman in a nursing home. It was supposed to be a copy of the Forever Roses ring to be auctioned at Christies in order for Kevin Conway to pay off his gambling debts. He had no idea that his ring was a copy and he wants to get the real ring back. So do other people; as someone steals it from the police evidence room. Peri goes after the killer, ignoring Skip's warning about murderers' murder, but soon understands what her boyfriend meant.

Peri is a strong willed person who once she makes up her mind nothing stops her; Skip can nudge, but not budge his obstinate girlfriend. She wants to prove to herself she is a P.I. by solving the case though she understands her first mission is to keep the eccentric Benny out of jail as she believes he is innocent. Her lover reluctantly supports her because he fears she will risk her life with or without him. The investigative story line is fun to follow with it ties to Dino and the romance between the cop and the rookie, who behaves somewhat like an amateur sleuth as she learns the ropes the hard way which enhances an enjoyable whodunit.

The Advocate
Teresa Burrell
9781590806319 $13.99

Juvenile Court attorney Sabre Brown is contented with her life especially her work protecting children from people who might harm them. The only negative in her life is her brother Ron who remains missing having disappeared without a trace. Currently, she is working a case involving ten year old Alexis Murdock and two years old Jamie Smith; both are staying at the Jordon Receiving Home while the police investigate their respective parent Gaylord Murdock and his battered pregnant girlfriend Peggy Smith. Peggy initially blames Gaylord for hitting her, but quickly changes her tune when she realizes she will have to press charges.

Gaylord obeys court orders determined to prove he is a fit father so he can regain custody of Alexis. When Sabre talks with Alexis, the frightened tweener asks if she must go home. That question leaves Sabre wondering if Murdock is the upright citizen he claims to be. Someone is also harassing Sabre. Calls with no voice on the other end at any time night or day; items in her home are misplaced or lost; and a bat was tossed into her office through the mail slot. Finally she finds a lizard in her bed with all her doors and windows shut. Sabra discovers Peggy has a daughter Honey who has goes missing yet no police report is filed. She fears what happened to Honey will happen to Alexis and Jamie once they go home, but the law is on the side of Gaylord, so far.

Readers will admire dedicated Sabre, a strong advocate of protecting the young as she deals with adult predators to prevent them from abusing children. Not always easy as the law can be on the side of the beast; still she goes the extra kilometers to try keeping the kids safe. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action though the assault on Sabre adds suspense, but also detracts from a great legal thriller as the lives of children are at stake.

All the Dead Voices
Declan Hughes
9780061689888 $25.95

In Dublin, Anne Fogarty hires private investigator Ed Loy to investigate the cold case brutal beating death of her father in 1991 though the Garda has a suspect. Her mother's boyfriend was convicted of the crime, but freed when his lawyer's appealed the conviction. Though Ed is already busy looking into the murder of rising Sherbourne football star Paul Delaney whose death appears tied to drugs, he accepts Fogarty's case.

Loy finds out Anne's father was a tax inspector who was investigating three men (Bobby Doyle, Jack Cullen, and Georges Halligan) on potential income tax evasion. Each was IRA; thus they had means and opportunity besides the obvious motive. However, Loy is caught unaware when his two cases seem to converge as Delaney apparently had ties to Cullen.

The latest Ed Loy Ireland investigative thriller (see THE PRICE OF BLOOD, THE COLOR OF BLOOD, and THE WRONG KIND OF BLOOD) is a fast-paced violent tale that may have left blood out of the title, but not the narrative. The inquiry is top rate providing an insight into the Troubles and its aftermath. Ed is his usual self - getting beaten, battered and bruised while working both cases. ALL THE DEAD VOICES is a terrific Irish whodunit.

Labor Day
Joyce Maynard
9780061843402 $24.99

On the Labor day weekend in 1987, thirteen year old Henry persuades his single mother Adele to leave their dump for a trip to the nearby PriceMart. He is ecstatic when she agrees as she never leaves their home except if she absolutely has to since his dad left her and remarried.

They meet Frank, who bullies them into picking him up. An escaped convict, Frank needs a place to hide from the law so he coerces the mother and son to take him into their home or else. However, as he holds them prisoner in their home, the trio forges a relationship with him in charge. He tenderly ties Adele to a chair using her silk scarves as gentle ropes; while feeding her. He teaches Henry, who hates sports as he stinks at them, to throw a baseball. He soon finds he wants more from the mom as they fall in love and consider fleeing together, and with her son who fears desertion from his mom and his surrogate father.

This is a super character study that focuses on the changing relations between three protagonists over the Labor Day weekend. A Stockholm syndrome effect occurs as each grows closer to one another. Henry is the glue that keeps the story line focused as he admires Frank's courage and mentoring skills while also fears he will take his mom with him leaving her son behind when he goes on the lam. Fans will relish three seemingly losers finding something special during the long weekend together even as each anticipates no happy ending (the Sword of Damocles always lurking during the holiday) ;instead they expect to pay a steep price for six days and five nights of a fairy tale.

Baker Street Letters
Michael Robertson
9780312538125 $24.95

In 1997 Solicitor Reggie Heath signs a lease to rent office space on Baker Street. As part of the rental agreement, the attorney is responsible for responding to requests from people writing to Sherlock Holmes at 221B Baker Street. Reggie figures the letters are a humorous irritant so assigns the answers to his clerk, his younger brother Nigel suspended from legal practice due to misconduct.

Nigel takes the pleas for help seriously and tries to respond with more than a platitude. He is especially fixated on a "pen pal" Mara Ramirez who sent a note to Mr. Holmes two decades ago when she was eight and her mom was missing. Nigel and senior clerk Robert Ocher often argue especially how to respond as the latter wants as little time spent on the Holmes correspondence as possible. Robert is soon killed by a knife in Nigel's office while Nigel has vanished. Reggie knows his sibling is missing some brain pixels, but believes he is not a killer yet still fears these two events are tied to Mara. He travels to Los Angeles not sure what to expect; what he did not was having LAPD arrest him on charges of homicide.

This is an enjoyable refreshing spin to the Holmes universe though when it comes to sleuthing neither brother is on a par with Watson let alone the great literary detective as a distracted Nigel is always in trouble and Reggie is a somewhat bumbling amateur sleuth. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Nigel reads the first letter from Mara and never slows down until the final Los Angeles confrontation. Readers will enjoy this fine modern day spin to the Baker Street cosmos.

Breaking Faith
Anna Blundy
Minotaur, Jul 7 2009, $24.99

London's Chronicle reporter Faith Zanetti is unhappy with her latest assignment that she assumes is gonna go nowhere as the Cairnbridge plane bombing that killed all 245 aboard has been covered to incredible lengths over the twenty-five years with nothing new. She assumes in between her booze that she will bring nothing new too.

Faith goes to Italy to spend time with Eden, her former boyfriend and father of her infant. He likes Italy and seems to want to remain there; she just wants to finish her story and get back to real investigative journalism like she did in Moscow (see VODKA NEAT) although the incidents there still haunt her. Eden introduces Faith to Phoebe and Walter Irving, friends of her late father Karel, who also was a reporter allegedly killed while covering the Troubles in North Ireland. Faith begins receiving warnings from the grave that leads the intrepid reporter to re alize Phoebe knew her dad intimately and the couple knows who made that call in Reykjavik to the American Embassy in Iceland just prior to the Cairnbridge bombing. She also learns about one particular female traveler who died on that tragic plane; a person she would have liked to have met.

With an obvious connection to the Lockerbie tragedy, BREAKING FAITH is a super journalistic investigative thriller as the heroine is stunned with revelation after revelation on a story that she expected to go nowhere. Faith makes the tale work as a tough individual who can out drink just about anyone while balancing a baby with her investigations. Faith's inquiry into the Cairnbridge plane bombing is deftly handled as Anna Blundy provides another winner that readers will toast with Chianti: wine.

Southern Peril
T. Lynn Ocean
9780312383473 $24.95

Wilmington, North Carolina bar owner Jersey Barnes has sworn off for what seems to her the zillionth time no more "SWEET" investigative work; government or private. This time she swears she means it with the only SOUTHERN POISON coming from the drinks she serves.

The best laid plans of mice, men and Jersey Barnes always goes astray. This time her friend the Judge needs a favor. She is worried that her younger brother Morgan is in trouble seemingly connected to inheriting their father's popular restaurant Argo. Jersey takes a quick peak and sees nothing out of the ordinary for someone who recently lost his parents suddenly and was dumped by his fiancee. She digs deeper since she has time on her hands as the Barnes Agency and her bar work too perfectly without her and her boyfriend Ox Oxendine is spending quality time with his daughter. Jersey revises her opinion when someone assaults her and Morgan. Jersey soon learns what is behind the Argo's famous Green Table and uncovers undercover DEA agent Brad the hunk Logan who matches her chutzpah for chutzpah even down to matching weapons to wardrobe. They team up and soon find evidence that Argo is part of a drug ring, which impacts the late parents of Morgan unless Jersey with her befuddled father's help can prove otherwise.

The fun story line is obvious yet no one will care as the cast make for an amusing impish investigative tale. Jersey is terrific as she works the case, tries to contain her libido wile salivating over Brad, and has her dad advising her. Fans of the series will enjoy the latest lighthearted Jersey hospitality overwhelming North Carolina (see SOUTHERN FATALITY).

Nick Brownlee
9780312550219 $25.95

In Mombassa, Kenya former Scotland Yard Flying Squad police detective Jake Moore co-owns a minor sport fishing outfit, Britannia Fishing Tours Ltd. Jake and his partner British expatriate Harry Philliskirk owe an Arab oil provider $17,000 for diesel fuel at a time that their business is in trouble due to the "Ernies" tourists. They are frightened by unrest and a teetering economy back home andare not coming to catch big fish in Kenya.

Harry gets involved in transporting hash while Jake works with another boat owner Dennis Bentley. Murders occur over seemingly minor inncidents leading to honest Coast Province Detective Inspector Daniel Jouma to investigate at a time others are in country causing further hostilities between the ethnic groups. Over his head, Daniel asks Jake for help.

This is an entertaining Kenyan police procedural private investigative thriller that provides the audience some insight into the country although much of what the reader sees is unpleasant viciousness that enhances the investigation as the clues lead to the nastier underbelly of society. The story line is fast-paced and the two cops top rate. Although Nick Brownlee skates around the major issues confronting the country, fans will enjoy the aptly named BAIT.

Six Suspects
Vikas Swarup
9780312605032 $24.99

In Delhi, India, Vivek (Vicky) Rai is acquitted of a particularly vicious murder that he probably committed. His father Home Minister of Uttar Pradash Jagannath throws his son a victory party, but someone obviously objected to the acquittal by killing Vicky.

The Delhi police find six viable suspects. The Bureaucrat former Chief Secretary Mohan Kumar would do anything to obtain money and women and not necessarily in that order. The Bollywood Actress "celluloid goddess" Shabnam Saxena is hot on the screen, but rejected Vicky's efforts for heat off the screen. Stone Age Tribal Eketi Onge is one of the last people from a dying tribe being engulfed by civilization even with their home island somewhat isolated. The Thief Munna Mobile makes his living stealing cell-phones and whatever gizmos he can purloin. The Politician leader of Uttar Pradesh is reverently titled Bhaiyyaji but known to the victim as dad. The American preferring the moniker Texan Larry Page has come to marry his Internet order bride Sapna Singh though he learns in new Delhi the pictures he was sent is that of Bollywood's "Celluloid Goddess".

This is a fun Indian whodunit that lampoons Agatha Christie through a format that has readers wondering if a New Delhi Hercule Poirot will arrive at the last moment to inform the audience who killed Vicky and why. The story line is fast-paced though events are reiterated since perspectives rotate. Fans will enjoy this terrific look at modern day India through the lens of a satirical murder investigation though no lead investigator actually steps forward with the Q and A.

Blake Crouch
9780312537401 $25.99

By December 1893, with the mine for practical purposes useless, the town of Abandon, Colorado is dying. Still there are plenty of residents from unemployed miners to hookers wondering when to move to the next gold mine and gunslingers seeking to kill their way to a fortune. Bart Packer found ninety-one Spanish gold bars by the headless skeletal remains of what he assumed was a conquistador. However, someone kills him and hides his horde in the mine. Soon afterward, everyone vanishes without a trace.

In 2009 historian Lawrence Kendall persuades his daughter whom he deserted as a child years ago reporter Abigail Foster to accompany him and married couple paranormal photographers Emmett and June Tozer to visit the ghost-town of Abandon, Colorado. He has heard of the gold, but thinks the treasure is learning what happened to the residents. A blizzard isolates the investigative party and former marines assault them with demands they find the gold for them. All the answers are in the grisly mines.

Filled with gore and blood, this starts off with a terrific premise that is enhanced with the rotation between eras' subplots. However, when the marines invade, the modern subplot turns from a psychological suspense to an action thriller that pales in spite of the gore next to the horrors of the Gilded Age scenario. Still Blake Couch provides an interesting tale filled with action of a ghastly and gruesome kind.

Mind Scrambler
Chris Grabenstein
9780312382315 $24.95

Although opposites in outlook, Sea Haven, New Jersey police partners John Ceepak and Danny Boyle are on leave in Atlantic City. They are not there to gamble, but instead are taking a disposition in hopes of helping Ceepak's estranged dad who has been charged with murder in Ohio.

Boyle runs into former girlfriend Katie Landry, who is the nanny of Richie and Britney, the children of Xanadu headliner magician Richard Rock and his wife. Katie is dating a Xanadu bouncer but agrees to go for drinks with Danny. Their case abruptly ends when Ceepak's dad pleads guilty. Rock's manager hires the two cops as extra security due to a rumor that the Milton Berle of magicians (due to stealing their acts) Lady Jasmine is attending. Katie and Jake vanish while Rock performs his final act geared to get people into the casino; Boyle goes backstage to find Katie murdered. The Atlantic City police deputize the two Sea Haven cops as more homicides occur.

The latest John Ceepak investigation (see HELL HOLE) is a terrific entry as the by the book cop and his breaking the rules partner may be off duty, but quickly become embroiled in a murder mystery. The story line is fast-paced from the onset, but it is the camaraderie between the two polar opposite cops that once again make for an entertaining tale.

James Hayman
9780312531294 $24.95

Following his wife leaving him and their child for an investment banker and the death of his brother also a cop, homicide detective Michael McCabe left NYPD and the city for a job with the Portland, Maine force so he can raise his thirteen year old daughter in a safe haven. However, he finds out quickly murder can occur in small cities when someone rapes and kills a high-school soccer star. Soon afterward, another young blonde beauty disappears while jogging.

Chief of the city's Crimes Against People unit, Michael hides from the media the fact that the killer removed the heart of the first victim as if a surgeon performed the deed. He and Detective Maggie Savage focus on the medical field with an emphasis on heart transplant specialist Dr. Philip Spencer, whose alibi is a night at home with his wife Hattie. However, shockingly she states she was visiting her family in Blue Hill. While his former wife arrives demanding the return of her daughter whom she abandoned years ago, Michael knows the key is to saving the second victim before the killer removes an organ, but time is running out on McCabe and his team.

Although the theme of a serial killer has been used a zillion times recently along with a cop leaving the swamps of the big city for safer environs, fans will enjoy CUTTING. McCabe is a likable hero struggling with a horrific homicide and the potential of another as nasty as well as his piece of work former wife. Ironically, readers will solve the case before the hero does, but they won't care as watching his frantic efforts to save a victim make for a fine Maine police procedural.

Swan for the Money
Donna Andrews
0312377177 $24.95

For once, Meg Langslow believes her parents have taken up a safe hobby that could not harm anyone. They are growing roses especially working on hybrids with a hope of creating a black version. Elated with their new pastime that is so safe, Meg agrees to organize the Caerphilly Garden Club first annual rose show.

The event is being held on the Winkleson estate because wealthy, influential but mean spirited Mrs. Winkleson wanted a home court advantage with everyone owing her favors and those who do not she bullies so she can win the Black Sawn Trophy. Meg goes to see the estate's beautiful fenced in rose garden, but instead of beautiful blooming flowers, she finds a dead female contestant. Soon afterward, the hostess becomes unconscious after taking a drink. It looks like someone was trying to kill her using cyanide. Meg as usual snoops, but quickly finds everyone including servants, but especially the club members have strong motives to kill Mrs. Wilkerson.

Donna Andrews is highly regarded for her comedic often slapstick amateur sleuths (see SIX GEESE A-SLAYING); her latest is once again a hilarious whodunit as eccentricity, including Meg's parents, runs rampart throughout the plot. The contestants are to say the least an unconventional crowd of oddballs, misfits, geeks, and hermits in which Ms. Andrews uses hyperbole to emphasis the diverse differences. Between protecting her out of control parents and dealing with belligerent club members, harried servants and sinister killer swans, Meg has her work cut out solving the rose garden murder.

Last Known Address
Theresa Schwegel
9780312364274 $24.99

Chicago police detective Sloane Pearson has moved from homicide to major sex crimes. Her current case involves a brutal serial rapist who leaves his prey near dead from strangulation. Her efforts to get someone to talk are futile as the women fear their predator will return to finish the job or worse.

The brass demands she either finds a legitimate suspect or move on as they reject her belief a serial rapist is stalking Chicago. However, she has no clues so Pearson tracks what the victims claimed they did before being snatched and raped. She begins to find a tenuous link, but is running out of time as her boss orders her to drop the investigation immediately and start a new case while she knows the next victim is just around the corner.

The latest Pearson police procedural (see PROBABLE CAUSE) is an exciting whodunit in which the heroine's boss and lover intrude in her inquiry. Her supervisor orders her to cease and desist though she believes another rape is imminent and Sloane is considering leaving her lover, but puts that on hold while investigating; on top of that her father is ill with a bad heart. The story line is fast-paced and never slows down as Pearson's tour of Chicago is no joy ride as the clues are few and the women begin to back away with her only ally being a Sun-Times reporter that she feeds information to that if her boss knew would cost her the job she loves. Theresa Schwegel provides a tense one sitting thriller.

The Crack in the Lens
Steve Hockensmith
Minotaur (St. Martin's)
9780312379421 $24.95

In 1893, a few weeks have passed since the Amlingmeyer "Reds", Otto "Big Red" and his older brother Gustav "Old Red", dropped into egg drop soup in San Francisco (see BLACK DOVE). Old Red tells Big Red about the love of his life being murdered in an unsolved crime five years ago. Big Red insisting they are Sherlock Holmes level experts ever since they worked the Southern Pacific a few months ago (see ON THE WRONG TRACK) suggests they go to San Marcos, Texas to solve the case of who murdered Gertrude Eichelberger.

The Reds arrive in San Marcos and begin their investigation with the local brothels as Gertrude was a hooker. Their inquiries upset the madams, pimps, and law enforcement types, but they refuse to back down. The brothers soon realize that Gertrude's murderer is a Texas Jack the Ripper having killed several hookers. Although Old Red has the need for closure by catching his beloved's killer, Big Red has his back every step of the way.

As always with the Reds, fans receive an amusing late nineteenth century whodunit starring heroes who poorly employ the techniques of Sherlock Holmes to their investigation. Fans will enjoy their latest escapades as everything is personal this time (not to say being shot at is not personal). With a great story line THE CRACK IN THE LENS is a super entry in a terrific western mystery saga that in its off beat way pays homage to the great detective.

Wild Wolf
Karen Whiddon
Silhouette Nocturne
9780373618149 $5.25

Protector Simon Caldwell is sent to hunt down a particularly dangerous shifter. When he catches up to her, he is taken aback as Raven is civilized though she lives in the forest with a pack of straight wolves.

Simon tries to persuade Raven she belongs with people and not wolves. If she rejects his contention, he will have to kill her to insure she never turns rabid. Raven refuses to leave the pack who has taken her in. One of the wolves attack attacks Simon hurting him and leading to his failure to make contact with his superior as required. Now a comrade in arms is coming to kill Raven and rescue Simon, if he is alive. Simon realizes what is going on though he does not understand his attraction to the wilderness lady; he also knows he must keep her safe.

The key to the super romantic fantasy is that the two shifters seem genuine, which in turn makes Karen Whiddon's world feel real. Simon as a Protector keeping his species safe knows what he must do, but his heart tells him otherwise; Raven has deserted humanity and its genus' cousin to live with wild wolves because the feral accept her as one of them without conditions. Fans will enjoy this fine tale as the hunter must kill the hunted, but love makes him realize when he does, he kills himself too.

The Highwayman
Michele Hauf
Silhouette Nocturne
9780373618156 $5.25

Max Fitzroy the highwayman is renowned for his killing of familiars. So when feline familiar Aby recognizes she has just encountered Max, she expects him to kill one of her nine lives. Thus she is stunned when instead he asks for her help; not easy for Max to do as his gut instinct says kills her.

He wants her to assist him in removing the demon shadow stuck inside his body since Paris 1758. He has not tasted any mortal pleasures in the two and a half centuries since. However, the pair quickly realize they must find his former partner Rainier who is stuck with the other half of the demon's shadow if he to rid himself of the blight. The only problem is that his ex associate prefers the status quo of what a demon has given him.

This refreshing "triangle" makes for a wonderful exhilarating romantic fantasy that hooks the audience the moment Aby faces death when she meets Max; ironically she expects him to kill her yet is attracted to him in an ultimate form of tough love. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action, but it is the complicated relationships that turn the world of Michele Hauf into a fabulous read as the audience will wonder if this saga will end the same ways Alfred Noyes' poem did.

Tomato Rhapsody
Adam Schell
9780385343336 $25.00

In sixteenth century Tuscany, ebreho farmer Davido loves his tomato plants that his grandfather brought back from his voyage with Columbus; The Jew relishes the bright color to the incredible aroma that makes him feel pure of heart though his future in-laws fear he loves the plant more than his betrothed. New town priest The Good Padre permits Davido to bring his "love apples" to town, the Jew is ecstatic.

Meanwhile vile olive mogul and village owner Giuseppe and his henchman Benito search for truffles. His stepdaughter olive farmer Mari is attracted to the unacceptable outsider as Jews are less than the beasts of burden and besides Giuseppe has plans for her and her land. At the Feast of the Drunken Saint donkey race all hell breaks loose as everyone wants a piece of something or someone leading to "a comedy of errors" that prove "much ado about nothing".

With homage (or perhaps chutzpah) to the Bard especially A Merchant of Venice, TOMATO RHAPSODY is an amusing Elizabethan Era tale of greed and love. The story line is kept at a frantic pace throughout as one thing leads to another. Although none of the characters (except the tomatoes) ever develop beyond a simple stereotype, fans who enjoy a zany historical caper will want to read Davido the ebreho's adventures in Tuscany.

Twenties Girl
Sophie Kinsella
9780385342025 $26.00

In London twenty-seven year old Lara Lington has enough on her plate with her partner Natalie running off to Goa while their company L&N Executive Recruitment flounders. She becomes a bit worried about her mental state when her late Great Aunt Sadie arrives in full ghostly array as no one except die hard Ghostbuster fans believe in ghosts. To make matters worse her flapper dead relative demand her niece loosen up and have fun at a time she still recovers from Mr. perfect kicking her to the curb, and to find her missing necklace that she possessed for over seven decades.

Lara wants Sadie to leave as she realizes they share nothing in common except a desire to locate the missing necklace though their motives differ. As the TWENTIES GIRL relishes the twenty-first century, she and her hostess begin to discover they have much more in common than they thought especially on what matters in life as each wants to find love someone to love and be loved eternally.

This is an amusing paranormal chick lit tale stolen by the zany flapper girl mentality of Aunt Sadie who demands her great niece find her lost necklace that means everything to her and orders her to loosen up and have fun while seeking the "One". Lara is terrific as the second banana in spite of being the main character. Except for the overused lists that are an overkill method in the sub-genre, Sophie Kinsella provides a super jocular yet poignant relationship story.

I'm Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago
Hape Kerkeling
Free Press (Simon and Schuster)
9781416553878 $15.00

In 2001 thirtyish German comedian Kerkeling decided to search for God by hiking the 500-mile sacred Camino de Santiago, which starts at the foothills of the Pyrenees and ends at the Shrine of St. James at Santiago de Compostela in Spain. He was following the route of Christians who have taken this pilgrimage for at least twelve centuries. With just under forty stops, Kerkeling understood he would need to walk at least 12 miles a day to complete the tour in less than two weeks. He also knew he was an unhealthy couch potato. Still he began his trek heading to the first of just under forty recognized stops on the trail and came close to quitting right then.

His version of the pilgrimage is interesting especially when he talks with workers at the sacred pit stops (irreverent but that is what these locales sound like) and with fellow pilgrims to understand their motives and gain a group inspiration to finish the arduous journey (think Canterbury Tales). Although the readers knows how far Kerkeling traveled in terms of miles/kilometers, the comedian fails to provide a baseline beyond doubting couch potato status so his spiritual awakening never fully comes across. Still his trek from the disenchanted to the enlightened is a profound journey of the soul.

Smash Cut
Sandra Brown
Simon & Schuster
9781416563082 $26.95

When wealthy Paul Wheeler is murdered in an Atlanta hotel, the police assume a robbery has gone bad. His close friend, gallery owner Julie Rutledge, believes otherwise as she tries to convince the police that Paul's nephew Creighton ordered the hit.

Creighton's father asks criminal lawyer Derek Mitchell to represent his son, but the attorney refuses because he is going with Julie to Paris. Outraged by Derek's rejection, Creighton goes after his loved ones. He stalks Julie and Derek's dog Maggie. He plans to kill the girlfriend of his cowardly former partner Billy Duke as a punishment for his backing out of the murder scheme. Creighton plots to stage a triumphant final scene straight out of a classic Hitchcock movie like Frenzy that will leave Billy, Julie and Derek joining his Uncle Paul.

This is a super thriller that is fast-paced with rapid changing scenes that add tension as the audience increasingly and avidly anticipates High Noon. The cast is powerful especially the beleaguered Derek and Julie, but SMASH CUT is owned by Creighton who we meet when a servant Rose interrupts his tennis game. With terrific twists especially a late one and homage to great mystery films, fans will enjoy this cat and mouse tale as Creighton worships death scenes from the classics.

Bury Me Deep
Megan Abbott
Simon & Schuster
9781416599098 $15.00

During the Great Depression, Dr. Everett Seeley obtains a position in Mexico having been barred from practicing in the states due to drug abuse. He leaves his young naive wife Marion behind in their home. She soon obtains a clerical position at the Werden Clinic.

Nurse Louise Mercer warns the young Marion that the doctors take advantage of the nurses and the other female staff, but also invite her to their wild parties. At one gala, Marion meets Joe Lanigan, a friend of the physicians who provides cash and parties for the nurses. Soon Louise and her nursing roommate Everett are shocked with Marion's behavior with Joe and confront her over it. Marion is livid that it is none of their business. However their argument turns to homicide.

Once the personal history is established and the decadence of the Jazz Era anchored, BURY ME DEEP turns into an exciting crime thriller based on the true crime Brighton Trunk Murders. The story line is driven by Marion who people see differently leaving readers to wonder who the real Marion is. With a great final twist, fans of those 1930s femme fatale capers will recognize the lead character as playing the tough broad and the innocent young lady; depending on whether Louise and Joe make the assessment.

Deadly Intent
Lynda La Plante
Simon and Schuster
9781416588313 $24.99

Frank Brandon left the murder squad unit to become a chauffeur for a minor drug dealer before marrying wealthy Julia Kendal. He was allegedly happy and had money to waste; so had no reason to be found murdered in a fetid dumpy flat in slummy Warren Estate.

Murder Squad Detective Inspector Anna Travis fears Brandon's homicide means the return from the dead of her former partner Anthony Collingwood, who left her without warning with two kids and a lot of money almost a decade ago. Anthony is better known as Alexander Fitzpatrick, once the nation's leading drug kingpin, but out of sight for years. In spite of other associates of Fitzpatrick being assassinated, Anna's superior DCI Carol Cunningham disagrees as no proof has surfaced that the former criminal mastermind is alive. Unbeknownst to the cops including Anna's worried about her former lover DCS James Langton, Fitzpatrick had major facial surgery in Mexico and has come home to flood the country with the deadly painkiller Fentanyl.

The latest Travis British police procedural (see ABOVE SUSPICION, CLEAN CUT and THE RED DAHLIA) is an excellent investigative tale that hooks the audience with the inquiry as much as the intriguing look back at the heroine's past. The story line is fast-paced even with a vividly detailed investigation as the prime cast makes this a top rate thriller. In a way the relationships between Anna and the two main men in her past, Anthony and James, make for a super triangle that enhances a strong mystery.

Second Sight
George D. Shuman
Simon & Schuster
9781416599791 $25.00

In 1950, Thomas J. Monahan was just a kid when he was drafted to go to Korea; the horrors he saw there made him believe he would never get out of there alive. During a battle, a government man offered him a deal. If he comes to America for some experiments for six months he will be honorably discharged from the army. He accepted and was sent to an underground facility in New York's pristine Catskill Mountains.

Blind psychic Sherry Moore has no memories before she turned five. When she touches a cadaver, she "sees" the last memories of the deceased. After being exposed to radioactive material, she touches the corpse of Thomas J. Monahan, but something different happens this time. Sherry can actually see and being grateful she wants to find his family to thank them for what their son did in death. Her actions bring her to the attention of the people who created Area 17 where Thomas and other soldiers was located underground. They need to silence Sherry without being seen.

The return of strong willed courageous blind psychic Sherry Moore (see LOST GIRLS and LAST BREATH) is a terrific thriller as the heroine is suffering yet healing from radioactive poisoning. She and readers begin to learn what happened in Area 17 as she knows they are coming for her. SECOND SIGHT is a fascinating read with its Korean Police Action connection as George Shuman provides perhaps his best tale to date with fans wanting more Moore.

Faeries Gone Wild
MaryJanice Davidson, Lois Greiman, Michele Hauf and Leandra Logan
St. Martin's
9780312945688 $7.99

"Tall, Dark and Not So Faery" by MaryJanice Davidson. The Fairy king sends six foot plus Scarlett to conduct a census of the residents of a paranormal shelter in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. Used to males being below her shoulders, she is taken aback when she meets for the first time a hunk taller than her whose heart matches her heart in size.

"Pixie Lust" by Lois Greiman. Wealthy developer William Timber plans to cut down the forest for his next project; Avalina the California prim and proper pixie is responsible to keep the area green. As they disagree on his project, they agree on love.

"Dust Me, Baby, One More Time" by Michele Hauf. Librarian Sidney Tooth moonlights as the tooth faery so has no time to find a man though her prim and proper behavior does not help her. That is until she meets arrogant sex machine Dart Sand the sandman who, if she helps him on his quest, might exile her from the mortal realm; but she wonders if that is all bad since she would be with him in more than just her dreams.

"A Little Bit Faery" by Leandra Logan. A confused single vivacious fairy Tia Mayberry decides to test the bright lights of Manhattan though she always goes home alone. This time her desire leads her to Simon, a mortal firefighter who blazes his heart into her soul.

Although the tales except for Leandra Logan's are thin as expected for a novella collection, these are four fun urban fantasy romances.

The Second Betrayal
Cheyenne McCray
St. Martin's
9780312943080 $7.99

NSA's Recovery Enforcement Division operative Lexi Steele lusts after her partner Nick Donovan, but knows the mission comes before her raging libido. Someone is running an international traffic ring out of New York by enticing girls to come to the Big Apple as models only to sell them as sex slaves. Lexi goes undercover pretending to be a madam interested in buying merchandise.

Lexi also believes Nick is concealing something from her though they are lovers when not on a case. He also fears their relationship will end if she learns the truth about what he hides from her from his Special Forces day; but in a quandary because telling the truth will end their relationship even sooner. However, he agrees with her assessment first there is a notorious trafficker that needs to be stopped.

After they broke the rules of teaming with THE FIRST SIN, Lexi and Nick are back to break the rules again as operatives in RED's Human Trafficking and Sex Crimes Division. The case comes first though she has issues with her lover. Fans will enjoy their escapades as this time the Hudson is the focus of dirty water in Cheyenne McCray's gritty look at trafficking. IAW the author's afterward quoting the State Department: "up to two million people are trafficked worldwide every year, with an estimated 15000 to 18000 in the U.S."

Devil In My Bed
Celeste Bradley
St. Martin's
9780312943080 $7.99

In 1812 Aidan de Quincy and Widow Madeleine Chandler shared a passionate affair that abruptly ended in an ugly manner leaving him angry and birrer. In 1815 when he arrives at the Brown's Club for Distinguished Gentlemen he is accosted by a small child who says she is three years old and named Melody. She explains to Aidan, his friend Jack and Sir Colin Lambert that she seeks her unknown father who is one of them; her mother is apparently Madeleine though the child implies she is a foundling.

Aidan goes off to confront Madeleine, who still loves him. She dumped him because she feared the scandal her past would cost her noble beloved. He is soon rescuing her and demanding the truth as he sees it in her eyes the wanting, but she still lies about her being Melody's mother.

This is a terrific Regency madcap romance with a great opening that sets in motion a comedy of errors filled with whimsy, money, and love. The lead couple is a delightful pairing while little Melody steals the hearts of the three men, Madeleine and readers form the onset. Fans will look forward to the next rogue Sir Colin's saga after appreciating this enjoyable screwball historical romantic comedy.

Mr. Allbones' Ferrets
Fiona Farrell
St. Martin's
9780312383077 $23.99

In the late nineteenth century in England, ferret whisperer and breeder Walter Allbones meets naturalist and rare bird collector Mr. Pitford and his lovely granddaughter Eugenia when his pets poach rabbits to bring to him from the nearby estate owned by the scientist. They sort of catch him in the act. He agrees to provide Mr. Pitford with ferrets to be shipped to New Zealand to control the out of control rabbit infestation.

Walter is attracted to Eugenia and as much to the money he can make selling his ferrets. The pair chaperoned by grandpa begins an international trek to sell his ferrets. As their journey continues Walter believes he loves Eugenia, but fears her reaction would end their friendship. He does not understanding she begins to reciprocate his feelings in spite of his emitting the stinky odor of ferret sweat to her olfactory sense.

This is an interesting amusing historical tale with a wonderful romantic subplot that enhances Fiona Farrell's satirical homage to Darwin as mustelids and ferrets play matchmakers, but not the way readers would expect. The story line is whimsical with solid characters having differing personalities. Fans who relish something different and do not demonize evolution will enjoy this irreverent look at relationships, human and otherwise, that both highly respect in awe and cheekily mock also in awe Darwin.

Charmed and Dangerous
Toni McGee Causey
St. Martin's
9780312358495 $7.99

In Lake Charles, Louisiana, twenty-eight years old Bobbie Faye Sumrall expects a relatively calm day while looking forward to wearing her family heirloom a tiara at the Contraband Days festival. However, her hope for being laid back is drenched very early when her defective washing machine sends a tidal wave throughout the trailer she shares with her five-year-old niece Stacey. The youngster sums up the opening disaster by thanking her aunt for placing a swimming pool inside their home

That proves to be the most positive moment of the day as flooding is easy to deal with than her scoundrel brother Roy of catfish and BS slinging fame. He has been abducted and the kidnappers demand as ransom the tiara her late mom left her. Bobby Faye works on rescuing her sibling while not giving away her only valuable asset; her brother is not of equal value. However, at the bank thugs rob the tiara from Bobby Faye, who forces Trevor the trucker to pursue them at the same time her former boyfriend, police officer Cameron has another mental cardiac arrest knowing Bobbie Faye's chasing some armed and dangerous hoods; he fears what she will do to them when she tackles them.

This zany jocular regional thriller is fast-paced from the opening trailer turned swimming pool scene to the confrontation over the tiara and to a lesser degree her scoundrel sibling; the action is top rate even with tons of amusing situations. Fans will laugh loudly at the antics of the heroine as she once again proves she is CHARMED AND DANGEROUS while robbing the bank, hijacking a truck, and chasing thieves. In Sumrall, just another wacko Bobbie Faye day (see GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE GUNS) as .she affirms Murphy is a foolish California optimist

Strange Brew
P. N. Elrod, editor
St. Martin's
9780312383367 $14.99

These nine urban fantasies make for a terrific anthology with no clinkers and several super entries. Especially excellent is Jim Butcher's "Last Call" in which Harry stops for a beer while pursuing maenad Meditrina Bassarid, who stops for wine. Patricia Brigg's blind witch in "Seeing Eye" who cannot turn on the lights to get rid of the terrors of the dark is top gun. Also super are Ginger: A Nocturne City Story" by Caitlin Kittredge that follows the adventures of two sisters, one kick butt the other a wuss; and Rachel Caine's "Death Warmed Over" in which the resurrectionist Holly Caldwell is asked to bring back the hero of the zombie war, the late witch Andrew Toland. With Charlaine Harris providing "Bacon", the editor P.N. Elrod a 1937 family hunt ("Hecate's Golden Eye") and "Dark Sins" by Jenna Maclaine make this a winner. Finally fans will take a Chance on Karen Chance's "Vegas Odds" and have faith in the avenging vampires of "Signature of the Dead" by Faith Hunter which are top quality. These are fun supernatural mystery thrillers that accentuate why urban fantasy is so popular.

Bride of Pendorric
Victoria Holt
St. Martin's
9780312384166 $13.95

On Capri, Favel Farrington lives with her widower father in his art studio. When Englishman Roc Pendorric visits her island, they meet and fall in love; they marry, but as they leave for his estate in Rockwell her father dies.

In Cornwall, his family especially his sister greets her with love dubbing her the "Bride of Pendorric". However, Favel soon learns of the legend of the brides who are usually wealthy and always die young like Roc's mom, whose portrait haunts the newcomer. When accidents begin piling up, Favel wonders if her spouse really fell in love at first sight or has he brought to her home for a sinister purpose. One thing is for sure she believes someone wants her dead, but could it be her beloved, his sister, her daughters or something from beyond.

This is a reprint of a fun 1960s gothic romantic suspense. The story line is typical of the late great Victoria Holt of a new bride in peril as she adapts to her new home. There are several suspects including the alleged ghosts, but all the possible culprits live and dead are family members by law. Although the plot feels at times too simplistic with a naive heroine, sub-genre fans will enjoy this fine thriller filled with a sense of foreboding (a trademark of a Ms. Holt novel).

Joseph Finder
St. Martin's
9780312379087 $25.99

International corporate security expert Nick Heller is the best at his job. He currently is in California searching for containers filled with billions of dollars taken in Iraq, but stops in his tracks when his fourteen year old nephew Gabe calls hysterically from DC. The kid's stepfather, Nick's brother Roger has vanished and his mother Lauren is in a coma.

Nick rushes home though he and Roger are not on talking terms since their father was convicted of securities fraud. Nick knows his first priority is to the teen and his mom, but also begins inquiries into his missing brother. He begins to fear his brother was involved in some nasty stuff that threatens his family and apparently ties back to their incarcerated father as well as a dangerous mercenary-for-hire company.

VANISHED is a fast-paced, action filled thriller that never takes a breather once Gabe contacts his uncle. Nick drops everything to keep his nephew and his comatose sister-in-law safe while searching for his vanished estranged brother, whom he assumes initially, was abducted, but begins to reconsider his premise as he uncovers clues. Filled with plausible exhilarating twists, readers will find themselves dropping everything to finish this book in one sitting.

Christine Warren, Marjorie M. Liu, Caitlin Kittredge and Jenna Maclaine
St. Martin's
9780312943820 $7.99

"Devil's Bargain" by Christine Warren. Supernatural bounty hunter Lilli Corbin made a Faustian deal with the devil. However, she soon learns what she agreed to could start the End of Days. Now she must choose between saving her soul and that of her beloved Aaron Bullard.

"The Robber Bride" by Marjorie M. Liu. Women have become sustenance for a new species that came from the ruins of the old world. These creatures suck the life essence from females who are beneath them on the food chain. In that environs, Maggie wants to live as she fights for survival against impossible odds.

"Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go" by Caitlin Kittredge. Ava the demon slayer asks mage Jack Winter to help her with her quest to invade the realm of the demons. He reluctantly agrees knowing there is a great chance neither will ever return.

"Sin Slayer" by Jenna Maclaine. In 1889 London Jack the Ripper is killing vampires; Cin Craven needs to stop him if she is to keep her beloved undead husband Michael alive.

These are four strong fantasies in which the "worlds" seem real. Fans of Ms. Kittridge will enjoy the return of Jack (see STREET MAGIC) and of Ms. Maclaine will relish seeing Cin (see WAGES OF SIN and GRAVE SINS).

Real Men Last All Night
Lori Foster, Lora Leigh, Cheyenne McCray and Heidi Betts
St. Martin's
9780312387792 $7.99

"Luring Lucy" by Lori Foster. Four years ago her husband died. Now Lucy decides to have a brief fling, but was unprepared for her late spouse's best friend Bram to make a move on the widow he loves.

"Cooper's Fall" by Lora Leigh. Bar owner Ethan stares out his window unable to move though he calls himself a pervert for looking and lusting at his naked neighbor prim Sarah; he plans to be the perfect neighbor.

"The Edge of Sin" by Cheyenne McCray. Government agent Zane never allows anyone close to him because he knows how dangerous his job is. That is no one until he meets Willow in the park.

"Wanted: A Real Man' by Heidi Betts. A decade ago Claire left her hometown and her high school boyfriend Linc behind. With her daughter Sara abducted by Claire's soon to be ex husband Jonathan, she turns to Linc, a US Marshal, who has learned he has a stake in rescuing the child he never knew he sired.

These four exciting contemporaries not only prove REAL MEN LAST ALL NIGHT every night, they affirm real women do too.

Secret Ties
Opal Carew
St. Martin's
9780312384807 $13.95

When Max Delaney and Summer Anderson meet they are instantly attracted to one another. He mentors her in his world of BDSM as he is a master dominant and believes she is a dormant submissive. Max proves correct as Summer craves his dominating her.

Until now she hid this side of her nature from the other two males in her life, Shane and Kyle. Summer decides she has graduated and plans to teach the two hunks what Max taught her so that she has three men at one time. However, she also hesitates out of fear that Max will not appreciate sharing her with others and she wants all three outside the bedroom dungeon too.

Not for everyone with BDSM and multiple partnering, SECRET TIES is a well written heated erotic romance starring two protagonists who seem real supported by a strong cast especially in the vast sexual encounters. scenes. Fans will enjoy Summer's dilemma as Max has given her every fantasy she craves except one. She fears pushing the envelope of three hunks taking her at the same time may drive away any of the trio she loves but especially her teacher.

Whack 'n' Roll
Gail Oust
9780451227690 $6.99

Serenity Cove Estates in South Carolina is a senior citizens housing development and home to the Bunco Babes, retirees who play Bunco twice a month. They are good friends and keep active. While playing golf, Kate McCall's ball rolls into a rough patch filled with bushes. When she goes to retrieve her errant shot, she finds a Wal-Mart bag with a severed arm inside.

They call the sheriff who takes over the investigation, but Kate snoops around trying to help the law catch the perpetrator. Kate notices that her neighbor Rosalie Brubaker has not been seen in a while. Her husband Earl who grows orchids like a hippie says they had a fight and she left to see their children. Other body parts are found in the state park and at the recreation center. An anonymous phone caller to the sheriff insists that Earl is the killer and the murder weapon is in his house. Kate believes Earl is not the killer and has quite a few alternative suspects with motives to murder Rosalie, but finding proof could prove deadly.

This is a delightful amateur sleuth starring a protagonist who advises the sheriff giving him clues while hoping he will share his findings with her. She and the Bunco Babes are a close knit group who has each other's back like the Musketeers so Kate has a powerful geriatric support group. The spunky Kate and her BFFs are filled with so much energy that people half their age will admire them. Gail Oust provides a complex whodunit starring a cast of eccentric sexagenarians.

Doom with a View
Victoria Laurie
9780451227799 $6.99

Psychic Abby Cooper and private investigator Candice share an office where they meet their clients. They are a formidable team who has made a positive impression on FBI Special Agent In Charge Bill Gaston. He asks them to come to DC to work on a task force with other agents headed by politically connected Brice Harrington, who opposes Abby on the team because he believes psychics are con artists.

To prove his point to the others, Brice constructs a biased test, but to his shock, Abby passes rather easily; finding a murder-suicide in the house next door to where one of the tests were held. They earn their place on the task force searching for three missing college students whose only connection seems to be each one has a parent in a political office. They later learn that they all attended with their parents the same conference two years ago. Abby leans from looking at pictures of the missing students that two are dead and the other is dying. Abby's personal crew of spirit guides escort her and Candice in directions that yield clues as to whom is behind the deadly abductions. When a fourth student is kidnapped, Abby, Candice and Brice team up as the latter is now a firm believer.

Victoria Laurie has written a new spellbinding psychic eye whodunit made refreshed by the heroine, used to non-believers in general, on a team made up of non-believing veteran law enforcement skeptics with only her partner knowing what she can do. She changes their mocking opinions when her predictions prove true. The audience will admire the courageous Abby as she diligently works hard at trying to understand what her crew are telling her. At times the story line is amusing especially when Abby constantly trumps Brice who is a believer in the by the SOP investigation until she converts him, but neither lose perspective that the surviving kid(s) comes first.

Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop
Lee Goldberg
9780451226983 $22.95

When tragedy struck SFPD Detective Adrian Monk, he had a nervous breakdown; when he recovered he suffered from a severe case of obsessive compulsive disorder. He no longer functions as a cop yet remains brilliant at solving mysteries. His former superior Captain Leland Stottlemeyer uses him as a paid consultant on the most difficult cases, but begins to detest the fact that Mr. Monk gets the praise while he receives scorn and derision.

The Captain swears to Mr. Monk he is not jealous, but the latter's assistant Natalie believes otherwise. However, the captain soon lets Monk and Natalie go due to budget cuts. Angrily she wants her boss to find a new job within the private sector. Nicholas Slade, CEO of the Internect private security and investigation firm, hires Monk, who accepts the position because of the benefits. While Monk solves cases at an incredible pace, Stottlemeyer is arrested for killing a criminal informant suffering from Alzheimer's. The captain swears he was framed and asks his friend and colleague whom he fired to find the real culprit. Even Natalie wants Monk to take the case on, which he does.

No one writes books based on popular TV series better than Lee Goldberg consistently does as the author always catches the essence of the key characters and their prevalent traits; in this case obviously the OCD. Mr. Monk in spite of his crippling illness gets around solving crimes at a Guinness Book of records rate. Natalie is protective of Monk so she lashes out at those who harm him like the captain did. Although the prime case takes time to become front and center, fans will enjoy Mr. Monk's latest adventures as he solves case after case after case.

Makeover Can Be Murder
Kathryn Lilley
9780451228260 $6.99

In a profession in which being thin helps a TV reporter move up the promotional ladder, plus-sized reporter Kate Gallagher has stalled at Channel twelve in Durham, North Carolina. Her editor has given her a five part assignment dealing with diets and related scams. In one of those spots, she has to appear on TV in a bikini which leaves her nervous. She goes for emotional support to the Newbodies female buddy group where she meets her friend Jana whom she has not seen in two years.

Jana informs Kate that's she is divorcing her husband because he is cheating on her. A couple of days later, Jane's auto is car-jacked and she is shot in the head; she saves her daughter's life by pushing her out of the car when the gangbanger first entered her vehicle. The police arrest Antoine Hurley nd Jane's daughter picks him out of a line-up. After some investigating, Kate thinks the wrong person is in prison; when she starts sleuthing the pieces of the puzzle being to merge, but what she is seeing is a massacre is about to occur that she prays she can prevent.

If her profession didn't emphasize slim, Kate would be more comfortable with her size. She understands the TV camera makes her seem bigger and that society prefers trim people; something she is not and never will be. Ironically readers will admire her for her courage and strength of conviction chasing a news story; while if series fans seen her on TV, we probably wonder how she made it as few plus size women do (Candy Crowley aside). The story line is fast-paced though it turns into a plot that seems over the top of Cameron Arena, but the key to this Fat City Mystery and its fine predecessors (see DYING THIN and A KILLER WORKOUT) is the wonderful heroine who is overall contented in life but has some self-esteem issues.

The Little Victim
R.T. Raichev
9781569475751 $25.00

Mystery writer Antonia Darcy and her husband Major Hugh Payne travel to India where they stay at at Coconut Grove in Goa, home of Indian gangster Roman Songhera. However, the felon is upset with his mistress Ria, daughter of Lord Justice Toby Leighton; in fact she is driving him insane with her out of control scandalous behavior as she has done with her estranged concerned dad.

At a lavish garden party hosted by Songhera, a drunken Englishman Julian Knight makes two startling claims to Antonia. First he swears he works for Leighton and second he insists he saw Songhera kill Ria. The man fears that Songhera will kill him next to make sure there are no witnesses to testify. Antonia informs Hugh, and the married couple investigate the apparent homicide of Ria; neither expected there were so many suspects wanting the English mistress dead.

The latest Darcy-Payne amateur sleuth (see ASSASSINS AT OSPREYS) is an excellent whodunit filled with twists, red herrings, plenty of suspects, a local atmospheric flavor and clever spins while also paying homage to the classic mysteries (including brilliant chapter titles). The story line is fast-paced from the moment the lead couple arrives in Goa and never slows down. THE LITTLE VICTIM is a super one sitting whodunit as nothing is quite like it seems.

Vita Nuova
Magdalen Nabb
9781569475874 $13.00

In Florence twenty-five year old single mom Daniela Paoletti, is murdered in her family home. The chemistry graduate student's wealthy father, a nightclub owner, is in the hospital recovering from a stroke when his oldest daughter was shot. Her mom is worthless buried in an alcoholic haze while her sister Silvan is hysterical and incommunicado as she only caresses Daniela's necklace.

Prosecutor Fulvio De Vita demands a fast response from the police, but also insists he will handle sensitive questions of the family. Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia leads the investigation, but feels hampered by Fulvio's orders. However, crime reporter Nesti provides him with insight into the family including the fact that the nightclub ran a horde of Eastern Europe beauties as dancers and hookers and the mom was one of them. The Marshal begins to wonder if the Russian mafia killed the woman to warn her father to keep his mouth shut as they traffic in women from beyond the former Iron Curtain.

The Guarnaccia Italian police procedurals are constantly some of the best whodunits on the market. The latest one, VIA NUOVA is a super tale as the Marshal is hampered by the politician limiting who he can interview and what he can ask while the cop also knows how fast the prosecutor will deny to the media and public his interference if something goes wrong and take credit if something goes right; as Abu Ghraib taught us accountability is a one way street downward. Readers will appreciate this excellent investigative tale that pays personal homage to the author's greatness; as Magdalen Nabb past away last summer.

Siren of the Waters
Michael Genelin
9781569475850 $13.00

The van skidded on ice near Bratislava, Slovakia before bursting into an inferno roasting to death the occupants, a pimp and his six hookers. Slovak Criminal Police Commander Jana Matinova believes this was no accident that the victims were murdered. Evidence seems to point to human sexual slave trafficking from the east coming through Bratislava to the west.

Meanwhile Police Chief Trokan sends Jana to Strasbourg, France to attend a conference on prostitution. When two of the guest speakers are killed with the murder weapon being an ice pick and with the E.U. approval, Jana teams up with Russian Levitin; both believe the culprit in Strasbourg and Bratislava is master criminal Ivan "Koba" Makine. As they search for evidence, he seeks his missing sister allegedly part of Friends of Russia Ball in Nice and she prays for reconciliation with her married daughter who holds her culpable for the death of her father under the communists.

This is a terrific European police procedural with plenty of misdirection that takes the heroine and readers to the Ukraine and France. The story line is fast-paced and fabulously supported and enhanced with a subplot involving Jana's relationship with her spouse and surviving under the communist regime. She makes the tale work, past and present, as her attitude is take no prisoners not even her daughter. Fans will relish this strong whodunit.

Dark Dreams
Michael Genelin
9781569475577 $24.00

In Slovakia although they are total opposites, Jana and Sofia have been best friends since their school days. Both have been successful in their chosen endeavor as Jana is a commander in the Bratislava police force and Sofia is a reformist Transparency in the Government party member of Parliament; but though still BFFs their personalities remain the converse of each other.

One day Jana comes home to find an enormous diamond hanging from her living room ceiling. She has no idea who or why it is there unless someone wants her tainted. They succeed as her department investigates her for possible corruption and bribery. Meanwhile Jana makes her own inquiry tying the diamond to Sofia and another parliamentary official, but soon finds clues that lead to international smuggling around the world and murders in Slovakia and their neighbors.

This is a terrific Slovakia police procedural with the prime location the country's capital Bratislava coming alive in a gritty atmosphere through the eyes of Jana. She and Sofia are fascinating friends as the former is an avenger and the latter knows first hand the harshness of corrupt power having been raped by a Communist official, years ago. Readers will enjoy their "friendship" put to the test as Michael Genelin provides an interesting joy ride of the Slovakian capital and a few other Eastern Europe locales.

Darkest Hour
Mark Chadbourn
9781591027409 $15.98

The Eternal Conflict cold war turns hot when The Brothers and Sisters of Dragons successfully engage the Tuatha De Danann ancient Gods to return to save humanity from the onslaught of the evil Fomorii demons. However, mortals should have known by now that Gods even those golden angelic ones do not think the way humans do. Instead, the Tuatha De Danann plan to rule as they did eons ago with an iron fist.

Stunned by what they perceive as a betrayal and caught between two superpowers battling over whose future will prevail for humanity, the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons struggle to save mankind. Advanced weapon systems have proven futile and feeling like expendable pawns and out maneuvered by the side they thought they could trust, the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons turn in their DARKEST HOUR within as they decide to take the hostility to the Fomorii without the help of the ancient Gods. Although victory is improbable, if somehow they succeed, they know next comes ridding the devastated planet of the ancient Celtic Gods who demand obsequiousness.

The second Age of Misrule urban fantasy (see WORLD'S END) is a great middle book as the action never slows down while also setting up one hell of a finish. The story line focuses on the revelation by the dragon warriors that they succeeded in their endeavor to bring allies on a power par with their enemies; only these allies think differently as they are used to mankind bowing to them in deference. Readers will appreciate Mark Chadbourn's fine thriller as the lights are gone in planet earth with the last glimmer of hope being Dragons like Church, Ruth, Ryan, Laura and Shavi, and the enigmatic time traveler Tom.

A Slice of Murder
Chris Cavender
9780758229489 $22.00

It is hard to believe that murder or any major crime could occur in the sleepy hamlet of Timber Ridge, Virginia. However, it is the bad luck of Eleanor Spencer, owner of A Slice of Delight, to find the corpse of Richard Olsen with a knife protruding from his chest when she delivers a pizza to him.

Although they were once an entry, Police Chief Kevin Hurley treats Eleanor as a suspect; her sister and partner Maddie is so outraged, she insists Eleanor retain a lawyer. When business falls off, feisty Eleanor blames Kevin and the killer as her customers refuse to patronize her pizza shop because of the cop's suspicion. She vows to find out who killed Richard. With Maddy accompanying her for the most part, Eleanor digs into Richard's life as if she is kneading doe. They are stunned with how many people loathed the deceased as he blackmailed several with his shredding documents business and other people he found dirt on. The killer is aware of the sisterly sleuthing and patiently waits for the right moment to eliminate the meddling duo.

Readers will enjoy the lighthearted calorie filling A Slice of Delight amateur sleuth mystery. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Eleanor delvers the pizza and never slows down as she and her amusing sarcastic sometimes married sibling search for clues. Eleanor still grieves her husband's death though some time has passed; the pizza parlor is her link to him; which exalts her to save it anyway she can. Chris Cavender has written a tasty cozy starring a likeable lead, her zany eccentric sibling, and a horde of former customers of whom one has chosen A SLICE OF MURDER.

Henry's Sisters
Cathy Lamb
9780758229540 $15.00

Globetrotting photographer Isabelle, kindergarten teacher Celia and author Janie find out their mom River is going to have open heart surgery through the usual pink slip notes she has sent each of them everyday even when they lived in the same house with her. Reluctantly the Bommarito sisters come home to Trillium River, Oregon though they would prefer to ignore their mother. The trio is close in spite of their geography and vocations, and all are looking forward to spending time with their mentally disabled brother Henry who seems to love everyone.

As they take care of their healing mom and watch over their demented grandmother so she does not fly away and Henry, the sisters who fled their hometown all find some unexpected solace here in trying to save the family bakery where their brother works. Isabelle beings to understand why she preferred short term relationships; Janie begins to understand she suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder; and widow Cecilia is finally overcoming her grief over her husband's death that sent her into doing dangerous stupid things.

This is an interesting family drama filled with pathos and humor as HENRY'S SISTERS realize they are unhappy while their mentally disturbed brother is very contented. Initially writing his happiness off as ignorance of not knowing better; each soon learns he understands much more than they realized. Each of the sisters begins to look inside as they start to come to grips on the personal demons that disturb them. Well written, readers will relish Cathy Lamb's enjoyable poignant character study that affirms contentment and despondency are personal though it takes loved ones to help someone maintain a degree of happiness and satisfaction in life.

Skin Deep
Anna J. Evans
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780451226976 $15.00

In Pasadena, Nicky serves drinks at the Hard Way who was also a model for the Good and Trashy Lingerie Website. Tattoo artist Jack has not seen Nicky in person, though he frequents the net for her pictures, since they were foster teens in a house of horror. He has sent her letters from Vegas, but she never replies. Eight years and he still wants her and this time he plans to do something about his desire for her. He goes to the bar and abducts her; taking her into the San "Bernfuckadino" Mountains.

Jack demands she summits to his dominance. Although she wants to as she always desired her Jack, she is divorcing a brutal abusive dominator so fears another such relationship. If she fails to acquiesce, Jack plans to remove the fallen angel tattoo they share. She wants to say yes, but is scared. As he keeps the seductive pressure up, she succumbs and comes around to thinking spankings and babies are an okay mix if you trust and love your dominant to listen when you say enough and to be kind like Jack is.

This is a super BDSM romance with a whimsical angelic inky connection that enhances the story line. That tattoo ties Jack with Nicky, but he fears not Nicky with Jack. Fans will appreciate his efforts to show the woman he cherishes that a submissive can appreciate spankings from a dominant who loves her and knows how to care for her; while she learns there is those who psychotically abuse and those who lovingly spank. Anna J. Evans' lead characters make this a deep drama.

Bloody Awful
Georgia Evans
9780758234827 $6.99

In 1940 in a small English village, everything looks normal and serene on the surface when they are not being hit by German air bombs. However, many of the local inhabitants are Others including red were-fox district nurse Gloria Prewitt, pixies Alice Doyle and her grandma, Welsh shapeshifting dragon Howarth Pendragon and several who refuse to come out into the open because of fear of deadly retaliation in spite of the BLOODY RIGHT of freedom. Alice was instrumental in preventing a German vampiric saboteur from blowing up a secret nearby munitions plant.

Another German vampire William Block has come to Surrey with the same mission as his late comrade. Gloria is the first to notice the new arrival and his Nazi Luftwaffe support; she tells the others who make plans to dispatch the newcomer to the same hell they sent his predecessor to. The enemy almost kills Alice who tries her magic against this Undead while a furious Gloria vows to stake this fiend who threatens her lover.

BLOODY AWFUL is not an apt title descriptor as the tale is BLOODY GOOD. The super fast-paced historical fantasy story line is filled with stunning revelations and unexpected twists yet most significant enables the audience to believe in were-shifters, pixies and oh my vampires. Her friends and her lover need to protect her although Gloria is a terrific heroine who gains confidence in her paranormal skills as she battles otherworldly saboteurs. Georgia Evans avoids the middle book lack of a deep plot with this strong entry of a mousy fox who learns to roar like a lioness who believes she is BLOODY RIGHT (next tale) while battling a vampire.

Sunnyside Blues
Mary Carter
9780758229199 $15.00

For almost a decade Andes Lane has moved from one location to another like a rolling stone gathering no moss. Now twenty-five years old she decides she would like to stay put at least for now. She rents a house barge "Luna" from Jay in Seattle

When her landlord Jay needs someone to baby sit his ten years old son Chase, she reluctantly volunteers since it is only temporarily. Andes accompanies the child to Sunnyside in Queens, New York on what she expects to be a waste of time. However as she watches over the tweener, her own past arises forcing her to confront what sent her on the road nine plus years ago.

This is a terrific coming of age tale; with the spin that the adult Andes (due to her positive relationship with Chase after a very poor start) is the one changing the most. The cast is strong as each of the trio and another couple in West Virginia confronts their past. With some back story of what happened years ago, Mary Carter provides a refreshing unique road tale where the final destination is Sunnyside hopefully discarding the blues.

Tempted by a Cowboy
Vonna Harper, Melissa MacNeal, Delilah Devlin
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758234513 $13.95

"Mustang Man" by Vonna Harper. Highly regarded wild mustang trainer Miguel Perez and Bureau of Land Management Agent Dawn Glass meet and are attracted to one another; each eagerly dives into the hay together.

"Long Hard Ride" by Melissa MacNeal. During a nasty storm in Wolf Point, Montana, ranch owner Diana Grant stops to give rodeo performer Michael White Horse a lift. Recently widowed and knowing her Seven Creeks Ranch is about to be owned by the bank, Diana and the younger Michael are shocked by the heat they emit.

"Hot Blooded by Delilah Devlin. In the Texas Panhandle, rancher Adam Youngblood rescues Cass McIntyre, but his payment for saving her life is tough love. He owns her.

These are three interesting erotic outdoors romances in which the settings plays important roles. In Mustang Man, the horses steal the show; while in Long Hard Ride the older woman and younger man is a nice pairing; and Hot Blooded takes an adjustment to the couple's S&M "nasty" relationship. These are three different cowboys who more than just tempt their women in this fine collection.

What She Wants
Lucinda Betts
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758234599 $13.95

In San Diego Dr. Ann Fallon prays she secures a biologist professor position at Harvard University vowing to be the best if Dr. Stoller hires her. She also wants to be the best wife possible to her boyfriend. However, while the former remains up in the air, the latter proves false as he has a girlfriend. Upset, she runs into the arms of Detective Kai.

Kai is pleased to find Ann because he fears she is the target of some nasty paranormals just like his beloved was until they killed her. A shapeshifting centaur Chiron as he is known by his people vows to keep her safe while she vows to hide her secret in his secure arms.

This is a terrific urban romantic fantasy starring two likable fully developed lead characters, who make the mythological seem at home in Southern California and some nasties chasing them feel real. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the lead couple meets in San Diego and never slows down. However, fans will be better off first reading the novella "Centaur Heat" (see EROS ISLAND) to obtain a better understanding of Lucinda Betts' mythos.

The Games Girls Play
Deanna Lee
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758234995 $13.95

"Dangerous Play". The three best friends, Tara Marcus, Kristen Travis and Sonya Carson run a public relations firm with their clients being professional athletes. Their job is to prevent the prima donnas from destroying their images, but at times must do spins to rectify nightmares. Tara's current task is to soften the image of Atlanta soccer star Joshua Keller having been photographed leaving a notorious BDSM club.

"Man in Motion". Sonya is about to punt her lover pro football player Caleb Howard to the sidelines. He would rather play games rather than deal with life's complications.

"Double Team". Kristen is ready to slam dunk with two basketball stars, Adam McGregor and Neal Davidson in a tryst in which no blood no foul. She hopes these hoop hunks can take her mind off of their enemy mean Jean Turst.

Deanna Lee's anthology contains three fun interrelated contemporary heated sports relationship tales. The tales are fun to follow as the women cross the line with their clients. Although the Turst scenario is not adequately closed, fans will enjoy soccer, football, and basketball not for the games the guys play but for the GAMES GIRLS PLAY with these hunks.

Wolf Tales VIII
Kate Douglas
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758226945 $12.95

The Chanku packs have grown by six newcomers who need mentoring. Three are sent to learn at Anton's Montana estate; the others journey to the Colorado wolf sanctuary owned by Ulrich and Millie.

All six have come from the mean streets and thus they are tough and ready to kick butt; that is when they are not licking butt. The old-timers at both sites look forward to some sex, respite and sex after surviving some nasty assaults (see WOLF TALES VII), but also understand the importance of mentoring the arrogant rookies using bravado to hide their fears. However, a mysterious newcomer arrives in Colorado shaking the balance and forcing Millie to finally look back at her past.

Following the climatic action of book VII, Kate Douglas proves she is a wizard as she provides a fresh spellbound thriller by bringing in the next generation. The story line is fast-paced and filled with sexual encounters of a werewolf kind. Fans of the saga will appreciate Ms. Douglas' new spin as somehow she makes each of her seemingly ever expanding cast seem different yet as a paranormal species appear real.

The Redemption of Micah
Beth Williamson
Kensington Brava
9780758234711 $14.00

In Plum Creek, Colorado Micah Spaulding has cared for his comatose wife Eppie since her injury three years ago; praying she will return to him. However he is unprepared for her reaction when she finally awakens. She does not recognize their home, obviously their child Miracle who was born after she went into a coma or even Micah although her body seems somehow to know who he is.

Eppie tries her best to be a mom to Miracle, but the child knows instinctively all is not right. When someone kidnaps Miracle, Eppie vows to rescue her daughter. She also pledges to herself to be the best wife and mother ever even if she is starting over with her beloved family.

The return to Reconstruction Era Plum Creek (see THE EDUCATION OF MADELINE) is an exciting historical romance starring two strong but flawed lead characters and a strong support cast. Beth Williamson refreshes the overused amnesia spin by having Eppie pregnant when she was comatose so that she sees her infant for the first time when aptly named Miracle was three. Fans will enjoy this entertaining profound historical tale in which a Miracle is the only hope for this family to come together.

Midnight's Master
Cynthia Eden
Kensington Brava
9780758234261 $14.00

In Atlanta the serial killer targets the "Others" for organ harvesting. Reporter Holly Storm hopes to get an exclusive, but predominately wants the murder spree ended. She knows the best bet is the most powerful demon in the area, bar owner Niol Lapen.

Holly visits Niol, who knows he must act against the psychopath. However, he does not want a mortal in his way when he does. Still he is attracted to the human and her to him. They each figure on a short fling, but instead of dying out, their desire grows while the predator watches as Niol is the only one who might be capable to end the killing fields; but not if Holly is caught in the middle.

The latest "Midnight" urban romantic fantasy (see MIDNIGHT'S SINS) is a super thriller in which the hunt for the serial killer of Others takes precedence over the wonderful improbable cross-species romance. The story line is action-packed from the onset and brings with it a sense of doom and gloom to the city. With a great twist to add suspense, fans will relish Cynthia Eden's terrific investigative paranormal tale.

Instant Gratification
Jill Shalvis
Kensington Brava
9780758231253 $14.00

Following the heart attack of her dad, Dr. Emma Sinclair leaves her work at a New York City hospital emergency room to run her dad's clinic in her hometown of Wishful, California while he recovers. However, she misses her work so though she provides expert care even to felines, she keeps herself somewhat aloof from the patients.

Due to his work at Wilder Adventures and as a rescue worker, Stone Wilder has suffered plenty of injuries over the years. He is regular of the clinic and likes Doc Stone's bed manners, but appreciates the workaholic daughter wanting her in bed with him. She seems interested too yet keeps them apart with a cold scorning demeanor. Still neither can resist the attraction that leads to INSTANT GRATIFICATION. However, he wants several more decades while she is ready to flee back to her exciting medical yet also sterile personal life in New York.

The second Wilder Adventures contemporary romance (see INSTANT ATTRACTION) is an amusing gender war as he is West Coast and she is East Coast. Emma is a terrific protagonist who wants to return to the Big Apple but though she detests the inane Stone, she also wants a tryst on the surgical table with him. Stone enjoys teasing the prim doctor and wants on her table too, but figured he will take her into the great outdoors first. Fans will enjoy the fun lighthearted frolic between opposites attracted and detracted.

Rift in the Sky
Julie E. Czerneda
9780756405601 $24.95

On the planet Cersi lives three different sentient species. The Oud resides under the ground tunneling to where they want to go and have the ability to restore clan lands; the impoverished Om'Ray can pass as human and have psi power so that all in a clan are interconnected; finally the Tikitik are by far the most feral. All three species adhere to the Agreement, which demands they keep their society stagnant and stay inside their assigned areas except during the Passage. In spite of their efforts change has come in the form of Marcus Bowman and his Trade Pact traders have arrived seeking Hoveny Concentrix artifacts.

Sona clan member Aryl was thrown out of her own clan for displaying a new power that breaks the peace accord as she can transport from one point to another using the forbidden M'hir. She and her followers upset the Balance further by repopulating the abandoned Sona clan. Children born to the Sona Clan have the ability to transport. Space pirates destroy the work of Marcus and kill his people; as he dies he gives the artifacts to Aryl and her Chosen male Enris. They teleport to the planet Stoneham III with the artifacts so that she and her M'hiray (as they now call themselves) have something to barter with the traders so they can live peacefully in the Trade Pact worlds. However, the cost is not remembering their lives on Cersi or their former clan mates the Om'Ray.

Fans will enjoy how the M'hiray clan first formed, left their homeworld and scattered amidst the Trade Pact worlds. Julie E. Czerneda is a first class world builder as she creates a distinct culture (for that matter enhances all three co-existing cultures on Cersi as well) Aryl remains a strong person who shows her fortitude as she wants to save her clan and those of the others. Fans will enjoy the earlier years on and off Cersi with characters from three differing species and diverse cultures living in peaceful coexistence when the Trade Pact humans arrive. The Stratification saga is simply stupendous (see RIDERS OF THE STORM and REAP THE WILD WIND)

C.F. Bentley
0756405645 $24.95

The Harmony Empire of planets has been secluded from the greater universe for a long time due to its remoteness. Lovers High Priestess of Harmony Laudae Sissy and Confederated Star System Agent "Military" Jake know the remote inaccessibility is coming to an end. With that in mind they travel to Labyrinthe VII space station; better known in this sector as The First Contact Cafe hoping to negotiate diplomatic and economic relations for their confederation with the outside governments as they know the outsiders are coming anyway to obtain precious Badger Medal.

The Confederated Star Systems want the Badger Medal to build starships so will do anything to regain control of their former colony and the other planets that make up the Harmonic Empire. With war in the sector seemingly imminent, Harmony wants a fair price for its most precious asset. When someone tries to assassinate Sissy, she becomes fearful that her efforts to restore the covenant to the goddess Harmony will fail; Jake risks his life to keep her safe, but also knows as the planet's liaison to the outside he must continue the negotiations to save the empire from a hostile takeover from without and within especially when an alien vessel apparently deliberately crashed into the Harmony wing of the space station.

Besides dealing with a mass murdering serial killer and an insane spy chief, all Jake has to do is negotiate, investigate and protect fragile Sissy. The story line is fast-paced due to his ability to juggle all the balls though some do fall making his tasks more complex. Fans will enjoy the sequel to HARMONY as C.F. Bentley provides a strong space opera starring a brave hero and the fragile woman he cherishes, who surprises even him with her courage to enter the hellish fray though completely frightened as she is a "Depends" female; you can depend on her to do the right thing though she wears rubber underwear.

Dead On
Robert W. Walker
Five Star
9781594147814 $25.99

The bloodbath that left his partner Stan Miersky and two uniform cops dead forced Marcus Rydell from the Atlanta police department in disgrace as he survived the massacre by fainting; his wife took their two kids to Ohio. He tried for the last four years to make it as a private investigator, but failed miserably as his heart was never in taking photos of cheating spouses. He now sits in his apartment with a gun contemplating suicide when he hears a noise upstairs that awakens his dormant detective genes. He races upstairs to find a little girl has killed an apparent pervert. Another neighbor Dr. Kat Holley arrives to help the child and invites Marcus to meet her for a drink.

He comes to the bar and she points a gun at him accusing him of killing her husband, APD cop Rydell four years ago in the incident that ended so tragically. She shows him letters from the cop killer hunter Iden Cantu, still eluding the law, who threatens to add her to his count. They agree to team up to capture and she to butcher the psychopath. However, he leaves them a holiday calling card when he tortures and kills the fiance of the other dead cop from four years ago. Kat and Marcus know he is coming for them and the family members of his partner.

This is an exhilarating cat and mouse thriller that takes too long for the anticipated confrontation to occur; when it does it is first rate. Kat and Marcus are a fascinating couple as neither has moved passed the massacre and both want Iden dead. When their dysfunctional relationship changes from killing Iden to love, some of the steam is lost with the expected switch. Still they make the tale as they plan to hunt the predator; not understanding how clever and diabolical their enemy is though revenge proves extremely pointed.

The Second Savior
Mark Bouton
Five Star
9781594147661 $25.95

LAPD Homicide Detectives Crash Unit Rick Dover and Falcon are working a bust at an Inglewood liquor store when the Bloods drive by trying to kill Kinks, a Crip. A passerby jumps in between the shooters and Dover taking two bullets in the back and one in the shoulder; he saves the cop's life. Later the Bloods boldly walk into Centinela Hospital and kill Kinks; while the Good Samaritan Jake shockingly walks out of the ICU after only a one night stay.

Soon others involved in the shooting begin dying as Stagger becomes a one man crime spree including a shooting attempt in a nearby church in which Dover took a bullet. As the police continue to search for evidence, they fear their two main witnesses, Father O'Garity will not testify due to the confession Stagger made to him and Jake Carroll will run away due to his past.

This fast-paced police procedural hooks the audience with the opening sequence and never slows down as the cops battle the gangs on the streets of L.A with a touch of religious mysticism brought to the plot by Jake. The story line is filled with action while feeling like a chess game is occurring. Although a key scene when Stagger shoots at the priest and Dover should be enough to arrest him especially with other witnesses, but does not detracts from an otherwise exciting thriller of the police working a gang war slaying.

Meggie's Remains
Joanne Sundell
Five Star
9781594147883 $25.95

In 1874 twenty-five years old Meggie McMurphy flees Boston without a penny to her name, which by the way she tells everyone she is is Rose Rochester. She manages to get to Denver where businessman Ethan Rourke sees her dancing in a nightgown in the snow at night. He thinks she is a nut so he calls her "Nutmeg".

Meggie obtains work as a teacher at a nearby mountain town Hot Sulphur Springs. She keeps running into Ethan and realizes she loves him, but is unable to have a normal relationship with him due to her life in Boston. To his shock, Ethan falls in love with his Nutmeg, but thinks she loves someone named Edward. However, although he makes little progress breaking through her barriers though he sees the physical signs of abuse on her, Boston arrives in Colorado to finish what was started several years ago.

With the abuse and the Jane Eyre spin, Joann Sundell provides a fresh Reconstruction Era romance starring a woman who prays for a normal life but believes she is so damaged that is impossible. The story line is character driven by Meggie, but enhanced by a strong secondary cast especially Ethan. Although the villain coming from Boston to Colorado to finish what he started seems initially unnecessary as he holds the cards and makes the rules, but Ms. Sundell also insures he comes across as a miscreant with an obsessive compulsive disorder. Fans will root for Nutmeg to emulate her heroine.

A Deadly Habit
Andrea Sisco
Five Star
9781594147951 $25.95

Although not a Catholic, Hennepin County, Minnesota Probation Officer Penelope "Pen" Santucci stops at the church for confession. Father Daniel Kopecky recognizes her as the eight years old child who would come in all the time to confess though that was two decades ago. Pen explains she broke into the house of her estranged husband Paul to take her stuff with her including her first edition of A is for Alibi when she saw his corpse. She stupidly picked up the bloodied murder weapon, a statue of the Thinker, but washed off the evidence of her touching it. Having worked with cops and the court, Pen knows regardless she is the prime suspect; by his actions obviously Homicide Police Sergeant Clifford masters agrees.

Distrusting a system that wants a perfect conviction record at all costs, Pen begins her investigation into Paul's activities starting with the money she found that he hid. Father Daniel gets her a top defense lawyer Mario Silva who is frustrated with his client's putting her foot in it. Still she lines up the Father and her sister, Sister Germaine the nun, and applying situational ethics continues the inquiries by breaking and entering while her attorney, her former mother-in-law and some thugs want to in different degrees of force kick her butt.

This is a lighthearted fun tale enhanced by some legal thriller and police procedural moments, but mostly hyperbolizes the amateur sleuth sub-genre. Pen is am interesting lead character though even with lampooning the amateur sleuth whodunit, her antics at times overwhelms the investigative story line; readers will wonder what is wrong with her since her behavior only digs a deeper grave for her. Still though her out of control habit is overdone, the audience will enjoy A DEADLY HABIT as the heroine persuades a priest and a nun to perform criminal acts.

Sage Cane's House of Grace & Favor
Christy Hubbard
Five Star
9781594147739 $25.95

In 1859, her father's death left Sage Cane broke, but soon afterward her fiance Rodney Witherspoon jilts her. With no reason to stay in Missouri, she heads to Fairplay Creek, Colorado where she inherited a B&B from her Aunty Hannah Wild. When she reaches the gold mountainous town, Sage learns that her inheritance is actually Wild Mountain Honey bordello and her Aunt Hannah make that Honey was a madam. Sage plans to shut the place down, but single dad widower Sheriff Bridger Norwood explains that the bordello keeps the miners off the street.

However, though she agrees to keep it open for now, Sag begins setting in motion her plans to make sure the cook, the bookkeeper, the six ladies and her are economically independent and never rely on a man. She also begins to change the town's attitude with her new charm school to teach wives and female minors how to keep their men home. As the sheriff and the shrewd businesswoman fall in love, more changes caused by Sage are coming to Fairplay Creek.

Although everything works too perfectly with one noted exception, the killing of one of the ladies, fans will enjoy this fine western romance. The story line is fast-paced as capable Cane sets in motion her multitude of schemes to better herself, her employees, and the town. Even though the divided country on the verge of hostilities is not referenced, SAGE CANE'S HOUSE OF GRACE & FAVOR is an inspiring well written historical novel as the audience will admire the strong independent heroine.

Angel's Flight
Alice Duncan
Five Star
9781594147838 $25.95

In 1926 in Los Angeles with her family mostly back in Boston, single woman Mercy Allcutt lives with her married sister Chloe and her brother-in-law Harvey Nash, owner of the successful Nash Studio. Mercy dreams of becoming a mystery author so to obtain knowledge of the genre, she works as all around office assistant to private investigator, Ernie Templeton. Mercy is excited with the renovations of the Figueroa Building where Ernie has his office; as does the law firm of James Quincy Carstairs who has an ugly history with Ernie from when he was a cop.

Nash Studio costumier Mr. Francis Easthope hires Ernie to prove to his mother Rosemary that she is paying a fortune to a phony spiritualist couple Mr. and Mrs. d'Agostina. Overwhelmed with too many clients at the moment, Ernie rejects the case, but Mercy offers to help him. Mercy plants Rupert Mullins inside the household as a houseboy so he can keep her informed. Mercy meets Rosemary at a seance hosted by d'Agostina pair. However, after the session is over, one of the attendees, gossip columnist Vivian Hartland, is found dead. Someone in the room obviously killed her. As the scandal explodes over Southern California, Boston Brahman Mrs. Allcutt moves into the home of her brother-in-law having left her spouse on the East Coast. She is horrified that her daughter is working and in the middle of a brouhaha unbecoming of a lady.

The second "Angel's" 1920s mystery (see LOST AMONG THE ANGELS) is a fabulous whodunit filled with twists, red herrings, and a horde of viable suspects; of whom none has an obvious motive. Mercy's mom with her upper crust Bostonian lifestyle adds humor as she is disappointed that her younger daughter is God forbid working. With a sense of time and place and loaded with a strong cast especially the heroine, Alice Duncan provides a strong historical investigative tale.

Montana Rose
Mary Connealy
9781602601420 $10.97

In 1875 in the Montana Territory, Cassie Griffin's abusive husband dies. She has no time to rejoice or grieve her loss as the same day she has her odious spouse interred, she must pick his replacement as that is the law with a shortage of marriageable females. Cassie selects Red Dawson, who, as a Good Samaritan, offers to marry her to keep her safe from a stalker. Neither wants to wed, but do.

They exchange their vows and immediately go to his ranch to live. Cassie quickly realizes how unsophisticated she is when it comes to relationships with people, especially men and even with God. Red quickly understands that his frightened little mouse of a wife is an abuse victim. As they fall in love, he wonders if she will ever trust him.

The first Montana Marriages Americana romance is a strong tale that focuses on the impact of spousal abuse even after the abuser is dead. Cassie is a super soul struggling between her growing attraction and love to her second husband and her fear of being touched. Red is a kindhearted person who marries Cassie to keep her safe not expecting to fall in love with "the mouse that roared". Although perhaps a bit simplistic, Mary Connealy provides a wonderful Reconstruction Era inspirational as love heals all wounds.

Menu for Romance
Kaye Dacus
9781602604551 $10.97

At the Vul de Ciel in Bonneterre, Louisiana, Meredith Guidry sadly muses that her thirty-fourth New Year's has arrived and she still has never been kissed. Instead she has been in love with her co-worker Major O'Hara since they met eight years ago, but he shows no signs of reciprocating. Instead her unrequited love has left her with nary a kiss or for that matter a date. This year she vows it will be different as she resolves on New Year's Day to move past Major and seek male companionship.

Major has loved Meredith since he first met her eight years ago. He wants to ask her out and taste her lips, but fears she will laugh at him; besides he has a family secret that embarrasses him to his bone narrow. Instead he expects to die a lonely old chef. However, when he sees Meredith on her first date, he's jealous and vows to take a chance by telling his beloved how he feels as ridicule would be easier than staying idly on the side.

The latest Brides of Bonneterre (see STAND-IN GROOM) is a fun tale of two shy individuals in love with one another, but neither can take that first courageous step. The story line is much more than described above as each has family issues also to cope with. Kaye Dacus provides her fans with a wonderful culinary romance starring a super strong extended cast but especially two people who once believed love was only a fairy tale.

The Hunted
Brian Haig
Grand Central
9780446195591 $25.99

When the Wall came down, Russian Alex "Kid Midas" Konevitch charged into the economic chaos to make millions in the void by backing with money Yeltsin. He hires former KGB deputy Sergei Golitsin, who learned of Alex during the fall of Communism two years ago, as his security chief. However, as brilliant as Alex is in business, he fails to understand his diabolical former agent. Sergei hires his former associates and soon steal the money and the firm; they set up Alex for arrest, but plan to kill him before the cops can fully investigate.

Konevitch and his wife Elena flee as hitmen come for them. They make it to America, but instead of asylum, the Director of the FBI sees the Russians as pawns to further his career. Even in the USA they are not safe as the Russian Mafia is coming for them while the Feds don't care what happens as long as the boss does not have his credibility damaged.

Exciting and fast-paced THE HUNTED is based on a true story from the early 1990s. The cast is strong but ironically the audience will admire Alex for his business acumen and Sergei for his adaptation to the new world order as he proves "Looks like nothing's gonna change; everything remains the same" (Dock of the Bay). Readers who relish a character driven tale based on recent history will want to peruse Brian Haig's super thriller.

Martina Cole
Grand Central
9780446179973 $24.99

In London, several mob thugs arrive at the Cadogen home to collect the patriarch's gambling debt. Dan knew he could not pay so he fled leaving his wife and three children to face the wrath of the mobsters. Almost fourteen year old Danny "Big Dan" Cadogen shows no fear as he faces down the gangsters wanting blood money from his vanished drunken dad. One of the crooks Louie Stein, impressed by the teen's fortitude and size, mentors him in the life of a criminal.

At fifteen, Big Dan kills a hooker with his fists and not long afterward kills someone who ratted on the mob. Over the years with his best childhood friend brainy Michael Miles at his side, Big Dan becomes the most frightening gangster in the city. He is the Face as even his wife Mary, sister of Michael, fears him. Now a notorious legend, Big Dan knows wannabes will try to knock him off his pedestal, but he welcomes all challengers wanting to die at his hands.

Though extremely well written and engaging, FACES is not an easy to read character study due to the lead protagonist consistent use of his fists and other weapons even on the innocent. The interesting story line focuses on Danny whose life of crime is based on either killing or beating the sh*t out of the other guy or gal to retain their respect; he brings home his terrorist philosophy to his family too. Fans will enjoy this gloomy look at a despicable kingpin who the audience will hope gets his butt handed to him while wondering why he was not assassinated by a sniper with a semi.

The Juror
George Dawes Green
Grand Central
9780446550154 $13.99

Single mom Annie Laird struggles to make ends meet as a part-time data entry clerk and as a starving sculptress. She is selected to the jury of a Westchester County murder trial of mob boss Louie Buffano.

Almost immediately after joining the jury, Annie meets a sophisticated art broker who buys some of her work. He invites her to dinner and she accepts. The man is a Taoist Wall Street financier who quotes Lao Tse with ease of an expert. He is called "The Teacher" and actually runs the Buffano mob from behind the scene. He offers her a choice of the safety of her and her son Oliver, and a rewarding sculpturing career that will make her wealthy or two deaths; hers and her child. He explains further to live affluently she must say not guilty; otherwise she will not live nor will Oliver even though he is falling in love with his pawn.

THE JUROR is a fabulous psychological drama as Annie goes through a myriad of emotions while the Teacher pushes her panic buttons with the scenario of a dead Oliver even after he concludes he loves his target. The story line leaps from one maniacal scene to another as the Teacher is an insane yet brilliant sociopath who forces Annie to fight as flight is not an option though fright is destroying her gut. Fans will appreciate this one sitting thriller reminiscent of the Baldwin-Moore movie of the same title yet much more horrific as the mom concludes the only way her offspring will be safe is with the death of the Teacher.

George Dawes Green
Grand Central
9780446538961 $24.95

In Brunswick, Georgia dirt poor whites Mitch and Patsy Boatwright win the $318 million Max-a-Million jackpot. Shaw McBride and Romeo Zderko are passing through town on their way to Ohio when they hear the news that a local yokel couple won the jackpot. The traveling pair decides to stay in town a few days to share in the winnings though they are strangers.

Shaw concocts the scheme of bluffing the duo into believing that he and Romeo are vicious lethal thugs instead of mentally tired programmers. He informs the Boatwright's that they will hand over half or die along with their loved ones like their twentyish daughter college student Tara. Shocked and frightened Mitch and Patsy agree once they collect their money starting with introducing his lottery partner Shaw at a press conference.

This excellent regional psychological thriller works because of the strong cast who embellishes the story line with local flavoring and brings out the worst in the two wannabe con artists. Intriguingly the Boatwright family may be the victims fearful of the mentally bullying Shaw and the overwhelmingly physical threat from the ironically named Romeo, yet they also fall victims to the Stockholm syndrome as they begin to cherish their avarice banes who hold them hostage for the loot. Fans will enjoy this tense psychological thriller as George Dawes Green shows the human caring side to his major characters as much as their depraved needs. This is a strong exhilarating small town Georgia thriller.

Mind's Eye
Hakan Nesser
Grand Central
9780307387226 $14.00

In Sweden the evidence overwhelmingly condemns drunken schoolteacher Janek Mitter in the killing of his wife and a colleague who apparently was with her. Detective Chief Inspector Van Veeteren arrests the distraught husband who has no alibi and was found in a drunken stupor at the crime scene; Janek is easily convicted and sent away to spend the rest of his life either in a mental institution or if his mind heals a prison.

Van Veeteren has some issues with the conviction although it appears reasonable and he is a prime reason Janek was nailed. Although he keeps mentally reviewing the case making him bone weary, he does little to follow up on his hunch until it is too late. Someone murders Janek leaving Van Veeteren feeling guilty that he failed to follow his instincts. He vows to find the link between the homicides of the Mitter couple and subsequently their killer while personally vowing never to ignore his gut instincts ever again.

MIND'S EYE is an excellent Swedish police procedural (see THE RETURN and BORKMANN'S POINT) starring a great investigator who is filled with remorse for not following up on his belief something was off kilter in the case even as he received acclaim for solving an obvious domestic dispute that turned ugly, but proved to be something else. Fans will enjoy this terrific tale as a good likable cop struggles with his mistake by chasing down the real culprit in a great twisting thriller.

I Can See You
Karen Rose
Grand Central
9780446538343 $18.99

In Minneapolis Eve Wilson survived the violent assault that left her face paralyzed, external scars removed by plastic surgery, and emotional wounds not healed (see DON'T TELL). She hides in the web world making friends there while working on her graduate school thesis re virtual communities can help people emotionally heal. Eve has constructed a website Shadowland to help people like her. However, some of her friends and customers in the Shadowland community commit suicide to her shock and regret.

Homicide detective Noah Webster believes a serial killer has murdered at least two people making it look like they committed suicides at work. Noah's investigation leads to Eve and her website. He soon realizes the psychopath knows the victims extremely well, which the cop thinks means Eve is on the hit list of a diabolically clever killer.

Karen Rose is gaining a well deserved reputation for great romantic suspense thrillers; her latest winner I CAN SEE YOU is a super Minneapolis police procedural that also showcases the double edged sword of on line communities. Whereas the web enables the disenfranchised to communicate with others; on the other hand the others can include sociopaths or worse. With a strong cast especially the heroine, Ms. Rose writes a terrific whodunit that provides a double edge spin to the Internet applauding the connection of the lonely one to the many but also warning these ones that predators in sheep clothing could be one of the many. This is a great poignant work.

New Tricks
David Rosenfelt
Grand Central
9780446505871 $24.99

In Paterson, New Jersey, someone murders pharmaceutical VIP Walter Timmerman. A custody battle over the late man's Bernese mountain puppy Waggy pursues between his widow Diana and his son, Steven. A judge directs lawyer Andy Carpenter to represent Waggy's interest.

Andy, who already has a canine roommate Tara, picks up Waggy from Diana. Just after he leaves with the dog, a bomb explodes in Diana's house killing her. The police who already suspected Steven in his father's homicide, arrest him for Diana's murder. He hires Andy to represent him. Soon afterward, Andy's girlfriend, visiting Wisconsin police chief Laurie Collins, is shot while playing with the two dogs; leading to the attorney to conclude someone wants Waggy dead with Laurie accidentally getting in the way.

Having defended canine interests in court before (see PLAY DEAD), defense attorney Andy Carpenter does not blink when he is ordered to serve as Waggy's lawyer. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Andy brings his client home and never slows down even with super spins and twists. Readers will appreciate David Rosenfelt's terrific legal thriller as DNA plays a major role in the attempts to kill Waggy and anyone protecting the canine.

The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos
Margaret Mascarenhas
Grand Central
9780446541107 $13.99

In Venezuela, fifteen year old Irene Dos Santos is on vacation with her best friend Lily Martinez when she vanishes. Everyone assumes she probably drowned though no body was found.

Years pass, Lily is eight months pregnant when she has an accident that leaves her bedridden on the same day that the town's statue of the Patron Saint Maria Lionza cracks in half. Lily begins seeing visions of Irene that frighten her, but remind her of how much she lost when her rebellious friend vanished. Meanwhile her family persuades her they need to perform a Novena to Maria Lionza to insure the baby makes it from the spirit realm to the mortal world. Nine nights of prayers begin with every evening a different person tells a tale to entertain Lily and guide the unborn.

This is a fascinating but extremely difficult tale to read as the narration switches nine times making the novel feel more like a series of short vignettes though there some overarching common themes. The fun is with those recurring topics as readers see radically different perspectives on the Patron saint, the vanishing, and the country's recent violent revolutionary past.

The Moon Looked Down
Dorothy Garlock
Grand Central
9780446577946 $19.99

The Heller family fled Germany for America. They settled in Victory, Illinois where they were welcomed by their new American neighbors.

A decade later, the neighbors some of whom befriended the family a decade ago when they moved here and remained friends throughout suddenly think they are German sympathizers. Angry over the growing threat to her family, twenty years old Sophie Heller wants it to end, but cannot figure out how to do so as vigilantes harass her and her loved ones because of their German heritage. A train wreck occurs nearby leading to many neighbors suspecting the Heller brood as Nazi saboteurs. When Sophie meets schoolteacher Cole Ambrose they are attracted to one another. He understands hatred as he has received his share for not serving though his leg kept him out of the military. Now the locals have a new cause, keeping the couple apart.

This is a warm WWII on the home-front romance starring two likable lead characters. The support cast especially the anti-German antagonists are super with what today would be hate crimes; they make the tale fun to read. Although the psychological impact on the Heller family and the mob mentality of much of the townsfolk towards German immigrants they have known for years is shallowly explored leaving THE MOON LOOKED DOWN as a gripping historical worth reading that could have been a classic.

Loving a Lost Lord
Mary Jo Putney
9781420103281 $6.99

In 1812 in Cumberland in Northwest England, Mariah Clarke inherits Hartley Manor from her late father. The previous owner, before her father that is, George Burke is outraged over the loss of his home as he believes Mariah's father won his estate by cheating at cards. He wants it back and decides to bully Mariah into marriage. She tells him she is married and husband will join her soon.

She finds a God-send when she rescues a stranger from the sea. He has no idea who he is as he suffers from amnesia. She convinces him that he is her spouse Adam. However, as he struggles with his memory, Adam and Mariah fall in love. When she learns he is the Duke of Ashton she knows she must give her beloved the facts as he must choose; however she fears he will select anything but the duplicitous woman who deceived him.

The opening act of the Lost Lords is a terrific Regency romance that showcases how talented Mary Jo Putney is when she turns the overused amnesia ploy into a super historical due to a great cast starring in a strong story line. The tale is fast-paced from the moment Mariah tours her new manor and never slows down as two men enter her life with one threatening to harm her body and the other her heart and soul.

Thorn Queen
Richelle Mead
9781420100976 $6.99

Half-breed shaman Eugenie Markham was contented making a living sending home creatures who crossed over from the Otherworld. She never planned to cross over herself heeding her mentor stepfather's warning, but did so to rescue a child. To accomplish her quest, Eugenie killed the Thorn King (see STORM BORN) only to learn she is now the THORN QUEEN; a job she does not want as that will mean more time on Otherworld where every person with a Y Chromosome wants her.

She has issues with the two males in her life though she is seeing Kiyo the spirit fox even as he is expecting to be a father soon with his former girlfriend while fae King Dorian has her libido soaring to heights she never imagined. Besides wanting two hunks Eugenie fears pregnancy as her firstborn is prophesized as the individual who will make the human race extinct. The newest monarch is most concerned with several young female fae vanishing; adding to her dismay is that no one even King Dorian seem the least bit troubled. She decides to investigate as Eugenie feels this is part of being a ruler. Her inquiry leads to life threatening danger from an adversary with a personal blood grudge and an affirmation that her preference is the mental comfort of the human realm she knows intimately.

The second Dark Swan fantasy is a terrific tale as the audience sees the Otherworld through the eyes of newcomer Eugenie. The story line is fast-paced from the onset while the Thorn Queen struggles with her new responsibilities, her love life and an unknown foe using fae to force the heroine to act. Like the first book, this is a winner due to the realism brought to Otherworld by the half human-half fey heroine who is naive in this new world of hers as her earthly sophistication appears worthless in this realm.

Chosen To Die
Lisa Jackson
9781420102772 $7.99

In the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana, the "Star-Crossed Killer" abducts women, heals them from their injuries, and photographs them before and after leaving them to die in the maze of the bleak isolated woods from the cold. Police Detective Regan Pescoli has worked the case for months, but has not gotten very far in ending the psychopath's reign of terror.

Nate Santana, who is attracted to Regan, is worried about her as she is suddenly missing while obsessing over capturing that maniac serial killer who haunts the area. He persuades her partner Detective Selena Alvarez Regan could be in deep trouble. They methodically try to track her down unaware that Regan plans to escape the killer's maze and come after him next.

Fans of Lisa Jackson's suspense thrillers will enjoy the return of Detective Regan Pescoli (see LEFT TO DIE) who is caught by the serial killer she hunts. The story line starts extremely slow especially for a Ms Jackson novel as the background is set up instead of the cop in peril. Once Regan is caught in the Star Crossed killer's maze, the tale accelerates into a fast-paced thriller as the beleaguered heroine battles the elements and a cold predator. Although the reader is never privy to her deepest inner fears, fans will enjoy tough Regan trying to survive.

Surrender Becomes Her
Shirlee Busbee
9781420105391 $14.00

In 1795, Lord Marcus Sherbrook felt he was too young to be guardian of seventeen year old Isabel Dunham. In fact he cannot understand why his father or some other more responsible person was not chosen instead of him. He struggles to make wild Isabel behave, but fails when she elopes with a military officer heading to India for a tour of duty.

A decade later, now a widow with a son, Isabel returns to England. Marcus wants nothing to do with the mature Isabel, but is attracted to her. When he learns someone is trying to blackmail her, Marcus proclaims they are betrothed. He gut reacted, which leaves a stunned Isabel a choice between marriage and scandal. As they fall in love, he suddenly finds himself in an untenable situation between his beloved and his country.

This is a fabulous Regency romance starring a headstrong female and an equally as obstinate male. The suspense is woven into the plot to enhance the relationship war between the lead couple, which leads to more problems and a great late twist leaving Mr. Perfectly Behaved unable to control his impulses when it comes to her, but fins himself needing to face a hellish choice. Their gender battles in 1795 and in 1805 make for a super fun time for sub-genre fans.

Rude Awakenings Of A Jane Austen Addict
Laurie Viera Rigler
9780525950769 $25.95

Jane Mansfield dreamed of escaping the confines of the Regency era aristocracy. So when she hears strange noises and wonders why Barnes the Butler has not silenced the source, she is shocked because she went to bed in 1813 and now finds herself in some place she never heard of: Los Angeles, California. Besides the eerie red digits, she looks into a mirror but what she sees reflected is not her. Worse Jane finds her abode is a dumpy apartment instead of gardens and servants.

She explores the tiny box of a home and realizes the "occupant" Courtney Stone, like her, is (or is that was or will be) a Jane Austen fan. So far that is the only connection Jane can find. Jane is a bit frightened and knows she is spoiled but likes the music, the in door lighting and plumbing, the variety of cold and icy food, the freedom of loose clothing and especially the container holding tiny actors portraying Pride and Prejudice. She is taken aback with her attraction to Courtney Stone's friend Wes and the woman's former fiance Frank. The biggest stunner is sex does not mean compromise and marriage so with Austen's novel to assist her in making it in this weird L.A., Jane Mansfield tries to figure out how to fit in modern American society.

This is the opposite direction of that of CONFESSIONS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT, in which an Internet era Southern California woman went to Austen's Regency period. RUDE AWAKENINGS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT is a fun tale of "survival". The reactions of Courtney's friends to Jane's behavior including her diction makes the tale fun to read starting when she arrogantly informs Wes that her name is Jane Mansfield and he retorts in disbelief referring to the acting legend. Fans of Ms. Austen will enjoy the second switch as an early nineteenth century aristocratic transplant tries to make it in Los Angeles.

The Siege
Stephen White
9780525951223 $25.95

At Yale University, a group serendipitously assaults a building housing a secret society. The assault team easily takes over the edifice holding a number of students who include some offspring of VIPs as prisoners. The invaders turn the complex into an impregnable stronghold.

Slowly Yale officials realize something has happened on the campus. They call in law enforcement who tries to make contact with the hostage holders. However, those in charge inside make no demands what so ever and ignore efforts to negotiate with them. They randomly murder some of the victims and release others for no apparent reason. Suspended Boulder, Colorado police officer Sam Purdy, FBI agent Christopher Poe and CIA terror expert Deirdre Drake unite trying to break the enigmatic code of the terrorists.

This is a brilliant super hostage thriller that makes the case that terrorists learn lessons from each assault making the next one more efficient and perhaps effective; unless the countering law enforcement also learns by extrapolating from the current attack to prevent the next. Fans will be hooked from the moment the assault team takes over the building and wonder what they want and how they choose who dies. THE SIEGE is a terrific timely thriller that reminds the audience diligence is everyone's job whether it is knowing a lone wolf is going to mete justice to an abortion doctor or a group burning down a religious facility as everyone is under siege when we remain silent until after the incident and claim non mea culpa

Trust Me
Jeff Abbott
9780525951216 $25.95

Although he is a low life in his stepfather's think-tank in Austin, Texas, Luke Dantry brags that he is a big shot in the global war against terrorism. His actual task is to monitor by joining the night time chatter of apparently angry web users. He calls his nocturnal Internet friends the Black Road.

Luke quickly recognizes who he is communicating with as these are lonely braggarts like he is. Few if any have the will let alone the way to carry out terrorism acts. However, Luke soon revises his opinion of at least some of the Black Road Internet users when he is kidnapped and left dead at a remote cabin. He now knows his web comrades are much more organized and prepared for what he thought was inane chatter. They rehearse for the big event Code name hellfire by causing plane and train crashes and chemical plant explosions. Dantry escapes with Black Code and those pursuing the terrorists chasing after him; as he begins a desperate quest to prevent a plan to make 9/11 look like a minor incident.

This fast-paced thriller filled with several spins and twist is a fun lighthearted tale that requires a major ignoring of plausibility as no one will accept the nerd turning into a superhero almost overnight. Still the audience will enjoy Dantry's efforts as we root for him to overcome the odds; reminiscent of Patrick Dempsey's enjoyable but improbable 1991 movie Run.

The Penny Pinchers Club
Sarah Strohmeyer
9780525951179 $25.95

In Rocky River, Griff and Kat Griffiths have been fighting for a long time over her out of control spending habits. She thinks he is a penny pinching miser and he feels she is a spendthrift with no discipline. As their daughter leaves the nest for the first time to attend college, Kat is stunned to find Griff has a secret bank account and seems to be spending an exorbitant amount of time with his research assistant. Those two findings open up Kat's eyes that she nothing in her name, which means a sudden change in demeanor before filing for divorce.

Kat joins the Rocky Rivers Penny Pinchers Club to learn how to save money whole also having a support group. She cancels cable television and stops drinking gourmet coffee. She begins scavenging dumpsters near the groceries to find thrown away food. Kat saves money, but apparently not her marriage. When a wealthy former lover reenters her life, Kat knows she must choose between an apparent failed marriage and a new start, but love is making her selection difficult.

This entreating timely contemporary drama is an enjoyable often amusing but always poignant tale with a deep message subtly included. The fast-paced story line focuses on Kat who has spousal issues while obsessing to squeeze the penny starting with no more Starbucks; in fact she pulls a reaction formation so much so she gives Lincoln a headache with her squeezing. Fans will enjoy the newest penny pincher as she begins to understand more than just saving money; though in her forties and a mom, she begins to understand what matters; something many people never learn.

Vicious Circle
Linda Robertson
Juno (Pocket)
9781439154281 $7.99

Persephone "Seph" Alcmedi is a witch, but pays her bills with other paranormal practices like reading tarot cards and writing a newspaper column. Seph also breaks the rules of witch-hood and the city ordinance by running a kennel in her basement to keep werewolves out of trouble during the full moon. Everyone knows the Were and witches are like an oilman and a tree hugger.

Seph is outraged when her grandma is kicked to the curb by her nursing home management. She puts that on hold when a vampire kills her were-friend Lorrie Kordell. She is offered a hell of a lot cash to bring the bloody killer to justice. However, the predator Goliath Kline is too dangerous for a mere witch to restrain so she turns to Johnny the lead singer of techno-metal-Goth band Lycanthropia, who has more than a crush on her; a feeling she reciprocates though she hides it from the biker using grandma as her heart guard.

This is an amusing lighthearted chick lit urban fantasy that stars a female David witch struggling with her bills, grandma, and Johnny battling Goliath the invincible cruel vampire; Vegas would never allow betting on this one. The story line is breezy from the onset as a frustrated Persephone wishes her kennel guests would keep the Krispy Kreme boxes off her lawn before the neighbors howl about her garbage and never slows down. Fans will appreciate this jocular tale in which the plot is never quite serious as the kennel master witch turns amateur sleuth leading to a showdown with a vampire who will enjoy drinking bewitching blood.

Bound by Your Touch
Meredith Duran
9781416592631 $6.99

Lydia Boyce is a chip off the old block as a scholar; her dad is noted Egyptologist Henry Boyce. However, some of the artifacts her dad sends from Egypt are fakes. She investigates expecting her father to be exonerated and to affirm her theory that rakish Lord James Durham is the villain.

On first contact, each loathes the other as she assumes he is a shallow womanizer and he believes she is a phony intellectual snob. Still they realize they need each other to uncover the real con artist. As Lydia and James team up in a distrusting alliance, they search for the legendary Tears of Idihet and the forger.

This is an entertaining nineteenth century romantic romp starring two likable seemingly opposites. The story line is fast-paced as the intelligent obstinate Lydia sets out to prove her father's innocence when she confronts Durham. He initially comes across as a typical rake, but also typical of the sib-genre demonstrates to her he is much more than just a drunken womanizer. Fans will enjoy their escapades though there is too much description of the era that at times detracts from an otherwise fun historical Romancing the Stone like adventure.

Wed Him Before You Bed Him
Sabrina Jeffries
9781416560821 $7.99

When Charlotte Harris was eighteen and Charlotte Page she made a horrific mistake when she sent a letter rejecting a suitor that became published in a tabloid scandal rag. The scandal ruined David's reputation unfairly and she made hers worse when she eloped with Captain Harris.

Years later in 1824, she still regrets what she caused, not for herself as she likes being the Headmistress of the Mrs. Harris School for Heiresses, but to the gentleman she hurt. However, her school is in financial difficulty and "Cousin Michael" whom she has corresponded with and helped her through the worst of times is not writing; she is worried about him as that is out of character. Her only hope is the man she inadvertently destroyed. However she also is ignorant as to what he has done to avenge what she did to him years ago; he just never expected to remain in love with her.

The final School for Heiresses Regency romance is the one fans of this strong late regency saga have waited for and will agree that Sabrina Jeffries surpasses our expectations; the pressure on the gifted author for Charlotte's tale must have been immense. The story line is fast-paced and filled with strong support characters while the lead "triangle" is top rate as Cousin Michael's 's web of deceit is entangling Charlotte and himself in what looks will be another enormous scandal. Great fun for sub-genre readers as Ms. Jeffries closes out her series with a winner.

Suddenly One Summer
Barbara Freethy
9781439101568 $7.99

What makes Angel's Bay different than the rest of California is a belief that angels exist. There is proof as a video of sightings has gotten around, but reporter Reid Tanner assumes a clever fraud by the townsfolk. He plans to prove the whole thing is a fake.

Tanner meets another newcomer Jenna Davies who saved a pregnant girl from suicide. He is attracted to her because she avoids the publicity her rescue warrants. Meanwhile, enigmatic etchings appear on a cliff that is nearly impossible to climb let alone stop to carve symbols. Soon Tanner begins to wonder if the legends are true as someone unseen seems to help people there and glimpses of what appears to be previous lives occur. Either that or someone is pulling off quite a fraud with no obvious motive.

The premise is intriguing as the townsfolk fully believe angels reside with them leading to a fun paranormal romance between the ultimate skeptic seeking the scam and the somewhat doubting but hopeful other newcomer. They are a solid lead couple as each separately and together struggle to navigate the nuances of Angel's Bay although the numerous appearances of the zillion townsfolk at times overwhelms their prime plot. Still this is a warm lighthearted romp that fans will enjoy and look forward to apparently future angelic sagas.

The Devil Is a Lie
ReShonda Tate Billingsley
9781416578048 $14.00

In Houston, Nina Lawson is euphoric when she learns that her six selected numbers were called in the lottery, which means she has won the eight million dollars prize. Her elation quickly turns to rancor and outrage when everyone including strangers and family members she has not heard from in seemingly centuries demand a piece of the action. However, the worst betrayal is her fiance Rick Henderson, who is spending the money even before she has officially received the check.

Soon afterward, she learns that she is still married to Todd; his girlfriend Pam spent the divorce filing fee on a Fendi bag. Pam feels it is destiny and insists Todd demand his share of the loot; he agrees, but hides his reason from his shallow lover; he needs money to pay for a heart transplant for his Grams.

This is a lighthearted amusing contemporary romance starring a wonderful caring protagonist who finds winning the lottery is not as life simplifying as she expected with people coming out of the woodwork like roaches demanding their share. Rick and Pam are stereotypes of avaricious users while Nina and Todd are compassionate souls. Fans will enjoy Nina's plight as winning seems more like losing but with love and God she can overcome the devils blighting her life with their greedy burden.

Sadomasochism for Accountants
Rosy Barnes
Marion Boyars Publishers
24 Lacy Road, London SW15 1NL, England
9780714531816 $14.95

Her boyfriend Alan dumped thirty-eight year old accountant Paula insisting she was boring after spending eight years together. By May, he has moved on becoming engaged to corporate take no prisoners climber Belinda whose only goal in life is to see her surname added to Smith, Smith-Brown and Smith. Paula insists she is not stalking Alan when she regularly drives fifty miles to his neighborhood to shop although the calls have Belinda calling her a "crazy cow".

Paula's mom and therapist suggest she find an exciting diversion as her life seems dull to them. Desperate to prove she is not just another tedious number cruncher, Paula joins Club Liscious. The members know at first look that Paula does not belong there; they put a different spin to the thrill of the sex hunt. Luda the transvestite assumes this newcomer won't last more than a night. Thus she is shocked when the persistent Paula, used to grinding away looking for a missing pound or two in the ledger, keeps coming back. Soon, Luda, Gretchen the kindhearted dominatrix, and domineering SlaveBoy decide to help her hogtie Alan who has woes with aggressive Belinda's demands on his layback career. Belinda is even aggressively uglier than usual as she is at war against a competitor who has the unfair advantages of being paraplegic for the step up the ladder.

This humorous satire lampoons sex, genders, and accountants through the actions of a purposely hyperbolic cast although told by Paula in a chick lit style. The story line is very thin, but entertaining as Paula sets out to prove she is not boring by getting a "life" and Alan with it. Fans will enjoy the antics of her support team and the bellicose reactions of Belinda as Alan is caught in the middle of a female surge. SADOMASOCHISM FOR ACCOUNTANTS is a fun tale that does not worry about the bottom line.

Liquid Diet
Michael McCarty
9780979988172 $10.99

He has been a vampire for a decade turned at a fan convention at twenty-five years old. Andrew Bloodsworth has abstained from drinking blood for a month as he prepares for an interview on Chicago's Wolf 99.9 FM where he will discuss his writings and get more sales for his books. The hostess is Goth Queen Bella Donna who is fascinated with this man who seems to ooze out of the shadows. She wants to hear his story of how he became a vampire and what it is like to possesses supernatural powers.

Andrew tells lher how his change came about and Bella's fans go wild over a live vampire (pardon the oxymoron) except for outraged OTTO fundamentalists (Opposition To The Occult) who believes it is their divine right to cleanse the world of the occult, the paranormal and those connected to the supernatural. After being attacked by the Otto, Andrew and Bella go through a mirror and end up with her soul in his body and his soul in hers. Neither likes the gender change so the The Count helps them return to what they were; which also means another battle with the Otto when the pair appears on Harry Winger's tabloid TV show.

Michael McCarty describes his thriller as a "vampire satire", which is somewhat accurate as there is a biting sting to the plot, but is much more as he nukes the mythos and takes jabs at always right tabloid reporting and even more right fundamentalists. Andrew is a fascinating character who can love or hate with passion and can control his appetite; the reaction to him by Bella's fans is a fabulous lampooning of hero worship. Readers who enjoy a sardonic bloody good vampire thriller will want to go on a LIQUID DIET.

Gloria Vanderbilt
Ecco, ( Harper)
9780061734892 $16.99

The Bingham power couple seems to live the perfect life. Anyone who sees the influential pair know they love one another while sharing a wonderful life of affluence. Besides the best in Manhattan, they own several estates as Talbot is a famous architect in demand.

On their tenth anniversary, he suddenly dies leaving his beloved Priscilla as a grieving widow. Several years later, still mourning her loss, Pris begins going through her late husband's papers. She finds shocking letters from a Queen Bee that vividly leaves nothing to the imagination. Not only was this Bee Talbot's mistress, she was his dominatrix while he was her slave. Hurt and despondent not just because he cheated on her, she loathes he hid a key part of himself from her although rationally Pris understand why as she finds his venture in to bondage disturbingly sick. She dreams of meeting Queen Bee who also would like to meet the wife she mocked in her correspondence with her late favorite customer.

Although nothing new and somewhat slight, OBSESSION is an interesting relationship drama with the key connector being a dead person that both women cherished. The story line is fast-paced with an underlying psychological vent from the moment Pris obsesses over challenging her rival for the memory of Talbot. Although the plot is thin, fans of erotic character studies will want to know who dominates when the widow meets the mistress.

The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart
M. Glenn Taylor
9781933202310 $16.50

He is probably the oldest person in Appalachia rumored to be born back in 03 that is 1903; in the West Virginia section of the mountain range he is considered older than dirt. Over a century ago, his thirst for life and his moniker of Trenchmouth Taggart came from the same harrowing incident. His not so sane mom tossed him into an icy river. Taggart survived but suffered a nasty infection in his mouth. On his 108th birthday, he had his lips sewn tight with fishing line wire except for a straw opening for coffee, tea and moonshine, as his latest means of survival; this time from an outside reporter. He learned to survive and to insure he depended on only himself thanks mostly to his grit and that strong Mountain Widow Dorsett who saved his life after his mom tossed him to his watery grave; as she taught him to rely on himself.

Although now a senior's senior citizen, he still gets aroused in fights against those blowing off mountain tops, but Taggart has gone aground ever since he set up target practice as a union sniper targeting the coal mining firms; suits and scabs were his favorites. He surfaces when he needs liquor or music. Although he cannot speak, he tells THE BALLAD OF TRENCHMOUTH TAGGART to a Time reporter.

This is a fascinating ballad that provides the audience a deep look into West Virginia's Appalachia across the twentieth century where poverty has always led to the loss of childhood innocence at an extremely young age. Trenchmouth is an interesting character with his tale enhanced by those in his lives starting briefly with his fire and brimstone mom drowning him; to the Widow teaching him to be independent and strong; to the union leaders hiring him to shoot the enemy, etc. Fans will enjoy his life on the outside as his recreation is moonshine and music.

Four Freedoms
John Crowley
9780061231506 $25.99

In the early days of WW II, FDR orders production companies to manufacture the weapons needed to fight the Nazis and their axis partners. In Ponca City, Oklahoma, brothers Henry and Julius Van Damme establish an airplane factory to build the B-30 Pax, America's largest warplane

However, the siblings know there biggest handicap is finding experienced workers as most are in the military. They feel fortunate to hire Prosper Olander whose 4F due to a severe curvature of the spine kept him out of the war. The brothers also are pleased with employing street corner philosopher Pancho Notzing; whose religious fervor encourages all types of people to be all they can be but do so while living in a Harmonious City regardless of race, religion, ethnic background as he claims we are all humans and must share and support one another. The brothers also hire enthusiastic women who will accept working blue collar jobs away from home; most have never turned a screw or hammered a nail and few ventured more than a few miles from their family house. Still they come from all parts of the country with various backgrounds to learn how to build the plane and then mass produce the bomber.

This is a terrific WW II saga that obviously tells the tale of life and relationships while mass producing the war machine. However, the subtly thrilling profound story line also implies through the strong cast that this setting all over the country led to future generations of the disenfranchised demanding the same Constitutional FOUR FREEDOMS that FDR said were in jeopardy by the Nazis. Prosper sets the tone with his uplifting "sermons", but the entire ensemble shows why this is considered the "Greatest generation".

The Path of Razors
Chris Marie Green
9780441017201 $15.00

Costin, a Soul Traveler inside of Jonah's body (with his permission) is now a vampire turned by former stuntwoman Dawn Madison, who also was a vampire albeit briefly. Now he cannot leave Jonah's body so they work together along with their group to find out where the master vampires and their underground is. Their search takes them to England, but they are attacked by schoolgirl vampires from Queenshill campus.

Nobody is certain if they are part of an Underground or just an ordinary group of vampires. They would have been part of the Underground once they graduate, but circumstances dictate that the three girls and their dorm mother Mrs. Claudia Jones move into the Underground immediately. The vampires of the Underground and the Keepers (intelligent Renfields) want to know if Costin and Dawn's group are in the area to get them or if it is just an unbelievable coincidence. Costin is content to let Jonah be the dominant personality until they find the Underground and destroy it but neither expected the truth when it is revealed.

Dawn is a lean mean fighting machine but when she becomes human again after a short stint as a vampire, there is a deep darkness to her that ignites when she is angry or in trouble; she cannot control herself like she did before so she struggles to keep it submerged. The Underground culture in England is different than that of one in Los Angeles. "Wolfie" leads this underground but his interest is only in young beautiful girl vampires and they are enthralled with him. They believe he is the only one who loves them. Thought provoking and loaded with atmosphere and action, the PATH OF RAZORS is a first rate urban fantasy that will have readers believing the magic of this wondrous tale

Skin Deep
Mark Del Franco
9780441017430 $7.99

In the mid twentieth century, the Convergence led to Faerie moving onto the earth. Humans still fear what the fey can do though their governments recognized Tara in Ireland as a sovereign nation. The Celtic Danann established the Guild to work human-fey arguments and to police related local crimes while the Intersec investigates international criminal activity.

Laura Blackstone is the Fey Guild director of public relations; Mariel Tate is an InterSec's operative; and Janice Crawford is the backup druidess for the DC SWAT Squad. The three are one woman as Laura uses glamour magic to change her appearance. Currently, she is working a drug bust but is unaware that one of the two brownies guarding the meth house is the deadly and radical Inverni fairy Alfrey with powers to match Laura. Alfrey uses whatever means necessary to challenge the Danann for power. A dying teammate told something to Laura before he died and someone think she knows their plans and want her dead; she believes the American Archives for Fae and Human holds the key to what she thinks is a coming Fey attack that must be stopped or lives will be lost. She just wishes she knew what Sanchez told her before he died because Laura thinks if her amnesia disappears she will know what the radicals are planning.

Renowned for his "Un" world, Mark Del Franco starts a new series with the first Laura Blackstone urban fantasy. He paints a planet in which the species coexist in a shaky peace that could turn hostile rather quickly. The world building is creative and believable as readers learn about the culture of the Celtic Fey. However, the key to this fine opening act is the heroine, who at times almost seems like she suffers from multiple personality disorder except that she frequently mixes up her distinct personas. Her errors are amusing to readers, but not to Laura, who lives only through her three jobs. Character driven, fans of the author will relish the escapades of Laura on an alternate earth filled with humans and the del Franco brand of Fey.

Edge of Dawn
Patti O'Shea
9780765361691 $6.99

In Seattle while glass artist Shona Blackwood accepts apathetically her sudden loss of creativity sort of like a writer's block, the Ceannard assigns agent Logan Andrews to protect her. His contact Nessia informs him that Shona is a dormant unaware of her heritage or even the Gineal race; he is warned to tell her nothing. For some unknown reason the Tarriel crossed over from the dark side targeting Shona.

Magical troubleshooter Logan thwarts an assault on Shona, who thinks her hero saved her from a simple mugging. She also quickly realizes her savior has awakened her from her lethargy in a way she has never sensed before. He also feels awake as he finds his charge captivating and attractive. His desire grows as he keeps her safe until Logan realizes he owes his love the truth though that could derail his mission and would defy the rules of engagement.

This is an intriguing romantic urban fantasy starring a likable fully developed pair who are falling in love, but his assignment interferes with their relationship although he understands paramount is her safety. The story line starts off with some difficulty in following what is going on especially with the Yukon incident. However, once the world of Patti O'Shea is set and the key players appear on stage, fans will be enthralled with the author's fast-paced thriller as Shona and Logan prove magic and love mix perfectly together when the ingredients are soulmates and the time of night is right.

Nine Gates
Jane Lindskold
9780765317018 $24.95

Up until recently, college student Brenda Morris had no idea that The Land of Smoke and Sacrifice existed. She has since learned a lot about the fact that Chinese myths were turned into this alternate earth several millennium ago and more stunningly her ancestors crossed over from this place (see THIRTEEN ORPHANS). However the greatest shock is she knows she has some of the powers of the Zodiac Rat; her Aunt Pearl is the Dragon; and her compatriot in training is the Dog. .

The few surviving Exiles and their descendants have a world crisis as war has ignited inside the Land and threaten to spill over to the earth. The Thirteen Orphans Guardians between worlds are the only ones who can prevent a calamity of pandemic proportions. . However four of them are trapped on this side leaving it to the others to build the Nine Gates and rescue their Guardian comrades in arms.

The second Morris urban fantasy is an exhilarating thriller based on the Chinese Zodiac that will thrill fans who relish elaborate but somewhat convoluted insight on Chinese mythology; at times the level of minutiae detracts from the otherwise enjoyable plot. The protagonists confront Herculean level challenges that seem impossible for them to succeed. These magical battles make for a fun paradox as the reader wonders how the magnificent nine can win the day against adversaries that if they defeat them they endanger two worlds but if they lose they endanger two worlds.

The Dame
R.A. Salvatore
9780765317902 $25.95

In Honce, after beheading the evil Ancient Badden, Bransen Garibond and his five cohorts bring the dead head to Dame Gwydre of Vanguard as proof they did the deed. Bransen hopes the aristocrat lets him go home as all he wants is to spend time with his wife in Pryd Town.

However, instead of trekking home, Bransen is accused of assassinating King Delval and other seditious acts against the state. Although the charges are false and those who bring them smirk as they are aware of that, he is offered a choice between jail and another deadly quest. Outraged over the unfairness of being punished for the success of bringing the evil one's head and caught between fighting blocs, a volunteered Bransen, accompanied by scout Jameston Sequin begins another undesired mission with the added incentive of proving his innocence.

The sequel to THE ANCIENT is an entertaining fantasy as Bransen is once again forced on a quest he not only does not want to do, but is not his issue except the powers make it his. Thus he is not just a reluctant hero; he is an angry antihero. His escapades and that of his cronies are typical of the quest subgenre and his adventures fail to nudge the overarching theme forward; still readers who enjoy a fine quest fantasy will want to join Bransen and his teammates on their deadly mission.

The Return
Ben Bova
9780765309259 $25.99

Astronaut Keith Stoner was part of an American-Russian space venture when the alien starship arrived. He became trapped inside; frozen for almost two decades and never time merged with the alien technology. Found drifting, he was brought back to earth where he was revived. However, Keith knew he no longer was human and did not belong so he built a starship based on the alien side of him and left the planet with his Jo Camerata to explore the cosmos.

Over a hundred years later, he comes home but now understands how profound Thomas Wolfe's "You Can't Go Home Again" is. He and his mate Jo (accompanied by their children Cathy and Rick) recognize nothing. Mankind is killing the planet with the greenhouse effect rapidly turning the orb into a neo-Venus and the extreme conservatives hold power with a strict rigid iron fist while ignoring the consequences of doing nothing to save humanity's goring the planet. Keith leaves his family in orbit to do some surveillance, but except for the odd underground rebel, mankind's reign seems through

The fourth Stoner tale (see VOYAGERS, THE ALIEN WITHIN and STAR BROTHERS) is an interesting cautionary science fiction thriller that warns readers to take global warming seriously and kick out demagogues before it is too late; sort of homage to Zager and Evans'" In the year 2525". The story line is fast-paced as Keith and Jo are in for a rude awakening re the earth starting with the melted polar cap and that his knowledge of history does not match the official records of the planet he orbits. However, this earth he finds is never adequately explained in regards to how he and his family got there and why Ben Bova chose THE RETURN to take place where it does as the blending seems disjointed to fans of the author who will recognize early on references to the Goddard project on Saturn.

High Bloods
John Farris
9780765325969 $25.95

At the end of WWII in the Pacific, specifically in the Kingdom of Kalimanton, the returning soldiers brought home a microbe that turned into werewolves. For twenty-seven days of the month, they were as humans as the True Bloods; but when the moon was full they turned into maniacal killing machines. The disease spreads epidemically across the globe until the species becomes greater in number than Homo sapiens.

The International Lycan Control (ILC) monitors 80% of the werewolf population and has methods to control the change in order to keep the True Bloods safe during the full moon. ILC agent Rawson is shocked when he witnesses an Avenging Fury of a werewolf rip the head off businessman Artie of Arthur Excalibur Enterprises during a non full moon. Artie provided lycan escorts to pure humans, but the key is to figure out how someone was able to turn a lycan into a killing werewolf when the moon was in no way full. While he searches for the real culprits, Rawson also looks for Mal who is like a younger sister to him, before hunters preparing for a Mal de Lune (werewolf hunt) to kill her. Both tasks prove dangerous as enemies try to kill Rawson.

This is an exciting, fast-paced futuristic urban Noir fantasy in which American has been torn apart due to the Lycan virus. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and makes Los Angeles and Santa Monica seem genuinely filled with werewolves and True Bloods. Rawson is a believable Noir like hero who does what he believes is the right thing though he knows the cost may be those few he cherishes. Although, nothing new is added to the sub-genre as the premises have been overly done recently, John Farris provides a super thriller as the plot is faster than a speeding silver bullet.

Land Of The Dead
Thomas Harlan
9780765312044 $25.95

In a rarely traveled part of space, an even rarer artifact from the glorious era of the First Sun Old Ones has been discovered. The leaders of the interplanetary Mexica Empire know the significance of the find from a historical perspective and even more important understand this is a weapon of mass destruction.

In Mexico City, the Emperor wants the relic brought under their close supervision so he sends his son, Prince Xochitl to retrieve it. At the same time Mirror Service operative Green Hummingbird, First Sun anthropological expert Gretchen Anderssen and Captain Susan Koshy are also trying to obtain the artifact. Others also make a trek to gain possession as everyone understands the impact of an Old Ones' weapon.

The premise of In The Time of the Sixth Sun saga (see WASTELAND OF FLINT and HOUSE OF REEDS) is simplistic as Thomas Harlan changes a key pivotal sixteenth century moment in which the Japanese instead of the Spanish meet the Aztecs first. From that first encounter, the author has extrapolated an alternate history based on the Annals of Cuauhtotlan that provides the audience with a super futuristic science fiction saga. LAND OF THE DEAD is a great action-packed thriller with tense battle scenes in space as the race to possess an artifact from the era of the First Sun has everyone on edge. Green and his cohorts, and Xochitl bring to the exciting plot a human rivalry that compares how miniscule earthlings are against the big vastness of outer space.

Freda Warrington
9780765318695 $25.99

Every seven years on the Night of the Summer Stars, the Aetherials routinely move back and forth between the Spiral and the Earth when the gates between realms are opened for a short time. The Aetherials live amongst the earthlings as humans, but must go home periodically to touch their basic essence or go insane.

Their return to home trip abruptly fails this year when for no known reason the Gatekeeper Lawrence Wilder shuts the portal permanently. He proclaims danger is coming from beyond that could destroy the realms, but says nothing further. The Aetherials are stuck on Earth and panic stricken though they have lived safely as mortals amidst the humans; but these Fair Folk will go mad and die if they fail to return home. The daughter of their King Auberon, Rose Fox is attracted to one of the sons of the Gatekeeper, though both offspring Sam and Jon Wilder want her. This is not a good time for romance as the desperate visitors are losing their grips on sanity from failing to touch with their Aetherial selves on the other side of the shuttered gate.

ELFLAND, the first Books of the Silver Wheel saga, is an excellent fantasy due to the refreshing cast as the human, the Aetherial, and the Gatekeeper and his family (especially his sons) seem genuine with all types of personal conflicts and desires. Surprisingly, the story line focuses deep on the relationships (carefully keeping the romance from overwhelming the rest of the plot) between and within the two key families while one brood struggles with sanity while trying to go home. Fans will relish Freda Warrington's opening gamut and look forward to the rest of this character driven series as the Fair Folks instinctively know time is running out on their minds.

Traitors' Gate
Kate Elliott
9780765310576 $27.99

The land of the Hundred is on the verge of collapse as war has swept across everywhere. The cause is a stunner as someone from within The Guardians of the Altars has betrayed the trust; causing massive chaos slaughtering of thousands of people in a mindless march of destruction.

The only viable adversary to the horde of the Guardians of the Altars is the Outlander army who want peace and prosperity to return. They know their enemy is beyond reason and prepare for war against an invincible foe, who even devastated the Eagle Reeves used to enforce the law of the land.

The third Crossroads epic fantasy (see SPIRIT GATE and SHADOW GATE) is a super entry that will have readers considering what a value is on individual and collective levels and can a person ignore natured values that are nurtured by society; that psychological well-being is the essence of TRAITOR'S GATE. The story line is action-packed and fast-paced from the onset, as the Outlander soldiers as individuals think they can perform actions that feel contrary to their psychological essence, but as a group may find the tasks required overwhelming because these brave soldiers must also overcome the intrinsic values of the group. Complex and complicated, the world of Kate Elliot is filled with mental personal gates that amass in the realm of the Hundreds on an epic scale of doubt and devastation. This is a deep thought provoking entry within a strong saga.

Necroscope: Harry and the Pirates
Brian Lumley
0765323389 $23.95

"For the Dead Travel Slowly". In 1981 the Necroscope Harry Keough is back in his hometown of Harden staying with his longtime friend Jimmy Collins while he seeks clues to his missing beloved Brenda and their son. He senses something is not right in nearby Hazeldene and soon learns of the murder fifteen years ago of Janet Symonds, daughter of the Police Sergeant who committed suicide soon afterward. The prime suspect was and is Greg Miller, of whom Constable Jack Forester loathes and watches seeking proof. Harry follows up on research Greg did and believes something in the woods killed the teen, but proving it and ending its terror reign that the Necroscope traces back to Ancient Roman times seem impossible.

"Harry and the Pirates". Harry is still in the Harden area searching for his wife and son, but currently is eight miles away in Hartlepool. He talks deadspeak with an unrepentant deceased Viking Erik "Scarhelm" Haroldson, but cuts the raider off when he cannot abide the man's boasting leaving him in his watery grave with his crew. Another dead pirate Billy Bowen, buried in a nearby cemetery, deadspeaks with Harry and tells him of the voyage o the Sea Witch that ultimately led to his death. Harry suffers a horrific migraine so using the Mobius route he leaves promising to come back to learn more of the golden "cloth" they rescued from the sea. Harry returns, but increasingly finds it difficult to focus and even worse leave.

These two super novellas (and a tiny coda) make for a great Lost Years thriller. Harry is at his best trying to understand what to do with new species (one in each entry) that he never faced before in spite of his supernatural wanderings as the Necroscope. Fans of the sage will relish both tales while newcomers will get a taste that will send in search of the Harry saga (a title listing included).

The Promise of Lumby
Gail Fraser
9780451226969 $15.00

In the Rockies' tiny town of Lumby, Pam and Mark Walker had hoped their restaurant at the Montis Inn would be a success. Neither was ready for how successful it become. Now each is exhausted from overworking and both wonder what is going on with the former owners. The now famous philanthropists of Saint Abbey, the monks are receiving exotic animals and selling gourmet dining to delighted customers who come for great food and spiritual cleansing as they know the way to a man's spirit is through his stomach.

At the same time, vet Dr. Ellen Campbell announces she is selling her practice to Tom Candor. He is made quickly unwelcome because he fails to mingle. Tom fears rejection if they knew his darkest secret, killing Ming the panda. However carpenter Mackenzie McGuire is attracted to the newcomer and hopes he reciprocates.

Fans of Lumby (see STEALING LUMBY, LUMBY'S BOUNTY and LUMBY LINES) will relish this engaging return trip enhanced by the local newspaper gossip. The subplots are fun, over the top of the Rockies, and all subplots end up in "Happy Valley" (but not Penn State). Whimsical, uplifting and warm, THE PROMISE OF LUMBY is a lighthearted frolic that requires leaving the reality meter at page one.

The Red Tree
Caitlin R. Kiernan
9780451462763 $16.00

In Atlanta the suicide of her girlfriend shook writer Sarah Crowe to her core so she decides to leave the region. She feels fortunate to have found an old house on the Wight Farm in a remote part of Rhode Island that she rents.

She explores her new home and finds an "ancient" typewriter and an unfinished manuscript by Dr. Charles L. Harvey, a noted anthropology folklorist. He apparently was collecting information re the legend of an old oak tree on this property that the locals hold in awe. His work eerily stopped abruptly when he hanged himself from that same oak tree. Sarah tries to ignore the document, but cannot stop thinking about it. She feels spellbound to investigate and begins her own journal while her life feels increasingly depressing and out of her control and macabre under the oak's control.

In some ways this terrific haunting is a throwback to the early Stephen King thrillers especially The Shining as the audience observes in full fright Sarah slowly yet knowingly losing her mind seemingly to the oak tree. Fans will relish this tale while keeping the lights on throughout the house and considering cutting down trees near their homes as we hypnotically wonder whether THE RED TREE is a psychological thriller or a supernatural tale; either way trees will be avoided by readers.

Kat Richardson
9780451462770 $23.95

In Seattle, the perpetrator failed to give private investigator Harper Blaine the two minute warning when he slammed her temple; for 120 seconds she was dead. However, unlike most people who suffer a near death experience only to come back to their mortal lives, Harper returned differently as a Greywalker who travels both sides of the boundary between the living and other realms (see GREYWALKER). Her investigations have taken one hellish twist from cheating spouses to cheating paranormals (see POLTERGEIST) who she can see, but these monsters see her too. Two years since her death, Harper has a dying need to know why she didn't just come back like most.

A call from the dead leads Harper to investigate her heritage with a focus on the pivotal event before her short-lived death; the demise of her father when she was young. In Los Angeles her mom says he killed himself. Harper reads his tormented writings in which he claimed the monster was coming and he feared for his sweet Harper. She tries to meet her dad's ghost, but frighteningly he is nowhere as if his spirit VANISHED. However, her mind is taken off of her confusion when vampires order her to London to look into a bloody mess. Harper uncovers a connection between England and Seattle that makes her wonder whether her "genes" made it inevitable for her to walk the grey line.

The latest Greywalker investigation is a terrific tale that takes a deep personal spin for the heroine as she inquires into her heritage in an attempt to better understand what happened. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action as for instance a plane ride to Los Angeles leads to a teenage female ghost popping in wet over Oregon with no one else on board able to sense her. Kat Richardson is at her best with this super urban investigative fantasy as the worlds of the grey and paranormal come figuratively alive through the intrepid but mentally tired heroine.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Larsen's Bookshelf

The Hornet's Sting: the Amazing Untold Story of World War II Spy Thomas Sneum
Mark Ryan
A Herman Graf Book
Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
555 Eighth Avenue, Suite 903, New York, New York 10018
9781602397101 $24.95

"The Hornet's Sting" is an interesting biography of little known hero from the days of World War II, the Danish spy, Thomas Sneum. Sneum twice escaped Nazi clutches, first leaving Nazi occupied Denmark in a "beat-up old Hornet Moth bi-plane." He returned to Denmark to spy for the Allies and made a second escape by walking across a frozen sea with special intelligence on Nazi radar installations and their work to develop an atom bomb. On his second return to England, Sneum was imprisoned and threatened with execution as a double agent.

Following the publication of this book, Sneum was vindicated and became the recipient of the King's Medal for Courage from the British government

Author Mark Ryan interviewed Thomas Sneum many times between 1998 and Sneum's death in 2007. This is a real non-fiction spy thriller. Read at your own risk.

Flying from the Black Hole: the B-52 Navigator-bombardiers of Vietnam
Robert O. Harder
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 1402-5034
9781591143598 $34.95 (800) 233-8764

Author Robert O Harder knows from whence he speaks. He was on active duty with the Strategic Air Command and flew 145 combat missions during the Vietnam War as a B-52D navigator-bombardier.

Harder capably tells us the history of bombing aircraft and bombing techniques, deals with personalities such as the iconic General Curtis LeMay; but is at his best when he speaks from personal experiences when he worked in the "Black Hole" as a navigator-bombardier in a B-52.

There is a lot of new ground here, which Harder covers with authority. It is always good to learn history from one who lived to tell the story. Flying From the Black Hole is another A-1 Book from the Naval Institute Press.

Deserter Country: Civil War Opposition in the Pennsylvania Appalachians
Robert M. Sandow
Fordam University Press
University Box L., 2546 Belmont Ave., Bronx, New York 10458
9780823230518 $55.00

Author Robert M. Sandow debunks the national memory of the Civil War which is described as a noble war that preserved the nation and ended slavery. We see aging veterans of both sides shake hands on old battlefields and erect memorials to their service, in the not so Civil War.

Sandow looks carefully ten counties in North Central Pennsylvania, explores the roots of rural protest in frontier development and discusses the role of politics in the area. He compares the Civil War with the Vietnam War, both of which engendered wide spread protest which confused the governing authorities and directly affected the conduct and outcome of the war.

You will see the historical truth of Sandow's studies when you read Deserter Country and appreciate the depth of his research and the clarity of his writing. This is really an important read.

God in the Foxhole: Inspiring True Stories of Miracles on the Battlefield
Charles W. Sasser
Threshold Editions
A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020
1416541370 $26.00

God in the Foxhole is a very interesting and unique gathering of personal accounts of faith under fire from the American Civil war to the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict. The author, Charles W. Sasser is a former Green Beret and author of One Shot, One Kill and other military nonfiction titles. He is a veteran of the U. S. Navy and the U. S. Army. The tales are riveting, well written and researched reminders for all of us that when the going gets tough a miracle or two doesn't hurt.

God in the Foxhole weaves webs of faith which may not be every one's cup of tea, but it is a fine read, well worth the time and the $26.00.

A Hundred Feet over Hell: Flying with the Men of the 220th Recon Airplane Company over I Corps and the DMZ, Vietnam 1968-1969
Jim Hooper
Zenith Press
Quayside Publishing Group
400 1st Avenue North, Suite 300, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401
9780760336335 $25.00 612-344-8100

With A Hundred Feet over Hell by London based war correspondent and author, Jim Hooper, Zenith Press continues to offer fine military histories at a fair price. Here Hooper has interviewed survivors of the "Catkillers" of the 220th Recon Airplane Company, forward observers who spent many hours flying low and slow over hostile Vietnam in flimsy Cessna O-1 Bird Dogs in 1968 and 1969.

These young pilots strapped on their little Cessna's and flew, always at slow speeds and often at altitudes of 200 feet or less looking for and finding enemy troops before they could attack the American ground forces.

Hooper sure put me in the cockpit! This book is a fine three-hour read.

The Sky Rained Heroes: a Journey from War to Remembrance
Frederick E. La Croix
Synergy Books
2100 Kramer Lane, Suite 300
PO Box 80107, Austin, Texas 78758
9780982160138 $21.95

By far the best World War II narrative to cross my desk this year, The Sky Rained Heroes certainly is a journey from war to remembrance.

Following his father's death, Frederick LaCroix was helping his mother sift through his father's files and wartime correspondence. Those letters were the catalyst which sent Frederick on a six year journey half way around the world to return the blood stained battle flag that wrapped the body of Yasuyuki Ishizuka to his family.

Along the way Author Frederick LaCroix gives us strong doses of biography, history, some philosophy and good old fashioned story telling. Hard to put down.

Richard N. Larsen
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Jan Kerouac: A Life In Memory
Edited by Gerald Nicosia
Noodlebrain Press
P.O. Box 130, Corte Madera CA 94976-0130
9780615245546 $25.00 post paid in the US and $30 post paid outside the US

Since the day their paths first crossed in 1978 to the present, Gerald Nicosia has been friend, mentor, protector, literary executor, and champion of Jan Kerouac. The daughter of Beat generation writer, Jack Kerouac, died of kidney failure at age 44 in 1996. With this book, a compilation of memories recorded by her friends and admirers, Nicosia celebrates her life and legacy. From the first paragraph, I was drawn into the life of this beautiful, charismatic woman child. And now, I'm haunted by her story.

For many years, Jack Kerouac denied that Jan was his progeny. How he could have denied her as his child, or why, is a partial mystery that died with him. She was the very image of the young Kerouac in his youthful prime - raven hair, sea-blue eyes, fine facial features so stunning that even old photos catch the breath of viewers - without a doubt the product of his French-Canadian DNA. According to those who knew her, Jan met her famous father only twice. One of those times was when blood testing proved she was his offspring. Before and after that meeting, his deliberate absence overshadowed everything in her life.

Friends who knew Jan Kerouac throughout her troubled life describe her as a devoted friend; sweet, tough, and impish; exuberant; compassionate; a wordsmith with a brilliant mind; troubled and driven; a beautiful illusion. She was a post-Beat generation writer with her own writing style who loved wordplay and prose. She hoped to leave a legacy of her own published work, and did accomplish that goal. Her first book, Baby Driver, published in 1981, and her second, Trainsong, published in 1988, were praised by critics and fans. So why isn't she famous? Why do so few readers even know her books exist? Why doesn't some smart publisher snap up her unfinished third book, Parrot Fever? And why do the "literati" want her writing, her history, and everything about her life to be erased? The answers can be found in this memorial, and by reading her two published books. Like her father before her, Jan Kerouac did not play the writing game by any set of rules the literati finds acceptable.

Like Nicosia's amazing memoir of her father, Memory Babe, this book is a must read. If you love literature, celebrate creative diversity, and are a seeker of truth and justice, you'll find this paean to the chaotic life of Jan Kerouac a fascinating read. Highly recommended.

Beads for the Messiah's Bride: Poems on Leviticus
Yakov Azriel
Time Being Books
10411 Clayton Road, St. Louis MO 63131
9781568091280 $15.95

In his third book of poetry based on the Torah, award winning scholar / poet Yakov Azriel explores the mystery and meaning of the book of Leviticus. As always, Azriel brilliantly blends the Torah and the human spirit in ways both beautiful and stunning. Put in simple terms, Leviticus is about the Levites, God's priests. God charged these priests with following rules that would help Israel to live and worship as His chosen people. God's underlying message delivered through Leviticus is "Be holy, because I am holy." Reverently and passionately, Azriel brings the laws, Sabbath, feasts, and seasons in Leviticus to vibrant life through poetry.

For example, about the burnt offering law, Leviticus says: "And he shall place his hand upon the head of the burnt offering, that it make be accepted for him, to make atonement for him." Azriel brings that law to life by personalizing the meaning in this excerpt from "The Burnt Offering:"

Please listen to my voice, my God, my King;
To You and You alone I pray, to You
And You alone I call, each day anew,
Although I stutter badly and cannot sing.
I know my throat is hoarse, and what I bring
Are mumbled, crippled prayers that once were true
When chanted long ago by those who knew
The craftsmanship of giving words a wing.

About Rosh HaShanah, Leviticus says: "The Lord spoke to Moses, 'Speak to the children of Israel - On the first day of the seventh month you shall observe a complete rest, a sacred convocation commemorated with blasts of horns.'" In "The End of the Night, the Day Before Rosh HaShanah" God's law becomes a tender song of praise and wonder:

The last watch of night unwinds
As black stumbles into gray
And dark green separates from dark blue;
Silence surrenders to bird-song
As stars withdraw,
Fading into the silken scarf
Of the departing, bashful night.

Like the other two books before it, these poems based on Leviticus are wondrous. Azriel captures the ebb and flow of life here, both ancient and modern. He skillfully weaves in ways we can all understand the interconnected branches of God's chosen people, and shines a gentle light on the Shadow of the Messiah. Whether you are Christian, Jew, curious about ancient life, or simply a poetry lover, this book is highly recommended.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Norah Jones: Overcoming Adversity, Sharing the American Dream
Donna Latham
Mason Crest
370 Reed Street, Broomall, PA 19008
9781422207512 $29.95,

"Norah Jones" by Donna Latham is a gripping and insightful biography of the famous jazz-pop singer/songwriter. Studded with historic and fresh photos of the star, "Norah Jones" tells a fascinating story of the growth and development of a modern music star who achieves success on her own terms. Cross-currents feature pages at the end add to the biography "explore connections between people, places, events, and ideas (providing additional context for understanding the subject's life and times)." "Norah Jones" is the much-heralded biography of a famous and talented pop star who worked hard to achieve her dream. It will serve as inspiration to many others who face challenging circumstances to follow their dreams.

Sustenance and Hope for Caregivers of Elderly Parents
Gloria G. Barsamian
Praeger Publishing
130 Cremona Drive
PO Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911
9780313360114, $34.95

"Sustenance and Hope for Caregivers of Elderly parents; The Bread of Angels" is a welcome resource created to support adult children of elderly parents in need of care. Written by s retired social worker with 28 years of experience helping adult children and their parents deal with demanding illnesses, "Bread of Angels" is unique in its emphasis on redefining and reinventing both caregiving and care-receiving. The fundamental paradigm shift seems to be from a view fraught with anxiety and dread of crushing responsibilities and duties to a view of parental caregiving as a rite of passage, with potential to enrich both the caregiver and the care receiver, based upon a sense of mutual reciprocity that can enrich and renew the relationship(s) between adult child caregiver and parent. Such a challenge is thoroughly investigated in the thirteen chapters of "Bread of Angels." In these chapters, individual case experiences are interwoven with apt literature quotations and worked into nuggets of pithy wisdom for today's adult caregivers. Always, flexible, always searching for the way to new growth and acceptance, "Bread of Angels" delivers much more than many practical specific suggestions and techniques (which it also contains in abundance). It is as though the author suggests caregivers use their experiences something like a mirror that looks both forwards and backwards in time, asking themselves, "How do you want to feel about this in your future, or be remembered for this by others who follow and perhaps give care to you?" In all, "Bread of Angels" provides a stimulating new focus for those who choose to face the challenges of caregiving with imagination, humility, grace and compassion. In so providing this multifaceted resource, author Gloria Barsamian has enriched all.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

Reclaim the Fire
Martin Pable
Acta Publications
5559 W. Howard Street, Skokie, IL 60077
9780879463953, $12.95,

How does one restore a faith that has long since left? "Reclaim the Fire: A Parish Guide to Evangelization" is a guide to Catholic evangelism. With notes on the history of the movement, its problems, and its successes, there is much information for the hopeful Catholic who wants to spread his faith. "Reclaim the Fire" is educational and very much recommended reading for the evangelical Catholic.

Planting Hope on Worn-Out Land
Robert G. Pasquill, Jr.
NewSouth, Inc.
PO Box 1588, Montgomery, AL 36102
9781588382054 $24.95 1-334-834-3556

Planting Hope on Worn-Out Land: History of the Tuskegee Land Utilization Project, Macon County, Alabama 1935-1959 is a thoughtful historical chronicle of a project that helped rehabilitate the barely farmable land that African-Americans were sharecropping upon at the close of the Civil War. This land would eventually become the Tuskegee National Forest. The second part of Planting Hope on Worn-Out Land tells the stories of the four hundred black families who were relocated to the community of Prairie Farms by the Resettlement Administration. Ultimately a story of success - both in bringing life back to the land and to providing work and the opportunity to tend to one's own farm to some African-American families amid devastating economic conditions - Planting Hope on Worn-Out Land is a welcome contribution to both American history and agricultural history shelves.

Dim Lit Masquerade
Michael G. Verses
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave., South, New York, NY 10016
9780533160334, $10.00,

Using his lifestyle, Michael G. Verses brings readers a unique flavor to his poetry. "Dim Lit Masquerade" is a collection of poems from Verses compiled over the better portion of a decade, and draws heavily from his urban life experience. Wise and intelligent, "Dim Lit Masquerade" is a fine volume many will enjoy. "Familiar": The great beast.../We look at one another./He loves his youthful nights,/And we have a special understanding.

Generous Fiction
Michael Cervin
Infinity Publishing
1094 New DeHaven Street, Suite 100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
074145291X, $9.95,

Poetry is an art that takes time to learn how to appreciate. "Generous Fiction" is a work from Michael Cervin, who wants to introduce readers into the world of poetry through these simple yet fine poems. Self-described as the 'anti-poetry poetry book', "Generous Fiction" is a top choice for readers seeking to learn how to appreciate verse. "Life at 10 p.m.": I was bored one night and thought about myself; my life and/all that was going on at the time, and frankly, how weird and/yet how fascinating I can be.//It was about 10 at night as I recall.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

Androgynous Murder House Party
Steven Rigolosi
Ransom Note Press
P.O. Box 419, Ridgewood, NJ 07451
9780977378760 $14.95

Steven Rigolosi is director of market research and development for a publisher of scientific books in Manhattan as his day job. ANDROGYNOUS MURDER HOUSE PARTY is his third mystery in his very own "Tales From the Back Page" mysteries. His books have received high critical praise and bear his signature style.

Robin Anders is the director of new talent at The Goode Foundation in famous Greenwich Village, New York. He has a unique circle of friends, from the pill-peddling Dr. Terry Rosenthal to a canny larcenous woman who calls herself Law. Robin and his friends share an open sexual lifestyle, which seems to permeate everything word and nuance. But when Robin's ex-lover, Lee, is found dead after a particularly bizarre weekend party at Robin's estate, Robin's famous sleuthing abilities swing into action:

"Never let it be said that the job of a sleuth is easy. One spends an inordinate amount of time simply bustling about, going here, going there, in search of information that will lead to the inevitable shocking revelation that one could never have expected. In the meantime a great deal of money and energy have been expended, often in inverse proportion to the amount of useful data gathered. Occasionally along the way one does meet, and take to bed, an intriguing and mysterious stranger, and while some more exhibitionistic narrators may feel comfortable in revealing such details, I have always believed that a person of good breeding does not kiss and tell."

Robin Anders is the narrator of this titillating tale, and his imperious but shy manner is surprisingly endearing. Rigolosi throws in a little Elizabeth Peters in Anders' manner, making him a person of high principals (and low morals). Characterization is superb, with Rigolosi painting a fascinating portrait of each quirky personage. The plot is full of surprises around every corner; with the personal agenda of each flawed deceit cooked up by these money grubbers contributing to a story that sparks with naughtiness.

Rigolosi isn't afraid to let the story spread out, but knows when to bring the plot and characters home to roost. ANDROGYNOUS MURDER HOUSE PARTY is hysterical and is a guilty pleasure to be enjoyed on a summer day!

Freezer Burn
Gayle Carline
Echelon Press, LLC,
9735 Country Meadows Lane I-D, Laurel, MD 20723
9781590806074 $13.99

Gayle Carline is an Illinois girl who moved to California in 1978. She started writing and riding horses at about the same time, and the two loves quickly merged in the form of articles for the California Riding magazine. She moved on to a humor column in her local newspaper, the Placentia News Times. Mysteries soon followed.

Peri Minneopa (which sounds suspiciously similar to peri-menopause) is a newly minted private investigator, after years of running her own house cleaning business. Of course she has a handsome and vital policeman as her main squeeze, which comes in handy when things get rough. Her first case involves a mangled hand found in the freezer of one of her old housecleaning accounts. Benny Needles (who is described as a hyper obsessive-compulsive) now owns his mother's home and has turned it into a shrine to honor Dean Martin. Benny can't help constantly attracting police attention, due to his innate weirdness. The main question that emerges is…where is the body, and why are more bodies popping up?

"'Benny, what happened?' she asked him.

'Miss Peri,' he said. 'They think I killed him.'

'Killed who?' Peri looked past Benny to his yard. A body lay crumpled, in the overgrown grass.

'I don't know,' he replied. 'The guy who was sneaking.'

Per walked around to the fence, and ran into Officer Monroe.

'Who was it?'

'ID says David Waters,' he told her. 'Stabbed with a bread knife.'

'And what makes you think Benny did it?'

Officer Monroe shrugged. 'It was his knife.'"

Mysteries with missing bodies or body parts are generally very entertaining, and Ms. Carline capitalizes on this with her perky style of descriptive character names. The plot is a good one…where, oh where, is the body, and where is the missing mega-ring that is needed by the family member who is up to his neck in debt with some very unsavory characters? It all adds up to great fun and an interesting and fresh read from Ms. Carline.

Lost Daughters
J.M. Redmann
Bywater Books
P.O. Box 3671, Ann Arbor, MI 48106
1978932859039 $12.95

J.M. Redmann is the author of four Micky Knight mysteries. She lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is a Lambda Literary Award winner.

PI Micky Knight is a complicated woman. Yanked away from her mother at age five, she lost her father at age ten. She was sent to live with her aunt and uncle, and had to endure abuse from a hateful aunt and sexual abuse from a sadistic cousin. She is struggling to overcome these psychological obstacles and build a relationship with her lesbian partner, who is a doctor. But patients at the clinic where her partner practices start disappearing, and are found brutally slain. Micky and Cordelia have friends in the police department, and Micky's cases soon put her in the middle of the action.

"As the door swung open, I heard the strangled gurgle again. For the last time.

There was blood everywhere. How can a human body contain that much blood, was my first thought. Then the heavy, iron smell of it assaulted my senses.

Georgia Sherman had just died.

For a moment, thought of first aid jumbled through my head. Stop the bleeding. But save for a slight ooze from the wounds on her chest, there was no bleeding. Her blood had left her body and I couldn't put it back in."

As evidenced in the quote, J.M. Redmann is a sensitive and perceptive writer. Her characters have layers and layers of depth, and the action is non-stop. She does a great job of completely fool the reader as to "whodunit." I thought I had the answer, but I was off by a person.

LOST DAUGHTERS also deals with the pain that children feel when they are abandoned by their mothers. It is Micky Knight's specialty, since she is also a victim of parental neglect, but J.M. Redmann relents at the end of the tale to take the time to put things back in order in a satisfactory fashion.

LOST DAUGHTERS is a book that is impossible to put down, once the first page is read. This reviewer can't wait for the next installment…a sure sign of a winner!

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

The Heart of a Father
Edited by Anna Marie Jaworski and Bob Daigneault
Baby Hearts Press
3910 Sierra Blanca Blvd, Temple, TX 76502
0965250830 $18.00

If I were to give this book a title I could not think of a better one than it already has. "The Heart of a Father," totally describes what you will find inside the pages of this powerful work. I don't think for most of mankind anything is closer to our hearts than our children and grandchildren. We strive to give them a good life, to protect them, nurture them and enjoy watching them grow into productive adults. But what happens when something takes control of their lives and we have no power to stop it? That is what this book is about, and more.

Inside this book we will learn about CHD (congenital heart defects) and the devastating effects this enemy has on the children, and those who love them. The information acquired by this alone is worth reading this work, however, it goes deeper than that. This book goes literally into the heart of the matter, into the hearts of fathers and grandfathers of children who battle this enemy everyday of their lives. Think about it, even when your child gets a simple cold, or the flu, your world is stopped until it passes, but what happens when you don't know when or if the sickness attacking your child will ever stop? Thus is the case with CHD, a problem that is an ongoing battle.

The words in this book are heart words from fathers and grandfathers across the globe who are now, or have been in the clutches of this battle with the child they love. In their stories you will experience their joys at victories, their fear of failure, and at times their brokenness of defeat. They are bare and honest in their telling, sharing the frustration of standing by as a role of protector of family, and the complete feeling of helplessness they experience as the life of a child is taken away, and the battle is lost.

Yes, I cried true tears at the loss I read of precious lives, never tasting what was destined for them, and I cheered at the victories, no matter how small that these victims experienced. But more than that, this book, these stories, opened my eyes to not just the inner turmoil of fathers and grandfathers facing the CHD battle, but even those who face everyday other enemies that are devouring their precious children. I saw, perhaps for the first time, the incredible love, the brokenness of the spirit, and the hidden strength that we overlooked in these brave souls.

This wonderful book is a collection of stories and poems from fathers and grandfathers that will shake your inner being. The courage of these men to open up and share their very souls is remarkable. Truly a book that will bring much awareness and also unite many around the world, bringing unknown soldiers together to stand shoulder to shoulder, to strengthen one another in love, faith and courage. God bless them all.

Somewhere Between Books & Beer
Jennifer Drieves
0744302660 $7.95

In this read our author gives us many short stories. Tales of life that many may have experienced, and sighed in recognition as they read, and others that most of us hope we never will experience. Her stories are broken down into categories, to name a few:

Getting To Know You, The Art of the Hookup, After the First Kiss, and Fellas, It's Not Just You.

Under each category are short stories of happenings in relationships between men and women. There is also a footnote at the end of each with a line or two of advise. Cute!
Our author brings out areas where women and at times men have problems and gives you some down-right great stories.

Take the story of Meg who was an engineer, and upon talking with a man was unable to convince him that she was capable of being one. Talk about writing truths that many women live through, this one is classic.

There were also some stories that made me giggle, like, A Transformation. Ah! What do you think happens when a young man working in a science lab begins to eat the experiment? Too funny.

I enjoyed this read. It was a quick read, yet fun and entertaining, and full of some helpful tips and bewares that every reader may well benefit from in one way or another! Nice job.

Out From Darkness
Ben Alexander
College Press Pub. Co.
PO Box 11029, St. Petersburg, FL 33733
0899002064 $10.00

I want to say when a book contains truth, no matter how long ago it was written, it is never out of date. That is how I feel about this work, "Out From Darkness," by Ben Alexander. Being a reviewer there are many times that I put aside books I would like to read and pick up those I have committed to read. That was the case with this book. I do believe it sat in my bookcase for several years, to my shame. The other day it almost called out to me and I picked it up and read it in one day.

As many of you know by my reviews I am a Christian and strongly believe we are in the end-times. I feel that the forces of darkness are becoming stronger around us, that said, to me this book gives great insight into the dangers of many of those forces. The author, Ben Alexander, do to a series of sad happenings plunged himself into the world of spiritualism. He spent years sitting in rooms with others of his belief, and watching the evil forces manifest in one way or another. At first to him it was exciting, different, and as he said, proof to him that there was life after death. Death being a fear he could not shake. The problem, as with dabbling in anything dark, it becomes more fear motivated than love motivated. Comfort, protection, love, security, all the elements that are found when Jesus is sought were absent in what was happening around Ben. Terror overtook him and thankfully while living in America, he found the path that led to life, Jesus, and turned from the darkness.

In his book he exposes many of the dark side happenings, from Spiritualism to Witchcraft, into E.S.P. and Reincarnation, to name a few. He gives explanations of each and Scripture as to why you should run, not walk away from them. He also gives many stories of people who were caught up in the web of deceit that the enemy sows.

This is a great book, one that every Christian should read to be armed in warfare and one that ever person should read who is looking for Spiritual insight.

The Ultimate Alternative
Richard Watkins
Desktop Prepress Services
808 S. New Bethel Blvd., Ada, OK 74820
9780578024691 $18.56

Isaac is a man who has everything, at least that is what his best friend and admirer, Darius says. He has a good job, good looks, personality and knows how to manipulate people, especially women to fulfill his desires and needs. His life decisions are based on his own pleasures without thinking of the consequences. Isaac is admired by friend and foe, if he has any foes, and is certainly a catch that many women would gladly have.

Darius is married to a beautiful woman, Monica, but Darius has a roving eye. His infidelity has caused deep emotional scars in his faithful and loving wife. Emotions that will surface and send ripples through their entire relationship as she takes a step into adultery with a forbidden fruit, and this decision turns many lives into turmoil, and ends life-long friendships. What a ride!

Author, Richard Watkins, in his new book, " The Ultimate Alternative -When One Chooses Lust Over Love," tells us a story. A story that is played out time and time again all over the world, one that has no happy ending, if the characters do not understand the role they are playing in destroying not just other lives, but their own, and make a change.

His main character is certainly a charmer. Isaac is a man who has the world on a string, but when lust overtakes his life he loses friends, a woman, Jasmine, who truly would have given him great love and joy, and self respect. He becomes nothing more than an object in a world that already has too many. His life spins out of control. The final outcome of Isaac's decisions and those who also played a part is painful. Deep hurts of all the players and the innocent victims are splashed before your eyes, and you plainly see the results of lust and the harm it does to all involved. However, the story brings forth the repentance that Isaac takes and the new beginning it brings to him. And I felt the author did a wonderful job in showing the need for Isaac to seek forgiveness from those he had harmed by his actions.

The bottom line is this: Author, Richard Watkins weaves a tale of lust versus love and brings forth the consequences of such actions, not just on the one who lives in lust, but also on the unknowing recipients that his actions touch. He does this with characters that are true to life and a storyline that holds your interest. However, he doesn't just leave you standing with the vision of destroyed lives by the decisions made. He also brings forth the solution for such actions, the need for repentance and turning ones life around. And although this may not be an easy path to take, he shows the importance of righting wrongs and heading in the right direction. Mr. Watkins, brings you an interesting story with a moral lesson that should be applied to all lives for a better world.

Well done, Mr. Watkins!

New & Easy Poems to Promote Your Health & Safety
John Blandly
0744315018 $7.95

As I started this read the first poem I read was called, "End Punctuality Now!" and I giggled. I knew I was going to like this book, and I did. Author, John Blandly definitely has a way with words, but a way that is not what you would expect. He takes his outlook on life, in so many areas and somehow weaves each poem around bringing forth a read that often will make you giggle, sometimes give you pause for thought, and at other times make you shake your head and asked, just what was he thinking? And that is what makes this a great read.

Some of his titles are: Action Junkies, Elections, and Drink to Me Only With Thine Mastercard.
I liked them all, they were refreshing and definitely not the norm of poetry reading that I have been accustomed to. His subjects are so varied that they tumble you around as tumble weed in a desert, yet land you often in an oasis. My favorite can be found on page 30, Dr. Bob Bruzinski's Advice To The Young, and I would like to include it in this review, I quote:

Be holy:
Somebody might be looking.
Pray a lot:
There might be a war and you could get killed.
Marry young:
There might be a war and you could get killed.

Priceless! Thank you Mr. Blandly for writing such an enjoyable read.

Irregular Joe
Nancy S. Ure
Illustrated by Casey L. Gathy
0744312042 $5.95

Joe is a member of the Normale' family, a large Italian-American family that believes in tradition, respect and honor. Joe loves his family but does not like his name. You see, everyone in Joe's family is named Joe in one form or another, Grandpa Joe, Grandma Josephina, cousins, Joely, Joanne, and Jodie, to name a few. It was, after all, a family custom and one unfortunately that young Joe did not like. Why did everyone have to be named Joe, in one way or another? He didn't feel he had any identity of his own, but was merely clumped in with the group. Poor Joe, what is he to do?

As you continue reading this story the author does an excellent job at pulling you into the emotions of young Joe. You fully understand his need for independence and his search for it. Everyone longs to be their own person, don't they? An individual set apart from others?

As Joe confronts this issue he has an awakening and I loved the way the author allowed it. Joe soon realizes that just because you have the same name, in one form or another, as others do, does not mean you are not special in your own right. Author, Nancy S. Ure, truly brings this out in her storyline in a superb way. Easy and fun to read this book will help any child grasp the understanding that they are unique. The illustrations are bright and colorful, active and alive, and truly bring the story to the mind's eye.

A gem of a read that I am pleased to recommend. One that will help every child in their development and bring entertainment and enjoyment at the same time. Very well done.

Maxcine & Isabel: Volume I
Sharon Kull
Synerge Ebooks

I always enjoy a good humor read and this one was over the top. In this book we meet two sisters in their sixties, Maxcine and Isabel. The husbands of these two funny ladies decided to have a midlife fling and spread their wings, so to speak. Unfortunately they were caught, and found themselves without their marriage partners, leaving the ladies living out their lives together in one home.

The story takes wings when the ladies decide to make advance travel plans to leave this world in their timing, if St. Pete allows. Of course they will first have to undergo an intense interview with his worker, Angela. This interview will be long and extensive, and perhaps shine the spotlight on some areas that really doesn't need light shone. It is through this time that the ladies begin to tell tales of their lives, always trying to shade off the more 'colorful' parts with out much success. I giggled myself silly over some of their antics and their stories always left their interviewer with wide eyed amazement. If the truth be known, myself as well, but that was part of the charm of this story.

This was a funny tale, with two very entertaining ladies taking the spotlight, and it was packed full of surprises that definitely entertain you. Who could guess what they were going to come out with next. Quite amusing! Do they fly away to Glory before their true appointed time, or is there more to that story than meets the eye? You'll have to read this laugh out loud book to find out. If you like to giggle, this book is for you. Well done! Thanks for the laughs, a very welcome emotion.

Philosopher's Stone
E. Ervin Tibbs
0744306760 $17.99 pbk $5.98 ebook

In this outstanding book by author, Ervin Tibbs we meet our main character, Kyle Brinhaven. Kyle is making a journey to see the father that raised him, a man who taught him everything he would ever need in life. His dad, Joe, lives on the Sanoran Desert, Indian being his background he enjoyed living with his heritage. Joe had many talents, and taught Kyle all of them, being one of the best trackers or guide was not the least of them. When Aztec gold artifacts are found at a dig and than stolen and hidden somewhere in the area the university that sponsored the dig came seeking help from the best tracker they knew, Joe. They wanted to find the gold and thought he was the best man to ask for help. However Joe passed the job onto his son, who after much convincing agreed to try and find where the thief's had hidden the artifacts. Not an easy job and one that takes the reader on an adventure of a life-time.

I truly cannot begin to tell you how much I loved this book. It is a story that will grab you from the beginning and not let you go to the last page, and even then you are wanting more. The characters are very well defined and you truly become part of their lives and all that is happening around them. I loved the dad, Joe, he was unique and full of ginger, yet had a heart of gold. The relationship between father and son was heartwarming and truly added so much to the story. There were so many interesting characters in this read, each one bringing a new level of either friendship, danger, suspense, mystery or romance on the scene. I loved the the total surprise ending that the author throws at you, right when you least expect it, I did not see that coming. Truly Kyle is one smart cookie. I don't think Sherlock Homes could have done a better job than our Kyle did at solving the complex mystery of the missing artifacts. Everything about this read was top-notch, from the local to the characters, to the mystery and suspense that the author so cleverly weaved into the storyline. Truly if this were a movie I was watching I would stand up and applaud. It has been a while since I have enjoyed a book as much as I have this one. Outstanding!

I give this book my highest recommendation. I truly hope that our author will not stop here but will take Kyle and Joe on many more adventures. In my opinion, this is one of those books that you will be glad you read and one that you will never forget. Exceptional!

The Lake That Stole Children
Douglas Glenn Clark
CreateSpace Publishing
9781438243580 $6.25

In this fable we meet a fisherman, his wife and two children, a boy and a girl. They live in a small village. The fisherman is a stern man, wanting complete obedience from his children, priding that above all . The sister tries very hard to please her father, but the son yearns to taste of life and take chances, something his father forbids. The village holds a dark mysterious secret that no one talks about, but one that causes deep sorrow in the land. A secret that takes the fisherman's son away and causes him to come face to face with what love and life are all about as he sets out on a quest to not only free his son from the thrones of the lake, but other children as well. The question is, will he make it in time, or lose his life trying.

Our author wrote quite a tale in this work, one that weaves around the mystic feel that a fable should have. The forest responding to the emotions of the people, the lake brimming with a life force that is mysterious and dangerous, capturing the essence of their hearts as they lose their most precious treasures to it, their children. The characters live in a world of enchantment and the reader is drawn into that world by the words and story of Douglas Clark. His descriptive power of his words in many instances was exceptional.

I enjoyed this read. I liked the way the father came to the realization of what his children truly needed from him as a father, and how the son understood that there indeed were dangers in the world that he was not ready to battle. And a happy ending is always a good thing.

Saving Tom Black: A Jack Silver Adventure
Jere D. James
Moonlight Mesa Associates
18620 Monlight Mesa Rd, Wickenburg, Arizona, 85390
9780977459353 $15.95

It isn't often, but there are times, when a book has three elements in it, grace, charm and dignity, such is the character of this book. Set mainly in the state of Arizona, the year 1888, our story takes a young girl, a black man, and a Sheriff and merges them in a story so full of depth, unleashed emotion, and incredible perception and fortitude of the human spirit that it will not easily be forgotten.

Times for the nation are hard, survival is the name of the game, especially for the DuBonnet family, mother and two daughters. This family, seeking help from a Children's Agency, is separated, mother and daughter sent off to be married in another state, leaving Elizabeth alone awaiting the uniting of her family. Time passes and Elizabeth is herself being shipped off to be married, however, Elizabeth has a mind of her own and a spirit that is unquenchable. Stealing away in the night she begins a search for her mother and sister; a search that leads her to Prescott, Arizona and her destiny.

On the way she meets Thomas Jefferson, a black man who befriends Elizabeth and becomes an important person in her life, and in so doing, finds the strength to live his own. She also meets the new Sheriff, Jake Silver, a man of honor and integrity, a man that is himself traveling towards his destiny. Their lives are deeply interwoven in a way neither deemed possible as each begins to battle the forces and obstacles before them that will ultimately unite them. What a ride!

As I began this read I was pulled immediately into the story, so strongly that I thought about it and could not wait to get back to the read. The character description was exceptional, their emotions, their moral fiber, their very essence, screams at you from the pages of this book. Locals were vivid, whether it be the massive countryside, the quaint Inn, or the barren land, your visual was clear and crisp. The storyline was top-notch, with characters that were colorful, cruel, loving, hesitant, dangerous and this story even included the charm of enjoying the personality of several animals. That was a great touch.

Books leave the reader with many emotions, their words take us on a journey, and impart within us a presence, if you will, part of the very soul of the writer. There are some books that I, as a reviewer, almost wish I had not read, still others I will never forget; such is the case with this wonderful book.

"Saving Tom Black," is a story that is pure, yet exciting; tender, yet brimming with danger, sad, yet joyous. It is one that will cascade you with emotions, and at the end leave you satisfied and smiling. This is one book I would be proud to keep in my personal library and recommend to young and old. This is a writer that knows how to get into your very heart with a true treasure of a read. Well done! Thank you.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Obama in Prophecy
J. Emmette Weir
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432712334, $12.95,

Obama may be the biggest media sensation America has ever had in a president. Could he be a religious sensation as well? "Obama in Prophecy" is one man's look at Barack Obama in relation to Christian prophecy. Claiming that there are many interesting parallels between Obama and key Biblical figures, Reverend Weir offers much for Christian readers to ponder and think about. "Obama in Prophecy" is a top pick and highly recommended for religious Obama supporters.

The Nuremberg War Crimes Trial and Its Policy Consequences Today
Beth A. Griech-Polelle
c/o International Specialized Book Services (ISBS)
920 NE 58th Ave., Suite 300, Portland, OR 97213-3786
9783832939069, $40.00,

The Nuremberg trials are of one of history's most hotly debated topics, even to this day. "The Nuremberg War Crimes Trial and Its Policy Consequences Today" is a scholarly look at the trials and their long lasting impacts on the modern era. Tracing the history of the trials, their immediate aftermath, and their repercussions throughout the decades, "The Nurembeg War Crimes Trial and Its Policy Consequences Today" is enhanced with indexes and bibliographies, "The Nuremberg War Crimes Trial" is a top and highly recommended pick for world history collections with a focus on World War II.

The Green Zone
Barry Sanders
AK Press
674-A 23rd Street, Oakland, CA 94612-1163
9781904859949, $14.95,

War is hell - on the planet as well as the people involved. "The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism" is a criticism of the huge environmental costs of warfare, presenting the facts that the world's militaries, the United States' most powerful one in particular, are causing more environmental damage than countless other sources combined. Linking militarism with environmental destruction, "The Green Zone" presents many intriguing ideas and is highly recommended.

Postcards From Across the Pond
Michael Harling
c/o Author
1905430485, $18.99,

Sometimes home becomes a place one never expected it to be. "Postcards From Across the Pond: Dispatches from An Accidental Expat" are the ramblings of one Michael Harling, an American who found himself living in the United Kingdom permanently, although he never wanted to do so. Filled with humorous stories and anecdotes of one man changing scenery, "Postcards from Across the Pond" is a fine and recommended read.

John Taylor

Vicki's Bookshelf

Morbito II: Guardian of the Darkness
Nahoko Uehashi
AAL / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545102957 $17.99

Balsa returns to her native Kanbal to clear the name of Jiguro, her dear mentor, who saved her life when she was six years old. But what should be a visit of truth and reconciliation becomes a fight for her life when she learns that Jiguro had been a member of King Rogsam's personal bodyguard. After Jiguro fled Kanbal with her, Rogsam sent the other bodyguards after them one by one--Jiguro's best friends, whom he had to kill to protect Balsa. Now, with the help of two Kanbalese children, Balsa must unwind the conspiracy surrounding Jiguro and the mystery of the Guardians of the Dark.

T Minus: The Race to the Moon
Jim Ottaviani, Zander Cannon, Kevin Cannon
1230 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416949602 $12.99

"T Minus: The Race to the Moon" is a fascinating graphic novel for younger readers. It poses an interesting question: What happens when you take two global superpowers, dozens of daring pilots, thousands of engineers and scientists, and then point them at the night sky and say "Go!"? Answer: A space race! The whole world followed the countdown to sending the first men to the moon. This modern, comic book look at the momentous occasion tells the story of the people who made it happen, both in the rockets and behind the scenes.

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11
Brian Floca
Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416950462 $17.99

Simply told, grandly shown, "Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11" by author/illustrator Brian Floca, is the dramatic flight of Apollo 1.. Here for a new generation of readers and explorers are the steady astronauts, clicking themselves into gloves and helmets, strapping themselves into sideways seats. Here are their great machines in all their detail and monumentality, the ROAR of rockets, and the silence of the Moon. Here is a story of adventure and discovery - an oversized picture book story of leaving and returning during the summer of 1969, and a story of home, seen whole, from far away.

Hello Baby!
Mem Fox, Steve Jenkins
Beach Lane / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416985136 $16.99

After meeting a bevy of baby animals -- including a clever monkey, a hairy warthog, and a dusty lion cub -- the baby in this story discovers the most precious creature of all...itself, of course! With an exuberant rhyming text by bestselling author Mem Fox and adorable cut-paper illustrations by Caldecott-Honor recipient Steve Jenkins, this book is an irresistible celebration of the joyful connection between parent and child. Great for reading aloud to pre-readers through kindergarteners.

Lifting the Sky
Mackie d'Arge
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781599901862 $16.99

In the spirit of "The Yearling" comes the unforgettable story of a ranch hand's daughter. Blue's wandering mother has always told her, "Just bloom where you're planted." And it's been a pretty good motto, considering how Mam never stays put inone place for very long. Then Mam gets hired as a hand at a tumble-down ranch, and for the first time, Blue sees a place she longs to call home for good. There she makes a friend in an enigmatic Shoshone boy whose search for an ancient petroglyph intrigues her. And it's there that the faint lights Blue has always been able to see around people begin to shine with new energy. But Mam begins to show signs of getting restless once again, and when the father who abandoned Blue years ago suddenly shows up at the ranch, the family she always thought she wanted may not be the one her heart is craving after all.

Living Sunlight
Molly Bank and Penny Chisholm
Blue Sky Press / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545044226 $16.99

The green-themed picture book "Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life" by author/illustrator Molly Bank and co-author Penny Chisholm is designed to show children, teachers, and parents the remarkable magic of what makes us human - through planet-friendly eyes. This informative yet dramatic book will mesmerize readers and help further a child's understanding of the energy we share with all living things in nature. We are all dancing sunlight. A lovely addition to any school or institutional library.

Grizzly Dad
Joanna Harrison
David Fickling Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385751735 $16.99

Everyone knows that sometimes dads can be grumpy and grouchy and grizzly. In this oversized picture book, Dad wakes up in a grizzly mood. All morning he groans and grizzles and grumps. And then he went back to bed! But when his child pulls back the covers to see how he is, it wasn't Dad in bed at all . . . it was a big grizzly bear! His child should have been frightened but the grumpy look on his face is reminiscent of someone. This is the story of how one little boy looks after a very grizzly bear for the day. He brushes his fur (and his smelly teeth), lets him forage in the fridge, and then they zoom into town in a bright red sports car for the best day out ever. At home they have honey sandwiches and a big bear hug, and when Mum gets home, everything is back to normal. Or is it?

Winter Wood
Steve Augarde
David Fickling Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385750745 $17.99

The third and final book in the enthralling Touchstone trilogy about the Various. In the final book of Steve Augarde's captivating trilogy, past and present are connected and the interwoven threads lead to an astonishing series of revelations. Midge's discovery of the hidden tribe is like a dream to her now, their existence all but forgotten - but then a voice calls out to her in the winter darkness. The Various have returned, and their desperation has made them all the more dangerous. They must travel to Elysse or perish. The only way that Midge can help the little people is by tracing the whereabouts of her great-great-aunt Celandine. But Celandine must be long dead, surely? A story of danger and magic, friendship and betrayals, this is fantasy writing at its very best.

Faith, Hope and Ivy June
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385736152 $16.99

Ivy June Mosely and Catherine Combs, two girls from different parts of Kentucky, are participating in the first seventh-grade student exchange program between their schools. The girls will stay at each other's homes, attend school together, and record their experience in their journals. Catherine and her family have a beautiful home with plenty of space. Since Ivy June's house is crowded, she lives with her grandparents. Her Pappaw works in the coal mines supporting four generations of kinfolk. Ivy June can't wait until he leaves that mine forever and retires. As the girls get closer, they discover they're more alike than different, especially when they face the terror of not knowing what's happening to those they love most.

Highway to Hell
Rosemary Clement-Moore
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385734639 $16.99

Maggie Quinn was expecting to find plenty of trouble with Lisa over Spring Break. Give a girl a bikini, a beachfront hotel, and an absent boyfriend, and it's as good as a road map to the dark side. But Maggie doesn't have to go looking for trouble. Trouble has started looking for her. One dead cow and a punctured gas tank later, she and Lisa are stuck in Dulcina, Texas -- a town so small that it has an owner. And lately life in this small town hasn't been all that peaceful. An eerie predator is stalking the ranchland. Everyone in town has a theory, but not even Maggie's psychic mojo can provide any answers. And the longer the girls are stranded, the more obvious it becomes that something is seriously wrong. Only no one - not even Maggie's closest ally - wants to admit that they could have been forced on a detour down the highway to hell.

The Sorceress: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
Michael Scott
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385735292 $17.99

"The Sorceress: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel" by Michael Scott is book three in the New York Times bestselling series for young adults. Nicholas Flamel's heart almost broke as he watched his beloved Paris crumble before him. The city was destroyed by Dee and Machiavelli, but Flamel played his own role in the destruction. Sophie and Josh Newman show every sign of being the twins of prophecy, and Flamel had to protect them and the pages from the Dark Elders. But Nicholas grows weaker with each passing day. Perenelle is still trapped in Alcatraz, and now that Scatty has gone missing, the group is without protection. Except for Clarent - the twin sword to Excalibur. But Clarent's power is unthinkable, its evil making it nearly impossible to use without its darkness seeping into the soul of whoever wields it. If he hopes to defeat Dee, Nicholas must find an Elder who can teach Josh and Sophie the third elemental magic -- Water Magic. The problem? The only one who can do that is Gilgamesh.

It's Not You, It's Me
Kerry Cohen Hoffmann
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385736961 $15.99

Funny and touching, "It's Not You, It's Me" is a heartfelt breakup story for young adults from Kerry Cohen Hoffmann, the author if "The Good Girl" and "Easy," and a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. In this bittersweet story, Zoe loves Henry. Then Henry dumps Zoe. Then, of course, Zoe wants Henry back -- at any cost. Zoe's two best friends come up with a plan to help Zoe get what she thinks she wants. The plan becomes a classic effort to make Henry jealous, but the plan takes a surprising turn. Spanning thirty-one days in the cycle of a breakup, Hoffmann's humorous and poignant novel depicts a girl whose single-minded focus on her ex-boyfriend has pulled her far from the person she most needs to win back -- herself.

Ellis Island
Raymond Bial
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
9780618999439 $18.00

Ellis Island, America's most famous location in its history of immigration, was once a landfill in the upper bay of New York Harbor. Since its opening on January 1, 1892, Ellis Island has come to symbolize the waves of immigrants from a list of countries that seems endless. Although there were other immigration stations along the United States' shores between 1892 and 1924, half of the newcomers to the United States came through Ellis Island. Once a popular spot with picnickers, Ellis Island was purchased by a farmer in 1794. The government reclaimed the island and Ellis Island became the foremost station in immigration services. It was enlarged to six acres, and nearly twelve million people passed through its doors until it closed in 1954.
This is the story not only of the many Americans who first came to this country through Ellis Island but of Ellis Island itself.

The Frog Scientist
Pamela S. Turner, Andy Comins
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
9780618717163 $18.00

"The Frog Scientist" is a captivating and beautifully photographed Scientists in the Field title about a man trying to discover the effects pesticides have on frogs and, in turn, on us. When Tyrone Hayes was growing up in South Carolina, he didn't worry about pesticides. He just liked to collect frogs. Tyrone's interest in science led him to Harvard University, and though he struggled at first, he found his calling in the research lab of an amphibian scientist. Meanwhile, scientists discovered that all around the globe, frogs were dying. The decline has many causes, including habitat loss and disease. Tyrone discovered that the most commonly used pesticide in the United States, atrazine, may also play a role. Tyrone tested atrazine on frogs in his lab at Berkeley. He found that the chemical caused some of the male frogs to develop into bizarre half-male, half-female frogs. What was going on? That's what Tyrone wants to find out.

Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone
Dene Low
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
9780547152509 $16.00

You would think Petronella's sixteenth birthday would be cause for celebration. After all, fashionable friends are arriving at her country estate near London, teas are being served, and her coming out party promises to be a resplendent affair. Everything is falling nicely into place, until, suddenly -- it isn't. For Petronella discovers that her guardian, Uncle Augustus T. Percival, has developed a most un-Victorian compulsion: He must eat bugs. Worse still, because he is her guardian, Uncle Augustus is to attend her soiree and his current state will most definitely be an embarrassment. During the festivities, when Petronella would much rather be sharing pleasantries with handsome Lord James Sinclair (swoon), important guests are disappearing, kidnapping notes are appearing, many of the clues are insects, and Uncle Augustus is surreptitiously devouring evidence. It's more than one sixteen-year-old girl should have to deal with. But, truth be told, there is far more yet to come . . .

Michael Harmon
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375840999 $16.99

With her martyr-doctor mother gone to save lives in some South American country, Poe Holly suddenly finds herself on the suburban doorstep of the father she never knew, who also happens to be a counselor at her new high school. She misses Los Angeles. She misses the guys in her punk band. Weirdly, she even misses the shouting matches she used to have with her mom. But Poe manages to find a few friends: Theo, the cute guy in the anarchy T-shirt, and Velveeta, her oddly likeable neighbor -- and a born victim who's the butt of every prank at Benders High. But when the pranks turn deadly at the hands of invincible football star Colby Morris, Poe knows she's got to fix the system and take down the hero. With insightfulness, spot-on dialogue, and a swiftly paced plot, Michael Harmon tells the story of a displaced girl grappling with a truly dangerous bully.

Guinevere's Gamble
Nancy McKenzie
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375943461 $16.99

"Guinevere's Gamble is the second book in the Chrysalis Queen Quartet, starring the young Guinevere. Much has changed over the last few months in Gwynedd, but Guinevere is still uncertain where her future lies. She recently made the unsettling discovery that she has been guarded all her life by a pagan tribe who believes she is destined to save them - they believe she and the great king will one day wed. But this prophecy is so at odds with her inferior position in the castle as Queen Alyse and King Pellinore's lowly ward, she can't believe it's true. Now more complications arise as Guinevere and her cousin accompany Alyse and Pellinore to a meeting between Welsh kings, presided over by one of the High King Arthur's knights. While there, Guinevere discovers she has a powerful enemy: King Arthur's sister, Princess Morgaine. But why would Morgaine hate her? Guinevere is tumbling into her destiny in ways she never imagined, and she may soon have to face the prophecy with new eyes.

Kaleidoscope Eyes
Jen Bryant
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375840487 $16.99

Will Lyza's 1968 summer mystery lead to . . . pirate treasure? When Lyza helps her dad clean out her late grandfather's house, a mysterious surprise brightens the sad task. In Gramps's dusty attic, Lyza discovers three maps, carefully folded and stacked, bound by a single rubber band. On top, an envelope says "For Lyza ONLY." What could this possibly be? It takes the help of her two best friends, Malcolm and Carolann, to figure out that the maps reveal three possible spots in their own New Jersey town where Captain Kidd (the Captain Kidd, seventeenth-century pirate) may have buried a treasure. Can three thirteen-year-olds actually conduct a secret treasure hunt? And what will they find? In a tale inspired by a true story of buried treasure, Jen Bryant weaves an emotional and suspenseful novel in poems, all set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War during a pivotal year in U.S. history.

The Other Half of Life
Kim Ablon Whitney
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375952197 $16.99

"The Other Half of Life" is a heartbreaking novel based on the true story of a World War II voyage. In May of 1939, the SS St. Francis sets sail from Germany, carrying German Jews and other refugees away from Hitler's regime. The passengers believe they are bound for freedom in Cuba and eventually the United States, but not all of them are celebrating. Fifteen-year-old Thomas is anxious about his parents and didn't want to leave Germany: his father, a Jew, has been imprisoned and his mother, a Christian, is left behind, alone. Fourteen-year old Priska has her family with her, and she's determined to enjoy the voyage, looking forward to their new lives. Based on the true story of the MS St. Louis, this historical young adult novel imagines two travelers and the lives they may have lived until events, and immigration laws, conspired to change their fates. Author Kim Ablon Whitney did meticulous research on the voyage of the St. Louis to craft her compelling and moving story about this little-known event in history.

Surface Tension: A Novel in Four Summers
Brent Runyon
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375844461 $16.99

Lucas at 13 is excited about everything -- swimming, fishing, skipping rocks, and searching for lucky stones. There's so much to do in two weeks at the lake. Lucas at 14 is a little more jaded, and more interested in looking at the hot girl next door than in looking for rocks. Lucas at 15 is a little angrier. The friend he brings along makes him see his summer haven with new -- and less appreciative -- eyes. Lucas at 16 is in love -- until he gets a break-up post card from his girlfriend, and then he wants to die. Brent Runyon (author of the acclaimed memoir "The Burn Journals") has crafted a remarkable portrait of a boy at four distinct points in his life and literally shows us his coming-of-age. It's a story about what is ever-changing and what is timeless, and how we are shaped by both the people and places we love.

A Small Surprise
Louise Yates
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375856983 $16.99

"A Small Surprise" is a triumphant and endearing read-aloud tale to tickle the smallest listeners. A very small bunny wants to join the circus and is not put off by a sign reading "Small Animals Need Not Apply." Though he is too small to wipe his nose or tie his shoes or walk far without a rest, he is not too small to make a BIG impression on the lion, the orangutan, and the other big animals of this circus troupe. This buoyant little tale is at turns funny, endearing, clever -- and just right for the smallest child in any family. The brief text and expressive illustrations are great fun to share with a preschooler.

National Geographic Kids Almanac 2010
National Geographic Society
1145 17th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036
9781426305023 $12.99

Multiple National Geographic contributors, from researchers and photographers in the field to lively and informative writers for children developed this first "National Geographic Kids Almanac 2010" in association with content experts and educational specialists. By even randomly turning the pages, kids are dared to explore -- from modern day adventurers to close calls and narrow escapes. Close ups on amazing animals take readers into the wild and into the water. Discoveries are made through cultural connections from food, currency, literature and lots more from around the world. From globe trotting geography -- maps, travel, and famous landmarks - set readers on the move to learn how to go green and help out our threatened earth. Other sectional topics include "History Happens," "Wonders of Nature," and "Super Science," making this book filled with chapter after chapter of fun and fabulous factoids.

Look to the Stars
Buzz Aldrin, Wendell Minor
Putnam / Penguin
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399247217 $17.99

Lunar astronaut Buzz Aldrin takes readers on a journey through the history of space exploration. As one of a handful of astronauts to have walked on the moon, Aldrin has a unique perspective of space. And he serves as an amazing guide as he introduces us to the pioneers of space. From Copernicus to the Wright brothers, from the Apollo program to dreams of future travel, he reminds us that mankind has always looked to the stars. Aldrin's informative, kid-friendly text is paired with beautifully detailed illustrations by renowned illustrator Wendell Minor, and offers the perfect introduction to everything space related, including the development of the first rockets, America's space race with Russia, details of all the Apollo missions, and the space station. Aldrin and Minor collaborated on the bestselling "Reaching for the Moon" and now they reach beyond that book to give young readers a concise look at the whole history of space exploration. Each spread provides a wonderful jumping-off point for young readers, and will no doubt inspire them to look to the stars themselves.

Castration Celebration
Jake Wizner
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375852152 $16.99

It's High School Musical -- rated R! When the girl who's foresworn men meets the boy who's devoted himself to picking up women, there's bound to be drama - perfect for a six-week summer program devoted to the arts. Olivia's summer goal: to write a musical that censures men with wandering eyes. Max's summer goal: to hone his acting skills, along with his talent for attracting the ladies. Before camp is over, they'll perform Olivia's musical onstage and in real life -- though the ending may turn out differently than either expects. Jake Wizner's story within a story takes the battle of the sexes to a whole new level in a bawdy, uproarious romp that's laugh-out-loud fun.

Loose Leashes
Amy Schmidt, Ron Schmidt
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375956416 $15.99

Sixteen kid-friendly rhymes accompany funny photographic portraits of dogs in this delightful picture book. A salty dog's lament of traveling the world is perfectly captured in ballad form; a finicky Yorkie expresses her bathing preferences in common meter; while a Paul Bunyan-esque golden lab celebrates the outdoors in haiku form. This collection of canine poems and photos will enchant dog lovers of all ages.

Mike Stellar: Nerves of Steel
K.A. Holt
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375845567 $15.99

Things are not so stellar for Mike Stellar. He is stunned when his parents inform him that he has only eight hours to pack before they move to Mars. Despite the fact that he suspects his parents are involved in a major sabotage plot; that the only person who believes him is a girl who won't shut up; and that his mother's assistant seems to be spying on Mike's every move, Mike is dealing with the same things that every eleven-year-old deals with: bad cafeteria food, a strict limitation on his electronic use, and a teacher who is so old-fashioned she must be from the year 2099. With great humor and lots of action, K. A. Holt's first novel is set to give summer reading an out-of-this-world blast of fun.

One Lonely Degree
C.K. Kelly Martin
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375851636 $16.99

Finn has always felt out of place, but suddenly her world is unraveling. It started with The Party. And Adam Porter. And the night in September that changed everything. The only person who knows about that night is Audrey - Finn's best friend, her witness to everything, and the one person Finn trusts implicitly. So when Finn's childhood friend Jersy moves back to town -- reckless, beautiful Jersy, all lips and eyes and hair so soft you'd want to dip your fingers into it if you weren't careful -- Finn gives her blessing for Audrey to date him. How could she possibly say no to Audrey? With Audrey gone for the summer, though, Finn finds herself spending more and more time with Jersy, and for the first time in her life, something feels right. But Finn can't be the girl who does this to her best friend…can she?

Goosebumps HorrorLand #1-4
R.L. Stine
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545132688 $21.96

It's only natural that the well-named, best-selling "Goosebumps" series of gently spine-chilling fiction for young readers spawned an evil sequel: "Goosebumps HorrorLand." Though not as much as a must-read, the "HorrorLand" books also provide the right amount of bite for budding new horror fans, and this box set of the first four paperbacks in the spin-off series provides a nifty gift package. It contains: book #1, "Revenge of the Living Dummy; #2, "Creep from the Deep"; #3, "Monster Blood for Breakfast"; and #4, "The Scream of the Haunted Mask." It's an excellent Halloween-or anytime!-gift for lovers of suspense and fear. Readers will find themselves trapped in the theme park, which becomes more and more horrific with each book. Who-or what-is behind the evil plot to assemble these kids? The terrifying adventures continue at www. and in books #5-#12.

Oh No! Time to Go! A Book of Goodbyes
Rebecca Doughty
Schwartz & Wade Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375849817 $15.99

A playful, reassuring book that helps make saying goodbye a little easier. In this deceptively simple picture book by the author of "Some Helpful Tips for a Better World and a Happier Life," there's a new goodbye on every page. Some of them are easy, like when it's time to go home for supper. Some of them are funny, like when dogs say it with a growl. And some are much harder, like when a very best friend moves away. With a bouncy rhyming text and vibrant, droll illustrations, this book of goodbyes leaves readers with a heartwarming thought: that for each goodbye, there's always a new hello.

Sugar Would Not Eat It
Emily Jenkins, Giselle Potter
Schwartz & Wade Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375836039 $16.99

Like children everywhere, Sugar the cat refuses to eat food she doesn't like! All children have heard their parents try to threaten, cajole, and guilt them into eating their vegetables. And it's no different for Leo's new cat, Sugar. She's hungry, but when Leo generously gives her his last piece of birthday cake, Sugar will not eat it. Leo finally gives up. He fixes himself a chicken sandwich and some milk. Suddenly, guess who is up on the counter, nibbling at Leo's sandwich? "Sugar Would Not Eat It" features a great cast of neighborhood characters -- each with their own tidbit of advice -- that is also an excellent tool for parents to use with children to talk about food.

Ten Days and Nine Nights
Yumi Heo
Schwartz & Wade Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375847189 $16.99

How many days until a little girl's adopted sibling is brought home? Follow a little girl as she and her family prepare for the new baby that will soon be joining them. And simultaneously, watch the girl's mother fly off to Korea, meet the new baby, and bring her home. Here is an utterly simple, sweet, and child-centric look at the adoption process through the eyes of a soon-to-be older sibling. From cutting a red paper heart and taping it above the new baby's crib to telling her best friend about the adoption, the young narrator counts down every day and night with growing anticipation, marking them with a big X on her calendar. Unlike other adoption books which are aimed only at the adoptive child, Ten Days and Nine Nights is also perfect for older children who are about to become big sisters and brothers.

George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt
Lucy and Stephen Hawking
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416986713 $18.99

In this adventurous sequel to "George's Secret Key to the Universe" -- by author Lucy Hawking and her father, the world's pre-eminent theoretical physicist Professor Stephen Hawking -- George's best friend, Annie, needs help. Her scientist father, Eric, is working on a space project…and it's all going wrong. A robot has landed on Mars but is behaving very oddly. And now Annie has discovered something weird on her dad's supercomputer. Is it a message from an alien? Could there be life out there? How do you find a planet in outer space? And if you could talk to aliens, what would you say? An action-packed roller-coaster ride into a dramatic treasure hunt across the cosmos, this terrific adventure is filled with the latest scientific knowledge about our Universe, including special essays from some of the top scientists in the world. Fun and educational reading recommended for ages 9 to 12.

Revolutionary War: Battle Box
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416971259 $21.99

"Revolutionary War" gift package is an interactive experience for young history explorers. Open the "Battle Box" and inside readers will find a full-color, sixty-four-page book that focuses on the key battles of the Revolutionary War, along with strategic maps, reproductions of the Declaration of Independence and George Washington's commission as commander-in-chief, copies of the stamps from the Stamp Act, and exact replicas of the earliest currency used by colonies -- thirteen pieces of memorabilia in all. "Battle Box: Revolutionary War" is a unique presentation providing a hands-on experience and a treasure trove of information about the birth of our country.

Ultimate Book of Trace-And-Draw Manga
Christopher Hart
Watson Guptill
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780823098064 $21.95

With this latest book teaching Japanese comics art, manga fans can learn to draw more than 80 cool manga characters in four easy steps. "Xtreme Art: Ultimate Book of Trace-And-Draw Manga" by best-selling author Christopher Hart is a crash course. Using his method, artists will find that it only takes four simple steps: Just trace and draw what you see in step 1, then add the orange lines shown in steps 2, 3, and 4. Learn to trace or draw manga kids; "chibi" characters with short, squat bodies and huge heads; and manga monsters. Before you know it, you'll have drawn characters that will amaze family and friends. Hart is the best-selling author of Watson-Guptill's most popular how-to-draw books, with more than 2.5 million copies in print in twenty languages.

The Outlandish Adventures of Liberty Aimes
Kelly Easton
Wendy Lamb Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375837715 $15.99

Everyone has a destiny. Sometimes it takes an adventure to find it. Liberty Aimes has spent all of her ten years captive in her parents' crooked house on Gooch Street. Her spry father, Mal Aimes, is a crook who sells insurance, while her overweight mother sits at home in front of the TV, demanding that Liberty cook nonstop. Liberty's only knowledge of the outside world comes from the secret stash of children's books and fairy tales she discovers beneath the floorboards. One day, Liberty enters her father's forbidden basement laboratory. There she discovers a world of talking animals and magic potions. With the aid of one such potion, Liberty escapes into the world in search of her destiny. A little bit "Pippi Longstocking"? Part "Dr. Doolittle"? You bet, but it's a sure bet to engage imaginations.

Ann Halam
Wendy Lamb Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375841095 $16.99

Perseus, the god-touched of Zeus and a mortal princess, takes his easy life on the island of Serifos for granted, but he knows he lives in troubled times. First the gods, now the politicians, send trouble rumbling across land and sea. When a beautiful stranger, a fugitive from another disaster zone, arrives on the island, Perseus is smitten. But Andromeda isn't all she seems. She must die to save her people, and a stunning, world-changing discovery will die with her unless Perseus abandons everything to confront the Medusa quest.

Vicki Arkoff
Senior Reviewer

Vogel's Bookshelf

The Great Digitization and the Quest to Know Everything
Lucien X. Polastron
Inner Traditions
1 Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781594772436, $16.95,

Most agree that the internet and the democratization of information is a good thing, but could there be unforeseen consequences? "The Great Digitization and the Quest to Know Everything" is author Lucien X. Polastron's study of the recent movement towards digitization of information, and how it could end up not being as good as people think. Agreeing for the most part that the digitization of information is a positive thing, Polastron offers the devil's advocate perspective of what many people ignore about this fundamental shift. "The Great Digitization and the Quest to Know Everything" is a choice pick for those pondering the information age.

Introducing Convenant Theology
Michael Horton
Baker Books
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
9780801071959, $15.99,

What should one know when making a deal with God? "Introducing Covenant Theology" is a guide to everything about the covenant. The covenant's role in Biblical history and scripture, and what a modern covenant means to the church and the eternal soul are all discussed. Offering pastors and church-goers much food for thought before attempting to make a contract with God, "Introducing Covenant Theology" is of high interest to Christian Studies collections.

Chasing Demons
R. L. Geerdes
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432712020, $16.95,

What would you do if you were led to believe the last few years of your life were a lie? "Chasing Demons" is the second book in the 'Mistress of Beasts' saga. Protagonist Katrina finds herself back on her home world, apparently discovering that the magical world she lived in for the past few years was the dream of a coma. But it may be more than just Katrina's imagination..."Chasing Demons" is an entertaining world of fantasy meeting reality.

Matthew Rodriguez
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781438909134, $12.99,

The silk road linked two major cultures of the ancient world, and there are those who made their lives along it. "Marcellinus: The Silk Road Warrior" blends Greek and Chinese mythology, telling the story of one warrior who traveled the road. Unique and intriguing writing with an original concept, "Marcellinus" is sure to please fantasy readers.

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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