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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 4, Number 12 December 2005 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Donovan's Bookshelf Harold's Bookshelf Klausner's Bookshelf
Laurel's Bookshelf Shelley's Bookshelf Shirley's Bookshelf

Donovan's Bookshelf

Best American Travel Writing
Jamaica Kincaid, Editor; Jason Wilson, Series Editor
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Avenue S., NY, NY 10003
061836952X $14.00

The 'Best American' series has showcased the nation's best fiction and nonfiction since 1915, offering rotating series editors and works which come from hundreds of periodicals. A special guest editor works with a leading genre writer to hone some twenty of the crème of the crop - and the 2005 BEST AMERICAN TRAVEL WRITING is no exception to the quality rule. From a cisco adventure to insights and encounters with the Taliban and a thirty-seven-course lunch, these are truly engrossing, literary works of contemporary travel experience and should not be missed.

Generation Rx
Greg Critser
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Avenue S., NY, NY 10003
0618393137 $24.95

How have chemical companies succeeded in changing consumer image about drug prescriptions from a doctor-controlled decision to a social right? Why do drug companies have such poor image but popular pills? Directly relating to SELLING SICKNESS is GENERATION RX, a view of how consumers see drug companies, of how the pharma industry has made business decisions to bring it more power than the medical industry holds, and how the uncharted realm of drug interactions has turned patients into guinea pigs. A 'must' for any who would think about medication in modern America.

The Wreckers
Bella Bathurst
Houghton Mifflin
222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02116
0618416773 $25.00 1-800-225-3362

Author Bella Bathurst was researching her first book THE LIGHTHOUSE STEVENSONS when she came across a passage by Robert Louis Stevenson describing the aftermath of a Scottish shipwreck, whereby a crew in distress on the rocks observed an entire village awaiting the plunder from the wreck. THE WRECKERS: A STORY OF KILLING SEAS AND PLUNDERED SHIPWRECKS, FROM THE 18TH CENTURY TO THE PRESENT DAY tells of those who profit from shipwrecks and occasionally caused them in the name of greed. There were those who opposed lighthouse, which would curb shipwrecks and their valuables: the history of eight selected 'wrecking hot spots' makes for a lively survey of 300 years of dark employment.

The Ancestor's Tale
Richard Dawkins
Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
061861916X $16.00 1-800-225-3362

Richard Dawkins is one of the world's most renowned evolutionary biologists: many will recognize his name from his famous work THE SELFISH GENE. THE ANCESTOR'S TALE provides a 'reverse journey' through evolution from modern humans to the past, using enlightening, scientific and lively stories to outline ideas from sexual selection to extinction processes and how evolution works. These explanations take the form of 'tales' in each chapter: grasshoppers, redwoods, worms and more. From what ancestors probably looked like to different frog developments under different environmental conditions, the lively tone of THE ANCESTOR'S TALE; A PILGRIMAGE TO THE DAWN OF EVOLUTION promises accessibility and interest to a wide general-interest audience despite its weighty appearance.

Food for the Fishes
David Wishart
Hodder & Stoughton/Trafalgar Square
PO Box 257, Howe Hill Rd., N. Pomfret, VT 05053
0340827386 $25.00 1-800-423-4525

Fans of historical mysteries - especially those set in ancient times - may be familiar with David Wishart's winning prior Marcus Corvinus Rioman mystery PARTHIAN SHOT: here comes another on the theme: FOOD FOR THE FISHES (0340827386, $25.00). A greedy fish farm owner making too much money is found drowned in one of his own eel tanks, leading Roman investigator Marcus to find no end to the possible suspects list. His ninth case involves the help of a clever wife too involved in gambling as he narrows down the suspects.

The Mosaic Artist's Bible
Teresa Mills
Trafalgar Square
Box 257, N. Pomfret, VT 05053
1570762937 $24.95 1-800-423-4525

Mosaic artists seeking pattern examples here have 300 traditional and contemporary design examples in full color, making THE MOSAIC ARTIST'S HANDBOOK: 300 TRADITIONAL & CONTEMPORARY DESIGNS an exceptional sourcebook. From letters and numbers to patterns, borders, symbols and themes, THE MOSAIC ARTIST'S HANDBOOK packs in mosaic examples from many cultures, offers scale drawings and color palette's for easy art reproductions, and packs in a wealth of inspiration.

Switch to Digital
William Cheung
Argentum/Trafalgar Square Press
Box 257, N. Pomfret, VT 05053
1902538366 $25.00 1-800-423-4525

New to digital photography? It won't be a challenge with SWITCH TO DIGITAL in hand: even the most experienced photographers experience a learning curve when making the change to digit, and William Cheung is right there to explain both the rationale behind digital over traditional and the new approaches and options involved in digital photography. From merging skies and exposure issues to working with black and white and color images, SWITCH TO DIGITAL is an exciting survey of the many options digital work offers.

Hardboiled Hollywood
Max Decharne
No Exit/Trafalgar Square press
Box 257, N. Pomfret, VT 05053
1842431196 $17.00 1-800-423-4525

Any interested in crime, especially those who regularly watch film mysteries, will relish HARDBOILED HOLLYWOOD: THE ORIGINS OF THE GREAT CRIME FILMS. Behind each well-known classic there's a little-known story, involving pulp fiction, real-life events, and cinema choices: the origins of some of the best-known crime films are revealed in a behind-the-scenes look at films ranging from Psycho and Kiss Me, Deadly to Get Carter and The Big Sleep.

New Irish Cookery
Paul & Jeanne Rankin
BBC Books/Trafalgar Square
Box 257, N. Pomfret, VT 05053
0563522488 $25.00 1-800-423-4525

Paul and Jeanne Rankin specialize in Irish food and in NEW IRISH COOKERY: 140 NEW AND TRADITIONAL RECIPES USING THE BEST PRODUCE FROM IRELAND, they bring out the best of Ireland's dishes. Their own twists on traditional Irish Dishes add new flavors and bunch to the classics Ireland is known for; from a double cream enhanced Irish Stew classic to Blackberry Fool with Hazelnut Biscuits.

Because It's There
Dudley Green
Tempus/Trafalgar Square
Box 257, N. Pomfret, VT 05053
0752433997 $35.00 1-800-423-4525

Mountaineering fans will find themselves already familiar with the name of George Mallory, who with his companion Andrew Irvine traversed Everest over three decades before Sir Edmund Hillary's noted south side expedition - but many won't recognize his name. For those who need more knowledge, BECAUSE IT'S THERE: THE LIFE OF GEORGE MALLORY fills in many gaps, from the mountaineering achievements of Mallory to the puzzle surrounding his death. BECAUSE IT'S THERE is the first biography published after the discovery of his body in 1999 - only 2,000 feet from the top of Everest - and it provides rare images of mountain and man plus a foreword by Mallory's son.

Death of Ivan Ilyich
Leo Tolstoy
Trafalgar Square, Dist.
Box 257, N. Pomfret, VT 05053
1843911272 $13.00 1-800-423-4525

Leo Tolstoy's THE DEATH OF IVAN ILYICH provides a vivid account of death and the meaning of dying by the author of WAR AND PEACE: it's a hard-hitting novel and perhaps lesser known than WAR, but Hesperus Press has returned it to print to give it the literary status it deserves among new generations. A fine, affordable addition to libraries seeking to replace tattered older copies with new, attractive paper editions.

Trafalgar Square
Box 257, N. Pomfret, VT 05053

Two excellent decorative knitting guides focus on home enhancement projects, providing a range of ideas for avid knitters who wish to produce something other than clothes. Kate Haxell and Luise Roberts' DECORATIVE KNITTING: 100 PRACTICAL TECHNIQUES, 200 INSPIRATIONAL IDEAS AND 18 CREATIVE PROJECTS (1570763062, $29.95) presents five workshops in three parts: a techniques section with diagrams of stitches involved, swatch libraries which translate these techniques to finished works, and projects which pack 200 ideas into patterns. Accessories for both wearing and home enhancement make for a varied presentation packed with plenty of color examples throughout. Debbie Bliss's HOME: 27 HAND KNITS FOR LIVING (1579763038, $25.00) uses three home themes: seaside, modern country and urban - as foundation ideas for creating both garments and home accessories. From cable-stitch cushions to clothespin bags, blankets and more, HOME is packed with ideas for wearing and display.

The Complete Deep Purple
Michael Heatley
Reynolds & Hearn/Trafalgar Square, Dist.
Box 257, N. Pomfret, VT 05053
1903111994 $27.50

Surprisingly, after all these years the rock group Deep Purple remains highly popular, filling stadiums whenever they plan a show - thus THE COMPLETE DEEP PURPLE is a recommended pick for any interested in either the band or their place in rock history. From its initial formation in the 1960s to its heavy metal sound and best-selling albums, its division and re-formation in 1984, and in-group fighting, THE COMPLETE DEEP PURPLE considers the evolution and popularity of a versatile heavy metal band which remains attractive to new and old audience to this day.

Celebrating Cigars
Anwer Bati
Duncan Peterson Press/Trafalgar Square, Dist.
Box 257, N. Pomfret, VT 05053
1903301394 $45.00 1-800-423-4525

There's not too many cigar books on the market - and few which illustrate them in life-size color, so turn to the entertaining blend of history and insights in CELEBRATING CIGARS if you want in-depth insights into the evolution of brands, styles, and more. Full-page color photos accompany chapters organized by cigar brand for maximum browsing - and there are plenty of brands featured, lending to hours of interest.

Special Knits
Debbie Bliss
Trafalgar Square Publishers
Box 257, N. Pomfret, VT 05053
157076302X $25.00 1-800-423-4525

Debbie Bliss already has a reputation for producing stylish children's knitwear and SPECIAL KNITS: 22 GORGEOUS HANDKNITS FOR BABIES AND TODDLERS returns a new collection of her designs for newborns. Some are easy to make and others use unusual trims. Most need little familiarity with anything complicated and actually lend to novice knitting. Gorgeous color photos, clear examples, and easy patterns: what more could a knitter want?

Deep Jungle
Fred Pearce
Eden Project/Trafalgar Square Pubs
Box 257, N. Pomfret, VT 05053
190391955X $30.00 1-800-423-4525

You don't have to have seen the three-part PBS series this Spring to enjoy the accompanying DEEP JUNGLE book, which explores the jungle canopy which houses two-thirds of all the creatures on the planet. The jungle holds key to future foods, medicines, and even climate preservation; yet mankind is on the verge of destroying it. Former New Scientist news editor Pearce provides an absorbing, in-depth survey of the jungles of the world, discussing their ecology, evolution, and importance. Color photos of jungle settings and wildlife abound, too. Having all the world's jungles considered and contrasted under one cover makes for a far broader perspective than just a singular focus on one world region alone, making for a fascinating expose.

Hesperus Press/Trafalgar Sq, Dist.
Box 257, N. Pomfret, VT 05053

Hesperus Press regularly publishers notable literary fiction by famous authors whose less famous works may have been neglected over time. Some recent new arrivals will spark interest of any literary library: David Nokes' THE NIGHTINGALE PAPERS (1843917033, $20.00) provides a classic black comedy in the English tradition of social satire: shades of Swift and Pope run through his story of a joke which brings on a series of literary hoaxes and revenge. Jane Austen's LESLEY CASTLE (1843911159, $13.00) uses the letter format to present a literary discussion between two ladies who reveal their secrets and priorities over love. Alexander Pushkin's RUSLAN AND LYUDMILA (1843911167, $16.00) tells of an evil sorcerer who separates two lovers and requires a gallant Ruslan to endure trials to get her back; Gustave Flaubert's NOVEMBER (1843911124, $13.00) tells of a troubled, lonely man who re-lives his quest for love and now faces withdrawal and newfound beliefs about romance, while Charlotte Bronte's THE SPELL (1843911175, $13.00) tells of a dead infant heir and a successor choice facing a sick king. All fill out author successes wonderfully and are recommended for literary college-level collections.

Digital Photography Pocket Guide, 3rd Edition.
Derrick Story
1005 Gravenstein Hwy N., Sebastopol, CA 95472
0596199159 $14.95

From locating the right camera for a shooting objective to learning how to take photos at weddings and in the studio, handling outdoor events and travel shots, and sharing them with slideshows and online media, DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY POCKET GUIDE appears in its third updated edition to include the latest technology and all the basics. Plenty of color photos examples accompany tips on making, editing and transmitting images: an easy 'must' beginners will welcome.

1005 Gravenstein Hwy N., Sebastopol CA 95472

Want to save money on telephones? Consider James E. Gasklin's TALK IS CHEAP: SWITCHING TO INTERNET TELEPHONES (05969009607, $19.95) for ideas on how to choose among the Internet phone services offered. From getting voicemail over the web or the phone to having your own toll-free number and changing an area code in a flash, TALK IS CHEAP covers everything from choosing plans to signing up, monitoring an account, and more. CustomGuide, Inc.'s PROJECT 2003 PERSONAL TRAINER (0596008546, $29.95) offers 'workouts' for project planning which begin with initial scheduling and hours to entering and working with tasks, assigning resources, working within budgets, and more. Part of the Personal Trainer series based on content from a leading provider of computer training manuals, CustomGuide offers a livelier format than most and designed as both a workbook and quick reference. Guy Hart-Davis' WORD ANNOYANCES: HOW TO FIX THE MOST ANNOYING THINGS ABOUT YORU FAVORITE WORD PROCESSOR (0596009542, $19.95) addresses all the common glitches MS Word is known for, from formatting issues and lost text to crashes, printing program glitches and more. Control style when you paste, align numbers with decimal tabs, use tables and overcome common obstacles when doing so. Two new 'Missing Manual' titles are 'musts' for any who would compliment systems or programs with instructions which 'should have been in the box' with the hardware. David Pogue's MAC OS X TIGER EDITION: THE MISSING MANUAL (0596009410, $29.95) comes from a weekly tech columnist for the New York Times, a bestselling Macintosh author, and the creator of the Missing Manual series. It offers both newcomers to the Mac and seasoned users expert advice on everything from security and increasing efficiency to customization options, features such as fax and voiceover, Mac services and more. 'Tiger' represents a rethinking of come of the most important elements of computers - but it still comes without a manual - until now. Scott Lowe's HOME NETWORKING: THE MISSING MANUAL (059600558, $24.95) tells how to set up a home network, whether it be with WiFi, Ethernet, or a Windows or Mac system. From router and adapter issues to tweaking settings and overcoming common network problems, everything needed is here in one place - and once your network is up, the book moves to tell how to stream music, display pictures on your TV, and more. Damian Conway's PERL BEST PRACTICES: STANDARDS AND STYLES FOR DEVELOPING MAINTAINABLE CODE (0596001738, $39.95) covers several hundred guidelines on coding more efficiently using Perl. Code which is clear, efficient, and concise is promoted in chapters which offer suggestions based on the realities of modern code writing logic, challenges, and options. Plenty of examples throughout. The fourth revised edition of Ranmdal Schwartz, Tom Phoenix and Brian D. Foy's LEARNING PERL (0596101058, $39.95) is out, and it is tops among instruction books for newcomers to the language. More than just a programmer's guide, it uses real-life, applied situations to cover the major features most people use time and again. Programmers who don't already know Perl could do no better than to begin here. Brian McWilliams' SPAM KINGS: THE REAL STORY BEHIND THE HIGH-ROLLING HUCKSTERS POSHING PORN, PILLS (0596997329, $22.95) takes an investigative approach in probing the world of email spammers and whose who are trying to stop them. Just who are those responsible for unwanted junk-email? Investigative journalist McWilliams charts the many 'spam wars' played by makers and anti-spam activisits on the computer court, detailing the activities of some notorious spam 'kings' and their successes producing spam which 'works' for them.

If You Want It Done Right, You Don't Have To Do It Yourself!
Donna M. Gennett, Ph.D.
Quill Driver Books
1254 Commercial Avenue, Sanger, CA 93657
1884956327 $19.95 1-800-497-4909

It's a common belief among small business owners especially that only they can do the job right, but in effect, that's only a reflection of poor hiring choices or poor delegation skills. It's delegation skills which are the focus of IF YOU WANT IT DONE RIGHT, YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO IT YOURSELF: THE POWER OF EFFECTIVE DELEGATION. A short story about two 'identical' cousins learning to delegate provides a light example on how to create more efficiency and relieve stress at work. A thought-provoking, useful guide for any in business.

Classic French Wrought Iron
Raymond Lecoq
W.W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
039373157X $29.95 1-800-233-4830

Grills, gates, balconies and more are revealed in a descriptive focus on French architectural ironwork designs which provides both a history of the French industry and descriptions of forging, assembly and other techniques. CLASSIC FRENCH WROUGHT IRON isn't just based on archives: the author walked the streets of each French city he visited, recording examples of metalworker's art in an archive of over 9,000 images, making for a reference both authoritative and well detailed. The full-page black and white images are exceptionally clear.

The Holding
Merilyn Simonds
W.W. Norton
500 - 5th Ave., New York, NY 10110
0393060616 $23.95 1-800-233-4830

A plot of land cultivated for over a century, secluded by society, houses an immigrant pioneer woman and a modern woman who discovers her. The two women have very different reasons for seeking seclusion from the world, experiences similar hardships and challenges even though living a hundred years apart. A journal found by Alyson will help her understand both Margaret's journey and the hope in building a new life. A gripping, psychologically tense story.

Historical Dictionary of U.S.-Latin American Relations
David W. Dent
Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007
0313321956 $99.95 1-800-225-5800

Much of the tone and content of U.S.-Latin American relations has been dictated by the U.S. to its benefit - and this historical dictionary gathers nearly three hundred A-Z entries profiling the key individuals, events, treaties, wars and theories which have gone into these relationships, on both sides. College-level students of international politics will find HISTORICAL DICTIONARY OF U.S.-LATIN AMERICAN RELATIONS lends to a blend of history and politics in quick reference format, allowing for both thematic reference and biographical or political study. These aren't just brief passages either: in-depth overviews are accompanied by bibliographic references for further reading.

Food in Colonial and Federal America
Sandra L. Oliver
Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007
0313329885 $49.95 1-800-225-5800

The success of the early American settlements depended in large part upon food: it's availability and its bounty helped build the early colonies and built regional food habits which blended immigrant foods with new American ingredients. FOOD IN COLONIAL AND FEDERAL AMERICA traces these food influences in early American history, reviewing relationships between Native Americans and early settlers which were forged by food, considering how food was handled daily and for special occasions, and surveying immigrant group contributions to food use. An excellent history evolves.

Radio: The Life Story of a Technology
Brian Regal
Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007
0313331677 $45.00 1-800-225-5800

Radio was more than just a media delivery system: it was a new technology which changed and connected the lives of the world, moving from a clumsy wireless telegraph to a system which is so much a part of our lives that its roots have all but been forgotten. So as not to forget, RADIO: LIFE STORY OF A TECHNOLOGY considers both the scientific and social changes radio brought, considering it as a cultural phenomenon and providing a history of the business and social impact of radio. There have of course been other radio histories on the market - but none other with the attention to both social and economic impact.

Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction & Fantasy
Gary Westfahl, Editor
Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 0688105007
0313329508 $349.95/3 Vols., 1-800-225-5800

Over 400 entries cover all kinds of science fiction concerns, from literature to film and TV, and enjoys contributions from well over a hundred experts which discuss major genre themes, relates them to modern works, and provides reference material suitable for either browsing by genre fans or study by college-level literature majors. Volume 1 holds the major themes from imaginary worlds to curses, black holes and dragons; the second volume packs in related sub-themes from lost worlds to mad scientists, and Volume 3 provides the detailed reference to over 200 works of science fiction and fantasy by title. The overviews, bibliographies, and discussions are important for any serious student of science fiction and provide details on story variations and versions, major writers and trends, and more.

Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007

Greenwood's titles are perfect for the discriminating college-level collection: packaged in solid binding for durable library lending and consisting of topics which students will find both intriguing and invaluable for reports. History students even at the high school grades will relish many of them, such as William E. Burns' SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN COLONIAL AMERICA (031333160X, $49.95), which follows the early peoples of America and how domestic technology, agriculture and conflicts changed their lives. Chapters trace the evolution and roots of these technologies in new discoveries and provide fine links between scientific developments and human activities. Norman Roth's DAILY LIFE OF THE JEWS IN THE MIDDLE AGES (031332865X, $49.95) will also reach into the high school grades with its survey of Jewish culture and daily life in the medieval world. Chapters cover everything from the Jewish community to the interactions of Jews in other societies, providing a strong overview of the politics, economics, and history surrounding early Jewish daily life. Two new additions to Greenwood's 'Histories of the Modern Nations' ($45.00 each) are particularly strong recommendations. Steven Drakeley's HISTORY OF INDONESIA (0313331146) covers a country seldom given its own in-depth treatment. Indonesia is one of the more complex countries in the world: under its umbrella are over three hundred ethnic groups speaking almost six hundred languages and dialects and under one uncertain political umbrella. From early settlement to modern times, students receive a lively history. Courtney Hunt's THE HISTORY OF IRAQ (0313334145, $45.00) achieves the same for Iraq, exploring the Muslim faith's influence on Iraq and the British influence on the nation after World War 1. Here's a fascinating coverage packed with local color and social and political insights. For more social insights choose Carlos Cordova's THE SALVADORAN AMERICANS (0313323062, $45.00) contributing to the 'New Americans' series with its survey of both El Salvador and the mgration of Salvadorans to the U.S. From early history to modern adjustment issues and the state of El Salvador and Salvadoran communities in California, Texas and Washington DC, this delves into both past and present in examining influences and issues. Todd Timmons' DAILY LIFE THROUGH HISTORY: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN 19TH CENTURY AMERICA (0313331618, $49.95) offers a sweeping view of how science and innovations contributed to social and political changes in early 19th century America. Vast changes ranged from communication to transportation, agriculture and new navigation systems: both a timeline of events and a bibliography pair vintage black and white photos with analysis of changing technology's effects on 19th centruy America.

Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport CT 06881-5007

College-level reference libraries strong in literary studies will find something unique in ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LITERATURE & POLITICS: CENSORSHIP, REVOLUTION & WRITING edited by M. Keith Booker (0313329281 $299.95/3 Vol. Set): it's the first of its kind to explore the relationship between literature and politics from ancient to modern times. There are over 500 entries written by over 200 expert contributors covering authors, critics, theorists and others: both major literary figures and movements, along with more general topics such as Alienation or Apartheid. Editor M. Keith Booker has himself published numerous articles and books on modern literature and culture: his is a powerful multidisciplinary study certain to reach a wide college-level audience. Specialty college-level collections shouldn't miss S.T. Joshi and Stefan Dziemianowicz's extensive 3-volume SUPERNATURAL LITERATURE OF THE WORLD: AN ENCYCLOPEDIA (0313060576, $299.95): it's wide-ranging in its definition of 'supernatural' which moves from the common ghost tale to nightmares, dreams, occultism, alien abduction and voodoo; and it provides listings by both author and by major book both old and new to provide a satisfying cross-reference of names and approaches. There are almost 1,000 entries created by a team of 700 contributors ranging from brand-name science fiction writers to editors and critics, while listings include extensive overviews and notes on major works, literary trends, supernatural themes, and belief systems. Simply outstanding in its scope, and unparalleled in depth: very highly recommended for any serious college-level literature collection, it will attract browsers as well as students. Any studying F. Scott Fitzgerald won't want to miss Edward J. Rielly's F. SCOTT FITZGERALD: A BIOGRAPHY (0313331642, $29.95): it reviews his life and his works against a background of social history and events and considers his early successes before Great Gatsby and his later achievements alike. Chapters provide extensive notes to support the information which students of Fitzgerald's writings will find lends plenty of insight into the nature and course of his writings.

Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007

Five new American history coverages are important recommendations for college-level libraries with strong American history holdings. Two provide coverages of Presidential issues. David A. Smith's PRESIDENTS FROM ADAMS THROUGH POLK, 1825-1849: DEBATING THE ISSUES IN PRO AND CON PRIMARY DOCUMENTS (0313331758, $59.95) joins the 'President's Position: Debating the Issues' series which many a high school class will find relevant. Many arguments swirled around presidential decisions and issues and PRESIDENTS FROM ADAMS THROUGH POLK gathers these issues and debates in a pro/con reference perfect for classroom history and debates. John W. Matviko edits THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT IN POPULAR CULTURE (031332705X, $55.00), examining the changing ways popular culture has been influenced and reflected by presidents over the decades. From film and literary representation to popular music, political cartoons and more, popular culture's links to the presidency are considered. Dan Monroe and Bruce Tap's SHAPERS OF THE GREAT DEBATE ON THE CIVIL WAR - A BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY (0313317453, $75.00) tells of tensions before the war and the major debates of the times, as defined by 20 individuals who shaped these debates of the times. Political, military and reformer activists alike are surveyed in an approach which contrasts biographies of the subject's life with an analysis of their contribution to the issues of their times. THE FREEDOM OF RELIGION by Jonathan A. Wright is also part of the 'Shapers of the Great American Debates' series, and also uses the biography as a foundation for providing insights on major issues of the times. Debates over religious freedom are detailed with an eye to probing the individuals who drove them. Both are excellent classroom discussion choices for high school to college audiences. Aurora Wallace's NEWSPAPERS AND THE MAKING OF MODERN AMERICA: A HISTORY (0313323208, $49.95) considers newspapers and their community impact, drawing important links between newspaper reporting, public policy, community awarenes and the formation of new communities. An intriguing survey of how newspapers contribute to community growth and population change.

Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007

Samuel J. Best and Benjamin Radcliff's POLLING AMERICA: AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PUBLIC OPINION (0313327017, $249.95) discusses the factor which define 'public opinion' not just the opinion poll, but how it's conducted under a democracy. The value of such a poll lies as much in how its meaning is interpreted as in its contents: this A-Z college-level reference provides a history and discussion of the major concepts, people, and events involved in the practice and theory of political opinion polling in this country, covering everything from gender differences and ethics to voting. Backed by statistics, charts and research, POLLING AMERICA is a must for any in-depth social issues collection. Also essential for college-level audiences and some advanced high school collections is Mark Isaak's THE COUNTER-CREATIONISM HANDBOOK (031333305X, $65.00) addresses over 400 of the most common claims and theories made by creationists, following each with a scientifically valid rebuttal and including plenty of detail for further reading. This makes THE COUNTER-CREATIONISM HANDBOOK most important not just for courses considering creationism, but for classroom debates and cross-disciplinary studies from science to history and linguistics. A cross-reference, thematic organization makes it easy to locate an argument, understand its flaws, and assess a claim. Greenwood's 'Food Culture Around the World' ($49.95 each) series could also have been featured in our food section but is mentioned here for their important cultural insights, making them essential for any discriminating high school to college collection specializing in world cultures. Glenn R. Mack and Asele Surina's FOOD CULTURE IN RUSSIA AND CENTRAL ASIA (0313327734), Lynn Marie Houston's FOOD CULTURE IN THE CARIBBEAN (0313327645) and Fran Osseo-Asare's FOOD CULTURE IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA (0313324483) pairs a timeline of cultural events with historical discussions of food developments in each country. Each packs in many levels of discussion, from cooking and diet insights to eatingout or at home, special occasions and celebrations, recipes, and more. Three new 'Cultures and Customs of' guides ($49.95 each) provide further cultural insights: John Mukum Mbaku's CULTURE AND CUSTOMS OF CAMEROON (0313332312), Hafizullah Emadi's CULTURE AND CUSTOMS OF AFGHANISTAN (0313330891) and David E. Long's CULTURE AND CUSTOMS OF SAUDI ARABIA (0313320217) each present extensive historical and cultural insights, from surveys of religion and the arts to social customs, food, family, and politics. College-level discussions of geographical distribution patterns and cultural influences make these particularly recommended for the college social studies collection. Millie Allen Beik's LABOR RELATIONS (0313318646, $65.00) uses over a hundred annotated primary documents to present 'snapshots' of the roles played by workers and organized labor efforts in America, and given the recent news, is of even greater importance to both high school and college-level audiences in revealing the history, operations, and conflicting issues behind labor events through history. All are excellent references.

Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport CT 06881-5007

Two excellent college-level studies are recommended picks for sociology collections. Kathy S. Stolley's THE BASICS OF SOCIOLOGY (0313323879, $75.00) provides an excellent introduction recommended for both classroom use as a text and for supplemental reading. Both classic studies and modern references join to display an analysis of basic sociological concepts and both their history of development and relevance to modern thinking. Chapters survey key thinkers and concepts, place them in historical context, and discuss social changes, movements, and corresponding changes in both behavior and sociological theory. An important basic 'foundation piece', BASICS OF SOCIOLOGY is an easily-digested reference. Elizabeth Vierck & Kris Hodges' AGING: LIFESTYLES, WORK, AND MONEY (1573565482, $65.00) packs in almost two hundred tables, graphs and charts to illustrate concepts of aging issues, from transportation, housing and health to crime, citizenship, retirement and social security. Vital statistics form the backbone of AGING, but there's also analytical support on trends and data, and a format and organization which lends to lay reader involvement as well as student consultation.

Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007

Greenwood's holdings on other cultures offers a diverse range of reference holdings, from literary reviews and histories to surveys of popular minority culture. Take the 2-volume ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LATINO POPULAR CULTURE (0313322155, $175.00), for example: Cordelia Chavez Candelaria edits a fine reference which traces how profoundly U.S. culture has been impacted by contributions from Latinos. The Latino population is the fastest-growing segment of U.S. society: showcased here are not just notable contributors to Latino society, but festivals, movements, food and sports, fashion, performing arts trends, and more. Mary Yu Danico and Franklin Ng's ASIAN AMERICAN ISSUES (0313319650, $45.00) joins others in the 'Contemporary American Ethnic Issues' series, using hot news topics and cultural issues to debate pros and cons of Asian concerns. Original issues provide historical and cultural background as well as legal and political insights, providing readers with an invaluable resource reference suitable for classroom debate and report. Samih K. Farsoun's CULTURE AND CUSTOMS OF THE PALESTINIANS (0313320519, $45.00) joins others in the 'Culture and Customs of the Middle East' series, providing a historical overviews of Palestine, the diaspora, and the nature and roots of the current conflict. Culture, traditions, values, religion and daily life are all included in a guide which covers Palestine relationships not only with Israel, but the rest of the Middle East, and the world. Emmanuel S. Nelson edits AFRICAN AMERICAN DRAMATISTS: AN A-TO-Z GUIDE (0313322333, $85.00) tells how African American dramatists have contributed to the theater, covering their works with alphabetically arranged entries by playwright and including analysis, biographical backgrounds, a critical discussion of major works and themes, and bibliographic references. A 'must' for any collection strong in Afro-American history and culture.

Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007 Westport, CT 06881-5007

Greenwood's college-level reference guides on science, nature and technology are outstanding recommendation for science libraries: each provides plenty of bibliographic citations and well-researched materials suitable for reports. Two new to the 'Technographies' series include A. Bowdoin Van Riper's ROCKETS AND MISSILES: THE LIFE STORY OF A TECHNOLOGY (0313327955, $45.00) begins with World War II when missiles changed the face of warfare for the first time, but provides a history of rocketry's origins in the medieval and modern world too, and how it spread from Asia to the Western world. A lively format and style provides narrative chapters, timelines and more. Ditto ELECTRONICS: THE LIFE STORY OF A TECHNOLOGY by David L. Morton Jr. and Joseph Gabriel (0313332479, $45.00): surprisingly, this represents the first book to provide a comprehensive account of the history of the field's development, up to the invention of electron devices in the 20th century. The development of electronic devices fostered an era of technological advancement: biographies of the creators of these devices accompany surveys of electrical advancements. Roger Pauly's FIREARMS (0313327963, $45.00) rounds out the theme's offerings, providing the life story of firearms development and usage over the decades. The history covers how firearms developed, why styles of guns changed, and how technology influenced its evolution. NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY by Joseph A. Angelo Jr. adds to the 'Sourcebooks in Modern Technology' series (1573563366, $75.00), covering how technology affects modern culture and providing a detailed history of nuclear technology's evolution and civilian and military applications. From its major impacts to terminology, politics, and technology, NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY provides a reference which is key to an understanding of its issues. Perhaps it's nature which is needed in a college-level science holding: if so, you can't go wrong with Marc Bekoff's 3-volume ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ANIMAL BEHAVIOR (0313327467, $349.95): each book in the set holdsalmost 500 pages of detail on animal behavior patterns, providing topical entries and discussions ranging from animal communication and tool use to display behavior, reproductive behavior, and more. Photos, charts and diagrams provide extensive illustration while sidebars of behaviors help readers understand theories. First-person observations juxtapose with scholarly research to make for an accessible, variable set. Edward Grant's SCIENCE AND RELIGION: 400 BC-AD1550 (0313328587, $65.00) covers scientific and religious confrontations from Aristotle to Copernicus, exploring both religious traditions of the times and the scientific findings which came to challenge established thought and authority. From timelines and annotated primary source materials to biographical sketches, this is a basic reference surveying medieval history and the stormy relationships between science and religion.

Surfing USA
Ben Marcus
Voyageur Press
123 N. 2nd Street, Stillwater, MN 55082-5002
0896586901 $35.00

Surfing is a symbol of freedom and many books have covered surfing - but SURFING USA! AN ILLUSTRATED HSITORY OF THE COOLEST SPORT OF ALL TIME isn't another instructional guide - it's a celebration of the sport though vivid photos. Ben Marcus knows and loves surfing: his art gathers period images from vintage postcards, movie posters, album covers, ads, and more to celebrate the sport. Accompanying these pages of images are plenty of insights on the sport, its figureheads, and its seasonal changes. A gorgeous gift presentation for that avid surfer.

ABCs of Early Americana
Eric Sloane
Voyageur Press
123 N. 2nd Street, Stillwater, MN 55082-5002
0896586871 $12.95

Sketch artist Eric Sloane's ABCS OF EARLY AMERICANA has long been out of print, so it's refreshing to see this gathering of American symbols and signs re-appear in print, each page featuring his own fine hand lettering explaining the origins and use of each object. Sloane was a famous American painter and illustrator: ABCs takes an A-Z format in presenting black and white sketches of inventions, lore and American symbols.

The Education of a Comics Artist
Michael Dooley & Steven Heller
Allworth Press
10 E. 23rd St. #510, New York, NY 10010
1581154089 $19.95 1-800-491-2808

Any involved in teaching or learning comics will find THE EDUCATION OF A COMICS ARTIST's collection of essays and interview on the art, business and development of comics art covers all kinds of essential subjects. It doesn't matter what kind of cartoon is of interest: editorials, superhero stories, alternative comics - all are covered in essays which provide tips and lesson plans by top teachers in the industry.

Photography Your Way
Chuck Delaney
Allworth Press
10 E. 23rd St. #510, New York, NY 10010
1581154054 $22.95 1-800-491-2808

Newly revised and updated is a guide which offers the latest tips on selecting digital cameras, using them, and developing an individual style in the process. Other guides just cover features and methods: professional photographer/freelance writer Delaney has devoted his career to new photographers and here provide his knowledge and strategies for succeeding as a pro - by developing a unique style, overcoming creative blocks, and setting up a productive business. The emphasis on career over artistic trends is quite satisfying.

The Right Way to Sing
Linda Marquart
Allworth Press
10 East 23rd St., Suite 510, NY NY 10010
1581154070 $12.95 1-800-491-2808

Want to learn how to sing like a pro? Singing's a skill, as voice teacher Linda Marquart reveals in THE RIGHT WAY TO SING: it requires a blend of knowledge, practice and experience. Her book is a pick for both amateur and neo-pro singers, students and voice coaches alike, covering everything from common terms and different voice categories to posture, breath control, and adjusting sounds to produce a flowing singing voice. The next best thing to having your vocal coach right beside you.

Allworth Press
10 East 23rd St. #510, New York, NY 10010

Jack Benza's SO YOU WANNABE ON REALITY TV (1581154224, $19.95) is a real winner for any viewer who has watched reality TV with the wonder of how its stars get on the show. Jack Benza's acting background and participation in over thirty reality, dating and game shows lends an insider's perspective to any questions about how reality TV operates. Chapters here tell how to avoid application form traps, how to produce a memorable audition tape, how to win at on-camera interviews and prepare for physical and mental tests, and more. Don't go for the interview without it! Michael Jefferson's BREAKING INTO GRAPHIC DESIGN: TIPS FROM THE PROS ON FINDING THE RIGHT POSITION FOR YOU (1581154216, $19.95) provides tips on how to enter the industry and locate the type of graphic design position which will work. From designing a self-promoting web site and working with agents to temp agency work and handling basic marketing interview questions, BREAKING INTO GRAPHIC DESIGN offers a wealth of insider tips on entering a most competitive field.

Australian Fishing Network
P.O. Box 511, Croydon, Victroia 3136 Australia

Fishermen have four wonderful titles to expand their knowledge and fishing library holdings, and should place these books on their lists for building a solid professional reference library on fishing. Trevor Hawkins' FLY FISHING KNOTS, RIGS & LEADERS (1865130710, $14.95) appeared last year but deserves ongoing mention as one of the best guides to fly fishing knots, rigs and leaders on the market. It covers both fresh and salt water and comes from a leading angling illustrators who already has many books and articles to his name - plus almost forty years experience as a fly fisherman. You can't get better credentials or expertise - and the full-page illustrations can't be clearer. Frank Prokop's LURE ENCYCLOPEDIA (1865130761, $19.95) is a solid lure reference which holds over 500 lures in a lure selection guide which includes dive depth, action types, assessments of the deepest lures on the market, and major manufacturer holdings. One of the most specific guides is Steve Starling and Kaj Busch's ON SOFT PLASTICS AND HOW TO USE THEM (1865130702, $29.95), which is the only guide to choosing, rigging and using soft plastic lures alone. While it's geared to Australian fish, the tips and details - aside from species-specific references - can easily apply to other waters. Soft plastic fishing is big in Australia, but there are special tips needed for managing, repairing and using plastics: all of which are to be found in ON SOFT PLASTICS AND HOW TO USE THEM. The experts at Freshwater Fishing Magazine Australia's TROUT FISHING TACTICS (186513080X, $24.99) present the latest trout tactics to provide fishermen with tips on catching more trout. From lurecasting and rolling techniques to trout profiles and chapters discussing castability, US spoon sizes and their problems, rigging for shallows, and more, TROUT FISHING TACTIC's specific applications to trout casts it above most general fishing guides, while its authority guarantees even avid trout fishermen will learn something new.

Audio Editions
Auburn, CA 95604

The latest batch of audio cds provides a host of wonderful leisure listens. Fans of mystery will be familiar with Agatha Christie, undoubtedly - but not with the gripping audio drama imparted by the cd versions. Anna Massey narrates MURDER IN MESPOTAMIA (1572704780, $29.95), lending quiet drama to a Hercule Poirot mystery about a frightened archaeologist's wife, a concerned nurse's, and the detective's involvement probing a team of possible suspects; David Suchet narrates EVIL UNDER THE SUN (1572704772, $29.95) which tells of a strangled actress and an island filled with suspects of Poirot to investigate; DEATH ON THE NILE (1572704756, $31.95) also enjoys Suchet's moving and dramatic style as it tells of Poirot's cruise holiday spoiled by a honeymooner's murder. The trouble is - everyone has airtight alibis. Suchet also narrates the Pirot mystery SAD CYPRESS (1572704764, $27.95), telling of a beautiful monied girl facing a murder indictment and a criminal trial for the poisoning of her rival. Only Pirot thinks she's innocent: but can he prove it? Rex Stout's PLEASE PASS THE GUILT (1572704802, $27.95) receives long-time Stout narrator Michael Prichard's fine acting voice: listening fans of past Stout mysteries thus receive a smooth, uninterrupted set of audios where the tension is heightened by Prichard's fine voice. A fatal trap kills a top TV executive - but was it intended for him or someone else? Nero Wolfe doesn't want the convoluted case - but he winds up with it. Mystery fans have a lot to celebrate with these complete, unabridged presentations of classic writers and readers.

The Quilter's Guild Collection
Bridget Long, Editor
Krause Publications
700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990
0896891852 $24.99

The Quilter's Guild Heritage Collection is the largest national collection of patchwork and quilting in the UK, holding over 450 items dating back to the 18th century. Here are products from twelve modern quiltmakers who each take a different item in this collection to produce a modern piece. Each work imparts a lesson - such as how to use transfers, or how to produce corded quilting in clothing and house crafts alike - and each includes crafter comments, sources of inspirations, pages from sketchbook designs, and more to trace the work from idea to completion. Packed with gorgeous color photos throughout.

The Civil War Diary Quilt
Rosemary Youngs
Krause Publications
700 East State St., Iola, WI 54990-0001
0873499956 $22.99

Civil War diaries and the women who wrote them are captured in quilt form by Rosemary Youngs, who provides over a hundred full-sized quilt blocks inspired by a diary entry. Each page offsets a color quilt with a facing diary entry for maximum impact: while THE CIVIL WAR DIARY QUILT: 121 STORIES AND THE QUILT BLOCKS THEY INSPIRED could have been featured in our crafts section, it's reviewed here for its special interest to Civil war buffs.

Simply Java
James R. Levenick
Charles River Media/Thomson
10 Downer Ave., Hingham, MA 02043
1584504269 $49.95

It's hard for novice programmers to locate an accessible book on basic Java programming: most assume quite a degree of prior knowledge or offer only advanced and intermediate coverages based on a solid foundation. SIMPLY JAVA: AN INTRODUCTION TO JAVA PROGRAMMING teaches problem solving and object-oriented design basics using Java in a spiral approach which teaches the basics before moving on. Chapters come packed with programming examples and test exercises students can readily follow to create a step-by-step course.

4th of July, Asbury Park
Daniel Wolff
175 - 5th Ave. #300, NY, NY 10010
1582345090 $24.95

The rise and fall of Asbury Park charts the promise, heyday and failure of a small tourist town which became the stuff of rock music tributes in Daniel Wolff's 4TH OF JULY, ASBURY PARK: A HISTORY OF THE PROMISED LAND. The popular image of Asbury Park "never existed", says music journalist/poet/author Daniel Woff. From its founding as a religious amusement park to its hosting of legendary music figures, this provides a captivating tour of days gone buy in a legendary place.

The Clumsiest People In Europe
Todd Pruzan
175 - 5th Ave. #300, NY, NY 10010
158235504X $19.95

For most of the 19th century Mrs. Mortimer was a cranky, politically ignorant travel commentator who always had something nasty to say about the world: she published children's books, lived in England, and casts a jaded eye on much of the nations of the world, packed with opinion and inaccuracies, in THE CLUMSIEST PEOPLE IN EUROPE OR: MRS. MORTIMER'S BAD-TEMPERED GUIDE TO THE VICTORIAM WORLD. Todd Pruzan edits her tantrums and biting observations in an account both thought-provoking and intriguing.

The Devil's Picnic
Taras Grescoe
Bloomsbury USA
175 - 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010
1852344299 $23.95

Prohibition is delivered up in a complete meal here, but it doesn't focus on drink alone, but on the range of 'forbidden foods' which have been denied at tables around the world. Grescoe searches out illicit indulgences, from Norwegian moonshine to raw milk cheese in France. Blending travel with culinary discovery, THE DEVIL'S PICNIC: AROUND THE WORLD IN PURSUIT OF FORBIDDEN FRUIT explores what you can't have - and why.

The Extraordinary Adventures Of Alfred Kropp
Rick Yancey
Bloomsbury USA
175 - 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010
1582346933 $16.95

Alfred Kropp is the last person to save the world or have any sort of adventure - but when he's tricked into stealing Excalibur and finds himself in hot water facing thugs on motorcycles and international espionage, Alfred is forced to bring some buried talents to life. Part fantasy and part thriller, it may be hard to easily categorize THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ALFRED KROPP - but it's impossible not to enjoy the rollicking mishaps and adventures.

Crap Cars
Richard Porter
Bloomsbury USA
175 - 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010
1582345380 $14.95

Many coverages have been written - and shows created - to display how battered cars were restored and improved: but what about the cars which seemed a good idea at the time, but proved flops? With a blend of reality and tongue-in-cheek humor, CRAP CARS pairs a facing page color photo of each car with a history and observation of what made its concept a bad idea. Whether you agree with the definition or not, CRAP CARS is certainly intriguing, packed with both insights, car history and fun.

Sustainability and Human Settlements
M. Monto, L.S. Fanesh & Koshy Varghese
Sage Publications
2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
0761933859 $49.95 1-800-818-7243

Human settlements around the world are under pressure from different sources, and tradition studies of these settlements have failed to address changes brought about by rapid urban growth and demands on accompanying systems. SUSTAINABILITY AND HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: FUNDAMENTAL ISSUES, MODELING AND SIMULATIONS is suitable for a college-level audience, blending and analyzing information pertaining to the basic applied principles of sustainability. Three professors contribute their different disciplinary expertise to the analysis, which helps readers understand sustainable development issues as they apply to urban planning.

The Eldercare 911 Question and Answer Book
Susan Beerman, MS, MSW & Judith Rappaport-Musson, CSA
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
1591022932 $20.00 1-800-421-0351

Men and women who serve as caregivers know how difficult it is to manage elders: now there's a handbook which addresses all kinds of issues; from rules of intervention and how to avoid guilt-tripping elders and friends to handling the increasing complexities of Alzheimer's patients and avoiding family conflicts and burnout. Real caregivers' solutions to their problems supplements worksheets for maximum information.

Challenging U.S. Human Rights Violations Since 9/11
Ann Fagan Ginger, Ed.
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Dr., Amherst, NTY 14228-2197
1591022797 $24.00

Activists, politicians, students and human rights researchers alike will welcome an important analysis by Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute Executive Director Ann Fagan Ginger in CHALLENGING U.S. HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS SINCE 9/11. Here's a hard-hitting, factual account which describes executive orders, new laws, new complaint processes and new reporting processes involved in civil rights since 9/11, drawing some important connections between civil liberties and the legal process. Any defending civil liberties must have CHALLENGING U.S. HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS SINCE 9/11 close at hand: it not only documents changes and events, but packs in reports on 30 types of violations and refers to specific laws being violated by the government, military and their agents.

The Affinity Trap
Martin Sketchley
Pyr/Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
1591023394 $15.00 1-800-421-0351

It's the 24th century on Earth, and a general heads the planet's government, Structure. His illegal arms deals with a mysterious alien runs into trouble when the aliens feel threatened - until Myson agrees to father a child which will link Earth and aliens politically. The only trouble is - the alien would-be mother seeks sanctuary with Affinity Group…fast political action makes THE AFFINITY TRAP engrossing but be forewarned: it's 'Book 1' in a projected series.

Energy & Security
Jan H. Kalicki & David L. Goldwyn
Woodrow Wilson Center Press
One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20004-4029
0801882796 $29.95

Any college-level student of political science, foreign relations or environmental issues, especially on an international level, should make ENERGY & SECURITY: TOWARD A NEW FOREIGN POLICY STRATEGY required reading. Some of the most distinguished energy and foreign policy experts in the world contribute papers which examine the foundations of America's energy policies and relationships with producer nations. From the country's energy dependence upon other nations to a new approach with blends US energy and security needs, both market influences and security concerns are addressed in analyses of approaches to world regional energy issues. From Africa and the Middle East to Russia, China and Latin America, no region is omitted. Very highly recommended as an essential college-level resource.

Salmon Wars
Dennis Brown
Harbour Publishing
PO Box 219, Madeira Park, BC VON 2HO, Canada
1550173510 $25.95

Any involved in fishing issues in general and the state of the West Coast salmon industry in particular can't miss SALMON WARS: THE BATTLE FOR THE WEST COAST SALMON FISHERY. Author Dennis Brown's family has fished the area commercially for three generations and have served as fishery policy advisors in BC Canada, so he holds the background and experience to handle the long-time debates over the use and management of the West Coast salmon industry. Different management plans, controversies on both sides, and political involvements are detailed in chapters which cover all aspects of the issues.

Secrets of Voice-Over Success
Joan Baker
Sentient Publications
1113 Spruce St., Boulder, CO 80302
1591810337 $18.95

Any in the industry who wants an idea of what it takes to become a voice-over pro will find SECRETS OF VOICE-OVER SUCCESS: TOP VOICE-OVER ACTORS REVEAL HOW THEY DID IT comes packed with tricks of the trade, insider's experiences, and stories which will teach novices how to develop talent and gain employment. Having a range of voice-over actor experiences makes for a powerful title indeed - and a 'must' for any aspiring voice-over novice.

Straight Talk About Gays in the Workplace
Liz Winfeld
Harrington Park Press
10 Alice St., Binghamton, NY 13904-1580
1560235470 $19.95

How can an employer create an inclusive, productive environment for everyone in the workplace? This third updated edition of a classic treatise focuses on everything from domestic partner benefit issues and nondiscrimination to employee alliances and transgender issues which may come into the workplace. Here's a unique discussion of all kinds of gender issues which may affect both performance, morale and employer legal standing - all updated to reflect the latest workforce issues.

Berrett-Koehler Publishers
450 Sansome #1200, San Francisco, CA 94111-3320

Hazel Henderson's BUILDING A WIN-WIN WORLD: LIFE BEYOND GLOBAL ECONOMIC WARFARE (1576750272, $19.95) comes from the author's 25 years of work in economics and examines the havoc the current system is inflicting around the world. Markets are spreading, but they're still being run on old models which ignore social and ecological ramifications of actions. To remedy this, BUILDING A WIN-WIN WORLD suggests changes to the global economy which affect all levels and help even the most ordinary person see the benefits of economic policies which take social and environmental issues into account. Chapters discuss joblessness, myths and realities which may point the way to a better sustainable future, and leadership changes. Very inspirational indeed. Organizational leaders and future managers will want James R. Davis and Adelaide B. Davis' EFFECTIVE TRAINING STRATEGIES: A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO MAXIMIZING LEARNING IN ORGANIZATIONS (157675037X, $49.95) in their reference library: no general analysis, it describes several powerful training strategies for producing dynamic interactions, illustrating learning theories with powerful real-world examples and even including case histories of appropriate uses of the different strategies. Examples aren't just from the U.S. but come from around the world, making for an even more powerful, diverse collection of leadership experience. Howard Karger's SHORTCHANGED: LIFE AND DEBT IN THE FRINGE ECONOMY (1576753360, $24.95) is a recommended pick for college-level students of economics and social issues as well as for any wishing to examine the 'fringe economy' of America, whether it be pawnshops, check cashers, or used car lots. There are lots of alternative services catering to this fringe market - but which are part of their own economy dominated by just a few well-financed corporations with ties to mainstream finance. SHORTCHANGED examines this underground economy's ties to the mainstream, using the case histories of real people trapped in debt to expose deceptive practices and how the uderground has become the oppressor.

The JFK Myths
Larry Sturdivan
Paragon House
1925 Oakcrest Ave. Suite 7, St. Paul, MN 55113-2619
1557788472 $19.95

So very much has been written about JFK's murder that it's hard to believe anything new could appear - but wound ballistics researcher Larry M. Sturdivan takes a different approach to assessing evidence in THE JFK MYTHS: A SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATION OF THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION, and any who harbor an interest in the subject will find this a 'must'. It goes beyond mere conjecture to use hard evidence to show how how myth is separated from reality. From bungled autopsies to mis-measured evidence, THE JFK MYTHS delves into how myths evolve.

Corporate Scandals: The Many Faces of Greed
Kenenth R. Gray, Larry Frieder, George W. Clark Jr.
Paragon House
925 Oakcrest Ave. #7, St. Paul, MN 55113
1557788383 $19.95

How can the business student understand all the news about corporate scandals and impact on social, political and economic systems alike? Choose CORPORATE SCANDALS: THE MANY FACES OF GREED for a primer on how business should behave, how Wall Street and others should address the specter of corporate greed, and examples of what happens when scandal spreads in the business world. Key corporate scandals of recent times are used as examples of wider-reaching issues in a survey of wider-ranging issues.

365 Ways to Motivate and Reward Your Employees
Dianna Podmoroff, BA, MBA, CHRP
Atlantic Publishing Group
1210 SW 23rd Place, Ocala, FL 34474
0910627517 $24.95

Plenty of employers wish to reward employees: problem is, it usually costs money. Statistics show American businesses lost an average of 25 days of work in 2001 due to employee anxiety and stress, and 365 WAYS TO MOTIVATE AND REWARD YOUR EMPLOYEES EVERY DAY WITH LITTLE OR NO MONEY addresses both of these concerns. Here are inexpensive, simple ways to motivate and reward taken from real-world business examples: from allowing employees to bank sick time and extend vacations to a paid session with a financial advisor, free income tax preparation with a pro, and more.

The Leader's Tool Kit
Cy Charney
1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
0814408478 $17.95 1-800-250-5308

Plenty of books advise on mastering leadership skills - but too few tell exactly what's involved in doing so: enter THE LEADER'S TOOL KIT: HUNDREDS OF TIPS AND TECHNIQUES FOR DEVELOPING THE SKILLS YOU NEED, which both identifies skills and tells how to gain them. From learning how to lead others and develop accountability and innovative thinking strategies to identifying one's personal learning style and integrating it to organizational goals for maximum effectiveness, THE LEADER'S TOOL KIT is packed with necessities any business manager should have.

eBay the Smart Way, 4th Editon
Joseph T. Sinclair
1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
0814472893 $17.95 1-800-250-5308

Thinking of selling antiques or collectibles on the Internet? Don't think too much before consulting the latest 4th updated edition of EBAY THE SMART WAY: SELLING, BUYING, AND PROFITING ON THE WEB'S #1 AUCTION SITE: it's the only unauthorized guide to eBay auctions which covers everything from specialty auctions and eBay stores to eBay Motors, the international section, and more. From reporting earnings to collecting from auction flakes, EBAY THE SMART WAY covers all the pros, cons and tricks of eBay's trade.

First in Thirst
Darren Rovell
1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
0814472990 $21.95 1-800-250-5308

Visit any athletic event and Gatorade will surely be present: how was it developed, and how did it come to be so associated with sports? FIRST IN THIRST; HOW GATORADE TURNED THE SCIENCE OF SWEAT INTO A CULTURAL PHENOMENON tells of the Sports-Drink wars - a war quickly fought and won when the gatorade invention became superior over all. Journalist Darren Rovell recounts the company's history and rise, from the invention of gatorade for university sports to its marketing, commercial promotion, and brief flurry of competition. While marketed for the businessman as an example of a most successful marketing strategy, FIRST IN THIRST also holds plenty of interest for health collections.

1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019

There's more to seller success on Ebay than setting the right price: of equal importance is displaying the goods in an attractive, compelling manner - and Joseph Sinclair & Stanley Livingston 's EBAY PHOTOGRAPHY THE SMART WAY: CREATING GREAT PRODUCT PICTURES THAT WILL ATTRACT HIGHER BIDS AND SELL YOUR ITEMS FASTER (0814472931 $19.95) is the way to achieve this goal. There are the usual chapters of photography basics such as how to handle indoor and outdoor photography challenges - but there are also specifics on what makes a good display, how to depict large or small items attractively, and more. It's these specifics which will help you sell the product - with the help of EBAY PHOTOGRAPHY THE SMART WAY, of course. David Teten and Scott Allen's THE VIRTUAL HANDSHAKE: OPENING DOORS AND LCOSING DEALS ONLINE (0814472869, $19.95) could also have been featured in our business books section, but is reviewed here for its outstanding guide to using simple online tools to make lucrative contacts and close lucrative business deals. How do business people connect on the net? How do they form and foster business relationships online, gain new business, and use the web for product branding? From the basics of controlling email to achieving success in career, business and life and using Web conferencing and discussion forums, THE VIRTUAL HANDSHAKE is packed with tested business applications and ideas.

1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019

Amacom consistently publishes unique and thought-provoking business books, and these new arrivals are some of the best of their recent publications, highly recommended for both business book readers and business library holdings. Beverly Langford's THE ETIQUETTE EDGE: THE UNSPOKEN RULES FOR BUSINESS SUCCESS (0814472427, $14.95) melds etiquette and business concerns, from making a great impression on bosses and clients to using body language to advantage and avoiding being labeled as a troublemaker if making a valid complaint. It's all about relationship-building and the underlying, sometimes-unwritten foundations of business rules - and THE ETIQUETTE EDGE covers all this in depth. Harry Mills' THE STREETSMART NEGOTIATOR: HOW TO OUTWIT, OUTMANEUVER, AND OUTLAST YOUR OPPONENTS (0814471986, $15.00) comes from the chief executive of The Mills Group, and provides a collaborative account of the world's top negotiators and their strategies for success. From planning an agenda and analyzing the other part to understanding how concessions are exchanged and settled, THE STREETSMART NEGOTIATOR is packed with tips. Lordin B. Belker and Gary s. Topchik's THE FIRST-TIME MANAGER, 5TH EDITION (0814408214, $17.95) comes from the Belker's 30 years experience as an executive in a major Midwest insurance company, and from Topchik's experience as a managing partner in a consulting firm. Both share their tips on how rookie managers can handle new management responsibilities, and this updated edition covers all the basics of how to manage people for optimum results. Learn how to become a more effective leader through mastering time management in John K. Clemens and Scott Dalrymple's TIME MASTERY: HOW TEMPORAL INTELLIGENCE WILL MAKE YOU A STRONGER, MORE EFFECTIVE LEADER (0814408494, $21.95). Maybe you can manage time, but that doesn't mean you've mastered it: chapters provide a different view of how to consider time and take control of it, using examples from industry leaders to illustrate basic differences between management and contro. All are excellent guides.

Harvard Business School Press
60 Harvard Way, Boston, MA 02163

Think 'business' and the words 'compassion' and 'benevolence' don't usually come to mind - yet that's what Richard Boyatzis & Annie McKee's RESONANT LEADERSHIP (1591395631 $25.95) teaches: that these terms can become an integral part of a business plan. Great leaders find these features in an organizational structure and today face major challenges in finding them amid the chaos, stress and sacrifice business models seem to include. Decades of multidisciplinary research and consulting provide a framework for showing how leaders can create such resonance in their relationships and organizations, with examples from active organizations around the world illustrating three key elements for change. A powerful, in-depth account of personal excellence and renewal. Anthony J. Mayo and Nitin Nohria's IN THEIR TIME: THE GREATEST BUSINESS LEADERS OF THE 20TH CENTURY (1591393450, $35.00) is a detailed, important guide to the impact of business leadership not just on economics but the world as a whole. IN THEIR TIME examines the characteristics of such outstanding leaders, considering their abilities, the special paths they chose to set them apart from any other, and the blend of management and leadership skills required to stand out. A thousand of the 20th century's most influential businessmen were considered in the making of this book, which uses their stories to examine marketplace and business changes of the early 1900s to modern times. Exactly how leaders guided business solutions from decade to decade makes for fascinating reading indeed: both inspirational and thought-provoking. Robert D. Austin and Stephen P. Bradley edit THE BROADBAND EXPLOSION: LEADING THINKERS ON THE PROMISE OF A TRULY INTERACTIVE WORLD (1591396700, $45.00): a survey of digital technologies and how their future potential for making long-distance business as effective as face-to-face will change the future and nature of the business world. It's cheap and abundant bandwidth which promises these changes - and chapters examine how to anticipate and andle the new capabilities, markets and strategies which will result. This isn't just one or two authors' opinions either: essays by Harvard professor Clayton Christensen, former FCC chairman Reed Hundt, and others address the real-world concerns and impact of broadband.

Worst Enemy, Best Teacher
Deidre Combs
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
1577314824 $14.95

There are folks who drive us crazy in any professional or situation, whether it be a neighbor, a co-worker, a manager or a politician: learn how to cope with adverse personalities with a title which teaches how to use these people to improve and learn about yourself, WORST ENEMY BEST TEACHER: HOW TO SURVIVE AND THRIVE WITH OPPONENTS, COMPETITORS, AND THE PEOPLE WHO DRIVE YOU CRAZY. Why look at an enemy as a teacher rather than a danger? Because by identifying threats and responses, it's possible to change your own behavior to maximize your own strengths and response patterns.

Calibration: A Technician's Guide
Mike Cable
PO Box 12277, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
155617912X $79.00

College-level collections which have holds in technical instrumentation, whether they be electronic or mechanical, will find essential the addition of CALIBRATION: A TECHNICIAN'S GUIDE: it discusses the basics of calibration systems, provides documentation and definitions of field vs. bench calibration, and includes all kinds of calibration techniques, from electrical and pressure to temperature, level, flow, and analytics. An added plus: the exercises and questions in each chapter lend to the use of CALIBRATION: A TECHNICIAN'S GUIDE for home study or classroom.

Pinto's Points
Jim Pinto
PO Box 12277, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
1556179537 $30.00

Highly specific, highly technical and highly relevant is Jim Pinto's PINTO'S PONTS: HOW TO WIN IN THE AUTOMATION BUSINESS. From understanding just how emerging wireless industries are changing the face of business organizations and lives to tracking technology trends, understanding molecular manufacturing and broadband, and understanding new guidelines for growth and success in the automation industry, here's a practical assessment of the past, present and future which business pros can't afford to miss.

The Woman Road Warrior
Kathleen Ameche
1501 Madison St., Evanston, IL 60202
1932841091 $12.95

In this modern world businesswomen travel as much as men - yet there are hardly any coverages which address the special challenges of the female business traveler - until THE WOMAN ROAD WARRIOR: A WOMAN'S GUIDE TO BUSINESS TRAVEL emerged. It's a resource which covers accommodation and travel options for women, from parenting while on the road and entertaining outside the hotel room to handling safety. While there are plenty of general travel tips such as getting the best deals on airfare and rentals, it's the points specific to the female traveler, which make THE WOMAN ROAD WARRIOR invaluable.

The Ten-Minute Trainer
Sharon L. Bowman
989 Market Street, San Francisco CA 94103
0787974420 $35.00

Trainers and HR professionals alike now have a specific guide to training which is written with the busy business pro in mind. If you need to deliver an effective training program, here are well over a hundred activities which have been tested and proven to help learners, including ten short 'games' to reinforce learning, a training map, templates, a navigation chart and more. Best of all, the tested methods are presented in short 'bursts' of energy, requiring only quick consultation to work. An outstanding guide to developing and maintaining meaningful training routines at work.

The Owner's Manual for Personality at Work
Pierce J. Howard Ph.D. & Jane Mitchell Howard, MBA
Bard Press
2140 Newmarket Pkwy #122, Marietta, GA 30067
1885167458 $19.95

Take five personality 'supertraits' which describe how people respond to stress, react flexibly, determine interests, work with others and establish goals - then translate them to workplace issues ranging from leadership and career planning to teamwork and sales goals, and you have a collection of strategies which provides an 'owner's manual' for workplace success in THE OWNER'S MANUAL FOR PERSONALITY AT WORK. Learn how to make selection decisions, undertake realistic career planning, and more through understanding how personality traits affect all aspects of job performance.

Wolfgang Publications
217 2nd Street, North, Stillwater, MN 55082

While television shows love to profile chopper shops which build $30K showpieces, in fact a chopper can be built at home for as little as $4K using a donor bike for most of the components - and with Timothy Remus' HOW TO BUILD A CHEAP CHOPPER FROM $5,000 TO $20,000 (1929133170 $24.95) in hand. Over four hundred color photos sot in the shots of various motorcycle owners covers the construction of four bike models from start to finish. A 'must' for any would-be builder. Another winning motorcycle coverage from Timothy Remus, TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES FROM SPEED TWIN TO BONNEVILLE (1929133219, $29.95) is even more weighty, packed with color photos throughout to provide a moving history of the classic Triumph twins and triples. Most are vertical twin models and all receive picturesque and wonderful poses. Perfect for coffee table display or library shelf alike.

CarTech Inc.
39966 Grand Avenue, North Branch, MN 55056

Charles R. Morris' TOTAL PERFORMERS FORD DRAG RACING IN THE 1960S (1932494073, $39.95) is a 'must' for any Ford racing fan who wants to live the heyday of Ford in the 1960s. Here are over 400 unique color photos paired with accounts from racers who enjoyed Ford drag cars from 1960-70. And you don't even have to be a Ford fan to enjoy it: all that's needed is a prior appreciation for drag racing history, and an affection for racing detail. An even wider audience (because of the topic) will relish Ken Gross & Robert Genat's HOT ROD MILESTONES: AMERICA'S COOLEST COUPLES, ROADSTERS & RACERS (1884089801, $39.95). Hot rodding has a large fandom and many books have been written on the topic, but HOT ROD MILESTONES differs from most in its colorful attention to 25 of the most influential hot rods ever. The narrowed field of coverage allows for far more detail - and for far more color photos - than a wider focus could achieve. Pat Ganahl's VON DUTCH: THE ART, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND (1884089984, $39.95) tells of one Kenneth Howard, nicknamed 'Von Dutch', who blended a beatnick artist's talent with an avid interest in hot rods and pop culture to develop a unique art form. His works were copied, his exploits renowned, and Von Dutch's legend led him to become a recluse. Here his works of art blend with vintage photos and stories and quotes from interviews to recreate the life, times and talents of a mystery man, packing over three hundred photos of the man and his work for audiences of hot rod fans familiar with the name and some of his creations. These are all vivid, enjoyable presentations.

Railroad Bridges in the Heartland
Stanleyu A. Changnon
Printec Press
801 Buckthorn Circle, Mahomet, IL
1096318114 $30.00

Stan Chagnon is a scientist but his hobby of a lifetime has been railroading, and he's written three prior books about railroads. His RAILROAD BRIDGES IN THE HEARTLAND packs in over two hundred black and white photos chronicling all kinds of bridges, from those crossing major rivers to different structures offering different scenic wonders and purposes. First-person observations of his field research blend with history and a fine analysis of tracks, lines, construction and more. An excellent specialty item any Heartland library would relish.

Temple to the Wind
Christopher Pastore
The Lyons Press
PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437
1592285570 $22.95 1-800-836-0510

Reliance was more than a unique yacht built in 1903 around the end of sale: it sparked political tension between Britain and America, it produced debates among those who claimed the giant yacht too dangerous to sail, and it entered the America's Cup to bring fame and drama to the seas. TEMPLE TO THE WIND: THE STORY OF AMERICA'S GREATEST NAVAL ARCHITECT AND HIS MASTERPIECE, RELIANCE documents the many controversies and high drama surrounding the Reliance and will please any with a prior affection for sailing history.

David Diaz & V.L. McCann
The Lyons Press
PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437
1592286860 $22.95 1-800-836-0510

How do you track a human? Humans leave traces much as animals do, and Marine Corps special officer David Diaz provides insights into how to track a human in TRACKING: SIGNS OF MAN, SIGNS OF HOPE: A SYSTEMATIC APPROACH TO THE ART AND SCIENCE AND TRACKING HUMANS. From discovering how the experts gather information to track humans to telling the difference between natural and unnatural movements, sounds, and foliage in the wild, or interpreting the age of a human sign, TRACKING is packed with true-life tips.

The Attention-Deficit Workplace
Mitch Thrower
The Lyons Press
PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437
1592286127 $12.95 1-800-836-0510

ADD adults typically suffer from distractions, volatility, and the inability to focus: the ADD workplace is filled with shifting ideas, office nuances, and stress. Mitch Thrower's THE ATTENTION-DEFICIT WORKPLACE: WINNING STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS IN TODAY'S FAST-PACED BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT is for the worker who thinks the workplace is moving too fast. Chapters cover technologies which save time, challenges to productivity in an attention-deficit world, and provide case histories of strategies which work - and those which don't.

Kidnapped in Yemen
Mary Quin
The Lyons Press
PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437
159228728X $23.95 1-800-836-0510

Author Mary Quinn was kidnapped and, along with fifteen fellow tourists, had been used as human shields in a gun battle between Yemeni troops and the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army: her escape into the Yemen Desert heralded not just freedom but a new struggle for survival. KIDNAPPED IN YEMEN: ONE WOMAN'S AMAZING ESCAPE FROM CAPTIVITY covers her ordeals and struggle to understand why the kidnapping occurred. How a vacation turned into ambush, captivity and facing death preoccupied her even after her return to safety: KIDNAPPED IN YEMEN is an attempt to make sense of it all - and is a gripping survival account.

My First Crush
Linda Kaplan
The Lyons Press
PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437
1592286100 $22.95 1-800-836-0510

Linda Kaplan's husband quit his law firm job and bought a vineyard in Oregon and Kaplan soon found herself learning how to make pinot noir in a small town, with barely a knowledge of wine at all. Their adventures make for revealing, intriguing armchair reading in MY FIRST CRUSH: MISADVENTURES IN WINE COUNTRY. Here are Kaplan's lessons learned on how to not just make wine, but how to market it and cook with it. Chapters with details are particularly insightful as the author's winery grew to become an award-winning venture. A fun blend of autobiography and wine industry insights.

Working Windows
Terry Meany
The Lyons Press
PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437
1592287085 $14.95 1-800-836-0510

The newly revised, updated edition of repairman Terry Meany's WORKING WINDOWS: A GUIDE TO THE REPAIR & RESTORATION OF WOOD WINDOWS comes with a healthy dose of humor and lots of detail as it tells the basics of how to restore, repair or replace virtually any kind of window, from those on older homes to brand-new construction. Meany has repaired thousands of windows in Seattle: his tips address all kinds of common problems, from poor fits and drafts to restoring original hardware and obtaining the best materials.

Phillip Wilson
The Lyons Press
Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437
1592286798 $22.95 1-800-836-0510

Philip Wilson wanted to see America without paying for the journey - so he learned how to drive a big rig and spent six weeks of over-the-road training, crossing the country. His journey not only reveals parts of the country he wanted to see, but the world of the long-distance trucker, revealed in DRIVER: SIX WEEKS IN AN EIGHTEEN-WHEELER. Driving such a rig is demanding work: DRIVER provides 'you are there' stories of the adventure and the challenge.

Windmill Hill Books
PO Box 86554, Madeira Beach, FL 33708

Two specific cruising guides are recommended picks for any avid cruiser who wants complete charts, pilot details, snorkeling and diving tips, and more. BELIZE AND MEXICO'S CARIBBEAN COAST INCLUDING GUATEMALA'S RIO DULCE (0975575309, $34.95) packs in charts, maps, insert references, and tips on everything from resorts and restaurants to wind and sea conditions, suppliers, and more. The closer-in FLORIDA KEYS AND EVERGLADES CRUISING GUIDE (0918752248, $32.95) is especially recommended for its extensive details on cruising the keys: it identifies the numerous keys of the area, discusses anchorage and harbor conditions, packs in nautical charts, and even surveys cultural opportunities and local bookstores and eateries. Both are strong picks for cruisers.

Poet of the Appetites
Joan Reardon
North Point Press
79 Union Square West, New York, NY 10003
0865476217 $15.00

Food writer M.F.K. Fisher produced over thirty books which changed American perception of eating and living well, involving herself in observations of the food world which educated the common man about good food and how best to consume it. POET OF THE APPETITES: THE LIVES AND LOVES OF M.F.K. FISHER at last provides an in-depth biography of the goddess of food writing, covering her life, those who criticized her works and approach, and her inspirational wellsprings. From relationships with parents to disastrous experiences and illness, M.F.K. Fisher's years are told in a panorama of insightful observations any fan will relish.

The Flying Book
David Blatner
Walker & Company
104 - 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10011
0802776914 $13.00

If you like planes or have wondered what happens during flight, THE FLYING BOOK: EVERYTHING YOU'VE EVER WONDERED ABOUT FLYING ON AIRPLANES is for you. View this is as light trivia book packed with plane facts, from how air traffic control works and why plane windows have tiny holes at the bottom to differences between airships and helicopters, explanations of cockpit instrumentation, and more. A lively illustrated format keeps novices interested and intrigued.

Walker & Company
104 - 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10011
0802777317 $15.00

Blend biography, history and culinary insight and you have a fun account - with recipes - of the first 'celebrity chef' in COOKING FOR KINGS: THE LIFE OF ANTONIN CAREME. If you don't recognize Careme's name, you don't know food or history: he worked for gourmet king George IV and the Viennese court and made Napoleon's wedding cake. He hobnobbed with some of Europe's richest, finest, and most politically connected. Ian Kelly provides insights not just on Careme's life and achievements, but the evolution of gastronomic politics in post-Revolutionary Paris. A tasty achievement.

Friesentsr 50, D - 50670 Koln

Two excellent new art titles are lovely visual displays and highly recommended picks. NEW LIGHT DESIGN (3937718206, $18.95) is a visual display of room lighting of the most contemporary type: globes, overheads, floor lamps, candelabras, and more illuminate rooms in page after page of wordless displays which let the visual graphics speak for themselves. Even more outstanding for its diverse visual display is YACHT INTERIORS (3937718095, $29.95), which reveals all kinds of interior design choices for yachts; from bedrooms and living rooms to interiors which look as though they belong in a home and not aboard a ship. An outstanding set of examples of how interior design can be brought on board to transform the yacht - and can be incorporated into a home design as well. Both are intensely flavored visual collections highly recommended for an art library strong in interior design and architecture.

Declaration of Independent Filmmaking
Mark Polish, Michael Polish & Jonathan Sheldon
Harcourt Books
525 'B' St. #1900, San Diego, CA 92101
0155029529 $15.00

If you recognize the authors' last names (Polish), it's because you're involved in the moviemaking industry and will recognize them as pioneers in independent filmmaking those productions have won awards. THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENT FILMMAKING: AN INSIDER'S GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES OUTSIDE OF HOLLYWOOD is their key to producing these winners: it covers writing and scoring to promoting and distributing short and feature films, pairs advice with fun stories of how their productions saw light, and includes plenty of tips for independent filmmakers on a budget. From licensing issues to financial concerns, this is the best book an indie filmmaker could choose to address all matters surrounding the film industry.

The Lovecraft Lexicon
Anthony Pearsall
New Falcon Publications
1739 E. Broadway #1-277, Tempe AZ 85282
1561841293 $19.95

Fans of horror/fantasy writer H.P. Lovecraft won't want to miss this blend of biography and literary criticism, THE LOVECRAFT LEXICON: A READER'S GUIDE TO PERSONS, PLACES AND THINGS IN THE TALES OF H.P. LOVECRAFT. Literally hundreds of events and places in his writings are covered, along with plenty of insights on Lovecraft's writing and influences. An A-Z arrangement makes it easy to look up places, names, phrases or events, while extensive quotes from his works are used as examples throughout. Michael Moorcock and Storm Constantine's SILVERHEART: A NOVEL OF THE MULTIVERSE (159102336X, $25.00) provides an unusual, powerful collaboration between two to-notch science fiction writers, setting the story in the heart of Moorcock's 'multiverse' in Karadur, and telling of one thief Max, who suddenly must discover the truth about his heritage or due from a witch mark. Blend elements of a gothic mystery with pure fantasy and you have a powerful plot, indeed.

New Falcon Publications
1739 E. Broadway #1-277, Tempe, AZ 85282

Two new age guides for practicing magicians will find ready audiences with powerful new topics competing magic titles don't approach. Stephen Mace's SHAPING FORMLESS FIRE: DISTILLING THE QUINTESSENCE OF MAGICK (1561842389, $12.95) provides a technique for handling psychic energy. From potent places for meeting spirits and harnessing energy to understanding definitions of white and black magic and how they apply, SHAPING FORMLESS FIRE includes reflections, exercises, explanations and plenty of insights. Joseph C. Lisiewski, Ph.D.'s KABBALISTIC HANDBOOK FOR THE PRACTICING MAGICIAN (1561842362, $16.95) offers practicing magicians a basic working knowledge of the Kabbalah, blending a course in Western Magic with Kabbalistic insights to create a working coursebook. There are many books covering Kabbalah - but none which synthesize the key concepts in a manner practicing magicians can really use. Until now, that is.

Witch in the Boardroom
Stacey Demarco
Llewellyn Publications
2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125
0738708402 $14.95

Spirituality - especially Wiccan - is rarely mentioned in conjunction with business and career goals, so it's especially notable that Stacey Demarco's WITCH IN THE BOARDROOM: PROVEN BUSINESS MAGIC is here to prove the two can be mutually beneficial. Demarco, a business consultant and experienced Witch, blends business with a spiritual bent to show how Wiccan techniques can help find business purpose, land a job, attract good new clients, and more. Stories of magical success from her own life and others makes for a lively, engrossing coverage.

The Other Side of Israel
Susan Nathan
Nan Talese/Doubleday
0385514565 $25.00

In 2003 susan Nathan moved from her home in Tel Aviv to an Arab town in the north of Israel: she'd taught English and worked in the country but four years, and she wanted to help Israel build a just, humane society. What she found in Tamara was anything but just or humane: it exposed an oppressed indigenous Arab population, the history of which Nathan explores in THE OTHER SIDE OF ISRAEL: MY JOURNEY ACROSS THE JEWISH/ARAB DIVIDE. In living amongst the 'enemy' Nathan challenged prejudices on all sides; in producing THE OTHER SIDE OF ISRAEL she proves it's possible for Jews and Arabs to live and work peacefully together.

Where God Was Born
Bruce Feiler
William Morrow
10 E. 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060574879 $26.95

Bruce Feiler has written discussions of Biblical history and travel before: here he journeys ten thousand miles through the heart of the Middle East to consider if religion is truly uniting people - or dividing them. WHERE GOD WAS BORN: A JOURNEY BY LAND TO THE ROOTS OF RELIGION provides a 'you are there' experience: you literally walk with Feiler as he journesy through Israel, Iraq and Iran, and surveys the birth of Western religious sources and its modern meaning to various faiths. Historical observation is a strong part of WHERE GOD WAS BORN, bringing a fine blend of travelogue, religious inspection and historical fact to join in a unique consideration of the roots of religion and conflict.

Green Magic/SBC
15608 South New Century Drive, Gardena, CA 90248-2129

These four Wiccan guides are powerful indicators of the history and meaning of Wiccan tradition in modern life, and are highly recommended, basic picks for any practicing Wiccan or solid Wiccan library collection. Start with Frederic Lamond's FIFTY YEARS OF WICCA (0954723015, $16.95): it provides a fine blend of autobiography and Wicca history by one who has spent fifty years following the path of Gardnerian Wicca, a Bricket Wood coven of the 1950s and 60s. Lamond has himself observed many of the events which have given rise to Wicca in both the UK and the USA, and shares both his beliefs and practices and his insights and observations of the movement's key people. Move to Rosa Romani's GREEN SPIRITUALITY: MAGIC IN THE MIDST OF LIFE (0954296362, $16.99), which tells how to blend daily living with a recognition of the magic inherent in modern living. From understanding 'greenwood' guardians and the underlying spirituality of nature to recognizing and communicating with nature spirits and partaking of the spiritual changes brought about by seasonal changes, GREEN SPIRITUALITY teaches the basics of everyday life magic. Mary Neasham's THE SPIRIT OF THE GREEN MAN (0954296370, $16.99) presents an in-depth coverage of the archetype of Green Man, celebrating the modern appeal of the ancient image of fertility and considering Green Man's message to both spiritual and environmental activists alike. Chapters tell how to meet The Green Man through meditation and magic and how to draw on his force through daily living. Danny Sullivan's LEY LINES: THE GREATEST LANDSCAPE MYSTERY (0954296346, $16.95) takes a topographical approach to spirituality, showing how the world's sacred sites are linked by landscape alignments known as Ley Lines in the UK. These lines were discovered over fifty years ago, and the revised, updated edition of LEY LINES: THE GREATEST LANDSCAPE MYSTERY provides one of the best guides on the topic you could wish for, including a directory of over 50 leys. Are all excellent new age references.

Mackerel at Midnight
Ethel G. Hofman
Camino Books
PO Box 59026, Philadelphia, PA 19102
0940159937 $14.95

Two diverse cultures met in a wild landscape when the author's Jewish family fled Russia a century ago to open shop in Lerwick, Shetland, where they became part of the island community. MACKERAL AT MIDNIGHT, their story, blends memoir with recipes of island and Jewish dishes: while it could have been featured in our biography or cookbook sections as easily as here, it's presented here for its intriguing insights into growing up Jewish on a remote Scottish island.

EcceNova Editions
308-640 Dallas Rd., Victoria, BC V8V 1B6, Canada

Enola Nicks' SIDE EFFECT: TESTAMENT OF A CONTACTEE (0973534141, $9.95) doesn't hold what you'd expect from a slim treatise on alien abduction: it provides the story of Nicks, who witnessed the 'other side' of the abduction experience and tells of extraterrestrial beings working with humans after first contact is made between an alien and a human. Nicks believes the ultimate revolution is soon at hand: she describes her UFO sightings, telepathic communications, and premonitions which all serve as warnings. Riveting reading. J.S. Tyson's JESUS KING OF ISRAEL: SAMARITAN BLOOD AND THE KINGDOM AT SHILOH (097353415X, $22.95) gathers evidence to refute the Biblical Jesus, Mary and child stories, providing an alternative view of the historical Jesus which uses the text of John to reveal Jesus as the pretender whose subversive messages were denounced as heresy. What heresy? That the resurrection had already taken place. Any student of Biblical history will find this a solid, new analysis of the Gospel of John with wide-reaching implications for a new Biblical history. J.S. Tyson's BEFORE THE DA VINCI CODE: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE ORIGINAL ENCODED SECRET CONCERNING JESUS, MARY AND A CHILD (0973534176, $9.95) is also a recommended piece of critical Bible study which focuses on the historical new Testament Jesus and the Da Vinci Code's debate of the Jesus, Mary and Child idea. This introduction reveals who the Jesus of history was, and his real mission. Read this first, but don't miss the follow-up JESUS KING OF ISRAEL.

New Page Books
PO Box 687, Franklin Lakes, NJ 07417

Vampire coverages are primarily fictional in genre, but for a survey of the vampire legend and its myths, choose Dr. Bob Curran 's VAMPIRES: A FIELD GUIDE TO THE CREATURES THAT STALK THE NIGHT (1564148076 $14.99). VAMPIRES gathers folk stories from around the world to contrast different images of vampires - many far different from the modern image created by TV and film. From the origins of vampire belief and legend to vampire myths in India and Sweden, VAMPIRES: A FIELD GUIDE is one of the most comprehensive coverages on the topic. Jeff Belanger compiles and edits ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HAUNTED PLACES: GHOSTLY LOCALES FROM AROUND THE WORLD (1564147991, $19.99), a gathering for both armchair and destination-oriented visitors, created by one of the world's leading paranormal investigators. A state-by-state organization makes it easy to narrow a region, while listings include background history/ghostly stories and addresses and phone numbers where applicable. An excellent compilation of the latest haunted sites.

Paulist Press
997 Macarthur Blvd., Mahwah, NH 07430

Four titles on spirituality are highly recommended picks for any serious Christian collection. Richard Taylor's HOW TO READ A CHURCH: A GUIDE TO SYMBOLS AND IMAGES IN CHURCHES AND CATHEDRALS (1587680300, $18.00) provides an excellent interpretation of the mail features of churches and that they represent, from images contained in stained glass or church art to symbolism, scenes, and architecture. An excellent, well-detailed guide to a host of important images receives an A-Z encyclopedic treatment. Colin Duriez's TOLKIEN AND C.S. LEWIS: THE GIFT OF FRIENDSHIP (1587680262, $16.00) surveys the unique friendship and literary worlds of two notable authors. Lewis and Tolkien had many differences, from spiritual to temperament and literary style - yet they cultivated a friendship which made them central figures in their circles. A fine literary biography reviews the extent and nature of this friendship and the influences between the two. Adrian House's FRANCIS OF ASSISI: A REVOLUTIONARY LIFE (1587680270, $20.00) provides a biography for any who would learn of Francis's life and beliefs. From how Francis viewed God and handled religious problems brought to him by ordinary people to his risks and challenges in life, this is the in-depth item of choice for any who would receive more than a casual review of Francis of Assisi's life. Jennifer Health's THE SCIMITAR AND THE VEIL: EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN OF ISLAM (1587680203, $28.00) is the first history to consider Muslim women and their accomplishments under Islam from early to modern times. Over fifty such women are examined in THE SCIMITAR AND THE VEIL, analyzing the role women played in Muhammad's life, their lives, and their overall influence on Islam's development. Sources range from Swahili lore to Western scholars and Muslim women's writings. Very highly recommended: a definitive resource which should not be missed by any serious Muslim collection.

Traveling with the Saints in Italy
Lucinda Vardey
Hidden Spring/Paulist Press
997 MacArthur Blvd., Mahwah, NJ 07430
1587680246 $22.00

TRAVELING WITH THE SAINTS IN ITALY: CONTEMPORARY PILGRIMAGES ON ANCIENT PATHS could also have been featured in our 'Spirituality' column, but we're featuring it here so that no traveler with a spiritual sentiment overlooks this very important guide. Ten pilgrimages to all parts of Italy are outlined with a focus on these places associated with early saints and modern teachers alike. But TRAVELING WITH THE SAINTS IN ITALY is more than a destination-oriented collection of routes and advisories: pages of history cover each saint's spiritual teaching, suggests itineraries for either a short stay or a week's hiatus, and provides directions to other key locales central to that person's life. A recommended pick for any traveling to Italy with spiritual sightseeing in mind.

Taunton Press
63 S. Main Street, Newtown, CT 06470

Taunton's home idea books are invaluable for any homeowner making changes: they pair strategy and design ideas with solid how-to details on do-it-yourself carpentry and style - and if you wish to hire someone, you can use the tips to assure quality work from your contractor, too! The 2-volume, slipcased FRONT & BACKYARD IDEA BOOK COLLECTION (1561587567, $29.95) is the perfect choice for a gift: it looks classy, it comes packed with ideas for the entire home from entryway to play spaces to yard, and it offers a wealth of designer tips from leading landscape designers and architects, backed by over 600 color photos throughout. The set considers personal needs, social trends, and alternative options throughout. Kira Obolensky's GOOD HOUSE CHEAP HOUSE: ADVENTURES IN CREATING AN EXTRAORDINARY HOME AT AN EVERYDAY PRICE (1561587524, $24.95) uses 27 example homes to demonstrate that good design can also be cheap. What makes a good, cheap house design? Obolensky surveys all the options to find three main common ingredients for homeowners considering a home redesign project: architects who can solve tough problems, innovative uses of materials, and homeowners who get actively involved in the project from start to finish. Materials notes, costs, and options are compared throughout for maximum understanding of what was involved. Fu-Tang Cheng works with Eric Olsen in CONCRETE AT HOME (156158682X, $32.00), a home design guide which considers concrete not just on floors, entryways and walls; but on countertops and fireplaces, bathrooms and kitchens. One's initial thought is 'ugh' - but CONCRETE AT HOME shows there are many, many design options and placement strategies which show concrete at its best and brightest, and it also offers plenty of tips on working with concrete and overcoming any problems. Sarah Susanka and Marc Vassalo's INSIDE THE NOT SO BIG HOUSE: DISCOVERING THE DETAILS THAT BRING A HOME TO LFIE (1561586811, $34.95) presents the team of an architectural design writer and an author whose first book THE NOT SO IG HOUSE sparked wide public interest in new residential architecture choices. Here they go inside the house to create better designs for indoor spaces: ones more functional than lavish, ones more thoughtful than demonstrative. From window seats and alcoves to pocket doors and unique touches, INSIDE THE NOT SO BIG HOUSE is packed with ideas. M. Caren Connolly and Louis Wasserman's COTTAGE: AMERICA'S FAVORITE HOME INSIDE AND OUT (1561587311, $34.95) pushes the idea of what constitutes a 'cottage' - which used to mean a small house. While cozy interiors are a feature, some cottage structures are more elegant than a regular home, and go way beyond the rustic weekend getaway one associates with cottages. COTTAGE holds more than bright color photos, though all features hold multiple interior and exterior shots: chapters focus on the special features inside and out which lend to a cottage atmosphere and include floor designs, comments on strategy and atmosphere, and more. Max Jacobson, Murray Silverstein and Barbara Winslow's PATTERNS OF HOME: THE TEN ESSENTIALS OF ENDURING DESIGN (156158696X, $24.95) focuses on home patterns - design concepts - which make a home exceptional. The three authors are respected architects who define and present these ten patterns having to do with light, room flow, atmosphere and more. Packed with interior color photos and design patterns, PATTERNS OF HOME is filled with plenty of solid ideas. Don't miss Tom and Lane Meehan's WORKING WITH TILE (1561586773, $19.95), a 'Build Like a Pro' series addition which focuses on just how to choose, plan, work with and handle tile, from fireplaces to bathrooms and beyond. The whole idea of this series is to produce polished, professional results: WORKING WITH TILE is thus packed with professional tips on making the most of a tiling job.

Bulfinch Press

Author Jamie Drake was one of House Beautiful's top-rated designers in 2001 and 2002, one of New York Magazine's top rated designers in 2002, and has won numerous awards as well as seeing extensive feature in top-name architectural publications across the country. That's why his NEW AMERICAN GLAMOUR (0821257161 $45.00) should attract more than casual attention: it demonstrates his flair for style and his signature look, providing lovely color photos by William Waldron and others - nearly two hundred of them - as it details Drake's interior designs. Even more valuable: each lovely shot is accompanied by a first-person explanation of special challenges or insights into why a particular strategy was chosen. A wonderful, appealing guide. Katie Brown's WEEKENDS: MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR TWO TREASURED DAYS (0821252092, $30.00) is loaded with bright color photos by Paul Wicheloe as it describes over a hundred recipes plus home projects to help families get the most out of their weekends. WEEKENDS could also have been reviewed in our Food and Wine Column; but it's so much more than a recipe guide alone: it embraces the entire concept of using weekends to maximum purpose and covers all range of ideas, from gardening and enjoying the home and creating home projects which are fun as well as satisfying, to producing quick meals. A treasure trove of varied ideas.

Warped Passages
Lisa Randall
10 E. 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
0060531088 $27.95

Do we inhabit a three-dimensional universe in a four-dimensional space? What of other dimensions were not small but vast? Harvard professor Lisa Randall writes of other/extra dimensions in WARPED PASSAGES: UNRAVELING THE MYSTERIES OF THE UNIVERSE'S HIDDEN DIMENSIONS; but it's also a scientist's autobiography, telling of how she became involved in the quest for other dimensions. WARPED PASSAGES traverses hard science with ease, from string theory and particle physics to Einstein's ideas. In so doing she takes the non-scientist reader along for the ride on a spirited journey of personal and theoretical discovery which requires no prior expertise to understand.

Chris Moneymaker & Daniel Paisner
10 E. 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
006076001X $23.95

An amateur poker player took $40 and turned it into 2.5 million, and a star was born in Chris Moneymaker, who came out of nowhere to win the 2003 series. The young Moneymaker was an accountant who loved to gamble, but he had to borrow money to get to Las Vegas to enter his first tournament. His autobiography includes his gambling ploys and his many achievements and will excite any with an avid interest in poker - and in champions.

Happy Housewives
Darla Shine
Regan Books/Harper
10 E. 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0060859202 $24.95

When did it become out of style for housewives to enjoy playing with the kids, cleaning a house and caring for a spouse In the 70s, that's when - and here to rectify the problems of miserable housewives is HAPPY HOUSEWIVES IN 10 EASY STEPS: a guide to making marriage and home a priority again. Chapters pack in formulas for such success which includes controlling whining and nagging, making family-friendly foods, and taking care of personal health. A bright, upbeat coverage of what it takes to make the modern housewife truly happy.

Capital Books Inc.
PO Box 605, Herndon, VA 20172-0605

If you want to learn how to color-coordinate your home, two answer books equate mood choices to colors and provide dramatic tips from Leatrice Eiseman, a leading color expert. THE COLOR ANSWER BOOK: 100+ FREQUENTLY ASKED COLOR QUESTIONS FOR HOME, HEALTH AND HAPPINESS (1933102101, $20.00) is for any have questions about making basic color choices: there are a host of color-related questions to consider in any home or personal project, and using a question/answer format, Eiseman tackles many of them. Questions range from how cultural background affects color choices and perceptions to the best colors of use in health care settings, how to use guidelines for hair coloring, considering the effects of a new color choice on personality, and much more. More understanding of connections between color and mood are revealed in Eiseman's COLORS FOR YOUR EVERY MOOD: DISCOVER YOUR TRUE DECORATING COLORS (189212338X, $20.00), a guide to learning how to create personal color choices to transform a room into something dynamic. From balance to crossovers, personal color moods and nature color moods, pages pair vivid colors with interior rooms and reflections on what happens when mood blends with interior decorating savvy. Both are excellent foundation references for aspiring interior decorators considering the special challenges of using and blending color choices.

Clean House!
Alison Haynes
Laurel Glen
5880 Oberlin Drive, San Diego, Ca 92121-4794
1592233104 $12.95

Want a clean, organized home without clutter and dust? Then you should consult CLEAN HOUSE! For inspiration: it covers everything from using the right cleaner for the right job and understanding labeling to handling different kinds of woods, dealing with different stain sources, alternative washing and cleaning methods, and more. From laundry to linens, kitchen to bath, CLEAN HOUSE! Uses color-coded pages, charts, and color photos to make it easy and quick to consult - and clean!

R is for Rose
Carolyn Parker
Horticulture Books/F&W
4700 E. Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236
155870759X $35.00

If you have a rose enthusiast in the family and wish something different suitable for fancy holiday gift-giving, make R IS FOR ROSE: REFLECTIONS FROM A PASSIONATE ROSE LOVER your bouquet of choice: it comes from a photographer and avid gardener who uses an A-Z approach and the author's personal experiences and reflections to match lovely color photos with insights. From Alba, Rosa Rugosa to Zephirine Droughin, the A-Z chapters create lively reflections on each rose type, blending personal observation and knowledge with history and rose characteristics - and of course, the full-page photos. An impressive, lovely garden of roses between two covers is created, just in time for Christmas.

Wonders of the Winter Landscape
Vincent A. Simeone
Ball Publishing
Box 9, Batavia, IL 60510
1883052459 $24.95

WONDERS OF THE WINTER LANDSCAPE: SHRUBS AND TREES TO BRIGHTEN THE COLD-WEATHER GARDEN isn't for California or Arizona dwellers: it's for the snowy winter areas which tend to see little color in December. Surprisingly, there are some seventy genera of shrubs and trees which can provide this color in winter, and descriptive notes on species not only discuss attractions and growth, but bright winter fruits and winter displays which make the plant stand out. Expect not a color display between covers - though there are color photos of selected plants against winter's backdrop - but a practical gardener's guide to choosing the best.

When You Love a Man Who Loves Himself
W. Keith Campbell
PO Box 4410, Naperville, IL 60567-4410
140220342X $14.95

How can you deal with a one-way relationship? One way is to consider the advice of WHEN YOU LOVE A MAN WHO LOVES HIMSELF: it tells how to spot the characteristics of a narcissist, how to avoid entanglement, and how to consider if narcissism is worth the rest of the package. If a self-centered man seems to be more in love with himself than you or if a big ego man won't let you in - it's time to consider the options. WHEN YOU LOVE A MAN WHO LOVES HIMSELF uses plenty of case history examples to illustrate points, so you may even find yourself in these pages!

Sphinx Publishing
c/o Sourcebooks
Box 4410, Naperville, IL 60567-4410

Most wedding books focus on etiquette, cake, flowers, arrangements and finances - but too few consider the marriage contract itself, and its meaning to a couple's future both individually and together. Before you say 'I do', Nihara Choudhri's WHAT TO DO BEFORE "I DO": THE MODERN COUPLE'S GUIDE TO MARRIAGE, MONEY AND PRENUPS (1572484519 $14.95) should be consulted and discussed. From making arrangements for existing children pre-marriage to handling finance debts, premarital property claims, and more, the prenuptial agreement's foundations are covered here in depth - and should be thoroughly understood before any ceremony. Brette McWhorter Sember, Attorney's THE COMPLETE CREDIT REPAIR KIT (1572485000, $19.95) is an important guide for consumers who want to lower monthly payments, reduce debt, and gain a fresh start on finances. Every form you need is on an accompanying CD-ROM, and any debtor in trouble will find everything needed here, from how to improve a credit score and handle identity theft damage to understanding creditor tactics and how to consolidate debts.

How to Buy Your First Home
Diana Brodman Summers, Attorney
Sphinx Publishing
c/o Sourcebooks
PO Box 4410, Naperville, IL 60567-4410
1572484977 $14.95

Buying your first house is an overwhelming experience: there's lots of legal consideration, new financial terms and concerns, considerations of both structure and neighborhood and present and future needs - and that's all before you even walk in the door! You need something on your side - and HOW TO BUY YOUR FIRST HOME: EXPERT ADVICE FROM AN ATTORNEY appears in its second updated edition to provide such advice. From pre-qualifying for a mortgage to identifying government funding and understanding for whom an agent really works, this is the perfect place to begin - and will make a great gift for any newlywed aspiring to buy their first home.

The Manufactured Home Buyer's Handbook
Wes Johnson
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson, NC 28640
0786422092 $35.00

There's relatively little on the market guiding buyers on the special nature and options when buying a manufactured home, so writer and computer business owner Wes Johnson is performing a great service in tackling this topic based on his firsthand experience and research. From choosing a manufactured home dealership and negotiating to understanding common troubles in set-up and financing and understanding agreement details, THE MANUFACTURED HOME BUYER'S HANDBOOK tackles problems the standard home buyer doesn't even consider.

Discovering Home With Laurie Smith
Laurie Smith
1716 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309-3023
0696224062 $19.95

Plenty of books tell secrets of interior decoration savvy, from color schemes to furniture placement; but few can actually teach now to design a functional room. DISCOVERING HOME WITH LAURIE SMITH: FIND YOUR PERSONAL STYLE melds the basics of understanding function with the basics of understanding personal needs. Readers receive a blend of architectural style primer and home planner which covers everything from fabric choices to layering colors. The idea is to learn a foundation in design and function, then blend in personal needs and interests. DISCOVERING HOME is the polished result.

Anthony Gara
How Books
4700 East Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236
1558707611 $19.99

Want a cool room which is really your style even if you're broke, on a budget, and you've never made anything? You don't have to be an artist or a rich man with TURF: IT'S YOUR SPACE. BUILD WHAT YOU WANT: all you need is desire and a sense of personal style. TURF assumes a small room, small-budget mentality - no big-screen plasma TVs to house, here - and only a minimum of tools and materials to build sensible, practical room enhancers, from a stand for a 12-inch TV to a candle holder or a coat rack. Quirky, offbeat, and inspirational projects for the 20-something newly out of the home best describes TURF.

Unconventional Success
David F. Swensen
The Free Press
1230 Avenue of Americas, New York, NY 10020
0743228383 $27.50

There are so many personal finance and investment guides on the market today that it's hard to see the need for yet another, but UNCONVENTIONAL SUCCESS: A FUNDAMENTAL APPROACH TO PERSONAL INVESTMENT indeed offers an alternative outside the norm: a guide by an investment legend who produced the definitive PIONEERING PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT and here provides a formula for a contrarian investment alternative that promotes equity-oriented 'market mimicking' portfolios. If you get only one message out of this book, it might be 'stay the course' once such a plan is made an investment reality: chapters explore the failure of traditional mutual fund investment vehicles while showing how a different 'active management' system will provide riches for investors with the courage to stay with the program.

Strategies in Personal Finance
Keith Smith & Jane Smith
Purdue University Press
598 Harrison Street, South Campus Courts, Bldg. E, W. Lafayette, IN 47907-2025
1557533474 $49.95

For a basic college-level workbook of investment strategies; especially for would-be financial planners as well as college students seeking more control over their financial world, you can't go wrong with STRATEGIES IN PERSONAL FINANCE: BASIC INVESTMENT PRINCIPLES FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW. From basic money management tools to concepts of risk and return, portfolio management theory and analysis tactics, real estate and stock holdings, STRATEGIES IN PERSONAL FINANCE translates planning to portfolio holdings in a logical, progressive series of lessons making it easy to learn the basic principles.

Nolo Press
950 Parker, Berkeley, CA 94710

Three important, basic references aren't just recommended for law libraries and personal collections: any serious public library will find them standard, much-used references too. Attorneys Janet Portman and Fred Steingold's second edition of NEGOTIATE THE BEST LEASE FOR YOUR BUSINESS (1413302165, $24.99) tells how to negotiate a business lease, from handling flexibility for future expansion or leaving early to considering how costs are divided among tenants and how to avoid costly code compliance requirements. Relatively few books exist on negotiating commercial leases, and most only skim the process of understanding commercial lease options: all the advice and strategies needed to evaluate a commercial space and obtain a good lease is standard in NEGOTIATE THE BEST LEASE FOR YOUR BUSINESS. Attorneys Stephen Elias and Susan Levinkind's LEGAL RESEARCH: HOW TO FIND & UNDERSTAND THE LAW (1413303951, $39.99) appears in its 13th revised, updated edition to offer law students and researchers keys to the legal process. From understanding how to locate legal information in a law library to locating Internet answers, writing a legal memorandum, and honing research skills, LEGAL RESEARCH is a fine basic guide any library should be pleased to have. Attorney David W. Brown's FIGHT YOUR TICKET AND WIN IN CALIFORNIA (1413301878, $29.99) appears in its 11th updated edition and comes from a Monterey, California lawyer who has written a national version of the title. Learn how to challenge speeding tickets, how to determine if a ticket is beatable before going to court, how to assemble evidence and present a case, and how to appeal a conviction.

Aardvark Publishing
BSP House, Station Road, Lincon Cambs CB2 6NW, United Kingdom

To be sure, circus books aren't common the market today; but any with a special affection for the circus will find quite special these two titles. CIRCUS TRANSPORT PHOTOGRAPHS V. 2: 1900-2002 (1872904211, $12.50) packs in over two hundred archive black and white and color photos from around the world as it focuses on motorized transport and circuses travelling by rail, sea and even air. British and European circuses are the focus, with shots capturing the circus on the move. David Jamieson's BILLY SMART'S CIRCUS: A PICTORIAL HISTORY (1872904262, $20.00) tells of a fairground showman who began his circus in 1946 and built it to become Britain's largest travelling show. It had over 100 animals and even colorful theme productions, and traveled until 1971 - and even when it scaled back its road shows, its TV shows continued into the 80s. Unique photos from archives and various collections accompanies posters, programs, and history to provide the definitive history of the circus and Billy Smart's contribution to the circus world.

Bodyguard Manual
Leroy Thompson
Greenhill Books/Stackpole
5067 Ritter Road, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
1853676624 $24.95

The revised edition of BODYGUARD MANUAL, based on techniques of the US Secret Service, Metropolitan Police, KGB and others around the world, provides an updated new edition, important because of changing events in the field. Subjects range from providing security on trains or cruise ships to protecting officers in combat: it covers everything from social engagements to foot escort, vehicle and motorcade security, and more. An essential handbook for any who would understand the profession.

Testifying Under Oath
James M. Vukelic
Volcano Press
PO Box 270, Volcano, CA 95689
1884244262 $18.95

Any who are called upon to be a witness under oath knows it's important to testify effectively as well as truthfully- but unless you are regularly in court, how can you learn to be an effective witness? TESTIFYING UNDER OATH: HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE WITNESS will make a solid library reference acquisition, useful for its specific insights on court proceedings, details on factors which contribute to a persuasive witness, and advice on how to handle typical lawyer tricks and traps. Since few Americans will regularly appear as witnesses, TESTIFYING UNDER OATH makes the perfect library choice, ready for any patron who finds himself in such a position and needs a quick reference to handle it.

Tree of Love: Songs of Our Ancestors: Volume III
Patrick Atangan
NBM Publishing
555 - 8th Avenue, #1202, New York, NY 10018
1561634387 $12.95

Fans of graphic novels in general and folk tales in particular will find this exploration of Asian stories unique and satisfying. Atangan received acclaim for his prior explorations of art of Asian countries, and TREE OF LOVE is the latest in his SONGS OF OUR ANCESTORS series, presenting a classic design from India as it provides a striking, moving story. The graphic novel at its best, fine-tuned with Asian folklore: another smash hit from Atangan.

Advanced Vivarium Systems
PO Box 6050, Mission Viejo, CA 92690

Two excellent turtle guides by Philippe de Vosjoli in the 'The Herpetocultural Library' series from Advanced Vivarium Systems are highly recommended for any pet owner who wants solid insights on popular turtles. POPULAR TORTOISES (1882770668, $8.95) has been newly updated to include the latest details on Leopard, African Spurred, and other popular tortoise pets. While there are plenty of special notes for these species, chapters generally include plenty of detail on how to select the right tortoise, how to house and care for it, and making sure the turtle arrives and stays healthy. RED-EARED SLIDERS (1882770684, $6.95) is even more useful: it's specific to the Red-Eared Slider, one of the more popular water turtles on the pet market, and it packs in plenty of slider-specific facts on breeding, health and more. Peppered with black and white and color photos, these are excellent, highly recommended picks which should be both basic library references and basic to any turtle acquisition.

Understanding Your Horse's Behavior
Sue McDonnell, Ph.D.
Blood-Horse Publications
PO Box 919003, Lexington, KY 40591-9003
1581501285 $16.95 800-582-5604

If it's a simple guide to horse care and management which is needed, you can't go wrong with UNDERSTANDING YOUR HORSE'S BEHAVIOR: YOUR GUIDE TO HORSE HEALTH CARE AND MANAGEMENT. Real-life questions from horse answers are answered by equine behaviorist McDonnell, who provides insights into common problems and how best to correct them. From unloading problems to carnivorous behavior and biting, insights are provided from case histories and real life.

Madame Dread
Kathie Klarreich
Nation Books/Avalon Publishing Group
245 W. 17th St., 11th Fl, NY, NY 10011
1560257806 $15.95

Haitian society receives a close-up focus in a blend of autobiography and cultural insight from journalist Kathie Klarreich, who has reported on Haitian affairs for such big-name publications as Christian Science Monitor and NPR. Her memoir of life in Haiti follows her journey to the country, her love for its people, her observation of its culture and politics, and her changes as she experiences its politics first-hand. Haiti is facing presidential and government elections this Fall: for an understanding of the country's underlying tensions, place MADAME DREAD: A TALE OF LOVE, VODOU AND CIVIL STRIFE IN HAITI on your list: it's an easy way of absorbing the underlying issues through the personality and observations of a journalist who lived there.

Ian Williams
Nation Books/Avalon Publishing Group
245 W. 17th St., 11th Fl, NY, NY 10011
1560256516 $26.00

Rum is more than a drink and it can even be more than an alcoholic beverage, as RUM: A SOCIAL AND SOCIABLE HISTORY OF THE REAL SPIRIT OF 1776 reveals. It's changed American and even world history and yet its importance has remained relatively shadowed - the American Revolution was really about rum rather than tea, for example; while rum fueled the British Navy for two centuries and helped them dominate the world. RUM follows the drink around the world with special focus on how it has changed world history and events. And it's more than a history: author Ian Williams is a collector of rum memorabilia and has a life-long interest in the topic.

A Devil's Dictionary Of Business
Nicholas Von Hoffman
Nation Books/Avalon Publishing Group
245 W. 17th St., 11th Fl, NY, NY 10011
1560257121 $25.00

A first glance you might think A DEVIL'S DICTIONARY OF BUSINESS would be filled with scholarly business terminology; but wait: there's much more to this than dry definition - a healthy dose of humor pairs with definition to provide an A-Z lexicon of dun. Most definitions are funny and introduce many colorful business characters along with terms. From candid views of capitalism to explanations of how company dividends work, A DEVIL'S DICTIONARY OF BUSINESS is easier to digest - and retain - than most.

Selling Sickness
Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassels
Nation Books/Avalon Publishing Group
245 W. 17th St., 11th Fl, NY NY 10011
1560256974 $25.00

The world's pharmaceutical companies are turning us into patients by expanding definitions of what constitutes treatable illness: that's the contention of a journalist and pharmaceutical policy critic who join forces to make their case in SELLING SICKNESS: HOW THE WORLD'S BIGGEST PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES ARE TURNING US ALL INTO PATIENTS. Where elsewhere the focus is on prices and misleading ads, SELLING SICKNESS offers a new critique on how pharmacies are defining what is called a medical condition.

Dog Lover's Companion To Florida
Avalon Travel
1400 - 6th Street, #250, Emeryville, CA 94608
1566913195 $20.95

Where are the best places to 'ruff' it in Florida? DOG LOVER'S COMPANION TO FLORIDA doesn't just take in the dog parks; it packs in tips for restaurants, hotels, inns, dog bakeries, and even entertainment which is dog-friendly. From notes on areas where dogs might encounter other wildlife to tips on where to take a dog across Florida, this deserves a spot on the trip as much as Fido.

Andrews McMeel
4520 Main Street, Kansas City, MO 64111

If you had to choose only one publisher who serves as a pivotal key to producing high-quality comic strip books culled from the efforts of syndicated columnists, you couldn't go wrong with Andrews McMeel publishing: from pets to parents, life's ironies to life's oddities, Andrews is heads and hearts above the rest in producing consistently wonderful humor titles. The tenth Sherman's Lagoon collection by Jim Toomey, for example, SURFER SAFARI (0740754521, $10.95) provides a hilarious collection from the latest shark chronicles. While shark family interactions are the main theme of SURFER SAFARI, there are plenty of shark and lagoon-dweller ironies and poignant moments to laugh at. Whether your local paper gets Sherman's Lagoon or not, SURFER SAFARI is a keeper! The new 'Rugrats' collection RUGRATS V. 2: A BABY'S WORK IS NEVER DONE (0740754491, $10.95) provides a hilarious new gathering from the Nickelodeon TV series in a comic strip collection gleaned from newspaper strips. Patrick McDonnell's MUTTS: SUNDAY EVENINGS (0740755358, $12.95) is an exceptional treat: it's presented in full color throughout as it provides the fun stories of an effort to world peace through a 'purr-in' and more. Usually we won't even mention titles unseen or in galley format: even though the latest COMPLETE CALVIN AND HOBBES by Bill Watterson (0740748475, $150/3 vols) could not be sent, a lovely color publicity packet for it was - and given the wonder of the prior Calvin and Hobbes comic collections from Andrews in paper format, we go out on a limb on recommending any avid Calvin fan acquire the 3-volume definitive hardcover collection. By the looks of the media materials it's far more than just a gathering of every Calvin and Hobbes comic in hardcover: it explains and explores the cartoon series and its origins.

Laughing with Lucy
Madelyn Pugh Davis with Bob Carroll Jr.
Emmis Books
1700 Madison Road, Cincinnati, OH 45206
1578602475 $19.95

Lucille Ball died in 1989 but she's still beloved by old and new audiences alike, and the new biography LAUGHING WITH LUCY: MY LIFE WITH AMERIC'S LEADING LADY OF COMEDY considers the world of Lucy, Desi and her fans and co-actors. For twenty years author Davis and writing partner Bob Carroll Jr. wrote for Lucy, helping to create her character and jokes; so they're in the perfect position to provide an insider's view of her life, her achievements, and the myths and realities surrounding Lucille Ball. A 'must' for any Lucy fan.

Pretty Good Joke Book
Highbridge Company
33 South 6th Street, #CC2205, Minneapolis, MN 55402
1565119797 $10.95

If the PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION PRETTY GOOD JOKE BOOK sounds familiar - that's because you may have read a prior edition - this represents its 4th updated edition. And, just because you read another edition doesn't mean you can forego this one - it comes with over 300 new jokes, from old standbys to comments on religion, drinking, and regional jokes. A real winner for any who like to tell jokes and laugh.

Center Square
Steve Wilson & Joe Florenski
Advocate Books
245 West 17th Street, #1200, New York, NY 10011
155583793X $15.95

Paul Lynde was a comic character actor on TV, film and stage long before the modern comics hit the screen, and his three decades of popularity earned him many fans. Candid interviews with friends from throughout his life; from childhood to adult and professional years, contribute a full flavor to his biography CENTER SQUARE: THE PAUL LYNDE STORY, which reveals the full and flashy life of a comic personality who was both brilliant and controversial in his personal and public life. Recommended for any prior Lynde fan.

Open Court Publishing
140 S. Dearborn Avenue, #1450, Chicago, IL 60603

Graham Harman's GUERRILLA METAPHYSICS: PHENOMENOLOGY AND THE CARPENTRY OF THINGS (0812694562, $34.95) provides a blend of philosophy and metaphysics in its survey of causes which link humans to tools and nature alike. Here's an important mission: to take the often-ethereal nature of philosophy and link it to human preoccupations with objects and attitude: chapters consider such diverse topics as perceptions of humor, relationships with metaphor, and different levels of perception. James H. Fetzer's THE EVOLUTION OF INTELLIGENCE: ARE HUMANS THE ONLY ANIMALS WITH MINDS? (08126943597, $34.95) is another unique blend: here, of philosophy and evolutionary theory. Any scientific account of the evolution of mind must be based on an idea of what the mind is and how it influences behavior: Fetzer proposes an alternative approach to these judgments and identifications. Both are recommended for college-level students of philosophy.

The Badass Girl's Guide to Poker
Toby Leah Bochan
Adams Media
57 Littlefield, Avon, MA 02322
159337397X $9.95

Poker has been defined as 'equal parts seduction, lie detection and mind game': perhaps that's why girls should consider it lies directly in their realm, and why it should become a female-dominated game. THE BADASS GIRLS'S GUIDE TO POKER: ALL YOU NEED TO BEAT THE BOYS uses a healthy dose of humor blended with some real game insights to describe poker's rules and how to make the best of them. From winning strategies and typical ploys to table manners and playing online, here's the definitive female beginner's guide.

Two Plus Two Publishing
600 West Sunset, #103, Henderson, NV 89015

If you want to learn how to play the game, you can't go wrong with four gambling titles which offer novices insider's tips. Mason Malmuth and Lynne Loomis' FUNDAMENTALS OF CRAPS (1880685302, $5.95) may look slim, but it comes packed with the basics discussing the best strategies for playing and winning at casino craps. The booklet covers everything from one-roll bets to wrong and right bets, covering all the basics for getting started and playing right. Alan N. Schoonmaker's THE PSYCHOLOGY OF POKER (1880685256, $24.95) comes from a Ph.D. who lends his insights into assessing different styles, skills, and the psychology of players. From mastering all the different types of poker strategies to understanding how unnatural actions contribute to the game, THE PSYCHOLOGY OF POKER answers many questions about how players choose their psychological method - and which ones work best. John Feeney's INSIDE THE POKER MIND (1880685264, $24.95) is also a solid bet for understanding the poker personality, providing essays on Hold 'em and other poker concepts with a focus on how intellectual and psychological strategies contribute to the game. From stealing and defensive positioning to beating different kinds of players and playing too many hands, INSIDE THE POKER MIND: ESSAYS ON HOLD 'EM AND GENERAL POKER CONCEPTS comes packed with insights. Any who dream of making gambling a financially viable reality will want the handbook of David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth, GAMBLING FOR A LIVING (1880685167, $24.95) at hand. Yes, there can be professional gamblers who actually win enough to make a living at the game - and GAMBLING FOR A LIVING tells how, directed to aspiring gamblers who learn what they need to know to actually make ongoing money. All are exceptional references from polished gambling professionals who know what they're talking about, and who share their insider's knowledge.

The San Luis Valley: Sand Dunes and Sandhill Cranes
Susan J. Tweit
University of Arizona Press
355 South Euclid, Suite 103, Tucson, AZ 85719
0816524246 $14.95

THE SAN LUIS VALLEY is the latest addition to the new Desert Places series, featuring photos by Glenn Oakley paired with Susan J. Tweit's text covering Colorado's San Luis Valley: a remote expanse the size of Connecticut between two mountain ranges. Tweit lives in the high desert not far from the valley, so she's the perfect 'guide' to this remote area's wonders, revealed in fine black and white photos and descriptions of natural wonders. It makes you wish to visit.

Lonely Planet
150 Linden Street, Oakland, CA 94607

If you're heading to Australia, make sure Susie Ashworth's VICTORIA (1740597540, $23.99) is packed - and that the picturesque state of Victoria is one of your destinations. VICTORIA covers the entire region's appeal, from shopping opportunities and wineries to outdoor adventure-oriented activities, campsites, small hotels, and regional attractions. It's a 'must' take-along and planner for any planning a visit. Even more pocket-sized is BEST OF MADRID: THE ULTIMATE POCKET GUIDE & MAP by Sally O'Brien (1740596986, $14.99): a sleek format allows for slipping easily into a purse or coat pocket, while pages packed with maps, color photos and detail survey the best of Madrid, from restaurants to nightlife and walking tours. If you'd rather sit and home and travel from the sofa, Don George edits BY THE SEAT OF MY PANTS: HUMOROUS TALES OF TRAVEL & MISADVENTURE (1741046068, $15.00), which covers everything from culinary chaos to left luggage and boat damage. A range of authors contribute their hilarious mishaps to a truly side-splitting collection which should not be missed.

Trailblazer Publications
The Old Manse, Tower Rd., Hindhead, Surrey, GU26 6SU, UK

These two outstanding guides are strong picks for any interested in byways and extraordinary journeys. Chris Scott's ADVENTURE MOTORCYCLING HANDBOOK: WORLDWIDE MOTORCYCLING ROUTE & PLANNING GUIDE (1873756801, $19.95) is a travel biker's 'bible' - you simply cannot live without it if you have a bike and want to see the world on it. The 2005 updated fifth edition continues to pack in virtually anything the biker will need; from considerations of health and cooking and eating outdoors to issues of security, safety, and recommended bike routes. Maps, black and white photos, charts, and even tips on safety for female bikers make ADVENTURE MOTORCYCLING HANDBOOK indispensable. Paul Wilson's THE SILK ROADS: A ROUTE & PLANNING GUIDE (1873756534, $18.95) is also a basic guide for any who would travel the web of routes which comprise the Silk Roads of Asia. From city guides with maps for forty cities along the routes to descriptions of lesser-known routes, a history, mini-dictionary of useful regional phrases, and background history, THE SILK ROADS is a destination planner's basic reference.

Santa Fe & Taos Plus the Enchanted Circle
Richard Harris
Ulysses Press
PO Box 3440, Berkeley, CA 94703
1569754829 $14.95

New to the 'Hidden Picture-Perfect Escapes' series is SANTA FE & TAOS PLUS THE ENCHANTED CIRCLE: a photo-packed yet practical take-along tote which offers a pairing of black and white images with neighborhood guides to both areas. From nightlife and shopping to dining and sights, the focus on specific establishments makes it easy to duplicate a recommended experience.

The Treasures and Pleasures Of Bermuda
Ron & Caryl Krannich, PhDs
Impact Guides
9104-N Manassas Drive, Manassas Park, VA 20111-5211
1570232318 $16.95

If you live to shop and travel to shop and plan on a travel expedition to Bermuda, don't forget to pack THE TREASURES AND PLEASURES OF BERMUDA: BEST OF THE BEST IN TRAVEL AND SHOPPING, which is one of the guides from Impact. From art galleries and bookstores to Cuban cigars and hotel shopping, a range of venues are covered in detail.

A Canoeing & Kayaking Guide to Florida
Menasha Ridge Press
2204 First Avenue South, #102, Birmingham, AL 35233
0897325885 $16.95

Paddle the scenic waterways of Florida and learn about its variety with a guide which comes completely revised with new river maps, updated river profiles, and new photos. There are over sixty profiles of the best canoeing and kayaking waterways throughout Florida geared for every level of experience. Rivers, shuttle availability, experience gauges, and written descriptions offer exact assessments important to any destination-bound paddler.

Eddie's Iron
Eddie the Wire
Loompanics Unlimited
PO Box 1197, Pt. Townsend, WA 98368
1559502452 $14.95

Eddie the Wire is the Houdini of the lockpicking world, and his latest EDDIE'S IRON: BEST NEW LOCK PICK DESIGN IN MORE THAN 20 YEARS provides his latest inspiration and creation: a new lock pick concept which blends a foundation of lock-picking savvy with a description of how Eddie's Iron lockpicker works. It deserves a patent - but will reach a wider audience here.

To Save the Wild Bison
Mary Ann Franke
University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069-8218
0806136839 $29.95 1-800-627-7377

Mary Ann Franke has worked in Yellowstone National Park for nine summers: so she's observed first-hand the wild animal management issues of the country's most famous park. Hers is the first to blend an ecological consideration with a survey of the political and management issues of bison management and how these conflicts reflect changes in attitudes toward wildlife. Debates on all sides are fueled by emotion as much as science: a fact TO SAVE THE WILD BISON: LIFE ON THE EDGE IN YELLOWSTONE reveals.

Historical Atlas of Central America
Carolyn Hall & Hector Perez Brignoli
University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069-8218
0806130385 $99.95 1-800-627-7377

Here's an outstanding 'must have' cartographic reference for an in-depth collection on Central America: an oversized 300-page reference which reviews five centuries of Central American history, culture, and social life. There are well over a hundred color and black and white illustrations and nearly 400 color maps accompanied by explanations and facts, making HISTORICAL ATLAS OF CENTRAL AMERICA unparalleled in depth and approach. Author Carolyn Hall is one of the area's leading geographers, Hector Perez Brignoli is a fine general historian with a focus on the region, and cartographer John V. Cotter's maps are exquisite.

The Caddie Was a Reindeer
Steve Rushin
Grove Press
841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003-4793
0802142117 $12.00

Blend humor with 'extreme recreation' sports insights and you have a wild ride indeed, as presented in THE CADDIE WAS A REINDEER AND OTHER TALES OF EXTREME RECREATION. Before you anticipate a humor title alone, let me warn you: this is a serious expedition into the remotest of areas, from visiting the outer limits of golf courses around the world including an Indonesian course where monkeys rule to a getting a date with a women's professional basketball member. There's lots of fun in THE CADDIE WAS A REINDEER - and a lot of serious observations. Perfect for the sports fan who seldom reads.

Hostage Rescue Manual
Leroy Thompson
Stackpole Books
5067 Ritter Road, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-6921
1853676616 $24.95

For a comprehensive illustrated coverage on techniques proven to have saved hostages around the world, take a look at HOSTAGE RESCUE MANUAL's revised edition. It covers everything from negotiation strategies to international rescue operations and how to handle snipers, clear areas, use weaponry and more. A 'must' for any seeking to understand how hostage situations are controlled, and all the options for dealing with them.

The Complete Book Of Locks and Locksmithing, 6th Edition
Bill Phillips
2 Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10021-2298
0071448292 $29.95 1-877-833-5524 www.books/

Whether you are an aspiring locksmith seeking to learn the trade or a consumer seeking locks which are impossible to defeat, THE COMPLETE BOOK OF LOCKS AND LOCKSMITHING is the item of choice for its detail, depth, and coverage which tops any other in the field. Master locksmith Phillips provides a history of the lock, an overview of tools and different types of locks, including safes; lockmaking instructions and tool and equipment resources, and much more. Not for the casual consumer, THE COMPLETE BOOK OF LOCKS AND LOCKSMITHING is the serious researcher's tool for gaining access to technical information bypassed in more casual coverages.

David Liittschwager & Susan Middleton
National Geographic Books
1145 - 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036-4688
0792241886 $65.00

David Liitschwager and Susan Middleton have been photographing endangered animals and plants since 1986: their work has appeared in national Geographic and other books, and so you've probably seen some of their work before - but in ARCHIPELAGO: PORTRAITS OF LIFE IN THE WORLD'S MOST REMOTE ISLAND SANCTUARY they outdo even their own vast achievements, producing an oversized, groundbreaking work showcasing the native flora and fauna of the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. These remote islands have received several layers of protection early on starting in 1909, so they are relatively unspoiled and a treasure trove for the authors. Gorgeous full-page close-up photos are exquisite portraits of a rarely-seen world, both under and above water.

Oxford Guide to Library Research
Thomas Mann
Oxford University Press
198 Madison Ave, NY, NY 10016-4314
0195189981 $17.95

There are many new developments in how information is stored and retrieved, and researchers need a review of the range of online and offline options: that's why THE OXFORD GUIDE TO LIBRARY RESEARCH: HOW TO FIND RELIABLE INFORMATION ONLINE AND OFFLINE is so important. It's in its third edition now, and covers databases, print sources, and how to search through government sources, archives, web sites, and more. Browsing isn't ruled out as an effective method, either: Mann shows how to use all the resources available, and how to understanding how the information is changing both in format and accessibility. Examples from research and searches make for a practical survey.

American Chopper: The Fine Art of the Custom Motorcycle
William G. Scheller
Hugh Lauter Levin
9 Burr Road, Westport, CT 06880
0883631172 $50.00

Just in time for holiday gift-giving is a truly remarkable, impressive achievement: a gathering of custom motorcycle images from the renowned Orange County Choppers of TV fame. You needn't have seen the show to appreciate the gorgeous displays here, however: pages paged with full-page color depict motorcycle choppers in full color glory while accompanying text explains specs, construction and art challenges, and more. If you've see the TV show you know Orange County Choppers is attracted to extreme, innovative, daring new designs and color; but you needn't have any experience with television to appreciate this visual display. Very highly recommended as one of the top gift picks for any motorcycle fan for this 2005 season.

The Achille Lauro Hijacking
Michael K. Bohn
Brassey's/Potomac Books
PO Box 960, Herndon, VA 20172-0960
1574887793 $26.95 1-800-775-2518

Why choose the Achille Lauro hijacking as a case study over more recent events? Because its relatively straightforward series of events makes for more of an opportunity to provide a clear-cut analysis of terrorist tactics than some more complicated current events, and THE ACHILLE LAURO HIJACKING: LESSONS IN THE POLITICS AND PREJUDICE OF TERRORISM thus serves as a better case study analysis than most of the 'good vs. evil' modern portraits, in regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This doesn't come from an outsider, either: author Michael Bohn was director of the White House Situation Room during Reagan's second term and spent days monitoring events as they played out: here he follows two families on either side of the event as they seek justice and meaning.

The Sea Rover's Practice
Benerson Little
Potomac Books
PO Box 960, Herndon, VA 20172-0960
1574889109 $27.50

There have been a number of good pirate books on the market lately; but most geared to a casual general-interest audience. THE SEA ROVER'S PRACTICE: PIRATE TACTICS AND TECHNIQUES, 1630-1730 is not for the casual reader but for the student or fan of early pirating days who will readily appreciate Navy SEAL officer Benerson Little's focus on the realities and - dare we say - business practices of early sea rovers. THE SEA ROVER'S PRACTICE is the only book to describe in detail their tactics, and the scholarly reader in particular will find the research solid.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades
Robert Spencer
Regnery Publishing
One Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001
0895260131 $19.95

Islam teaches Muslims must wage war to impose its law on non-Muslim states; it involves American Muslim groups in a cobbler-up of Islam's true doctrine, and it has important comparisons to the Crusades: these are the hard-hitting messages to the admittedly POLITICALLY INCORRECT GUIDE TO ISLAM AND THE CRUSADES, which shows how Islam mistreats non-Muslims, stifles inquiry, and has long repressed Christians. An intriguing, powerful argument comes backed by Islamic literature itself.

The Year of Magical Thinking
Joan Didion
Alfred Knopf
1745 Broadway, 17th fl, NY, NY 10019
140004314X $23.95 1-800-726-0600

Any who would understand author Joan Didion's life in current years must pick up a copy of THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING: it narrates one of the most challenging periods in her life, when her only daughter fell ill with a dangerous septic shock which almost killed her, and her husband suffered a massive, fatal heart attack. Her first-person account of surviving herself tells of sudden medical crises, death, and challenges to the living. It will reach out and grab any who have found their lives transformed in an instant by either illness or death - and it provides a survey of her year of recovery.

100 Ways to Be Pasta
Wanda & Giovanna Tornabene With Carolyn Cerreno
Alfred Knopf
1745 Broadway, 17th fl, NY, NY 10019
140004104X 24.95 1-800-726-0600

There are already so very many pasta cookbooks on the market that one might wonder what makes 100 WAYS TO BE PASTA: PERFECT PASTA RECIPES FROM GANGIVECCHIO special. For one, it adds a healthy dash of humor to its presentations, presenting a mother-daughter duo who blend memoir and history with recipes for a detailed taste of Sicilian culture. Their lessons from basic past-cooking techniques rely on tips from old masters: it's these tips which help the recipe selection stand out from the norm and make 100 WAYS TO BE PASTA special.

Alfred Knopf
1745 Broadway, 17th fl, NY, NY 10019

William Cody a.k.a. Buffalo Bill was a Pony Express rider, prospector, Civil War fighter and more, and other biographies covering his life have presented him as either a hero or a fraud. Even in his time Cody's life was in dispute - which Cody encouraged by blending fact and fiction. BUFFALO BILL'S AMERICA: WILLIAM CODY AND THE WILD WEST SHOW by Louis S. Warren (0375412166 $30.00) provides the most comprehensive biography to appear in over forty years and comes from a history professor's solid research. For a concise, yet thorough, coverage of French history choose Alistair Horne's LA BELLE FRANCE: A SHORT HISTORY (1400041406, $30.00): it's a vivid, lively story of France which starts with Caesar's division of Gaul into three parts and moves to modern times. The history delves into centuries of warfare and its background, provides coverages of the nation's leaders as well as the lives of everyday French natives, and peppers color photos with a coverage of power plays, Paris mobs, French politics and social concerns, and more. The 'short history' misses nothing, reads with the drama and vigor of fiction, yet packs in facts both students and lay readers will find engrossing.

Beaver's Pond Press
7104 Ohms Lane #216, Edina, MN 55439-2129

Two excellent accounts from author/warden Tom Chapin's decades working as a Minnesota Game Warden make for excellent true short stories of real-life encounters with poaches. POACHERS CAUGHT! ADVENTURES OF A NORTHWOODS GAME WARDEN (1592980228, $16.95) presents thirty-five such real-life encounters, imparting a healthy degree of game and fish law in the process of discussing enforcement encounters and strategies. His MORE POACHERS CAUGHT! FURTHER ADVENTURES OF NORTHWOODS GAME WARDEN (159298116X, $18.95) provides even more encounters with danger, using the same first-person dramatic encounter style as the first. These read like true crime with gripping thriller elements - but also include plenty of insights on game law and poaching.

Michael Kuo
University of Michigan Press
839 Greene Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3209
0472030361 $27.95

Mushroom fans receive numerous picture book coverage of mushrooms, but author Michael Kuo brings years of morel-hunting experience to his MORELS, a coverage of an edible fungi more elusive than the mushroom. Details go beyond most competing identification guides to cover how to look for them, the latest scientific research on how they grow and DNA-based classification of species, habitats from apple orchards to burn sites, and morel festivals and cooking competitions. Add color photos and first-person insights throughout and you have a pairing of research and field guide unparalleled in depth and accessibility.

Can Cows Walk Down Stairs?
Poaul Heiney, Ed.
Sutton Publishing
Phoenix Mill, Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 2BU UK
0750937475 $19.95

How do the laws of science really apply to daily life? Found out in CAN COWS WALK DOWN STAIRS?: THE BEST BRAINS ANSWER THE BIGGEST AND SMALLEST SCIENTIFIC QUESTIONS. Journalist Heiney consulted some of the best minds in science on everyday applications of science, from biological oddities to physics: then he couched all this in a lively question-answer format divided into chapters such as pets, kitchen and home, and seeing isn't always believing. A lively, inviting coverage.

Marco Polo: The Incredible Journey
Robin Brown
Sutton Publishing
Phoenix Mill, Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 2BU UK
0750934204 $29.95

Marco Polo began his world travels at the age of seventeen, journeying through Armenia, Arabia, India and China - but for centuries his early accounts of travel weren't credited. Robin Brown remedies this with MARCO POLO: THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY, providing an in-depth survey drawn from copies and translations of works about his life and achievements. Any who seek a definitive, in-depth survey must have MARCO POLO: THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY in their collection!

Jet Age Photographer
Tim Kershaw
Sutton Publishing
Phoenix Mill, Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 2BU UK
0750940093 $44.95

Russell Adams' aviation photography is gorgeous - and who better to publish it than the Jet Age Museum in association with Sutton Publishing and author Tim Kershaw, former chairman of said Museum who remains a trustee there. Lest you don't recognize the name Russell Adams: he took the world's first jet aerobatic photo and produced a steady stream of air-to-air photos of Britain's early jet fighters from the 1950s to the 60s. He became the chief photographer for Gloster Aircraft Company and he produced stunning standards for air-to-air photos which set the pace and foundation of an entire era. Adams flew aerobatic routines himself as a passenger to get come of these photos - and his images are exquisite. But this is more than just a coffee table photo display: plenty of accompanying background history of Adams, his photos, and the planes themselves make for a definitive, detailed book. A stunning presentation, and a 'must' for any collection strong in either aircraft or plane photography.

The Archaeology of Disease
Charlotte Roberts & Keith Manchester
Sutton Publishing
Phoenix Mill, Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 2BU UK
075092683X L25.00

How does palaeopathology relate to modern disease treatment? THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF DISEASE appears in its revised third edition to draw important connections for college-level students, showing how the latest techniques in the science can identify common illnesses from which humans suffered in antiquity. The clinical interpretation of these diseases therefore charts trends and conditions for a modern audience, making some important historical connections between human health and the evolution of disease. This revised, updated third edition includes the latest research trends and data from living populations, adding extended case studies from around the world to link modern archaeology with modern health concerns.

A Companion to the History of the Middle East
Youssef M. Choueiri, Ed.
Blackwell Publishing
2121 State Avenue, Ames, IA 50014
1405106816 $124.95 1-800-216-2522

Joining others in the 'Blackwell Companions to World History' is the weighty COMPANION TO THE HISTORY OF THE MIDDLE EAST, with nearly thirty newly commissioned essays by leading international scholars dividing the region into four political units: Iran, Turkey, Israel and the Arab world. Within these sections the religious, political, military and historical struggles of each segment are documented and analyzed, with chapters offering both theory and critical analysis of facts and trends. Changing relationships between Europe and the Middle East, the evolution of nation-building efforts, the rise and issues of Zionism: all are treated to an excellent set of critical observations blended with history.

Interrupted Music
Verlyn Flieger
The Kent State University Press
PO Box 5190, Kent, OH 44240-0001
0873388240 $18.00 1-800-247-6553

INTERRUPTED MUSIC: THE MAKING OF TOLKIEN'S MYTHOLOGY is a pick for any who would explore the Silmarillion world and how it was developed. Tolkien tried to construct a mythology which embraced the extent of an entire world's philosophy and thinking: while INTERRUPTED MUSIC could be featured in our literary section, it's reviewed here for its important assessment of Tolkien's objectives and achievements constructing not just a fantasy world by an entire ideology.

Megatrends 2010
Patricia Aburdene
Hampton Roads Publishing
1125 Stony Ridge Road, Charlottesville, VA 22902
1571744568 $24.95

A surprising contention is made in MEGATRENDS 2010: THE RISE OF CONSCIOUS CAPITALISM: that integrity and spirit will drive business performance and shareholder value, making the ideal of corporate responsibility good business. How can this be the case in the face of so many modern scandals? Because these same scandals are forcing business to demonstrate their ethics and trust - and CEOs, investors, and managers alike are working to meld their spiritual principles to work to attract consumers. For once: a positive view of future trends in the business community which promises good changes.

Improving Your Memory
Janet Fogler & Lynn Stern
Johns Hopkins University Press
2715 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218-4319
0801881161 $16.95 1-800-537-5487

Here's the second memory-enhancing idea guide to come to us in a month: IMPROVING YOUR MEMORY: HOW TO REMEMBER WHAT YOU'RE STARTING TO FORGET takes the form of a handbook survey how memory changes with age and what can be done to improve it. From different kinds of memory and efforts involving memorization to conditions such as stress or illness which affect memory, plenty of simple examples make it easy to understand basic concepts and apply them to real-life improvements.

Humanistic Design of Assisted Living
John P. Marsden
Johns Hopkins University Press
2715 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218-4319
0801880319 $49.95 1-800-537-5487

The price tag is steep for a 118-page standard-sized paperback, which will limit HUMANISTIC DESIGN OF ASSISTED LIVING's acquisition to college-level or specialized collections - but any seeking an overview of assisted living's evolution and design needs should consider this indispensable. Consumer research serves as the foundation for dsicusisons of how humanistic design options work, how to consider usability, scale, and aesthetics in such design, and what guidelines housing owners and policy makers alike should consider in assisted design processes. From color choices and economic considerations to room-by-room analysis in an assisted living facility, HUMANISTIC DESIGN OF ASSISTED LIVING is likely to become a course assignment for many a college-level design class.

High-Speed Dreams
Erik M. Conway
Johns Hopkins University Press
2715 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218-4363
080188067X $49.95 1-800-537-5487

With NASA and aviation so much in the news today, it's perfect timing for considering the merits of Erik M. Conway's HIGH-SPEED DREAMS: NASA AND THE TECHNOPOLITICS OF SUPERSONIC TRANSPORTATION, 1945-1999. Conway's history focuses on the politics and economics behind the rise and fall of American supersonic transport research programs; from analyzing changing relationships between international and domestic politicians and environmentalists to attempts to commercialize early supersonic efforts and how different campaigns caused these efforts to fail. Conway is a historian working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California: his background lends a scholarly tone to a detailed review of aerospace research program influences.

Walker's Marsupials of the World
Ronald M. Nowak
Johns Hopkins University Press
2715 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218-4363
0801882117 $22.95 1-800-537-5487

This volume comes from the larger WALKER'S MAMMALS series, providing a narrowed focus on marsupials alone and providing an introduction by marsupial expert Christopher R. Dickman. Dickman's introduction describes the status of marsupials and their evolution, but the meat of WALKER'S MARSUPIALS OF THE WORLD lies in its organized gathering of names, discussions of habit and ecology, and photos of marsupials. College-level collections strong in natural history will find this a detailed, in-depth reference.

Moments of Truth in Genetic Medicine
Susan Lindee
Johns Hopkins University Press
2715 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218-4319
0801881757 $40.00 1-800-537-5487

There's so much discussion on genetic research and its promises and failures that one would think it the only concern of modern American science: yet as early as the 1950s it was considered only a marginal science at best. How did such a change in perception and focus happen so quickly? MOMENTS OF TRUTH IN GENETIC MEDICINE traces this evolution, surveying the work of both early and modern geneticists and identifying the 'moments of truth' which moved the field as a whole into the modern limelight of scientific investigation. Benchmark tests, genetic studies of populations, and emerging debates, issues and findings produced changes in both the discipline and its perception up to modern times.

Encyclopedia of Internationall Organized Crime
Carlo DeVito
Checkmark/Facts on File
132 W. 31st St., New York, NY 10001
0816048495 $24.95

Organized crime is big business so its global spread is no surprise, yet the Mafia remains the most familiar crime group to ordinary minds. THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIME documents other major crime groups around the world, gathering information from sources around the globe and exposing criminal groups, international presences, and purposes. From one of the most powerful Pakistan crime lords on the Indian subcontinent to crime leaders and groups in Australia, Latin America, Asia, Russia and beyond, each listing includes history, black and white photos where available, social and political background, and further references.

Encyclopedia of the American Armed Forces
Alan Axelrod
Facts on File
132 W. 31st St., New York, NY 10001
0816047006 $175.00/2 Vols,

For a thorough reference coverage of the armed forces, turn to Alan Axelrod's 2-volume set: it provides an A-Z reference to the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, and packs in extensive references and cross-references, from abbreviations and acronyms to historical entries, divisions, weaponry, medals, military intelligence and much more. Packed with extensive reference detail, this set is the perfect addition to any public or school library seeking a reference which applies across the board to all facets of the U.S. armed forces, yet which divides the subject by major branches for quick, easy reference and understanding. Very highly recommended indeed: a 'must' standard reference promising lasting value.

Encyclopedia of Censorship
Jonathan Green
Nicholas J. Karolides, Reviser
Facts on File
132 W. 31st St., New York, NY 10001
0816044643 $85.00

When we consider censorship today it's often with the view that censorship largely lies in the past: yet modern controversies over books, movies and Web sites today show censorship remains a vital issue. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CENSORSHIP appears in an updated, revised edition - and when Facts on File says 'revised', they mean more than 50 percent new material has been added to provide the latest details on censorship issues from ancient times to the modern computer age. An A-Z format lends to student research, while many an adult will find its references to politics and social issues essential to understanding the latest contemporary arguments.

The California Coast
Sara St. Anotine, Editor
Milkweed Editions
1011 Washington Street South, #300, Minneapolis, MN 55415
1571316531 $10.95

Kids and families who love literature and nature will find much to love in the intriguing CALIFORNIA COAST: STORIES FROM WHERE WE LIVE, A LITERARY FIELD GUIDE. These are tales which highlight California coastal adventure and wildlife, with each story firmly rooted in local atmosphere. But CALIFORNIA COAST isn't just a collection of tales - it includes poems, essays and history along with small black and white photos to spice the results. Highly recommended.

Magpies and Mayflies
Derek Madden, Ken Charter, Cathy Snyder
Heyday Books
PO Box 9145, Berkeley, CA 94709
1597140031 $16.95

California libraries or collections strong in regional natural history titles will find MAGPIES AND MAYFLIES: AN INTRODUCTION TO PLANTS AND ANIMALS OF THE CENTRAL VALLEY AND SIERRA FOOTHILLS to be an important guide to a little-covered California ecosystem. Professor Madden was hosting local school field trips when he realized there was no book to describe the wildlife of the Central Valley alone: MAGPIES AND MAYFLIES remedies this omission and packs in black and white drawings throughout.

Demos Medical Publishing
386 Park Avenue South, #201, New York, NY 10016

A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis affects the entire family as needs change and new demands and medical concerns come to the foreground: that's why families need Rosalind C. Kalb, Ph.D.'s MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS A GUIDE FOR FAMILIES (1932603107 $24.95), now appearing in its updated third edition to include new chapters on parenting kids with MS and planning for future care. Plenty of MS titles focus on physical and emotional health: this is one of the few to consider financial challenges and issues of future security, concerns about burdening family members with care, legal issues, and more. An outstanding guide, MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS: A GUIDE FOR FAMILIES is a recommendation above most of its competitors. Adrian Cristian, MD's LOWER LIMB AMPUTATION: A GUIDE TO LIVING A QUALITY LIFE (1932603247, $19.95) provides an important resource to those with lower limb amputation. Such amputation can come from accident, war, or even medical conditions such as diabetes: LOWER LIMB AMPUTATION covers everything from emotional and physical changes to medical self-care, choosing prostheses for individual needs, and more. A unique book addressing a topic seldom handled in depth for lay readers.

David Shayne
770 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
0823030814 $24.95 1-800-451-1741

Just in time for the holidays comes an exceptional set of MAD magazine parodies spanning six decades and reproduced in (mostly) full color for an exciting survey of 50 years of Madison Avenue. MAD Magazine excels in biting, tongue-and-cheek observations and has a wide fan base - but MADVERTISING: A MAD LOOK AT 50 YEARS OF MADISON AVENUE promises to reach beyond this base even into the business world. Highly recommended for that hard-to-please cynic/humorist who would love a MAD observation of the ads they hate.

I Don't Need A Record Deal!
Daylle Deanna Schwartz
Billboard Books/Watson-Guptill
770 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
0823079481 $19.95 1-800-451-1741

Record deals don't automatically make a musician rich, but conversely, in today's modern music world, a record label might not be needed to achieve career success either. I DON'T NEED A RECORD DEAL! YOUR SURVIVAL GUDIE FOR THE INDIE MUSIC REVOLUTION is based on interview with 150 people, from major label musicians who went independent to successful indie artists and music pros: the idea is to cover all the pros and cons of independent street marketing, from understanding copyright and licensing to marketing talents and breaking into markets. Whether you decide you need a music contract or not, I DON'T NEED A RECORD DEAL is a 'must' for any indie musician.

Make Your Voice Heard
Chuck Jones
BackStage Books/Watson-Guptill
770 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
0823083705 $16.95 1-800-451-1741

If you're an actor seeking more range through a vocal training routine, look no further than the revised, enlarged second edition of MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD: AN ACTOR'S GUIDE TO INCREASED DRAMATIC RANGE THROUGH VOCAL TRAINING. Accounts of professional actors and their teachers, and how interactions helped them project, blend with exercises for the vocal passage and techniques for increasing range. An excellent, basic guide.

Ask An Agent
Margaret Emory
770 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
0823087956 $16.95 1-800-451-1741

If you're an aspiring actor who's looking for an agent, don't go on the hunt until you've absorbed the tips in ASK AN AGENT; EVERYTHING ACTORS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT AGENTS. It's tough love in a book: a candid discussion of the world of agents, what they can do, what they can't do, and the pitfalls and successes of dealing with one. Chapters discuss how agents 'sell' actors under their charge, what doors are open to them which are closed to the individual actor - and what happens when things go wrong in the relationship. A 'must' for any aspiring actor.

770 Broadway, 7th Flr, New York, NY 10003

If you want to produce a wonderful, colorful wall without expensive painting, take a look at Jonathan Fong's WALLS THAT WOW: CREATIVE WALL STREATEMNTS WITHOUT FANCY-SCHMANCY PAINTING (0823069818 $24.95): it profiles over twenty simple, inexpensive projects using such diverse mediums as metals, tin, bamboo, adhesives, and more. Use buttons to create interesting antique bathroom patterns, paper tape for beautiful colors, and string sculpture to turn a boring wall into a display area. Tips even include where to buy many of the special products. Alyssa Ettinger's THE EBAY HOME MAKEOVER: BUYING CONFIDENTLY, REDECORATING WITH STYLE - THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO TRANSFORMING YOUR HOME ONLINE (0823015947, $19.95) tells how to use ebay in any home decoration project. So why do you need a book? Because THE EBAY HOME MAKEOVER offers projects based on common ebay finds, blending a project approach to buying online. From a colorful hanky pillow to what kinds of flatware and linens are easily located in ebay, this is a fine guide to the best in home décor to be gained from online purchases for home enhancement projects.

770 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

Three very different art guides will appeal to wide audiences and art library holdings. Mike Resnick's LADY WITH AN ALIEN: AN ENCOUNTER WITH LEONARDO DA VINCI (082300323X, $15.95) could as easily been reviewed in our science fiction section, but is featured here for its extensive art research on Da Vinci, as well. Futuristic resident Mario is accustomed to space travel, so when he journeys back in time to Renaissance Italy in search of a runaway pet, he encounters Leonardo, who wishes to learn about the future. The evolution of Leonard's 'Lady with an Ermine' is provided as history couched in fiction in this unique and compelling story. Steve Miller's THUNDER LIZARDS! HOW TO DRAW FANTASTIC DINOSAURS (0823016633, $19.95) provides sixty-five step-by-step drawing sequences for dinosaur fans of all ages. Here are re-creations based on dinosaur skeletons, muscles and tissues by top paleo-artists, paintings displaying them in prehistoric times, and plenty of detail on reproduction challenges. A 'must' for dino artists. Kristy Ann Kutch's DRAWING AND PAINTING WITH COLORED PENCIL: BASIC TECHNIQUES FOR MASTERING TRADITIONAL ND WATERSOLUBLE COLORED PENCILS (0823015688, $24.95) is the only book to feature detailed information on using both traditional colored pencils and watercolor pencils, contrasting the different usages and challenges of each medium and providing demonstrations based on a variety of genres. From planning compositions to using dry and wet techniques and blends, DRAWING AND PAINTING WITH COLORED PENCIL is the reference of choice for any serious colored pencil illustrator.

The Perricone Weight-Loss Diet
Nicholas Perricone, MD
Ballantine Books/Random House
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
0345485939 $25.95

Want a simple three-part diet to lose fat and shape up? Dr. Perricone's WEIGHT-LOSS DIET may be for you: it goes beyond the usual diet plan in addressing returning youth and suppleness to skin. Weight loss is only one of the goals of his diet, which revolves around an 'anti-inflammatory' method of eating based on controlling hormones. Recipes are included with the diet's premises and foundations.

Angels in the Wilderness
Amy Racina
Elite Books
10 Hop Ranch Court, Santa Rosa, CA 95403
0971088896 $24.95

If ANGELS IN THE WILDERNESS sounds like a spiritual guide, take another look: the subtitle 'THE TRUE STORY OF ONE WOMAN'S SURVIVAL AGAINST ALL ODDS' says it all. Author Amy Racina was on a solo hike in California's Sierra Nevada mountains when she fell sixty feet onto a granite boulder. For days later she was rescued - after dragging herself to earshot of fellow campers on her hands. She wrote much of ANGELS IN THE WILDERNESS just weeks after her rescue - so the 'you are there' experience of survival is especially fresh and absorbing.

The Seven Natural Laws of Love
Deborah Anapol, Ph.D.
Elite Books
10 Hop Ranch Court, Santa Rosa, CA 95403
097108887X $17.00

What is the real meaning of being 'in love' in a relationship? Other books present road maps charting the course; Dr. Deborah Anapol's THE SEVEN NATURAL LAWS OF LOVE provides much more, reviewing principles shared in all loving relationships and using the stories of thousands of individuals and couples from her workshops and private practice to narrow the focus to seven laws which can be discerned from the nature of love. From dominance and submission to laws of unity and truth, this is a fine recipe book for success.

The Heart of Healing
Dawson Church
Elite Books
10 Hop Ranch Court, Santa Rosa, CA 95403
0972002839 $25.00

Whether you're chronically ill or facing a special challenge - or just want to consider the future of health and health care - THE HEART OF HEALING: INSPIRED IDEAS, WISDOM AND COMFORT FROM TODAY'S LEADING VOICES provides a virtual wellspring of inspiration from such varied voices as Deepak Chopra, Andrew Weill, Dean Ornish and more. It's al about the process of healing, what diseases are telling about the subconscious mind, and how spiritual and bodily links work together or against one another. Chapters survey the entire creative process between body, mind and spirit and what happens in the course of health catastrophe.

The Fast Food Craze
Tina Volpe
Greenleaf Book Group
4425 Mopac South #600, Austin, TX 78735
0976134306 $13.95

Underhanded advertising by fast food companies are undermining health, as Tina Volpe shows in THE FAST FOOD CRAZE: WRECKING HAVOC ON OUR BODIES AND OUR ANIMALS. Blending a survey of animal compassion with a health examination, THE FAST FOOD CRAZE asks why we eat animals - and describes their treatment and modern issues surrounding healthy eating choices.

Sundown Towns
James W. Loewen
New Press
38 Green Street, New York, NY 10013
156584887X $29.95

For most of the 20th century thousands of communities across the country established towns for whites only using violence, laws and 'tradition' to keep out people of color - and some remain 'sundown' to this day. SUNDOWN TOWNS: A HIDDEN DIMENSION OF AMERICAN RACISM explores the nature of these towns, offering an expose which relies on both local history and first-person testimony to reveal the expansion of all-white communities in America. Surprisingly, SUNDOWN TOWNS is the first such book going into depth to expose the nature of these towns: a startling survey of how racism in America operates to this day.

Between Two Worlds
Zainab Salbi & Laurie Becklund
Gotham Books/Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10014-3657
1592401562 $26.00

Zainab Salbi was eleven when her father was chosen to be Saddam Hussein's personal pilot, leading her family to become one of his inner circle. Her mother taught her daughter how to survive in such a circle - and how to ignore its horrors: Zainab was just twenty when she found herself wed to an offensive American in an arranged marriage: she fled and was stranded by the Gulf War and a family rift. BETWEEN TWO WORLDS: ESCAPE FROM TYRANNY: GROWING UP IN THE SHADOW OF SADDAM is the moving account of her search for her roots and for meaning in a politically and socially charged world, and makes for riveting reading.

The Physics of Superheroes
James Kakalios
Gotham Books/Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10014-3657
1592401465 $26.00

Here's the perfect title for the adult science buff who relished comic heroes as a kid: a science lesson linking superhero abilities with real science lessons. From questions as to the gravity of Superman's home planet to if the Flash can run faster than the speed of light, the world of comic books makes surprising use of real scientific theories, and explains ironies within the writings, pointing out where the creators both succeeded in their scientific premise and got the basics wrong.

Alpha/Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10014-3657

Three winning career guides offer different options to workers aspiring for more. Whether you're a newcomer to the job market or a professional seeking a transition, Rene Carew, E.D. and the American Writers and Artists Institute's DISCOVERING YOUR PERFECT CAREER (1592572979, $16.95) provides details on how readers can customize career lists which point out a direction for developing a career. From assessing strengths versus desire to using new strategies in a job search and uncovering a career choice which works, DISCOVERING YOUR PERFECT CAREER is a strategy guide all workers will find useful. James H. Amos Jr. is the retired president and CEO of Mail Boxes Etc, so he's in the perfect authoritative position to create a winner in FRANCHISING (1592573290, $19.95), which covers all the basics involved in franchising. From how it works and what is involved in creating and running a successful franchise to ideas on over 500 franchise opportunities, FRANCHISING covers all the basics; from supplying a store to opening another location. George Lorenzo's GETTING YOUR MBA ONLINE (1592573495, $16.95) presents a budget-oriented guide to getting an MBA - by going online and choosing a MBA program which provides the most for the money. Expert advise gained from MBA program administrators cover everything from getting ready for the GMAT to enter a program to honing online learning skills and understanding different student services available online. All are excellent guides: even advanced business professionals will find them specific and packed with ideas.

c/o Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10014-3657

These excellent new titles are highly recommended picks. Sonia Levin's THE GOODNESS GENE (0525473971, $16.99) is set in 2305, where Will has been educated since birth to revere The Goodness and follow in his father's steps as Compassionate Dierctor of the Dominion of the Americas. His visit to primitive outposts in the Dominion introduces him to a new world - a world which leads him to feel doubt and new feelings. It's these feelings which will lead him to accept the truth about his origins and purposes - and to make decisions about scientific experimentation and control, in THE GOODNESS GENE. Brian Jacques' HIGH RHULAIN (0399242082, $23.99) will attract old fans of his Redwall animal fantasies and newcomers alike. Young ottermaid Tiria journeys across the land from Redwall Abbey to the mysterious Green Isle, where she's to fulfill an ancient prophecy. There she discovers a people threatened by a wildcat, and finds herself joining with an outlaw otter clan for the freedom of her people. Once again bravery under fire is a major theme of the fast-paced animal fantasy. Scott Westerfeld's PEEPS (159514031X, $16.99) tells of one Cal Thompson, new to New York City, who spends the night with a mysterious woman to become infected by a parasite which causes its hosts to hate sunlight - and to develop superhuman powers. Suddenly Cal becomes an infected carrier: one who can never quite return to the normal world. Must he spend his remaining life alone? Louise Marley's SINGER IN THE RAIN (067005965X, $16.99) is set on an ice planet where summer only arrives every five years, and where nightfall in the open means death. Mreen is a talented psi energy musician who helps her people create light and heat from music - but she's unable to make a sound. Her pairing with a younger Singer who faces her own disability brings the two new gifts and challenges. Set in the same world as SING THE LIGHT, SING THE WARMTH and RECEIVE THE GIFT, SINGER IN THE SNOW nevertheless needs no prior introduction to prove accessible to newcomers. Nea Shusterman's latest 'Dark Fusion' novel RED RIDER'S HOOD (0525475621, $15.99) joins others in Shusterman's ambitious series in combining fantasy and horror with totally different fairy tale basics. Here Red enjoys his tough urban neighborhood in his catchy red Mustang, which keeps him save from the gangs - until his own grandmother is mugged. His decision to join a gang to learn the secret of defeating them brings him close to a dangerous decision: to join them, or kill them. Red Riding Hood never looked like this before: complex and dark, filled with twists and turns!

Life As We Do Not Know It
Peter Ward
Viking Press
375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014
0670034584 $25.95 1-800-847-5515

In 2004 the National Academy of Sciences and NASA sponsored an invitation-only conference for twenty scientists who met to discuss the research into and construction of new types of life alien to Earth. LIFE AS WE DO NOT KNOW IT: THE NASA SEARCH FOR (AND SYNTHESIS OF) ALIEN LIFE tells of the theories evolving from this meeting and research, examining what alien life might be like, how scientists have begun creating such life artificially in labs, and how such discoveries may affect life on Earth. From issues of convergent evolutionary processes to an RNA 'life recipe' and discussions of moon fossils and other findings, LIFE AS WE DO NOT KNOW IT is a fascinating journey to worlds we do not know.

Biodiesel Power
Lyle Estill
New Society Publishers
PO Box 189, Gabriola Island, BC, V0R 1XO Canada
0865715416 $16.95

Arguments about oil reserves and inexpensive oil availability aside, it's more than evident that an alternative source of power is needed to meet human energy needs (outside of reducing these needs, which is another topic entirely), and BIODIESEL POWER: THE PASSION, THE PEOPLE, AND THE POLITICS OF THE NEXT RENEWABLE FUEL covers this alternative which is now an emerging industry in its infancy. The people, history and promise of the biodiesel movement is revealed in an account which covers both pros and cons of biodiesel itself and its proponents, providing both students and average consumers with a basic survey of biodiesel's promise and development.

Montana 1911
Mary Eggermont-Molenaar, Ed
University of Calgary Press
2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4, Canada
1552381145 $69.95

In the summer of 1911 a Dutch anthropologist and a linguist journeyed to Montana to conduct field research among the Piegan Indians. His wife Wilhelmina kept a diary of their experiences which is reproduced here in full, and translated for the first time from Dutch to English. Any college-level student of Native American history and culture, especially those studying Blackfoot tribes, will consider MONTANA 1911: A PROFESSOR AND HIS WIFE AMONG THE BLACKFEET an indispensable reference, with its extensive notes, vintage black and white photos, and important history.

Intellectual Property Rights
Christopher May & Susan K. Sell
Lynne Rienner Publishers
1800 - 30th Street, #314, Boulder, CO 80301-1026
1588263630 $52.00

Any interested in issues of intellectual property rights must have historical precedent firmly in hand: and there's no better place to obtain the whole of this precedent than in INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS: A CRITICAL HISTORY. Chapters cover the politicized struggle over intellectual property rights, from its justification and historical debates to ideas of authorship and invention rights over the decades, international law and patent rights, and more. A 'must' for any college-level audience addressing the issue of who owns the rights to intellectual discoveries - and how.

Pluto Press
839 Green St, Ann Arbor, MI 48106

Steven P. McGiffen's BIOTECHNOLOGY: CORPORATE POWER VERSUS THE PUBLIC INTEREST (0745319742, $24.95) is a hard-hitting overview of the regulation of biotechnology, both pro and con, and is a recommended pick for high school libraries, college holdings and public libraries interested in a concise, clear survey. The focus is on biotech legislation both in the US and the EU, and other approaches to agricultural and medical advancements around the world: chapters maintain that the EU and America are removing decision-making powers from the people and their representatives, and demands democratic, international processes not yet being enacted. A thought-provoking argument packed with examples from biotech legislative proceedings. Andrew Simms' ECOLOGICAL DEBT: THE HEALTH OF THE PLANET & THE WEALTH OF NATIONS (0745324045, $19.95) shows how millions in the West are damaging the environment in an effort to mimic life in the UK and US - and maintains we'd need the resources of five Planet Earths to support such lifestyles. The global wealth gap is built on ecological debt which the poor are paying through poverty: Simms shows what can be done to change the destructive environmental patterns. The new edition of John Holloway's CHANGE THE WORLD WITHOUT TAKING POWER: THE MEANING OF REVOLUTION TODAY (0745324665, $28.95) is for any who wonder where Marxist theory vanished to in modern times. Chapters explain the idea of revolution is the struggle against power, not for its transfer: CHANGE THE WORLD WITHOUT TAKING POWER first appeared in 2002 and this updated new edition offers a new epilogue with a survey of the reactions the 2002 edition fostered.

Baen Books
PO Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471

Baen's latest titles are top picks for science fiction and fantasy fans; especially those who enjoy military science fiction and politically-charged plots. Larry Niven created the 'Man-Kzin' setting but Hal Colebatch and Matthew Joseph Harrington carry on Niven's tradition in MAN-KZIN WARS XI (1416509062, $22.00), which pairs Niven's new story with others by the other contributors. The protagonsits in all are the feline lords of creation, the catlike Kzin, and their encounters with pursuers and secrets of the galaxy. Six new stories are especially recommended for prior enthusiasts of the Kazin world. David Weber's SHADOW OF SAGANAMI (1416509291, $7.99) is military sci fi at its best: the Star Kingdom of Manticore is again at war following a sneak attack and the graduating class from the Navy's academy are going straight into the war - except for midshipment assigned to a cruiser backwater with an inexperienced captain, who find their share of conflict to uphold the Saganami tradition. William Mark Simmons' DEAD ON MY FEET (1416509100, $7.99) tells of a human who is sought by human and vampire alike when his body is mutated by a blood transfusion. Solid action at its best, this presents Chris' run from an entire world against him - and his troubles not only with undead terrorists, but a werewolf lover who has left him in the lurch. Eric Flint's RING OF FIRE (1416509089, $7.99) returns to the alternate world Flint created in 1632 and 1633, adding more adventure by a cast of top writers who use Eric Flint's creations as a stepping stone for further action. Familiarity with the prior 1632/1633 settings will enhance appreciation of this ongoing and vivid saga. Martin Scott's THRAXAS AND THE DANCE OF DEATH (1416509070, $22.00) is a hilarious fantasy demonstrating the strength of Martin Scott's latest comic fantasy series. Blend a private eye mystery with a fast pace and varied settings, from an alligator-infested sewer or a fairy glade, with a corrupt enchanted city and an overweight hero and you have a story which is ertainly different. John Ringo's GHOST (1416509054, $25.00) tells of a disabled student discharged with a SEAL team who observes the kidnapping of a co-ed and finds himself on the move investigating similar kidnappings which lead to Satan himself. Swift fantasy mingles with a military setting to provide a satisfying thriller.

Writing the Fantasy Film
Sable Jak
Michael Wiese
11288 Ventura Blvd., #621, Studio City, CA 91604
0941188965 $26.95

Other books have seemingly covered the topic of film writing in all genres - but WRITING THE FANTASY FILM: HEROES AND JOURNEYS IN ALTERNATE REALITIES is different: it probes the foundations of the fantasy genre as a whole as it crosses boundaries ranging from science fiction to politics, it analyzes why blockbusters with fantasy elements or plots are successful versus Grade B productions, and it provides keys to research, character production and more. If you're a fantasy fan/writer seeking to produce fantasy films which are more than Grade B, you simply can't be without WRITING THE FANTASY FILM: it's got the nuts and bolts of the industry's basic needs and a formula for success which can't be beat.

Labs of Deception
Gayle Marlowe
Noble House
c/o American Literary Press
8019 Belair Road, #10, Baltimore, MD 21236
156167883X $22.95

Kelsey Cooke heads the nation's largest government contractor responsible for the country's water supply, and while her staff is top-notch, lab accidents keep happening and are putting not only her company but the country at risk. There's a rogue scientist on staff determined to manufacture and distribute nerve gas into the nation's water supplies - and Kelsey finds herself on a timeline to uncover his identity while fending off political challenges. A thriller with swift action and solid characterization to hold up the tension.

Allison & Busby/IPG dist.
22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, VA 20166

Two solid mysteries provide fast-paced plots and intrigue even the most seasoned mystery reader will enjoy. John Malcolm's ROGUES' GALLERY (074983581, L18.99) presents one Tim Simpson, a busy merchant banker who is recruited to give a speech and get to know an art gallery trustee who may become an important customer. An attack with a mysterious purpose involves Tim in investigating the murder of a researcher and the theft of some valuable paintings. Gerald Hammond's HEIRS AND GRACES (0749083093, L18.99) tells of a new marriage which begins with contention when an uncle suffers a stroke and requires constant care. When the uncle dies just two days after Grace and Stuart return from their honeymoon, suspicions are aroused and it's up to Grace to prove her own innocence.

The Elagin Affair And Other Stories
Ivan Bunin
Ivan R. Dee
1332 North Halsted Street, Chicago, IL 60622-2694
1566636418 $25.00

Three of Ivan Bunin's novellas plus a range of his stories written between 1900 and 1940 provide insights on Russian psyche and love, and are recommended both for newcomers and especially for prior fans. Graham Hettlinger's new translations makes Bunin's works available to English readers and succeeds in capturing the metaphorical, lyrical nature of the Russian writer's works, bringing out elements previous translators have not been able to capture.

Category Five
Philip Donlay
Nightbird Press
PO Box 580875, Minneapolis, MN 55458-0875
0975376535 $23.95

Hurricane Helena is becoming the most powerful storm in recorded history, but it threatens more than the U.S.: a young reporter has uncovered a dangerous truth and one Donovan Nash finds his long-time secret threatened as well as the lives of his friends and love. If it's a fast-paced thriller you seek, you can't go wrong with CATEGORY FIVE: especially with hurricanes so in the news this season.

Boone and Crockett Club
250 Station Drive, Missoula, MT 59801

Boone and Crockett's excellent hunting tiles are perfect for fans of American big game who want varied reads specific to modern sportsman interests. Craig Boddington's FAIR CHASE IN NORTH AMERICA (0940864479, $19.95) packs in anecdotes of game hunting experiences gathered from four decades of his hunting experiences. If Boddington's name sounds familiar - or the title of his book - it's because he's contributed regularly to Boone and Crockett Club's quarterly FAIR CHASE, and here his first-hand experiences come to life for sportsmen who will delight in his candid, first-person observations, information and experience. An older Boone and Crockett Club title, FIELD GUIDE TO MEASURING AND JUDGING BIG GAME (0940864444, $24.95) should not be missed by modern audiences, even though it first appeared in 2003: it is THE item of choice for any who regularly measure game, covering all kinds of techniques for native North American big game, from scoring and boundary descriptions for big game to lists of minimum scores for all 38 categories recognized by the Club. Lay-flat spiral binding makes for an easy take-along reference, while pages packed with black and white illustration include trophy analysis points and descriptions of notable marks and measurement influences. Saving the best for last is the 12th updated edition of RECORDS OF NROTH AMERICAN BIG GAME (0940864517, $49.95), a weighty hunter's reference packed with the most complete big-game records in print. Here are 12 new World's Records added for big game, over 200 field photos, images of custom and modern as well as antique firearms, listings of North American trophies in 38 categories - a virtual treasure trove of reference information any seasoned hunter simply can't be without.

Countrysport Press
PO Box 679, Camden, ME 04843

These four excellent books are top picks for hunters and any who thrill to the outdoors. Hunters who use retrievers will want to make Bobby George's TRAINING RETRIEVERS: THE COTTON PERSHALL METHOD (0892726997, $25.00) a basic guide for training: it covers techniques specific to retrievers, from basic obedience training to land and water retrieving, handling puppies and adult dog alike, and testing commands. In 1990 Cotton Pershall and Bobby George combined their expertise to produce TRAINING RETRIEVERS: 50 years in the making. Professional dog trainer George provides an insider's flair to Pershall's method and the return of this to print assures new audiences will relish the simple program - even those with no dog-training background. Jim McDermott's A COMFORTABLE RANGE: A HUNTER, HIS BIRD DOG, AND THEIR QUEST (089272675X,$23.95) provides a lovely story of his attempt to understand his independent English setter Speck. It's a love story about a dog - and also a narrative about bird-dogging methods and experiences; and any hunter who favors bird dogs and understands them will recognize a sympathetic writer in McDermott's descriptions of his dog's abilities. John Holt's ARCTIC AURORA: CANADA'S YUKON AND NORTHWEST TERRITORIES (0892725575, $26.00) comes from the author's nine trips to one of the wildest places in North America: a land of rock, ice, northern lights, polar bears and caribou herds. From miners and trappers to hunters and fishermen operating and living in this remote wilderness, ARCTIC AURORA captures the sights, sounds, and flavor of the Yukon and Northwest Territories, presenting a first-person account of a special series of encounters and accented by a centerfold of stunning color photos. Kevin Tracewiski's A FISHERMAN'S GUIDE TO MAINE (0892725966, $19.95) narrows the focus to capturing game fish in the state of Maine, from brook trout to make inhabitants. Anglers receive all the details they need from the author's blend of aquatic biology background and his years of fishing experience in Maine, andwill particularly enjoy descriptions of species, fishing tips particular to different environments, sections of trip-planning information and driving directions, and much more. It sure beats the competing, more general fisherman's guides when you have a region-specific guide with all the specifics right at your fingertips.

Larsen's Outdoor Publications
2640 Elizabeth Place, Lakefield, FL 33813

Two excellent primers on hunting are part of John E. Phillips' 'Masters' Secrets' series and pack in details to improve success. TURKEY HUNTING: TACTICS TO IMPROVE YOUR HUNTING SUCCESS! (0936513187) tells of problem turkeys, from those who hide on public lands to turkeys that won't gobble. The sport's masters have dealt with all the special problems turkey hunting brings with it - and whether you're a bow hunter, or use guns, TURKEY HUNTING is a 'must' for any serious hunter. Same goes for MASTERS' SECRETS OF DEER HUNTING: HUNTING TACTICS AND SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH (0936513147, $14.95): from understanding deer routes and movements to wind and weather, stalk hunts, driving, human scent and more, virtually any factor affecting hunting results is explored. Though these are older titles, they are recommended as 'foundation references' for any serious hunter's library.

Trap Shooting Secrets
James Russell
James Russell Publishing
780 Diogenes Drive, Reno, NV 89512
0916367096 $34.95

Finally: a guide professional trap shooters can use to improve their techniques and results, written in a manner accessible to both novices and semi-pros alike and packed with trap shooting secrets which can save time and money. From left-handed shooters and dominant eyes to practices to improve shooting, TRAP SHOOTING SECRETS are just packed with savvy advice. A 'must' for any trap shooter, whether beginner or advanced.

Retriever Training
Robert Milner
Ducks Unlimited
One Waterfowl Way, Memphis, TN 38120
1932052259 $14.95

It's never too late to properly train a bird dog, and here to prove the point is Robert Milner's RETRIEVER TRAINING: A BACK-TO-BASICS APPROACH, designed for the field hunter who doesn't wish to compete to much as to gain a useful dog in the field. From determining how to use punishment and how to reinforce different types of retriever behavior to understanding how inherited behavior and learned behavior differs and how to work with all types of abilities, RETRIEVER TRAINING is a 'must' for any serious hunter who would train a good dog.

Sports Publishing
804 North Neil Street, Champaign, IL 61820

Three very different, yet equally exciting, sports books demonstrate the ability of Sports Publishing to provide timely and exciting titles for all kinds of sports fans. Matt Maiocco's SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: WHERE HAVE YOU GONE? (1582619948, $19.95) joins others in the regional 'where have you gone' series titles to provide a narrowed focus - here, on 49ers names of past football history. The 49ers had six Hall of Fame players on their roster through most of the 1950s, they produced many colorful players, and they made a name for themselves in pro football. The biographies of key players - and what ultimately became of them - makes for a colorful survey of 49er history. Bill Hancock's RIDING WITH THE BLUE MOTH (1596701048, $24.95) presents the story of the director of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, who struggled with his son's death in the plane crash which took the lives of nine others in the Oklahoma state basketball world. His solution: embark on a dream journey from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean - by bicycle; an endurance effort which was to test the limits of his physical and mental state. Also joining him: a personal symbol of grief and depression, a blue month, which followed him all the way. Harley Race, Ricky steamboat and Les Thatcher work with Alex Marvez on THE PROFESSIONAL WRESTLERS' WORKOUT & INSTRUCTIONAL GUIDE (1582619476, $24.95), an outstanding wrestling workout handbook which gathers over 100 years of collective knowledge between three top names in pro wrestling circles and packs this experience under one cover. From selecting a trainer and weight training to different moves, headlocks, and more, black and white photos on every page demonstrate routines, options, and workouts.

Street Skateboarding
Evan Goodfellow
Tracks Publishing
140 Brightwood Avenue, Chula Vista, CA 91910
1884654231 $12.95

Author Evan Goodfellow is a pro skateboarder who has another book to his name, and who's appeared in eight skate videos to date: his curb tricks are captured here in photo and written word to teach fellow skateboarders new tricks in STREET SKATEBOARDING: ENDLESS GRINDS AND SLIDES: AN INSTRUCTIONAL LOOK AT CURB TRICKS. Tadashi Yamaoda provides excellent step-by-step shots to illustrate the equally important step-by-step tips on how to reproduce each trick. Skateboarders need only some basic experience to read, watch and learn from Goodfellow's many moves.

Triathelete's Guide to Mental Training
Jim Taylor Ph.D. & Terri Schneider
1830 North 55th Street, Boulder, CO 80301-2700
1931382700 $18.95

Any involved in sports - especially triathelete competition - will find a rare guide to the mental training needed for such events in TRIATHELETE'S GUIDE TO MENTAL TRAINING. Many books on the market mention the importance of mental attitude and training but say little about what such training involves: from mastering frustration and pain to overcoming fear and developing critical routines, MENTAL TRAINING covers every facet affecting an athlete's competitive edge.

Zinn & the Art Of Mountain Bike Maintenance
Lennard Zinn
Velo Press
1830 North 55th Street, Boulder, CO 80301-2700
193138259X $24.95

The fourth updated edition of a classic assures ZINN & THE ART OF MOUNTAIN BIKE MAINTENANCE remains the most complete reference on mountain bikes in print. Both repair and maintenance are covered from brake to tire, from regular maintenance to choosing a bike, solving common problems, and handling wheel and bolt tightening specs. Large-sized, clear drawings illustrate all text descriptions of repair techniques, while details on installations, repairs and improvements include plenty of practical notes on 'tricks and traps' encountered in the process. Any mountain bike owner who is 'handy' simply must keep ZINN & THE ART OF MOUNTAIN BIKE MAINTENANCE close at hand.

Performance Nutrition for Team Sports
Monique Ryan
Peak Sports Press/Velo Press
1830 North 55th Street, Boulder, CO 80301-2700
0974625442 $19.95

Sports are becoming more competitive at the high school and college levels and greater attention is being paid to nutrition for competitors - but as PERFORMANCE NUTRITION FOR TEAM SPORTS points out, not all requirements are the same from sport to sport. Author Monique Ryan holds an MS, RD and LDN: her credentials lend authority to discussions of nutrients needed for performers, how to fine-tune diets for top performance, how to eat specifically for a sport (baseball, football, soccer, hockey) and how to understand vitamins, minerals, and glycemic indexes. A 'must' for any serious competitor.

Soccer: Guarding the Goal
Shel Brodsgaard
Bluefield Books
Gr 12,C.9, RR1, Vancouver BC V6P 6E5, Canada
1894404122 $18.95

Youth goalkeepers and their coaches now have a specific guide to soccer which focuses entirely on guarding the goal, providing an illustrated system for goalkeeping which will prove a 'must' for any avid soccer player. Kids ages 8-17 and their adult coaches will find this a specific guide to tactics which uses full-page black and white photos and charts to impart the basics of goalkeeping strategy.

The World Was Going Our Way
Christopher Andrew & Valisi Mitrokhin
Basic Books
387 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016-8810
0465003117 $29.95

Students of either Russian or espionage history who enjoy complex, in-depth college-level studies will have to consult THE WORLD WAS GOING OUR WAY: THE KGB AND THE BATTLE FOR THE THIRD WORLD if they want a definitive story based on the latest revealed secrets from the Mitrokhin Archive. Co-author Mitrokhin was a Russian defector whose presence in the West remained a secret until 1999: he was responsible for moving the KGB's foreign intelligence archives to a new headquarters outside Moscow and spent over ten years making notes of these classified files at personal risk. Here he joins forces with renowned historian Christopher Andrew, and together the two produce the first solid history of the KGB's secrets.

Hitler's Raid to Save Mussolini
Greg Annussek
Da Capo Press/Perseus
11 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142
0306813963 $26.00

Students of World War II who want in-depth presentations of history will find Greg Annussek's survey quite specific in HITLER'S RAID TO SAVE MUSSOLINI: THE MOST INFAMOUS COMMANDO OPERATION OF WORLD WAR II. The search and rescue mission named Operation Oak which took place on September 12th rescued Mussolini from imprisonment and cemented the friendship between Hitler and Mussolini. Primary source documents are used - Mussolini's memoirs, diaries of key figures close to him, and testimony from his guards - recreate the event in vivid color.

Deep Water
Jacques Leslie
Farrar Straus Giroux
19 Union Square West, New York, NY 10003
0374281726 $25.00

There are an astonishing 45,000 large dams around the world which have changed not just their surrounding landscapes, but how people live - and correspondent Jacques Leslie provides a dramatic account of these dams and their pros and cons in DEEP WATER: THE EPIC STRUGGLE OVER DAMS, DISPLACED PEOPLE, AND THE ENVIRONMENT. Chapters consider the forces of globalization, human needs for water, the experiences of activists around the world who are working to against giant dams, and more. The portraits of these individuals each tell a story not just of one struggle but of environmental issues and trends the world over.

Thomas Paine and The Promise of America
Harvey J. Kaye
Hill & Wang/Farrar Straus Giroux, dist.
19 Union Square West, NY NY 10003
080908970X $25.00

Thomas Paine is associated with the revolutionary spirit that founded America: in reality he turned Americans into radicals and our democracy has remained revolutionary in tone and content ever since. Author Harvey J. Kaye is a professor of Social Change and Development and here provides a moving history/biography which focuses on the political and social influence of Paine, which continues to this day. Unlike other surveys of Paine, THOMAS PAINE AND THE PROMISE OF AMERICA takes his ideas and philosophy and follows them to modern times, achieving a fine history of their social impact and changes.

Life with Birds
Rob Hume
David & Charles
c/o F&W Publications
4700 E. Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236
0715321811 $29.99 1-800-726-9966

Any with an affection for bird life will find LIFE WITH BIRDS: REFLECTIONS OF A NATURALIST offers plenty of appreciative insights of feathered friends, and comes from the Editor of Birds Magazine in England. Admittedly this observational natural history is mostly about English bird life - but it's beautifully descriptive, covers some of the issues surrounding bird and environmental preservation, and will appeal to any who enjoy birding.

The Edifice Complex
Deyan Sudjic
Penguin Press
375 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10014-3657
1594200688 $27.95

How do the rich and powerful shape the rest of the world? They do so partially through massive building and rebuilding projects, and here Deyan Sudjic, one of the world's best architecture critics, uses buildings to consider their representation of wealth and prestige. To place THE EDIFICE COMPLEX under architecture or art alone would not give it due credit for its fine political and social insights: Sudjic's extensive probe of the leaders who tried to manipulate the landscape to shape public opinion and perception blends architectural with social legacy.

Greenwood Publishing Group
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881

Rachel White Scheuering's SHAPERS OF THE GREAT DEBATE ON CONSERVATION (0313328269) deserves mention for its importance not only to students of general biography, but to students of science and conservation. Through biographical examination of some of the key figures in the debate on conservation articles and essays explore the evolution and history of the conservation movement, its social and political impact, and how individuals contributed to lasting definitions of conservation concerns. Extensive notes and bibliographic references make SHAPERS OF THEGREAT DEBATE ON CONSERVATION a very useful reference. Wendy Sherman and Trish Yourst Koontz's SCIENCE AND SOCIETY IN THE 20TH CENTURY (0313322147, $55.00) details the importance of worldly forces on the evolution of science and science issues. A decade organization allows for a smooth timeline of events charting how evolving social, cultural and political events of the last 100 years have been affected by changing theories and realities in all the sciences. Photos, illustrations, and excellent bibliographic reference for further reading conclude an essential student's reference.

Diane C. Donovan
West Coast Editor

Harold's Bookshelf

eDirectory Field Guide
Rick Killpack
2560 Ninth Street, Suite 219 Berkeley, CA 94710
ISBN: 159059553X, $34.99, 283 plus index

This is one of those books that is so packed with technical details you are not likely to find anywhere else that listing them would turn this review a booklet in itself. I have always liked Novell's Directory and found it the best to work with from its inception to the latest incarnation. That being said there were still a lot of tips in the second and third parts of this book that resolve issues that took a long time for me to resolve on my own. Whether you are installing eDirectory on a Novell system or Linux you will find everything you need to resolve installation issues and keep it in top working order in this book. The author chooses not to repeat the installation and administration information provided in Novell's documentation but instead has produced the best supplemental book available today. If you have an eDirectory issue you will find this is the book you turn to again and again to resolve it. Everyone working with eDirectory should have the eDirectory Field Guide in the server room for quick and easy access.

Beginning Perl Web Development
Steve Suehring
2560 Ninth Street, Suite 219 Berkeley, CA 94710
ISBN: 1590595319, $39.99, 281 plus appendix and index

The focus of this book is on interacting with the Internet using Perl. It assumes some very basic knowledge of programming such as the concepts of scalar variables, arrays, if/then/else, and similar items. If you are not familiar with these items in a Perl environment then it is still all covered pretty well in the Appendix. The first section of the book contains information on working with CGI modules, databases, and interacting with the operating system for directory information, file uploads, etc. The second section discusses working with the LWP and Net::Tools. The LWP is the Library of WWW modules in Perl. This collection of modules allows you to write Perl programs that include the most common web tasks built in including retrieving web pages and submitting web-based forms. While the LWP supports various web protocols including HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, and NNTP the book concentrates primarily on using the LWP with HTTP and HTTPS. The NET::Tools primarily look at working with POP3 and SMTP services. The third section of the book is about using Perl with XML, SOAP, and RSS. The following section focuses on using mod_perl to enhance performance. As a module embedded in the Apache server this allows Perl to execute faster and allows the Perl programs to access the Apache request object. The fifth and final section focuses on working with templates, and building perl based web sites with Mason. Mason is used to insert Perl code directly into an HTML page. This in turn allows for a dynamic web site with elements common to all pages but still allowing some changes based on the page being accessed. Beginning Perl Web Development is highly recommended to anyone who wants to use Perl for added functionality with your web site or to allow interaction with other web sites.

The Definitive Guide to MySQL 5, 3e
Michael Kofler
2560 Ninth Street, Suite 219 Berkeley, CA 94710
ISBN: 1590595351, $49.99, 720 plus appendixes and index

This newest iteration of the the classic Definitive Guide to MySQL 5 is another excellent choice as both a textbook to learn the program and a resource when you have questions. As with prior versions the book is well organized and presented in a logical format. It starts with some very basic information on databases and what they are and are not (an easy chapter to skip if you have worked with databases much at all). But, if you skipped the first chapter you will not want to skip chapter two. Here author Michael Kofler discusses the installation of MySQL, Apache, Php, and Perl on Windows and the Red Hat and SUSE versions of Linux (although it is sufficient information to install under almost any version of Linux). After covering the installation he moves on to discussing the basics of configuring each of the packages. Then when it is all installed and configured he moves on to examining administrative tools and user interfaces. In this section of the book he not only discusses administering MySQL and php but also working with ODBC connections, Microsoft Access, Excel, OpenOffice and StarOffice. Using each of these he clearly shows how to interface the programs with MySQL.

In the following section the author presents an excellent discussion of databases design. This is the information that is missing in so many other MySQL books. How do you design a good database that is easy to maintain and operates efficiently and reliably if you don't know the underlying concepts of database design? With rules for good design, naming tips, data relations concepts, using keys, indexes, views and how all these work with each other this is an important foundation not to be missed. After discussing the design the book then moves to an introduction to SQL with an examination of queries, sorting, selecting, joining, and altering table information. Another chapter that is missing in most other books is the chapter on SQL recipes. That is what makes this book one of those that you want to keep easily accessible even after reading the text. The remainder of this section looks at GIS functions, stored procedures, triggers, administration and configuration. The fourth section of the book illustrates how to use various programming languages to do what you want with the MySQL database. The programming languages examined include PHP, Perl, Java, C, Visual Basic, Visual Basic .NET, and C#.

For the experienced database administrator or programmer the last section will be their favorite. This is a detailed SQL reference complete with information on syntax, operators, variables, data types, commands, functions, and language elements for stored procedures and triggers. The last two chapters include information on MySQL tools and options and an API reference. If you are only going to purchase one book on MySQL and want it to be the most useful one available in terms of both breadth and depth of knowledge then this is one of the books that should be in your short list of possibilities. The Definitive Guide to MySQL 5, third edition is a very highly recommended purchase.

Beginning Python: From Novice to Professional
Magnus Lie Hetland
2560 Ninth Street, Suite 219 Berkeley, CA 94710
ISBN: 159059519X, $44.99, 546 plus appendixes and index

A new title in a continuing "From Novice to Professional" series, this is another top quality product. For the person completely new to Python it starts from the very beginning with installation and basic variable constructs. If you are an intermediate level programmer then you will still find a lot of very well explained concepts with illustrations, examples, sidebars, and other helpful information. Just as promised in the title you can move all the way from complete novice to a professional level competence if you work through the book systematically. You won't necessarily be an expert but you will be competent and that is about all you can ask for from a text of this type. You will learn how to do things from the very basics of variables and flow control through graphical interfaces, database interfaces, network programming, and packaging the programs you write. The final ten chapters are example projects where you are walked through the project from beginning to end. During the process you use all of the stuff you learned and end up with a useful product. Appendix B is a very nice quick reference to Python commands, operators, functions, methods, statements, and just about everything else you might want need to look up in a pinch. Beginning Python: From Novice to Professional is highly recommended if you are new to Python, are an intermediate level user, or have never really had a course in Python but have learned it as needed for a particular project.

PHP 5 Recipes
Lee Babin, Nathan Good, Frank Kromann, Jon Stephens
2560 Ninth Street, Suite 219 Berkeley, CA 94710
ISBN: 1590595092, $44.99, 629 pp.

I have to admit that I really enjoy having a good recipe style book in my library whenever possible and this is a good PHP 5 recipe book. The advantage of these books is simple. You find the problem you need resolved and you follow the recipe to resolve it. This problem-solution approach is very efficient and just what you need when you just want a quick answer. With over 200 recipes it focuses on new features of PHP 5 and taking advantage of the most popular PHP extensions. Some of the areas covered include arrays, dates and times, strings, files, regular expressions, web basics, forms, markup, and MySQL. For each area the authors include various problems that are commonly encountered or that can be resolved more efficiently with the new features, the code snippet to resolve the problem, and then an in depth analysis of the code and how it works. For the PHP 5 programmer this is a valuable reference that they will be sure to be reach for often when dealing with new programming challenges. PHP 5 Recipes is highly recommended.

Will Your Next Mistake Be Fatal?
Robert E. Mittelstaedt, Jr.
Wharton School Publishing
Pearson Education, Inc.
One Lake Street Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 0131913646, $25.95, 287 pp.

When a business fails, a plane crashes, or some other catastrophic event occurs it is rarely the result of a single mistake. Instead it is the result of a chain of mistakes each of which just compounds the prior ones until the final catastrophe. In this book the author examines how these chains of events start and how the culture, habits, assumptions, and other factors combine to move it to its final conclusion. Mr. Mittelstaedt examines several specific catastrophic events and from each one draws insights that can be used for better management and to prevent falling into a similar chain of events. Specific situations examined include Coca-Cola's formula change, American Express's Optima card, Webvan, Intel, Tylenol, Kodak, Xerox, Three Mile Island, Firestone, Enron, and problems of the small business. After a thorough examination of these specific incidents the last chapter brings it all into focus by pointing out how to apply everything learned in the prior chapters. Probably the most important contribution of the book is in teaching how to evaluate and believe the early warnings and how to detect dangerous patterns and strategic blunders. An entertaining read that is insightful and critically important for business owners to understand, Will Your Next Mistake Be Fatal? is highly recommended.

Finding Fertile Ground
Dr. Scott A. Shane
Wharton School Publishing
Pearson Education, Inc.
One Lake Street Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 0131423983, $27.95, 204 plus notes and index

The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in America. This is true even while forty percent of new businesses close in under a year and only twenty five percent make it to their eighth year. What determines which ones will be successful? While it is partly management skill and other business acumen it also depends in great part on picking the right venture. The purpose of this book is to help the reader find the right venture in the technology arena. Throughout the book there are many instances of excellent advice condensed to only a few sentences in sidebars. The focus is on finding the right business instead of how to manage it or how to start it or similar information typically found in such books. The author's point is well made when he states that reality dictates that a biotechnology firm simply has a better chance of success than a restaurant. But even within the technology arena many other factors must be considered including mature industries, competition, concentration of large companies, and others. This is truly a book about how to find and how to evaluate a potential opportunity in the technology field. For those looking to start a venture in the technology arena Finding Fertile Ground is required reading.

The 86% Solution
Vijay Mahajan, Kamini Banga
Wharton School Publishing
Pearson Education, Inc.
One Lake Street Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 0131489070, $26.99, 215 plus index

Most companies focus on selling to the developed nations and overlook the eighty six percent of the world's population that live in the undeveloped ones. Part of the problem is the different rules when dealing with local cultures and governments but there are also multiple challenges related to a lack of media outlets for advertising, a lack of transportation to move goods, and the lack of a skilled or educated labor force. The authors of this book walk take the reader through these challenges and show how they can also be opportunities if you understand how to take advantage of them. The authors make a very compelling argument that this is really a drastically under-served market with billions of dollars available. Add to this the fact that so many companies are shifting jobs to these nations and you soon see that the old demographics are changing and many people are moving up to middle class status with extra money available for discretionary spending. If you can design or alter your product to appeal to the local culture then you can tap into this market. The book is filled with lots of examples of how various companies have been able to take advantage of these markets and specific strategies that can be used by anyone. The 86% Solution is highly recommended for anyone or any company looking to penetrate this surprisingly lucrative area.

Best Damn Firewall Book Period
Robert Shimonski, Debra Littlejohn Shinder, Thomas W. Shinder
Syngress Publishing, Inc.
800 Hingham Street Rockland, MA 02370
ISBN: 1931836906, $59.95, 1267 plus index

While the title says firewall this book does not stop there but also includes an examination of intrusion detection systems. The authors provide very detailed information on specific systems and software such as Check Point NG VPN-1/Firewall, ISA Server, Cisco PIX Firewall, Nokia IP Series Appliances, Linux Firewall, Solaris Secure Router, and Snort. The section on troubleshooting common problems, disaster recovery and system monitoring is excellent and anyone who has spent hours trying to run down some minor problem will tell you it is worth the price of the book just for that piece alone. The book starts with a very good introductory section on information security in general and the history of it as well as the different types of firewalls, attacks, security policies, etc. They then move to firewall concepts, DMZ concepts, layout and design

The Intrusion Detection System part of the book looks at the various network, host-based, and distributed systems and the strengths and weaknesses of each. Although the authors cover many different tools and techniques they really shine in their detailed treatment of ipchains and iptables, as well as the use of utilities like netcat and SendIP

The book is organized into six sections with the first section providing theoretical and general knowledge about firewalls, intrusion detection and security. The second part examines Solaris and Linus Firewalls in detail and the third part looks at PIX Firewalls and the command line interface. The fourth section details the Check Point NG and Nokia IP Series Appliances. The fifth is ISA Server and section six deals with intrusion detection with Snort and its use in combination with a firewall.

This book is designed for the network administrator who needs to implement and oversee a security system and needs to know how to determine the best methods for their network and how to implement them. If you want a single volume that covers firewalls and IDS systems in detail there is no other single reference that even comes close to this one. Best Damn Firewall Book Period is highly recommended and the best single volume firewall book I've seen.

Open Source for Windows Administrators
Christian Gross
Charles River Media, Inc.
10 Downer Avenue Hingham, MA 02043
ISBN: 1584503475, $49.95, 654 plus multiple appendixes and index

When you hear the term Open Source many people think only of Linux and Linux based programs. While Linux is Open Source software there is plenty of Open Source software available for Windows too. Some of the programs and tools discussed in this book include the following: Cygwin, which allows the use of the bash shell and related powerful scripting language inside Windows, Python and its use as a scripting language, WinPT, the Windows Privacy Tools, OpenPGP Public Key Server, OpenVPN, a virtual private network server and client, XYNTService which allows running console scripts as a service, OpenLDAP, a LDAP server, SAMBA file and print server that shares between Windows and Linux and can act as a Domain Controller, MySQL SQL server, Apache web server, Xmail server, and OpenOffice, an office productivity suite. For each of the packages it includes installation instructions, configuration, and basis instructions on how to use it as well as where to go for additional documentation. These are all very useful programs that can make your Windows administration easier and more efficient. Open Source for Windows Administrators is highly recommended.

Computer Evidence Collection and Preservation
Christopher L. T. Brown
Charles River Media, Inc.
10 Downer Avenue Hingham, MA 02043
ISBN: 1584504056, $49.95, 330 plus appendixes and index

It seems that a lot of books on forensics concentrate on making a disk image of the hard drive being examined, filtering the information on the disk, and presenting it in proper format for court use. However, collecting and preserving the evidence is much more than imaging the hard disk. If the computer is still on then evidence may be in memory, potential evidence may be on routers, proxy servers, etc. This book details this part of forensic evidence gathering, an area often just skimmed over in other computer forensics texts. This is a critical aspect of investigation because it does not matter how well your filtering works and how much evidence you obtain if your data preservation was not done correctly and the evidence is inadmissible in court.

Evidence dynamics is covered in detail and the author does a better job of this than any other forensics book I have read. Evidence dynamics is how to keep the evidence from disappearing or changing. Just the act of shutting down a computer changes temporary files, open processes, swap file information, and many other items that may be necessary for a thorough investigation. Even the appendixes are valuable and contain several excellent sample forms including chain of custody, evidence collection, and evidence access worksheets. If you are involved in either the collection or the maintenance of data for a potential court case then you will be interested in this book. Alternatively, if you are trying to discredit an expert witness then the information presented here may also provide areas of attack. Either way Computer Evidence Collection and Preservation is highly recommended.

Enterprise Web Services Security
Rickland Hollar, Richard Murphy
Charles River Media, Inc.
10 Downer Avenue Hingham, MA 02043
ISBN: 1584504137, $49.95, 382 plus appendixes and index

The whole point of a web service is to make your information, application, or service available to others. Of course this convenience comes at a cost - you also open your system to various security risks. This book examines the exposure, risks, and ways to mitigate those risks while still providing the services you need. In addition to the risks associated with web services the authors also examine the goals of good security, and the infrastructure of the Internet, After laying this ground work they provide an excellent discussion of policies, encryptions, trust relationships, auditing, and everything you need to help secure your web services. Chapter 15 then provides an excellent section on bringing all the information together by setting up a virtual trust domain to secure your web services. The book even includes a prototype security policy document in Appendix A which forms an excellent framework for developing your own. Enterprise Web Services Security is a recommended read.

Chronological and Background Charts of Church History
Robert C. Walton
Zondervan Publishing
5300 Patterson SE Grand Rapids, MI 49530
ISBN: 0310258138, $22.99, 191 plus index

Nothing really beats a good chart that can lay out similarities and differences when you are studying historical events, theological tenants or similar items. Likewise charts are excellent for illustrating a time line or listings or items. This book excels in putting together teaching charts of all sorts of information in a form where it is easy to understand. Examples of the types of charts included in this text include a Timeline of Church History, The Divine Sovereignty and Free Will debate through the centuries, Branches of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Early Symbols of Christianity, Apostolic Fathers and Early Writings, Development of the New Testament Canon, Ante-Nicene Heresies, Ancient Church Heresies, Women in the Ancient Church, The Crusades, Major Monastic Orders, Protestant Creeds of the Reformation Era, European Revivals, Major Indigenous Christian Religious Movements in Africa, Translations of the Bible into English, Religion in the Thirteen Colonies, Denominational Schisms over Slavery, Black Denominations in the United States, and Family Trees of the major American Christian groups. These are only a few of the 126 charts presented in this book. An excellent choice for studying church history, Chronological and Background Charts of Church History is highly recommended.

Small Websites, Great Results
Doug Addison
Paraglyph Press
4015 N. 78th Street, #115 Scottsdale, AZ 85251
ISBN: 1932111905, $29.99, 266 pp.

There may be no shortage of websites these days but there sure is a shortage of ones that are well designed and easy to navigate. Unfortunately, even most of the large websites are overly crowded, hard to figure out how to do things, and absolutely awful in terms of user friendliness. Author Doug Addison does an excellent job of discussing problems with websites and how to design ones that are user friendly and a joy to use. With an obvious flair for the artistic this book really shows some excellently designed web sites. This book is the answer to the plethora of websites that tend more to be an exercise in frustration than anything else. The focus is on creating a user experience that is positive and encourages the user to visit again. For a truly great website that produces the results you want you have to have the right focus for your website, the right design, and the right navigation format to produce a positive customer experience. Doug Addison not only helps you do this but also includes many tips and techniques for content and functionality that users love and as a result turn your visitors into customers. Personally, I've been to sites where I could not figure out how to complete a purchase so I went to a competitor. You don't want this happening to your website. This is one of the best books on website design I've read and the advice really hits the spot for frustrations and problems I have experienced. Bravo, Doug Addison, now if we could just get those technical people and website designers to read Small Websites, Great Results then we would all be happier.

Degunking Windows, Second Edition
Joli Ballew, Jeff Duntemann
Paraglyph Press
4015 N. 78th Street, #115 Scottsdale, AZ 85251
ISBN: 1933097078, $24.99, 341 plus multiple appendixes and index

If you work with Windows you can rest assured that at some point, generally much sooner than you suspect, the system will be all gunked up with assorted items that slow down, corrupt or otherwise interfere with your use of the system. While the computer technician can generally resolve these problems for a fee there are a lot of actions the average user can take to clean things up on a regular basis and keep their computer performing at an acceptable level. For those average to above average users who want to try keeping their system running better on their own this is a book that will lead you through the process. If you only have a few minutes to maintain your system then there are steps that only take a few minutes, but if you have several hours to work on it there is a more advanced cleanup program you can use. Inside the book you will find a ten-minute program, thirty-minute program, one-hour, three-hour, and half-day programs each of which take you one level deeper into the process for a more thorough cleaning of your system. Degunking Windows is a regular requirement for anyone working with the operating system, Degunking Windows, Second Edition provides you with the tools to do it yourself and is recommended for all Windows users.

Becoming Ann: A Baltimore Childhood
Ann Hennessy
American Literary Press
8019 Belair Road, Suite 10 Baltimore, MD 21236
ISBN: 1561679038, $14.95, 168 pp.

This is a basic biography of the author, Ann Hennessy. Of course as with all biographies of people who are not famous outside their immediate area the question comes up as to why someone should read it. Ann Hennessy does an excellent job of not only telling her childhood story but vividly portraying the time period and quirks of living in the Baltimore area in the 1930's through the 1950's. Her writing style effectively draws the reader into her life as a friend and clearly shows what it was like to be a child in this time period and place. Becoming Ann is a recommended read for anyone interested in the general social environment of the time.

The First and Last Bell
Jeanette Steele McCall
American Literary Press
8019 Belair Road, Suite 10 Baltimore, MD 21236
ISBN: 1561679097, $14.95, 117 pp.

In Wilcox County, Alabama several mission schools were started by the Freedmen's Board of the United Presbyterian Church of North America. This is a collection of the stories of six of those schools. It includes lots of pictures, copies of documents, and descriptions of the schools, student population, activities and leadership. Written in a typical historical document style, The First and Last Bell will appeal strongly to those who are interested in the history of Wilcox County, the United Presbyterian Church, or black history.

The Consumer's Practical Guide to Funerals, Burials & Cremations
Scott D. Emmert
American Literary Press
8019 Belair Road, Suite 10 Baltimore, MD 21236
ISBN: 156167897X, $24.95, 502 pp.

As the old saying goes there are only two things for certain in life - death and taxes. Sooner or later we all die but unfortunately when we do we often leave behind people who either have no idea how we wanted our remains taken care of or suddenly have to deal with the myriad of decisions necessary for the final arrangements. As the surviving spouse, children, parents, etc. it is not a good time to have to be making those decisions. If, on the other hand, you decide to preplan your arrangements you will find no better book than this one. I was amazed at the detail of knowledge presented as well as the breadth of areas covered. The author includes information on typical costs, different kinds of caskets with advantages and disadvantages of each, cemetery vs. memorial park, etiquette, planning, permits, cash advances, and everything else you might need to know. He even covers additional items typically found at services for different religious beliefs or service organization memberships as well as what to expect at services for various religious affiliations. The book concludes with a personal planning guide that includes all the questions that should be answered before you die so anyone left behind will know exactly what to do and is not burdened by the additional stress of making these decisions. The Consumer's Practical Guide to Funerals, Burials & Cremations is very highly recommended and one of the best things you can do for a loved one.

Dog Tags of Courage
John C. Burnam
Lost Coast Press
155 Cypress Street Fort Bragg, CA 95437
ISBN: 1882897889, $29.95, 338 pp.

War dogs have been used in military actions for many years. This is the story of author John C. Burnam's experiences as a dog handler in Vietnam. These dogs saved countless lives as their keen senses of hearing and smell alerted their handler to danger long before the handler would have become aware of it. And, of course, many of the dogs also lost their lives in the line of duty. This is a very personal look at the special relationship between dog and handler and the brotherhood of all those who were dog handlers in a military action. Filled with pictures taken during the Vietnam action, it includes the sad story of the abandonment of thousands of dogs at the end of the war. For anyone who has an interest in the ways dogs have helped military actions, the bond between handlers and dogs, the courage and dedication of war dogs, or just the recent history of war dogs Dog Tags of Courage is a recommended read.

Advanced Perl Programming, 2e
Simon Cozens
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastopol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596004567, $39.95, 270 pp.

If you liked the first edition of Advanced Perl Programming you are sure to really like this updated version. For those of you who did not read the earlier edition you missed an excellent book that is now even better. The author provides thorough coverage of some of the most common Perl programming techniques that are beyond the scope of most beginning books. Some of the areas examined include the Class Model, Parsing, Templating, Objects, Databases, Applications, using Natural Language Tools, programming in an event-driven environment, testing, using inline extensions, and even a section on having fun with Perl. With plenty of case studies and programming examples it is easy to follow along and understand the concepts. The section on parsing is one of the best I have seen anywhere. Likewise the section on templating is excellent and introduces the reader to items like HTML:Mason. Each of these sections provides excellent coverage and clear guidance on additional modules you may want to install to get the results you want. Advanced Perl Programming, Second Edition is highly recommended to all Perl programmers.

Web Site Measurement Hacks
Eric T. Peterson
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastapol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596009887, $24.95, 389 pp.

Web sites can be a wonderful thing but it can be hard to determine what to do to make your site better if you have no idea what is happening to visitors. The earliest forms of web site measurement were pretty rudimentary and included things like site hits, pages retrieved, and time spent on the site. These days a lot more information can be gleaned from each visitor and can be used to make your site a better experience for them. In his new book Web Site Measurement Hacks author Eric Peterson details several of these measurement techniques and the information they provide. For example, how do you determine if your web site is user friendly? How do you determine the effect of banner ads, off-line ads, links on other sites, or other marketing techniques? These ares are covered as well as many others. The final chapter details reporting strategies and performance indicators and what to do with them. If you have a web site that you want to make better and want to improve your online sales then you will want to pick up a copy of Web Site Measurement Hacks.

PC Pest Control
Preston Gralla
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastapol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596009267, $24.95, 237 plus appendix and index

If there is one thing that is truly pandemic within the PC computer environment it is the various forms of pests. Whether it is SPAM, viruses, worms, pop-ups, page hijacking, adware, spyware, cookies, malicious scripts, phishing, or any number of other problems the one thing for certain is that it is all out there waiting to take advantage of you. This book examines these and other pests and provides both an excellent explanation of what they are and how they work as well as steps to be taken to try to avoid them. The author actually does an excellent job of explaining the various threats, common signs of infection, and how to remove them. He even includes a list of common file names used by pests. While this is all good information for the person who wants a basic understanding of what is going on and how it is accomplished it does not deal with some of the truly malicious pests that even pest removal software does not remove. For example, there are some now that cannot be removed even by entering the registry in safe mode and trying to remove the key. I've had some where I've had to boot to Linux, mount the drive, remove the key and then boot back into Windows. These particularly tenacious ones are not covered in this text and as such it cannot be recommended for the true computer geek who does this for a living or as a computer network administrator. On the other hand, it is perfectly suited for the home user who has some of the common problems and wants to both fix them and do all they can to prevent being reinfected. It contains one of the better discussions of pests for the average user that I have come across. The book is written for the average reader and contains no real technical terms. PC Pest Control is highly recommended for the average user who wants to become informed about PC Pests or who wants to resolve some of the more common problems.

The Pocket Book of Patriotism
Jonathan Foreman
Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
387 Park Avenue South New York, NY 10016
ISBN: 1402729901, $10.00, 96 pp.

This book is a breath of fresh air in a time when it seems everyone is publishing a book on patriotism that is actually just a thinly disguised xenophobic and often inaccurate portrayal of history cleaned of all errors and restated in a way so as to present their views of how American history should have been. Author Jonathan Foreman instead presents a timeline of American and world history without commentary except for the occasional insertion of quotes from people of that time period. In Part two there are several pieces excerpted from the writings of various historical figures and related to patriotism, thoughts of the founding fathers, songs, flag etiquette, etc. This is the basics of American civics that are no longer taught in many schools. A true introduction to patriotism in its finest form instead of the blind nationalism often seen today, The Pocket Book of Patriotism is highly recommended.

The Space Tourist's Handbook
Eric Anderson
Quirk Books
215 Church Street Philadelphia, PA 19105
ISBN: 1594740666, $15.95, 186 pp.

In one of the most unique formats for such a book, the author has produced a highly educational and yet entertaining book on space travel. Written in a tourist handbook style, it starts with a series of vacation postcard style pictures including space pictures, vehicles, and training. From there you turn to the various potential space destinations. This section includes Spaceports you might leave from and destinations you might go to such as a space station or the moon. Now that you have picked your destination you have to choose how to get there. The next section of the book covers space vehicles and systems you might use, what to do when you get there and the approximate price. This section includes information on zero-gravity flights, sub-orbital flights, space shuttle flights, Soyuz flights, and even trans-lunar cruises. For each of them it shows the approximate cost range, training time, and mission time. Of course it includes a section on space flight training including the various exams you will have to pass, equipment training, physical training, etc. Typical of most foreign tourism books it even includes a section on space travel dos and don'ts, personal items to bring along, and even how to approach and dock with a space station. The section on life on the spacecraft includes how to do the common tasks you take for granted here on earth including how to sleep in zero gravity, how to spacewalk, eating, drinking, bathing, and even using the toilet. And, when you are done with the trip the tourist handbook ends with a section on the voyage home. This section includes information on things like reentry and landing. An innovative way to learn about the space industry and what an astronaut goes through, or what you will go through to become a space tourist, this is brilliantly done and a fascinating read. Scattered throughout the book are some tongue-in-cheek comments that just make it all the more entertaining. The Space Tourist's Handbook is highly entertaining and educational and as such a highly recommended read.

Timeless Toys
Tim Walsh
Andrews McMeel Publishing
4520 Main Street Kansas City, MO 64111
ISBN: 0740755714, $29.95, 275 pp.

A book for everyone to enjoy, Timeless Toys is a pleasure to read through. The author details the development of classic toys from the 1900s through the 1990s. For each toy the author includes who created it, when it debuted, the various companies that produced it, changes in design, the trials the inventor went through getting it to market, how the toy changed over time, and a lot of other fascinating facts. Some of the toys detailed in the book include Lionel Trains, the Teddy Bear, Erector set, Radio Flyer wagon, Monopoly, Slinky, Clue, Silly Putty, Frisbee, Hula Hoop, Super Ball, Lite-Brite, Etch A Sketch, Lego, Uno, Rubik's Cube, Trivial Pursuit, and Super Soaker. What a great way to bring an older generation and younger generation together through the classic toys common to both and an ability to share toys of the past with children of today. A thoroughly enjoyable read complete with many photographs and illustrations, Timeless Toys is highly recommended for the child in all of us.

Harold McFarland
Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

Pretty Pretty
K.C. Oliver
Echelon Press
ISBN: 1590802533, $8.99, 160 pp.

Eighteen years old mainlanders Quinn Hunter and Holly Gates arrive in Hawaii where the two friends will work for the summer at Barrington House. However, even before arriving at their workplace, the taxi driver acts strangely towards them and drops them off at the exit from the highway as he refuses to enter the hotel's driveway. The two teens meet their employer Edward Barrington and his weird sister Edith. They quickly find out why the natives avoid this place as the hotel is haunted and not just by Edith or Buttons the crazy cat. With the help of a guest Jackson "Jax" Caine, whose parents are also here, Quinn and Holly investigate what happened to cause a ghost to haunt the hotel. Another guest Jack Trainer also assists. However, someone wants the four sleuths to quit and is willing to turn them into spirits haunting Barrington House. PRETTY PRETTY is a terrific young adult paranormal mystery starring three likable teenagers struggling to solve the haunting while just trying to stay alive. The key to K.C. Oliver's fabulous story line is that the audience is never sure until the end as to whether the Barrington siblings, some other mortal, or a ghost is behind the danger. Readers will treasure this fine thriller and look forward to more investigations into the unexplained by the likable protagonists.

Cynthia's Attic
Mary Cunningham
ISBN: 1590804414, $9.99, 160 pp.

In 1964 Cynthia and Augusta are best friends though they are total opposites. Whereas Cynthia hates to break a nail Gus is a tomboy willing to slide in third base head first. School is out for summer so the pals wonder how to spend all their free time besides irritating Cynthia's older sister Danielle. They decide to check out CYNTHIA'S ATTIC before her parents clean it out as the adults plan on doing shortly. In the attic they find an old rusted scratched up trunk containing stuff from Cynthia's grandmother Clara. Not long afterward, Cynthia and Gus return to the attic, but the trunk looks brand new with no rust, dust or nicks and everything inside seems pristine; additionally Cynthia and all her items and that of her immediate family have vanished. A tall woman calls Gus, Bess and asks where Clara is; recognizing the woman from an old photo as Cynthia's great-grandmother, Gus realizes she and Cynthia are in the bodies of Bess and Clara in 1914. The adventures are just beginning for what will be the most exciting summer of their lives as they search for a missing locket that once belonged to great-great Aunt Isabelle, who disappeared on an ocean voyage to New York. This is a fantastic time travel fantasy that middle school children will treasure. The escapades of Gus and Cynthia grip the audience as the two friends adapt to their situation with humor and trepidation, but always with fun while trying to solve an "ancient" mystery that occurred before their parents were born. Readers will appreciate time traveling with this dynamic duo starting in CYNTHIA'S ATTIC and continuing in the past on the high seas.

Slow Motion
Wayne Jordan and Devon Vaughn Archer
ISBN: 1583146164, $15.00

"Capture the Sunrise" by Wayne Jordan. Patrick allowed his brother Taureen, who carries seven years of emotional baggage, to use his home on Barbados. However, Patrick's wife Paula told Alana to use the place with her young daughter Melissa. The two females obviously fear seeing a big man in the house as neither trusts males thanks to the abuse of Blake, Alana's husband and Melissa's dad. As Taureen falls in love with both females, Blake comes to enforce their wedding vows. "Dark and Dashing" by In Oak Cliffs, Oregon, very tall hotel owner Conneca attends the celebrity auction to raise funds to battle child illiteracy. The bidding on a handsome hunk reaches $5K when Conneca scratches her cheek and wins the prize, a night with Maurice. Surprising both of them, Conneca and Maurice are attracted to one another, but she has doubts about his faithfulness as he collaborates on a book with his ex-wife Alexis while staying at her hotel. Both of these tales are well-written and star terrific lead couples and a fully developed support cast (including the deranged Blake). Fans of contemporary romance starring real people will want to read these two novellas as SLOW MOTION is a sure bet to entertain the audience.

Whispers Between the Sheets
Victor McGlothin, Earl Sewell, & Philip Thomas Duck
ISBN: 1583146431, $14.00

"A Player's Paradise" by Victor McGlothin. Anything that Kenton, chief of the Marketing and Sales Division of Dream Creams, touches goes golden whether it is the business of business or the business of women. That is until he meets a bird in the hand that raises his mind and body to new levels. However now that he no longer wants to be a player, Delta considers not playing with him. "At Your Service" by Earl Sewell. Franklin feels beleaguered as his mom Lois and his live in girlfriend Cassandra argue until the latter leaves him when he "borrows" without asking $1000 to give to his mother. Cassandra apparently runs up his credit cards leaving him with enormous debt that could destroy his hopes of becoming a stockbroker. He decides no more Mr. compassionate nice guy that is until he meets Savannah. However, how will he react when Lois disses Savannah? "A Man and a Half" by Philip Thomas Duck. Standing by himself in front of the church after Sheila jilted him turns into an epiphany for Wesley as he decides to become a player. He tries but feels uncomfortable especially after playing brought Norah the stalker into his life. Instead he wants a woman who makes him feel like "A Man and a Half" to love for a lifetime commitment. Could his woman and a half be right in front of his face? These three authors can write! Each story provides a strong look at relationships from mostly the male perspective. The characters seem genuine and the situations they are in seem real, but so well written reader will want more from writers who impart passionate invigorating contemporary romances.

The Prey
Allison Brennan

ISBN: 0345480236, $6.99, 416 pp.

In Malibu former FBI agent turned mystery writer Rowan Smith finds the media camped outside her beach house. The reporters demand she explain why twenty years old Doreen Rodriguez was killed in Denver with the same name and much of the identical major events in their lives (and deaths) as a character in her book Crime of Opportunity. It has been four years since she left the Feds and it seems to have all come back in the guise of the Fiction Copycat killer. Denver Police Detective Ben Jackson and LAPD Jim Barlowe warn Rowan that she is the ultimate prey of the culprit. Siblings Michael and Teresa Smith arrive to protect Rowan, who insists she can take care of herself. When a funeral wreath from a "fan" is delivered in memoriam of Doreen, Rowan knows the killer will strike again; Teresa calls her other brother John on assignment out of the country that they need him with his Delta Force experience to be here. He returns to the States to keep Rowan safe as another victim from one of her novels dies. Though the suspense is high and the action fast-paced, the secondary cast makes believers of the audience that "reality" is imitating fiction in the guise of a sane serial killer plotting his (or her) murders to precise military precision. The besieged heroine always relied on the Glock she sleeps with to keep her safe, but begins to think she would not mind John keeping her bones warm at night. The final twists will shock readers as the killer circles closer to THE PREY with THE HUNT and THE KILL to follow.

The Dream Thief
Helen A. Rosburg
ISBN: 1932815201, $6.99

In Venice, young beautiful women are dying; three bodies found in a boat and two in the garden of their family estate. There is not a mark on them and the authorities are baffled to the cause of death. Pina, an aristocrat with a pure and innocent soul, is not troubled by these deaths because she was not close to any of the victims. That changes when the cousin she grew up with dies in a similar manner. Her fiancee Antonio, who she doesn't want to marry, persuades her mother to keep Pina locked in the villa. When they walk to church, Pina sees a handsome man who looks ill. He visits her in her dreams, sucking out the essence of her soul. When Pina's mother sees that she is wasting away like the other women who died, she heeds the advice of a wise man and gets her out of Venice to their summerhouse. Pina's mother tells the witch nearby what happened and she believes dark magic is involved. The man follows Pina and intends to draw out her soul so he can live but the witch stops him and makes him realize Pina is not like the others. She genuinely loves him and he remembers who he was before he became THE DREAM THIEF. Antonio is following the women intending to harm them because Pina's mother broke the betrothal but he is topped by a force more resolved than his purpose. Pina hopes she can cure THE DREAM THIEF and give him back his life. THE DREAM THIEF is a creatively original paranormal romance that demonstrates love is more powerful than evil. Antonio is a sadistic, debauched, sadist who hides his true colors to everyone but Pina who sees his true essence. Pina's mother finally puts her daughter first after a year of mourning her husband's death helps Pina fight THE DREAM THIEF. Helen A. Rosburg is not only a talented and uniquely original storyteller but creates characters that the audience intuitively understands.

Miracle in the Mist
Elizabeth Sinclair
ISBN: 1932815651, $6.99, 300 pp.

At St. Francis Hospital in NYC pediatric oncologist Dr. Steve Cameron usually buries his feelings towards his terminally ill young patients. However, thirteen years old Ellie Stanton has reached deeper than anyone has ever before her when she whispers Merry Christmas, gives him a present, and thanks him for giving her love. Suffering from battle fatigue syndrome Steve goes on hiatus seeking a miracle, but Ellie died anyway. Six years later in Central Park, Irma the bag lady tells Steve to go to a cabin in Hudson Highlands near Tarrytown, New York to find what he seeks as she insists she found her miracle there. One look at her and Steve figures what a poor miracle, but he needs to get away to ponder his future so this remote spot is as good as any. The cabin is a portal to Renaissance, a village where those with crushed souls mend. Steve meets Meghan Peece and they fall in love. However his juvenile patients need him; while she fears leaving her village because she will not remember her beloved once Renaissance vanishes into the mists during the Transition. Elizabeth Sinclair brings Brigadoon with a pinch of Shangri-La into the twenty-first century in an engaging romantic fantasy that has an underlying tone of sadness involving children with terminal illness. The story line focuses on how people cope with tragedy especially when bad things happen to good people. Readers will commiserate with Steve as he struggles to cope with seeing his charges die while Meghan has deep rooted fears of leaving beyond losing her memory of the village and her soulmate that will touch the audience. The support cast augments this fine tale that readers will appreciate.

St. Alban's Fire
Archer Mayor
ISBN: 0892968168, $24.95, 310 pp.

North of Barrington, Vermont, everyone who knows seventeen years old Bobby Cutts likes him as he is a thoughtful caring person. That is except his girlfriend man-eating tease Marianne Koch, who thinks the do-gooder is pathetic, enjoys seducing him into crazy desire for her, and wants to date other boys. Upset with Marianne's latest liplock with another male, Bobby enters the barn, which soon turns into an inferno in which for whatever reason he fails to escape. Bobby and a herd of cows die. Vermont Bureau of Investigation Agent Joe Gunther finds the case perplexing as there seems to be no motive.. No one seems to hate the victim or his family; in fact everyone speaks highly of the late teen. Yet, someone planned to kill Bobby. The clues lead Joe and his partner Willy Kunkle to Newark, New Jersey where the locals at first cooperate, but eventually tell the New Englanders to go home. Joe knows he has no authority in Jersey, but an arsonist must be stopped before someone else meets a fiery death. The sixteenth Vermont police procedural is a terrific refreshing thriller because the women involved either in the investigation (a Newark cop, the arsonist's girlfriend; and two disgruntled unhappy farm wives) and Joe's girlfriend are incredible characters. The case is complex with obvious motive unknown and the opportunity having to be someone who knew the victim yet no one disliked him. Fans will appreciate Joe's latest tale as nothing in his personal life or on the job seems to go right.

Cover Your Assets
Patricia Smiley
ISBN: 0892960191, $23.95

In Los Angeles, someone stabs film agent Evan Brice in the dump he rented for "work" gatherings. LAPD visits Tucker Sinclair as a love poem dedicated to the independent business consultant was found at the homicide locale. Tucker explains that she and Evan were college sweethearts until she found her paramour in bed with her best friend Cissy. Evan and Cissy eventually married, but apparently he still felt deeply for Tucker. Tucker visits her former pal to pay her respects. Cissy insists she did not kill her womanizing spouse though Detective Moses Green believes she is the only viable suspect, Unable to ignore her friend's plea, Tucker agrees to close the Venice Beach dump where the late agent held a rendezvous, but that leads her to following Evan's neighbor while ignoring her business (Sinclair and Associates), her family (mom the drama queen actress, mom's boyfriend and their Westie Muldoon), and warnings from Green's partner detective Joe Deegan, whom she needs as an escort. The key to this amateur sleuth mystery is the self deprecating heroine who as she advances into one escapade after another keeps asking herself why she is doing this stupid dangerous inquiry. The who-done-it is fun to follow as Tucker gets into trouble while browbeating herself and wondering how to persuade Deegan to accompany her to her sister's wedding. Thus Tucker with a strong eccentric support cast insures that smiling readers will appreciate COVER YOUR ASSETS and seek out Tucker's first business sleuthing adventure FALSE PROFITS.

Secrets 14
Angela Knight, Alexa Aames, Leigh Wynfield & Jennifer Barlowe
Red Sage
ISBN: 0975451642, $12.99

"Temptation in Time" by Alexa Aames. Ariana stuns Marcus the sorcerer when she boldly kisses him before vanishing. Shocked that her kiss stole more than just his magic, she took his soul, Marcus follows her through time to regain all he lost not yet realizing he gained much more than what he had. "Night Heat" by Leigh Wynfield. On Prison Planet Velopit research scientist Jemma knows time is running out for her as the disease grows stronger. Her only time to forget her troubles is when she makes love with Rip, her chosen one if she follows her amulet's emanations. "Ailis and the Beast" by Jennifer Barlowe. Her people chose Ailis as the sacrificial bride for the beast so a good harvest will be ensured. Ailis knows that if the beast rejects her she will die, but her biggest fear is after she meets the creature is that she is afraid she can fall in love with him. "Soul Kisses" by Angela Knight. Beth was fortunate to escape a vampire's bite several years ago, but the danger remains as her former boyfriend has turned and wants to sip her blood. Her only hope for survival resides with the mysterious Morgan, who she wants but fears as he contains some paranormal skills. These are four passionate paranormal erotic romances that show why reviewers like me are fans of the Secrets anthology.

A Midnight Miracle
Gary E. Parker
ISBN: 0800718593, $14.99

In Hilltop, North Carolina, the ladies of the Hilltop Community Church are raising funds to "Support Mickey's Miracle". Mickey is a child suffering from Myelodysplastic syndrome and desperately needs a bone marrow transplant to live; that costs money, but in spite of much of the town pitching in with cake sales and more, Christmas is coming with no hope for the youngster. Still thirty years old Jenna Newsome prays every spare moment. Rem Lincoln is returning to his hometown to spend three horrendous holiday days with his father Roscoe. Neither will broach the subject of his dad not living anymore since his beloved spouse died. When Rem and Jenna meet over cake, they both think back to high school where she was a pious student and he was a wild basketball player using his skills to gain a scholarship. They are attracted to one another, but he counts the minutes before retuning the big city while she keeps praying for that holiday miracle. Gary E. Parker provides his readers with a terrific inspirational tale that showcases it takes a caring village to raise a child especially when things are darkest. The story line focuses on relationships between townsfolk brought together over Mickey's illness, Rem and his dad, and especially he and Jenna. Always in the backdrop in cleverly subtle ways (rather than preaching in your face) are the efforts to provide Mickey with a miracle. That is what makes A MIDNIGHT MIRACLE a fabulous reading experience as the audience will wonder if Scrooge or Santa will come to town.

Remember Me
Rebecca Lickiss
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143137, $25.95, 245 pp.

Amelia wants her husband to get out of the business now that he is a father, but he refuses. Instead, Ageon performs a separation spell turning their fairy child into identical twins: one mortal and one fairy. Amelia takes the fairy infant Jared and moves to Wisconsin where she makes him behave as if he was human. Meanwhile his twin Zarrad is raised is raised by his father who wants him to wear fairy wigs and have pointed ears. Twenty four years later, Jared thinks his father and brother are dead. He is trying to reconcile with his human wife Mona whose sister the fairy Nona is dating the mortal Zarrad. When Mona and Jared go to Miami on a vacation where Zarrad and his father live, the brothers, not knowing of each other's existence, almost destroy their relationships with their women, who believe their significant others are crazy two timers. Taking a classic Abbott and Costello routine co-starring Martha Raye and by placing it inside a contemporary fantasy, it leads to one of the most humorous tales to come along in ages. Ageon, a fairy Mafioso type, doesn't ever realize that he is dealing with two completely different but identical twin offspring, one fairy and one human. The trouble that mistaken identities cause results in situations that will have readers in stitches. Rebecca Lickiss has written an enchanting A Comedy of Errors adult fairy tale.

Fields of Gold
Bridget Kraft
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143625, $26.95

In 1882 Spring Valley just north of San Francisco, Kellen O'Roarke has sold most of the townsfolk on his opening a hot springs spa nearby. However, farmer Guin Talbot balks at the idea. Without her land for egress, his venture would be in trouble. Guin grieves the recent loss of her parents and though she holds out from the pressure of the townsfolk and Kellen who has doubts that she can run the family farm. To her chagrin, she also finds herself falling in love with the smooth talking Kellen. He feels the same attraction though he prefers not to as he has no time for love. Kellen sees the sap as the culmination in a plan he has dreamed of since childhood to avenge wealthy Jonathan Clark for conning his father leading to his dad's suicide and his family becoming impoverished. This is a terrific late nineteenth century romance that provides the audience with a vivid wonderful look at rural Northern California during a boom period. The story line contains a fabulous conflict between the lead couple as he needs her land to finalize his vengeance while she feels she would betray the memories of her parents if she sold though she knows eventually she will probably have no choice. Though the ending is too simplistic of a solution because if that was possible it should have happened earlier, fans will enjoy this strong romantic historical because the lead couple has doubts about love especially with the other.

Murder on the Mind
L.L. Bartlett
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143587, $25.95

In Manhattan Jeff Resnick leaves a bar after winning some money playing pool. Outside, two teenage thugs demand he gives them his cash. He says he is out of work, but hands them what he has. They tell him it is not enough so they use a "Reggie" baseball bat to batter him. Jeff's half-brother Richard Alpert brings him to recuperate in the Buffalo area where he lives with his lover Brenda. As he heals Jeff suffers nightmares and visions that include seeing someone filleted. When Richard's banker Matt Sumner is found murdered just as Jeff envisioned it, the New Yorker believes he has psychic abilities. He persuades a cynical Richard to assist him making inquiries with the victim's family and banking pal; not realizing that no one wants the siblings to investigate with one person killing again. MURDER ON THE MIND is a strange but interesting who-done-it because of Jeff's psychic abilities that do not keep him or his sibling out of trouble once they begin to make inquiries. The reaction of those they question is priceless as no one wants to cooperate and seemingly everyone appears pleased that Matt is dead. Though Richard and Jeff hardly know each other considering they are siblings, fans will realize first hand how much the older brother cares. The killer is in plain sight yet most fans will miss the obvious clues. This fine paranormal amateur sleuth will send readers shuffling off to Buffalo to accompany Jeff on his investigation.

Kenneth Mark Hoover
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143617, $25.95, 290 pp.

The earth of the future is a dark and bleak place; mankind is almost extinct thanks to Feverblau, a virus that killed women. Only a small percentage of females survived and they are regarded as valuable possessions put in Union Houses where men pay for the privilege of having sex with them. They don't bear children because their uteruses are taken from them to mix with sperm in an artificial environment to protect males that will eventually fight in the continual wars that plague the planet. Nikolai Sholokhov is on two week leave from Luna and the top secret Star Whisper project that he has been working on for eighteen months. He is looking forward to his first "privilege" at the Union House but before that happens he meets the top Mafioso who is interested in the alien signals picked up by the radio telescope on Luna. After that encounter, he is asked by a person out after curfew if Nikolai will share his quarters with her. Nikolai agrees to this to only find out that the young man is really a woman Galina who is being transported to a Union House. She escapes during a city riot and both know if Nikolai is caught with her, he will be killed. Yuri Tur who befriended Nikolai has connections powerful enough to get them out of Moscow and Nikolai wants to try to escape to one of the habitats orbiting earth with Galina because they love one another in a world where such a thing is forbidden. Most of the action takes place in Moscow as an innocent Nikolai gets involved with the Russian underground, the resistance movement and the totalitarian government that wants to see him dead. He loses his innocence very fast but his love for Galina gives him strength of purpose that makes him a very appealing hero. There is a lot of action and political intrigue in the exciting futuristic thriller and the characters who populate this book make the storyline realistic and believable.

Nose for Trouble
Doranna Durgin
Five Star
ISBN: 159414267X, $25.95

The fire burned down his Ohio clinic, but also seared his lungs as veterinarian Dr. Dale Kinsall tried to rescue his patients. Accompanied by his beagle Sully, he relocated to the dry Arizona desert just outside Flagstaff because of his asthmatic condition. At the Foothills Veterinary Clinic he meets an odd staff. Also at the clinic he learns about a recent nearby homicide, but thinks that is far less a murder count from where he used to live. After nearly dehydrating, only to be rescued by Pine County Clinic DVM Dr. Laura Nakai, Dale and Sully find a corpse near their home. The victim John Heflinger apparently drowned in an arid drought infested backyard. The Midwest transplant informs the cops, but tries to ignore the incident until he realizes that he, his canine, and the eccentric crew at the Foothills Veterinary Clinic are at risk from a determined killer. NOSE FOR TROUBLE is a lighthearted funny amateur sleuth tale starring a caring individual who seems to land in one doo-doo droppings after another in spite of his knowing to watch where he steps. The eccentric support cast, mostly those working at the clinic, Laura, and Sully, finds themselves in amusing predicaments that will have the audience laughing out loud. Still this is clearly Dale's tale as he tries to start anew, but trouble seems to be his magnet.

Chain a Lamb Chop to the Bed
Denise Dietz
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144222, $25.95, 372 pp.

In Colorado Springs, Ellie Bernstein heads Weight Winners, a support group for people trying to lose the pounds. She and her lover homicide detective Peter Miller attend an art show displaying the works of renowned local artist Garrett Halliday, who Ellie posed for when she was kindly put Rubenesque. At the gala, Ellie learns that Garrett's wife Heather was badly burned in a suspicious fire that destroyed some of his paintings three years ago and rarely makes public appearances anymore. Peter takes Ellie to the almost empty Snowmass Dude Ranch in Aspen for a week of R&R. However, their vacation is disturbed when the corpse of Garrett is found and Heather is missing. Unable to believe that Heather would kill her beloved spouse, Ellie gets involved only to learn that Rudy Kessler, who advertised the selling of a Halliday masterpiece, has been killed. If the culprit learns she is the model of one drawing that she also owns, she could be the next victim but she advertises anyway in the hope of baiting the killer. CHAIN A LAMB CHOP TO THE BED is an intriguing amateur sleuth tale with elements of a police procedural to enhance the who-done-it. Ellie ignores Peter's advice, which is why he calls her Norrie short for Eleanor as much as she "ignores his advice". She cannot ignore the murder-disappearance of her friends because she cares too much so she decides to investigate, a character trait that is as endearing as it is dangerous. Readers gain some insight into the heroine especially her careful diet as she reflects back to her days of being much heavier. Though the mystery is slow to develop, fans will appreciate Ellie's escapades before, during and after her investigation.

New Beginnings
Sharon Lee Thomas
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143730, $26.95. 252 pp.

In 1847 on the trail to the Oregon Territory, Marjory Turner has no time to mourn the death of her beloved father. The wagon-master informs her mother that the Turner family will be dropped off at Fort Bridger, Wyoming Territory as no one has the time to help them in the long run to continue westward. There they will join a party heading east. Marjory is upset as that will destroy her father's dream, but has no say in the matter. As her estranged mother's behavior turns bizarre, Marjory takes over caring for her younger three siblings, the oldest being only eight years old. The wagon-master assigns Walter Wilkins to temporarily assist the Turner family. He and Marjory are attracted to one another, but her concerns are for her brothers and sister because now their mom has died too. NEW BEGINNINGS is a fine Americana character study that brings to life the trials and tribulations of those struggling westward on the Oregon Trail. The story line focuses on the coming of age of Marjory expedited by the death of her father and the peculiar behavior of her mother (before her death). Marjory's observations of those in her circle changes as she grows into her new role of nurturer. This is a fine tale that brings fans along for the harrowing trek to Oregon.

Open and Closed
Mat Coward
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142742, $25.95, 240 pp.

Though only a few years old, the relatively popular North London's Bath Street Library is closing because the party in power changed and wants to eradicate any progressive traces initiated by their predecessors. The Libraries Open for Everyone protests the closing with a sit-in. However, someone murders one of the eight protestors, popular activist octogenarian Bert "Bolshi" Rosen, who was carrying a handgun as if he expected trouble, but obviously never used it when he was strangled to death with a ligature by someone who knew him; one of the magnificent seven protesters. Cowden CID DC Frank Mitchell and his superior DI Don Packham head the investigation into the locked door mystery. They struggle with why Bert the Bolshi was packing a gun, but hope to eliminate suspects by accounting for their time even bathroom breaks. They interrogate the seven suspects beginning with the branch librarian Dot Estevez, but finding the guilty party remains difficult to find as no one has the opportunity and the motive is even murkier. Though the who-done-it never takes center stage, the cast make for an amusing tale. Readers will appreciate the sardonic wit of the DI and the wary acceptance by his direct employee. The seven suspects are an eccentric lot while the victim adds to the overall feel of a zany group starring ironically in a cozy. Mat Coward writes a fun British police procedural.

What the Hyena Knows
Thomas J. Keevers
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144419, $25.95, 248 pp.

He was a Chicago cop who was fired after he was shot by the husband of the woman he was sleeping with. He became a lawyer who was disbarred by the Illinois legal board when he attacked a judge and an opponent for calling him a liar. When he continued to womanize his wife finally left him. Mike Duncavan is trying to regain what his pride cost him starting with his professional life and he hopes one day his first spouse. He works as a legal investigator taking whatever crumbs lawyers sends his way. Attorney Stanley Janda, a former cop who met Mike in night school, hires him to find evidence that will exonerate his client photographer Justin Ambertoe, accused of abducting five year old Reggie Brookin. Mike wonders why a gay white man would be in the ghetto even to take pictures of abandoned property. As he interviews the neighbors, he realizes that Stanley's client is hiding something and may be lying beyond the omission, but for some reason believes the man is innocent. When he learns about the African David Akiby, he begins finding loose strings that tie together including seeing a hyena in the park to the Mesquite Bend Ranch in Texas, but the min question remains unanswered: why the kidnapping and probable murder of a child? If it was not for Mike's uncanny skills to recognize animals this sleuth tale would be a typical sub-genre tale of a rising superstar falling down to the lowest rung and trying to make it back. In Many ways Mike is a flawed Shakespearean tragic figure whose flaws lead to his downfall. The who-done-it is fun to follow though the ties between Chicago, Texas, and Africa seem nebulous at best but his ex explains his abilities so that the link seems plausible. Fans of interesting private investigative tale will want to learn WHAT THE HYENA KNOWS.

B. Quick
C.S. Laurel
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143803, $25.95, 315 pp.

Twenty-nine years old Bile College English Professor William Shakespeare Yates heads home in a storm when he nears one lane bridge that leads to the town Lythia Springs, Colorado. Before he can cross it he notices someone drops a bundle that appears to have contained a body off the bridge into the Nugget River. Unable to just keep going home, William dives into the icy waters and rescues student Brian Quick, the star of the professor's late night gay fantasies. That same night Brian's friend Police Chief Tony Marssano gets a tip that William killed Brian and tossed him off the bridge. However, the live Brian tells Bill that William saved his life and that his roommate Chris Hogg drugged him and tried to kill him. When another student is found dead from an ax, once again Tony looks towards William as the culprit especially as evidence begins to pile up affirming he did it. Alas William must put aside his dreams of a university taboo about bedding a student in order to prove his innocence or else he may end up as the final act in a tragedy. B. QUICK is a fun tongue in cheek amateur sleuth thriller that contains an intriguing triangle. The story line is driven by the antics of the Professor whose reward for saving Adonis is being accused twice as a killer. The interrelationships between William, Brian, and Tony are priceless as each has preconceptions of the others that in some ways cloud their judgment. Readers will be having fun with this lighthearted Rocky Mountain academic who-done-it.

All the Gold of Ophir
David M. Drury
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144214, $25.95, 404 pp.

The Asterbrooks travel to Jupiter Station to retrieve the body of their son Phillip who died in an industrial accident. The Conglomerated Mining and Manufacturing Company's representative informs them that the body was jettisoned into space because they had no instructions from the Asterbrooks. The Asterbooks discover proof that the company knew they were coming and obtain their son's belongings, but discover Phillip's journals are missing and believe a cover up of some kind is going on. They hire independent private detective Mike Flynn to discover what the company is covering up and how it pertains to their son's death. Flynn discovers that all the people connected to the case have been transferred to better positions in different parts of the galaxy. He persuades Wendy Chadwick, the head of the legal department, to let him enter a restricted area; she agrees on the condition she accompanies him. While there, company security forces try to kill them. Although they escape the director of security Silvanus Drake is watching Flynn and putting roadblocks in his path, which convinces the sleuth that the company is hiding something. He intends to find out what it is or die trying. ALL THE GOLD OF OPHIR is a fantastic and exciting thriller set in space in the not so distant future. The protagonist is a hard boiled detective who can't be bought or bribed and always stays on the right side of the law. He has a theory about what the company is trying to hide but he leaves himself open to other ideas as they present themselves and conducts the investigation as if his idea might not pan out. David M. Drury's potboiler will appeal to readers who like exciting creative mysteries in outer space.

Forgotten Souls
T.G. Arsenault
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143838, $25.95, 325 pp.

It saw the Neanderthals die out, watch the rise and fall of Ancient Rome and Egypt, looked upon the visages of Jesus and Mohammad; all the time hating humanity and looking for ways to destroy it. It was responsible for the Black Plague that devastated Europe and is getting ready once again to wreak havoc on humans that reside in the world above it. His realm is one of terror and horror for those who didn't worship him were shackled and set on fire for eternity. Andrea Varney knows that eventually she will have to fight it but she must wait until the Chosen One comes. When he does she realizes Darren Jacobs must grow up before the two undertake their journey to different cemeteries around Maine releasing the souls that the living have forgotten about and who are one prisoners in it's world. Through the aide of an elderly woman who died and gathered souls ready to help Darren and Andre fight it and it's creations, humanity makes a last stand against an entity that is more powerful and cunning than anyone could imagine. Through touching headstones of the dead, Andrea releases the spirits so they can enter a higher realm while Darren saves them through the automatic writing of the dead souls whose stories are told to release them from the bondage of it. T.G. Arsenault writes this delightfully frightening tale with the flavor of a Stephen King, the atmosphere of a Dean Koontz and the terrorizing plot of a Bentley Little. It is a safe prediction that Mr. Arsenault will be the new star in the horror galaxy.

With Love from Sam
Rachel Carrington
Five Star
ISBN: 159414415X, $26.95, 212 pp.

Karyn and Jace Morgan were very much in love and totally delighted with their two-year-old son Sam but their marriage crumbled when their child died in a car accident while Karyn was driving. Jace spends his nights getting drunk and holding his feelings to himself. Karyn tries to move on by visiting Sam's grave. In a drunken stupor Jace blames Sam's death on his wife because he believes she was driving too fast on a stormy night: Karyn kicks him out. Although both love each other, neither knows how to find their way back to each other. When Karyn sees Sam in his bed, she believes she saw a ghost. She learns she is pregnant but doesn't tell Jace and that is when her late grandmother Joline Wetherford comes to tell Karyn that Sam sent her to plead with her to try to save her marriage. Jace has a hard time believing that Sam and Joline appeared to Karyn. Now that Karyn is ready to take Jace back, she know he will resist when he learns she is pregnant but didn't tell him. Rachel Carrington has written a very intense and deep family drama with paranormal "marriage counselors" that has some light-hearted moments but is not a typical romance because it deals with a broken relationship and their way back to one another. Readers will cry for them, laugh with them and hope they come to terms with their feelings and grief. This is a potent reading experience.

Echoes of the Lost Order
John J. Lamb
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144230, $25.95, 205 pp.

When Talmine, Virginia offered San Diego Homicide Detective Stephen MacKinnon the position of police chief, he and his wife crime analyst Victoria jumped at the opportunity to start fresh away from the murder scene. Stephen also has the added bonus that he is a Civil War buff and battlefields surround the Tidewater area. In his second year on the job, Stephen is enjoying the role of a Union officer in a reenactment of the Battle of Talmine, which never actually occurred. However, his pleasure ends just as he leads his squad into battle when one of his officers tells him a dead woman has been found in nearby Crumper's Woods. To contain the crime scene Stephen halts the festivities over the angry objection of Mayor Dumfries. He realizes the female victim was killed before the reenactment began and that something is wrong with the locale. Sharpsburg, Maryland Detective David Benham arrives and admits he should have checked in first but is under orders to keep his investigation involving a stolen Robert E Lee "Lost Order" quiet. Meanwhile Stephen with his wife's help follows the clues while the Mayor threatens to fire him. ECHOES OF THE LOST ORDER is a terrific police procedural, which is at its best when the chief investigates the homicide with the help of his spouse while local politics hamper his efforts. An added fresh bonus is that Stephen and Victoria have no monster size personal issues and love one anther. Though an "epilogue" involving Mayor Dumfries seems unnecessary in spite of avarice ruling political decisions, sub-genre fans will enjoy the former big city detective working the small town case.

Dark Blue Death
Jan Grape
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143218, $25.95, 290 pp.

Austin Police Department Commander Lianne Crowder orders Zoe Barrow to spend a month as an instructor at the Citizen Police Academy where the APD operates an intensive twelve week program that brings in solid cadets and provides public awareness. Zoe enjoys seeing her old patrol pal Anne Panzarella who works there and the role playing with wannabe cops. The fun times end when Cadet Robert Nottingham informs Zoe that someone shot and killed Cadet Ramona Sanchez in a classroom near the firing range. Zoe questions Nottingham who explains that he and Ramona were rehashing the role playing they participated in and she sadly said she was gong to wash out of the school; suddenly a bullet came through the window and hit her in the head. The killing reminds Zoe of her spouse Byron a cop shot in the line of duty by a gangbanger; Byron lives in an infant's state at Pecan Grove, but when she arrives there he is missing. While Zoe and her partner Sergeant Harry Albright work the cadet murder and additional related killings from a serial sniper, she also searches for her spouse who could never have walked away on his own. The insights into genuine APD often tragic occurrences add a sense of reality to this absorbing serial sniper police procedural. Zoe is obviously the star as she and her partner work the difficult investigation while disagreeing over the FBI looking over their shoulders at the same time she is upset over her missing husband (though some readers might feel the vanished spouse is over kill). Jan Grape provides an astute Austin City Blues thriller (see AUSTIN CITY BLUE) that will have her audience clamoring for more.

Time of Death
Shirley Kennett
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143099, $25.95, 367 pp.

In St. Louis psychologist Dr. Penelope Jennifer "PJ" Gray never expected to be involved with the police as she is now, but her Computer Homicide Investigation Program (CHIP) has proven so successful, she is an adjunct on murder inquiries. The single mom of a teen, PJ provides virtual reality forensics to crime scenes and is seeing on and off her partner homicide detective Leo Schultz, who recently has been sarcastic with her. Their current case involves the brutal Metro Mangler as they dub him who abuses his or her victim, the latest being realtor Arlen Merritt, whose penis was removed. The spouse seems odd in how she grieves her loss, but does not appear to have been the killer especially since she would need a lot more bulk to move the body as it was done. Another killing with much of the trademark of the Mangler occurs, but with major differences especially the cold precision without the heated frenzy of the Merritt murder. While Leo thinks two culprits are committing the crimes, PJ wonders if there is one clever murderer disguising the real motive with two disparate homicides. TIME OF DEATH, the latest PJ Gray police procedural (see GRAY MATTER), is an interesting homicide investigative tale starring a fully developed team including the lead couple struggling with a difficult case made more complex with a second murderer. The story line moves mostly along the investigative track, but is brilliantly supplemented with the seemingly dysfunctional relationship between PJ and Leo as seen totally from her perspective. Though the heroine provides plenty of interesting observations, the use of CHIP is limited so that the forensic virtual reality program takes a back seat to old fashion sleuthing.

Jonathan Lowe
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144397, $25.95, 353 pp.

Alexandria-based Tactor Pharmaceutical research engineer Alan Dyson learns that his funding for the Methuselah Gene project is suspended. His superiors explain that his efforts to extend life expectancy are going nowhere with the worms he tested dying earlier than normal and besides they object to his using a benign form of the HIV virus, unacceptable due to the connotation even if it works as the transmitter. That night someone broke into his lab and stole his notes and erased his hard drive; his lab technician Jim Baxter, a cautious person, is dead having injected the serum into himself. When Alan gets home, his computer there his also been erased. He asks his best friend, Tactor computer programmer Daryl to look into what happened to his equipment. Daryl traces the thief to a Walter Mills in Zion, Iowa. Alan heads to the Hawkeye State only to find illegal human medical testing using his formula. If the unknown examiners learn he is in the Midwest, Alan will forfeit his life, but he cannot walk away when his objective was to prolong life not kill it. Though the conspiracy behind the Midwest testing is a sub-genre occupational hazard, GEEZER is a terrific medical thriller that focuses on the misuse and abuse of research in spite of the ethical dedication of the lead scientist. The story line takes off once David arrives in Iowa and realizes what has happened to his experiment on improving life. His first name is apropos as he battles a Goliath corporation to stop the devastating testing. Fans will appreciate this fine look at what can go wrong when amoral individuals use human guinea pigs in the name of science that is profitable science.

Ask a Shadow to Dance
Linda George
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143676, $25.95, 283 pp.

On the Mississippi by Memphis Dr. David Stewart attends a gala on the fancy Memphis Queen III riverboat when he notices the woman in black wearing a veil. He wants to meet her so he crosses the crowded ballroom floor to ask her to dance with him, but when he reaches where she was standing she is gone. He assumes she left, but soon finds her on the deck. Still drawn to the strangely garbed stranger, he talks with her. He finds Lisette refreshing especially her enthusiastic almost child-like reaction to locales that can be seen from the vessel as if she never seen anything like these edifices before. However she soon disappears again without a trace. He dreams of seeing Lisette soon, but is upset that he has no personal information to contact her. David reads a stunning article on the disappearance of the luxurious riverboat Cajun Star in 1885, which included on the passenger list the names of Lisette and David. As his logic fails him and he ponders what is going on David wonders how to save the life of a woman he thinks he once loved in a previous century but he knows he loves in this century. ASK A SHADOW TO DANCE is an intriguing paranormal romance that will remind readers of the book and movie SOMEWHERE IN TIME. The haunting tale grips the reader at about the same that it grips David as he begins to realize that he is about to peruse an enticing woman in the shadows of time. The lead couple makes this eerie thriller work as the audience will be as haunted as they are.

Revenge of the Paste Eater
Cheryl Peck
5 Spot
ISBN: 0446693731, $12.95

This is an amusing series of short memoirs (over fifty happenings included) of a wonderfully eccentric person who understands the importance of a refrigerator box (try leaving it out in the snow instead of the rain) and other childhood essentials that make the adult who he or she is. The anecdotal entries contain humorous insight into a bushel and a peck that make up the author's personal history. Many entries contain humor with some outrageously slapstick in nature, but most also provide an inside angst to what makes Cheryl Peck tick as a card carrying member of the paste eater club (my husband says he belongs to the Crayola crowd - I refuse to divulge my membership). Having felines, this reviewer can also picture her angelic ones acting as Babycakes behaves. REVENGE OF THE PASTE EATER is a terrific and candid account that uses laugher as a means to keep the anecdotal incidents from turning too grave to enjoy. Easy to read and fun to do so, Ms. Peck opens her soul to her admiring audience.

The Masque of the Black Tulip
Lauren Willig
ISBN: 0525949208, $24.95

Harvard graduate student Eloise Kelly continues to search the English archives to learn more about the mysterious Regency era spy the Pink Carnation (see THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE PINK CARNATION). The History PHD candidate comes across some interesting early nineteenth century correspondence between Lady Henrietta and the elusive Pink Carnation. Henrietta learns that France has sent the Black Tulip to England to assassinate the Pink Carnation. No one in the War Office has any idea who the Black Tulip is or whether the person is male or female though most assume the assassin is a male except for the few who knows what sex the Pink Carnation is. Unable to ignore what she found out, Henrietta is determined to uncover the identity of the killer secret agent before that person can harm the Pink Carnation. At the same time the War Office assigns her best friend rake Miles Dorrington to do likewise. As initially the two counter spies trip over one another, they admit their attraction and fall in love, but he wants her out of the deadly contest while she demands to be his partner in every way. This sequel contains much of the same ingredients that made the first book so delightful. The story line stars two likable protagonists with the same objective, but differing views on how and who should achieve this goal. Thus the likable lead couple adds romance and tension while much of the support cast provides humor and even more tenseness to this strong historical espionage. Though Ms. Kelly's role seems unnecessary and the final confrontation between spies a stretch considering the talent readers will take immense pleasure from this enchanting thriller and look forward to more flowery espionage romances.

The Hunt Club
John Lescroart
ISBN: 0525949143, $26.95, 400 pp.

In San Francisco, someone murders U.S. Federal Judge George Palmer and his much younger mistress Staci Rosalier in his high income home in the Pacific Heights neighborhood. His wife Jeannette found the bodies and called 911. SFPD Homicide Inspector Devin Juhle immediately assumes that the spouse killed her husband and his lover for cheating on her especially in their home. Helped by Dismas Hardy, Wyatt Hunt became a private investigator and opened up the Hunt Club four years ago. He sometimes serendipitously works with his police friend Devin as he is doing right now on the judicial homicide. Hunt uncovers some powerful enemies that Palmer made over the years; however, just after finding his girlfriend TV reporter Andrea Parisis has a connection too, she vanishes, making the investigation personal. Much of what makes Dismas Hardy and Abe Glitsky so popular is found in the characteristics of the key players of this novel. THE HUNT CLUB starts a fresh series that is less legal and more investigative in nature. Devin and Wyatt make a fine team as the former brings police technology and know how to a case while the latter can go under the law to make other types of inquiries. The support cast including Devin's deceased partner (died in the line of duty) add understanding to the two sleuths as much as moving the exciting story line forward. Fans of Hardy-Glitsky will toast the beginning of a long friendship.

Crazy Cool
Tara Janzen
ISBN: 0553586114, $5.99

With two of his operative teammates in deep trouble in Columbia South America and needing immediate rescue, Christian Hawkins is shocked when his superior yanks him from the mission to attend a state-side auction gala. He has no idea who he is to protect and from whom. However he quickly notices that the highest ranked civilian is his personal nightmare, Katya Dekker, daughter of a US senator, his former teenage lover, and the female who watched while he was imprisoned for two years on false charges. An explosion occurs leading to chaos, but the undercover agent responds instantly and gets Katya out of there, but Ted Garraty, whose testimony convicted Christian thirteen years ago is dead. Evidence points towards Christian avenging what Ted did to him, but this time he refuses to be railroaded into prison again for a crime he did not commit and he has the skills now to prove his innocence. Still he needs time and Katya's cooperation to clear himself of a murder rap before running as far away from her as possible. However to his chagrin he still wants the woman he believes betrayed him. The second Crazy romantic suspense thriller (see CRAZY HOT) is an exhilarating tale that never slows down from the moment that all hell breaks loose at the auction event. The story line focuses on Christian's efforts assisted by Katya to prove he is innocent, but in some ways is driven by the unwanted sexual tension between these two. Fans will enjoy this wild ride and look forward to the third teammate's tale shortly.

Deep Cover
Rachel Butler
ISBN: 0440241219, $6.99, 374 pp.

She knew him as William Davis, a man who rescued her from rape in the back streets of Ocho Rios in Jamaica. After he killed the man who tried to rape fourteen year old Selena McCaffrey, he took her back to the United States and introduced her as his "niece". She later finds out that he is living a dual identity. In his other life as Henry Daniels he is the chief of police. Whenever he took a job as a chief of police Henry's alter ego established himself as the area's most powerful drug lord. He sends Selena to Oklahoma to kill a police officer who is getting too close to unmasking his identity. Instead of killing him Selena falls in love with Tony and becomes a key witness for the FBI. They want her to take down William's organization because he is brain dead although he is hooked up to monitors. They want her to work from the inside the organization and gather enough evidence to arrest the main players. If she refuses, they threaten her with jail time or deportation so she accepts their offer knowing in advance that people who want to control William's empire will try to kill her. She has to hope the FBI and her own street smarts are enough to keep her alive so she can have a future with Tony. In DEEP COVER, there are the obvious villains and the not so obvious ones. The latter make this action packed, dynamite thriller a winner because the heroine (and the reader) doesn't know who to trust. Selena gets the answer to her heritage but the price is quite high and her lover Tony works overtime to protect her from enemies that seem to come out of the woodwork especially family she has never met or knew existed. Rachel Butler gives Janet Evanovich a turn for her money will this fantastic crime thriller in which double crosses are the norm.

The Secret Pearl
Mary Balogh
ISBN: 0440242975, $6.99

With no protection any longer from lecherous relatives, penniless Isabella Fleur Bradshaw flees for London, but her only means of money is her body. Outside Drury Lane Theater, the recently war scarred and angry Duke of Ridgeway Adam Kent sees her standing nearby so assuming she is a whore, he buys Fleur's services. Though married and feeling guilty for breaking his vows, Adam roughly takes the street harlot; his hooker shows no reactions at all. He leaves her extra money and leaves. Later Adam feels guilty about how harshly he took the young woman who now reflecting on her he realizes she is quality who must have fallen to poverty. He sends his secretary Houghton to find her to offer her the job of governess to his five years old daughter Lady Pamela. Fleur struggling with her only assignment as a whore accepts the job though she fears her duke only wants her as his mistress. However, on his estate the duke realizes he wants the governess not his cold termagant wife Sybil. THE SECRET PEARL is a reprint of a strong Regency romance starring two fully developed characters. The key to this fine drama is how much the audience understands what drives Fleur and even more penetrating into his soul what demons move Adam. The villains (his wife and brother and her cousin) contain no redeeming qualities as they are self-indulged hedonists (have problems envisioning selfish Sybil pregnant even if that was her duty). Still Mary Balogh's novel was a bold historical when it first was released in 1991 and remains a powerful tale that sub-genre fans will appreciate.

Simon Brooke
ISBN: 0743477634, $13.00, 320 pp.

After an eternity as a male model, thirty years old Charlie Barrett, listening to his younger peers' patter, concludes he is too old for this line of work anymore though the globetrotting, Paris, and money are great. Following a shoot, Piers and Guy offer Charlie a job in marketing their new Internet web site He consults with his girlfriend Lauren, who tells him to accept the opportunity so Charlie does. Charlie's new job enables him to apply his long forgotten college degree while searching for luxurious items for the firm to sell over the net to their Armani-like customers, but the long hours and his time spent schmoozing reporter Nora Benthill devastate his relationship with Lauren. Work abruptly collapses when Piers and Guy vanish along with a lot of investor money. The Metropolitan Police investigate "Pretty Boy" Charlie, the face of 2cool2btrue, who turns to his modeling pals to help him prove his innocence, but no one, even Lauren, wants to be linked to him because that could devastate their career. Only the "fickle finger of fate" has Nora there for him. 2cool2btrue is a well written engaging contemporary tale that starts off as a coming of age character study although the hero is thirty, but about half way in turns into an amateur sleuth investigative thriller as a beleaguered Charlie seeks to prove his innocence. In some ways, the story line will remind the audience of the movie the Happening as Charlie at first cannot believe his plight is real, but soon finds his family and friends desert him in his hour of need. The eccentric Nora adds a degree of wacko to what is happening to Charlie.

Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345470028, $19.95, 258 pp.

The Irish and the Inuit with a sprinkling of other races have been relocated from old Earth to the terraformed planet of Petaybee, a cold desolate place. The powers that be had no idea that by terraforming the planet it would awaken the planet and make it become sentient enough to modify over time the humans who live there so they can adapt to the planet's harsh conditions more easily. Sean and Yanaba are deeply in love and quite unexpectedly they give birth to twins that have the same genetic mutation as their father. The twins turn into seals when they enter water and this proves dangerous because a visiting scientist who saw them change wants to capture and examine them. For their own safety, they are sent to a space station where people of all races and cultures live and work in harmony. Petaybee is giving birth to another landmass and Sean is exploring the area when underwater creatures capture him. His only hope is his children who can communicate telepathically with him and most other creatures of Petaybee but first they must neutralize the danger from a scientist who has a special interest in the shape shifting twins. The inhabitants of Petaybee, regardless of race or culture, live in harmony with the sentient planet who cares for them and helps them in too many ways to count. Discord comes from out-worlders who want to examine the unusual aspects of the planet and the mutations among the general population. CHANGELINGS, the first book in this second Petaybee trilogy, is full of action, danger, and adventure.

Stephan Baxter
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345457919, $25.95, 488 pp.

Earth in the year 2027 is a different place to be due to the climatic changes; the poles melted, the oceans rose and coastal flooding changes the geography of the planet. The planet seems to be in its death throes with levels of carbon dioxide and methane rising but scientist Michael Poole has devised a way to keep the gases that want to escape trapped way below the earth. While he and his fellow scientists are working on the problem, his wife Morag dead for seventeen year, keeps appearing to him. He wants to prove she is real and not a ghost. Fifty thousands years in the future Alia who lives on a space station Witnesses Michael (learning facets of his life from birth to death). Humanity is guarded by the Transcendence, superminds who are on the verge of singularity and are ready to take the next step in man's evolution. Yet something is holding them back from that; they want Alia to join them and hope they can find the redemption to move on. Alia, who learns what being in transcendence is like is not sure that is the road she wants to travel but to save humanity, she must allow the transcendence to bend space and time so that she can find answers that only Michael Poole can supply. Told in alternating chapters from the point of view of Michael in the first person and Alia in the third readers get a close up look at humanity at two very different crossroads of its existence. This is a thought provoking exciting work of science fiction with visual description of radically different time frames that seem realistic to the audience. The finale to Destiny's Children trilogy is a very satisfying and enriching reading experience.

Cold Skin
Albert Sanchez Pinol
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 0374182396, $20.00

A few years after WWI ended, a ship drops a young man on a tiny uninhabited island inside the Antarctic Circle. The male volunteered to serve as a weatherman for one year because he needed to escape those around him. The locale is so remote no one will ever come by until the ship returns to pick him up and his company insures him no one resides there. However, the man is not where he is expected to be as his company is wrong about the local population. In the lighthouse live depressing hermit Gruner-German, who wants no one on his island including this outsider. When the human-like Sitauca pack attacks the lighthouse with endless fury, the two men form a grudging partnership that looks shaky even before both men hear the siren call of Aneris, the female of the enemy. This is a terrific allegorical suspense thriller that grips the audience from the moment that the unnamed narrator is dumped on the ominous island. Readers will want to know who if any of the men survive. or. The story line is action-packed, but character driven with Gruner and the unnamed weatherman fully developed and their foes especially Aneris so genuine. Fans will want to read this dark Robin Crusoe like thriller.

The Wave
Walter Mosley
ISBN: 0446533637, $22.95

Unemployed system administrator Errol Porter thinks nothing of the calls except for the inconvenience as they wake him up every night. He assumes someone is pranking him with the insistence that the caller is his father. Errol's dad died in 1996. As the calls keep coming, Errol begins to wonder if he might be a bit deranged as the person on the other end is beginning to speak and sound just like his father and more frightening the man knows insider information that only he and his father Arthur Bontemps Porter III could know. Unable to resist Errol agrees to meet Arthur, but is stunned when he sees his dad's face, albeit a much younger Arthur than he remembers. He wonders if GT ("Good Times") is a con, but has no idea what the person would benefit from this ruse or could he be a ghost? US Army officer Dr. David Wheeler places Errol under house arrest until he can figure out how to persuade his superiors that we have been invaded by "demons from hell" and how to combat them. While David expects the invasion of the body snatchers, Errol trusts no one especially the Feds or his so-called dad, but admits while he ponders what next as the sex with David's wife is good. As he did with FUTURELAND, Walter Mosley displays his vast skills with this superb science fiction thriller. The story line focuses mostly on Errol who keeps digging one step at a time only to find that next stride even more convoluted and confusing. Like the hero, readers will wonder what is going on until suddenly the 200 plus page novel is finished in one delightful sitting. Sci Fi fans will see why mystery readers find it easy to give THE WAVE to the great Walter Mosley.

End of the Beginning
Harry Turtledove
ISBN: 0451216687, $25.95

Following the Pearl Harbor attack, the Japanese invade and conquer Hawaii (see DAYS OF INFAMY). The United States counter assault fails as the Japanese Zero controls the skies. Japan quickly installs a ruthless government that subjects the islands to a harsh occupation though they bring back the royals to allegedly rule (under their thumb). American POWs are worked to death without a second thought and the women are turned into prostitutes for the conquerors amusement. Japanese-Americans living on the islands are divided. While those born in Japan having a taste of American racism support and help their native country, their children want the return of the United States and freedom. The native Hawaiians see little difference between the two sets of conquerors except that the Japanese are overtly de facto abusive while the Americans were de jure discriminatory. Still most residents regardless of ethnicity just try to survive the food shortages while expecting the battle to return as the embarrassment of the defeat has the White House pumping up the military-industrial complex to win the War in the Pacific. This is a terrific alternate historical thriller that leaves no prisoners as the audience obtains a taste of racial relationships that leave nothing to the imagination. Harry Turtledove is at his best with the action-packed tale yet the myriad of perspectives (somewhat difficult to follow so expect several days up to a week to read) provide the individual and group dynamics. What if novels rarely reach this pinnacle as the epic saga and the character specific blend into a fabulous alternate WW II drama.

Card Sharks
Liz Maverick
ISBN: 045121675X, $12.95, 272 pp.

In California, Marianne has a good job and a nice fellow sort of; at least she has an "F"- buddy, but Donny has no thoughts about the future and lives only for today. However, though she knows all this she feels something is missing as there is no excitement in her life. Her best friend Bijoux echoes her sentiment of where the good men are while stuck escorting the nephew of the neighbors around town. When Donny comes by for a quickie before running off to play poker), Marianne realizes where the males hide. She and Bijoux invade the Texas Hold'em poker bastion. Marianne proves to be one of the best players with men suddenly salivating for her. This includes Donny who sees a different side to his former girlfriend and ex "F"-buddy as he now wants to raise their relationship while she apparently will fold unless he hopes she is bluffing. CARD SHARKS is an intriguing chick lit tale that focuses on the hold that poker has on many people with TV events and players like actress Tilly wining tournaments, but is much more than just the card games. Marianne is a terrific individual and though doing well feels somewhat disenchanted as she wonders who will enable her to want to get up early in the future. Bijoux supplements her as her best friend sharing some of the same concerns. The poker environment provides an environs for Marianne to capture some of the "va-voom" she feels missing in her life. Though the ending is chick lit 101, fans will appreciate the Marianne's lesson that life requires a balance between responsibility and pleasure that no bluff can attain.

Over the Moon at the Big Lizard Diner
Lisa Wingate
ISBN: 0451216644, $13.95

Paleontologist cataloguer and single mom Lyndsey Attwood misses her daughter, who is spending the summer with her father, Geoff, the first time the absent dad has been with his eight years old daughter. Her twin sister Laura recognizes that her sibling is lonely so asks her to spend time with in San Saline, Texas. Knowing she cannot face her walls without Sydney, Lyndsey takes leave and travels from Denver. In Texas, Laura's reporter pal Collie Collins (see TEXAS COOKING), asks Lindsey to go undercover by pretending to attend a horse psychology seminar in order to help her solve a mystery involving missing dinosaur tracks on a local ranch. Lindsey meets and begins to fall in love with former veterinarian cowboy Zach Truitt; he reciprocates. However, she has doubts about relationships with males having been burned once before. The latest Big Lizard Bottoms tale is a fun Texas contemporary romance with a mystery subplot that never really matters as the missing dinosaur tracks takes a back seat to the relationship drama. The story line is driven by the antics of the zany secondary cast, who help the Rocky Mountain visitor learn about Texas high life where trust is more important than anything else whether it is with horse or human.

Mark of the Lion
Suzanne M. Arruda
ISBN: 0451217489, $23.95, 352 pp.

In 1919 France, ambulance driver Jade del Cameron is driving towards one of the fronts to evacuate the wounded when she sees a German plane knocked out of the sky; she knows the downed plane was piloted by her friend David. She goes to help him, but instead he demands she honor his dying wish that she find his brother; he also starts to say that his father's death was suspicious, but dies before he can complete the statement. Jade travels to London to see David's mother, who insists that she had only one son. Jade assumes that the sibling must be a half-brother sired by David's dad with another woman perhaps when the late father was in East Africa. Feeling it important to accomplish David's dying wish, Jade follows the trail to Nairobi. Her stay leads to romance and adventure as she continues to track down the sibling. Readers will compare this gem of a historical investigative tale to Alexander McCall Smith's Precious Ladies Detective Agency thrillers. The story line is cleverly written so that fans will obtain a taste of life at the end of WWI in England and Africa as Jade goes from one escapade to another whether it is human or hyena. This is the start of what looks like to be a long friendship between historical mystery fans and Jade del Cameron.

Richard Matheson
ISBN: 0765311402, $14.95, 384 pp.

"Someone Is Bleeding". In Santa Monica, writer Dave has fallen in love with Peggy. However, he begins to have doubts when he begins to find male corpses everywhere he goes. Could his sweet Peggy be a man-hating serial killer and if yes how can he avoid joining her deadly list? "Fury on Sunday". Manhattan concert pianist Vincent was already a bit crazy when he finally goes off the deep end. He begins murdering people who cross his path turning the mean streets even meaner with a final confrontation in his apartment. "Ride the Nightmare". In California, Chris has come a long way from his misspent youth. He loves his wife Helen and their daughter and is willing to die to keep them safe. He soon has the opportunity as his past has arrived in California not concerned about collateral damage. These three suspense thrillers were written in the 1950s by the author of Duel (basis for the Spielberg movie). "Ride the Nightmare" and "Someone is Bleeding" are fabulous novellas that hook the audience from the start and never slows down as seemingly nice middle class people get caught in maelstroms of perilous trouble. On the other hand "Fury on Sunday" follows a maniac without getting inside him making his killing spree seem endless; this tale would have been better as a short with a smaller body count. Still overall NOIR lives up to its title.

Counting Heads
David Marusek
ISBN: 0765312670, $24.95

In 2134 the Boutique Economy runs the world as the rich and famous can live for centuries thanks to incredible advances in nanotechnology and medicine. No one has to work as intelligent and harmonious mentars and robots perform all tedious tasks. However, in this Utopian society remains one major serpent, fifteen billion earthlings living below the Boutique line and thus undesirable and unwanted. In that environs, powerful Sammy Harger, who wants to send the masses into space as colonists, and his equally potent significant other financial guru Eleanor Starke adopt a baby from the National Orphanage drawer in Jersey. However, instead of hundreds of years together, an assassin murders Eleanor and her daughter Ellen is dying from wounds received in the same incident. As doctors work to save Ellen, others want her dead or at least control of her cryogenically frozen head as the Starks somewhat believed in helping those below the Boutique line; thus making enemies of other members of the rich and powerful who see that as waste. This is a frightening futuristic science fiction thriller that extrapolates much of what is happening in technology and in DC to paint a dark world for ninety-nine percent of the populace and a let them eat cake realm for the remainder. The story line is character driven in which even the mentars seem genuine and humans wants more out of life than just drudgery. Readers will ponder what is going on in a realm in which science, money, and politics merge for the benefit of an elite few at the expense of the many. This is a terrific thought provoking thriller that will surely tracked those who borrows or buys the novel by the Patriot Act zealots.

Robert J. Sawyer
ISBN: 0765313162, $14.95

In Berkley, California, French-Canadian research molecular biologist Pierre Tardivel works on the Human Genome Project even as he expects to die soon due to the probability that he suffers from terminal genetic Huntington's disease. His girlfriend psychologist Molly Bond knows Pierre cares deeply for her especially since she has limited telepathic skills. When someone attacks Pierre, Molly realizes that an unknown person hired the assailant to kill Pierre. Both wonder why he would be the victim of an assassination attempt. Pierre does what he does best, conduct research seeking trends. He soon learns that his health insurance provider Condor has had an abnormally high number of deaths of those members with potentially expensive health costs that they would have to cover. At the same time Molly, wanting an offspring of Pierre, but unable to conceive naturally accepts the kind offer from Pierre's boss, Nobel Prize winner Burian Klimus to have an IVF impregnation. However, Burian uses the opportunity to test something different as he impregnates Molly with DNA extracted from the remains of a Neanderthal at the same time the Justice Department Agent Avi Meyer warns Pierre that his superior may be Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka infamy. This is a reprint of an exciting action-packed medical thriller that grips the audience from the moment readers meet Pierre and never slows down until the final twist. The story line in some ways will remind the audience of Rosemary's baby except the devil is am amoral human using modern science to impregnate the innocent woman. Though the ties back to Treblinka seem forced and add nothing (Klimus can be a modern day scientist with no ethics without the concentration camp resume), readers will finish this thriller in one exciting sitting.

Silver May Tarnish
Andre Norton & Lyn McConchie
ISBN: 0765306379, $24.95, 288 pp.

Invaders from the realm of Alizon made war on the Dales, using siege machines and weapons of mass destruction that made the land lifeless. Those who didn't die in battle were left to fend for themselves and many became outlaws and bandits, taking what they wanted and killing without compunction. Some lords had no help their people by their finding a new place to call home. Lorcan, heir to the dead land of Erendale, is saved from bandits by Maive, the lady of the bees, who lives in a land never touched by battle. Lorcan is grateful to Maive of Honeycoombe and pledges to be her liege man although in time he wants much more from the beautiful woman who holds power over the bees. Bandits killed everyone in her Dale so they seek decent people to inhabit the isolated yet rich land. Even after they accomplish this, another battle looms for an old enemy is coming to kill him and settle the land. Set in the world of the Witch World series, readers get to see the effects of war on civilians and how they cope with their losses. The two paths they travel banditry and relocation is realistically portrayed and the protagonists are people whose deeds the jongleurs sing about. Readers can see the steps to reconstruction begin as soon as the war ends and the bandits are dealt with in a harsh manner by good people who don't want the hatreds that festered through the war to destroy what they are trying to rebuild.

The Final Key
Catherine Asaro
ISBN: 0765313537, $25.95, 352 pp.

The Skolian Empire is founded on democratic principles while the Euban Concord or Trader Empire's economy is based on slavery. The two civilizations are enemies and while the Trader Empire has more ships, The Skolian Empire information meshes form a web that is manipulated by two powerful psionics of the Ruby Dynasty, Kurj and Dehya. Through instantaneous communications with real time news and the ability to control resources, the Skolians have the edge if war occurs. The Eubans know this and through subterfuge try and destroy the mesh of the web. Powerful Skolian psionic Eldrinson was captured and tortured before being rescued, his son lays brain dead in a hospital and the Eubans break through Skolian forces and poison Kurj putting him in a coma and kidnap his mother Rocca, the one person who can take his place in their web defense. It falls to space cadet Soz to take the place of her brother Kurj and Dehya in order to keep the web from failing. Meanwhile the medics work on Kurj and the leaders try to find a replacement for the missing Dehya while Soz, the daughter of Rocca and Eldrinson, third in line for the ruby throne, proves to be a powerful psi capable of holding the net together for a period of time. The Euban Empire prepares to defeat the Skolian forces. Action, romance, and political intrigue are the trademarks of a Catherine Asaro science fiction thriller and THE FINAL KEY is no exception. The sequel to SCHISM is space opera at its very best with characters of deep depth integrated into a military sci fi thriller. Soz plays a key role in the battle and gains a maturity that only comes from those who make life and death decisions. Let's hope there are more adventures starring this intrepid coming of age heroine.

In High Places
Harry Turtledove
ISBN: 0765306964, $22.95, 272 pp.

In the Kingdom of Versailles in the year 715 of the New Revolution winter keeps its grip on everyone while aristocrat, freeman, serf, and slave expect the Berber Kingdom of Berry to attack soon. Most residents ignore the threat as hard agricultural labor consumes all available time if one wants to eat. Teenage Khadija is an exception to the farming equation as she is the daughter of apparently wealthy Moorish business moguls. Actually that is their front; Khadija is Crosstime Traffic Californian Annette Klein who with her family comes from the future. Currently they head to the Marseilles portal so Annette can return to school. Bandits attack her train and abduct her heading to a slave market to sell her and other prisoners. Annette still has high hopes her family will find her even after she is sold until her owners reach the unexpected destination. Slavery may have been outlawed for over two and a half centuries (since the American Civil War), but this is a non-sanctioned CT transposition chamber; meaning she can be anywhere in time as well as the planet while her anxious family struggle to find and rescue her. Leaving the alternate past to a different portal, Harry Turtledove provides a terrific exhilarating futuristic thriller starring a wonderful young protagonist and a deep support cast. The storyline is fast-paced once the players are introduced and the abduction occurs. Annette is a fabulous individual who keeps the plot focused as she, her parents, and the audience wonders if she will ever reunite with her family. The third CT science Fiction (see CURIOUS NOTIONS and GUNPOWDER EMPIRE) is a wonderful entry in a fine series as once again a courageous female takes charge of the story.

Out of Time
John Marsden
ISBN: 0765314126, $16.95, 127 pp.

James is lonely with no one especially his party-animal parents to talk to about his feelings of loss and alienation. His only salvation is sneaking out of the house each night to stealthily enter the nearby Lab 17 where physicist Mr. Woodford invents incredible gizmos with the latest being incredibly a time machine. When James enters Lab 17 the next night he finds a horrible sight; Mr. Woodford has died. Unable to resist the lure of adventure, James takes the time machine with him. James begins to travel the time stream observing the mysteries of individual people that raises his curiosities, but will he try to help those in need or will he use the gift of time to make a fortune? OUT OF TIME is a fine young adult time travel tale that reads more like a series of interrelated short stories based on James' misadventures. The idea of a teen loose on history is fun to follow and James feels like Spiderman immediately after the bite deciding between heroic deeds or obtaining affluence. Youthful fans will enjoy his escapades as he gets involved in one scenario after another.

The Skyborn
Paul Collins
Starscape (Tor)
ISBN: 0765312735, $17.95, 272 pp.

The genetically enhanced humans aboard the starship the Colony look down upon those they perceive as genetically inferior humans. The elders refuse to let anyone leave the ship because the nuclear ravaged planet is filled with mutants, feral humans, plagues and viruses that kills most people before they reach their mid-twenties. Welkin used to be afraid of the Earthborn until he was sent on a suicide mission and adopted into a civilized group of humans headed by Sarah. When the Family catches a scout from the colony, they learn that the elders are planning an attack on the Earthborn that would leave the planet in the hands of the Skyborn. Welkin, Sarah and a few others infiltrate the ship and learn that there are divisions in the ship and the elders no longer are in total control as they once were. The infiltrators plan to find out just how the colony plans to exterminate the Earthborn and stop them if they can but they will soon find that humanity has an enemy more dangerous than anything on earth. Australian author Paul Collins has written an exciting and entertaining work that takes place two years after the events in THE EARTHBORN. During that time Welkin and his family has found a place to live in a civilized and self sustaining manner despite periodic attacks from the ferals, mutants and members of the colony. There is plenty of action in this science fiction thriller that is coined for young adults but will also be enjoyed by older readers.

The Green Futures of Tycho
William Sleator
ISBN: 0765362389, $5.99, 128 pp.

In the backyard of his family home, eleven-year-old Tycho Tithonus decided to make a vegetable garden, but on his first dig into the dirt he finds a weird egg-shaped and sized object. Tinkering he discovers he has found a miniature time machine that enables him to travel through time and return home. He sees the device as a means of pulling stunts on his older siblings (sixteen years old Ludwig, fifteen years old Tamara, and thirteen years old Leonardo) who are always telling him as the youngest what to do. As he enjoys pranking his brothers and sister, Tycho begins to notice subtle changes when he returns to his present. These "modifications" seem nastier with every trek in time. He suddenly sees a darker world, but worse he confronts the most frightening being he has ever met, Tycho the adult in a future that is so bleak he fears this will come true unless he can undo all the damage he caused. Using time travel as a device to look closely at family dynamics and interactions, THE GREEN FUTURES OF TYCHO is a fabulous tale that upper elementary school children will fully appreciate because many will commiserate with the youthful hero. The key is Tycho seems so genuine that initially readers will want to be in his sneakers pulling off pranks against older members of his family without any "repercussions"; I am an adult and would not mind pulling a stunt or two. That changes once the consequences begin to surface. Science fiction fans will enjoy this reprint of a William Sleator 1981 classic.

She's All That
Kristin Billerbeck
ISBN: 1591453283, $13.99

The trio met at Stanford about a decade ago, but remains close friends and supporters of one another meeting periodically at Spa Del Mar. The "Spa Girls" should never have become friends as they are so different in outlook. Still struggling fashion designer Lilly Jacobs, jewelry designer Morgan Malliard and chiropractor Dr. Poppy Clayton are best buddies though they only meet up on spa night. Lilly is going through a bad stretch as she felt she earned a promotion at work, but her boss Sara Lang tells her that her designs lack distinction. She rushes over to her boyfriend's house to cry on his shoulders only Robert is with Katrina. Needing to reinvent her life, Lilly quits her job and dumps her cheating boyfriend. Encouraged by her pals that SHE'S ALL THAT and more, she opens up her own design company, but a chunk of her set aside start up money vanishes at the same time her biological mother shows up for the first time since Lilly was a baby and a Brit she met at church needed some money fast. This inspirational chick lit tale is a fun read because the audience will feel the energy that the three friends bring to the story line though most of the plot centers on Lilly. Readers will believe that she and the support cast (especially Poppy and Morgan) are genuine individuals. Like Lilly, fans will wonder if her mom or her "new" beau stole her money. Leaving behind the highly regarded Ashley Stockingdale trilogy, Kristin Billerbeck provides a deep character study of a young lady in her late twenties trying to make it.

The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Tough
Neta Jackson
ISBN: 1591453585, $13.99

Jodi Baxter feels real good that the Chicago area Yada Yada Prayer Group is celebrating their first anniversary especially since the diversity of the participants should have meant failure. The woes culminated with Becky "Bandana Woman" Wallace holding them at knifepoint, but even she recently joined and was baptized in Lake Michigan. However, like a prophet Jodi warns that Satan will show up when you feel spiritually satisfied. White supremacist Kent detests the politically correct mumbo jumbo and begins distributing hate pamphlets at Northwestern University and in the nearby neighborhoods. Mark, the husband of congregant Nony is upset when he finds what Kent is fostering in the name of freedom of speech. Jodi worries that her son might have joined this hate group, but also prays for the shy woman accompanying Kent on his mission. As racial discord violently surfaces, the Yada Yada Prayer Group wonders if the serpent has turned their group into the Tower of Babel as they seemingly lost their ability to communicate with one another. The fourth book in the Yada Yada series is a complex entry that enables the audience to see how diverse in race and belief the thirteen females in the group are though each makes different levels of appearances. Gets Tough can stand alone, but readers will better appreciate the depth of the ensemble cast (the Yada Yadas and their families) by reading the previous tales first. Still this interesting novel provides a deep look at de jure and de facto covert discrimination and how overt racism impacts on victims, "believers", and enablers. Praying for the loathers is the prime tool to defeat the racists and their supporters. Neta Jackson provides a powerful tale of "eracism" through prayer.

Urn Burial
Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590581695, $24.95, 202 pp.

The Honorable Phryne Fisher is a society lady who also is a private detective in Australia in 1928. Unable to fit into upper class British society because she feels the mores and customs were too restrictive for females, she ran away from home at eighteen to Paris and then to Australia. She is accepted by Polite Society even though she doesn't conform to the rules women are supposed to live by and her taking of Lin Chung, a Chinese aristocrat as a lover, almost causes a scandal due to prejudice. The duo along with their servants and bodyguard Li Pen go to Cave House in the countryside to attend a party. Even before they arrive, a shot rings out and they rescue Lina, a servant girl who was brutally assaulted. When they arrive at the house, they find out their host is getting death threats. Later Phryne goes to Lina's room to find the young lady dead. When she goes to get help, in the time she is gone, someone steals the body and the people are trapped on the estate with a murderer due to high flood waters but Phryne is determined to root out the murderer who is threatening her host. Kerry Greenwood is one of the best Australian mystery writers in recent years with a deserved fan base in the United States. Readers can't help but like the plucky woman who knows what she wants and goes after it including taking a Chinese man (unheard of in those days) and working as a private detective (something rich aristocrats just don't do). Her current who-done-it showcases a talented author and her terrific heroine.

Island Intrigue
Wendy Howell Mills
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590582179, $24.95, 254 pp.

All her life Sabrina Dunsweeney has been under the control of her alcoholic domineering mother who chose her career for her and made it impossible for her to date. After her mother dies she finds a lump in her breast that turns out to be benign. After surviving these two traumas, Sabrina needs some time off to relax and find out who she is. She travels to the small and isolated Comico Island and rents a house from Nellie Wrightly. Her arrival coincides with the election for the President of the Sanitary Concessionary, a political office that often provides a stepping stone to the state senate. Brad Tittletott is running unopposed even after a fire burns down his office and his childhood friend Rollo Wrightley returns to the island for the first time in years. He left after being accused of committing a crime by Brad and his mother. Rollo wants justice for being railroaded fifteen years ago but before he can reveal the secrets that the Tittletotts want to keep hidden, he is murdered. Sabrina, who met and liked him does some investigating independent of the police in the hopes of unearthing a very disturbed killer. ISLAND INTRIGUE is a fascinating amateur sleuth tale written by an author who is loaded with talent. Her ability to describe island life and the residents who live there adds an exotic dimension of depth to a fascinating who done it. Sabrina is a person trying to find herself and while doing so make a place for herself with the islanders who come to consider her a friend. This reviewer looks forward to more mysteries starring this multi-dimensional heroine.

No Peace For the Wicked
Pip Granger
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590582160, $24.95, 310 pp.

It is1956 and Soho, England is a combination red light district and Greenwich Village with a definite feel of a neighborhood community. Same sex relationships, threesome trysts and having sex without being married is tolerated. Lizzy is still recovering from the death of her daughter a year and a half ago with the help of the people in the neighborhood especially those who hang at the diner on Old Compton Road owned and operated by Maggie and her husband Bert with help from their adopted daughter Rosie. At the local nightclub run by Bandy and Sugar Plum Flaherty, the former's ward Peace, a Chinese- student, has run away from the boarding school and stay at Bandy's place. Bandy wants her to return to school but the child has been subjected to the prejudice of the students. Bandy, who is in the middle of a hot blooded affair accuses the girl of stealing her pearl jewelry. A hurt Peace goes to is stay with Lizzye who happily take her in. She comes to think of the girl as a daughter so when she disappears, she rallies all the people in the neighborhood to find out where she is staying. They learn that Peace has been kidnapped; using all their considerable resources, they try to find the girl and whoever is behind it who wants her shipped back to China. Pip Granger has written an exciting mystery wrapped around a family saga. Lizzie doesn't know that when she takes Peace into her home she will end up dealing with Chinese Tongs and Triads, kidnappers and eloping lovers but even if she did know, she would choose the same path because she loves Peace. The characters are realistic and the bohemian setting of Soho is vividly described so that readers will identify it with the locale before it fell apart. This is a thought provoking historical work that readers will enjoy very much.

The Spanish Bride
Laurien Gardner
ISBN: 0515140279, $6.99, 304 pp.

In 1501 teenage Princess Catherine of Aragon accompanied by a small retinue to include her lady in waiting Estrella de Montoya arrives in England to marry King Henry VIII. The bright Catherine looks forward to her wedding day with the courageous monarch. By 1527 when she fails to produce the male heir, Henry does the unthinkable in the eyes of God and the law; he divorces his Spanish first wife to wed Anne Boleyn though his first wife does everything to stop him from tossing her aside. This is an intriguing historical biographical fiction novel that rotates between the arrival and early happy days of the royal marriage to the bleak final moments when the King casts his foreign spouse, who desperately tries everything to save her marriage and regain her spouse's love, aside for someone else. The story line is seen through the eyes of the loyal Estrella who stands by her Queen though that risks the ire of Henry. By doing this, Laurien Gardner paints Catherine as an intelligent caring woman who suffers the humiliating stigmatism of divorce unheard of by her religion. English historical readers will treasure this deep look at Henry's first wife with his second coming up next.

Red Lily
Nora Roberts
ISBN: 0515139408, $7.99, 384 pp.

Hayley Phillips had no place to go to safely raise her newborn Lily, so she came to Memphis' legendary Harper House hoping to obtain work from her distant relative forty-something Roz Harper at the attached In the Garden nursery (see BLUE DAHLIA). She has found much more as she becomes friends with her curmudgeon host, Stella and others who shower her and Lily with love. However over time, Hayley realizes she also loves Roz's son Harper, but fears revealing her deep feelings because she worries how Roz and their friends would react; not even love is worth the cost of that friendship. Besides she has doubts that the deep regard is truly hers as she thinks the Harper Bride has somehow entered her mind. Harper shares her feelings including not wanting to hurt their friendship that means so much to him. Hayley believes the Harper Bride, a ghost singing lullabies in the mansion, has chosen her as the one to help the spirit leave this plane. Accompanied by Harper, Roz and her beloved Mitchell (see BLACK ROSE), and Stella and her cherished Logan they begin a quest to learn what happened in 1893 to keep this specter haunting the mansion. RED LILY is a terrific ending to the delightful In the Garden trilogy. Haley fantasizes about Harper and dreams of things that happened to the Harper Bride not her. This makes her wonder if the Bride or she loves Harper. The ensemble cast returns from the previous novels, but remains consistent to their distinctive personalities. The mystery of the ghost and the potential romance make for a fine finale as the audience will wonder whether the Bride, Haley, or both loves Harper. Nora Roberts proves once again she is one of the best writers in the romance world.

The Constant Princess
Philippa Gregory
ISBN: 074327248X, $24.95

Katherine spent her preadolescent years on the battlefield as her parents King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella defeated the Moors. Once the kingdom was secure the trio resided in Alhambra. When she turned fifteen Katherine traveled from the Peninsular to England to marry Arthur. She finds England barbaric lacking obvious amenities like in-door plumbing and tasty healthy food. She and the sickly Arthur fall in love as they plan to raise the standard of living for the people. However, a few months into their political marriage, Arthur dies. Instead of a period of mourning, Katherine is quickly wedded to Arthur's healthier younger brother Henry, which she accepts with grace especially since her spouse forced a deathbed pledge to do so as he wants her to complete his dreams for England; beside she understands the ties between the two nations being much more important than personal feelings. Thus she weds preadolescent Henry and eventually becomes the Queen devoted to her second husband. Alas her loyalty ends tragically. This epic look at Katherine brings to life the reign of Henry VIII as few tales do. Katherine, the idealistic Arthur, her parents, and of course Henry come off of the staid textbooks as full blooded individuals filled with passion even while their ardor varies making for a richer historical. Though Katherine's sudden insight into Holy Wars and her life long enemy the Moors seem too convenient and twenty-first century in outlook, readers will appreciate Philippa Gregory's grand sweep of late fifteenth century into early sixteenth century England.

Jane Millionaire
Janice Lynn
ISBN: 0505526646, $5.99

Police officer Jill Davidson has spent much of her life protecting her younger sister Jessie that often makes her ponder whether that is why she became a cop. However, this time even Jill questions whether there needs to be a limit as to how far one goes to keep a sibling safe. Though not an actress, Jill is currently performing for the TV reality show JANE MILLIONAIRE pretending to be Jessie acting as a princess of a country that she doubts Rand-McNally ever heard of. To Jill her role is so out of character for a woman men adopt as a buddy because they never consider her a glamorous sexy siren wanting to marry. Also in the castle amongst the cast and crew of JANE MILLIONAIRE is the producer Rob Lancaster, who Jane salivates over, but knows he is out of reach for someone like her. Rob, who is doing the show as a favor to someone he holds dear cannot believe how much he desires the star from the moment he first set eyes on "Jessie". Having failed at love, Rob tries to ignore his attraction to her, but easily turns jealous with the attention of all the hunk bachelors competing for his "Jessie". Though using reality TV as a backdrop and the theme of a couple unable to believe they are in love have occurred frequently, readers willfully appreciate this fine tale that takes the audience behind the scenes of the show as well as providing a delightful romance. The cast makes JANE MILLIONAIRE fun to read as the secondary characters bring humor to the tale while the lead couple provide angst and sexual tension. Janice Lynn provides a jocular joyful tale of love on the remote set.

Blood Moon over Britain
Morag McKendrick Pippin
ISBN: 0843955821, $5.99, 352 pp.

By December 1942 the war looks bleak for Britain as the Americans may prove too late to save them. The rest of Europe has fallen or meekly signed a non aggression pact while the Luftwaffe seems to be winning the air war, the U-Boats the naval war, and the ground front going General Rommel's way. Publicly except for Churchill there seems no hope. However, a top secret project at Bletchley Park has provided a possibility to those involved as the German Enigma Code has been broken and decoding messages 7 has given an edge to the allied forces. Though the local cops ruled it a suicide, Scotland Yard Special Branch Inspector Alistair Fielding treats the death like a homicide. He interrogates those who knew Graham Mason starting with his cousin Cicely Winterbourne, who works at Bletchley Park. When a second suspicious death related to the Enigma Code occurs, Cicely believes someone wants a secret kept hidden. She wants to trust Fielding who she is falling in love with, but the first law of espionage is trust no one. Cicely risks her life to uncover who would kill to insure that certain secret remains interred. This excellent historical espionage police procedural contains a powerful atmosphere, which paints an intriguing duality of how the British feel about the war though nothing seems to be going right there is a feeling fostered by Churchill that they will win. The first paragraph above is the scenario incorporated inside the second paragraph by following the professional investigation of Fielding contrasted with the amateur sleuthing of Winterbourne. The romance just adds to the case matchmaking relationship between them. Readers will treasure this finest hour World War II thriller.

The Warrior
Judith French
ISBN: 0843953950, $6.99

In Alexandria Pharaoh Ptolemy informs his Queen Artakama that their daughter Mereret will marry his nephew Alexander, son of the Great. Though Artakama objects that her only child is too young to wed the offspring of a barbarian and Mereret says never to an alliance marriage with the barbarian that will take her away from her home, Ptolemy invites Alexander to his kingdom. In Bactria, ignoring the advice of his mother Roxanne not to trust the Egyptian ruler, the son of a Macedonian bandit, Alexander accepts the invitation and sails to Egypt where his half-brother Paris resides. Mereret appeases Alexandra's sexual appetite by gifting him with a pleasure slave Kiara of the Misty Isles. Alexandra enjoys the tryst and informs her she is his exclusively until he leaves for his kingdom with his bride. When Mereret tries a sexual betrayal of Alexander, Kiara saves his life. As they fall in love, Alexander does trust his intended with his life; besides he wants to spend forever with Kiara. However, running off with her could cause an international crisis but marrying Mereret means courting death. THE WARRIOR, the final tale in the "Alexander" trilogy (see THE CONQUEROR and THE BARBARIAN) is a fabulous ancient historical romance starring the shrewd son of the Great one and an intelligent Irish sex slave. Readers will feel the royal intrigue on almost every page as Ptolemy battles with his scheming Queen and their daughter to cement the alliance with his nephew; Paris does his own plotting with the target of everyone's machinations being Alexander. Judith French closes her superb miniseries with a powerful insightful look at fourth century BC mostly at Egypt and the Kingdom of Bactria ad Sogdiana.

The Mavericks
Leigh Greenwood
ISBN: 0843952377, $6.99, 384 pp.

At the end of the Civil War the Maxwells adopted eleven orphans whom they showered with love and raised to respect others. Though all in this loving brood cherish one another, the two non-white children became best friends. For years, former slave Zeke and half Indian Hawk rode together with neither of them thinking of settling down, but now in their late thirties, they decide to end their wanderlust and raise quality horses to sell to ranchers. As the Maxwell brothers escort mares in foal to their ranch, Josie, a black female, fires at Hawk. Zeke persuades Josie and her dance girl companions Suzette, Anna, and the ailing Laurie to stop shooting. Their wagon lost its linchpin stranding the helpless females until the siblings showed up. When Ben Norman arrives to take Anna with him as his wife, the ladies lose their driver and with the help of the guys take Laurie to her parents' spread. As Suzette and Hawk fall in love over horses, Zeke and Josie fall in love between jabs. However, while in loving denial, they deal with horse thieves, kidnappers, and an idiot sheriff. Leigh Greenwood, known for his terrific western romances, returns to the Cowboys' saddle with a fantastic double love story. The character driven tale lassoes in readers from the moment Josie fires a shot at Hawk and never slows down until the final confrontation between her and Zeke. The story line focuses on the dual romances, but is enhanced by the rustlers and a sheriff who applies racial profiling (Suzette is French Canadian) to decide that the four heroes are liars and thieves. Fans will cherish the return to one of the best sub-genre series.

The Jinx
Jennifer Sturman
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895402, $12.95, 320 pp.

Winslow, Brown investment banker Rachel Benjamin piles up the frequent flyer miles working mergers and acquisitions. Her boyfriend Peter Forrest works across the continent in San Francisco, but soon will join Rachel in Boston where she is on assignment and he is attending a conference. Over the six months together they have seen each other when either is on the other coast or over holidays at the homes of relatives. Rachel thinks this relationship is going to last, which surprises her because usually her confidence is zero when it comes to the staying power of men. However, she is concerned that Peter's assistant Abigail is beautiful, brainy, and on the left coast. . Already thinking of trailing Peter, Rachel becomes sidetracked when someone attacks her friend Sara who lands in the hospital. Unable to ignore the PACT she made with Sara and three other friends back in college, Rachel combines the two situations into a big investigation to uncover who battered Sara and whether Peter is cheating with Abigail, not knowing which one is more dangerous to her heath. With a pinch of chick lit as Rachel wonders if she is THE JINX in her relationships (Murphy looks optimistic next to her), this is a fine amateur sleuth romance. The story line focuses on the dichotomy of Rachel's mindset as she is a successful business woman (made it on Fortune magazine cover) but lacks confidence in love. The who-done-it with hints of a serial killer lurking and further assaults on Sara pending is deftly handled with a neat twist as Rachel investigates to protect her friend. Her inquiries into Peter and Abigail also include a delightful twist. Fans will appreciate this fine tale.

What I Really Want To Do Is Direct
Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895410, $12.95, 368 pp.

In Toronto, though one of the lowest in the film-making hierarchy as a camera focus grunt, Roxanne Hasting dreams as she has for two decades since she was thirteen of directing her own movie one day. Still she knows she must pay her dues and so goes about her grunt work of insuring the camera focuses on the actors. During a break from her job, a miracle happens as Rox is given the opportunity to direct a short The Lobby, a screenplay written by her best friend Libby. However, Rox quickly finds the duel roles as director and cinematographer overwhelming and her experiences lacking for either job. Still she will go 24/7 to insure she swims not sinks as this is a once in a lifetime chance. A second time may not be forthcoming if she fails this chance at achieving her dream and that of Libby's. Rox's dream serves as an allegory that achieving worthy Big Hairy Audacious Goals means hard work that can interfere with other objectives especially in one's personal life, but if it is that important one will set priorities accordingly. Rox (and Libby) brings humor and eccentricity to the story as the wannabe director gives up much to accomplish her goal although some of the thorny folks she works with make even a dreamer question the price. This is a terrific insightful character study encouraging individuals to follow your dream.

Kenneth Oppel
ISBN: 0060532270, $16.99, 384 pp.

As a teenage first year student at the Airship Academy, Matt Cruse like all other new pupils, was sent on an on the job assignment. He sails through the air on the dilapidated cargo ship the Flotsam. However, when the crew spots the legendary ghost SKYBREAKER the Hyperion at about 20K up from Antarctica, Captain Tritus gives the order to soar upward so that they can grab the vessel and claims its rumored millions that belong to a wealthy inventor. However, the Flotsam is not built for high stratospheric conditions and the crew begins to suffer from hypoxia. Matt intercedes before they all die from mistakes caused by the increasingly thin oxygen. Someone from the crew sells the sightings story to the newspapers, while Matt's tells his best friend from the Aurora escapade Kate de Vries that he was on the Flotsam and saw the Hyperion. Kate persuades Matt that they should salvage the Hyperion. She also brings Captain Hal Slater of the Saga to pilot their expedition and they are joined by Gypsy Nadira. Passion is heating the Saga though that must stay in the background as sky pirates and deadly rivals such as the Sagarmatha are also AIRBORNE racing for the prize. Readers should picture a Victorian teenage Indiana Jones who performs courageous feats in the stratosphere to understand the concepts behind the exciting SKYBREAKER. The story line is action, action, and more action, but the key cast members seem real due to the feisty amusing relationships. The rectangular romance augments the capers so that teenage action adventure fans (both genders) will appreciate Kenneth Oppel's latest thriller, the sequel to the exhilarating AIRBORNE in which Matt was a hero.

Everett Aison
Pleasure Boat Studios
201 W.89th St. New York, Ny. 10024
ISBN: 1929355254, $16.00, 232 pp.

Since he was a boy, Mace Caslon loved art and although he couldn't draw, he became a well known collector. He works as a lawyer in a fancy and powerful art firm that allows him to indulge in his hobby of collecting paintings. At a New York auction Cora and Simon Nobel make their dream come true when they buy Picasso's Universal Woman for forty one million dollars. They are going to loan it to the Metropolitan Museum for two weeks so the public can view the rarely seen picture. Mace is one of the visitors but instead of appreciating the masterpiece, he destroys it by throwing acid on it. He is arrested and everyone including the police wants to know why a man who had everything risks going to jail to destroy a painting. Even Mace isn't certain of the reason. His act causes a media frenzy and a high profile lawyer asks to represent him while the D.A. thinks Mace is his ticket to higher office. When the trial gets underway, no one is certain what will happen, especially his lawyer and the D.A. because of the resulting publicity. One thing is for sure, this will be no ordinary trial. The protagonist remains a distant figure so it is hard for the reader to understand why he committed such a crime. The enigmatic quality of Mace propels differing factions of society to ascribe their own theories to him. His one deep relationship with the young son of his ex-lover has such a strong rendering quality that readers feel for Mace even though they don't understand or empathize with him. The mysterious Mace makes this thriller worth reading.

Overworld: The Life and Times of a Reluctant Spy
Larry Kolb
ISBN: 1594481415, $16.00

When the audience first reads the prologue and the Part One The Spy Who Loves Me opening dialogues, the reaction is to believe that OVERWORLD is a biographical fiction or, at best, a lampooning of the murky CIA-Industrial complex. Instead this is a real memoir of an American born and raised in a family of spies with his childhood accompanying his father traveling all over the world on odd operations. At a young age, Mr. Kolb learned words like "classified", and "secret" as this account with minute details seems genuine as much as can be affirmed, but if not the book remains cleverly and enticingly written. As a young adult Mr. Kolb rejected the family business. He became a financial advisor to Muhammad Ali and then accompanied the "Greatest on a rescue mission to Beirut to bring home American hostages. He soon was back in the game as a jet setting globetrotter with a business front that enabled him to access and gain information for the CIA. This is a terrific biography with a kick butt spin that provides readers behind the scenes information on some of the operations that have occurred since WW II. The best section is an Espionage 101 as Mr. Kolb delivers an intriguing look at training the spy. How much is truly authentic? Though all feels genuine, no one will care if it is so except maybe Mr. Goss and Mr. Tenet as this is an entertaining and insightful look at spying, American style.

The Christmas Quilt
Jennifer Chiaverini
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 074328657X, $18.95

After five decades away from Elm Creek Manor, the estranged Sylvia Compson returned home too late make any amends with her deceased Bergstrom relatives. Now Christmas is coming, but the septuagenarian does not feel like celebrating her first Yuletide in her family home in fifty years. Her quilting camp partner Sarah McClure and the youngster's spouse orchards gardener Matt plan to celebrate Yuletide at Elm Creek. Sarah feels some guilt that she is not going to visit her family, but believes the fault lies with her mother who overtly displays her loathing of Matt. Sarah persuades a reluctant Sylvia to go into the attic to look at the holiday ornaments where they find an unfinished Christmas quilt and the memories of the joys in spite of the Depression; the depression of loved ones dying during World War II, and much more. Sylvia regrets her stubbornness that is too late to mend fences and pleads with Sarah to square things with her mother. Though fans of the Elm Creek Quilt series might be a bit confused as to the timing as this entry occurs before Sylvia marries Andrew (see last year's THE MASTER QUILTER), long time readers will enjoy the latest tale. The somewhat sugary story line contains a deep message that there is no time in life to hold grudges. Sarah is terrific as the attic mementos have her looking back on the joys, tragedies, and mistakes in her life. Though suited for those in the audience who have read most of the previous novels (memories will mean much more) because some newcomers might have some problems with what happened to whom, Jennifer Chiaverini provides a warm holiday tale that adds to the Elm Creek manor saga.

The Cultured Handmaiden
Catherine Cookson
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0684808552, $25.00, 256 pp.

Her fiance Ray Collard dumps twenty-one years old Jinny Brownlow insisting her roommate registered nurse Emily Houselea is much warmer. At work Jinny is part of the typing pool at Henderson & Garbrook Engineering when the senior partner Bob Henderson needs office assistant help with his long time aid in the hospital. After several girls are run off by the demanding Bob, Jinny is kicked upstairs and calmly handles the curmudgeon refusing to bow to his nastiness. Jinny becomes indispensable at work but eventually in her boss' personal life too especially when Henderson's wife dies. Concerned over her growing influence on their father and how much he likes Jinny's company, Bob's four daughters worry that their dad will marry his young assistant. However, though she likes her boss, who obviously finds Jinny helping him to overcome his loneliness and grief, she finds herself quite attracted to his son John. Her feelings are awkward because he acts strange towards her as one moment he seems in love with her and the next he acts like she is beneath him. Though the tale takes place in the 1970s, class distinctions still remain a part of English society as this reprint by the late great Catherine Cookson portrays. The story line focuses on the relationships between Jinny and the Collard family including the wife before she dies. Fans will appreciate this fine English relationship drama while wondering who the lead female will choose, if anyone.

The Truth of the Matter
Robb Forman Dew
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316890049, $24.95, 336 pp.

In Washburn, Ohio as WWII rages overseas, widow Agnes Scofield, who lost her husband Warren in a car accident that she believes was vehicular suicide over a decade earlier, has raised their four children now adults relying on her low schoolteacher's wages. She hides her feelings from everyone especially her four children. However, the war is coming home to Agnes as her three sons (actually two sons and a brother whom she raised as her child) join the military and her daughter travels to DC. Feeling lonely she begins an affair with long time neighbor Will, but that provides her little if any warmth. By 1947, her kids have come back to town with spouses leading to her missing the solitude of the war years although she loves her children and grandchildren. The interesting 1940s THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER starts a decade after the delightful THE EVIDENCE AGAINST HER (Warren and to a lesser degree Agnes were key players in that historical), but is a stand alone tale. The character driven story line focuses on Agnes who distances herself from people as she holds herself culpable for the death of her older spouse back in 1930. Readers follow her as she lives a quiet tepid life that some would say is not living at all until her extended family horde return to Washburn following the war. No conflict occurs even when her daughter and her former lover match up or her brother she raised hooks up with a neighbor in what might be incest. Like the apathetic lead protagonist the story line lacks tension though it provides a solid spotlight on a small town in the Midwest during and after WW II.

Habeas Corpses
Wm. Mark Simmons
ISBN: 1416509135, $22.00, 466 pp.

Nobody knows quite what the Doman of the East Coast Enclave of Vampires actually is. A blood transfusion gave Chris one of the two viruses need to become a vampire but the donor never gave him the other virus founded in his saliva. At best the master vampires, who want to challenge is position as Doman, thinks he is a hybrid but every day Chris is becoming more like a vampire. However, the werewolf, vampire and Loa blood he has drunk has changed him in ways that make him subtly different from a creature who is supposed to be a vampire. Dr. Pipt wants Chris's blood because he thinks it is the last step in his quest for immortality; he sends a cybernetic monster to collect it but Chris and his bodyguards kill it. His pregnant werewolf vampire can't abide his touch because the silver in his body has become stronger and dangerous to her. He travels to New York to consolidate his power base but is almost killed by a traitor. Next he takes an astral journey to the home of Dr. Pipt to retrieve something that the mad scientist has that rightfully belongs to him while fighting this human evil who performs atrocities worse than any of the ugly deeds the monsters commit. Wm. Mark Williams has written another witty irreverent and serio-comic urban fantasy novel starring a hero that is easy to like. He wants to be a Doman not for the power but for the chance to convince the vampire not to kill humans when they drink their blood or turn them into creatures like themselves. There is plenty of action just as there are plenty of laughs because the protagonist can't take his situation too seriously because if he does, he knows the stress of being a target and wondering what he will eventually evolve into would make him useless to himself and those who depend on and believe in him.

John Ringo
ISBN: 1416509054, $25.00

After fifteen years as a Navy SEAL special ops agent, Michael "Ghost" Harmon retires because his body can no longer handle the pressure following degenerative damage to at least half of his major joints. However, his adjustment to civilian life proves difficult as he attends the University of Georgia as an undergrad. It is not the assignments as he used to eighteen hour days; it is the inactivity to release his growing rage. So to give him something to do, the Ghost uses his skill of blending in to stealthily stalk pretty coeds and fantasize having sex with them. Ghost follows a beautiful blonde who suddenly is kidnapped by men driving a van. He follows them to a deserted warehouse where he learns of an odious terrorist plot to abduct and assault American women. Ghost attacks the men, killing most of the enemy and trails the survivors and their prisoners to Hartsfield where he stows on a plane heading to Syria before continuing elsewhere like Amsterdam. Wherever the trail takes him Ghost is a WMD causing havoc and death as he begins to understand the strange, but dangerous conspiracy that threatens the West. Ghost is a weird combination of hero and antihero as he tries to break up the conspiracy as only he can, but also is a dark soul abusing women as he does in a Bosnian brothel or just stalking the as he does on the Athens campus. Fans will be shocked by his actions as heroes are supposed to be ethical John Wayne types, but in this case he is amoral. Not for everyone, John Ringo provides a powerful techno-thriller that reminds the audience that some of our heroic "trained" killers have a dark tendency to violence.

S is for Silence
Sue Grafton
ISBN: 0399152970, $26.95, 368 pp.

Santa Teresa, California private detective Kinsey Millhone has more work than she can handle but when Daisy Sullivan asks for her help, she can hardly refuse. Daisy wants to know what happened to her mother Violet who disappeared thirty four years ago on July 4, 1953. Most of the people in the town where she lived regarded her as trailer trash, a married battered wife who would sleep with whoever available. Opinion is divided between whether she stepped out with a man or someone killed her. She was last seen driving away from a gas station in the flashy new car her husband Foley bought for her. If Violet is dead, most people believe Foley is her killer because he was known to beat her up and the violence escalated the more she stepped out on him. Kinsey's investigation finds more suspects with motives who could have killed Violet and one of them is going out of their way to scare her off the case. A stubborn Kinsey risks her life to unearth the truth. This is the nineteenth Kinsey Millhone mystery and it is very different from the other books in the series. Chapters switch from the first person with Kinsey as the narrator in the present to the third person for chapters in 1953. Surprisingly, this plot device works so smoothly that readers don't really notice the difference. This is a great who done it one that shows step by step a Kinsey Millhone investigation. Sue Grafton writes some of the best mysteries in the new millennium with characters that never grow stale.

All Night Long
Jayne Ann Krentz
ISBN: 0399153055, $24.95, 416 pp.

In the small Northern California town of Dunsley, Irene Stenson missed curfew because her best friend Pamela Webb deliberately kept her out late. When she finally arrives home she sees the murdered bodies of her parents on the kitchen floor. Their deaths were deemed murder-suicide and Irene left town and never returned or spoke to Pamela. Seventeen years later, Pamela e-mails Irene asking her to come back to Dunsley because she has something important to tell her. She checks in at the Sunrise on the Lake Lodge and is immediately attracted to the owner Luke Danner who finds himself very interested in his boarder. When Irene arrives at Pamela's house, she finds her former friend dead, a bottle of empty pills and liquor near the body. The sheriff rules it a suicide but from the urgency of Pamela's message Irene thinks she was murdered. As a reporter she starts her own investigation because she believes there is a link between her parents' deaths and Pamela's demise. Luke helps her and saves her life quite a few times because it is obvious someone is willing to kill to keep Pamela's secret hidden. A Jayne Ann Krentz novel is always a joy too read and ALL NIGHT LONG is no exception. The protagonists are drawn true to life and are not as quirky as Ms. Krentz's characters usually are but that is because they are dealing with dark, troubling and dangerous situations and emotions. The mystery is very complex and filled with red herrings and unusual twists and turns. There is a secondary character, one of Luke's brothers, who deserves his own story.

Patricia Cornwell
ISBN: 0399152830, $26.95, 406 pp.

Dr. Kay Scarpetta is now working at the Natural Forensic Academy where she is the director of forensic science and a consulting forensic pathologist for the Broward County Medical Examiner's office. Pete Marino works there as the head of investigations and a part-time death investigator for the Broward County's Medical Examiner's office. Benton Wesley is at Harvard working on PREDATOR, a study using cutting edge technology to discover whether the brains of mass murderers are different than the average person. Hog calls Pete Marino who asks Scarpetta to look into the Johnny Swift case. Johnny's twin brother discovered him dead. Evidence at first suggested suicide but now the theory is murder might have occurred. Lucy Farinelli,, Kay's niece is tracking Johnny's last days in the hopes of getting some answers because he was special to her. She picks up Stevie for a one night stand and notices tattoos on her breasts and buttocks. Benton, who is asked to examine a body sees the same tattoos that were on Stevie's body. A thug is keeping track of Benton while Kay needs to find the key that will unlock the answers they all seek. This is a very different book then all the other Kay Scarpetta novels as this is told in the third person and is a stand alone book meaning that it doesn't require reading previous novels in the series. The key protagonists go their way as if the previous events in their life didn't really change them. This crime thriller is a fantastic work with equal parts of action and character development, but as always the research done on the book is scientifically correct and meticulously researched.

Memory in Death
J.D. Robb
ISBN: 0399153284, $24.95, 352 pp.

In the year 2059, Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas of the New York Police and Security Department walks into her office and finds a nightmare sitting on her chair. The child Eve was given to Trudy for fostering, but the powers that be had no idea that she was an abusive predator who took a broken child and tortured her. Eve escaped by running away and spent time in Juvie, a safer place. The adult Eve throws Trudy out of her office; the next day Trudy goes to Eve's billionaire husband Roarke to blackmail him in exchange for her silence on his wife's past. He kicks her out of his office and tells her what he will to do to her if she bothers Eve again. Roarke and Eve go to Trudy's room to confront her and tell her they will not give in to blackmail but by the time they reach her, she is dead, the victim of murder. Eve manages to be the primary on the case in order to get justice for Trudy who many, like Roarke, believe doesn't deserve it, and the cop can put the worst of her childhood to rest. Trudy is evil, a woman who will go to any lengths to get what she wants. She likes to hurt people, especially those she fostered and then blackmailed when they were old enough to pay her. Eve is a strong woman who pushes her vulnerabilities aside in order to conduct the investigation to the best of her ability. J.D. Robb once again writes a fantastic and exciting futuristic police procedural.

Dark Desires
Eve Silver
ISBN: 0821779664, $3.99, 352 pp.

Desperate Darcie Finch arrives at the East London brothel seeking help. The Madam Mrs. Feather sees Darcie's revulsion when the first male inspects her. Mrs. Feather gives Darcie some money, tells her to never return and sends her to see Dr. Damien Cole for work. Darcie hugs her sister, who warns her to keep away from Cole's secrets. While heading to Cole's Curzon Street address, she is almost hit by his horses. He hires her as a maid but she turns squeamish because inside his carriage is a dead man. Still she needs work and upon seeing her artistic skills he promotes her to the position of his drawing assistant. However, the Cole residence seems sinister as Darcie learns that a maid has vanished without a trace and another employee has strangle prints on her neck, and creepy resurectionists arrive with fresh corpses all the time. As Darcie falls in love with her employer, she wonders if he is the serial killer terrorizing London or is he just someone hiring thugs who kill to insure fresh bodies for Cole's medical research. This is a terrific gothic romantic suspense thriller in which the audience will feel the fears enhanced by the foggy somewhat gloomy atmosphere. Darcie is a classic sub-genre female wondering if the dark brooding man she loves is a killer while his home especially his lab serves as the typical mansion. Though the story line adheres somewhat to the sub-genre standard, Eve Silver provides a precious Victorian tale that grips the readers from the moment the heroine's sister the Madam sends her to Cole and never losens its grasp until the air is clear.

Highland Champion
Hannah Howell
ISBN: 0821777580, $6.50, 384 pp.

In 1475 Scotland, Kiera Murray MacKail is forced to flee her home when Castle Ardgleann is overtaken by Ralf Mouwbray, who killed her spouse. She manages to reach a nearby monastery where her cousin Brother Matthew tends a wounded warrior Liam Cameron. As a gifted healer Kiera takes over caring for the patient. When he recovers, Liam, in gratitude, agrees to escort Keira to his home where he is bound anyway. However, traveling without a chaperon for weeks, their families demand the couple wed. Liam accepts his fate having expected it, but Keira is reluctant as she knows he will discover her secret on their wedding night; she remains a virgin though a widow. As they mount a counter assault to regain Ardgeleann, they both quietly realize they love their spouse, but neither wants to be the first to say so out of fear of rejection. Hannah "Highland" Howell provides a strong fifteenth century Scottish romance that her fans will enjoy while rooting for the lead couple to make it together and to defeat the enemy that has taken over her castle. Readers will wonder why she is a married virgin as Ms. Howell once again entertains her audience with a fine Highland historical tale.

This Christmas
Jane Green, Jennifer Coburn & Liz Ireland
ISBN: 0821778064, $6.99, 480 pp.

"Vacation" by Jane Green. Manhattan realtor Sarah feels her spouse Eddie is a stranger even after eight years together and two children. She rarely remembers the happy moments that they shared as she believes their two children who she loves have nuked their relationship. At the same time Eddie finds his self-esteem on empty. Deciding to separate, this looks like the last Christmas that Sarah and Eddie will remain married barring a Yuletide miracle. "The Second Wife of Reilly" by Jennifer Coburn. When Prudence went to Ann Arbor for a reunion she had a weekend fling with her college lover and ended her marriage to Reilly, but feeling guilty as her husband did nothing wrong, she searches for a new spouse for him. Six months later second wife Sarah decides to insure wacky Prudence stays out of their lives by turning the tables and searching for a husband for the first wife. "Mistletoe and Holly" by Liz Ireland. Holly loves spending Christmas with her family, but afterward feels lonely as her two sisters and brother always have someone with them before, during, and after. This year Holly takes Jason with her, but as the days go by she has doubts as he fits in very nicely with her picture perfect family while she does not and even under the mistletoe her mind wanders back to work. These are three well written comedic family dramas that are fun frolics for sub-genre readers; however any vacation time could have been the setting as the Christmas holiday gala is not essential to these three fine novellas.

Cherry on Top
Kathleen Long
ISBN: 0821778498, $5.99

In New Jersey, Bart Matthews leaves his fiancee Cherry Harte at the altar. Not long afterward Cherry and his sister Liz win a multi-million dollar lottery. With her mom in jail for embezzling and their con artist father vanished for over a decade, the siblings decide to relocate to Mystic Beach, Florida with Cherry planning to reinvent her life. In Mystic Beach, Cherry's Jag breaks down, but mechanic Luke Chance tells her to wait her turn or borrow his truck. As they become better acquainted an attraction springs up between them. However, the former journalist refuses to have anything with the novella riche as he has a lingering bad taste from a similar female. Besides she wants to join the Women's League that is competing with him for conversion of property; the league wants to establish a horticultural center while he and his side a youth center. CHERRY ON TOP is an engaging contemporary romance starring two likable lead characters. Cherry is an eccentric female who wants to shed her family's scandalous past in order to become accepted by "polite society" even if she has to buy her way into the group. Luke refuses to take a chance on anyone rich especially a lottery winner. Though the intrigue seems unnecessary and over the top, Kathleen Long provides a fun tale with zany eccentrics rounding out the fine starring couple.

Dead Game
Kirk Russell
ISBN: 0811850781, $23.95, 320 pp.

California Fish & Game Special Operations Unit Warden John Marquez is concerned with the poaching of sturgeon in the Sacramento/San Joaquin River delta. Someone was killing the sturgeon to "extract" the eggs to make caviar and is unconcerned about collateral damage to other fish. However, Marquez does not have the manpower to stop the poachers as his unit has shrunk down to three while the criminals have gotten smarter, bigger, and more energetic, and the FBI steps in and out looking for sound byte poser cases only. Still he tries using informants to help him catch the crooks such as former sturgeon poacher Abe Raburn who Marquez pressures into testifying against former KGB agent Nikolai Ludovna, who came to the states allegedly as a realtor, but is the caviar poaching kingpin. Abe proves uninformative perhaps out of fear of retaliation. Russian-born field guide Anna Burdovsky agrees to help, but she vanishes without a trace following a meeting with specialty food storeowner Don August, who Marquez believes sells illegal caviar. With potential problems at home, Marquez concentrates on expediting Anna from danger though he fears he is too late. The key to this fine fish and wildlife police procedural is the different personalities that make up the sturgeon poaching crowd as readers will understand the economic motivations of poachers, sellers, storeowners, users, law enforcement officials, and informants. The story line is somewhat typical of the undermanned and under-equipped cops struggling to defeat superior forces while knowing a victory today just means a new criminal takes over the territory. DEAD GAME is a fabulous tale that entertains the audience while also educating readers with how complex the environmental-economic issues are.

Daughter of Prophecy
Miles Owens
Creation House
ISBN: 1591857996, $12.99

In 1201 Lady Eyslk gives birth to a healthy girl Rhiannon de Murdeen en Rogoth of Clan Dinari. The father Lord Tellan is elated though dazed at becoming a first time father. However as the Loreteller Girard begins to scribe the birthing information on parchment, monks from the Keepers of the Covenant surprise everyone when they arrive to predict the newborn babe would become the Protectoress of the Covenant and bring affluence to the land. However, the elderly monk tries to kill the baby; after quite a struggle he dies, but not before he murders Eyslk. Just under sixteen years later, her home is in fiery ruins as dragons take to the sky to stop the prophecy from happening so that they can rule the Broken Stone Lands from the sky, They must kill Rhiannon as the only potential threat. Her tutor Lakenna has taught her more than just book knowledge. Only a teen, she is the one person who can enter the spirit plane to weaken unbeatable dragons and their even more invincible evil masters (demons) so that they can be harmed by master sword fighters and archers on the mortal plane. She is the red haired DAUGHTER OF PROPHECY, but has a long weary quest to meet what has been foretold about her since birth. This is an extremely exciting fantasy that opens at a fevered pitch and never slows down until the concluding battle occurs with the above paragraphs only describe the beginning of Rhiannon's geas. The cast is strong enabling the audience to believe in dragons, demons and wars on a spiritual plane. Readers who enjoy good vs. evil confrontations will appreciate Rhiannon's tale, sort of like Saint Joan and the Dragon.

Kathleen Lawless
ISBN: 1416507515, $12.00

Librarian Paris Sommer inherits her great-great grandmother's diary that includes tantalizing insight into a brothel her ancestor owned in Forked Creek, Nevada. Unable to resist a look at her family tree, Paris visits the town where she meets ruggedly handsome cowboy Mitchell Brand; both feel the heat emanating between them from that first contact. Paris discovers a map coded in her grandmother's diary that speaks of treasures. She begins a search, but others also want the booty and will kill to obtain it. As Brand teaches her the art of lovemaking, he also tries to keep her safe, but concludes that as long as she remains in Forked Creek she lives in danger. Paris leaves, but wonders how she will live without the hunk who turned her into a woman with needs only he can satiate; he feels he has died the little death with the woman who can make him hard with a look going away. UNTAMED is an erotic contemporary romance starring an innocent librarian and a classic womanizing cowboy that reminded this reviewer of the Devil and Miss Jones. He teaches her the art of seduction, but she ropes him in with her siren's call though both have lives they each acknowledge they should return to, but each knows how difficult moving on will prove. Though the support cast seems one dimensional the growing relationship between the fully developed lead couple makes for a wonderful heated tale.

The Lawman Said, "I Do"
Ana Leigh
ISBN: 0743469968, $6.99, 384 pp.

Having served under Stuart for the Confederacy, Colt Fraser heads by stage on the Santa Fe Trail to California to meet up with his three siblings. Colt enjoys what would otherwise be a tedious trip because of his fellow rider, feisty spitfire Cassie Braden accompanied by her brother Jeff. Colt likes the pretty Cassie especially her courage and spirit. However, five armed robbers hold up their coach; in the ensuing chaos a somewhat drunk Jeff fires a shot. Colt, protecting Cassie, takes a bullet in his shoulder from the robbers. He is taken to nearby Arena Roja, Cassie's hometown, to receive medical attention. Colt learns that the next stagecoach to Santa Fe is not due through the small town until next week. As such Sheriff Braden, who needs help, persuades Colt to become his deputy temporarily in spite of some people objecting to a stinky Reb. As he performs law enforcement work for Cassie's father, Colt and Cassie begin to fall in love, but will the newly appointed deputy sheriff stick around long enough to recognize his feelings. The second "Fraser" western romance (see FRASER: CLAY) is a fabulous tale due to an eccentric cast including an obstinate steed, who makes Mr. Ed look like a team player. While the unconventional townsfolk either matchmake or try to run the Rebel out of town; either way they place the lead couple into some amusing situations. Fans will enjoy the antics while wondering whether Cole will stay or go. Ms. Leigh provides an enchanting Americana tale that sub-genre fans will cherish.

Kiss the Year Goodbye
Brenda L. Thomas, Tu-Shonda L. Whitaker, Crystal Lacey Winslow & Daaimah S. Poole
ISBN: 0743497074, $14.00, 368 pp.

"Whatever It Takes" by Tu-Shonda L. Whitaker. Twenty-three years old Devlin outrageously flirts with his mother's best friend thirty-six year old India. Though he "heats" up her coochie she assumes he is too young. Devlin begins to break down her barriers as he wants the older woman and believes she desires him too, but she thinks she robs the cradle as he is her friend's child D.J. "Every New Year" by Brenda L. Thomas. Dr. Cynthia and her state trooper boyfriend Terrell look forward to a vacation .but she misses the flight. Rushing to catch a later one, her taxi is caught in the middle of a street shoot-out before crashing through a store window. Cyn lands in the hospital suffering from amnesia and becomes attracted to her Dr. Strohmile. "I Play for Keeps" by Crystal Lacey Winslow. Unlike her outgoing twin sister Jada, Jovie is a prim person until she meets London. However, when he begins seeing another woman, a distraught Jovie decides to be exactly like her sibling and get her man. "My Boo" by Daaimah S. Poole. Gina misses her boyfriend Chris who works three states away. Her roommate Bianca meets Khalil and has quite a sexual encounter. Not long afterward Gina, who owns their home, throws Bianca out after the latter dissed her. Khalil visits and tells Gina he wants her; will she choose the exciting "threat" or the safe "distance"? These are four well written heated relationship dramas that readers will enjoy, though beware that there is plenty of graphic sex scenes and profanity - what would you expect with "possessed penis" as a star.

The Black Jack Conspiracy
David Kent
ISBN: 0743497511, $7.99, 400 pp.

In Oklahoma, the police arrest Alex Bridge charging her with embezzling just under five-hundred million dollars from her employer, Cross Current Media. Not long afterward FBI Agent Wells, who was looking into the Bridge affair, is murdered. The evidence once again overwhelmingly points at Alex as the culprit. The Department of the Thirty knows that the obvious is often too simple as the powerful will abuse their muscle to blame a lesser person for their crimes. Two major incidents including murder seems out of place for the profile they have drawn of Alex, a recent widow expecting a child soon. Former Deputy US Marshal Faith Kelly is assigned to protect Alex if she will testify about what she knows about her former boss' financial shenanigans. However, no Department Thirty Agent, used to the improbable as being genuine, were prepared for a conspiracy that ties into the 1893 murder of the Great Comanche Chief Tabananika at Anadarko in the Oklahoma Territory and the present most powerful people in DC. Obviously conspiracy buffs will go wild over THE BLACK JACK CONSPIRACY and its predecessor DEPARTMENT THIRTY, but so will anyone who appreciates a strong thriller. The story one is action-packed, but the two key women make the improbability seem genuine. The audience will feel for the beleaguered seemingly guilty Alex who not long before the embezzlement accusation was deserted by her spouse and soon after that learned he was killed in St. Louis. Faith, who co-starred in the previous novel, is the heroine who unravels the spool to find the two impossibly connected end points of the thread. David Kent writes a fine tale that grips audience from start to finish.

Hannah's Hope
Karen Kingsbury
ISBN: 0446532363, $13.99, 162 pp.

While her parents reside in Sweden as her father is the ambassador there, fifteen years old Hannah Roberts lives with a cold grandmother in the DC area while wondering why no one loves her. She looks forward to her parents coming home for the holidays, but that dream is shattered when she receives an email from them informing her that they are too busy to see her. A depressed Hannah sadly prays for a "Christmas Miracle". Her mother realizes that Hannah is unhappy so she decides to tell her daughter the truth about her biological father, Mike Connor. Hannah now knows her dreams of having fun when she was a child with a loving nurturing adult male were more than just a wish. She searches for her dad, but comes up empty until he hears her plea on TV. Mike tries to make contact before undergoing a dangerous mission in Iraq. When she learns her dad's mission turned deadly and dangerous, she focuses on the hope that her "Christmas Miracle" will come true. The fourth Red Gloves tale is an intriguing inspirational in which the young heroine cannot understand why she is neglected by her parents who are busy playing diplomat. Though she handles the shock that her mom's husband Jack is not her biological father rather easily, fans will feel Hannah's angst and needs and have some of their own as they wonder; in spite of expecting the obvious that we know deep down will happen, whether a miracle will occur as the heroine hopes. That is the ability of Karen Kingsbury as she keeps her fans enthralled with the idea of will or will not a miracle occur while lifting the spirits of her readers.

Breakfast with Santa
Pamela Browning
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373750951, $4.99

Former marine Tom Colyer agrees to come as Santa to the annual pancake breakfast. Dressed as one of his helper elves, is beautiful divorcee Beth McCormick, the mother of the spoiled demanding five years old Mitchell. The kid orders Santa to bring him a live-n daddy by Christmas Eve. Interior decorator Beth refuses to apologize about how she raises her son as she has no money to buy him any of the "luxuries" that other children receive. Tom begins dating Beth in spite of her son whom he sees as an enemy combatant.. As they fall in love, he wonders if there is room for him in her life as her child and her business take up much of her time; she learns he hid a secret from her that makes her question whether he can be trusted. It will take all of Santa's skills to meet Mitchell's demand of a live-in father as the prime target and his mother may be in love, but lack faith in the other. BREAKFAST WITH SANTA is a fine contemporary relationship drama with the defining element being not how the lead couple feel and behave towards each other, but how each adult relates to her "bratty" son. Thus the romance takes a back seat to the interactivity between the threesome as Mitchell is clearly spoiled though all he really wants is a loving father for him and a spouse for his mom. Beth feels she must compensate for her inability to give her child material things. That mother son duo wreck havoc on the newcomer trying to convert them into a threesome.

More Than Words Volume 2
Debbie Macomber, Sharon Sala, Jasmine Cresswell, Beverly Barton & Julie Elizabeth Leto
ISBN: 0373835809, $12.95

"What Amanda Wants" by Debbie Macomber. The cancer was back, but though she will miss much of her high school socialization, all Amanda wants is her peers to understand that in spite of her illness she is still Amanda who needs their friendship. She finds solace with the Melissa's Living Legacy Foundation. "The Yellow Ribbon" by Sharon Sala. Frankie arrived at Just Like Home assisted living facility to provide beauty treatments to the seniors. Frankie especially likes octogenarian Charlotte who regrets she never married her sweetheart who died in WW II. Now Second Wind Dreams is sending Charlotte accompanied by Frankie to Italy to visit her Daniel's gravesite for the first time. "The Way Home" by Jasmine Cresswell. Amy has come a long way from her foster child days as she climbs the corporate ladder. That is until she is accused of embezzlement. While clearing her name, Amy gets involved with Dress for Success Los Angeles. "Shelter From the Storm" by Beverly Barton. In Chattanooga, Cathy created Shelter from the Storm, because Street Haven at the Crossroads, a woman's shelter in Toronto, helped her when she was abandoned, penniless, and pregnant. Tate is attracted to Cathy, but she fears dating him because he is on the shelter's board and might learn about her late teen years when she was just like her residents. "Into the Groove" by Julie Elizabeth Leto. In Spanish Harlem, Groove with Me tap dance teacher Georgia Rae confronts Diego who has been hanging outside her dance studio all day. Diego searches for the child he sired years ago that his then girlfriend failed to tell him about just before the military deployed him overseas; only recently has he learned of Amber. These five terrific inspirational tales showcase organizations led by real females trying to make a difference.

An Unlikely Match
Cynthia Thomason
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373713126, $5.50

Wealthy Anderson purchases the Dolphin Run estate in Heron Point, Florida. The island community starting with Mayor Claire Betancourt gossip about what the newcomer will be like. They get their first inkling of what the renowned affluent Anderson will be like when physical security expert Jack Hogan arrives to assess the property and make any adjustments to insure his client is safe and his privacy secure. As Jack goes about his mission, he finds he treasures the small town with its eccentric dear residents and its refreshing innocent throwback design. He especially likes Claire and her nine year old precocious child Jane. Mother and daughter feel the same way about the caring charming hunk. However, as the adults fall in love and Jane wants the endearing Jack as her father, the Betancourt females' lives are on this island while the personnel security expert goes wherever the job takes him; he and Claire know making a permanent relationship between them is doubtful. This is a terrific contemporary romance starring two likable protagonists who belong together though their worlds seem so vastly different. The story line is propelled by the Islanders, a weird but fun group. A bit of suspense adds tension, but feels unnecessary as the lead couple and the secondary cast provide an entertaining tale of love.

Christmas, Texas Style
Tina Leonard, Leah Vale & Linda Warren
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373750935, $4.99, 251 pp.

"Four Texas Babies" by Tina Leonard. Sam is stunned to learn his parents plan to sell the Montana family ranch to people that they dislike, the Bartholomews; if he or his brother Phin take over the spread they will stop the sale. In Junction City, Texas, Sam asks his hair stylist Lily on a date, not realizing she is a Bartholomew. They cut a marriage of convenience deal, but as she becomes pregnant with quadruplets, he wants her and their children with him permanently; that would make Christmas forever perfect to Sam. "A Texan under the Mistletoe" by Leah Vale. Jackson informs the residents of Hooper Creek that he is canceling the annual Christmas festival. Everyone is stunned especially Lori who has just returned home from New Mexico to help her grandpa who rejects her assistance. Lori wonders how to convince Jackson, her high school sweetheart she left behind who she assumes hates her, to host the gala when his reasons are safety. "Merry Texmas" by Linda Warren. Yesterday Chloe turned twelve and her divorced parents both missed her birthday. Assistant US Attorney Mariel and US Marshal Grayson work stressful jobs that take up much of their time, but Chloe wants a drop of attention; none has occurred since the divorce. The preadolescent knows her parents love her and she them, but also believes they love one another. Chloe plans a special Christmas with an enchanting tree to bring her family back together. CHRISTMAS, TEXAS STYLE contains three lighthearted holiday novellas starring likable characters whose relationships need Yuletide healing.

Cinderella Christmas
Shelley Galloway
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373750943, $4.99

Brooke Anne Kressler owns Jovial Janitors cleaning service, but she is also a worker so she wears dirty sweatshirt and smelly sneakers. However, she fantasizes that one day she would spend an evening in a full gown dancing at an elaborate ball, but Brooke Anne is a realist so knows that will remain in dreamland. His girlfriend dumps Morgan Carmichael leaving him without a date to attend his firm's annual Christmas ball. When he spots the slob-attired Brooke Anne cleaning his office, he asks her if she can dance, which she say yes so he offers her money to accompany him to the gala tomorrow. She accepts not just because her fantasy will be answered, but she could give out Christmas bonus money to her employees. The next night all is going great until the ex arrives proving that the working class Brooke Anne does not belong here. She flees leaving behind her shoes before Morgan can ask her out on a date because he truly likes her though he knows they come from two different lifestyles. This modern day Cinderella is a lighthearted fairy tale romp that the audience will enjoy from the moment that Morgan "sees" past Brooke Anne's garb to the pretty vivacious woman and never slows down until the final high heel sneaker moment. Brooke Anne is an intriguing protagonist as she knows that Morgan is like a Prince Charming way above her station; Morgan on the other hand is shocked how much he desires the cleaning lady, but also knows that they live dramatically differing lifestyles. Shelley Galloway provides an amiable contemporary Cinderella caper.

Her Scoundrel
Geralyn Dawson
ISBN: 0373770723, $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1880 in the Himalayas, Jake and Daniel Kimball search for the legendary Shambhala when Daniel becomes ill, but informs his worried brother that he heard the sacred call. Jake dreams that Daniel entered Shambhala, but before doing so tells his sibling to find the necklace and his family. Jake awakens to the realization that his brother has stepped over to the earthly paradise for the pure of heart leaving him alone in the frozen mountainside. In 1891 adventurer Jake is at Galveston Island, Texas when pregnant "Menace" Kat McBride Callahan calls him a thief. Kat demands he give to her the Sacred Heart Altar Cross, but he says he bought it not stole it from her late spouse Rory Callahan. She offers to buy the Cross, but he refuses. Instead he offers to trade it for her necklace, which reminds him of his Himalayan dream. He thinks he found his "family" in Texas as he believes this woman about to give birth to someone else's child is his beautiful beloved, but to convince the Menace he loves her and her baby is going to prove quite an adventure. The second Menace tale (see HER BODYGUARD) contains fresh fantasy elements that enhance this wonderful western romance. Though not wanting to believe in luck, Jake recognizes the necklace worn by Kat and cannot resist following her to Fort Worth to learn more about her family heirloom and her. He soon feels lucky in love, but to persuade his Kat that they, her daughter and his niece belong together seems impossible as his Menace refuses to trust in love. Readers will enjoy this tale and the teaser involving the final Menace in Scotland wanted for murder.

The Courtesan
Julia Justiss
ISBN: 0373770820, $6.99, 384 pp.

Former soldier Captain Jack Carrington watches the late Lord Bellingham's courtesan Lady Belle defeat an admirer in a sword contest. Afterward, Jack's pal bets he can defeat the unbeaten Belle. Early in their duel, Jack realizes she is at least is equal and maybe his superior so he tries to tire his opponent. Her cork falls off the tip and not long afterward the undefeated Belle wins the match stabbing Jack in the chest. She is stunned as he falls down with blood flowing everywhere. Belle agrees to nurse Jack in her home as he has no other place to go. As Jack heals, he observes his hostess be kind with people. He soon realizes he wants Belle in his life permanently. Belle tells Jack that Bellingham threatened to hurt a child if she left him so she never left the odious man. Jack vows to respect his Belle who fears she loves her guest though nothing can come of it as his sister is to be presented shortly. To prove he is a rat like all men, she tries to seduce him. He angrily rejects her though he desires her. He tells her he wants her not the whore, but though they make love she believes he deserves better. These delightful lead protagonists display honor and loyalty as his fine courtship serves as the center of the story line. Belle is the more interesting protagonist and not just because of her prowess with a sword in which she remains undefeated against a myriad of male opponents, but also her history. Though the ending seems too easy, a solid secondary cast adds to a wonderful gender bending Regency romance.

Silent Witness
Lindsay McKenna
ISBN: 0373770715, $6.99, 384 pp.

Because the Navy JAG is overwhelmed with an enormous caseload and support in the war zone, the DOD Office of the Inspector General sends agents to assist on legal matters. Thus Jungian psychiatrist Agent Ellen Tanner, whose spouse died just over a year ago, leaves DC to work for one year at the San Diego naval Station. Her senior partner, divorced Lieutenant Jim Cochrane fails to hide his scorn that he does not want to mentor Ellen. They are assigned to assist the SDPD on an investigation into the homicide of Top Gun flight instructor Susan Kane; the brass worries about a media nightmare having their top female pilot murdered. As they enter the crime scene Jim remains hostile to his student until she becomes nauseous upon seeing the corpse; he becomes caring and nurturing. As they work the case together and he teaches her the tools to a successful investigation, they fall in love. However, he still burns from his ex-wife leaving him and taking their daughter with her; while Ellen still grieves her loss. This is one romance that looks like it will never leave the tarmac. The romance takes a back seat to the prime pilot, the terrific military (enhanced by the local cops) police procedural. Jim may pretend to be a Missouri hillbilly, but he is obviously sharp and his educating Ellen, provides the audience with a fantastic insight to the case. Ellen augments his findings with her Jungian psychological skill at classifying people. SILENT WITNESS is an engaging thriller.

Night Fever
Diana Palmer
ISBN: 0373770758, $16.95, 384 pp.

Twenty-four years old Rebecca Cullen works as a "mule", the lowest ranked employee at a law firm just outside Atlanta while living nearby on her grandfather's farm in Curry County. She has raised her two younger brothers Mack and Clay since their mom died eight years ago; their dad deserted his family years earlier. Though she worries about their mounting debt and expects to sell the farm soon even knowing that will kill her beloved granddad; her biggest concern is Clay running with a fast crowd whom Becky knows uses crack. Curry County police arrest Clay on drug charges. County D.A. Rourke Kilpatrick is known for being tough on drug offenders, even young ones as he feels strongly about keeping drugs out of his community. However, to Becky's shock, Rourke is gentle with her and with her sibling who he sees as possible bait to catch the real felons. He also wants more from his virgin that he cherishes, but she fears that his tough love approach to her brother will break her heart. This reprint (under the name Susan Kyle) is an engaging legal thriller romance starring a courageous heroine who gained too much responsibility too soon and a justice driven D.A. who will do anything legal to keep drugs out of the county. Though the romance seems more fairy tale than real, readers will commiserate with Becky, who has no time for courtships. The legal aspects are cleverly designed so that the audience obtains a taste of justice in that rare metro Atlanta region lacking a population boom (then again this tale takes place in 1990) and the pairing though seemingly odd at first make for a fun Georgian Cinderella romance.

A Year and a Day
Inglath Cooper
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 037371310X, $5.50

Fearing for her son even more than herself, Audrey Cole takes Samuel with her when she runs away from her abusive spouse Jonathan, who has powerful friends that protect him. Worried for Audrey as he is very attracted to her, attorney Nicholas Wakefield tracks down Audrey, but his actions inadvertently leads Jonathan to his wife. Jonathan kidnaps Samuel to force Audrey to return to him where he plans to teach her a lesson for her transgression; no one walks out on him without regretting the aftermath. Nick feels guilty for bringing the serpent with him. He plans to help Audrey regain her son and keep her safe from her monster of a husband. Though mindful of Sleeping with the Enemy except with a child involved, A YEAR AND A DAY is a tense romantic suspense thriller starring a courageous lead female willing to do anything including entering hell to keep her son safe. Nick is loaded with remorse because he now realizes what he has wrought when he searched and found Audrey. He knows first hand how the road to hell is paved with good intentions and wants to make amends, but has no idea how except to risk the brave woman he loves. Inglath Cooper writes a powerful tale.

Any Way You Want Me
Jamie Sobrato
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373792204, $4.75

As a troubled youth who did whatever her heart desired, she caused mountains of problems for herself so Yasmine Talbot has vowed to ignore her deep needs and behave herself. What helps is that she enjoys her work as a programmer for the Virtualactive software company based in San Francisco that peddles sex. Former FBI Agent Alex DiCarlo joins the firm as its newest employee using the alias Kyle Kramer. He wants to know why he lost his Fed job and believes Yasmine is the link. However, he quickly realizes that he also wants to be under the cover investigating all of Yasmine. He also hides from her that he investigated her years ago when she was a teen and has since obsessed over having her though he has done nothing about this except fantasize about her until this assignment. Now after the sexiest most wonderfully sinful weekend of his life, he wants more but also knows someone else is after Yasmine who he will keep safe at all costs, but once that is over wonders how his beloved will react when he tells her about the truth about himself. ANY WAY YOU WANT ME is a tight romantic suspense in which Alex needs to keep the woman he loves safe at all costs, but worries that he has no future once he tells her who he is and how their paths cross. He is an interesting lead male as in some ways his "fixation" makes him seem like a stalker, but his morals kept him from crossing the line though the nuance is micro but critical. Yasmine shows how important discipline is to overcome one's past, but her iron will collapses when Alex joins the firm. Jamie Sobrato provides a taut thriller with a deep relationship subplot to enhance the tale.

Beyond the Edge
Susan Kearney
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373792220, $4.75

In Florida Heiress Fallon Hanover has successfully lived a triple life. Besides running her family's business and taking care of her errant relatives who are always in trouble, Fallon works undercover for the CIA. Her 24/7 activities make it impossible to have any romance, which is okay by the hard charger though late at night she sometimes dreams of a hunk holding her once in a while. Abruptly seemingly out of thin air the mysterious Kane Kincaid enters her office, claiming he is from the future and needs her to save the world and to save his heart. As they fall in love, they try to divert the planet from the path to Armageddon. He knows he must soon leave as he is running out of time and must go back to the future. BEYOND THE EDGE is an amusing tongue in cheek (and elsewhere) science fiction romance starring two individuals who agree on saving the world in between bedroom activities. Fallon is a dedicated person always trying to do the right thing, but in Kane she has found her personal endearing diversion. Likewise the enigmatic Kane has come on a save the planet mission, but finds in his past his soulmate. There is plenty of humor and pathos in this tale and that makes Susan Kearny's satire fun to read.

The Promise of Christmas
Tara Taylor Quinn
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373713096, $5.50

In Phoenix Investment Consultant Leslie Sanderson learns that her brother Cal recently died in a rock climbing accident, but to her shock he left behind two children that she never knew he sired having been away from home for a decade as she ran from a harrowing incident. Leslie travels to her hometown Columbus for the funeral. The will states that Cal's best friend Sporting International bigwig Kip Webster, the man Leslie unrequitedly loved as a teen, and she have custody of one child each; Kip will raise five years old Jonathan and Leslie two years old Kayla. Both feel breaking up the siblings is not the right thing so they agree to temporary forge a family by sharing a house. As the two adults begin to fall in love with one another and their young suspicious charges, she holds back her darkest secret that keeps them from fully exploring their feelings. That is until the magic of Christmas when she tells her beloved what drove her away because she trusts in his offer of love. Fans of modern day contemporary romances will appreciate this deep tale because the powerful cast with their individual woes makes for a fine Yuletide story. The incident that drove Leslie away is handled deftly as the audience learns the impact on her and her brother who raised her when their dad died. The mixed-racial children are precocious, but in a realistic manner as for instance Jonathan wonders if his darker skin keeps his late dad's relatives from him. A final twist involving Cal turns this into a warm tale of love.

As Big as Texas
K.N. Casper
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373713088, $5.50

Following her divorce Kayla Price, accompanied by her eight years old daughter Megan and her dad master winemaker Boyd, leaves Oregon to return to her hometown of Homestead, Texas because she sees a chance for a better life for her asthmatic child. The dying town is using the innovative Home Free program that provides people with a plot of land to get new and former residents to settle there. Kayla plans to open up the Stony Hill Vineyard here. Though the incident that shaped him happened years ago, rancher Ethan Ritter still feels guilt for his part in Angela's death. Somewhat to ameliorate his disdain of himself he establishes a special riding program aimed at handicapped children. Kayla wants her daughter to join, but fears for Megan's health from the dust. Megan wants to join and own a horse. As Ethan and Kayla fall in love, they find in common their need to help others and each other. She assists him with his dark feelings and he tries to ferret out who is sabotaging her vineyard to the point of harming Megan. Though the assaults add unnecessary suspense (the economics of a new business that will take three years for the vines to grow is a stronger showstopper), fans will appreciate the efforts of two adults trying to overcome an adversary while hoping to forge a loving relationship when neither originally wanted that. Kayla and Ethan are nice people struggling with an undesired attraction as their pasts haunt each. Her father and daughter and his elderly ranch hand pal enhance understanding of the demons that bite at the lead couple. Fans of contemporary ranch romances will want to read the latest visit to the misnamed Loveless County.

Her Best Defense
Lori Myles and Jackie Merritt
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513828, $4.99

Perhaps it is the unsolved murder of her father sixteen years ago or that the case seems so eerily similar, but Chicago attorney Lisa Jensen works diligently on trying to clear her client wealthy socialite Glory Witherington of a murder charge. However, her client and husband seem indifferent to the case offering little to help Lisa mount a defense especially against what she believes the prosecution will use to argue a crime of passion since Glory was sleeping with the victim. Lisa cannot provide HER BEST DEFENSE as things stand and worries that the parallels are affecting her wisdom. She asks homicide detective Kurt Sandoval to dig deeper into the current homicide and the death of her dad. When Kurt perceives a threat to Lisa, he decides to find the link assuming that will lead to a diabolically clever killer trying to harm the woman he loves. HER BEST DEFENSE is an interesting romantic police procedural legal thriller in which the elements from the three sub-genres blend together into a tense thriller. The action-packed story line never slows down as Lisa sees how much the Witherington case matches that of her late father. Kurt is a wonderful hero risking his career and later his life out of a sense of justice as much as for his love for Lisa. Suspense readers will want to follow the exploits of the attorney-sleuth team-up trying to solve two cases that are almost two decades apart while also falling in love.

Exit Strategy
Kate Donovan
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 037351381X, $4.99

Last year rookie agent Miranda Cutler worshiped super spy Ray Ortega and even slept with her hero; now she hates him as he left her behind as damaged goods when an operation failed that sent him into the cold. The CIA needs Ray to perform a dangerous mission that no else is capable of handling. They want Miranda to lure Ray home so they can "persuade" him to perform the perilous operation. Seeing a chance to make amends for last year's fiasco Miranda wants nothing to do with the super dud so she decides to take on the mission of penetrating a deadly terrorist group to learn if they have a dangerous new weapon as rumored. However, Ortega never forgot the woman who means so much to him that he fled her side rather than see the hurt and betrayal in her eyes. He comes home to insure she is safe by undergoing the mission that lacks an EXIT STRATEGY. The lead couple and a nasty villain make for a terrific espionage romantic suspense that never slows down from the moment that Ray returns home. Ray and Miranda seem real as they are flawed individuals trying to do their best thing for their country and ultimately for the other. Ray is particularly fascinating as he now knows what happens to a statue that falls off the pedestal. Kate Donovan provides a tremendous thriller starring wonderful caring people.

Lethally Blonde
Nancy Bartholomew
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513801, $4.99

The Gotham Roses recruited wealthy party animal and habitual boutique shopper Porsche Rothschild as an It Girl, a group of spoiled debutants with no meaning to their lives until they become trained to fight crime. Her first assignment is to protect Hollywood superstar Jeremy Reins and his girlfriend; also without leaving the duo unprotected uncover the identity of who threatens to harm Jeremy. In Los Angeles, Porsche assumes Jeremy is pulling a hoax to gain publicity. She writes off his claims of stalking as self promotion and wants off the baby-sitting assignment that is beneath her besides interfering with her shopping sprees. She changes her mind when she almost eats a bullet. In between hitting the designer stores, Porsche protects her charge, begins to dig into who wants to kill the idol, and even makes time with Jeremy's manager who she likes a lot. The latest Gotham Roses thriller is a fun tale starring a spoiled little rich girl turned crime fighter. Fans will enjoy watching Porsche who seems like almost a spit personality between the haughty shopper and the persistent sleuth with a self deprecating sense of humor. She makes the story line whether she fights bad guys or bad store clerks in this latest lampooning of crime busters.

Iron Dove
Judith Leon
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513798, $4.99

Former CIA agent Nova "Dove" Blair is finished with the world of espionage vowing never to return as she fears her soul is rotting from what she has done. Anyone who knows her iron will believe this tough lady. However, the CIA needs her for a job in which the lives of millions are at stake. Unable to say no with so many innocent lives in the balence, Dove agrees to perform one last task though she fears she will not mentally recover from the ugly realm of the spy world. Her assignment is to stop an unknown terrorist from releasing Ebola in Italy. Agent Joe Cardone is assigned to work with Dove. As the pair work diligently to stop this man-made disaster, they fall in love, but the clock runs out on the duo. IRON DOVE is a tense espionage thriller starring two dedicated champions with the heroine reluctantly returning to the battlefields that have wrecked her emotionally and the hero her lifeline to sanity. The romance augments their relationship, but serves as a backdrop to an action-packed thriller that accelerates as time ticks away and the inevitable pandemic devastation seems imminent. Judith Leon writes a one sitting thriller.

Blood Lust
J.M. Jeffries
Indigo (Genesis Press)
ISBN: 1585711381, $9.95

In 1745 Martinique, Master Charles Rabelais informs his slave Mignon Du Plessis that he sold their two preadolescent children. Distraught, but unable to do anything about his atrocity, Mignon is forced to endure the sexual needs of her owner who reveals fangs and bites her neck. In present day New Orleans, police Detective Ryan Lattimore his superior and another cop stake out the city morgue in an attempt to capture the "Vampire Slayer". Suddenly a beautiful woman enters with an axe. He tries to intercede, but stops when he sees corpses begin to rise. She decapitates them before trying a chanting spell on the cop that shockingly fails. She drives away from the area while Ryan remains stunned. Mignon is upset that he had not caught Charles because of the cop's involvement, which interfered with her assignment from the Vampire ruling Praetorium council to kill him. As she continues her work, Ryan catches up with Mignon who takes him into an underworld he never imagined existed even as the mortal and the vampire are attracted to one another, an impossible scenario. This action-packed vampire romantic police procedural thriller rotates between the present and the 1740s with most of the emphasis on today though the past provides deep insight into the motivation of the heroine and the lunacy of Charles. The story line moves at a lightning fast-pace, but the key cast members are fully developed including the ruling pro-life council; readers especially can feel the desire between the mortal cop and the bloodsucker, seemingly forbidden fruits. Readers will believe that vampires exist in this fine tale that makes the supernatural species seem genuine as they live amongst us life short-timers.

Fourth Dawn
Bodie & Brock Thoene
ISBN: 0842375155, $19.99

As they grow old beyond the child-bearing age, the priest Zachariah the Levite and his wife Elisheba are saddened that they have no offspring as she is barren. However, one day while he performs duties in the Temple, the angel Gabriel informs Zachariah that his wife will give birth to his son to be named Yochanan; stunned by the visitation and the prophesy, Zachariah informs his friend Eliyahu and Onias the tutor what happened. Onias claims the ancient Messiah prophesies have begun to occur. As the Zachariah event unfolds, Herod, King of Judea, seems to be losing his grip on sanity especially as increasingly rumors abound that the Messiah is coming. The news of Zachariah unhinges him further. He remains unaware of a heavenly visit in Nazareth where Mary learns from an angel that she has been chosen to carry the Messiah. She wants to, but fears how her family especially her beloved betroth Yosef will react to her pregnancy. This is very interesting biblical fiction that brings to life Zachariah, Herod, and especially Mary and Yosef. Readers will understand the mixed feelings that run through Mary as she is euphoric with the honor bestowed on her but also fears how her family and her fiance will react. Bodie and Brock Thoene are experts at creating characters the reader understands. Using astronomy/astrology and a deep rooted look at the David family tree enhances the feel of the era and makes Onias in some ways the most interesting character as he studies the tomes. The Thoenes have provided an interesting look at the first century in Jerusalem in their latest A.D. Chronicle.

The Colorado Kid
Stephen King
Hardcase Crime (Dorchester)
ISBN: 0843955848, $5.99

The two elderly reporters of the Weekly Island and their intern Stephanie are discussing unsolved mysteries with a Boston Globe reporter. Afterward Vince and David tell Stephanie about a case they shared with nobody until now; the story of THE COLORADO KID, a man who in 1980 is found dead on a beach on Moose-Look Island off the coast of Maine. An autopsy shows that a piece of meat is wedged in back of his throat and the cause of death is given as asphyxiation. The two reporters know he is not an islander and nobody recognizes him. It is only luck that the intern who was with the police that night remembered a cigarette tax label on the cigarette pack in the shirt the man was wearing and remembers they didn't come from Maine. As police find the pack in the evidence room and see that it was bought in Colorado, the reporters send a picture to all the Colorado newspapers and that leads to the victim's wife identifying the body but that is not the end of the mystery, only the beginning and is one that has haunted the two reporters for a quarter of a century. Readers are either going to love this book or hate it but they will always remember it; that is the trademark of a Stephen King story. Like his horror novels, this work is very atmospheric with plenty of descriptions so that readers can see in their minds the events unfolding. The two elderly reporters are likeable old coots with distinctive personalities and an ability to tell a mesmerizing story that keeps Stephanie glued to her seat wanting to hear the whole tale just like the audience.

The Moon Key
J.R. Stampft
ISBN: 0843956194, $5.99

Preadolescent foster child Wendy Hilton is lonely. She has no friends, is bounced around from family to family, and has never been welcomed anywhere with even a gentle hug. Her self-esteem is beneath toe ooze at the bottom of the food chain and being obese and awkward just adds to her lack of confidence. Her poor grades is just an indication of how little regard she has for herself. On her thirteenth birthday, Wendy's life abruptly changes when the Lunar Arena of Transformation Concentration and Hope (LATCH) provides her with a scholarship. She makes friends for the first time, feels like she belongs, and even begins to lose weight. Her growing confidence and self esteem is reflected with her grades going up. The only negative is classmate Phillip Huntington who tries various stunts to cause Wendy to fail and hopefully be expelled. The teenage heroine, her new friends and the faculty at LATCH make this a fine tale whose message of believing in one's abilities is a critical element in living a harmonious life. Though Phillip is too much like the student enemies of Potter, the metamorphous of Wendy is cleverly handled so that the young adult audience can understand the forces that enable her to change for the better. She makes THE MOON KEY a fun tale to read.

Strange Brews
Stobie Piel
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526506, $5.99

Mages Eliana Daere and Damir ap Kora have competed against one another since childhood with each trying to trump the other. A gifted herbalist Eliana believes she has the right brew to finally make her opponent admit that she is the more talented magician. However, Damir manages to switch the elixir so that she drinks the potion. Not long afterward Eliana suffers from amnesia. Feeling a bit guilty Damir takes her into his home claiming to her that he is her husband. This feels right to the bewildered Eliana. As they live together, they begin to fall in love. He fears what will happen to the relationship once she learns the truth about his deception. However, first both fear the darkness that threatens to engulf their land as the Norsk is assaulting the kingdom. Damir believes Eliana holds the key, but her memory is gone and recovery may save their people but probably end their relationship. STRANGE BREWS is a fabulous romantic fantasy that grips the audience once Eliana drinks her own brew and never slows down until the final altercation between the lead rivals. The action-packed story line makes believers out of the audience that magic is real and that Eliana and Damir are powerful practitioners. Their competition augments a fine thriller especially when both realize they love their greatest rival. This is an appealing tale that readers of both sub-genres will treasure.

Lone Star Magic
Karen Whiddon
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526417, $6.99, 322 pp.

Recently widowed Texas rancher Carly Roberts sees the strangely garbed man before she looks up to observe in panic a fireball heading her way. Prince Alrick deflects the fiery menace from her, but absorbs it himself. He lies badly hurt on the ground thinking he was lucky that the Warlock was not nearby to finish the job by first killing him and then the human who destiny has named as the only person that can save his race, the Fae of Rune. The Warlord coming from the distant future also knows this and wants Carly dead before she gives birth to the savior. Alrick is willing to die to keep her safe from the dark sorcery, but also knows that the use of magic on this plane causes "natural" upheavals like earthquakes. What this person from the future does not know is that he will fall in love with the woman he swore to protect as he is part of her destiny. Mixing time travel with fantasy LONE STAR MAGIC is an enchanting tale. The lead couple is a fine pairing while the villain is a powerful foe who has no compunctions about using magic in the Lone Star state. Fans will appreciate Karen Whiddon's latest magic show that is mindful of the Terminator but in a romantic fantasy story line.

Fade the Heat
Colleen Thompson
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526484, $6.99, 368 pp.

All he wanted to do was live up to the Hippocratic Oath by providing medical care to the children of illegal immigrants. Instead Dr. Jack Montoya has become pilloried on talk show radio for providing services that enable these outsiders to stay and becoming a hero worshipped by the Latino community for getting involved. He wants neither; he just wants to be recognized as a good doctor by his patients. Asthmatic firefighter Reagan Hurley turns to Jack her childhood friend to sign documents that would allow her to return to work, but instead he shows a siege mentality behaving nasty and cynical towards her. Jack refuses to sign anything as he warily has become a victim of a war on illegal aliens. When an arsonist tries to burn down Jack's apartment, but in the process kills Reagan's captain, they team up to bring this fiery killer to justice while trying to overcome being considered pariahs by everyone including her peers. This drives them close to each other as love blossoms between them. The arson homicide who-done-it is cleverly designed so that the audience never knows who committed the act until the climax. Yet as exhilarating as that key subplot is, the story line is owned by the lead couple as readers will commiserate with Reagan wanting to return to the front lines and with a beleaguered Jack tired of his fifteen minutes as a pawn. Colleen Thompson keeps the heat high with this strong thriller that also focuses on the issue of medical and other public assistance to the children of illegal immigrants.

A Darker Crimson
Carolyn Jewel
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526581, $6.99

The demons of Orcus believe they have found the elixir to enable them to penetrate the barrier between their underground abyss and the human city above. They need to obtain the blood of Crimson City police officer Claudia Donovan. To lure Claudia into their realm is relatively easy; the demons arrange the kidnapping of Claudia's daughter Holly so that she can serve as bait. Claudia soon realizes that she will probably die in Orcus and has little chance of rescuing her daughter who probably is dead. Her only hope to escape rests with the dangerously appealing vampire Tiberiu Korzha, who is in the underground on a quest. Surprisingly he agrees to help the single mother at the same time that Lath the demon claims Claudia as his life mate. The Crimson City saga has produced three previous great tales with each enhancing the realm set forth from the previous tale. However, the fourth novel, A DARKER CRIMSON, is the best jewel yet as the problems between humans, demons, vampires, and werewolves, etc. explodes into the open. The key cast members insure vampires, demons, and those humans living along side these paranormal creatures seem real so that fans receive a terrific thriller that sets quite a high bar for the next story to achieve.

Cat Breaking Free
Shirley Rousseau Murphy
Harper Collins
ISBN: 0060578092, $24.95, 352 pp.

The small and quaint California village of Molena Point is home to very unusual creatures: Joe Grey, Dulcie and Kit. The three cats have human intelligence, the digestive system of a human being and can talk to humans. Joe Grey is not happy that his human companion Clyde has a new neighbor Chicci Barb, a woman he once dated who stole five hundred dollars from him. Spying on her, he notices that she has two rough looking hombres come to her home. The three felines also see her around town, sitting for hours in various restaurants taking notes on the comings and goings of the stores she has under surveillance. Kit sees the notes and thinks Chichi and her company are planning a robbery. It was only four days ago that the school caught on fire diverting the police from a successful jewel robbery. Three feral cats that Kit used to run with when she was a kitten are in a cage in the home of the male criminals that Chichi was entertaining. Joe and Dulcie try to free them but instead get caught. Kit must find them and free them in order to anonymously help the police stop the crooks. The latest Joe Grey mystery is just as exciting as the other books in this purrfect series. The sentient and talkative felines are so realistically portrayed that readers will forget that such cats only exist between the pages of a book. Cat lovers, fans of the Mrs. Murphy series by Rita Mae Brown and anyone who likes a charming and intricately plotted who done-it will definitely want to read CAT BREAKING FREE.

The Fairy Realm: The Water Sprites
Emily Rodda and Raoul Vitale (artist)
Harper Collins
ISBN: 0060777613, $8.99, 128 pp.

The leaf she found on her dresser was actually an invitation to a party in Liralee village by her friend Patrice the palace housekeeper. Also invited are their pals Giff the Elf and Maybelle the miniature horse. Meanwhile someone is stealing items from people with everyone suspecting one of the neighbors is the thief. Jessie soon realizes that the Water Sprites are outraged because someone stole their precious Moon Stoon. Anything that floats to the Finding Pool the sprites find and now claim as theirs rather than returning it. Before troubles escalate Jessie believes she must find the purloined Moon Stone by using human, elf, and horse common sense. The eighth Fairy realm tale is a fun mystery that targets elementary school children. The story line is fun as Jessie and her buddies only want to go to a party, but also must solve the case of the stolen items especially as the ire of the Water Sprites grows. Emily Rodda provides a fine tale starring a likable young heroine accompanied by a mythological who's who and enhanced by the terrific pictures by illustrator Raoul Vitale.

Black Lace
Beverly Jenkins
Harper Torch
ISBN: 0060815930, $6.99

In Detroit, Environmental Protection Department chief Lacy Green struggles with her first time driving in a snow storm when the vehicle driven by the chauffeur of Mayor Drake Randolph causes an accident between them. Drake takes Lacy to the hospital to insure she is okay, but also wants to see her afterward as he finds himself surprisingly attracted to the Atlanta native. She reciprocates as "His Fineness" is quite a hunk, but rejects anything between them having been burned once when she was married to a Georgia politician. As Drake refuses to accept no and continues to pursue Lacy, City Councilman Reynard Parker wants to become the mayor. To achieve his ambition he must eliminate the only obstacle in his way, Drake by any means possible. When Lacy investigates a contractor who apparently has been ignoring environmental rules, she becomes the target of a dirty campaign and real attempts on her life. Drake will do anything including resigning as the mayor if necessary to keep his beloved safe. In her latest Motown contemporary romantic suspense (see THE EDGE OF DAWN and THE EDGE OF MIDNIGHT), Beverly Jenkins provides a fine tale that takes its time to introduce the key trio so that the audience understands motives for each of them. Once readers meet Drake, Lacy and to a lesser degree Reynard, the action picks up and never slows down as the environmental issues add backdrop strength to the growing relationship between the lead couple. Fans of Ms. Jenkins will appreciate her latest Randolph family saga.

Hadassah Covenant
Tommy Tenney, Mark Andrew Olsen
Bethany House
ISBN: 076422736X, $19.99

In Susa, Persia, Queen Regent Esther, the "Hadassah", knows she is in trouble though her spouse King Artaxerxes has sat on the throne for two decades. The Queen Mother Amestris has returned to cause trouble and Commander Megabyzos secretly leads the rebellion. Concern in the empire over the Jews led by Nehemiah returning and rebuilding Jerusalem worry the Persians. Esther's apprehensions turn true when her husband is murdered. The new monarch must select a new queen. Esther's "sister in spirit" Leah feels she is heir apparent, but is stunned that the monarch clearly hates Jews; upon seeing the Star of David selects someone else as his is chosen one; Leah is relegated to the harem. In modern times, the present Hadassah, the wife of the Israeli prime minister is stunned when her beloved "Poppa" is assassinated. Before he dies Kesselman tells his daughter that she must find the ancient documents that speak the truth of what happened in Persia to stop terrorists from killing Jews living incognito in Iraq. After sitting Shiva for eight days, she begins her quest. This is an intriguing follow-up to the superb HADASSAH: ONE NIGHT WITH THE KING though too much has to be accepted as gospel this time around. Following up on what happens in Persia after Esther becomes the queen is cleverly handled so that the audience can sense the political uproar especially when Artaxerxes dies. The modern story line has it own intrigue, but plotted to enhance the past yet comes across disruptive of the follow up to Esther. Still this is a fine ancient biblical fiction novel that will please sub-genre fans.

The Pattern of Her Heart
Tracie Peterson & Judith Miller
Bethany House
ISBN: 076422896X, $12.99

In 1857 Lowell, Massachusetts Nolan and Jasmine Houston pray everyday for a miracle as their five years old daughter Alice Ann struggles to recover from Scarlet Fever. When Dr. Hartzfield deems the little girl is healthy enough to celebrate her birthday that passed three months ago, the Houstons rejoice that their beloved child has healed. Not long afterward, attorney Forbes tells Jasmine and Nolan that her father, her brother and most of her other relatives died from Yellow Fever at the family Mississippi plantation, the Willows. They need to decide what to do with the slaves and the property. Nolan and Jasmine head south to free those slaves who survived the epidemic. In Mississippi their abolitionist philosophy anger their neighbors and the few surviving relatives until someone burns down the Willows leaving Jasmine and Nolan to wonder how to keep their family and themselves safe while doing the right thing for the slaves they want to free. THE PATTERN OF HER HEART showcases how violent the country was over slavery just prior to the Civil War. The Houstons meet derision and hatred for wanting to free her family slaves. However as noble and obvious as that seems, the pair soon find how complicated that can be. Several of those they want to liberate have no economic means of survival as they have been dependent on their owners and when the Willows is destroyed causing the Houstons to flee for Lowell they ponder how to protect those they left behind from an angry local populace. Book Three of the Lights of Lowell series is a fabulous insightful Antebellum historical.

Lauraine Snelling
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764200542, $12.99

In 1886 Eastern Pennsylvania her nasty father calls his daughter Amethyst Colleen O'Shaunasy an "idjit" for paying their bills; he ignores how much he wastes getting drunk. He haughtily informs Colleen that she is to bring home her eight year old nephew Joel, who apparently lives in Medora, Dakotah Territory under the care of preacher Jacob Chandler. Taking the train west, Amethyst becomes ill in Minnesota; another passenger tends to her as it is the Christian thing to do. In Medora, she remains somewhat ill; the Hegland family takes her in to their home. Their other guest, Army Major Jeremiah McHenry has just retired from the military and returned to his hometown. As the two guests become acquainted they fall in love, but can Jeremiah persuade the easterner to stay as his wife as he knows she believes she must perform her dad's task though honoring her father has always been difficult and besides she feels that even the kind former officer would turn female relatives into servants. AMETHYST, the fourth Dakotah Treasures novel, is a superb Americana tale that brings to life a long-gone era due to the strong cast. Amethyst (don't call her Colleen as only her father uses that name) is a courageous individual who on her journey west meets caring people, a far cry from her verbally abusive father. Jeremiah knows she would make the perfect wife for him because she is a brave nurturing Christian woman whom he loves and believes loves him too, but he must overcome the relational lessons her father taught her. This is a terrific entry in a fabulous inspirational series in spite of the impossibly of honoring her no redeeming value dad.

A Kiss Before Dawn
Kimberly Logan
ISBN: 0060792469, $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1827, the Earl Tristan worries about the third robbery in less than a month by the Oxfordshire Thief. He goes to London where he meets his protege Bow St. investigator Peter Quick, who is like a son to him. He asks Peter to come home to find the felon because the earl's pregnant wife Deirdre is upset and needs him to do so. Only for Deirdre would Peter return home; he fled four years ago because of his feelings for Tristan's sister Emily. Emily is worried because she is the Oxfordshire Thief blackmailed into stealing out of fear the threats from an odious man to expose her mother will ruin her sibling. She runs into Peter who thinks she is still the most beautiful woman in the world. Emily finds she still desires Peter though he deserted her four years ago. They act cold towards each other. Tristan informs Emily that Peter is here to capture the thief; this frightens her as she knows he is dedicated and obstinate and fears Newgate awaits her, but must do what she feels is right. This exciting suspense contains a touch of a police procedural as performed by the Bow St. investigator. The lead couple is a terrific pairing as they love one another, but he believes she deserves better than a rejected son of a whore augmented by the return of the stars from the previous book (see A KISS IN THE DARK). Though Emily falling for blackmail without any proof seems inane for an intelligent person like her, fans will enjoy this thrilling late Regency romantic suspense.

Making Mischief
Elizabeth Young
ISBN: 0060784784, $12.95

When London suburbanite Abby Morland was sixteen she visited her cousins in Brighton where she meets the teenage hunk Guy from next door, who has all her female relatives agog. Though she wants to be aloof she joins the club. When she sees him in a clinch with Cara, the best friend of her cousin Rachel, Abby causes a bit of mischief. Now thirty-something, Abby has become the anchor of sanity for her extended family. She believes that she is the right one for Guy, but currently he is with Abby's cousin Fleur, whose mom fears history will repeat itself and will do anything to prevent what happened to her occurring to her daughter. Her sister (Abby's mom stole her boyfriend). However, Abby's chances to further her case seems slim until an incident at the Barbados wedding between her sibling and his pregnant girlfriend gives her the opportunity though she fears rejection. The key to this fine chick lit romance is not the changing relationship between Guy and Abby, but instead her role as the intermediary between family members. In that function, readers obtain a close up look at the responsible, nurturing and champion strategist Abby; thus Guy never makes it past centerfold status. Still Abby carries the story line as she tries the Herculean tasks of making everything right for everyone including herself.

Kiss Me Annabel
Eloisa James
ISBN: 0060732105, $6.99, 400 pp.

In 1817 Annabel Essex like her sisters has a weird dowry: racehorses. However, she has no money to support herself let alone several steeds. She decides she needs to marry an amiable wealthy aristocrat so she can stop fretting over poverty. Ewan Ardmore finds himself attracted to Annabel and her dowry would fit nicely with his horse breeding operation. Though she reciprocates his high regard and enjoys playing word games with him Annabel rejects him as a proper suitor as he is as poor as she is. Ewan knows he has found his life partner so he refuses to back off and daringly takes kisses. An incident gives him renewed hope as they head to Scotland to pretend to get married, but he plans to make their vows real. This is a wonderful Regency romance starring two congenial protagonists who belong together except that the feisty independent Annabel worries about how they will survive with both of them poor. The courtship between Annabelle and Ewan seems natural as they play fun word games in concert and he steals kisses, which she treasures as his touch is everything. They make for a fine early nineteenth century romance in which the audience will wonder if Ewan and Annabel will cross the finish line as a team.

An Invitation to Sin
Suzanne Enoch
ISBN: 0060543272, $6.99, 384 pp.

Lord Zachary Griffin accompanies his aunt on a trek to the Whitfield home where six marriage aged daughters reside. The sisters enjoy his company as Zachary is kind to each one. That is the siblings appreciate the young handsome gentleman's thoughtfulness except Caroline who sees the virtues of his body; she wants to use Zachary as a model to finish a portrait that she believes will provide her admittance to attend an art academy. As Zachary tutors the young ladies in the art of men, he has his most fun with the serious Caroline teasing her with sensual innuendoes and images to whet her carnal appetite as he poses for her painting. As they talk and share desires and dreams they begin to fall in love, but she has her heart set on art school not a husband; unless he can complete his courting of the reluctant artist. This is a terrific Regency romance starring a wonderful kindhearted hero, an intriguing hard to catch female and her sisters who want to dine with Zachary as the main course. The humorous story line is character driven with the sisters, each unique, adding escapades and depth to the relationship between the lead pair. Readers will enjoy this charming courtship and look forward to more sisterly escapades.

Scandalous Miranda
Susan Sizemore
ISBN: 0060082909, $5.99, 368 pp.

In 1881 Italy, Andrew Macleod feels it is time come in from the cold and retire from the espionage life. He plans to complete his final assignment before going home to England to settle down. However, his mission falls apart and Lady Miranda Hartwell becomes collateral damage. Honor proscribes that Andrew delay his retirement to insure Miranda is safe. In 1882 to protect Miranda he goes undercover in Kent, England as Andrew MacGregor and obtains the position of secretary to the woman he vows to protect as Miranda does the scandalous thing by hiring a man. However, being near Miranda proves more difficult than any project he has undertaken as his attraction to her is fierce. Still he hides his identity though she thinks he reminds her of her countryman whom she met in Italy when she was injured. As she begins to piece the puzzle together, an unknown culprit tries to kill her. This is a fabulous Victorian espionage romantic suspense starring a Clark Kent-Superman type as the hero is willing to die to keep the woman he loves safe even as he blames himself for her predicament. The action-packed story line moves forward at an incredible pace as the audience anticipates the explosive climax while admiring SCANDALOUS MIRANDA for her intelligence and courage. Susan Sizemore is at her best with this late nineteenth century spy thriller.

The Lord Next Door
Gayle Callen
ISBN: 0060784113, $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1828 London, ten years old Tom steals a journal from his ten years old neighbor Veronica and writes to her. They become pen pals though they never meet as she is the daughter of a banker who cannot play with the son of the earl's cook. In 1834, Tom abruptly stops writing. Ten years later, Veronica's dad committed suicide leaving her, her two younger sisters and their mom to fend for themselves. The siblings move on while Veronica has to find a home for her distraught mom before they are dispossessed. She asks her Tom to marry her though she has not heard from him in sixteen years only to learn that he is Viscount David Thurlow. He wonders if she could be the answer to problems his father's scandal caused him; no one in the Ton will accept him as a suitor in spite of his rank. David proposes explaining he needs a wife to produce an heir. His only condition is there will be no scandal. Veronica hides her father's suicide from him and accepts. She tells her mom and he his dad; both are dismayed. They marry, but Veronica vows to herself to leave if necessary is he is in danger of causing a scandal that will hurt David's position in Polite Society. The robust lead couple and fully-developed support cast make for a fine historical romance though there is no major conflict. Readers fully understand what motivates Tom and Veronica and why his father behaved as he did after his wife died. Gayle Callen provides a wonderful nineteenth century romance in which the hero is NO ORDINARY GROOM and his beloved gives him much more than A WOMAN'S INNOCENCE.

Switched, Bothered and Bewildered
Suzanne Macpherson
ISBN: 0060774940, $5.99, 368 pp.

After beating up the candy machine at work, stressed out Jillian Tomkins is given a week off to unwind at Serenity Spa where she pleads with her twin sister Jana Lee Tompkins Stivers to switch places like they used to until that final incident with Elliot the idiot in college led to an estrangement. The death of Jana Lee's husband led to a partial reconciliation, but the widow mother of a teen, sees a chance to escape her drudgery and further repair her relationship with her twin. Though she thinks they are doomed, she agrees. In San Francisco at Pitman Toys, Jana Lee as Jillian immediately runs into trouble with every high heel step she takes as VP Jackson "Man-Zinger Hawks seems to desire her as he admits to himself she seems different, earthier than the corporate climber who jumped his bones last Christmas. At the same time Jillian as Jana Lee soon learns the craziness of life in the burbs from Carly the irritable and aloof teenage niece, the insane dog, and appliances that requires an engineering degree not an MBA. If she does not burn down her sister's home, Jillian's biggest zinger is repairman Dean Wakefield, who suddenly finds Jana Lee appealing. This screwball romantic romp is an comical tale as the sisters struggle to survive what to each one is a foreign lifestyle. The twins make the tale appealing even while the audience along with Jackson wonders why Jillian could not ask for additional time off. This comedy of errors is fun as the two men suddenly in the twins' lives wonder how they missed the endearing qualities they suddenly have discovered. Fans will feel amused, absorbed and bewitched.

Keeping Kate
Sarah Gabriel
ISBN: 0060736100, $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1728 Kate MacCarran like all the women of her clan, enjoys special fairy-like powers. Her particular skill is the ability to control men like a mythological siren. Currently, the Jacobyte supporter uses her gift to obtain information from English officers earning her the reputation as "Katie Hell". Fellow Scot, but British soldier Alec Frasier captures Kate. He plans to take her to Edinburgh, but must somehow avoid the spell that she casts on males to do her bidding. To her shock Kate feels Alec has cast a spell on her because she finds for the first time in her life she wants a man. Even more stunning is his ability to not succumb to her enchanting charm. As they travel together towards Edinburgh, both struggle to keep their growing feelings and needs for the other in line as neither wants to fall in love with the enemy. KEEPING KATE is a charming early eighteenth century romantic fantasy starring two likable protagonists struggling between their cause and their awareness of the other. Kiss Me Kate is a fabulous siren, who seems to have met her match or at least her soulmate in Alec who wants her more than anything he ever desired in his life, but tries to hide these gut level needs. Sarah Gabriel provides a delightful historical treat for sub-genre fans.

Hot Wired
Jane Isenberg
ISBN: 0060577533, $6.99, 336 pp.

Tenured professor Bel Barrett of River Edge Community College loves her job and is proud that the students like her and that the chairman and president are aware that she deserves the accolades she has won over the years. She is therefore very distressed when a website aimed at evaluating the teachers of RECC includes a rapper dissing her. She feels mortified, ashamed and wonders who it could be. After going through her records she concludes that it is Naftali, a student she gave a D to a few years ago who was so incensed he went before a committee to get his grade changed. He wanted to be a hip hop gangsta rapper singing about the Iraqi war so he enlists and comes back missing an arm. He blames Bel for the D that stopped him from being eligible for a four year college. The press gets hold of his message on the website and Bel finds her reputation in shreds. When someone kills Naftali the police zero in on Bel as the prime suspect forcing her to begin one of her infamous investigations and this time the person who will benefit the most if she finds the real killer is herself. One of the reasons the Bel Barrett mysteries are such a success is the heroine is funny, independent and determined. She is a female readers can identify with as she investigates murders in between hot flashes. Jane Isenberg raises the quality bar of her own series with HOT WIRED because the heroine has a personal stake in the outcome of her latest sleuthing but she still remains the same character readers have come to love.

City for Ransom
Robert W. Walker
ISBN: 0060739959, $6.99

Though the Haymarket Riots of a few years ago still haunt him, in 1893 Chicago, Police Inspector Alastair Ransom has become renowned for his use of modern police methods including some he has invented to solve crimes. The cop is currently looking into the third garroting homicide in three weeks. However, his superior Chief Kohler dumps crime scene phrenologist Dr. James Phineas Tewes on Alastair who rejects the young man as a charlatan and besides fears the media circus of having a magnetism conman accompany their inquiries. However, Alastair gives James his do as the lad refuses to back off though he is treated as a nuisance by the cop; Alastair's junior partner Griffin Drimmer is nicer to the eager youngster. As the sleuth diligently works the case to stop a serial killer from murdering again, James observes his methods trying to learn the new science of criminology from the master. CITY FOR RANSOM is a terrific late nineteenth century police procedural that uses the investigation to provide insight into life in Chicago during the Gay 90s. Key elements make the who-done-it intriguing but what comes alive from these components are insights into a bygone era such as the early days of the science of criminology, the role of women during an investigation, and looking back at an earlier relatively recent (in terms of the setting) real tragedy. With a strong cast especially Ransom and Phineas-Tewses and a neat twist involving the latter; Robert W. Walker is at his lofty best with this terrific historical mystery.

Gypsy Lover
Edith Layton
ISBN: 0060757841, $5.99, 384 pp.

Seventeen years old Rosalind Osborne has run away from her family. While her companion Margaret Shaw tries to find the headstrong young lady before she is hurt, former convict Daffyd Reynard also hope to locate her and bring her home. The two wannabe rescuers meet when Daffyd saves Meg's life. He attempts to persuade her to go home as the quest is dangerous, but she refuses. Though a staid on the shelf female, Meg tells him if he will not allow her to accompany him, she will go it alone. As they work together, they fall in love, but neither expects a future with the other. When they find the runaway and bring her home, Rosalind and Daffyd go their separate ways although her reputation is ruined. He still believes his past and his half-gypsy heritage leaves him beneath the woman he loves. However, a few days apart and he still cannot forget her, but wonders if she will still have him as her husband. The sequel to ALAS, MY LOVE is a fun Regency romance because of the escapades of the delightful lead couple who struggle with love, scandal and finding a missing young lady. Meg is a brave individual willing to risk scorn, scandal, and sacking to do what she believes is right while the daring Daffyd starts off feelings she is a nuisance, but soon wants her with him though he courageously rejects her under the mistaken belief of what he assumes is best for sake. Edith Layton writes a wonderful winner for her audience.

I Think She's Trying to Tell Me Something
Dan Graziano
ISBN: 006077875X, $12.95

As he nears his thirtieth birthday, sportswriter Jack Byrnes wonders if he lost his mind when he starts seeing "ghosts" that he recognizes. He would not mind if the spirits were Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio or Mantle, but instead they the specters of the women he courted, bedded, and dumped without a look back. He begins to wonder if perhaps he must make amends so that he can get on with his life especially since he believes he has met his soulmate. His best friends Bernie and Jeff tease him but also commiserate with his plight; vino veritas allows for a lot of whining. Jack decides to visit each female who haunts him to apologize for what he did to them. As he meets with one ex after another, he begins to believe that he was not the only cause for their break-ups as most are termagants with the only nice one a lesbian. His quest has not happened the way he anticipated, but Jack keeps on trekking. The premise is terrific and the three amigos are fabulous when they get together. Jack's ghostly mission grips the audience as they expect to see him slowly (like Scrooge) evolve into a more compassionate, tolerant and understanding person. However, the problem is the women in his life were bigger losers than he ever was so instead of accountability and responsibility, he escapes to the next beer unscathed, leaving the audience to wonder where he finds these boneheads. Still this is a solid hunk lit tale that sub-genre fans will enjoy though the hero never gets his comeuppance.

The Chosen
Sharon Sala
ISBN: 0778322203, $7.50

DC TV reporter January DeLena is investigating near death experiences when she uncovers a nasty scenario. Someone using the name Sinner abducts homeless males, but only those whose name is that of an Apostle. She is not sure what this self-anointed preacher has done with THE CHOSEN ones as no major increase in homicides has been reported though Brother John is dead. January reports her theory to homicide detective Ben North, who in spite of seeing her recent anger and frustration over the murder of a twelve year old girl not related to this case, rejects her assertion as ridiculous. Instead he assumes that she is just another insensitive muckraker trying to get a reputation through a sensational though untrue story. She continues to dig deeper until the Sinner becomes aware of her actions. He plans a special sacrifice for the nosy woman who somewhat persuades Ben to take a chance on her. Ben still has major doubts, but admits to himself that he desires the reporter; she reciprocates but refuses to use her body to convince him that the Sinner exists. THE CHOSEN is a graphic crime thriller with a touch of the seemingly paranormal and a romantic subplot that plays a back role to the activities of the Sinner. The story line grips the reader as the Sinner's plans start to become known to the audience and January. The lead couple is a likeable pair who is attracted to one another though he does not believe her pleadings as he assumes she is self grandstanding to further her career. Though the biblical references are overkill, fans of dark thrillers will want to read this one, but keep the lights on afterward.

Flirting With Disaster
Sherryl Woods
ISBN: 0778322386, $6.99, 400 pp.

Two weeks before their marriage, dependable Dr. Warren Blake dumps Maggie Forsythe. The Charleston iron magnolia flees her home, leaving her art and antiques gallery Images to be run by her employees, and hides on Sullivan Island. Her best friends Dinah and Cordell Beaufort and Warren arrive to bring her home. She hides from them the real reason she retreated that has nothing to do with humiliation but feeling that for whatever reason she is unlovable. Still they persuade her to help build a house for a widow with three kids. Heading the construction project is a reluctant Josh Parker who assumes that Maggie is cotton candy only to be surprised she is good with tools having renovated Images by herself. They are attracted to one another, but neither wants to ignite the spark as she fears rejection and he presupposes that a working stiff with a matriarchal hang-up is way beneath her level. When his mom comes out of nowhere and teams up with Dinah as matchmakers, neither one of the hesitant duet stand a chance unless they run away from love. FLIRTING WITH DISASTER is a strong character driven contemporary romance starring two wonderful protagonists and a powerful support cast with many facing complex problems. The return of the stars from the BACKUP PLAN augments the fine story line in which he and she both agree on two things: they want one another and they do not belong together. The social issues are deftly handled due to the powerful characterizations. Fans will appreciate this fine look at modern society in which it takes a community coming together to help parents raise children.

Rosemary Rogers
ISBN: 077832236X, $6.99, 480 pp.

In 1831 Martinique, Sapphire Fabergive at a party hosted by her father, overhears the guests claim her deceased mother was a whore. Later Armand tells her the truth that she is not his offspring. He met and fell in love with her mother in a New Orleans bordello though she was obviously pregnant. Apparently she had married an earl, but the lad's father Lord Wessex objected to the marriage and had her abducted and dumped on the streets of New Orleans. Armand sends his beloved daughter to England to meet her matriarchal side. In London brusque American shipping mogul Blake Thixton has inherited Wessex, which he thinks stinks as all he has is two properties, debts, and hysterical females. However, he has plans to use his title to further his company's customer base in England. That is until Sapphire arrives with her claims. Knowing she might hurt his cause, he kidnaps her, taking her back to America where he demands she become his mistress, but soon finds himself captivated and in love with his prisoner. She feels the same way, but does not trust her "jailer" nor does she want to end up in a brothel like being in love did to her mom. SAPPHIRE is an absorbing historical romance starring a spoiled coming of age young woman whose recovery from the shock of learning about her family tree seems quick, but reasonable. Blake is the more interesting character as he is the early nineteenth century "Ugly American" not interested in anything except the bottom line of his shipping business until Sapphire. Though the key secondary players like her "Aunt" and "sister" abruptly appear on and off the stage, fans will appreciate Rosemary Rogers' fine look at international relationships.

Taking Flight
Lynne Kaufman
ISBN: 0778321886, $12.95

Even though she has been married twenty years with two children (teenage Davey and preadolescent Wendy), Los Angeles Community College Professor Julia Benson feels as if her life can fit inside a packed sardine can. She is unsure whether she loves her husband Mark or ever did while her dying mother residing in a Bronx slum, tells her to live life to the fullest. , Julia hopes the two-week trip to Greece in which she, another professor Michael, and the office assistant Sabrina will chaperone thirty female sophomores, will lead to some healthy flirting. The trip proves a bust as Michael spends his time with Sabrina and the natives flirt with the students. Depressed on the way home, she meets Ted, an oceanic archeologist with his head in the clouds dreaming of finding Atlantis. As they hit it off, Julia wonders if she should run away to help Ted find his dream or be responsible to a spouse and two kids who cherish her. Readers will appreciate the gender bending middle age crisis as Julia has her second identity issue after having obtained a new role when she returned to school to obtain a Masters and a teaching job so that she could be a professor not just a wife and mother. That proved not fulfilling enough making fans wonder whether the delightful protagonist will take flight with Ted or return to her adoring family. This character driven tale entices the audience because no one is nasty or abusive driving Julia away; to the contrary her family love her. Lynne Kaufman provides a fabulous tale of a woman on the crossroads taking stock of where her life is going while readers and her will wonder who she chooses.

The Next Ex
Linda Richards
ISBN: 0778322408, $6.99

In Los Angeles, former stockbroker turned day-trader Madeline Carter lives in the guesthouse owned by married couple movie director Tyler Beckett and actress Tasya Saranova. Tyler asks Manhattan transplant Madeline to teach day-trading techniques to Keesia, the fifth wife of film producer Maxi Livingston, as a favor, the most prevalent means of exchanging services in town. Thus Madeline teaches Keesia day-trading while Maxi will produce Tyler's newest film project and Madeline receives additional kitchen and bathroom privileges. Keesia proves to be a fast learner and the teacher and student become friends. That is until Madeline finds her pupil's corpse at a party hosted by Maxi. Not long afterward, other spouses of Maxi are murdered with Madeline considered by the police a prime suspect. Realizing that the cops are looking at her as a possible killer, Madeline investigates the murder of her buddy figuring she did very well in clearing her name to a degree in her previous Hollywood adventure (see MAD MONEY). This is a fun amateur sleuth tale in which Madeline once again is a magnet for murder in which she must prove her innocence as her "record" as well as opportunity makes her a prime suspect. The key to this intelligent who-done-it is that Linda Richards lays out the clues yet most of the audience will not "read" them as they instead follow the stumbling "Mad" detective fumble her way on the case. Fans will enjoy this fine Hollywood mystery starring a likable protagonist struggling to find who made Keesia THE NEXT EX of multiply married Maxi.

Dead Roots
Nancy J. Cohen
ISBN: 0758206585, $20.00, 244 pp.

Floridian hairstylist Marla Shore is for once taking time off from overseeing her salon to go to the family reunion with her fiancee Detective Dalton Vail at the Sugar Crest Resort. The event was the inspiration of Marla's Aunt Polly who wants to right past wrongs and let hidden secrets see the light of day and bring the family together. When they arrive at the resort they learn that members of the family once owned the place and it is supposed to be haunted by various spirits dead throughout the decades. Murder isn't confined to the past as a workman is killed while up on a ladder. Vail is suspicious but the house doctor lists it as an accident and the police listen to him rather than the outsider. Polly wants Marla's help in finding letters she wrote to someone named Vincent but she forgot where she put them. She also wants Marla to look for gemstones that were supposedly hidden by the owner (who was one of the family) family in the main building. Polly is murdered before Marla can find what she is looking for and when another death on the property happens, Marla decides to investigate on her own and hope she doesn't become murder victim number four. The main building of the resort is riddled with secret passages, a hidden floor and cleverly disguised entrances and exits to the passageways adding a gothic ambience to DEAD ROOTS. One of Nancy J. Cohen most incredible skills is letting her characters grow and change as they experience new things. The deepening romantic relationship of Vail and Marla adds a nice twist of spice to a cleverly crafted and well designed who-done-it. This delightfully entertaining amateur sleuth tale is one Ms. Cohen's best in this long running series.

High Heels and Homicide
Kasey Michaels
ISBN: 0758208804, $14.00

Popular historical mystery writer Maggie Kelly and an entourage to include Alex Blakely better known to readers as Viscount Saint Just and his able assistant Sterling Balder travel to England to observe the filming of her first novel. Maggie still struggles with Alex and Sterling being alive since they are creatures of her imagination having starred in her mystery books until they somehow stepped out of novels and just showed up at her home (see MAGGIE NEEDS AN ALIBI). When a torrential storm strikes, all power is lost including telephone lines and flooding which leaves everyone stranded inside the gothic-like Medwine Manor. Adding to the discomfit of the marooned is that someone stole everyone's cell phone. Soon uneasiness turns to fright when a visitor is found hanging from a scaffold followed by another homicide. Alex believes he must uncover the identity of the killer as that is what he is "programmed" to do; besides he feels he must keep Maggie safe. HIGH HEELS AND HOMICIDE, the latest amusing Maggie mystery tale uses hyperbolic characterizations to lampoon several Hollywood stereotypes. The satirical spoof is very humorous as Alex and Sean struggle with the pompous I am the greatest attitudes that somewhat reminds them of the aristocracy from the settings of the novels that they come from. The lighthearted tale contains a fun who-done-it, but that ironically takes a back seat to the jocular interplay of the cast.

Close To Perfect
Tina Donahue
ISBN: 0758213182, $14.00, 336 pp.

The paparazzi salivate over obtaining photos of Florida real estate hunk Josh Wyatt. When some enterprising member of that tabloid photo club gets pictures of a naked Josh leaving his secluded Florida Keys swimming pool and prints them in the Keys Confidential, he feels his privacy has been invaded. The moments he is not irate Josh wonders how the photographer accomplished the feat. However, his biggest concern is he is now the pin-up of women across America; some of whom seem to be stalking him to set him up for a lawsuit. He hires a bodyguard from Privacy Dynamics, Inc, former police officer Tess Franklin, who is to pretend that she is his girlfriend. The job is a snap to keep the mogul safe from the "badder girl" crowd wanting to either go naked with Josh or compromise him in such a way that he would have to pay them off. However, no one warned her that his nude posing does not do justice to the real thing. CLOSE TO PERFECT is an engaging contemporary romance starring a beleaguered likable but humiliated male and the woman hired to protect his body from opportunist females. However, Tess after meeting the hunk wonders who will protect him from her while Josh debates how she could hide a gun in the clothing that outlines her perfect body. Readers will enjoy this fun romp that showcases the impact of the media on the privacy of celebrities even those who prefer not to be in the news ever.

Lip Lock
Susanna Carr
ISBN: 0758210817, $14.00, 304 pp.

Molly Connors salivates over her boss, but knows she must avoid too much contact with Kyle Ashton or he might seduce the truth out of her that her career is built on a mountain of white lies that she hopes to one day soon to move past. However, somehow he knows she is pulling a con though he is not sure of the what and why, but considers industrial espionage though he also wonders why she, like his friend Glenn and others, feel a need to lie to him. Instead of the promotion she yearned for, he stunningly fires her; he feels relieved by doing this because he feared how his body betrayed him whenever Molly was near. Molly needs time to rebuild her life as she has no paycheck coming in and for that matter no place to live. She decides to temporarily move into a home owned by her former computer guru boss that he never uses. Kyle brings potential clients to spend time at his rarely used house only to find Molly living there. She persuades his guests that she is his fiancee. Unable to resist the libido lure of this siren, Kyle intends to spend the weekend with Molly and let his clients fend for themselves. Though Molly's desperate antics seem over the top, readers will find it amusing once she and Kyle fake an engagement. The inane light-hearted story line is fun and some of the antics that the lead female does will have readers laughing out loud. LIP LOCK is an amusing contemporary romance starring a likable worried heroine and a bewildered computer hunk.

Temperature's Rising
Karen Kelley
ISBN: 0758211708, $14.00

Her family consists of first responders who thrive on emergencies. Jessica followed their lead becoming a cop, but disliked the job so much she decides to disappoint her father the police chief to seek a staid 9-5 position. Thus she quits the police force to become a realtor so she can somewhat enjoy being out of the office, but not dealing with adrenaline scenarios. New town cop Connor Richmond arrests Jessica charging her with prostitution. When Connor ignores her effort to explain what is happening, she decides to encourage him so he can look like an idiot to her dad, his boss. In spite of their misunderstanding, Connor and Jessica are attracted to one other, but neither wants to pursue these feelings. She refuses to go out with a cop let alone fall in love with one and he is not ready for a commitment. However, her matchmaking father constantly throws them together ultimately with them undercover as a married couple trying to thwart a serial robber. This amusing police procedural romance is fun to follow due to the not in love denial antics of the lead couple; readers on the other hand know how much Connor and Jessica want each other. Thus acting like married couple is rather easy for this pair except for restraining themselves from jumping into bed together. TEMPERATURE'S RISING combines strong tension with a delightful investigative tale starring two warm protagonists.

Pregnancy Test
Erin McCarthy
ISBN: 0758208472, $14.00

Mandy Keeling enjoys the life of a yuppie in New York City until a series of nauseous morning wake-ups leads to a pregnancy test that comes up pink. Not ready to claim an offspring, her boyfriend flees Manhattan. Trying to stay with her routines as much as possible, Mandy arrives at NY Computing for a job interview though her stomach still shakes from morning sickness. However, her efforts fail in the elevator where occupant Damien "Demon" Sharpton comes to her aid. Not long afterward to her lasting humiliation, Damien interviews Mandy as she borrows his trashcan. He hires her. Her plan is to hide her growing waistline from her boss as long as possible using text editor and email to avoids contact with Damien as much possible. Mandy proves to be an effective employer though she is sick a lot. Damien asks Mandy to travel with him on an assignment, which she reluctantly agrees to do, but she wonders how to hide her pregnancy and cool off her sexual desires for her boss. PREGNANCY TEST is an inane yet humorous contemporary office romance that stars a hunk whose workforce assumes he was named for the star of the Omen movies and a nice young lady who is half in love with him, but fears his reaction to her pregnancy. Though her Lucile Ball antics make Mandy look zany she holds the tale together (better than her waistline). Readers will believe her actions to hide the truth (health insurance makes for strange behavior) as long as possible once she meets brusque business brain Damien, who is also falling for his Mandy though she seems to elude him. Erin McCarthy provides an enjoyable lighthearted tale.

The Naked Truth
Donna Kauffman, Erin McCarthy, Alesia Holliday & Bevarly Brandt
ISBN: 0425206149, $14.00

"The Winning Truth" by Erin McCarthy. Tansey enters a contest to win a car or $25K; the rule is the last person to remain inside the vehicle wins. Her opponents are hunky J.T., Brenda and Jay. The attraction in the back seat between Tansey and J.T. is so thick Brenda and Jay consider boffing; still courting in a car in front of an audience seems wrong yet feels right. "The Naked Truth about Guys" by Alesia Holliday. Seattle Times columnist C.J. wonders how to persuade investigative reporter Hugh that she wants him when he seems to see her as one of the guys. She lays her heart out in her columns, but like all men he misunderstands that changing the oil may prove love to a guy, but women need the Grand Gesture. "Truth or Dare" by Donna Kauffman. Soap opera writer Bailey is hired as a biographical ghostwriter by billionaire Franklin. Also employed by Franklin is filmmaker Noah, the last man Bailey wants to see since they broke up several months ago. As they do their respective jobs, the attraction reignites. "Nothing but the Truth" by Bevarly Brandt. In Naples Florida Madison hosts the Rules of Engagement Show; the current theme is a marrying marathon. She does not trust marriage having divorced Jeff who married her sister. When she assumes that Jeff is dumping her sibling and sees what she believes is atrocious behavior by the male contestants she becomes irate even while divorce lawyer Scott tries to tell her nothing but the truth. These four contemporary novellas focus on Men Are from Mars; Women Are from Venus as misunderstanding between the genders lead to fun lighthearted romantic frolics.

A Killer Collection
J.B. Stanley
ISBN: 0425207455, $6.99, 224 pp.

Collector's Weekly magazine journalist Molly Appleby is writing an article about southern kiln s pottery sales hosted by the potter who created them. Molly and her mother wake up early one morning to attend the kiln opening of C.C., but to their surprise there are a lot of people up early to get a good position on line so they have first crack at getting what they want. Molly meets collector George-Bradley Staunton, a fanatical collector who cuts in line, grabs objects out of other collector's hands and is all around pushy. During the sale George goes to a secluded area and Molly follows him. She sees him rubbing his stomach with blood on his shirt. She thinks he was murdered but the coroner says he died of an overdose of insulin. The police think he accidentally injected himself twice. Molly believes otherwise ands sets out to prove it. This is the first collectible mystery and if future cozies are like this one, J.B. Stanley will have a captivating series that will win her many fans. Molly is a likeable tenacious character especially when she believes she is right and is very comfortable with her size fourteen body. She sets out to prove the victim was murdered. With no blood or gore, Ms. Stanley writes a fabulous who done it that will have readers guessing who the killer is.

Cheating at Solitaire
Ally Carter
ISBN: 0425205746, $15.00, 272 pp.

Self help author Julia James targets the singles crowd with classic reference books like "Table for One". As a single woman, who enjoys her solitairy lifestyle that allows her to cheat without anyone looking over her shoulders, Julia provides first hand advice to her readers. That changes when the agent of actor Lance Collins arranges a phony photo between his client and the singles guru that he splashes in all the tabloids hinting at more than just a loving relationship. Julia and Lance leave New York together for her hometown Tulsa where her family and neighbors assume that Lance is her fiance. When it seems as if the couple is breaking up, her relatives and friends led by Aunt Ro-Ro and her horde matchmake using the tabloids to their advantage. As Lance knows his chances as a serious actor has been flushed away while Julia's book sales leap, they fall in love. However she wonders if her beloved will desert her once he learns about her skeletons hopefully from her and not the tabloids who have found the pair quite fascinating. This is a fun contemporary romance starring a likable eccentric cast. Her zany family wants the single Julia to pay double down rather than solitaire and believe that the Hollywood hunk is the right stud. Lance is still reeling to what is happening to his serious film career as he and Julia have become star attractions of the tabloids. With all the nuttiness going on in Tulsa, readers will wonder whether Julia will play "solitaire to dawn with a deck of fifty-one" or choose the stately handsome Lance; love or money.

Dead Reckoning
Linda Castillo
ISBN: 042520720X, $6.99

Assistant District Attorney Kate Megason works the sure thing prosecution on the capital case of Burton Ellis, accused of the brutal murder of two convenience store clerks. However, Kate becomes irritated when her political supervisors assign former cop Frank Matron as her investigator; Frank was injured in a Mideast suicide bombing while serving as a deployed reservist. Kate knows that he has not physically healed and assumes that he is also mentally disturbed. Frank immediately observes something that makes no sense. The accused took out a hidden camera that he should not have known existed. Even weirder in the robbery gone bad case is the strange fact that not all the loot was taken. Why would he leave anything behind? As Kate begins to heed all that Frank opines, they work together to uncover the truth in spite of someone with connections wanting the real facts to remain buried. Readers will grip the pages tightly as this tense legal thriller hooks the audience to anticipate a DEAD RECKONING between the ADA and her investigator vs. an unknown brutal individual whose avarice is biblical in proportions. The story line is action-packed starting with Frank proving his worth from the start and never slows down until the final confrontation as the close and shut case becomes open and dangerous. This is suspense at its thrilling finest.

A Harvest of Bones
Yasmine Galenorn
ISBN: 0425207269, $6.99, 277 pp.

Emerald O Brien, the owner of the Chintz 'n China Tea Room in Chiqetaw, Washington is a woman at peace with herself. She is well liked by the residents, who accept the fact that she has the Sight, has two beautiful children and is madly in love with Joe, a man ten years younger than her. To convince her he wants to be with her till death, he buys the lot adjoining Em's so it will be one large property. While they are clearing the outdoor area, they uncover a room hidden below layers of dirt. Unknowingly, they opened a portal that allows Willow the Wisps, fae creatures who bring death with them, to enter the realm. They find in a yew tree the body of a girl, Brigit who used to live in that room and her cat that traveled into the spirit world with Brigit's. Em's and Brigit's cat changed places and Em's feline is a ghost in the spirit realm while Brigit's is only visible in the mortal world as a spirit. They must perform an exorcism to cleanse the land that Joe bought and find out why Brigit has not moved on to the next plane (with her cat) if Em and her family are to have any peace. They also want their cat returned to them so Em uses her grandmother's spells in the hopes that this will happen. A HARVEST OF BONES is a highly original paranormal mystery with a touch of romance, the perfect book to snuggle under the covers with on a cold winter's night. The heroine and her friends take on ghosts, spirits, dragons and creatures from the otherworld as an everyday natural event because Em is a magnet for psychic phenomena. Yasmine Galenorn is a great mystery writer who uses paranormal elements to add a little of the exotic to her storytelling.

The Lady Killer
Samantha Saxon
ISBN: 0425207323, $6.99

In 1811 Paris, Andre Tuchelles provides Nicole "Scorpion" Beauvoire with the target of her next assassination, Ministry of Police Joseph LeCoeur. At the same time Joseph sets in motion a trap to capture the Scorpion. Daniel Damont arrives with a note from Andre that he wants delivered to Scorpion. Nicole refuses to reveal she is the assassin, but reads the note in front of him. The note says to leave Paris as the French have set a trap to catch Scorpion. Nicole tells Daniel that she will inform Scorpion of the danger and meet him at the ship. Nicole stops to see Andre, but finds him dead, battered to death. She assumes Daniel did this and set a trap for her. She plans to complete the assignment and then kill Daniel. When she fails to come to the ship, Daniel looks for her starting at her apartment where he finds her hidden note stating her next assignment. He knows Nicole is the Scorpion and his honor demands he get her out of France. Nicole plans to seduce Joseph so she can be alone with him when she kills him. As Nicole and Daniel work closely together they fall in love, but danger surrounds them from all sides and if they survive she knows she can never return to England. The strong lead couple especially the heroine makes for a terrific espionage romantic thriller as they battle a tough clever opponent. The action-packed story line never slows down as Nicole and Daniel try to complete the mission. References to the lead couple from the previous novel THE LADY LIES add depth to a fabulous Regency romantic suspense.

The Magical Worlds of Narnia: A Treasury of Myths, Legends and Fascinating Facts
David Colbert
ISBN: 0425205630, $14.00

This entertaining yet educational guidebook provides deep insight into the magical world of C.S. Lewis by enlightening readers with the derivations that inspired the author to create Narnia. Obviously aimed at the older fans though youthful enthusiast will appreciate some of the references to Camelot and the Bible. The sidebars are as enlightening as the main text because the audience learns who the real Lucy was, why the name Narnia, and biblical connections like Aslan's Stone Table's connection to the Ten Commandments. In other words, David Colbert provides the "hidden" story within the story. Have a good time and learn why there is a wardrobe, find out if Aslan "Jesus in fur", and observe the intent behind THE LAST BATTLE amongst other deep explanations; just enter the door to understand the meaning of Narnia as Mr. Colbert serves much more than just the symbolism behind Turkish Delight.

Dark Watch
Clive Cussler & Jack DuBrul
ISBN: 0425205592, $16.00, 368 pp.

Sea Captain Juan Cabrillo and his dangerous crew of the Oregon normally work special mission impossible oceanic tasks for the west with his team's latest assignment to sabotage the Star. As usual success means greater wealth like $10 million courtesy of his Uncle Sam's "black" budget and more difficult requests. Juan is a bit surprised when Hiroshi Katsui, representing a consortium of Japanese shipping entrepreneurs, hires their services to stop the increasingly bold and deadly activities of pirates working Asiatic waters from the Sea of Japan to the South China Sea. Juan plans a strategy to deal with a conglomeration of pirates that he assumes has merged under the control of one bold leader. However, as the Oregon crew learns more, Juan realizes that this case of brazen piracy is much more than just this obvious piratical front. He and the Oregonians may be in too deep to pull off this caper as the opponents have heavy sponsors from around the globe using pirates to increase and hide the lucrative international slave trade. DARK WATCH, the latest Juan Cabrillo modern day high seas adventure, like its predecessors (see GOLDEN BUDDHA and SACRED STONE), is action-packed and never slows down until the final payout. The story line feels more like a comic book than a novel in nature, but is fun to follow as Juan and crew go from the frying pan to the fire to even hotter scenarios. Though not quite the Pitts, fans of the Oregon Files will enjoy this latest lighthearted caper against North Koreans (who else on the seas?) and an international consortium of "moguls" who use murder as a business tool to enhance their thriving slave operations.

A Body in Berkeley Square
Ashley Gardner
ISBN: 0425207285, $7.99

In 1817, former military Sergeant turned Bow St. runner Milton Pomeroy shows Captain Gabriel Lacey the corpse of Henry Turner stabbed to death with the knife in his chest. Milton explains that the body was removed from the crime scene in order to not interfere with the crème de crème ball hosted by Lord Gillis. Upon seeing the murder weapon Lacey knows it belongs to Colonel Aloysius Brandon, who won it from him in a Peninsular card game. Lacey detests his former friend and superior officer Brandon, who previously told Pomeroy he has no idea how his knife ended up in Turner's chest. The sleuth is tempted to let the Colonel take the fall as he knows he could make a case since Brandon had the opportunity and the means, and a motive shortly surfaces too. Will Lacey "settle" on Brandon, who everyone from the Earl hosting the ball to Pomeroy assumes committed the homicide? By doing so Lacey would avenge several affronts Brandon did to him or will he seek justice by continuing his investigations? His traitorous gut tells him the Colonel is being framed with too much easily available proof for someone as diabolical as Brandon has become. The latest Captain Lacy Regency police procedural, A BODY IN BERKELEY SQUARE, is a fabulous who-done-it starring an ethical hero who faces a moral dilemma as he finally has the opportunity, the means and the motive to get away with vengeance. The who-done-it is so cleverly devised that crime scene investigators would cherish working such a case. However, the key to this strong entry in one of the best historical mystery series in recent years remains how hard Lacey is trying to uncover the identity of the killer.

Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered
Maggie Shayne
ISBN: 0425205762, $13.00

"Everything She Does is Magick". The Sortilege witches raised their grandniece Aurora from almost the day she was born when her mother abandoned her. The trio believes the newborn will be the mother of the greatest witch ever if she mates with Nathan McBride, who must remain a virgin until he beds Aurora. Now twenty-seven years later and with much interference in Nathan's life, Meriwether, Fauna and Flora believe the time is right to matchmake Aurora and Nathan. "Musketeer By Moonlight". Mary Catherine Hammersmith, owner of M.C. Hammer Investigations, has a strong reputation as a private eye amongst the city's working women. Her current assignment leads her into danger from gangsters who kill as a way of life. Desperate she chants a protection spell only to conjure up Alexandre, musketeer to the French king. "The Con and the Crusader". The two cops insist they have evidence to send conman Jack McCain to prison for a long time though his pigeon has been drugpin Arturo. Instead they offer him a deal to forget what they have if he helps them bring down Arturo. However, before he makes any deal to cooperate, Arturo's men arrive on the scene. Jack fleeing in the dark jumps over a wall only to fall into a well. However he tumbles into the past where ironically he is mistaken for a criminal. A desperate Emily Hawkins rescues him by proposing marriage, which he accepts assuming he will find a way out of this fiasco. Readers will be bewitched, bewildered, but defiantly not bothered by this trio of terrific romantic fantasy novellas.

A Taste of Temptation
Amelia Grey
ISBN: 0425207218, $6.99

Andrew Terwillger feels lonely as the last Terrible Threesome bachelor. His best friends recently married and spend most of their time with their wives. Andrew plans to never wed, but right now his concern is to find his embezzling estate manager. Aunt Agatha Loudermilk tells her niece Olivia Banning that they should go to London because Lord Pinkwater has asked to see her. Olivia is worried since Pinkwater has been dead for thirty years. Auntie explains they go to talk with Pinkwater's ghost. In London, Agatha and Olivia attend Andrew's party because that is where her aunt insists Pinkwater waits for her. Olivia sneaks upstairs to search for the ghost, but Andrew catches Olivia in his bedroom. He accuses her of being a thief, but soon they kiss as their aunts and a friend catch them. Andrew and Olivia marry; he seduces her, but stops short of making her his wife. When someone tries to kill Andrew, he learns life is precious so rushes home to make love with his wife; he admits to Olivia that he believes she did not mean to compromise him , but is elated she did even as they work together to stop a wannabe killer. This superb Regency romantic suspense with a touch of the paranormal closes the Terrible Threesome trilogy with a delightful tale that also brings back characters from A HINT OF SEDUCTION and A DASH OF SCANDAL. The courageous and nurturing heroine will make her a fan favorite while the audience also will scream at Andrew to get it on with her. The ghost and the assassination attempts augment a fine tale though the climax seems too easily resolved.

Princess of Park Avenue
Daniella Brodsky
ISBN: 0425205371, $13.00, 336 pp.

In Brooklyn twenty-eight years old Lorraine gave up her life including a scholarship to NYU when she fell in love with Tommy two decades ago. However, she re-looks her goals when he informs her he is going places while she will always be here with no ambition. Lorraine attends a stylist class in Manhattan where she meets Don, who introduces her to his Uncle Guido at Bendel's in the Waldorf-Astoria. Guido hires her and when the salon's superstar breaks down, Lorraine takes care of the Park Ave. Princesses, a group of spoiled wealthy offspring who can make or break a place or stylist. She becomes stylist to the group at about the same time her dog Pooh-Pooh introduces her to her neighbor Matt and his canine Lena Horne. As she wonders how she could have fallen in love when she always thought Tommy was her Dodger she begins to dream of opening her own place. However, the Queen of the Princesses has plans that include destroying her Brooklyn rival. This fun chick lit tale centers on the prime question of the universe that "you can take the girl out of Brooklyn, but can you take Brooklyn out of the girl?" Lorraine proves she can adapt to the Park Avenue world of the princesses while always being that woman from across the bay. Fans will appreciate her maturity in Manhattan while wondering what took her so long to move past Tommy. Lorraine keeps the story focused as the hair stylists to the prima donnas whose airs are higher than the stratosphere and ethics at the dregs of a septic tank. Readers will appreciate Brooklyn defeating Manhattan.

Hot Spell
Emma Holly, Lora Leigh, Meljean Brook & Shiloh Walker
ISBN: 0425206157, $14.00

"The Countess's Pleasure" by Emma Holly. During the Victorian age in Bhamjran, widow Georgiana attends a sex dance performed by Iyan. Having no sexual experience in spite of her marriage, she wants Iyan and he wants her. However, he is an indentured servant trying to get his mother free from a wrongful conviction and she is a foreign aristocrat so nothing can come of this desire. "The Breed Next Door" by Lora Leigh. In Fayetteville, Arkansas, Tarek is a Breed created to kill; he understands his inferiority to the natural born, but wants his neighbor Lyra anyway. He stops a professional from killing her and declares he will keep this woman safe though it means forfeiting his life for neglecting the undercover assignment he is performing. "Falling for Anthony" by Meljean Brook. In 1811 Anthony goes to the Peninsular as a surgeon because his medical school sponsor demands this of him. Before he leaves his best friend's sister Emily seduces him. In Spain, a vampire assaults him but tastes the Sword of Norbridge "etched" on Anthony's soul. Anthony must return to England to keep his friend and his beloved safe, but he died in Spain. "The Blood Kiss" by Shiloh Walker. Wolf King Roman wants his nineteen years old younger brother freed from the vampires who hold him or else. The werewolf sneaks into his adversary's estate planning to rescue his sibling only to be thrown for a loss when he meets the natural born daughter of vampire Lord Eduard, Julianna as he knows she is his pack mate. These four graphic erotic romantic fantasies are terrific novellas that sub-genre fans will appreciate yet wonder how heated each tale could have been as full length novels.

The Perfect Waltz
Anne Gracie
ISBN: 0425206807, $7.99

By 1818 once impoverished Sebastian Reyne had become very wealthy through hard work. His motivation was to find his two sisters Cassie and Dorie to bring them home so they can be a family again. He succeeds, but his preadolescent siblings are out of control behaving anything but lady like. Sebastian decides he needs a wife to supervise his sisters as the latest governess fails besides which he objects to the woman using force on his beloved sisters. He chooses Lady Eleanor as the perfect candidate to marry. However, Sebastian runs into a problem when he dances with Hope Meridew as he finds he desires her even as he pursues another. Hope shares his deep regard, but feels there is little she can do since he still plans to marry Eleanor out of a sense of duty. As his hearts and other unruly body parts sends him one way, his brain keeps telling him to go in the other direction. Of course Sebastian never factored in that his siblings have their own agenda as to whom they want as their new "sister". This is a terrific Regency romance due the strong characterizations. Hope and Sebastian are a fine couple, but he makes the tale because even though he knows what he wants, his desire clashes with what he believes he needs. Duty vs. love is brilliantly battled as Anne Gracie writes the perfect historical.

Susan Rae
ISBN: 0425206823, $6.99

At a fundraiser, Dr. Elizabeth Iverson runs into a former lover, FBI Special Agent Drake McGuire. Seeing him is quite a jolt since six years have passed since they shared a short but torrid relationship; yet to both it seems like yesterday as the heat etched a deep mark on their respective hearts. However, after leaving the gala she goes to her apartment only to find her best friend Julie Parks dead from multiple stab wounds, a homicide victim. The only good thing Elizabeth believes is that her young daughter Allison is staying with her grandmother. Drake pushes his way onto the case because of Elizabeth. He investigates the murder over the chagrin of the locals, which gives him an opportunity to explore what he and Elizabeth ended abruptly when she fled into the night. As Elizabeth and Drake revive their relationship, which seems stronger than before if memory holds, he knows he must not allow his love or desire from keeping him from doing his job which is catching a killer and especially keeping Elizabeth safe as she could be the next victim. Then there is the question of who sired Allison. HEARTBEATS is a fabulous police procedural romance starring two likable protagonists whose hearts beat as one. However, the key to this fine thriller is the villain as clues are provided by Susan Rae yet like the cops choosing who did it remains difficult. Though the second chance at love family drama is an overdone device, fans of romantic suspense will want to read this tense tale.

Blessed is the Busybody
Emilie Richards
ISBN: 0425207242, $6.99, 272 pp.

Relocating to Emerald Springs, Ohio Aggie Sloan-Wilcox, the wife of the Minister of the Consolidated Community Church, misses the excitement of their previous home in the DC area. Still Aggie loves and supports her spouse Ed, is a good mother to their daughters Deena and Teddy and cares for the members of the congregation who consider her a likable eccentric; all that is except septuagenarian town leader Lady Gelsey Falowell who disrespects the Wilcox family. Hearing Sally Berrigan scream, Aggie rushes outside her home to see on her front porch a dead naked female covered somewhat by a granny square knitted by Aggie's mother during a short singles stage between spouse three and four. Detective Kirkor Roussos heads the investigation in which Teddy mentions that her spouse had a public altercation with the deceased just yesterday. Everyone including Kirk theorizes that even a saint like Ed could go over the top when dealing with an insulting maniac like the victim. Everyone that is except Aggie, who knows her husband the pacifist, could not hurt a fly. She plans to prove she is right by uncovering the identity of the real culprit though that places her in danger of becoming a victim too. BLESSED IS THE BUSYBODY is a delightful cozy that stars an amateur sleuth who feels as if she swims upstream against the tide. The story line provides insight into the local politics of religion within the dueling investigations. All comes together in this fine "Ministry is Murder" thriller that starts with eccentricity (Teddy digging holes to bury the family's living cat) and continues that way until the final altercation. Emilie Richards writes a fun cozy with a serious look at religious politics.

Needled to Death
Maggie Sefton
ISBN: 0425207064, $6.99, 256 pp.

In Fort Connor, Colorado, CPA, DC area transplant, and rookie yet die in the wool knitter Kelly Flynn escorts a group of tourists to a renowned alpaca farm owned by knitter extraordinaire Vickie Claymore in nearby Bellvue Canyon. When Vickie fails to show up with the expected friendly greeting to the group, Kelly enters the woman's remote home only to find her host dead; blood everywhere, but especially on Vickie's priceless hand-woven rug. The county police headed by Detective in Charge Lieutenant Peterson investigate the homicide starting with containing the crime scene and interviewing the female visitors especially Kelly and one fussy mouthy guest. Kelly mentions to the cop that Vickie was irate and said so as she told her and their friend Jennifer Stroud she was divorcing Professor Bob Claymore because he was having an affair with another weaver, Eva Bartok. Unable to resist and thinking that the county cops were going down a wrong path by looking at the knitting club member s of the House of Lampspun, Kelly investigates the homicide. As with the cleverly weaved KNIT ONE, KILL TWO, NEEDLED TO DEATH is a fine yarn that has cozy fans trying to unravel the threads of who-done-it along side of the heroine. The story line is fun to follow as Peterson follows leads that take him in one direction while amateur sleuth Kelly assumes her club members are innocent so knits a different viewpoint on who killed Vickie. Sub-genre readers will enjoy this tightly stitched tale.

Yes the River Knows
Tracy Dunham
ISBN: 0425205770, $23.95, 304 pp.

Once she was a high powered defense attorney in the big city riding high until she lost a case that she should have won. Her client was convicted and sentenced to death by lethal injection. Unable to cope with the results, Tal Jefferson returns to her hometown where she does probate, wills and defend DUIs. While she and renowned artist Travis Whitlock are looking at the Wynnton River, they see a head float on by. The retrieved head is that of Daryl, the estranged husband of Tal's secretary June Atkins. A gun in June's possession turns out to be the murder weapon; Tal once again defends a client in a murder investigation. Matters turn strange when one of Tal's other clients is charged with a hit and run; Ike says he lent his truck to a friend. The truck contains the body of Ike's wife but what links the murders is that Ike is June's lover. Tal believes the two killings were committed by the same person and if she finds him it will exonerate June. She takes some perilous risks to prove her friend is innocent. During Tal's latest case, she learns some home truths about herself and what she needs to be happy. Readers will care for this ditzy but clever legal eagle who takes insane risks to make sure that her client is not convicted of a crime she didn't do. The murder mystery is well constructed with a false lead that is so convincing readers will believe that the wrong man is the killer just the way the author intends for us to be fooled. Tracy Dunham is a talented author who will have legal thriller fans valuing her work.

You Kill Me
Alison Gaylin
ISBN: 0451217225, $6.99, 304 pp.

Samantha Leiffer works as a pre-school teacher and the theater Space selling tickets and answering the phoned. After killing a murderer and moving in with Detective John Krull who saved her life, she thought nothing bad would even happen to her again.. Time proves her wrong. Her nightmare begins when a stranger gives her a note in a public place saying "You are in Danger". A bit scared she turns to John for comfort but he seems to have withdrawn from her emotionally and disappears for long stretches of time without telling her where he is. The woman who took over the apartment where Samantha was almost killed was murdered and her body left in the park neatly wrapped. The stranger sends her more notes telling her to watch out because someone is watching her. Her ex-boyfriend corners her in his twelve step- sexual addiction program to tell her he's sorry. She finds out that he slept with the woman who was in her old apartment. Later his body is found in the closet of her classroom. The note sender is also murdered and while trying to figure out who is after her, she goes to the wrong person for help. Only a miracle will save her life that is if John and the rest of the cavalry arrive in time. YOU KILL ME is much darker in tone than Alison Gaylin's debut novel HIDE YOUR EYES. The author is a talented writer who builds up the suspense and since this tale, told in the first person from Samantha's perspective allows readers to feel her gradually growing feelings of tension and terror. The characters and the plot comes across as very realistic so that readers will finish the book in one sitting just to find out who the killer is.

Her Sexiest Mistake
Jill Shalvis
ISBN: 0451217098, $6.99, 320 pp.

The first chance Mia Appleby got to scorch her roots she took as she wanted no ties to the trailer where she, her older sister and her mom shared one small living quarter. In Los Angeles she likes her job and her lifestyle insuring no one gets close to her; men appreciate her love them and leave them philosophy. She is content until she sleeps with her new neighbor Kevin McKnight who demands more from her than just a one night or two flings. While she struggles with the pressure Kevin exerts on her, Mia's past arrives in Los Angeles. Her sixteen years old niece Hope, whom she never met, has arrived looking to escape just like Mia once did. Unable to cope Mia turns to Kevin for help, which he willingly gives as he wants his reluctant neighbor in his life for the rest of his life. Though a subplot involving betrayal at work seems to add unnecessary angst to a person already over the edge with a traitorous heart and a relative in need, readers will appreciate this strong modern day character study. Mia keeps the tale focused without it turning into a soap opera. She is amiable but aloof until Kevin and Hope begin to push her buttons, which warm up her heart (and other body parts or at lest when he touches her). No mistake this is a fine contemporary romance with deep characters struggling with radical change.

Too Perfect
Julie Ortolon
ISBN: 0451217071, $6.99

Artist Maddy Mills, Dr. Christine Ashton, and Amy Baker are elated for former college roommate Jane Redding, who has written a self-help book "How to have the Perfect Life". However, they become angry when they realize Jane used the trio as classic examples of how fear can destroy your life. Angry and feeling ridiculed the threesome vow to prove little Ms. Perfect wrong by regaining the passion they lost when they allowed phobias to paralyze them. Maddy has overcome her fears (see ALMOST PERFECT) and Christine succeeded too (see JUST PERFECT). Amy knows it is her turn to face her fear of getting lost while seeing the world. She takes work as a traveling nanny on a Caribbean cruise, but loses her job. In St. Barts, Amy gets lost. The success of her buddies leads Amy to tough it out by finding temporary work as a housekeeper to a recluse. Movie mogul Byron Parks is tired of the phoniness of Hollywood so has fled to a tropical getaway pretending to be hermit Guy Gaspar and flamboyant sexy Frenchman Lance Beaufort. The latter's flirtations leave Amy uncomfortable while the former's contact through a video intercom makes her feel good. As she falls in love with Guy, Byron reciprocates but fears how his housekeeper will react to the truth. TOO PERFECT closes out a fun trilogy with a terrific perfect final tale starring two fine likeable individuals with mucho emotional damage. Though Amy has lost a ton of weight, she psychologically believes she is fat and unappealing to males. Byron has become so down on relationships he split himself into two "new" personalities just to deal with the new housekeeper. Readers will appreciate this wonderful contemporary romance that perfectly asks what happened to Jane?

Away From You
Melanie Finn
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312341466, $12.95

Ellie Cameron lives in Santa Fe in the house of her lover Peter, whose attitude makes it clear that this is his abode, not theirs. When she learns that her father recently died in Nairobi leaving her with a fortune, Ellie thinks back to when her mom took her when she was twelve from Africa to America to flee her abusive husband John. Ellie decides to return to Africa as she has nothing to tie her to the Land of Enchantment; so she flies to Kenya her preadolescent home. Upon arriving in Nairobi Ellie learns you can't go home as she finds her former home is gone though Mrs. McMullen's house next door remains standing; besides the British colonial system that she was part of is history. She reflects back to the late Mrs. McMullen, who was strangled to death with her bathrobe tie; John was suspected of killing her, but ultimately the police ruled her death a suicide. Ellie believes her dad did the homicide as the servants insisted and he physically abused her and her mom. Ellie investigates her father's life while coming to understand her aloof emotional detachment even to a lover. This engaging character study with a touch of a mystery and a sense of history is fine tale, as the heroine tracks her father's life to better understand his demons (and ultimately hers). Through Ellie's memories and interviews, the audience obtains a taste of the final vestiges of the British rule and system in Kenya; yet much of the plot focuses on her growing awareness of her emotional lack of purpose. Melanie Finn's debut tale is a fabulous story of a woman in search of more than just her roots; she seeks her soul.

Just Rewards
Barbara Taylor Bradford
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312307063, $24.95, 480 pp.

In London Linnet O'Neill remains the heir apparent to the matriarchal Harte family business still run by her mother Paula. However, Linnet knows that besides her mom watching her progress, her grandmother Daisy, and her late great-grandmother Edwina look over her shoulders too and rival half-sister Tessa Fairley Longden would love to push her aside. She feels especially good for her assistant, former American sales clerk Evan Hughes, who is carrying twins and has plans with her lover Gideon Harte. However, the idyllic times ends when Linnet's half-sister Tessa Fairley Longden calls in a panic that her little girl Adele has vanished. Linnet's initial reaction is that Tessa's estrange spouse Mark abducted their daughter as a pawn to get his hands on billions so with her mother in New York, she calls for a family brainstorming session to decide what to do. All agree that Mark kidnapped the child except Evan who wonders if something more sinister happened to Adele. What to do to save Adele is as important as working the media feeding frenzy, but first Paula must know. This is third tale of the next generation mini series starring the powerful four females whom continue the dynasty set forth by Emma. Thankfully there is an opening score sheet that list the myriad of members as their seems to be a zillion of them. The story line takes its time to get into action mode as each of the prime women (that includes Paula) ponder the relative strengths of their gene pool and their wealth. The fears for Adele's safety threaten to reveal other secrets as the family tries to come together, which means a fun time for Emma's myriad of fans.

Jacquot and the Waterman
Martin O'Brien
St. Martin's
ISBN: 031234998X, $24.95, 416 pp.

As his personal life is in the dumps since his relationship with his beloved Boni Mihaud teeters on the brink of extinction, Marseille Chief Inspector Daniel Jacquot buries himself in his work. He even left town to allegedly see the latest corpse, the third battered drowned victim in a month; he knows that he did not have to go to the crime scene, but did as a rationalization to escape domestic hostility. When Boni finally leaves him, Jacquot feels the blues deeply finding only work as an escape from his depression. There are three brutalized beautiful young women drowned by what appears to be a serial killer in the Marseilles area. The media is going crazy, which makes the politicians on edge and even wackier. Marseille Police Judiciare Chief Yves Guimpier is grumpy and jumpier than usual as he tells Jacquot to catch the perpetrator immediately. As he continues to investigate while wondering what happened with Boni, Jacquot ironically thinks he has never worked harder on a case yet his superior says work even harder. Rugby was never this difficult. JACQUOT AND THE WATERMAN is a terrific French police procedural starring a wonderful protagonist who finds his life falling apart on the personal and professional fronts. Jacquot cannot understand why his relationship with Boni collapsed and how he can do anything more than he is on the serial killer investigation. His troubles almost drown the likable detective, but in spite of the pressure and nothing and no one to help him relieve it, Jacquot keeps plugging away even as each clue makes the case spin further out of resolution. This is a fabulous tale with apparently other Jacquot stories already released in England.

Shadows and Strongholds
Elizabeth Chadwick
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312349246, $27.95, 576 pp.

In 1148 England, Lord FitzWarin decides that his ten year old son will be a nothing wastrel unless he takes drastic actions. He informs the reticent gloomy Brunin that he needs some hardening so he arranges for him to serve as a squire to his friend and ally, Joscelin de Dinan. Years later the now adult but still intimidating Brunin has gained plenty from the caring but strict mentoring of de Dinan and the fun and games he used to play with his host's daughter, Hawise. However, recently she has behaved differently towards him, outrageously at times and subtly at other moments flirting with Brunin. Meanwhile Henry II becomes king and calls in his nobles such as FitzWarin and de Dinan to assist him in an upcoming battle to keep his throne. Brunin fights for his monarch, weds Hawise, but loses his family land to the invading Welsh while enemies Gilbert de Lacy and Ernalt de Lysle plan to steal Jocelin's estates. In some ways SHADOWS AND STRONGHOLDS reads more like a medieval biographical fiction as the tale follows the life of Brunin in three parts, as a ten year old; as a teen; and finally as an adult. The story line contains suspense in each section, but the intrigue seems secondary when Brunin is a preadolescent and a teen; the plot takes off when the adult Brunin tries to recover all he lost starting with Hawise. Though historical romance fans may find the first two sections slow, readers will appreciate this fine tale as they opening acts lead to a strong climax.

The Leper's Bell
Peter Tremayne
St. Martin's
ISBM: 0312323433, $23.95, 288 pp.

In the seventh century, dalieh Sister Fidelma of Cashel, travels around Eire as an advocate of the law courts accompanied by her lover and trial marriage partner Brother Eadulf of Seaxmund's Ham. After their current trek in which they left their young son home with his competent nurse Sarat, they return home to tragedy. Sarat has been murdered and their child is missing, probably kidnapped, but no ransom or any message has been delivered by the perpetrators. Fidelma's brother King Colgu of Muman is irate over the abduction of his nephew. He meets with his advisers and Eadulf on how to proceed. All agree on one thing not to allow the normally logical Fidelma to investigate especially since she holds herself culpable for going on her last assignment while leaving her child behind. However, Fidelma remains determined to get involved regardless of the commands from her brother the king and her spouse. Peter Tremayne refreshes the delightful long running medieval who-done-it by bringing the case home and making it personal for the normally rational Fidlema. However, this time she must keep calm in order to follow the clues to rescue her beloved son even though her brother and husband think she is incapable of performing such a detached investigation. The Leper's Bell is Peter Tremayne at his very best (which is incredible).

Touch of Passion
Susan Spencer Paul
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312933886, $6.99, 416 pp.

In 1811 London twins Kian and Dyfed Seymour keep visiting the Red Fox Inn owned by the Goodbodys. Kian realizes that the thirteen years old tavern wench Loris is his unolineth, his soulmate that will provide his oneness. However, he is stunned when the Goodbodys plan to sell Loris to Gregor Foss, owner of a brothel. Kian wins Loris in a card game, but when he goes to leave with her Gregor pulls out a gun and shoots him. Kian uses his magic skills to throw Gregor across the room. Gregor dies so the Guardians punish Kian for using "blood" magic by insuring Loris will detest his advances. Three years later, Kian remains frustrated while he expects his sibling to end up with his beloved although Dyfed insists he has found his oneness in someone else. Kian needs a miracle to overcome his nightmare, but does not see any forthcoming. He expects to sacrifice his need for his beloved to find happiness with another. TOUCH OF PASSION is a fantastic fantasy romance starring star-crossed lovers as Kian suffers for the tragedy that he inadvertently caused though he had solid reasoning, but the rules are strictly enforced and he knows it. His dilemma as his beloved soulmate becomes a woman just like he expected makes for an angst-laden deep tale. This is a powerful sequel stronger than the delightful TOUCH OF NIGHT. Now if Susan Spencer Paul provides us with the unolineth of the Great sorcerer Malachi.

Wiley's Refrain
Lono Waiwaiole
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312349092, $24.95, 288 pp.

In Portland, Oregon, poker professional Wiley learns from Danny Alexander that he got promising young jazz musician Ronnie a part-time gig. Afterward Wiley laments to his pal, Leon (friends since their days of being abused in elementary school by their teacher Mrs. Boomer) that he prays that Danny has his head on straight or the talented Ronnie might suffer. The gambler will soon realize how accurate his comment proves to be when someone murders Ronnie. Wiley takes the homicide personally as he and his family knew the victim. With the help of Leon, they begin walking the mean streets of Portland, but the clues take a spin to Hawaii. Wiley who has never set foot on the home of his family tree heads to the Aloha State where he expects to pound the crap out of Danny, who he blames and the proof seems to affirm his involvement. However, Wiley finds that one red herring after another takes him down a different path. The third Wiley escapade is an exciting thriller that takes the hero/antihero (depending on whether you are on the receiving end of either his or Leon's fists) on an intriguing noir adventure. The flashbacks and side comments to his past enable the audience to see much more of Wiley's moral system that demands justice vigilante style immediately. Though the motive behind the need for vengeance that drives Wiley and Leon to seek the killer never seems fully developed fans will appreciate his latest adventure.

Forbidden Magic
Cheyenne McCray
St. Martin's
ISBN: 031293761X, $6.99, 448 pp.

In San Francisco, D'Anu Coven witch Silver Ashcroft works with Paranormal Special Forces to stop practitioners who use illegal rituals like sacrifice. The current case involves the Balorite clan use of blood magic. Silver knows she risks her soul as she ventures into the grey realm to defeat the Balorites and their evil minion while praying she has not take that irreversible last step. At the latest crime scene, Tuatha D'Danann warrior Hawk mentally informs Silver he will help rescue the child intended by the Balorites as a sacrificial lamb while telling her to stop their warlock. However, having crossed into the grey, she is seduced by the warlock Darkwolf to cross into his darkness. Tuatha warns Silver that Darkwolf wants her; he fails to tell her that he wants her too, but explains that Balor, the God of Death expects his followers to bring back the Sea Gods in a war against humans and elves. She must go against her clan and bring the D'Danann from the Otherworld or existence will end. Silver has much on her mind including two males that she desires and a world at stake if she steps wrongly. This terrific romantic fantasy with police procedural elements grasps the audience from the moment that Silver meets Tuatha and Darkwolf and never slows down until the final twist of their triangle. "Matchmaking" from the Gods, elves, and magical practitioners from across the spectrum augment a good vs. evil end of the world battle in which the white witches must reconsider their means if they are to win with some of the D'Anu clan insisting that the price is the same as the end of the world. Fans will take great and immense pleasure with this strong thriller that both genres will treasure.

White Stone Day
John MacLachlan Gray
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312282931, $24.95, 288 pp.

In late 1850s London at the bequest of the Pinkerton Group, Falcon reporter Edmund Whitty goes undercover to expose psychic Dr. Gilbert Williams as a fake. Instead shockingly his brother David seemingly contacts him from the other side during a seance. David had been a highly regarded scholar at Oxford who drowned during a rowing race years earlier. At about the same time at Crouch Manor in Oxfordshire, Reverend William Leffington Boltbyn loves to photograph young girls; presently he is shooting two sisters Emma and Lydia, daughters of the indifferent Revered Lambert who either does not care what happens to his children or is unaware of the threat his religious peer poses to them. From the seance, Whitty begins to track his brother's final days. Whitty becomes aware of the perilous situation when he obtains a photograph of David in a compromising position with someone who looks like Emma. That soon lead the reporter to Oxfordshire and fears that a wolf in sheep's clothing is using the pulpit to hide being a pedophile, but to prove this could expose what he thinks happened to darken the soul of his beloved late brother. WHITE STONE DAY, the sequel to the spellbinding THE FIEND IN HUMAN, is a terrific Victorian investigative tale. The delightful protagonist wonders if he really heard David from beyond the grave (of course Edmund did not have the Amazing Randi to debunk the psychic). Though he may besmirch his sibling's name and he is losing his courage with every step into the dark he takes, Whitty tries to keep the Lambert siblings safe from a person he believes is a human devil. Great historical mystery.

Janis Harrison
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312348134, $23.95, 288 pp.

In River City, Missouri, before she passed away from a terminal illness, Agnes Sutton arranged with the Hawthorne Street shopkeepers to hire her brain damaged son Toby to do odd jobs for them so that he can remain somewhat independent. Though only mentally functioning like a child, Toby is a dedicated helper doing his chores diligently like washing store windows and taking out the trash. Thus when Bretta Solomon, owner of the flower shop, learns that her conscientious helper died from hornet bites, she takes it personally perhaps because her late spouse Carl was a deputy sheriff. Bretta wonders why anyone would kill the harmless Toby by planting the deadly nest inside his room. The only possible motive she can think of must be Agnes' odd-looking flowers that someone stole from the deceased woman's garden. She ponders whether these flowers can be valuable enough for someone to REAP A WICKED HARVEST that led to murder. She ivestigates while also slowing down her romance with a neighbor and coping with her father's thirty-something squeeze wanting to redesign her home. This is a terrific amateur sleuth tale in which the clues are discovered by the heroine in a reasonable but clever manner. The support cast provides the eccentricities of small town living specially Bretta's battling assistants Lew and Lois who argue over everything even that critical 1960s question of Superman or Spiderman and her father with his "designer girlfriend" who becomes her cohort in sleuthing. Readers will enjoy the latest Gardening Mystery.

Dead Dry
Sarah Andrews
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312342527, $24.95

First her neighbor Fritz Calder comes to get forensic geologist Em Hansen to accompany him for breakfast when Salt Lake City Police Detective Thomas "Ray" Raymond arrives to have Em look at a nearby corpse. Though the victim is buried under gravel from a collapsed quarry wall with only a leg is sticking out. Everyone of the workers has been accounted for so no one knows who the victim could be and why he was there. Though the fingerprints are gone and his visage battered beyond recognition, Em recognizes a tattoo that enables her to identify the deceased as Colorado staunch environmentalist Afton McWain. Fritz flies her to Colorado to inform McWain's former spouse and her current female partner, who both deem they earned his ranch while development vultures circle the battling females coveting McWain's land. All the while Em digs into the dirt to find that trace of evidence that ties a Colorado killer to a Utah homicide. The tenth Em Hansen, Utah's only forensic geologist, is a terrific who-done-it that keeps the audience following the heroine's delightful scientific explanations of the clues she finds that no one else understands. Her "romance" with Fritz still sputters, but that adds to the overall fun of observing this consummate professional in the field struggle with affairs of the heart. Though some sidebars are unneeded cul-de sacs, fans will appreciate Em's latest digging in the dirt gem.

Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co.
Jeremy Mercer
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312347391, $23.95

Ottawa Times Jeremy Mercer explains the metric that allows you to know how well you are doing as a crime reporter is simple: the murder rate in the city. Whereas Ottawa is 20-25 annual, Toronto is more like 50. The higher the rate, the more important the assignment is. Only in his twenties, Jeremy assumes he has a long career ahead of him even if he sees everything from the dark side such as an adult male with a child has to be a pedophile not a father. However, everything changes when he writes a book that quotes an informant claiming a successful robbery, but he names the person. Forced to flee town, Jeremy drifts to Paris where after a month there and broke, he wanders into the Shakespeare and Company. There, the utopian bookstore owner George Whitman allows the homeless to have a roof over their head but allows no technology not even a dial phone. Mr. Mercer gives a deep kindhearted look at the owner and many of the long time residents. The subjects turn this less than a year in the life of Mr. Mercer into an intelligent amusing look into people, many eccentric and quite interesting especially the Left Bank Utopian, a person readers will want to learn more about.

White Tiger
Michael Allen Dymmoch
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312323026, $24.95, 304 pp.

Chicago Police Detective John Thinnes investigates the murder of a Vietnamese-American starting with interviewing the woman's son Tien Lee. At the morgue, John recognizes the naked victim having lived in her Saigon apartment for six months back in 1972; Hue Ann was the wife of his friend Bobby who apparently died five years ago. The brass pulls John off the case due to the obvious conflict of interest. An anonymous tipster claims John is Tien's biological father though the cop is certain that he never slept with his buddy's wife except maybe when he got drunk celebrating the marriage; that evening he remembers nothing else. Additionally Bobby was unable to sire a child. Adding to John's need to get involved is that the dangerously amoral former Saigon gang leader White Tiger has opened shop in Chicago allegedly seeking to avenge the homicide of a prostitute Jasmine back in '72 though the detective believes that is a Little Saigon cover for this thug's real deadly activities. Rotating perspectives between Thinnes and his friend psychiatrist Jack Caleb, who was also in country in 1972 enable readers to obtain a deep look at the horrors and aftermath of the Viet Nam War. Both vets try to forget what they saw and did, but vivid gruesome flashbacks do not allow one to escape their past. The murder of Hue and the word on the Little Saigon streets of the White Tiger preying on everyone add to John and Jack looking back especially the cop's need to know what happened the night Bobby married. The current police procedural never takes charge as it serves more as a window to a past everyone wants to forget, but cannot.

The Moon Tunnel
Jim Kelly
St. Martin's
ISBN: 031234922X, $24.95, 336 pp.

In England's Fen region, the archeological team led by Cambridge's Professor Valmgimigli was digging for Anglo-Saxon artifacts at a World War II POW camp when they found the underground tunnel that apparently was an escape route. Inside the tunnel is a skeleton in which the deceased seemingly heading back to the camp was shot in the head. Local law enforcement already overworked treats the homicide as a five decade old cold case. The Crow reporter Philip Dryden finds the murder mystery quite fascinating especially since he previously reported on the "Ely Dig" so he begins making inquiries. As he discovers clues to the identity of the dead man that take him to a landfill owner, the enigmatic legendary powerhouse Ma Trunch and a nearby Italian community the clues to the homicide seem to always dead end. The third Dryden journalist investigation is a fabulous mystery due to the hero and other caring eccentric protagonists helping him as he makes his inquiries. Interestingly Dryden is a bit of a coward, but does not allow his fears for example of dogs to stop his investigation as he rides his motivations of curiosity and compassion to learn the truth. Throwing in a touch of 1940s history, Jim Kelly provides a super tale.

No More Playas
Brenda Jackson
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312331827, $13.95

Psychologist Dr. Lance Montgomery became famous (infamous in some circles) when he wrote the best selling seduction manual THE PLAYAS HANDBOOK. This self help reference book helps males score without commitment. His tome leads him to confrontations with an enemy combatant, psychologist Dr. Asia Fowler. However before he realizes that he is in love, he hurts Asia driving her into the arms of humanitarian relief worker Dr. Sean Crews. Lance misses Asia and now realizes he is ready to do the unthinkable commit to a long term relationship with the woman he loves. However, Asia is now engaged to the nice caring Sean. Though an impediment, Lance begins his moves with a zeal like none he has everfelt before. He obtains her schedule and appears "by chance" at events she attends. Still he betrayed her once and he is known as the playa's playa so he must find a way to earn her trust because the passion between them could provide a century's worth of energy for a Caribbean island. There are other subplots involving his two pals ready to marry the women they love and his sister caught in the middle of a blackmail scheme, but the prime story line is the second chance at love between the hall of fame playa and the psychologist he cherishes. Lance is terrific as he employs his honed skills in relationships to make it with the one female who scorns him although he swears he is NO MORE PLAYAS since he wants to be a one woman man. Though this tale can stand alone, contemporary romance fans will enjoy reading both delightful tales.

Kingdom of Lies
Lee Wood
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312340303, $24.95, 336 pp.

In Leeds, a teenage jogger finds a drowned naked woman in a pond on the grounds of Harewood House; the current owner is a first cousin to the Queen. Leeds Police Sergeant Keen Dunliffe heads to the scene hoping an accident not murder occurred. American Professor Gillian Waltham calls the police because her roommate at a conference at Leeds University is missing. Dr. Waltham arrives at the Weetwood Police Station and identifies the victim as Dr. Christine Swinton, an eighteenth century English Royalty historian. Soon afterward Met Chief Superintendent Pete McCraig and Justin Scudder, personal assistant to the Home Secretary, arrive to ask Keen to stay close to Gillian to see if he can learn something about Christine's death. She is the fourth such victim left on a royal estate in the past few months. Though he believes the Met blokes are hiding much of what they know, he agrees to the assignment because he has an opportunity to see his twin sons living with his former wife and her fiance in London. He might have reconsidered taking the job if he knew what awaited him in town. KINGDOM OF LIES is an interesting police procedural starring a cynical police sergeant and an upbeat professor. The story line is fun to follow as the audience along with Keen wonder what the Met is hiding. Though the Keen-Jillie relationship is an overused plot device, their working together make the tale succeed and leads to the final odd twist with the "guardian angel". Fans will enjoy this spin that sets up future tales starring the acrimonious cop who is somewhat mellowed by the elan for more in life professor.

The Shape of Sand
Marjorie Eccles
ISBN: 0312352328, $23.95, 288 pp.

In 1946 renovations to Charnley uncovers a hidden shoebox filled with papers including the 1910 journal of Beatrice Jardine, who suddenly vanished following her forty-fourth birthday celebration attended by her beloved four children (Marcus, Harriet, Vita and Daisy) and close friends including her fiance Kit and her friend from Egypt Valery Iskander. The mystery of what happened to her was never solved so her oldest daughter Harriet reads the cache to see if any clues can be found. She learns that her mom lived the privileged life of the elite, but Harriet already knew that. Harriet concludes that something happened in Egypt eleven years before her disappearance when her mom visited the North African Protectorate. She persuades her siblings to journey to Egypt seeking clues, but instead the construction crew uncover the mummified remains of a female bringing law enforcement into the investigation and forcing Harriet to the sidelines though she stealthily continues to dig. Though Marjorie Eccles holds the Mayo, THE SHAPE OF SAND is a fabulous historical mystery that rotates two distinct eras, the end of the Edwardian and the end of World War II in a smooth manner. Findings in 1946 lead to a trip back to 1910. Harriet is a courageous person with a need to know what really happened and why to her beloved mother. Her sisters join her quest once the trio reads the documents. Fans will cherish this fine tale that uses a mystery to showcase a bygone upper crust life partially shattered a few years later by WWI and completely buried by WW II.

Turnpike Flameout
Eric Dezenhall
ISBN: 0312340613, $23.95, 336 pp.

Jonah Eastman is a special kind of pollster. He does not just collect data and report ad nauseam as to what average American believes. Instead his job is to impact the polls in favor of his client whether it means obtaining support to place a hazardous waste dump inside a child care facility or insuring the election of an idiot to the senate (obviously will fit in nicely with the standards of that club) by painting an even more moronic portrait of the opposition. Truth or ethics are not factors; only wins are important regardless of the means count; if you need a reference just ask the Reagan White House. Public relations "Practitioner" Cindi Handler hires Jonah to help her client; former TV child star turned into New Jersey's number two rock star after the Boss, Turnpike Bobby Chin. Recently his private plane crashed nearby, but he walked away. Now, he is the prime suspect in what is considered a kidnapping and probably a murder of a vanished sculptor Christian Josi, who was creating an unflattering statue of the former star. Trying to help an egotistical jerk surrounded by has-beens and never-beens and chased by music journalistic vultures makes working the Reagan White House seem simple. The fourth Jonah pollster tale is an exciting thriller starring an intriguing individual whose expertise is an interesting spin. The story line is owned by Jonah as he reflects on life while trying to turn opinion in favor of pathetic Turnpike Bobby who instead thinks he needs an upholsterer and a lawyer more than an impact pollster. Though the support cast including the Turnpike behaves like aging garage band members seeking the Fountain of Youth (except for Jonah's intelligent wife and Cindi), Jonah's endeavors make for an intriguing look at how images and icons are created.

The Fatal Fashione
Karen Harper
ISBN: 0312338856, $23.95, 272 pp.

The strewing herb mistress of the privy chamber of Queen Elizabeth I, Meg Milligrew gathered two sacks filled with poisonous cuckoo-pint roots that she believes will make her a nice profit if she can get royal starcher, Hannah von Hoven to cooperate. Many of the aristocracy love wearing the starched ruffs. However, instead the duo argue over costs in front of many witnesses. Meg follows up only to find Hannah lying dead in a tub. Elizabeth I is stunned when she is informed that her royal starcher has been starched. At the same time, royal finance manager Sir Thomas Gresham tries to ignore the Queen's command to gain acceptance of the fashione from the royal starchers. His concern turns to terror when his daughter vanishes for awhile; she reappears near where Hannah conducted business, but she recalls nothing. The Queen convenes her Privy Plot Council to uncover the identity of the killer, save the starch industry, and assist the beleaguered Gresham family. Though the who-done-it is cleverly written to provide several suspects but the obvious one with a public motive remains Meg, the story line feels more like an Elizabethan historical fiction. Readers receive a deep look at life in the court to include those who are employed by the Queen and her retinue. As to be expected by a series in which Queen Elizabeth I is the star heroine (see THE FYRE MIRROR) Karen Harper provides a deep look at life in her court with a very sympathetic eye towards Her Royal Highness.

The Devil's Game
David Holland
ISBN: 031234077X, $24.95, 288 pp.

In 1834, Simon Curdle, MP for Bellminster dies in the Westminster Palace fire. No one in Parliament, which has its own problems, takes notice. Simon's constituency reacts by battling to replace him in Parliament because it means great power to run the borough. The Dean of Bellminster Cathedral Revered Tuckworth observes the power struggle as it begins to take shape. He plans to remain on the sidelines and not get involved as Mayor Winston Padgett, nudged by his ambitious wife and his assistant vs. Lord Granby's clandestinely pushing forward another aide. Also watching from the sidelines with a different agenda is lawyer Wilfred Cade who plans to be the last man standing in Parliament once the two opponents destroy each other with assistance from him. However, staying neutral proves impossible for the Reverend when a deadly riot explodes on Guy Fawkes Day with the powerful wannabes demanding that he as a impartial party investigate. The latest Devil's historical mystery is a delightful thriller that uses real events to provide the audience with insight into England during a tumultuous period when reform was in the air. The investigation actually takes a back seat to the historical perspective in a small town outside of London as mostly seen through the viewpoint of the Reverend. Fans of the series or those who appreciate a window into the past will enjoy this strong entry though the mystery is not as gripping as the previous tales (see THE DEVIL IN BELLMINSTER and THE DEVIL'S ACRE).

Air Dance Iguana
Tom Corcoran
ISBN: 0312291337, $24.95, 320 pp.

His on and off lover Monroe County Sheriff Department Detective Bobbi Lewis hires freelance photographer Alex Rutledge to take shots at the Little Torch Key crime scene where Kansas Jack Mason was murdered hanging from a davit. Twenty miles away in Marathon another corpse that of Milton Navarre perhaps of Pensacola was hanging from a davit too. Alex is a bit confused as he is the only person to have seen both apparently related crime scenes; he wonders why Sheriff Liska had two different cops checking each homicide. The prime suspect is Alex's brother Timothy, who he has not seen in seven years, but has now returned. He now has to peel him off the streets of Key West. Though Alex believes Tim is a loser, he refuses to accept that his sibling would kill anyone; not even the mean streets of Cleveland Heights could do that to him. He begins to make inquiries poking for the connection between the victims, which soon leads him back to a 1970s scam from around the time he first arrived to live in Key West. The latest Rutledge mystery (see OCTOPUS ALIBI) captures the essence of life (and in this case death) on the Keys not just Key West. Alex drives the story line from the moment he ignores the first o'dark call, visits two related murder scenes, picks up his brother, and finally confronts the killer who has a gun aimed at him. Like Alex, fans will wonder what's going on as Tom Corcoran provides a zany solid investigative tale.

Dear Departed
Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
ISBN: 0312347685, $24.95, 352 pp.

Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Bill Slider looks forward to spending a quality serene day with his pregnant fiancee Joanna and tomorrow the two will visit his only "relly" his father. However, the plans of mice, men and homicide cops often go astray so instead Bill and his team, lady's man Jim Atherton and feminist Tony Hart have what at first look seems to be another "Park Killer" murder. However the detectives quickly see anomalies that make the death of Chattie Cornfeld slightly different than the MO of the Park Killer. They begin looking at family members and lovers. Especially of interest to Slider are the victim's half sister and her boyfriend, and father; any one of them seems capable of committing a homicide. The tenth Slider police procedural is a fabulous who-done-it that showcases the police being open minded enough to find clues that take them away from the obvious to someone cleverly disguising a homicide to make it seem like a serial killer victim. Additionally, the dialogue between the sleuths is amusing yet serious and feels genuine. The sleuthing is so good that Joanna and the culprit seem pale in comparison though she is a well rounded character (no pun intended) and the killer is a solid choice. Still DEAR DEPARTED belongs to the police.

Seventy-Seven Clocks
Christopher Fowler
ISBN: 0553587153, $6.99, 528 pp.

In 1973 at London's Savoy Hotel elderly lawyer Maximillian Jacob apparently fell asleep in the lobby; desk clerk Jerry Gates goes to wake him, but instead Maximillian is choking and soon dies. The coroner reports that the deceased most likely died from a snake bite. Police detectives Arthur Bryant and John May investigate Jacob's death to ascertain whether it was an accident or a homicide, but soon other strange deaths occur that leave no doubt that a murderer is on the loose. The next victims die from toxin mixed into makeup and a tiger. Besides the odd murder weapons and no clear motive or any obvious opportunities, the two cops link the victims to the Whitstable family and that brood's ties to the Alliance of Eternal Light, but who is doing the killing remains a mystery. The third Bryant-May police procedural is a long way from its predecessors (see FULL DARK HOUSE and THE WATER ROOM) as this time a biographer asking how they joined the New Scotland Yard's Peculiar Crimes Unit leads to a look back at the case. The action-packed story line is filled with red herrings and several intriguing twists pulled off by key secondary characters like the hotel desk clerk that keep readers' attention throughout the thriller. Though the resolution seems too much of a stretch, fans of the series will appreciate this fine entry from the salad days of a strong eccentric sleuthing partnership.

Jon Courtenay Grimwood
ISBN: 0553383787, $12.00, 384 pp.

The assassination attempt using a poisonous snake could have come from anyone who had access to Emir Moncef. The viper bites his calf, but he survives because his twelve year old son witnessed the incident and screamed for help. His wife and his heir believe the obvious culprit is either a family member, an un-loyal servant, or another member of the inner retinue. However, an unrecognized son by a different woman Kashif Pasha believes the NR is behind the assault. To protect the Emir and to uncover the assassin, former cop turned private investigator Ashraf Bey, who may be another unacknowledged offspring of the prolific Emir is hired. The genetically altered Ashraf struggles to uncover who wants the Emir dead; he leans towards the North African rebellion as the source so he goes undercover as a laborer in the lair of the enemy the metropolis of El Iskandryia while his maybe ten years old niece Hana al-Mansour better known as Hani decides to become Uncle Raf's "apprentice". The Third Arabesk alternate history Ottoman Empire Noir (see PASHAZADE AND EFFENDI) is a terrific who-done-it starring a fabulous hard boiled sleuth who is softened by his niece. The story paints quite a vivid picture of a world in which the Ottoman Empire still exists in the twenty-first century. The complex sty line takes the audience all over from Manhattan to the Ifriqiy Desert to El Iskandryia and elsewhere without missing a beat so that the reader knows this is the real stuff. Reading the previous novels would be worth the effort as they are amongst the best in the sub-genre, Jon Courtenay Grimwood cleverly intertwines the key elements into this excellent entry. FELAHEEN makes three winners in a row.

A Feast for Crows
George R. R. Martin
ISBN: 0553801503, $28.00

The War of the Five Kings seems over especially with the deaths of King Joffrey of King's Landing and the rebel King of the North Robb Stark of the Northlands. No one can fully claim the Iron Throne. However, the widespread carnage and lack of strong leaders seem like A FEAST FOR CROWS especially those willing to pick the marrow out of the survivors' bones. While the Seven Kingdoms struggle with criminals and marauders, Queen Cersei Lannister serves as the Regent in King's Landing, but she apparently is losing her grip on her sanity. While Robb was murdered at the Red Weddings and the other siblings of House Stark are either dead or in hiding all over the land, eleven year old Arya Stark, assumed dead by all, trains with the Faceless Men. Finally Brienne of Tarth seeks the missing daughters of Robb's mother Lady Catelyn of House Tully. In the breach of leadership that has swept through the Seven Kingdoms no one, whether they be these three, other rulers, those who dance with dragons or commoner are safe. The fourth Song of Ice and Fire fantasy is a terrific entry in what is one of the top quality ongoing series in the last decade or so. It is hard to write a short synopsis on this book because the storyline is complex and subplots interwoven. The tale is action-packed with just enough magic to give it a fantasy feel, but is more a human endeavor as plots and counterplots make for strange bedfellows. Though this novel seems to close without any climax as if George R.R. Martin has set the stage for truly epic escapades in the next story (Mr. Martin even implies this in his afterward), fans will treasure A FEAST FOR CROWS because this is high fantasy at his best.

On the Run
Iris Johansen
ISBN: 0553803433, $26.00, 352 pp.

Ruthless Middle Eastern business mogul Marvot demands the best and will do anything to achieve his objective. Though he hides his full agenda from Grace Archer, he orders the talented horse trainer to train the "Pair", lethal Arabian stallion and mare, but she refuses. He kills her host, the owner of an Alabama horse farm, and plans to abduct her beloved eight-year-old daughter to force her cooperation. On the run, Grace knows she needs help, but has doubts about turning to her ex-spouse, former CIA commando Jake Kilmer, as she blames him for the death of her father and the end of her career. Jake is willing to die to keep his beloved two females safe while Marvot is more than willing and able to accommodate him. This action-packed thriller starts at hyperspeed and never stops for a breath, if anything it goes even faster. The second chance at love aspects are deftly imbued into the plot as safety remains the top need of the Kilmer-Archer hierarchy. However, the key to the tale is Marvot, a malevolent villain willing to kill anyone in his way yet plays chess with his beloved son. The schism between Jake and Grace seems off kilter especially when they heat up the sands, but fans of Iris Johansen will appreciate the faster than light-speed ON THE RUN.

A New Leash on Life
Emily Carmichael
ISBN: 0553586351, $6.99, 432 pp.

Dog show trainer Jane Connor has had a successful career until a wildfire destroyed her Arizona home. Since she failed to pay her biannual insurance bill as the envelop slipped under her car seat, a stunned Jane feels like stupid burnt toast when she learns she has nothing though she rescued all her canine pals and is a bit of a heroine in the Flagstaff area. Needing income, Jane accepts an offer from producer Angela Gardner of Rising Star Production to star with her dog Shadow in a documentary film on canine agility competitions. The only problem with the job is sharing the traveling RV with several people. First there is bubbles (as she classifies the enthusiastic over everything Angela) who can drive the self deprecating Jane to lunacy with her energy that would wear out the bunny. Then there is handsome rival widower Cole Forest (and his nasty, at least to Jane, daughter). Though lacking some of the bite from tales like GONE TO THE DOGS, etc.), A NEW LEASH ON LIFE is an amusing road show that looks deeply into the lives of people and canines involved in agility competitions. Dog aficionados will appreciate the deep look at those DIAMOND IN THE RUFF competitors as their owners ready them for the shows. Teri is filled with angst and is a vulnerable child rarely seen so sensitively written in literature. Though Jane's self-censuring becomes an irritating bark, fans will enjoy who let the dogs out escapades.

Nail Biter
Sarah Graves
ISBN: 0553803107, $22.00, 272 pp.

Having left Wall St. behind upon finding her spouse Victor cheating on her, and her son Sam using drugs, Jacobia "Jake" Tiptree divorced her husband and took her son to Eastport, Maine. There she eventually married Wade Sorenson and with her best friend Ellie White buy a beachfront fixer-upper with plans to lease the house especially when the tourists come to New England. Currently they rent the place out to a coven of amateur witches who Jake believes must have cursed Ellie and her as they seem to always need a repair or two at the most inopportune moments. While a storm rages, Jake, toolkit in hand, arrives at the cottage to make a repair. In the nearby tool shed, Jake finds the corpse of thieving street preacher Eugene Dibble. Everyone had a motive to see Dibble leave town but nobody knows who would go to the extreme of shooting him. After coven member ex-cop Jenna Durrell compromised the crime scene, the others claim they were busy conjuring so heard nothing over the storm. After another incident occurs, with Ellie helping Jake investigates. The latest "Home repair Is Murder" amateur sleuth mystery is an intriguing tale due to a strong who-done-it. Jake assumes one of the coven members killed Dibble, but finds no motive beyond that no one wanted the petty thief in town. Besides playing 1823 and dealing with Victor more than ever, Jake is at her tough best even when she and her partner deal with a NAIL BITER life and death crisis. Readers will take immense delight with Jake's investigation so she can further repair and lease her fixer-upper.

Glorious Treason
C.J. Ryan
ISBN: 0553587773, $6.99, 404 pp.

In the year 3217 Emperor Charles V wants to make the planet Sylvania Incorporated Imperial Territory so that the twelve big corporations can bid for rights to mine Fergusite, the gemstone that powers the fusion generators enabling spaceships to travel great distances in little time. Until it was discovered on Sylvania, it was manufactured so that quality was standardized. If the big corporations it, there is a good chance that ships will be destroyed, confidence in space travel will plummet and trade fall dramatically. It could also mean the end of the empire which is why Norman Minus, Secretary of Extraterrestrial Afairs, sends Gloria, Director of the Office of Strategic Intervention to Sylvania. Her obvious mission is to see that the Emperor's wishes are carried out but her true purpose is to stop Fergusite from being mined. Gloria knows if she is caught, it would be treason but she believes, like Mingus, that the emperor's greed should not destroy an empire. When she arrives on planet, she becomes enemy to the founding fathers of the planet and the corporations' representatives. As Gloria sees it there is only two ways to carry out her mission. The first using legal methods and if those fail, use chicanery, misdirection and criminal acts (as defined by the emperor). Gloria has a genetically enhanced sex drive which she uses in her mission without any regrets, thinking of it as just another tool in her arsenal of tricks. She admits she's hard, calculating and will do what ever it takes to be Mingus's successor when he retires but her actions show her as a caring beautiful woman and that surface at inconvenient times. There is a lot of action and political intrigue in this erotic outer space crime thriller. C.J. Ryan creates a world with words so vividly that readers can actually imagine being there.

The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl
Tim Pratt
ISBN: 0553383388, $12.00, 402 pp.

Marzipan "Marzi" McCarty is the night manager at the coffeehouse Genius Loci, the place where famous artist Garmond Ray painted seven murals in seven different rooms before vanishing without a trace. Marzi thinks of her work at the coffeehouse as a job but her vocation is writing the comic strip Rangergirl, a heroine fighting Evil in the contemporary west. Strange things start happening in and around the coffeehouse. A regular customer wants to free the earthquake god trapped in Genius Loci. Jane, another patron, wants to free the imprisoned "dark goddess of the earth godess. Jane is killed and her doppelganger, made of mud with extraordinary powers tries to kill Marzi. Jonathan who has come to study the muralist's work wants to see the Desert Room which Marzi has closed off. She has repressed memories of the Evil that is behind the closed door holding the mural and she has become the guardian charged with keeping the evil which manifests himself as the Outlaw, the evil sorcerer in her comic strip, from busting free and destroying Santa Crux and then the rest of California and maybe the world. The malevolent being who has opened his prison a millimeter has influenced people to try to free him but he hasn't factored in Marzi and her friends who try to stop him. The setting in the real world is the modern day west but evil lives in a realm where the old west is given form in another plane but occupying identical space as Santa Cruz where the book takes place. This is a fantastic classic good vs. evil confrontation where both sides have powers in the final battle that will decide what happens to the rest of the planet. Dealing with the evil one has forced the heroine to repress those memories and only lets them out through her comic book. The spunky heroine will need everything she has and more to triumph against overwhelming odds.

M. John Harrison
ISBN: 0553383159, $16.00

VIRICONIUM is a reprint of three excellent novellas and seven related by the city short stories. Each novella is well written with the first one "The Pastel City" the easiest to follow as it is more of a straightforward sword and sorcery style fantasy. The other two tales combine strong sci fi elements with an intriguing fantasy saga. Each of the novellas can stand alone though they contain many of the same characters. "The Pastel City". Five centuries have past since the Middle Period collapsed and much of the technology is lost in spite of the recent efforts of Methven Nian in Viriconium, the Pastel City. However his one error in trying to establish an alliance through marriage with the barbaric northern horde has led to Canna Moidart, queen of the north, claiming the throne when he dies. Her rival is Methven's heir Queen Jane. Now the north invades with the aging Cromis the Knight and Tomb the Dwarf seek the immortal Birdmaker to save their city. "A Storm of Wings." Something is wrong with the residents of Viriconium as a lunacy has gripped the Pastel City. Migratory locusts coming from the dark side of the moon are on a flight path that inadvertently brings them into contact with humans. These insects use a telepathic fog to befuddle the mind and ultimately bring death. No one knows how to fight this invincible foe for this is the Time of the Locust. "In Viriconium." Ashlyme the portrait artist is renowned for his true life often cruel paintings. However currently he wants to save the life of ailing Audsley King, who is dying from consumption while plague wracks Viriconium. Making his impossible task more difficult is the arrival of the twin buffoon Gods making demands of Ashlyme.

The Mark of Ran
Paul Kearney
ISBN: 0553383612, $12.00

The continent of Umer is an archipelago with numerous islands of varying size somewhat isolated by powerful oceans that isolate people. Rol and his grandfather along with two other people are isolated from the natives who fear them until soldiers are sent to kick them off the island. Rol makes it to a larger island, but his grandfather dies in the freedom boat trek. However his grandfather obtained a death pledge from Rol to seek out and beg for kindness from Michael Psellos. Psellos the sorcerer owns everything on the island whether it is the thieves' guild or those in power. He accepts Rol as his "apprentice" teaching the lad how to accumulate, use, and abuse authority as absolute power corrupts absolutely in his hands. Of course Psellos' beautiful companion and deadliest assassin Rowen teaches the youngster other skills that a man needs to know. Geographically paying homage to the delightful classic Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea trilogy, Paul Kearney provides a fabulous coming of age character driven fantasy with the twist that the youth is being trained by the dark side. Psellos is terrific as he has a bit of mystery about his origins, which in turn augments the fear and increases his power. He is a malevolent being who sees humans as so beneath him they don't matter except in terms of what individuals can do for him. He is complemented by Rowen, a warrior siren who can kill as easily as she can kiss. These are Rol's "benevolent" teachers. This reviewer can't wait for more Sea Beggar tales starring this unholy trio.

J. Anthony Froude: The Last Undiscovered Great Victorian
Julia Markus
ISBN: 0743245555, $30.00

J. Anthony Froude was a student and ultimately biographer of Thomas Carlyle. Born in 1818, Froude became a Tractarian member seeking to purge Protestant elements from the Church of England, but quit when the leaders including his brother turned to Roman Catholicism. Instead he began to mistrust all churches and by 1849 while at Oxford he wrote the novel THE NEMESIS OF FAITH starring a clergyman who has reservations about his divine choosing. The book cost him his fellowship and provided his archdeacon father further proof that his son was sinfully pathetic. He soon met Thomas Carlyle who changed Froude's life as his Scottish mentor convinced him that biography was "the only history". Froude learned the lesson well with works on Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and eventually Carlyle after the man died in 1881. This is an interesting biography that targets an audience filled with those readers who want to know everything about the Victorian age in layers on layers of depth. The amount of information will send many fans into overload, but savored slowly over a couple of weeks will provide a powerful feel for the mid to late nineteenth century Victorian intelligentsia. The insight into Froude's early years as a mentally abused member of a deeply pious intellectual family and his odd relationships with his teacher Carlyle and the great Victorian's spouse are deep and profound. However, though captivating at times, the book can become overwhelming with just the facts.

The Bronte Project
Jennifer Vandever
Shaye Areheart
ISBN: 0307236919, $21.00

At a New York university, Sara Frost knows that the best she can hope for is teaching Lit 101 as she remains unpublished, still needs to write her doctorate, and is unable to find the proof of her topic, Charlotte Bronte's letters. Adding to her downtrodden feelings is the newest member of the faculty lively self-promoting, media guru and published author and recognized expert on Princess Diana, Claire Vigee. The newcomer's elan sends Sara's bored fiance Paul to Paris seeking life (on a fellowship of course), but not before he splits from her. Stunned by the desertion as much as by her own comparisons to the I am the greatest Claire, the reticent Sara loses her grant and is further manipulated by the hurricane who has taken over the school by storm. Soon Claire meets a film producer, who wants to do a New Age retelling of Charlotte's life with much more of the zest than normally presented. Yet through Claire's manipulations Sara risks all heading to Los Angeles and Europe seeking to avoid the label of a modern day "silent Victorian". This fabulous satire lampoons academia, the book publishing industry, and Hollywood by having the Victorian romantic meet the modern day author. Readers will appreciate the comparisons between characters to include Charlotte as Sara is a serious scholar until driven away by the "worship of the pseudo-scholar Claire whose latest bets seller on Princess Di will leave readers in awe as it is not the substance that counts just the sales hyped by the PR.

Betting on Grace
Debra Salonen
Signature Saga
ISBN: 0373836775, $5.99

In Clarion Heights, Michigan, Yetta Radonovic calls police officer Nick Lightner informing his she is his biological father's cousin and that his blood family who abandoned him as an infant need his help with a matter in Vegas. He was going to ignore his Romani ties until she mentioned the name of attorney Charles "Lucky Chuck" Harmon who looks at her daughter Grace like he rolled a series of sevens. Though not fully understanding the Romany ties, having a chance to nail Lucky Chuck sends Nicolai to Vegas pretending to be an out of work ex con family member. However, the undercover case takes a twist when Nicolai and Grace meet as both are attracted to one another. Still he tries to stay professional and not lose sight of finding evidence of Lucky Chuck's wrong doing while also protecting Grace from this dangerous man. Adding to the churning in his stomach is his father wants to meet him and finally explain why he was abandoned. Only with Grace at his side can he deal with this, but how will she react when he reveals the truth about who he really is and then again does he want ties with the side that abandoned him. BETTING ON GRACE is a fine police procedural romance starring two likable characters who see Romani DNA quite differently as Grace grew up in a flood of love while Nick did too but by his adopted parents and their daughter. The story line works on two levels as a family drama and as an undercover cop thriller connected by a warm romance. The eccentric support cast augments a fine contemporary tale.

Sundays Are for Murder
Marie Ferrarella
Signature Spotlight
ISBN: 0373836872, $5.99

Stacy Pembroke becomes the twelfth victim of Santa Ana's Sunday Killer, whose murders have baffled the local cops and the FBI. The M.O. of this serial killer especially hits home to FBI Agent Charlotte "Charley" Dow as the murders are identical to the killing of her sister. New agent Nicholas Brannigan is assigned to team up with Charley. However, her reluctance to see the corpse surprises him until he learns about her sister. As they work together they seek information on Stacy; that leads the Feds to her married lover Robert Pullman. He had opportunity and perhaps a motive since she broke off with him, but how does he fit in with the other eleven dead. As the two Feds along with another team struggle to stop a serial killer, they begin to fall in love. First however, they must end the reign of terror of a psychopathic predator before they can explore their feelings in depth. Though one would believe that Charley would be taken off the case for obvious reasons, readers will still appreciate this strong romantic police procedural. The five member task force especially the lead duet seems genuine as their feelings come across with how they handle the investigation. The case is cleverly pursued above all else including the growing attraction between Charley and Nicholas, which in turn adds to the realism. Though serial killers have become a too often used staple, SUNDAYS ARE FOR MURDER is a fine thriller with the romance enhancing the law enforcement efforts to apprehend an infamously successful serial killer.

Bravo Unwrapped
Christine Rimmer
Signature Saga
ISBN: 0373285345, $5.99

Alpha magazine features editor B.J. Carlyle is stunned when she finds out they no longer have the Christmas cover story as the popular Wise Brothers broke up. Meanwhile their competitor TopMale prints an unflattering article about her being a Manhattan man-eater. Her father, who owns Alpha, tells her he has the answer to her problems of lacking the feature article, a bio on writer Buck Bravo the man she fears to love and by the way is carrying his baby though no one knows this. Though capable of authoring a bio, Buck insists that B.J. write the article by spending two weeks on his family property, the Sierra Star B&B. His agenda is simple; he made an error six years ago when he failed to follow up once a frightened B.J. rejected his proposal. When she caught with someone else soon afterward he knew he destroyed his life. When he finally coaxed her back in his bed two months ago, Buck regained hope, but now he has to persuade his beloved he will remain faithful, loyal, and loving forever. BRAVO UNWRAPPED is an entertaining contemporary romance starring a likable hero and a woman who fears commitment. Buck believes that he needs to take charge of the situation if he is to persuade his beloved they belong together that is before he knows she is pregnant. Thus he forces her onto his home field where she can see how much he loves his mother and siblings. Still he realizes the key remains bucking her belief that he will cheat on her and that she owes her father by proving her worth to him. Though the obstinacy of B.J. can become wearying, readers and her father will root for Buck to succeed.

In the Cold
Jeanie London
Signature Spotlight
ISBN: 0373836767, $5.99

Simon managed to get most of his team of Excelsior Command operatives out of Bosnia alive with the exception of Violet and four other skilled people. Her death especially in the war ravaged nation haunts him like no other ever has. Besides losing a player, which by itself would drive him over the edge, he now realizes how much more Violet meant to him. One year later, office assistant Francis shows Simon several short stories and two novellas for him to read. To his shock, the stores written by a Claire de Beaupre describe top secret missions in which only he and Violet knew the details. He investigates wondering if somehow the woman he cherishes survived. Could Claire be Violet or is she someone who looks like his late beloved's twin? If the latter how could she know. He plans to find out, but soon realizes the author is in jeopardy as an unknown assailant wants Violet dead whether Claire is her or not. IN THE COLD is a strong espionage romantic thriller that stars a breathtaking hero and an intriguing female counterpart. Fans will have a Memorex moment as they will wonder is she or is she not. On top of the suspense there is also a delightful romantic subplot so that readers receive the complete package from Jeanie London.

Valentine's Rising
E.E. Knight
ISBN: 0451460596, $7.99, 368 pp.

It is the forty eighth year of the Kurlian order and the invaders are firmly entrenched in strategic forts around the globe. They send out the Reapers, who they created and designed to drink human blood and send its essence to the Kur that controls it. The human population is down to ten percent of what it was prior to the invasion. A resistance group hopes to destroy the masters using the Ozark Free Zone as their base. David Valentine has returned from the Caribbean with quickwood which acts on Reapers like silver does to werewolves. As he makes his way to the command, he discovers that the Ozark Free Zone is no more; its soldiers fled or were captured by the Kurs. Valentine and what is left of his men as well as soldiers he recruits must get the quickwood to wherever the command is. The overlords are getting ready for a massive battle and David is in the unique position to throw there plans into chaos if he can keep his real identity secret from the quislings (human collaborators). The most important part of David's mission is not keeping himself alive but making sure that the first weapon that can kill a Reaper gets into the Free Territory for it is the last hope of mankind to take back their planet. Fans of end of the world as we know it thrillers are going to love THE VAMPIRE EARTH series and VALENTINE'S RISING in particular. The protagonist is a true hero who doing ugly things which he hates doing even knowing it will further the goal of winning back Earth from the Kurlians. There is plenty of action in this exciting military science fiction novel and readers better understand what makes a reaper tick. E.E. Knight not only creates believable characters, he puts them in situations where they behave realistically so the reader believes their actions are natural. This is one series readers of alien invasions, vampires and an end of the world scenario must read.

Dragon Champion
E.E. Knight
ISBN: 0451460472, $19.00, 384 pp.

When Auron broke out of his egg, he saw one of the hatchlings kill another and the one who did the killing was left lame. Elves and dwarves entered their cave while their father was away, killing his mother and one of his sisters. Auron and another sister survived and he used himself as bait to draw the people who wanted to enslave him so his sister could race to freedom and find their father. Auron is caught and taken on a boat but a kind hearted elf frees him. He befriends a trading dwarf who removes the collar off his neck and helps him guard the caravan of goods taken to the steppes. After his job is complete Auron cares for a human child but before he can get her to her people, they meet the oldest known dragon who covets knowledge not treasure. After he takes the girl to a human settlement, he returns to the dragon's cave to learn all he can. Auron becomes the feudal lord of a group of blighter hominids that once ruled the world but are now on the point of extinction. Circumstances force him to leave his domain when he finds out the wizard behind the deaths of his mother and sister is now using enslaved and bewitched dragons and some blighters who join him willingly to do away with all the hominid races races. Auron must find away to stop him or the world that he knows will be destroyed. E.E. Knight makes the transition from the science fiction of his Vampire Earth series to a fantasy saga with an ease at s amazing but not surprising with someone with his enormous amount of writing talent. Told from the perspective of a dragon fresh from the egg to sixty years of age (a toddler in dragon terms) readers will be enchanted by this touching story about a species persecuted, hunted, and killed to the point of near extinction. The audience will love Auron and will look forward to future tales about him.

The Rosetta Codex
Richard Paul Russo
ISBN: 0441013309, $14.95, 384 pp.

The Exile Prince heads to Conrad's World with a filled hold and special passengers. A few hours before landing, three combat fighters attack the vessel. His father sends five year old Cale Alexandros accompanied by his nanny Sidonie in the Kestrel to the nearby planet with instructions to get to the only civilized spot Morningstar. However, the duo crash on Conrad's World. Nomads find them and rape Sidonie and leave her to die. They turn Cale into a slave. A decade passes when Blackburn the trader enables Cale to escape with him to Morningstar where he meets Sidonie, who survived her desert ordeal. She takes him home to his wealthy family. However, Cale believes that Morningstar is built on top of an alien culture and has found an ancient tome with weird metallic pages containing strange writings that he found in the desert. His family and Sidonie want him to stay home and cannot understand why Cale is obsessed with locating and entering the alien gate that his reference mentions unaware that friends are enemies planning to use him. THE ROSETTA CODEX is a very complex science fiction thriller from start to finish. Readers will enjoy journeying with Cale whose captivity along with the book he found shape his existence though that upsets his family. The story line is action-packed and the support cast is established to enhance the plot. However, this fine alien planet thriller belongs to Cale, whose enslavement has made him so different from his family that they cannot comprehend his need to return to the place of horrors and believe he is a fool to want to ship out again. Richard Paul Russo provides a strong character-driven outer space adventure.

Harrowing the Dragon
Patricia A. McKillip
ISBN: 0441013600, $23.95

This compilation of fifteen fantasies written in the 1980s (4) and 1990s (11) by award-winner Patricia A. McKillip are all delightful tales that showcases a wonderful author who is as comfortable with short stories as she is with novels. Few writers can match Ms. McKillip's skills with taking the standard sub-genre rudiments and turning them into the tools of Od Magic that make her such a terrific fantasist. All are superior entries, but this reviewer especially enjoyed the retelling of fairy tales. Each of the contributions is different, but share in common messages involving freedom to choose. Fans will enjoy this strong enticing anthology with tales like the official crime scene investigators looking into the suspicious deaths of Romeo and Juliet that seem so much like a murder-suicide crime of passion. A terrific imagination makes this a fine reading experience.

The King Imperiled
Deborah Chester
ISBN: 0441013538, $7.99, 368 pp.

Since the Grethori barbarian hordes kidnapped the two daughters of King Faldain and Queen Alexeika, the royal monarch of Nether has declared war on their foes though they rescued their children. In the latest battle, the clans of the Wind Tribe have united to smash the army of Nether and conquer the capital city as well as the rest of the kingdom. Dain has set a trap for them killing most of them and selling the rest of them as slaves. The sheda (shaman) curses the king with her dying breath. Only the water from the chalice of life keeps him alive until he reaches the palace so the chalice can heal him. Dain's daughter Tashalya who was in training to be a sorcerelle summoned the being Kaonfrom another plane but is caught by her teacher. Her mentor tells her parents that she must leave school. At her home Kaon convinces her that she can gain the powers of the ancients if she meets with him and gives up the powers of the sorcerelle, which she does. He has her steal it before Dain can use it and she flees to a place where the two realms meet. Her mother chases after her and her two brothers who she kidnapped as well as the royal heir of the neighboring kingdom in the hope she can persuade her hard-hearted daughter to give up her dream of power, release her hostages and save her father. Princess Tashalya doesn't know what Kaon is but believer herself in love with him and is willing to betray her family and kingdom to be with him. Debora Chester has written a fantastic fantasy full of action, romance, and intrigue as the queen is the focal point who decides what course of action to take but it is Tashalya the antagonist who captures reader interest because she is so complex and hard to understand. Perhaps in future books, Tashalya can redeem herself. Deborah Chester is a world class fantasist.

Coyote Frontier
Allen Steele
ISBN: 0441013317, $24.95, 368 pp.

Two decades have passed since the Coyote Federation broke away from Earth rule to form a democracy, but the planet is in crisis as the dependency on earth technology has taken its toll. Leader Carlos Montero knows that gaining their independence was a lot easier than maintaining their freedom as he has learned that fighting for liberty was dangerous but simple while ruling is very complex. He is unsure which direction to take Coyote as the infrastructure is crumbling without spare parts or replacement equipment. At the same time Earth is near ecological destruction and needs raw materials that Coyote can provide. Carlos must decide whether to heed the offer of business mogul Morgan Goldstein, who promises to invest new capital and technology in Coyote or does he plead with his brilliant recluse former Lieutenant Governor Manuel Castro to return and negotiate with earth. Either way Carlos personally loses, but he no longer can worry about his own desires or esteem, Coyote is in trouble. Still Carlos wonders what the costs vs. the benefits of either solution are. He knows Morgan the capitalist will extract quite a price while he is unsure that Manuel can still do the job; finally the people of Coyote wonder what to do about earth's desperate ploy to escape ecological ruin by thinking of using the starbridge technology to enable escape to Coyote. COYOTE FRONTIER is the terrific conclusion to one of the best science fiction trilogies of the last decade. The complex story line concentrates on key characters, who allow the audience to comprehend the complexities of relationships whether they are personal between a man and wife, two leaders, or inter-global, as well as decision making where someone wins and someone loses depending on what is decided. Allen Steele is at his best with this deep moral yet action-packed character driven science fiction thriller. If you have not read the previous two tales (COYOTE and COYOTE RISING) you are missing an exciting thought provoking winner.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Outlaw's Retreat
Tom Merrill
Multicultural Books
307 Birchwood Court, 6311 Gilbert Rd., Richmond, BC, V7C3V7
ISBN: 0973839279, $21.95 US, $26.95 CAN, 80 pages

Tom Merrill's poetry has been featured far and wide in journals and e-zines. He believes lyric poetry is a refuge for the hidden heart and disperses that philosophy through various styles, including rhymes and free verse. To quote the back cover, his poetry is rhythmic, enchanting, and mystical. It is all that and more. Coleridge was always one of my favorite poets, and Merrill's work has that same elan. For example, I quote this excerpt from "I Had of Love:"

And so, I made my cure of hearts
A cold night wind instead;
And all the sadly brimming stars
Shone down on our chill bed.

The beauty and grace of a well-constructed quatrain does not happen by accident. Consider "In the Stillness of Many" for example, which I quote in its entirety:

Many nights when undrawn to the living,
I have gone to the graveyard instead,
And sought out my truth among ashes,
And for beauty, lain down with the dead.

In the stillness of many a midnight,
I have warmed to their wakening sound,
The impassioned and scorned and unliving
Who speak to my heart from the ground.

"Beyond the Brute Moon" is a rich broth of words and sounds, a story shown in free verse. I chose my favorite excerpt to share here:

And all your lifeless luster
Holds no wonder;
You glow wakeless whether
Weaving through the silvern satin clouds
Or on the fattest harvest shining
Or slouched and falcate
In the black-walled night,
And deaf to hearts
Pressed like trapped creatures crying.

Poetry does not have to be complicated or convoluted to make a powerful point. "Bird
Watching" is simple and brief:

As, gimlet-eyed,
the hawk perceives its prey,
so men peer down on men from peaceful skies,
and in a mechanical
swooping blur of grey,
dispatch their work by sudden, swift

I've heard it said that poetry is a hard sell these days. Merrill's message to poetry lovers who mourned the passing of classical poetry is, "Take heart. Keep reading." Whether you enjoy free verse that delivers an understandable message or rhymes carefully crafted, Tom Merrill's poetry is recommended.

42 Poems in Rhyme & Meter
Mary Keelan Meisel
Multicultural Books
307 Birchwood Court, 6311 Gilbert Rd., Richmond, BC, V7C3V7
ISBN: 0973330163, $21.95 US, $26.95 CAN, 60 pages

I admire Multicultural Books, editor Joe Ruggier, and sponsor Michael Burch for their vision and philosophy. Not many small presses would reprise the work of a lesser- known poet who died in 1965. I understand that every small business must keep a chary eye on the bottom line, but sometimes a labor of love is in order to promote excellence. This publisher produces quality work, and Meisel's work is excellent.

Born in 1889, Mary Keelan Meisel was physically disabled and struggled to recover from a mental breakdown through many of her adult years. Despite those afflictions, there is a joyful, quietly powerful music in her words. Yes, she contemplates death but is never morose. Consider, for example, the last two lines of "I Would Go Out:"

I must have space when Death's swift shadow falls
so that my wings may spread for my last flight.

Her pain and failing strength surely must have been a burden, but she buffers such
trials with small modicums of near joy, as in this excerpt from "To a Seagull:"

You make me wistful gazing at your flight -
strong white wings swimming lazily in space,
when I am bound to earth and weary quite
of repetitious days in this dull place.

She creates words artfully out of emotion, in simple ways that often lift the spirit and allow the reader's imagination to soar along with hers. Four lines from "I Have Loved Little" have lingered in my mind from first reading:

I have loved little who would now love well;
but can one take a heart and make it over?
I have run lightly through the asphodel,
and danced among the bluebells and the clover.

Her work is extraordinary when she writes of imagined people, places, and events. "Veronica" is an amazing praise psalm; "The Heart of McMurragh" a glorious, bittersweet Gaelic love song; and "Paddy Finucane" a triumphant ode to Celtic warriors. I would do them an injustice to quote small excerpts. These are poems equal to the classic poets we all know and admire.

Meisel's heart knew "Sorrow's gentle, melancholy touch" but she also celebrated "the sweet carillons of light laughter." Editor Ruggier believes Meisel's poems to be one of the chief glories of North American Literature. After reading her work, I must agree.

Next of Kin
Ami Elizabeth Reeves
Avalon -- Thomas Bouregy and Co.
160 Madison Ave., New York NY 10016
ISBN: 0803497296, $21.95, 218 pages

Reading this book was like sitting on the verandah sipping sweet tea while talking to old friends in the South. The characters are richly drawn and human, and Delight, Arkansas is the ideal locale for murder and mystery.

Delight, Arkansas is home to the Sayre Chicken Empire. Everything revolves around that claim to fame, including the annual Delight Chicken Cook Off. World class distance runner Sally Brown arrives in a VW hippie van to reconcile with her sister Suzanne Sayre Holden. Suzanne was raised by the Sayre family matriarch, while Sally lived in Phoenix, Arizona with their abusive mother. Sally and Suzanne haven't seen each other in 16 years. Suzanne's husband Mug is embroiled in a real estate deal with local restauranteur R.D. Blackwell. The deal is one hair away from falling through because R.D. has too many irons in the fire, and he's being blackmailed by reporter Bobbie Lou Voight. To thicken the plot, Bobbie Lou is having an affair with Suzanne's husband. Battle Jonley is an ex-beauty queen who "outgrew" her crown and her ex- fiancee, literally. Battle and Bobbie Lou have unresolved animosity from their beauty queen days. Johnny Gant III, aka Johnny Third, is a creative artist trying to make a name for himself by sculpting butter and ice. Johnny is a drop-dead-gorgeous male who adores his wife and dreams of fame. When Bobbie Lou deliberately smashes his butter sculpture just before the chicken cook off, Johnny is devastated and enraged.

Well guess who turns up dead, bludgeoned to death by a frozen chicken? Bobbie Lou. She's dug for dirt so ruthlessly in Delight that one of her hapless victims turned on her. But who? Mysteries abound in Delight as one secret after another is revealed. The relationship between Sally and Suzanne is not what it should be. Mug and R.D. have more at stake than a real estate development. Battle knows more about white lightning than she should. And Johnny Third needs to figure out how to get his estranged wife back. Next of Kin is delightful in every way, with more than one mystery to be solved by these quirky and appealing characters. Ami Elizabeth Reeves is a name to remember.

Final Decree: A Corie McKenna Mystery
Kay Finch
Top Publications, Ltd.
1221 Merit Dr. Suite 750, Dallas TX 75251
ISBN: 1929976208, $14.95, 279 pages

If this first novel is any indication, Kay Finch will soon be a familiar name to mystery fans everywhere. Plot development is first rate, her characters lively and believable. Adding distinctive flavor to this delightful mix is a little taste of Texas.

Private Investigator Corie McKenna is a thirty-something widow living and working in Houston. Since her husband's death in an explosion two years before, much of her energy is focused on avoiding men sent her way by a matchmaking mother. Her position as investigator for attorney Wade Alexander is simple and straightforward. She gets the goods on two-timing spouses, tracks down deadbeat dads, then goes home at the end of her day to a dog and an empty house. When Dr. Edward Kemp retains Alexander's firm to handle his divorce, Corie's investigative involvement is reluctant at best. Kemp is arrogant, foul tempered, and a pain in Corie's kiester from the start. Alexander assures Corie that Dr. Kemp is a good man who deserves custody of his young son, but her sympathies are with his beautiful young wife, Suzanna.

Corie tails Suzanna Kemp on her late night sortie to a warehouse in a rundown area of Houston. She's still questioning the purpose of that visit when Suzanna is gunned down from the shadows in her own driveway. All clues point to the unpleasant Dr. Kemp at first. Corie's dislike of the man, however, does not cloud her judgement or investigative focus. As she systematically follows minute clues from the warehouse to a strip club to Mexico, a troubling light dawns:

Suzanna Kemp's murder is only the latest in a series that may be related to her husband's death.

Kay Finch's writing style is crisp and exhilarating. She pulled me into this story fast and kept me there through every twist and turn of plot. Corie McKenna is a gutsy character, a strong willed woman with charming foibles and vulnerabilities that add depth to her persona. A second in this series of Corie McKenna mysteries is coming soon, and I can't wait to read it.

Bawlmer, Merlyn: Home of the HONS
Thomas K. Hyland, Jr.
P.O. Box 151, Frederick MD 21705
ISBN: 141377704X, $16.95, 109 pages

At first sight of the cover, I wondered what on earth a book entitled Bawlmer, Merlyn could be about. I soon learned it stood for Baltimore, Maryland and is the phonetic pronunciation utilized by fast-speaking natives. This is the author's memoir, and a funny, sweet, nostalgic reminiscence of the Baltimore he knew as boy and man. Hyland's writing style is chatty and personable, which added a pleasing dimension to his memories.

Thomas K. Hyland, Jr. was born in Baltimore in 1940. Times were simpler in his boyhood, despite a World War raging in Europe and the Pacific, followed soon by the Korean War. Life went on as usual for children of his era. War seemed very far away unless family friends or relatives were killed or came home injured. Dads worked, moms stayed home and took care of their families, and kids went to school or played. Families got by just fine without excessive luxuries. Kids entertained themselves by using their imaginations or building cars out of orange crates cadged from the corner grocery. Like other boys his age, Hyland earned a few bucks for movies or candy by delivering newspapers. Life was an adventure for Tom in Baltimore, riding his bike in heavy fog near the bay and camping with his Boy Scout troop.

But every boy grows up. Hyland shares the universal joy and trepidation associated with his first dance in the early years of rock and roll, first kiss, first beer, first car. And then came the reality shock of college as experienced by the teenager who got straight A's in High School, followed by the even greater shock of Army life. By his mid-twenties Tom is married to the love of his life, starting a family and buying a house. The carefree boy has finally settled down and become a man.

Bawlmer, Merlyn is a fascinating history of Baltimore, shared from one man's experience. Hyland tells his story with charming humor and warm hearted style. Readers in Baltimore, especially, should find this book intriguing.

When Skylarks Fall: A Joe Box Mystery
John Robinson
RiverOak Books
Cook Communications
Dept. 201, 4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs CO 80918
ISBN: 1589190548, $13.99, 320 pages

Several years ago, after reading the first in this Joe Box series, I told my review editor, "This writer really has it!" After reading book three, my opinion has not changed. Joseph Jebstuart Box is an endearing character created by a writer who started at the top of his game and has not slacked off since.

Joe Box is a man battered by life but not yet completely broken. His hardscrabble life as a child in the Kentucky mountains is never far from mind. Joe's younger years in VietNam, followed by a stint with the Cincinnati Police Department, hardened him around the edges. For years, Joe passed through life in a drunken fog, barely surviving. With the loving support of friend and mentor Tim Mulrooney, Joe finally goes on the wagon and stays there. It's a precarious perch at best, but with God's help and the love of Angela Swain, Joe maintains sobriety. This history makes Joe Box what he is, a compassionate man who faces every obstacle with self-effacing humor and a toughness tempered by rough times. Joe knows what he is: a fiftyish low end private investigator who drank away his youth. When country music icon Kitty Clark hires him to discover whose been stalking her, Joe is shocked. Why would a rich and famous woman hire him? Meeting Kitty brings back memories of childhood with the grandmother who raised him and the alcoholic father who abused him. Reluctantly, because he needs the money, Joe agrees to investigate her case. His investigation leads to the Mafia at first, and later into dangerous revelations that Joe may not survive.

Joe Box is a flawed Southern gentleman who would make a perfect movie hero. When Skylarks Fall has enough action and intrigue to keep readers hooked from beginning to end. Every character is believable, and Robinson's distinct writing style is top notch. This book, like every other book written by John Robinson, is highly recommended.

Girl Sleuth Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her
Melanie Rehak
Harcourt Inc.
6277 Sea Harbor Dr., Orlando FL 32887-6777
ISBN: 0151010412, $25.00, 364 pages

Why did books featuring the fictional character Nancy Drew outsell and outlast all others of the genre? How did that teenage sleuth progress from early pulp fiction heroine to American icon? What did Nancy Drew have that other fiction characters didn't. What propelled her from 1930 through the Atomic Age to the Age of Aquarius and beyond? And who, really, was author Carolyn Keene other than one of the best selling authors of all time? The answers to those questions are mysteries revealed in Rehak's book. The true story of Nancy Drew is as exciting as the novels in which she starred.

Nancy Drew was the brain child of Edward Stratemeyer, the dime novel innovator who developed The Bobbsey Twins and Hardy Boys series. Stratemeyer was a prolific writer and savvy businessman. He knew what kids liked to read and also knew that girls craved books about strong role models. Introduced in 1930, Nancy was a clever, independent, and sensible heroine in the days when females were expected to be otherwise. She could keep her head above water in any situation and thus became a heroine throughout the Depression. Stylish and strong, Nancy Drew served as a reminder that the good times would return again to America.

But Edward Stratemeyer did not actually write the Nancy Drew mysteries. He was a firm believer in pseudonymous novels and hiring writers to flesh out his well-developed outlines. Sparsely worded ads were placed in various newspapers and magazines for writers. When a young woman from Iowa, Mildred Wirt Benson, answered his ad and passed Stratemeyer's evaluation, she became Carolyn Keene. When Stratemeyer died, his daughter Harriett Stratemeyer Adams assumed the responsibility of running his lucrative business. Harriett had her own ideas of who Nancy Drew should be. Eventually the Nancy Drew persona became an amalgam of Benson and Adams. Benson was athletic, self reliant, and driven to succeed in any and all undertakings. Adams had always been a willful tomboy, raised by a doting, wealthy father. Both women were intelligent and strong willed through pivotal times for American women. Together, they became Nancy Drew.

The Nancy Drew timeline, in itself, provides an intriguing history. Through women's suffrage, depression, war, the fight for birth control, and women's liberation, Nancy changed with the times without missing a beat. Drew novels sold in the millions no matter what difficulties America was facing. But the publishing game was as cut- throat then as it is now, just in different ways. Age, increasing pressure from publishers, family squabbles, failed TV and movie projects, and legal entanglements took a huge toll on Benson and Adams. Both women died at advanced ages, but Nancy Drew remains -- memorable, highly collectible, widely read and reread to this present day. Rehak is an excellent writer. Whether you're a Nancy Drew fan or not, this book is
memorable. The history recorded between these covers is amazing.

The Complete Tishku
Marjorie Power
Lone Willow Press
P.O. Box 31647, Omaha NE 68313-0647
no ISBN, $7.95, chapbook of 43 pages

Marjorie Power spent one decade of her life creating poetry about the wily, seductive, omnipresent Goddess, Tishku. To date, her work has been published in numerous journals, one full length book, and four chapbooks. In this latest chapbook, Power beautifully weaves the natural world with the cosmos in sublime and surrealistic ways. Her words are powerful and speak to readers in poems that need no special commentary from me. Consider, for example, this excerpt from "Tishku Creates the Crow" and the truths communicated in a few short lines:

...........She knows
humans will dislike this bird.
The goddess adores humans, even as they
sleep her out of their lives. Even though
they'll turn her air into a plague.
They'll need the crow's harsh noise
to tell them:

Little time is time enough.
Begin again. She lifts the bird, glistening,
to midnight sky, blesses it
and lets go.

In "Bringing a Friend to Tishku's" we leave a noisy, crowded freeway to visit the silent autumn forest. Again, life's painful realities are banished by Tishku's presence:

Come with me
down through these woods
to an abandoned hobo's camp.
Tishku waits there, in the litter,
her fingers aflash with diamonds
pried from life's broken heart.

Marjorie Power sees the banality of life and understands the nature of humans. And yet she delivers hope, with Tishku's help:

I will love her yet.
Not as a flame does open air
nor a river, rain.
But as earth
loves coal, forests,
stump-covered slopes
where the rubble has won.

This book has magic. It was created by a woman bound to our modern world, who learned to "bring the earth inside, a finch at a time" and to ladle "light into crystal bowls." Ms. Power and the world of Tishku are highly recommended.

You Can't Meet Jesus Wearing Sneakers and other stories from Morgan Grove
Kevin Watson
Press 53
P.O. Box 30314, Winston-Salem NC 27130
ISBN: 0977228304, $14.00 US, $17.00 CAN, 143 pages

If this book of short stories is any indication, Press 53 is a new small press with promise. The book is sturdily bound, the font clear, dark, and easy to read. Best of all, the eight stories between these covers are engaging and beautifully written. All stories are set in the fictional town of Morgan Grove. Amidst the natural splendor of the Missouri Ozarks, Watson's characters thrive, grieve, struggle, and hope. Each story is well crafted and told with compassion. Characters are as real as real can be, richly developed and fully human. To say I loved these stories is an understatement. I'll try not to rave, but a wordsmith of Watson's caliber does not come along too often. I laughed, cried, and was literally stunned to silence more than once as I devoured these pages.

"Hallowed Ground" is the introductory story, a stunning tale. Paul Northridge is a native son of Morgan Grove. He loves his life, his town, its location, enjoys the quirks and foibles of its citizens. He even likes Ray Gathers, an outsider who keeps to himself and rarely interacts with anyone. Paul and Ray share a crushing, unspoken grief that finally reveals itself and changes their relationship.

"Cool Shoes" is a humorous, touching, slice of life story of a teenager suffering his first crush. The pain of fledgling love and a gawky teenage boy's secret dream of being cool will resonate with every reader who wasn't cool or popular in youth.

"River of Heaven" is a harrowing tale of a distraught young girl and a dying man, both dealing with personal losses. When these two meet on a riverbank at night, each learns about genuine, selfless love and how to value their blessings. This one twists and turns its way towards a poignant climax.

In "Some Kind'a Romantic", teenager Walter Kinston and town character Stubbs Lynch share more than a love of fishing at their favorite pond. Stubbs and Walter share a grand, hopeful dream. Sometimes dreams come true and hopes are rewarded in strange and uplifting ways.

"Sunny Side Up" shows the quiet desperation of family farmers losing their battle to drought, banks, and an unsympathetic government. But all is not lost, especially pride and determination. Small town people have their special ways of dealing with predatory outsiders.

"Longing for Michael" is the troubling tale of a tender hearted young girl who marries badly but idealizes her selfish husband. Their infant son, Michael, is the joy of her floundering life, an emotion not shared by her husband. It's a story of maternal love, horrendous loss, and glorious renewal.

"True Living Color" is an entertaining commentary on life's priorities. Widower Ralph Pickett exchanges his old black and white TV for the newest color model and becomes a couch potato, to the exclusion of everything important in his life. Lessons are learned and fundamental truths are revealed.

In "You Can't Meet Jesus Wearing Sneakers" a young journalist meets the demented wife of the late local curmudgeon while trying to write a kindly obituary. The secret life of a man despised by everyone is humorously and compassionately revealed in this surprising tale.

There isn't one weak story in this book. Watson's writing brings the location, each scenario, and every character to vibrant life. This book of fine short stories is highly recommended.

Whiskey Nipple
Doug Frelke
Press 53
P.O. Box 30314, Winston-Salem NC 27130
ISBN: 0977228312, $14.00 US / $17.00 CAN, 159 pages

Sometimes I just know from viewing front cover art what the book content will be. Press 53 and Doug Frelke chose the ideal cover for Whiskey Nipple. The surreally appealing painting by Wolff, "Goddess of Killarney", accentuates the unusual title; both title and cover portray the book's content to perfection. One critic lauded Frelke's sparseness of prose. To me, this writer's prose is not sparse but rather whittled precisely to reveal frayed nerve endings, shattered synapses, and raw imperfections in his characters. Like Wolff's primordial art, Frelke reveals the essence of humanity hidden in these eight short stories.

In "Love Canvas", an ugly man married to a beautiful woman has the wrenching need to please her. His haunted mind and artist's eye accomplish the ultimate tribute.

"White Dog" introduces readers to Billy, a Naval officer who hates the job of death notifications. He's sick of facing grief stricken families, until he breaks Navy rules with the widow Rubia and meets the white dog.

In "Sad Country Songs", an ex-bouncer turned cynical repo man thinks he's heard every sad excuse there is from folks behind in their payments. But one repo gig stays with him and changes his outlook forever.

"Push" is a tale of two car salesmen with different expectations from life. Graham is pushing 50, weary of the trash and junk of everyday life. Haint is young, vibrant, successful at everything from car sales to women. In Haint's world, nothing is impossible.

"Living With the Magician" is a stunning tale of love and death. Jackson Teal has diabetes and end stage kidney disease. All he has left is a daughter who does all she can to make his failing life worth living.

In "Smoke", Joe's shipmates on a minesweeper in the Persian Gulf think he's charmed. Joe dreads mustering out of the Navy because his wife has left him, and a recurring dream convinces him he won't reach home alive.

The tattoo of a heart, "El Corazon", ties two generations of sailors together in shocking ways through time and circumstance. Assuredly, race and sexual orientation aboard ship have nothing to do with love or luck.

"Sophia Bonita" convinces a mixed bag of men in a Tijuana dive that beauty is, indeed,
in the eye of the beholder.

My advice is to put aside all preconceived notions of life, death, love, and human interaction while reading Whiskey Nipple. Frelke's characters, like his stories, are skillfully crafted and unforgettable. His voice as story teller alternately stuns, sooths and shocks. Let this writer lead you into his surprising shadow world. And when your scalp tingles or you're stricken with a haunting sense of deja vu, don't be surprised.

Stephen Thomas
Tsunami Inc.
P.O. Box 100, Walla Walla WA 99362-0033
ISBN: 0964444038, $15.00, 128 pages

After reviewing Journeyman, one critic said, "There is no other country in the world where a poet this good would be unknown outside his corner of the woods." That is a sad commentary about poetry and poets today in America, when a gifted poet like Thomas is relatively unknown. His work has been published in numerous journals, and he has several other full length books to his credit. By all measurements, this journeyman carpenter / accomplished academic / professor / poet / editor has earned his recognition. He's experienced life from diverse angles and eloquently shares that knowledge. His work reflects a man who has his roots in the working class and his eyes on the cosmos.

For example, time and man's place in it is gracefully expressed in this excerpt
from "At the Metropolitan:"

Time is a disdainful portraitist
and doesn't love us much.
It sculpts away the finished marble,
finding the shape within.

True to its grieved and solitary genius,
what it shows us is ourselves alright,
senseless and dismembered.

Thomas contemplates the known universe in "Coriolis:"

This blue-green, turning globe
capped white and sleeved in cloud white,
racing in the sunlight on its wobbling plane,
among the swifter, slower, other-featured
miniature planets on their several ellipses,
draws the mind into its mobile envelope....

And with equal dexterity he focuses on the internal world in "Weed Song:"

I sheltered away from the constant wind
and could barely make out the sound of surf.
Surf disappeared in the ground of itself
like the sound of my breath and sound

of my blood, the low, repetitive silent sounds
against which fluctuations sing.

Stephen Thomas excels at creating vibrant word pictures. The night chill and bright moon come alive, and the sound of classic poetry sings in "Rivermoon:"

.....It drew me out from myself
into the chilly space where its white light
stilled the brilliance of near stars.
Still it wasn't the moon hung full in the sky
so much that caught my eye and brought me
to a stop along the rail, as down below
the liquid rivermoon, gone silly on the channel.....

I read and reread several poems in Journeyman because of their wonderful cadences. This excerpt from "My Father's Garden" is one example:

Heaven opens once and only once
for such as he, who, salt and seasoned
of the tended earth, condone no fantasy.
His hands are hard with use and his addictions
grim. He senses fitness in the bone
of suffering, and he believes in sin.

And finally, I must congratulate Mr. Thomas on the long poem, "The Siren's Song". It inspired, in me at least, thoughts of Chaucer and Homer and their classic works. This is a song of struggling maleness, ancient and modern, beautifully conceived and written. You lovers of poetry out there in search of poetic excellence, consider Stephen Thomas. His work is highly recommended.

Cloud View Poets: An Anthology
Master Classes with David St. John
Arctos Press
P.O. Box 401, Sausolito CA 94966-0401
ISBN: 0972538445, $12.00, 137 pages

When poets CB Follett and Susan Terris sponsored weekend seminars lead by David St. John, they inadvertently conceived a gift. Follett and Terris are Editors of Runes Review of Poetry Annual and St. John is poet, professor, and chairman of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Southern California. Together these three know poetic potential when they read it. St. John guided eighty seminar participants over four years' time, encouraging their writing and praising their improvement as poets honed their skills. This book is the result of those seminars and the gift I mentioned earlier.

Seminar participants came from diverse backgrounds, professions, and age ranges. Some were already successful poets, others were unknown. Between them, they've won 195 prizes and achievements in poetry. But what they had in common most of all was the ability to learn, create and excel through St. John's focused guidance. Cloud View Poets demonstrates a clarity of vision, poetic resonance, and powerful life rhythms rarely found in an anthology.

Each poem celebrates the spirit and breadth of poetry by creating art out of life. Small moments that make up our reality as humans are glorified, crafted with living words. As a reviewer, I find it impossible to single out examples from the work of eighty poets. Each poem has a life of its own and speaks with a distinct voice. I found myself alternately moved to tears, stunned to silence, or inspired by the act of simply being. War becomes "a mirror stained with the past." Overburdened humans seek "assurance in what remains familiar." Comfort comes in the guise of "cricket song in the full moon meadow." Glorious words. I did choose one excerpt from one poem because it resurrected memories from my past. That is the beauty of this book. Everyone who reads it will find poems to stimulate memories, sooth pains, or inspire joy. One verse from "Aunt Anny" by Ella Eytan is the excerpt I chose:

Look into her eyes
and you see a sky receding
to ice-glacial cracks,
something fractured
way back.

Cloud View Poets and every poem in it is excellent and highly recommended.

The Devil's Advocate
Charles Portolano
RWG Press
P.O. Box 17205, Fountain Hills AZ 85269
ISBN: 0965949540, $5.00 Chapbook, includes mailing

Charles Portolano is the author of three full-length books and this chapbook. His poetry has appeared in multiple journals. In this chapbook he plays "the devil's advocate" with poems expressing a view of what America could and should be. Whether his subjects are government, shrinking animal habitat, or an endless stream of broken promises to citizens, Portolano's words are powerful. These excerpts from "Waiting for Darkness" express our collective losses, fears, and confusions, through Portolano's eyes:

Watching our well-oiled armies
now march to a different step
following our leader's vision
of a new world order,
readying themselves
to rage war against
those who worship another God...

We certainly don't dare dance
or even laugh like we used to
for fear of being seen as lewd
for just having some fun.
We can't take that chance
of offending the religious right,
who are one with the government...

"Coyote" is a stark homage to the cunning animal that struggles to survive despite man's hatred of its kind:

...staring me down
with such distrust
almost contempt
for he knows
of our desire
to destroy him
but by adapting
he out-smarted us
now flourishing
among us...

"The Melting Pot" is best read in its entirety, but I quote here an excerpt. What has our once blessed melting pot become?

The pot is boiling
too hot to handle
seething quickly
over the top
like in the ghetto
when it hits 100
out of control
pushed to the limit
by the constant
agitation of all
the ingredients
always stirring
up trouble...

"Route 66" used to be an artery that served a vibrant America. Now its prominence has faded, along with our dreams:

But what was, isn't anymore
gone is the coyote call
under the evening stars,
the landscape has changed,
the times have changed,
the people have changed...

What if the "End Time" isn't what the religious right expects it to be? What if they're casting lots on the wrong gamble? I quote the first verse of this powerful poem:

Playing the game recklessly,
figuring there's no tomorrow,
damn it all,
playing Russian roulette
as drought, famine,
floods, and fires
consume the landscape...

Charles Portolano expresses his outrage and sorrow gracefully, from deep in his spirit. Through poetry, he asks each one of us, "Who's that knocking on your door?" Is it God, the Devil, or the angry spirit of a floundering land?

Tongue's Palette: Poetry by Linguists
edited by Sunshine and Napoli
Atlantis-Centaur, Inc.
c/o Dr. Adam Makkai
5600 N. Sheridan Rd. Apt. #16A, Chicago IL 60660-4828
ISBN: 1930902034, $14.00 postage paid paperback, 112 pages

This fifth in a series of contemporary linguists features poems and translations by twenty-six poets. Poetic styles, forms, patterns, rhythms, and themes vary as poets / linguists apply their collective verbal science. What is poetry if not communication through language? This talented group brings the knowledge of endangered languages and dialectology to their poems. Between them, they are fluent in Croatian, Semitic, Chinese, Creole, Native American, African, Spanish, and Korean languages and dialects. And yet their words are offered purely, easily understandable by all readers:

See how we ride the easy grooves of melody
and hold the reins on inner voices,
while the song we sing together
scores its own atonal shadows....

When a linguist listens with a poet's ear, every metaphor sings with language:

...after the thunderstorm the newly ploughed soil breathes with fragrance
like understanding the elegance in some words by a neighbor...
A taciturn lover communicates through his silences:

Silent like a torched house,
Wary like an orphaned kitten...
And unopened blossoms speak their happy message before a killing frost:

...they feel a sun-merged happiness
that transcends my blood-bound kind.

This fine book deserves a devoted readership and a scholarly review. Alas, I am not a scholar, simply a poet and reviewer who loves poetry in all its forms. The poets in Tongue's Palette have one goal in common -- celebrating life with words:

waiting for a word to drop
as easily as the ink flows from the pen
waiting for the words to clump into clauses
as easily as the ink dries on the page...

All proceeds from this book after mailing expenses will be donated to the Endangered Language Fund. After reading this exceptional book of poetry created by linguists, I can't think of a better cause.

Blue-Gray Currents:

A Haijin Hikes In and Around the Olympic Peninsula
CarrieAnn "CAT" Thunell
Shadow Poetry
1209 Milwaukee Street, Excelsior Springs MO 64024
ISBN: 1932447539, $5.00 plus shipping, 48 page chapbook

Everything I know about haiku I learned from CarrieAnn Thunell or the website of her publisher, Shadow Poetry. Ms. Thunell has a strong background in poetry. She is editor of The Nisqually Delta Review, author of two chapbooks, and member of several poetry associations. Her poetry has been featured in over fifty print literary journals. In addition to being a poet, CAT is also an accomplished artist. She created the striking full-color cover of this chapbook and the pen and ink drawings inside. Shadow Poetry chapbooks are always exceptional and well-presented and Blue- Gray Currents is beautiful in every way.

The 209 haiku in this chapbook are divided into four headings: The Parks; The Mountains; The Beaches; and The Valleys. I have chosen random haiku from each section as examples of Ms. Thunell's work. Each haiku was written by the poet during or shortly after hiking areas of the Olympic Peninsula. Her love of nature is clear, and to emphasize her dedication, all proceeds from this chapbook will be donated to the Olympic Park Associates organization.

In "The Parks", the protected pristine wilderness energizes and inspires:

one loon wings up
beyond the leaf-lined bridge
my soul in tow

Nature transforms sights and sounds as morning dawns:

weathered dock --
the sound
of one boat lapping

And around the hiker, everywhere, the natural world prevails:

the sharp cry
of a bald eagle --
alder leaves drift down

Introducing "The Mountains" is a stunning pen and ink drawing encircling the introductory haiku:

mountain meadow --
the waterfall
filled with birdsong

Hiking in the pure night air provides sights that feed the poet's senses:

harvest moon
over the mountain --
the first stars

And sunrise is a gift enjoyed first by the poet, then by her readers:

fuschia sunrise
atop Appleton Pass --
gold-tipped antlers

"The Beaches" reminds me that I've never seen the ocean, but can visit through the poet's eyes:

mist and herons
rise in flapping waves --
the fog-drenched shoreline

I can walk the rocky beaches of the Pacific Northwest, a place of many wonders:

the rocky beach --
sea lettuce
splashed with sunset

And I can see the same miraculous visions humans saw on this peninsula eons ago:

lone heron
pauses on a sea stack --
the twilight moon

"The Valleys" are no less glorious than the mountains and beaches:

woodpeckers tap
one tree to another --
tones of spring dawn

Moonlight and shadow create pleasing scenarios and sounds. Our hectic modern world fades for awhile:

over the marshlands --
the hissing geese

Whatever the season, nature and her beauties prevail:

snowdrifts --
a new bud
slices through winter

Poetry of any kind is personal, personal to both poet and reader. Haiku focuses our thoughts, simplifies our personal vision of the world. I'm no haiku expert but do understand the primal beauty of the simple lines inside this book. Ms. Thunell transported me beyond technology and man-made hubbub to a place of Nature's serenity and joy. This calming, comforting book would make the ideal gift and is highly recommended. And as a reminder, all proceeds from this chapbook go to preserve the natural beauty Ms. Thunell described so well in haiku form.

The Moon Butter Route
Max Yoho
Dancing Goat Press
3013 SW Quail Creek Rd., Topeka, KS 66614
ISBN: 0970816049, $12.95, 194 pages

I'm pleased to announce that Max Yoho is back. No one writes a humorous story better than this award winning Kansas storyteller, and this coming-of-age tale is written in the finest Yoho style -- immensely entertaining and one-of-a-kind.

Wally Gant is a typical 12-year old growing up in an area of southeast Kansas called "the Little Balkans", a mining area populated by a variety of European immigrants. Wally has a secret summer dream of building a steam boat and heading down the Mississippi to free slaves from the canebreaks of Louisiana. In 1940s America, he isn't certain how many slaves remain but feels there surely must be a few stragglers somewhere. That's a big dream for a boy who narrowly escaped being named Walnut at birth. But fueled by his mother's fried weenies, Wally pursues his dream until another priority takes its place. The local dairy needs help and employs Wally at the astounding wage of fifty cents a week!

The Strang Dairy has developed a lucrative three-prong operation. They deliver milk, cream, moonshine, and a wildly successful product called Moon Butter. That Kansas is a dry state has little effect on sales. A wise man once said, "Kansans will vote dry as long as they can stagger to the polls." That voting record has little to do with their appreciation of good moonshine and addiction to Moon Butter. So Wally learns the dairy business from the inside out. Mr. Strang is "older than God's wheelbarrow" but runs the Moon Butter route efficiently from his ancient delivery truck. Ruby Strang holds the secret to making Moon Butter and guards that secret with her life. With the Strangs as benefactors, Wally soon perfects the art of cussing and is annointed into the bootleg business with honors.

One of Max Yoho's strengths is creating wonderful characters and making them real
through his delightful writing style. Wally counts among his friends:

Mose Washington, a man whose "abscessed" wooden leg can be cured only by moonshine and Moon Butter; Mew Washington, a voodoo queen whose home is guarded by a gallant watch crow; Booger Red, a big cheese bar owner on the Moon Butter route; a father whose word is law and who keeps his battered Model T running with white lightning; a mother who has laid in enough weenies to feed the entire population of Kansas during wartime; and an albino girlfriend who's tougher than she looks by a darn sight.

I recommend this book with untempered enthusiasm. Yoho's die hard fans will love it and readers who have not discovered him yet have no idea what they're missing. I can't remember when I've been so well-entertained by a book.

Thou Shalt Not Kill Unless Otherwise Instructed
Mike Sharpe
North Castle Books
80 Business Park Drive, Armonk, NY 10504
ISBN: 0765617226, $12.95, 116 pages at

Mike Sharpe was a businessman who watched with horror on 9/11 as the twin towers came down. That day and its devastating aftermath stayed with him, simmering until the latest war. When a young man in Sharpe's vicinity was killed in Iraq, his suppressed rage and horror broke free in the form of poetry and prose. In this book he vilifies through poetry a war that takes young men from the football field to the battle field to a body bag. He labels war as an "unnecessary mission not accomplished, a primeval addiction." And he lays these poems of rage and heartbreak right where they belong -- at the feet of our President and politicians.

In this small excerpt from "The Capacious Tent", he asks:

Why didn't the president send his daughters, you ask.
What kind of fool do you think he is?

"Proof of Torture" is a haunting, powerful commentary of suffering experienced during and after war. I quote one excerpt, the final payload:

The loss of sights and sounds and smells and tastes and touches.
The loss of love and children and work and rest.
The loss of fifty or sixty years.

Coming home and never forgetting.

"Proud to be an American" reflects this poet's despair. He looks back over our history as a country and comes to this conclusion:

When love and mercy unclose our eyes,
When the some-day America keeps its promises,
Then maybe a little modest pride will be justified.

"On Death" is a philosophical question, a rhetorical question asked of God, or perhaps the Government:

...Why go to the trouble of creating intelligent, sensitive
people and then torment them? It appears, on the face of it,
like a divine screw-up. But I'm ready to be enlightened if
somebody can explain it without resorting to far-fetched tales
that no sane person can believe unless he's been brainwashed
at too early an age to tell an explanation from a hairball of
pious fluff.

Sharpe says about his sudden interest in poetry:

I feel like an electron
that jumped to another orbit

I was struck by lightning
It didn't kill me
It woke me up

And he says writing poetry, for him, becomes a balm in Gilead of sorts for a troubled man horrified by war. Mike Sharpe is neither a literary icon nor an award winning poet of long standing. He's a citizen, a man -- a human sickened by what he sees -- who has suddenly found his voice. After reading Thou Shalt Not Kill, I'm convinced this voice will never be silent again.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

One of My Own
Sandra Feder
Thornwood Publishing Co., Inc.
830 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880
ISBN: 1930541619, $25.95 U.S./$31.95 CAN

Sandra Spewock Feder originally hails from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A Phi Beta Kappa product of Swarthmore College, Feder completed graduate work at the University of Oregon. She worked as a research chemist and now lives in Westport, Connecticut and is a full-time writer. ONE OF MY OWN is her follow-up to SIDE EFFECT.

The inner workings of fertility clinics are a mystery to most people, and if anything, they are completely ill-informed. Feder chooses the inner workings of the medical field of fertility and a clinic run by a doctor who is a tyrant as her setting. Dr. James Wyatt has raised Dr. Cy Wood after his father was killed in a mysterious fire when he was young. His mother and adopted sister, Clea's remains were never found, and the idea that they may still be alive somewhere has filled Cy with remorse and guilt his entire life. Dr. Betty Winter, a co-worker of Cy's in the clinic, is a Harvard-school doctor of African-American descent who has her own tragic secret. The office staff boasts a talented young programmer named Ham who is retiring, overweight, and has her own agenda. When the office manager is killed, circumstances conspire to force each character to face their own demons:

"Her voice was soft, but Cy recognized it immediately. His heart beat fast and he tried not to stare at her. As he fumbled for his wallet he shot glances at her. She was slim, with blonde hair that brushed her chin. When he caught himself staring at her arms, he realized it was the first time he had seen them bare. How uncomfortable she must have been in the stifling disguise she wore."

Feder does an excellent job of giving readers a 101 course in how fertility clinics work, the various procedures to encourage pregnancy, and the inner political workings of the medical profession. Her plot is tight and fast-paced. Her characters morph, chameleon-like, from first impressions to their true identities. Feder builds the layers of her tale brick upon brick to bring the reader from the innocuous starting point to a denouement which pulls the reader into the inner trappings of extreme wealth and greed. ONE OF MY OWN is a suspenseful page turner that keeps the reader riveted from the first page to the satisfying conclusion. ONE OF MY OWN is an entertaining read by a multi-faceted author.

Scared to Death
Jeff Lenburg
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Rd., Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN: 0595346081, $15.95

Although he is the author of fifteen non-fiction books, SCARED TO DEATH is Jeff Lenburg's first foray into mystery writing. He is a life-long expert on the lives of celebrities in Hollywood, and has interviewed and memorialized the lives of Hollywood legends since he was 15. Jeff Lenburg has a nomination for the American Library Association's "Best Non-Fiction Award" to his credit.

What happens to elderly Hollywood legends when retirement hits? Lenburg examines this idea in this tale of aging actors who form a film party group. Popular and gorgeous Los Angeles anchorwoman, Lori Matrix, is invited to the first screening. When the movie's star collapses of an apparent heart attack at film's end, Lori immediately becomes suspicious. She enlists the help of Sergeant Mark Bennett of the L.A. police department to look into the matter. Bennett is bowled over by Lori's beauty, but isn't convinced that foul play is afoot until two more screenings produce the same result. Is it the work of a ghost? Lori and Bennett decide to seek the advice of a professor of parapsychology, but it's clear that she can't do more than flirt with Bennett:

"She looked frustrated and upset, even angry. Before either of them could speak, she let it flow. 'Now wait a minute. Please. I don't know quite what you expect of me, some kind of magic or something, I supposed, but I can't simply look at one of these films and suddenly hand you the answer you're looking for.'"

SCARED TO DEATH is a delightful Hollywood cozy mystery written from the inside. Although Lenburg's characters are fictional, his extensive knowledge of the lifestyle of the rich and famous comes into play. His characters are recognizable without being real, and the mystery itself is a plot that weaves in and out of the Hollywood mystique. The relationship between Lori and Mark is the centerpiece of the story and culminates in a very satisfying denouement all of its own. The real murderer hides in the shadows until it's time for Mark and Lori to unmask him, and Lenburg doesn't disappoint in his choice for the unveiling of evil. SCARED TO DEATH is a sweet and entertaining read from a skillful author.

Deed Without a Name
Dorothy Bowers
The Rue Morgue
87 Lone Tree Lane, Lyons, CO 80540
ISBN: 0915230828, $14.95

As heir apparent to Dorothy L. Sayers, Dorothy Bowers' short but critically acclaimed career ended with her death at age 46 from tuberculosis. She wrote four Dan Pardoe novels between 1938 and 1941 to excellent reviews, and her final novel was published in 1947. She lived long enough to see her election to the prestigious Detection Club in 1948 and died shortly thereafter.

Someone has made three attempts on Archy Mitfold's life, because Archy knows something he shouldn't. When Inspector Dan Pardoe and Sergeant Tommy Salt are called in to investigate whether someone finally succeeded in killing Archy or if he took his own life, they find that Archy has left clues. There are several drawings of spotted birds, some with a hatchet. And there is Archy's red diary, but that is inconveniently missing. It is up to Dan and Salt to reconstruct the week that led up to Archy's death to find out if his death is linked to a pro-Nazi Nordic Bond or if something more sinister is at work:

"'The rope, Tommy-keep your eye on the rope,' said Pardoe, with a sudden grim vision of a second one at the end of the story. 'That was a piece of smart improvisation-quick thinking, speedy action, but improvisation all the same. Else he'd have brought rope with him, and if rope, why not a simpler weapon? As I read it it means the murderer had to think up that method at the last to ensure Mitfold died, and it tells us too, that he's a man familiar with the run of the house in Mulberry Fountain.'"

Dorothy Bowers manages to lead the reader into not only a world of enigmatic clues left by a man-child who has stumbled on to a murderous scheme concocted by someone very close. Bowers sets her writing bar very high, and the reader is bombarded with eloquence from the first page. Suspense and peril aren't far behind, and this is a case that has tentacles that go everywhere and has Scotland Yard's finest scratching their heads in dismay. Bowers leads both the police and the reader on a merry chase and skillfully succeeds in one of the finest points of mystery writing...the red herring. She firmly points the reader in one direction while Dan Pardoe and Sergeant Salt are forcefully building the case in a very different direction. The result, Bowers' second Dan Pardoe mystery is wonderfully entertaining and is a brain twister.

Murder Is the Pits
Mary Clay
Inspirational Fiction
P.O. Box 2509, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170-2509
ISBN: 0971042934, $15.95

Using her mother's name as a pseudonym may seem strange, but Linda Tuck-Jenkins, a/k/a Mary Clay, chose this route because her DAFFODILS murder mysteries series is a change of pace from her first book, STARPEOPLE: THE SIRIAN REDEMPTION. Although Tuck-Jenkins originally followed a career path in mathematics and economics, she never forgot her love of mysteries which began with Carolyn Keene's Nancy Drew mysteries. Although her mysteries feature divorced women, Tuck-Jenkins is a happily hitched woman.

Only Mary Clay could find humor in the recent Florida hurricanes. But when the DAFFODILS (Divorced and Finally Free of Deceitful Licentious Scum), Leigh, Ruthie, and Penny Sue are reunited and ensconced in Penny Sue's father's condo. Originally brought together to testify against mafia types described in the BIKE WEEK BLUES, the ladies seem to be a magnet for murder. True to form, a neighbor tumbles off his deck, but this is no accident. Penny Sue begins receiving anonymous roses, and the DAFFODILS meet an unlikely odd couple in the persons of Guthrie, a reformed hippie, and his hunky mate, Timothy:

"Timothy had changed into a tank top and running shorts. I had to admit the man was a fine specimen of humanity. Penny Sue obviously agreed, since she was swigging wine with her eyes fixed on his muscular thighs. Considering the oppressive heat - the heat index had to be 103?--I was Afraid she might burst into flames."

Mary Clay has done it again! She has produced a hilarious pre-menopausal combination of divorced women who band together in thick and thin. The combination of Leigh's level-headedness, Penny Sue's sashays and wine guzzling, with Ruthie's forays into the New Age spirit world is enough to brighten any reader's day. The women splash money and daffodil symbols around to raise funds for hurricane relief and climb into race cars to gain national attention, all the while protecting themselves from Russian and Italian mafia. Clay's own particular brand of the psychology of human nature reflected in the DAFFODILS will have the readers rolling in the aisles. A triumph!

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Narnia Beckons: C.S.Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe and Beyond
Ted Baehr
Broadman & Holman Publishers
127 Ninth Avenue North MSN 143 Nashville, TN 37234
ISBN: 0805440429, $24.95, 184 pages

Narnia Beckons is truly a wonderful work. Packed full of information, photos and stories about C.S. Lewis, his life, his writings and some inside information on characters in his book that I found fascinating. I read this book in one sitting and reread it just for the enjoyment of the read. I was literally charmed by this work. If I could put it in simple words, this is not a heavy read, but a delightful run through of a master writer, a model Christian, dotted with information that will enhance your enjoyment and understanding of the works of C.S.Lewis. A definite must have!

Jack's Life: The Life Story of C.S. Lewis
Douglas Gresham
Broadman & Holman Publishers
127 Ninth Avenue North MSN 143 Nashville, TN 37234
ISBN: 0805432469, $16.99, 167 pages

Douglas Greshman, author of this outstanding book, is the step-son of the late great author, C.S. Lewis "Jack's Life," an intimate, tender writing on the life of C.S.Lewis. In my opinion, he is the one man that certainly has the qualifications to write a book such as this, having shared in this man's personal life for twelve years. I was entranced as Mr. Greshman released the true essence of the heart of a great man in his writing; revealing to us intimate moments, victories and defeats, tears and laughter of a great Christian whose life and works have touched millions. He shares stories of C.S. Lewis's early life and travels to his death, giving the reader deep insight into a man that has made his mark in history. I particularly loved the DVD that is included with this book. On this DVD we are privileged to hear an interview with Mr.Greshman who shares in a wonderful tender way his life with his famous step-father. You could feel his love, respect and even his sadness at the loss of such a great man. All in all this is a wonderful read and one that every serious C.S.Lewis fan does not want to miss. Thank you Mr. Greshman for opening your heart and sharing the precious memories of one exceptional man that were safely tucked deep inside. We, the readers, will certainly be enriched by sharing them with you. Highest Recommendation.

The Keys To The Chronicles Unlocking the Symbols of C.S.Lewis's Narnia
Marvin D. Hinton
Broadman & Holman Publishers
127 Ninth Avenue North MSN 143 Nashville, TN 37234
ISBN: 0805440283, $9.99,117 pages

I was amazed as I read this work in the way author Marvin Hinton explains in simple terms the many hidden meanings in the writings of C.S. Lewis. In this work he explains how there is more than meets the eye in Mr.Lewis's writing and shares with the reader what is below the surface of many characters and events; such as the resurrection of Aslan the lion, but that is just the beginning of the many tid-bits that await you between these pages. Outstanding! How did Mr. Lewis come up with the names of his characters and what really is their significance and meaning? Is the Garden of Eden and the journey of mankind akin to what you are reading? Are there mystical and magical names and events, places and people intertwined with Biblical? You'll find out in this book. This is a very in-depth look into the symbols that Mr. Lewis used in his writing and certainly a must have for those who have asked these questions and more. You will find yourself turning pages to find out the answers to your questions. Very well done, easy to read and understand and very informative. Recommended for all serious C.S. Lewis fans.

Further Up & Further In
Bruce Edwards
Broadman & Holman Publishers
127 Ninth Avenue North, MSN 143 Nashville, TN 37234
ISBN: 0805440704, $12.99, 108 pages

All C.S. Lewis fans are excited about the forthcoming movie soon to be released based on the work by C.S. Lewis, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." Understanding the symbols and hidden meanings in this writing enhances the read and certainly will enhance the enjoyment of movie viewing. This book is your key to both. In this work by Bruce Edwards you will find an extremely in-depth overall of the different messages and their meaning. He takes his time, carefully going over the work in chapters, giving much insight and helping the reader to connect with the inward working of this read. I found it extremely interesting and entertaining at the same time. He gives study questions that will cause you to rethink much of what you have mentally stored and cause some thought provoking questions within you as you realize that you didn't understand as much as you thought you did. I really enjoyed reading this book; it was insightful, informative and enlightening. I recommend it and encourage you to pick up your copy and keep it handy for continual reference or just pure reading enjoyment.

Strange Days
Fred Wiehe
Helm Publishing
3923 Seward Ave. Rockford, IL 61108
ISBN: 0976091992, $12.95, 332 pages

I want to tell you right-up front that if you are looking for a true horror read you simply must pick up this book. Talk about a creepy, hair-raising, chill bumping read this is the one, and something you should expect and receive in this genre. You will not be disappointed. We have an evil spirit, one that survives only to kill and inflict misery on humans. How does he do this? He possesses bodies, from babies to adults; all for the purpose of giving untold misery and death. The depth of this spirits hatred seeps through the pages and actually makes you shiver. He at first lives through one man, but when that body is killed he posses another body, displacing this man Frank's spirit and leaving it in limbo on the earth; but this man is determined to retrieve his body and end the monsters ramped killing. The how's and why's of this are deep and you must read this work to fully understand the storyline; and trust me you will not be disappointed. You will see lives destroyed by this monster, but you will also see the merging of others to defeat his reign of terror. This story is intense, full of gore, murder and evil but also touches strongly on the spirit of humanity, the essence of life and the truth that good will overcome evil. If I may use my favorite term, this book 'creeped me out,' and for all those who want the jabegies scared out of them don't miss reading this book. A winner in it's genre, definitely giving the reader exactly what they expect to find, and more. One little tip, if you are reading this at night you may want to turn on a few extra lights.

The Bubblegum Babes' Guide to Sixth Grade
Doreen Lewis
Helm Publishing
3923 Seward Avenue Rockford, IL 61108
ISBN: 0976919303, $9.95, 184 pages

I cannot imagine any young girl about to embark on her middle school days not loving this work. We meet four friends, age twelve, who are about to undertake their first year in sixth grade. Things are changing for these four friends; they are growing up and experiencing the growing pains that we all remember. Ouch! We are privileged to partake of their journey as they share their adjustments from school work, trouble with parents who just won't understand, meeting new friends and keeping old, peer pressure and first loves. Oh the memories! Through it all we watch them grow, learn and experience life. The author does an outstanding job in defining her characters and giving them life. You actually feel as if you are part of the Bubblegum Babes group. Hey! Pass the pizza! This is a delightful book, full of truth and will definitely give encouragement to those experiencing similar situations. I loved it! It was pure reading enjoyment and I highly recommend this work. Great job!

Body for Life for Women
Pamela Peeke
Rodale Publishing
135 Avenues of the Americans, New York, NY 1-800-848-4735
ISBN: 1579546013, $26.95, 241 pages

I was excited when I received this book to review;as one who is trying to improve myself I knew reading this would be a plus, and it was. Our author separates women into four Milestone groups. Group One: Menstruation to First Pregnancy; Two: The Reproductive Years; Three: Perimenopause; Four: Beyond Menopause. I found this to be so interesting as she explains how a woman's body works in these different times and what will work for them in terms of improving their health and well-being. Excellent!

As we move along she speaks to you of your mindset, having a motivation, or Bull's Eye. She asks you to think what gives you joy, what brings you stress. She allows you the liberty to pick in your own mind, be truthful and re-examine yourself and your goals. She goes on to share with us about 'Smart Food,' foods that will help us achieve our goals and improve my health, and next we travel to exercise. I know....the hard part, but Ms. Peeke shares the perks of exercising for each group and actually makes you feel pretty good about it.

In this book you will find charts and pictures, contracts to make with yourself and just a bag full of helpful information. You will also find an entire section on questions and answers; I found this very helpful and encouraging. I think this is a great book that women will turn to over and over again in their quest for living well. Enjoy!

12 Best Foods Cookbook
Dana Jacobi
Rodale House Publishing
135 Avenue of The Americans New York, NY 800-848-4735
ISBN: 1579549659, $21.95, 336 pages

I was so excited to receive this book for review that I devoured it in one day and have gone back numerous times to re-read the information. Packed full of delicious recipes that feature what the author calls, the 12 healthiest foods; this has to be one of the most useful cookbooks to come out in a long time. You will find this work fascinating as the author tells you about the 12 healthiest foods to eat, why they are beneficial, and how to purchase, store and incorporate them in your daily eating routine. She does this with some outstanding recipes that sound absolutely mouth-watering and gives little tips with each recipe about nutrition and different food benefits. I know I most certainly will be trying everyone of these. This is a wonderful book and one every household should have. It's easy to read and understand. The information is top-notch and the benefits from incorporating all of this into your life will be way off the charts. Not your run of the mill cookbook, but one that the author definitely had your well-being in mind when she penned this work. A real winner, highly recommended.

The Perfect Board
Calvin K. Clemons, CAE, CMP
Synergy Books
2100 Kramer Lane, Suite 300 Austin, Texas 78758
ISBN: 0975592270, $17.95, 112 pages

"The Perfect Board," is a book written for those who want to become an effective member of any Board of Directors. In essence it is a self-help book chock full of essential guidelines to be an effective leader. However, this work is written in a cleaver way, as it is told in story form when a young woman named Rebecca is about to be promoted and is unsure how to proceed. In her quest to do the best job she can, she seeks out help and is lead to a man, EJ Cummings, who shares with her a book which he is about to release. In this book he shares the principals that he has learned through years of dealing with this facet of business. This information gives Rebecca the knowledge and confidence she needs to perform the task before her. In giving this work a storyline with characters that are about to embark on this journey, author Calvin Clemons puts this self-help book many notches about any other. The personal touch it brings allows the reader to absorb more of the information in the work, allowing a relaxed read instead of feeling you must obtain every morsel, great move on author Calvin Clemons part. I believe this book will help many and is definitely packed full of some great principals that definitely should be followed.

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed
Alan Alda
Random House Publishing
375 Hudson Avenue New York, NY
ISBN: 1400064090, $24.95, 240 pages

I was very interested to see what I would find between the pages of this work by Alan Alda. We all know him from his TV career in M*A*S*H and enjoyed his acting in many other parts that he has played, but just what would he write about his life? I certainly was not disappointed with what I found between the pages of his work. In a fun but true to heart way Mr. Alda shares with us his beginnings. Living with a mom and dad whose entire existence centered around show business definitely gave him a running start in what would become important in his life.

Although this book tells about his acting, the author also shares some personal and heartwarming stories about himself, his parents and especially his mother's illness, his wife and their children and grandchildren. I enjoyed the pictures that were present, especially of Mr.Alda as a young boy. He is honest and open and does not pen his work with 'How Great I Am,' but shows his human nature and personality outside of being a star. I found that extremely refreshing. My favorite story was the one he tells of the time spent in the prison making a movie. I'm still giggling over it. I wonder if Tiny will read this book Mr. Alda. All in all this is not your normal fluff Hollywood actor's life book. It is the story of a man, his struggles and his joys; told in a down to earth, face to face way that makes the story quite an enjoyable read. Thank you for sharing with us. Recommended.

Daniel S. Acuff, PhD & Robert H. Reiher, PhD
Dearborn Trade Publishing
30 South Wacker Drive, Suite 2500 Chicago, Ill 60606
ISBN: 1419505033, $18.95, 249 pages

Books on the welfare of our children are always of interest to me. Those who do not have a voice need others to care and to speak out for them. This is what our authors do in this outstanding work. What are they fighting for? The minds, the health, the spirit of our beloved children. They show numerous areas where our child are under assault by Marketers that single them out by way of TV, advertisements and peer pressure for the profit. They discuss the impact that violence has on our children through television and video games and give statistics that are alarming of suicide among our youth. In this work we are taught how to recognize these assaults and given guidelines that we can implement to safe-guard our children. I think what I liked about this book was that it was not a total bashing of producers of entertainment for our children, but a work that one: shows there is a problem, two: gives solutions for parents and marketers as well that will benefit all. A very informative and helpful book that would be a worthwhile read for all parents.

The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes
Theodora Lau
Harper Collins Publishers
10 East 53rd St. New York, NY 10022
ISBN: 006077777X, $18.95, 464 pages

4 coffee cups

Author Theodora Lau has created a concise easy to understand work ripe for the picking for those of you interested in the world of astrology. She combines the Eastern Lunar calendar with Western solar astrology to allow you to chart your course in life. You will find out how the five elements, four seasons, the hour of your birth and your animal sign all give insight to your future enabling you to chart your own horoscope and understand your future. One of the chapters in her work allows you to read the different personality profiles associated with the signs and she even devotes time to show marriage relationships between the twelve lunar signs. For those of you who chart your coarse in life using astrology signs the information in this work will be priceless as it takes the knowledge from two cultures and merges them for your use. I believe this would be a great resource book for you that you will use time and time again.

Beyond Words Talking with Animals and Nature
Marta Williams
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way Novato, California 94949
ISBN:1577314921, $14.95, 224 pages

Author Marti Williams takes us on a wonderful journey as she shares countless stories of animals interacting with humans. In this book she tells of communication between many animals and humans. In these communications the animals; dogs, cats, horses, etc. share their feelings, likes, dislikes, worries and such with the person they are communicating with. Interesting! She also gives accounts where lost pets are found, and emotional problems are solved. I am an animal lover so this book definitely touched a soft spot in my heart. I am not sure that I fully agree with how she communicates with the animals and nature, but I definitely know that everything living share a common bond. If what she is doing helps even one animal to have a better life, I say Amen and thank you to her! This certainly is a very well written book with some wonderful stories and information that I feel will help and touch many hearts along the way. Animal lovers and pet owners will appreciate this read and find it very beneficial.

Super Sized Kids
Walt Larrimore, MD & Sherri Flynt, MPH, ED, LD with Steve Halliday
Center Street / Warner Books
1271 Avenue of The Americas New York, NY
ISBN: 044657760X, $22.00, 320 pages

Looking around us in stores, schools, parks, we certainly can see that we are a country that is well fed. Not only are adults well above their recommended weight, but unfortunately our children are following their lead. In this work the authors point out that one in four American children is overweight. That is alarming! How can we sit back knowing that their future holds many problems and do nothing about it? The authors pen this work in what I call down to earth talk. They lay the facts on the line, give the true outcome if the problem is not corrected and then give solutions to turn things around. They give an overall pattern of recovery that the entire family can easily live with and benefit from. Their advice is medically sound and easy to follow and may at times step on a few parents toes, but the pain is well worth the child being healthy again. Anyone who is concerned about the future of their child, their health and well-being, should read this book. Very well done.

Welcome To Armageddon
Bonnie Bell
Great Reading Books
2100 Kramer Lane, Suite 100 Austin, Texas 78758
ISBN: 1933438007, $15.95, 224 pages

Right at the onset of reading this work I could tell that author Bonnie Bell truly loved the Lord and His Word. Her passion for both were evident from the first word written to the last in this work, "Welcome To Armageddon." In her book the author takes us on a spiritual journey through the Scriptures from the time of Noah to the end of ages. She carefully explains Scriptures as she understands them and gives insight to the reader of events from the past and those of the future and the how's and why's they have had and will have upon the earth and its people. She helps the reader to understand the importance of a personal walk with the Lord and a revelation of His Word working in their lives. Not all will agree with every revelation of the Word that Ms.Bell proclaims, but I feel all those interested in where mankind has been and where they are going will gleam nuggets of treasures from this work that they can incorporate into their lives and use in their walk with the Lord. Thank you Ms.Bell.

The Pledge of Three: The Z.O. Chronicles Book One
Greg Andrew Smith
Lucky Press, LLC
126 South Maple Street Lancaster, Ohio 43130
ISBN: 0976057654, $12.95, 240 pages

We meet Zack Owens and his mother Lisa in the beginning of this book. Zack is a high school student and a really great young man. He is being raised by his mom whose husband disappeared years ago just before Zack was born. Where he went or why has never been known. Zack was passing the time waiting for his mom to finish work one day. Looking through some old books, he opened one on the Middle Ages and an old piece of paper fell out. As Zack examined this paper he read, "The Pledge of the Three." He seemed to be supernaturally drawn to this pledge and took it home with him to further investigate it. It seems when three people who fit the description needed speak the words of this pledge lives are changed. One will become wealthy and famous, one will remain the same, and one will die. As Zack investigates The Pledge on the internet he finds a website. Upon opening the site one sentence glares out at him, "You have been chosen!" As the story goes Zack and his two friends decide to take the Pledge, not really believing it would work, but once spoken it seems it has, or has it? Just what is going on? As the story moves along Zack's mom wins the lottery and one of Zack's friends dies. However, there is more then meets the eye in these happenings and Zack is just beginning to unravel the mystery behind, "The Pledge of The Three." A Pledge that Zack finds out involves his father and his disappearance, but how?

This is an outstanding book; with book one having more questions than answers and keeping you on the edge of your seat in anticipation. I was glued to the pages hoping for just a small hint to what was happening. However, Mr. Smith nicely weaves the mystery in you giving just enough information to hook you, no more, no less. Good job! He also does an excellent job in his character development, drawing you completely into the lives of each one as the story begins to unfold. This book is laced with emotions of young love, friendship, family loyalty and morals yet sprinkled with mystery, deception, lies, and sinister works. Just what is the meaning behind "The Pledge of The Three," and in solving it will Zack place himself and his loved ones in danger or will he finally find out what happened to his father and why? I can't wait for Book two to be written; I simply have to know the answers. This is one outstanding read, don't miss it. Top recommendation. Superb!

Dark Desires
Eve Silver
Kenington Zebra Books
850 Third Avenue New York, NY 10022
ISBN: 0821779664, $3.99, 349 pages

Darcie was no stranger to the better things of life; a loving family, fine living in clothes and food, but all that changed in a twinkling of an eye and Darcie was thrust into a world of darkness; one of fear, horror and need. She had but one hope, to reach her sister who had taken up a less than noble position as a Madame who was now known as Mrs. Feather. Her tender loving sister had learned to survive by submitting to the lowest of low by using herself and others in giving perverse pleasure to men. Darcie, even in her state of starvation and need runs from this women, a shadow of the sister she once knew, and finds herself in the employ of a Dr. Damien Cole. Was this a dream come true, or a nightmare that would devour her? Dr.Cole had many secrets but he was drawn to Darcie and she to him as Darcie searches to know who this man truly is. Darcie is an artist, one whose talent to sketch is recognized and needed by our mysterious Dr.Cole who is secretly dissecting dead bodies to learn the mystery of human organs. He needs Darcie to help draw what he sees, but can Darcie work side by side with him? The author throws in another catch as a serial killer is stealing the lives of women and is cutting up their bodies, perhaps the work of a doctor they say. Could it be her doctor? Time moves on and all the evidence seems to lead to Dr.Cole as the killer. Darcie is torn between the love that now flows between them and the realization that he could be a cold blooded killer. What is the truth? This book is very well crafted, characters well defined and the plot well thought out. The author takes you into the deep need of the human soul and what it will do to survive, she allows you to taste forbidden love and works upon the emotions of untruth, fear and horror; while threading in loyalties, love and kindness among the characters. We have murder, suspense, mystery and a dark undertone in this read; it's almost as if the entire book is written in a shadow that does not lift until the very end. I enjoyed it and feel it is well worth your time in a read.

Matters Of Faith
Robert J. Allison
Wings ePress
403 Wallace Court Richmond, KY 40475
ISBN: 1590885716, $15.95, 308 pages (paperback)
ISBN: 1590875716, $7.50 (ebook)

I have come to appreciate the writings of author Robert J. Allison. He weaves stories that are layered, interweaving defined characters and fascinating situations, bringing forth a story that will keep you totally immersed from beginning to end. For the read there is none better but to be able to bring justice to such great works in a short review definitely is a dilemma. In Matters of Faith we are immediately drawn into a situation that is every parent's nightmare. Don , an attorney, and his wife Elizabeth have had their two year old daughter Pamela kidnapped and the police focus their suspicion on Elizabeth letting the case grow cold. The stress and loss are too much for Elizabeth, who allows her mind to draw inward and is thrown into a coma. Don, angry and despondent for a while, decides to focus his anger the only way he knew how. He learned constitutional law and fought the very authority that had allowed his daughters case to grow cold, and in his eyes had caused Elizabeth's condition. Years pass by until finally tired of the battle, Don takes his wife, uses another name, and drops out of sight. It is during this time that Don, who is working at lawn maintenance, meets his co-worker Bill whose son has been suspended from school for reading his Bible and participating in a silent prayer meeting. Bill is seeking justice for his son, but he does not have the finances to pay an attorney, even if he could find one who will take the case. This is where things really begin to get interesting. I cannot begin to tell you the depth of this story but I will tell you that is not a run of the mill work. You will be taken on a read of a lifetime and will be elated at the ending of this outstanding book. Just who was behind the kidnapping of little Pamela and is she still alive? Will Elizabeth ever come out of her coma?Will Don finally find peace through his bond with Bill and the legal battle they share? The answers await you in this remarkable read. We have tragedy, murder, deceit, unspeakable evil and love and faith working through characters that will become more real to you than your next door neighbor. The story is complex and totally engrossing as author Robert Allison craft-fully intertwines events and people ,building a pyramid of mystery and suspense, yet touching the very core of faith, loyalty and love. The emotions that are stirred during this read leave you convinced that this life saga is not a fiction tale but a journal of real-life happenings. Good job! I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Every element for a wonderful read is nestled between the pages. A gift to you the seeker of a great read by a very talented writer.

Author of numerous works, including most recent, "Matters Of Faith."

SPJ: Thank you Robert for doing this interview with me. I just completed your work, "Matters of Faith," and loved it. I have also been honored to read and review some of your other works. You are a wonderful writer and I'm sure our readers will enjoy all that you have to share with them. Please let's begin.

Robert, since "Matters of Faith," is fresh in my mind, let's talk about that work. How did you come up with the storyline for this book?

Robert: First of all, thank you for taking the time to interview me, Shirley. Now, to answer your question. This book actually started out to be the first of a trilogy about a lawyer who becomes a counter point for the ACLU. We all know what the ACLU does and their approach to religion so I felt the other side needed an advocate. The trilogy never came to be. The third book was never written, although the second book was, but I changed it to be a stand-alone work. The name of the second book is "The Preacher".

SPJ: Oh yes, "The Preacher," what a great book that is. Readers, you need to read this work, outstanding! Now, did you base your characters on real life people? I know that may sound strange, but I think as authors we tend to do that. ? They certainly were interesting and very well defined in the read, might I add. I truly felt as if I knew them personally.

Robert: Yes and no, to that, Shirley. They are images, if you will, of people I've met over the years in my law practice and my days in the military. No one person is portrayed, but the characters are developed from the characteristics of some real people and some imaginary people.

SPJ: Please tell us, what, if any reaction did you receive after your decision to write these books? From friends and family.

Robert: I don't usually tell family or friends about a book until it is published. Except, of course, my wife who helps me edit and vets my work in rough form before I smooth it out and submit it to a publisher. My son also does that, but generally only as to content, i.e. is it a fast read, does it keep your interest. After publication the books were well received and everyone wants to know when the next one is coming out.

SPJ: That is wonderful Robert. How long did it take you to complete your book, "Matters of Faith"? Does it get quicker to finish books the more you write?

Robert: "Matters of Faith" was re-written numerous times. As I said, it started out to be the first of a trilogy, but in actuality it was published after the second book "The Preacher". The initial draft, under a different title, probably took me in the neighborhood of eight months to write. That first draft was actually completed a good five or six years ago, but it wasn't until last year that I worked it into what I wanted and submitted it to a publisher. It does get easier to write from book to book, as you perfect your style and methodology. All you need is an idea that sparks your creative impulses.

SPJ: Your works show that your creative impulses are right on target. Please tell us, what was the most difficult part in writing your work?

Robert: The first draft of any book is the worst. Making yourself sit there and put those words on paper, knowing you will change most of them later on unless you are real lucky.

SPJ: Now please tell us what was the most enjoyable?

Robert: Reading the first draft, after it is all down on paper and starting the editing process. It is like reading a new book, because by that time you have forgotten most of the beginning yourself.

SPJ: If you were starting over, what do you think you would do different? Anything or would you leave the story exactly as is?

Robert: I can't say that I would change a thing, I have already changed it so many times I don't know what I would change now.

SPJ: I know this is not your first work, but going back did you find it difficult to find a publisher and if so what did you do to remedy that?

Robert: Yes, it is very difficult to find a publisher, at least one who pays the author and doesn't want the author to pay for publication expenses and promotion expenses. I just kept sending out manuscripts and did so for twelve years or so. Finally a publisher saw something in my work and helped me to perfect my style.

SPJ: I am very glad that they did. You are very talented. What advice would you give to authors who are looking for a publisher?

Robert: Write the best story you can and proof it, proof it and proof it. Then send it out to any publisher you can find who seems to be looking for that type of book. Get set for rejections and more rejections. J.A. Konrath, a fairly successful author I met at a writer's conference a few months ago, said that getting published is for the most part luck, but there are a few things you can do to improve your odds, like write a good story and use good grammar. Along those lines, buy a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style; I use mine all the time.

SPJ: Out of the accomplishments in your life where would you rate being a published author and why?

Robert: On a scale of one to ten, a ten for satisfaction, but as for being a profitable undertaking, quite a bit lower on the scale. Ask most writers why they write and they will tell you, because I have to (it gets in your blood).

SPJ: Do you have an agent? A publicist? How important do you feel this is to an author?

Robert: I do not have an agent. I think an agent can be very helpful, but is not absolutely necessary. The saying goes - "Having no agent is better than having a bad agent" and writers soon find that agents can be as hard, if not harder, to find than a publisher. These days so many publishers will not even look at material that does not come from an agent so if you can find a good agent, by all means do so. As for a publicist, I don't think they are a worthwhile investment until you have something solid to publicize.

SPJ: I agree, good advice. How much promoting do you do? What works best for you? Any tips for other authors?

Robert: I have a website ( ). I speak at any engagement to which I am invited. I appear on the local TV station for an interview whenever I have a new book out. I attend some local festivals and fairs. I send and pass out bookmarks to almost anyone I can find, as well as business cards. Recently I opened a storefront on eBay and will give that a try for a while. Advice---Don't over spend on promotion, or at least some forms of promotion, like banner ads, magazine ads, etc. Those things get mighty expensive and I'm not sure they are worth the money. I find that bookmarks and word of mouth work the best, although it may be a little slower.

SPJ: Thank you Robert. Please tell us, do you belong to a writer's group?

Robert: Not at present. Some of those can be very time consuming and the formal organizations can get a little pricey. I would rather use my money and time on promotion, for the time being.

SPJ: What has writing this work done for you and what do you hope it will do for your readers? What do you hope they will take away with them after reading your work? Do you have a different expectation you hope readers will take away with them for each book you have written? Do you feel your writing is for pure reading enjoyment or is there perhaps a hidden message in your words?

Robert: Wow! That might take some space to answer. Writing gives me an outlet, because there are hidden messages in my books. Nothing earth shaking, but some philosophical ideas of my own. So when I write I can vent my frustrations over certain philosophical musings I have from time to time that no one is really interested in unless I put them in the context of a story. I write to entertain, primarily, and everything I write is fiction, but if the reader takes away a sound moral understanding of life, then that's okay with me. I don't try to teach morals, I don't preach, but I never write anything immoral, at least according my view of morals, so if in reading one of my books the reader gets a sense of some higher moral calling, good for them, but I don't intend it to happen.

SPJ: Great answer! Would you tell us how supportive your family is in your writing experience and how important do you think this is to a writer?

Robert: My family is very supportive. My wife helps me with all the editing before and after the manuscript goes to a publisher. She gives me her honest opinion about my drafts, i.e. I liked it, it stunk, it's confusing or I never saw that coming. She eats mysteries for breakfast so if she can't figure it out before she's halfway through the book then it is well written. My son grades them for interest and critiques any computer terminology or theory that I might use. Occasionally my daughter finds the time to read one.

SPJ: I have to say that is wonderful to have your family ready and able to help you. Would you please tell us about the works you have in progress and when you think they will be released. If you would like you may also tell us some about your books all ready released.

Robert: I have several in progress, but some may never get finished or may be years in the making. I write in bursts so there is no telling when I will get a novel finished, if ever. The next one to be released is "Fairway Fatality" in May of 2006 and as you might have guessed it is about a death on a golf course, but much more. It is a detective mystery and I wrote it because I told my wife I could write a mystery she couldn't figure out until the end...and she didn't! We've mentioned "The Preacher" and it is also a detective mystery that keeps most readers guessing until the end. Set in the south it involves a civil rights lawyer who gets caught up in the solution to a thirty-five year old mass murder. "The First Suitor" was my first published book and it tells the story of a computer nerd who gets romantically involved with the President of the United States' daughter. It is a contemporary romance with its fair share of suspenseful moments. "Scholarly Pursuit" is a romantic suspense, but the local TV personality read it and said it was more of a military thriller. I suppose it is that, too. Anyone who wants more information on any of my books, released or soon to be released can visit my website: .

SPJ: Thank you Robert. Would you tell us how many hours a day do you write?

Robert: That varies with the time of year and my mood. Generally, I will write more in the winter months when it is too cold in Illinois for outside work. I live in the country and my wife and I maintain twenty-six acres, but we only mow about four. There is much to do in the summer outside so my writing suffers unless a story idea just hits me that I can't ignore, and that has happened. As I said before, I write in bursts and when an idea hits me. I may not write a word for days and then write for four or five hours a day for days on end. It just depends on what ideas are flowing and how fast. Sometimes I purposely put a book aside and watch TV or do something else just to give myself a chance to discover a new idea. Too much concentration on a story line can be counter-productive, in my opinion. It makes the story sound forced and that makes for poor reading.

SPJ: Is there a special place that you write, one that inspires you? Has there been a special person who inspired you to write?

Robert: I can't say any place or person inspires me, but I do almost all of my writing with a laptop, in my easy chair at home, near the fireplace. I have a set of noise canceling headphones that I wear to block out the TV. My wife watches TV and I listen to country western music or something similar and write. I never really hear the music and it is usually bedtime before I know it. I almost always write in the evenings after supper, but sometimes I will write during the day on weekends, if a story is really flowing and it is cold outside.

SPJ: Has having a book published changed your life in anyway and if so please share that with us.

Robert: Not to any major degree. People stop me now and want to chat about my books, always wanting to know when the next one is coming out and to tell me how much they liked one or more of the previous releases. That's always nice.

SPJ: Where do you hope your writing career will be in 3 years and what are you doing to achieve that goal.

Robert: I'd like to be making enough money at writing that I can just write and promote my writing. To achieve that I'm doing about all I can, a lot of writing and submitting, which is the only way to get anywhere in this business. I also promote as much as I can, when and where I can.

SPJ: A question a little off the beaten track, do you read and if so what genre is your favorite?

Robert: I used to read a lot, but the past few years I just haven't had the time to do more than write and read my own work. When I was reading I liked thrillers, especially Tom Clancy. I have read almost every Louis Lamour and all of the James Bond series. I like to be entertained as well as entertain.

SPJ: Would you tell us a little about yourself, outside of being a published author?

Robert: I was born and raised in Decatur, Illinois, but moved to the Moweaqua area around 1991. I like small towns and rural settings, as does my wife of twenty-nine years, Barbara. We have two grown children, John and Anna to whom I dedicated my first book, "The First Suitor". I started writing about fifteen years ago as a diversion from my regular job as an attorney. At that time I had been practicing law in Central Illinois for about ten years and was looking for another avenue to exercise my writing and organizational skills. Now after almost twenty-five years of practicing law I would like to write full time, but yet I find myself full time in the law and part time in writing. I enjoy telling stories and some would say that all lawyers are born fiction writers, because fiction is all they write in the first place. I have to admit that there is some truth to that. I try to draw on my experiences in the practice of law and my life experiences in general to give realism to my stories and characters. In the 1970s I served in the U.S. Army as a Military Policeman and in the late '80s, I was a Captain in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps, Army National Guard. I have been to Germany, Holland and many of the United States and I like to work those settings into my stories. I write romance into almost every book, but it isn't always the main theme and it is never explicit or vulgar. If that is what you are looking for you will have to go somewhere else. I rarely, if ever, use a swear word in any of my stories.

SPJ: You have certainly lived an interesting life, and I feel your books reflect that. In closing, if there is anything you wish to add or information you would like to tell our readers, perhaps a questions I did not ask, please do so here.

Robert: I can't think of much. I believe you covered the field very well. However, I'll leave you with this: I am foremost and always an entertainer and that is why I write fiction, but I try to make it real and believable as well as entertaining. If you feel entertained after having read one of my books, then I am a success.

SPJ: Thank you Robert and let me end with this. You most certainly are a success and I believe all that read your books will agree. Readers, Mr.Allison is an outstanding writer. I highly recommend his work and encourage you to pick up one of his books; after that you will be hooked. Robert, thank you for sharing with us and I wish you the very best in the future.


Robert James Allison
525 N. Main, Suite 1 Moweaqua, IL 62550
(217) 768-3700

Novels by Robert James Allison available from

The First Suitor, the Preacher, Scholarly Pursuit, Matters of Faith Available January 2006; Fairway Fatality Available May 2006

Author of TATO, a fantasy adventure for middle grade readers

I have to say that I truly enjoyed Ms. Gogolewski's work, TATO. I believe we are going to hear more and more from this talented writer. Let's get to know her a little better.

SPJ: Thank you Kathe for doing this interview with me. Would you please tell us what influenced your choice of your writing genre? I have read and reviewed TATO and truly enjoyed it. Would you please tell us what made you decide to write TATO? How did you come up with the storyline?

Kathe: It's my pleasure, Shirley. Thank you. TATO is a fantasy adventure for children ages 8 to 13. I was teaching grade school when I started writing it, so the genre was a natural choice. The story evolved through a number of chats with my schoolchildren. It started one day when I called several students outside. "Let's go, kiddoes!" This phrase soon evolved into "kiddo potatoes" just because the words sounded funny together, and it made the children laugh.

One day, some of the kids asked why I called them potatoes. I said, "because kids come from potatoes." No forethought there at all, but it took off. "Well, then," one smart kid said, "I'm a russet potato! See? I have brown skin." "Yeah," said another, "I'm a white potato!" "I'm a French fry!" said a clever third. "What are you, Mrs.Gogo?" they asked. I told them, "I am not a potato. Only kids are potatoes. I am an adult." "But you were a potato once, because you were a kid, too," one doubtful child asked. "Nope. I was born an adult." "Well, I think you're a baked potato!" the French fry kid informed me. So they asked me more questions, and I invented this story about a kid who brought a potato to life with a magic formula as a way to explain how some people came from potatoes. That's how TATO got started.

SPJ: Please tell us, what, if any reaction did you receive after your decision to write these books? From friends and family.

Kathe: I received only positive support and feedback to start the story, and it's been that way ever since. That is so important, because a writer spends a lot of time in front of the computer writing and researching. It means a lot to have family members cheering you on. I'm lucky that they do that for me. I think they are proud of me. My mother does all the appropriate mom stuff. She displays my newspaper articles with other family news on her bulletin board in the entrance foyer of her home. My husband is invaluable. He edits and critiques all my work and is always the first to see it. Without him and his support, I would not be writing. After the manuscript has been polished, I have a friend who reads it again and adds her comments. It's a long process!

SPJ: I am very glad that you have such great support. Now please tell us how long did it took you to complete your book?

Kathe: I finished it in a month, but then I spent the next five years polishing it. I read it to every class of students I had each year until I was personally convinced that every part of the story kept them engaged. Being a teacher was a unique opportunity to find out how the book would be received by children. When I felt TATO was sufficiently polished, I submitted it to publishers.

SPJ: You did a great job in polishing your work; it is outstanding. Please tell us, what was the most difficult part in writing your work?

Kathe: The beginning! I rewrote it completely five times! Originally, the mother was telling her daughter a story about how magical potatoes came to life. Finally, after a number of revisions, I was able to incorporate the information into the action. The story now opens with two of the main characters, a brother and a sister, having a pillow fight and arguing about their mother's magical potato tale. My schoolchildren were able to get wrapped up in the story right away.

SPJ: How great it was to have children to bounce your story off of. Now please tell us what was the most enjoyable?

Kathe: Once the story got going, it poured out of me, and I had such fun! I laughed my way through the entire manuscript! I think my favorite part was near the end when Michael said good bye to his grandfather. He becomes a "little man" in those passages. He figures out what is really important and puts the needs of others ahead of his own.

SPJ: If you were starting over, what do you think you would do different?

Kathe: In the story? Hm. I think I would have made it longer. I would have given the main characters an extra adventure in the land of the mirrors. I might have had them enter a maze of mirrors where they get lost and cannot find their way out. I would have had them "meet" the horrible, soulless spirit of the Mirror World.

SPJ: Interesting! Did you base your characters on real life people? I know that may sound strange, but I think as authors we tend to do that. ?(Of course I know TATO isn't *smile* or is he????)

Kathe: I think you're right. We tend to incorporate ourselves in our writing in the same way that portrait artists tend to paint themselves into their work. Even when we write about the personality of someone besides ourselves, it is still their personality as we understand it, so it is filtered through our own! LOL! There's no escape! Having said that, I don't think my personality shows up in a significant way in TATO. The boy, Michael, is a mix of different children I've known, as is his sister.

SPJ: Will TATO be surfacing in any other books in the future? I loved the little guy!

Kathe: Thank you, Shirley. The children seem to love TATO, too. Near the end, when he sacrifices himself for his human family, the children feel very sad. Then, they perk up when he earns a human name. They laugh when he climbs onto Michael's shoulder like a little king on a throne as Michael strolls through the doorway into the "Interior World". I have not yet decided if Tato will surface again, though. Maybe Michael's new baby brother can grow up to create a magic formula of his own!

SPJ: Yes, that would be fun; little TATO from Tato's world! *smile* Tell us, did you find it difficult to find a publisher and if so what did you do to remedy that?

Kathe: TATO was submitted to half a dozen small, independent publishers. I informed them all that it was a simultaneous submission. Two of them offered me a contract and a third showed interest. I eventually went with Wings Press, because I liked their contract. I started by submitting to the big publishing houses, and I still have my rejection notices. Most of them said that TATO was not right for their lists. After a year of expensive submissions, sending out entire printed manuscript each time, I turned my attention elsewhere. The small presses had a reputation for helping unknown writers, and I dived into researching them. I discovered an entirely new world with hundreds of publishing houses, some springing up daily while others were folding. They had their own reputations, and I used the online site Predators and Editors to find the good ones. Here's their URL: There's a lot of scams and shams out there, but there are also many wonderful independent presses with high standards that employ legitimate business practices. I think the world of online writing, publishing houses, ezines, blogs and so forth offers a wealth of opportunities for writers! It keeps the writing landscape rich with new talent and possibilities!

SPJ: I am very glad that you didn't give up. What advice would you give to authors who are looking for a publisher?

Kathe: I would advise authors to polish their manuscripts until they think they're perfect. Of course, no manuscript is, but you want to turn in your very best work. I know a pet peeve for publishers includes receiving slipshod submissions that appear like a first draft. It also pays to give close attention to your query letter and synopsis. Make no assumptions that sloppiness or incomplete ideas will be overlooked. It will not and will probably cause the editor to toss your manuscript aside. Finally, read the submission guidelines and comply with them. If you do all three of these, you will greatly increase your chance for having your entire manuscript read.

SPJ: Out of the accomplishments in your life where would you rate being a published author and why?

Kathe: I like this question because I've actually thought about it. It's wonderful to be a writer and have the opportunity to share my work with others, especially children. Writing is a satisfying thing to do, and I've been writing full time since I retired from teaching several years ago. However, many of the greatest moments in my life have taken place in the classroom with my students. The opportunities to make a difference in a personal way are much greater than the solitary act of writing. Teaching grade school children has been a singular pleasure! Being around their energy every day for years has kept me feeling young. Writing children's stories is, for me, is a way to pay tribute to the children and those wonderful years I had in the classroom with them.

SPJ: Do you have an agent? A publicist? How important do you feel this is to an author?

Kathe: Having an agent and/or a publicist is a great way to free an author up to do what he or she does best: write. However, that luxury is usually reserved for those authors who have contracts with big publishing houses. Most of the independent and small publishing houses do not have much of a budget for promotional activities, and it is up to the author to promote his or her work. The good news is that an author doesn't have to do this alone. The latest trend has authors teaming up to promote through group book signings, mailers, book fairs, CDs, conventions and much more. By sharing expenses (such as fees, materials and postage) and resources (such as contacts, talents and expertise), an author can accomplish a lot on a small budget. I belong to a group called Authors' Coalition where we band together to promote our books. If anyone is interested, you can go to my website at and click on the Authors' Coalition logo to find out more.

SPJ: How much promoting do you do? What works best for you? Any tips for other authors?

Kathe: It's important to establish a presence and let people know about you and your book. Even large publishing houses expect authors to do at least some of this on their own. The small houses expect the author to do most or all of it. In order to get started, media releases are an inexpensive way to let your local magazines and newspapers know about you. I have a page of media releases on my website for people to use as a model, if they're interested. Here's the URL:

There are also many online media release sites that are free, such as PRWeb. I will be adding a link on my site soon listing these online sources. Look for it on the Writers' Resource page here:

Newspaper and magazine articles can open up new doors for authors. One article in the San Diego Tribune led to an invitation for me to attend a California Librarian's Convention and to speak to a group of professional teachers. Another free promotional option is radio. Many radio stations in your area are eager to interview local talent. Do an online search to find the stations in your area. Don't overlook Internet radio! ArtistFirst interterviews first time authors. Here's the URL: And finally, get a website! There are many free servers, and I have seen lots of authors using them. If you can afford your own domain name, that's great. I pay for a domain name, but I use a free web page builder called SiteBuilder that I downloaded from Yahoo. I have built up dozens of pages using it.

SPJ: Please tell us Kathe, do you belong to a writer's group?

Kathe: I do. I belong to the online critique community, the Museitup Club, where I am also the Director of Memberships. It is a unique writing club and one of Writer's Digest 101 Best Sites for 2005. The founder, Lea Schizas, keeps things sparking with loads of extra projects besides the usual weekly submissions and critiques of each others' work. She organizes books deals for members, a newsletter for writers (written by members), interesting author guests who are interviewed and questioned by members each week, and much, much more. You can find out more about Lea and what she's up to here:

SPJ: What has writing this work done for you and what do you hope it will do for your readers? What do you hope they will take away with them after reading your work?

Kathe: There is a message in TATO that I want kids to take with them. The main character, Michael, loses his grandfather, who was also his best friend, and Michael is unable to accept his loss. In the end, he discovers that something bigger exists, and it is something that lasts forever. Through the power of love, he is able to transcend his loss and move on. I want children to walk away from TATO with a sense of their own goodness and immortality.

SPJ: I know I will remember TATO for a long time to come. Do you have any other works in progress? If so in what genre and when will they be released?

Kathe: I also write stories for grown ups. I have just completed an 80,000 word science fiction, which I am currently polishing to submit to publishers. It includes time travel and parallel worlds and scary predatory creatures. Also this year, I've published a romantic suspense under my pen name of Ann Durand. It is available from Double Dragon Publishing here:

I have contributed to a couple anthologies this year, including Spiritual Visitations due from Zumaya Publications in 2008, and The Muse on Writing, due from Double Dragon Publishing in 2006. I've had a number of short stories and poems published with Long Story Short, Penwomanship, JacoByte Books, The Writer's Journal, The Complete Writers' Magazine, and Storyteller Magazine.

SPJ: Would you tell us how many hours a day do you write?

Kathe: If you ask my husband, he'd say "from sun-up to sun-down on a short day". It's not that bad, though. Sometimes, I eat or go shopping. LOL! Yes, I love to write. J

SPJ: Don't let your husband talk to mine; we'd be in big trouble! Is there a special place that you write, one that inspires you? Has there been a special person who inspired you to write?

Kathe: Every week day, I sit at my desk in front of my computer in beautiful sunny southern California. I am five minutes from the ocean, and often use it for inspiration. Watching the waves and listening to the surf relaxes me in a big way. Many ideas hit me while I am standing on the beach. As for people inspiring me, there are many. My husband, my daughter, a child in my classroom, a friend or sometimes just a friendly stranger can motivate me to write.

SPJ: Has having a book published changed your life in anyway and if so please share that with us.

Kathe: Only in that it has given me an excuse to keep writing, LOL! Otherwise, I feel very much like the same person.

SPJ: Where do you hope your writing career will be in 3 years and what are you doing to achieve that goal.

Kathe: In three years, I hope to have written several more books and established a successful promotional routine. I want to create a presence within the elementary schools in California and elsewhere. Through school assemblies, book fairs, libraries and classroom visits, I hope to remain very busy! I am writing an educational supplement for TATO that includes a language arts and science component. Since the story revolves around a boy and a lot of magic, the science unit will include experiments that explain some of the illusions in the story. I will pilot the program in two elementary classes soon. I have a page on our website that describes it at:

SPJ: A question a little off the beaten track, do you read and if so what genre is your favorite?

Kathe: Not off the track at all! Yes, I read every night. I think it's important for writers to read. I don't have a favorite genre. There are so many books that interest me - from action and suspense to biographies and geo-political non-fiction. My husband and I like to trade books a lot. He introduces me to new genres that I might not otherwise have tried.

SPJ: I agree with you, that is why I review. Reading others work definitely helps a writer in their own writing. Would you tell us a little about yourself, outside of being a published author?

Kathe: I love to paint! Recently, I painted two wall murals at Children's Hospital in San Diego. I have some of my work posted online here: I taught grade school for many years before retiring recently. Now, I am a volunteer teacher at an elementary school near my home. I teach science and writing to fourth and fifth graders and have an absolute ball! I get to teach without all the other duties that I didn't enjoy as much, like long faculty meetings and grading papers. I have a daughter, Rose, who is 24, and I live with my husband, Ray, and our cat, Ginger in Southern California.

SPJ: Such talent, that is great! In closing, if there is anything you wish to add or information you would like to tell our readers, perhaps a questions I did not ask, please do so here.


You've been very thorough, Shirley. Maybe I'll close with a saying from Susannah Clark:

You've got to sing like you don't need the money.

You've got to love like you'll never get hurt.

You've got to dance like there's nobody watching.

You've got to come from the heart if you want it to work.

Thanks for the opportunity to chat with you!

SPJ: I know that you have enjoyed this interview and I strongly urge you to read Kathe's work, TATO. It is exceptional. Thank you Kathe for doing this interview with you. I wish you the very best in your future.


Kathe Gogolewski
Read my blog:

A PROMISE TO KEEP/romantic suspense, writing as Ann Durand, available at

TATO/fantasy adventure for readers ages 8 to 13, available from Wings Press at

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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