Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / MBR Bookwatch

MBR Bookwatch

Volume 7, Number 2 February 2008 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf Greenspan's Bookshelf
Klausner's Bookshelf Laurel's Bookshelf Nancy's Bookshelf
Shelley's Bookshelf Shirley's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf
Vogel's Bookshelf Reader Views Bookshelf  

Cowper's Bookshelf

Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings, 9th edition
Jennifer Thorne Amann, Alex Wilson, & Katie Ackerly
New Society Publishers
PO Box 189, Gabriola Island, BC, Canada, V0R 1X0
9780865716025, $16.95 1-800-283-3572

Written by Jennifer Thorne Amann (Senior Associate in the Buildings and Equipment Program at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy) Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings is a handy resource for homeowners, state utility companies, and anyone else interested in saving money and reducing environmental impact. Now in its ninth updated edition, Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings offers in-depth comparisons between available energy-saving technologies, cost-effective repair and replacement options, step-by-step instructions for finding the right equipment for one's needs, and much more. "Try to install your clothes washer as close to the water heater as reasonably possible and insulate the hot water pipes leading to it to minimize heat loss through the pipes. Also, if possible, locate the washer and dryer in a heated space. This is particularly important with dryers, which depend on heat to dry." Simple black-and-white illustrations help to clarify key points in this solid money-saving guide. Highly recommended.

Elizabeth Bishop
Robert Giroux & Lloyd Schwartz, editors
The Library of America
14 East 60th Street, New York, NY 10022
9781598530179, $40.00

Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose, and Letters is the Library of America's compilation of the works of twentieth century poet and author Elizabeth Bishop - including all her published poetic translations, an extensive selection of her unpublished poems and drafts of poems, several not previously collected, and of course, all the poetry published in her lifetime. Non-poetry writings range from her stories and reminiscences to travel writings, literary essays, and statements, even a number of pieces published for the first time. The absolute definitive compilation of Elizabeth Bishop's works, highly recommended especially for public and college library collections.

The Secret Gospel of Mary Magdalene
Michele Roberts
Pegasus Books
c/o Pegasus Communications Inc.
One Moody Street, Waltham, MA 02453-5339
9781933648569, $13.95 1-800-272-0945

Award-winning author Michele Roberts presents The Secret Gospel of Mary Magdalene, an original novel about the discovery of a fifth gospel: Mary Magdalene's testimony of Jesus' teachings and her own relationship with him. A dramatic vision of Christianity in which men's and women's spirituality are equally celebrated, The Secret Gospel of Mary Magdalene is a passionate and moving chronicle of human faith that endures despite suffering and loss. An emotionally moving tale affirming Mary Magdalene's crucial role in the birth of Christianity.

Notes from Nethers
Sandra Eugster
Academy Chicago Publishers
363 West Erie Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9780897335614, $18.95 1-800-248-7323

Notes from Nethers: Growing Up in a Sixties Commune is the true-life memoir of author Sandra Eugster, largely centering around her adolescence in a commune in rural Virginia in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The commune Nethers, started by Eugster's mother Carla, was meant to promote social change and grounded in the counterculture of the era. Immersed in the culture shock of commune life at the tender age of nine, Eugster had to adjust along with her older sisters to the complexities of commune life, weekly consensus meetings, days of silence, sweat-hut rituals, and more. Yet even more challenging was making the re-adjustment to the outside world after the commune dissolved - studying for SATs (given that her own education ended at third grade), and gradually learning social skills that she'd never had the opportunity to cultivate amid years of isolation from "normal" people her own age. "The wish to return to innocence came with the thought that by removing the barriers between adult and child, the children could be the bridge back to innocence. But the force of nature goes the other direction, and many children lost their innocence devastatingly early. I often think I was fortunate not to have been molested. But in a sense I was. My exposure to sexual matters was premature, as was my close contact with extreme human peculiarities and, ultimately, the harsh reality of adults doing what was right for themselves as opposed to their charges." Highly recommended as a matter-of-fact glimpse into what commune life was truly like: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

Solve for X
Arthur Saltzman
University of South Carolina Press
718 Devine Street, Columbia, SC 29208
9781570037078, $29.95 1-800-768-2500

Solve for X is the fourth collection of brief, "creative nonfiction" essays by author Arthur Saltzman (Professor of English, Missouri Southern State University). From reflecting on the phenomenon of child prodigies in "Wunderkindergarten", to a tongue-in-cheek suggestion of how the degree to which a woman enjoys James Joyce's novels can be used to estimate her level of arrogance, to the unquestionable dominance the automobile has claimed in modern American culture, Solve for X ranges the gamut of introspection, insight, and at times, crushing criticism. An most delectable intellectual smorgasbord.

Terra Northwest
David H. Stratton, editor
WSU Press
PO Box 645910, Pullman, WA 99164-5910
9780874222913, $21.95 1-800-354-7360

Edited by former Washington State University History Department chair David H. Stratton, Terra Northwest: Interpreting People and Place is an anthology of scholarly essays by eleven authors discussing society, culture, and transitions in the American and Canadian northwest. From a historical assessment of "The American Indian and Freedom of Religion", to "Mexican American Street Gangs, Migration, and Violence in the Yakima Valley", to "The Mind of the Founders: An Assessment of the Washington Constitution of 1889" and much more, Terra Northwest offers detailed examinations of past events and historical trends supported by meticulous research. The resulting anthology of in-depth historical analyses is a welcome supplement to American and Canadian history shelves alike, especially recommended for college library collections.

The Pandora Prescription
James Sheridan
Cambridge House Press
115 W. 29th St., 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10001
9780978721350, $24.95 1-212-244-2086

Award-winning copywriter James Sheridan presents The Pandora Prescription, a suspenseful novel about a deadly secret kept by giant pharmaceutical companies, and the ruthless lengths to which they will go to protect it. Well-known author Dan Travis is on a book tour when a mysterious message from a stranger in distress changes his life forever. Drawn irrevocably into a secretive war, his only hope for survival is to find an incriminating data file before time runs out. The quest to uncover a link between a remorseless medical cover-up and a massive assassination conspiracy will take him across the country, and amid a hidden society of doctors who swore an ancient oath. A captivating, tautly written thriller for the twenty-first century.

That's Just Kramer!
Ron Kramer with Dan Ewald
Sports Media Group
c/o Ann Arbor Media Group LLC
2500 S. State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
9781587264337, $26.95

Written by Ron Kramer with newspaper writer Dan Ewald, and comfortably narrated in third person, That's Just Kramer! From Michigan Legend to Lombardi's "12th Man" is the biography of talented athlete Ron Kramer, from his days dominating football, basketball, and track in the University of Michigan, to his time to playing as one of the Green Bay Packers, to choosing his family over his professional career by switching teams and returning home to Detroit, and more. Black-and-white photographs illustrate this down-to-earth chronicle of Kramer's life, career, and passions. An enthralling biography especially recommended for football fans.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

International Business
Oded Shenkar & Yadong Luo
Sage Publications
2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320-2218
9781412949064, $89.95 1-800-818-7243

Now in a newly updated and expanded second edition, "International Business" is the collaborative work of academicians and international business experts Oded Shenkar (Professor of International Business, Fisher College of Business, Ohio State University) and Yadong Luo (Professor of International Business and Strategy, University of Miami). Providing the reader with a comprehensive and comprehensible introduction to the role of culture, politics, and legal issues in international business, this superbly organized and presented 598-page compendium illustrated and explains how such factors influence the institutions, structures, and processes that comprise, regulate, and enable all business functions. Offering an integrated, 'reader friendly', practical, and 'real-world' approach to the analysis and conduct of doing business in a global market, "International Business" is an ideal classroom textbook for college courses and a welcome, core addition to Business School and academic library reference collections, as well as informed and informative supplemental reading for corporate executives, economists, governmental agency heads, and anyone else engaged in or having oversight responsibilities for international trade.

Science Fair Handbook
Anthony D. Fredericks & Isaac Asimov
Good Year Books
PO Box 91858, Tucson, AZ 85752-1858
9781596470293, $14.95 1-888-511-1530

Now in a newly expanded and completely updated edition, "Science Fair Handbook: The Complete Guide For Teachers And Parents" was original published and co-authored by the late science fiction (and non-fiction) author Isaac Asimov and academician Anthony D. Fredericks. The 'how-to' instruction guide and reference for teachers and parents working with was an immense success. The death of Asimov in 1992 as a loss felt throughout the academic and literary communities. Now Fredericks has undertaken to incorporate the huge advances the sciences have experienced during the last decade and the result continues to be a superbly organized and presented 'how to' guide to enable the children in grades 4 through 8 to participate successfully and competently in school science fairs. Of special note are the chapters 'For Teachers: How to Make Your Science Fair Successful'; 'Helping Students Select a Topic; and 'Suggestions for Projects'. With the inclusion of a wealth of new material on the latest academic Science Standards and science fair relevant websites, the "Science Fair Handbook" continues to be an essential and overwhelmingly recommended addition to school reference collections in general, and science teacher curriculum supplemental material in particular.

The Most Effective Natural Cures On Earth
Jonny Bowden
Fair Winds Press
c/o Quayside Publishing Group
18705 Lake Drive East, Chanhassen, MN 55317
9781592332915, $24.99 1-800-328-0590

"The Most Effective Natural Cures On Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What Treatments Work And Why" by board-certified nutritionist and weight loss authority Jonny Bowden is a superbly informative reference for non-specialist general readers with an interest in the use of vitamins, foods, supplements, and treatments applicable for more than seventy-five common illnesses and ailments. Incorporating analogies, humor, and solid research science, the text is particularly well organized and accessible. Offering a wealth of information from the use of cinnamon to moderate blood sugar, to the use of vitamin C to protect against cancer, to eating celery in order to lower blood pressure, to using acupuncture for treating infertility, this illustrated compendium of 'cures' and curatives is accurate, reliable, practical, and a core addition to personal, family, and community library Alternative Medicine reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Great Feet For Life
Paul Langer, DPM
Fairview Press
2450 Riverside Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55454-1400
9781577491590, $14.95 1-800-544-8207

With the proper care, our feet are designed to last a lifetime of daily service, enduring a cumulative impact of tens of billions of pounds and carrying us more than 100,000 miles during our lives. "Great Feet For Life: Footcare And Footwear For Healthy Aging" by podiatry expert Paul Langer (Clinical Faculty Member, University of Minnesota Medical School) provides simple, effective instructions for self-care on every aspect including nail care, calluses and corns, shoe selection, skin care, arthritis, heel pain, hammertoes and bunions, shoe selection, shoe comfort, insoles and orthotics, footcare products, as well as common foot conditions and injuries. All throughout this superbly organized and presented footcare manual, the emphasis is on staying active, maintaining good balance, and preventing falls. "Great Feet For Life" is especially recommended to the attention of the non-specialist general reader with footcare concerns or questions, and would make an invaluable addition to both personal and community library Health & Medicine instructional reference collections.

Able Greenspan

Klausner's Bookshelf

Beginner's Greek
James Collins
Little Brown
9780316021555 $23.99

Holly and Peter meet on a flight from New York to Los Angeles and are immediately attracted to one another. At some inner level, they each know they met their life mate. Holly writes her phone number on a page from The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann and gives it him.

That night he goes to get the page, but somehow he lost it; he frantically searches but fails to find the key to his happiness. As he goes through the phases of grief, a sad Holly concludes her Peter did not feel the same way as she does.

A few years later she marries Peter's best friend Jonathan while he and Charlotte agree to wed in a marriage of convenient losers as she also loves someone else. At the wedding ceremony of Peter and Charlotte; lightning strikes Jonathan, which leads to a comedy of relationship errors as the newlyweds, Holly and others try to get their just rewards.

This is an amusing chick lit romance in which one thing leads to another as if James Collins knocked down the first domino which than took several subplot paths knocking down other dominos. Peter and Holly are terrific as they try to move on from that fateful plane trip, but neither fully can because they know who the other is deep inside their heart. Readers will wonder whether they will get together and what about Charlotte in this fun Greek romantic "tragedy”.

The Wrath of Zar
Shayne Easson
9780978984014 $24.95

Although they are brothers, Adan Caynne would choose flight while Dex would choose fight. Thus they are opposites with Dex wanting to become a warrior and Adan turning the other cheek because he has some inkling of his father's former life as a Ches warrior who barely survived a demonic led assault.

Keeping his head buried in the sand, Adam is ignorant that a demon army is destroying Yannina. However, he becomes aware that something is wrong when his sibling vanishes and a neighbor Cadin brutally killed. Vowing to find and rescue his brother from whatever, Adan wonders if his father's newly arrived fully armed visitors he never met before are involved with the recent events. However, his quest turns surreal when the Andar apprentice Hythe informs him he is the only hope to defeat the Demon Vayle and his horde destroying the guardian who imprisoned him. Soon others including Zar the dragon ally with him even as he insists he is not fighting demons or anyone for that matter.

This action-packed quest fantasy stars a wonderful reluctant hero, who has enough personal issues trying to remain stalwart on his personal hunt only to have an assortment of entities claim he's the man. Readers will feel they are trekking alongside Adan and his band as they search for his twin while preparing for the larger mission of battling the invincible demon army led by a champion who chooses flight not fight. Shayne Easson provides readers with an outstanding opening adventure in his Demons of Destiny saga.

Secret Of The Dragon's Eye
Derek Hart
9780595429677 $16.95

In the North Cornwall coastal town of Crackington Haven, twelve years old Gavin Kane enjoys his childhood playing make believe games with his best friend Emily Scott. However, Gavin knows his parents fear war is coming to England as the Nazis blitzkrieg their way across the continent. His dad knowing he will soon fight for his country shares time with his son; they read together a tale of about King Arthur and Thaddeus Osbert the dragon.

WW II hits home doubly so to Gavin as his father leaves to fight and he befriends a newcomer evacuee child Bunty who survived the Nazi bombing of Plymouth inside air raid shelters until he was transported to North Cornwall. The three children meet Thaddeus Osbert the dragon who begs them to provide him with sugar at a time rationing grips the country. When the Germans land a force near Crackington Haven seeking Excalibur, the three kids and their sweet-toothed dragon try to repel them and their flying ally.

SECRET OF THE DRAGON'S EYE is a superb WWII fantasy that hooks the audience in two ways. First the description early WWII England mostly through the eyes of Bunty makes for a vivid anchored historical. When Thaddeus enters their lives, the story line adds fantasy elements to it. Mindful of Naomi Novik's Temeraire saga, readers who appreciate something different in their war novels will enjoy fine historical fantasy.

Joanne Harris
9780375844447 $18.99

Five centuries have past since the battle of Ragnarok in which the gods lost and eternal winter became the norm. With the gods gone and allegedly no more magic existing, filling the leadership vacuum of the Middle World of the Nine Worlds is the Order, who rule with an iron fisted theocracy.

Maddy Smith born with a runemark on her palm knows some residue magic still exists. However the eight hundred villagers of Malbry in the Strond Valley region of the civilized Inland island scorn her because her "ruinmark” make them believe she is a witch. They would exile her except that their hamlet is on the edge of Red Horse Hill, a locale containing the pre-Ragnarok power. Thus they need the witch's skills to control the goblin plague that comes with being so close to the ancient magic. Everything changes for the needed pariah when a traveler One-Eye enters the village. He recognizes her having a world destiny if she can believe in herself; he offers to teach Maddy in Faerie; she avidly accepts.

The biggest problem for parents with this excellent young adult Norse fantasy is their children will be so hooked with the Potter syndrome they will stay up several nights to read this wonderful five hundred plus page tale. The story line is fast-paced from the first rune to the last while the supportive cast is fully developed from Adam the Bully to the heroine's family to the Devotees to the goblins Lucky and Sugar and Sack, etc. However, Maddy and to a lesser degree her mentor own this coming of age Middle World saga.

The Chameleon's Shadow
Minette Walters
9780307264633 $24.95

On 24 Nov 2006 the convoy drives the highway that links Basra and Baghdad led by a Scimitar Reconnaissance Vehicle when roadside bombs explode. The destruction of the RV became a top DVD seller in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. However, the commander of the RV, British Army Lieutenant Charles Acland survived the blasts with facial and brain injuries; everyone else inside died. Two days later the Light Dragoon Guards' officer is flown unconscious to Birmingham, England to begin reconstructive surgery of his disfigured face.

Back home, Charles is filled with rage especially towards women, and rejects the facial surgery, but initially accepts the psychological treatment offered by Dr. Robert Willis. Charles is incredibly angry at his former fiancee Jen Morley who insists even before his war trauma he was a chameleon. To her he was a woman's man; to his unit and his male friends he was a man's man; to his mom he was the adoring son. Charles abruptly moves to London at about the same time a serial killer is murdering people. He remains reclusive and angry yet accepting. His rage at Muslims leads to a brawl in a bar with Pakistani-English and a rescue by a three hundred pound female lesbian weight lifter Dr. Jackson and the bar's owner Daisy, who try to help him afterward.

This is an interesting look at Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in which the medical profession is unsure of whether Charles' injuries changed his personality especially since Jen convinces them he hid his killer instincts behind a nice guy chameleon. Charles seems genuine and his two female saviors also, but it is the plot focused on whether he is a serial killer or not that grips readers. Although a late spin that answers the question of is he seems off kilter, fans of Minette Walters will enjoy this psychological thriller.

Paris Noir: Capital Crime Fiction
Maxim Jakubowski (Editor)
Serpent's Tail
9781852429669 $14.95

Like London before it (see LONDON NOIR) Paris is a great city for Noirs to occur and some of the eighteen contributors like Cara Black ("The Redhead") know the dark side of the city with her Aimee Leduc tales. However, the problem is with the title as some of the entries are not classic Noirs like Michael Moorcock's paranormal sleuth Sexton Blake appearing in "The Flaneur of Les Arcades de l'Opera”; a sleuth I enjoyed reading in his anthology (see THE METATEMPORAL DETECTIVE), but does not fit the theme. Thus purists might be a bit upset to find PARIS NOIR is 200-proof "Capital Crime Fiction”, but only 100-proof Noir. The stories are all new, fun to read with no clinkers and a few are Noir Excellence such as Romain Slocombe's "Guy Georges' Final Crime" confrontation between a serial killer and the next victim and the rotating perspective of "The Lookout” by Marc Villard.

Hungry Hill
Carole O'Malley Gaunt
University of Massachusetts Press
P.O. Box 429, Amherst, MA 01004

In 1959, thirteen years old Carole O'Malley's father took her seven brothers with him to take care of "family” business, but left her behind with their ailing mom, a cancer victim. However, before leaving he told Carole that if the priest arrives before they are back, she is to let him into their home. She does as ordered, only to learn that the priest has come to give her dying mother her last rites. Family business meant alcohol and though no one said anything Carole knew first hand her dad was a nasty drunk and was even uglier when he would awaken with a hangover. He remarried, but ignored that his new wife was abusive to his stepchildren until he died from alcohol abuse.

This gripping memoir by playwright Carole O'Malley Gaunt is not an easy read though extremely well written as the author spent her childhood as a mother to her ailing mother, her brothers, and her father. No reader will remain dry eyed with this sensitive account of growing up as the designated mom.

Office Upstairs
Charles Banov, M.D.
History Press
18 Percy St. Charleston, SC 29403
9781596293700 $34.99

Born in Charlotte, South Carolina at a time when Jews were treated with contempt almost as bad as blacks were, Charles Banov was destined to become a doctor due to his mother pushing him in that direction (in a subtle manner) and his own desire to figure out puzzles. As a medical student he was a curious mix of serious student and risk taker. A teacher who taught him how useful a placebo can be is explained in a funny manner but gets the point across.. After doing an internship he had to do military service so he became a Lieutenant and a surgeon in the navy where he acquired a taste of wanderlust. It was a borning two years so he opened up his own practice in the nearest Texas place that never had a doctor. He was known for his compassion and even temperament.

During his career as in intern and he was called upon to make decisions not included in his field of expertise like Ob-Gyn work and cardiac problems. He talks about his travels in other places, in one such place he went he was kidnapped by South American revolutionaries. He was helping patients in crisis during Hurricanes Hugo and Katrina and was involved without his knowledge, in espionage action during the Cold War. Dr. Banov makes no bones how much he loves his wife and their two sons who are doctors and the daughter who has Rhett's syndrome. He is a Marcus Welby M.D. who cares about his patients and people in general, working through government agencies to get things that need taken care of done Anyone reading this book will want this man as their doctor.

Told in a breezy style, filled with anecdotes, humor and picturesque events, OFFICE UPSTAIRS is a memoir of a doctor filled with fear and uncertainly but somehow always getting the job done.

DeKok and Murder on Blood Mountain
A.C. Baantjer
4690 Table Mountain Drive, Suite 100, Golden, CO 80403
9781933108131 $14.00

The corpse of Hendrick-Jan Assumber was fished out of the Scheldt River harbor in Antwerp, Belgium. The victim actually died from poisoning not drowning; since Hendrik-Jan known as Henry is a Dutch citizen, the Antwerp Police request Amsterdam Inspectors DeKok and Vledder to assist on their investigation.

The body is sent to Amsterdam for burial. Attending the funeral, DeKok notices another mourner Ronald Kriusberg who legally died over two years ago, but the very alive man flees before DeKok can detain him to learn why he is at the funeral as much as why he faked his demise. Not long after that incident Hendrik's widow is stunned to learn her late spouse's savings have been emptied. Nothing makes sense to DeKok who concludes that all roads lead to the Antwerp neighborhood of Bloedberg (Blood Mountain) where the Holy Pact for the Dying might include the victim as a signer.

In his twenty-third case, DeKok is at his best trying to find the ties between "dead” men in which every new clue makes the investigation seem fuzzier not lucid. DeKok seems so genuine and for an example when he chases after Richard he runs out of breathe rather quickly. Vledder enhances the inquiry especially with his continual questioning of why they are working a Belgium murder case. Fans of the series know this is always a super police procedural; newcomers have a lot of catching up to do.

Con Ed
Matthew Klein
Grand Central

9780446617741 $7.99

He was once the king of the Grifters, but after spending several years as a guest of the state, Kip Largo stays clean as he fears a return engagement. Instead he lives in a dump in Palo Alto, has no friends or family who will talk to him, and ekes out a meager living at a dry cleaner and selling vitamins over the net.

When the femme fatale blonde approaches him with her scheme, Kip thinks beauties like her ignore guys like him except as expendable pawns. She offers him a plan to con her spouse Las Vegas casino owner Ed Napier out of $20 million. Kip's share will save his offspring Toby from further beatings and eventually death from Russian mafia enforcers who demand he pay back his debt of several hundred thousand dollars and growing. Well aware of the risk, Kip obtains investment money from the mob, puts together a team including a programmer, and offers Pythia, a program that predicts stock price changes especially with the dot-com mania though as he sets in motion the game he fears he is being out-conned by a drop dead gorgeous blonde and her husband

This is a terrific cautionary tale warning about repeating stock market bubbles and corrections and not to trust the media to play hard-boil at the start (not after the horse has left the stable). The subplots involving other stings, the investment mania, and the reporters failing to investigate the '90s investment craze (Iraq is media deja vu) add fascinating depth for a fun prime story line. Modern day Noir readers will wonder whether Kip can pull off the scheme and train his son in the art of the con while wondering along with the hard boiled hero whether he is being set up by the beautiful blond.

Black Magic Woman
Justin Gustainis
9781844165414 $15.00

It is in Quincey Morris' blood to be a supernatural investigator because, after all, his great great grandfather was one of the people who helped destroy Dracula. After cleaning out a nest of vampires in a small Texan town he gets another client Walter La Rue who believes his house is haunted and whatever is there is trying to kill him, his wife and their children. When he examines the house he notices charms made by Walter's mother-in-law that would keep the inhabitants from being cursed. When she died the charms lost its powers.

He consults with white witch Libby Chastain who gets information on the charms and what is targeting the family. They learn that the descendents of Bridget Warren are being cursed by the descendents of Sarah Carter who was convicted of being a witch due to Bridget's testimony. Sarah was burned to death her and her present day kin Christine Abernathy will stop at nothing to kill the La Rues, Quincey and Libby. A magic practitioner from South Africa is in the United States killing children to make for Christine a fetish that will allow her to achieve that goal. Inspector Van Dreenan who has a personal score to settle with his country's black witch helps the FBI agent in charge of the case understand what they are dealing with. Libby and Quincey become Christine's targets and both almost end up dead, which would leave the La Rues at Christine's mercy.

Urban fantasy lovers who enjoy the works of Km Harrison, Tanya Huff and Jim Butcher will thoroughly appreciate BLACK MAGIC WOMAN. Quincey and Libby risk their lives to protect humans from the evil supernatural; both protagonists are so personable and selfless readers will want to read more of their escapades. Justin Gustainis must own a magic word processor to create such a well thought out, entertaining and creative work.

Starship: Mercenary
Mike Resnick
9781591025993 $25.00

Three thousand years from now, man created the Republic; many alien races joined it. Now the Republic is at war with the Teroni Federation. Commander Wilson Cole of the starship Theodore Roosevelt relieved a captain of her command and in doing so saved a planet and millions of lives. As a reward, he was arrested and awaiting a court-martial, but his squad freed him and they jumped to the Inner Frontier. They became pirates but for law abiding men and women used to a command structure they found out they were not good at piracy.

They become mercenaries selling their services to the highest bidder and found that a bit more honorable. They save lives including that of freeing a client who is held on a warlike isolationist planet; get the patients out of a hospital before an enemy warlord and his armada bears down on them; stopping a warlord from exterminating an entire planet; and saving a space station that is in neutral territory and where all species are welcome. Cole uses his brains to come out the victor especially since one of his most trusted of crew joined forces with their enemy.

Filled with action, brilliant planning for the success of a mission and characters that readers really care about STARSHIP MERCENARY like its predecessors PIRATE and MUTINY is a fabulous outer space saga. The hero is an honorable man treated dishonorably by the Republic he swore to protect but he is not bitter. He spends his time on missions he chooses and caring for each member of his team; and in return they give him their undying loyalty. Val, the pirate who become Cole's Third Officer, doesn't comprehend how the crew of the Teddy's R can care for one another without demanding more in return. Mike Resnick is a great galaxy-builder as he describes alien species so readers believe they will exist in the future.

The Metatemporal Detective
Michael Moorcock
9781591025962 $25.00

The eleven tales that make up this fascinating (for fans of the Moorcock multiverse) short story collection are predominately written in the last fifteen years with two of them from 1966 They all obviously involve adventures of The Metatemporal Detective on worlds similar yet dissimilar to ours. Although the hero's name slightly varies but for the most part he is British Home Office Metatemporal Investigation Department agent Seaton Begg; his prime adversary is Count Zenith the Albino (Elric by any other name?) although Hitler is an opponent/client in "The Case of the Nazi Canary”. His sidekick is MID pathologist Dr. Taffy Sinclair

The satirical entries are fun especially as the skins of politicians better be thick with characters like George Putz, Dicky Shiner and Wolfy Paulowitz (see "The Mystery of the Texas Twister"). However, they are also often difficult to follow with obscure references in a pseudo historical setting on an alternate world. Mr. Moorcock also pays tribute to pulp fiction magazine detective Sexton Blake (never read) and the 1966 tales seem to have served as a prototype for Elric. This is definitely for the Moorcock mob, but not a good entry point for newcomers.

The Long Embrace
Judith Freeman
9780375423512 $25.95

This is a fascinating biography of Raymond Chandler and his two decade older twice divorced wife Cissy Pascal especially the insight into their relationship. Ms. Freeman digs deep into archives, visited the numerous California residences where her subjects lived, interviewed people who knew the Chandlers, and dived into the mystery novels he wrote. The biographer used all that to draw conclusions about the couple. Especially fascinating is Ms. Freeman's inferences she makes on Mr. Marlowe and his relationship with Cissy from his novels and correspondence. At times the author over plays her inductive reasoning by making denouements based on extremely insignificant flimsy data that cannot be defended although Ms. Freeman tries. However, overall her logic especially when it comes to analyzing Chandler's literature, for instance Marlowe's flaws and how he dealt with females, make for an intriguing biography that also allows the reader to see inside Judith Freeman.

Chasing Silver
Jamie Craig
9780809572014 $6.99

In 2007 former cop turned bounty hunter Nathan Pierce has trapped Tian in a Culver City warehouse when suddenly a blinding light appears; in the subsequent confusion the criminal escapes. In his place is twenty-five years old Remy Capra, a woman who appeared out of nowhere. Remy is shocked that she is no longer in DC. When they pass a newsstand she realizes she also is not in her time as she has somehow gone back seventy-five years. The headline also reminds her that in the future she is on the run having stole coins from US Senator Harrah whose daughter bad cop Kirsten pursues her.

When she tells Nathan her story after her ID contains an impossible birth date of 2057 and an unknown technology, he still assumes she is crazy except for the material of her clothing that cannot be found anywhere either. The pair is attracted to one another other; unaware that Kirsten is in this time too and has teamed up with Tian to retrieve her coins and kill Remy, and assist her new partner with eliminating Nathan too.

This time travel romantic thriller is filled with hot sex, action-packed drama, and a heroine who kicks butt. The tag team battles of two chicks paired with two modern day adversarial hunks are fun to follow as the tough guys seem soft compared to the future femme fatales. Team Jamie Craig creatively combines elements from mystery, romance, and sci fi to entertain readers with an exciting cat and mouse thriller.

The Sarsen Witch
Eileen Kernachan
9780809571574 $12.95

The Dark Folk, the Ancient people, the Witch People have all been subjugated to the hors-lords. Those not enslaved hide deep in the hills out of fear of captivity. Naeri of the House of the Lady Ashton of the Albur clan hid in the mountains and caves alone foraging for food from the enemy. Eventually she is caught and brought before Chief Ricca to be punished for theft.

She is saved by the smith Gwi, who takes her on as his apprentice though he wants much more form her. The minstrel of the tribe is hers cousin Daui who helps her find a magician who teaches Naeri how to use the stones and earth magic. Once she becomes proficient with its use, Daui directs Ricca and his men to construct a stone circle as a memorial to him at a place where the leylines are numerous and power is stored like a battery. After it is built, Naeri will use her prowess as a geomancer to bring down the horse lords and their tribes. Although frightened Naeri feels obligated to her kin, but believes no good will come of her mission.

THE SARSEN WITCH is a mesmerizing reading experience that depicts life in the Bronze Age of what will eventually become Britain. Naeri is a survivor who will allows herself to be pushed so far before she goes her own way. It is fascinating to observe how Ricca holds the various horse tribes together using threats and gifts (today we call it an earmark) to keep everyone in line; he is not a bad leader just a product of his time as he is not interested in the welfare of those he conquered (today we call them democrats).

The Blue Door
David Fulmer
9780151011810 $25.00

The year is 1962 and in Philadelphia, welterweight boxer Eddie Cero is depressed as the throbbing cut over his eyebrow still bleeding which means the probable end of his boxing career as he lost to cheap shot artist T-Bone's head butt. When he leaves the Southside Boxing Club where he trains, Eddie wants to avoid everyone he knows until he has at least two drinks; one to numb the physical pain; the other the mental. He cuts across a dark alley only to come across two street punks roughing beating up an elderly man. Unable to stay out, Eddie intercedes and prevents Sal Giambroni from receiving a horrific beating.

Sal buys Eddie a drink at the Corner Bar & Grill explaining he is a professional private-investigator. He offers Eddie work and although he thinks snooping is lower than boxing on the employment ethics scale, he needs to eat so he accepts with great reluctance case work with SG Confidential Investigations; his prime tasks being surveillance and occasional muscle. He proves quite good, but soon becomes involved with the cold case disappearance in 1959 of Johnny Pope, lead singer of the Excels over the concern of Sal. As he remains their biggest fan, Eddie meets group member and Johnny's sister Valerie and investigates what happened to the lead singer of the Excels.

THE BLUE DOOR is an exciting historical private investigative tale. Eddie is terrific as he holds the story line together; his hunk lit asides add depth to 1962 when Bandstand ruled Rock and Roll. Readers will enjoy Eddie working the case, but it is the underbelly of the short-lived Camelot era that comes to vivid life that makes this a strong Philadelphia Noir.

Murder in the Rue de Paradis
Cara Black
9781569474747 $24.00

In 1995 Paris remains shell-shocked from the recent bombings at the St.-Michel Metro. In that milieu of distrust, private investigator Aimee Leduc is elated to see her former boyfriend, investigative journalist Yves Robert. They share an incredible evening together topped off by his proposal, which she accepts.

The next morning the Paris police call Aimee to come to the city morgue in order to affirm the corpse is her fiance of not even one day. Stunned and unable to let it go especially since the official police report is more interested in remaining politically correct preferring to blame an unknown male prostitute during these harrowing times rather than solving a murder, Aimee investigates. She believes that Yves was working undercover and with her partner Rene Friant make inquiries that tie Yves' last assignment to bitter enemies Turkey and its Kurdish populace.

As always with an Aimee Leduc French mystery (see MURDER ON THE ILE SAINT-LOUIS), readers obtain a tour of Paris that the government and the tourist bureaus prefer to hide. The current case is very personal as Aimee and Rene follow clues that bring Paris to life. Readers will appreciate her obsessive need to know answers to whom and why as the MURDER IN THE RUE DE PARADIS is another outstanding French private investigative thriller.

You Had Me at Good-bye
Tracey Bateman
Faith Words (Hachette)
9780446698948 $13.99

After nine years at Lane Publishing, Dancy Ames knows she has the ceiling unless someone leaves. However, her bitterness is not the lack of opportunities, it is that her dream job of senior editor had been opened, but management ignored her and selected the Brit Jack Quinn, who assigns her with the 3 revolting Cs: copy, coffee, and clean as he assumes she is just his best friend Kale's pathetic little sister. Soon after he takes over she is canned as her copies are late; her coffee cold; and her cleaning the latrine (custodial strike - this is NYC) stinks.

Her two best friends Tabby and Laini encourage Dancy to write a book and send to Jack to be published by him. Dancy loves the idea as she fails at new employment. Her concept is a romance between a shark of an editor with a caffeine tooth and a coffee barista. Using an alias she sends her proposal to Jack, who don't know Dancy as he loves her concept of a Fifth Avenue Princess. Now all she has to do is write a book, but did not expect to fall in love nor trust her beloved as those you love always fail you even God and dads.

The cast is incredibly strong as each of the key players seems genuine especially how they react to a perceived crisis; for instance Dancy expects Jack to fail her so she insures he does whereas Lainie hides in the kitchen cooking and Jack drinks more coffee. Readers will enjoy this inspirational romance as Dancy learns why she distrusts those she loves while Jack's metamorphosis is more mundane as he finally understands that his beloved is not kid sister, but a woman he desires with all his heart. Tracey Bateman provides a fine tale, but to learn what happens to the Fifth Avenue Princess read the book.

Hope Tarr
9781933836171 $7.95

As an impoverished child, Patrick "Rourke” O'Rourke successfully picked pockets until he was caught in 1875 by his latest intended target, Prime Minister Gladstone. At Rourke's trial the PM arranged for the lad to be given over to him for custody. He sent Rourke to Roxbury House, a Quaker orphanage in which Gladstone serves on the Board of Directors.

Katherine's father was a drunken gambler, but she did not know how bad his vices were until she turned eleven years old. He used her pony Princess as a stake; so that she lost her precious last gift her late mother gave her before dying. Over the next decade and a half Katherine raised and spoiled her younger sister Bea selling herself as a model for pictures to bring in food money for them. No one cares for Kate until in 1890 she meets Rourke.

The third "The Men of Roxbury House” tale (see ENSLAVED and VANQUISHED) is a terrific historical romance that returns the stars of the previous novels in support roles. However the story line belongs to the lead couple who share in common two feelings: love and a belief they are undeserving of love. Readers will appreciate UNTAMED a fine entry in a strong Victorian series.

Tomorrow's World
Davie Harrison

9781933836355 $15.95

The environmental disasters of the past century have taken their toll on the earth. However as a byproduct of the toxic wasteland, everyone lives in a computer controlled orb making the various hates like racism, religion, sexual preference obsolete. However, a new kind of bias has occurred between the "Name” natural born and the "Number” engineered lab rats.

Logipol policy is to assign a Name and Number as a police team to maximize the skills of both as the Name brings passion and dreams to a case while the Numbers bring superior mental and physical attributes. The brass assign "Name” cop Ben Travis and his partner "Number” cop Perfect Paula to investigate the death of Name plant dealer Douglas MacDougall. Paula believes he died from a self-induced drug overdose, more likely suicide than accident; Ben thinks otherwise as his gut screams homicide made to look like a suicide. The Name and the Number follow the clues trying to resolve their difference re the death of a Name.

Extrapolating the environmental trends of today into the next century Davie Henderson paints a dismal picture of a dying globe in this interesting science fiction police procedural. The story line is at its best when the Name and the Number argue the case; when the plot turns to the past global environmental disaster and its consequences, it loses steam as that feels more like a preacher shouting brimstone. Still this is a fine start of what looks like a solid twenty-second cop series in which hopefully Mr. Henderson explores the newest form of prejudice by looking into the relationship between the two cops.

Light Fell
Evan Fallenberg
9781569474679 $22.00

In 1996 in Tel Aviv, literature professor Joseph Licht hopes to reconnect with his five adult sons as he desperately needs their forgiveness. Twenty years ago he deserted them and their mother when he realized he loved married male Rabbi Yoel Rosenzweig; Joseph was unaware that he was gay until that moment, but soon after he and his rabbi began their affair until a guilt wracked Yoel killed himself. Stunned by his loss, a grieving Joseph ended his marriage to Rebecca and his relationship with their five offspring. He also no longer practiced Judaism after three decades as an Orthodox Jew. Now he invites his children to join him on his fiftieth birthday although he is unsure they will come for each of them has major emotional problems that he knows he caused by what he did to them two decades ago when they were young.

Readers will feel empathy towards the five sons although their range of issues seems to run the gamut. Life in many aspects of Israel comes across very deep as the audience is taken to locales where the Licht family live to include the Negev, the university, the kibbutz and a small gay enclave. Although the look back to the Joseph-Yoel tryst is seen through a fond schmaltzy nostalgic lens even by the sons rather than a nuke that destroyed two families, readers will enjoy this deep family drama of a disdained patriarch trying to reconnect with the now adult children he deserted.

Blood of the Wicked
Leighton Gage
9781569474709 $24.00

In a classic sh*t rolls down hill, the Pope calls the Brazilian president twice; in turn the president pressures the Director of the Brazilian Federal Police Nelson Sampaio to resolve the matter ASAP; in turn Nelson orders Chief Inspector Mario Silva to uncover the identity of the person who assassinated Bishop Dom Felipe Antunes at a church mass in front of a crowd at Cascatas. Mario understands he is to drop everything else and personally handle the investigation in the remote town and capture the felon yesterday.

Silva travels immediately to Cascatas only to find angry townsfolk as the affluent landowners and the reform minded Landless Workers' League are in a brawl over sharing the wealth. Each side's leaders demand Silva investigates a local case that has raised tensions to a point that hostilities seem imminent if he wants any cooperation on the Bishop homicide. The son of a local landowner, Orlando Muniz Junior vanished without a trace. His father and his allies believe the league abducted and probably killed him. The League believes the lad is on holiday.

Silva is a fascinating character as he has enough personal issues and a difficult case without getting involved in the local tsunami, but cannot keep out of it as more kidnappings and murders occur. He makes little progress on either investigation and what he does learn like the church is involved in protecting its own when pedophile accusations surface make him wonder if the Bishop's death is related. Although extremely violent as the title is not false advertising, fans who have a strong stomach for gore will enjoy this Brazilian police procedural.

Sticky Fingers
Morgan Hunt
9781593500030 $14.95

In San Diego Tess Camillo is taken aback to find a rattlesnake in her bedroom. Animal control takes the snake away without Tess or her roommate Lana getting hurt. The police do a cursory inquiry, but conclude the incident was not deliberate.

Not long after her serpentine encounter, Tess meets Darlene Nealson in the lesbian community. They swap reptile stories, as Darlene explains that a rattler killer her lover Belle in their home. Uncomfortable with the police explanations of her incident even before Darlene's revelation, Tess makes inquires trying to find a link between her and Belle beyond just being lesbians although she has not written off hate crimes.

This is a terrific amateur sleuth tale as Tess learns first hand about snakes not in a plane but seemingly everywhere else she goes. Tess makes the tale work as she also struggles with breast cancer, but that only strengthens her resolve to find the snake trying to kill her. Readers will root for this middle aged woman who strengthens her resolve to find the snake trying to kill her. Readers will adore this middle aged "Criminitlies" woman whose noble significant other of the moment is her Welsh terrier, Raj.

Murder in the Rue Chartres
Greg Herron
9781555839666 $14.95

Private Investigator Chanse MacLeod has finally gone home to his beloved New Orleans, but though he has seen the news clips as the mass destruction of Katrina, he is still stunned with what happened to the city. Not long after returning he learns that his last client Iris Verlaine before the Hurricane was murdered on the same night she had hired him.

Chanse feels obligated to accomplish Iris' assignment to find her long time missing father. He also feels obsessed to find out who killed Iris. However, not only is the city different; his late client's family oozes charm that makes the detective feel welcome and therefore wary.

Chanse is terrific as he sees the horror of Katrina in many ways while traveling the city. Little thinks like street signs and known landmarks are gone. The two mysteries are cleverly designed to bring out post Katrina New Orleans in a way few tales have been bale to do. To fully comprehend Chanse's shock compare MURDER IN THE RUE CHARTRES to his previous Big Easy cases (see MURDER IN THE RUE DAUPHINE and MURDER IN THE RUE ST. ANN).

The Platypus Ploy
Claire McNab
9781593500269 $13.95

Formerly from the Outback Kylie Kendell moved to Los Angeles and became a private investigator. She and her lover Ariana Creeling are into a long term exclusive commitment. However, as Kylie still struggles with Americanization she learns what a "kunahura" is when she thinks how good her life is with Ariana. Soon afterward, Ariana vanishes with no sign of an intruder at their house, no hint of violence; just poof; Kylie knows she jinxed their relationship when she thought how good it is.

Despondent Kylie decides to try to follow the trail of her significant other. The few clues she has lead to Clarice Turner Evenstar Home for elderly show business stars. To get inside, Kylie becomes a volunteer at the Home, but soon realizes that the residents are not going gently into the night. She follows other clues that lead her to a prime suspect, but not to her beloved Ariana.

The latest Kylie investigative thriller (see DINGO DILEMMA) is a wonderful mystery as THE PLATYPUS PLOY is personal with the heroine's lesbian partner going missing. The story line is fast-paced as Kylie follows the clues, but also loaded with angst as she worries she will be too late to find her lover and feels illogically guilt for thinking how good the relationship is. Readers will appreciate Claire McNab's delightful tale of the missing mate.

The Escapement
K.J. Parker
9780316003407 $12.99

Former guild military engineer Ziani Vaatzes once cherished his country the superpower Mezentine Republic. However, he understood the flaws in the military-guild-aristocratic complex that ruled the region making the neighboring Vadani and Eremians angry; the Empire used these nations as subordinate states to maintain their superiority. Ziani committed the worst transgression against the Guild and country when he tried to improve on the "perfect” economic model of suppression and was sentenced for innovative efficiencies crimes. He turned traitor selling military-industrial war machines. Many have since died, but Ziani remains obstinate even if it means the destruction of Civitas Vadanis with over a million people residing in it; but he also fears his barbarian allies will fail him.

Mezentine Republic leader Secretary Psellus is stunned by recent events as his country's enemies have proven formidable in spite of massive slaughters of the civilian populace of his neighbors, as the insurgency remains strong against the occupation. He fears the ancient texts that guide him is failing as the Vadani and Eremians seem united in a common cause engineered by Vaatzes into an army of eight hundred thousand savages. Many innocent will die for either a belief system or for someone else's personal gain.

The third book in The Engineer Trilogy (see DEVICES AND DESIRES and EVIL FOR EVIL) is a fascinating look at power; those who have it want more at any cost. The Republic has economic and military power over the region with their premise that savages are expendable in support of the status quo. Ziani remains narrowly obsessed as he comprehends his actions will leave thousands maybe millions dead; Psellus who has doubts is almost as narrow-minded and steadfastly stays the course. Other irresponsible leaders cloaking their motives behind the common good of security willingly send troops to die for a personal cause. Although at times the details are so explicit slows down the story line, readers will appreciate this strong look at the convergence of war, politics and economics.

To Hell and Back
Lilith Saintcrow
9780316001779 $6.99

When Lucifer captured half-demon and powerful necromancer Dante Valentine he did all sorts torturous things to her before dispatching her back to the mortal world to live or die as the god's will. At first Dante remembers nothing about her time in Hell, but gradually begins to recall enough to be afraid and hide under her bed. Her demon lover Japhrimel finds her; asks what Lucifer did to her but she is too traumatized to tell him. Japh vows vengeance on the Lord he once served.

Japh is now one of the Fallen although he tricked Lucifer into returning to him to his Greater Flight Powers. Japh fails to confide in Dante, but takes her to another demon who removes what Lucifer placed in her belly, a worm that tied her to him and through her Japh would be bound too. They recover half of the blade of Fudsham, a blade that could kill a demon including Lucifer. The other half is in a place Dante won't go so while Japh goes to recover it, she tries to stay alive from all the factions that want her dead

This is the final book in the Dante Valentine saga and it answers all the key questions followers have had from the previous tales while tying up the major threads. Japh is beginning to be more confident in his feelings and trusts that Dante loves him like he does her. Dante is unsure of whether to trust Japh as he spins plot after plot, but she knows she loves him. TO HELL AND BACK is literal and allegorical and a magnificent enthralling urban fantasy.

Spy Game
Sue Swift
Five Star
9781594146589 $25.95

A decade ago the parents of half-French, half-Algerian Ani Sharif were murdered while attended a girls' school in Algiers. Wanting to enact vengeance, but not knowing how, she obtains undercover work for the United States Security Agency, who knows her background makes her perfect for the SPY GAME.

Ani is initially assigned low skill non classified office work until now. Her first field assignment is to learn who is betraying the country by selling Department of Defense cyber secrets to foreign agents. Her superiors have firm evidence that the traitor works for defense contractor Rexford Inc. in Silicon Valley with the prime suspect being Richard "Baby Rex” Rexford. Ani obtains a programming position at Rexford and begins her efforts to hack into Richard's laptop where the proof is expected to be found. However, she finds much more as she falls in love with the man she believes is committing seditious and potentially deadly acts against the United States.

This is an entertaining espionage romantic suspense in which the cyber crime brings freshness to the plot. Ani is terrific as she wonders whether she could have fallen in love with a traitor as all the evidence points towards Richard as the seller of DOD secrets. Swift pacing and starring two strong lead characters, SPY GAME is a fun enjoyable thriller.

Leading Lady
Heywood Gould
Five Star
9781594146480 $25.95

Thieves Jerry Lang and Gloria Pavlich are doing one last caper before retiring. They are to steal a five million dollar painting "Self Portrait” by Isaac Leviathan from a private collector; then they will give it to their fence Albanian expatriate Hanif "Mittens” Gallega who will sell it. They succeed in taking the painting, but when they get to their hotel, thugs greet them. In the melee that follows, Jerry shoots one of his assailants, but watches his beloved leading lady vanish. He later learns he killed a cop and is convicted of such.

In prison, Jerry escapes four assassination attempts. His last one has him sharing a hospital room with a corpse that he uses to escape his incarceration. He is coming for Hanif while remaining unaware someone has assigned Delta Force Domestic Major Cliff Hartung to insure he does not get close to one of his agency's "toys”. At the Casbah, Jerry meets college student dancer Letitia Hudson, who gets caught in the middle of a local war.

This exhilarating crime caper is not for the cozy crowd as Jerry, feeling guilt for accepting one last job over Gloria's objection, proves quite efficient in dispatching enemies in a violent manner. The story line is fast-paced as Letitia becomes Jerry's new LEADING LADY and Hanif his crash dummy. Although how Hartung and his two deadly soldiers fit into the plot comes very late with quite a revelation, readers will appreciate Heywood Gould's wild Noir.

The Whiskey Killing
H.R. Williams
Five Star
9781594146626 $25.95

After midnight in Medford, Arkansas, a man carrying a 22 caliber rifle walks up to liquor store owner seventy two year old Edwin Mayhew and fires four point blank range shots into his chest. Before leaving Mayhew's front yard, the killer pours whiskey onto his face. The victim's older sister Lavonnie sees his corpse and calls the cops.

Medford Police Department CID Captain Billy Walker leads the murder investigation assisted by CID 2 Sergeant Cordelia Hull and CID 3 Bob Claggert. The obvious suspects are those with an interest in the town's gambling as Mayhew was heavily involved with that. Billy and Cordelia start with Hawaiian Nightclub owner Earl "Uh Oh” Gilby who provides him three sharks wanting the action. However, the case meanders much more than just who will run the illegal gambling business as others die too; Billy works hard to eliminate the obvious until he realizes the killer waits for him.

Billy makes this police procedural so much fun to follow as he methodically seeks clues while training Cordelia; the latter enables the audience to better understand the logic CID 1 applies to the homicide. Filled with twists that occur just when it seems case solved, sub-genre fans will appreciate THE WHISKEY KILLING even if Billy never received admin time for justifiably killing crazy dangerous Eddie Partee.

Dark Horse
Mike Langan
Five Star
9781594146640 $25.95

In Syracuse, New York personal injury lawyer Nicky Rigopoulos wants no problem cases interfering with his efforts to become a judge; thus he settles for less than his clients deserve when even his partner Lottie Magnarella argues with him that he behaves unethically. Although married to the trophy wife that a hot shot attorney wannabe judge needs, Nicky is a first class womanizer to include at one time Lottie. His spouse knows what he is and does not mind as long as he keeps her in a luxurious lifestyle as she is a man-eater.

Nicky's chances of landing on the bench sink totally when Lottie is found dead; he is the prime suspect as just a few hours earlier they had a public brouhaha over his settling a case for her. Not trusting cops or lawyers as he knows both groups too well, Nicky investigates only to have the police believe he also killed his spouse and one of his lovers.

Once you get past the amateur sleuth paradox compounded in this case by the protagonist having strong connections and money, DARK LADY is a terrific whodunit. The story line is fast-paced as Nicky struggles to stay one step ahead of the police while feeling one step behind the culprit. Adding to the fun is that the lead character is the epitome of sleazy lawyer so that readers have mixed feelings as he deserves the worse though he is innocent.

Train to Yesterday
Nell DuVall
Five Star
9781594146633 $25.95

Railroad heiress Penny Barton works as the marketing director of Ohio-based HyperTrans. Penny arranges a special promo of the firm's product safe high-speed rail. A set is made to look like it is 1855 and Penny rides a mid nineteenth century steam engine train through a tunnel. She meets Fletcher Dawe, whom she assumes is a reenactment actor.

Penny and Fletcher are attracted to one another but he assumes she is a lying saboteur as no one knows Penny. She in turn cannot find him until she sees the photo circa 1855. She further learns how her family earned their fortune, that Fletcher was a merchant who invested in high-speed rail; and the tragic death of canal lockmaster Dan Hudson. When Penny faints, she awakens in 1855 to a world in which the transportation industry violently competes between those who support the railroads and those who back the flatboats sailing the Ohio canals.

This an interesting time travel romance with a vivid look at 1855 through the eyes of the twenty-first century heroine at how her family made their money. Although Penny adapts too easily and the romance between her and Fletcher takes a back seat to historical panorama of pre Civil War Ohio, sub-genre fans will enjoy buy a ticket to rid the TRAIN TO YESTERDAY.

A Version of the Truth
Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack
9780385340199 $24.00

The world is over for thirty years old Cassie Shaw as her husband dies. His no longer living is not the high school drop out's problem as he was an idiot. Instead he left her with a debt that she cannot pay off and probably never could pay off as she has no skills, no education, no resume, and her only positive is dyslexia.

Needing work, she lies on a job application to obtain a position as a junior office assistant at a nearby university. Her boss is Professor William Conner, an expert on animal behavior, a topic that Cassie is conformable with. He encourages her to learn and she is motivated to do so as she always loved nature. However, as Cassie and William begin to act on their mutual attraction especially on site visits in Topanga Canyon, her mendacity to cover up her previous fibs grows until she knows he will soon see through her web of deceit.

This sequel to LITERACY AND LONGING IN L.A. provides a nod to politicians as it is the cover-up that gets you and pays strong homage to Thoreau with the musing on nature. The story line is fun to follow as Cassie just gets in deeper with each new lie hiding the previous ones. Trying to keep track of what she said needs a database. Fans will enjoy following Cassie's truism as she provides loosely speaking A VERSION OF THE TRUTH embellished with fabrication; obviously training for applying for a coaching job or head of a federal regulatory agency.

The Night Following
Morag Joss
9780385341189 $22.00

The woman is stunned to learn her spouse the handsome doctor is having affair. Distracted as she drives a winding back road, she fails to notice the woman on a bike in front of her as she comes out of a turn. The driver hits sexagenarian Ruth Mitchell, but instead of stopping, she drives away.

The police fail to find the culprit who murdered Ruth in a hit and run vehicular homicide. However, the driver knows what she did and how she fled the scene. She feels haunted by her action and guilty by her reaction. She begins to watch the victim's husband Arthur from a distance. His raw grief rips her stomach further as he no longer cares about himself or anyone else. He cannot sleep as the nightmares wake him and he cannot take care of his home or himself. She serendipitously enters his home cleaning it. She becomes more brazen as she meets Arthur in person demanding he clean up his act, which he does as he believes a miracle has occurred; his Ruth has returned to him.

Two marriages were shattered with that car accident, but it is the aftermath that digs incredibly deep into the convoluted human condition that makes for a haunting complex psychological thriller. Arthur and Ruth seem real as they react shockingly similar to what connects them, the death of his spouse by her. Yet that almost identical response feels genuine and makes for a powerful saga of loss, deception, and redemption.

The Sweet Far Thing
Libba Bray
9780385730303 $17.99

A year has passed since Gemma Doyle was packed off to attend Spence Academy with plenty of other changes in her life. Some of what has occurred is personal starting with her mom's death and her father's addiction; others are paranormal starting with her ability to travel to the Realms and return with magic.

However, as the Victorian world is bombarded with change especially from across the Channel, Gemma remains an outsider in London. Apparently that which makes her the High Priestess in the Realms also makes her inappropriate for Polite Society. She rejects the constraints on females over the discipline from the martinet headmistress of Spence Mrs. Nightwing as she has had a taste of freedom and leadership in the other Realms. Yet she even considers corseting herself if she could land the hunk Kartik. Life as a teen in London is confusing; life as a High priestess in the realms is deadly.

Though somewhat overwhelming in its size and scope (so were the other tales), the final tale in the coming of age Gemma Doyle trilogy THE SWEET FAR THING is a terrific entry that ties up a zillion dangling subplots from the previous two stories (see REBEL ANGELS and A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY). Thus it behooves the young adult audience to read those books first to gain the full flavor of this paranormal historical saga. Gemma has come a long way baby in both worlds, but feels societal restraints in turn of the century Victorian England and the weight of responsibility in the Realms. With interesting historical tidbits to anchor the era, Libba Bray provides a strong finish to an interesting saga.

The Anatomy of Deception
Lawrence Goldstone
9780385341349 $24.00

In 1889 at the University Of Pennsylvania Medical School, chief of clinical medicine Dr. William Osler glances at the corpse of a beautiful woman in the Dead House, but decides no autopsy is necessary. His young students and subordinates are stunned by Osler's decision.

Not long afterward one of the shocked physicians Dr. George Turk dies from what looks like cholera. Osler sanctions an autopsy that reveals the late doctor's body had traces of arsenic. Another doctor training under the great Osler, Dr. Ephraim Carroll believes George and the Jane Doe were murdered. Disobeying his superior, Ephraim investigates the deaths and bounces between Philadelphia's debauched upper crust and the deviant decadent waterfront alienating the medical establishment every step of the way.

This is a terrific medical historical thriller that is anchored by the real persona of Dr. Osler and a document he wrote and had sealed for fifty years. The story line is fast-paced but belongs to the naive hero who believes medicine should use all tools including the only recently legalized autopsy. He is counterbalanced by the experienced pragmatic Osler, who wisely understands that medicine needs to judiciously use new legal techniques to avoid a backlash of indignation leading to losing their authority. The investigation is cleverly handled, but Lawrence Goldstone's superb thriller belongs to his physician cast.

Deep Magic
Joy Nash
Love Spell
9780505527165 $6.99

The magically supported mists have kept Avalon safe from the mighty Roman legions. However, the Romans have at least one mage amongst its army who is beginning to open a pathway through the mists. If he succeeds, the Romans will overwhelm Avalon like it has everywhere else; Britannia will become another Gaul.

Daughter of the Lady, the powerful mage Gwendolyn knows the enemy is coming as the mists that protect her people and land slowly dissipate. She shapeshifts into a wolf to observe who the enemy magician is that threatens her people. However Gwen is forced to flee to buy time; she finds shelter off island with her friend Marcus, who following her visions forges a great sword Excalibur. At the same time the attraction between them ignites into a deep love, but both knows saving Avalon comes first.

Returning to the Ancient Druid Britannia of THE GRAIL KING, Joy Nash provides a fantastic romantic fantasy. The lead couple seems genuine and makes a nice pairing while the Roman advances anchor the time and place with a key realism. Whereas sub-genre fans will believe in Druidic magic as the mists clear, it is the romance that proves to be the DEEP MAGIC of an entertaining story.

The Ravening
Dawn Thompson
Love Spell
9780505527271 $6.99

After years away, Brotherhood warrior Milosh returns to the Hyde-White family manor in Cumberland, England to complete his long term quest of killing the lord of the evil vampires Sebastian. He is stunned with what he sees as the house is a ruin obviously destroyed by fire and his friends like Joss are gone. However, most shocking is the Gypsy living amidst the wreckage.

He demands Paloma explain why she hides in this cold dump. She tells him she took refuge in this forbidden place that no one visits anymore here praying and waiting in hope that someone would come to teach her the Blood Moon technique so she can control her blood lust thirst. Paloma further explains a shapeshifting vampire bit her. Milosh is further stunned as he realizes he wants Paloma, but must not allow her to become a pawn in his war with Sebastian who he assumes bit her. She makes it even more difficult to resist her when she offers her love, body and soul to him.

Decades since the events of early Victorian THE BROTHERHOOD and even more years since Regency THE BLOOD MOON, the final tale in the Chronicles of the Blood Moon Victorian vampire saga is a superb final confrontation between good and evil. The key to this excellent vampire romantic suspense is how Dawn Thompson keeps the feeling that the bad guy is going to win as the hero is distracted by love. THE RAVENING is vampire historical romantic suspense at its best.

Enchanting The Lady
Kathryne Kennedy
Love Spell
9780505527509 $6.99

In 1882 London, duchess-of-honor Felicity Seymour is worried that she legally will lose her inheritance as she lacks the magical gifts of her parents; Prince Albert's rule states that no magic equates to no duchy. Lion shapeshifter Sir Terence Blackwell enjoys finding ancient relics, but also is a close friend of the Prince, who asked him to participate in the test of Felicity. She ignominiously fails, but Terence feels something was not right as he experiences a trace of relic-magic in use, which makes no sense.

Terence decides to court Felicity somewhat because he is attracted other; somewhat because he feels sorry for her as she is now a pariah like he is as a shapeshifter; and somewhat because what he believes destroyed her test is too similar to what killed his brother. He needs to know whether Felicity is the user or the victim of dark magic. However, Terence never expected to fall in love with her.

ENCHANTING THE LADY is a fantastic late Victorian romantic fantasy that casts a magic spell on the audience from the moment the heroine expects to fail her test and never let's go until the final magical revelation. The story line is fast-paced with an underlying paranormal mystery that enhances the prime romantic plot; the fantasy elements provide a unique look at 1882 England as Kathryne Kennedy provides her readers with a wonderful thriller.

Bedlam, Bath and Beyond
J.D. Warren
Love Spell
9780505526984 $6.99

Although her suburban life with a husband and kids seems perfect Samantha feels something is not quite right. She cannot fathom what is wrong as her spouse is attentive, the kids behave all the time, and their home is the American dream. Thinking hard, Samantha ponders how she ended up where she is as she cannot remember anything before landing in this perfect suburban lifestyle.

Samantha begins to put together what occurred and realizes this perfect life is not hers. Instead she lives in some sort of fabrication with a spouse who is inhuman and their three fiends for kids. With the help of shapeshifter Col she returns to her human existence in Las Vegas although three years have passed since she vanished into the perfect create. Cor promises to keep Sam safe as he and his people search for the malevolent one who did this to her, but she needs to know why her as she seeks vengeance on those who stole three years from her while at the same time those who abducted her seek her and her allies to silence them by returning her to perfect so they can complete their evil quest.

Although a romantic fantasy, BEDLAM, BATH AND BEYOND employs a chick lit style that has the audience at first wondering about Sam's dissatisfaction, but quickly turns into a lighthearted romp. Thus the audience receives a fast-paced thriller with all the elements of a horror tale, but Sam's asides change it into a humorous fantasy frolic. Fans who enjoy something different in design will appreciate this fun thriller as good neighbor Sam wants revenge for three nightmarish family years in the burbs.

Daughter of York
Anna Easter Smith
9780743277310 $16.95

In 1461 fifteen year old Margaret mourns the death of her father who died in combat when the House of Lancaster's forces ambushed his House of York. Also dead is her older brother Edmund. Her oldest brother Edward is now the claimant to the throne instead of the insane king Henry and his French wife Queen Margaret. Not long afterward, word reaches Margaret that Edward won a major victory claiming God on his side.

Margaret tells her two younger brothers (George and Richard) the good news. Edward introduces Margaret to former Lancaster supporter, Anthony Woodville. She is attracted to him, but hides her feelings as he is married. Not long afterward Edward is crowned King when Henry, Margaret and their son flee to Scotland. Over the next two decades Margaret does her royal duty sacrificing much of her happiness as does Richard training to one day be a king but remaining steadfast to his older brother whereas George envies his regal sibling

This is a sweeping saga that brings alive the latter half of the fifteenth century through an ensemble support cast including the major historical figures of the era that were on the European stage. Meg is a strong loyal person with ethics, but it is the historical tidbits that are fascinating and make the two plus decades come to life. Although at times the story line slows down in order to account for the major events between 1461 and 1480, historical fans will appreciate the deep look at England through mostly the eyes of THE DAUGHTER OF YORK.

Not Quite a Mom
Kirsten Sawyer
9780758216649 $12.95

After seeing each other for over seven years the itch struck wealthy Beverly Hills resident Daniel McCafferty so he proposes to his euphoric thirty-two years old girlfriend Elizabeth Castle; the tabloid TV fact checker naturally accepts his proposal as her life goal is to marry Daniel. Once back in her roommate-less Los Angeles apartment Elizabeth immediately calls her best friend since her UCLA undergraduate days Courtney Cambridge with the news.

However, her call with Courtney is interrupted by Buck Platner, who took Lizzie to the prom and now is a lawyer from her hometown of Victory, California where 70% of the residents are rednecks and the rest hicks. Buck informs her that her best friend Charla Dearbourne Tatham and her husband died when the pickup they drove exploded. She has been left custody of their "pop-baby” fifteen years old Tiffany. Daniel dumps Elizabeth while Buck escorts Tiffany to her guardian. He has never forgotten his date with Lizzie, who he fell in love with and has hoped for a decade for a second date, but knows the teen must come first.

Though there is a serious undertone re Tiffany, NOT QUITE A MOM is an amusing contemporary romance with don't call me Lizzie's asides on life, men, sudden motherhood and best friends discerning yet entertaining. Buck is a great male lead as he fell in love as a football meathead teen and at second sight realizes he still is in love. Both try to do what is right for Tiffany who just lost her parents. As with NOT QUITE A BRIDE, Kirsten Sawyer provides an amusing chick lit tale.

Sin Club
Rachelle Chase
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758216519 $12.95

"Jessie A Sinful Striptease”. Encouraged by Dr. Tommy "Love” Jones on his Wake-Up Bay Area radio show to join his Sin Club by being bold, brave, and brassy, Jessie Anderson heeds his advice. She performs "A Sinful Striptease” in a gazebo for the man she sees in the shadows whom she assumes is her Martin, but instead Nick Ralston comes to full alert when he sees her act.

"Sharice A Sinful Phone Call”. After Dr. Love coaxes her to take a chance, Sharice calls Shawn whom she is satiating over in her wet dreams. However, it is Jamal who answers her call, but stammering fails to correct her as to who he is. He is turned on just from her "Sinful Phone Call”, but fears once they meet he will need cold showers.

"Alyssa A Sinful Proposition”. Heeding Dr. Love's tenet to go out and get it, Alyssa James decides writing about sex in San Francisco in her blog is not the same as doing sex. At her friend's business The Perfect Date Alyssa meets Tony Brooks, owner of several upscale bars, who cannot get past her breasts.

These are three heated erotic romances starring needy females on the prowl thanks to Dr. Love. Each meets the right male in weird situations. Fans will appreciate this fine anthology and demand more visits to the doctor of love.

Tappin' on Thirty
Candice Dow
Kensington Dafina
9780758219374 $14.00

In DC Train Worker's Union lawyer Taylor Jabowski looks back to her freshman year in college when she dumped her once in a lifetime love Scooter Evans so that she could play the field. By Christmas she knew she made a mistake, but Scooter, who cried when she said she wanted more than a long distance relationship at separate colleges, moved on and he and his family rejected her. Now at the high school reunion she hopes to have a second chance with Scooter. Although he tells her he has a new love Akua, a fellow medical student, they make love.

Not long after that, divorced New Yorker Devin Patterson meets Taylor at the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Black Party. They hit if off leaving her confused and he wary as he has not forgotten the lesson of six years ago when he married Jennifer; though good came out of that mistake, his beloved daughter Nicole. As Taylor and Devin fall in love leaving her bewildered as to how she can desire two men, Scooter feels the same way as he loves two women. However, soon there will be a reckoning as Devin and Scooter are close friends having roomed at Princeton together.

Readers need to make a slight adjustment to the rotating first person accounts as Taylor, Scooter, and Devin take turns as to how they feel. Thus the audience receives an entertaining deep African-American contemporary relationship drama that enables a close look into the hearts of the Black professional class through the prime trio and to a lesser degree Akua. Candice Dow provides a Lovin' Spoonful "Did You Ever Have to Make up Your Mind?” relationship drama.

The Black Sheep and the Hidden Beauty
Donna Kauffman
Kensington Brava
9780758217271 $14.00

Although he is regarded as a computer expert that enabled him to come along way from the streets Raphael Santiago knows the Bronx still flows in his blood. When he sees Elena Caulfield, the new manager at Dalton Downs, he feels a deep attraction to this cowgirl, but keeps his distance as he figures she is way above his class.

However, his desire grows stronger while his coolness facade ebbs yet he also feels protective of Elena as he believes she is hiding a secret from everyone. As he finally asks her to teach him to ride a horse and works on learning her secret because he feels she is in trouble, Raphael dreams of giving her special riding lessons.

The Men of Trinity Inc. contemporary romance (see THE BLACK SHEEP AND THE PRINCESS) is an engaging tale as the urban wannabe cowboy (at least since he met her) and the real cowgirl fall in love. The relationship between the lead couple makes for a fun story line as he believes she is hiding something dangerous from him while Elena's affection for horses rings loud and true as she uses them as a shield from Raphael. Fans will enjoy the love between the city streets dude and the horse lady.

One Wicked Night
Noelle Mack
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758217738 $12.95

Before Lord Edward Delamar met Lady Fiona (see the Juicy THREE), he was the toast of London; at least the female side as he was an extraordinary lover. Victorian women cherished him because he cherished them making each one feel she was special. His passionate skills made him the legend of the boudoir.

Edward thinks back fondly to his heated trysts with the married Xaviera, wife of the Spanish ambassador to England. He especially wonders about the latter when portraits of a naked Xaviera are suddenly for sale. The cuckolded husband assumes Edward commissioned the paintings and plans revenge for the ridicule he suffers. Edward wonders who would defile a woman.

The prequel to Mack's Juicy THREE is an exciting Victorian erotica that belies the concept that this was an age of prim and proper decorum. Sex is the name of the game when Lord Edward is at a gala, but his encounters vary from menage a trois to light bondage to blowjobs and much more; he knows how to passionately and compassionately treat a woman. Fans will enjoy spending ONE WICKED NIGHT with the great lover, but make sure your significant other is handy (pun intended).

Just Like Candy
Kimberly Kaye Terry
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758222497 $12.95

Youth center board member Davis Strong knows he must ignore his desires for Candy, but has found it impossible to pay no attention to her. Youth center director Candice Cain knows she must ignore her desires for Strong, but has found it impossible to take no notice of him.

Davis dreams of making love with the woman who infatuates his every thought. Candy dreams of making love with the man who infatuates her every thought. Both wants their hot wet respective fantasies hard rock real, but neither seems able of turning hard core wet dreams into reality. Yet each considers but who will make the first move remains to be seen; for each knows one taste will never be enough.

This relationship drama stars two likeable hesitant protagonists who each fear rejection and even more that the reality will not be as good as the fantasy; that is until the Jacuzzi, which readers will never look at the same way. Fans will need asbestos gloves as this is a scorcher even when the audience just reads the thoughts of Davis and Candy. JUST LIKE CANDY is an equatorial heater as the audience will appreciate the sexual antics of this pair as Nash is right that "candy is dandy”.

Satisfy Me Again
Renee Luke, Sydney Molare and Fiona Zedde
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758221919 $13.95

"Kiss and Tell" by Renee Luke. Football star Malik first saw therapist Callie when he watched her TV show and immediately wanted more from her. They exchanged correspondence and after a year they meet. They quickly fall into a heated romance that drew into a deep love.

"Matinee" by Sydney Molare. Mina is hiding from the mob when she decides to stop running. She buys an old skin flick theater only to find it haunted by ghosts who know how to turn up the sexual heat.

"Going Wild" by Fiona Zedde. Prim and proper attorney Derrick meets sexually party animal Nuria. Although he is seeing someone just like himself in straitlaced Trish, he finds he wants to explore every inch of passionate Nuria instead.

These are three entertaining erotic romances in which the cast goes sexually wild. Sub-genre fans will enjoy the trio of tales even if Malik and Callie behave as real as the ghosts of "Matinee”.

The Murder Game
Beverly Barton
9780821776902 $6.99

Pudge knows the old murder game of hunt and kill is over since his long time companion, cousin, and competitor Pinkie died; one does not just advertise for a cunning sadist to compete in THE MURDER GAME. Thus he has had to start a new contest as the old DYING GAME ended with Pinkie's death. Pudge's new competitor is the victim. He will hunt and stalk them, but give them the opportunity to escape and perhaps even outthink his brilliant sinister mind. However, in the end he will terrorize them before killing them; just ask Kendall Moore when you cross over.

Adding to Pudge's personal entertainment is that part of each hunt includes outwitting private investigator Griffin Powell and FBI agent Nicole Baxter, who joined forces to take down Pinkie. Making them look foolish makes the game fun as he leaves them clues and calls them to insure they play. However, he knows the superbowl contest begins when he stalks Nicole while toying with the psyche of her lover Griff.

Although Pudge seems surreal as he describes the new game and more, readers will enjoy the tense sequel. Nic and indirectly Griff are the ultimate targets not out of vengeance, but because the psychopath assumes they will provide strong competition having taken down Pinkie. The romantic subplot takes somewhat a back seat to the fast-paced cat and mouse game with the betting line on Pudge.

Caro Ramsey
9781933648415 $25.00

Glasgow Detective Chief Investigator Alan McAlpine returns to his police cadet roots in Patrickhill Station to lead the official inquiry into the murders of two women by the serial killer dubbed Crucifixion Killer by the media. Alan avoided the town for two decades ever since he was assigned to keep safe the dying pregnant woman named Anna whose face was erased by acid and no longer could talk. Anna killed herself shortly after giving birth; no one involved in the heinous crime was ever caught, but Alan never forgot the woman he considered his beloved angel.

Still Alan focuses on the current serial killer homicides in an attempt to prevent more gruesome murders from this vicious predator. However, he begins to link the current investigation to the cold case that haunts him. His subordinates Detective Sergeants Anderson and Costello are confused by Alan's actions and directions as he makes a difficult case that much more convoluted because he sees ABSOLUTION as his objective.

Mindful of Ian Rankin's dark Glasgow thrillers, Caro Ramsay provides a strong psychological police procedural that grips readers once Alan begins connecting the past with the present. Readers along with the two DS will wonder whether Alan has gone over the edge or found a real connection; which premise makes this a deep read. Although the climax takes the audience back inside the sub-genre's norm, fans will appreciate the dark background that mirrors Alan's even darker revelations.

Bone Machine
Martyn Waites
9781933648354 $25.95

In Newcastle, the body of the mutilated Ashley Malcolm was found in a burial ground. Her eyes and mouth were sewed shut apparently when she still lived and cuts are all over her body. DS Turnbull and DI Nattrass believe her boyfriend Michael Nell killed her, as he has a history of violence against women. Janine Stewart thinks otherwise although she knows her client is a flash tempered lout. She refuses to believe he would perform a ritual killing; if Michael murdered his girlfriend she would be battered not stitched. Michael also claims an alibi.

Janine hires Joe Donovan to affirm Michael's alibi. The case seems simple to Joe until he and his team start tracking the alibi. This leads them to an evil world where vicious thugs run a child-trafficking ring and a prostitution ring with kids as the merchandise. Shook to his core, Joe still wonders what happened to his six-year-old son who vanished three years ago and could have been for sale by these punks. Soon a second death occurs as the serial killing Historian taunts the cops with clues from the city's heritage.

Though the culprit comes out of serial killer casting, BONE MACHINE is a tense gritty Noir that deeply explores human trafficking to the point that the hero and the Historian are left out much of the first half of tale. Readers who appreciate an extremely dark crime thriller that looks at the evil people do to those vulnerable is interred in their bone marrow will want to read the BONE MACHINE and other Donavan thrillers like MERCY SEAT, not reviewed by me.

Oscar Season
Mary McNamara
Simon & Schuster
9781416539919 $24.00

As always when the countdown to the Academy Awards gala begins, much of Los Angeles is caught up with the glitz, but many prepare for the event. For instance the ritzy Pinnacle Hotel Director of Public Relations Juliette Greyson knows how important the Oscar month is to her hotel and works accordingly expecting zaniness as the norm as she hosts the Oscar Season Summit and explains the Oscar Might Survivor Kit excludes cyanide to the employees.

However, this season is different as the "Oscar Curse” seems to be haunting the participants. British actor David Fulbright is shot dead in the hotel's pool. A reporter covering the event, a starlet nominated for best actress, and a screenwriter also nominated were murdered. For Juliette the curse would be curious but no more than that except for Fulbright's death that seems connected to her outside the hotel; however the third victim is more linked to Juliette as he is her former husband Josh Singer. She and superstar Michael O'Connor investigate the "Oscar curse” although she worries how their amateur sleuthing will harm her beloved battling cancer.

Jackie Collins's fans will enjoy this up front and personal look at the Oscar persona filled with egomaniacs who would do anything to get the edge including killing the competition. The investigation is fun but more so because it enables the audience to see deep into the lives of Hollywood much further than the Rivers' duet ever escorted fans. Not for murder mystery purists, OSCAR SEASON is a fun astute glimpse into Oscar Nation.

The Blackburn and Scarletti Mysteries II
Karen Koehler
Black Death
KHP Industries
PO Box 558, Effort, PA. 18330
9780979988103 $14.99

"Legion”. January Blackburn is a ghoul made that way by the vampire the Jackal whose acolyte is Father Dorien Scarletti a dhampire. Her FBI boss asks Blackburn to go to New Orleans to investigate what looks like otherworldly activities. Fairy Boudreau was last seen by the priest of St. Catherine's Cathedral floating in the air. The priest spoke in a strange language to the police officer called to the scene, but the cop vanished. Blackburn and Scarletti find him and he collapses into the arms of the dhampire. Something evil enters Scarletti and no one knows how to exorcise it, which means certain death for the host.

"The Phantom of the Soap Opera”. Scarletti has spent months in the Vatican Gardens when he receives a call from soap opera star Canary in the States. Someone or something otherworldly is causing accidents on the set and if it continues the show will close. Scarletti calls his partner Blackburn; they meet up in Los Angeles where lethal scorpions not native to the area appear on both of them. A pack of Dobermans run amok on the set injuring people and causing much damage. When Scarletti contacts his superiors in Rome, he learns from them that a witch might be on the set. Now they need to find out who and why and especially how a ghoul and dhampire fit in the picture.

Karen Koehler always provides great horror tales as these two mystery novellas affirm. Her protagonists are flawed especially mentally as each has a ton of emotional issues, but they are tough fighters and make an excellent team always there for one another. Both tales are thrilling frightening chillers filled with action and a strong support cast, who make the paranormal, seem normal. Ms. Koehler has a fantastic knack for creating sympathetic monsters and vile villains.

The Skull
S.D. Tooley
Full Moon Publishing
P.O. Box 408, Schererville, IN 46375
9780978540234 $26.00

Thirteen year old Remy Bauer is a highly intelligent teen who lives with her single mom and her paternal grandmother while her absentee dad travels the world gambling just like his late father did. Remy enjoys her lifestyle as the other females in the household encourage her to be all she can be. She especially enjoys forensics.

At the Sycamore Mansion estate sale, Remy buys a monkey's skull with plans to construct the animal. She asks Rob "Roadkill” Haislett who photographs dead animals and orphaned Andy the runaway to help her learn how the animal died. As they become friends, they obtain summer work at Sycamore Mansion. This enables them to seek clues to the monkey's death. However, instead of learning that, Rob proves the skull belonged to a newborn human. The three young teens tries to learn what happened and when, but someone has other ideas as to what to do with three nosy thirteen years old youngsters

This excellent young adult forensics mystery is fast-paced yet provides a discerning look at social issues facing tweeners such as peer pressure, youth gangs, and abandonment. The three amigos are unique eccentric protagonists who make this a fun amateur sleuth for readers of all ages.

Distant Heart
Tracey Bateman
9780061246340 $12.95

In 1850 former prostitute Toni Rodden and the three runaway indentured servants the Caldwell siblings (Fannie, and young teens Katie and Kip) flee Hawkins, Kansas to forge into a family of sorts as part of a wagon train traveling to Oregon. However although Toni feels good for Fannie as the latter marries wagon master Blake Tanner, she feels loneliness also. Toni knows no man will ever want her beyond a night or two because of her background until the Cheyenne war chief offers three horses for her.

Wagon train scout Sam Two-Feathers vows to himself that he will protect Toni with his life before allowing her to be sold again. He knows the war chief will be back offering more to purchase Toni and fears some of the train will want to do so as she is a fallen woman and not worth the price of angering the Cheyenne. However, although Sam knows he loves Toni, he believes as a half Sioux, they cannot be together as white society will ostracize her; Toni likewise feels the same except she fails to meet his much higher standard.

The second Westward Hearts tale (see DEFIANT HEART) is a terrific western romance starring fully developed characters who bring to life the dangerous decade before the Civil War while heading westward. The story line is inspirational yet filled with so much historical insight fans will feel they are traveling on the wagon train as Tracey Bateman provides a vivid exhilarating mid nineteenth century Americana tale.

Choosing Sophie
Leslie Carroll
9780060871376 $13.95

Estranged from her wealthy father August deMarley for over two decades former burlesque dancer and club manager Venus learns he died by reading it in the Aspen newspaper. She informs her fiance Tom Elliot she is going to New York for the funeral, but he need not come.

In New York, August's attorney Cap Gaines explains that Livy as she is called by family since her name is Olivia inherits the minor league baseball team the Bronx Cheers who play their home games on City Island. However, August "deMiser” as his daughter knew him left a stipulation that she complete the circle; no one knows what he meant though Cap has an idea. The second stunner is a college age female almost her over six foot height who is at the reading. Cap introduces Livy to her daughter Sophie, whom she gave up for adoption twenty years ago. As biological mother and daughter try to forge a relationship, Livy hides her insecurities re Sophie, Tom and the team behind her towering height as she runs the Bronx Cheers hoping to make the playoffs for the first time; something dad never saw.

This entertaining relationship drama is a fabulous look at teaming in sports and in the "adoption triad”. Readers will enjoy watching Livy and Sophie struggle with bonding while her adoptive parents reluctantly but lovingly encourage them. Although Brooklyn, home to the minor league Cyclones seems a better choice of location as the Bronx has the Yankees, fans of an extended family drama will appreciate observing whether Livy hits a home run with her daughter, her team, and her fiance or strikes out.

The Night Before the Wedding
Debra Mullins
9780060799311 $5.99

In spite of her money, wealthy heiress Catherine Depford knows her husband choices are somewhat limited in her first season in London due to her parentage. Her father is a merchant and her mother is crazy a victim of the ancient cost of a broken vow that demands each generation a MacBraeden chief marry a Farlan or else; her mom chose the doom of love. Still she figures with all that money behind her Catherine should have some choices amidst the poorer segment of the aristocracy.

With famine threatening his people and that of his neighbor, Scottish Laird Gabriel MacBraeden, not wanting to risk further blight nor the wrath of those who believe in the broken vow, comes to England to marry Catherine. However her father, who blames his wife's insanity on the MacBraeden clan, refuses to allow Gabriel to court his daughter. Gabriel ignores her father and abducts the woman he intends to make his bride. Neither he nor Catherine expected a love match would forge between them; yet both also expect the marriage to fail.

This is an entertaining historical romance with a hint of the paranormal that serves as a catalyst for the two lead characters to meet. Gabriel is a strong leader who knows the end does not justify the means but his people's welfare comes first so kidnaps the one woman who can silence the whispers. Catherine is his equal as she refuses to go meekly into the night until she comprehends his people need her. However, it is Catherine's father who steals the show as he fears his daughter will go the way of her mother and lose her mind; he does everything he can to keep her safe and his guilt when he fails is palpable Debra Mullins is at her best with the powerful THE NIGHT BEFORE THE WEDDING.

Vampires Are Forever
Lynsay Sands
9780061229695 $6.99

Brothers Etienne and Bastien Argeneau worry about their missing mom Marguerite and her sleuthing partner Tiny who vanished in England while on a case to uncover the biological mother of a client. Bastien, the powerful CEO of Argeneau Enterprises, sends their cousin Thomas, who was raised by Aunt Marguerite, to investigate why she stopped contacting them and failed to return for the birth of her grandchild.

Bastien also sends his best London employee Inez Urso to assist Thomas. Meanwhile he calls his friend techie Herbert Langford who can pinpoint where a cell phone is once the device is activated. Herb tells Thomas his aunt is in Amsterdam. Bastien tells him there is no time to send him blood if he leaving immediately so he needs to bite Inez and then wipe out her memory. Reluctantly he agrees; he kisses her and bites her, but his effort to wipe out her memory fails. She locks herself in the bathroom while Bastien informs him that a vampire cannot erase the memory of a human lifemate. Now all Thomas has to do is obtain blood, find his aunt in Amsterdam and persuade Inez they belong together forever; the first two seem easy compared to the Inez scenario.

Fans of the fabulous Argeneau vampire romances (see THE ACCIDENTAL VAMPIRE) will appreciate the lead couple who are a great pairing as he fears rejection by his stunned lifemate and she feels she is not pretty enough for a hunk like him. The vampire species seems genuine as it successfully lives and works amidst mortals while the investigation is top rate as the clues go full circle and Inez's life is in jeopardy.

Taming Rafe
Susan May Warren
9781414310183 $12.99

Eight seconds is all it took to destroy the life of Rafe Noble, world champion bull rider. He was riding Pee Wee when he was tossed by the inappropriately named bull. Instead of tumbling to the ground he got caught on the horns. His best friend Manuel Rodriguez saved Rafe's life, but lost his own leaving behind a wife and young son.

Feeling guilt and unable to ride, Rafe is in New York to raise money for the Breckenridge Foundation whose president Katherine Breckenridge needs money to fund Mercy Doctors in Mexico. A bit drunk Rafe crashes into the hotel hosting the gala destroying the event and himself. He runs back to his family ranch in Montana to heal and escape the media, but it is Katherine's accusation that rips his gut. She decides to visit him on his family ranch to get him to help her raise money for her cause. As they fall in love, secrets involving her late bull riding daddy, her deceased sophisticated fundraising mom, and her mysterious missing Aunt surface.

The sequel to RECLAIMING NICK is a warm inspirational Noble Legacy contemporary romance. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing and the "romance” between an older couple adds depth to the strong story line, but it is little Carlos, in spite of a tiny appearance, who haunts the heroine and the reader. The return of the other two Noble siblings makes life on the ranch seem right for the audience. Although a late suspense involving embezzlement provide unnecessary suspense, readers will appreciate Susan May Warren's fine tale while considering ask not what God can do for you; ask what you can do for God.

Vampire Twilight
Phillip Henry
Coral Moon
9780955655609 $12.50

The Ministry has kept the vampire Kaaliz incarcerated in the Pennines as government scientists secretly experimented on him. Every day that passes his hatred for his captors and the two former vampires Claire and Xavier who Made him what he is but deserted him when he became what he is grows to the point he doubts his sanity. Ministry agent Lucinda Sheridan helps Kaaliz escape, but before she does that she demands he change her; he does into the vampires Sin.

Kaalitz and Sin vow to destroy those who harmed him starting with Claire and Xavier who live a normal life with their purebred human son; and after them the agents of the Ministry. They will kill anyone who happens to be in their way even the innocent. The Ministry sends their top agents to bring both back preferably alive so more research can be conducted; but if necessary dead is acceptable. Also chasing the rogue vampiric duet are vampire slayer Chloe and Xavier's half breed daughter Lynda.

The sequel to the exciting refreshing VAMPIRE DAWN is an entertaining vampire thriller that once again emphasizes no one is all saint or sinner. However, in this novel the maniacal Kaaliz seems so insane that he appears as pure evil; the good he once might have possessed having been vanquished with each experiment and every day in which his Makers failed to come for him. Although much more mainstream than the previous unique first tale, Philip Henry provides genre fans with a strong entry as the past has come back to haunt the present and future of former vampires Claire and Xavier as their offspring has become the expendable pawn of the avengers and the Ministry.

Shadow Music
Julie Garwood
9780345500731 $26.00

In England she is the Lady Gabriella, daughter of a powerful baron; but in Scotland the beautiful and innocent is known as the Princess Gabrielle of St. Biel like her mother before her. Many men want her including King John's favorites Baron Percy and Baron Coswold. Although King John gets pleasure in pitting the two men against each other he decides that Gabrielle goes to Laird Alan Monroe in an attempt to appease his countrymen.

Gabrielle and her guards are on their way to the Abbey in Scotland to meet her betrothed when she sees a group of men dressed up as monks ready to kill a man who they are using as bait to capture his brother Laird Colm MacHugh. She shoots an arrow in the man who is getting ready to kill the prisoner. She saves his life and brings him to the Abbey to heal. She visits him during the night to make sure he is okay but a woman's lies destroy her reputation and causes her to be banished. Lord Colm MacHugh is persuaded by Gabrielle's kinsman to marry her in order for Colm to pay off his debt to him. Once she is in his home, she turns his life upside down but enemies from England and Scotland have differing plans to destroy the relationship that is beginning to blossom between the laird and the princess.

Julie Garwood goes back to her historical roots and writes a romance that is filled with pageantry, blood feuds, duplicitous lords and eventually a war between two powerful clans. The growing love between the hero and the heroine is beautiful to behold and is very believable. Ms. Garwood's trademark underlying humor is present throughout the storyline and readers will chuckle at the way Gabrielle winds Colm around her little finger. This is one of the best historical romances of the year.

The Vampire's Kiss
Raven Hart
9780345498564 $6.99

Five hundred years old vampire William Thorne is tearing Europe apart searching for his vampiric wife and their son; he seeks them not out of some family love, as he does not; instead he knows they are evil and have kidnapped someone dear to him, Renee the powerful daughter of Melaphia the strongest voodoo priestess in the New World. Her daughter's magical blood can cure ills that affect vampires and it is her mother's blood that makes William stronger than vampires twice his age. When he learns they were in London, William asks his vampiric cousin to assist him on his quest.

Back at home in Savannah, Jack's sire William is trying to prevent a backwater hillbilly werewolf clan from making crystal meth. The powerful alpha werewolf Seth is also trying to take them down in a pack fight while Jack's love Connie struggles to accept that creatures of the night exist. Eleanor, who William converted into a vampire, begs him to free her from his wife and her mate even though she betrayed him by leaving with them shortly after he made her. William will free her, but only when Renee is liberated and unbound. His decision to let Eleanor survive proves a mistake because she slows down his quest to reunite with the child of his heart. An ocean away her mother uses her power to hurt her daughter's enemies so that William can free Renee in what appears to be the first salvo in a war.

THE VAMPIRE KISS is a pulse thumping enthralling horror thriller filled with action to the nth degree. There are many revelations in this exciting story that will serve as future plots. This includes the supernatural species Connie belongs too and why Renee's mother wants her soul on another plane of existence. Readers learn of the long term strategic goals of the Vampire Council of Dark Lords especially how they plan to interact with their sustenance, humans. However, it is the lead vampires, likable Jack with his self deprecating undead jokes and courageous William with his need to do right who make this a fine entry in spite of its overall transition story line.

Criminal Paradise
Steven M. Thomas
9780345497819 $24.95

In California Robert Rivers and Switch rob the Cow Town restaurant. However when the two thieves open the safe to take the cash from inside of it, they find a fascinating photograph of a naked underage Vietnamese female; they assume that the restaurant owner Orange County business mogul Lewis McFadden is using and perhaps selling teenage girls.

Rivers enlists his biker friend Reggie England to help him break into McFadden's house. However they find a shocker; tied to the bedposts is a Vietnamese girl who says her name is Song. They liberate Song taking her to Switch's home while he is out of town. Rivers and nineteen year old Song share a sexual encounter. McFadden recaptures her with plans to sell her at a slave auction, but also owes Rivers for his stealing of his merchandise and as an example for other such petty thieves.

This is an interesting crime caper that loses some of its charm with the transformation of River from a likable heroic thief to a disappointing user-predator when he has sex with Song even if she is a consenting adult; he becomes the serpent in CRIMINAL PARADISE turning off many readers. Still this is a deep look at the sex slave market alive and thriving, just ask River's Orange County landlady.

The Ruby Dice
Catherine Asaro
9781416555148 $23.00

The war between the Eubian Concord and the Skolian Imperialate was devastating to both empires. Many died including the then rulers of the Eubian Concord; whole worlds destroyed. Even when there are no armed combat between the two empires, hostilities are high and everyone remains on a constant state of alert expecting the other side to renew the fight.

Jaibriol rules the Eubian Concord; Kelric rules the Skolian Imperialate. Neither wants war as both understands the consequences first hand. However, both struggles with keeping in line powerful groups demanding the conquest of their rival. Each also hides a devastating secret that if revealed would lead to their ouster and their most likely respective replacement would renew the conflict, killing trillions. As their internal enemies seek weaknesses, Jaibriol hides his taboo skill of Psion as he would go from ruler to slave and Kelric has told no one about having a wife and kid as his people would destroy their homeland.

The latest Skolian Empire tale is an exciting outer space thriller that for much of the tale focuses on the two leaders. The respective crisis that confronts Kelric and Jaibriol makes both seem genuine as each fear for their people if war reignites between them yet feel doomed as if this is the inevitable outcome. Fans of the series will appreciate this character driven entry that looks deep into the pair of rulers, but newcomers will be lost in space in spite of an overly done but cleverly designed history (mostly through the rulers looking back).

Miles in Love
Lois McMaster Bujold
9781416555476 $14.00

"Komarr”. Considered physically and mentally unfit for military duty any longer, Miles Vorkosigan is forced to leave the service he loves. However, his experiences obtain him work as a Barrayaran Empire Imperial Auditor handling top-secret special complicated cases with potential for far reaching damage. His current investigation is to learn whether a terraforming satellite that collided with an ore freighter near Komarr was deliberate as the planet is a hotbed of rebellion. To make his inquiry more difficult most Komarrans loathe his father, who brutally put down their last revolt. As he uncovers bribery and treason, Miles falls in love with the married enemy, Ekaterin Vorsoisson.

"A Civil Campaign”. Miles loves Ekaterin, but hesitates wooing her since he holds himself culpable as a widow maker when his actions led to her husband's death; although he also rationalizes that her late spouse was corrupt. As he courts his beloved, his wacko clone brother Mark bugs him. Mark's latest get rich scheme involves "butter bugs", but these cockroaches somehow got free and have infested their parents' house. As he tries to exterminate the bugs, Miles is accused of murder. Still he never loses sight of his objective, marrying Ekaterin.

"Winterfair Gifts". Miles and Ekaterin are getting married at his family estate. One of his armsman, Roic, guards the Vorkosigan estate at night especially as the guests arrive for the nuptials. However, to his shock Roic is attracted to the dangerous Amazonian Sergeant Taura at a time when he cannot afford the distraction. Someone wants to kill Miles, Ekaterin or both.

These two novels and the novella that make up this omnibus collection are fabulous tales that showcase MILES IN LOVE. Each entry is humorous yet serious with the novella "Winterfair Gifts” refreshingly told mostly by Roic's perspective. Lois McMaster Bujold is at her best with this trilogy.

People of the Book
Geraldine Brooks
9780670018215 $25.95

In 1996, Sydney, Australian resident Hanna Heath receives a call from the UN as they want to use her rare book conservator expertise. Apparently the renowned Sarajevo Haggadah, thought destroyed during the Bosnian War, has been found. Harriet is euphoric as she knows the value of this incredible ancient Hebrew tome with its images.

Although a loner whose only love is rare books, when Hanna meets the "savior” Muslim librarian Karaman, they are attracted to one another. Still it is the book that holds her enthralled as she begins to uncover other artifacts of the past buried inside the pages (white hair, insect wing, salt, and a wine stain) and items missing (lost fasteners). Each tells a unique story about who held the precious Sarajevo Haggadah.

PEOPLE OF THE BOOK is an interesting tale that uses the discoveries by Hannah to take the reader back in time to meet those who handled the ancient tome in various eras like 1940 Bosnia, 1480 Seville, and 1492 Barcelona, etc. Each entry provides a historical conflict between a person protecting the book and those wanting to defile the book. Throughout this superb fiction tale is the underlying message that the time for the Jews, Muslims and Christians to unite in peace is now not tomorrow as all have more in common than the differences that divide them.

Alibi in High Heels
Gemma Halliday
Dorchester Making It
9780843958355 $6.99

When internationally renowned fashion designer Jean Luc Le Croix hires Madison "Maddie" Springer to design the shoes his models will wear during Fashion Week, the Californian screams with euphoria. However, she quickly learns the people rule of gravity in which she who goes up must crash down when psychic Mrs. Rosenblatt accidentally hits her because she could not figure out how to use her new stick shift car. Making matters worse, Maddie's mom and Mrs. Rosenblatt insist on accompanying her to Paris to help her get around since she now has broken leg.

Things turn darker in Paris when someone uses a Maddie shoe with a stiletto heel to kill the lead model Gisella. Maddie's best friend Dana arrives to replace Gisella as the show must go on. Soon after that Maddie's boyfriend, LA homicide detective Jack Ramirez comes to Paris to keep her out of further trouble, but more corpses follow all tied to Maddie's shoes, which makes her the prime suspect of the Gendarmes.

The fourth "High Heels' amateur sleuth tale ( see KILLER IN HIGH HEELS, SPYING IN HIGH HEELS and UNDERCOVER IN HIGH HEELS) is a fun entry as Maddie's chick lit big mouth sends her into trouble with the cops, the Paris fashion world, and the killer. Every time she speaks she gets deeper in trouble and someone from stateside shows up intending to rescue her; they are like the movement's motto of "we're here to help you”. Readers will laugh with Maddie's dilemma as her ALIBI IN HIGH HEELS unravels leaving the audience to wonder if her next gig is a convict in high heels designing prison shoe wear.

Time Transit
Kay Austin
Dorchester Shomi
9780505527158 $6.99

In the twenty-second century TIME ROGUE Maude Kincaid is one of the best at insuring temporal rifts do not occur. On her last mission she met and was attracted to twenty-first century inhabitant Dr. Gil Gillespie, but knew nothing can come of her feelings. Instead his memories of her are deleted.

However, for whatever reason, perhaps love is too strong to erase, but Gil somehow remembers her. He is brought forward a century to her natural time, but learns she is to die in 2152. Meanwhile in Outskirt 13 of the sub-orbital tram station where it all began thirty or so rotations ago, Maude, having done her duty by eating a bullet in her gut to save CORE, her friends and the time line, is dying with no hope for help, thirteen miles from home. However, Maude never expected that her friends led by a frantic Gil refuse to allow her to die though they make unauthorized leaps through time as they believe they have all the time in the world to save her.

This sequel to the wild TIME ROGUES is a fabulous science fiction romance, in which dedicated heroes understand protecting the time line is more important than saving a friend, a loved one, or one's self; that is until Gil makes a different plea to test time in order to save Maude. Gil and Maude are terrific protagonists who are ironically the ultimate star-crossed lovers as they have no time at all for one another yet all the time to try i they dare. Although the future world is never developed beyond the physics principals of time management, sub-genre fans will find this action-packed thriller worth the time to read it.

The Quest
Lindsay McKenna
Silhouette Nocturne
9780373617807 $5.25

The search continues for the gems that make up the Emerald Necklace. Two Tage Warriors for the Light and their soulmates have already successfully completed their missions (see UNFORGIVEN and DARK TRUTH). Archaeologists Kendra Johnson and Nolan Galloway of the Ecuadorian based Vesica Pisces Foundation are sent to work together to uncover clues to the whereabouts of the third stone.

The pair has a torrid history that ended in guilt and tragedy in which only his telekinetic power saved his life; both are wary but still in love. Besides these two Warriors for the Light, the evil Tupay send super villain Victor Guerra to follow them and if they succeed, kill them and take the gem as chaos on earth remains their objective and the jewel can help them achieve their strategic goal.

The third Warriors for the Light romantic suspense fantasy is an exhilarating entry that though the overall plot is similar in tone to the first two novels retains its own freshness due to the previous relationship between the lead couple. Nolan and Kendra were selected because their skills complement one another making achieving their quest a strong possibility; however their trek on the Colorado in the Grand Canyon left her younger sister Debbie dead and their relationship shattered. Thus both must overcome the ghost of her sibling if they are to succeed on the mission with a lethal adversary on their tale and perhaps forgive the past with their love for each other. Lindsay McKenna provides a deep entry in a strong saga.

The Girl Next Door
Jack Ketchum
9780843960976 $7.99

Suburban 1950s New Jersey is a great place to raise kids; just ask twelve year old David, who loves playing in his idyllic neighborhood where crime is nonexistent. Next door Ruth Chandler, single mother of David's best friend Donny and two brothers, takes in two young distant cousins whose parents died in a horrific automobile accident. The older sister fourteen years old Meg seems to have fully recovered; the younger sibling Susan needs crutches and wears heavy metal braces on her legs while mentally she is totally broken.

David is immediately attracted to the lovely Meg and they begin meeting at places like "Big Rock”; they make a charming cute couple. Ruth lives in the past when she was the office manager of a large firm; she hates suburbia and being saddled with five children. She takes her growing rage out on her new charges, physically and mentally abusing Meg and Susan, especially Meg who reminds her of all she gave up to have kids. Her sons by omission support her actions. David also knows that Ruth is violent towards Meg, but though he loathes what she is doing, he is also fascinated by her dehumanizing the one person who reminds her how far she has fallen.

This reprint of a 1989 deep psychological study focuses on the watcher-narrator David who learns about abuse and helplessness when he fascinatingly observes the pain a human inflicts on another while neighbors ignore the truth. The story line hooks the audience from the opening line as a wizened David understands pain and never lets go as the serene middle class suburban neighborhood enables ugliness to hide behind the scene (mindful of the Kitty Genovese killing in 1964 Queens). This book also includes two short stories and an interview with Jack Ketchum, but cannot be considered padding since the novel is 340 pages. Readers will be shocked by the horror of customized violence that society chooses to ignore when it happens to THE GIRL NEXT DOOR.

Richard Laymon
9780843957525 $7.99

In North Glen, Illinois in 1975, seventeen years old Albert Prince is looking forward to having sex with Betty, but he is shocked when she demands twenty dollars. He is six dollars short; she tells him to come back when he can afford her. He leaves outraged.

Albert knifes a stray dog, which gives him some sadistic pleasure. On a supermarket checkout line, he observes the address on a check of a female customer. Not long afterward, he breaks into her home and hides in the closet until a man and woman arrive; he knifes the male and begins cutting the woman ending the crescendo with a final plunge. He hitches a ride out of state and kills the driver. He seeks young attractive females so he can break into their homes and terrorize them with his knife before killing them. He ends up in California where he meets some people from a college. The daughter of one of the teachers was attacked by him in Denver. He is about to learn that California girls are nothing like the females he browbeat into doing what he demanded of them.

CUTS is a horror story that in spite of no supernatural element cuts deeply into the psyche of readers; sort of like the first Jaws movie did. The antagonist is an amoral cold blooded monster of the human kind who thinks nothing of torture and murder especially getting off when it occurs in the sanctuary haven of someone's home. Richard Laymon's thriller is very frightening because Albert seems plausible as he craves the slice and dice of a sexual snuff predator, knowing he will never change; the only prevention of his sick sexual slashing is to either kill him or lock him away forever.

Mango Summer
Phoebe Conn
9780843960099 $6.99

In 1816 England Lord Michael Mallory has spent the past year either drunk until he would drop unconscious or mourning the deaths of wife and stillborn son if he remained awake. His best friend, worried about Michael's mental state, abducts him when he is in his normal state of drunkenness and unable to fight back; he dumps Michael on a deserted island with one exception, Delphine Antoine, a trained temptress awaits the laird as she has been hired to pleasure Michael.

Michael is outraged by the gall of his friend and not having alcohol available to dull his ache. However, soon between the serenity of his locale and Delphine's gentle soothing, he begins to move past his grief. As Michael and Delphine begin to fall in love, he wants her with him forever, but she knows that she can only be his mistress; a relationship she cannot deal with because she loves her Michael.

Readers who ignore realism will fully appreciate this fun well written regency romance. The story line is driven by the lead characters especially the metamorphosis of Michael from a man who wants to die to someone who has everything to live for. Sub-genre fans will enjoy spending MANGO SUMMER with Michael and Delphine.

J.F. Gonzalez
9780843959734 $7.99

Lycanthropic Orange Coast College student Mark Wiseman controls his urge to kill when he shifts to a werewolf; he also hides his condition from everyone until he is caught changing by a security camera while working in the Tape Library of the Computer Operations of Free State Insurance.

The firm's CEO Bernard Roberts lives for his work though he makes time even at his executive office for sex with his executive secretary Carol Emrich. He owns the videotape in which Mark is filmed shifting. The wealthy amoral mogul blackmails Mark into cooperating with his desires. He orders Mark to kill any board member supporting a merger that if agreed will lead to an audit and ultimately expose Bernard's embezzling of company funds. To further insure Mark cooperates, Bernard has evidence that links Mark to the bloody murders of the werewolf's parents. Mark's only hope for freedom resides with Carol whom he just met and can sense her attraction to him.

This is an entertaining fast-paced horror thriller in which readers initially will wonder whether the wolf will do the killings or not and whether Mark will ever be free from the malevolent Bernard. J.F. Gonzalez keeps the audience wondering how Mark will expedite himself from this mess once he decides not to kill Bernard at least for now. Though neither of the male leads showcases much in the way of any redeeming qualities as a survival of the fittest killer instincts rules; fans of in your face werewolf tales with plenty of gore will want to read this exciting story.

The Privateer
Dawn MacTavish
9780843959819 $6.99

In 1812 following the shocking suicide death of her father an Earl, Lady Lark Eddington has no time to mourn as she is immediately incarcerated even before his corpse is cold in Marshalsea Debtor's Prison as she cannot pay back his debt. Lark has no way out until Earl Basil "King" Kingston, makes remittance. She assumes she will pay him back with her body as he must have paid for a mistress as no one else blinked when she was taken away; instead he stuns her further when he tells her he hired her as his mother's companion as he will marry soon and needs her out of the main house and living with her companion in the dower house.

King finds Lark fascinating and intelligent besides being beautiful. However, he has no time to look into why he is so attracted to her, as the Admiralty has recalled him to duty as a privateer. On his first mission of his second tour, King almost dies. His near death experience makes him open is eyes (at least his good one) to the fact that he loves Lark and plans to marry her. However he knows she is brilliant so concealing his involvement with smugglers and family secrets will prove tricky.

This engaging Regency romance is fast-paced due to the title character who goes from one adventure to another. In fact, Lark thinks he has a secret lover as he hides stuff from her and acts in a clandestine manner. Their relationship makes for a fine historical as she tries to uncover the truth while he tries to keep his escapes hidden from her. Fans will rejoice with this pairs' action-packed romance.

The Lost Epistle of Jesus
Evan Drake Howard
Crown Oak Press
9781602661264 $15.99

In 30 AD Judith Silva is betrothed to successful merchant Gabriel Latronum but is in love with his older brother Dismas who joined the cause of the Zealots. She believes in their cause of chasing the Romans out of Judea because her younger brother was run over by a chariot by centurions who never stopped to help. Her hatred and revenge fills her heart for the Roman conquerors and decides to elope with Dismas and join the Zealots led by Barabbas in Quman.

Gabriel is heartbroken and decides to kill himself by jumping off the Temple but the Pharisee Nicodemus, a member of the council that rules on Jewish law, saves him from his folly. He talks about the Epistle Jesus wrote to him and explains that it tells people to forgive themselves so they can forgive others. Judith has become disillusioned with the Zealot cause and reads the epistle she and Dismas stole from Nicodemus' home. The letters transforms her and gives her the strength to leave Dismas. Gabriel who wants to meet the writer of the epistle meets Mary Magdalene and saves her from two would be rapists. She loves Jesus as he does her but he will not consummate that love because he has is a different calling but through their love he understands and teaches why men and women struggle when they should be concerned with first loving each other spiritually.

THE LOST EPISTLE is the story of a man and a woman whose struggles mirror that of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. This is an exciting story filled with biblical history that is part of the New Testament. Readers see the human and the divine sides of Jesus and the love of Mary Magdalene for a man who loves her in the way all people need to be cherished. Her lessons from him are mirrored in Judith's spiritual journey. Gabriel has to learn the same lessons as Judith if he wants to make a life with her.

Echoes From The Grave
S.D. Tooley
Full Moon Publishing
P.O. Box 408, Schererville, IN 46375
9780978540234 $26.00

The digging at a construction site on the south side of Lake Michigan uncovered many human bones. Everyone assumed that a Native American burial site was inadvertently exhumed.

As the local tribes want the site preserved as a cemetery, Chasen Heights detective in charge of the investigation Jake Mitchell arrives at the dig accompanied by his detective wife Sam Casey. She quickly informs her spouse that the remains of one of the dead told her that they were murdered three years ago. Jake knows to heed Sam's Native American psychic skills. However, the bones go missing before they can be tested as if someone fears what they will tell will affirm Sam's information.

Few if any paranormal police procedurals are as good as the Casey-Mitchell Lake Michigan whodunits (see NOTHING ELSE MATTERS, WHEN THE DEAD SPEAK and RESTLESS SPIRIT). The latest entry ECHOES FROM THE GRAVE is a terrific whodunit as a cunning person manipulates the construction crew and the Native Americans to insure Mitchell cannot learn the truth although his sleuthing spouse Sam has pointed him in the right direction. The investigation brings to life some of the history of the Lake Michigan area while the husband and wife detectives are a delightful pair as they do their jobs professionally enhanced by her talent and that of her Native American family. Although construction sites in the Chasen Heights area seem extra dangerous, S. D. Tooley provides an exhilarating fast paced mystery that readers will appreciate.

Skinny Dipping
Connie Brockway
9780451412447 $7.99

The Olsen family has spent many retreats at the summer home Chez Ducky at Fowl Lake, Minnesota. However with the recent death of the family matriarch, most of the Olsen brood feels the place is not the same and wants to sell it; some are ambiguous about selling a home that has been part of their tradition, but only slacker Mimi wants to keep the place.

While her relatives debate what to do, Mimi decides to spend a Northern Minnesota Fall and winter there; her first non summer trek to Chez Ducky. She hopes to find a miracle to keep her relatives from selling, but instead finds a wild zany bunch next door that needs some mothering especially injured MIT Professor Prescott Tierney except she is miss irresponsibility. However, as she tends to a canine crowd (Blondie, Wiley and Bill) and Prescott, his extremely responsible dad, Joe has also come to finally connect with his adult son. Joe and Mimi meet when she goes SKINNY DIPPING and loses her clothing; even mud cannot hide what he sees.

SKINNY DIPPING is an amusing whimsical yet affecting character driven contemporary romance that will have Connie Brockway's fans laughing and crying. The opposites attract story line is enhanced by the dysfunctional relationship between the adult male Tierney's, the arrival of Mimi's pregnant half-sister, and the dogs especially Kill Bill who bites the hands that feed him. This is an entertaining tale of connecting or at least trying to connect as love can be found in the zaniest of locations.

The Bride
Carolyn Davidson
9780373772209 $6.99

In 1894 New Mexico territory, his dying father demanded Rafael McKenzie make a death bed vow to soon marry a virtuous woman. He agreed though part of his reasoning was to honor his dad, but he also knows the stipulation if he is to fully inherit the family's Diamond Ranch.

Four years earlier Charles Montgomery informed his fourteen years old daughter Isabella, living in the Convent of the Sisters of Charity, that sometime in the next few years she will marry dark soul Juan Garcia. Now Charles tells his offspring the contract with Juan will be fulfilled immediately. Rafael believes the pristine Isabel is the ideal woman as stipulated by his father on the death bed. He decides he will marry her so he abducts her taking her to his ranch where he hopes to convince her they should wed. On the trek to his spread, both feels an attraction, but each is wary to act upon it. When they reach The Diamond Ranch, Rafael introduces his intended bride to a distant relative staying there, the lovely vivacious Lucia.

Lucia steals the show from the lead couple as her actions ignite the story line as Isabella turns jealous and Rafael confused. Although the romance between Isabella and Rafael is enjoyable to follow, it seems too formal when compared to Lucia's kick off her heels. Fans will enjoy this entertaining historical romance as Lucia heats the sheets.

Everybody Loves Evie

Beth Ciotta
9780373772988 $6.99

After the role of a lifetime as a Chameleon undercover agent in Vegas (see ALL ABOUT EVIE), the boss Milo Beckett hires fortyish character actress Evie Parish because he sees she has the "gift” needed to expose charlatans and grifts. Her bank president brother Christopher calls Evie to tell her the family needs her as their sexagenarian mom is acting strange with dance lessons and cashing in her war bonds worth six grand; especially since she don't need the money; he thinks she has a boyfriend who is hitting on her for cash in a "sweetheart scam”.

Milo says he is working on a senatorial scenario in nearby Hammond so they can kill two birds with one stone as he will join her in the mommy caper. Arch Reese who enjoyed being Evie's husband in Vegas and the after play follows Milo and Evie to Indiana as he feels protective of the newcomer and besides wants more action with her. In the Hoosier State, the triangle becomes involved with her estrange parents, the dance instructor and the senator and his wife as stings seem everywhere

The newest Evie underground caper is a lighthearted romp starring a spirited heroine and an eccentric support cast that seem to come out of Eerie, Indiana. Evie is terrific holding the zany plot together from the demands of the extended family, the senatorial scam, and her own sweetheart issues as she ponders Milo, Arch or both. Fans who appreciate a fun amusing frolic will appreciate Evie proving you can't go home without scamming the locals.

Who Creamed Peaches, Anyway?
Stevi Mittman
Harlequin Next
9780373881505 $5.50

The prime suspect in the murder of Peaches "Hooker Housewife" Lipschitz is Nassau County Police Department police detective Hal Nelson; as such the brass removes Hal's partner Detective Drew Scoones from the case. Drew's on and off girlfriend "Long Island's Most Dangerous Decorator" Teddi Bayer is off even though he proposes.

Teddi has decided to investigate the Hooker Housewife homicide, which will steam Drew who once again tells her to stay out of it. However, in between inquiries, she has to keep control of her mother and children while keeping her business going. Still as she uncovers clues that she quietly gives to her on again but secret boyfriend, Teddi follows up with Peaches' clientele as she assumes one of them gave the hook to the hooker.

"Long Island's Most Dangerous Decorator” is back causing havoc but this time her boyfriend has mixed feelings re her inquiries unlike her previous investigations in which he wanted her to stay out, but she ignored him anyway. The story line is lighthearted fun as Teddi B works the case, keeping Drew in line, and struggling as always with her mom June. However, what makes Teddi consider jumping into Long Island Sound is her daughter has decided her mother should reconcile with her dad and be a Gallo again in spite of his trying to commit her and her trying to kill him. Life in Nassau County is as crazy as ever.

Risky Business
Merline Lovelace
Harlequin Next
9780373881499 $5.50

In Florida, twice divorced Sue Ellen Carson decides who should receive Department of Labor grants. When she rejects the survival training for at risk kids program run by Air Force Special Tactics Chief Master Sergeant Joe Goodwin, he arranges with her boss for her to get out of the air conditioned office and spend three weeks in the airy wilderness to learn first hand what his program is all about.

Sue Ellen is outraged by Goodwin's tactic, but has no choice if she wants to remain employed. However, her initial anger turns slowly to respect and ultimately to love as she watches Joe work with hardened street kids giving those written off as forgettable delinquents self esteem and a sense of accomplishment and her his heart.

This is a fabulous romance between a somewhat down on men office jock and a tough soldier. The kids bring angst to the strong plot as polite American society represented by Sue Ellen prefers to warehouse them out of the way, which means leave them in the slums to fail; Joe cares about them just like he cared about his young enlisted. No one honors the soldier as much as Merline Lovelace does in her always superb novels that her fans know is not RISKY BUSINESS to read.

The Missing Mom
Ann Evans
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373714681 $5.50

In Florida, Maggie Tillman still regrets giving up her newborn daughter for adoption eight years ago when her boyfriend Will Stewart dumped her. Maggie assumes Will never knew she was pregnant because he left before she found out. To her chagrin she learns she must work with Will on an aquarium design project, but has no choice in the matter if she does not want to hear her father's tripe that she is a loser who never finishes anything.

Will is delighted that he will work with Maggie as he knows he made a monster mistake when he ended their relationship. However, although he welcomes a second chance he fears how Maggie will react to his secret; he adopted and has raised their daughter Amy, whom she gave up for adoption. Worse he fears how Amy will react because she must come first.

This is an intriguing contemporary family drama as the audience will want the lead couple to reconcile as Maggie and Will have a second chance at love, but neither want to hurt little angelic Amy. Although Will explains how he adopted Amy, this still seems a stretch, but no one will mind as love heats up Southern Florida.

How to Trap a Parent
Joan Kilby
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373714667 $5.50

After being away from Australia for thirteen years in pursuit of a Hollywood career, Jane Linden returns home accompanied by her daughter Mary Kate to attend her Aunt Esther's funeral. Cole Roberts, who last saw his child three years ago when he came to the States to see her, still regrets ending his relationship so that he would not tie down his beloved as she soars as an actress.

He wants a second chance with Jane and feels he finally has her on his turf away from California. As he spends time with Mary Kate and tries to make time with Jane, she does not trust him with her heart; he shattered it twice before when he dumped her and when he married someone else.

The key to this second chance at love is the plausible interaction between the three prime characters as Mary Kate plays a major role well beyond the usual simplistic matchmaking; in fact her relationship with her dad leaves Jane envious as she wants the same with her daughter. Readers of family dramas will enjoy visiting Australia as Cole tries to persuade the two women he loves to expand the family to include him.

Deal Me In
Cynthia Thomason
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373714643 $5.50

While checking out horses in Prairie Bend, Texas former pro-football player Brady Carrick bets his rancher father Marshall and a friend horse trainer Trevor Dobbs that he can teach any novice to win at poker. His dad selects Cliff's Diner waitress Molly Davis as Brady's student. To win he has to make her competitive at an upcoming poker tournament in which she must reach the final table.

Widow and mother Molly hides her connection to her instructor from him. She holds him partially culpable for the death of her husband. Molly agreed to be his pupil because she desperately needs money for her and her son Sam to start anew. Neither she nor Brady expected a full house would lead to love.

Using poker as a matchmaking device, Cynthia Thomason provides an interesting contemporary romance between two likable individuals who call each other's bluff as both are wary to gamble with their respective heart. The support cast is solid at the tables and the stables although preadolescent Sam is too precocious even if he chooses an Xbox over a college trust fund. Still fans will enjoy this fun Texas Hold Em romance.

One Wild Wedding Night

Leslie Kelley
Harlequin Blaze
9780373793730 $4.99

When former Marine Nick Santori and injured dancer Izzie Natale tie the knot (see OVEREXPOSED) in frozen Chicago in January, her five horny bridesmaids share in the fun.

"Getaway". Having met before, bookkeeper Bridget and FBI undercover agent Dean go under the covers together.

"Runaway". Stripper Leah falls asleep in a stranger's limo by accident, but provides the performance of her life when she dances a tango with realtor Slone.

"Three Way”. Lawyer Mia ran away from kindhearted Brandon as she feared the intensity of her feelings, but he has arranged for her to indulge in her secret erotic fantasy that once she told mentioned to him.

"Her Way”. Rockettes' Vanessa sees NFL star Stan, who betrayed her so when he says a seductive hi, she pretends to be Laila Ali and punches him in the jaw.

"All the Way”. Married Gloria, the mother of three small children, meets the seductive European.

The title says all as ONE WILD WEDDING NIGHT contains five entertaining contemporary romantic novellas. Married readers will recall their special night and singles will reconsider their wedding dreams as the five horny females take Chicago.

The Tao of Sex
Jade Lee
Harlequin Blaze
9780373793785 $4.99

Following the deaths of her parents, Tracy Williams managed the apartment building she and her younger brother Joey inherited from them. She modernized it, but now with her sibling about to start college, she wants to sell the building to pay for his tuition and hers too. However, she also knows the sale means the end of her fantasy drooling about apartment 4C, Hong Kong expatriate Mr. Nathan Gao in the states attending the University of Illinois MBA program.

However, Tracy is stunned to learn from a flyer and several beautiful females that Mr. Gao is an experienced Dragon master teaching Tantric Sex Classes in apartment 4C. Fearing his arrest for prostitution will drive down the price of the building, she wants him to either stop teaching the secrets of sexual immortality or leave. Nathan explains he needs the money to stay in school and offers private lessons, but realizes as he falls in love, she is a goddess whom he must give up so that she can go to Hong Kong for a lifetime of training.

Known for her Tigress Asian romantic historical fantasies, Jade Lee uses contemporary Illinois and Hong Kong, and an otherworldly realm to provide the audience with a terrific extremely Blazing paranormal romance. Through Nathan's teaching of Tracy, readers obtain an insightful look at Eastern philosophy in which sex is a major form of power. THE TAO OF SEX is fabulous as the teacher and the student learn the lessons of yin and yang love.

My Guilty Pleasure
Jamie Denton
Harlequin Blaze
9780373793747 $4.99

As a member of a Boston Brahmin family, Joey Winfield knows that means behaving in public with a certain degree of decorum way above the middle class. Thus when the attorney needs to kick off her shoes and be bad to the bone, she needs to go where no one will recognize her.

Her choice for escapism fun is a roadhouse dive where she expects to meet no one from her family's social circle. To her shock her new boss of less than three days Sebastian Stanhope is at the joint. The former Miami lawyer and his upper crust subordinate are attracted to one another even before she sips a Martini and dares the dissolute. They agree to share intimacy until he shows up at work which will end their guilty pleasure. The hours fly by, but once they work together on a case in which their opinions differ, Joey knows she has fallen in love with her boss, but hides it from Sebastian as he does likewise.

Although the rationale for the pair to condone the sex before he becomes her superior seems weak, fans will appreciate the latest Martini Dares romance (see MY FRONT PAGE SCANDAL by Carrie Alexander and MY SECRET LIFE by Lori Wilde). Joey and Sebastian are likable characters who are in love, but see no way of informing their beloved without causing professional harm. Series fans will enjoy this entertaining Bostonian drama in the bedroom and the office.

Family by Design
Roxanne Delaney
Harlequin American
9780373751983 $4.99

Thirty miles out of Wichita in Katyville, Kansas recently divorced Becca Tyler struggles to make it raising her three youngsters, five years and under, by herself. Her spouse the stockbroker has no interest in the hick town, his wife or even his offspring. However even her dumpy rental is yanked from her as someone else bought the property with the stipulation he moves in immediately.

When her car has a flat, Nick Morelli, who left town a decade ago after she broke his heart, gives her a lift to her friend's house. Becca reflects back on the irony that she had the golden spoon, but he is the success story with his construction firm and she is broke with no prospects. He provides her a job and proves to be much more of a father to her kids than their absentee dad. They fall in love, but he has doubts about trusting her having been battered by her once before and besides he has hidden from her the fact that he owns the home she and her brood still live in; she feels no one wants to be saddled with someone else's children and knows how cruel she was when she heeded her father's advice ten years ago.

This is a fun second chance at love tale due to the zany support characters, her children and best friend, and his family. Their good intelligent design of matchmaking seems to keep the lead couple from each other's arms rather than bring them together. Readers will enjoy love on the Great Plains.

Good Husband Material
Kara Lennox
Harlequin American
9780373751990 $4.99

In Camden, Texas Natalie Briggs returns home for the high school reunion in which she never expected her former husband, Houston big shot lawyer Josh to attend. Twenty years ago they divorced one another and moved on with their lives. Now they share a dance for old time's sake, which leads to a kiss and to a night of lovemaking before each return to their respective lives.

However, the last time they spent several years together, but they never had children not for a lack of trying. This time fate gives them quite an ironic spin when Natalie becomes pregnant. Her adopted daughter is euphoric his two teenage sons undecided, but Natalie and Josh decide they will raise the baby jointly. However, spending time together they begin to fall in love for the second time.

GOOD HUSBAND MATERIAL is an engaging second chance at love contemporary romance. The lead couple is an interesting pairing as they work on difficult schedules that do not jive almost as hard as falling in love again. Although their children seem too perfect even when they have doubts, contemporary fans will enjoy Kara Lennox's fine Texas romance.

The Vow
Rebecca Winters
Harlequin Everlasting
9780373654260 $5.25

They met at Clark High School in 1973. Nick Marsden knew it was love at first sight and persuaded Stefanie Larkin they belonged together. Over the decades together he showed his love in many ways, but never voiced those three words.

Flying back solo from British Columbia after dropping off a couple of lovebirds, fifty-two years old grandfather Nick's plane goes down as he heads home to Mackenzie, Montana during a snowstorm. His wife photographer Stefanie knows he is a great pilot but as the hours pass without a word she panics. To help her mind, she reads the journals she kept for decades. If he comes back to her she plans to tell him she loves him. Waiting for rescue, Nick begins writing letters to his beloved Stephanie telling her how much he loves her. If he returns to her, he plans to tell her he loves her.

This is a refreshing unique romance as the lead protagonists are not together except in flashbacks for most of the novel. Nick and Stefanie learn how important it is to tell your loved ones that they are The Little Prince "Saint-Exupery” and you their "Tropical Bird” as everyone needs words almost as much as deeds. Fans will appreciate this strong drama as Nick and Stefanie realize during a life threatening crisis how much they mean to one another as he may not make it back alive.

This Side of Heaven
Anna Schmidt
Harlequin Everlasting
9780373654253 $5.25

They met at her brother's wake and knew they had nothing in common. He was a Badger farm boy; she was eastern hippie; he went to Nam; she protested against Nam. Still Dr. Spencer Anderson and attorney Zoe Wingfield became friends and lovers. They married and raised three children.

They overcame their difference to forge a strong bond of love even after almost four decades together. When she had cancer he was with her all the way as she defeated the disease. However, the disease has returned much worse than her first battle and she is much older and not sure she wants to enter the ring again. Spencer knows what he wants of his soulmate; that she fights the good fight on the prayer they have many more good years together.

THIS SIDE OF HEAVEN is a poignant family drama as Spencer and their adult children want Zoe to battle the disease, but her spirit is not there. Interestingly in spite of the trauma and the first person perspective that provides some inner fears of the lead couple, neither Spencer nor Zoe come across as fully developed beyond both feeling like cancer victims as the disease controls the plot. Still Anna Schmidt reminds her audience how much cancer impacts an extended family not just the person with the illness.

Lindsay McKenna, Cara Summers and Laura Marie Altom
9780373837229 $5.99

"A Healing Spirit” by Lindsay McKenna. Her helicopter was shot down while Marine pilot Tahcha Grant was flying a mission in Afghanistan; she was the only survivor. Suffering from survivor guilt and post-traumatic stress disorder, she returns home to the reservation where her nonagenarian granny sends her to the medicine man in training, Storm Black Horse, her teenage boyfriend.

"Aunt Delia's Legacy” by Cara Summers. After being away from home for almost a decade, Dr. Carly Waring returns for the reading of Aunt Delia's will. To her shock, Delia has left her everything as long as she shares it with math teacher Ren Maxwell, who Carly almost eloped with just before leaving town on her medical education odyssey.

"Caught by Surprise” by Laura Marie Altom. Recently divorced Tabby Summerwell was once the "It Girl” who could do anything. Now she feels as if the highlight film of her life occurred in high school. She came home to ski and heal mentally, but she broke her leg, which symbolizes what a failure she is. However, her spirits rise stratospherically when her high school boyfriend Brodie Kimball seems to want a second chance to rekindle as adults what they had as the teen It couple.

These three second chance at love tales are warm, well written, and as with Tabby will lift the spirits of the audience especially those suffering the wintry blues following the holiday season.

Gotta Keep On Tryin'
Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant
9781416531678 $24.00

African American single mom Gayle Saunders knows she has come a long way since her homeless days caused by her gambling husband Ramsey (see TRYIN' TO SLEEP IN THE BED YOU MADE) as she raises her beloved teenage daughter, Vanessa alone. She and her long time best friend business partner Patricia Reid have made a success of their Ell Crawford children's books and related merchandise. Whereas Gayle is the artist, Pat is the business; together they have turned Ell & Me into a thriving firm.

As Gayle struggles with the sudden rebellion of Vanessa who wants to become a professional dancer and moves into the home of her boyfriend, Pat struggles with the arrival of teenager Tiffani who claims that Marcus is her father. Although DNA testing proves otherwise, Marcus wants to help her make it while neglecting his wife Pat. Since kindergarten Pat and Gayle have been there for one another if only to listen, but this time neither can talk about the fears inside of their respective hearts.

Success does not necessarily bring happiness as Gayle and Pat learn the hard way in this fine family drama. Each of the key players, not just the Ell & Me two entrepreneurs are fully developed. Thus the audience understands why Marcus wants to help Tiffani; Vanessa needs to leave home although she does not slice the financial cord; Pat feel insecure Gayle feels all alone; and Tiffani manipulates the four of them. Although at times the story line dips into soap opera territory, readers will enjoy the sequel that follows the personal lives of two friends and their families.

One Bite Stand
Nina Bangs
9780843959543 $7.99

Daria is undergoing a certification test to determine if she is capable of performing as a harpy. To pass she must bring a soul to Hades of Tartarus; if she fails the punishment is the worst that one could imagine; for instance one year of humiliating public wearing of a zombie's castoffs. To find a worthy victim to take to her superior Tartarus, she obtains the night manager position at the Woo Woo Inn.

Declan realizes that something deadly has stalked and killed two of his peers. He fears for the lives of the surviving vampiric council members as he thinks they are the intended victims of the culprit. He thinks a Harpy working the Woo Woo Inn desk is hilarious, but also finds he is attracted to Daria, a taboo for a vampire. Daria realizes Declan is her ticket to the top of Hades, but cannot bring herself to take his soul as she is attracted to the vampire, a taboo for a Hades employee IAW the Harpy Handbook. As their attraction turns to love, they realize a confrontation with a serial killer of the supernatural species awaits them.

ONE BITE STAND is an amusing lighthearted paranormal romantic suspense as the harpy and the vampire prove strange NIGHT BITES attractions make for a fine romantic fantasy. The suspense grips the readers, but is not needed and distracts from the fun relationship between the delightful Ds make this an entertainingly "Wicked” zany tale with quite a bang of a main plot.

The Boys in the Tree
Mary Swan
9780805086706 $14.00

William Heath was badly abused as a child. The scars on his body remind him never to hit a child, a vow he made to himself. He kept his personal pledge, but was a distant man, unable to display affection towards his wife and children. His employer in England caught William embezzling, but instead of sending him to prison he exiled him to Canada. There he and his family live in poverty, but he believes they are better than others in their poor community.

He has few job offers but accepts a job in Eastern Ontario in the town of Emden as a bookkeeper to Mr. Marl. Things look up for William and his family until he is arrested for embezzling from his new employer and in a twist of irony Mr. Morl bails him out. William gets a gun and kills his family members before surrendering to the law. His case upsets townsfolk who thought they knew him like his daughter's schoolteacher, the doctor and his son.

While the crime is shocking and horrifying, the effects ripple throughout the community long after the victims are buried and the killer hung. For instance the teacher regrets her inactivity and inability to read the signs of violence and feels guilty that she allowed him to take his daughter out of her class. The doctor wonders if he should have had an inkling on Mr. Heath's mental health when he came to pay his daughter's bill and perhaps prevented the tragedy by stepping forward. Others feel shock and shame for ignoring the signs (think of the Genovese killing in Queens, NY). Thus the audience obtains a fascinating crime tale that focuses on how everyone missed the signs of pending violence and the guilt shared by all.

Pinkerton's Secret
Eric Lerner
9780805082784 $25.00

In 1856 in Chicago, Alan Pinkerton forms his Pinkerton National Detective Agency by hiring several strong seemingly trust worthy men; women need not apply and he does not expect any will.

He is proven wrong when pretty Kate Warne applies for the position of Pinkerton Agent. Pinkerton says no, but Warne is persistent so he hires her with his plan to give her soft jobs and less pay than his male operatives. However he quickly changes his mind when she turns out to be one of top agents as he gives her increasingly more difficult cases to work. Attracted to one another, they begin an affair that turns ugly once Pinkerton's wife learns that Kate is under the cover not undercover.

This is a fabulous biographical fiction story that provides the audience a deep look at the personal and professional lives of Alan Pinkerton and the first female agent Kate Warne. The story line is action-packed from the onset whether it is in Chicago setting up the agency, on a case in DC leading to the formation of the Secret Service, or working to uncover Confederate spies in the capital. Readers will appreciate this superb historical tale.

Shades of Blue
Bill Moody
Poisoned Pen
9781590584859 $24.95

Back from Europe (see LOOKING FOR CHET BAKER), jazz pianist Evan Horne and his girlfriend FBI agent Andie Lawrence move in together in Monte Rio in Northern California. Life is great until he learns his teacher-friend, pianist Calvin Hughes died; Calvin left his entire estate to his favorite pupil.

Grieving though he had not seen Calvin in ages, Horne travels to Hughes's Los Angeles home to sort through the estate. When he finds an odd note with a photograph of Hughes standing next to a baby carriage, taped to the bottom of a drawer, Horne wonders what the picture means and why did Calvin conceal it. Horne also discovers some very old handwritten sheet music, two famous Miles Davis recordings. More interested in the music than the baby, Horne investigates how Hughes ended up with the treasures.

The investigation seems superfluous lacking the usual crescendo of a Horne inquiry. Still jazz fans will appreciate the tidbits especially the Mile Davis subplot as the references to music is cleverly used to enhance the tale as the music is the magic. More for jazz lovers than mystery fans, SHADES OF BLUE is entertaining but far from Bill Moody's usual concerto.

The Iron Tongue of Midnight

Beverle Graves Myers
Poisoned Pen
9781590582503 $24.95

In 1740, German composer Karl Johann Weber invites renowned singer Tito Amato to play the lead in a new opera he is producing. Tito is euphoric although his brother in law Gussie Rumbolt points out the role of Tamerlano the lusty Mongol conqueror seems off note for a castrato, but Tito insists the exorbitant fee will cover any shortcomings.

Gussie, who also has been hired to paint scenes, accompanies Tito to the isolated Venetian Villa Dolfini where Weber is leading rehearsals in stark secrecy. That night as Gussie and Tito share a room in the villa, soprano Carmela Costa screams. The bloodcurdling screech wakes everyone up. Lying at her ankle is a corpse apparently beaten to death with a nearby clock pendulum. No one can identify the victim and a check of his pockets does not help as they are totally empty. They send for the High Constable Captain Forti, but he is away. As other midnight killings follow, Tito investigates not knowing when he made that decision his inquiries will turn introspectively personal.

The latest Baroque Mystery (see INTERRUPTED ARIA, PAINTED VEIL, and CRUEL MUSIC) is an excellent historical whodunit that uses an eighteenth century villa to serve as a sort of locked room. Tito is terrific as an amateur sleuth struggling with a case in which motive seems impossible to find since the first deceased is unknown. Besides an entertaining mystery, the story line brings to life the musical side of Venice and to a lesser degree Constantinople through the writings of Tito's brother Alessandro. Readers will sing the praise of Beverle Graves Myers who makes a night at the opera fun.

Terri Cheney
9780061430237 $24.95

Although difficult to read partly because of the topic and partly because Terri Cheney bounces her anecdotal memoir all over the place in a manner similar to how Bi-polar disorder works, MANIC is an insightful personal account of brain chemical imbalance disease. Ms. Cheney describes in vivid detail those times when she thought the big crunch was closing ion on her as depression seemed euphoric in comparisons; she also in somewhat muted tones comparatively speaking those moments when the euphoria is higher than any man made drug can provide. Readers will get inside the author's head as she leaps poles exuberance risk seeking to paralysis in which the bathroom seems to far from her bedroom "cave”. However, it is the memories that devastate the MANIC as she knows every foolish step she has taken whenever she leaves either extreme state; her extremes also drive away frustrated friends and lovers who wonder which Terri they will accompany. This is a terrific memoir by a gutsy author, but not easy to read due to the bouncing anecdotes that takes its toll on the audience expecting a more linear life history.

Now You See Him

Eli Gottlieb
9780061284649 $23.95

In Manhattan, writer Rob Castor could have starred in one of his tales when he kills his girlfriend and himself in a murder suicide. The media goes manic with the deaths of two writers especially since Rob is a cult favorite for his dark tales and "experts” search for clues to this tragedy. His childhood best friend Nick Framingham is stunned when he hears the news and needs to know why over the objection of his wife.

Nick visits Rob's sister Belinda to offer his condolences and to also learn more about Rob's final days especially his relationship with the woman he murdered. Seeing Belinda reminds Rob how much he desired her even as his own marriage is apparently tanking. Still he looks back at their childhood for clues and tries to track Rob's final days to seek an explanation as he like Belinda need closure; instead he finds each step he takes seems to bring him deeper into an abyss.

This is an exciting thriller as Nick struggles to learn why, but also begins to realize the roots of the tragedy lies in their childhoods. Readers will empathize with Nick and his need for closure his way. However the key to this superb suspense story is the slow revelations that ultimately tie together in an incredible ending.

Where the Heart Leads
Stephanie Laurens
9780061243394 $24.95

Lady Penelope Ashford may come from the affluent influential Cynster brood, but she is no quiet debutante. Instead she works extremely hard trying to bring a better life to young street urchins of the London slums with her Foundling House charity. When four of her orphaned children disappear, Penelope believes they were abducted for a nefarious reason and wants them rescued. She knows who is best suited to investigate so in her take charge manner Penelope commands deduction agent Barnaby Adair to locate and save her children.

Barnaby is fascinated by the pushy but caring Penelope. However, he becomes a bit disturbed when she insists on accompanying him as he makes his inquiries as he feels it is not safe for her while she insists she will keep him safe by having his back. With help from his pal Inspector Basil Stokes of Scotland Yard, the duo seeks a burglary school for the young in East End slums even as the two sleuths begin to fall in love.

The latest Cynster tale is an excellent historical romantic mystery starring the usual feisty female and in this case a refreshing sleuth. The fast-paced story line focuses on the lead couple especially their joint investigation into the missing orphans. Filled with twists and red herrings, fans of the series (obviously) and those who enjoy the sub-genre will appreciate this tale of the heart from "the Casebook of Barnaby Adair”.

The Devil's Bones
Jefferson Bass
9780060759858 $24.95

Forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton has built up the anthropological department at the University of Tennessee to the point it is one of the best in the country. He is beginning to heal from the murder of his lover his beloved Dr. Jess Carter at the hands of a medical examiner Dr. Garland Hamilton who hated Jess because she was going to be the next medical examiner for the state. He loathed Bill because the pointed out a major error in Hamilton's findings that could have put an innocent on death row.

The Body Farm is involved in solving on going investigations in which people need answers. Bill's lawyer wants to find out what happened to the remains of his aunt because what the crematorium gave him back was not her ashes. The lawyer wants to learn the truth of what happened to the bodies sent there. He also has to figure out how a man who was in Las Vegas could have had his car explode with his wife sitting in Tennessee. Overlaying all this is the fact that Hamilton has escaped from prison and when the cabin he was staying in blow up, Bill somehow has to find a way to know if the skeleton that is there is the escaped criminal or an unidentified body that Hamilton used to throw the police bill off his scent.

THE DEVIL'S BONES is a fascinating look at how forensic anthropology helps the police solves crimes. The protagonist is a brilliant person who likes to solve it because he is as much a police investigator as a college instructor. Although the escape from emergency room Hamilton was in seems overkill (no pun intended) fans will love reading about these investigative techniques that is opening new avenues in solving crimes.

A Pale Horse
Charles Todd
9780061233562 $23.95

In 1920 five kids arrive at abandoned Yorkshire's Fountains Abbey with an alchemy book they stole from their school. They plan to perform a ritual to raise the devil, but instead flee in fear leaving behind the purloined tome. The next day a corpse wearing a gas mask is found near the book.

Scotland Yard sends troubled Inspector Ian Rutledge to identify the victim as the War Office has an interest in the body too. Although the Great War to end all wars may be over, Ian still suffers from battle fatigue feeling guilty for what he did and saw. His inquiries of the nearby villagers are met with suspicion as each seems to have something to hide. The alchemy book belongs to a conscientious objector schoolmaster, but he also offers little. As deceit seems the norm, Ian struggles to learn the truth while the pale horse of the Apocalypse reminds the shell shocked detective that death is the final frontier.

A PALE HORSE is a fantastic whodunit due to the mentally battered hero whose only respite from the ghost that disturbs him is investigating as this is what he did before he became an unrecognized war "casualty”. The story line is fast-paced, but totally owned by Ian even as the audience obtains a deep look at an English village still reeling from the war. This haunting post WWI series remains one of the best historical police procedurals on the market today.

The Last Cowgirl
Jana Richman
9780061257186 $24.95

Now fifty-two years old and never married Dickie Sinfield looks back on her childhood when her father moved the family from the burbs to a Utah cattle ranch; at seven she went from suburban princess to mucking cowgirl. Over a decade after the transformation, eighteen year old Dickie had enough with the rough lifestyle and fled the ranch for Salt Lake City where she became a reporter.

Over the decades Dickie wants nothing much to do with her family and denies her feelings for her childhood friend Stumpy Nelson. However, her mortality comes home to roost forcing her to reexamine her feelings when her brother, Hebert dies in a poison gas accident at Dugway Proving Grounds. She returns to the ranch for his funeral and to face her family, her friends, and mostly herself.

This is an interesting family drama that looks deep at the impact emotionally on decisions in which people have reasonable choices to make; of fascination is how easily humans rationalize the selection vs. the rejections. In an aside subplot related to Herbert's death, the Feds are nuked by Jana Richman for their disregard of safety when it comes to handling of chemical and biological weapons, but the prime plot is people justifying poor choices.

Last Call
James Grippando
9780060831165 $24.95

Miami criminal defense lawyer Jack Swyteck still worries about his former client bar owner Theo Knight as he knows his best friend has lingering resentment, rightfully so. When Theo was a teen raised by kind Uncle Cy (after his mom was killed) in the roughest hood, he was arrested and convicted for murder. He became the youngest person on death row and was only saved when Jack proved he could not have committed the homicide; even then he still almost was executed.

Jack learns that someone tried to kill Theo in his old hood. Apparently, convict Isaac Reems promised to provide Theo with the name of his mom's killer in exchange to helping him elude the law. Instead the escaped con leaves evidence that Theo abetted his escape while setting Theo up for the failed shooting. Theo has always wanted to avenge his mother's murder, but the case went cold for the cops and him as the trail was outside the hood. While Jack joins Theo on his investigation, he hopes to keep his buddy from committing a homicide, but that may not matter when Isaac is found dead with proof that Theo killed him. Meanwhile an affluent unknown adversary wants the son as dead as the mother so that a two decade old murder stays unsolved.

LAST CALL is an excellent South Florida mystery as the key players bring the Greater Miami area to life in a fast-paced tale. Isaac and whoever hired him cleverly use the past that haunts Theo to get at him while Jack is there for him. A touch of two romances and a bit of humor adds depth to a great cat and mouse thriller.

Mermaids in the Basement
Michael Lee West
9780060184056 $23.95

Carrying twenty extra pounds is enough of a load, but Renata DeChavannes rationalizes that she has earned every pound. Five months ago her mother and stepfather died in a plane crash leaving Renata bereft. Recently the National Examiner ran a feature about her boyfriend award winning movie director Ferguson Lauderdale having an affair with actress Esme Vasquez while filming on location in Ireland Joyce's Ulysses. Finally her father Louie informs her that he is marrying again for the nth time with someone younger than her.

However, all that goes on the back burner when Renata obtains a message from her late mom insisting she go "home” to learn her "dirty secrets." A chance to escape Hollywood and her current case of writer's block, Renata leaves for the Alabama's Gulf Coast. There she will do her mom's bidding while seeing the steel magnolia make that tungsten magnolia triad of her grandmother Honora DeChavannes, Renata's former nanny Gladys Boudreaux and longtime friend former actress Isabella D'Agostina McGeehee.

Although the myriad of subplots needs a scorecard (or perhaps a flow chart) to keep track of, fans will enjoy this amusing slice of southern life. The women including Renata's late mother come across as fully developed formidable people while the men especially her boyfriend and her dad seem emaciated in comparison. Still readers will appreciate this humorous but discerning look at you can come home even if a major part of what made it home has passed on.

City of the Absent
Robert W. Walker
9780060740122 $7.99

The night brings an end to the Chicago Exposition of 1893 and with its closing two murders occurs separated by miles and class. Mayor Carter Harrison who thought he was invincible and had an open door policy even at his home was killed there. Across town Vanderfn and Philander Rolsky are seeking a nonentity that no one will miss. They set their sights on a grandmotherly looking prostitute to harvest her organs for use at a medical college.

However, this time the brothers picked the wrong person because the victim was a Pinkerton Agent Nell Harrington in disguise and on the trail of a doctor who buys corpses and organs. Police Inspector Alastair Ransom was Nell's friend and he obsesses with finding her killer, but he also has enemies in high places like Police Chief Kohler. The Chief collaborates with a senator who hired Pinkerton to find evidence to lock Alastair up as a felon. Alastair knows the police chief and the senator are murderers, but lacks evidence to convict them. He does not make life easier for himself when he goes to castrate a priest defiling children, but was too late as someone took care of the ungodly father. Alistair's boss plans to nail him for the crime.

Robert W. Walker is a master at evoking atmosphere; in this case the gaslight era that enables fiends and lunatics to hide in its shadows. Alastair uses the services of a homeless child as a snitch just like Holmes used the Baker Street Irregulars. In fact the protagonist reminds readers of Holmes as he laconically refuses to give up on a case in which the political and police brass of Chicago are corrupt and willing to hang this dedicated cop instead of seeing justice served.

Lady Killer
Lisa Scottoline
9780060833206 $25.95

When they attended St. Maria Goretti High School, Trish Gambone was the student queen of mean; amongst her victims was good girl Mary DiNunzio. Now Trish needs help and turns to Philadelphia attorney "Saint” Mary for assistance.

Mary is shocked to learn Trish is on the receiving end of an abusive relationship and wants out. However she fears her boyfriend Bobby Mancuso has strong mob connections and will never let her go unless he decides to end it. Mary offers a few suggestions, but Trish thinks none will work with violent Bobby. When Trish vanishes, their mutual friends blame the layer for failing her classmate. When the Feds learn that Mary hides key information re her ties to Bobby, they toss her off the team trying to save Trish so the Saint goes it alone.

Fans of Lisa Scottoline will enjoy the return of intrepid Saint Mary (see KILLER SMILE) as she tries to save the life of her high school enemy. The story line is fast-paced and filled with entertaining action, but most readers will have plausibility doubts of Saint Mary to the rescue; the Feds seem to struggle with the difficult case much more than she does as an attorney turn super sleuth heroine.

Wicked Dead Torn
Stefan Petrucha and Thomas Pendleton
9780061138508 $7.99

The Headmistress of Lockwood Orphanage caught Anne, Mary, and Daphne in a place where the wards are not allowed. Anne talks back insisting that since she and the others are dead the Headmistress can do nothing to harm her; outraged the Headmistress takes Anne the ghost to the Red Room for punishment while warning the others. Mary, Daphne and another child Shirley decide to play the game of the bones without Anne, but vow not to tell her they did; they rationalize that Anne won the last time (see LURKER). Mary wins so she tells the tale of TORN.

High school rock band Torn consists of five members: Devin, Cheryl, Ben, Karsten and Cody. They are becoming popular but front man Cody demands Devin get off the fence between making it and slacking it starting with firing Karsten who stinks as their bass. Devin writes a tune "Lying to the Angels” based on a lullaby his granny used to sing to him. The group especially his girlfriend Cheryl loves the tune, but Karsten fails at the bass. The others leave when a frustrated Devin keeps working with Karsten only to find he stole money from him. Devin confronts Karsten when something invades the house. This monster kills Karsten and the band and the song becomes popular because of the paranormal that haunts the tune. Soon afterward after performing to a packed house at the Tunnel Vision, the monster returns and goes after Cody who upset Devin. Stunned Devin wonders if the music created the monster.

The second Wicked Dead young teenage ghost story is a fabulous tale that grips the audience from the opening riff until the final note is played. The five members of Torn have unique personalities although Devin is the star of the novel that is. Fans will appreciate the fast-paced story line as the monster is in the music and the music is in Devin.

The Sovereign's Daughter
Susan May Warren and Susan K. Downs
9781597899833 $9.97

In 1917 in Alexander Palace just south of Petrograd, Tsar Nikolai Romanov gives state secrets to his faithful twenty something chambermaid Oksana Terekhova. Though he trusts God will protect her, the Russian ruler assumes she has a better chance of survival than he and his royal family from overzealous revolutionaries especially the Bolsheviks, but still fears for her life. As such to keep Oksana and the secrets safe, he asks visiting Mennonite Anton Klassen to escort her to a safe haven; although dangerous the young Mennonite accepts the assignment that will bring honor to him and his family. Anton decides to hide Oksana inside his family on a South Russian farm.

As the Mennonite and the servant travel together, they begin to fall in love. However, dangerous adversaries seem to know that Oksana carries state secrets and make efforts to capture her so they can torture the information out of her. As the peril grows Anton begins to realize the state secrets he assumes his companion possesses is not what is the enemy wants; it is the woman that he vowed to his sovereign he will protect with his life who their adversaries vigorously pursue.

Using the Bolshevik Revolution as the impetus to this superb inspirational historical tale Susan May Warren and Susan K. Downs provide an interesting look at the turmoil of 1917 Russia. The key couple makes for a fascinating story as they flee for their lives heading from royalty to a Mennonite farm while revolutionaries pursue them. Each learns the hard way how difficult it truly is to trust God when you don't understand why bad things are happening to good people. Historical and inspirational fans will fully appreciate this fine saga and seek more collaborative works by the two Susans (see Heirs of Anton trilogy).

Waking Brigid
Francis Clark
9780765318107 $25.95

The Civil War has been over for almost a decade, but Savannah remains under siege as it has been for about a century. A cabal of evil magicians opened a portal that enabled the demon Belial to enter the city. He grants his followers power, wealth and prestige as long and performs their evil demands. When one of the coven members wants out he is driven crazy and locked away in an insane asylum. During those rare lucid moments, he explains what is happening to him as he waits for Belial to kill him.

Sister Brigid has the Sight and untapped powers that go back generations to her ancestors, but have remained dormant in her as the Church has frowned on their use for centuries. Now they are active in Sister Brigid. The Church summons a group of dedicated mages to fight the coven and destroy the demon, but they prove too weak. They need the awakening powers that Brigid possesses if they have any chance at dispatching Belial to hell. Beliel easily defeats the insurgents leading to a mano a mano albeit demon vs. Sister in a battle of magic.

WAKING BRIGID is a chilling horror story that will scare readers with its sense of reality caused by mixing real events that occurred in Savannah in 1874 into the horror storyline. Brigid was given to the Church when she was seven although her family were pagans who followed the ancient ways so that she received some witch training before she was sent to Georgia to live. She comes into her own when she is forced to confront the force of hate emitted by the demon, but she does not know what she is or how much strength she possesses or if she has enough until the final confrontation with the loser most likely spending eternity in hell.

Special Assignments
Boris Akunin
Random House
9780812978605 $13.95

"The Jack of Spades”. The conman is brilliant as he tricks government officials. Embarrassed to be taken in, most prefer to say nothing about their foolishness; a few are outraged but their descriptions of this master thief never match in the slightest except for the same calling card the felon leaves behind. The Moscow Governor-General assigns his deputy for special assignments the great detective Erast Fandorin to end this brazen criminal's activity. Fandorin takes on pathetic Anisii Tulipov as his assistant as they battle in a game of wits with a master opponent.

"The Decorator”. In 1889 someone is killing the prostitutes of Moscow. Fandorin believes to his deepest concern that the Modus Operendi is identical to what he has heard about the Ripper case in London. He hopes to have better success than his English counterparts in bringing Jack to justice as Fandorin bases his chances as better because he brings different values and preconceptions than the Bobbies to the hunt.

These are two terrific investigative Tsarist era police procedurals as those who already have met Fandorin (see THE WINTER QUEEN and THE TURKISH GAMBIT) know he is the Russian Sherlock Holmes with Tulipov as the Muscovite Watson. The tales showcase the vast talent of Boris Akunin as they are incredibly different in tone with The Jack of Spades being lighthearted and amusing so much so that the hero enjoys the game while The Decorator is dark and tense with the hero forced to cross ethics line to stop the serial killer. These are two strong works in one of the best historical mystery series on the market today.

The Deadliest Strain
Jan Coffey
9780778324584 $13.95

The family of four and their dog were on vacation on an isolated island in Moosehead Lake, Maine with only one other family of three and a canine there. One week later the seven on the island, the owner of the two cabins, and two emergency technicians are dead as well as the two dogs. They are victims of extremely rapid necrotizing fasciitis bacteria that ate their organs in under 24 hours. Fear is that the disease will continue to concentrically spread wider as no one knows how it got there in such an isolated locale or by whom, and worse how to stop it as Homeland Security assumes a bioterrorist attack occurred.

The hope for a cure resides in a CIA secret prison. Kurd Dr. Rahaf Banaz accidentally invented the bacteria weapon and risked her life to find an antidote. The CIA holds her indefinitely, but she remains locked inside her head not willing to communicate with anyone. HSD Intel Officer and offensive biological weapons expert Austyn Newman hope to persuade the unresponsive Rahaf into helping them. There are only three problems with their scenario. First terrorists want the deadly bacteria to use on large populations; second there is no known cure; and third the female prisoner incarcerated by the CIA is not Rahaf, but instead is her non scientist sister Fahimah.

This is an exhilarating action-packed thriller that grips the audience the moment that the dog Trouble finds the decomposed corpses of the other vacationing family and never slows down until the climax. The scenario is frightening and worse plausible, especially as innocent people and the canines are the early victims. Fans will find THE DEADLIEST STRAIN fascinating while praying biological warfare never comes to pass. Although the ending seems too contrived, no one will leisurely be drinking coffee while reading this spine-tingling tale.

Below the Surface
Karen Harper
9780778324966 $6.99

Twin sisters Briana and Daria Devon are diving together as they have for twenty years in the Gulf of Mexico off South Florida to check the health of the waters when a storm arrives much faster than expected with Bree under the water. When she reaches the surface she is stunned; not only is Daria missing, but their boat Mermaid II is gone. Panicky Bree swims to the safety of barrier island Keewaden.

The storm came too fast for Cole de Roca too who beaches his boat on Keewaden to wait it out when he sees Bree and helps her. Later she tries to learn what happened to her sibling, but as she begins to unravel the secrets, Bree begins to believe she was the intended victim not Daria and begins to doubt her heroic rescuer, whom she is falling in love with even as she wonders if Cole helped kidnap her sister.

BELOW THE SURFACE is a tenser thriller from the very first page when Bree surfaces in the stormy sea to find her sister and their boat missing. The story line never slows down from that exciting onset until the final confrontation at seas. Readers will finish in one sitting to learn what happened to the missing "Mermaid” Daria and whether Cole is Bree's knight in shining armor or a betraying pirate. Karen Harper provides a terrific romantic suspense.

Single Mama Drama
Kayla Perrin
9780778325512 $13.95

Miami single mom Vanessa Cain feels she has finally found her Mr. Right in former Atlanta Braves player Eli Johnson; they are engaged to marry although they had a fight over spilled milk. However, the office manager of Believe the Dream, Change Your Life agency soon learns the hard way that she once again gave her heart to a loser. CNN reports that the still married Eli was killed by Conrad Redgrave, husband of his lover Alyssa; the cuckold spouse confessed he shot and killed the paramours with a single arrow as they were having sex in his bed.

That was bad enough with the media in frenzy mold. However, Eli's legal widow Tassie demands Vanessa vacate the condo she shared with her daughter Rayna and the late athlete as she says it is at least half hers since the divorce was never finalized. Needing to escape the media frenzy and the vindictive wife, Vanessa heads to the Bahamas on business in an attempt to persuade highly regarded motivational speaker Chaz Anderson to join her agency. They hit it off, but she does not trust her fickle heart to finally find the right man for her.

This is an enjoyable contemporary romance starring a very deep lead female character who makes mistakes in judgment, but refuses to give up on her self and on life. Chaz is a nice person and Rayna provides child support to the story line, but as the title states this is a SINGLE MAMA DRAMA.

Notes From the Backseat
Jody Gehrman
Red Dress

9780373895489 $13.99

Marla and Gwen met a dozen years ago as sophomores at Arly High School. They became best buds and still are. While Marla is in Paris meeting her future in-laws Gwen beomes confused and upset with her relationship. Since Marla will not be available for girl chats, she gives her friend a journal to write down her feelings as she, her boy friend Coop and his best friend since college Dannika drive from San Diego to a wedding in Mendocino in the "Devil Blonde's” car.

Gwen feels jealous before she even meets the beautiful and popular actress Dannika Winters. What shakes her further is she is not sure she and Coop will pass the impossible line of demarcation of three months, a zone that no previous boyfriend of Gwen ever made. Marla believes Coop and Gwen are soulmates, but she believes that not even Jackie O could help her friend in this crisis as the Dannika is so in and a mere mortal like she is cannot compete. The drop dead gorgeous Ms. D makes the skittish Gwen feel insecure as D and Coop are Malibu while Gwen and Coop are the Laundromat.

NOTES FROM THE BACKSEAT is a terrific tale of an insecure woman writing in journal format how inadequate she feels in a contest against a Goddess rival with the winner taking all; the Dolphins vs. the Patriots. The three prime players come alive especially Gwen who shrivels into jealous loser status while Dannika tries to sabotage the relationship obtaining courage from Hostess cupcakes and Coop is a nice person unaware of the game in which he is the prize. Readers who appreciate a deep tale that gets into the guts of the star will enjoy what makes Gwen tick.

Lady of Milkweed Manor
Julie Klassen
Bethany House
9780764204791 $13.99

Her father may be a Vicar, but he has no soul as he throws his twenty years old daughter Charlotte Lamb out of his home when she became pregnant. She has no place to go except to Milkweed Manor, a home for unwed mothers.

Ashamed before arriving at the manor, Charlotte is further humiliated when she learns a former suitor rejected by her cold stern father as unsuitable Dr. Daniel Taylor works there. However, he proves a gentleman when upon recognizing her he promises not to reveal her identity. In turn she learns his secret and vows to keep it concealed even after he asks her to help him with a personal matter. Neither expected to fall in love especially since he is staff and she is a fallen woman.

LADY OF MILKWEED MANOR is a discerning look back to the nineteenth century in which single women were ostracized if they became pregnant while society winked at the virile men. The story line is more historical than romance even with a changing relationship between the lead couple. The insight into the era through what happens to a single pregnant female from her out of sight out of mind exile to the birthing to the goat/breastfeeding is fascinatingly profound, but also proves overloading at times and the ending seemingly impossible. Still this is a strong character driven tale that will appeal to historical readers.

Cathy Marie Hake
Bethany House
9780764203183 $13.99

In 1891 Texas, farmer Jakob Stauffer misses his late wife Naomi not only as a companion he cherished but because she brought order and organization to his household of his pregnant sister Annie Erickson and his young daughter Emmy-Lou. Miss Hope Ladley arrives looking for work as a temporary housekeeper. The widower Jakob finds her upbeat and very kind towards his beloved daughter and her mule Hattie with the hat. Her references are the best, and she will not mistake his hiring her as a matrimonial interview so he hires her.

Jakob hopes that Hope can bring order like his late wife did until she died sixteen months ago. Instead she brings even more chaos; yet things are done well and Stauffer finds he enjoys the insanity that the workaholic Hope brings to the mix as everyone seems happy for the first time since Naomi died. His new fear is what he will do when she decides God calls on her to move on. However, before that occurs a viper enters Eden when Annie's odious spouse Konrad arrives destroying the equilibrium and much more.

Hope is a unique character as she humorously "mangles” idioms and colloquialism like "you don't know me from Eve” and "you know me from Adam” as he is male. Readers will be amused by her commentary as she is Mary Poppins on the farm in late nineteenth century America. The support cast augments life on the farm in a bygone era as readers will wonder like Jakob who believes, thanks to God, he has fallen in love for the second time in his plentiful life if his beloved will leave.

Off the Track
Betsy S. Lee
871-G Industrial Road, San Carlos, California 94070
0741438178 $13.95

Miss Libby Lee was a very successful Greyhound racing dog, but though a winner in most of her races, the sleek canine lived a tough boring life. She travels in a small cage from track to track every day. However, when her career tanks as she gets older and loses speed, she is exiled to the frightening off track where none of your pals and rivals ever hears from you again.

Libby is fortunate as Betsy and Kal, known as mommy and daddy, adopt her and take her to their home in Florida where she meets Grandma and the older much smaller Italian Greyhound Faun, affectionately known as Mr. Nut. Libby becomes a special canine when she becomes a therapy dog. Life is good except for Mr. Nut's mouth odor and in house accidents. When mommy and daddy bring home an ailing Greyhound they call Precious Princess, Libby and Nut are unhappy. However, over time they become friends as PP heals.

Using personification, Libby tells much of this insightful entertaining tale from her first person account although there are third person escapades in which the three dogs share thoughts and history. From the moment Libby fails to get the mirror dog to play with her until PP becomes a therapy dog, elementary school children will be hooked while subtly looking at social issues and positive personality traits without dumbing down. Few autobiographical fictions especially targeting preadolescents are as much fun as this anthropomorphic tale of Libby Lee told in her words.

King and Queen
C.A. Thomas
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd. - 515, Parker, Colorado 80134
9781432707309 $17.95

She was fourteen and he was nineteen when they became betrothed with their families' blessing. Yeshua loved Mary with all his heart and saw the innocence in her that touched him deeply. Mary the Magdalene felt Yeshua was different than any other man in existence but she loved him with the whole of her heart, understanding him when his own disciples were confused. Yeshua thought of Mary as his uncrowned Queen, a Nazarene high priestess who worshipped the Mother Goddess with Yeshua's approval for what is the Father without the Mother.

The disciples especially Peter and his male followers were angry and jealous that at times he paid more attention to Mary than he did to them. He sat with her when he preached and he was not afraid to caress her in public and treat her as an equal. They had three children, a boy and two girls and Jesus loved his family. He saw the future and knew that Mary would be reviled, her name an anathema to many people even though she gave much to the world completing the circle of Jesus' life.

Although the basic essence of how the bible describes Jesus is not changed, C.A. Thomas shows Jesus as being as much a man with a man's feelings and needs as he is part of the Divine. He states that Jesus treated men and women as equals. The women played an important part in Jesus' life because as he lay dying at the cross, they were the ones with him. C.A. Thomas has a written a beautiful love story that allows readers to see the times in which Jesus lived.

Gotta Keep On Tryin'
Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant
9781416531678 $24.00

African American single mom Gayle Saunders knows she has come a long way since her homeless days caused by her gambling husband Ramsey (see TRYIN' TO SLEEP IN THE BED YOU MADE) as she raises her beloved teenage daughter, Vanessa alone. She and her long time best friend business partner Patricia Reid have made a success of their Ell Crawford children's books and related merchandise. Whereas Gayle is the artist, Pat is the business; together they have turned Ell & Me into a thriving firm.

As Gayle struggles with the sudden rebellion of Vanessa who wants to become a professional dancer and moves into the home of her boyfriend, Pat struggles with the arrival of teenager Tiffani who claims that Marcus is her father. Although DNA testing proves otherwise, Marcus wants to help her make it while neglecting his wife Pat. Since kindergarten Pat and Gayle have been there for one another if only to listen, but this time neither can talk about the fears inside of their respective hearts.

Success does not necessarily bring happiness as Gayle and Pat learn the hard way in this fine family drama. Each of the key players, not just the Ell & Me two entrepreneurs are fully developed. Thus the audience understands why Marcus wants to help Tiffani; Vanessa needs to leave home although she does not slice the financial cord; Pat feel insecure Gayle feels all alone; and Tiffani manipulates the four of them. Although at times the story line dips into soap opera territory, readers will enjoy the sequel that follows the personal lives of two friends and their families.

Harriet and Isabella
Patricia O'Brien
9781416552208 $25.00

In March 1887 in Brooklyn Heights the great American abolitionist preacher Henry Ward Beecher lays nears death. His extended family has gathered to pay their last respects while the media also arrives seeking a story especially since his two famous sisters have publicly feuded over him in the past fifteen years.

The gathering is mindful of a similar family meeting that happened a decade and a half earlier to discuss how to handle the scandal. On the front page of the newspaper is an accusation that Henry is having an affair with his parishioner Elizabeth Tilton witnessed by her children. A church committee conducts a kangaroo hearing into the matter and in 1875, he stands trial for committing adultery while his former parishioner, Theodore Tilton, sues him. Henry's sisters split as Harriet the renowned author supports him and Isabelle the ardent suffragette condemns her sibling.

This is a fabulous historical fiction tale that could be easily read in the headlines of today. Other flashbacks round out the tale, but it is the deftly handled celebrity trial of Henry Ward Beecher that makes this worth reading. Reconstruction Era historical buffs will appreciate this fine telling of the events that caused a schism amidst the first family of mid nineteenth century human rights.

The Undead Kama Sutra
Mario Acevedo
9780060833282 $13.95

In a Sarasota, Florida motel room that caters to hookers and pot buyers, Gilbert Oldon the alien lies dying. He called vampiric private investigator Felix Gomez to come to his death bed immediately. Gomez wonders how his former client who hired him to handle THE NYMPHOS OF ROCKY FLATS outbreak in Colorado knew he was on the Florida Interstate on a more personal case, finding THE UNDEAD KAMA SUTRA tome that allegedly provides instruction on increasing psychic power through sex; still this is the alien so he rushes to the motel. There the dying Oldon directs Gomez to "find Goodman” in order to save the women.

Felix is confused by Oldon's last words so he remains on his case, which leads him to the Florida Keys where he meets researcher Carmen Arellano. When three women vanish without a trace and an alien blaster kills a guest at a nearby vampire resort, Gomez and Arellano team up to learn what is going on starting with seeking out Goodman; who is a former US Army colonel. Still not concerned even when he considers how knowledgeable his original source was, Felix finding the missing females has turned personal when aliens abduct Carmen.

The third Gomez paranormal Noir (see X-RATED BLOODSUCKERS) is as zany as ever as the private investigator struggles with the Goodman affair as that intrudes on his collection of THE UNDEAD KAMA SUTRA pages. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action from Sarasota to the Keys. However, an improbable late twist will disappoint fans as that takes a major bite out of what had been a strong thriller.

The Outlaw Demon Wails
Kim Harrison
9780060788704 $24.95

Cincinnati based bounty hunter Rachel Morgan remains in shock following the unsolved murder of her boyfriend (see FOR A FEW DEMONS MORE). She plans to solve the case, but neither her mundane hunting skills nor her witchcraft abilities have helped her achieve her objective.

Meanwhile Elf politician Trent Kalamack presses her to perform a special mission in the spiritual realm. Master vampire Rynn Cormel makes demands on her too. Finally her friend Ceri is pregnant; something that never happens to former demons unless the partner is of a certain species. Finally with her failure to track the killer, Rachel begins to doubt her witch magic rationalizing dating and living with a vampire cost her everything; though deep down she knows using demon magic even in a good cause is the probable reason as the means never validates the end. Mom and Rachel's pixy partner Jenks help her cope with the mortal and paranormal crisis tossed at her.

The latest Hollows fantasy is an exciting entry as Rachel is facing a series of calamities in her usual amusing sexual innuendo manner. The story line is filled with several subplots in which none stand out as prime yet coherently come together centering on her investigating the homicide while the demands of the paranormal leave the heroine without a respite. Although lacking the dramatic climax of the previous stunner (Kim Harrison will have a difficult time topping the end of FOR A FEW DEMONS MORE), fans will enjoy Rachel's escapades as THE OUTLAW DEMON WAILS is an entertaining tale.

Burn Zone
James O. Born
9780399154546 $25.95

In a sting operation, DEA Agent Felix Baez and ATF Agent Alex "Rocket” Duarte take down drug supplier B. L. Gastlin. They make a deal with him that he goes free if he helps them bring down his supplier, the shadowy Panamanian Mr. Ortiz. Felix guarantees Gastlin's safety to the frightened felon especially if he accompanies the two Feds to Panama where Ortiz's command center allegedly is. They liaison with Panamanian police officer Colonel Lazio Straub, but Ortiz learns of Gaston's betrayal and arranges a successful hit. He knows the next targets will prove more difficult as he must rid himself of the pesky American agents.

Ortiz has a package placed on a ship filled with marijuana that is to be delivered to William "Ike” Flood on behalf of President Jessup of the National Army of White Americans. What is inside the crate will bring American to its knees and force the country to turn isolationist and close its borders. Ortiz wants to destroy the United States for invading his country. He uses his secret persona to gain entrance to America in order to insure his plan works. Duarte follows a hunch that leads back home, but though like a bloodhound he follows the scent, he prays he is not too late as something nasty is coming down.

James O. Born has created a protagonist who is a hero in every sense of the word as he risks his life to enter a FIELD OF FIRE in order to prevent a catastrophe from occurring. Alex thinks outside the box, which enables him to have a chance to prevent a cataclysmic tragedy, but performing outside the bureaucratic crypt is not good for advancement especially when he steps outside the law as the end justifies the means. Although it is hard to accept that Ortiz risks his lucrative business out of a thirst for vengeance, readers will enjoy this action-packed terrorism police procedural.

Strangers in Death
J.D. Robb
9780399154706 $25.95

In 2060 New York City, everyone believes that affluent businessman Thomas Anders is an upright moral person. He gives away sports equipment to needy children; has set up sports camps and special programs for the kids. He wants to give impoverished children a chance and his lovely wife Ava helps by creating successful fundraisers. Thus it comes as quite a shock when he is found dead in his bed with his hands and feet tied to the posts with black velvet ropes and one around his neck.

NYPSD Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas catches the case and quickly believes certain evidence does not make sense. Only someone who knew the security codes could get in, but that limits the suspects to the victim's wife, nephew and few others; all have air tight alibis. Morris the medical examiner finds a trace of barbiturates in Thomas' system, which means he was unconscious when he was killed. Eve has an idea who did it, but lacks proof to prove it.

Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb consistently provides quality entertaining futuristic police procedurals; her latest "in death” thriller keeps her readers attention throughout as the suspense remains high while the audience wonders how Eve will prove who the killer is as fans know early on who she suspects. Eve continues to grow so that she remains fresh adding to the fun of observing her seek evidence to affirm who done it.

The Ghost War
Alex Berenson
9780399154539 $24.95

The CIA knows the best way to insure that North Korea's nuclear weapons aspirations is slowed down considerably is to abduct leading scientist Dr. Sung Kwan from the rogue state. The snatch plan is perfect and the team succeeds in a grabbing Kwan; however, the CIA unit and the Korean scientist are killed during the escape. Someone from within the intelligence community sold out the mission. Agent Jennifer Exley is assigned to find out whom.

As she works the impossible task of uncovering the mole her lover CIA Agent John Wells returns to Afghanistan where he previously uncovered an al-Qaeda plot to destroy Times Square (see THE FAITHFUL SPY). This time his assignment is to determine who are the outsiders abetting the Taliban return to power as the political answer of blaming Iran makes no logical sense after being brutal enemies for years.

Uncovering a mole has been used many times, but Alex Berenson keeps it fresh due to the plausibility of the North Korean gambit; the Afghan subplot also feels possible. Thus readers obtain a great espionage thriller as Mr. Berenson uses international headlines to write an exciting action-packed novel focusing on two CIA operations.

Comrade J: The Untold Secrets of Russia's Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War
Pete Earley
9780399154393 $25.95

The Wall and the Curtain are down as the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union break apart. However, Russia continued its espionage efforts in America even as Yeltsin and the West became allies of a sort. Pete Early (author of true espionages like FAMILY OF SPIES) provides the biography of Russian spy Sergei Tretyakov, code-named Comrade J, who ultimately defected to the West in 2000. In the late 1990s until he defected Tretyakov was assigned to the Russian embassy in New York; from there he led covert operations across the United States, but became disenchanted with Yeltsin and Putin, who he blames for saddling him with inept political cronies (sounds familiar) and a "corrupt political system" that made Communism seem pure. He also had a personal selfish rationale; desiring a better life for his daughter. Tretyakov became an American double agent before finally publicly defecting. The fascination with this memoir is with the more questionable allegations that Tretyakov makes in his numerous interviews with Pete Earley including accusations inside the State Department that probably brings smiles to Nixon and McCarthy; many as far as this reviewer knows have been verified by an independent third party. Well written and entreating, as Tretyakov's message is that Putin, after looking into the eyes of Bush to see his soul, believes America is no friend of Russia and reacts accordingly.

A Passion so Pure
Julie Lessman
9780800732110 $13.99

In 1916 Boston, godless Collin McGuire and deeply religious Charity O'Connor apparently are a love match to the chagrin of her sister Faith, who also is attracted to the wild Irishman. Faith knows she has no prayer of competing with her much prettier sibling so she hides her jealousy, envy, and desire behind the rationalization that their father specifically forbids this rogue from courting either of his daughters and besides the rowdy Collin does not believe in the Lord.

Collin initially finds Charity as the more attractive sister although he acknowledges Faith is pretty; he secretly dates Charity knowing her father would prevent them if he openly tried to see her. However as the Great War enflames Europe and America struggles to remain neutral, he begins to notice the inner beauty of Faith and soon gets distracted by Charity's older sister as he knows he must make up his mind because either way their father will say no.

The first "Daughters of Boston” tale is an entertaining historical romance that brings to life Boston during WWI just prior to America's entry into the Great War to end all wars. The story line is loaded with real events from 1916 such as Wilson breaking off diplomatic relationships with Germany that bring the era in Massachusetts alive, but also somewhat slows down the pace as if Julie Lessman could not decide between a pure historical or a romantic historical. Still the prime four characters are fully developed and their feelings seem genuine so that fans of early twentieth century romances with plenty of interwoven historical information will feel transported to New England as the United States slowly prepares to go over there.

Stuck in the Middle
Virginia Smith
9780800732325 $13.99

Joan Sanderson loves her sisters, but also is jealous of both them. Her older sibling Allie has started her own family and her younger sibling Tori has had early career success. Instead Joan feels STUCK IN THE MIDDLE of her sisters as a failure since her boyfriend dumped her and her job stinks.

However, moving next door is a young woman's fantasy: a single hunk doctor. To her surprise, he is very religious, which gets her thinking about her lapsed beliefs. As she struggles to provide quality care to her elderly grandmother, Joan reassesses her feelings of abandonment that she blamed on her mother although her father was the one who left. With Allie as her ally and Tori as her rival, Joan tries to get the hunk next door to notice her, but at what cost to who she is.

The first of the Sister to Sister trilogy is a warm relationship drama as the three sisters seem real especially their sibling rivalries. The story line starts a bit slow to allow the audience to understand each of the sisters, but especially the star the middle child Joan. Fans have fully developed siblings who behave in a consistent manner, which leads to a fine inspirational chick lit tale that focuses on being one's self when relating with others especially loved ones.

As High as the Heavens
Kathleen Morgan
9780800758165 $13.99

In 1568 illegitimate James Stewart claims the Scottish throne when he imprisons his half-sister Mary Queen of Scots in Lochleven Castle. Mary's loyal supporters are outraged by this affront and plot to rescue the woman they feel is the rightful English queen.

One of Mary's most ardent defenders Lady Heather Gordon concocts a daring but dangerous scheme to liberate her Queen. To enter Lochleven, which is strongly guarded by usurper loyalists, she must persuade Duncan Mackenzie, who has lived his life in the wilds of the Highlands to masquerade as foppish Colin Stewart who has access to Castle. Pretending to be a tutor, she struggles to convince the rugged Duncan to abet her cause; instead he wants nothing to do with the plot except that enables him to spend time with Heather who tries to teach him to be a fop.

AS HIGH AS THE HEAVENS is an engaging sixteenth century Scottish romance in which the male lead provides a fresh face. Heather is a heroic loyal person, but it is the outdoors craggy Duncan who makes the tale as she tries to polish the diamond in the rough by turning him into an aristocratic fop. Fans of the sub-genre will appreciate the tale of love between the tutor and the student with the royal intrigue in the backdrop.

Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear
Sharon Dunn
9781590526903 $12.99

The Three Horses, Montana Bargain Hunters Network (housewife Ginger Salinski, mother of four Suzanne Thames, elderly Alreta and college student Kindra Hall) are in Calamity, Nevada for the Inventors Expo. Ginger's spouse Earl has a booth at the show in which the couple has taken out a second mortgage to fund his entry.

However, The Wind-Up Hotel is overbooked and the help has quit while the Squirrel Lover's Convention is also in town. However, someone apparently is stealing jewelry from the guests while the owner Dustin Clydell ignores the complaints especially the thefts and the AC is not working. However, the BHN members become upset when Dustin refuses to proved Earl a booth because Ginger was signing in for him; apparently the hotel is overbooked so Dustin demands Earl must sign the registry and he is too late. His wife tries to fix the problem as she thinks her spouse is being unfair and ridiculous. When a six foot man wearing a teddy bear costume is murdered the BHN gang investigates feeling they gained from recent sleuthing experience back home (see DEATH OF A GARAGE SALE NEWBIE).

This is an amusing amateur sleuth tale starring the delightful BHN ladies. The story line uses hyperbole to purposely add humor and inspiration to the mix leading to the fearsome female foursome landing in fiascos over the top of nearby Boundary Peak. Readers will not care as Ginger wonders if her belief in the Lord was wrong as nothing goes right for her and Earl, but she knows better once especially after the breath of life.

What You Can't See
Allison Brennan, Roxanne St. Claire, and Karin Tabke
9781416542292 $6.99

"Deliver Us From Evil" by Allison Brennan. His friend Rafe Cooper calls demonologist Anthony Zaccardi to come immediately from the Vatican to Santa Louisa, California as an evil permeates the sanitary for disturbed priests. Knowing his friend is not an alarmist, Anthony leaves immediately only to arrive to see twelve slaughtered priests and Rafe in a coma. He knows three humans are trying to bring the demon Ianax completely over from hell, but local sheriff Skye McPherson refuses to believe anything religious as she knows personally they are human charlatans, but her heart wants to believe Anthony.

"Reason to Believe" by Roxanne St. Claire. The Bullet Catchers personal protection firm sends Chase Ryker to keep TV psychic Arianna Killian safe from what appears to be serious email threats. He is skeptical of her skills though she proves her ability even before they formally meet. When someone tries to kill his client, Chase risks his life to keep her safe; not knowing his heart already belongs to the psychic.

"Redemption” by Karin Tabke. Oakland police officer Zach Garret has crossed the line often, but his only regret is what he did to his former fiance Danica Keller. Zach survives a car crash caused by his partner Mark, but not the punch to his throat. Michael gives Zach a choice of eternal burning in hell or persuading Danica that she is the last Starkeeper and he as a Caladin needs to keep her safe from the Immortals, merge the three objects that make up the trinity, and sire the next generation with her. Fighting evil is easy compared to persuading Danica that he loves her.

Romantic fantasy readers will appreciate these three delightful exhilarating tales that make the paranormal seem real with the bonus being one includes the "Bullet Catchers”.

Tumbling Through Time

Gwyn Cready
9781416541158 $6.99

While at the Pittsburgh International Airport on a business trip with Tom Fraser awaiting a flight, "look before you leap” business executive Persephone "Caution” Pyle tries on a pair of shoes at Nine West. The next thing Seph as she is called knows is that she is not in Pennsylvania or even the twenty-first century. Somehow she has leaped without looking to a ship Neuf Ouest on the Adriatic during a hurricane; the year is 1706.

The vessel is captained by Philip Drummond, a privateer who could be the twin of Tom, who she is attracted to. However, more confusing is that Philip happens to be the male lead of a romance novel she has considered writing. Drummond offers to take her to Venice if she assists him in locating documents that could impact the English navy and she writes his destiny with a positive conclusion as he does not want to be left hanging. As she falls in love with her host, Seph returns to her present so that she can aid Philip by obtaining the help of Tom, who she also loves.

TUMBLING THROUGH TIME is a fabulous whimsical time traveling romance starring a wonderful protagonist. Seph the cautious one is terrific as she inadvertently leaps from office life where romances are disdained into a buccaneer adventure where a romance is encouraged. Fans who appreciate a clever different type of tale in which a modern day white collar woman wannabe writer lands on an early eighteenth century buccaneer vessel will appreciate this fast-paced charmer as she controls his destiny.

Marked by Moonlight
Sharie Kohler
Pocket Books
9781416542278 $6.99

School teacher Claire Morgan is a mouse except when it comes to her students. When her pupil Lenny Alvarez fails to show up for his SAT tutoring, Claire becomes concerned. She travels to a dangerous part of town that she would never go near except to help a student to see if he okay and get him back to class as she knows his home life stinks. While in the slums a strange humongous dog attacks and bites Claire.

Lycan hunter Gideon March has always killed his prey until he meets still somewhat meek Claire. He understands he must kill her, but hopes he can find the alpha that changed her before Claire kills someone. His superior Cooper warns Gideon that he is thinking with his heart and violating standard operating procedures; if he will not kill her before the full moon rises; he will send a more dedicated agent to do the job.

The first Moon Chasers werewolf romance is a terrific tale due to the difference of opinion by the lead pair as to the change. Whereas the mouse now roars; her beloved fears that she will soon turn predatory. Readers will enjoy this strong suspense thriller as time is running out for the hero, who knows if he fails to hunt down and kill the alpha before the Full Moon, he will have to kill his beloved.

They Did It With Love
Kate Morgenroth
9780452288973 $14.00

Following the death of her ice cold father, twenty-something Sofie and her husband Dean move from Manhattan to affluent Greenwich, Connecticut. She joins other married females (friendly Susan, trophy wife Ashley, unhappy Julia and acrimonious "president” Priscilla) in a local mystery book club that becomes the center of her activities in the burbs.

Sofie and Priscilla are walking when the former sees Julia hanging from a tree, an apparent suicide. GPD Detective Peters affirms the death scene looks like a suicide, but he finds it too coincidental that the first wife of the victim's husband Alex killed herself too; that first death Peters felt was more suspicious looking than this one so he wonders if Alex improved. However, like the stars of the amateur sleuths she has recently read mostly to avoid the wrath of Pricilla, Sofie has some doubts too. The other surviving club members believe Alex killed his wife. As Dean and Priscilla begin an affair, the club president pushes Sofie to investigate while Alex turns to her also insisting his late second wife had a secret lover, who may have killed her to keep her silent. Sofie begins to turn around her opinion that he is the killer especially when she learns how social Dean has gotten with the mystery book club memberships.

This is entertaining police procedural amateur sleuth tale starring a fully developed cast of wealthy people. The story line is character driven as readers meet up front the couples and two competing detectives (GPD and the Office of the DA) so that any of the book club members even Sofie or their spouses could be the killer as few accept suicide. Well written, fans who like to match wits with the author and the sleuths will find a coda revealing twist involving victim vs. villain needed to solve the case as crime caper fans will relish the aptly titled THEY DID IT WITH LOVE.

Once Smitten, Twice Shy
Lori Wilde
Forever (Hachette)
9780446618465 $6.99

Two years ago Secret Service agent Shane Tremont and wedding videographer Tish Gallagher divorced though they remain hot for one another. While Tish's business borders on bankruptcy, Shane protects the POTUS' daughter Elysee. When he is injured in the line of duty, Elysee thinks he is her knight in shining armor. He cherishes her friendship combined with her adulation; Shane thinks he is in love. They become engaged as the country goes wild over the romance between the government agent and the First Daughter.

Elysee hires Tish to videotape their engagement party and their wedding as she knows Shane still has a torch for his ex and believes that should bring finality to the couple. However, Elysee plan backfires as Shane and Tish realize they still love each other, but is that enough to start over after failing the first time and if not is it enough for him to break it off with the First Daughter.

The second Wedding Veil Wishes tale (see THERE GOES THE BRIDE) is an entertaining contemporary romance in which Shane is simply a nice guy while Tish starts off too work driven but realizes her error when she a second chance. Fans will enjoy this amusing tale that obviously will remind readers of Katie Holmes' movie First Daughter

Between the Sheets
Robin Wells
9780446618410 $6.99

No one believes Emma Jamison when she swears that she is just the butler at the Mulendoff estate and not the person who slept with the married president-elect Robert Ferguson when he died from a heart attack. Instead as she tries to reclaim her wrecked reputation she loses her business and her house. Emma takes a job in Chartreuse, Louisiana at the assisted living facility where her beloved grandmother lives even though the townsfolk like all of American assume she is the happy hooker.

Max Duval meets Emma and is attracted to her, but believes she is guilty in spite of her insistence she is innocent. However Max plans to avoid the happy hooker as he is running for public office and she can only destroy his chances of winning especially since his opponent believes in negative campaigning. However, his avoidance strategy goes astray when her grandmother and his grandfather apparently become lovers; that forces him to spend time with irresistible Emma as he considers becoming the second politician he believes she slept with.

BETWEEN THE SHEETS is a fascinating contemporary romance starring a likable lead character whose reputation is ruined yet she keeps her head up high. Although insisting that she was not the he hooker, Emma is in many ways is like Monica Wolinsky who has kept her head high and has achieved plenty of earned success since her fifteen minutes of notoriety fame. The grandparents and Max add strength to a refreshing interesting character study starring a maligned yet argent heroine who holds her head up in spite of media and public ridicule (you go Monica - you earned it).

Highland Wolf
Hannah Howell
9780821780008 $6.99

By 1477 Scotland disgraced former Laird James Drummond knows if he is caught he will be executed for killing his wife Mary three years ago. However, he also realizes as he hides that he will soon need to get inside his former home Dunncraig to find proof that his late spouse's relative and current Laird Donnell MacKay killed or arranged the killing of his late spouse. James also wants to hold his child Margaret whom he desperately misses, but claimed as his by the devious new Laird.

He manages to get inside Dunncraig masquerading as a master carver. However, as he uses his disguise to get around the keep, James meets Donnell's cousin Annora MacKay, who takes care of the laird's young daughter. They are attracted to one another and she unmasks him; but instead of exposing James, she helps him. When James goes berserk when someone tries to rape his beloved Annora, they are forced to flee. However, they are caught by his enemy leaving them no time left for love as he is to be executed while she has already been flogged.

Few authors if any can match the passion that Hannah Howell consistently brings to her Highland historical romances. Although somewhat like her myriad of previous well written fifteenth century Scottish tales, fans will relish Ms. Howell's terrific HIGHLAND WOLF as the probability of this couple surviving seems almost zero.

Dead Perfect
Amanda Ashley
9780821780619 $6.99

She is dying and has little time left yet Shannah Dover has hope because of a man she has seen each night. Curious about him she starts to follow him and begins to believe he is a vampire. She follows him to his home and knocks on the door and when he opens it her hopes are dashed because the sun is still out. Ronan is a vampire but can stand the daylight a little and he sees the sickness in her and gives her some of his blood and makes her forget about it.

He is a romance writer writing under a female pseudonym and has an agent who wants him to go on a book tour. He convinces Shannah to impersonate him and each time the illness threatens her, he gives her more time by having her drink his blood. Soon he is in love with the dying mortal but she no longer wants to be a vampire. The thought of losing her tears him apart; however, he believes if he turns her without her consent she will hate him.

Amanda Ashley is one of this reviewer's favorite vampire romance writers. Her Byronic vampires are filled with angst and have a gentleness about them that appeals to the mortals they love. Ronan is 513 years old and a power vampire who knows fear for the first time in centuries because he knows love and is afraid it will be taken from him. Shannah is a strong-willed brave woman who wants to love but accepts that unless a miracle occurs she is doomed. DEAD PERFECT is the perfect books for readers of the vampire romances.

Morning Light
Catherine Anderson
9780451222770 $7.99

Clairvoyance runs through the maternal genes of her family so in spite of growing up as an accepted norm, Loni MacEwen detests her gift believing it is a curse. Her feelings were recently accentuated when she helped the police on a case that ended badly. Thus she flees to Crystal Falls, Oregon to get away although she knows she cannot completely run from her second sight.

In the rustic small town Loni is stunned when she sees the face of rancher Clint Harrigan for the first time person; he has been the star of her visions forever as he is her soulmate. However, she also envisions his son needing him as Trevor has lost his mom due to a rafting incident that has left him lost in the wilderness; Clint assumes she is a lunatic as he has no children. He revises his opinion when the media runs the story. As the pair travels together to find the child he never knew he sired Clint begins to fall in love with his psychic guide.

The sequel to SUN KISSED starring Clint's younger sister is a delightful contemporary paranormal romantic suspense that brings to life the Oregon wilderness. The story line is fast-paced as Loni insists the time is running out for Trevor forcing the duo to frantically hurry. Readers will feel they have second sight as they will get inside the heroine's head as she panics over being too late again. Although the feelings of love between the lead couple arrives way to fast, the key to MORNING LIGHT is that both heroes keep their passion somewhat in check as saving the lad remains the prime focus of an exciting thriller.

JoAnn Ross
9780451223203 $7.99

Having served in the Afghan War, former SEAL Chief Petty Officer Zach Tremayne returns to his hometown Swann Island, South Carolina; he hopes the barrier island will enable him to move past his recent appalling experience of seeing the deaths of his brothers in arms. Sabrina Swann also returns to her hometown Swann Island, South Carolina; she hopes the barrier island will enable her to move past the appalling deadly terrorist attack on the Florence, Italy Paradiso Angeli Hotel where she was a waitress.

Zach and Sabrina were teen sweethearts so with both coming home and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), they naturally come together. As they help each other move forward, they begin to fall in love. However, the serene Swan Island of their youth is no more as a serial killer stalks, tortures and kills women with Sabrina in his sights.

The Coastal Carolina barrier island makes for a perfect setting for the first High Risk romantic suspense thriller. The romance is the more fascinating subplot as two walking wounded struggle to relate in spite of falling in love; as PTSD does not lead to trust; both knows the issues are inside them not their beloved. Although the serial killer element adds suspense and enables Zach to way too easily shed his PTSD crippling illness to try to save Sabrina, fans will enjoy the exciting FREEFALL with its unique romance.

The Bleeding Dusk
Colleen Gleason

9780451223265 $7.99

One year has past since the events in RISES THE NIGHT. Victoria Gardella Grantworth de Lacy still mourns her loss, but feels it is past time to move on although she will always cherish her late husband, Lord Rockley. Her plan is to return to her duties as a venator and as the leader of Rome's vampire populace.

Victoria learns that the demon Akvan plans to cross the plains via the Door of the Alchemists in order to steal the confidential secrets they hide; Akvan believes he will find what he needs there and become too powerful to stop. Meanwhile Victoria's venator peer Maximilian Pesaro wants to help her, but he belongs to Lilith. To defeat Akvan, Victoria needs help from Sebastian Vioget and his vampiric grandfather Beauregard, but none of the trio trusts any of the others and Maximilian, whom she feels she needs to trust, remains a wild card as he must do Lilith's bidding.

The vampiric triangle of Victoria, Sebastian and Max is complex and filled with depth as desire and distrust attract and detract each of them. Victoria struggles with her feelings especially can she depend on either male when she confronts Akvan. Fans of Colleen Gleason's Gardella Vampire Chronicles will want to sink their teeth into this complex entertaining chapter of the saga.

Lynn Viehl
9780451222848 $7.99

Almost from the moment he transformed her from human to Kyn, they have loved one another. However, Scottish vampire Laird Byrne and his loyal seneschal Jayr have hidden their love for one another from each other with each having what they believe is a good reason to conceal their feelings.

However, recently Byrne has struggled with temptation, which has led to a loss of self control and jealous rage. Fearing he will harm his beloved, he hosts a tournament in which the winner will replace him as Laird of Orlando. Meanwhile Jayr has decided enough with eternal unrequited love; she plans to seduce her master and let that lead to whatever fate she wrought. Vampires from around the realm arrive for the contest, but one of them is trying to steal the prize by assassinating the host and if necessary his beloved head of household.

This is an excellent medieval paranormal romance due to the relationship between the lead couple as they share blood, but anything more is taboo. Furthermore although they love one another, he feels guilt for converting her and she is wary of what will happen if she follows her heart. Treachery at the tournament compounds the feelings as life in Lynn Viehl's Darkyn realm turns darker.

Wild Inferno

Sandi Ault
9780425219225 $23.95

She is a resource protection agent for the Bureau of Land Management and acts as a liaison to one of the local Indian Pueblos. When a wildfire blazes out of control on the southern Ute Reservation, on of Jamaica Wild's first assignment is to locate Grandpa Ned who snuck behind the barracks. She finds a burned firefighter who tells her to "save the Grandmother”. W hen she finds Grandpa Ned, he is dead and it is later determined he was murdered.

To make matters worse a sacred Indian ceremony is being carried out at Chimney Rock and it happens every eighteen and a half years. They won't evacuate because they fear they won't be let back in to complete the rite. Jamaica starts asking questions re Ned and the injured fireman. Her tires are slashed, a bullet is fired through her windshield and her brake lines are cut. Jamaica's life is in danger if she doesn't stop trying to figure out why Grandpa Ned risked his life to dig behind the fire lines.

Readers will be awed at how firefighters risk their lives to protect civilians and the camaraderie that exists between them despite tribal affiliation. The heroine is a strong willed woman, close to her wolf who is her best friend and a warrior who is not afraid to go into battle against the enemy even an inferno. She is the perfect role model for today's woman because even though she is working in what some assume is a man's world she is not afraid to be feminine.

Bring Your Own Poison
Jimmie Ruth Evans
9780425219058 $6.99

Wanda Nell Culpepper is the waitress serving the Trevor Blakely bachelor party at the Kountry Kitchen in Tullahoma, Mississippi. Rumors abound that Trevor's two wives died of suspicious "accidental” circumstances and that both of his spouses had large life insurance policies with him as the benefactor. At his gala, Trevor is a loudmouth, making ugly remarks about women especially his fiancee. When he reaches behind him, grabs a drink from a table and sips it; he suddenly dies.

The police assume he was poisoned with his younger brother Gerald as the prime suspect since he loves his future sister-in-law. While drunk at the party, Gerald picked up a vial containing a liquid. The police take him in for questioning. State Police officer Bill Warren heads the investigation; he believes Gerald did the MURDER OVER EASY crime as he had motive, means and opportunity. Bill tries to blackmail Wanda into signing a statement that she knows is false. She decides to conduct her own inquiry as Bill has convicted Gerald.

Life in a small Mississippi town especially in a trailer park turns interesting when the eccentrics are determined to help. In addition to her investigation, the heroine contends with a situation concerning her oldest daughter, come to terms with her feelings for Jack who wants to marry her, and keep his niece safe from a stalker. Wanda Nell assumes all this is a piece of cake as she is a waitress and deals daily with a lot worse. Character driven, BRING YOUR OWN POISON is an entertaining regional amateur sleuth.

Hard to Handle
Lori Foster
9780425219720 $7.99

Like all fighters in the SBC, Harley Handleman dreams of being the extreme fighting champion. However, though his record makes him one of the top contenders, he has had bad luck when it comes to fighting for the title. His latest setback is a dislocated elbow (see SIMON SAYS) that leaves him in need of rehab instead of a championship bout.

When Harley needs time away like to train or heal, he leases a cabin from life coach Anastasia Bradley. Although they have known each other for several years neither thought much beyond politeness until now. They are no longer two ships passing in the night since Anastasia has taken time off to heal mentally from a nasty client. As they fall in love though both try to avoid that feeling, all bets are off when someone tries to kill her. Harley knows she is his life mate as her safety comes before his upcoming title shot.

The third SBC romance (see CAUSING HAVOC and SIMON SAYS) is an entertaining contemporary tale due the changing relationship between the two likable lead characters. Harley and Anastasia now have the time to realize their attraction for one another. One late scene involving the couple arguing seems unnecessary and unresolved, but no one will care except nitpicking reviewers; as fans of Lori Foster will wonder if Harley will win the only prize greater than the SBC belt, the woman he loves.

The Accidental Werewolf
Dakota Cassidy
9780425219300 $14.00

Bobbie Sue Cosmetics saleswoman Marty Andrews works very hard to be the best. She is rapidly climbing up the ladder of success until she was bitten by a mutt while walking her teacup poodle. Now, she has lost control of her temper ready to literally bite off heads, her hair has darkened, and worse, she spots a tail.

Desperate she seeks the mangy mutt who bit her to learn what she caught since it is not rabies or mad cow disease. Instead Keegan Flaherty comes to her home to apologize for biting her. He insists he is a werewolf and not a mangy mutt who could not resist taking a nip of her; she assumes he is a lunatic albeit she agrees he is not a mangy mutt. He tries to convince her to join his pack, but she continues to believe he is a lunatic, albeit a hunk too. He struggles to persuade her that he can mentor her on life as a full moon howler, but would one trust a lunatic although considering she was almost a hundred percent vegan, she has become a meat lover especially blood raw and is no longer worried about clogged arteries.

This chick lit werewolf romance is a lighthearted romp starring a woman who has to revise her goal now that she has been bitten. The changing relationship between Marty and Keegan is humorously filled with double entendres that are sexually and wolfishly biting. Although the heroine's asides distract from a fun story line, paranormal romance will enjoy Dakota Cassidy's entertaining tale with an alpha twist.

Mine to Possess
Nalini Singh
9780425220160 $6.99

In 2080 the war of attrition between the Earthlings and the Psy continues unabated with hot spots seemingly bursting everywhere as neither side trusts the other. Half breed Clay Bennett was raised by a human mother in the human slums without ever knowing the changeling leopard that sired him. Two decades ago as a youngster without a guiding pack he failed to learn how to control the animal instinct of his nature and caused a deadly incident that still haunts him even as he has dedicated his life since becoming a Dark River sentinel.

Thus when Clay sees half-breed Talin McKade for the first time in twenty years, he is euphoric. She was his best friend as a child before the incident devastated both their lives. Like Clay, Talin has dedicated her life since the incident that shaped them; she works at San Francisco's Shine Foundation helping needy children. Recently some of her kids have vanished only to return brainless; victims of Psy experiments to create a hive. As the half human half Leopard pair reunite and fall in love, they work together to try to protect the young from the heinous Psy experimentation.

The fourth Psy-Changeling tale, MINE TO POSSESS, is an excellent urban fantasy romance that stars two terrific half-breeds whose past contains warmth and friendship for one another, but also one shattering pivotal moment. There reconciliation is handled quite cleverly as they team up to save the children. The Psy is as insidious as ever; however to fully grasp the complex Singh saga, newcomers should read the previous three superb thrillers (see SLAVE TO SENSATION, VISIONS OF HEAT and CARESSED BY ICE).

Turn Up the Heat
Jessica Conant-Park and Susan Conant
9780425219478 $23.95

Chloe Carter is preparing for her grad school exams and writing papers for her classes as she pursues a Masters degree in Social Work. She chose this subject in order to earn her inheritance from her late uncle who added caveats to his will. Chloe believes to her shock that she will be a good social worker because she likes helping people. She only wishes that her boyfriend Josh, the executive chef at his Bostonian restaurant Simmer was not working 12-14 hour shifts as she would like to spend more time with him.

One day Chloe visits Josh at Simmers only to find the corpse of waitress Leandra in the back of Owen's fish truck. Apparently she was strangled by the strings of her apron. Owen is engaged to Chloe's pregnant best friend Adrianna; she also knows him well enough to believe he is not a killer. However, the police label Owen as a person of interest because he lied about his accounts, the restaurants where he had them, and that he bought the camping truck when he told everyone it belonged to the company. Chloe theorizes who the killer is and almost becomes the next person on ice.

This is an excellent creative mystery due in part to the eccentric support cast that enhances the story line with an insider's look at the kitchen of an upscale restaurant. The protagonist is a bright energetic person who treats her lover the way she wants him to treat her. Josh shows his feelings to Chloe every chance he gets, which endears him to the audience. At times poignant, while at other times humorous, TURN UP THE HEAT is a terrific whodunit repast.

A Vicky Hill Exclusive
Hannah Dennison
9780425220481 $6.99

After her parents fled the country because her father was a notorious jewel thief, Vicky Hill moves to the quiet town of Gipping-on-Plym where she lands a job as a reporter for the Gipping Gazette. She wants to cover the crime beat, but her adversary Annabel takes the plum assignments while leaving the newbie covering funerals. She intercepts an informer with a scrap for Annabel who tells her that he found three chickens in the town dump where he works drained of its blood and minus their legs.

Not knowing what to make of his story, Vicky covers the funeral of Sir Hugh Trewallyn when a handsome man crashes the somber ceremony and kisses the widow. Vicky also sees her landlady Mrs. Paultry sneaking around the mausoleum. She get the autopsy report, which states that Hugh was poisoned and chicken legs were found in his mouth. Vicky believes the bloodless chicken and the death of Trewallyn are linked so she investigates, but stumbles across secrets that some people will kill to keep them concealed.

This is an intriguing journalist investigative mystery because the heroine has such a vivid imagination that is not always anchored in just the facts. Vicky is an innocent sweet person whose naivety has her believe people are innately good in spite of her parents proving otherwise when they deserted her. She trusts everyone even her rival; their relationship is hilarious as Annabel goes to the sublime level of Ted Baxter (of the Mary Tyler Moore show) to keep her name on the front page and Vicky's on the obit column. Fans will enjoy Hannah Dennison's front page whodunit.

Rich Girl
Carol Culver

9780425219157 $9.99

Victoria Lee grew up in Hong Kong, but currently the teen lives in her family's Mcmansion in San Francisco sans parents. She attends the exclusive Manderley Prep, but though her family is wealthy she feels like an outsider. Whereas most teens would love to be on their own, Victoria feels lonely as she has no friends at school and nothing at home. Worse than the fact that her parents want her to go Ivy while she wants to attend fashion school, she likes student Steve Heller, but he ignores her.

Gabe Thomas is confused as he has no scholarship yet his single mom a housekeeper pays his tuition to attend Manderley Prep. He wants to know how with his theory being that his unknown father is connected to the school. He likes Victoria as he sees her as a fellow outsider, but frowns on her efforts to join the in crowd since she was nominated to run for class treasurer as she plans the teen party of the century at her Mcmansion.

The second BFF teen tale (see MANDERLEY PREP) is an entertaining tale of a depressed lonely RICH GIRL trying to become popular at all cost. Victoria's efforts to be in is compared to that of Gabe, who flaunts being out. Young adult readers will appreciate this fine character study of how far someone will go to satisfy the psychological need to belong.

The Silver Needle Murder
Laura Childs
9780425219461 $23.95

Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning is elated with the Charleston Film Festival because the event means large profits although it also means long hours and hard work for her and her staff as they cater parties. Her first client is at the opening night celebration at the famous historic Belvedere Theatre where the rich and famous will attend.

As Theodosia makes the rounds insuring everyone is pleased with the Indigo Tea Shop offerings, she notices how different the atmosphere seems between those in the lobby having a good time and those backstage loudly argue when they are talking to one another. Worse the backstage war leads to two judges abruptly quitting and the festival director drafting a reluctant Theodosia as a replacement. Still she assumes the bickering was due to nerves until famous director Jordan Cole begins the walk to provide remarks to the gathering. Before he reaches the lectern, he is shot dead. Theodosia knows she should mind her business, but she has had success solving homicides so she starts asking questions of those she saw back stage squabbling.

The latest Indigo Tea Shop mystery is an entertaining amateur sleuth mystery starring a courageous likable lead protagonist. Theodosia is at her simmering best as she calmly investigates the shooting death witnessed by many yet no one can tell her who and why. Although the amateur sleuth paradox is apparent, fans will not care as readers prefer tasting the various concoctions that Laura Childs offers in her wonderful Charleston based series.

Like a Charm
Candace Havens
9780425219263 $14.00

Kira Smythe was on the fast track rising up the success ladder at her law firm, but her descent proved even faster. She was held culpable for the death of a peer and forced to leave. She returns to her hometown of Sweet, Texas as a temporary measure to rejuvenate her juices before trying to restart her law career.

However, two things make her reconsider her goal to flee town as soon as possible. First she inherits the town library and second an illness left her with the uncanny ability to communicate with the dead. Of course as the ghosts lecture her on living as if they are experts, she apparently has met her soulmate who seems to reciprocate her feelings although he seems to be hiding something from her; Kira thinks at least he is alive; outside of her breathing dad every other male interested in her are a bit too spirited for her needs. Of course there is an unknown person she assumes is a guy who seems to want her to matchmake her with the deceased by trying to kill her.

When it comes to charming fans with entertaining paranormal romances few writers match the consistent success of Candace Havens (see CHARMED & READY and CHARMED & DANGEROUS). Her latest triumph, LIKE A CHARM, is a delightful contemporary ghost story as Kira is tough heroine with a heart of gold and personal lists that add to understanding the heroine. Readers will appreciate the tale of the lawyer turned librarian whose suitors for the most part enable her to literally appreciate Mae West's comment: "It's not the men in my life that counts--it's the life in my men.”

C.J. Lyons
9780425220825 $7.99

Dr. Lydia Fiore left Los Angeles to work as an emergency physician at Pittsburgh's Angels of Mercy Hospital. Her first night on her new job is the infamous Transition Day, the deadliest day of the year in the American health system as July 1 is when the graduated newbies begin their internship. Her first patient is a fourteen year old male in arrest in which she defies protocol and her team (fourth year medical student Amanda Mason, third year emergency medical resident Gina Freeman and charge nurse Nora Halloran), and saves his life.

The second emergency is Jonah Weiss, the son of the chief of surgery, who was hit by a car, but he dies. One day on the job and she is suspended pending a review of Jonah's death. However, when the autopsy implies a homicide occurs, Lydia decides to investigate after consulting with her team, who agrees with her assessment. More deaths follow as Lydia continues her unofficial inquiries.

LIFELINES is an exciting medical thriller that provides readers with an insightful look at standard operating procedures and protocol in an inner city emergency room. The whodunit is fun to follow and a side of medical romance between Lydia and medic Trey Garrison enhance the trauma of working ER graveyard shift. Except for those with an aversion to blood, readers will appreciate this entreating tale, but those considering the medical field as a vocation will reconsider.

Dawn's Awakening
Lora Leigh
9780425219751 $7.99

They were created in a bioengineering science lab with the DNA of the wolf and cats added to human DNA so that they could serve as a ferocious army of a fanatical society where security is everything. Their military slavery ended when the world learned of their existence and forced them to be freed. The heat of the Breed binds their mate to them for life. The breed's base is Sanctuary where they learn to adapt to living amongst humans and many obtain work as mercenaries and bodyguards to the purebreds who detest them.

Businessman Seth Lawrence, who supports Sanctuary, knows he is the lifemate of Dawn, but the torture including rape she endured makes her unable to mate with him. After seeing tapes of what she suffered, Seth stepped away from his beloved to give her space. His Board of Directors meets on his island to discuss future contributions to Sanctuary. Dawn and Seth begin to feel the heat again, but as they begin to make love, bullets fly through the window, wounding him and killing a board supporter. They give in to their passion and become mates as she realizes he always loved her, but stayed away out of concern for her. She becomes his lover and bodyguard, but neither realizes she is the focus of an unknown adversary, not him.

The latest Lora Leigh's homage to the X-Men (see MEGAN'S MARK and HARMONY'S WAY) stars a great lead pairing who the audience will like and root for. The bioengineered breeds seem genuine as the love story is beautifully told while the backdrop of hatred and prejudice make for an exhilarating saga similar to what occurred to the early X-Men (ask Magneto).

Mona Lisa Craving
9780425217450 $14.00

Although a half-breed, Mona Lisa has defied tradition by becoming the first non purebred Monere Queen. She rules the Louisiana Bayou, but combines an iron fist with a velvet glove kindness she learned from her human half. Her peers including her Monere Queen mother believe she is foolish to allow such freedom and expect her to fail, but so far she has not and her supporters especially her sex partners are the most loyal ever.

The High Priestess cursed the warrior Dante to suffer an eternity birth and death with each new reincarnation part of a shrinking gene pool. A woman called Mona Lyria shared one of his past lives on the moon, but like all women in all his lifetimes, she was his victim. Today, she is powerful Mona Lisa, who Dante begs of her to end his curse by killing him. Instead Mona Lisa thinks they belong together for with Dante she can fulfill what is every Monere Queen's top obsession: a child and perhaps a renewal of the curse.

Although the story line has turned much darker than the previous Sunny Monere thrillers, fans of the erotic fantasy saga will appreciate this powerful entry. The story line is complicated as the past and present merge with the future at stake. Once again it is the secondary characters that provide strong support to the plot which makes this an endearing tale. Although it would help to read at lest the previous novels (see MONA LISA BLOSSOMING) to best understand the complexities of the Children of the Moon Monere world, MONA LISA CRAVING is another winner.

Yasmine Galenorn
9780425218938 $7.99

Like her sisters, Camille the witch (see WITCHLING) and Delilah the death maiden (see CHANGELING) half-fae, half-human Menolly D'Artigo works for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency (OIA). However, unlike her siblings Menolly has struggled with what she has become, a DARKLING vampire changed by the malevolent Dredge as part of his torture of her when he held her prisoner.

For the most part she controls her cravings, but remains obsessed with killing her vampiric sire if he ever leaves Otherworld and comes to Earth. However as humans are being changed to vampires; she may have her chance finally since Dredge has joined with the demon Shadow Wing to break the barrier between the realms. If they succeed, Menoly might get what she wished for a chance to kill Dredge, but knows the fight if the foes breach the wall will require all from her and her sisters as the dark enemy has many dangerous allies while her side is bone tired from the war that still is ablaze. Their only newcomer is Roz the incubus mercenary hired to help them; but everyone knows when the going gets tough mercenaries get going from the fight. What the siblings do not know is Roz has a grudge with Dredge who killed his family when he was a child.

The tale told from Menolly's viewpoint is a much darker erotic romantic fantasy than those of her sisters as she has the most problem adapting to what she has become. Camille and Delilah are back, but it is Menolly's tale as she learns that sometimes you get what you wished for. Yasmine Galenorn provides a terrific thriller starring a fascinating protagonist with an obsession that could cost her life if she goes into the fight against an invincible opponent with her narrow objective even if Roz shares her need for vengeance.

Lady of the Roses
Sandra Worth

9780425219140 $14.00

The rift between the Houses of Lancaster and York has led to civil war throughout England. With that backdrop, Lady in Waiting to Queen Marguerite Isobel Ingoldesthorpe and Lord John Neville fall in love. However, her liege is Lancaster while he and his powerful House support the York claim to the throne. Still after complex negotiations that anecdotally display how divided the country leadership is and an exorbitant bride price, John and Isobel marry.

Their honeymoon is everything both wanted and more until affairs of state intercede. The Roses are preparing for war and though Isobel has some loyalty issues she believes she belongs at the side of her beloved John. As the hostilities between the Houses turn brutal with madness and butchery the norm, the couple is torn asunder, but their love remains stronger than ever keeping them together even in death especially with six surviving offspring.

Known for her terrific in depth historical saga, The Roses of York (see CROWN FROM DESTINY, FALL FROM GRACE and LOVE AND WAR), Sandra Worth stays with the era providing a strong War of Roses tale. The story line is epic in scope using the fifteen years relationship between John and Isobel as a means to provide insight into England from 1456-1471. Historical fiction fans of this era will find LADY OF THE ROSES and the York trilogy worth reading.

Sasha White
9780425219188 $15.00

Divorce attorney Karl Dawson notices the shapely butt underneath the desk of his office assistant Graham Nelson. Graham explains to his boss that the divorce business is booming so he asked his friend Lara Fox to install a wireless so that they can connect to the internet using their laptops anywhere in the building. Already attracted when Lara gets out from underneath the desk, Karl's mouth waters and her nipples hardened, but he doubts she is worth the trouble to teach her who is dominant; she sees he is a SEXY DEVIL, but not worth more than one night with her on top.

Their desire remains high, but Karl is a popular Dominant who frequents the Dungeon BDSM scene and Lara used to being on her own since she was fifteen hates not being in charge of at least herself. Karl sees inside her soul and believes hiding behind the facade of defiance is a submissive who has been forced to wear a controlling hide to survive. As they fall in love, she insists it must be lust as the former does not exist in any form.

Sasha White provides a WICKED erotic romance starring two likable protagonists who believe love and marriage are societal farces. The metamorphous of Lara from tough independent street brawler to submissive is done with tenderness and caring, which makes her transformation seen genuine. The return of players from BOUND and TROUBLE add depth to this contemporary by showcasing the BDSM lifestyle can include commitment. Sub-genre fans will enjoy Sasha White's latest heater.

The Stolen Princess
Anne Gracie
9780425218983 $6.99

In 1816 after the poisoned milk killed her son's puppy, widow Princess Callie, knowing her offspring was the intended victim, flees with her seven years old child, Zindaria Crown Prince Nicky to England planning to hide in the home of her retired governess. She and the child make it to the English shore with little hope of going much further. The second son an Earl, war veteran formerly of the Fourteenth Light Dragoon Gabriel Renfrew, happens to be riding at breakneck speed when he spots the woman and her offspring.

Gabriel provides shelter to Callie and her son although he knows she is hiding much from him. When an assassin tries to kill them, Gabriel protects them. He offers her marriage as he can truly keep mother and child safe. As she considers his proposal, she fears for her heart as she has fallen in love; for that matter so has Gabriel, no longer a daredevil as he has someone to live for, but a throne stands in their way.

The first Devil Riders' historical romance is an action-packed Regency thriller starring two strong protagonists and contains just enough suspense to hook the readers into wondering what comes next. Callie's prime objective is to keep Nicky safe while Gabe no longer cares suffering from posttraumatic syndrome caused by his war experience. Their forbidden love makes for a charming tale as Gabe turns from a 24/7 devil rider into a 24/7 loving protecting husband-father. Fans already know that Anne Gracie writes "Perfect” early nineteenth century romances.

The Darkness
L.A. Banks
Griffin (St. Martin's)
9780312368746 $14.95

Armageddon has begun; two seals have been broken; people are living the end of days and forty thousand demons were destroyed at the Battle of Masada. Neterus Damali and Carlos Rivera thought they destroyed Lilith's progeny but they were very much mistaken. The future anti-Christ clearly hid himself from the Neterus and the Guardians and is now in a chrysalis state waiting to Become. Lucifer is overjoyed and he allows Lilith to give the daywalker bite to the members of the Vampire Council including Fallon Nuit, Sebastian and Yonni (Carlos's spy).

Lucifer wants to cause confusion and turmoil that will fracture the Guardians & Neterus unity so he attacks Father Pat, a man dear to Carlos. When he tries to save the priest, some of the Dark's poison enters Carlos and make it easier for Hell to track him. After a bloody battle in New York City, Carlos is badly injured and Damali takes him to the plane where the former Neterus live near to Heaven. If Carlos recovers, he and Damali plan to find and kill what will become the anti-Christ and stop the Armageddon attack from happening.

THE DARKNESS, the latest vampire huntress legend novel, picks up where the last book in the series left off. Combining elements of apocalyptic and supernatural horror, urban fantasy and romance, this work is refreshingly original, enthralling and totally intense. As the series progresses the characters change and grow not always as expected. As Damali and Carlos mature, they are more in love than ever. L.A. Banks has written one of the best vampire sagas of the new millennium.

Even Cat Sitters Get the Blues
Blaize Clement
St. Martin's
9780312340933 $23.95

Former Florida Deputy Sheriff Dixie Hemingway remains on administrative leave as she struggles with the deaths of her husband Todd and their daughter Christy. She earns a living as a pet sitter in Siesta Key, a barrier island off Sarasota, in an attempt to remain as far away from law enforcement as she can. Although she has not been as successful as she would have liked having recently been forced to kill an assailant.

Although she would prefer to hide in bed from the world for two reasons: that killing even if the Grad Jury ruled self defense and worse the loneliness of Christmas without Todd and Christy. However, she pushes herself to go to work and quit the self pity. At the gatehouse to a client's mansion, Dixie spots a dead body. Deciding she wants nothing to do with a corpse, she leaves without informing anyone. However, whether it is guilt or concern over the mad scientist who owns the mansion, Dixie, in between caring for his pet iguana, investigates the homicide.

Readers will appreciate the third Dixie Hemingway whodunit (see CURIOSITY KILLED THE CAT SITTER and DUPLICITY DOGGED THE DACHSHUND) as the reluctant former cop works a case that she would prefer not to get involved. Besides sleuthing, Dixie struggles with her feelings of guilt that she should not feel attractions for Police Lieutenant Guidry and attorney Crane. Thriller elements due to her client, the mad scientist not the iguana, enhance an entertaining mystery.

Edward Bunker
St. Martin's
9780312374945 $23.95

In 1962 in Oceanview, Los Angeles, Ernie Stark knows he has done a lot of so called terrible things in his life, just ask any of his friends, if he had any, but the "two-bit hustler” has never ratted out on anyone. However, he finds himself caught between a rock and a hard place (or at least the ocean and the continent). The rock is abusive LAPD Detective Lieutenant Patrick Crowley who demands Stark help him catch small time Hawaiian drug dealer Momo Mendoza or else.

Giving Mendoza to the cop is the hard place as that means cutting off his own drug supply; not giving Mendoza over to the cop means several horrific beatings and doing time on trumped up charges. Adding to his concern is the way the mute Dummy watches him as Stark wonders if he is being paranoid or if Mendoza's runner and perhaps enforcer, who did time for manslaughter, knows something. He has two days to do something, but how to out hustle a cop, a drug dealer, a killer and make it with Dorie Williams will require on hell of a scam.

Crime caper fans will devour this STARK historical tale (actually it was written in the 1950s) as everyone involved is playing a game of poker with scams, bluffs and calls being the norm in a winner take all environs. The key quintet bring alive the streets of early sixties Los Angeles as each seems genuine with personal motives and flaws. With a fabulous final Caddy spin, the late Edward Bunker provides a terrific DOG EAT DOG Noir starring cold nasty NO BEAST SO FIERCE as these players.

The Skeleton Man
Jim Kelly
St. Martin's
9780312377816 $24.95

The military exercise focuses on the abandoned small village of Jude's Ferry off of Whittlesea Mere. Reporting on the war games is The Crow journalist Philip Dryden, who has learned the ghost town had never reported any official crime in its millennium of existence. Following the artillery shelling, a shocking sight surfaces when a grave underneath the cellar of what had been a pub has been opened. The skeletal remains of a person hung to death are found.

Not expecting much from the police on this cold make that frozen case, Dryden cannot resist learning the truth about the ancient skeleton and who uncovered the tomb and why. However, the former residents are not only scattered those he interviews remain reticent not offering him much in the way of useful information. However, Dryden obstinately keeps digging until someone begins to think he is getting to close and plans on him being the second victim in the history of Jude's Ferry.

This complex somewhat convoluted investigative tale is a superb whodunit as Dryden struggles with finding a nano clue at a time. The support cast is in the quadrillions with most providing cameo appearances in response to the reporter's inquiry. This makes it difficult to keep score yet for those who relish solving the case, they are each critical in what may seem incognizant as a puzzle part, but the whole is needed for lucid resolution. Although how Jim Kelly kept track is beyond me, THE SKELTON MAN is a terrific look at rural England where local talk is not a repression but a depression.

Prepared for Rage
Dana Stabenow
St. Martin's
9780312369736 $24.95

Most Americans take for granted the launching of the space shuttles from the Kennedy Space Center; yet when something goes wrong like with Challenger the entire nation grieves. Thus a Pakistani terrorist with a personal grudge against the United States understands what blowing up a shuttle would do the country's psyche. He has lined up a loyal team of zealots willing to die for success and begins the alternate countdown as NASA prepares for the next launch.

The FBI has heard message trafficking of a major attack soon, but not sure how or where; they and the US Coast Guard led by intrepid Captain Cal T. Schuyler want to keep the Cape Kennedy area safe as that is a prime target especially with a VIP on board the shuttle.

Leaving Alaska for the waters off Florida's east coast, Dana Stabenow proves she is as good at a suspense thriller as she is at a Kate Shugak crime saga. The story line is action-packed whether the readers follow the astronauts especially Kenai Munro preparing, the terrorists, or the Coast Guard. Readers will enjoy this strong tale as Ms. Stabenow's second Coast Guard thriller (see BLINDFOLD GAME) may occur in warmer waters, but the danger seems as plausible.

Plum Lucky
Janet Evanovich
St. Martin's
9780312377632 $17.95

Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum and her sidekick and sometimes assistant Lula are driving to the fat food joint for a Lucky Clucky shake when they see Grandma Mazur fighting with a little man in green pants over a duffle bag. Stephanie breaks up the fight before grandma hurts the smaller man, but fails to learn what is inside the bag. The next morning her mother calls to tell her Grandma disappeared. Diesel who has a magic touch visits Stephanie to tell her is seeking a horse thief. Stephanie goes to Atlantic City to find her Grandma.

She finds her gambling using money she found inside the duffel bag for the slots. She describes the man and the bag to Diesel who says it was taken by Stubby from mob boss Lou Delvina to take care of a former race hose that needs surgery. Stubby also needs the money to get mob boss Lou Delvina off his back. Delvina kidnaps the horse and Grandma; he informs Stephanie he will exchange them for his loot. However she has a slight shortfall problem as she and her friend who accompanied her spent $250,000 of the cash and has no way of replacing it.

PLUM LUCKY, a between the numbers interlude, is a hilarious action-packed tale filled with quirky characters. Although the plot is not as deep as the numbered thrillers, readers will be intrigued by Diesel who seems to have magic as part of his makeup and Stubby who believes he is a leprechaun. Throw in battling Grandma, the mob, and gambling to the mix so that fans will feel PLUM LUCKY to read Stephanie's latest zaniest caper.

Opal Carew
St. Martin's
9780312367800 $13.95

She had to grow up fast as the oldest of three sisters because their mother abandoned them and her two younger sisters needed adult supervision and guidance. Melissa Woods has done that and much more but in the process turned into an all work no fun person as responsibility became her mantra.

Her wealthy friend Shane Mason invites Melissa to accompany him for a weekend at the swinging Sweet Surrender resort in St. Haven in the British West Indies that he is considering buying. However, she has mixed feelings about going because the customers of Sweet Surrender are couples, but looks forward to being pampered for a change. Shane and Melissa pretend to be married. Meanwhile Suzanne the current owner asks her friend private investigator Ty Adams to look into who this unknown mysterious buyer is. Because he knows his friend loathes having to sell, Ty automatically hates the unknown buyer, who he quickly thinks is Melissa as she is a fish out of water amongst the uninhibited guests. However, as he comes to her "rescue”, they fall in love while Shane and Suzanne are attracted to one another too.

The reason SWING is so much fun to read is Melissa as the audience watches her slowly mature and grows in personal seductive confidence amidst the erotic setting. The story line is fast-paced with wonderful humor enhancing Melissa's journey to orgasms as she is having the time of her life with Ty, but also does not want to hurt Shane or dump him as she still cares for him and has some fears of rejection. Opal Carew provides a fabulous heater although the climax is atypical of the romance genre, but apropos for sensual Melissa's SWEET SURRENDER to her erotic side.

My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon
P.N. Elrod (editor)
St. Martin's
9780312375041 $13.95

This follow up to the "I dos” of MY BIG FAT SUPERNATURAL WEDDING contains nine engaging paranormal honeymoons from well known fantasists. All are lighthearted entertainment as the couples (representing a wide scope of non human characters) find supernatural intrusion interfering in their respective honeymoon. Readers will note that Dresden in "Heorot" by Jim Butcher (aside: not on his honeymoon) and P.N. Elrod's Fleming in "Her Mother's Daughter" appear; however, fans of the series of these two stars will find the format limiting compared to the novels. Still with works from Kelley Armstrong (the most romantic entry), Rachel Caine, Katie MacAlister, Marjorie M. Liu, Ronda Thompson, Caitlin Kittredge, and Lilith Saintcrow as well as Mr. Butcher and Ms. Elrod, romantic fantasy fans will enjoy this fun anthology even with no otherworldly shattering entry.

Thunder Moon
Lori Handeland
St. Martin's
9780312949181 $6.99

Residents of Lake Bluff, Georgia hope and pray that the small town has returned to normal after the werewolf incidents (see HIDDEN MOON). Especially hoping for no more supernatural occurrences is Sheriff Grace McDaniel, who in spite of the evidence of last summer and being part Cherokee remains skeptical.

However, to her chagrin something is stalking the town; this creature can rip a heart out of a person, but leave no marks on the epidermis. This killer seems to have arrived at about the same time that Dr. Ian Walker came to Lake Bluff. Attracted to the newcomer, she scoffs at his insistence that she contains powerful magic inherited from her Cherokee background. They team up to investigate a supernatural serial killer.

This romantic police procedural fantasy is a superb thriller that will grip the audience from the moment that Ian arrives in town and never misses a beat until after the final confrontation. Grace is fabulous as the lead protagonist as her first person account will have fans leaving the lights on at night. THUNDER MOON is a terrific blending of several genres as Lori Handeland turns to Sherlock Holmes in her wonderful paranormal whodunit: "… when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

Moving Target
Cheyenne McCray
St. Martin's
9780312937645 $6.99

She survived the Russian mafia murders of her parents and sister; and was placed in the Witness Protection Program having to give up her major museum curator job in Manhattan to run an antiques shop in Bisbee, Arizona. Now in two weeks Ani Carter formerly King will be the star witness testifying that Dmitry Berenko, son of Russian Mafia chief Yegor, killed her family.

However, when the Harrison family comes into her shop with a valuable artifact that the family legally owns, she feels for them as they need the money to care for their child, a burn victim just like she was but much worse than her. She makes a call to a former client, but now the Russians know where she is. When she tells U.S. Deputy Marshal Daniel Parker, he rushes to her side because he knows the Russians are coming to kill her; besides which he has fallen in love with the woman he must keep safe for personal reasons.

Although this reviewer has problems with people on the run stopping to have sex (even if it's inside a motel room as this was), MOVING TARGET is an exhilarating romantic suspense thriller. The story line is fast-paced from that first phone call and never slows down until Daniel confronts his boss. The lead couple is a delightful pairing of a dedicated professional and the witness struggling to survive an incredible assault and to contain their desire and need for one another as they trek across the country with the Russians in hot pursuit to prevent her from testifying

The Mortal Groove
Ellen Hart
St. Martin's
9780312349455 $25.95

In Minnesota, Ray Lawless is considering a run for governor. His family, especially his daughter lesbian restaurateur Jane Lawless encourages him. As she and the rest of the relatives actively get involved, Ray realizes his chances of winning are good.

However, the media begins sniffing into the past of the Lawless brood and his key staffers. Reporter Melanie Gunderson especially looks at a cold case homicide that has ties to Ray's prime workers. Shockingly someone viciously assaults Melanie. Knowing the journalist and concerned for the victim and that the incident and the decades old murder will derail her dad's chances, Jane investigates. Her efforts lead to Iowa and serving in Vietnam.

THE MORTAL GROOVE is an interesting political whodunit that asks the question can someone who never served in the military claim the mantle of patriotism as so many chicken hawks do. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that an unknown thug batters Melanie and never slows down until the final confrontation. Although having Jane's significant other and her appear more often together especially on the campaign trail would have been the perfect sweetener, Ellen Hart provides a strong mystery with a deep message that no one asks about one's sexual preference in the foxholes.

Korea Strait
David Poyer
St. Martin's
9780312360498 $24.95

U.S. Navy commander Dan Lenson rejects the strong suggestion that he leave the service on a medical retirement. He is unhappy with his treatment having just saved the Commander in Chief from an assassination attempt (see THE THREAT, not reviewed). Outraging the Congressional Medal of Honor is that the brass assigns him with duties to force him into retiring out of ennui as he no longer is given THE COMMAND assignments.

He is tasked to serve as an observer to a multinational exercise involving South Korea, Japan, Australia, and America off of Korean. Part of his duties is to escort U.S. civilians and retired military personnel and serve as liaison between them and their naval hosts on a South Korean frigate. However, the simple but boring mission turns suddenly potentially deadly when a disabled North Korean submarine is found nearby. They refuse rescue as they prefer to go down with the ship. This disturbs Lenson as he thinks they have something to hide; unaware at that moment how accurate his assessment is as other North Korean subs head to the Sea of Japan with perhaps Kim's personally autographed nukes; Dan plans to find out though his superiors and the South Korean Navy demand he do nothing except escort duty.

Lenson is terrific as his heroic past proves a handicap when it comes to political appointees and the Naval and DOD brass, who are entrenched bureaucrats seeking their next job while insuring their current position causes no personal harm to their careers. The enemy is unknown yet known as being erratically impulsive so anything can happen. However, as Lenson has learned throughout his naval career, sometimes the real enemy is the guy patting you on the back saying good job Brownie. Contemporary military fiction fans will relish David Poyer's exciting Korean thriller that spotlights how complex the five decade plus truce is.

Jude Morgan
St. Martin's
9780312369514 $24.95

In 1827 twentyish Irish actress Harriet Smithson believes she can become a star without sleeping with a theatre manager or a play producer. Instead, she takes the radical approach by staying with her family's troupe going to Paris to perform Shakespeare.

In France she takes over running the group as her father sinks deeper into alcoholism, her brother has no talent for the stage or business, and her mother feels her age and her growing waistline. Her performance as Ophelia in Hamlet is the rage of the city leading to acclaim and the demand by the adulating public to see her perform. Composer Hector Berlioz is attracted to Harriet, but she rejects his advances until her fame wanes while his soars especially when he credits her as his muse and the Symphonie Fantastique is performed.

Rotating perspective between the actress and the composer, readers obtain a fascinating biographical historical fiction that is not easy to read due shifting tense, but worth the time as fans obtain a rare deep look inside the mind of a performer while performing. Harriet and Hector come alive on and off stage as Jude Morgan provides a virtuoso performance with the entertaining SYMPHONY.

Strange Blood
Lindsay Ashford
9780312355807 $23.95

In England forensic psychologist Dr. Megan Rhys heads the Heartland University Department of Investigative Psychology as well as providing consulting services to the British police. Currently Megan has personal issues with a former Ph.D. student, which she hopes to derail before she runs into professional condemnation.

To occupy her mind and escape her troubles, Megan is profiling a serial killer who carves pentagrams on the foreheads of his victims. Looking into the background of the first victim wife and mother Tessa Ledbury, Megan learns the deceased was involved with Wiccan coven chief Sean Raven. Wolverhampton Detective Superintendent Steve Foy assumes between the Raven connection and the etching that the occult, probably one of the witches, is involved. Megan has doubts re Foy's theory especially as the murder count rises, but struggles to offer a counterpoint even as she profiles the killer.

STRANGE BLOOD, the sequel to FROZEN, is a tense serial killer thriller starring an engaging heroine. Megan is terrific as once again she struggles with a police superintendent although Foy is nothing like West Midlands Police Detective Superintendent Martin Leverton of FROZEN fame who wanted Megan to fail. Readers will enjoy Megan's profiling efforts as things don't go quite smoothly as she tries to make the puzzle fit in a constantly morphing arrangement in which either she has to many pieces or lacks pieces.

Death Was the Other Woman
Linda L. Richards
9780312377700 $23.95

In 1931 Los Angeles cynical private investigator Dex Theroux runs a two person office. Whereas he does the leg work and takes the beatings, Kitty Pangborn runs the office and occasionally does safe field work. Dex is unsure why Kitty remains with him, as paying jobs are infrequent and he knows he is an alcoholic though with good cause.

Wealthy Rita Heppelwaite hires Dex to report on what her married boyfriend, Harrison Dempsey is doing. Thinking this is an easy case and needing help on surveillance, Dex brings Kitty with him. However, their prey proves to be someone else's prey as the sleuth and his assistant finds the murdered corpse of Harrison. Dex wants to make money from his affluent client so he tells Kitty to say nothing about the dead body for now. Kitty is appalled by her boss' disregard of the deceased so she defies Dex and calls the cops. However, to her shock she soon learns that Harrison is alive making her wonder what is going on.

With Madeline Carter on temporary hiatus, Linda L. Richards introduces readers to a new fascinating detective team in a fine historical mystery. The story line is fun, but not so much due to the mystery of Harrison and the corpse or depression Era L.A., but instead because of the bickering relationship between unethical Dex and the moralistic Kitty. They make the tale entertaining.

Of All Sad Words
Bill Crider
9780312348106 $23.95

When C.P. Benton moved to Clearview, Texas he never expected his neighbors to run meth lab. Irate he informs Sheriff Dan Rhodes that his neighbors the Crawford brothers are cooking meth in their home. Besides doubting the accusation, Rhodes is busy with a homicide investigation, but promises Benton he will act on his complaint as soon as possible.

Rhodes cannot put it off any longer when the Crawford trailer explodes, killing of the siblings. The sheriff investigates only to find the brothers were cooking bathtub hooch not meth in the trailer. The surviving Crawford blames his late brother, but Rhodes arrests him anyway. However, when a second illegal still surfaces, Rhodes wonders what is going on that has turned Clearview into the crime capital of the Lone Star State.

The latest Sheriff Dan Rhodes police procedural is a superb small town amusing mystery. The fun in the tale is with the eccentric townsfolk whose antics keep Dan hopping as he mumbles humorous asides to the crime wave that is devastating Clearview. Bill Crider captures the essence of a tiny Texas town using irony and humor dryer than a martini to the delight of readers.

The Tea Rose
Jennifer Donnelly
9780312378028 $14.95

In 1888 the Finnegans live in the London neighborhood Whitechapel. The family patriarch Paddy and his daughter Fiona work for corrupt tea merchant William Burton. Fiona wants much more than toiling for a crooked person while living in a slum. She saves her pence in hope of achieving her dream of marrying her beloved Joe Bristow and opening up a shop.

However, her dream turns nightmarish when Joe is forced to marry someone else; Burton arranges for a hitman to kill her dad in retaliation for Paddy supporting the development of a labor union; the Ripper murders her mother; and finally the corpse of her deeply depressed brother is found in the Thames, an apparent suicide. Fiona visits Burton to obtain some money for her father's death, but instead hears the odious braggart lauding his killing of Paddy. Desperate especially to keep her other sibling five-year-old Seamie safe, she tries to obtain passages on a ship heading to New York, but fails until wealthy homosexually inclined Nicholas Soames pretends she is his wife. In America Fiona and Seamie live with their alcoholic Uncle Michael; she keeps his West Side grocery store open and soon becomes wealthy ironically working with tea; but revenge remains for her on the other side of the pond.

This is a reprint of a superb historical thriller that brings to life the underside of late Victorian London and Gay Nineties New York. The story line is fast-paced yet readers will feel they walk the gaslight streets of Manhattan and the Ripper dark cobblestones of Whitechapel by the Thames. Sub-genre fans will appreciate this wonderful late nineteenth century epic.

If Not Love
Kay Langdale
9780312367398 $23.95

Sarah considers an affair with Harry, her husband Michael's best friend. Kate thinks her husband Harry no longer desires her and is sniffing elsewhere so she turns to her mother for guidance. A widow Isobel explains to her despondent daughter that her marriage had issues of infidelity too as her husband Kate's dad Robert had an affair with Martha. Isobel visits Martha at her nursing home where Robert's mistress tells her that her four years as the other woman were the highlight of her life. Night nurse Shelia notices the sudden vim in her patient Martha and ponders her own virginal chaste marriage as she wed for convenience not love. Finally there is migraine sufferer Judith, whose husband Tom is kind and caring, but she has never let go giving up her son for adoption.

The six women have their own chapter with a final seventh denouement tying up their individual but somewhat connected entries. All six women seem genuine while the support family members enhance the deep look at each of the stars as readers learn why each one committed to a relationship especially IF NOT LOVE. To learn the Judith link requires reading this fine female British version of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

Next of Kin
John Boyne
9780312357979 $24.95

In 1936, Hitler is becoming the rage on the continent; in England, the public affair between King Edward VIII and the commoner widow Mrs. Simpson holds the public's attention, but not Owen Montignac. Instead he believes his prayers have been answered with the timely death of his wealthy Uncle Peter. Owen owes £50,000 to casino boss Nicholas Delfy that must be paid in full by Christmas or he will spend the New Year and beyond with his deceased relative. However, to his dismay Owen learns his prayers went unanswered as dear Uncle Peter left him out of the will as deserving cousin Stella got everything. Desperation calls for desperate measures.

Gareth Bentley's responsible father a judge is outraged at the irresponsibility of his son as he only pursues pleasure ever since Stella imitated him when she was sixteen and he fifteen. Dad, a lawyer, considers cutting off funds to his son. However, before his parents consider leaving him without a pound to his name, the police suspect Gareth killed Stella's beloved Raymond. Stunned he pleads with his father to help him; insisting he is a victim of a clever frame from someone who knows him intimately and took advantage of his escapades. Desperation calls for desperate measures, but who would go that far.

This is an interesting historical mystery that uses King Edward's final days on the throne as a backdrop to a fascinating murder mystery that has its roots back a decade ago. However, Owen and Gareth are despicable individuals with no redeeming qualities. It is Gareth's parents who struggle with their conscience as they go out of their way to save their son; Judge Roderick especially hurts thinking back to those he condemned for hanging without an ounce of pity as he must choose between his values and his son. Readers will enjoy NEXT OF KIN as the past haunts their present.

Silver: My Own Tale as Written by Me with a Goodly Amount of Murder
Edward Chupack
9780312373658 $23.95

After a relatively successful life as a pirate, Long John Silver has been caught and is being brought back to England under 24/7 watch to be hanged like the dirty dog he is. However, as he sails home a prisoner he may yet cheat the gallows as Long John is also extremely ill with a raging fever that could kill him before the noose does. Although sick, Long John has a tale to tell to pass time; at least that is what he says to his guard. However, long John has a hidden agenda with relating his saga; he hopes to con his young companion into freeing him in exchange for revealing where his treasure is buried as no one understands human greed better than this slick pirate.

As he behaved in TREASURE ISLAND, Silver retains that sly roguish genius while telling his life's tale to his guard yet plotting his escape. He is terrific seemingly several steps ahead of those who want him to hang. Jim Hawkins plays a role in Silver's "autobiography”, but this is not a rehash of the Stevenson classic; instead it is a chutzpah expansion that Edward Chupack brilliantly makes his own fascinating pirate saga.

Mozart's Ghost
Julia Cameron
9780312369118 $24.95

New York City substitute teacher Anna Chester is lonely and considering leaving the Big Apple to return to her home in the Midwest. However, she does enjoy her work as a medium although skeptics are everywhere.

Pianist Edward Appleton lives in the apartment below her having just moved in; he is practicing for an upcoming competition. His keyboards disturb Anna as she tries to make contact with spirits from beyond. Making matters worse is the ghost of Mozart has moved in with her as a sometime roommate; the legendary composer enjoys hearing Edward play the piano and since he likes his frosty acerbic hostess, he encourages her to go out with the pianist. She does and as the upstairs downstairs neighbors begin to see one another, she hides her special gift from him out of fear he will end their relationship.

This engaging paranormal romance stars two lonely living beings and the matchmaking ghost of Mozart, who visits Anna whenever Edward plays the piano. Readers will appreciate the spirited composer but he plays second violin to Anna and Edward as the pair struggles with the fear of rejection and returning to loneliness as they have found each other. Julia Cameron provides a wonderful whimsical Manhattan romantic romp with a fifth of Mozart.

Pushing Up Daisies
Rosemary Harris
9780312369675 $23.95

After the buyout of the production company she worked for, Paula Holliday moved from the Big Apple to Springfield, Connecticut where she opened up a landscaping business, PH Factors, Garden Solutions. When Dorothy Peacock died, she left her estate Helepin to the Historical Society, but the grounds desperately need a good landscaper. Paula applies and gets the contract.

Her euphoria turns to horror when she digs up a box containing a mummified baby inside. Unable to forget or ignore her grisly find, Paula asks questions of those locals who lived in the area for decades in an attempt to identify either parent of the unfortunate child. She upsets someone who sends her a threatening email to back off or else, and someone knocks her out when she was in a deserted area. Paula learns that a young female Mexican who worked nearby decades ago mysteriously vanished although most people assumed she went home. The newbie ponders whether the interred baby and this woman are related like a mother and child. When another landscaper is murdered, Paula knows she has to stay involved even though she risks her life by still snooping.

This "Dirt-y Business” mystery by first time writer Rosemary Harris is an exciting well plotted (pun intended) amateur sleuth due to a quirky heroine and an eccentric Connecticut support cast. There are two mysteries that Paula feels must connect and has her theory how, but struggles to affirm her supposition. The novel also contains gardening tips and flora lore that enhance the appeal especially for fans of China Bayles.

The Killing Room
Peter May
9780312364656 $24.95

Already upset that a killer was freed because of either corruption or incompetence in the Procurator's office, Ministry of Public Security Deputy Section Chief Li Yan is not in the mood to talk to anyone. However Detective Wu tells his superior that the dismembered girl found in the shallow grave near the Summer Palace was not buried alone; upwards of twenty females share a grave with her. The powers that be demand Li fix the mess that was shown internationally as a New York bank CEO was the VIP digger in a sea of body parts.

Shanghai Public Security Serious Crime Squad Deputy chief Mei-Ling is assigned to assist Li, who learns from her that there are eighteen torsos and sixteen heads so far. Li's on and off Irish girlfriend pathologist Margaret Campbell arrives following the wake of her deceased father. Although the two ladies compete for the affection of Li, the trio works together realizing that someone apparently conducted autopsies on the female victims while they still lived; the cause of death in each case is the autopsy. They know preventing the monster from more killings comes before straightening out their personal relationships.

This excellent Chinese police procedural will please fans of that sub-genre immensely as this is a top rate whodunit in a country in which connections impedes the strong investigation much more so than in the United States where influence gets a great lawyer. The story line is action-packed and the triangle cleverly developed to allow the reader to understand the motivations including personal demons of the investigating team. However, as with THE FOURTH SACRIFICE, the novel belongs to Peter May's deep insightful look at modern China's Socialist market economy in which Shanghai is filled with Porches, sex shops, discos and nightclubs standing near traditional mom and pop stores.

Luck Be a Lady, Don't Die
Robert J. Randisi

9780312360436 $23.95

In 1960 during the filming of Ocean's 11, Sands casino pit boss Eddie Gianelli helped Dean Martin with a problem (see EVERYBODY KILLS SOMEBODY SOMETIME). So when the leader of the Rat Pack, Frank Sinatra tells Dino he has a problem, Dino suggests Eddie.

Frank explains to Eddie he has a female problem that has nothing to do with the two women the press connects him with. He asks Eddie to help him, but the pit boss cannot fathom what Frank is saying about the dames until finally he says the lady in question has vanished. Gianelli and his New York protector, Jerry Epstein search for the missing female as someone is bumping off people connected to the Rat Pack; Epstein assumes Mafia Don Sam Giancana is involved as money is the root of a potential gang war between the mob and the pack.

The key to the second Rat Pack crime caper is Robert J. Randisi's adoring homage of the members while also bringing them to life especially Frank this time. The story line is fast-paced while enabling the readers to meet the Rats up front and personal even as the original Ocean's 11 film is about to hit the big screen and an apparent mob war between a gang that uses real bullets and a group that uses Hollywood glitter seems imminent. The mystery is light but fun as it is more a mechanism for the readers to meet the rat Pack so that baby boomers and other fans of the recent Ocean's movies will enjoy LUCK BE A LADY, DON'T DIE.

Siege of Heaven
Tom Harper
9780312338725 $26.95

In 1098, the surviving feel their sacrifices were worth it as the Crusaders see the end in sight with the conquest of Jerusalem coming soon. However while some remain wary and weary from all the bloodshed, the leaders of the various Christian armies show their true colors of pride and vainglory as each competes with one other to be the first inside the holy city.

Greek Demetrious Askiates is tired of the destruction, deaths, and atrocities like the spread of the plague in Antioch he has witnessed from both sides of the religious war. He wants to go home to Constantinople, but remains committed to serving the Byzantine emperor even when he is disappointed with being sent to Egypt to negotiate with the Fatimids to obtain their support against the Turks.

The final entry in Tom Harper's excellent First Crusade trilogy (see THE MOSAIC OF SHADOWS and KNIGHTS OF THE CROSS) is an incredible eleventh century thriller as the star Demetrious is not solving a murder, but instead trying to keep from being killed. His trek from the Holy Land into Egypt brings the period of the First crusade vividly alive to his grateful audience as few if any novels in recent memory have.

Tracing the Shadow

Sarah Ash
9780553805192 $24.00

The Kingdom of Francia's chief Inquisitor Alois Visant accuses the College of Thaumaturgy of practicing magic, a punishment by death for those violating the taboo. The entire College is massacred on the pyres except for King Gobain's "alchymist” Linnaius and his apprentice Rieuk Mordiern, who up to this moment disdained his prime duty of housekeeping but now misses the safety of it. Both understand the need for extreme caution if they are to avoid joining their former colleagues.

Rieuk joins the magic underground. However, to his shock he learns that the mage leader of this secret group Arkhan plans to use him as an expendable pawn to force Francia out of its neighboring kingdom Ondhessar. Though unsure how in some way Arkhan needs to use the lad to steal the four Angelstone crystals. At the same time that Rieuk is in deep trouble, Linnaius flees Francia to another neighbor Tielen taking with him the Vox Aethyria that transmit sound over distances and a Guerrier patrolling the streets disobeys orders by rescuing an urchin, who happens to be the daughter of one of the purged mages.

Located in the Tears of Artamon realm, the first book of the Alchymist's Legacy is an interesting fantasy tale that is an introductory set up of the existing world order and the key players preparing to perform on the Sarah Ash universe stage. Still, fans of Ms. Ash will enjoy this opening gamut as the great fantasist provides a complex somewhat convoluted society in which the various stars seem headed towards an incredible major confrontation; just be patient everything is in place for what looks like a fabulous finish.

Bone Song
John Meaney
9780553385144 $24.00

Four famous performers have been recently murdered in different countries. At least of the actor Sir Alyn Conolly made it to the morgue in Lorgonne, where an autopsy revealed toxic slivers that resolved left behind micro holes.

In Tristopolis the multiple incinerations of the dead serve the undead living by providing the "necroflux". The Police Commissioner is concerned with the upcoming appearance of opera singer Maria daLivnova at the Theatre du Loup Mort. He orders Police Lieutenant Donal Riordan to insure the diva is kept safe from an apparent deadly cult. However the dedicated courageous cop soon concludes that the cult's necromantic success is fostered by those at the untouchable top of the government. He must find a way to stop those who kill the dead with impunity.

This is a fascinating police procedural urban fantasy in which "There are eight million stories in the Naked City” of Tristopolis; John Meaney introduced many of them but left them open. The Noir investigation is fun to follow and the paranormal species "living” above and under ground seem genuine, but it is the colorful dark description of the city that steals the show in this first of what looks to be a long running series.

A Flaw in the Blood
Stephanie Barron
9780553805246 $24.00

In 1861 Windsor Castle, the Prince Consort Albert is dying from typhoid, a disease he has battled with for several months. His wife Queen Victoria of England is beside herself with grief as she wonders how she will survive and continue to rule her empire without him at her side; he has always been there for her and their children since they married two decades ago.

Victoria sends her royal coach for Irish barrister Patrick Fitzgerald to see her as she has need of his service. Twenty years ago when she was a shaky ruler of just a few years, he, as a legal clerk, exposed a murderous conspiracy intended to dethrone her. Fitzgerald accompanied by his ward Dr. Georgiana Armistead has no idea what her Highness wants of him, but when the coach containing them is attacked, he fears for their lives as he knows the assault was precisely planned by a royal insider. He refuses to risk their lives so he plans to hide the niece of the late Dr. Snow, physician to the Queen. However they are the prey of predators seeking a secret that goes back to his first royal encounter although he remains ignorant of that truth; if revealed those who want the queen deposed will have a perfect rationale at a time the grief stricken Victoria is too weak to fight back.

In many ways this exhilarating thriller is more a historical novel than a mystery. The audience obtains a taste of greater London at a critical time in the reign of Queen Victoria when the monarch is vulnerable. Fitzgerald keeps the tale focused with his realistic attempts to hide rather than die facing his unknown adversaries. Readers will appreciate Stephanie Barron's fine mid nineteenth century Victorian suspense saga with nary an Austen or any Jane in sight.

Light of the Moon
Luanne Rice
9780553805116 $25.00

Anthropologist Susannah Connolly made a promise to her late mother that she would travel from her Connecticut home to South France to visit the Romany holy statue of Sarah; her mom swore the statue enabled her to conceive her only offspring. Although feeling guilty for not being there when her mother died as she was too busy working, Susannah puts off going to Carmargue for several years until her adviser Professor Helen Oakes coaxes her to carry out her commitment.

Meanwhile her former lover and colleague Ian Stewart follows Susannah to France where he tries to convince her to marry him, but she has big doubts. In trouble in a marsh French horse rancher Grey Dempsey saves Susannah's life. They are immediately attracted to one another, but he has doubts about a relationship with the American as his wife dumped him five years ago.

This is an interesting contemporary romance in which the American is actually trying to connect with her maternal roots. The story line is at its best when Susannah encounters the Romany as that brings a special freshness to the story. Although Ian is an unnecessary boorish distracter, fans of Luanne Rice will enjoy her fine tale of a woman seeking her heritage, but also finding love.

The Adultery Club
Tess Stimson
9780553591408 $5.99

In England divorce lawyer Nicholas Lyon loves his wife Malinche and their three daughters. In fact he dotes on his four females who love the only male in the household. Everything is perfect.

That is everything was perfect until he meets beautiful effervescent attorney Sara Kaplan, who makes it obvious to Nicholas that she intends to sleep with him. He initially rejects this young siren's seductive song, but also fantasizes about sleeping with sexy Sara; he wants her even as he denies it. Sara turns up the London heat on her target while Malinche considers trying a tempting new recipe.

THE ADULTERY CLUB is a fascinating look at relationships through the rotating perspective of the prime triangle. Readers will empathize somewhat with Nicholas' plight as he desperately tries to insure his blood flow remains in the upper head; fans will totally sympathize with Malinche even though she considers a rustic temptation; finally no one will appreciate the antics of the seductress who in many ways comes across as a young Lolita (though obviously older). Tess Stimson provides an interesting tale in which the mistress and the wife (supported by their kids) play tug of war with the man.

Birmingham, 35 Miles
James Braziel
9780553385021 $12.00

In 2044, life is a short hard death as the hole in the ozone layer coupled with other human indignities ignored by those who scoffed at the climate crisis. They know Bush pseudoscience has practically destroyed the planet. Anyone born after it was too late only knows of endless heat and incredibly vast dust storms in the southeast dust bowl.

In this world of an arid inferno Mathew Harrison earns a meager living as a migrant worker in and around Fatama, Alabama. He dreams of finding a better life thirty five miles to the north in Birmingham, but that is outlawed for people like him. Instead he and his father toil in government clay mines that the younger Harrison believes is fake but dangerous work that the Feds have come up with to shut up the outsiders; those not residing in the exclusive Saved World where the affluent live. In spite of the hardship conditions, Mat loves his wife Jennifer and feels they have a future because they have received the golden visas allowing them to obtain menial work in the Saved World.

BIRMINGHAM, 35 MILES is an intelligently designed grim futuristic thriller that extrapolates much of the current debate on immigration, wealth distribution and climate especially rising temperatures and droughts into a strong parable of An Inconvenient Truth. The story line is vividly dark painting an ominous future for a much divided United States as dust bowls take over the southeast yet enclosed enclaves for the wealthy and their working class spring up in magnet cities like Birmingham. Readers will appreciate James Braziel's look at a portentous ill America that demands action now or condemn our descendents to hell on earth.

Whitechapel Gods
S.M. Peters
9780451461933 $6.99

Whitechapel in Victorian London is no longer a part of Great Britain and hasn't been since 1877 when the wall came up making it a separate entity. It is ruled by two mechanical beings Grandfather Clock and Mama Engine; both of whom have no regards for humanity. They are able to turn men, women and children into half human half machines who keep humanity and are backed up by the Boiler Men who were never human to begin with but are nevertheless thinking warlike machines.

When humanity rebelled in the Uprising, the death toll was in the thousands. Humanity post Uprising lives in squalor under the rule of Baron Hume who rules humanity. His underling John Sacred, in love with Mama Engine devises a way to kill Grandfather Clock and gives the schematics of the device to Aaron, a member of the underground. He and his two men are caught but he passes the papers to one of his men who falls, several feet unable to die. He waits for someone to get the papers and put him out of his missing and members of the resistance do but building the device and putting it into Grandfather clock seems impossible; then there is the question of destroying Mama Engine.

Whitechapel is an inconvenient truth of a neighborhood of twisted building, polluted air that comes from the many factories of Mama Engine's great projects. It is a surrealistic scene out of Dante's Inferno except for the fact that most of the residents are humans. There are many heroes in this book, willing to die if it means destroying the two mechanical gods. S.M. Peters is an author whose work is so refreshingly original; the audience will be on the lookout for future societal satires from him.

Traci L. Slatton
9780385339742 $14.00

In Florence, Italy Luca Bastardo was abandoned as an infant. He survived the mean streets by begging for his meals. However, he was still a preadolescent when a vicious merchant abducted him turning him into a sex slave with no hope of escape.

However, in spite of his captivity, Luca discovers the worlds of art and alchemy and as he studies them with a deep intensity he also begins to look into religion and philosophy. He meets Giotto and they become close friends. He meets other artists over the decades until over a century since Giotto died he befriends da Vinci. Luca is no ordinary street urchin as the powerful malevolent Silvano family knows and blackmails him into cooperating. They have information about his parents that if provided to the Inquisition would result in Luca being burned at the stakes.

IMMORTAL is a complex tale as the lead protagonist makes what he considers universal truths based on his experiences in his two centuries of life especially his interactions with artists, scientists, church leaders and politicians; yet the one question he is dying to know eludes him: the origin of his life. Luca is the center to this strong historical fiction that sweeps the audience through the late medieval Plague into the Renaissance.

Eden Bradley
9780553385106 $13.00

"Seven Days of Kama Sutra”. Caroline Winter manages the luxurious women's retreat Exotica. There females are pampered in anyway imaginable as what she wants is what she gets. Caroline invites her long time friend Lilli DeForrest to come for a week of pleasure. Lilli is unsure of going to such a place, but takes up Caroline's offer anyway. What she never expected is to meet Rajan and fall into instant lust; he brings her ecstasy as she has never felt before. Besides sharing a fierce attraction, they are perfect sex partners, but when the week ends what then?

"Nine Days of Arabian Nights”. Caroline may be the manager of Exotica, but has never tasted the merchandise as no male has interested her. That is until Kian provides her an offer of pleasure she cannot refuse. He takes her to heavenly bliss in her boudoir where she lets him take charge of her mind, her soul, and her body. In every Eden, slithers a snake, but two legged serpents can fall in love.

These are two heated contemporary romances that erotica fans will relish. Each tale contains likable lead protagonists (even with the males hiding secrets) who find sex and love mix nicely at least at EXOTICA.

Murder Melts in Your Mouth
Nancy Martin
9780451223111 $22.95

There is never a dull moment in the Blackbird family and Nora the pragmatic one has to hold things together. Her sister Libby was hit by a Rolls Royce driven by a mysterious millionaire who is putting her up in the Ritz Carleton so she can fully recover from her trauma. She cajoles Nora into watching her five kids. Their other sibling tough talking, hard drinking Emma is pregnant and considering an abortion.

To add to Nora's angst, her parents are back in town and they have a way of getting the government to investigate income tax evasion and by helping them their crimes which forced them to leave the country will be dropped. Nora's best friend Lexie Paine's partner Hoyt Cavendish was discovered to have embezzled funds from the firm, which is now close to declaring bankruptcy. Lexie and Hoyt Cavendish have a huge public argument just before he falls from an office ledge. The Philadelphia police suspect Lexie killed Hoyt leading to Nora to investigate as she knows her pal is not a murderer as several people had a motive and opportunity to push him off the ledge. Although her mob related boyfriend Michael Abruzzo broke off with her, he remains steadfast in being there when she gets in trouble, as she does with her inquiry.

The latest Blackbirds Sister mystery is a delightful amateur sleuth tale in which the audience is hooked throughout from the first Libby incident to the last altercation. Nora is incredible as she proves chaos theory as the hub of the Blackbird family is pure extended bedlam. Interestingly with Libby recovering, Emma considering an abortion, and Nora watching five kids and investigating a homicide; each most fears the return of their parents to the City of Brotherly Love. Amusing, farcical, and satirical, Nancy Martin provides a wonderful chocolate lover's tour of Philadelphia.

Demons Are a Ghoul's Best Friend
Victoria Laurie
9780451223418 $6.99

Psychic Karen "Teek” O'Neal hires her friend M.J. Holliday and her Ghost Hunting associates computer guru Gilley Gillespie and Dr. "Delicious” Steven Sable for help. Teek's fourteen years old niece Evie was attacked by a demon at the Northelm Boarding School she attends. The three Ghost Hunters agree to travel to the school off of Lake Placid, New York.

M.J. quickly learns the school bully is Hatchet Jack, but counseling him will not work as he is a demon who came through a portal she must locate if she is to send him to the hell hole he calls home. She also knows he is not going to cooperate like the ghost of the late police office Randy Donaldson did on their way up. Worse the school's faculty, the dean, and Evie's dad think she is either a psycho or a teen prankster while the dean thinks Evie's aunt hangs around lunatics; which he assumes is probably where the kid gets her unbalance; M.J. expects hindrance from that quarter.

The follow up to WHAT'S A GHOUL TO DO? is an entertaining lighthearted paranormal thriller that grips the audience early on when M.J. assists lost soul Randy to move on and never slows down until the final nail is hammered home. This time Dr. Delicious is part of the investigative team from the onset rather than just a client as he was in the first entry. High school teens and up will appreciate the latest Ghost Hunter Mystery as M.J. and associates prove that DEMONS ARE A GHOUL'S BEST FRIEND, not.

What Are You Wearing to Die
Patricia Sprinkle

9780451223258 $6.99

Hopemore, Georgia has its share of vicious crimes; usually Magistrate MacLaren Yarbrough is in the middle of the investigation to the horror and fear of her spouse Joe Riddle. This time when someone dies, Joe handcuffs her leg to her desk in Yarbrough Feed Sed and Nursery. A car went over the bypass bridge with Star Knight inside. At first the police think it is an accident until when they bring the vehicle up; the victim was beaten to death with broken bones and black and blue marks everywhere.

Star had her life together when she was pregnant but she became addicted again to crystal meth. The Sheriff knows there is a lab in the area, but can't locate it. Star's father Trevor demands custody of his grandson and they later learn Star was going to the DEA to inform them who was running the lab with plans of going straight. MacLaren and others believes the meth lab operatives killed Star to prevent her from ratting them out. When another death linked to Star occurs, MacLaren tries to find the killer who ran the meth house, but the murderer remains free with plans to murder the nosy magistrate who ruined his business.

This is a poignant character driven police procedural that makes the case that amoral people can live in the open yet hidden anywhere even a pristine small town. Joe's handcuffing his wife shows how much he cares and worries about her investigating activities, but unless he plans to do this 24/7, his scheme is doomed to fail as MacLaren's soul is to uncover the truth. The inquiry is fun to follow, but it is the meth lab in a small town Georgia that makes this cozy feel real.

Enemy Combatant
Ed Gaffney
9780440243748 $6.99

In Phoenix, the jury selection in the case against Hispanic Muslim Juan Gomez accused of being a terrorist mass murderer is an injustice as the public defender appointed to represent the indicted does nothing. In the gallery watching the proceedings, a disgusted attorney Tom Carpenter opens his mouth that the proceedings are a travesty as no objections to obviously biased people have occurred. The judge assigns Carpenter to represent the seemingly already convicted Gomez.

During the trial Carpenter finds justice is not blind it is dead in this case as everything is set for the prosecution to gain a conviction. In the courthouse bathroom a hooded attacker holding a gun to his head warns Carpenter that if he is overly zealous in his defense, meaning acquittal, his family will pay the price. When he sees the same person working for the defense, Carpenter realizes he needs to learn who his adversary is and what he really knows as he begins to believe that the bathroom incident was a warning to protect his family not a threat.

This interesting legal thriller raises the question whether justice in American can be blind when it comes to a radical fundamentalist Muslim. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Carpenter opens his mouth in court and never slows down as the audience is captivated by his defense of his client, who fascinatingly he does not like. Although the support cast on all sides of the courtroom and elsewhere seem more caricature than developed, readers will appreciate this entertaining thriller in which entitlement to a lawyer is not entitlement to a reasonably good defense.

Cutting Loose
Tara Janzen
9780440243854 $6.99

For the past eight years he was undercover as an El Salvadoran drug lord Alejandro Campos; but that scenario is over and CIA operative Zachary Prade is back at Langley. On his first day back he amusingly thinks that this is the first time in his CIA career that he is going through the front door although he wonders why they yanked him now even if the sh*t hit the fan three weeks ago and why a body bag containing an ex marine is in the meeting with his superiors. Zach knows how everything went wrong on the last CIA operation but he and another operative contained the storm from being a type 5 hurricane and that he saved the life of schoolteacher and video maker Lily Robbins in El Salvador.

The CIA, Zach's former associates and a guerilla group want her video that apparently contains the key to a computer file with plenty of useful data for whoever possesses it especially America's enemies. Zach's stateside assignment is to keep Lily safe while bringing the key to Langley. Everyone seems to be converging in Albuquerque.

Tara Janzen's latest wild romantic suspense thriller is fast-paced, but owned by the hero, who struggles to readjust to being Zach instead of Campos. As he falls in love with the woman he vows to protect, he believes he is unworthy because he did some horrific things while undercover; adding to the drama is she assumes he is a drug lord or at best an El Salvadoran agent, but soon realizes just like in Central America she must trust him to survive. Although sex while on a perilous run for your life even in remote Paysen, New Mexico, population 28 max, seems wrong, fans will appreciate this superb CIA caper.

Darth Bane: Rule of Two
Drew Karpyshyn
Del Rey
9780345477484 $25.95

Darth Bane has destroyed his rival Sith Lords as he places in practice his prime directive of the Rule of Two and no more; one will be the master while the other the novice.

He hides from his enemy the Jedi who for the most part assume there is no more Sith Lords while Bane also searches for the right novice. He selects Zannah as she reminds him of himself when he was younger as she embraces the dark side of the force. However, one Jedi obstinately refuses to accept the belief that the Sith Lords are no more. Johun Othone thinks Bane lives as he senses the killer of his Jedi Master Lord Hoth; he will not rest until he knows for sure that Bane is dead.

The second Darth Bane Star Wars thriller (see PATH OF DESTRUCTION) follows up where the last book left off as Drew Karpyshyn continues to tell the enthralling saga of how an innocent man turned to evil for salvation. Bane for the most part drives the exciting story line with his insane brilliance to use the dark side of the Force to destroy everything even the order he belongs too. Readers will appreciate the latest entry starring a malevolent soulless person who is evil and sinister as Vader is, only centuries earlier.

The Dreaming Void
Peter Hamilton
Del Rey
9780345496539 $26.95

Fifteen hundred years have passed since the Commonwealth conspiracy occurred (see PANDORA'S STAR AND JUDAS UNCHAINED). Mankind ha prospered, but now humanity is divided once again. This time it is over the Void at the core of galaxy. A powerful sect the Living Dream has formed around Inigo the human who insists he dreams of the paradise world inside the Void. The star of his dreams is Edeard who Inigo believes lives inside the Void and is contacting him.

Inigo's followers become the most powerful political and social force in the galaxy. Meanwhile the human clamor to enter the Void frightens the ancient species who somewhat understands and fears the unintentional consequences of entering the Void will trigger the Void's concentric expansion until the galaxy is destroyed. When Inigo vanishes without a trace, Ethan takes over and announces a pilgrimage into the Void.

As expected, Peter Hamilton provides an extremely complex very entertaining futuristic science fiction that in some ways is quite simple as the story line focuses on two prime subplots. First there are Inigo's dreams of Edeard's young life as a teen member of the Eggshaper's Guild to his rookie days as a junior constable in Makkathran; second there is the various reactions across the galaxy when Ethan announces the pilgrimage into the Void. Each holds up quite well as the key players, Edeard and Ethan seem real, which in turn makes the Void feel genuine. This is a great opening of the second act as fans return to the Hamilton galaxy fifteen or so centuries since we left following the events of PANDORA'S STAR AND JUDAS UNCHAINED.

Tangled Webs
Anne Bishop
9780451461605 $23.95

Queen Jaenelle Angelline fashioned what she calls a "silly, spooky” fun house that lampoons the magically gifted Bloods. Lady Surreal SaDiablo and magic practitioner Warlord Prince Rainier receive special invitations to tour her creation.

However, neither Surreal nor Rainier is aware that Jaenelle has not sent out any invitations. Insane Jarvis Jenkell has recently learned he is of the Blood too and has developed a maniac plan to inspire his writing of novels. He has built a dangerous haunted house in which he plans to trap Bloods and observe their tribulations; thus he invited Surreal, Rainer and several children, who arrive for the gala only to find themselves in a life and death struggle to survive. Jaenelle's husband Daemon Sadi and his half-brother Lucivar desperately try to free their loved ones from Jarvis' diabolical house of horrors.

The latest Black Jewels fantasy thriller (see DREAMS MADE FLESH) is an excellent action-packed tale that grips readers once the tour of hell begins and never slows down until the final confrontation. The story line is fast-paced and the cast seem real. However, what makes TANGLE WEB great is the Blood magic seems plausible so much so that readers will feel trapped inside Jenkell's house of horrors.

Singularity's Ring
Paul Melko
9780765317773 $24.95

Space engineers built the Ring as a humongous space station circling the Earth. However, soon afterward, most of the earth populace vanishes into other realties. Those left behind are clueless as to whether those who simply left still live in some other existence.

Humans mentally merge into singularity groups that function as one person rather than multiple beings. During a training session, teen pod starship captain student Apollo Papadopulos inadvertently learns of secret research that endangers them. Their unknown adversaries want them dead before they can reveal what they know. Running as one, the quintet flees with no hope of escape as their foes are everywhere.

Whether the reader is in orbit around the earth or fleeing in the Amazon rainforest and elsewhere, SINGULARITY RING hooks the audience to come along for a wild well written ride. The story line is fast-paced, but it is the unique creative characters that make the tale fascinating. The Apollo Papadopulos consists of five teens and yet appear as one character; the Borg seems divided compared to Paul Melko's Pods. This is for those readers who appreciate something different in their science fiction.

In a Time of Treason
David Keck
9780765313218 $25.95

As he does periodically, King Ragnal demands his liegemen come to his court to pledge their fealty to him. Among the nobles arriving to vow their dying loyalty to the monarch are Lord Lamoric and his vassal Durand Col. The latter hides his love of his liege's wife from everyone even the target of his affection although he sees her from afar with longing everyday they are home, which is more frequent than ever as they have no money for travel. Still they must journey to the king's court or face his wrath at a time when rebellion especially in the north seems imminent.

The pair arrives at the king's court late to their euphoria as those who came on time reside in Ragnal's dungeon or in a coffin. The king believes traitors exist among those pledging to him so he is purging them. Col escapes, but finds his enemy the Duke of Yrlac has set him up to die having already begin an incursion into his neighbor's land that of Lamoric.

More a historical fiction with some underlying fantasy elements, the sequel to IN THE EYE OF HEAVEN is a fabulous thriller because like its predecessor Col makes the man on the run scenario seem genuine. As a knight errant with no prospects and no super powers he is human, which makes the fantasy seem genuine. For instance Col struggles as much from fleas as he does against his enemy. Although the climax is a cliffhanger leaving IN A TIME FOR TREASON without any closure as it ends up setting up the next tale, fans will appreciate David Keck's fabulous saga.

Reaper's Gale
Steven Erikson
9780765310071 $27.95

The brutal Tiste Edur tribe of the north rules the Letherii Empire that they only recently conquered, but their control is weak and shaky as most people oppose them and Chancellor Gnol still runs the government. The Emperor of a Thousand Deaths Rhulad Senger symbolizes all that is wrong with the monarchy as everyone believes he is insane even his own people yet he sits on the throne. As the Edur purists fear Letherii economic assimilation, opposition from within grows as each time Rhulad dies, he returns to life less lucid and coherent.

That inside threat is still jelling but the external assaults are greater to the stability of the tottering empire. Redmask leads the belligerent Awl'dan tribes of the east against the Letherii and the powerful rival Malazan Empire sees an opportunity has sent its armada to take the capital by sea. Others also seek to usurp the Edur.

REAPER'S GALE, tale seven of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, is an extremely complex fantasy and fans of the series will marvel at the epic scope; newcomers need to start at the beginning (see GARDENS OF THE MOON). The myriad of subplots are much more convoluted and complicated than the simplicity described above, but for the most part the often vividly brutal events tie to the beleaguered Edur and its rule over the Letherii Empire. The threads left dangling forebode quite a future in this saga as Steven Erickson provides his strongest entry in a deep series in quite awhile.

Seekers of the Chalice
Brian Cullen
9780765314734 $25.95

The Chalice of Fire was given to Cucullen, champion of the Red Branch in Ulster and as long as it stayed there, the province would know peace and prosperity. Boorish braggart Bricriu Poisontongue is detested by everyone for his caustic tongue so when he fell into manure everyone enjoyed a laugh at his expense. Outraged and arrogant, he vowed vengeance. He stole the sacred Chalice intending to give it to malevolent wizard Maliman who along with his magical minions was recently freed from incarceration in the Great Prism because the seven seals that bound him were broken.

Only the just can drink from the Chalice and gain immortality except for Maliman whose powers are so great he can use the Chalice to forge Earthworld into his evil image. In Otherworld where immortals and gods live, the immortal Cumc, son of Cucullen, is asked to find the Chalice although that means going to Earthworld making him vulnerable. He accepts the quest and takes his father's magical sword with him. Along the way he has five people join his journey and become known on two realms as the Seekers of the Chalice.

Talk about no rest for the weary; almost in every step (seemingly almost every page) of their travels, the Seekers have to fight Maliman's minions and other evil beings. Their experiences on the road forge them into a tight band focused on a single purpose to recover the Chalice. They fight together against anyone trying to prevent their achieving their objective. This epic high fantasy is the sub-genre at its best as Brian Cullen effortlessly provides a top rate historical fantasy.

Solar Heat
Susan Kearney
9780765358448 $7.99

Intersolar Mining asteroid minor Derrek Archer rescues Azsla from her apparent drifting emergency pod where she is asleep in suspended animation. Even before she awakens he is attracted to her, which makes him wary as that just does not happen in real life especially in deep space. When she revives, Azsla is shocked how much she wants the minor, but knows her undercover espionage mission comes before her desires.

As Derrek and Azsla begin to fall in love, each remains cautious with their feelings especially since each supports opposing enemies. However when a pandemic threat means many innocent lives dying; this couple must overcome their suspicions of one another to unite in love in order to prevent a catastrophe.

SOLAR HEAT is an exciting science fiction romance starring two interesting lead protagonists who are obvious enemies until love changes their relationship. Azsla is the more fascinating of the pair, as she is an outer space Mata Hari who comes from a slave planet while he is a roguish loner although he has hundreds of employees. Readers, more so romance fans than sci fi purists, will enjoy watching the struggles of this couple to team up in spite of their love for one another to stop the calamity from happening.

In the Courts of the Crimson Kings
S.M. Stirling
9780765314895 $24.95

On Mars, the U.S. Aerospace Force assigns archeologist Jeremy Wainman to explore the recently found lost city of Rema-Dza. When Jeremy meets Martian native mercenary Teyud za-Zhalt, he falls in love. However, he quickly realizes who she is; Teyud is the missing heir to the long gone Crimson Dynasty that once rurled much of the Red Planet.

When they learn of a scheme to steal the Ruby Throne and much more, they team up to prevent it. Soon Jeremy and Teyud are fleeing for their lives as they are under serious attack from airships. If they are to survive and win her the throne of the Emperor Tollamune they will need to locate the missing invisible crown of the first emperor.

Moving from the Venus of THE SKY PEOPLE to paying homage to the Mars of Ray Bradbury, S.M. Stirling provides enjoyable alien-earthling encounters of the first through third kinds. The story line is action-packed only slowing down for nanoseconds in order to lampoon know it all scientists drawing conclusions without supporting data, rigid military officers fighting the last war fought on a different planet, and decider politicians not interested in the facts. Those latter satirical sidebars are amusing and right on with their caricatures, but also distracts from an otherwise delightful visit to the very angry Red Planet.

Terry Goodkind
9780765315236 $29.95

After coming so far, Richard Rahl knows he must risk all to free his beloved wife Kahlan Amnell, who does not recall much of her past including her husband, from the destructive Emperor Jagang and his Imperial Order that has destroyed freedom like a CHAINFIRE encircling everything. Now the Order has reached the final destination of pandemic destruction the People's Palace.

Richard must escape, save his spouse and prevent the Order from completing its quest while knowing the Beast will assault his body and soul at almost every turn. His only avenue he sees is to forge a team to challenge the undefeated champions, the Emperor's squad in a game of Ja'La dh Jin. If he wins the contest the females select the rewards; he does not want to dwell on losing.

Going into the final book of the Sword of Truth saga, the probability of Terry Goodkind wrapping up all his subplots from the previous ten tales is one in a googolplex, but the author seemingly has done so, but at a cost. The above is critical, but does not reflect most of what is going on from battles to campsites, to the siege, etc. At times the myriad of sidebars seem overwhelming and force a final sprint to the finish line. Still this is a powerful conclusion to what peels down to its core of a war between truth and deception with readers wondering will Richard succeed on his quest that is personal yet universal while breathlessly waiting the revealing of the final wizard's rule.

Voices from the Street
Philip K. Dick
9780765318213 $14.95

In 1950s Oakland, California affluent Stuart Hadley lives the American dream. He owns a nice home; has an adoring pregnant wife; and recently was promoted manager in a television and radio shop. Stuart Hadley is dissatisfied with his near perfect life as he wants more but has no idea why this is the season of his discontent. He turns to alcohol and sex to dull his anger at middle class existence but that only makes him internally rage more; and he wants to reject the respective adulation of his wife and his boss as that frightens him because once gain he does not know why.

Stuart turns to the Society of the Watchmen of Jesus for salvation. At the sect he meets Marsha Frazier, who he desperately craves. However, Stuart fails to find solace with his new religious order; instead he spirals deeper into depression and begins to destroy his life by tearing down his relationships and losing the respect of his wife and his boss.

VOICES FROM THE STREET is a complex character study of a person living and rejecting the American dream as pronounced during the Ike era. Not an easy read as the story line is somewhat murky and convoluted, but fans of Philip K. Dick will appreciate the rich look at the unhappy days of the 1950s through the increasingly psychotic mindset of the prime protagonist.

Edward Willet
9780756404642 $7.99

In some unspecified time in the future all the scientists agreed that Earth was going to be hit by a meteor and destroyed. Genetic sculptor Victor Hansen created a race of modified humans known as Selkies, bioengineered to live in water as they had gills and webbed feet and were faster and stronger than unmodified humans. They escaped from the religious leader the Avatar and his religious regime the Body Purified who believed all beings that were genetically modified were abominations.

The asteroid ended up being deflected by another asteroid and he consolidated his regime's hold on the people of earth. The unmodified humans and the Selkies landed on the water world of Marseguro where for seventy-five years landlings and Selkies lived in harmony with each other. Some landlings were loyal to the Avatar's beliefs and Chris Keating, brainwashed by his mother, is one of them. When two Selkies play a nasty trick on him, he turns on the homing beacon from the ship that landed there. Richard Lansing made it his life work to find the world his grandfather landed on and when he does he notifies the proper authorities who mount an attack to kill the Selkies. However, Marseguro is not as helpless as earth bureaucrats believe and when Richard , who travels with the troops to Marseguro, discovers who and what he is, the side he takes (Avatar or Selkie) will determine the outcome of what becomes of the mostly water planet.

The regime in power is so xenophobic that it makes war on innocent men, women and children subduing colony worlds by deadly force. Marseguro is determined not to be conquered but if they use the only means available to stop the troops Earth is sending their way, a great travesty will occur. Their moral dilemma is only on of the reasons this novel is so fascinating. The Selkie culture and infrastructure is very picturesque and easily pictured by readers who will want to visit his exotic world. Hopefully Edward Willet will write a sequel starring Marseguro.

Magic of Twilight
S.L. Farrell
9780756404666 $24.95

The city-state Nessantico has annexed all of the nearby territory. However although still the sole superpower in the region; for the first time since the conquering began centuries ago the Holdings of Nessantico teeter, but not from without. Within the empire, there are groups who radically differ especially on the issue of religion; while others just want more power regardless of how they achieve it.

The time for a schism seems rapidly to be coming as the current ruler Marguerite ca'Ludovici is nearing her fiftieth year as the Kraljica. Besides religious fundamentalists plotting her assassination, her son A'Kralj Justi ca'Mazzak wants to rule now; and the subjected monarch who controls much of the city-state's army H'rzg Jan ca'V?rl considers a coup. Others also scheme. However, Marguerite has some loyal followers too in the military, in the religious circles, amongst her court members, and amidst the people. Civil war seems imminent.

The rotating perspective from numerous individuals highlights the differing opinions and motivations re the future of the Holdings of Nessantico. This technique enhances the complexity level of the sixteen episodic storyline as the events are seen from multiple changing views; this also adds depth to the prime players who show up in most of the chapters. Although the use of native vernacular makes the novel real seem real, this reviewer has always found it a distraction when overused (except in A Clockwork Orange) as is the case here. Still fans who appreciate a strong insightful political fantasy will enjoy this superb opening tale.

Dead to Me
Anton Strout
9780441015788 $7.99

Simon Canderous spent years misusing his psychometric skills to steal. However, he has reformed and now employs his ability to obtain the history of an object by touching it for the Department of Extraordinary Affairs. What he has not learned is patience as working for a bureaucracy has proven frustrating with SOPs, red tape, and fearful nurturing leaders who are CYA conscience with everything needing documentation a zillion times over.

Simon accidentally spills his coffee through a female ghost who remains ignorant to the fact that she is dead let alone murdered. He vows to bring her killers to justice. However, he will soon learn how complex his pledge is as he is assaulted by the forces of Darkness who are attracted to him and want him to join them but he is not sure in what precisely; and learns more clues from a killer bookcase and a wooden fish. As he gathers information, none of that he obtains seems to get him closer to solving the homicide.

This excellent urban fantasy stars an interesting lead male who readers meet when his tryst with Tamara goes wrong when she pins him to the bed and starts kissing him until his psychometric skills tell him about her New Orleans encounter; she flees from this perverted stalker. Thus the audience immediately learns the down side of the gift, which in turn personalizes and humanizes the hero. The whodunit investigation is fun to follow sort of like an early Dresden so fans should stop at the Lovecraft cafe for an entertaining paranormal investigative tale.

Unquiet Dreams
Mark Del Franco
780441015696 7.99

Ever since a criminal elf did something to cause a mass in his head that almost obliterated his powers, druid investigator Connor Grey's life is no longer on an upwardly mobile course. He is no longer an investigator or an up and coming star in the Guild that represents all fae races. He lives in a crummy Boston neighborhood known as the Weird and works with Boston Detective Murdock on crimes that involve the fae that the fae cops can't be bothered with. Right now he is in a field that is dried up from the rains in the night examining the body of a teen that was dumped in the middle of a field.

They are called away from the crime scene to go to the site of another murder that of Alvud Kruge an elf who formed the organization Unity whose goal is to bring peace to the warring factions of the fae. Evidence provided by Joe a tiny fairy known as a flick proves that the dead teen was in contact with Kruge. He can't convince the Guild investigators that the two crimes are linked so with the help of Joe he sets out to prove it almost getting killed several times during the course of his investigation by fae who don't want him poking his nose in their business.

Readers who like a mystery as the prime plot of an outstanding fantasy (think of Dresden) will thoroughly be entertained and challenged by UNQUIET DREAMS. This is a great new series with the potential to be long lasting one due to a sympathetic heroic protagonist and a support cast that adds the magic to this spellbinding tale. Readers will get a new perspective on druids including their powers and politics as Mark Del Franco paints a unique vision of Boston.

Midnight Reign
Chris Marie Green

9780441015603 $14.00

She was lured back to Los Angeles because her father is missing, but stuntwoman Dawn Madison became involved with the P.I. firm Jonah Limpett & Associates due to a prophecy. She was there to find and destroy the vampire Underground but she thought Jonah Limpett was crazy until she beheld a child star turned vampire. Now she is part of the team seeking to kill vampires while also searching for her dad.

When a woman dies, it looks like a vampire killed her; wannabe star Lee Tomlinson is arrested for the murder. The Master of the Underground and his son, the Sorcerer Vampire Soria, are concerned that this homicide will call attention to their species. When another female is killed in the same manner, the Master devises a plan to lure Lippett out of hiding in order to kill or turn him. While Dawn is dealing with the two murders, she also has to face the fact that the man she is attracted to is besotted by her dead mother Eve Claremont and her best friend Jacqueline Ashley has had surgery to look like Dawn's late mom. Dawn fears both are part of the underground, but Jonah insists they are not and he should know.

Chris Marie Green has given her fans an inside look at the underground culture and social class system from the most powerful Elite bitten by the Master to the lowly Guards converted by the Groupies. The murder investigation contains several twists that teach Dawn a key lesson in survival; trust no one as anyone can be an underground slave. Readers will find this fun urban fantasy mystery appealing as Dawn learns life lessons.

A Little Ray of Sunshine
Lani Diane Rich
9780451222961 $14.00

Emmy "EJ” James works the early night shift at the Quik 'n' Go as a temporary means of making some money until she feels it is time to move on as she has for the past six years living in her Airstream motor home. However, with seventeen minutes left in her shift, two customers arrive. "Springfield tells EJ that "Ponytails” needs help as her car seems to have broken down. Ponytails informs EJ her name is Jess Szyzynski and she is an angel here to help her; EJ assumes another lunatic escaped from the asylum as she is no George Bailey in need of A Wonderful Life.

Digs Greene arrives to inform EJ that his dad Danny and her mother Lilly are getting married. Emmy thinks back to when she left in the middle of the night six years ago instead of marrying Dig's older brother Luke. Although her mother is a nasty selfish piece of work while his father is a kind widower, EJ wants nothing to do with either family. Ponytails the angel thinks otherwise. To her bewilderment EJ drives home to confront Lilly.

The two romances especially between EJ and Luke is well done, but takes a back seat to the tale of Lilly trying to persuade her daughter she has changed due to the love and caring of a kind gentle man as her daughter's distrust of her is bone marrow deep. The whimsical story line is driven by the complex interrelationships between the cast who seem real flaws and all. Whether Jess is an angel and where the Airstream ends up parked require reading this rich family drama filled with much more than just A LITTLE RAY OF SUNSHINE.

All for Love: The Scandalous Life and Times of Royal Mistress Mary Robinson
Amanda Elyot
9780451222978 $14.00

Mary Darby was born in 1758 to an affluent merchant who not long afterward abandoned his family. Mary received an education especially in the fine arts and at fifteen planned to perform on stage shortly. However, her mother persuaded her to marry Tom Robinson, the heir of a rich uncle. He proved the second disappointing male in her life; others followed as she seemed to find a lifetime of losers although she hid her disappointment inside her poetry. Ultimately Tom's wastrel ways led to Mary going on stage where the Prince of Wales saw her and made her his.

Mary Robinson's words from her poetry, essays and letters enhance this delightful historical biographical fiction. Amanda Elyot pays homage to the royal mistress while allowing the audience to understand the motivators of her life, which in turn spotlights the limited options women had during the latter half of the eighteenth century even in relatively enlightened England. Regency romance readers will appreciate The Scandalous Life and Times of Royal Mistress Mary Robinson.

Sweet Georgia Brown
Cheryl Robinson
9780451222282 $13.95

In Detroit Marvin Brown is obsessed with making a fortune so the stand up comic plans to change his routine from impersonation to "sh*t happens”. He wife Georgia is unhappy that he will use the N-word and the B-word in his act as she reminds him his clean show enabled him to open up the Gospel Exposition. However, he felt like a loser when he, Georgia and their two kids Edrik and Haden moved in with his parents.

Marvin's new act is well received and lands him a well paying radio talk-show host position. Georgia is elated until she learns her Marvin is cheating on her, that he uses her as his punching bag on the air, and that he has a thirteen years old offspring she never knew existed move in with them. Upset and hurt Georgia obtains a job as a talk-show host after a guest appearance on her spouse's show where he is nasty while she is sweet in rebuttal. However, when Marvin crosses the on air line, his career is in freefall; only SWEET GEORGIA BROWN can save his butt, but will she as he changed Georgia from sweet and probably from Brown with his caustic radio comments about her.

This is a fabulous African American affirmative answer to "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?”, but with a sweet twist as Georgia punches back in their on the air gender war. Fans including most males will root for Georgia as Marvin cruelly puts her down at home and in public. Told in three parts by Cheryl Robinson, readers will appreciate this fine tale of transformation as success spoils Marvin, but encourages Georgia to be more as she learns from her husband the pitfalls to avoid.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Tattered Paradise: Azucar's Trilogy Ends
Alan Cambeira
P.O. Box 151, Frederick MD 21075
1424170818 $19.95

I've been privileged to review all three books in Alan Cambeira's Azucar trilogy. It bears repeating that this trilogy is beautifully written and starkly realistic. Tenderly, Cambeira shows readers the homeland he loves. The Dominican Republic is an alluring, enigmatic land of ferocious rains and lush tropical beauty. Against this breathtaking natural backdrop, Cambeira skillfully creates his human drama. Despite globalization and modern technology, his Caribbean homeland is still a place where skin color and gender dictate a person's destiny. And in this final chapter of Azucar's story, the sights of wealthy international power mongers have been set on a cheap, disposable work force.

Azucar Ferrand St. Jacques is the linchpin of Tattered Paradise. She and her husband, Lucien, came from poverty to establish a successful tourism industry in their homeland. Azucar is politically astute, a renowned philanthropist. Lucien is an international investment counselor with friends in high places. Along with friends Chelaine, an acclaimed journalist, and Silvio, a native son blessed by the gods with the gift of insight, Azucar and Lucien have worked tirelessly to replace the sugar cane industry with kinder jobs with better wages and benefits. As the story begins, Azucar and Silvio have the same nightmare. They turn to Don Anselmo, the ancient patriarch of the cane fields, to unravel their frightening dreams. Aided by his connection to the island gods, Don Anselmo clearly understands the warning in their dreams.

Globalization of industry, the World Bank, and trade agreements have resulted in human rights abuses perpetrated in the name of profits. Promises have been made, broken, and amended by rapacious greed. The North American and European garment trade have relocated factories to the Caribbean in their lust for cheap labor. The labor force that once slaved in the cane fields is now exploited by a different master, slaving in sweat shops surrounded by armed guards and razor wire, creating designer clothing for starvation wages.

Azucar realizes the idealistic dream of transforming the lives of her people has become a nightmare. Her dream of fair wages for everyone has been shattered by greedy multinational corporations in search of slave labor and high profits. After centuries of struggle, nothing has changed in her homeland. She gathers around her some of the brightest, most successful people she knows. They search for solutions to the latest exploitation by calling on the combined forces of their ancestral spirits. The results of their actions are shocking and unexpected. Only the venerable Don Anselmo understands the outcome.

Alan Cambeira received a generous grant to research and write this final book in Azucar's trilogy. I'm grateful to the wise purveyor of that grant because his is a voice that deserves an international audience. The Caribbean is much more than an appealing tourist destination. Behind the tropical beauty is a land and people exploited in the name of greed and power and Cambeira tells this story well. If you haven't read the Azucar Trilogy, I encourage you to do so. This book, and all others in the trilogy, are highly recommended.

Blue Ribbons at the County Fair
Poems by Ellaraine Lockie
PWJ Publishing
P.O. Box 238, Tehama CA 96090
0939221454 $10.00

Ellaraine Lockie is an award winning, Pushcart nominated poet whose work has been featured in journals too numerous to mention. The poems in this chapbook were all award winners in journals, and even at county fairs. These are "sage scented memories” of a life viewed through the eyes of a true poet who remembers love, loss, sorrow, and the glorious wonders of everyday life.

In "Too Soon September” she celebrates the seasons of her youth as a rancher's daughter. This excerpt is one small example of what readers will experience:

Wild sunflowers that edge the road
say it's too early for winter
By clutching buttered petals to their bosom
and refusing to ripen the seeds that huddle there

"How to Know a Prairie Poem” is a shared vision of life in the Great Plains. Readers can see, feel, taste, and smell life here. This poem is best read in its entirety, but I chose one verse in excerpt:

You can smell it like clothes fresh from the line
defining the air in an endless
blue and white marbled dryer
A sea of native grass and sage scents
narrated by waves of wind
with whispers from a skunk-drunk coyote
And inhaled smoke-signaled history
on hillsides pulls you back a century
into printed accounts of cowboys and Indians
Who bring their stormy past
onto the blank page of the present

"Seed of a Serial Killer” is not what the title indicates. This is a memory of a childhood yard, of spiders hiding among blooming flowers and vegetables, shared with a stunning vision through the poet's choice of words:

Perfume like purple syrup
from over-pollinated lilac bushes
gagged the garden into perpetual summer bloom

In addition to free-form poetry, readers will find a small sampling of haiku and a humorous prose poem. This was my first time reading Ms. Lockie's poetry. After finishing the chapbook, it's clear why she's received so many awards and Pushcart nominations. Her poetry is exceptional.

Imprints: Stories That Solicit a Response
Stephanie S. Sawyer
P.O. Box 151, Frederick MD 21705
1604415223 $16.95

Stephanie Sawyer is an accomplished writer and musician, an advocate for people dealing with seizure disorders, and a committed Christian. Five years have passed since her first book, Facing Me, was published. In that first book, she shared honestly her struggles with seizure disorder with a goal of helping others. Imprints documents the Lord's victory in her shattered life. These are vignettes of her journey through stark circumstances, told in this writer's honest and erudite style.

Despite financial downturns, public seizures, fractured relationships, a failing marriage, and disappointments, Sawyer's indomitable spirit survives. The appearance of a loving Lord Jesus saves her from a destructive life spiraling out of control. Unexpected gifts of compassion from friends and strangers brighten her darkest days. In her lowest hours, God sends who and what she needs. Sawyer considers these human gifts from God to be kindly angels, diamonds of light sent to illuminate her path to wholeness. An empathetic pastor gently eases her back into the Christian community she deserted out of despair. A wise mentor dispenses support and advice in generous measure. Discerning strangers provide kindness and concern in troubled moments.

These are stories of Christ's healing grace, told by a woman who has struggled and failed but finally emerged victorious. The message throughout is that Jesus can help us overcome any trial if we open our hearts to him as Ms. Sawyer did. She shares her story without self pity or recriminations. The result is heart warming and encouraging to any reader who has ever grappled with illness, rejection, sorrow, or failure. Imprints is Ms. Sawyer's gift to us all and highly recommended.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Nancy's Bookshelf

Double Truffle: A Terri Springe Culinary Mystery (with recipes)
S. Kaye Weber
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781434324771 $13.99

Double Truffle is another delightful Terri Springe mystery complete with mouth watering recipes. Terri's dual talents as homegrown caterer and murder mystery sleuth are fully exercised in this delicious caper. The trouble with truffles starts when Terri and her partner Brianna receive a wildly extravagant order for all varieties of truffles from a difficult client named Logan, a wealthy young wife with more money than sense, tact, or taste (or background). Despite her extreme rudeness and demanding behavior, Terri and partner proceed to fill out her extremely expensive order, quickly cashing her (required) payment in advance, only to find they have a murder on their plates, so to speak. The plot development is complicated by the presence of two stepchildren, cared for by Logan, who become temporary refugees with Terri and Brianna while their bewildered father is forced to face a murder charge. Add to the mix some faithful Guatemalan illegal alien servants, a threat by the F.B.I. to Terri, a take charge handsome lawyer named Nick Guerrero, and an ongoing frustrating love affair between Terri and police Captain Rico Matthews, and you have all the ingredients for a perfect culinary thriller.

All the characters are more than plausible, the situations are almost too familiar, and the action is paced just fast enough to hold interest and just relaxed enough to enjoy the writing. All the food writing is clearly well researched and also fascinating. When the catering detective gets to stage a truffle tasting with the whole of the original order by the deceased Logan, a verbal feast is carefully presented and described. Replete with comfort food recipes, nurturing snacks and cookies and treats galore, the food-studded Double Truffle is a culinary mystery that exceeds its expectations. For guilty pleasure readers, mystery readers, lazy cooks, and just plain fans, Double Truffle definitely fills the bill.

As the World Churns: A Pennsylvania Dutch Mystery
Tamar Myers
New American Library
375 Hudson St.
New York, Hew York 10014
9780451223029 $21.95

As the World Churns is the latest in Tamar Myers' successful and entertaining Pennsylvania Dutch mystery series, with the witty Magdalena Yoder Rosen as the "feisty Mennonite innkeeper and talented sleuth (Publisher's Weekly)." Not being familiar with the series will do the reader no harm at all , nor will it decrease the steady delivery of 6-8 outrageous puns per page. Not since Terry Pratchett has the LOL (laugh out loud) button been activated so often and so thoroughly. Disguised as a perfectly puzzling routine Mennonite community murder, As the World Churns is actually a multi-cultural spoof mix in which definitely no sacred cows (or other ridiculous commonly held assumptions) are safe. Be prepared to hold on to your hat with both hands and read quickly and carefully so as not to miss a single pun, alliteration, cultural referent, recipe for ice cream, or other dastardly tool.

The author holds nothing above humourous attack and the result is a surprisingly lovable heroine with size nine brogans and a Jewish mother -in- law problem to end all problems. Even more surprising is her ability to think on her feet, so to speak. The repeated use of various accents, dialects and known or suspected cultural preferences are inevitably hilarious. Although it may be difficult to take As the World Churns seriously as a bona fide murder (there isn't actually a murder, is there?) mystery, it surely redeems itself as an uncategorizable work of Herculean humour and Amish entertainment. In addition, the mystery is studded between chapters with mouth-watering ice cream recipes, all of which end with "transfer the complete mixture into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions." Very practical, and also a tongue -in- cheek comment on the dearth of the Slow Food Movement, don't you think?

At any rate, Magdalena is a memorable sleuth who slings puns, jokes, and words as easily as Pennsylvania Dutch potato pancakes, whatever they are called. Despite the various handicaps of mysterious fainting spells, a handsome husband who still lives with his mother, and a herd of show cows and their shifty owners, Magdalena Yoder manages to resolve the baffling attack on lusty old Doc Shafor, antiquarian cow show judge and friendly lecher. Oh and did I forget to mention the little wrinkle of solving her Yoder legitimacy at the core of all other activities? It makes for a rollicking romp through the pastures of all imagination with many a laugh for free.

Nancy L. Cox

Shelley's Bookshelf

Who Killed Calloway?
John Rhodes
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595437771 $16.95

John Rhodes is a British born citizen who worked in New York City before retiring to North Carolina with his wife. He holds an M.A. from Cambridge University and has published three prior books: NUTCRACKER; HANK'S IDEA, and DESERT WIND. He is presently at work on A PAINTED SHIP, his new John Rhodes mystery.

Being a student of the classics, including Dorothy L. Sayers; Agatha Christie; and the like, John Rhodes fashioned WHO KILLED CALLOWAY using these influences. He chose the 1920's as the time period for this novel. It was a time of the Gilded Age, when the rich could get away with murder. A young man from a boarding school is found in the bushes after a night of "The Pirates of Penzance." Detective Chief Inspector John Ford of Scotland Yard, an alumni of the school, is given the unenviable task of finding the killer. But a few days into the investigation, another boy is also apparently murdered. There are forces at work to impede John Rhodes, including the charms of the daughter of one of the school's prestigious people, but Rhodes is determined to solve the crime, even at the expense of his own heart.

"He knew she was flirting in order to gain his confidence, but being flirted to, or AT - Ford wasn't sure which was correct - was a very unusual and welcome experience, particularly with someone of Victoria Canderblank's exceptional attractiveness and social standing. The contrast between Lady Canderblank's pugnacious hauteur and her daughter's gaiety could not have been greater, and it was inevitable that her mother would forbid any further contact between them."

Rhodes has taken his lessons from Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers very seriously indeed, for it is almost impossible to guess whodunit in this well constructed and entertaining murder mystery. His characters are carefully drawn, and Rhodes seems to have an almost first-hand understanding of the problems of young men sent off from their families to strict schools. He also does not neglect the politics and social strata of the school's occupants, as well as machinations of the school's wives of the instructors and administrators. All of this makes for a myriad of motives; an unending stream of invective; and a jolly good mystery. Rhodes brings us back to a simpler time when desperate hearts are more vulnerable to base instincts.

The Con Artist of Catalina Island
Jennifer Colt
Tessera Books
1427 Franklin St., Front, Santa Monica, CA 90404-2628
9781604612677 $22.95

Jennifer Colt is an author of comedic mysteries, is a screenwriter, and is a resident of Santa Monica, California, a place just crying out for the spoof. Colt is also a former Broadway author. Broadway Books published her first three McAfee Twins books, which were originally self-published novels converted into a trilogy. It was always Ms. Colt's intention to create a long-running McAfee Twins series. Prior titles include: THE MANGLER OF MALIBU CANYON (2006); THE BUTCHER OF BEVERLY HILLS (2005); and THE VAMPIRE OF VENICE BEACH (2007).

The McAfee twins, a/k/a Terry and Kerry, are twenty-something redheads with duo investigating skills, but are individual personalities as different as salt and pepper. They have two relatives in the world besides themselves, Reba and Robert, their aunt and cousin, respectively. It's Christmas on Malibu, and a proposed trip financed by the luscious Reba to Avalon Bay quickly turns into an investigation into the untimely demise of a diving instructor. Aunt Reba is exposed by Cousin Robert in the search for his biological father when Robert posts an old snapshot of Reba on the Internet. Robert's posting is answered with the arrival of his newest canine relation, a toothless and saavy poodle named Jacques. In the meantime, Terry and Kerry are roped into playing Santa's (Robert's) elves in a "made for television” scene:

"Robert hollered from his throne: 'Ho, ho, ho! Come sit on Santa's lap!'
Robert was momentarily flummoxed, but he recovered quickly. 'Come along. Santa won't bite you!'
'I'm staying right here.' The kid looked at Robert's pants legs as if they were poisonous snakes. 'Can you hear me up there? Or do you got fat in your ears, too?'”

Jennifer Colt has an outstanding comedic talent plus an ability to create larger-than-life characters that draw in the reader instantly. The McAfee twins are a pleasurable change from run-of-the-mill sleuths, and the constant antics of Reba, Robert, and Jacques' add to the fun. The McAfee twins series is a rollicking good time!

Murder on Cape Cod
Al Blanchard
Koenisha Publications
3196 53rd St., Hamilton, MI 49419
9780980009811 $19.95

Al Blanchard was a talented social studies teacher to seventh and eighth graders in Waltham, MA for thirty-four years. He was a member of the New England mystery writing community and was presiding over their third annual clambake when he was taken by an acute pulmonary embolism. He also wrote two crime mystery series: The Steve Asher and James Callahan series. He also owned an art gallery and a music store. He was known for his wit and humor. The Al Blanchard Memorial Scholarship Fund has been started by his wife, and his New England mystery group has also started The Al Blanchard Short Story Prize. The mystery world has lost a dynamic talent.

MURDER ON CAPE COD is Al Blanchard's last mystery. Steve Archer visits his old college buddy and his wife on Cape Cod every year. But when he pulls into the driveway, thoughts of last year's ominous offhand comments about Brad and Joan Johnson's marriage come back to haunt. Joan has been found brutally murdered in their home, and Brad's movements around the time of the murder don't inspire confidence. Steve meets the local police and decides to poke around on his own, particular when the Johnson daughter turns up missing. Add a school anxious to protect its reputation and an abusive grandfather, and it looks like Brad Johnson is facing a murder conviction:

"'Brad didn't kill Joan.'
'According to the lieutenant, his story didn't make sense from the start. He felt it was just a matter of time before things came together, and he'd arrest Johnson. Your friend probably sensed that an waited for the right time to get away.'”

One of the things that teachers have to deal with every day is the family dynamics of their students. When the family unit falls apart, the children take the brunt of the stress because their parents are unable to separate their problems from the child's. Al Blanchard writes about this issue with compassion and humor. His knowledge of the education system is extensive, and his humanity shines through with a compelling plot where the answer eludes until the very end and characters that are believable and endearing. The mystery world has been robbed of a talented writer, but his books and scholarships will retain his legacy. His wonderful wife is carrying on his traditions.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Faithgirlz Bible
New International Version
Zondervan Publishers
P.O. Box 22000, Fort Worth, Texas USA 76122
0310715814 $26.99

I want to say right away that if you are looking for a Bible for a young girl from 8-years old and up, this is the one for you. Inside the pages of this wonderful version of the Bible, girls will enjoy the pure Word of God, and help in many areas of their lives. This is done in cleaver and interesting ways, for example, questions are asked and answers given for the girls to chose, such as:

If I think something isn't fair, I

A. Hope God fixes it and try to live with it.
B. Tells someone who has the power to change it.
C. Complain until I'm heard.

Then on the next page the girls are told what Scripture to turn to depending on their answer. Talk about a great way to get girls to dig into the Word. Great idea!

There are also little commentaries here and there to help the girls understand different Scriptures and bring them by example into their own world. Relating to their time helps them grasp Scripture meaning and helps bring the people of the Bible alive. There is also interaction for friends to do together, little quizzes, questions, journals. The Bible is colorful, alive and inviting, and will definitely help to draw young ones into more Bible reading. Isn't that what it's all about? What a great way to accomplish this feat. I highly recommend this Bible for any young girl, or anyone who likes to interact with the Word. It is excellent, exceptional and a must have.

Walking With God Ain't for Wimps
Karen O' Connor
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR. 97402-9173
9780736920384 $12.99

I think it is so neat the way the Lord works, and so comforting to know He truly is aware of all we are going through. The day I received some books from Harvest House for review was not a good day for me. You know, one of those days where you're kind of down and wonder if the Lord has taken a small vacation and can't be reached. Yeah, I was having one of those days. I opened the box and immediately was drawn to Ms. O'Connor's book, "Walkin With God Ain't for Wimps," and I had to smile; I knew God had sent it my way.

I settled down in my comfortable chair, grabbed a cup of coffee and began to feed my Spirit on the encouragement this book brought to me. Inside I found tales of real people and circumstances they had encountered, and how the Spirit of the Lord, in one way or another was with them. Whether it was a time when they needed to talk with someone, and asked God if He had a minute (I loved that one), or "You turns," which really puts our priorities in order. There are just so many wonderful stories of God encounters shared in everyday life in this book, it would be impossible to tell each one, but know this, there are tiny treasures tucked inside each story that will touch your heart, refresh your joy, and renew your hope.

I walked away from this book smiling, knowing God definitely was not on vacation, and if He was going, He'd take me with Him. Truly this book will revive your soul, feed your spirit, and give you encouragement to carry on. As an added bonus, at the ending of each nugget you will read a corresponding Scripture and a gentle prayer. Great job! Very highly recommended, don't miss this one.

ABC God Loves Me
The Land of Milk & Honey
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR. 97402-9173
0736920951 $5.99

Certainly there are many books out there to introduce your little one to the alphabet, but this one is top of the line. Inside the pages your child will feel the warmth of the many charming characters that await them. They will see bunnies and bears and even a goose with a hat is there, all to introduce them to the alphabet in a fun, refreshing way.

The letters are dressed up in pretty colors, with different patterns, some polkadots, some checks, and some stars. There are even balloons and apples on the letters to catch the eye. The rhyming is great, take for example the letter M,

God shows His Love
with small surprises,
like the glow
in the sky when a
big moon rises.

An absolutely adorable read where your child will learn with a smile, and it just doesn't get much better than that.

Enjoy! Recommended.

What Happens When I Talk To God?: The Power of Prayer for Boys and Girls
Stormie Omartian
Shari Warren, artwork
Harvest House Publishers
9780736916769 $15.99

Have you ever tried to explain to a child what praying is all about? Have you ever attempted to explain the importance of having daily conversations with the Lord, and come away knowing you didn't get through? It can be frustrating to say the least, but rejoice help is finally here. In this book by author Stormie Omartian, a child is taken into the world of relationships with their Creator in a colorful, down to earth, easy to understand manner. The storyline is based around the daily living of a child and in these situation Ms. Omartian weaves the many ways the child can interact with the Lord during them. For example, a baseball accidentally going through a window and the emotions the child is feeling, fear and sorrow. The story tells them how God is always ready to forgive us no matter what we do, if we will just go to Him and talk and ask for forgiveness. Through these situations they begin to understand that God longs to share their lives with them, in both good and bad times. The illustrations are priceless and truly bring the story to life with brilliant color and great facial features. I loved this book and would highly encourage every one who has a child in their life that they would like to see have more communication with the Lord. and more understanding of the importance of talking with Him, to purchase this book. This book is a real faith builder! A great fun learning experience and a must for every young believer. Exceptional!

Poster Girl: Friends Along the Way Series
Anne Emerick
Laura Petrisin, illustrator
Aboon Books
3743 Route 32, Saugerties, NY 12477
9780975464922 $4.99

In this charming book by author, Anne Emerick, we meet a young girl named Paula. Paula is a free-spirited girl, one who may not always match her hair bobs with her clothes, but that shouldn't matter anyway. She didn't have to be like Cynthia that always looked perfect, and always was the pride of the teachers. The class must prepare a poster for a science project and she is determined hers will be far better than that snotty Cynthia's. After all, why should Cynthia always be number one. No, not this time. Paula decides to do a poster about the changing colors of leaves, surely hers will win. Or will it?

Written in a true style for the age it is presented, young girls will feel comfortable reading this book. They will relate not just to the characters, but to the quest of being recognized for doing a good job on a school project. They will learn, in a fun way, the reason leaves change colors in the Autumn. They will also learn that people are not always the way they may perceive they are, and who we think are our enemies may well be our friends. A wonderful story that I am proud to recommend.

Let Us Share
Lou Dunn Diekemper
Synergy Books
PO Box 80107, Austin, Texas 78758
9781933538761 $17.95

It is true no one likes the thought of aging as it is often laced with fear and uncertainty. Sometimes we all need a little assurance, know that others are also feeling this way, and listen to some good old advise concerning it. That is what you will find in this heart-warming book by author, Dr. Lou Dunn Diekemper.

Inside of this book our author covers topics such as: Aging, Birthdays, Grief, Holidays, Fears, and Friendship, to name only a few. Under each of these she honestly discusses the fears, problems and possible solutions that aging people face in these situations. She opens up her own heart and experiences giving the read that personal touch that is so important, especially in a topic such as this. I am a Baby Boomer child, and also the care-giver of my 91-year old mother and I will tell you this, "Let Us Share," really brought home some truths and brought a lot of peace to me as I read it. This book is a god source of strength and peace by someone in the know. We all grow old, books like this help us along the way. I truly enjoyed this book. Definitely recommended. Very good job. Very nice book.

God Made Me! He Made You!
Alan Flory
Bridgeway Books
PO Box 80107, Austin, Texas 78758
9781933538792 $16.95

Talk about cutting-edge for children! Talk about Top of the Line; this book is it. Inside you will find an absolutely delightful story as we are taken into the world of some animals that we see often, and some we don't Cows, sheep, birds and even giraffes are featured, as we learn how God made them all, including me and you!

Our eyes feast upon full-colored pictures that delight and tickle us as we turn the pages, but here's the kicker to this outstanding book for children. On the back cover you will find a CD where the story is sung through and ended with a fun instrumental. Immediately the child will want to go through the book again and sing along as they look at the pictures. I know this as a fact as my granddaughter and I read this book together.

Our author has found the winning ticket to lead children back into the wonders of reading by adding to it their natural love of music. Truly the combination of music and reading is a winner. Your child will love this book. Highly recommended.

Walking With God Ain't for Wimps
Karen O' Connor
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402-9173
9780736920384 $12.99

I think it is so neat the way the Lord works, and so comforting to know He truly is aware of all we are going through. The day I received some books from Harvest House for review was not a good day for me. You know, one of those days where you're kind of down and wonder if the Lord has taken a small vacation and can't be reached. Yeah, I was having one of those days. I opened the box and immediately was drawn to Ms. O'Connor's book, "Walkin With God Ain't for Wimps," and I had to smile; I knew God had sent it my way.

I settled down in my comfortable chair, grabbed a cup of coffee and began to feed my Spirit on the encouragement this book brought to me. Inside I found tales of real people and circumstances they had encountered, and how the Spirit of the Lord, in one way or another was with them. Whether it was a time when they needed to talk with someone, and asked God if He had a minute , (I loved that one), or "You turns," which really puts our priorities in order. There are just so many wonderful stories of God encounters shared in everyday life in this book, it would be impossible to tell each one, but know this, there are tiny treasures tucked inside each story that will touch your heart, refresh your joy, and renew your hope.

I walked away from this book smiling, knowing God definitely was not on vacation, and if He was going, He'd take me with Him. Truly this book will revive your soul, feed your spirit, and give you encouragement to carry on. As an added bonus, at the ending of each nugget you will read a corresponding Scripture and a gentle prayer. Great job! Very highly recommended, don't miss this one.

Entering Hades: The Double Life of a Serial Killer
John Leak
Farrar, Sraus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, New York 10003
9780374148454 $25.00

Let me say, I have read countless murder mysteries in my year of reviewing, and many of them centered around serial killers, but to read a story such as this was downright creepy. Of course that is what made such a good read.

We meet Jack Unterweger, a celebrated author, likeable man, good friend to many and lover of women, when he wasn't killing them that is. Deep inside of this man was a monster, and one that could hide its hideous self and charm his way into many hearts to continue his own evil desires.
Unterweger was a ruthless killer who evaded police, fooled friends, and taunted relatives of his victims murdered at his own hands.

This book is an in-depth look at the life of this man, those he interacted with, those he killed. You will be amazed at the cunning way he weaved himself around those in his life. The way he used them, abused them, manipulated them, and freely lived among them. Amazing!
Very well written, gripping, and filled with research that brings out hair-raising details of events. Quite a read! You wonder how many other Unterwegers' are among us?

Eve Kenin
Dorchester Publishing
20 Madison Ave. Suite 2000, New York, NY 10016
9780505527097 $6.99

I was somewhat apprehensive when I began this read once realizing it took place in the future, and not a very pretty future either; however as I continued on I was hooked. Raina Bowen is a trucker, but not the kind we know, for her journey takes her on harsh Northern Waste lands that no woman or man should travel. Her father dead, and having only a sister left she struggles to survive in a frozen hell. Her life is hard enough but becomes almost unbearable when she is thrown together with a man called Wizard. Raina is a loner, now she battles the pull that she feels towards this man, a man whose very essence seeps mystery. Just who is Wizard and why did he suddenly appear in her life? Before she finds out the answer she finds herself battling for her life, Wizard's life and any hope of a better tomorrow.

Driven is a strong novel, with stronger characters that make you sit-up and take notice. The storyline is laced with evil, corrupt men, starving children, rebels of honor and ice-pirates that kill for the joy of killing. It is the story of hidden hurt, unbridled love, and commitment and honor that runs deep right to the end, whether it be for evil or good. You will take a journey with a woman whose strength is challenged and a man who learns the meaning of love all set in a world of frozen darkness that you pray they will escape, but know they are facing the impossible. Tight knit, gripping tale you do not want to miss.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Missouri Caves in History and Legend
H. Dwight Weaver
University of Missouri Press
2910 LeMone Boulevard, Columbia, MO 65201
9780826217783, $14.95 1-800-828-1894

Former show cave operator H. Dwight Weaver presents Missouri Caves in History and Legend, the concentrated essence of a lifetime of history and research into Missouri's caves created by limestone bedrock slowly dissolved by groundwater. Bringing the reader on a tour underground, Missouri Caves in History and Legend reveals what caves have to tell us about extinct species and early Native Americans; how caves were used to mine saltpeter, onyx, and guano; how caves became hideouts for Civil War soldiers and notorious outlaws such as Jesse James; and much more. A handful of black-and-white photographs illustrate this fascinating tour accessible to readers of all backgrounds - the next best thing to visiting Missouri's caves in person!

Bold and Brassy
M.E. Cooper
Padlock Mystery Press
412 E. 9th, Stillwater, OK 74074
9780974331645, $9.95

Bold and Brassy: Oklahoma's Own Black Widow is the true story of a 1908 murder that scandalized the nation. When Lawrence Matthews was found dead in his barn, it was assumed that mules had kicked him to death - until rumors started to spread about his widow Lorena Matthews and the Native American hired hand, Jim Chapman, who spent a great deal of time alone with the boss' wife. Lorena was declared an unfit mother and ordered to give up her children to a guardian; instead, she took them and fled to Canada to reunite with her lover. At the time, the case was luridly sensational, and Lorena Matthews' life after the trial is itself a surprise. Black-and-white photographs illustrate this fascinating and extensively researched true crime account.

Mountain Mysteries
Larry Thacker
Overmountain Press
PO Box 1261, Johnson City, TN 37605
9781570723162, $14.95 1-800-992-2691

Author Larry Thacker (director of student success and retention at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee) presents Mountain Mysteries: The Mystic Traditions of Appalachia, a collection of untold and overlooked stories of the paranormal in Appalachia - the tales and legends disdained by mainstream scholarly thought. Delving into esoteric topics such as the Oak Ridge UFO connection, psychics, the Appalachian Sasquatch, death lore, and more, Mountain Mysteries at once seeks to explore the supernatural and debunk urban myths. "Though the death beliefs of the Cherokee evolved as time and exposure to white culture progressed, one predominant theme seemed to persist, an often universal and symbolic avoidance of being polluted by the dead. Most death-related activities were viewed as unclean and warranted immediate and strict purification regimens. Being in death's presence, witnessing a death, bringing about death in battle, or being a mourner merited such ceremony." A handful of black-and-white photographs illustrate this trailblazing guide to Appalachian myth and unexplained phenomena.

Camp Douglas
Kelly Pucci
Arcadia Publishing
420 Wando Park Blvd., Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
9780738551753, $19.99

Part of the Images of America series, Camp Douglas: Chicago's Civil War Prison explores a little-known chapter of American Civil War history. Thousands of Confederate soldiers were incarcerated in Chicago during the Civil War, and an unknown number of them died from disease, starvation, and torture. Starving prisoners caught stealing from garbage dumps were tortured or shot, and fear of a prisoner revolt led to the declaration of martial law in Chicago; civilians (including a Chicago mayor and his family) were arrested, tried, and sentenced by a military court. After the Civil War, Camp Douglas was closed, its buildings demolished, and its records lost or destroyed. Camp Douglas: Chicago's Civil War Prison is not a direct narrative of what happened, but rather presents a wealth of black-and-white archival photographs of crucial people and places; each image has an in-depth caption. The result is a uniquely visual exploration of forgotten cruelties and tragedies in American history. Highly recommended.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Aluminum Recycling and Processing for Energy Conservation and Sustainability
John A.S. Green, editor
ASM International
9639 Kinsman Road, Materials Park, OH 44073-0002
9780871708595, $150.00 1-800-336-5152

Aluminum Recycling and Processing for Energy Conservation and Sustainability is a scientific reference text written especially for professionals seeking to promote sustainable development and energy conservation. Backing its vision for economic and environmental progress toward a sustainable future with hard data, extensive research, black-and-white graphs and figures, tables, and more, Aluminum Recycling and Processing discusses "Life-Cycle Inventory Analysis of the North American Aluminum Industry", "Identification and Sorting of Wrought Aluminum Alloys", "Emerging Trends in Aluminum Recycling", among other topics. Though not written for lay readers, Aluminum Recycling and Processing presents its facts, studies, and recommendations in as accessible a manner as possible without sacrificing scientific accuracy or meticulous detail. "The most important trend affecting aluminum casting production is its continuous growth in automotive applications. The advantages of aluminum for many powertrain components, including transmission cases, oil pans, pistons, intake manifolds, cylinder heads, and engine blocks, have been reflected in its wide adoption." A "must-have" resource for professionals and scientists in the field.

Remarkable Americans
Kerck Kelsey
Tilbury House, Publishers
2 Mechanic Street, Gardiner, ME 04345
9780884482994, $25.95 1-800-582-1899

Written by the great-great-grandson of Cadwallader Washburn, Remarkable Americans: The Washburn Family is a family biography the Washburn family in the nineteenth century. The personification of Yankee rectitude, the Washburns consisted of ten children growing up on a remote Maine farm. Though from humble beginnings, their achievements were profound: they harnessed waterfalls, redirected rivers, cut down forests, built railroads, milled wheat, dug coal, led a national religious movement, and four of them were elected and reelected to the U.S. Congress from four different states. A handful of black-and-white photographs illustrate this amazing spotlight on an accomplished American clan on virtual par with the prolific Kennedys.

The Lost Battalion of TET
Charles A. Krohn
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402
9781591144342, $23.95 1-800-233-8764

Retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel Charles A. Krohn presents The Lost Battalion of TET: Breakout of the 2/12th Cavalry at Hue, the revised paperback edition of "The Lost Battalion: Controversy and Casualties in the Battle of Hue", originally published in 1993. On the fortieth anniversary of the Tet Offensive, The Lost Battalion of TET critically examines what went so disastrously wrong in one of the Tet Offensive's first engagements, when a U.S. infantry battalion without air or artillery support was ordered to attack a sizeable North Vietnamese force near Hue City. A handful of black-and-white photographs illustrate this first-hand account of tragedy, heroism, and the need for stateside training in which infantry battalions practice how to operate when their support systems fail. Highly recommended as a readily accessible addition to American military history shelves.

James J. Heaphey
History Publishing Company, LLC
PO Box 700, 15 Heyhoe Woods Road, Palisades, New York 10964-0700
9781933909356, $24.95

Legerdemain: The President's Secret Plan, The Bomb, and What The French Never Knew... is the true-life memoir of former U.S. Air Force undercover operative James J. Heaphey, who was charged with carrying out the President's secret plan when he was stationed in French Morocco during the 1950s. The French colonial empire was crumbling, with Indo China lost and North Africa soon to follow, so the United States opted to initiate a dangerous game of the Cold War. The goal: to influence Morocco away from the French colonial system and into the American sphere of influence. From the secret storage of atom bombs at some American Air Bases, to the workings of Britain's M16, Israel's Mossad, America's CIA, France's Security Services, the Soviet Union's KGB, and the French Foreign Legion, Legerdemain shines a light on intrigue more complicated than the most intricate spy fiction, as supported by recently declassified files. An utterly fascinating glimpse into historical power-wrangling and high-stakes diplomacy.

Paul T. Vogel

The Reader Views Bookshelf

Irene Watson, Editor

AIDS Orphans Rising
Sister Mary Elizabeth Lloyd, M.P.F, Ed. D.
Loving Healing Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
ISBN 9781932690477, $15.95, 2008,

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (12/07)

There are alarming statistics that warn "every 14 seconds a Child Headed Household is formed." Sister Mary Elizabeth Lloyd has written a guidebook to help alert concerned citizens of the magnitude of the problem and to provide the reader with answers the questions: "What should I know, and what can I do to help them succeed?" A Child Headed Household is defined as: children who have survived the death of their parents from AIDS. These households are made up of "little brothers and sisters struggling to stay alive and remain together as a family." There are often three to eight children per household.

Sister Lloyd is quick to point out that the current view taken by most that these are victims dependent and powerless must be replaced with a vision of how these children have the courage to take control of their economic hardships, deprivations, and exploitation in positive ways so that they can remain together as family. It is this determination that became the motivation for Sister Lloyd to write this book.

All regions of the world are impacted by the enormity of the plight of these children. India, alone, is faced with 3,700,000 children orphaned. Statistics indicate that China has 2,300,000. Other countries around the world afflicted with the same dilemma bring the total orphaned children to over 16,000,000.

The book provides a broad selection of photos which depict bright-eyed children, resilient, with endurance and with promise, doing their best, struggling to stay together, taking the role of adults in caring for younger siblings.

Each chapter of the book offers suggestions for actions for the reader to take as members of a growing world community of concerned citizens. Comprehensive references with additional web links to organizations working with these children offer solutions which help insure that these children will survive, and will succeed.

Sister Mary Elizabeth opens her final chapter with a challenge for the reader to respond to Mother Teresa's call to action: "If I look at the masses, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will."

"Aids Orphans Rising" will grip your heart. The needs will linger in your consciousness long after you have read the final word and closed the covers of the book. Sister Mary Elizabeth Lloyd has presented the case for these children. Now it is up to us, the readers, to decide which suggested action steps we can take to help them succeed.

Fortune & Freedom: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Success
Jim Hirshfield
Millennium Ventures Press
2760 76th Ave Suite 508, Mercer Island WA 98040
ISBN 9780979812705, $18.95, 2008, (425) 747-2198,

Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views (12/07)

In his book "Fortune and Freedom: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Success," author Jim Hirshfield explores all aspects of what it takes to become an entrepreneur. Who better to write this guide than someone who has been in the trenches as an entrepreneur for more than thirty years? During that time he successfully bought, owned and sold several companies. In this book he successfully translates his experience into a guide that current or aspiring entrepreneur's can use as a barometer to success.

There are many questions to consider before becoming an entrepreneur that "Fortune & Freedom" highlights such as:

Should I buy an existing business or start one from scratch? Each type of business has many pros and cons.
How should I finance the project? With my own money, investors or lending institutions.
What kind of experience should I have before embarking on a career as an entrepreneur?
Does the freedom and opportunity of being an entrepreneur outweigh the security and resources of being an employee?

Those questions are just a few that are answered in this book. As an entrepreneur myself I was very glad to see so many relevant concerns of mine answered throughout the book, and to find out that I have made some very good choices along the way. I am currently in a situation where a company that dominates my market is trying to buy out my business with stock options and a job offer. The author's previous experience with that scenario has helped me to reconsider my position.

Jim Hirshfield's "Fortune and Freedom: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Success" is a must read for anyone who is interested in becoming an entrepreneur or who is already traveling down that road. This is a short book that can be read in one sitting, but is so full of helpful information that I will probably refer to again and again as I move forward with this business and future businesses.

Poodles, Tigers, Monsters & You
L.W. Lewis
Red Pumpkin Press
306 Carrera Drive, Lady Lake, FL 32159
ISBN 9780971157217, $12.95, 2004 ,

Reviewed by Maya Landers (age 10) for Reader Views (12/07)

"Poodles, Tigers, Monsters & You," by L. W. Lewis, is a funny book full of poems that both my brother and I enjoyed fully. Humor is prevalent throughout the book, making it an entertaining read.

This would be a great read-aloud book, because the rhythm is enjoyable, and there is ever-present humor in all of the verses. Also, most of the poems are short, making it wonderful bedtime book. When you begin to read a poem, it appears serious, but there is always a funny twist at the end, making the poem seem much more comical than at first glance.

The illustrations are laugh-provoking, showing the offspring of a poodle and a tiger, pictures of green-toothed monsters, and a barbequed Barbie, and many, many others, all just as hilarious.

One of Lewis's poems, titled "The Lion and the Zebra," goes like this:

"The lion and the zebra got married,
And the wedding turned out fine.
But they weren't married very long,
Only until dinnertime."

This shows how the book would also be good for beginning readers, because they could enjoy the poem without having to work too hard. Some of the poems are longer, but they are just as easy to understand.

As I read these poems, I was reminded of Shel Silverstein, because at first glance the verses look like nonsense, but then they start to make sense--not in a serious way, of course.

There is no consistent plot or character that runs throughout this book. For instance, we do not see the same characters repeating, and some poems are in first person, some in third person, and some even in second person. The characters are not consistent, but they do all have the same voice--humorous and amusing, with a communicative aspect that will please all readers.

If you have read and enjoyed "The Tickle Tree," also by L.W. Lewis, you will love this book. I couldn't say that it was funnier, but it was just as entertaining.

I would recommend "Poodles, Tigers, Monsters & You" to my friends as an alternative to more serious literature, or to my younger brother or one of his friends as a beginning reader book.

Gifts from the Child Within
Barbara Sinor, PhD
Loving Healing Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
ISBN 9781932690460, $20.95, 2008,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (12/07)

"Gifts from the Child Within: : Self-discovery and Self-recovery Through Re-Creation Therapy, 2nd Edition" is a recovery workbook written for both survivors of childhood abuse and the counselors that work with them. It helps readers discover how childhood trauma has caused emotional suffering in their lives today. For me, personally, it gave me a better understanding of how past events from my childhood had a tremendous impact upon my personal relationships today. The author Barbara Sinor, PhD, has had extensive professional experience in dealing in this area. She also has her own personal history of having been abused as a child. She uses self-disclosure to present some very powerful examples about her own healing. Both her personal and professional experiences validate her knowledge in this area.

Sinor offers a paradigm for empowering yourself or a client to resolve their problems by working with body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Sinor states, "Today there are signs that after a long and tumultuous courtship, spirituality and psychology may be finding common ground." Connecting all of these aspects of oneself leads to a holistic approach to healing. She encourages the person in recovery to proceed at their own pace for healing. She does not believe that it should be forced upon anyone. She says, "Each individual must proceed through his\her life discoveries, or in therapeutic intervention at one's own rate with one's own sense of how things are and with one's own resolutions."

She teaches you how to get in touch with your inner child to release negative emotions and recreate childhood beliefs and experiences. To learn to live in the moment, you must learn to let go of the past. "You can learn to live in the present by releasing the retained hurt and not allowing it to direct your life. You can accomplish this by using self-empowerment, by acknowledging your personal power."

There are seven key steps to the process: Acknowledgement; Self-Awareness; Meeting Your Child Within; Emotional Release Exercises; The Re-Creation Process; For-Giving; and Letting Go. Each step is fully explained in its own chapters. For deeper exploration, at the end of each chapter are thought-provoking Child Within exercises, affirmations, directions for autohypnosis and blank pages for journaling. By using these tools to recreate your past, you will be able to change your present reality and alter your future.

"Gifts from the Child Within" is an incredibly powerful healing tool. By using the exercises, I gained some incredible insight into how my past has tremendously affected me today. I learned things about myself that I had never realized before. I am truly grateful to Dr. Sinor for writing this incredible book. I also appreciate that she shared her own personal experiences. By doing so, I knew that she really could relate to what she was writing about.

Gossip Girl: It Had to Be You: The Gossip Girl Prequel
Cecily von Ziegesar
POPPY - Little, Brown, and Company
Hachette Book Group
237 Park Ave, New York, NY 10017
ISBN 9780316017688, $17.99, October 2007,

Reviewed by Michaila Hamilton (age 17) for Reader Views (1/08)

Admit it. We have all fallen in love with the juicy "Gossip Girl" novels. "It Had to Be You," written by Cecily von Ziegesar, takes us back to the sophomore years of our Upper East Side Manhattan teens. Sex. Lies. Scandal. Gossip. We love it. The best thing to know about this book is that it is only the beginning. This book, "It Had to Be You," answers a lot of questions and fills in many gaps that "Gossip Girl" readers had while reading some of the first novels. It brings us back to the time when best friends Serena van der Woodsen, Blair Waldorf, and Nathaniel Archibald were inseparable, and answers the questions we've all never been able to answer-- Why aren't our three fabulous socialites beaming with disgustingly beautiful happiness anymore? What makes Blair have a deep, passionate resentment for Serena nowadays? But we would be so naive to think that these are the only problems these beautiful trouble-makers bear.

An unbelievably stunning blonde, a strikingly beautiful brunette, and a gorgeous green-eyed high school god -- you'd swear that Serena, Blair, and Nate were attached at the hip during their young high school years, from parties and sleepovers at night to "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and Danishes in the morning. The friendship these three wealthy teens shared was so beautiful and blossoming. But as nicely as it came, it slowly started to fade away when a young and curious Blair and Serena faced an internal battle with each other for the heart of Nathaniel Archibald. After Serena declared her love to Nate in his Manhattan townhouse, and Blair the same at a hotel pre-debutante party, it became hard for this hottie to chose between the two. But after Blair uncovered shocking news about her father's coming out of the closet and moving to France with his new lover, our charming stud decides to embark upon what he doesn't realize will be a long, tough relationship with Blair. All the while, Serena is coming up with ways to tell her two best friends that her parents are sending her off to boarding school in the next couple of months. Oh, the drama.

What would a keep-them-on-the-edge-of-their-seats novel be with only one love affair? While Blair and Nate venture into some of the happiest days of their lives, a relationship oddly blooms between weird Vanessa Abrams and potential Serena van der Woodsen stalker Daniel Humphrey. Vanessa is probably the most disliked girl of her school, Constance Billiard. Dan, on the other hand, is definitely the most unknown. But they both share something in else in common -- a thing for popular Serena van der Woodsen, although their opinions for this blonde bombshell don't quite match. Vanessa can't stand her because she thinks she's the typically stuck-up rich girl, and Dan thinks she emulates the goddess Venus, herself. These two met on the roof after being locked out of and thrown out of womanizer Chuck Bass's house party. Vanessa had unsuccessfully crashed the event and Dan had no luck catching the eye and heart of Serena. But this didn't stop these go-getters of "It Had to Be
You." They had a wonderful time climbing down to the safety of the street and going out for foreign coffee and cigarettes. Then had a night-cap that involved coffee-smoke flavored throw up. Yum.

Green Streak: A Zeke Armstrong Mystery
Daniel J Hale and Matthew LaBrot
Top Publications, Ltd.
12221 Ment Drive, Suite 750, Dallas, TX 75251
ISBN 1929976283, $8.95, 2004

Reviewed by Brianne Plach (age 10) for Reader Views (1/08)

Zeke Armstrong and his friend Pow Wow Gao are happy to be chosen to go to New York City for the annual Big Apple Inline Skate-Off. But their happy trip is soon changed into a very frightening experience. They are witnesses to a mugging of a woman. If that isn't bad enough, it wasn't just any woman but it was someone who they had just met. Was it just a random mugging or is there more to it than that? Zeke Armstrong is an Encyclopedia Brown type kid who wants to get to the bottom of this mystery. Will the chance of competing and maybe winning the final competition be more important than solving this crime?

Mysteries for middle readers can sometimes lack suspense and a great adventure but "Green Streak" lacks neither of these. The pages of this book are action-packed with the two stories of competing in the skate-off and getting involved in helping solve this crime. Some of the clues given are obvious and I could figure them out. But just when I thought I had the mystery solved, there would be another twist in the story. Zeke is a typical kid who gets himself into some pretty scary situations but the ways he gets out of them are really funny.

The first Zeke Armstrong mystery, "Red Card" is an award winner, and "Green Streak" is sure to be a winner of an award too. With books like this, there is no reason why kids would not be able to find a book which they enjoy. I could see adults liking this book in addition to the kids.

It's Okay to be Different
Todd Parr
Little, Brown Young Readers
Hachette Book Group, 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
ISBN 9780316666039, $15.99, 2001,

Reviewed by Olivia Alejandre (age 4) and Mom for Reader Views (1/08)

Mom's review / summary:

"The title of the book certainly gives it away, but once I read the book with Olivia, I appreciated it even more. I love the diversity of the differences presented, especially the ones related to feelings. Not many books talk about the range of feelings that kids experience - they tend to focus only on the sharing or anger ones. Anytime kids can understand that their feelings are normal and acceptable, I think it helps them cope with the world.

This book is best enjoyed with some conversation about each page. It helped Olivia when we talked through some examples of each type of difference. I think she'll remember some of the messages in the book because we spent time connecting those messages to her friends and life.

In addition to the important values taught, this book is fun and colorful - way to go!"

Some quotes from Olivia / discussion with Mommy about "It's Okay to be Different" -

"Look at that baby with missing teeth! It's OK to have a lot of teeth missing."

"That elephant has a very long trunk."

"That's a funny zebra with colors."

[Mom]: "Do you know what that is? (the wheelchair)"
"It helps you when you can't walk."

"What's that? (the invisible friend)"
[Mom]: "That's an invisible friend. It's a pretend friend."

"That's a funny skunk that got mad."

"Mommy, that's a tall ice cream thing."

"Both of them have a lot of nuts."

[Mom]: "Are people the same or different?"

[Mom]: "Is that good or bad?"

Laggan Lard Butts (Orca Currents)
Eric Walters
Orca Book Publishers
PO Box 468, Custer, WA 98240-0468
ISBN 9781551435183, $8.95, 2006,

Reviewed by Brianne Plach (age 10) for Reader Views (1/08)

What is a laird? Laggan schools have a laird as their mascot. None of the students at the school even know what a laird is. They don't know why the laird was picked as the mascot. They would like to be known as something else. But the question is: what should their mascot be?

What becomes a question about a school mascot becomes a lesson in democracy. Several names are chosen such as dragons, leopards, and lynx. Tanner and Taylor are two young boys who came up with the idea of changing the mascot. They have even entered their own mascot in the election. The principal of their school, Mr. McGregor is not any too happy that the two young boys have entered "Lard Butts" as a potential mascot. He even tries to have them drop off the ballot.

The whole school will get to take part in electing the new mascot, from the kindergartners all the way up to the older kids. Each potential mascot has a campaign manager and an election team who is working towards getting theirs elected. Sarah is a very talented girl in their class who has definite sales abilities. She promotes the Leopards, how can you compete with someone who has come up with a catchy slogan?

Eric Walters has written a great adventure book. "Laggan Lard Butts" won't only entertain the readers with its funny events leading up to the election; kids will also learn about how democracy works and some of what goes into campaigning for candidates or ideas.

The sports teams at the school aren't winners at all. "Laggan Lard Butts" is definitely a terrific book! It is a real winner! Its fun to see how it develops and which mascot will win at the end.

Dare to Dream!
Carl Sommer
Advance Publishing, Inc.
6950 Fulton Street, Houston, TX 77022
ISBN 9781575370736, $16.95, 2007,

Reviewed by Brianne Plach (age 10) for Reader Views (1/08)

What is the importance of having a dream? Not a dream like one you have when you are sleeping. It is more like a dream of what you want to do when you get older. You could say a vision for your future. A young boy named Roy is asking his dad where he is going. His dad tells him that he is going to visit his brother Alvin who is in prison. Young Roy doesn't understand why his Uncle Alvin would be in prison while his Dad is a successful doctor. Why is it that both of the boys have such opposite lives even if they have the same parents?

In order to help young Roy to understand why Alvin's life took such a drastic turn, he tells him a story about a time when his grandparents made quite an impression on him and his friend Jesse. Roy's dad and Jesse were approached by some boys who wanted them to join a gang and "be protected." Roy's grandparents explain to him why gangs aren't a very good place to make friends. His grandparents tell him why it is important to have a dream for their success in life. Grandma tells them the stories of how some famous Americans like Ben Franklin, Abe Lincoln, Helen Keller and others have taken their lives in poverty to become successful. A visit to a hospital and meeting someone who had already goofed up his life is an eye-opening experience for the young boys except for Alvin who doesn't want to listen to their valuable advice.

Carl Sommer has written a terrific book for kids. This book will give young readers insight into how their choices in their childhood and teen years will impact their lives as adults. This is an awesome book which I think all kids should read. Even the more advanced readers could learn something about the importance of daring to dream! "Dare to Dream!" is written in a very easy-to-read and understand style which will appeal to many. Your dreams can make a difference!

Toot & Puddle: Let it Snow
Holly Hobbie
Little, Brown Young Readers
c/o Hachette Book Group
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
ISBN 9780316166867, $16.99, 2007,

Reviewed by Avery Connett (age 6) and mother Erin Flynn for Reader Views (1/08)

This is yet another book in a series featuring piggy friends Toot and Puddle. One is a contented homemaker and the other lives for adventure, yet, together they work because of the love they have for each other.

The point of this book is wonderful: How to choose the perfect present for someone you love. In this case, it's Christmas and four round cut-outs of sweet illustrations are provided at the back of the book to make your own decorations. That is another point of the book-- that homemade, thoughtful gifts are best. As Toot says, "He knew that the best present was usually something you made yourself, a one-of-kind thingamajig, not just a whatsit anyone could buy in a store." We can all use that reminder.

Six-year-old Avery liked the book because, "the story was about Christmas and making your own presents." She added that "the pictures are funny and have lots of color. I like the pigs because the pigs are always doing something new in each of the pictures." The illustrations are delightful for all ages. The pigs are simple, watercolor (?) illustrations that are expressive and warm. And just as each photo tends to feature both pigs, the story line tends to focus upon the friends caring for each other in their own special way. It's touching, simple and effective. (However, it is the kind of book that younger kids need read to them as there are words like "suppress" which may elude the first-grade set.)

We heartily recommend "Toot & Puddle: Let it Snow" for conveying the importance of friendship and gift giving throughout the year.

The Student from Zombie Island: Conquering the Rumor Monster
Michael J. Moorehead
Little Five Star
c/o Five Star Publications
PO Box 6698 Chandler, AZ 85246
ISBN 9781589850729, $15.95, 2007,

Reviewed by Brianne Plach (age 10) For Reader Views (1/08)

Have you ever had a new kid in your school? Do wonder what the person would be like?
Sometimes your imagination can run away with you. Bust 'em up Bill might have the same ideas as you? Some people might say this guy is.... troublemaker or a thief. Do you sometimes believe them? The book seems so realistic. Imagine bringing live bees to study spelling and putting whoopee cushions with chocolate pudding on other peoples' chairs! Most of the time, the kid isn't as bad as they say he is. Busting up your classmates can sometimes mean more than just beating up on their classmates.

Michael J. Moorehead has written a very entertaining book which will entertain children of all ages. This will be a delight to the kids who have a new kid in their class, or are a new kid in a class. Adjusting to being new in a school can sometimes be hard, but if you enter laughing and have a good attitude, there is nothing you can't do and you will soon find some new friends.

Jumping to conclusions without finding out the facts is never a good idea. The concept of "The Student from Zombie Island: Conquering the Rumor Monster" comes across in a smooth way and humorous pictures. I would love to read more books about the student from Zombie Island and his adventures at his new school!

The Twilight Box (Tales of Terre II)
Troon Harrison
Brown Barn Books
119 Kettle Creek Road, Weston, CT 06883
ISBN 9780976812678, $10.95, 2007

Reviewed by Casey Holt (age 13) for Reader Views (1/08)

I really couldn't get into the story of "The Twilight Box" very well because I found the author's extremely descriptive style distracting me from the story. But the story is so good that I got over that (eventually). I think maybe the beginning should have fewer descriptive words so you can get right into the story. But later, when he describes the horses, I loved that because it seemed so real and made you want to be there and touch them! I also thought the heavy description worked well for the evil queen, I was almost scared of her!

I really liked the way the characters matured as the story went on, especially Ambro. I thought this was very believable because no one is perfect and everyone needs to grow up. I also liked the way the book dealt with people's prejudice, I think it is important for kids to read stories like this that make them think about what they believe and why they believe it, and to help them realize that they shouldn't just go along with what everyone else thinks but should choose for themselves what to believe.

Another important idea, that I think he works into the story really well, is how important forgiveness is and how hatred just eats up and harms the person who feels it. I love the way Noleena's father tells her about this and the struggles she has with it herself in "The Twilight Box." I am looking forward to reading other books in this series to see what happens next! (I hope Ambro gets a girlfriend!)

Seeing Me Naked
Liza Palmer
5 Spot
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
ISBN 9780446698375, $13.99, January 8, 2008

Reviewed by Lisa Kisner for Reader Views (1/08)

Elisabeth Page is a pastry chef at the hottest restaurant in Los Angeles. Living up to family expectations is difficult, to say the least, with a father whose past novels have won the Pulitzer prize and made him a living legend, an heiress mother and a brother with a current best-selling novel. Elisabeth's five-year plan (now on year eleven) to open her own patisserie and marry her childhood sweetheart looks to be no further along than when she started it. Golden opportunities arise when she gets an offer to host her own cooking show and when she meets Daniel, a basketball coach who is everything her childhood sweetheart is not. Much to her surprise, Elisabeth begins considering acting on both possibilities even though they are completely opposite of the life she, and her family, expects. Does Elisabeth have the courage to take on this new life, or will she forever be in her family's shadow?

I found "Seeing Me Naked" to be delightful and engaging. It is just the book to read curled up in an armchair on a rainy day or lounging on the beach in the sun. Ms. Palmer combines solid characters with an appealing story. She even includes a few recipes of the mouth-watering dishes that appear in the story. The result is a fun to read novel that transcends traditional chick lit with a clever and classy romance.

The Disappearance of Lilya Bekirova: A Novel of the Supernatural
Michelle D. Dixon
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595425495, $17.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (1/08)

The heroine in this story is Catherine Moore. In spite of her liberal upbringing by her free-spirited mother, Catherine is pretty conservative in her views. She is a doctoral student who tries to find rational explanations for paranormal events. The more that she is drawn into the plot in this story, the less she finds herself able to do so.

Catherine resides in her deceased mother's home. She seems to be in kind of a funk, unable to really feeling passionate about anything. That is until some mysterious events start taking place around her. Catherine now has something to get excited about. In addition to strange events taking place around Catherine, she also finds herself drawing closer to her grandmother, Natasha who shares her story of her painful upbringing during World War II in Crimea and she also tells her of her childhood friend Lilya, who just disappeared one day. Catherine finds herself relieving Lilya's life and memories. She becomes totally drawn into Lilya's story and yearns to find out what happened to her. People, from the past and future, play into the story as Catherine continues her search.

"The Disappearance of Lilya Berkirova" is a wonderful story. I found myself having difficulties in putting it down. Just as Catherine wanted answers, so did I. The author, Michelle D. Dixon, has extensive experience on the subject of the Crimean Tatars. She uses her knowledge of this to add depth to her story. She successfully weaves several dramas from both past and present into one story. At the center of this is Catherine, who appears to have a supernatural link to the past.

I found myself really enjoying the mysteries and paranormal touches, but I also enjoyed the historical elements that were presented about the Crimea Tatars. Having personally known someone, from the Ukraine, who suffered greatly during this time, I felt that Dixon really did an incredible job of telling their story of loss and suffering. There was no easy way out of the hardships forced upon the people at the time. The only thing that people had to hang on to was their spiritual and faith-based beliefs. Those who didn't have that had nothing. Yet some people died for these beliefs. Dixon did an incredible job of getting the feelings of hunger and helplessness across to me. I wanted to celebrate as both Catherine and Lilya began evolving spiritually. A whole new world opened to both of them, literally.

I highly recommend this novel. "The Disappearance of Lilya Berkirova" would also make a wonderful gift for people who enjoy both paranormal and historical stories.

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming
Joshilyn Jackson
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
ISBN 9780446579650, $23.99, 2008

Reviewed by Danielle Feliciano for Reader Views (1/08)

As a fan of Ms. Jackson's previous two books, I felt honored to have a chance to read and review her upcoming book, "the girl who stopped swimming." This book far exceeded any expectations I may have had for this author. Her character development is beyond brilliant. She brings her characters to life and makes them relatable to any reader. Personally, I don't have any first-hand knowledge of southern life, nor of such abject poverty that is touched upon in this book. However, Ms. Jackson was able to bring me right into the world her characters inhibit and I was able to truly understand where they came from and what contributed to who they became as adults.

Though all of the characters in this book were artfully written, I feel the main character isn't a person; rather, the theme of escape and lies. What lies do we tell ourselves in order to get through each day? Further, are the lies we tell ourselves worse than those we tell others?

Overall, Laurel seemed to have a major dissociation from reality. She used her dreams and sleepwalking to escape what she could not handle, yet when things became more vivid, she learned she could no longer run away from her past and from herself. Her sister, Thalia, seemed to have made a life for herself by escaping. She could have become a cliche by the author making her an actress yet that was addressed within the book. Thalia was not acting out to escape what we all were led to believe; rather, she just preferred to live her life on her own terms and too often, reality got in the way of that.

The one character I had trouble with was David. He was so far removed from life that he ignored everything, seemingly only to be happy in his cavern in the basement that he called an office. I struggled to figure out what he may have been escaping, only to decide that he was the most connected with life, only on a different level than anyone else. He may not remember his own birthday, but he was truly happy with his family and was more emotionally in-tune with himself than anyone else.

The author masterfully wove a delicate line between the dream world and reality, using dreams to explain aspects of reality that the character Laurel was not able to face. She was able to do this so well that at times, I wasn't quite sure what was a dream and what was really happening. The dreams not only helped explain reality, it helped see into the past of Laurel and her family. At times I wondered if Laurel's dreams were a subtle sign of mental illness but in the end, I felt it was her conscience trying to break through to her.

The end of "the girl who stopped swimming" could be said to be too happy, too "wrapped up in a neat bow." To anyone who says that, I strongly disagree. I feel that Ms. Jackson's ending cemented what she was saying all along. Many of us try to escape our pasts. We unconsciously let that build cracks in our lives. When we fight so hard to escape who we are, we have no solid foundation on which to build a life. The bravest of us are able to at one point face what we can never escape and start to fill in those cracks.

Twin Voices: A Memoir of Polio, the Forgotten Killer
Janice Flood Nichols
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 200, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595433162, $20.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by April Sullivan for Reader Views (1/08)

"Twin Voices" is a memoir by Janice Flood Nichols about a specific life-changing event. In the fall of 1953, at the age of six, she lost her twin brother to polio. Janice contracted polio as well. She survived and overcame temporary paralysis. She went on to become a rehabilitation counselor. While her experiences as a youth shaped her adult life, she never thought that fifty years later she would be writing about the experience.

Most people alive today have some memory of, or have at least heard of polio. Yet, to the surprise of everyone who has not kept up with polio research, including Janice Flood Nichols, polio is still an epidemic in Third World Countries. Although vaccines are available and worldwide eradication is possible, funding and education are needed to make this a reality. Knowing first-hand the devastation of polio, Janice was compelled to tell her story in an effort to educate and do her part to eradicate this deadly disease.

"Twin Voices" is structured in a unique way. Janice invited professionals, friends, and family members to lend their voices to the story. Each chapter is by one of many characters, including those who are no longer alive, such as her twin Frankie and her parents. Other characters include the doctor who signed Frankie's death certificate, childhood friends, aunts, and cousins. Not only do the voices tell the personal side of the story, they also tell the history and facts about polio. The combination forms a nicely balanced book.

I applaud Janice for writing this book. It was obviously not easy. But she was able to bring a perspective to the subject that not many people can. Janice knows polio as both a victim and a survivor. When Frankie died, a part of Janice died. Yet, on the other hand, when Janice survived, a part of Frankie survived, and this book is tangible evidence of that. "Twin Voices" is about so much more than polio. It is about the unique quality of twindom that Janice writes about so eloquently. Being a twin myself, that is the part about this book that intrigued me. Being educated about polio was an added bonus.

I recommend "Twin Voices" to anyone who wants to read a well-researched book and touching personal look at the polio epidemic.

Campy: The Story of Roy Campanella
David A. Adler
Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson St. New York, NY 10014
ISBN 9780670060412, $15.99, 2007

Reviewed by Matthew Feliciano (age 7) for Reader Views (1/08)

I really liked this book because it told a true story about Roy Campanella. I think the author did a very good job of telling this story. The author told interesting things about Roy Campanella and when I was reading the book I felt like I was living Campy's life right with him. The illustrations were not so good. I did not like the way they looked like paintings. The faces seemed "bubbly" and they looked funny.

In "Campy," we learn all about the baseball player Roy Campanella. He is a hero for many reasons. First, he did not let the color of his skin stop him from doing what he wanted to do. He was the best baseball player out there. He was very professional and polite to everyone and was a good person.

The second reason Campy is a hero is because when he had a car accident and couldn't move, he never gave up. He kept living his life and went on to teach baseball to others from his wheelchair.

In "Campy: The Story of Roy Campanella," Campy can teach everyone a lesson: the color of your skin does not matter. What matters is how you feel and how you act.

The Playdate Kids: The I Like Me Dance
Tim Friedlander
Playdate Kids Publishing
P.O. Box 2785, Malibu, CA 90265
ISBN 9781933721071, $14.95, 2007

Reviewed by Ethan Connett (age 5) and mother Erin Flynn for Reader Views (1/08)

This little book is meant to be a multi-media trip to the "self-esteem zoo" -- a great idea in theory. In it, a group of four, brightly-colored tykes (each a politically-correct color) try to figure out which way to go in the zoo, but quickly decide it's more important how they go. So, they trapeze through 27 pages doing the very repetitive "I Like Me" dance through the animal exhibits. Smiling animals watch as a parade of happy children pass by singing and dancing to the lyrics posted on each page. However, the book doesn't work on its own. Listening to the CD is crucial, not only so you can sing along to the "I Like Me Dance," but to keep kids interested in the book.

Five-year-old Ethan liked the song on the CD and it helped him to stay engaged in the pictures the first time he read it, not on second read. The song is catchy and is well-recorded, but it is just one song on a CD. At the back of the book are 12 other books listed for sale, presumably with their own CDs. This musical series features, "Booger Boogie - a jazzy swing on blowing your nose" and "Cosmos McCool - Cosmos' parents get a divorce." These developmental milestones appear to be illustrated by the same person. And this is the main place where it falls down for me. There is something about these drawings that really bother me. It's hard to put my finger on exactly what it is -- could it be the exaggerated size of the eyes on the children, sun, moon, everything? I know that research shows that small children respond to images with large eyes, but these images give me the creeps. I know this may sound like silly criticism, but I just can't get past it.

When I showed it to our 16-year-old for another opinion (granted, not the target audience, but certainly babysitter-age), she summed it up well: "Why would kids want to dance through a zoo? Why does it repeat the same words over and over? And why are the pictures so scary?" Again, we get that very small children like big-eyed, repetitive things, but even so, something is missing here.

While I heartily support any non-Disney effort to instill important ideas in small children, "The Playdate Kids: The I Like Me Dance" does not engage this parent or teen the way we hoped it would.

Thirteen Reasons Why
Jay Asher
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, New York, New York, 10014
ISBN 9781595141712, $16.99, 2007

Reviewed by Casey Holt (age 13) for Reader Views (1/08)

One day, Clay comes home from school to find a package on his doorstep, addressed to him. It has no return address. He opens it and finds seven cassette tapes inside, numbered one through thirteen. He goes into the garage, where they have a tape player, and when he puts it in, whose voice should come on but Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush, who committed suicide two weeks ago.

Each tape holds one reason why Hannah chose to kill herself. Gathering his things, Clay tells his mom that he's going to spend the night at a friend's house, and then goes to borrow a walkman that plays tapes from a friend. He then puts the first tape in, and starts walking. He wanders around town for the rest of the night, visiting the places Hannah mentions on the tapes and uncovering the thirteen reasons why.

And HE is one of the reasons.

He then mails the tapes to the next person on the list, "forgetting" to put his return address on the plain brown package.

I REALLY liked this book, and I would recommend it for ages twelve and up. I think girls and boys would like "Thirteen Reasons Why."

The Way of Leading People: Unlocking Your Integral Leadership Skills with the Tao Te Ching
Patrick Warneka, Timothy H. Warneka and Lao Tzu
Asogomi Publishing International
P.O. Box 20, Cleveland, OH 44092
ISBN 97809768627, $19.95, 2007,

Reviewed by Lori Plach for Reader Views (1/08)

"Let's play Follow the Leader!" Perhaps you remember playing this game when you were younger. Didn't we all want to be the leader? In fact, were you disappointed when you weren't chosen to be the leader? We can't all be leaders all of the time. Imagine if we all wanted to be leaders in the workplace. You can't all be leaders as there has to be some followers. Perhaps you have been placed in a position of being a leader and aren't quite sure what qualities a leader should possess. What should a leader do in order to have his followers walk alongside him to success?

Are all leaders always successful? No, they aren't. It is a smart leader who realizes his mistakes, makes changes and leads others in the right direction. "The Way of Leading People" seeks to convey the Tao Te Ching method of leadership. It is over 2500 years old but remains effective to this day. Not only can these principles be utilized in business, but also in relationships and life.

"The Way of Leading People" is a soft-cover manual. This is not a textbook by any means. It is written in very easy-to-understand language and is sure to help any of its readers. There are 81 sections in content. Each section is written in poems with the ideas of Tao Te Ching clearly presented. Each section has black and white pictures of large skyscrapers and other abstract art to add to the ideas. It is sure to make you think and evaluate just what a successful leader is. This is an excellent book for anyone who is currently a leader, hopes to be a leader or is a follower who wants to help his leader become more effective. "The Way of Leading People" would make an excellent addition to the reference section of libraries of businesses and families alike.

Ti Marie
Valerie Belgrave
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595440429, $18.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (1/08)

"Ti Marie" takes you into the late 1700s, into the lives of a family living on the island of Trinidad. Initially, living on the island was very rough and involved a lot of hardships, especially to the people who weren't originally from there. This was the case for Don Diego de las Flores and his family. He went to Trinidad to develop his Santa Clara cocoa estate. When he lost his wife, a mystical island woman, named Yei, stepped in and helped his family. Yei, also known as a healer, carried herself very regally. When she has twin daughters, one white, one black, the islanders believe that they are very powerful.

Both daughters are beautiful, however, Elena, the black one, has a special beauty that makes her stand out. This attracts the attention of Barry Wingate, an English aristocrat, who is hiding out on the island while his family is having murder charges against him dropped. Barry and Elena fall for each other; however, due to his family obligations, he feels he is unable to act upon it. It would be unheard of for an Englishman of nobility to marry a black woman. He thinks that she would be miserable in England.

There are also other relationships on the Santa Clara estate that need resolution and healing. Valerie Belgrave draws you into the heart of each one. Further upsetting the personal relationships, consequences of the war switch the power of the island over to a very cruel man. He has no sympathy towards the slaves and is so cruel to them, that he forces many to become violent and revolt. The people of Santa Clara do not share his sentiments, but in spite of this, they are also seriously affected by this man's actions. The lives of the free blacks are also affected. Seeing the cruelty that is inflicted on innocent people really helps Barry to grow up. Much has to be done to overcome the damage that this evil man has wrecked upon this peaceful place.

"Ti Marie" is a beautiful story. It is also very heart-wrenching. If you are looking for a light, fluffy novel to read, this is not the one for you. I have to admit, that this story drew tears to my eyes, several times. Belgrave brings "Ti Marie" alive so that the people are real. She develops their characters and draws them close to your heart. The main characters have to endure great hardships, yet this also adds to their depth of character. I am really glad that I had a chance to read a novel of this quality. The lore of the people of Trinidad and the devastation caused by slavery are both infused throughout the story. I highly, highly recommend this novel to fans of quality historical fiction. Belgrave will not let you down.

Kentucky Brides (Heartsong Novella Collection)
Lauralee Bliss, Irene B. Brand, Yvonne Lehman
Barbour Publishing, Inc.
P.O. Box 719 Ulhrichsville, OH 44683
ISBN 9781597898508, $6.97, 2007,

Reviewed by Lori Plach for Reader Views (1/08)

"All things work together for the good of those who love God." How hard is it to remember these words when you are going through trials of this life? "Kentucky Brides: Into the Deep/Where the River Flows/Moving the Mountain" is a collection of three novellas by three talented Christian ladies.

For Jared Edwards in "Into the Deep," it seems so hard to understand why his Aunt had to die. The Mammoth Cave in Kentucky was supposed to be a place of sure healing. Jared believes the cave to be the cave of death because he blames his Aunt's death on being placed there. Could the "cave of death" actually be the place where a new chapter of his life begins?

"Where the River Flows" is a story of a man losing the love of his life. Edward is left with a sickly infant and no wife to help care for it. Rose enters Edward and Martin's lives as a surrogate mother. Edward is dealing with a lot of guilt. Will he be able to work through his guilt and pain and see that God is truly working in his life?

Jonas McLean is also a man who has lost the love of his wife and is a father with dependent children but no other parent to help him with the responsibility of parenting. Molly Pierpont decides to help her brother-in-law raise his children. She too knows the pain of losing someone she loves as she is not only mourning her sister but also is a widow herself. Molly has clear-cut differences from her sister. Will this couple be able to see through their mourning for loves lost and see God's guiding hand on their future?

Each of these stories is an excellent story. Each story in "Kentucky Brides" is very moving and flows beautifully from start to finish. You will find yourself cheering for these couples to see through their pain and see that with God guiding you along life's journey, you cannot lose.

The Rise and Fall of Eric Hamilton
Jeremy M. Gates
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595449460, $ 19.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (1/08)

"The Rise and Fall of Eric Hamilton" is a fictional memoir of Eric Hamilton, award-winning architect. It is an amazing story of the courage and the cost of fulfilling a dream. Jeremy M. Gates has chosen a unique approach to tell Eric's story. He uses first person narrative, blending the dialog of an interview with a journalist within the dialog which relates the story itself.

Eric Hamilton has agreed to do an interview with a young reporter, Christen Larson, of the Architectural Insider. Eric has a public persona with a reputation for being stubborn, inflexible, unyielding, and excessive in his demands on employees, and contractors. It is Hamilton's plan to use this interview to explain to the architectural community the background behind his passion, success and what a man with by a dream can achieve.

Gates has created memorable characters and a moving story that incorporates romance, the challenge of following one's passion to attain personal achievement goals, and background information in the importance of the architect in the construction industry. Jeremy also demonstrates an amazing insight into the cost and heartache a man driven by passion can experience in his personal relationships with family and friends.

Jeremy's writing stirred strong emotions in me, as I empathized with Eric. I felt the unjustness of strong parental influence, with its stifling effect on Eric and his dream of becoming an architect. I resented the constant peer pressure of well-meaning friends. I felt anger at the abuse of Eric's employer, John Prescott. And I felt disappointment as I watched Eric grasp at fame, the exhilaration of receiving awards, and success in business, at a tremendous cost in the heartache that followed. At times I was so engrossed in the story I forgot I was reading fiction as Eric revealed his personal integrity and genuine compassion.

The dramatic, climatic culmination of Eric's story was filled with pathos, concern and surprises. The finale of the book is a tribute to following dreams--hard work, achievement, innovation, and teamwork, and is a model of accomplished journalism as a result of Christen's remarkable interview with Eric Hamilton.

Jeremy M. Gates is a gifted author with a strong story and an important message in "The Rise and Fall of Eric Hamilton."

The Walking Man
Constance O. Irvin
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595434060, $13.95, 2007, 1-800-228-4677

Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views (1/08)

"The Walking Man" is a very well-written story that takes place in Alabama in 1950. The story has many of the same qualities and big themes that I love in "To Kill a Mockingbird," even though it is written during a later time period. The author captures the time period beautifully as she tell this story through the eyes of a ten-year-old child.

Life is about to change in Taneytown, Alabama as ten-year-old Maggie and her friends take up their favorite summer past-time of following the strange man they call the 'Walking Man.' They quickly lose his trail but discover a wonderful waterfall to play at and then move on to find a strange cabin in the woods. As they move closer to the cabin they see something that they are not supposed to and get chased by men with shotguns. During the chaos, they lose track of their friend Angel, and cannot find her as they leave the woods. The next couple of days turn into a nightmare when Angel is found brutally murdered and the town begins to point fingers at people who they think might be the killer. Maggie lies about the circumstances about where Angel is lost to protect her friends. As Maggie's story begins to unravel she finds herself caught up in events that she cannot begin to understand. She is faced with the prejudices based on race and class that she finds run deep
in her little Southern town.

The story concludes fifty years later when Maggie goes back in Taneytown to fulfill a promise that she made to Angel. The memories of what transpired during 1950 resurface as she runs into her old friend Cotton. And, Maggie is finally able to lie to rest what began during that long-ago summer. This book beautifully addresses so many of the tough themes that took place in the South during the mid 1900s-- race, class, justice and the difficulties of growing up. The story of "The Walking Man" is timeless; both older and younger readers will enjoy it.

The World of Women Ain't No Joke
Keith G. Wright
Ain't No Joke, Inc.
101 NW 100th Street, Miami Shores, FL 33150
ISBN 9780977834228, $19.95, 2008,

Reviewed by Vicki Landes for Reader Views (1/08)

Author Keith G. Wright has released the latest addition to his "Ain't No Joke" series. Unlike his previous two books - one about being a successful parent and another about surviving the teenage years - this one is about something he's never gone through…being a woman. Does a man - or even this man - have what it takes to write a book about the struggles and roadblocks that modern women face on a daily basis?

"The World of Women Ain't No Joke: Beautiful, Intelligent, & Powerful in an Unforgiving World" is a look into the realities that women throughout history have faced. From the times of our forefathers (or foremothers) fighting for equal rights to today's woman who fights a glass ceiling and the derogatory entertainment media, the female gender has always had obstacles to overcome. Wright paints a passionate picture of women's history and an alarming look at the future as he urges our society to stop its disrespectful behavior towards the female sex. He concludes his book with a call to all women to take responsibility for the fate of their daughters and granddaughters - to speak out against the injustices. Men can't be blamed for everything and "it isn't always a man at the helm of a disaster."

Wright does a very thorough job of presenting statistical data to show that our 'modern' world isn't as fantastic and enlightened as we may think it would be. Violent crime, divorce, AIDS rates, and lack of education are only a few of the problems. Wright advocates American women to take the lead on and fight globally. I think his most astounding point in the book is made when paralleling the modern woman's current plight with the downfall of Black America. "Women and Black America shared a similar rise throughout the Civil Rights Era, and it appears, at the current rate of degradation, they may share a similar fall…today Black America is spinning out of control, and out of relevance…and America's women seem bent on blazing the same trail, eyeing a very similar fate." He also notes the double standard on racial slurs - Don Imus' words still ringing strong in our ears but D.L. Hughley's comments on Jay Leno's show were heard by millions but no public outcry ensued.

"The World of Women Ain't No Joke" is not at all what I expected. Admiration coupled with inspiration and motivation, his writing reaches across the boundaries of race, religion, and even gender. I found myself more and more intrigued as I got deeper into Wright's message in this book of empowerment. Women of all ages are sure to find "The World of Women Ain't No Joke" informative and eye-opening while men can learn to be more respectful sons, boyfriends, husbands, and fathers. Minor spelling and grammatical errors don't detract at all from Wright's overall purpose.

As the son of a single mother, Keith G. Wright took his first-hand perspective on what life is like for today's woman and put it into beautiful, intelligent, and powerful words. Advocating for a better society tomorrow, he urges today's women to take a stand against disrespect, devaluation, and objectifying while fighting for whatever cause the world needs them to succeed at. Regardless of race, religion, or gender, "The World of Women Ain't No Joke" is a superb tribute to the past and an empowering message for our society's future. So what do I think of a man - this man - writing this kind of book? I think his mama raised him Wright.

Seven Days of Hospice: A Memoir
D. M. Wilmes
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595463732, $12.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (1/08)

In "Seven Days of Hospice: A Memoir," D. M. Wilmes has written a beautiful tribute to his mother, a demonstration of a family's love, and an inspiring story written to help other families confronted with facing the final days of a loved one's life.

Elaine Wilmes, mother of six, was diagnosed with breast cancer at a time when she was free of her responsibilities of motherhood. After a year of treatment her doctors pronounced her free of cancer. The cancer reappeared as bone cancer and then developed into brain cancer.

Wilmes candidly relates his mother's story, her victories, the setbacks, and the final days in hospice care. He openly shares his emotions, frustrations, and reactions to caregivers, his own family, and in conversations and bargaining with God.

I personally found Wilmes' account very insightful. I was living out-of-state when my mother had cancer surgery after a five-year remission. I did not have the privilege or experience of being with her during those final days but I related to Elaine's final heavenly smile before succumbing to death. My mother told the nursing attendant "The angels are coming for me," in her final minutes.

Although Wilmes writes from his Catholic experience, this is a book that crosses denominational lines and will be helpful and encouraging to readers of every faith. The spiritual insights he shares are universal in experience and, when coming from a layman's perspective, are especially helpful to the male reader.

I have read many books on death and dying, the stages of grief, and on counseling others in their times of grief and found them helpful. Wilmes' account of his mother s disease, her courage, and her final days of hospice care add another whole dimension to my understanding of the dread disease of cancer and what one might expect in hospice care.

Wilmes' writing is poignant and fervent. "Seven Days of Hospice: A Memoir" is a book I can highly recommend to anyone whose loved one is afflicted with terminal cancer. It offers hope, comfort, and vital information that will possibly save heartache and frustration during those final precious days of the life of their loved one.

The Brides of March: Memoir of a Same-Sex Marriage
Beren deMotier
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595439874, $15.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views (1/08)

Other than being present at two close friend's commitment ceremony in Massachusetts, I have had little contact with the same-sex marriage issues until reading this book. I found it to be a wonderful commentary on same-sex marriage that should be read by everyone, especially people in the heterosexual community like me who should be more aware of what the bans on same-sex marriage have cost so many people. The author, Beren deMotier, tells the story about the joy that she and her partner of twenty years felt when the barriers to same-sex marriage in Oregon are suddenly lifted.

Based in Portland, Oregon, the author and her partner Jannine have worked to build a wonderful life for themselves. deMotier, a stay-at-home mom of three, is a freelance writer who tells us her story in an often hilarious way in "The Brides of March: A Memoir of Same-Sex Marriage."

On March 2, 2004, people were thrilled to hear that they would be able to get marriage licenses for same-sex weddings the next day. The author's partner spent the night outdoors with friends to be the first to get marriage licenses the next day. These couples were thrilled that their unions would finally be recognized by the state and they were to become known among their community as the 'Brides of March.' Their story is often very funny as they rush to put together their weddings at the last minute. Many people in the community came out to support them and there were also many who were loudly opposed to same-sex marriages.

It was heartbreaking for the 'Brides of March' and their children when Oregon did not uphold the marriages and the marriages were annulled. The author and her partner even considered moving to Canada where their marriage would be recognized. It seems cruel to be granted something that you have waited almost two decades on and then later have it reneged on.

It is so hard to believe that in 2007 in the United States that we are still talking about oppression and encouraging prejudiced behavior against a group of Americans through laws banning same-sex marriage. Hopefully, as more people become aware of the issues and stories like this one in "The Brides of March: Memoir of a Same-Sex Marriage" that this outdated view will change to accept all people who want to pledge their lives to each other.

The New Messiah
Daniel Biskar
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595460953, $23.95, 2007

Reviewed by William Phenn for Reader Views (1/08)

Mr. Biskar has written a very unique book that reads more like a screenplay. The scenes are set by a narration, as if for a stage play, which makes it nice for the reader. The dialog between the characters takes the form of a script. It is not the most exciting, but then the dialog is not the main point of the story.

Neal Shelly is a young man that is on a quest to bring the world a new Messiah. He begins his journey hitchhiking across America to the Olympics in Montreal, Canada. While doing this, he is struck with the idea that people need to know the truth about what is happening in the country, how people have become so lost and distant and have no soul.

With the help of his friend Andrew Moore, Neal starts to vocalize sermons on the Venice Boardwalk, trying to convince people that Andrew is the modern-day savior. They continue to broaden their sphere of influence till such a time as Andrew begins to live the lie. This unexpected turn of events does not sit well with Neal. He becomes resentful of Andrew and the monster he created that could not be undone. But just as he begins to lose hope of bringing Andrew back to reality, Andrew gets picked up by the cops and is taken to the psychiatric hospital.

The book culminates with Andrew realizing he is not the Messiah and beginning the slow mental recovery process, meeting the girl of his dreams along the way. Neal goes on to be with the love of his life and everybody lives happily ever after.

Although it was written in a different manner from most books, reading it did not present much of a problem after a few pages. The book was a slow-paced read and dragged on a bit due to the dialog between characters. I gave "The New Messiah" a B and I just think it could have been made a little more exciting.

Who Killed Callaway?: A Murder Mystery
John Rhodes
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595437771, $16.95, 2007

Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views (1/08)

"Who Killed Callaway?" is murder mystery at its best. I have to admit that as a murder mystery junkie I love nothing better than finding a great murder mystery to hole up with; this book meets that criteria. I was drawn in from the first page until the very surprising ending.

"Who Killed Callaway?" is set in England in the early 20th Century. The country is still recovering from the WWI and the class system is still very much in evidence. The main character, Chief Inspector Thomas Ford, is still recovering from injuries that he received as a soldier during the war. Ford is not very happy when he is called up by his alma mater, King's School, an exclusive private school, to investigate a murder.

His unpleasant memories come rushing back as he begins the investigation of Michael Callaway's murder. Throughout the investigation he is met with resistance and an obvious cover-up. His job is made doubly difficult because all the potential evidence in the murder has been removed by the effort to make the incident look like an accident. Ford's excellent investigative skills not only uncover clues to the murder but long-buried secrets. As he gets closer to the answer another student falls to his death. The school officials try to make it look like the second student, Trumpington, killed Callaway and committed suicide afterwards. Ford does not buy that theory and continues uncovering the many ugly secrets that King's School has to hide.

I thought that the author, John Rhodes, did an excellent job with character development. His characters were definitely colorful and I often felt like I was there solving the mystery with them. But beware, Mrs. Croft, wife of the local police sergeant, serves up so many incredible dishes that you will be constantly hungry while reading the book.

Ford does a great job getting the locals to open up in following all the leads in the story. He even surprises himself by finding love along the way. Usually I can figure out who done it in a mystery story, but I was surprised at not only who committed the murder but why they did it. I would highly recommend "Who Killed Callaway?" to mystery buffs. They will be left with wanting to read more mysteries with Chief Inspector Thomas Ford.

Keeper of the Kingdom (Keeper Series)
H. J. Ralles
Top Publications
12221 Merit Drive, Suite 750, Dallas, Texas 75251
ISBN 9781929976034, $9.95, 2003

Reviewed by Ian McCurley (age 14) for Reader Views (1/08)

"Keeper of the Kingdom" begins when Matt, a 2010 teenager, is sucked into a video game which takes place in 2,540 AD in the fictional country of Zaul. In Zaul, the humans are called "workers" and are forced to work making Xeleron, an explosive material, in laboratories. The 26 human Commanders share command with the "Keeper" over an army of thousands of androids called Cybergons with purple eyes and deadly Xelerays. The Kingdom of Zaul is at war with its neighboring kingdoms, and the Commanders are forcing the humans to work harder and harder which is leading to their imminent deaths. The objective of the video game is for the player to overthrow the evil Cybergons. Thus, Matt finds himself in a hallway being chased by several Cybergon Protectors. After he escapes them, he is saved by workers Dana, Balder and Norak. Can Matt play the game from inside and free the workers from the oppressive Protectors? Or will he be terminated?

As a gamer, I noticed that the book was written more like a movie than a game and then wondered, if it were a game, how would it be played? Fortunately, H. J. Ralles solved this problem by making the video game seem real. H. J. Ralles' writing style in "Keeper of the Kingdom" is perfect for young gamers (though from reading the book, I'm pretty sure that the game he was playing wouldn't be a very good game). The imaginative characters and the excellent combination of exciting action and unexpected plot twists make for a great read.

"Keeper of the Kingdom" is for kids ages 10 and up who enjoy video games and science fiction. Be sure to read the next in the series, "Keeper of the Realm."

Summer at The Dunes: A Deirdre Carlisle Mystery
Freya Katrina Ashby
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595879915, $9.95, 2007, 1-800-Authors (1-800-288-4677)

Reviewed by Mary Johnson (age 14) for Reader Views (1/08)

"Summer at The Dunes" is about an 18-year-old girl who goes to visit her family in a small town called Nova Scotia where a so-called boring summer turned into one of excitement and mystery.

Freya Katrina Ashby, who wrote "Summer at The Dunes," is a very good author. She has a point in "Summer at The Dunes" and she keeps it. She also gives you such a detailed description of all the characters that you almost have a picture of what they look like in your mind. I found the author Freya Katrina Ashby to be a very detail-oriented writer and that is what I like in a book; I like to be able to get a mental picture of the character. If I don't get that mental picture I keep having to go backwards in the book to remember who the person is that they are talking about. I will read more of Freya Katrina Ashby's books because of this attention to detail.

"Summer at The Dunes" is definitely for someone interested in mysteries or for a general reader. It is kind of like a cross between an old who-done-it and a Nancy Drew mystery. It reminds me of the game of clue, in the sense that there is an old British Army Officer, a professor, a famous actress, and a spy.

"Summer at The Dunes" tells the story of how Deirdre Carlisle spent her summer, not the way she wanted to in Paris with her parents, but with her uncle who owns a hotel. While at the hotel she got to catch thieves, solve mysteries and find stolen goods.

The Lycan Journal
Chad Long
Long Stories, LLC
B3865 County Road H, Lake Geneva, WI 53147
ISBN 9780615152950, $12.95, 2005,

Reviewed by Ian McCurley (age 14) for Reader Views (1/08)

"The Lycan Journal" takes place on modern-day Earth in a small, rural town in the US. The story begins when the father of eighth-grader Gordo Gates falls ill after being scratched by a strange man. Gordo's father was a bounty hunter and had been hunting this strange man. After further investigation, Gordo discovers that this man is a Lycan, and also that the Lycans had been hunting a young girl named Allie Zabel. Gordo discovered this through a secret, illegal website that Lycans used to advertise their dirty jobs. Learning of the threat to the girl, Gordo uses his funds to travel to Greece not only to help the girl, but also to find a cure for his father's illness. When Gordo meets Hank, a helicopter pilot, and discovers that Allie's aunt had been murdered by a Lycan, they Gordo, Hank and Allie travel to the city of the Lycans and meet Dusty, a young Lycan. Now the four must try to find the vast silver treasure of the Lycans before sinister forces at work find

In "The Lycan Journal," Chad Long's writing style is intriguing in the way that he occasionally incorporates himself into the story. The book flows erratically which cancels out any possible suspense. (Having a comma every three words didn't help, either). However, the plot was interesting and original. Unfortunately, the interesting plot was full of holes, and the book had many inaccuracies such as taking the main character only a matter of minutes to input a 100,000 digit password. In actuality, it would take an average eighth-grader days or weeks at 60 words per minute. This and many special inaccuracies were present.

"The Lycan Journal" is for readers ages 10 and up who enjoy reading about mythical creatures and kids involved in secret conspiracies. "The Lycan Journal," with its original and short-winded story makes a great read if you can overlook certain literary flaws.

Motor City Blues
Peter Ohren
Casparian Books
PO Box 161026, Sacramento CA 95816-1026
ISBN 9781934081051, $13.50, 2007,

Reviewed by Dr. Michael Philliber for Reader Views (1/08)

What do you get when you bring together social criticism, high-octane drug addiction, failing grades, nihilism, and vengeance? You end up with Peter Ohren's character, Todd Foster, in his new book, "Motor City Blues." Todd is an exasperating 25-year-old law student at Wayne State University in the 1990s, whose life is slowly coming apart at the seams. Each chapter takes the reader along with Todd down through one mistake after another, until the roof finally, and literally, caves in on him.

Ohren has done an excellent job of depicting the intelligently muddled machinations of a substance abuser. He reveals the voices in Todd's head, and the discussions he has with himself, as he attempts to sort out all the mess he's been making of his academic and love life. There are sadly humorous moments when Todd sees clearly that he has screwed things up, and then immediately starts blaming his mother and step-father, the school administration, or some other target of his victimhood. Toward the end, while he is lying in the hospital recovering from his car roof crashing in on him, he is confronted with the possibility that he might have a substance abuse problem. He immediately shifts into denial with the "I can handle it, I don't have a problem" line of thinking.

Another enjoyable aspect of the story, that had a humorous texture to it, was the social criticism. Here was a young law student, living off of someone else's largess while disparaging the very system that was giving him an opportunity that others don't have, and he was blowing it away on cocaine and parties. For example, when Todd chides the memory of his ex-girlfriend because she was wealthy and would thus be spared from "the harsh realities of real life" (159), he doesn't even recognize that he has likewise been spared the same harsh realities because his family bails him out of the consequences of his actions. Even his troublesome friends, Tartarian and Gina, were finding money from somewhere (presumably their scholarships or grants) which they too were snorting away in high quantities, while officiously railing against the system. Their inability to see their hypocrisy is quite comical.

One of the difficulties in the book was the sometimes forced mixture of theology, philosophy, and social commentary. In the tedious discussions about the meaning or meaninglessness of life, Nietzsche and Sartre are discussed (and Kant is hinted at), nothing is ever resolved, and the discussions seem to have little real place in the story line. There was a similar trend with regard to some of the characters' social pontifications as well.

The author did a good job of keeping my attention, and I found that as Todd's life was unraveling I wanted to get to the next chapter to find out if he would finally see the coming collision and slam on the brakes. There does seem to be a bit of maturing in Todd toward the end of the book, especially when he takes up the responsibility of repaying his biological father who loaned him the money he needed to pay for his damages at the law school.

Though I found "Motor City Blues" a bit frustrating at times with the forced philosophical dialogue, social criticism, and the painful misuse of the divine name in profanity, overall it was a readable story about the downward spiral of Todd Foster that is probably very close to what many experience in the university scene.

Rachel and Aleks: A Historical Novel of Life, Love and WWII
Sylvia Smoller
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595417278, $15.95, 2007, 1-800-Authors (1-800-288-4677)

Reviewed by Danielle Feliciano for Reader Views (1/08)

In "Rachel and Aleks," author Sylvia Smoller beautifully weaves a tale of family, betrayal, independence and love. Though the title of this book is "Rachel and Aleks," this tale is Rachel's alone. All other stories within are filtered through Rachel's world.

When we first meet her, Rachel is a teenager in pre-Hitler Poland. She is spirited, intelligent, and already desires more than the traditional life of other women in her community. Though she does want to marry and have a family, she also is fiercely independent and doesn't want to be "kept," but to be an equal. She meets and marries Aleks, an opinionated political journalist, and thus begins the story.

Rachel and Aleks are both so focused on their own individual interests there feels to be no true connection between them. At times I wondered why they even bothered with the farce of a marriage, only to figure that they each had found the only person in the world who was more self-involved than they were. They were able to be selfish because they allowed each other to be. I don't mean to say they were awful people. They cared greatly for others and did what they could for their family and their community. While Aleks is an intellectual and uses words and thoughts to implement change, Rachel is a fierce woman who takes action any way she sees fit. She may be selfish, she may be unfaithful, but she protects her family at all costs.

Throughout this story, Rachel's growth as a person is the main focus. She starts as an idealistic teenager and we see her grow into a woman who puts her ideals into action. She and Aleks go on to have a child and Rachel's love for her daughter is the one pure thing in her life. When the Nazi invasion becomes a reality, Rachel and her family start a journey of escape that ultimately brings them to America.

Rachel's development is a bit uncomfortable at times. She is supposed to be growing up, yet consistently does childish things. She becomes more focused on material things at a certain point and it seems that making money is no longer about survival for her, but status. She not only has an affair, but at one point introduces her husband and her lover under business pretenses. An act like this is unforgivable to me, and it was things like that which made me dislike her a bit. However, I have to admire her tenacity and determination to get what she wanted and to make sure her family was taken care of.

The Nightmare That Is Public Education Renato C. Nicolai, Ed.D.
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 1000 Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595436149, $17.95, 2007, 1-800-Authors (1-800-288-4677)

Reviewed by Deb Shunamon for Reader Views (1/08)

Anyone who is the least bit involved with their children's schooling will have some idea, and opinion, of how well the U.S. public education system is working. An educator with many years of experience in both the classroom and as an administrator, Dr. Renato Nicolai discusses why he feels public schools are failing to adequately educate American students, and what educators and parents must do to ensure that public education remains effective and relevant.

Dr. Nicolai does applaud the few dedicated teachers, politicians, and parents who are truly committed to, and are actively providing, an excellent education for students in the public system, but there is sure to be a lot of heated discussion because of his reasons as to why the majority are failing. One emphasized reason is the incompetence of teachers. Dr. Nicolai refers back to teacher education curricula and speaks to the absence, or low quality, of the basics in classrooms and schools today. From poor physical environments and classroom management, to inadequate discipline, relaxed attitudes towards dress requirements, and low expectations, he feels that it is America's swing alarmingly toward a liberal, permissive, almost-anything-goes bias (p.143), that is undermining the effectiveness of committed teachers, preventing students from learning, and is negatively affecting the entire country by encouraging disrespect and incompetence.

Dr. Nicolai uses a lot of alarming vocabulary to express his forceful opinions on the declining state of the American public education system, but also supplies quotes and a research bibliography to add support to his views. Agree with him or not, Dr. Renato Nicolai's "The Nightmare That Is Public Education: An Expose of What Really Happens in Public Schools " will most certainly get its readers thinking, talking, and most importantly from his standpoint, taking action.

Tribute: The Heart and Soul of Our Protectors
Deborah C. McCabe
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595461851, $11.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (1/08)

"Tribute: The Heart and Soul of Our Protectors" is the first in a series of "Tribute" books envisioned by author Deborah C. McCabe. It is her plan to collaborate with Veterans, their families, friends, and supporters in compiling, editing, and publishing an annual Veteran's Day volume of tributes to honor the bravery and memories of American veterans from World War II, the Korean, Vietnam, and Iraq Wars.

The current edition is made up of poems, letters, and narratives written by veterans, their families, friends, and comrades that tell of insurmountable bravery, of honoring others. There are tributes from family members offering praise and admiration for their loved ones' patriotism, sacrifice and courage. Medals of Honor, commendations, and battle ribbons, are a part of the tribute given these brave young men.

Veterans have testified of healing that has come though the sharing of these stories of combat, rescue, and of the bonding experiences they found while in the line of fire in the throes of battle as brothers risked their own lives to aid a wounded buddy. The pain and pathos of separation from families and the joy of reunion are all a part of the cycle of war revealed in these heart-touching stories.

A complete index of heroes and contributors includes an amalgam of PFCs, Colonels, Captains, Sergeants, Lieutenants, Airmen, Chaplains, and a host of others. The photos that accompany many of the stories give expression to the promise of youth, the fear and demons of battle fatigue, as well as the commitment to courage and the determination to pursue victory.

"Tribute: The Heart and Soul of Our Protectors" is a book that will be read and reread by veterans throughout America. It is a strong affirmation and appreciation from patriotic Americans standing for the freedom these men have fought to protect. It is a book that should be on reading lists in every American history class and it should be available in public libraries throughout our country. This is an important and timely book. Bravo to Deborah C. McCabe and those veterans who have come forward to share their stories.

What Time Is the Midnight Buffet?
Chesterh (Richard Holleran)
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9781583484883, $9.95, 2007 , 1-800-288-4677,
Reviewed by Deb Shunamon for Reader Views (1/08)

If you are planning a cruise vacation, this is exactly the type of book you would be wise to read. Duct tape-using, Jimmy Buffet-loving, Richard Holleran has written a fun account of his first cruise trip with his wife, and filled it with an incredible amount of practical information.

Although Holleran states that they were usually quite careful with their money, no expense was spared this time with a Sky Suite, and its unexpected perks, booked for their trip. The top-notch service and physical space associated with this type of reservation was surprising to learn about, as I had assumed that all cruise packages were automatically like theirs, and readers will be able to learn a lot from what was not included in the Holleran's vacation package and be able to plan their own trips more effectively. In addition, I was surprised at the amount of money that was required to be spent each and every day onboard; cruises are not inexpensive holidays to take. From the hazards of clean windows, to how to dress and tip; from the clock-work functioning of the ship and its crew to the abundant places and times to eat, drink, and entertain yourself onboard; to exploring on and off the ship by yourself or in groups, and how to avoid the lineups; there are very few questions a vacationer might have that Holleran does not answer.

Even though the author and wife traveled alone, this book is suitable for all travelers planning a cruise vacation, including families, as a very thorough account seems to be given. Richard Holleran's descriptions of daily activities, the other travelers you might meet online or onboard, and how quickly the delightful pampering seems to come to an end (so get as much in as you can) were a lot of fun to read. At a short 108 pages, "What Time Is the Midnight Buffet?: : Tales from the Cruise Adventure of a Lifetime" is a great starting place for anyone hoping to take a cruise, or an armchair, vacation.

The Energy of Belief: Psychology's Power Tools to Focus Intention and Release Blocking Beliefs
Sheila Sidney Bender, PhD and Mary T. Sise, LCSW
Energy Psychology Press
PO Box 442, Fulton, CA 95439
ISBN 9781604150193, $17.95, 2007, (707) 525-9292,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (1/08)

"The Energy of Belief" is written by a licensed Psychologist and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who combine both of their experience in the Energy Psychology field. This is a new branch of Psychology. Energy Psychology is described as, "…to include all psychologically oriented therapeutic strategies that incorporate the various forms of vibrational energetic influences and utilize the meridian system, the chakra system, or the area that surrounds the body called the biofields." (page 29)

Our personal beliefs influence our internal and external perceptions of ourselves and the outside world. Holding on to negative beliefs can make us view things negatively. In Energy Psychology, a TAB (Touch and Breathe) method is used to help release these blockages that hold us back. This form of psychology can be used to treat common psychological afflictions. By using this form of treatment, we can take back control over our lives. Both professionals and lay persons can benefit from reading this book.

The first half of the book teaches the basic steps of TAB. This includes learning how to use a meridian based algorithm. Helpful pictures are included. The second half teaches us how to get below the surface of our thoughts to better understand our beliefs and emotions. It also shows us how to personalize our self-work by learn more about our own energy systems.

I found this book to be incredibly interesting. I loved that it was written in a concise manner that made it easy to follow and understand. I was able to do the practice exercises without difficulty. The pictures were also a great help. Each chapter ends with a paragraph to help you transition into the next chapter. As I read the book, I felt like the authors were speaking directly to me and that they understood my needs. There is also an extensive bibliography and helpful resources.

"The Energy of Belief" gave me a greater understanding of how my negative beliefs are holding me back. It taught me how to release the energy blockages that keep me stuck in certain patterns. I was so happy to get my hands on this book! As a woman with a Master's degree in Counseling and a Reiki Master certification, it really pleased me to see that these two types of fields can be linked. I also appreciated learning that there is a scientific research to back this up.

All individuals on the path of self-healing will benefit from "The Energy of Belief." I also highly, highly recommend this book to professionals in the field of mental health, medical health, and alternative therapies.

The Nurse in the Delivery Room Slapped Me…Once
D. Anthony
Beckham Publications Group, Inc.
PO Box 4066, Silver Spring, MD 20914
ISBN 9780931761256, $14.95, 2007,

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (1/08)

"The Nurse in the Delivery Room Slapped Me… Once" is an adventure in self-examination, self-discovery, and self-actualization. D. Anthony has packed the pages of this book with motivational and inspirational stories that offer the reader help for unlocking their amazing potential, for achieving excellence, and implementing change.

The book is designed in a way that allows the reader to read one or two short chapters at a sitting for inspiration, reflection, and assimilation. It can also easily be read in one or two sittings to stimulate some thoughts for later retrospection or study.

I found myself reading with a notebook at hand to record principles I wanted to remember, the mission or action statements I wanted to incorporate in my daily activities, and the insights I wanted to reflect on again at a later time. In this way the book has become a tool for further reflection, for revitalizing my faith, intensifying my purpose, and giving power to my dreams.

Throughout the eight sections of the book Anthony reminds the reader of the importance of developing a winning attitude, a positive mindset, and being true to who you are. The readings are a compilation of poetry, sage bits of wisdom, adages and inspirational stories arranged in an easy-to-read-and-remember format. These readings are arranged randomly and often are building blocks reinforcing an important idea from a variety of vantage points.

I was reminded to always look for the win-win situation in the game of life, and I discovered nuggets of truth on "re-evaluating some deep-rooted, widely-accepted perspectives involving competition," about staying humble, impressionable, about integrity, and about faith.

I particularly liked the "Mission" assignments at the end of each section and the Introduction to the following section. Action steps, for the lessons learned, provided a practical real-life application for the precepts just considered and the introduction to the new section gave a glimpse of the adventure to follow. These action plans are not about time but about experiencing life-affirming pursuits, creativity, and spiritual replenishment, about personal touch, communication, and gratitude.

Stimulating challenges and perceptive questions help shed new light on preconceived conclusions, limiting thoughts, and paradigms helping the reader cultivate new attitudes of behavior and a more purpose-filled life. Anthony's observations and writing becomes a conduit for implementing important changes in mindsets, attitudes, and perceptions. It can also become a "life affirming, life enriching, self-empowering tool."

"The Nurse in the Delivery Room Slapped Me…Once" gives promise of "unlocking your amazing potential that will foster monumental change in yourself and the people around you." I am confident that daily affirmation of the principles D. Anthony shares in his book will produce the promised results. Anthony's book is more than a book of motivational stories. It is an enriching spiritual experience.

Anchor in the Spirit as God Beings: More Than Mere Human
Phyllis Reid
PhilMar Foundation for Purposeful Living
P.O. Box 381881, Miami, Florida 33238
ISBN 9780979596209, $16.95, 2007, 1-305-759-0236,

Reviewed by Vicki Landes for Reader Views (1/08)

Psychotherapist, Behavior Modification Specialist, Traumatologist, and Truth Practitioner Phyllis Reid adds another title to her already-impressive list of specialties: published author. With the release of "Anchor in the Spirit as God Beings: More Than Mere Human," Reid explains her standpoint on spirituality and hopes to provide an alternative to the more traditional religious outlets of today.

"Anchor in the Spirit as God Beings: More than Mere Human" is a New Age approach to religion. Instead of focusing on an external divine source, Reid's process turns within to discover the personal 'inner God' with the use of thankful prayers, joyful songs, and stimulating meditation. As her subtitle shows, she sees people as 'more than mere human' - further noting that we possess 'God DNA' and have the potential to become truly enlightened individuals. She divides her book into four sections to better break down her methods for easy emulation and even uses many examples from her individual struggles as examples of how she applied her techniques in her own life.

Author Phyllis Reid writes a deeply passionate coaching manual for those searching for a more personalized style of spirituality. Utilizing the Bible as a guide, she presents her interpretation to the scriptural references in order to solidify her points. Despite quite a few spelling errors, the book is thought-provoking, fervent, and emotional. "Anchor in the Spirit as God Beings: More than Mere Human" is a fascinating read.

"Anchor in the Spirit as God Beings: More than Mere Human" is definitely for someone looking for a more individualized approach to religion. Reid's process is meant for each uniquely different person to reach inside and learn what their 'inner God' is for them. Her methods are best for those searching for a heaven here on earth - tranquility, joy, contentment during this lifetime.

Jamaica native Phyllis Reid has found her inner peace and shares her steps to transformation in her new book, "Anchor in the Spirit as God Beings: More Than Mere Human". While utilizing her own story of conversion, she paints a genuinely personal portrayal of her methods while encouraging others to follow in her footsteps to spiritual enlightenment.

Follow That Dog (Through the Rug 2)
Jill Ammon Vanderwood
Mill Creek Press
P.O. Box 71381, Salt Lake City, UT, 84171-0381
ISBN 9780979845543, $14.99, 2007,

Reviewed by Maya Landers (age 10) for Reader Views (1/08)

"Follow that Dog," by Jill Ammon Vanderwood, describes how a girl and her Grandma fall through a slime-covered rug to Wishville, a magical land where all of their wishes come true. Although the book was entertaining, I did not find it very engaging. It was somewhat funny, but not side-splitting, roll-around-on-the-floor hilarious. I was not very convinced by the fantasy world that Vanderwood created.

The characters never experienced any major conflict because they could always wish themselves out of any situation. Although there are some minor conflicts, the characters always remember just in time that they can make a wish to save themselves. For this reason, the plot moves along quickly -- maybe even too quickly. Since the characters can wish themselves anywhere and can wish themselves to do anything, one minute Grandma Emma and Alyssa are on a camping trip with their newfound friends, and the next minute they appear at their dog wedding.

Whenever a character leaves Wishville, they get a return token. To return, all they have to do is rub the token, blow on the coin, and say "Wishville" aloud. Several minor characters arrived in Wishville by accidentally finding these return tokens. All of these characters had similar reactions: they first acted slightly confused, then wished for something (not knowing whether they would get their wish), then got their wish granted. Realizing the implication of this, they immediately begin wishing for all sorts of things. They even wished for more hours in a day and more days in the week.

Grandma Emma and Alyssa did not appear surprised when they were transported to a magical world where all of their wishes came true. I have not read the previous book, "Through the Rug," and that might explain why some of the strange occurrences appeared commonplace. For instance, the dog, Domino, suddenly stood on two legs, spoke like a human, and announced that he was getting married to a pink poodle. Aside from a few references to the previous book, however, the reader could easily follow the plot of this sequel, "Follow that Dog."

Deception's Guard
Jacqueline G. Randolph
Fultus Corporation
P.O. Box 50095, Palo Alto, CA 94303
ISBN 9781596820227, $17.99, 2005, (650) 269-4803,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (1/08)

Jacqueline Randolph wrote "Deception's Guard" in four days. Having read and thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced adventure, I suspect that she had steam coming off of her fingers as she typed. The hero, Rhys Wielde, is CEO of a genetics company. As the story begins, he has just discovered that some of his trusted employees and colleagues are involved with creating an artificial gene that induces an incurable addiction with illegal drug use. Being a person of integrity, Rhys is devastated to learn that his own people and company are involved in creating something so heinous. He is determined to find out who is involved and see that justice is served.

Beautiful DEA agent Skye is assigned to be Rhys' personal bodyguard. She is doing this undercover. Circumstances draw them together, but to keep Rhys safe, Skye has to continue her deception of making him think that she is someone else. When the adventure heads down to South America, Skye has to assume another persona to continue to protect Rhys. This persona is of a very unattractive older woman. Rhys finds himself strangely attracted to her. As the suspense plays out, he learns the truth. Both of their lives become endangered as they continue to seek answers.

I really loved this plot. If you are bored and seeking adventure, Skye is the type of woman that you would want to fantasize about being. She is beautiful, intelligent, fit, and deadly. Her character has always stayed on the emotional fringes of her life. As the story progresses, she begins to evolve emotionally. This is not easy for her. She has some major adjustments to make to adapt.

I highly recommend "Deception's Guard." It is the first book in the "Deception Series." I can't wait to read Rhys and Skye's next adventure in "Deception's Fury."

Brothers Forever: An Orphan Story
Craig Mayeux
2021 Pine Lake Rd, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595442195, $20.95, 2007, 1-800-AUTHORS,

Reviewed by Tyler R. Tichelaar for Reader Views (1/08)

"Brothers Forever" by Craig Mayeux is the tale of two orphan children, raised until age four in a New York Orphanage, then adopted by families in Cajun Louisiana. The story follows the brothers from their early years in the orphanage, through their journey to Louisiana, and then through the years of growing up and adjusting to their new families. The back cover of the book states that one brother is adopted by a childless, doting couple, the other is indentured to hard-luck, hardscrabble farmers. "The former is spoiled beyond gratification; the other abused emotionally and physically with heart-aching, backbreaking servitude."

I was intrigued and excited to read a heart-warming story of a friendship between two boys, and while the story turned out to be quite different from what I expected from the book's description, I still enjoyed the book a great deal. The friendship between Claude, adopted by the doting parents, and Thomas, adopted by the poor farmers, is depicted throughout the book, but I found it difficult at times to understand how the friendship could have maintained itself as long as it did due to the differences, not just in the boys' situations, but more specifically in their temperaments. Claude's depiction quickly becomes stereotypical and the reader loses interest in him because of his spoiled, selfish ways, but Thomas is a well-developed character who strives to fit into his family and they love him despite the hard life they lead.

The story at times became disjointed in following its main theme of brotherly love, and I think most readers like me will be more interested in the Brassette family who adopts Thomas. While the back cover describes the family as being emotionally and physically abusive, the truth is that while the boy is verbally abused, his physical abuse is only in the form of corporal punishment rather than abuse out of anger. I don't think Thomas was mistreated by his parents; despite their own dysfunctional issues, they did love him and tried to express love to him.

I was disappointed that the book ended when Thomas is only thirteen. I would have liked to see him grow up into adulthood. I think as he grew older and reflected on his childhood he would have come to appreciate his family more and what they did for him. While the end expresses some hint that Thomas is aware that he did benefit somewhat from being adopted, I think many readers will have become engrossed in the characters by the end and wish for a sequel about Thomas.

Besides the strong depictions of the characters - even minor characters like Thomas's cousin, Leon, are well-developed - and the character of the priest who helps the adoption process of the two boys, is also well done - the book has strengths in its descriptive elements. At times I felt the book was a little too descriptive and moved a bit slow, but Craig Mayeux did a wonderful job of depicting several scenes in the book, especially the terrible hurricane at the middle of the novel and later the hog-butchering party. The culture of Cajun Louisiana in the early twentieth century was finely displayed, welcoming a reader not familiar with that culture into the lives of the characters, while using the French language and cultural differences sparingly enough not to overwhelm the reader. At the center of the book is also a family feud within the Brassette family which made me read the last hundred or so pages of the book in one sitting, anxiously wanting to see what would happen.
The reconciliation at the end was particularly well expressed.

Overall, "Brothers Forever" is an enjoyable novel about the difficulties real people faced in Louisiana in the early 1900s and how families can pull together to get by, while also questioning, from Thomas's perspective, what a family really is and whether a person can ever truly be part of a family when he is adopted.

Every Secret Thing
Ann Tatlock
Bethany House
11400 Hampshire Ave South, Bloomington, Minnesota 55438
ISBN 9780764200052, $13.99, 2007,

Reviewed by AJ Cooper for Reader Views (1/08)

Beth returns to Delaware to teach at the school she was a former student at. She is apprehensive because of all of the memories this school holds for her, yet she is excited to get started and has all of her lesson plans ready to go. The school provides her with a home, on the school grounds, that is very comfortable and perfect for Beth. Beth reconnects with her best friend from school and they both ponder what the other classmates are doing and about Mr. Dutton, the teacher that died during the middle of their school year that they both had a crush on him. Their friends stated that Mr. Dutton killed himself and at the time the school announced he had a heart attack and would not be returning to school.

Now that Beth is back at the school she discovers that a man named Mr. Dutton is at the hospital in bad shape. She believes it could possibly be her old teacher and goes for a visit. To her amazement she determines it is her teacher and she is able to reenter his life and try to determine what really happened so long ago.

Beth befriends one of her students, Satchel. She soon discovers that she has been sent to the school as a boarder because her Mom has remarried and Satchel does not seem to get along in the family. Satchel's father passed away when she was younger and she seems troubled but reluctant to talk about his death. Beth allows Satchel to come and spend time at her residence on the school grounds. They talk about the class and how interesting Satchel's papers are for the English class. Their conversations also turn towards Beth and Satchel's personal lives. Beth watches as other students go home during the week and weekends and have been supplied with their own cars and Satchel is left to herself on nights and weekends.

"Every Secret Thing" filled me with hope. You get the feeling that good things really can happen to someone that has had a less than perfect life and that friends come to you in the most unexpected places and times. It is enjoyable to have a mystery turn out good for a change. I would recommend this book to my friends and family. It was unfortunate when the book ended I wanted to read more about their lives.

The Parting: A Novel (The Courtship of Nellie Fisher, Book 1)
Beverly Lewis
Bethany House
11400 Hampshire Ave., South, Bloomington, MN 55438
ISBN 9780764203107, $13.99, 2007,

Reviewed by AJ Cooper for Reader Views (1/08)

The Amish Community is tight-knit, full of families that strive to follow and live an uncluttered and simple life. "The Parting" is about two sisters, one alive and one recently deceased. Nellie Mae ponders why her sister Suzy was taken away with so many unanswered questions and with a cloud of doubt in the community as to what she was really doing with the non-Amish (Englischers) kids.

Nellie Mae loves to bake and puts her skills towards baking items to sell in her family store. She wakes up early in the mornings to bake a wide variety of goods to sell to the Amish and Englischers. She also has hopes of spending time with a boy named Caleb. Nellie Mae starts to doubt what really happened with her sister and decides she must find her diary that she buried. While all of this is going on there is turmoil in her house because her father wants to read sections of the Bible that have been forbidden in the past and to hold meetings to discuss the readings.

Caleb wants to spend time with Nellie Mae to discover what really happened on the lake to Suzy. He decides the best way to find out is to court Nellie Mae. The Amish follow very strict rules on courting. They do end up spending time together and Nellie Mae becomes uncomfortable.

I enjoyed the first and the last parts of "The Parting." The intrigue involved with this quiet and simple community was not what I expected and led to a surprise ending. The middle of the book was laborious to read and I had to stop reading many times because I lost interest. If you have a true interest in the Amish lifestyle and want to observe how change could occur in this type of community it is interesting. The mystery of Suzy kept my attention but some of the everyday depictions were lost to me.

The Melrose Secret: A Novel
William Bain
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595454587, $17.95, 2007, 1-800-Authors (1-800-288-4677)

Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (1/08)

William Bain's "The Melrose Secret" is another one in the nowadays rather lengthy line-up of the books inspired by "The Da Vinci Code." It is part suspense, part romance and part borderline science-fiction; yet all of it is a whirlwind read. The book starts really strong and draws the reader in quite quickly.

Lawyer Alan Bruce is called to his ancestral home in Scotland by Sir Jock Bruce, the elderly and quite ill head of the Bruce family. A family secret is about to be exposed and a very unique relic - the hair of Jesus - is in danger of being used in a highly dangerous way. Mark Varley, who is employed by an American preacher named Jackson Ford, somehow found out about the whereabouts of the relic and he is very much determined to get hold of it and eventually clone Jesus Christ, believing that he could greatly gain in the process. Varley is dangerous and does not stop at anything - even human lives are cheap in his eyes. Alan Bruce and a family friend, biologist Kate Harris, are faced with the difficult task of stopping Varley and his cronies. Will they succeed? Will the bad guys accomplish their goal and clone one of the most prominent figures of all times?

While the book starts very strong and the story has a lot of pull in the beginning, I felt that it lost a lot of steam in the second half. The cloning part and its results were quite a letdown as far as I am concerned and the reactions and reasoning of the bad guys felt quite flat. While I found the characters of Alan and Kate likeable and believable, there were moments where their motivations and reactions seemed slightly odd and even artificial. At the risk of sounding repetitive by mentioning "The Da Vinci Code" again, I have to say that the latter kept my interest until the very last page and the series of "revelations" really surprised and delighted me; while "The Melrose Secret" felt diluted and weakened after the first 150 pages or so. Another issue that bothered me greatly was the lack of editing and the extremely erratic punctuation. A good editor could have helped this book to go from a good read to a great one.

Overall I found "The Melrose Secret" an amusing, yet quite lightweight read. While it raised some interesting moral dilemmas and questions, it failed to grab my interest completely and it was unable to hold it for long. It would make for a decent read on a long airplane ride or in a doctor's office, but it would not be on my list of books to take to a desert island.

Magic Hands
Jennifer Laurens
Grove Creek Publishing
2 South Main Street, Pleasant Grove, UT 84062
ISBN 9781933963976, $12.95, March 2007

Reviewed by Tabytha Joy (age 15) for Reader Views (1/08)

"Magic Hands" is about a high school jock who takes a job at a local nail salon. Cort really needs a job. But no place is willing to hire him except for the local nail salon. Does Cort really want to take a job working with three Hispanic women?

Cort decides to accept this job. The only thing is that the manager expects him to bring in more customers. He can do this, but the biggest problem is that all the customers request that Cort do their nails and Cort cannot keep up. Will he lose his job?

Throughout this time, Cort grows close to Rachel, a girl that most of the school talks about as she is not like the rest. Rachel is not classified as a jock. Therefore, Cort never spoke to her. That was until he realized that he had feelings for her. Secretly, Rachel likes Cort too. But she is not going to give in that easy. She plays Miss Hard-to-get. Will they ever get together? Or will they continue down the road to friendship?

In my opinion, "Magic Hands" was an interesting book to read as I have never heard of a jock taking a job at a nail salon, let alone a male jock. I really liked how most of the characters were realistic. I also liked the pace of the book. It was not too fast, but at the same time, it was not too slow.

One thing I did not like about "Magic Hands" was how harsh Rachel was towards Cort. What I mean is that Rachel took most of what Cort said the wrong way. She also acted too "good" for him. Throughout this book, Rachel played a part which made it seem like Cort was not worth her time. If I had to recommend "Magic Hands" to anyone, I would say it would be best suited for females between the ages of twelve and fifteen as the wording was made easy for such age to understand.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Sherman Alexie
Little, Brown Young Readers
c/o Little, Brown and Company
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10169
ISBN 9780316013680, $16.99, 2007

Reviewed by Emily Judah (age 13) for Reader Views (1//08)

"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" was a very interesting book. When I read the first chapter it was totally different than what I expected as I picked it out without knowing anything about the book.

Arnold, who prefers the nickname Junior, is a 14-year-old Spokane Indian who lives on a reservation in Des Moines, Iowa. He was born with too much cerebral spinal fluid in his skull. When he was a baby he had to have surgery to remove some of the excess fluid from around his brain. The surgery resulted in some physical problems -- like Junior having forty-two teeth, being nearsighted in one eye, farsighted in the other, his feet being size eleven in third-grade, and having a stutter and a lisp. Because of his appearance and lisp, Junior is picked on by everyone except his best friend, Rowdy, who is one of the meanest Indian kids that ever lived. On top of all of that, Junior's family is poor just like all of the other Indians on the reservation.

All the Spokane kids go to the same school that their mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers went to. All of the kids seem to fall into the same cycle as other generations. They graduate, get a small, low-paying job, drink too much alcohol, and live the rest of their life without hope. Junior knows that he will end up just like the others if he doesn't work for his dreams and leave the depressing ways of reservation life. One day Junior's white math teacher, Mr. P, stops by to talk to him. As they talk Mr. P explains that going to the school on the reservation will likely crush all of his chances of making something of himself and suggests Junior transfer to Reardan, a more promising school 22 miles away from the reservation. After long and careful thinking Junior makes the difficult decision to leave the reservation school and go Reardan. Junior knows he is the first student ever to leave the reservation school and understands how hard the transition will be. The remainder of the book is about Junior's struggles in a new environment, constant battles with old friends and finally the struggle to do the best you can and never give up.

I thought that "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" had a very good storyline. I learned what minorities go through in their everyday life, and how they feel. In the book there were some places with very mature subject matter, but the author did a good job of putting them in places that helps the reader peek into the struggles of youth. I felt like I knew exactly how Junior felt. Overall, I really liked this book. I would recommend "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" to ages 14 and up.

Glori: A Different Story
Nicole Lynn Hannans
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595435562, $16.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Dr. Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (1/08)

Ms. Hannans' book is written in a manner that is both informative and empathetic to teenagers who find them in the position of being single and pregnant. However, what she does not do is give young pregnant women the opinion that the world owes them for their condition; it is up to them to make positive changes.

Finding herself pregnant at the age of seventeen Nicole finds herself in a love-hate relationship with a young man who was selfish, controlling, selling drugs and a general player. Blinded by the love she felt for him, Nicole alienated herself from all her family and friends, firmly believing all the lies her boyfriend told her. After losing the baby, she finds herself pregnant again at the age of eighteen, the father being the same man.

This time Nicole finally starts to see that this relationship is dead-end and her boyfriend will not change. She has made up her mind it is time for her to take care of herself and her daughter without the help of others. She did exactly that. She attended William and Mary College in Williamsburg, Virginia, graduated with honors and went on to get her Masters degree. But it was not without struggles-- no money, no childcare, no friends, and no job.

Ms. Hannans gives all teenagers in this position hope, strength and support through this book. She does not take a 'woe-is-me' attitude, but one of reality. As a psychologist for over twenty-five years, the accounts provided in this book are a realistic view of what happens in situations like this, she does not flower her words or give any indication that she is encouraging women to get pregnant and feed off society. She is telling all pregnant and even non-pregnant women-- regardless of what life throws you-- you can make changes. She also provides resources to help young women.

I would recommend "Glori: A Different Story" for therapists to provide to their clients who find themselves single and pregnant. It gives hope and encouragement.

Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully: A Journey with Cancer and Beyond
Nancy Manahan and Becky Bohan
Beaver's Pond Press, Inc.
7104 Ohms Lane, Edina, MN 55439-2129
ISBN 9781592981793, $17.00, 2007,

Reviewed by Vicki Landes for Reader Views (1/08)

First-time authors Nancy Manahan and Becky Bohan team up to write a beautiful tribute to the life of Manahan's deceased sister-in-law in "Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully: A Journey with Cancer and Beyond." The authors hope not only to remember their loved one in print but to share her extraordinary passage from unthinkable diagnosis to dignified death.

"Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully" is the touching story of Diane Manahan - wife, mother, grandmother, sister, colleague, and friend - and her deliberate pathway toward the unavoidable end of her life. Stricken with cancer, Diane received the short gift of remission before the disease returned with a vengeance and ultimately caused her death. Although countless families have had to endure such a painful ordeal, Diane's story brings an enlightened hope and calming peace as she looks at her situation with an unusual perspective. To most, death is the ultimate unknown - terrifying and avoided in conversation. Instead of settling in this mindset, Diane chose to live and love each day to the fullest while openly communicating her final wishes on most of her burial and memorial services.

"Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully" is not only a deeply heartfelt story of a woman's life but a guidebook for those facing similar situations and would like to intentionally leave behind a beautiful legacy. Both Diane's story and the authors' lessons from her life touch the soul and encourage the heart to see death as more than merely 'the end.' Manahan and Bohan write with such emotion and love that I found myself mourning Diane's death but conversely, rejoicing in her conscious life. They perfectly capture this woman's spirit with their style, one which brightly radiates from each page.

Since death in inevitable for everyone "Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully" is a book many adults will find of great interest, especially those having to watch a loved one suffer from a terminal illness. Further, those undergoing a disease themselves and wanting to approach their deaths with more purpose would also greatly benefit from reading this book. I found that the most profound aspect of Manahan and Bohan's writing was that Diane - a non-violent person - didn't view her treatments as a 'fight,' a 'war' going on between her medicine and the invading cells, or that she was a victim of cancer. Instead and more positively, she was simply living with cancer - a peaceful journey full of love and mature acceptance even during her conventional and complementary therapies.

"Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully" is probably the most profound book on death I've ever read. Manahan and Bohan present a beautiful story of their loved one while offering hope to others that may be facing similar circumstances. A life lesson for anyone wanting to leave a more powerful heritage behind, "Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully" tugs at the heartstrings, lifts the spirit, and pulls the conscious mind towards a more meaningful life and dignified ending.

Outfox the Kids for Fun and Profit: Pearls of Wisdom from the Klamm
R.W. Klamm
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595434381, $11.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Dr. Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (1/08)

Author R.W. Klamm is a man who is filled with humor, wisdom and insight. His ultimate goal with "Outfox the Kids for Fun and Profit" is to let parents know that we can make mistakes with raising our children, but not all is lost. We learn from our mistakes. He reminds us that parenting is not always about the desires of the parent(s) (materialistic) but of raising children who are independent, good problem-solvers and emotionally stable.

Klamm starts his book by stating the obvious-- if you want to raise healthy, well-rounded children you need to relook at your parenting style and relationship with your children. He gives the reader basic principles on raising children. These are not anything new to parents, but are things we sometimes forget.

Through humorous stories, poetry and real-life examples, Klamm discusses peer pressure, sex, problem-solving and many other subjects that we as parents will encounter when we become parents. All of the stories in "Outfox the Kids for Fun and Profit" are interesting to read and have humor, but the undertone is one of providing guidance and problem-solving skills. At the end of each story there are words of wisdom.

Journey from Head to Heart: Living and Working Authentically
Dr. Nancy Oelklaus
Loving Healing Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
ISBN 9781932690439, $20.95, March 2008

Reviewed by Lisa Heidle for RebeccasReads (1/08)

For 30 years, Dr. Nancy Oelklaus has been on a mission to help people improve both their personal lives and careers. In her new book, "Journey from Head to Heart: Living and Working Authentically," Dr. Oelklaus focuses on the importance of moving away from the demands of ego toward a true, more authentic self. What separates this book from the majority of self-help manuals is the author's awareness that many people in today's world neglect to acknowledge the importance of personal faith and spirituality in the growth process, and it turn, are unable to integrate their actions with their beliefs.

Dr. Oelklaus believes that by not recognizing experiences from the past and not being accountable for our actions in the present, we are unable to genuinely connect with ourselves and the world around us. "Pride, perfectionism, people-pleasing, rebellion, stubbornness, and all other character defects that hinder potential and possibility," can lead to addictions and keep people from being content.

She insists that speaking from the heart creates a "safe space for others to learn and change." The phrase, "What I truly want to say is…," allows people to focus and limit their language in order to effectively communicate not only their words, but their energy. Dr. Oelklaus also impresses upon the reader the importance of surrounding ourselves with positive people as opposed to negative people. She supports the idea through explaining mirror neurons - the brain chemistry that is created when we are in the presence of positive chemical energy as opposed to negative, energy-draining chemicals.

Daily maintenance tools that enable the reader to stay on the positive path created are offered throughout "Journey from Head to Heart." Utilizing prayer or meditation, reading inspirational quotes and implementing the process of "Ask, Release and Wait" when asking questions in order to build patience are just a few examples. By utilizing these tools, we are able to recognize the issues that keep us from focusing on important aspects and people in our lives.

In Chapter 2 of "Journey from Head to Heart," Dr. Oelklaus writes, "But there comes a time in adulthood when we must align who we truly are with what we do and how we act. When it's time to become authentic - to realize our purpose in life, our heart's desire." Her voice resounds with sincerity, helping the reader know that authenticity is a gift we are all born with and, with a little internal work, can locate again. With a unique perspective on personal development, Oelklaus reminds us that enlightenment is a state of being that places us on the path to self-discovery. People believe that enlightenment is the destination, when in actuality it is only the beginning, the awareness that first we must discover where our soul resides before we can truly become whole.

The Great Field: Soul at Play in a Conscious Universe
John James, PhD
Energy Psychology Press
PO Box 442, Fulton, CA 95439
ISBN 9781604150155, $17.95, November 2007,

Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views (1/08)

So many people today are asking questions about why we are here, the truth behind the soul and the greatest spiritual debate last year seemed to be about whether we really attract things into our lives through our thoughts. This book examines the relationship between soul and science and so much more, and it makes more sense than most of the hundreds of books that I have ever read on the subject of spirit. The author suggests that the first couple of chapters might be too full of scientific jargon and that they can be skipped but I found his translation to be very easy to understand and full of valuable information.

What is the Great Field? "A holistic tapestry of independent influences" (page 66, Paul Davies). The author describes the Field as "does not exist in either space or time. It exists everywhere simultaneously. It has no movement, but only presence." I thought his beautiful description of the Great Field was best summed up by the following: "She was utterly still and attentive. It felt that there was no time, no space and yet every sense was exquisitely attuned to each subtle nuance of the physical plane where she sat. She was within everything, and without, simultaneously, and flooded with such knowing and compassion of that perfection that there was nowhere else to be but now. This was the realization of Samadhi, of the pure bliss of the saints and the gurus of every denomination. She had crossed the veil within herself and had united the material world of time and the desires of the senses with the Great Field. There was no distinction any more, but only pure
bliss and unbearable compassion. (page 15).

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen" (page 247 - by a six-year-old) is my favorite of the many wonderful quotes throughout the book that is used to define concepts. He also uses many examples of scientific studies and clinical therapeutic studies to prove how our fields of energy impact not only our immediate environment but people, animals and environments a long distance or time away. Holistic healing, reincarnation and the soul's purpose are also up for discussion in the book.

"The Great Field: Soul at Play in a Conscious Universe" is packed full of good information. I don't want to give away too much more except to say that it is definitely worth reading for those people who want answers about spirit.

Deception's Fury
Jacqueline G. Randolph
Fultus Corporation
P.O. Box 50095, Palo Alto, CA 94303
ISBN 9781596820463, $17.99, 2005, (650) 269-4803,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (1/08)

In the interim between "Deception's Guard" and "Deception's Fury," Skye and Rhys have married and have three young children. Skye's life has become very low-key and she is enjoying her role as a wife and mother. When Skye discovers that her talents are needed in another mission, she resorts to some questionable tactics to get assigned to the case. It was supposed to be an easy, in and out mission, however, she is captured. When she doesn't return home, Rhys goes in search of her and finds her being held captive and brutally beaten. He helps rescue her. Skye is determined to finish what she started, especially since the agents that were with her were murdered.

Holding to her promise of confidentiality, she cannot tell Rhys how vital the mission is to the safety of the United States. Seeing only part of the picture, Rhys begins to have doubts about what kind of woman and mother Skye really is. Their relationship is severely affected. This is incredibly painful for Skye because she knows the truth and cannot tell it to the man that she loves.

"Deception's Fury" will keep you reading late into the night. There is a lot of brutality that is difficult to read in this story. Ms. Randolph relies extensively on her own personal experience to make this story very realistic and exciting. Her own personal resume and a mention of the Deception Series being semi-autobiographical, make the adventure even more incredible. There were two underlying threads that run through the story that I really appreciated and could relate to. The first is an underlying faith in God. I loved that this was incorporated into the story. As the hero and heroine were going through some incredibly rough times, they didn't abandon their faith in a higher power.

The other thread that ran through the story was Skye's insistence and need to hang on to her individuality as a person. Unlike many relationships, she didn't sacrifice her sense of self in this story. Rather than having issues of giving up who she is, as a woman, she has issues of her husband having to deal with her individuality. He had to come to terms with this issue. Skye knows who she is and that she is a person of integrity. Her husband needed to come to terms with this and trust her. I think that a lot of women can benefit from reading of Skye's strength. She was not selfish getting involved the mission; she had to look at the entire picture as a whole. If the safety of the country is at risk, so is the safety of her children.

I thoroughly enjoyed "Deception's Fury" and look forward to reading the next book in the series. Don't miss this one!

Darkness Descending
Bethann Korsmit
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Rd, Ste 100 Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595444052 $22.95, June 2007, 1-800-288-4677

Reviewed by Nancy Wade for Reader Views (1/08)

This was the first book of this type that I had ever read. It was an eye-opening experience. This type of family problems has not affected me closely. I am aware that most families have some family member who is bisexual but have not realized until I read "Dark Descending" how deeply it affects everyone within that person's circle - family/friends/co-workers/innocent bystanders.

The book takes a man, who loves his family more deeply than he loves himself, through his trials and tribulations in regards to his homosexuality and how his family accepts/disapproves of his lifestyle. Every family member has his own desires, phobias, and misconceptions to deal with, including their love for each other and the family unity and how his sexual orientation affects them each in their own way.

The son refuses to have anything to do with him. The son, who is a public figure, sees his father through the eyes of his political advisers and contemporary companions. The son will not let his wife or his twin children access his father, returning all gifts for them and himself by stating refusing delivery.

His mother picks her new lover - male - over her son - and his opinion that he is only after her money and not her. She says that he is just like his father - a controller - and that she now does not consider him her son. He is right but by the time his mother figures this out - she has married him and has had a stroke. The new husband does not want to spend the money to pay for the best treatment nor the time to spend with her - so he takes all the money and leaves.

The man's lover breaks it off with him because he will not go out in public with him as his boyfriend. The same night his mother disowns him. He ends up in jail, on a holiday weekend, for drinking, by the police who hate homosexuals and cannot find anyone who will post bail. When his son has a friend to finally get him out of jail, he tries to hang himself but is discovered by his son who heard about his grandmother's heart attack.

Through his treatment by a doctor who treats him like he matters, some staff members who hate homosexuals, an asylum who does nothing but ties him to his bed and refuses to feed or treat him except to keep him medicated, he loses touch with reality. He thinks he is only 15-years-old and remembers nothing after that age.

His son and family come home to take care of him as a friend. They learn to love him and his lover as people. It takes longer for his son to let go of his preconceived idea of homosexuals and their love.

He remembers and takes his lover - who had been beaten and raped severely - away for a vacation, just the two of them to a deserted island. They agreed to move in together and live as a unit. It takes a lot to go against what society feels is considered NORMAL and live and love your life the way you want.

This book is not for those who are homophobic or have bias against people who love their own sex. It is a book for the mature adults who understand love regardless of who loves. This is an uplifting book - about love - the cover is dark and forbidding. I thought at first it was either a horror or murder mystery book.

"Darkness Descending" is a love story told with all the problems that people have. The only difference is the sexual orientation of the lovers and society's belief in the normal.

Money--A Sign of God's Love: God's Abundant Supply for Every Need--Explained
Jeff Wilburn
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595461462, $11.95, 2007, 1-800-AUTHORS,

Reviewed by Tyler R. Tichelaar for Reader Views (1/08)

The title of Jeff Wilburn's new book "Money--A Sign of God's Love" intrigued me because money is not usually something we associate with God. Many Christians are raised to believe money is the root of all evil, yet, we all want money. Jeff Wilburn's book reconciles this contradiction, showing that money is not an evil thing. Rather, money and all the things we want are available and signs of God's love when we are in touch with God.

Wilburn's little book (39 pages) is not about how to make money, handle your finances, or invest in the stock market. Rather it asks us to erase the idea of lack from our minds. The feeling that we need money is to focus on the lack of it, and that prevents us from receiving it. People live in fear of being without money and they pray from that state of fear, which expresses doubt that God will provide. Wilburn asks us to believe we are all part of God, directly connected to the Mind of God from which all good things flow, and consequently, we can have all we want today without worrying about tomorrow.

I found the premise of "Money--A Sign of God's Love" to be interesting. The idea is that of positive thinking and the Law of Attraction from a Christian perspective using biblical quotes. The ideas reminded me a great deal of the highly popular Teachings of Abraham in "Ask and It is Given" by Jerry and Esther Hicks, but with a more specifically Christian foundation. Wilburn was raised as a Christian Scientist and he also lightly uses that denomination's version of Christian beliefs. Wilburn wants us to view ourselves as the man God created in Genesis, Chapter One, made in God's own image and divinely connected to him. He tells us to reject the man of Genesis, Chapter 2 who is separated from God. He says our sense of lack, of separation comes from that viewpoint. He also states that many Orthodox views of Christianity state that Christ has left the world and will come again, but Wilburn says that Christ is still here with us, and we cannot be separated from Him. After all, as Wilburn reminds us, Christ said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." I wish Wilburn had gone into theology a bit more here - I fear some readers will think he was picking and choosing a bit of what he wanted from the Bible and could have supported these arguments better with a greater focus on the true purpose of Christianity as opposed to its theology which often makes people think of themselves as less than rather than part of God. I think many Christians will find it difficult to reconcile Wilburn's version of Christianity with what they have been taught, so more discussion is needed in this area.

Wilburn's book is a positive and uplifting version of Christianity and the good God wants us all to have. The book provides much to think about in terms of how we need to affirm ourselves. It also discusses praying in the right frame of mind from an appreciation of the greatness of God and a belief that we can have what we desire. I would welcome an expanded second edition with more discussion of theology and how to ignore the sense of lack supported by many orthodox churches as well as examples of processes and prayers to help one gain the abundant life God wants for us.

For people concerned about their money--and who isn't--Money--A Sign of God's Love" could be the first step in reexamining their relationships with money, and how money is part of a relationship with God. As Wilburn points out, our money has written on it, "In God We Trust." God will care for our financial needs if we trust in Him.

S.O.S.: Saving Our Sons - Confronting the Lure of Islam with Truth, Faith and Courage
Edited by Carl Ellis
Urban Ministries, Inc.
P.O. Box 436987, Chicago, IL 60643
ISBN 9781934056745, $17.95, 2007,

Reviewed by Vicki Landes for Reader Views (1/08)

As Americans, we enjoy so many freedoms without even thinking about them - the ability to say or write what we feel, the independence to pursue what makes us happy, and the luxury to worship in the way we see fit - and usually, we take for granted what our forefathers fought so hard to obtain. One of the ways we do this is by not paying attention to issues that have the potential of threatening those liberties until it's too late. Unfortunately, this has developed into more than simply protecting our borders; we are now seeing homegrown terrorists as a very real danger. Editor Carl Ellis knows the enticing allure of Islam snaring many African-American men in our society and hopes to bring light to this disturbing trend in his book, "S.O.S: Saving Our Sons - Confronting the Lure of Islam with Truth, Faith and Courage."

"Saving Our Sons" is a call for all African-American Christians to take the quiet threat of Islam very seriously. Assisted by Don Davis and Pastor R.C. Smith, Carl Ellis recounts the history and background into how the Islamic religion progressed from its inception, the different sects that have developed over the years, and why it is so attractive to African-American men. Armed with plenty of Biblical scripture, "Saving Our Sons" gives Christians the ammunition they need to respond to Muslims with love, compassion, and patience as they try and bring them back to Jesus. Further, the book gives advice on how to engage those of the Islamic faith using their ideals, terminology, and thought processes in order to make that conversion more logical and smooth. A quick and easy read, "S.O.S: Saving Our Sons" is a workbook-style manual with thought-provoking questions at the end of each chapter to help further reflect on the material presented.

"Saving Our Sons" is a somber warning for mothers, fathers, grandparents, and other authority figures to no longer tolerate the cunning infiltration of this violent religion into their communities and homes. Although targeted at African-Americans, I (a Caucasian Christian) found the material discussed very fascinating and quite startling -- not only does Islam prey on the painful racial sting still felt by our society today, it recruits in American's prisons where our most violent criminals hold very deep grudges against our country and its laws.

Editor Carl Ellis takes a bold stand on protecting America by focusing on an area of our society that we may not realize is at great risk of Islamic recruitment. Although passionate about this cunning threat, Ellis maintains a foundation of love and understanding for all people. "S.O.S.: Saving Our Sons" is an educational wake-up call for African-American families of this day and age.

Adventures of Riley: South Pole Penguins
Amanda Lumry & Laura Hurwitz
Eaglemont Press
PMB 741, 15600 NE 8th #B-1, Bellevue, WA 98008
ISBN 9780974841151, $15.95, 2007, 1-877-590-9744,

Reviewed by Lake Furney (age 9) for Reader Views (1/08)

Riley goes to Antarctica, the coldest place on Earth, with his Uncle Max, Aunt Martha and his cousin Alice for this adventure. They go there to study penguins and their food supply because the Earth's temperature is rising. They study the Arctic food chain to find out if the penguins are getting enough.

This book is educational but a story as well. I learned that when Antarctica was discovered, everyone wanted to claim it. An agreement was made that it belongs to no one and anyone can go there.

I think "Adventures of Riley: South Pole Penguins" is good for kids ages 6-10.

Charlie's Treasures
Richard Neumann
Stone in the Surf Press
PO Box 1063, Kenwood, CA 95452
ISBN 9780977460540, $19.95, 2006,

Reviewed by Lake Furney (age 9) for Reader Views (1/08)

Charlie's treasures are a marble collection. He's been collecting them his whole life. Each marble has a name and a history. Charlie visits an old toy store and the old man who owns it wants Charlie to show him his treasures. Charley shares each marble and its history.

"Charlie's Treasures" was interesting and I enjoyed it. I would recommend it for ages 8-11.

Keeper of the Island (Keeper Series)
H.J. Ralles
Top Publications
12221 Merit Dr., Suite 950, Dallas, TX 75251
ISBN 9781929976393, $10.95, 2007,

Reviewed by India Furney (age 11) for Reader Views (1/08)

Matt is literally IN a video game. There is a band of pirates who use a tourist attraction as a cover and then rob the passengers of the cruise ships. From the upper deck, the ship appears as an old pirate ship for tourists to visit, but below, under the surface of the water, is a high-tech deck. Here they have submarines, weapons, and computers that they use for modern-day pirating.

Matt gets the help of his friends Varl and Targon to help him find and destroy the Keeper.

"Keeper of the Island" is the last book in a series and even though I haven't read the previous books, it was easy to follow the story. It did make me want to read the whole series. I enjoyed the book so much it's hard to pick a part that I liked the best. I would recommend this book for girls and boys 8-12.

Keeper of the Realm (Keeper Series)
H.J. Ralles
Top Publications
12221 Merit Drive, Suite 750, Dallas, TX 75251
ISBN 9781929976218, $9.95, October 2003,

Reviewed by Ian McCurley (age 14) for Reader Views (1/08)

"Keeper of the Realm" begins when Matt finds himself once again running down a corridor chased by Cybergons. Suddenly, he is transported from Zaul to the strange underwater realm of Karn. He is met by a strange youth with glowing yellow skin, oversized feet and three red slits along his neck. Matt is taken through the subsurface tunnels called pod chutes where he meets Targon and Varl, friends from Zaul. They are in level two of Matt's game. After their reunion, Matt meets Keela, a girl about his age with qualities similar to his initial guide. Having lost his laptop, Matt has no knowledge of the realm. Keela explains that his laptop is probably in the Noxeran half of Karn. The Noxerans are humans that control Karn and have the Karns at their mercy. After meeting two more Karns, Calute and Carella, Matt discovers that the leader of the Karn resistance has been captured by the Noxerans and will be executed. Matt must infiltrate the Noxeran half of Karn and find the resistance leader, his laptop and his friend Dorin from Zaul. As bleak as this seems there may be even more sinister forces at work.

H.J. Ralles writes in a way that will interest not only readers, but any kid. The writing is creative and descriptive, and will draw you in. The Sci-Fi plot and the artful level-based division of the book makes for an enthralling read. The book, at 231 pages, is perfect for an afternoon of reading. I can relate to the main character, Matt, in that he sat down for an afternoon of video games that turned out to be a lot more real than he expected.

"The Keeper of the Realm" is for ages 10 and up who enjoy reading about science fiction, video games or marine biology.

Laura and the Leprechauns
Amber T. Kingston
Chrysalis Press
PO Box 13129, Newport Beach, CA 92658
ISBN 9780979593307, $19.95, 2007,

Reviewed by Eric Zeda (age 9) for Reader Views (1/08)

This story is about a little girl named Laura who believes in leprechauns. Her friends tell her that leprechauns do not exist, so she writes a letter to find out if this is true. Two leprechauns, named Be-bub and Maddy, receive her letter and decide to pay her a special visit. They travel a long distance on their magical shamrock to find Laura and prove to her that leprechauns are real. When they get to her house, they leave clever notes and clues. Laura wakes up on St. Patrick's Day and finds a wonderful surprise. She makes special friends and has a wonderful time.

I really enjoyed this book. The illustrations and pictures are great. I like the way some of them sparkle because they are covered with glitter. I also liked pretending that leprechauns are real and that magical things exist. I recommend "Laura and the Leprechauns" to anyone who likes to believe in magical beings, and likes to use their imagination.

An Inconvenient Truth: The Crisis of Global Warming
Al Gore
Viking Juvenile
Penguin Young Readers, 345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN 9780670062713, $23.00, 2007

Reviewed by Mary Johnson (age 14) for Reader Views (1/08)

"An Inconvenient Truth," written by our former Vice President Al Gore, is a very enlightening book. "An Inconvenient Truth"" makes a person wonder how our planet will change if we don't cut down on the amount of greenhouse gases put out in our earth's atmosphere. "An Inconvenient Truth" talks about the rainstorms in India, the droughts in Asia and America, the icecaps melting in the Arctic, the 27 named hurricanes of 2005, the heat waves in Germany, and also the glaciers receding all over the world. But, it also talks about the way people handle global warming prevention.

"An Inconvenient Truth" is a very well-written book. The title tells you just what you are going read. Al Gore explains and shows you exactly what he is talking about. But, he also has different chapters for the different topics he covers. So, it isn't put together all "Hodge podged." The different topics have different chapters, therefore you aren't always confused. Also the pictures in "An Inconvenient Truth" are amazing.

"An Inconvenient Truth" is definitely for all readers and it isn't written like a textbook, so you don't get bored. I think everyone could benefit from a little inconvenient truth. I personally think it tells you stuff the news forgets to mention.

I think the most interesting thing in this book is if you go to the back on pages 174 and 175. It shows you the countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol (which is a treaty that limits the amount of greenhouse gases). Now at the bottom of the list it shows you the only two countries that have not ratified it; these countries are Australia and the United States of America. But on the next two pages it shows you the cities that have chosen to abide by the Kyoto Protocol; there are 230 cities abiding by this protocol. As for the rest of "An Inconvenient Truth," you will have to read it. It is very educational.

Lucky: An It Girl Novel
Cecily von Ziegesar
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
ISBN 9780316113472, $9.99, November 2007

Reviewed by Karma Barry (age 13) for Reader Views (1/08)

Cecily von Ziegesar has a brilliant writing style that shows some of the true nature of teen girls, no matter how sweet, soft, sensitive or shy. In "Lucky," Cecily von Ziegesar takes some average teenagers and some who are above the norm in looks and behavior and weaves a brilliant story with lots of laughs, some pouts, and plenty of entertainment.

Cecily von Ziegesar uses an interesting array of words and designer names. She also uses amusing descriptions for characters by using other words for clothing or hair. Even in some of the most pouty or exciting places, the author made me smile with another good crack.

I would suggest "Lucky" for other teenagers of higher intellect who might enjoy reading a book with the classic teen blunders and idiocy, both when sober and drunk, in relationships or out; others with my strange sense of humor will enjoy the teenage kindness of girls in a boarding school. I think I'm lucky not being in a school of that kind!

I think that Cecily von Ziegesar should, and could, continue this great series. For other readers, just picking up the book makes you curious! Careful, though, curiosity killed the cat!

After a barn burns to the ground in the midst of a wild party, it becomes that much more difficult to watch your back with all the gossip. And with Dean Marymount looking at a select few students, things can become vicious when the rumor spreads that he's looking to expel someone. Someone's got to go, but justice his harsher than we thought in "Lucky."

The Demonata: Blood Beast (#5)
Darren Shan
Little, Brown Young Readers
c/o Little, Brown and Company
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
ISBN 9780316003773, $16.99, 2007

Reviewed by Karma Barry (age 13) for Reader Views (1/08)

"The Demonata: Blood Beast" has an excellent plot with something new around every page. Darren Shan has a creative way of combining suspense, humor and fear so that you will want more, but at the same time will be wary to continue should you want to sleep with the lights off.

I would suggest "The Demonata" series for vampire/werewolf/horror-loving teens of about age 13 or 14 and up; also possibly age 12, and maybe 11; below that and there may be restless nights and/or nightmares involved.

Luckily, I don't have any experiences that could relate too closely to those of the characters involved. But even if there are things that would be the same, it would probably be fashion sense or appearances. I'm not sure who that's unfortunate for, me or the characters.

I hope that there are more books for this series and whole-heartedly encourage Shan to write more books in general. I can almost certainly be sure of one thing concerning future books by Shan-- I'll be reading the first page undoubtedly followed shortly by the last!

After facing dangers of all kinds, teenager Grubbs Grady will have to face the worst thing yet - his self! Horror and suspense will collide as he gathers strength from within himself, and strange things happen around him in "The Demonata: Blood Beast."

Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (The Adventures of Tintin)
Little, Brown Young Readers
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Ave., New York, NY 10017
ISBN 9780316003742, $10.99, 2007,

Reviewed by Ben Weldon (age10) for Reader Views (1/08)

"Tintin in the Land of the Soviets" by Herge is the comic adventure of Tintin and his loyal dog Snowy in Soviet Russia. Tintin, reporter for "Le Petit Vingtième," is sent to Soviet Russia to write about the situation there, but he is continually thwarted by Soviet agents. Will Tintin return alive with the truth about Soviet Russia?

In his efforts to penetrate Russia and observe the goings on, Tintin is bombed, shot at, chased, captured, stuck in sewage, encrusted in ice, and his vehicles are sabotaged. The Soviet secret police, who don't want Tintin to let the rest of the world knows what is going on in Russia, capture him and send him to the torture chamber. Snowy saves Tintin from the red hot poker, and Tintin saves Snowy from a wicked-looking sword. Hilariously, in the end, it is the torturer who is tortured. Tintin and Snowy repeatedly rely on their wit, resourcefulness and luck to outwit the evil agents.

This story first appeared in 1929 as a comic strip in a Belgian newspaper to alert people to the injustices occurring in Soviet Russia. In the story, Tintin discovers that the Soviet's "efficient" factories are really fakes. They are burning straw to make smoke and banging on pieces of metal to make it sound like there is operating machinery. Tintin also witnesses hungry orphans standing in a bread line. They have to state support for the communists or else they get kicked and get no bread. I am sure glad that I didn't live in Soviet Russia during this time period.

If you have ever read another Tintin book, you will be very surprised when you first get your hands on this book. The drawings are in black and white and are less detailed. The drawings are bigger and there are only six frames per page rather than the usual twelve. The book is longer, however, which more than makes up for less content per page. The story and humor are just as good as ever. This was Herge's first book, so it is interesting to see how his characters changed.

I would highly recommend "Tintin in the Land of the Soviets" to my friends because it is very funny and adventurous, and you can even learn a little bit about the history of Soviet Russia. This book was so good that I read it three times the day I got it!

Thank You, World
Alice McGinty
Dial Book for Young Readers
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN 9780803727052, $16.95, 2007

Reviewed by Conner (age 3) and Mom for Reader Views (1/08)

"Thank You, World" illustrates the commonality of eight children in eight different countries, as they each show gratitude for their world around them.

"Goats! You like goats, mommy."
"I think they are a donkey and a llama."
"Oh, I've never saw them before."
"Did you like the book?"
"Yes, I liked it a lot."
"Because I like everything."
"Did you like the pictures?"
"Yeah, they are drawn good."
"That boy's me and there's daddy. We're playing and we're hugging everybody."

Parent's comments:

This is a visually rich and colorful showcase of eight instances of the same experience. It is a good conversation piece on global awareness, differences and sameness in each page. I like "Thank You, World" because it looks to the joy in common childhood situations without weighing it down with any social commentary.

Thunder Bunny
Barbara Helen Berger
Philomel Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN 9780399220357, $16.99, 2007

Reviewed by Conner (age 3) and Mom for Reader Views (1/08)

This story tells of a bunny that comes out the blue and with spirit and courage, finds out who she is.

"Why do you think she comes from the sky?"
"Because she's blue."
"Did you like the book?"
"I love it because I love bunny rabbits. I want some bunny rabbits. Can I have a pet bunny rabbit? A mommy and a daddy bunny, please!!!!"
"Do you think the bunny rabbit caused the thunder?"
"Bunnies don't cause thunder! That's silly. It came from her foot!"

Parent's comments:

"Thunder Bunny" is definitely an original story around the saying 'coming out of the blue.' The illustrations are soft and cuddly like a bunny rabbit, so the pictures are fun to look at. Because the theme deals with an abstract concept, it is a good exercise to talk about what is real and what isn't.

Quiet! There's a Canary in the Library
Don Freeman
Viking Juvenile
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN 9780670062300, $15.99, 2007

Reviewed by Conner (age 3) and Mom for Reader Views (1/08)

This is a story about a little girl's imagination that runs wild, literally. Cary loved the library. She loved it so much that if she was a librarian, she would have a special reading day for the animals and birds. But animals and birds don't always behave like they should in a library and that is dilemma.

"What do you think of this book?"
"I love it! I know how to be quiet. I like everything in the book."
"Did you like the lion?"
"Yes, and the horse and the porcupine."
"What did you think of the little girl?"
"I love her and I love the canary. I love the elephant and the peacock, the bear, giraffe and the monkeys."
"Do you think it's silly to have animals in the library?"
"Yes, I do?
"Why do you think it's silly?"
"Because I love it."

Parent's comments:

I'm also partial to libraries and think the artist did a good job in capturing the expressions of different reader behaviors. "Quiet! There's a Canary in the Library" also echoes the type of behavior I try to encourage in my son when we visit the library, so it is good for him to see how other people, in this case animals, are expected to behave.

Balloons, Balloons, Balloons
Dee Lillegard
Dutton Juvenile
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN 9780525459408, $16.99, 2007

Reviewed by Conner (age 3) and Mom for Reader Views (1/08)

The bunnies wake up to hundreds and hundreds of colorful balloons floating through their town one day: red ones, blue ones, silver and black. They float into buildings, buses, stores, and the streets. Balloons, balloons they are all around, blanketing the town.

"I love all the balloons. I love all the bunny rabbits and the mommy bunny rabbits and the babies."
"What is your favorite color balloon?"
"Do you think the book was silly?"
"Because I love it. I love the doggy."

Parent's comments:

"Balloons, Balloons, Balloons" is a good book for working on colors and introducing rhyming words. The repetition is easy to follow and a nice lead-in for other poetry books.

A Winter's Vigil
Norval Rindfleisch
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595430277, $16.95, 2007,

Reviewed by Dr. Michael Philliber for Reader Views (1/08)

The transition from teenage years to adulthood can be disillusioning as well as transformational. Norval Rindfleisch portrays an imaginative example of this movement in his fictional memoir "A Winter's Vigil: Being a Novel Depicting the Involuntary Apprenticeship of Theodore Bowman." The story unfolds in a Midwestern city sometime around the early 1960s, with Theodore Bowman on center stage. Theodore, called Ted throughout, is an unattractive and aimless senior at the parochial school. With no real ambition, he applies for a job at the local movie theater, The Imperial. It's here that the story of his transition truly begins to unfold, and the adult he will become begins to take shape. The book is full of humorous, thoughtful, and sometimes sassy dialogue along with plenty of adolescent action.

Some of the bright spots in the book are the vigorous dialogue between Ted and a university attending co-worker, Beverly; as well as with Ted and the aging manager of the theater, Phyllis. Beverly is regularly trying to expand Ted's mental capacities by posing philosophical dilemmas she has picked up at the University. In one lively discussion she lays before Ted the question of whether a tree that falls in the woods makes any sound if no one is there to perceive it. Ted's replies and the debate that ensues were so comically witty that I found myself rolling on the floor in laughter.

Ted's conversations with Phyllis are on another plane. Usually they are the playful bantering of an older, mature woman putting up with a young, idealistic adolescent; they are also a part of the shaping and molding for Ted's adult life. There are moments of warm friendship that open up in their exchanges, especially, as they both find that they have poured themselves into a losing business endeavor, the old movie theater.

Much of the material in the narrative really pulls together toward the latter third of the story, where Ted is grappling with free will and external, uncontrollable conditions imposed on one's life. Some of Ted's observations and conclusions are disappointing, and some are laughably intelligent. The book ends rather anticlimactically and without the fantasy-story's "They lived happily ever after" motif.

There were two annoyances that detracted from the story. The first was the unnecessary profanity that cropped up throughout the tale. The second was the minor-to-serious printing and editing glitches. Besides the occasional use of the wrong verb tense, there were numerous misprints. The worst was on pages 72-3 where in a discussion between Ted and Beverly, all of Beverly's comments are completely missing. The only evidence that there ought to be words on the page are the quotation marks with lots of empty white space between them.

When I finished "A Winter's Vigil" I thought that if the editorial and printing glitches could be cleaned up, and the profanity dropped, I would enjoy giving this book to my young boys as a superb family discussion starter. Even though the book is written for adults, I could imagine several wonderful conversations with my sons over the characters, their discussions, decisions and discoveries.

Robert Crooke
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595464777, $14.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by William Phenn for Reader Views (1/08)

A native Long Islander, Robert Crooke now lives with his wife in pleasant Bridgewater, Connecticut. Mr. Crooke first started his writing experience as a reporter for the Long Island Press. He was also the North American press spokesman for Reuters. Robert's first novel, "American Family," received good reviews and became a regional best seller. His writing expertise extends to poetry as well and he has been published in the West Hills Review. Mr. Crooke's latest work, "Sunrise," has won the distinction of being picked as "Publisher's Choice" by iUniverse, Inc.

Stephen Dahl, the narrator of "Sunrise," is an American expatriate living in Paris, France. He lives a decent life, working as a college professor and writer. After hearing about the horrors of September 11th, his patriotism is renewed and though he has strong feelings, he does not go back home right away. But in 2003 after the death of a good friend, Stephen has reason to come back and renew old friendships, especially with an old flame that was married to his deceased friend.

Stephen comes back home to Long Island and relives his childhood and reminisces the good times of his young-adult life, He takes a job as a bartender in a club close to his old neighborhood where he constantly sees old friends and has a chance to reflect on his life and the world around him. He parties, laughs, cries and relives some interesting and intimate moments with his friends from the past.

"Sunrise" is an interesting adventure into the lives of the Long Island set. I would strongly parallel it to the California Valley crowd on the west coast. There is the usual drugs, drinking and out of control partying along with memories of past lives and love.

The main characters were not as colorful as the Great Gatsby but just as compelling.

"Sunrise" gave the reader an insider's look into this group of young Americans and it was quite an eye opener.

Deception's Legacy
Jacqueline G. Randolph
Fultus Corporation
P.O. Box 50095, Palo Alto, CA 94303
ISBN 9781596821026, $19.95, 2008, (650) 269-4803,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (1/08)

I think that whenever an author commits to writing a series, they really have to work hard to try to make each one better than the previous one. Jacqueline Randolph has managed to do this again with "Deception's Legacy." I was blown away at how well she managed to capture my attention with this story. As a matter of fact, I was held captive whenever I wasn't working, so that I could keep reading!

"Deception's Legacy" once again revisits the family of Skye and Rhys. The story covers three different time periods. The Spanish Inquisition, in the 1400s, is introduced into the story. An evil Spanish family that was involved with the torture of non-Catholics holds roles from this time on through the 2030s. Another part of the story follows what happened in 1966 when US nuclear aircraft mysteriously crashed in Spain. Members of Skye's family are actually introduced at this time. They are heavily affected by the evil family. The effects carry forward to the year 2030. Skye is now 64. Her son Tristan has followed in her footsteps as a DEA agent. He is still a rookie at this time. He is sent to Seville to help solve an intriguing mystery regarding the same Spanish families influence on events that are happening at this time.

A series of events reveals a huge family mystery to Skye. Her mother is unwilling to provide her with answers that she is desperately seeking. As she ventures out to get answers on her own, she discovers links between her family and the evil Spanish family, and ties to historical events. Discovering that their son Tristan may be involved with more than he can handle, Skye and Rhys once again go undercover to unofficially assist the case.

Having read the first two books in the "Deception's" series, Skye and Rhys have felt like family to me. I was thrilled to be able to read more about their lives, especially now that they are nearing the end, and their children are taking on their own roles in the story. You can read this book alone, and you will understand everything, but I believe that if you read the books in order, you will be more affected by the emotional intensity of the storyline. The characters will be much more known to you.

I really admired how Randolph was able to tie in the different time periods without making the story too convoluted or confusing. It was absolutely fascinating. I highly recommend "Deception's Legacy!" I eagerly await the upcoming fourth book in the series.

Grooming Him for Her
HubBooks/Motown Writers
c/o Sylvia Hubbard
PO Box 27310, Detroit, MI 48227
ISBN 9780977443529, $13.99, 2006, (313) 289-8614,

Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views (1/08)

This is the author NeCee's debut novel and it is a winner. The quirky short story is a quick read but has it all - wildly successful women, relationship problems, great sex and friendship. I was left wishing the story had been longer but was quickly satisfied by reading the short sequel "Crawlers."

The story centers around two women, Nikki Ford and Sasha Benay. Nikki is a successful attorney who thinks she has everything she wants in life. She is fast tracking it to the top at work, has a man that she loves, a beautiful son and her best friend Pearl. Nikki is committed to her relationship with Brandon and is hoping to marry him until he begins to pull away from her more and more. He is intimidated by Nikki's success and will not attend any work functions with her. After they break up Nikki has a hard time moving on but she begins to realize that the relationship was going nowhere. Her European co-worker, Matthew, has been trying to get Nikki's attention for a long time and she begins to notice him more and more as Brandon leaves her life.

Sasha Benay is loving life. She has a wonderful career, her best friend Star and she has learned to date like a man by not taking anyone seriously. That works for her until she sets her site on Pearl's faithful husband, Robert. Sasha keeps telling herself that it is just about sex, but cannot get Robert off her mind.

Both women end up "Grooming" their man for another woman. Nikki does it for Brandon's new love, Star, who cannot believe this wonderful man is available. And Sasha teaches Robert things that he begins to use to spark up his sex life at home.

The "sistah's" in this book offer great insights into men and relationships. I laughed out loud and learned a lot. NeCee has also added a section to take notes at the end and a "Food for Thought" chapter that would make this a great book club book to read. I highly recommend "Grooming Him for Her" for women to read and use for a discussion group.

7th Heaven (Women's Murder Club)
James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Little, Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
ISBN 9780316017701, $27.99, 2008,

Reviewed by Leslie Granier for Reader Views (1/08)

"7th Heaven" is the story of four close-knit female friends who include: a cop, the Assistant District Attorney, a crime reporter, and a medical examiner. Collectively, they refer to themselves as the Women's Murder Club. Two high-profile cases are currently keeping these women busy. One case involves the disappearance of a well-loved member of the community. Despite a recanted confession to his murder, a trial is conducted even though there is no body or physical evidence to support what had been confessed. The second case involves a string of arsons in which wealthy middle-aged couples are first robbed and then left to die in the fires. These two exciting cases find the women searching for answers in order to solve these crimes.

This book is the seventh in a series involving the Women's Murder Club. Although I have not yet read the other six, I do not feel as if I am missing any relevant information about the main characters. Their roles and backgrounds are well presented and easy to follow. I liked the characters and the ways they interact with each other, especially how they spend most of the little free time they have socializing with each other to discuss their cases. Aside from the murders, there is another interesting storyline. Lindsay, the policewoman, is having difficulty deciding who she is most attracted to, her boyfriend or her partner. This subplot adds more of a personal touch to the story, one to which those who are not in the field of criminal justice can easily relate.

Patterson's use of short chapters (usually three to four pages) accelerates the pace of the story because there is always something happening. He left me anticipating what would happen next. There were many unexpected turns throughout the book, but the ending was a complete shock. I am eagerly awaiting the opportunity to read more of Patterson's work.

"7th Heaven" is aimed towards adult females, but anyone who enjoys reading a good mystery novel will be impressed by this work. It offers sideline sleuths the opportunity to piece together the evidence and attempt to come up with the correct solution. However, the true answer may not always be where the clues lead.

Carpool Diem
Nancy Star
5 Spot
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
ISBN 9780446581820, $13.99, 2008,

Reviewed by Leslie Granier for Reader Views (1/08)

Annie Fleming leads a hectic life and as a result is not home nearly enough with her twelve-year-old daughter Charlotte. Her days are planned with detailed schedules and to-do lists (which she is shocked to learn that her family is not following). After losing her job and having to fire the live-in babysitter, Annie gains an insight into how her priorities seem to be focused on the wrong things. She then attempts to reconnect with her daughter through soccer, a game that Annie knows nothing about either on or off the field. She longs for Charlotte's talent to be recognized and will do whatever she can to get her selected for a spot on an elite traveling soccer team run by Winslow West, who is considered by many to be the best soccer coach who has ever lived.

This book contains several humorous situations. The soccer bulletins written by Coach West contained recaps of previous games and were quite funny to read. I also found myself laughing at Annie's inability to understand "soccer language" and her attempts to fit in with the other parents. Although the author uses humor to entertain the reader, she also sends an important social message. She exposes the lies and deceit that occur in competitive sports. It was sad to see people striving for a goal they will never reach simply because those in power refuse to give them the opportunity to succeed.

Nancy Star created some interesting and unique characters whose flaws and quirks are greatly exaggerated to make a point. Winslow West's megalomania nearly resulted in tragedy because the parents put their children in dangerous situations just to please him. Annie's obsession with having every detail of life planned and appropriately scheduled caused her to feel like an outsider in her daughter's life. Both examples stress the importance of finding and maintaining balance in one's life.

"Carpool Diem" is a fun and light-hearted book that contains important life lessons for people who are obsessed with winning or being viewed as successful by others. Be careful what you wish for because it may not be all that you imagined it would.

Par for the Course: A Novel
Ray Blackston
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue New York, NY 10169
ISBN 9780446178150, $13.99, 2008,

Reviewed by Lori Plach for Reader Views (1/08)

Are you looking to tee off on a golfing adventure which combines entrepreneurship, romance, humorous moments and a touch of mystery? Ray Blackston has just the book which will fit your interests to a tee. "Par for the Course" is Ray Blackston's newest novel and it is sure to please both golf enthusiasts and non-golfers alike.

Chris Hack is a single man who uses his golfing knowledge, experience and skills to better golfers throughout the Charleston area. He is not alone in his quest of making Hack's Golf Learning Center the best facility in the area. He has his business partner Cack to help his business on a successful course. Cack's quick sense of humor gives him his own notoriety for hurling insults at the golf range's customers while using his specially-designed golf carts. This is one instance where hurling insults is all in good fun. The business has doubled and the customers all enjoy it.

Molly is a Washington political correspondent who wants to learn how to golf and may be finding more than just golf skills. Molly suggests to Chris that he should allow political groups to poke fun of each other and the idea catches on. Chris wants to date Molly; however, will a long distance relationship really work for them? When Chris' business is a victim of arson, Molly uses her reasoning skills to help him find out who would want to see Chris out of business. Could it be one of the political parties in this election year, could it be the man whose business shares the other half of their leased property?

Finding clues, and allowing time for pursuing Molly, takes time. Will Chris find out that everything does work out for his best interest even though it's not in the way he thought it would? Chapter after exciting chapter a wonderfully written story flows, which will have you laughing and feeling for this young entrepreneur every step of the way. Instead of yelling "Fore" like in playing golf, when you reach the last chapter you will be yelling "More!" I certainly hope Ray Blackston writes more stories like this one, "Par for the Course."

Tatianna: Tales and Teachings of My Feline Friend
Linda A. Mohr
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595426775, $ 13.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (1/08)

Pet lovers will love this poignantly told story of Tatianna as written by Linda A. Mohr. It is the story of a sixteen-year journey, of bonding, and of the healing experienced by Linda from Tatianna in a time of grief. Later Linda became Tatianna's caregiver and lifeline during her extended illness.

After the loss of her fiance, Ken, in a motorcycle accident, Linda explained Tatianna's help this way. "Although I had lost a physical life with Ken the devoted love, tenderness, and companionship of Tatinanna sustained me."

Linda's doting descriptions of Tatianna included phrases like: "She provided companionship in solitude, was mischievous, rambunctious, and curious. She was friendly, but aggressive, social, adventurous, and she loved unconditionally. She was devoted, protective, and amusing."

I found the quotations at the beginning of each chapter as well as Linda's original poems, affirmations, and positive reinforcements to be both inspirational and thought-provoking. Linda's personal and firm conviction of God s working through these experiences on a daily basis came through in her writing.

In her Christmas letter in 2000 Linda wrote, "On the furry front, Tatinanna is now over fifteen-years-old, and she has been miraculously battling kidney disease for the past two and one-half years. We continue her daily therapy and affirmations. You would never know she was ill by looking at her."

Linda's detailed accounts of the treatments, therapy, prescriptions, affirmations, and acupuncture are of tremendous value to any pet owner going through similar disease processes with their pets. Tatianna's Circle of Life Gallery highlights the pages of the book and adds a unique appeal to her story. I found myself enjoying the pictures many times, as well as frequently referring to the very unique presentation of an illustrated timeline provided as a part of the preface to the book.

Linda s descriptions of her elaborate Christmas trees with their unique ornaments, and her astounding collection of antiques will add interior decorators, and antique dealers, to her list of eager readers, which include pet owners, pet store operators, and veterinarians.

The chronicles of Tatianna, her feline friends, and her biographer Linda A. Mohr is a heartwarming story of an amazing, loving, spiritual bonding relationship of a pet and her owner. Linda A. Mohr is a gifted writer. "Tatianna: Tales and Teachings of My Feline Friend" is one of endurance, bravery, strength, faith, and love. Simply beautiful.

The Art of French Kissing
Kristin Harmel
5 Spot
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
ISBN 9780446581431, $13.99, 2008,

Reviewed by Leslie Granier for Reader Views (1/08)

Emma's life seems perfect. She lives in sunny Florida, is getting married in a few months and has a job she really loves. When her life begins to unexpectedly fall apart, she makes the decision to reconnect with an old friend in Paris to get away from her problems. After she arrives, her friend Poppy offers her a job as a publicist for an up-and-coming rock star who has a penchant for getting himself into compromising situations. As Emma begins to date again, she has difficulty letting go of the past until she meets Gabe, a journalist covering the release of the rock star's first album. After a huge misunderstanding, Emma wonders if she will ever find happiness again.

The author's descriptive style paints a vivid picture of the city of Paris. She effectively describes the scenery of everything from quaint neighborhood streets to famous landmarks. She also does an excellent job of sharing Emma's thoughts and feelings as she struggles to begin her new life in an unfamiliar city. I particularly enjoyed watching Emma's growth as she moved from familiar surroundings to start over in a place in which she could not even speak the language. It was fun to see her finally let go of the past and be able to form new relationships. Her transformation from a jilted woman to one who can open her heart to love again was incredibly portrayed.

All of the main characters are well-developed with interesting background stories that help explain their behaviors. The antics of Guillaume (the rock star) inject humor into the book. The early part of the book moved a little slowly, but the action picked up quickly thereafter. There are a few surprises in store for the reader as secrets about some of the characters begin to be revealed.

"The Art of French Kissing" is the epitome of chick lit. The emphasis on women's roles in dating and relationships is at the forefront of the story. The novel is very timely, with the names of several current celebrities mentioned. The amusing situations in which Emma finds herself will provide the reader with a pleasant escape from reality. I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking an entertaining story or a trip to Paris.

One Last Dance: It's Never Too Late to Fall in Love
Mardo Williams, Kay Williams, Jerri Williams Lawrence
Calliope Press
400 W. 43rd St., #34B, New York, NY 10036
ISBN 9780964924147, $ 22.95, 2005, 212-564-5068,

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (1/08)

Mardo Williams, a career journalist, and award-winning author of "One Last Dance," is a highly effective communicator. His writing demonstrates a clear understanding of the reality of growing older. Williams connects with an audience of intergenerational readers as he gives them an insight into the aging process through a backward glance into the past, a glimpse into the future, and the challenge of the present. Williams delivers a clear message of the importance of family stability. This adds an important additional dimension, beyond the delightful entertainment value, to the book.

Eighty-nine-year-old Morgan was considering moving into Whispering Pines Retirement Center and Nursing Home when he literally bumped into seventy-nine-year-old Dixie, a member of the recreation staff at the center. The elements of romance, mystery, and suspense, all add to the message of hope threaded throughout the story of Morgan and Dixie as they enter a relationship based on economic needs in their later years.

Dixie kept secrets from Morgan regarding her medical background and indebtedness, while checking into rumors of scandal in business and family skeletons from Morgan's past life in Chicago. These two strong-willed people are set in their ways; Dixie and Morgan begin to experience change and growth as they discover a new appreciation for each other as their relationship deepens.

Unresolved emotional issues, financial insecurity, and the fear of the unknown plague Dixie as she struggles to find balance in her work, her faith, and loyalty to her friends. The complications of romance at this stage in life, medical expenses, house maintenance, and the loss of independence, all play a part in the dilemmas faced by Morgan and Dixie.

There is an unexpected plot twist when Tony, Morgan's grandson, is introduced into the story. He comes in with a flurry of vengeance, destruction, mistrust, restitution and rehabilitation.

I enjoyed Williams' use of humor and his descriptive language in developing his characters. These characters take on a life of their own as they convey the emotions of criticism, anger, frustration, love, and empathy for each other.

I highly recommend this book for every senior citizen, and for their children. Williams' writing is strong and reveals a deep understanding of the challenge of growing old in America. Inspirational and entertaining, "One Last Dance" offers the promise and hope of finding companionship, love, and meaning and any age and the challenge of living out your dreams.

Black Man under the Deep Blue Sea: Memoirs of a Black Commercial Diver in Southeast Asia
Tony Wells
P.O. Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705
ISBN 9781424174225, $19.95, 2007, (301) 695-1707

Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views (12/07)

I was very curious as to what this book would contain when I saw its title, "Black Man under the Deep Blue Sea: Memoirs of a Black Commercial Diver in Southeast Asia." The author delivers what he promises in the title and much more. I had a little trouble when I first started reading because the author writes like he speaks. Once I got used to his style I found it was more like reading a personal diary about his years in Southeast Asia. The vivid details he uses to describe his adventures more than make up for the sometimes confusing writing style.

The author, Tony Wells, always had big aspirations. He began his life in the mid-west where deep sea diving is not on anyone's radar, especially an African American. He spent his younger years dreaming of race car driving. This all changed when his mother remarried a Navy man and the family moved to Hawaii. It was there after much determination that he discovered his passion for diving. After moving back to the mainland he decided to pursue a career as a commercial diver.

After a few years Wells became frustrated by the limitations of working in the US and decided to pursue adventure and freedom by commercial diving in Southeast Asia. He takes on many jobs over the years on rigs, repairing pipelines and even as a treasure hunter. His vivid tales sometimes reflect the harrowing experiences that he lived through. His travels take him to many countries throughout his years in Southeast Asia and he includes stories about the wonderful places he was able to visit during that time.

Tony Wells is an inspiration and role model that anyone can accomplish whatever they wish. The author best sums up his overall message "The bottom line here is - no matter what race you are, black, white and everything in between, no matter what gender you are, male or female, don't let ignorant advice or stereotyping control what goals you have in your life no matter what they are. If you want to do it - all you can do is to give it your best shot and go for it and, even if you fail, nobody can knock you for that!" If you enjoy a good adventure or think that the odds against you are insurmountable then you must read "Black Man under the Deep Blue Sea: Memoirs of a Black Commercial Diver in Southeast Asia!"

Open Your Heart with Singing: Mastering Life through Love of Song
Jules Kennedy
Dream Time Publishing
6860 Gulfport Avenue South, Suite 950, South Pasadena, FL 33707
ISBN 9781601660077, $14.95, 2007, Toll-free 866-623-6203,

Reviewed by Lori Plach for Reader Views (1/08)

Do you feel like you are a good singer? It's not that you have to be the best singer. After all, you aren't likely to be the "Next American Idol." You don't have to worry about your voice. You don't have to be a talented singer to open your heart with singing.

Jules Kennedy has written a book which encourages the reader to tap into your inner voice. It doesn't even matter if you cannot carry a tune. Just find your voice inside and let your voice sing out.

Wouldn't life be awfully silent without any music of any kind? All around you, you hear music. You go into stores, you hear music. You watch television; how many shows have background music? Dentists' offices are known to have music playing. Why, even if you are riding in an elevator, you hear music.

Why is there music playing in all these businesses? Music can calm your mind. Depending on the tone of the music, it can excite you and motivate you in ways you didn't know were possible.

Within the pages of this book, you will find a new appreciation for the music of your own unique self. Each chapter of "Open Your Heart with Singing" addresses individual benefits of song and discovering things about yourself that you didn't know where there. Included in this book is a music journal. This allows readers to write down their own song in their own ways. Just reading a few pages of this delightful book will make you smile and can lighten up even your darkest day.

Your heart is just waiting to be opened with a song! Let the music play on!

Bible Prophecy for Kids: Revelation 1-7
Kay Arthur and Janna Arndt
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402
ISBN 9780736915274, $9.99, 2006 ,

Reviewed by Brianne Plach (age 10) for Reader Views (1/08)

Are you interested in learning about what will happen in the last days of the world? Do you wish that there was a study book written for kids to learn more about the book of Revelation? Did you know that there were seven churches which were written to by the first missionaries? What kinds of things are going to happen at the Last Day? Why should I get to know God on a personal basis, what's in it for me? You can learn this and a whole lot more by using "Bible Prophecy for Kids."

"Bible Prophecy for Kids" is very easy for kids to follow. This book covers the first seven chapters of the book of Revelation. A section of scripture of this most interesting book of the Bible is divided into a Bible study for a week. Each day of the week deals with more in-depth looks at the verses. Each day also gives you an activity to help you understand what you have read. Some of the activities include crossword puzzles, word searches, fill-in-the-blanks and multiple-choice. This makes Bible study fun and yet you still learn a lot from the book of Revelation. You don't only learn about Revelation but there are lots of references to other parts of the Bible too.

"Bible Prophecy for Kids" is part of a "Discover 4 Yourself Inductive Bible Studies for Kids" series. I cannot wait till I get to see what other books are in this terrific series. I would love to read and learn all that I can. This is a fun way to learn about Bible study, how to do it and make you learn about the greatest book ever written--the Holy Bible. I loved it!

Wrong Way, Jonah!
Kay Arthur with Scott Domeij
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402
ISBN 9780736902038, $8.99, 1999,

Reviewed by Brianne Plach (age 10) for Reader Views (1/08)

Can you imagine being swallowed up by a big whale? How can being swallowed up by a whale be something God wants? Why would God ever have someone go through life inside a whale for three days? Let's be investigative reporters and get the real story about Jonah and the big whale.

Come along and join in the investigation. First of all, we have to get the facts. Where can we be sure that we will get the truth? Let's check out the Bible. If only we had someone or something to help us, after all, we are just kids. Wait, Kay Arthur and Scott Domeij have written a book which will help us understand the whole story about Jonah. "Wrong Way, Jonah!" will get us on the right track.

Do you know how to pray? Sure you know how to fold your hands and pray. Maybe you do it before meals or at bed. But did you know that there is a word you can remember when you are putting your prayer together. ACTS is one way to think about formatting your prayers, adoring your Lord, confessing your sins, thanking God for all He has done for you and supplicating (asking) God for what you want.

Completing "Wrong Way, Jonah!" is not like just any Sunday school assignment. This is a great book to complete and do the activities in it. There are some "Extra, extra" parts within this book, including Raindrop Art, which is very fun to do. This is a great book of a terrific series for any kids who want to learn more about the Holy Scripture and how it applies to them. I can't wait till I can get more books in this series and learn more about the best book ever written. You will never think that Jonah is just another fish story! I love learning about God, and I loved this book.

Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture
Mary E. DeMuth
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402
ISBN 9780736918626, $12.99, 2007

Reviewed by Lori Plach for Reader Views (1/08)

Raising a child, or children, in the 21st century is not going to be an easy task. What an awesome responsibility parents have! Just as the generations before us, those of us who have been blessed with children have the opportunity and challenge to "train a child in the way they should go." Our main goals are the same as they have been in the previous generations. We need to love our children with a sacrificial love and be positive role models for our children to follow.

All homes are imperfect. You will never find or achieve the perfect home and life. Just as all people have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, having a perfect home is not possible. We need to understand just what postmodernity is and how to deal with it. There is help for us parents in the 21st century. Mary DeMuth has written and published a book which will help you to understand our very important roles as parents in this world of constant change. Postmodernity affects Christianity and the church itself. With many stories of Biblical people and many other people and their life experiences added, Mary DeMuth brings out her ideas and accomplishes her goal in bringing out what she feels is most important in parenting in such a time as this.

When you were younger, you probably heard that "children should be seen and not heard." Not anymore is that the way children should be raised. If we want children to someday be leaders and witness their faith to others, we as parents need to listen to our children and teach them how to share their ideas. Children will learn more from their parents by observing their modeling Christian behavior than by anything else.

Mary DeMuth uses easy-to-understand language. "Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture: Practical Help for Shaping Your Children's Hearts, Minds, and Souls" is a valuable guidebook to help their children develop into the unique persons who God has created them to be. The consistent use of scripture verses adds to the spiritual walk through the pages of this book. This is an excellent book for Christian parents to learn more about themselves, what God commands, and their relationships. Parents will see how God will walk alongside them every step of the pathway to positive parenting.

Nod's Way
Robert Stikmanz
Dalton Publishing
P.O. Box 242, Austin, TX 78767
ISBN 9780974070391, $24.95, 2007, 512-567-4955

Reviewed by Regan Windsor for Reader Views (1/08)

"Nod's Way" is the second book in the "Lands of Nod" series. This innovative addition is not so much a sequel to "Prelude to a Change of Mind" but rather a supplementary book of Dvarshian wisdom. "The I Ching of an ancient race co-existing in space-time with myriad consensa, the oracular tool offers deep insight into the Moment of Moments."

The "Nod's Way" set includes a book which relays the history of Nod's Way or Hidden Dragon (as it is also referred to), how this translation to human tongue became, instructions on how to consult the oracle, as well as the Table of Combinations and associated insights. The set also includes three dice, two if which are eight-sided, reproducing the moon and star symbols from the Nod's Way book, and a third which is a cube with symbols on opposing sides. Lastly, the set contains a journal to "note queries and casts, further enhancing the ritual's potency.

To test the ancient wisdom I decided to check and see what the New Year had in store for me. Three casts are recommended, with each cast shedding separate insights which, when combined with your instincts, produce the wisdom you are seeking. While my subject matter was a little broader than recommended, the results were intriguing none the less…

"Comment relevant to what my new year holds."

(The first cast resonates with how an issue manifests in the world; in other words, how it appears or seems.)

Return. "When darkness recedes, Nod culls what is worn and ponders the new. Return may light possibility and challenge, but also distraction and stress. Having strayed, Nod returns to Hidden Dragon."

"Returning too often to the well drains the source. What you need is here already."

(The second cast resonates with deep structures of the question or what is intrinsic but not necessarily apparent about the subject.)

Folly. "Nod steps into the world with eyes tightly shut and meets the Great Teacher. A confident fool fails in diligence. A careless fool thinks falling is flight. A deliberate fool may be Hidden Dragon at its best."

(The third cast suggests inherent possibility.)

The Sky. "Daystar and its cousins of the Starry Night. The province of Sky. Sky is the realm of unrestricted movement. In the province of Sky, Nod finds access to every dimension. Undertakings that give life to Hidden Dragon bring great benefit if pursued to the end."

For all who are eagerly anticipating the next installment of "The Lands of Nod" series, "Nod's Way" is certainly a satisfying distraction. This set will intrigue all who have interest in the "ancient tools of power and wisdom."

Flashback: A Low Country Novel
D. A. Welch
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595412716, $15.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by William Phenn for Reader Views (1/08)

Fast-moving drama and daring adventure all come together in this very well-written book. D. A. Welch introduces Nate Dunlevy, a buff and burly ex-Navy Seal that is in a partnership in a security company contracting to the Secret Service of the United States. The day that Nate comes home to his hometown is when all the fun begins. He meets Eve O'Connor, a vivacious and curvy blonde artist that takes Nate on a journey of intrigue and conspiracy -- a journey which will capillary into an intricate web of rape, murder, secret agents and organized crime.

As time goes on and Nate gets more involved with Eve, he becomes totally afflicted with her and starts up a relationship. This relationship becomes quite intimate when Eve is raped by an old flame. When she tells Nate, he goes on a personal vendetta to bring the scumbag to justice, even going as far as becoming his cellmate.

What Nate finds out later will intrigue the reader and open up a whole new avenue for the book. The rich rapist not only is a prominent figure but also has ties to a radical religious group. The underlying mission of this religious group is what causes Nate to fear for Eve's life and everyone around her. Nate employs the help of his partners in the security business and along with them he fights to keep Eve alive.

The adventure escalates to the point of bringing in the Secret Service, Special Agents and a host of others that help Nate fight this organization. They run; they try to hide. Nate uses all his Navy Seal skills to keep one step ahead of the assassins that are out to get them, but to no avail. They are found and have to fight for their lives.

"Flashback" was a very good book and well worth the read. I gave it a B+ for its fast- paced, action-packed and interesting read. I recommend it to anyone who appreciates a good adventure novel.

The Human Antenna: Reading the Language of the Universe in the Songs of Our Cells
Dr. Robin Kelly
Energy Psychology Press
PO Box 442, Fulton, CA 95439
ISBN 9781604150148, $16.95, 2007,

Reviewed by William Phenn for Reader Views (1/08)

Dr. Kelly is a medical doctor that combines the best of Western and Eastern techniques. He is not your average General Practitioner, his knowledge stretches far beyond that.

Living in beautiful New Zealand with his wife Trish and their three children, Dr. Kelly is not limited to his medical practice. He is a talented musician, composer and singer. His love of music has led to him recording not one but three music CD's. Robin has appeared on local radio and television shows and has just completed writing his first musical. This author is not just multi-facetted but multi-talented as well.

I found it difficult to place "The Human Antenna" into any square peg; it just didn't conform to the norm. At first, it gives the reader a bit of a background on the author and his medical expertise. Then it leads down the path of exploration. The book goes into Dr. Kelly's interest in acupuncture and the healing powers of the human body. He explains his fascination with the Eastern techniques of healing and how he vehemently began to learn them.

Dr. Kelly does not stop with just explaining the healing qualities of acupuncture. He continues to describe how so many things intertwine to cure an ailing human. Some of the points covered in the book relate to the body's DNA, how our cells speak to each other, how they emit electronic impulses and signals and how they receive such signals. This whole process is detailed to such a degree as to include the quantum physics explanations and comparisons. These explanations were accompanied by illustrations and diagrams that helped the novice understand how everything is interrelated.

"The Human Antenna" was a very complex and detailed educational experience. With so much to digest, the author was quite thorough in his attempt to educate the novice. His excellent references and well-documented bibliography enhanced the reader's adventure into this very complex and amazing field. I enjoyed "The Human Antenna" very much and gave it a well deserved A. The presentation, the quality of the book and the excellent writing, make it worth the money.

God Wants You to Shine: A Novelzine (Faith Thomas Series)
Stephanie Perry Moore
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402
ISBN 9780736919203, $11.99, 2007,

Reviewed by Tabytha Joy (age 15) For Reader Views (1/08)

"God Wants You to Shine" is about a young girl named Faith, who works hard to live her life as a Christian. She experiences both good and bad things as she walks down the path to God.

Faith does not feel good about herself. She thinks she has too many flaws. That was until her mother convinced her to enter into a beauty pageant. At this pageant, Faith learns that it is the inner beauty that matters. She learns to love herself and to accept that she is who God wants her to be.

Throughout her life, Faith learns to grow closer to God even when negative things happen. She deals with a lot of stress as her friends are doing wrong and not trusting in the Lord. Will Faith help them? Or will she turn her back and leave them to face their own problems?

In my opinion, "God Wants You to Shine" is a well-written book. Even though Faith's dad is a Christian singer, we can all relate to Faith and the situations she experiences. "God Wants You to Shine" is volume two of the Faith Thomas Series. The first book in this series is "God Can Work It Out."

I think that "God Wants You to Shine" would be great for anyone age ten and over. Also, I'm really sure that if someone is not a Christian, and they read both books in the Faith Thomas series, they will become a Christian. I look forward to reading many more books by Stephanie Perry Moore.

Five Days in Autumn
Langston Keane
White Elk Press
5885 Cumming Hwy, Ste 108, PMB 254, Sugar Hill, GA 30518
ISBN 9780977723720, $11.95, 2007

Reviewed by Danielle Feliciano for Reader Views (1/08)

Carter Lee is the true definition of a workaholic. He has no life and no connections outside of his professional environment. He is accessible around the clock and demands the same of his coworkers. It is this unrelenting drive that brings Carter's supervisor to force a one-week vacation on him. Carter now faces a week with no email, no cell phone, and strict instructions not to work at all. At the same time, Carter's mother calls requesting he help sit with his dying grandfather as she has other obligations this particular week. With nothing else to do and a sense of family obligation, Carter packs his bags and travels from the chaos of Atlanta back to the small town in Tennessee that he grew up in.

This series of events brings Carter to his grandfather's home where he finds piles of journals documenting his grandfather's life. Carter begins reading these journals and soon finds himself immersed in getting to know a grandfather with whom he has never had a relationship. The time he spends in Tennessee combined with the journals and a brief encounter with his grandfather help Carter truly reevaluate his life and move on to be the person he wants to be.

This book is written in a number of points of view, jumping from first person to third person narrative, which at times became confusing. There were points where the book was overwritten and I would have liked to have had more journal entries included to help develop the story. The author did a wonderful job of telling a strong story of family and self in a very simple way. With minimal characters and a subdued setting, the point of the story never got lost. The story was beautiful and moving and left the reader feeling very satisfied with the story told in "Five Days in Autumn."

The Angel and the Ring: A Supernatural Adventure
Sigmund Brouwer
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402
ISBN 9780736902946, $7.99, 2005

Reviewed by Emily Judah (age 13) for Reader Views (1/08)

"The Angel and the Ring" is a great book. I think that the "angel blog" in the book is really cool because it shows the author's vivid imagination on how angels can protect us on earth. Sigmund Brouwer is an awesome author. It shows so much in his books.

Young Brin is a 16-year-old half-gypsy, who lives with his thieving gypsy relatives. His gypsy mother and white father died of the plague, Black Death, when he was only a baby. Because Brin's mother married a "dirty" white man, the rest of the gypsies hated Brin because his mother betrayed her clan. His only possession is a ring, given to him by his father before he died. After his parents died his relatives decide to use Brin to pickpocket innocent people when the clan goes into towns. After pick-pocketing the people he is not even allowed to keep any money for himself, but is forced to give all the money back to the gypsy leader.

After one of his pick-pocketing adventures, he walks down a dark alley to return to the gypsy camp. He is almost through the alley when a hand grips his shoulder. He turns around to find a tall man whose face is hidden by dark shadows. Brin is surprised and a little wary when the man tells Brin he is just like his father. Brin is even more suspicious when the man asks to meet him at midnight that night. Brin doesn't outright accept but tells the man he will think about it, even though he has already made up his mind to meet him. Later that night Brin sneaks away from camp. When he reaches the man it is obvious that there has been some kind of battle. The man has blood on the side of his face, he can barely talk, but he manages to tell Brin to run. As Brin begins to leave he is approached by four dark-cloaked men, "The ring, gypsy boy" one of the men says in a deadly whisper.

The remainder of the book is the struggle between good and evil to posses the ring. This journey leaves Brin to discover the true meaning of the ring and to eventually discover the gift of God. The angel blog shows the reader how God and his guardian angels are always with us in our struggles. "The Angel and the Ring" is a simple read I would recommend to all youth.

Tuttle's Red Barn: The Story of America's Oldest Family Farm
Richard Michelson
Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN 9780399243547, $16.99, 2007, 1-212-366-2000,

Reviewed by Matthew Feliciano (age 7 ½) for Reader Views (1/08)

There are many interesting facts about the Tuttles in this book. The Tuttles were America's first farmers. John Tuttle was the father and his wife was Dorothy. They had four children who each went on to have children. All of the Tuttle families were farmers.

To keep their farm running, John Tuttle used rocks and cements to fill in the cracks in the winter. They learned to fertilize with shells and how to trade in town for supplies to send to their family in England. Some of the Tuttles went off to fight in a war. The Tuttles that remained built bigger homes for the families and continued to be farmers.

The Tuttles became part of the Underground Railroad and helped slaves escape to freedom. Each generation of Tuttles grew with the times of their society and did what needed to be done. Overall, I loved this book, "Tuttle's Red Barn," because I learned a lot about America and the Tuttles.

Be Ye Encouraged! Strategies for Lasting Weight Loss and Good Health
Leeda Bacon
Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, Inc.
15115 Highway 36, Deadwood, OR 97430
ISBN 9781932279610, $14.00, 2007

Reviewed by Dr. Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (1/08)

"Be Ye Encouraged!" carries a theme that is not new to most of us -- how to lose weight and become healthier. However, the author Leeda Bacon has the ability to motivate even the most unmotivated dieters by her honesty and stories of her own struggle with weight loss. She does not browbeat individuals for being overweight or pass judgment -- she provides encouragement. Ms. Bacon also gives ample information on how to eat out, cravings and choosing our own lifestyle goals. She states, "What works for me may not work for you."

The beginning of her book asks the readers several questions, such as "Why are you starting this diet in the first place? What is your motivation?" She also lets the readers know that dieting should be for the individual and not for others one should be comfortable with who they are. Ms. Bacon also states that cheating happens and if it does get right back on track.

One of her comments in the book stated, "I am your cheerleader, this book is for you to pick up when you feel that urge coming on or are feeling down about yourself." I really liked that so many other diet books encouraged you to buy their products or books and made you feel that if you didn't buy them you couldn't lose weight.

Anyone who is considering a diet, or are on a diet should read "Be Ye Encouraged!" It is serious but with a very light-hearted tone.

Extraordinary Things
Diana M. DeLuca
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595415052, $14.95, 2006, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Dr. Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (1/08)

DeLuca's novel "Extraordinary Things" revolves around the war involving England and two women's lives that are filled with lies and manipulation. One of the interesting aspects of the book is the author's style which involves flashbacks from young soldier's entering bomber aircrews to dialogues, between mother and daughter, of one of the young soldiers.

Marilyn, the mother, is controlling and secretive. She doesn't want her daughter to have a life of her own and leave her as the men in her life did. The daughter is curious as to why her mother never talks about her father and their life together. As the mother's health starts to decline she begins to give her daughter bits and pieces of information about her father. However, she doesn't give her accurate information and this leads the daughter to search for more information about her father. Her search gives her the opportunity to meet and talk to the surviving crew of the Halifax. What she finds is not the answers she expected nor does she realize that those answers will change her life forever.

Initially when starting the book, I was not intrigued with the flashbacks, however I found that it added more depth and meaning to the storyline. Ms. DeLuca's involvement in the Halifax Aircraft Families Association also lent credence to her writing.

Although "Extraordinary Things" is fictional, it still provides some thought-provoking questions: "Does one really need to know all the details to live a happy life?," and "Is it one's job to judge what individuals choose to do in war?" I also believe it applies to the wars and unrest of today - "If you were going to die tomorrow, how would you behave?"

The Brutality of War: A Memoir of Vietnam
Gene R. Dark
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595458936, $15.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Dr. Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (1/08)

"The Brutality of War: A Memoir of Vietnam" is one of the most compelling, honest accounts of how the United States sent innocent, vulnerable nineteen-year-olds into a war they knew nothing about. At a time when patriotism was high, young men visualized honor and fantasies about war and conquering the enemy; little did they know that there was a big difference between fantasy and reality.

Gene Dark was one of those innocent nineteen-year-olds who had no direction in his life and due to boredom joined the Marines. His father always told him regardless of what job, you have to do the best you can and never run away from a challenge. He never did, even though he saw his friends die one by one in Vietnam. The Marines taught him to become a killer and he played the role very well. For those who survived Vietnam there was no hero's welcome-- no one seemed to care what they had sacrificed. These young men kept what they saw and did deep within a hole within their mind. No one offered therapeutic help, compassion or understanding.

Gene Dark did an excellent job in this sad but true memoir. He is brutally honest and does not add humor or flowery words to describe his and other Marine's year in Vietnam. He does not question what his job was, even when he came close to death.

"The Brutality of War: A Memoir of Vietnam" is an opportunity for those of us who want to understand what happened to these young men-- at least some idea of what they encountered in Vietnam. It will not tell us what is deep within their souls, that which they cannot talk about. It may not be reading for everyone, especially for Vietnam veterans who have yet to come to grips with their tour of duty. It does make you think when we send young, innocent soldiers into war, who are we doing it for? Is it worth the lost lives and heartbreak for families left behind?

We Shall Overcome: A Novel
Abbie Johnson Taylor
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN 9780595446193, $18.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Dr. Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (1/08)

"We Shall Overcome" is a great title for this novel. The theme of the book revolves around a young vision-impaired woman who is very fearful of living her life to the fullest extent. She has very little trust in the criminal justice system and is fearful of causing any problems that might have a negative impact on her father or his novelty business. What she doesn't realize is that even though there are many people or situations that might be harmful to a person, not all situations end in negativity.

Ms. Taylor did a splendid job of describing what it is like to be vision-impaired and the obstacles one encounters to include being sheltered from the hazards of life, not living up to ones' expectations and being mistrustful in general. One of the underlying themes was that regardless of what life has given you, it is up to you to make the choice of how your life will turn out.

My concern with this novel is that Ms. Taylor put too many crisis incidents in it that involved not only the main character, but the understudy characters as well. It was very difficult to keep track of. Several incidents come to my mind: the sheriff's daughter was also vision-impaired and he would not let her attend any school activities, date, or be left alone; her best friend was date-raped; the main character was almost arrested in a war demonstration. In addition to all this, there were the personal and professional issues the main character went through. I would have much rather had the author do a series of the books revolving around the secondary characters. This would have made the story flow better and readers would be able to follow the story easier.

I do however; think "We Shall Overcome" was a good read and very informational when it came to describing what life is like for a vision-impaired person.

Arnie Carver and the Plague of Demeverde
Kenneth R. Besser
RTMC Organization, LLC
Post Office Box 15105, Baltimore, MD 11012
ISBN 9781934316023, $14.95, 2007,

Reviewed by Brianne Plach for Reader Views (1/08)

Have you ever thought it would be terrific if you had all the money that you ever wanted to have? Can you imagine not having to wait until Christmas or your birthday for presents? For some kids, this would be a dream come true. But Thayne Davidson Miller, III, doesn't think it is very much fun. Instead of being a blessing, it is a curse.

Thayne is constantly being surrounded by security guards. Thayne's parents are billionaires, so having a normal lifestyle as a young boy is impossible. He is a normal boy who would enjoy playing soccer or football with other boys, climbing trees or just hanging out with his friends. Instead he has to fly on his parents' jet to all kinds of far-off places. It's not like he gets to see anything when he goes to these other cities. He is constantly being watched.

When Thayne turns thirteen, his life takes a drastic turn. He has now inherited the 50 businesses that his parents owned. He is an orphan! The murders are unsolved, so Thayne takes the matter into his own hands. He attempts to discover what really happened to his parents.

He has a very brilliant mind and uses it to his advantage. He creates a life-like robot and a personality to live out his dreams of being normal. Arnie Carver is born. Will this make Thayne any happier or only add to his misery?

Kenneth R. Besser is a master at storytelling. "Arnie Carver and the Plague of Demeverde" is just one of a series about Arnie Carver. The twists and turns throughout the story will have you sitting on the edge of your seat. Books like this, with its science-fiction twist, will have kids anxiously awaiting their next Arnie Carver book.

Is being wealthy really worth it all or is it a sure fire way to ruin your life?

Reader Views - the one-stop center for author needs
email: website:
Kid's book reviews: Reader Views Kids
Live author interviews: Inside Scoop Live
Live author forum: Authors Access

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design