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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 9, Number 1 January 2010 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

Lamp Cruickshank
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533161904, $12.50,

People often write about their own experiences because every experience is different. "I-AM: the Poetry of Self-Realization" is a collection of poetry from Lamp Cruickshank, offers his own views on life, climbing out from a society of crime and racism. Enlightening and intriguing, "I-AM" is a choice pick for fans of poetry from new poetry. "In My Cell": In my cell is a place where I find many things/I peer out to see lost souls/and what wrong thinking brings./I study myself repeatedly and find a new flaw every time/My life in here is dedicated to rid myself of grime.

Overlooked New York
Zina Saunders
Privately Published
9781449904289, $25.00,

Zina Saunders is a New York artist who has worked as a writer and illustrator for more than fifteen years. In "Overlooked New York: Impassioned New Yorkers from an Artist's Perspective" she has taken as her subject matter a impressive variety of her fellow New Yorkers who are distinguished by their hobbies, interests, pastimes, and pursuits. From rooftop pigeon fanciers, to houseboat residents, to bike messengers, to carnival costume designers, and more, her series of portraitures are enhanced with succinctly descriptive commentaries on who they are and their personal histories which she obtained with interviews while she painted them engaged in their various activities. The result is an impressive body of informed and informative art, making "Overlooked New York" an unusual and highly recommended addition for personal, academic, and community library regional American art reference collections.

Que Ell One
Skip E. Lee
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440179785, $21.95,

"Que Ell One" is the Vietnam war what "Catch 22" was to World War II -- a very special and comedic laden perspective on the lives of military support personnel in a time of frustration, depravation, lengthy stretches of boredom laced with flashes of absolute panic. The local is a Vietnamese coastal road called QL-1 and a memorable group of characters coping with the uncopable by whatever means necessary and with the least amount of labor possible. Skip Lee clearly has an imaginative talent for storytelling and a knack for creating unusual characters while re-creating the social and military environment of Vietnam. "Que Ell One" is an entertaining from beginning to end and highly recommended for community library collections in general, and personal reading lists in particular.

How It Looks Going Back
Doris Knowles Pulis
Riverbend Publishing
PO Box 5833, Helena, MT 59604
9781606390108 $12.00,

How It Looks Going Back: Growing Up in the Montana Woods is the true-life memoir and testimony of her family's six years of residence in Montana's Yak River country, in 1949 and the early '50s. The family called a log cabin with no electricity or plumbing, and access to the outside world was via a dirt road (and all but cut off during hard the long, hard winter season). Author Doris Knowles Pulis was in third grade and attended the local one-room school while her family worked together to learn how to live in the wilderness - cooking and heating with wood, hunting and fishing for food, hauling water, and washing clothes by hand. An inviting testimony of the ups and downs of a loving family that adapted to the rigors of an independent lifestyle, How It Looks Going Back is a treasure to be savored.

Great American Hoteliers
Stanley Turkel
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
Smith Publicity
9781449007539 $29.95

Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry is a compilation of sixteen brief yet well-researched biographical portraits of American businessmen who ran successful hotel industries from the 1800's to modern times. Also reflecting on how technological advances such as the proliferation of rail and air travel affected the growth of the hotel industry, Great American Hoteliers is a fascinating profile of the changes within an industry amid the life stories of the leaders who made that industry happen. Some of the hoteliers are well-known; others are all but forgotten in the modern day. An excellent addition to American business history and biographical reference shelves.

Tam Ky: The Battle for Nui Yon Hill
Thomas Pozdol
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440187834 $12.95

Grounded firmly in true events and thorough research, Tam Ky: The Battle for Nui Yon Hill tells of a grueling Vietnam War battle that took place between May 13-15, 1969. When "The Charlie Tigers" C Company 3/21 Infantry, 196th Light Infantry Brigade became embroiled in combat in a hot landing zone, a succession of vicious firefights resulted in horrendous casualty rates - both for them and the enemy. Tam Ky: The Battle for Nui Yon Hill presents its gripping narrative in storytelling format, rather than as a strict historical chronicle, yet is nonetheless compelling and highly recommended for anyone interested in an up close and personal look at the harrowing bloodshed of the Vietnam War.

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

The Origins of Infamy
Christian E. Barth
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440138935, $17.95,

What leads someone to become one of the most notorious serial killers of the twentieth century? "The Origins of Infamy" is an original take on the infamous legend of Ted Bundy, as journalist Richard Larsen asks Bundy of his involvement in two unsolved murders in 1969. Through his interview, he learns of Bundy's evil roots. An intriguing novel that asks many questions and offers many opinions on Bundy's mind, "The Origins of Infamy" is a solid and very recommended read for true crime aficionados.

The Picture of Contented New Wealth
Fariq Goddard
Zero Books
c/o O Books
9781846942709, $19.95,

It may be hard to believe in spirits until they begin to ruin your life. "The Picture of Contented New Wealth" is an intriguing story of a family moving into a new house and the otherworldly problems they face. A man looks towards a portal, which has lead him to believe that a foul spirit has entered his life and possessed his wife and son. "The Picture of Contented New Wealth" is an intriguing and psychological drama that should not be ignored.

The Final War and 3001
Priscilla Andrea Herochik
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
Marketing Experts (publicity)
PO Box 421156, San Diego, CA 92142
9781439215142, $17.99,

Could the fervent belief of the world and those who abuse them ultimately be the world's demise? "The Final War and 3001" tells the story of how corrupt religious leaders, in this case a Baptist evangelist and a power hungry Cardinal, lead the world down a path that when putting heads against Islamic powers may finally bring about a final peace - by making sure there's no one to fight wars anymore. "The Final War and 3001" is a topical blend of religious debate and the conflict makes for an entertaining read.

Career Planning and Development -- In Reverse
Carl M. Powe
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
Systems Approach (publicity)
5614 Alta Dena St., Huntsville, AL 35802-1612
9781432745653, $22.95,

Going with the flow works for the moment, but it may not work for the long term. "Career Planning and Development -- In Reverse" is an advisory guide for career people who did not plan their future. Advising on how to plan as one goes through their career, and bring structure to one's professional life, there is no shortage of valuable information. "Career Planning and Development" is a user-friendly guide through and through.

The Dark Matter Directive
D. Charles Wilson
c/o Kelley & Hall
5 Briar Lane, Marblehead, MA 01945
9780981360102, $18.99

Power is always alluring, but it always comes with a cost. "The Dark Matter Directive" tells the story of Eric and Kevin and how they find they have a unique connection with the paranormal world. Conflicting between the mundane and normal and the dangerous and paranormal, the dilemma of Eric and Kevin makes for intriguing reading. "The Dark Matter Directive" is a fine addition to any young adult fiction collection.

The Reindeer Chronicles
Joe C. Watson
2180 West State Road 434, Suite 2140, Longwood, FL 32779
9781607919605, $14.99,

Christmas is a time that inspires legends. "The Reindeer Chronicles: The Legend of Twoshoes" tells a touching story of one young man who rises up to save Christmas in his own unique way. A timely and charming Christmas story with its own twists, "The Reindeer Chronicles" is a solid and very highly recommended read.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Love Strands
Alex Jace
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781438999173, $14.99,

Love is a topic that has boggled mankind for millennia. "Love Strands" is a collection of fine, moving verse from Alex Jace as he discusses the unusual and enigmatic thing called love and how it baffles and confuses mankind, as well as well as inspire them and drive them to live more. "Love Strands" is a volume that should not be ignored, highly recommended.

Taking the Leap
Beth Banks Cohn & Roz Usheroff
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
C.S. Lewis & Co. Publicists
19 Cardinal Drive, Woodstock, NY 12498
9781439249178, $14.99,

Transitioning between careers can always be a rough and chaotic time. "Taking the Leap: Managing Your Career in Turbulent Times... and Beyond" is a guide to career changing when the job market isn't so facilitating to upward mobility. Filled with much valuable information for those faced with a chaotic fight through the career world, "Taking the Leap" should not be ignored for those shifting careers.

One Dance with a Stranger
Mary M. Forbes
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Smith Publicity
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781438976921, $17.98,

Love matters to some, but it doesn't matter to others. "One Dance with a Stranger" is a romance that follows a truly unique relationship. Emily Van Sheldon wants anything in the world to get out of the poorhouse, even if it means marrying only for profit. But she may get both in the package of country singer Wade Hart, however she finds it hard to go off her beaten track for success in life. "One Dance with a Stranger" is a choice pick that should not be ignored by romance fans.

Saving the Best for Last
Renee Fisher
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Smith Publicity
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite 1-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781440133749, $18.95,

It ain't over until you say it's over. "Saving the Best for Last: Creating Our Lives After 50" is a guide for those who have passed the half century mark but don't want to give up living their lives just yet. Drawing on their own lives and experiences, the authors give much inspiration and wisdom for making one's twilight the light of one's life. "Saving the Best for Last" is a fine inspirational memoir that should not be missed.

Adam's Gene and the Mitochondrial Eve
Ahamed V.P. Kutty
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781441507297, $19.99,

Biblically, all of humankind was born from Adam and Eve, meaning at first thought, incest was involved. But was it really? "Adam's Gene and Mitochondrial Eve" takes a combined science and religious look at the origins of man and the descendants of Adam and Eve. Proving to be quite the fascinating read filled with intriguing ideas, "Adam's Gene and Mitochondrial Eve" should not be overlooked.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

The Art of Death Midwifery
Joellyn St. Pierre
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439229064, $18.99,

Near death may be when people need someone there the most. "The Art of Death Midwifery: An Introduction and Beginner's Guide" discusses death midwifery, the job of being at the dying's side during their final moments. The presence of another can make the passing a much more peaceful and serene experience and bring a certain closure to a life. Giving tips and advice for this sensitive, yet important role, "The Art of Death Midwifery" is a choice pick for those who need to be there.

Why Me, Oh Lord, Why Me?
Jane with Rebecca
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road, -515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432741464, $13.95,

Illnesses of the mind are what faith can help one the most against. "Why Me, Oh Lord, Why Me?" is the memoir of a Christian woman standing against her own mental illnesses. Through her own determination with help from her sister, Jane tells her story of how God helped her stand against her inner demons and become a better Christian. "Why Me, Oh Lord, Why Me?" is inspirational and very highly recommend reading for Christians facing their own mental demons.

Children of the Fortune Teller
Gary Turcotte
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road, -515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432744724, $16.95,

Talent is not something to be wasted. "Children of the Fortune Teller" tells the story of Ryan, a boy gifted with the exceptional fortune telling power passed through his parents. Through his power, he may be able to set along some legendary events if he uses it correctly. An intriguing story of spirituality with original concepts, "Children of the Fortune Teller" is a choice pick for spiritual fiction readers.

Mercury Falls
Robert Kroese
St. Culain Press
21482 S. Olive Ave, Ripon, CA 95366
9780578032146, $12.00

From writing about the apocalypse to preventing it. "Mercury Falls" is a novel from Robert Kroese telling the story of Christine Temetri, a woman in a dead end job reporting about doomsday cults who never get it right. But when she meets Mercury, a slacker angel who has been failing to bring about Armageddon for quite some time, she finds that the end of the world may be sooner than she thinks and that it might be in the most annoying form possible. An entertaining take on the end of the world, "Mercury Falls" is a top pick and highly recommended.

No Perfect Words
Nava Renek
Spuyten Duyvil
42 St. John's Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217
9781933132303, $14.00,

Time has a nasty tendency to leave the whys of the matter unanswered. "No Perfect Words" is a novel looking at the life of Caroline Traeger, struck with a midlife crisis and a seven year old daughter. Unsure of how she got to that point in the first place, she reflects on her life and what she truly believes in and wants out of life. An intriguing and fascinating story many women will relate to, "No Perfect Words" is not to be missed.

Religional Ties
Alex Jace & Sandra Pace
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781434324931, $14.99,

Religion is a powerful thing, that has drawn many different opinions throughout the world. "Religional Ties" is a collection of poetry from Alex Jace and Sandra Pace, offering dual perspectives on the concept of religion, criticizing at the same time presenting the good it brings to the world. "Religional Ties" is a fine and worthwhile read. "More Determined": I'm more determined to win this race./I'm more determined to win this race./Trouble may come from time to time, but I'm more determined to win his race. Yes I'm more determined to win this race./I'm more determined to keep the faith. Troubles may come from time to time, but I'm more determined to win this race. Yes, I'm more determined to win his race./I'm more determined to walk up right./I'm more determined to go through./I'm more determined to watch for the Lord.

The White Journalist
Nicholas Ehizojie
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
Smith Publicity (publicity)
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781432742737, $22.95,

There is nothing more dangerous than the truth, and there are those who will stop at nothing to prevent it from getting out. "The White Journalist" tells the story of Samuel Davies and Jessica Ringo, two individuals who saw the results of a brutal massacre in Nigeria, where power was shifted. What they know will put a dent in the new regime, and they find themselves running for their lives. "The White Journalist" is a gripping thriller and a fine read.

Being Found Guiltless
James L. Hawkins
Vantage Press, Inc.
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533161812, $13.95,

Guilt is a dreadful weight on one's shoulders. "Being Found Guiltless" is James Hawkins' desire for readers to what they can to shed this wait and encourages them to turn to their faith to battle this guilt. With simple wisdom and many ideas to brighten one's life and to overcome the past, "Being Found Guiltless" is well worth considering for those who hold themselves back with guilt.

Technologize Desire
D. Harlan Wilson
Guide Dog Books
5103 72nd Place, Hyattsville, MD 20784
9781933293738, $14.95,

As time goes on, will humanity become less human? "Technologize Desire: Selfhood and the Body in Postcapitalist Science Fiction" is a discussion of science fiction and its relation to the future of mankind and its relationship to technology. Analyzing the works of many writers, D. Harlan Wilson brings readers some original philosophy about the conclusions we can draw for the future of mankind, by simply looking at science fiction. "Technologize Desire" is an utterly fascinating read that deserves a place in any literary studies collection.

Coming for Money
F. W. Vom Scheidt
Blue Butterfly Books
2583 Lakeshore Boulevard West, Toronto, ON Canada M8V 1G3
9780978498283, $24.95,

Money can make you, or break you. "Coming for Money" is a novel of fast paced economics, as stock broker Paris Smith, his life in shambles after the loss of his wife, believes the only thing to keep it together is to close a multi-million dollar deal that would set him for life. But when dealing with massive numbers, greed becomes more and more of an issue, and the stakes grow higher and higher. "Coming for Money" is a fictionalized look at the darker side of money, and a riveting read.

The Religion of Thinness
Michelle M. Lelwica
PO Box 2238, Carlsbad, CA 92018
978093677550, $18.95,

Think thin, be thin, thin is beautiful, thin is everything. "The Religion of Thinness: Satisfying Spiritual Hungers Behind Women's Obsession with Food and Weight" looks into the spirituality and drive behind obsessive weight loss. Michelle Lelwica, a professor of religion, shows links between this weight loss and spirituality, and states how coming to understand this weight loss can help individuals gain a better understanding of themselves and their faith. "The Religion of Thinness" is a worthwhile read for anyone trying to overcome their own weight issues and depression.

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

Too Much Happiness
Alice Munroe
9780307269768 $25.95

This great ten story anthology looks deep into relationships with strong characterizations. Nine of the contributions are under forty pages; only the title entry is longer at sixty pages. As always Alice Munroe provides her audience with a profound collection.

In "Dimensions" Doree grieves on the bus for her three children who were murdered by their father so they would not suffer the same misery he suffered of their mother leaving them. "Fiction" stars Christie who tells the stories of her stepmother the music teacher in a published anthology. "Wenlock Edge" college student explains how her roommate fools her into going on a dinner date with her lover. Sally learns how "Deep-Holes" in marriage can become. In "Free Radicals", Nita's friends are there at first while she grieves, but she rejects them; now she is moving on and needs them but none are there for her as they were hurt by her when they needed her. His father stared at his "Face" once after he was born and never looked at his son's disfigured face again. Young Mr. Crozier is surrounded by "Some Women" while dying from leukemia; but keeps a stiff upper lip so as not to alarm the female retinue who hide their melancholy from him while caring for him. In "Child's Play" Marlene and Charlene become summer camp BFFs, but torture Verna until Marlene muses over "How can you blame a person for the way she was born?" "Wood" centers on Roy who refinishes furniture, but works alone since he and his wife Lea never had no children. He is hurt and all alone apparently dying in The Deserted Forest. "Too Much Happiness" centers on Russian mathematician Sophia Kovalevski who has found men limit her choices; still she writes stories in spite of her father insisting she is selling herself and obtains a teaching position in Sweden in spite of her lover living in Paris as she reuses to allow males to limit her.

Carrion Comfort
Dan Simmons
9780312567071 $19.99

In 1942 in Chelmno, Saul Laski knows he lies in a death camp having his two former roommates already dead and many to follow; he vows to live although the SS and the Oberst came every third Thursday in the month. Saul eventually realizes the SS stand perfectly still and soon learns why. The Oberst not just rape your mind, they control your body. He vows once again to live for now he has a mission to kill these mind controlling Nazi vampires; a mission that enables him to emotionally survive the horror of the mind rape domination.

Almost four decades later, Dr. Saul Laski remains a hunter of the Oberst who hunt humans as nonentities for their entertainment. His prime target all these years since the concentration camp von Borchert remains elusive. However, in Charleston he has a clue as he meets with Natalie Preston, whose father died when he met vampire Melanie Fuller, an offspring of billionaire Barent, who resides on a Florida barrier island where he hosts an annual game of deadly human chess. As Sheriff Bobby Joe Gentry investigates serial killings, Fuller goes Hollywood with Laski following her.

This is a reprint of an exciting 1980s vampire thriller with sidebars showcasing the ability of Dan Simmons. However, the key to the thriller is the Mind Vampires especially the diversity in their personalities come across as genuine. With a strong exhilarating prime plot in which the audience anticipates the rematch between Saul and the Oberst who dominated him back in the Third Reich, fans will relish this fine saga while also wishing it was about a third to a half shorter as pruning the Hollywood cul de sacs would have helped.

Philip Henry
Coral Moon
9780955655616 $12.50

She was an innocent fifteen year old guarded by her religiously fanatic parents until the night in 1973 the carnival arrived in Port Stewart. Marie Stanton went with her friend. She meets Gustav who woos her into coming again the next night where he pays off his gambling debts by allowing six cronies to rape her. Marie becomes pregnant and gives birth, but suffered internal hemorrhaging from the damage Gustav and his associates caused to her internal organs.

Her parents kick her out of the house so she and her son Freak move into anew place aid for by her parents. Freak's skin would not let a needle penetrate it and a person touching him ends up with broken bones. His mom lived as long as she could trying to care and protect him, but when she died he went to live in Port Stewart with his Aunt Gloria. Many thought he was an abomination, but though angry he tried to live up to what he thought his late mom would want of him. Betrayed by a young woman he cares for; when his aunt and her companion dies, Freak becomes a solitary recluse. However, the carnival with Gustav is back.

The innocence of Marie and later Freak make for an intriguing horror tale that in some ways will remind readers of Stephen King's Carrie. The audience has mixed emotions towards Freak who receives pity and empathy yet he ironically rejects that from the few folks in town who do not loathe the abomination. Filled with twists, Freak is an interesting character study as readers will understand who the monster is.

Paul Martin Midden
Millennial Mind Publishing
9781589824928 $24.95

Professor Isadore Hathaway, daughter of a deceased US senator, calls Senator Jake Telemark to ask him to meet her at the Emporia Restaurant in Alexandria immediately. Although she provides no reason why he should as they never met before he joined the "club" after her late dad left it; Jake accepts the date. At the restaurant, instead of sitting down to dine, Isadore leads Jake out the back door to a car where she tells him the horror she learned that is occurring to the United States.

Dora swears that twelve highly placed right-wing extremists "The Bookkeepers" were planning a coup d'etat. Religious fanatics, the Bookkeepers want to install a theocracy. The professor defends her claim explaining when she points out the incredibly high numbers of judges, some in perfect health, who died in the last few months; all strongly support separation of state and church. Furthermore the Bookkeepers plan chemical and nuclear attacks on American targets as a ploy to anger citizens against Muslims and killing opponents. Finally Dora raises Jake's background as a former military-assassin who suffered a PTSD breakdown. She believes he is one of the few hopes there is to prevent the Bookkeepers from succeeding on their Machiavellian scheme. Soon afterward Denver proves time ran out.

Before 9/11 this theme would be considered in the realm of science fiction, but with the Patriot Act, the opposition to try terrorists in criminal courts, the road to the Iraq War, the health care debate and the politicalizing of Justice, etc. makes Toxin feel very plausible. The story line is fast-paced and filled with straight forward action as Dora and Jake team up to prevent a home grown catastrophe, but neither know who else to bank on. Fans will appreciate this cautionary conspiracy thriller as the premise seems too frighteningly feasible.

The Creed of Violence
Boston Teran
9781582435251 $25.00

In 1910 Rawbone has no conscience when it comes to thieving and even killing. He never looks back until he is caught stealing guns and ammo heading to Mexico as a revolt has broken out south of the border. His lawyer arranges a deal with the Bureau of Investigations. In exchange for immunity from the law, he sets a con to capture some big time felons making a fortune illegally.

Assigned to accompany Rawbone is Agent John Lourdes, a straight shooter who adheres to the letter of the law. Rawbone and Lourdes know each other having met before, but only one of them is aware of their true relationship; even the Bureau of Investigation is ignorant. As they journey through killing fields of smugglers, the pair tries to ignore their loathing of the other as survival one day at a time is all that matters.

This is an engaging historical thriller starring a father and son team who simply detest one another although one remains ignorant as to their blood relationship with the son being the total opposite of the father. The story line is fast-paced as the exhilarating adventures out-race the DNA gimmick. Boston Teran paints a timely picture of the Tex-Mex border circa 1910 that easily could be circa 2010 with the triangular trade of guns, drugs, and people.

Hero's Tribute
Graham Garrison
9780825426858 $13.99

Michael Gavin is a hero in his hometown of Talking Creek, Georgia. He was quarterback of the high school football team and played at the University of Georgia. He was given the Medal of Honor for his distinguished service in Iraq. Parents in Talking Creek always use Michael as the epitome of a person being all they can be; in other words a hero.

However everyone is shocked when Michael learns he has cancer; the townsfolk are there for him and his family whole sadly wondering why bad things happen to good people. As he nears death, Michael asks sports reporter Wes Watkins to deliver the eulogy at his funeral. Wes is stunned as he and Michael are strangers, but agrees. He begins digging into the life of the local hero with an ulterior motive of using the story as a ticket out of town to the bigger gigs. However, Wes begins to uncover some shocking secrets in the life of the paragon revered by his town. He ponders who Michael truly was and if he tells the entire truth with what he learned what that says of him as he would push the statue of Mr. perfect off the pedestal.

Michael dies in the very beginning of the book, but readers see who he is through the filtered lens of different people especially his family, the townsfolk and the reporter as each provides their perspective. Character driven, fans will appreciate this terrific insightful look at a Hero's Tribute as to be human means to have flaws, but it takes Amazing Grace to move past them to greatness. With a final twist at the eulogy that will leave readers stunned and wanting to join in on the four song tribute, Graham Garrison provides a strong Christian tale.

Mercury Falls
Robert Kroese
St. Culain Press
9780578032146 $12.00

Banner religious reporter Christine Temetri has heard too often that the End of Times is about to begin. However, she changes her mind about this time it is for real when she meets indifferent Mercury an angel who prefers making Rice Krispy Treats. He informs her that the schedule is set and the Antichrist is a thirty seven years old dropout living in his mom's attic.

Karl Grissom is ready to make his big debut a smashing success. Christine pleads with Mercury to prevent the insanity from occurring. Meanwhile strange bedfellows surface as angels and fallen angels ally either for the end of mankind to begin or to prevent the final curtain. When an effort to kill Karl before he can pronounce who he is to an unsuspecting world fails due to a blunder by Christine and Mercury, Lucifer vows to kill the interfering duo and take out traitors in his ranks and that of God.

Mindful of the Travolta's film Michael, but with a sharper edge, Mercury Falls is a terrific often amusing End of days thriller that takes a wicked shot at the commercialization of Heaven, Hell and everyone in between. Robert Kroese makes a lucid point throughout that there is not much to choose from between the bi-polar opposites as bureaucracies run both in spite of leaders trying otherwise. Readers will enjoy the debate on what the Apocalypse means to angels and demons as each wonders if they will die. The heroes Christine and Mercury prove there are no shortcuts even in death to heaven or hell.

The Semantics of Murder
Aifric Campbell
Serpent's Tail
9781846687334 $14.95

Cocky American Dr. Jay Hamilton moves from Los Angeles to London where he practices psychoanalysis in Kensington. His affluent clientele worship by him and his practice is thriving. However, they are ignorant that Dr. Hamilton has an alter ego.

As J Merritt, he writes stories about psychological analysis that is major sellers. His subjects are the clients he treats as Dr, Hamilton. He also has his own psychotic secret, the murder of his beloved older brother Robert, who raised him. Biographer Dana Flynn visits Jay to interview him about a book she is writing about Robert that leads to an abashed Jay questioning his ethics for using his clients especially Cora as the subjects of his books.

The Semantics of Murder is an intriguing look at ethics as Dana's inquiries into Jay's late hero Robert coaxes him to take a discerning gaze into what he is doing. Robert, who was much older, was more a caring father than a sibling; thus Jay has the epiphany that Robert disappointingly stares down at him. Although the action is minimal, fans who relish a cerebral character driven tale will enjoy Jays' morale reawakening.

The Passport
Herta Muller
Serpent's Tail
9781852421397 $12.95

During the brutal reign of Ceausescu, Windisch wants out of his German village in Romania. In fact he wants out of the country that feels everywhere in his mind as the end instead of a beginning or even a middle. The coffin with the Widow Kroner's name on it symbolizes how he feels as the box remains empty waiting for her to die. Last year to gain a passport to go to West Berlin, he tried bribing the mayor with sacks of flour, but that only left him hungry. The village miller has tried using his daughter and his bitter wife, but so far has been rejected for the passport he needs to go to the west. Amalie with her crystal vase and Katharina who survived five Russian winters by selling her coat and more to make grass soup struggle in the village where women survive by sexual favors to the male elite.

This is a translation of a 1980s indictment of Ceausescu and the Communists who destroyed Romania economically and morally. To survive under the reign even in a tiny remote village, one had to bribe the leaders with whatever one had to include a pretty daughter. The cast makes the tale work while the stark grim brusque writing will stun the audience with its deep message that tyranny at any level destroys.

The Killswitch Review
Steven-Elliot Atman and Diane DeKelb-Rittenhouse
Yard Dog Press
9780982470404 $16.00

By the year 2156, America is a radically different place than it was circa 2009 thanks to incredible scientific breakthroughs. People live for centuries, which lead to overpopulation that makes the Malthusian model understated. Fortress America closed all borders as no immigration is legal. Natives receive full citizenship at thirty years old and junior citizenship at age twenty-five. Anyone younger is considered a child who has not been issued their KV (a Kevorkian type device).

People have the right to commit suicide and are encouraged to do so by using their KV device that is with them at all times.. Jason Haggerty is press review agent of the Government of who sees thelast moments of a suicide's life to make sure that person chose to die and was not murdered. He hooks up with Regina who sees at a Jesus Clone concert a triple press suicide by three of their underage fans. Jason takes the case and ends up almost being the most wanted man on the Federal Government's most wanted list because manufactured evidence incriminates him in all sorts of heinous crimes. He does not who he should trust as he conducts an investigation on o who framed him and to prevent the horrific scheme of mass murders disguised as suicides that seems about to occur.

This futuristic science fiction is loaded with plenty of action, but not at the cost of strong characterizations. Jason is about to use his KV device when he is called on a case that leads to his being on the run from authorities and a new understanding of how precious life is. He also comprehends that Generation Zero may have to wait until their seventies to enjoy citizenship, but Jason's immediate goal is prevent the mass suicides that are planned even if he must die to achieve his objective. He is an anti-hero who has found something worth living and dying for that turns him into an admirable hero even if he fails.

Virtually Dead
Peter May
Poisoned Pen
9781590586709 $24.95

In California, Orange County Forensic Science Service photographer Michael Kapinsky cannot cope with the crippling depression he feels ever since his wife Mora died from cancer. Her medical care ran him into steep debt that he despondently feels he can never climb out of.

Michael agrees to try an experimental online group therapy session as suggested by his shrink. As Chas Chesnokov he joins Second Life with its fourteen million members. Orange County crime scene investigator Janey Amat is a member too; managing the Twist of Fate Detective Agency. Janey is elated to have Michael sign on to SL and join her as her detective partner. Chas also enjoys the company of escort dancer Doobie Littlething. However, Chas soon fears that an online stalker is killing people on SL and in real life as Chas recognizes crime scenes online that match some he has been to as Michael.

This is a terrific thriller that contains strong SL and RL whodunits that link the virtual with the real. However, what makes the tale is the deep look at the psychological uplift of becoming part of a social online network as Peter May takes the audience deep inside the new way we relate and will relate virtually. With a strong investigative mystery and a deep look at a modern day network nation of fourteen million netizens that find the virtual intoxicating, Peter May provides a fascinating exciting thriller; if you have not read this author you are missing one of the best.

The Bone Chamber
Robin Burcell
Poisoned Pen
9781590583753 $24.99

Her superior SAC Harcourt cut short her family vacation before it began so that FBI forensic artist Sydney Fitzpatrick can draw in the features of a faceless corpse of a young woman. When the victim is identified as Alessandra the adopted daughter of the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, Fitzpatrick accompanies FBI Special Agent Zach Griffin to Rome to assist on the investigation.

They search for something called the "Third key" mentioned to Zach by FBI forensic anthropologist Tasha Gilbert who said she has been cursed by a two thousand year old spell before she died in a suspicious hit-and-run accident in the DC area. The two Feds assume the key will lead to a map buried in the crypts of Rome or Naples. They also think that is a clue to a bioterrorist plot being concocted by Carlo Adami.

This is an exciting action packed FBI Brownian thriller. The story line is fast-paced although Sydney's constant whine with no cheese (unlike her emotional personal previous case in Face of a Killer) becomes irritating as if she is the first person to have a vacation delayed. Still the mysterious Zach and Sydney make a strong team as they try to break the Third Key code and find out what Adami has planned.

Death Without Tenure
Joanne Dobson
Poisoned Pen
9781590585856 $24.95

In Massachusetts, Enfield College English Professor Karen Pelletier is up for tenure. Her rival has much less experience and papers than Karen has. However, the department chair is pushing Native American Joe Lone Wolf for the spot.

Upset by what she knows is unfair treatment, Karen is also anxious about her daughter Amanda who is in Kathmandu, Nepal and her boyfriend U.S. National Guard Bureau Lieutenant and State Police Investigator as a civilian Charles Piotrowski deployed to Iraq. When Joe dies from apparent peyote poisoning, the police suspect Karen as she had plenty to gain with the competition removed. Not one to sit by idly, Karen puts aside her personal concerns made worse by a jealous "Person" in the department to investigate and soon locates other suspects from among the faculty, staff and student bodies.

Professor Pelletier's latest amateur sleuth (see The Maltese Manuscript) is a fascinating whodunit that starts off a bit slow as Karen whines about the unfairness of academic life, but accelerates once the heroine gets out of her funk to investigate the homicide. The story line somewhat lampoons the college world as Karen's inquiries lead to stereotype characters from all lines of academia and their related issues. Fans will enjoy the New England English professor who puts aside her companion The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson to investigate who killed her rival.

Assassins of Athens
Jeffrey Siger
Poisoned Pen
9781590586891 $24.95

In Athens, Greece, Police Chief Inspector of the Special Crimes Division Andreas Kaldis arrives at a rundown part of the city to look at a corpse found amongst garbage in a dumpster. At GADA, Andreas' secretary Maggie Sikestis sees the photos of the victim and recognizes he is Sotiris Kostopoulos who is always in the tabloids as part of a menage a trois with the granddaughter of the Linardos clan while his family and hers are at war.

Andreas visits Sotiris' adopted parents Zanni and Ginny, who say nothing to the news or the questions asked by the CI. An affluent publisher Zanni says the only suspects he can think of are Sarantis Linardos and his family as each covets the highly regarded The Athenian newspaper. Meanwhile clues lead the detective to hooker Anna Panitz who admits to taking cash from strangers to entice the victim to go with her to an isolated locale. With pressure mounting from high officials to close the case, Andreas keeps the pressure on the feuding families and their associates.

The latest Kaldis investigation (see Murder in Mykonos) is an enjoyable Greek police procedural Noir as the CI curses out incompetent cops and roughs up crooks while taking fans on a tour of Athens not seen by the Olympics crowd. The story line is fast-paced from the opening moment when Kaldis hammers a cop for tainting a crime scene and never slows down as he stares down everyone except Maggie. Although somewhat linear with not twists, fans will enjoy this tough cop's homicide investigation.

Skinner: Howling Legion
Marcus Pelegrimas
9780061463068 $7.99

Cole was a video games designer at the top of his profession when he realized that creatures of myth and legend are real. There is a secret society that has fought the evil denizen of the dark especially vampires, who go by the nomenclature of Shifters. They fight Nymars (vampires) as well as were shapeshifters who prey on humans and don't stay in their own territory. Cole joins the group and his mentor Paige places him under an intense training regimen physically and using magical weapons to restrain these creatures. He has become a Skinner enforcing the rules (see Full Blood).

A Full Blood werewolf who can change at will creates many half-breeds, who can only exist in wolf form, to take over Kansas City, Missouri. The Full Blood Liam knows that the Nymarr are unorganized so they cause him no concern and another Full Blood is harassing the Skinners. When he liberates his offspring to attack the city Paige and Cole lure them into a deserted area where they kill most of them. That fails to solve the problem because the Full Blood can make more hybrids; they know they must destroy Liam before he can create more Half Breeds, but he alos knows of the two Skinners are in his city so he plans to show them how a Full Blood deals with adversaries.

Part horror and part urban fantasy, Skinner: Howling Legion contains a fantastic world filled with a werewolf species that seems genuine as Marcus Pelegrimas provides his original take on the shapeshifting mythos living up to the motto of the "Show Me" state. Cole and Paige are resolute dedicated warriors who gave up their comfortable middle class lifestyles to risk their lives fighting malevolence. Exciting and thrilling from start to finish, the audience will enjoy a walk on the wild side of Kansas City. Karen Koehler fans will love this book.

Queen Victoria Demon Slayer
A.E. Moorat
9780061976018 $14.99

At the time of the Fall, Lucifer descend into hell with his followers except for Baal and his clan who hr ordered to remain on earth to sow discord and cause wars between the human race. The demons of Baal lost their immortality, but still exist as Queen Victoria will learn on June 19, 1837 when a succubus tries to assassinate her. The Royal ProteKtor and demon hunter Maggie Brown saves the life of Her Highness.

Her new Prime Minister Lord Melbourne tells her bout demons living in England. Meanwhile Lord Quimby unaware of evil in the country is creating zombies in order to conduct medical experiments. Queen Victoria ignores demonic threats as she prepares to marry her beloved Prince Albert. They are happy together until werewolves under the command of someone close to the thrown abduct Albert. Victoria plans to rescue her husband even if it means entering hell.

This supernatural historical thriller has cross genre appeal as Victoria proves to be a nineteenth century Lara Croft; a fighter who understands she must put England and her people first, Albert second. She risks her life to rescue Albert, who has concealed a secret from his wife that could change the course of the future. Magic, mayhem, and royal intrigue combine to make Queen Victoria Demon Slayer an entertaining spellbinder.

The Angelic Way: Angels Through the Ages and Their Meaning for Us
Rami Shapiro
9781933346199 $15.95

Rabbi Rami Shapiro looks deeply at angels in religion and mythology. The major religions share in common several similar traits though has some differences. One thing the Rabbi emphasizes that is common amidst the world religions is the role of angels is to help guide people closer to God and with one another as everyone is linked with everyone else. He also provides an intriguing chapter on Satan The Fallen Angel who "existed" a full millennia before Jesus anchored as a key part of the Zoroastrian religion with his being God's opposite ( assort of Yin and Yang - pardon the mixing of beliefs). As fascinating is the chapter on humans going the opposite way by ascending to heaven rather than angels descending to earth; people like Enoch, Elijah, Isaiah, Rabbi Ishmael, Mary and Muhammad are some of those included. In the Old Testament, angels play major roles as God's agents including Satan whereas Christianity takes the position that Satan is evil trickster able to fool people to act in his image. With other chapters including angelic sightings by key figures of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, this is a rounded fascinating look at what angels have meant over centuries though the prime emphasis is on the Hebrew; as the author is a rabbi.

A Deep Dark Secret
Kimberla Lawson Roby
9780061443091 $19.99

Her mom Roxanne remarried when Jillian Maxwell was seven years old. When her mother gave birth to Layla, her stepfather Byron turned to Jillian for sexual relief starting with fondling her. Now twelve, Jillian is terrorized by her stepfather's abuse but also fears telling her mom; as Byron points out who will she believe a child or a caring adult. He also tells her if he has to he will turn to Layla next to Jillian's horror. To the tweener's relief, Byron's pedophile abuse of another little one becomes known and Roxanne kicks him out of the house. However, he pleads with her and to Jillian's horror, her mom takes him back into their home.

Jillian's BFF confident Nikki is euphoric as she dances with Marcus at a school event. However, he arranges "running a train" with her as the sexual culprit for him and two of his buddies. The trio struts like peacocks at school, which leaves stunned Nikki as a joke contemplating suicide until Jillian steps in for her, Layla and herself against these sexual predators who have turned them into abuse victims.

This is a gripping stunning thriller as the voice of the novel is Jillian who pulls no punches with her fears and horrors as a sexual abuse victim for several years and not quite a teen yet. Jillian makes the tale with her heart-wrenching accounts of her abuse, the blackmail to keep her younger stepsister from becoming abused, and the gangbanging of her best friend. Fans will be stunned with the intensity of this profound tale as Kimberla Lawson Roby provides a deep look at a social issue that many in society prefer to ignore. The sexual abuse of tweeners by friends and family.

Dead Air
Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid
9781933515502 $25.95

In Vermont, communications major Sammy Greene attends Ellsford College where she is also the talk show host of "The Hot Line" on the conservative school's radio station, WELL. The show has no restrictions, which has at times alienated faculty, staff and students; however it is popular because of the anything goes attitude.

When Dr. Burton Conrad is found dead, the police officially claim he killed himself; Sammy has doubts and considers conducting an investigation. However when a student allegedly commits suicide while another is sent from school due to chicken pox but never arrives home' she knows she must probe into what is happening. She finds a link between the students in that both saw Dr. Palmer at the health clinic when he is conducting sort of top secret research project. Meanwhile Reverend Taft leads the Youth Crusade protests against the school and a deliberate fire burns down the radio station. Sammy digs deep not realizing she is under scrutiny by a predator willing to kill to keep a secret concealed.

This is an exciting, enthralling and seat of your pants riveting college amateur sleuth tale starring an intrepid heroine who is used to being in trouble so like any wannabe journalist she investigates. Sammy is terrific holding the story line together while the college cast is solid support. Although the solution and the villain are over the top of the Green Mountains, fans will enjoy Sammy's climb seeking the truth.

Village of the Ghost Bears
Stan Jones
9781569476062 $24.00

Inupiaq Alaskan state trooper Nathan Active is camping with his beloved Grace when they find a corpse in a creek. The pike had eaten away the face of the deceased.

Soon afterward someone sets a fire to the recreation center in the remote village of Chukchi. Eight people including the police chief die in the deadly inferno.

Nathan investigates both cases of homicide. At the same time, apparent polar bear poaching, an illegal act as the animal is protected by law, makes his inquiry much more dangerous and convoluted especially the body in the brook inquiry.

The latest Nathan Active police procedural (see Frozen Sun) is a terrific Alaskan thriller that hooks the reader early with its stark beautiful description of remote Alaska mostly from an aerial view. Nathan is his super self working exciting twisting investigations into homicides and poaching that look like Bridges to Nowhere except for his diligence, and his romance enhances the plot as he turns to a native healer for advice. However, Alaska owns this super tale as Stan Jones provides a deep look at a remote part of the state.

The Rules of Play
Jennie Walker
9781569476253 $20.00

As the cricket match between England and India occurs, she wonders about changing the rules of engagement in sports and in life. Her husband is a nice bloke caught up with the test match; so much so he explains the rules of play to his bored wife who asks him feigning interest while dreaming of her lover explaining the rules of an affair to her. Her lover enjoys a bit of mystery in their trysts as if she enables him to ignore his work as a loss adjuster insurance agent. Her sixteen years old stepson wants nothing to do with her or his father as he plays by his own rules.

However, it is her marriage that has left her feeling ennui leading to her pondering whether the rules of cricket apply to the rules of an extramarital affair or for that matter life and marital and extramarital relationships. She muses whether extraordinary circumstances like hitting a seagull change the rules of cricket, which albeit implies if yes one should alos be able to change the rules of life.

The Rules of Play is not for everyone as it has an English philosophical spin that challenges what exactly are the rules of society, who made them and who is the enforcer and referee of them. The cast is purposely stereotyped to fill a specific relational role i.e., husband, lover, and stepson in the life of the narrator who not only holds the first person account focused but is the only multi dimensional character. Fans who relish something cerebrally different will relish the Rules of Play in life as cricket is unfair. To those who lose at either game.

The Sheriff's Surrender
Susan Page Davis
9781602605626 $10.97

In 1885 in Fergus, Idaho, single Gert Dooley has taken care of her brother the widower Hiram for years. However, she gets back in return the use of guns as he is the town's gunsmith. In fact she can outshoot any man in town, which alienates many of the males and is secretly applauded by the females.

When a killer arrives in Fergus, Gert thinks it is time for women to learn to protect themselves rather than depend on men who may not be at their side when they need help. She forms the Ladies' Shooting Club, who has women signing up while men complain that it is unnatural for females to shoot guns as they might hurt themselves. As she continues her mentoring, Gert and the new sheriff Ethan Chapman are attracted to each other. He likes her grit and is unashamed about her shooting skills being superior to his while she is stunned as love is something she has never felt before.

The Sheriff's Surrender is an enjoyable historical romance starring a wonderful heroine and the law enforcement official who loves her. The story line is a bit thin as the killer takes a back seat to Gert's activities while readers will think of wider possibilities. However, Susan Page Davis' version of Annie Get Your Gun is fun to read as the men in late nineteenth century Idaho are irate and ashamed that a girl can outshoot them and to their chagrin teaching their women to do so too.

The Sculptor
Gregory Funaro
9780786022120 $6.99

Dr. Cathy Hildebrant is a shy retiring art history professor at Brown University and the author of Slumbering in the Stone, the bestselling definitive work on Michelangelo. Like everyone else residing in Providence, Rhode Island, the art historian is aware of the disappearance of football hero Tommy Campbell just prior to the Superbowl, but like almost everyone else Cathy has no reason to think the NFL player's vanishing has anything to do with her.

However, she learns differently when FBI Special Agent Sam Markham arrives at her door to ask her to accompany him to a crime scene. At the estate of a broker, she is shown the corpse of Tommy posed with a young faun arranged to look like Michelangelo's Bacchus with a plaque dedicating the horrific arrangement "For Dr. Hildebrant". The Sculptor hero worships Michelangelo placing the great artist on a pedestal as he plans on using human corpses to replicate the Pieta at an exhibit. The FBI hires Dr. Hildebrandt as a consultant due to her knowledge of Michelangelo and the serial killer's high regard of her. However the psychopath changes his opinion of her when he believes she betrayed him so he plans on her being the piece de resistance of his next great work of deadly art.

There are more discussions between characters than usual in a serial killer thriller so the audience understands what motivates each key player even the title character. Yet there is plenty of action centered on the gruesome exhibits of The Sculptor and the Feds efforts to end his methodical reign of terror. Although over the top of the Sistine Chapel, the audience will enjoy this creative roller coaster ride as Dr. Hildebrant learns horridly first hand art imitates art. Gregory Funaro displays a strong talent and if justice prevails his exciting novel will sell a hell of a lot more than his heroine's book.

Trial by Fire
J. A. Jance
9781416563808 $25.99

In Sedona, Arizona, former TV reporter Ali Reynolds obtains a media-relations position with the Yavapai County Sheriff's Department. Ali knows to tread carefully as her predecessor Information Officer Devon Ryan, on administrative leave pending an investigation into illegal activity, got into a physical altercation with Cononimo Courier reporter Oscar Reyes who may sue the department for the black eye he received at a news conference.

Ali handles the press as the cops investigate a suspicious fire that left a Jane Doe barely alive with third degree burns, an ability to communicate by winking only, and amnesia. Also at Saint Gregory's Hospital is Sister Anselm, known as the "Angel of Death," for her nurturing of unidentified patients; she provides comfort to the latest injured soul. Meanwhile Ali sneaks into the burn unit to obtain more information from the victim while a killer targets the nursing nun, but soon teams up with the Sister.

In her latest case (see Cruel Intentions), readers need to ignore why a public relations specialist would investigate an attempted murder-arson because this is an engaging amateur sleuth tale that fans will enjoy although the action is limited as Ali mostly works her Mojo in the burn unit. Still fans will appreciate the teaming up of the nun and the former reporter as they make an intriguing pairing working together to solve the mystery.

The Lute Player
Norah Lofts
9781439146071 $16.00

Blondel the lute player loves Berengaria the wife of his sire, King Richard the Lionhearted although he does not act on his regard for several reasons and not just because he would be executed. He knows the woman he cherishes above all else loves her husband and beside he is the king's companion and would never be disloyal. Berengaria's hunchbacked sister Anna Apieta is attracted to Blondel while Richard loves Crusading and men.

When Richard heads off for Jerusalem, Blondel accompanies him mostly because of his love for Berengaria. After they failed, he returns home with his monarch until the king is captured in France. He continues home not sure how to break the news to the woman he loves.

The Lute Player is a terrific medieval fiction in which the audience obtains a less romantic but totally human view of King Richard the Lionhearted and the Crusades through the eyes of four people impacted by the monarch and the war. Besides the title player, the audience learns how the queen and her sister feel as well as the ruler's mother Eleanor of Aquitaine. With a strong antiwar message as the horrors come home to roost to those on the home front, Norah Lofts provides a super historical showcasing the effect of the Third Crusade on Richard's mother and wife.

Heart Of The Witch
Alicia Dean
Love Spell
9780505528261 $6.99

In Okalahoma City, the Tin Man serial killer abducts witch Rayvn Skyler planning to rape her before he kills her. Irate, she breaks the prime rule of her coven by setting his crotch ablaze before escaping. He survives her counter assault, but is outraged that his chosen prey harmed him and escaped before he could inscribe on her corpse in blood his moniker The Tin Man, irate he vows vengeance.

Meanwhile mortal former homicide detective Nick Lassiter knows he finally has the bait to run down the Tin Man whom he obsesses over ending the psychopath's terror. He plans to use Rayvn who wonders about this Nick who seems to be nearby every time she blinks. At the same time her former lover Kayne has become apparently insane as his soul is filled with ambitious evil plans for world domination. Between Kayne and the Tin Man ruining her life and anyone close to her like her sister and mom, Rayvn fears most for not so mundane Nick.

This is a fast-paced fun to read serial killer romantic urban fantasy, but has too many major subplots that lead to abrupt transitions. The readers and Rayvn know the bad guys from almost the beginning, but that enhances those two thriller threads as the audience anticipates confrontations. With a deep look inside the politics of a coven on top of the non-stop action, sub-genre readers will agree with Nick that the Heart of the Witch is captivating and bewitching.

Divorced, Desperate And Deceived
Christie Craig
Love Spell
9780505527981 $6.00

Divorcee Kathy Callahan has interest in one man though her friends are unaware whom she desperately wants to make it with. Plumber Stan Bradley seems interested in her, but abruptly stopped showing his attraction as if she was a fungus. With her son spending a month with his dad, Kathy decides to go for her hunk.

Stan has not lost interest, but instead fears he will hurt Kathy. He believes a lasting relationship cannot occur for someone the FBI placed in witness protection program changing his name from Luke Hunter. However, as Kathy starts her seduction, those wanting Luke dead have tracked him down. Instead of being on the lam alone, he is on the run with the woman he loves even if this is his worst nightmare.

The third Divorced, Desperate and D tale (see … and Dating; and … and Delicious) is an amusing contemporary romance starring a strong cast; especially deep besides the DDD heroine are the guys and Goodwill (just keep your toes safe). Fans will enjoy this fine amusing frolic as the determined delightful divorcee decides on the plumber with secrets.

Stephanie Rowe
Love Spell
9780505527769 $7.99

Luke Webber ran away from his affluent slick past to change his lifestyle as he hated what he was doing. He is happy being a bush pilot in Alaska. No one asks about his past and people seem to genuinely care for one another; they have your back.

Luke is upset when slick dressing Isabella Kopas in her four digit priced gown arrives as a reminder of his past and Marcus Fie; especially the bullet in her shoulder. He recognizes the hoodlums chasing her as he used to be one of them. However, Luke fears for his new friends especially his crazy partner as he knows firsthand that acceptable collateral damage from his old crowd is the norm.

Although over the top of Mount McKinley, no one will care as Chill grips the audience from the moment Luke flies into trouble and never lands until the final confrontation with his former peers from his past. The story line is action-packed even before Isabella flees for her life and as Luke struggles to keep Isabella and his Alaskan cronies safe from his former associates. Think of Grosse Point Blank without the satirical spin in Alaska.

Bandit Queen
Jane Candia Coleman
9780843963458 $6.99

In 1886 she left Toledo Ohio to marry Frank Hart, but sixteen year old Pearl quickly learns her spouse is an abusive gambler. He wasted the money she earned singing at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and Exposition; demanding she earn more. Unable to accept more from her nasty husband after he broke her ribs, Pearl runs away heading to Phoenix.

Frank follows her trail and continues his ugly treatment of his wife who loses hope. However, she feels relief she will have a breather when Frank enlists to fight in the Spanish-American War. With no income and her other choice being a whore Pearl robs a stagecoach. She becomes renowned as the Bandit Queen who is finally caught, escapes, but is captured again. In 1899 she is convicted of robbery after using a Women's Rights defense based on the options society allowed her of marriage or prostitution and becomes the first female incarcerated at Yuma Penitentiary.

This is an enjoyable biographical fiction tale of a complex individual who rejects marital abuse and prostitution so she makes her own path in a society that allowed no other options for model class females. Fans will enjoy Jane Candia Coleman's fine tale based on a true person that reminds the audience how far women have come from critical restrictions based on de facto racism and sexism..

Getting Lucky
Elaine Barbieri
9780843963205 $7.99

In 1849 a "Walker" on the trek west after losing her wagon and animals, Tessa White buried her parents on the way to making a fortune; she lost everything she owned. She manages to make it to San Francisco Plaza near Lucky Monroe's gambling tent. Although he prefers to ignore her as Lucky knows she is bad for business if she remains where she is; he helps the waif anyway.

Tessa swears she will pay him back, but Lucky prefers she leave and forget the debt. He offers her passage anywhere, but she rejects his offer. Instead Tessa says her home cooked meals will sell and increase his business. To his shock, it does. Still he wants her so he wants her to leave as someone as virgin pure cannot live in purgatory. However, trouble comes not from the obvious sources, but a jealous brothel owner Delilah and Lucky's refusal to accept what his heart tells him.

This is an entertaining straightforward western romance in which the auricle knows what to expect as the characters are out of sub-genre casting 101, yet relishes every moment. The story line is fast-paced from the first confrontation between the gambler and the walker over breakfast and never slows as an inferno threatens lives. Fans will enjoy this fine historical made fresh with tidbits on walkers and the city during the Gold Rush.

Lullaby for the Nameless
Sandra Ruttan
9780843962864 $7.99

Two bodies are found far apart; one in the mountainous woods near Kelowna while the other is found in a dumpster. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Detectives Constables Hart and Tain are sent to investigate the corpse in the dumpster while Constable Nolan works the case in the rural area as he is already is near Kelowna as part of a manhunt for deadly Hank Kurtis Jeffers.

The investigations begin to merge though geographically at a distance, but also ties back to that infamous first case that brought a then newbie Hart to work with feuding Tain and Nolan. His role is to keep them from fighting, but they simply kept him on the out. They must work together as they have recently done (see The Frailty of the Flesh and What Burns Beneath), but none of the trio want that as they each remember their stubbornness led to avoidable deaths.

This is a super Canadian police procedural that uses flashbacks to fill in more of the back story that has left the three detectives alienated from one another. The story line is fast-paced from the opening moment readers join Nolan trekking and musing across the mountainous path while thinking of his previous manhunt re murderess Lisa Hamilton. The plot never slows down even with the back story and rotating first person perspective between the three antagonist-constables. Fans will relish this strong investigative thriller enhanced by reading the previous two engagements starring a dysfunctional threesome.

Fallen Rogue
Amy Rench
9780505528124 $6.99

In Hood River, Oregon remote field botanist Bobby Kane tells his visiting sister Harper, an Olympics caliber swimmer, to run with a box he had hidden. Those chasing after him soon shoot him. Inside the box she retrieved are a computer flash drive and a syringe filled with a liquid. The killers who murdered her sibling come after Harper as they want the box. As she flees the scene, she accidentally injects herself with whatever was in the needle. Instantly she changes as a blinding light kills those trying to murder her.

Government agent Rome Lucian is sent to retrieve Harper. He succeeds, but becomes upset when she becomes a guinea pig experiment. He abets her escape, but criminals and feds chase after them; with each team interchangeable as his death is acceptable and her capture essential in the name of research. All she wants is to avenge her sibling's murder except for her attraction to Rome

Fallen Rogue starts off faster than the speed of light and accelerates from there as the story line never slows down until the final confrontation. Harper is conflicted between a need to murder those who killed her brother and chase after her, and knowing the cost will be her soul and the corollary belief that she will never see her beloved Rome again. Adding to her dilemma is she knows she will die as those who used the serum have before her have done. She makes the tale with her personal choices that will have readers wondering to kill or not to kill that is the question.

Rosetta Stones
Catherine Parra Dix
Central Ave. Press
978-0979845222 $14.95

The four high school students ditch school as expected by graduating seniors. Javen Schroeder, Antonia Pacheco, Joey Diaz and Sonny Goretti drive to the nearby Gila wilderness in New Mexico on Senior Ditch Day. On the drive, Javen tosses beer at a hitchhiker before they reach their destination.

Soon afterwards as the guys are by the water, Antonia is by herself when a boy arrives to sit with her. Adolph introduces himself, but his touching her frightens Antonia who leaves to join her friends. Later she and Joey see Adolph raping a battered Dolores. When they intercede Adolph shoots Joey in the chest. Sonny and Javen arrive to beat up and contain Adolph. As they call the cops and rush to take Joey to the hospital, Dolores dies and Adolph escapes. With the police on a manhunt, Joey dies while Javen delays telling Antonia how he feels about her. Adolph remains free stalking Antonia as she is number ten and no one escapes his countdown.

This is a fascinating high school thriller that is character driven as Antonia and Sonny, and to a lesser degree Javen, are forced to grow up abruptly with the horrors that Adolph does to their friends and the threat to them by his remaining free. Rotating perspective mostly between Antonia and Javen, but also less frequently Joey, Sonny and Adolph, this is a fast-paced tale from the moment the psychopath arrives on the scene. With a hint of the paranormal and the isolation of the Gila wilderness section of New Mexico (though cell phones somewhat keep you in touch), fans will appreciate this dark tale as Antonia seeks the Rosetta Stones of life to explain why people do bad things to good people.

The Black Minute
Christopher Valen
North Star Press
9780878393329 $14.95

St. Paul, Minnesota Homicide Detective John Santana leads the investigation into the murder of a twenty something Asian woman on Harriet Island. He learns that her name was Mai Yang, a Hmong, whose father was a general who fought on the American side during the Viet Nam war. She was also an Internet prostitute whose partner Jenna Jones is shocked.

John and his partner Kacie Hawkins interview Grace Chandler who found the body; to his shock he is attracted to her as he avoids personal entanglements since his Columbia childhood. They next visit the father who is icy cold and the brother Kou who is shocked. He heads to the Myth Club where Mai was on Saturday night to see if anyone can verify she was there and with whom. There John is further stunned by a woman who looks like his sister, whom he has not seen in two decades. When Jenna and Hmong gang members are killed, John and Kacie know they must solve the cases before a blood bath between clans and gangs occur; increasingly Kou looks guilty in what may be a vendetta in honor of his sister, but the murders have the precision of a military leader.

The second John Santana St. Paul police procedural (see White Tombs) is a terrific thriller that contains a strong investigation, insight into the hero's past in Columbia and fascinating look at immigrants. The case engages the reader as John and Kacie follow the clues. The story line includes a special freshness interwoven within the inquiry that enables the audience to obtain an interesting perspective on the similar issues confronting first generation immigrants from diverse countries with specificity on the Hmong culture in Minnesota. Christopher Valen provides the audience with his second straight winning whodunit.

Cobra Alliance
Timothy Zahn
9781439133064 $24.00

Following the hostilities that led to the Troft claiming the human colonies of Adirondack and Silvern, the Earth leadership realized they could not win a sustained war against the superior enemy. They changed tactics from space battles to guerilla ground warfare and created the Cobra force of specialized warriors containing lethal nanotech weapons surgically placed on the body of the soldier.

Decades have passed with interplanetary warfare part of the history books and the Troft no longer hostile enemies. Leaders question the need for Cobra as it is costly and fears of losing freedom abound. However, that changes when a Troft force attacks Oasama. The next generations' warriors from families like that of the Moreau whose matriarch and oldest son step forward as Cobra comes to the rescue of a planet that has been vocal about eliminating Cobra.

This terrific military science fiction is a super return to the worlds of Cobra as the underlying conflicts are not just against the Troft. The Qasaman do not want Cobra on their planet, but also do not want the Troft, so they try to manipulate both. The characterizations are extremely emaciated except for the mother-son relationship in which mom is showing her age and her offspring is ready to take charge and put her in the home for old solders. Filled with personal courage and action, Timothy Zahn makes a case that the U.S. Army's seven values of LDRSHIP remain a strong core for future deployed in space military soldiers.

Galileo's Dream
Kim Stanley Robinson
Spectra (Random House)
9780553806595 $26.00

To the colonists on the moons of Jupiter, Galileo is the prophet who led humanity on the first great leap into space with his telescope. He is a God in the future, but in his own Renaissance time in Italy, he faces condemnation by the Church for heretic acts.

As he faces trial that could lead to his burning, a man calling himself Ganymede claims to have come from the far future to consult with him and encourage him in 1609 Padua. Ganymede knows his side in a future debate over mankind wants to bring Galileo forward in time in order to save the man and change history; others also want to influence history perhaps by insuring Galileo burns at the stake rather than go under house arrest.

This is a thought provoking alternate history science fiction that is not an easy read, but worth the time for those who relish a cerebral thriller. Galileo makes the story line with a mix of diverse emotions like a need to advance science but a fear of what he is doing. With an underlying message that humanity must stay alert to keep those who claim divine communication to thwart advances by burning scientific research on a media inferno. Fans will appreciate Kim Stanley Robinson's deep tale that connects renaissance Italy with man in space.

The Skeptical Romancer
W. Somerset Maugham and Pico Iyer (editor)
Everyman's Library (Random House)
9780307272126 $24.00

W. Somerset Maugham is renowned for his highly regarded novels like of Human Bondage. However, less known is that the late author was a world traveler who wrote articles and letters about the locations he saw as a boy in Spain, a spy in Russia, traveling in Asia during the Great Depression and much more including the United States. Although a few of these short observations are known by readers especially those from The Land of the Blessed Virgin released in 1905 (included as a section As A Very Young Traveler) most probably are not remembered. The other chapters are Sketches of China (from On a Chinese Screen, 1922), Across Southeast Asia (from The Gentleman in the Parlour, 1930) and A Life in Retrospect (from The Partial View, 1954). With over sixty entries and a chronology of the author's life matched up again major world events, fans of Mr. Maugham or those who appreciate a different type of travelogue that looks at the human condition will want to read this fine collection. Fans will understand better the underlying motives to the late writer's masterpiece plays and novels as he matured from that boy in Spain to an adult horrified with what man can do to man yet somehow remained optimistic even into his sixties and beyond when the obituary column was constantly loaded with his peer group.

Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer
Laini Taylor
Firebird Fantasy
9780142411681 $9.99

Over twenty-five millennia ago, the faeries trapped the demons into bottles that were secured by magical incantations before tossing them into the sea. One thousand years later humans appear on the scene. They find the prisons, receive three wishes and begin to counter the spells not realizing just what is incarcerated. These self centered "mannies" begin to undo the heroic work of the champions by freeing the demons

The faerie community is stunned with what the mannies are doing as they cannot comprehend why would anyone release evil onto themselves and other species including those who have gone into hiding. Most of the faeries do not want to become involved, but a few have become demon hunters. The only demon slayer in her community, Magpie Windwitch, who has killed over twenty demons, has no choice when malevolent "uncreator" Blackbringer prepares to attack her home Dreamdark having killed an immortal. She and her loyal crows try to wake up the inert Djinn Magruwen with the horrific news that Blackbringer has killed one of his seven and is coming for him and Dreamdark. However, to her shock the all mighty Djinn refuses to get involved as what he and his peers created has been devastated by those who only care for their immediate hedonistic needs.

This is an entertaining young teen save the world fantasy due to the mythological species seeming genuine especially the faeries, crows, Magruwen and one particularly nasty demon. Magpie is a fascinating but anticipated heroine who in her new role of world saving champion learns personal secrets. With an ethical message that encourages hard work, honesty and caring for others, Magpie and her crows have setbacks as they blunder and make errors, but never give up. Young adult readers will join her band of warriors to end Blackbringer's reign of terror.

The Secret Year
Jennifer R. Hubbard
9780670011537 $16.99

Sixteen years old Colt relaxes in his room when he gets a call from Syd who tells him that Julia Vernon died in a car accident. Neither Syd nor their friends knew that Colt and Julia were secretly seeing one another for the past year. They hid their relationship because she was from the Black Mountain country club wealthy set and he was from the dirt poor flats.

Both of them enjoyed sex and being with each other every Friday night, but had to ignore one another in school. Her brother gives Colt Julia's diary because almost every entry involves him, and how much she wanted to be with him; yet also relished being part of the in-crowd even though that meant her public boyfriend was Austen who she did not like. Colt reads the diary and wonders who Julia really was and how will he move on without her as he struggles to get on with his life while grieving in silence.

First love can prove disconcerting under ideal conditions, but when social, economic, race, religious difference also are part of the relationship, it can prove extremely difficult. Colt and Julia had a tough time of it due to the social class differences between them. Readers get to know Julia through the mindset of people like Colt but mostly via her dairy; she was a troubled teen unable to break down her feelings for Colt from her need for social acceptance by her peers. Colt is disturbed by how much he cared for Julia as he has to still conceal his feelings especially his grief as the other man and still find a way to move on. The Secret Year is a strong teen relationship drama.

Shades of Grey
Jasper Fforde
9780670019632 $25.95

It has been hundreds of years since the formation of the Colortocracy was formed to rule the world. The rules are 100 percent enforced with a rigid restrictiveness based on the color scale. What one sees is where one fits in this international color caste system.

Red Eddie Russett hopes to climb the chromatic ladder by marrying up a notch or two. However, when Eddie meets lowlife Grey masses Jane G-23; he is stunned by his attraction as she is so beneath his level. He is further stunned when he accompanies his father sent to the Outer Fringes as the Swatchman where he meets shunned historian, the Apocryphal who encourages Eddie to learn the truth behind the apocalyptic event from centuries ago that led to the color caste system. As Eddie seeks questions to what happened then and now, the Collective is after him as is Jane G-23.

This is a brilliant satire using the color spectrum to lampoon society. The story line is well written but the color of Jasper Fforde overwhelms all else including in some respects the plot, the underlying message and the hero as the audience will remain spellbound by the vivid descriptions even that of the Shades of Grey. Mr. Fforde is at his best with this super look at how we "see" the world.

Dream Stalker
Jenna Kernan
Silhouette Nocturne
9780373618255 $5.25

In Alberta, Canada, the nightmares and hallucinations are increasing in frequency and intensity leading to Native American Michaela Proud fearing she might be going insane. However, her nocturnal dreams turn uglier when she is attacked. She wakes up in pain to find a man kneeling near her bed soothing her aches.

Inanoka shapeshifting skinwalker and healer Sebastian tells Michaela she is perfectly normal except that her spirit is under assault by an evil spirit Nagi. He also says he cannot heal her spirit but takes her to someone who can even as he is confused by his feelings towards the non believing human who is his soul mate.

This is an enjoyable romantic fantasy that uses Native American mythology as the basis for the strong story line. The lead couple makes a fascinating pairing as neither wants love, but have no choice while the villain is sinister and evil torturing the mind of the proud female. Sub-genre fans will appreciate Jenna Kernan's superb thriller as beauty and the beast battle the evil that holds all the cards in the deck except for two: the king and queen of hearts.

Holiday With A Vampire III
Linda Winstead Jones, Lisa Childs and Bonnie Vanak
Silhouette Nocturne
9780373618248 $5.25

"Sundown" by Linda Winstead Jones. Vampiric bar owner Abby Brown is attracted to police detective Leo Stryker as she assist him on his investigation into a homicide related to her establishment.

"Nothing Says Christmas Like a Vampire" by Lisa Childs. After burying her beloved Nana, Sienna Briggs learns that vampires exist. The Secret Vampire Society orders Julian Vossimer to kill her as demanded by their laws; instead he wants to love her.

"Unwrapped" by Vampire Bonnie Vanak. In Maine six gremlins give vampire Adrian Thorne a Christmas gift. They dump draicon werewolf Sarah Roberts on him. He never forgave her for breaking his heart refusing to accept their species are natural enemies, but he needs the werewolf to help him track down some nasty intruder.

These are three delightful urban fantasy vampire romances that will charm those readers who enjoy a Holiday with a Vampire.

Double Trouble
Susan May Warren
9781414313139 $13.99

PJ Sugar roamed the world for ten years, getting in and out of trouble while having fun adventures until she realized that chapter of her life was closed; it was time to go home. She lives in her sister's house in Kellogg, Minnesota with her brother-in-law, his parents and their child; and works as an apprentice to private detective Jeremy Kane. Detective Daniel "Boone" Buck wants to marry her seeing that the girl he loved a decade ago is the woman he loves now though she has doubts as she has come a long way since then.

Jeremy sees Sugar as she is today with no romantic lens filtering their relationship; though he deems her unready for dangerous work. Instead he assigns her to impersonate free spirited Dally Morrison, who is to testify against gang leader and drug lord Billy Finch. Fearing Finch has sent a hit man to kill her, Dally needs a new hiding place. PJ's impersonation works too well as she is kidnapped and Dally's house is broken into. The easy assignment has turned dangerous but PJ feels ready for prime time. She likes Dally's neighbor and the group who plays on Dally's softball team and considers deeply how she feels about the two men already in her life.

Susan May Warren has written an intriguing mystery filled with humor and excitement. The heroine is trying to learn just who she is and who she wants without hurting Boone or Jeremy, which makes all three in diverse ways endearing to the audience although Double Trouble for PJ. The whodunit is intricately designed to insure the reader has Nothing But Trouble discerning who abducted Sugar acting as Dally.

The Courteous Cad
Catherine Palmer
9780842375559 $12.99

In 1817 in Yorkshire, Prudence Watson tells her sister Mary that she will never marry but follow in the footsteps of her crusader friend Betsy. Mary points out that Elizabeth "Betsy" Fry is married with children. Pru insists she may never wed or have offspring, although she acknowledges Betsy does work hard to improve the plight of the poor women whose options are limited.

Prudence aims at reforming mills with a desire to rescue children who work exorbitant hours in unsafe and unhealthy conditions. Her first target is the mill in Otley, owned by Royal Naval officer William Sherbourne, just home from a deployment at sea. As the reformer and the cad mee, argue and fall in love, each has secrets that society tattler Miss Pickworth seems to know.

The latest Miss Pickworth Regency romance is an enjoyable tale due to the solid lead couple as the resolute reformer refuses to answer to anyone except God while the Courteous Cad answers to the crusader and both respond to that telltale tattler. Although several subplots never ties back to the gender war, fans will enjoy the latest Miss Pickworth alliteration as these affectionate adversaries fall in love.

Belinda Bauer
Simon & Schuster
9781439149447 $23.00

Nineteen years ago, eleven years old Billy went to buy cards, but never came home. A year later a man flashed teen Mason Dingle who reported him to the police. Avery is a pedophile serial killer working his horrors in the Exmoor region of England. Caught he takes to police to the graves of his young victims. He never identified his prey but Billy was assumed to be one of them.

Billy's nephew Steven lives in his Nan's house with his mom and younger brother in Shipcolt near Exmoor. It is a house of pain and anguish as Nan looks out the window hoping her Billy comes home. Billy's room remains the same as a holy shrine while Nan suffers from guilt for not watching over him more carefully. Steven wants desperately the loving approval of his aloof mom and distracted grandma so comes up with a plan to achieve it. He sends a letter to Avery asking him for the location of where Billy is buried hoping the remains will provide closure to the grieving adults. Avery receives a picture of Exmoor and sees a reflection of Steven. The convicted killer plots to escape to get to Steven, who has forgotten all about his correspondence as his home life has taken a happy turn.

Blacklands explores the impact of a disappearing child on the surviving family members, even those not born at the time of the violent crime that takes away a loved one. The characters are fully developed including Avery. Fans anticipate the clash between an aging pedophile still following his impulses and the tweener who though he seeks the approval of his matriarchs is no victim; just ask the bullies he eludes all the time.

Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson
Lyndsay Faye
Simon and Schuster
9781416583318 $14.00

In 1939, Dr. John Watson recalls the gruesome events in 1888 in Whitechapel that terrorized the residents of London. The terror began with a violent murder followed rather quickly with an equally brutal killing. London was shaken by the viciousness of the violence in a part of town used to cruelty.

Sherlock Holmes joins the Scotland Yard investigation into the two homicides to the elation of beleaguered Inspector Lestrade. As Holmes begins to interrogate family members, more murders occur and the media calls the killer "Jack the Ripper". When Jack learns of Holmes' interest in the murder spree, he sends the great sleuth taunting notes. Holmes follows clues that lead to confrontation with Ripper who severely slashes the detective. When Sherlock vanishes to heal and the exorbitant murder spree stops, investigative reporter Dunlevy proclaims Holmes is probably the Ripper.

The Ripper serial murders are used more as a means to provide the audience with a deep look at Holmes and late Victorian England through the aging memory of what Watson recalls of late ninetieth century London. Who Ripper is proves not important as the audience will figure out early on his identity, but his reign of terror leads to a deep look at Holmes and a very competent Lestrade struggling to not lose it as he begins to suffer from PTSD with the case dragging on and the murder count rising. Holmes fans will enjoy this fresh take on the great detective although he has battled Ripper before (see Michael Didbin's The Last Sherlock Holmes Story).

The Five Greatest Warriors
Matthew Reilly
Simon & Schuster
9781416577577 $25.00

The Dark Star has begun it entry to the solar system. If it is allowed to continue its arrival, the earth will be destroyed by the negative solar energy this sun emits.

Australian adventurer Jack West Jr. knows that life has survived the last visit, but not how. He and his team begin a desperate race to find a way to prevent pandemic calamity from occurring. As he and his squad work on solving seemingly indecipherable riddles, some people believe the Dark Star should come to earth. They try to prevent Jack and company from succeeding; and with time running out they look like they will achieve their objective.

The pace of this entertaining thriller is faster than Indiana Jones as Jack and his teammates go from one adventure to another without a respite. The story line is action, action and nth degree action. Although the plot is over the top of Mt. Kosciusko (make that Mt. Everest) fans who ignore plausibility will want to go along for the ride (see Seven Ancient Wonders and The Six Sacred Stones).

Blood Revenge
David Thor
Cosacinco Press
9780982487709 $23.95

In 1974 on Xiamen Island Tan and Jan Yi welcome the ruling Communist Party to their home where they plot to remove their opposition to returning China and back to the glory days of the Maoist revolution. When their two children, fourteen year old Ellen and her older brother Ren almost die in their cleansing, they send them to American where they attend the Leyden Academy in Yakima.

Also in 1974, Lieutenant Suan Moon is conducting biological weapon research in Vladivostok, but still grieving the death of his wife and unborn child, he insures the future of his son Doug in America before killing himself and his project. However, he died in vain as his government watched him closely and obtained copies of his research while his son attends the Leyden Academy in Yakima.

In 2004 the patient plotting of the 1970s begin to prove fruitful. Three years later while a hurricane bears down the Gulf Coast, Providence Hospital sexagenarian Dr. James Bali receives a frantic call from the Coast Guard in which they are bringing in survivors from an accident not yet investigated including someone taken from an oil platform. Dr. Bali meets the rescue helicopter only to find a corpse that had been somehow rubberized. He knows what he is looking at though he prayed he never would see this outside of some horror text book. Biological warfare has come to Mobile.

This is a fast-paced tale with a modern day Manchurian Candidate like spin to the plot. The story line starts off in low gear as the players and their background are provided, but once Bali meets the survivor and the vulcanized corpses, Blood Revenge never looks back as the plot accelerates to ultra speed. The race against the terrorist doomsday clock by the lead character and a few other heroes struggling to prevent a horrific calamity make for a super thriller.

The Rook
Steven James
9780451412812 $7.99

In San Diego, FBI Special Agents Patrick Bowers and Lien-hua Jiang investigate several suspicious fires in conjunction with the San Diego metro Arson Strike team (MAST). The latest at a naval research center is a change in M.O. but the agents believe the work is by the same perpetrator who does not act like a terrorist, a thrill seeker, or covering a crime until the last one was committed.

A geo-spatial profiler with a great success record, Pat begins to theorize that the earlier arsons were practice for something in the lab. The two Feds soon connect dots from the fire to an abduction, an apparent suicide that looks suspiciously more like a homicide and something called Project Rukh. Behind the scenes is a grandmaster playing everyone including Bowers, his rebellious stepdaughter Tessa, Jiang, and others like a virtuosos moving pawns to do Shade's bidding.

The sequel to the Pawn is a terrific FBI police procedural with a strong cast including a nasty brilliant villain who makes every move like a chess grandmaster. Tessa helps personalize Pat as each mourns the loss of her mom, his wife one year ago. With some humor adding to the fun of a strong thriller filled with a myriad of story lines that at times feel as if several chess games were going on at once until they converge, fans will relish the exciting action-packed yet character driven the Rook as Pat explains the true importance of profiling to the audience.

Laura Resnick
9780756405953 $7.99

New York actress Esther Diamond waits for her next gig, but brings in needed cash while resting between roles as a singing waitress at Bella Stella because the patrons when they are not killed are mobsters who everyone knows are the best tippers. As she shares Ben and Jerry with NYPD Irish-Cuban police detective Connor Lopez, the deceased gangsters suddenly return to life.

Connor leads the investigations into the dead firing guns with real ammo. At the same Eastern Standard Time, Esther and her unwise in the way of street magic but a guru with magic-Magic, Max the Magician and his crime fighting companion Nelli the saliva canine queen at her side, also makes inquiries on a slightly different plane than the cops as a gang war from beyond threaten the streets of Manhattan.

The sequel to Disappearing Nightly is an amusing urban fantasy starring a wonderful heroine surrounded by a horde of eccentrics, one straight cop, and one interfering matchmaking mom. The jocular story line is filled with a fast-paced frenzy from the first magical mugging until the last as Esther proves once again to be a reader's best friend with her misadventures in Manhattan mystical mayhem.

Only You
Deborah Grace Staley
Bell Bridge
9780982175637 $14.95

Angel Ridge, Tennessee with fewer than five hundred residents is a town in which everyone knows one another especially their place in a two class society as the rich founding families dominate the supporting masses. Not part of the elite, Josie Allen left Angel Ridge for seven years obtaining various degrees in Library Science, but has come home to be Director of the town's library. The society ladies expect Josie to remain within her upper class origins and getting the program she created for the library working so that the Internet interface with the library collection is bug free.

Nobody including Josie expected her to become involved with handyman Cole Craig, son of one of the founding family. He was her childhood protector and had a crush on her before she left town. He fixes a busted pipe at her home that flooded her kitchen. Despite the townsfolk disapproval of the professional librarian and the handyman dating with the help of matchmaking Dixie Ferguson, owner of Ferguson's Diner and the opposition of high society who threatens Josie's employment if she fails to break up with Cole, Josie does what she thinks is right for her.

Anyone seeking a sweet old fashioned contemporary regional romance will enjoy Only You. There are two stars who find something special in their relationship while the townsfolk mostly stand in their way. Cole is an interesting silent hero (think of a modern day Gary Cooper) who takes the handyman jobs he does because he likes fixing things and that trait proves handy in winning Josie. This is a sweet tale of love could not care less what color collar you wear.

Flowers for Elvis
Julia Schuster
Bell Bridge
9780982175613 $14.95

Single woman Willard gives birth to twins; one is white while the other is black. She knows that in the Eisenhower era in Mississippi she, the kids and her lover would be lynched. However, the black child Olivia dies, but instead of the newborn's soul going to heaven she remains at the portal to watch over her sister whose life will be difficult. Willard's sister Genevieve is also pregnant and the Mother Superior orders her to keep her niece (though she doesn't know it is her sister's child) saying she had twins.

Over the years Olivia's spirit watches over her twins whom she loves equally. They do not have an easy life because Genevieve is a bit touched, ignoring her children as they grow up; providing a terrible home-life due to drinking, stealing and turning tricks. As a young teen Louisa gets pregnant and her lover refuses to leave his wife. Louisa stays with him as his mistress; she has several miscarriages. Her twin Anna Beth tries to be supportive and though their lives are stretched neither breaks. However, their attitude towards their mom is different as they have given up trying to reach the horrid woman. Their spirit sister Olivia tries to console them as she knows God has a plan for each of them.

The poignant story line focuses on a suburban civil Rights Era dysfunctional Mississippi family. The narrator Olivia tells the tale of her sisters and like readers learns late in the plot what her purpose is and why God cannot take her to him at this time. Genevieve suffers from mental illness but little is understood about her illness. She is self destructs believing her patron saint is Elvis and she almost destroys the twins she neglects. Flowers for Elvis is a touching tale made stronger by an unexpected spin.

Dixie Divas
Virginia Brown
Bell Bridge
9780982175651 $14.95

In Cherryhill, Mississippi, the infamous Dixie Divas are twelve BFFs who understand the keys to life are mixing chocolate with alcohol. One of them fiftyish Eureka "Trinket" Truevine has recently returned home after divorcing Percival to take care of her elderly parents and her slightly older buddy Elisabeth "Bitty" Truevine Hollander who recently dumped her fourth spouse Senator Philip. That is until Bitty lines up numero five.

Bitty is pushing the annual historical houses tour sponsored by the Holly Springs Historical register committee. She wants reclusive Sherman Sanders to participate so she accompanied by the "giant" Trinket visits him at his 1832 constructed home with a bribe of a pot of chicken and dumplings. Because his mule stole the chicken, Bitty brings a new patch by herself. However, he is not home; but her ex husband is only he is dead with blood seemingly everywhere. The cops think Bitty is the prime suspect for several reasons, but the Dixie Divas know better; so not trusting the rednecks to find the real culprit, the dirty dozen investigate.

This is an entertaining regional amateur sleuth mystery starring steel magnolia middle aged women. Their inquiry causes mass mayhem to the residents of the two Mississippi towns especially the police and Sanders and mass hysteria for the audience who will enjoy every zany mistaken move they make. Fast-paced with a pot of chicken and dumplings and a slice of apple pie, fans will enjoy this jocular Mississippi mud pie whodunit.

Dead Pan
Gayle Trent
Bell Bridge
9780984125845 $14.95

In Brea Ridge, Virginia, Daphne Martin runs a successful dessert making operation from her kitchen with many repeat customers. Her latest order is creating the cake for the Brea Ridge Pharmaceutical Christmas party held at the firm's office. All of the guests become ill, but a vaccine for the stomach flu bacteria campylobacter helps everyone feel better within twenty-four hours except Fred Duncan who dies.

Fred's mother Connie asks Daphne to investigate her son's death and find out who is responsible. She agrees to do so, but makes no progress because the toxicology report comes in with the finding that none of the food contained the bacteria. No one can figure out how it got there or what the vector was that got transmitted to so many people so quickly. When her boyfriend reporter Ben Jacobs comes down with the same stomach flu, Daphne begins to have a theory how the crime was perpetrated, but she might not live long enough to talk about it to anyone.

Daphne has come a long way from being a spousal abuse victim as she is now a strong independent woman who questions many townsfolk without a second thought or concern. Readers also obtain a taste of a small town life during a health crisis as everyone knows one another. Although Connie asking Daphne to investigate seems a stretch even if Murder Takes the Cake, fans will enjoy this fun icing filled amateur sleuth cozy.

Tender Graces
Kathryn Magendie
Bell Bridge
9781602855823 $14.95

Virginia Kate Carey has come to West Virginia to release the ashes of her volatile mother, Katie Ivene Holmes. In the 1950s, peddler Frederick Hale Carey was going cabin to cabin in the mountains when the Texan arrived at the home of Grandma Faith, mother to Katie Ivene, who looked like an Egyptian princess instead of a Mountaineer.

They marry, move into a cabin near grandma Faith, and have three children, two sons Micah and Andy and middle child Kate. The parents become alcoholics having incredible fights and external trysts. In an effort to save the marriage, Frederick and Katie send their three children to live with their abusive aunt and even nastier uncle. The children return home, but Frederick leaves to attend college in Louisiana. Seven year old Kate is sent to live with her father and Micah in Baton Rouge while Andy stays in the mountains. One year later momma arrives with a new hunk and Andy whom she leaves behind with Frederick and his siblings. Now Virginia Kate has come home to release the ashes and write her memoirs so she can also free herself of the ghosts especially that of Katie Ivene who haunts her.

This is an intriguing family saga that grips the audience due to the changing voice of the narrator from a seemingly innocent naive little girl to an adult woman trying to free herself when she frees her late mom. The cast is fully developed as the audience can subtly understand the maturing of the three children especially the daughter who tells the drama of a beautiful volatile mom seemingly larger than life and the more stable than the raging dad. Their wars before the split never left their three offspring as the child is the adult. Fans will enjoy this deep look at a dysfunctional family in the 1950s, 60s and 70s never quite finding the happy days.

Thursday Night Widows
Claudia Pineiro, Miranda France
Bitter Lemon
9781904738411 $14.95

As Argentina falls apart due to an economic collapse of incredible proportions just after 9/11, the country seems on the verge of anarchy with no place that is safe. That is except for the well to do living in gated communities that insulate them from what is going on outside except for the TV news and their outside employment.

In the Buenos Aires gated community Cascade Heights, four men (El Tano Scaglia, Martín Urovich Gustavo Masotta and Ronie Guevara) have dinner together every Thursday night. However, this time is different as three lie dead in the swimming pool at the most affluent Scaglia home; only Guevara who left early remains alive. How could this happen especially to someone as influential and powerful as El Tano is on the minds of their family members as all assume a horrific electrical accident occurred. However, Virginia Guevara though curious and shocked fears for her Ronie who behaves strangely since the incident and she believes he knows something more.

This is an interesting look at a Argentina in which the upper class behaved like Nero fiddling away while the country collapsed. The story line is mostly told through Virginia's eyes as a successful realtor to the wealthy. Although insightful with a strong cast who warn readers to beware of growing exponential gaps between the affluent and the middle class, the mystery of the pool takes a back seat to the discerning look at the gilded life behind the gated community.

Remarkable Creatures
Tracy Chevalier
9780525951452 $25.95

Born in 1799 in Lyme Regis, England, her father gave his daughter quite an education to search for the "curies" of life that can be found by the beach so they can sell their catch to wealthy tourists. This was Mary Anning's training at paleontology fossil hunting. She became one of the best and hr research led to her belief that the age of the earth was much older than that of the Old Testament as proof of an age with gigantic creatures before humanity (and Darwin) existed.

Elizabeth Philpot and her family come to coastal England for their brother's marriage. She meets Mary and enjoys the fossil hunter's tales. They become friends and partners searching for the bones of pre mankind. When Mary discovers fully intact dinosaur remains, Elizabeth speaks for both of them in front of the science community that detests females in their business and several try to rip off the find as theirs. However their BFF is tested when Colonel Thomas Birch arrives in Lyme Regis to ask Mary to help him on his fossil hunt.

Based on real people who made incredible contributions to paleontology before Darwin, Remarkable Creatures is an entertaining historical fiction that showcases the strength of conviction a woman had to have to do anything outside the accepted limited roles. We come more than just a long way, try light years, from the Regency-Victorian eras. Fans will enjoy Tracy Chevalier's spotlight on two women who made a difference as their work is still on display in Oxford.

Iron River
T. Jefferson Parker
9780525951490 $26.95

Los Angeles sheriff's deputy Charlie Hood is assigned to the Operation Blowdown taskforce trying to end the tidal wave of guns and money flowing down the "Iron River" from the States to Mexico. Charlie understands the irony that the Second Amendment crowd who many demand tighter border patrol sells arms to the cartels who sell back drugs and people.

During a shootout between Charlie and his Blowdown unit against a cartel buying weapons leaves the son of the cartel leader dead. Now the border war is personal with Charlie and his team being targeted one at a time through loved ones if necessary. At the same time bankrupt weapons manufacturer Pace Arms has brokered a deal with a cartel through a middle man Bradley Smith, making life for law enforcement more dangerous.

The third Hood police procedural (see L.A. Outlaws and The Renegades) is a terrific tale that spotlights how large, complex and dangerous the gun trafficking sold south is. Ironically during the recession this segment of free enterprise drugs for guns and cash remains profitable. The story line is fast-paced but the scope is so massive that gunrunning removes the faces of the victims and the survivors as characters including Charlie become almost irrelevant. As Stalin said: "The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of a million is statistic", which in this case overwhelms the cast and plot.

Betrayal of the Blood Lily
Lauren Willig
9780525951506 $25.95

In London, Penelope Deveraux avoids a ruinous scandal with a hasty marriage to Lord Frederick Staines as they were caught canoodling. Also abetting their ability to elude social humiliation is his assignment as special envoy to the court of Nizam of Hyderabad in India.

Penelope struggles somewhat to adjust even as she bravely participates in court activities, but soon uncovers a plot to throw out the imperialists who are turning India into a crown of the British Empire although the French have forces and agents there to counter that. In fact the Nizam uses both sides against one another to keep control. She finds a brave companion in Captain Alex Reid who teams up with her to expose the traitors behind the plot. As they fall in love while competing with one another in sporting contests that she continually wins, the elusive Marigold continues seditious activities to remove the British from India.

Moving the Pink Carnation series to India adds freshness even as the basic theme remains the same of a modern day researcher uncovering information of a nineteenth century Englishwoman going undercover to try to thwart a Napoleonic plot. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Penelope muses over being married to Freddie especially after meeting Alex. Fans of the saga will enjoy her adventures as an amateur female agent causing mayhem that shakes up the dysfunctional triangle of power sharing by the English, the French and the native Nizam..

Deeper than the Dead
Tami Hoag
9780525951308 $26.95

In 1985 in Oak Knoll in Southern California, fifth-grader Tommy Crane and Wendy Morgan run away from the class bully Dennis Farman and his flunkie Cody Roach when the fleeing pair trips over over the head of a dead woman. The victim was buried in the woody section of Oakwood Park up to her neck; her eyes and mouth glued shut. Their fifth grade teacher Anne Navarre tries to help the two children cope.

Sheriff's Detective Tony Mendez has just come home from attending an eleven-week profiling class at the FBI Academy. He points out this is the third victim in two years, but Dennis' father Chief Deputy Frank Farman says it is only two inside their jurisdiction and insists "signatures" have nothing to do with the case. Sheriff Cal Dixon points out the differences in the profile between this case and the previous two. Meanwhile Anne becomes the prime suspect as FBI Agent Vince Leone arrives to lead the investigation.

This is an exhilarating serial killer thriller made fresh by using the mid 1980s as the date so that profiling remains voodoo to some old time law enforcement officials. The story line is fast paced from the moment Tommy trips over the head of the mostly interred victim and never slows down until the climax in a hospital room and a drive on the Interstate. Although too many threads are left dangling even for a sequel or two, fans will relish Tamu Hoag's enjoyable Reagan Era police procedural.

Human by Choice
Travis S Taylor and Darrell Bain
Twilight Times
9781606190470 $16.95

Due to a combat injury, Intel officer Kyle Leverson retired from the Army. Now a widower, he moved to a remote place in the Ozarks. When he hears a loud crash outside his home, he goes to investigate. In the middle of his garden, lies astonishingly an injured ET.

Apparently the alien was hurt during a crash landing when the life pod transporting him burned up during atmospheric entry. Although hesitant, Kyle takes the wounded space traveler into his home where he tries to nurture the alien. The visitor from another planet has no chance of going home. She hopes with Kyle's mentoring and her technology to be assimilated in the Arkansas culture as a human female, Jeri. However, as she adapts, enemies want her technology and have come to the Ozarks to abduct Jeri. Kyle refuses to allow any harm come to his beloved Human by Choice.

This is a super science fiction romance starring a wonderful hero and an intrepid alien who is the ultimate assimilated person. The story line is faster than the vessel Jeri flew in as the action never slows down yet the two key players the human and the alien are fully developed. Although the American government is too altruistic as the corpocracy would want the technology as much as the foreign interests crave it as economic espionage between allies is the norm, fans will appreciate this fine thriller.

Hiding Hand
Lee Denning
Twilight Times
9781606190166 $19.95

In Ireland, the Mullah waits impatiently for the moment to strike as his aid the Crone cautions him. They plot to abduct eight year old Eva Connard, a chimera of sorts as Nova sapiens. Her eighteen years old step-brother Joshua "Magician" O'Donnell vows to keep her safe.

However, in spite of his efforts and that of their Uncle Hamilton O'Donnell, the Mullah abducts Eva as he wants to control the power of this new evolutionary line as some insist she is the new Messiah. Joshua tries to rescue his sibling, but his attempts prove futile. Instead of saving Eva from the "pious" Muslim cleric, he manages to rescue Elia. As they fall in love, Josh, with the help of "Unca Ham", mounts a rescue mission only to have his beloved abducted.

The next generation offspring from the heroes of MONKEY TRAP make for a terrific romantic science fiction tale as the young precocious hybrid seeks a place in the world of Neanderthals while caught between ambitious modern day Lady Macbeths especially the psychopath Mullah. Although the villain is obvious early on unlike the first book, team Dennng keeps the suspense high with a strong cast starring in the middle Nova Sapiens thriller.

Burnout: The Mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281
Stephanie Osborn
Twilight Times
9781606192009 $19.95

Upon reentry with seven aboard Space Shuttle STS-281 suddenly explodes into a deadly inferno. All on board are dead. An official investigation leads to a quick assertion of human error mostly by the crew.

Having known the pilot Jet Jackson who was his friend since their Air Force days, "Crash" Murphy has a difficult time accepting the official position. He begins to investigate the disaster, which leads him to Australian astronomer Dr. Michael Anders, who is also probing the Burnout. They team up and soon begin to find anomalies with the official denouement. They begin to find evidence of alien intervention, which leads them to Area 51. With the help of conspiracy buff operatives watching the locale 24/7, the pair sneaks inside seeking the truth, but neither is prepared for what they find.

This is an interesting science fiction mystery with an intriguing twist that leaves the portal open for sequels. The story line is faster than the shuttle although adjustment to the zillion NASA acronyms (thankfully a glossary helps) takes a bit of time; but once done acceleration throughout. Crash and Mike are courageous heroes, but what they learn and not learn will stun both of them and the readers. Burnout is an exciting thriller that will have fans soaring with Stephanie Osborn as the flight commander.

Robina Williams
Twilight Times
9781606191835 $18.95

Gaea the earth goddess fears mankind has gone too far in destroying the planet. The sea, land and air are toxic. The forests are barren. Animals and fish have no home and those who still survive are hunted or fished for play. Earth has become a wasteland for the avarice humans.

Gaea decides the time has come to teach mankind a lesson to force humanity to change its wicked ways. However Gaea's partner, Quant the seraph worries she may go too far; besides his "employer" The God of All created Mankind with the hope that humanity will find their own but just way. Other gods from places like Mt. Olympus agree with Gaea that time has run out so they try to bring a scare to the shaken sons and daughters of Adam.

This is an intriguing vivid allegorical fantasy as mankind is being judged by the Gods. Ironically the cul de sacs that detract from the prime plot are fascinating in of themselves as the audience will be spellbound with a tour of the design laboratory where species for new planets are created as well as other locales like the Court of the Serpent and of course Mt. Olympus and Hades. Although too many engaging detours happen in this entertaining tale, fans will appreciate this fine look at Judgment Day. Whereas Gaea and her allies find humanity guilty of planetary destruction, the God Of All prays whether divine intervention either with a miracle or the apocalypse is a fair judgment on his part when his beloved favorite was bestowed with free will, which includes potentially species suicide.

Garden Of The Moon
Elizabeth Sinclair
9781933836980 $7.95

Her mother believes her paranormal skill is an embarrassing curse; her father does not understand her skill, but cares what happens to his daughter. Sara Wade sees ghosts.

Although their motives differ, her parents concur with Sara moving onto Harrogate, an estate she recently inherited from her late grandmother. She wants to renovate the old house that she realizes she shares with two ghosts. Jonathan Bradford claims she is his beloved Maddie Grayson who is in an old diary Sara found. She believes Jonathan, who sends her back to his era to the year he died 1805. The other spirit in her present wants Jonathan dead while Sara prays she can save the life of her beloved.

Garden of the Moon is an engaging reincarnation romance starring an intrepid heroine willing to risk her soul to go back to save that of her beloved, Jonathan who has waited two centuries for her return while sharing hell on earth with his enemy. Although the moving back and forth between the present and the early nineteenth century feels jarring, fans will enjoy this fine paranormal romantic suspense due to the brave Maddie.

The Keepers of Sulbreth
Susan Gourley
9781605420653 $7.95

The island Kingdom of Futhark is impossible to reach or leave as it soars high above the sea. Magic employed by the Keepers keeps the land safe, but within Marshals enforce law and order. The Otten dynasty has ruled from the capital Sulbrth protected by loyal Keepers.

When Prince Jonard becomes the ruler, he learns of the break in the protective seal that could lead to an invasion by monsters. They send the rare female practitioner sorceress Savelline Shelton accompanied by elven half-breed Marshall Cage Stone to close the tear before the souless enter causing havoc and destruction to the masses. They are destined together to save the nation if they truly are the Chosen One and his Keeper named in an ancient prophesy; if not they will die horrrbly.

The first Futhark Chronicles is an enjoyable quest fantasy that raises intriguing philosophical questions about whether someone ignorant to critical facts can make real choices. The lead couple is a dynamic pairing of two outsiders; he being illegitimate halfbreed and her being a woman. Although the plot starts off slow as Susan Gourley introduces the audience to her realm, once established, the plot accelerates into a delightful fast-paced save the island thriller.

The Devil's Alphabet
Daryl Gregory
9780345501172 $15.00

Teenager Paxton Martin fled Switchcreek, Tennessee to avoid the impact of a deadly retrovirus that either killed people or changed them into grotesque creatures and to never see his father again. The disease never went beyond the small town, but Pax vowed to never return to "Pandemonium".

However, thirteen years after he left, he learns of the suicide death of his friend Jo Lynn so he comes home for her funeral. She had been changed by the virus into a seal skin baldie beta as opposed to becoming a towering argo or an obese Charlie like others became. His plan includes avoiding his dad, but he alters his scheme when he learns that Jo Lynn may not have hung herself and that a small town in Ecuador has suffered the same fate. He begins the investigation even as his brain tells him leave immediately.

This is a terrific evolutionary science fiction small town horror thriller that as its underlying basis asks the audience to define human. The story line is fast-paced throughout as Paxton returns home to a town that has evolved into four distinct races in a survival of the fittest scenario. The key, which makes The Devil's Alphabet enthralling is each of the key characters representing the four primes seem genuine, which makes their race appear realistic. Although the father-son relationship seems to ramble, fans will enjoy Daryl Gregory's strong tale.

Charlie Huston
9780345501134 $25.00

In 2010 in Los Angeles, a devastating affliction leaves its victim with chronic insomnia. Those who catch SLP never fall asleep and over the next few months the body not healing withers away until the incoherent person finally blessedly dies. Meanwhile the pandemic spreads in a city already under lawless siege as even the baseball season is cancelled.

Violence is out of control as LAPD cop Parker "Park" Haas fears for the future life of his newborn daughter especially with her mother dying, his beloved spouse dying from SLP. Meanwhile Park investigates Chasm Tide, an online game that people have turned to in order to run from reality and a black market drug Dreamer that provides relief to the misfortunate. However, as Park fears he may have caught the disease and his child too, he begins to connect dots that frighten him more than SLP.

Sleepless in Los Angeles is a terrific post-apocalyptic crime thriller starring a reluctant Noir hero who knows he is in too deep but has no idea how to get out if he is to try to save his wife and child as he keeps reminding himself he is just a cop. Somewhat different in tone and subject than Charlie Huston's Joe Pitt saga it also shares an underlying sameness of love thrives even inside a hellhole. Park is a superb individual as all he wants is to take care of his family, but circumstances forces him in the role of a hero who thinks he be Don Quixote losing to that windmill that has some of powerful people propelling it.

Jane Bites Back
Michael Thomas Ford
9780345513656 $14.00

Jane Austen is frustrated with receiving no royalties for her classics and for the use of her name in books and movies. In fact the worst to her is watching others sell books starring her or her characters and she cannot get one publisher interested in her last manuscript, written two centuries ago just before Lord Byron changed her into a vampire.

Living in Brakeston, New York as Jane Fairfax, owner of Flyleaf Books, finally has a publisher interested in her manuscript, rejected over a hundred times. Kelly Littlejohn of Browden Publishing of New York buys the rights. Meanwhile Byron using the name Brian George tries to court Jane while mortal carpenter widower Walter Fletcher shows an interest in her. When Jane's book is critically acclaimed and makes best-seller status, a nineteenth century rival is sent over the top of the Empire State Building in rage.

This satirical contemporary tale takes two amusing bites out of the romantic Austen forever mania and the romantic vampire forever mania. The story line is lighthearted fun as Jane is frustrated that cynical fools make money off her name, but she cannot get a novel published or receive royalty for the use of her name. When she gets published, a century and a half rivalry explodes. Fans will enjoy this well written humorous take as Jane Bites Back.

Divine Misdemeanors
Laurel K. Hamilton
9780345495969 $26.00

They were crowned queen and king of the Unseelie Court by Faerie and the Goddess, but Princess Merry and her bodyguard lover Doyle choose to return to California and set up her own court. Now they live in Los Angeles where they stay together based on love and trust instead of pain and intrigue. They earn a living at sleuths at the Grey Detective Agency.

Their latest case is horrible. Twenty demi-elves (small Barbie like creatures with wings who look like angels but are anything but the sort) were killed and posed as if they were in a children's book. The only living witness, a survivor of the massacre of the serial killing of her kind, obviously saw something but flees before the detectives can question her. A few days later, a brownie and her human husband are killed in their home once again posed from another children's story. The two sleuths learn there are two killers, one with wings, bur many creatures have wings in Faerie. Merry and her retinue know only one way to prevent more ritual murders; she is served up as bait.

Laurell K. Hamilton shows her talent to make alternate worlds filled with mythological creatures living side by side with humans seem real. Merry is a heroine who avoids the Seelie and Unseelie Courts as she detests the intrigue that flows everywhere like light waves do on earth. The Goddess still favors her and creates a new faerie mound in aptly named Los Angeles in an apropos apartment building. The investigation is entertaining as Merry cannot help her people by offering herself as a potential sacrifice to catch serial killers. Even with that as the prime theme, Ms. Hamilton is at her provocative sensual best in Divine Misdemeanors.

While They Slept: An Inquiry into the Murder of a Family
Kathryn Harrison
9780345516602 $7.99

Almost a quarter of a century ago in Medford, Oregon, eighteen year old Billy Gilley stabbed to death his parents and his younger sister eleven years old Becky. He swore that he killed them so he and hi sixteen year old sister Jody could live abuse free. A shocked Jody testified against her older brother who was convicted of the homicides and is serving three consecutive life sentences as he could not blame parental mistreatment for the murder of Becky.

This is a terrific true crime tale that uses the court record and intense numerous interviews with the surviving siblings, who do not communicate with one another, to tell the story of the Gilley family leading to the killings. The fascination is how far apart Billy and Jody are when it comes to parental physical and verbal violence, but clearly they agree that there was some even if he fails to explain why he killed Becky. Although Kathryn Harrison includes a memoir re her abusive relationship with her father, that feels out of place padding, and should be ignored as the Gilley family murders are tragic enough for one true story.

The Paris Vendetta
Steve Berry
9780345505477 $26.00

Danish billionaire Henrik Thorvaldsen obsesses over the terrorist incident in Mexico City that left seven dead including his son. He cannot move on as the brain behind the assault has remained free although he now knows who he is.

Henrik sends apparently fired Secret Service Agent Sam Collins to break into the Copenhagen bookstore owned by former United States Department of Justice (DOJ) operative Cotton Malone. The grieving Dane hopes to obtain Malone's cooperation to help bring down the killer Lord Ashby who has ties to a financial cartel the Paris Club planning an assault on the global economy for avaricous gains that the DOJ hopes to counter. The starting point in the plan is a plot to destroy a landmark that could kill hundreds; war is usury profitable for the finance community.

With terrific ties to Napoleon in Corsica and an exciting action packed story line, the latest Cotton Malone thriller (see The Charlemagne Pursuit) is a fun read. Filled with twists and over the top of the Eiffel Tower villains, fans will enjoy Malone's newest retirement caper mindful of War, Inc and If Looks Could Kill although not a satire. Malone teams up with a grieving angry father and a First Amendment conspiracy buff to thwart the latest capitalist plot to have the masses finance war with money and blood so the affluent can make outrageous profits.

Total Oblivion, More or Less
Alan DeNiro
9780553592542 $15.00

No one in the Minnesota town was prepared for the invaders, the ancient Scythians wearing NBA Lakers jerseys. Everyone was captured and placed in camps. However, survival takes a plunge and not because all non-fast food joints were closed. Wasps were transmitting a new form of the deadly plague by air and by sting.

Sixteen year old Macy and her family manage to escape to the Mississippi hoping to find a safe haven in what is left of civilization. None quite realize the invaders have taken over the country and are now at war with one another to see just who will be the top lord. However, Macy and family manage to reach St. Louis, where her dad says he has a job at a university's astronomy department. As Macy recovers from the plague, she meets Em the submarine captain and Wye whom she is not sure of whose side he is loyal to while her brother is sent for trial to Nueva Roma and her sister is sold into indentured servitude while her father has become the leading astrologer in the Mississippi.

Not for everyone, Total Oblivion, More or Less is an enjoyable futuristic thriller in which the conquering invaders come from the ancient past. The story line is a combination whimsical look at what truly civilization is when calamity strikes on a mass scale in a world gone mad. Sub-genre fans will enjoy traveling the DeNiro American landscape escorted by courageous Macy who learns the mighty Mississippi means civilization to all types of groups.

Wild Instinct
Sarah McCarty
9780425227619 $15.00

"Garrett". The werewolf clan rejects Garrett due to his human blood. However, they turn to him to rescue Sarah Anne, whose son is missing and daughter may prove to be the child prophesized as the bringer of doom. Still he knows his mate when he meets her and will risk his life to keep her safe.

"Daire". The werewolf Daire saves Teri, but cannot save her unborn. He knows his mate, but she believes his bond is not one of love but of protectiveness. Daire has to persuade her it is both.

"Curran". He seeks Rachel, who has Sarah Anne's son with her. When Curran finds the pair he knows she is his mate, but she rejects his assertion and distrusts him to bring the duo to safety.

These three exciting interrelated werewolf romances contain fully developed characters who make for a strong thriller as the sex is hot but not over-gorging the action-packed story lines especially the relationship issues as the men know but the women doubt. Sarah McCarty provides her audience with a superb collection.

Flame Seeker
Kay Danella
9780425230824 $15.00

As the eldest daughter of her clan, Alithia is responsible for obtaining an ancient relic. With the artifact her people will prosper in peace; without it they will falter. On her trek to another reaml, she must have two husbands escort her. All the men will compete in a contest chosen by Alithia.

The males are excited and expect to duel for the honor. Instead of battling blades, Alithia chooses a different type of sword. She selects her champions by who gives her the most pleasure. Phelan and Taith are her mates for the journey with each wanting to be the only one standing by her side. However, the perilous journey forges bonds that none of the three anticipated when they start on the quest.

This is an interesting erotic romantic fantasy starring a duty bound heroine who chooses the contest and its rules. The two survivors continue the friendly rivalry for the hand (and other bodily parts) of Alithia. Although the story line is thin as opposed to the hunks' middle legs, fans of erotic romances with a touch of fantasy and lot more touches of the bodies of the lead triangle will want to read this heated tale.

The Satin Sash
Red Garnier
9780451228031 $15.00

The only person who can shake Grey Richard's calm demeanor is Antonia Kearny. He loves Toni and cannot deny her anything. Toni asks Grey if he is into a menage a trios. He is taken aback but cannot say no although the third person she wants is his business partner and best friend, Heath Solis who is much more open and passionate about life.

The trio goes together on a weekend in Mexico where they plan mindless unending sex. Toni uses the two men as her lovers with each doing whatever she requests of them. However, once the sex ends with the weekend, will the relationships survive?

The Satin Sash is an entertaining erotic triangle starring fully developed lead characters who are more than just fully developed c**ks. Toni is a fascinating protagonist who has Grey wrapped around her finger with a string tied to his penis. He soon proves much more. Although the MFM has been used a lot lately, the depth of the three participants make for an interesting tale as the players and the readers know the outputs but wonder the ultimate outcome.

Fired Up
Jayne Ann Krentz
9780399155963 $265.95

Jack Winters, descendant of alchemist Nicholas Winters, who in the 1660s created the Burning Lamp, which increases psychic powers in a person with paranormal skills and gives them a new one but at a horrible cost. Those with the dominant gene become insane unless they find the Burning Lamp and the female psychic who can work dreamlight produced by that object. Jack fears he is cursed because he can suddenly induce nightmares in people while he suffers blackouts and sleepwalks.

Jack seeks out private investigator Chloe Harper, a high level psi who can work with dream energy. Through her aunt, she locates the Burning Lamp; the owner is happy to get rid of it as it makes him uneasy. The organization Nightshade, made up of paranormal criminals want the Burning Lamp too. While on the run from these thugs, Chloe uses the artifact on Jack who has fallen in love with her; she reciprocates. While praying use of the map turns him into a safe psi, Nightshade capture Chloe, who believe they possess the perfect way to force her to work for them.

This Arcane Society tale is the first book of the Dreamlight trilogy, which occurs in the present; books two and three will be in the Victorian Era and the far future on Planet harmony respectively. The story line is fast-paced from the opening three centuries ago as the rivalry between Nicholas and Sebastian Jones heats up and never slows down as Nicholas and Chloe team up. Fans of this brilliant author will enjoy this romantic suspense as the lead couple is a wonderful pairing and the support cast either quirky or deadly quirky. Readers will enjoy this strong contemporary and look forward to the talent of the author to take her saga historically and futuristically.

The First Rule
Robert Crais
9780399156137 $26.95

In Westwood, California, garment importer from Asia and Africa Frank Meyer lives the good American life as he reinvented himself eleven years ago once he met his beloved Cindy. Four men invade their home killing Frank, Cindy and their sons; the nanny survived but is in a coma. LAPD finds tattoos on Frank's arms that police detective Deets has seen before on private investigator Joe Pike.

The cops assume Frank was dirty due to six previous invasions of homes belonging to criminals. Joe knows better even if he had not seen the man in a decade ever since Frank walked when his mercenary contract expired; he knows because Frank loved Cindy and would never go dirty because of her. Deciding he owes it to Frank to clear his name and to bring down his assassins, Joe and his partner Elvis Cole investigate starting with the nanny who they learn has ties to an Eastern Europe organized mob.

As the cops warn him to stay out of it, Frank and Joe, not trusting the law to look beyond their nose, investigate by digging deep into the activities of local gangsters. They begin to understand a different ethics than their own as The First Rule of the mob is the only way to leave is in a coffin. Fans will fully appreciate the latest Pike inquiry (see The Watchman) that has the mob, the gangs, and the cops in a rare unity (using differing means) to persuade Frank and Joe to back off.

Dreamdark: Silksinger
Laini Taylor
9780399246319 $18.99

The demon slayer faerie Magpie Windwitch has saved the Djinn Magruwen from the assault of malevolent "uncreator" Blackbringer. With her loyal crows, she believes she must find the other Djinn to keep them safe in order to save Dreamdark from the demonic horde. Maggie seeks Whisper Silksinger, the last of her faerie clan guardian who protects the Djinn Azazel.

The Silksinger has fled with Azazel inside her kettle as devils chase her. She reaches Nazneen where she hopes to return Azazel to the safety of his temple; not undertsnading betrayal also awaits them.

Hirik Mothmage is on a quest to take over the protection of Azazel from the Silksinger whether she acquiesces or not. He obsesses with returning honor to his abashed clan who allowed the assassination by noninvolvement of Fade the dragon.

These three Faeirie converge along with Prince Talon and others including vile demons trying to kill the Djinn. Egos clash among the faerie that could lead to failure of the prime mission to protect Azazel.

The sequel to the awesome BLACKBRINGER is a great young teen quest fantasy as once again the mythological species seem genuine. The story line is fast-paced with plenty of action starting with Whisper knowing death as being of two kinds, peaceful and violent with the latter seeming to be her destiny. Filled with battles and superegos clashing over what is right, fans will roots for the three faeries and their allies who must overcome their personal aspirations to be a hero in order to keep Azazel safe from the demonic horde.

Stuart Woods
9780399156113 $25.95

Stone Barrington, of counsel at Woodman & Weld, is at Elaine's restaurant in Manhattan when he notices beautiful Carrie Cox who is in New York with dreams of becoming an actress. After she tells Stone about a great audition she had with a director who tried to rape her afterward so she threw his dinner onto his lap at a gala they both attended separately.

Stone advises her how to handle the situation; she soon gets the part and a great agent. Stone and Carrie like each other's company, but he has to place his personal life on hold when Bill Eggers wants him to get Hildy Parsons out of trouble. Her father is a client at Woodman & Weld and knows his daughter is involved with a gigolo who anxiously waits for her trust fund to revert back to her control. Stone learns the con artist is also dealing drugs and partnered with Larsen who is managing a Ponzi scheme. They become Stone's problem when someone he cares about wants to bring them down. Making matters more dangerous is Carrie believes her former husband is trying to kill her; she needs protection that she wants only from Stone until they obtain proof of her assertion.

Although Stone proves there are a zillion stories in New York even in one novel, Stuart Woods provides another exhilarating Barrington tale filled with serial sex, plenty of other action, and several fun investigations. After Key West (see Loitering with Intent), Stone vows divorce cases only, but he wonders how he got so involved in so many other matters though he knows the exhausting answer is women, women, and more women. Kisser is a fun lighthearted Stone Barrington thriller as the lawyer finds the mean streets of Manhattan as both welcoming and dangerous.

The Wolf at the Door
Jack Higgins
9780399156120 $26.95

In Quoque, Long island a man waits at a pier for Blake Johnson, security adviser to the POTUS, to dock his vessel the Lively Jane; his mission is to kill the American. The British Prime Minister ordered top operatives Harry Miller and Sean Dillon to attend a U.N. gathering in which Russian Federation Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is speaking. The President wants Blake who will be at the gala to gauge the Russian delegation.

Harry takes a walk in Central Park but is also stalked and attacked. In London, General Charles Ferguson leaves a late-night meeting of ministers only to see his car with the driver inside explode. Although all roads lead to Moscow, none of the operatives realize Putin has hired the best assassin in the world Daniel Holley to eliminate the agents who have interfered with the Russian's plans for world domination; that is except Dillon who fears his most dreaded enemy has surfaced.

The latest Sean Dillon and company espionage thriller (see A Darker Place) is a super entry that moves on several subplots before converging for quite a climax. The story line focuses with back stories on how each chosen victim was targeted, stalked and attacked with an emphasis on Holly who ironically and fascinatingly holds the plot together; as opposed to Dillon and the other heroes. Jack Higgins proves he remains one of the grandmasters of the international intrigue thriller with this great entry.

Douglas Preston
9780765317681 $25.99

College dropout turned waitress and amateur astronomer Abbey Straw believes she and her BFF Jackie saw a meteor crash near the Maine coast where she lives. The two young females agree to search the nearby barrier islands as Abbey using wave theory believes the meteor struck land. The plan is to sell the finds on E-Bay.

Meanwhile the president's science adviser Stanton Lockwood III asks former CIA filed operative Wyman Ford to investigate the sudden flooding of radioactive gemstones in Cambodia. At about the same time Stanton makes his request that seems more like an order to Wyman,on the West Coast, just before he is murdered Professor Jason Freeman sends a classified file containing proof of abnormal gamma ray activity on Mars to mission technician Mark Corso of the National Propulsion Facility. Soon these three diverse scenarios converge with sixty hours to countdown impact.

This is an engaging science fiction thriller that hooks the audience from the moment Wyman begins his inquiry and never slows down as California, Maine and Cambodia hook up. The story line is fast-paced as fans will welcome the return of Wyman (see Blasphemy), but in many ways the brilliant slacker with her naive innocence makes the tale fresh.

Jaclyn The Ripper
Karl Alexander
9780765318947 $24.99

After dispatching Jack the Ripper from 1979 to a far future, H.G. Wells and Amy Catherine Robbins travel to his time 1893 (see Time After Time) where they marry. However, so her beloved parents would not worry she returned to tell them what became of their prodigal daughter. In 1906 Wells is worried about his wife who failed to come home, Wells traces her to 2010 Los Angeles.

Meanwhile Jack managed to anchor in 2353 before returning back to 2010 Los Angeles as a woman. While Wells searches for his Amy, he notices an alarming pattern that reminds him of Victorian Whitechapel and San Francisco circa 1979; Jack is back and he obsessively believes he must stop the killer for all eternity.

With two fascinating twists since the events of Time After Time, Jaclyn the Ripper is an exciting fast-paced thriller that never quite gels as the key two antagonists never quite come across as the naive good vs. the sinister evil of the first book. Still fans of Time After Time, book or movie, will enjoy the return engagement as Jaclyn the Ripper still enjoys the kill.

Leiatra's Rhapsody
9780981825632 $12.95

Leiatra Townsend grew up as the only child to affluent parents in whom her mom was judge, jury and executioner. Blaine Keith had eleven siblings. They met at college when she was a sophomore psych major and he a senior seeking as business degree. A two year rocky courtship led to marriage. Soon afterward she gave birth Alexis Blake followed rather quickly with twins Seth Gregory and Sedan Jordan.

Although Blaine has a strategic plan for his family, Leiatra opens up a counseling practice that is not one of her spouse's objectives. Over time Leiatra becomes intrigued by the sexual interactions between the genders and begins a study in which she is the lone female. She has trysts with patients and other men that she hides from her family and the medical board for years. Her world collapses when someone anonymously accuses her of unethical practices with the board and to her husband. She must choose between her research and her family and career.

This is a fascinating look at a woman whose medical ethics is questionable though she rationalizes it to herself as field research. The story line looks deep into why Leiatra seeks out sexual encounters though she knows if her work is revealed, her marriage will end, her children will be left with their father, and her license revoked. Although the men she uses seem cookie cutter identical, fans will enjoy Leiatra's Rhapsody as RYCJ will have the reader pondering where the acceptable boundaries of moral medical research are drawn.

Hallowed Circle
Linda Robertson
Juno (Pocket)
9781439156780 $7.99

Lydia Whitmore of the Witch Elders Council nominates Persephone Alcmedi to be the next of High Priestess of the Cleveland coven. Instead of euphoria Seph is dismayed for several reasons starting with her being a solitary act belonging to no coven. She is also the guardian of Beverly, whose mother died. Then there is the problem of her wearing the stain of the vampire Menessos, which leads to her being stronger than most mortals.

If the Elders learn she wears a vampire's stain, she will be Bindspoken, unable to use her power. Finally, she is The Lustrata the walker between two worlds who brings balance preventing wars between species. However in spite of all that and what she knows about what happened to the missing previous coven chief Vivian Diamond, Seph does not believe the other nominee snobby but talented Hunter Hopewell would make a good leader at a time when the Cleveland coven crowd needs one. By the time the competition ends, Seph is bound to the head of the Council, Menessos and Johnny the werewolf but it is as The Lustrata that she must prepare for war as the treaty involving the fairies was broken.

Seph is linked to several diverse groups who are natural enemies, but needs to find her own path to fulfill the role destiny has in store for her. She has the favor of the Goddess but it is through the competition that she sees who she is, what her strengths and what she must do. Linda Robertson has written en enthralling supernatural urban fantasy filled with mystery, romance, and intrigue. Hallowed Circle is loaded with action and a cast who make the paranormal seem normal so much so that readers will believe that they exist. Hallowed Circle, like its predecessor Vicious Circle, is an entertaining heroine driven urban fantasy.

Yellow Moon
Jewell Parker Rhodes
Washington Square (Pocket)
9781416537113 $15.00

In New Orleans, Dr. Marie Laveau works the emergency room at Charity Hospital. The single mom tries to balance her medical charity work in ER with being a single mom raising a child Marie-Claire and a "Kind Dog" with time for herself. She especially enjoys jazz at the clubs. However, she also has a legacy that she would prefer to ignore but her heightened sense of responsibility never allows her to do so. As a blood relative of the legendary Voodoo Queen whose surname she shares, Marie watches out for supernatural evil to prevent tragedies.

Thus she cannot ignore the murders of three seemingly different people; each had their blood drained and their necks contained three teeth like puncture marks. She fears, a wazimamoto African vampire is stalking the city while the victims remain restless wandering the streets. With NOPD Detective Daniel Parks; her Creole boss Dr. Louis DuLac; her daughter and others, Marie knows she must stop the predator before the monster consumes enough blood to look human.

Yellow Moon is an exhilarating gritty urban fantasy that connects African vampirism with jazz and de facto racism. The story line is tense and gripping but especially fresh with a different perspective on the blood suckers, but definitely not a rehash of Blacula. Instead this deep New Orleans thriller is based on the premise of a deadly angry non-western African vampire who reacts to cultural racism, but must be stopped by Marie and her allies.

Red Hot Holidays
Shelby Reed, Shiloh Walker and Lacey Alexander
Ellora's Cave (Pocket)
9781439148709 $14.00

Holiday Inn by Shelby Reed. Jesse and Sheila grieve the death of their six years old son due to a drunken hit and run driver, and the end of their decade old marriage. Anna is heading home to spend Christmas with her family. On Christmas Eve, the freak snowstorm strands these two strangers on I-95 with suddenly no one else around except Santa.

His Christmas Cara by Shiloh Walker. Everyone who meets Eben Marley knows he has no conscience. However, he has a regret; what he did to Cara Winston following the greatest time of his life three years ago. Now the holiday spirits give him a chance to make amends and regain his heart to hand to the woman he loves.

Unwrapped by Lacey Alexander. Simon and Emily love one another, but he finds their sexual encounters a bit too lame as she reacts like a deer in the headlights as if they are doing something bad when they do anything but the vanilla missionary position. Emily fears she is losing the love of her life so talks with her former U of Cincinnati dorm buddy Dawn who is a sex therapist. Dawn teaches her first hand how to pleasure herself and her man. Em plans to be more than just a sugarplum when she takes her man.

Although the matchmakers differ, fans will enjoy this erotic romantic collection. The lead couples are developed sufficiently so that the audience knows their prime motivations and sexual desires with enough of a back story to turn each novella into a terrific red hot holiday treat.

Secrets of the Tudor Court: Between Two Queens
Kate Emerson
9781416583271 $16.00

In 1637 sixteen year old Anne "Nan" Bassett crosses the Narrow Sea from Calais, France to Dover, England along with her older sister Catherine. Nan wants to join the court as a maid of honor to Queen Jane Seymour. Surprisingly King Henry selects her to become a member of his wife's entourage.

When Jane dies in childbirth, Nan leaves the court to move in with her cousin, the Countess of Sussex. Henry not forgetting the elan of Nan orders her back to the court when he marries again and again. With intrigue everywhere inside Henry's court, Nan falls in love, but to survive she must give away her child as her family is no haven since they are caught up in Cromwell seditious activities.

The latest secret at King Henry's court (see Secrets of the Tudor Court: The Pleasure Palace) is an engaging historical starting a maid of honor who keeps her head by keeping her head in crisis. Based on a real maid of honor, Nan is a terrific heroine, but in many ways the aging monarch steals the show as the King seems to obsessively need to prove his manhood as he goes through a few more wives following the death of Jane. Fans will relish Kate Emerson's strong historical tale of life and death at King Henry's court.

Beneath the Skin
Adrian Phoenix
9781439137291 $7.99

The Fallen know who he is as do the vampires and apparently a top secret cell of the American government; they all want him under their control. The devastation he caused in Oregon marks his power, but not how much as he can do as he is a creawdwr. Hybrid vampire Dante Baptiste wants to play his music and make love with his girlfriend rogue FBI special agent Heather Wallace.

Now he is losing his grip on sanity since his tie to his father, a Fallen Angel, was severed. The three species that want him try to push him over the edge with each planning to possess him as a True Blood Fallen Maker or kill him. His powers grow exponentially as his mind does likewise into madness. Only Heather and their love remain as his anchor to sanity, but the others are coming to use and abuse or defuse him by killing him.

The third Maker's Song urban fantasy is a dark thriller that gets In the Blood of the reader because the audience empathizes with the beleaguered hero and his beloved. They have come a long way from when she was investigating serial killing in New Orleans with him as the prime suspect (see RUSH OF WINGS) as the overarching plot has evolved from a paranormal police procedural into a grim urban fantasy. Fans will enjoy Adrian Phoenix's strong tale as she spins a super tale starting with a simple acceptable premise that sometimes "a necessary evil" is acceptable n your team as the end justifies the means so says those salivating over controlling the creawdwr.

Our Little Secret
Starr Ambrose
9781439102237 $7.99

Twins Lauren and Meg Sutherland are total opposites as the former is reliable and the latter is impulsive. However, even Lauren, used to her sibling's reckless behavior, is stunned when her sister marries US Senator Creighton, a man twice her age.

Lauren plans to persuade her sibling and the politician to annul their marriage. However, she becomes concerned when the newlyweds vanish without a trace. The senator's son Drew joins Lauren in a search for their missing relatives after mistakenly accusing her of being a gold-digger. To her shock, Lauren is attracted to Drew, which is out of character for her as she is engaged to an ultra conservative who is compatible to her. At the same time an unknown adversary stalks them and the newlyweds are planning to prevent by any means possible the bungling amateurs from unraveling a Washington run by blackmail of illicit trysts.

Our Little Secret is an enjoyable amateur sleuth romantic suspense in which the lead couple in their search for their relatives find themselves in a murkier deadly situation as a predator watches their every move. The story line is a fast-paced frenzied frolic with the emphasis on the romance although Starr Ambrose takes a jab at a DC fueled by money interests. Fans will appreciate this entertaining gambit as Drew and Lauren wonder how love can prove so dangerous.

Laura Bynum
9781439123348 $25.00

In 2012, a virus terrorism attack annihilated a bout half the American population. A new government with martial law enforcement is forged out of the abyss. The Confederation of the Willing implant an electronic device in the necks of all citizens that so that if a person utters any of the red-listed words, they trigger the slate gizmo and die as the Blue Coats police are everywhere sadistically relishing punishing felons.

In 2012 Harper Adams was a little girl when she survived the disaster. She is careful not to activate the slate in her neck. In 2026, Sentient Baumfree selects her as a Potential because she has paranormal skills. Harper works hard to be the best Monitor until 2045 however, when she has an apostasy when her daughter's name Veracity is added to the death list of banned words. The resistance movement guided by the pre-doomsday pandemic tome, The Book of Noah, recruits Harper to join their counterinsurgency from within a corrupt system.

This is an exciting 1984 type futuristic thriller that grips the audience from the onset with its word list and never slows down as ban has new meaning. The story line is driven by Harper who will do anything to be able to say her daughter's name with impunity. Although the Confederation of the Willing never seems quite as nasty as say Big Brother except when the tall eerie Baumfree recruits twelfth graders, fans will appreciate this dark post apocalyptic future.

Nice Girls Don't Live Forever
Molly Harper
9781416589440 $7.99

A drunk thought Jane Jameson was a deer and shot her. As she lay dying, the vampire Gabriel turns her into a creature of the night like he is (see Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs). They forge a unique relationship of sire and fledgling as well as lovers. They are touring Europe, but Jane knows her mate is not having a good time because at each hotel they stop at he receives a letter that he refuses to discuss with her.

In Brussels, Jane finally sees one of letters sent by Jeanine; it reads like a love letter. Tired of the strange calls, the secret letters, and his refusal to explain what is bothering him, she leaves returning to Half Moon Hollow by herself. She opens a new bookstore aimed at vampires as customers. She also tries to find a way to get her friend's Zeb's house built as his wife's family keeps sending the construction crews away. Jane begins receiving threatening letters warning her to stay away from Gabriel or else. With her life in danger, she needs to persuade her sire to tell her the truth.

Molly Harper has written another delightful vampire tale (see Nice Girls don't Date Dead Men) filled with romance, intrigue and a strong cast. Some family members are in denial refusing to accept Jane's Undead living condition especially her sister and grandmother who want her booted out the family. This leads to some humorous scenarios that act as a counter to the threat. Although the plot is a bit thin, fans will enjoy this nice girl who has adapted quickly to living forever.

The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet
Colleen McCullough
9781439158791 $7.99

Her sisters assume the bookworm spinster Mary Bennet will take care of their widow mom in her old age. The siblings each have their own lives although dreams from two decades ago never played out the way each thought it would be. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy share an unhappy marriage. Kitty the widow is lucky as her mate died just after they exchanged their vows. Jane is pregnant or recovering form pregnancy with no time for anything else. Lydia has become a drunk.

When her termagant mom dies, Mary feels relief as she can now live her life. Her sisters and their husbands are outraged when she says goodbye as she travels in Northern England keeping a journal on the plight of the working poor. However, the thirty-eight years old has never been anywhere alone so she runs into all sorts of trouble that she bravely faces like the Highwayman and the Prophet Father Dominus who abducts her into his cave. Meanwhile Mr. Darcy has political ambitions so he hires nasty but loyal Ned Skinner to keep the sisters in line as scandal would destroy his plans.

Although it lacks the subtle humor of Jane Austen, this "sequel" to Pride and Prejducie is well written as it extrapolates where the characters could have gone two decades later. That is the strength and weakness of the story line as it is interesting to see where Colleen McCullough takes the Bennet sisters and their extended families. However, fans will find it difficult to accept what they become; for instance Mr. Darcy as an ambitious over the top of Big Ben villain or the bookworm becoming pretty, outgoing and touring the worst conditions she can find in the north. Fans who cannot get enough Austen spins will enjoy the quadrillionth twist.

Remember How I Love You: Love Letters from an Extraordinary Marriage
Jerry Orbach and Elaine Orbach
9781439149881 $23.00

This is a combination memoir and poetry book as Elaine Orbach tells the audience about her marriage to the late actor Jerry Orbach, starting with how they met in the first half of the biography. That section is interesting but nothing extraordinary. The latter half of the book consists of short poems that for the most part are lighthearted ditties that the late actor scribbled on a cat calendar before a shooting. His wife Elaine would read and enjoy them before tossing them into a tureen. At his funeral several were read in loving memory and eventually led to the book. Is this great literature? No as some of the entries are inane, others poorly written and few complex beyond simple rhyming. Yet the poems are inspiring and enjoyable. Readers will who appreciated Law and Order will relish seeing another side of the actor; his love for his beloved Elaine as the couple reminds us how important it is to tell your loved ones you care while they still can appreciate the mental hugs.

The Blue Umbrella
Mike Mason
David C. Cook
9781434765260 $14.99

Ten years old Zac Sparks has lived with his single mom on a golf course all his life. He loves his mom who raises him with love. Zac's mother dies when she walks the course at night and is struck by a single bolt of lightning. Zac's two aunts whom he never met attend the funeral.

The Aunties inform him he will live with them in Five Corners, but the moment everyone leaves the trio alone, they turn from friendly to nasty. Not allowed to take anything with him except the clothing he is wearing, at Five Corners, the Aunties are even more abusive to a stunned Zac, who they call Boy and hammer him with canes when they do not lock him in his room for anything and everything. He meets Dada who claims to be the Aunties' father; Dada demands he steals the blue umbrella from Mr. Sky Porter who runs the general store where Zac works after school or else. Zac refuses to steal the umbrella because Mr. Porter is the only nice and seemingly sane person in Five Corners. His relatives are nasty and others he meets are weird, but he is only beginning to learn that Five Corners is the focus for eerie strangeness

This is an exhilarating unusual middle school fantasy starring a tweener who has the weight of the world collapsing on him when his mom dies. Filled with vivid descriptions starting with extremely tall but extremely thin Auntie and the extremely fat but extremely short other Auntie and never slows down as Zac goes form nurturing maternal love to abuse. Fans will want to join him as he deals with his Aunties, Dada, Butler and others, but especially when though frightened to being almost paralyzed he bravely goes up the staircase to who knows where. This is an inspiration winner with an allegorical nod to biblical Job.

Leiatra's Rhapsody
P O Box1057,Bryn Mawr, PA. 19010
9780981825632 $12.95

Leiatra Townsend grew up as the only child to affluent parents in whom her mom was judge, jury and executioner. Blaine Keith had eleven siblings. They met at college when she was a sophomore psych major and he a senior seeking as business degree. A two year rocky courtship led to marriage. Soon afterward she gave birth Alexis Blake followed rather quickly with twins Seth Gregory and Sedan Jordan.

Although Blaine has a strategic plan for his family, Leiatra opens up a counseling practice that is not one of her spouse's objectives. Over time Leiatra becomes intrigued by the sexual interactions between the genders and begins a study in which she is the lone female. She has trysts with patients and other men that she hides from her family and the medical board for years. Her world collapses when someone anonymously accuses her of unethical practices with the board and to her husband. She must choose between her research and her family and career.

This is a fascinating look at a woman whose medical ethics is questionable though she rationalizes it to herself as field research. The story line looks deep into why Leiatra seeks out sexual encounters though she knows if her work is revealed, her marriage will end, her children will be left with their father, and her license revoked. Although the men she uses seem cookie cutter identical, fans will enjoy Leiatra's Rhapsody as RYCJ will have the reader pondering where the acceptable boundaries of moral medical research are drawn.

Diving into the Wreck
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
9781591027867 $16.00

Boss prefers to work alone when diving into a wreck though she works salvage operations with others. She feels she is more ethical than most of her rivals in their search for historical vessels as she always helps those in dire need in outer space though she prefers not to. Some of her unsavory colleagues would wait for a trapped crew to die so they can salvage like scavengers.

For her current quest the recluse uses her single crew ship rather than her larger Nobody's Business vessel, but what awaits her is a shocker. Her computer claims the derelict is somewhat between 5,000 and 10,000 years old and from old earth; an impossible scenario as that time frame and locale did not have the technology for the faster than light speed to float this far. She searches for historical data as she is curious about this enigmatic anachronism, but fears what she will learn as the misunderstood ancient sciences might prove deadly. Bringing together a special crew of loner divers, Boss and company explore the vessel while she considers following her mom who left her to vanish inside the mysterious Room of Souls.

DIVING INTO THE WRECK is an exhilarating fast-paced yet cerebral science fiction thriller. Filled with action and adventure but purposely with two dimensional characters including Boss who is a bit more philosophical. Kristine Kathryn Rusch uses outer space to have her audience consider ethics and morality re the scientific-government complex and how society looks back at ancient civilizations through a modern day lens while failing to provide a historiographic disclaimer about the background of the anthropologist or archeologist leading the glimpse through time.

James Barclay
9781591027850 $16.00

The seven mercenaries that made up the Raven split up in retirement five years ago after the harrowing events in which they and the Dragons saved the world (see DAWNTHIEF and NOONSHADE). However, the Dragons cannot go home and are dying due to the air of the Kingdom of Balaria where they reside and people hunting them as beasts rather than saviors who were critical in shutting down the rift.

Two of the magnificent seven Erienne the Dordovan mage and Denser the Xeteskian mage had a relationship that led to the birth of Lyanna. The Colleges of Magic want Lyanna at all costs as the Lord Mages recognize who she is and what she will do to their positions of power. They believe she is the prophesized NIGHTCHILD, who will unite the four magics currently, divided amongst the colleges and kill thousands in the process. They are coming for the five years old leading to the reunion of the Raven who though they argue, fuss and fight with one another; also unite to protect one another even if the one they keep safe apparently is ripping asunder from within the kingdom leaving thousands dead.

This is a brilliant climax to the trilogy as the "threat" to the existing order comes from within, a five year old magical hybrid. The story line is fast-paced from the onset as fans of the saga catch up with retired friends who gave up swashbuckling and magic to tend bar, raise a child, etc. However, the only thing that could bring together a five year reunion is the threat to one of them. Filled with moral issues bug and small, NIGHTCHILD is a fitting end to a strong saga.

The Silver Skull
Mark Chadbourn
9781591027836 $16.00

Will Swyfte may be Elizabethan England's greatest spy, but he is used to thwarting no one as his image is just that, a façade to give the beleaguered people a hero. However, this time his superior Walsingham assigns Swyfte to a real project. He must prevent the Faerie and their Spanish minion from acquiring the Skull, the Key and the Shield; if the enemy obtains the three magical artifacts Britain as we know it will be no more.

The Cold War between England and Spain appears ready to turn hot as Spain and its ally Faerie are posed to invade. However, the Queen's sorcerer Dr John Dee has brought back some balance between the adversaries. It is now up to the swashbuckling showman to prove he is the real deal with Dee providing him the latest in magical and mundane technology.

The first Swords of Albion Elizabethan historical fantasy is a fun swashbuckling thriller with a James Bond in a late sixteenth century paranormal England and somewhat Spain set up. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action while also somewhat reminding readers of Elizabeth Bear's Prometheus Age series. From Drake with love to the Armada, to a deep connection to modern issues of national security vs. personal freedoms including the torture debate, THE SILVER SKULL is a fabulous Swyfte thriller.

Sharon Ashwood
9780451228642 $7.99

Former detective Connall "Mac" Macmillan honestly can say he was on the date from hell; in fact it went so bad he was turned into a demon. He prays all the time to regain his humanity and being able to destroy Geneva the demon was a large step at regaining what he lost.

However Alessandro Caravelli the vampire distrusts the demi-demon so incarcerates him in the Castle, a prison with magical bars. For centuries Constance the vampire has resided at the Castle where she served Atreus the sorcerer who recently has gone insane. When the guards kidnap her adopted son, she pleads with Mac to find and rescue him. Unable to resist her, Mac investigates inside the prison he reluctantly with no choice calls home, but he begins to find clues that something is not right at the Castle and unless rectified many will die.

The second Dark Forgotten urban fantasy is a terrific thriller as Mac goes from the bad that happened to him in Ravenous to the ugly of being Scorched in a magical prison. The key to this super tale is his investigation inside the realm of magic as fans will want to join his escapades. Sharon Ashwood provides a super saga leaving the audience what next will befall Mac.

Hidden Fire
Jo Davis
9780451228659 $6.99

Station Five firefighter Julian Salvatore knows he is in love with beautiful attorney Grace McKenna, but she ignores his efforts to start dating even as he knows he is being a pest. He just refuses to accept negatives from her.

However, Julian becomes concerned for Grace's safety when he learns she represents the person who molested him as a child. He voices his fears to her but she blows away his trepidations. However, she reconsiders his warning when he is injured in a hit and run that seemed deliberate at a time someone is abducting and killing people. As he heals, they team up to investigate who the culprit is as they each believe the driver is the deadly kidnapper.

The latest Firefighters of Station Five (see Under Fire) is a fast-paced romantic suspense thriller starring a hero with issues forged by his childhood molestation that comes back to haunt him as the client of his beloved and the lawyer he loves who has her own issues with doubt re commitment. Julian's issues with his cronies especially his Captain make him seem genuine as does Grace's indecisiveness even as she overdoes the changing of her mind to the point of irritatingly sending the reader yelling at her to stay the course. Although the villain is a caricature over the top of the station house, fans will enjoy the latest escapades of the Station Five firefighters.

Chloe Neill
9780451228864 $6.99

She is unhappy that her parents are going to Germany to conduct research while she is being dumped at the elite Chicago boarding school St. Sophie's Academy. She has no choice in the matter, but becomes friendly with one of her new roommates Scout, who has a tendency to disappear in the middle of the night and return exhausted. Scout refuses to tell Lily Parker what she does during her nocturnal ramblings.

Worried about Scout, Lily follows her friend on one the evening ventures. Lily finds herself trapping a monster in one of the catacombs underneath the prestigious school. The newcomer learns that Scout is a magic user who must give up using her magic when she gets to her mid-twenties. She fights the Reapers: spell casters who use magic as they age which turns them evil because they have to take the life essence from a person to survive. The Reapers believes it is okay to apply magic past twenty something even if that means Adepts must die to fuel them. Lily learns first hand that Adepts protect normals from monsters and the Reapers. Although she might lose her life she cannot sit on the sidelines or hide in the sand especially as through a series of odd circumstances, Lily is caught in the crosshairs of the war although she has no magical powers; or does she?

Lily's life radically changes from attending a middle class public high school living with her parents to an elite boarding school while her family is in Europe. That change soon proves minor as the teen heroine adapts as needed. Her best skill is adjusting to what happens t her although even she is unprepared for the circumstances she faces when she has the back of her BFF. She keeps the exciting teen urban fantasy focused as a heroine ready to fight monsters.

The Lost
J.D. Robb, Patricia Gaffney, Mary Blayney and Ruth Ryan Langan
9780515147186 $7.99

"Missing in Death" by J.D. Robb". A tourist disappears from a ferry in which she did not leap from but is no longer on board; neither are a dead person and a killer. NYPD Lieutenant Eve Dallas leads the investigation.

"The Dog Days of Laurie Summer" by Patricia Gaffney. The accident left the mom in a coma, but now the workaholic awakens; but her world is similar yet not quite what her memory recalls as she sees things from the view of a dog.

"Lost in Paradise" by Mary Blayney. The nurse arrives at an island fortress giving hope to the man locked inside by an ancient curse that she is the key to his freedom.

"Legacy" by Ruth Ryan Langan. The grieving woman travels to the castle in Ireland where she uncovers a family secret buried on the estate.

Though four radically different scenarios, readers will not feel lost with this fantasy-science fiction quartet as each author hits a home run.

Code 15
Gary Birken
9780515147209 $7.99

At Dade Presbyterian Hospital in North Miami, Florida, Chief of Emergency Medicine Dr. Morgan Connolly wonders if her personal life issues are impacting her medical judgment at work as a physician. There has been an alarming sudden rise in Code 15 deaths that were caused by unacceptable preventable mistakes.

Pregnant and alone as her spouse left her just when her father was murdered, Morgan ponders over the rise and decides to investigate so that she can change procedures if necessary. She is stunned when hospital administrators blame her for the deaths calling her incompetent and wanting her fired and disbarred. Morgan is further shocked with how they react to her inquiries as if they are covering up for someone. Still she knows someone wants to destroy her and collateral damage of the innocent is acceptable by her unknown adversary. Instead of wallowing, Morgan turns determined and goes after her enemy planning to destroy her foe with the precision of a surgeon before he or she can further devastate her.

This is an exciting medical thriller starring an intriguing heroine who seems numb by all that is going on in her personal and professional life. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and never slows down until the mile high final confrontation. Although the villain is over the top of Mount Trashmore, sub-genre readers will root for the beleaguered lead protagonist as so much has happened to her in a short time including her father's murder, her husband leaving and the Code 15 deaths along with the medical review of her have left her anesthetized yet obstinately resolute.

Mr. Monk In Trouble
Lee Goldberg
9780451229052 $22.95

He has an intensive form of OCD and has more phobias than can be found in a medical text, but give Mr. Adrian Monk a homicide to solve and he will do it regardless of difficulty mostly caused by his disorders. His friend Captain Stottlemeyer of the San Francisco Police department asks Mr. Monk to come to his office where he informs him that retired cop Manny Feikeman was murdered at the Gold Rush Museum in Trouble, California. He asks Monk to solve the case.

Since his house is being renovated, Mr. Monk agrees to go to the mining town with his assistant and friend Natalie. While in town he finds out about a cold case he decides to solve in his spare time. The famous train The Golden Rail Express was robbed of its gold on its last run in 1962, but what happened to the loot or the mastermind was never revealed and a third robber never found. With brilliant insight and a nod to a gold rush era equivalent with phobias and an assistant Abigail Guthrie keeping diaries of Artemis Monk, Adrian works the train robbery, the murder, and assorted other inquiries until he vanishes leaving an injured Natalie to investigate the case of the missing sleuthing employer.

Nobody does novelizations of TV shows better than Lee Goldberg consistently does. His latest Mr. Monk tale is one of the best due to the intriguing tongue in cheek self mocking subplot involving Artemis who as the assayer who also worked cases in 1852; the local curator insists the two OCD Monks may be a century and a half apart but look like twins separated at birth. Fans will enjoy the stories of the two Mr. Monk's.

Leda Swann
9780061672408 $13.99

From the Boer War front, Beatrice Clemens receives a letter from her brother Teddy telling her how lonely the soldiers are. She and her friends like roommate Lenora decide to write letters to some of Teddy's comrades in arms. A nurse, Beatrice sends notes to Captain Percival Carterton, which over time grow ardent and heated.

When Percival arrives in London he looks up his pen pal angel and informs her he fell in love with her from her letters. Beatrice is stunned by his confession as she has a beau that she soon will be engaged to and does not reciprocate the officer's regard. Instead of retreating, Percival mounts a campaign of seduction to win the heart of the woman he loves.

The latest Clemens clan saga is a delightful late Victorian erotic romance starring two likable protagonists. Part of the fun in this fine tale is comparing communication back during the Boer War with today's instant social networks that soldiers deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq can join. Filled with heated sex, fans of the saga will be held Captive by Leda Swann's enjoyable historical.

Beyond the Night
Joss Ware
9780061734014 $7.99

When their stolen van breaks down, the teens start walking. When night falls, the deadly Gangas attack them. Men arrive who toss light bombs at the Gangas while a woman on a horse also helps the teens escape. Dr. Elliot Drake and his cohorts (Quint, Wyatt, Fence and Simon) had entered a Sedona, New Mexico cave fifty years ago only to come out six months ago to a world gone mad. The lady on the horse Jade broke her arm. David touches Jade and heals her arm; when he touches a teen to insure she is okay he accidentally transfers the broken arm to the teen. David is confused with this power. The kids are from Envy, a place the five disjointed Americans seek.

Jade distrusts men having been held prisoner for three years by ruthless Preston and Raul, who assume she is dead. Quint and Wyatt report a female saved their lives. Elliot wants to touch Jade, but is afraid to do so due to his newly discovered power. Gangas attack, but with the help of Zoe Kapoor, who saved the lives of Quint and Wyatt earlier, they defeat their foes. During the fight Jade noticed that Elliot had no crystal protruding from his back like the evil Strangers have before she leaves. The five men and the teens travel to Envy, built by the Waxnicki brothers just after the collapse. The quintet realizes Envy was Las Vegas affirming their world is gone.

The futuristic world feels genuine with references back to the old world. The lead couple is a strong pairing and the support cast is solid playing major roles. The Strangers and the Gangas seem eerie and malevolent. Although the villain does not seem as tough as his legend once the reader meets him near the end, fans will appreciate this strong post apocalyptic future story and want more such thrillers in the world of Joss Ware.

Victoria Alexander
9780061728839 $7.99

English professor Tessa St. James is sick of Camelot and the so-called myths that she assumes is hooey bunk. When some claiming that he is Merlin Wizard Extraordinaire and Counselor to Kings meets her, she scorns him as another fake, Taken aback by the professor's disdain and not one to accept disrespect from royals, Merlin decides to teach the show me skeptic a lesson in respect and humility.

He takes Tessa back to the English Dark Ages of Camelot. She is stunned, but though she begins to believe what she sees, Tessa has doubts. He orders Sir Galahad to take her along on his quest to bring back the Holy Grail. However, "Sir Hunk" respectfully says no as a woman does not belong on such a dangerous mission. However King Arthur and Merlin tell him Tessa will accompany him. As they follow a poorly designed map and struggle to interpret a riddle, she proves his equal in battle with dragons, witches and other foes, oh! My!

This is an amusing refreshing romantic twist to the legend of Sir Hunk and the Holy Grail that Monty Python would enjoy. The storyline is filled with humor especially tongue in cheek from Merlin and the differences in how a chivalrous knight treats a lady who acts anything like any female he ever met; sex and dragons go together. Fans of Camelot will appreciate this spin as Galahad learns new uses for round tables and the truth about the Holy Grail in this superb romantic fantasy.

Dark Side Of Dawn
Kathryn Smith
9780061632716 $6.99

Hybrid Dawn Riley abetted by her lover Noah Clarke managed to defeat the dream terrorist Karatos (see Before I Wake). However, the cost of the victory is that the half human Dawn is deeply involved in her father the God of Dreams Morpheus' realm, which means she has enemies amidst those who reside in Dreamkin. The dream warden Padera especially wants her to sleep permanently.

In the mortal world, someone viciously assaults and rapes Noah's ex-wife, Amanda. Dawn is outraged and when she learns who the culprit is she decides to attack. However the Nightmare Council is outraged by her actions and they fear Dawn who they know will prove either to be their slayer or redeemer.

The latest Nightmare Chronicles is a terrific fantasy starring a refreshing resolute heroine who faces diverse difficulties in two realms. Dawn Riley has to stop a vicious serial felon on one world and face the funeral music of the Council whose members want her unmade for breaking laws. With Noah at her side, she is at her best though "As I lay me down to sleep" as some nasty implications for this kick butt courageous champion.

Sold To A Laird
Karen Ranney
9780061771750 $6.99

In 1860 London, Lady Sarah busts into a meeting her father the Duke of Herridge has with a stranger. She begs him not to send her ailing mother back to Scotland. Her dad ignores her and turns to Douglas Eston seeking financial backing for his invention and offers his daughter in marriage. Sarah is stunned when Douglas accepts the deal. After he leaves, her father says to her marry Douglas or her mother will be moved from Chavensworth.

Sarah informs Douglas no sex; he agrees saying they need to get acquainted. They marry and head to Chavensworth where her mother is dying. After their arrival, Sarah finds Douglas talking to her comatose mom about their marriage. He reflects back to when he was eight and orphaned and fourteen when Acano took him out of the alleys. When Sarah's mom dies, Douglas takes charge while she falls into a deep grieving sleep while her dad fails to come to the funeral. Later, Sarah informs Douglas she must go to her grandfather's home to inform him his estranged daughter died. He is shocked to learn her maternal side is the Laird of Kilmarin, the laird of the largest clan in the Perth area where he is from. As she learns the truth about her heritage, Sarah and Douglas fall in love, but neither makes the first critical move.

This is an entertaining Victorian romance in which the relationship between the lead couple is excellent as it slowly evolves from distrust into one of love while the support cast enhances understanding the motives of the lead couple. Although the hero is too perfect while her dad is too odious; their polar opposite extremes compound how readers see each of them. Sold to a Laird is an enjoyable historical.

For Your Arms Only
Caroline Linden
9780061706479 $6.99

Honorable Alexander Hayes is reported killed in battle. The rumor of his death proves false, but he is stunned to learn he has been accused of seditious acts that will be difficult to prove otherwise. He accepts a position as a British spy while hoping he can prove his innocence of the treason charge.

In 1820 he knows it is time to go home after five years of being dead. His last mission is personal seeking out a former soldier Turner who can prove his innocence. When he meets the missing Turner's daughter Cressida he is attracted to her; she reciprocates once she realizes he is not the cowardly soldier who committed treason. However she is torn between her love for him and her father who she realizes may have been the cowardly soldier who committed treason.

The key to this super late Regency romance is Cressida as she is torn between her love for her dad and Hayes as she brings passion to the exciting story line. Hayes is a super lead character although too honorable towards those who destroyed his life. Readers will enjoy this refreshing historical as a traitor comes from the grave to reclaim his life.

Mrs. Miracle
Debbie Macomber
9780061083464 $7.99

Widower Seth Webster struggles to raise his rambunctious six year old twin sons Judd and Jason who drive off housekeepers at an alarming rate even when they make an effort to behave. He has never had time to grieve the loss of his beloved spouse as his personal life is in chaotic free-fall. Just before Christmas, the latest housekeeper leaves.

A depressed Seth is at the end of his wits especially since there is no one else for the agency to send when Mrs. Emily Merkle miraculously arrives asking for the position of nanny. She brings a patient serene elan that encourages yet controls the two boys. At the same time she also quietly coaxes her employer to move on and courageously ask travel agent Reba Maxwell to go out with him. Reba has been destroyed by love, but a miracle occurs when she takes a chance on Seth. Still they will need the power of an angel to overcome their issues.

This is a reprint of a terrific holiday romantic fantasy starring an angelic Mary Poppins character trying to bring a Christmas miracle to the extended Webster family (including his in-laws) and Reba. Ironically whereas the support cast like the twins and the in-laws are spirited protagonists with issues while the lead couple is each in a self made defense mechanism rut that requires several miraculous nudges to get them motivated in the game of life beyond caring for others. Fans will enjoy this lighthearted wonderful life tale, which is being made into a movie, while humming the tune All I Need Is A Miracle Mike and the Mechanics).

Forever Waiting
DeVa Gantt
9780061578267 $13.99

In 1837 Virginia, Governess Charmaine Ryan fears the Duvoisin family empire will soon collapse. The aging patriarch widower Frederick struggles to keep the plantation and shipping empire afloat, but increasingly believes his efforts are futile as it seems too little too late. His son John left insisting he will never step on the Duvoisin Plantation again. His illegitimate son Paul wants to be the head of the shipping empire, but Frederick has doubts that is enflamed by his second wife Agatha who wants everything with no rivalry from his sons. Meanwhile Paul also insists he loves Charmaine while John comes home reluctantly. Although unsure how she feels about the two offspring, Charmaine will not allow the shrew to destroy her beloved Duvoisin clan as she promised Frederick's first wife Colette that she will tale care of the men.

The final tale in the Colette's Prayer Duvoisin family saga (see Decision and Destiny: Colette's Legacy and A Silent Ocean Away: Colette's Dominion) is a fine sweeping nineteenth century Americana. The story line focuses deeply on the interrelation extended family dynamics of the Duvoisin brood using flashbacks to inform newcomers how the clan reached that point of implosion. Although the finish is too emoting and melodramatic, fans of the saga will relish the heavyweight championship battle between Charmaine and Agatha with the stakes being the souls of the Duvoisin family.

The Sweethearts' Knitting Club
Lori Wilde
9780061808890 $6.99

The members of the Sweethearts' Knitting Club reside in Twilight, Texas. All of the knitters married their high school sweetheart except for Flynn MacGregor who has been engaged to the town sheriff Beau Trainer but is not ready to marry him. Her high school sweetheart Jesse Calloway spent a decade behind bars so she has no interest in following the knitting club crowd although she still loves him.

Just released from prison Jesse has come home to Twilight. He wants his beloved Flynn at his side, but besides seeing the sheriff and the encouragement of everyone to stay with Beau, she is too busy taking care of everyone else. She is more a prisoner than he was, but can he liberate his Flynn to marry him.

This is a sweet hearted of a contemporary romance that fans will enjoy as Flynn must decide between the bad boy who heats her blood and the prime sheriff who leaves her temperature at 98.6. The story line is character driven with strong leads and super support. Fans will enjoy a stop in Twilight, Texas home of second chance in love for former high school sweethearts.

Grace After Midnight
Felicia Pearson and David Ritz
Grand Central
9780446195195 $13.99

In Baltimore, Felicia Pearson was born to a drug addict. Although the infant mortality rate is high for that class of baby, she survived overcoming illness. She was raised by foster parents who cared about her, but she could not accept their loving kindness. Instead she turned to the streets where she worked the crack trade under the tutelage of "Uncle" and "Father". At fifteen she killed a woman in self defense but spent several years behind bars. At the same time Uncle is killed street style and father goes to jail for life. Not wanting to emulate them any longer, upon parole Felicia accepts work on an assembly-line but her criminal past kept her from going straight. The Wire saved her in a Hollywood only happy ending as Felicia Pearson keeps the hope alive fueled by the regrets of the harm she had caused.

This autobiography pulls no punches as Felicia Pearson tells her past with an open eyed honesty; not often seen in memoirs. Using street vernacular, Ms. Pearson leaves nothing to the imagination as she explains her street life childhood in spite of a loving foster mom and Pop. Profound and profane made even deeper by the street vernacular, Ms. Pearson has in deed come a long way from working the corners to Hollywood, but has not lost who she is. Grace After Midnight is inspiring for it's in your face from the heart honesty.

Run For Your Life
James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
Grand Central
9780446562676 $14.99

In New York City Police Detective Michael Bennett has no time to mourn the loss of his beloved wife as he has to deal with their ten grieving kids suffering from the loss of their mom and the flu. However, he has no time away from the job either as a serial killer is murdering people in daylight at expensive uptown places.

Bennett leads the investigation with the brass demanding a fast resolution although their motives to assigning the honest cop the case is to keep him occupied while an official inquiry into a hostage shooting death that the department apparently misplayed is underway. Michael finds no viable clues, initially, but luck sends him to soon link the homicides to a psychopath calling himself the "Teacher". The maniac's mission is to teach lessons in manners to those rude rich rubes who mistreated him or others especially humiliating him in front of others. As he closes in on the culprit, the Teacher catches a child dear to Michael and soon has the cop too. Using the skills he learned as a hostage negotiator, Michael tries to extract the child from the lunatic before he thinks of saving his own life.

This over the top of the Manhattan skyline thriller is fun, fun, and more fun yet has a philosophical underpinning to the fast-paced plot when the Teacher poses the question is this life worth getting up for every morning? Readers will appreciate this entertaining tale as a beleaguered Michael learns a lesson from the teacher as to what matters in life.

Death of a Valentine
M.C. Beaton
Grand Central
9780446547383 $23.99

In the Highlands on Valentine's Day, Lammas festival queen, Annie Fleming received a gift that exploded when she opened it; she died instantly. police sergeant Hamish Macbeth leads the investigation with his new sidekick constable Josie McSween at his side; something he detests. They soon find out that the victim had plenty of rejected lovers who loathed Annie for spurning their advances.

Meanwhile working together draws the two cops closer even as Hamish uses the murder as proof that love is lethal to more than just the heart. However the villagers of Lochdubh are euphoric that the bachelor police Sergeant Hamish Macbeth and popular constable Josie McSween are engaged. Unlike seemingly the entire Highlands, Hamish is miserable and grumpy when he should be elated.

With a strong police procedural combined with a comedic romantic subplot, fans of the long running series will relish the latest Macbeth thriller. Ironically, the investigation is super vs. the romance which is amusing yet it is the latter that keeps the audience reading in one sitting (or cheating) with a need to know whether the long time (24 previous titles) bachelor says I do.

Kitty's House of Horrors
Carrie Vaughn
Grand Central
9780446199551 $7.99

One of the talk radio hosts on KNOB is werewolf Kitty Norville, who was forced to change on the air. Since her outing, other supernaturals that include weres, vampires and psychics have also come out in the open. Mortals either believe or think strongly a conspiratorial fraud is occurring. The paranormal want acceptance in a mundane world so when SuperByte approaches Kitty to join others of her supernatural kind on a reality TV show, she accepts.

They are flown to a lodge in the mountainous wilds of Montana with no one around for miles. At first the filming proceeds like any reality show, but soon the weres, vampires, and psychics wake up to find all electrical power cut off and three crewmen dead in the plane and three others missing. They are further trapped and isolated by silver fences and weapons. The contestants know they are in mortal danger. A natural leader, Kitty takes charge with resolute determination to kill her enemy before they kill her. Lives are lost on both sides as Kitty struggles to prevent a massacre in the lodge prison.

Romance, action, and mystery come together in this fabulous urban fantasy mindful in a paranormal way of Christie's And Then There Was None. Kitty is an alpha Lara Croft type heroine who goes into danger with her eyes wide open and a grit to be the predator and not the prey. She not only becomes the leader, she is there only hope of survival as slim as that seems as Kitty's House of Horrors is a death trap.

If He's Sinful
Hannah Howell
9781420104615 $6.99

In 1788 an unknown adversary abducts Lady Penelope Wherlocke and sells her to a brothel. Meanwhile friends of Lord Ashton Radmoore arrange a final tryst at a brothel before he marries. He is stunned to find a drugged Penelope, who allegedly can see ghosts, waiting in the room for him. She recognizes him as stepsister's boyfriend.

However before he can act, a horde invades the room as the Wherlocke friends and family rush to rescue Penelope. Unable to move on and forget the woman, Ashton investigates the kidnapping and sex sale pondering who could harm a caring innocent woman nurturing ten boys As he falls in love, he wonders how to end his engagement and persuade Penelope she is his beloved when he mocks her paranormal gift as a sham.

The second Wherelockes Georgian paranormal romance (see If he's Wicked) is an enjoyable fairy tale with several major subplots and a horde of strong support characters, but anchored by the Cinderella lead female. The story line is fast-paced from the opening kidnapping and never slows down as readers wonder whether Ashton will prove to be Prince Charming or If He's Wild using the beleaguer heroine for a last fling.

Hunting Julian
Jacquelyn Frank
9781420104257 $6.99

In Fort Lauderdale, bounty hunter Asia Callahan observes Julian Sawyer who has sex with a different girl every night. However, she watches him because thirteen females vanished across the country including her sister Kenya after meeting him. She knows his pattern and vows to learn what happened to her sibling and prevent number fourteen. Asia enters the Pussy Willow nightclub where Julian moves in on her. At his apartment, he grabs her throat and says she emits no sexual odor. Asia tries a jujitsu attack that draws pink blood. Julian picked her like her sister as a Chosen, but instead needs her as his zini.& nbsp; He mentally rapes Asia, but stops short of the physical. Instead they enter a portal to his world.

Julian explains to the Ampliphi leaders that his days as a gatherer are over as the human is his kindra. His companion Ariel is elated to see Julian until he introduces her to Asia as his kindra. He tells Ariel he will retire soon and informs Asia she is in the "Beneath" plane below that of the earth where his people are starving. As she struggles to adjust, some leaders want her dead while Julian needs her to come to him as he wants her, but his people need them to feed off their sexual energy.

Readers will be hooked from the moment Julian takes Asia to his dimension as the other realms premise comes across quite powerfully real even the need for sexual energy fueling this odd world with edifices hanging on nets. The lead couple is an interesting pairing as he needs her while she rejects him for taking her against her will leading to his major frustrations. Although the Ampliphi should have stopped the villainess long ago as she was hurting those dependent on her, fans will relish this terrific science fiction romance.

Once Bitten
Clare Willis
9781420108712 $4.99

In San Francisco advertising executive Angie McCaffrey works the Macabre Factor account when her boss Lucy Weston vanishes. Macabre Factor is a start up cosmetics firm offering fangs to press onto teeth that allegedly make mortals look like vampires. When Lucy is found dead, the cops believe someone from one of the vampire clubs that frequent the city killed her.

At one of the vampire clubs that Angie has begun to visit to get a better handle on the customers' needs for the client, she meets Eric Taylor. They are attracted to one another, but she heard he was seeing Lucy just before she disappeared. As Angie falls in love she begins to believe her soul mate has no soul and is a for real blood sucker who if true may make her his next victim.

Once Bitten is a fine urban romantic fantasy in which the strong mysteries of Lucy's disappearance and what species Eric is propel the fun plot more so than the anemic romance. Angie is a strong lead protagonist who holds the subplots together as she walks the streets of San Francisco she must choose whether she can trust her life and soul to Eric or is he the one who will destroy both?

Marrying The Marquis
Patricia Grasso
9780821780749 $6.99

One of the Duke of Inverary's seven illegitimate daughters, Blaze Flambeau talks to animals. Her stepmom the Duchess has no problems with the eccentricity of talking with animals, but Roxie Campbell is upset that her stepdaughter has no plans to marry. Roxie wants everyone happy like she is so keeps sending her eligible young men.

In spite of her indifference towards men, three males want Blaze. Her father offers her a deal she cannot refuse re the trio of suitors. However, only Scottish Marquis Ross MacArthur understands the way to Blaze's heart is through her animals; specifically her beloved Pegasus. He offers to train her horse to run in a race, which she accepts. When her jockey is killed, Blaze wears men's clothing to ride Pegasus; not understanding a killer plans to murder other jockeys. As Ross wins her heart, he must keep his beloved safe.

The latest Flamboyant Flambeau Regency romance (see Tempting the Prince, Seducing the Prince and Enticing the Prince) is once again an engaging historical starring a unique heroine, an awesome male champion, and a courageous horse. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Ross concludes how to win the heart of Blaze is through Peg. Fans will enjoy the latest entry in the delightful Flambeau sisters' saga as Ross pushes all of Blaze's hot buttons including scandalous, as he rationalizes to himself that the end of making her his justifies the means.

Spy Games
Gina Robinson
9781420104738 $5.99

Though frightened of her former boyfriend Ket, thirty-two years old Reilly Peterson refuses to allow him to dictate how she lives. Being a former athlete and model, she is in good shape so she decides she needs to learn how to defend her self rather quickly. In Seattle she attends the Urban Ops Division's three-day training at Fantasy Spy Camp.

At camp Reilly meets math Professor Van Keller; he acts anything but like her image of an academic. When a corpse is found, Reilly fears Ket is nearby. Meanwhile as she learns hand to hand combat and weapons usage, Van vows to keep her safe although she wonders how a Pythagoras Equation expert will protect her from killer Ket.

Like its predecessor Spy Candy, the fun Spy Games is an enjoyable lighthearted romantic suspense starring a brave lead female, a math teacher who proves the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and a villain over the top of the Space Needle. Readers will enjoy going to Fantasy Spy Camp rooting for Reilly to kick Kt's butt.

Desiring The Highlander
Michele Sinclair
9781420108545 $6.99

As a child in Scotland Cole McTiernay watched the English kill his best friend Rob and almost him too. He grows up into a strong man, but loathes everything English. In the northern Highlands, the ravaged nomadic people ask him to become their laird. However, he has doubts he can bring the passion and serenity a leader must provide to inspire people.

In 1311 his brother Conor believes Cole would do a great job as he has shown he can lead his men into battle, but his sibling also realizes his younger brother needs to let go of his hate. Thus he sends him to Durchent Hall in England to retrieve a package from Baron Ainsley Cordell. He is outraged to learn the parcel is Ellenor Howell, whose brother-in- law plans to marry her off to the highest bidder. Still Cole escorts Ellenor back to the Highlands; on their trek north, she melts his frozen heart as they fall in love.

Filled with rage, anger, and a need to conceal any warm emotions, Cole makes the tale as he slowly transforms from hulking to warm and caring due to Ellenor. The story line is fast-paced from the first insult tossed by Cole at Ainsley and then the "parcel"; however, the "parcel" bites back. Fans will enjoy the third of seven brothers keeling in matrimony finding seven brides (see To Wed a Highlander and The Highlander's Bride) as Michelle Sinclair provides an intelligent medieval Scottish romance.

Susan Kearney
9780446543323 $6.99

Humanity has been saved from extinction due to the magic elixir of dragon blood (see Lucan). No longer sterile, mankind still struggles with adjusting to the byproducts like shapeshifting. In demand are telepaths like Marisa Rourke who can keep people calm, which enables the avoidance of panic attacks.

Rion of the Chivalri has come from space because he believes Marisa's gift can save his people enslaved by the Unari. Having his own paranormal skill, Rion's precognitive ability warns him time is running out. Not wanting a debate, he kidnaps an outraged Marisa. However, once she understands the plight of the Chivalri and the danger of the Unari to his people and her, she is a willing ally. Falling in love just strengthens their regard.

The second Pendragon legacy continues the search for the Holy Grail with a spin in space to an enslaved planet desperately trying to obtain freedom before extinction. Readers will consider places like colonized Africa as the Tyranizer and the Unari suck out the essence of Chivalri leaving nothing behind except an economy in ruin. Fans will appreciate this enjoyable outer space romantic fantasy.

Knight Of Pleasure
Margaret Mallory
9780446553384 $6.99

In 1417 Lady Isobel Hume does not grieve the death of her spouse as she did not want to marry him when she was just thirteen and dreamed of the Knights of the Round Table; after they exchanged vows her older spouse did nothing to rectify her opinion over the next eight years until he died. However, instead of liberating her, his death leaves her at the mercy of men as the deed to his estate goes to a man she despises. She turns to King Henry who arranges a marriage to a French aristocrat.

Undercover operative Sir Stephen Carleton works in France allegedly to neutralize arguments before they turn ugly. He has been named Isobel's guardian until she marries. To both their chagrin, Isobel and Stephen are attracted to one another. However, both remain loyal to their monarch and ignore their feelings until they rescue two children, and she learns her fiance Lord Roche is a traitor.

This is a terrific fifteenth century romance filled with intrigue and two strong lead characters. Isobel and Stephen know the price is their respective heads if they betray their monarch, but love is a difficult emotion to ignore. Although "eliminating" the fiance with sedition eases their perilous plight, fans will enjoy Margaret Mallory's marvelous medieval romance.

Love In Translation
Wendy Nelson Tokunaga
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312372668 $13.99

Thirty three year old Celeste Duncan extrapolates her present into the future and what she sees is ennui. She needs a change with her job and with her sort of boyfriend, but the wannabe singer fears taking the first step professionally or personally.

However, Celeste receives an odd phone call and a box arrives filled with heirlooms; clues to the unknown father she never met. On a whim based on these new items being omens, she flies from San Jose to Japan in a ten hour airborne sardine can flight to meet her father. When she meets her English-speaking homestay "brother" Takuya she wants to kiss him senseless, but holds in check the desire. He helps her follow the clues especially with translating Japanese into English. As they travel across Japan, Celeste finds she is falling in love with her twenty-eight tears old guide, but his mom has his former girlfriend in mind for a daughter-in-law. As the trek increasingly looks futile, a despondent Celeste wonders if it is time to return the land of boredom.

This is a fun yet profound tale due to the lead female who uses self deprecating amusing metaphors to describe her despondency over her life back in the States and her seeming failures in Japan. The story line is character driven as the audience will enjoy Celeste's fumbling with the culture starting with her practiced words in Japanese that she thought meant thank you for welcoming her, but instead her teacher tricked her and she proposed. Fans will enjoy An American in Japan falling in love with her homestay brother, the culture and the people as she searches for her biological father.

Wormwood, Nevada
David Oppegaard
St. Martin's
9780312381110 $24.99

Tyler and Anna Mayfield leave Nebraska when he accepts an English teaching position in Wormwood, Nevada where his Aunt Bernie resides. The town is in the middle of the great basin desert, sixty-seven miles from any other hamlet.

As they near the town on the second day of the boring drive Tyler nearly crashes their vehicle because he saw something in the back seat; but nothing is there. He continues to see odd beings. He believes are aliens or he else he thinks he is going insane as Anna never sees them. Instead she has nasty nightmares that the end of the world is near although she thinks it is a psychological fear of growing old and no longer able to win the Miss Nebraska beauty pageant. When a meteorite crashes nearby, the townsfolk believe the end has started while Bernie introduces Tyler to a local astronomy club who believe aliens are remaking the world in their image.

This fast-paced science fiction thriller hooks readers from the opening scene when Tyler swears he saw a strange looking essence in the backseat of the car and never slows down although the end seems somewhat less exhilarating than anticipated with the build up. Anna and Tyler are fascinating protagonists as she fears aging and he never recovered from his older brother vanishing years ago. However, ironically in spite of being the leads, neither holds the plot together; instead the town of Wormwood with its isolation serves as the focus. Fans will enjoy David Oppegaard's entertaining thriller as meth labs meet ET.

Seducing the Heiress
Olivia Drake
St. Martin's
9780312943455 $7.99

Viscount Colin Byrd needs to marry a wealthy heiress rather quickly to pay off his debts. He targets Miss Portia Crompton who grew up in India and only recently returned home with her family. Colin knows it will not be easy as he is blackballed for killing his father, leaving his mother rusticate, and has exorbitant gambling debts. He sneaks into a ball hosted by his family's enemy the Duke of Albright and meets Portia by throwing strawberries at insulting Mrs. Bardsley. However, Albright kicks him out before he can make much progress. His plan remains the same to get Portia to love him so she will marry him, but has had problems seeing her as her parents banned him.

Portia is unhappy as she has not received a letter from her beloved Maharajah Arun in a year. They fell in love, but his dad rejected her and her parents rushed her back to London. Portia is home alone with her sisters and the servants when she finds Colin in her room. Unafraid Portia asks about his dad and if he would pursue her if she was broke. He says his father died in a tragic accident, and her money made him aware of her, but since he met her he would pursue her. Meanwhile Albright does what he can to paint Colin as a killing wastrel, bur Portia is attracted to him anyway while the truth remains to be seen through a hazy web of lies.
The changing relationship between the lead couple is superbly developed so that the audience can see and understand the metamorphosis of both of them. Her family is terrific as fully developed characters while his mother is so shallow she seems real. Although the villain's motive does not ring true especially since he conceals his deep anger so effortlessly, fans will enjoy this entertaining historical romance where nothing is quite like it seems.

Demon Bound
Caitlin Kittredge
St. Martin's
9780312943639 $7.99

Punk rocker Jack Winter died thirteen years ago, but walks the streets of London because he made a Faustian deal with a demon in which he bought time (see Street Magic) but now the mage is back on the brink of death again. As the demon scorns his mortality, Jack fought death before and plans to do so again; as he will not go mildly into the night. His muse to live is Detective Inspective Pete Caldecott who saw him make that original deal when she was a teen.

Jack has kept Pete in the dark about his deal. She is irritated with him because she senses he is hiding something from her. When he goes to Thailand in a Hail Mary ploy to save his life, she follows him; not understanding what is going on, but knowing whatever it is will prove nasty.

The second grim tour of Caitlin Kittredge's Black London is bleak and gruesome as the shadows seem ubiquitously ready to reach out to abduct the souls, minds, and bodies of the innocent. Jack is terrific as he faces his "maker" while Pete is his reason to live; in his mind she is a much nobler cause than his previous quest for life. Fans will relish this extremely dark urban fantasy as the malevolent and sinister stalk and lurk everywhere while wondering if Jack can survive having died once before.

Ain't Too Proud To Beg
Susan Donovan
St. Martin's
9780312366049 $7.99

San Francisco Herald obit writer Josephine Sheehan would like a two legged hunk in her life; her only male being Genghis the Labradoodle. However, her work is not exactly the best place to meet a man. Although she promises her friends to give up men for dogs, she draws up a list of the attributes of her ideal man.

Soon afterward, she meets Celestial Pet Superstore owner Rick Rousseau who was working as a groomer at one of his fourteen shops. She asks him out for coffee, but he agrees though he has sworn to have a life of celibacy as his comatose girlfriend Margot Cumming never recovered from their motorcycle accident that left him severely injured. When the CEO and the reporter first meet, each hopes this is their eternal mate. However, when Josephine writes the obit for his girlfriend who just died after seven years in a coma in Rhode Island, she has doubts that she can deal with it or him anymore even as Margot's raging father Bennett vowed vengeance once again.

This is a lighthearted contemporary wacky romance that feels like a throwback to the 1930s madcap comedies. The lead couple is an entertaining pair struggling with issues especially him while the support cast is solid except for Teeny's knees. Fans will enjoy this fun dog-walking tale while wondering if Katherine Hepburn will play Josie (should have been a cat-walker) and Cary Grant as Rick.

Everything But A Christmas Eve
Holly Jacobs
9780803499843 $23.95

In Erie, Pennsylvania Hungarian expatriate Nana Vancy Salo has spent a lifetime fighting the Salo Family Wedding Curse that haunted her descendents whenever one of her blood relatives was about to marry. However, the curse has been broken and all of her grandchildren happily married. Instead of resting and enjoying life, she feels lost with no purpose.

Nana Vancy tells her Silver Bells friends Isabel Henning and Annabelle Connor that she is bored though she is elated the curse has ended as she feared she would never see that day. Annabelle suggests Vancy become a matchmaker as she shown a propensity with her grandchildren (see Everything But a Groom, Everything But a Bride and Everything But a Wedding). Liking the idea, she thought she would try matching up her husband's office manager Eve Allen and next door neighbor TC Potter with plans of wedding bells for Christmas. After interrogating a bewildered Eve, she invites her to a family holiday dinner in which TC Potter is also invited after the hostess interrogated him re his status and learns of their past connections in kindergarten and high school.

This is a wonderful Christmas surprise (and not just for the confirmed bachelor who finds love with his Christmas Eve) as Holly Jacobs spins beyond the tale of the Salo Curse into a new matchmaking direction for Nana and the Silver Bells. Fans will enjoy this lighthearted frolic as the three BFFs orchestrate the Twelve Days of Christmas.

If Looks Could Chill
Nina Bruhns
9780425231524 $7.99

In Louisiana several odd deaths have occurred that alarm the state law enforcement officials. State police officer Tara Reeves leads the inquiry, but needs a Bayou swamp fox to expertly escort her in and out of the bogs where the corpses have been found.

As her guide she hires Marc Lafayette unaware that he is an undercover special ops agent searching for an apparent terrorist cell working in the Bayou. Marc has mixed feelings about being her escort as he sees her as a cover but also a hindrance while seeking the killers. He also is attracted to her, feelings she shares with him. However, as their two inquiries converge, the terrorists attack the cop and the soldier with the intent to kill.

If Looks Could Kill is an exhilarating romantic suspense that has plenty of goings-on in the Bayou, at times too much, but fans will not be able to put the thriller down until finished. Fast-paced with a strong lead couple, the cop and the black op find their cases and their hearts converge as the audience will seek Nina Bruhns' previous works (see Shoot to Thrill).

Who Killed the Pinup Queen?
Toni L.P. Kelner
9780425232057 $6.99

Tilda is a freelance entertainment reporter whose biggest client is the magazine Entertain Me! She is called into a conference when the stars of Cowtown, a 1950s cowboy TV show talk to her about the western resort they want to build in Massachusetts. Brothers Tucker and Hoyt Ambrose and Cynthia Barth want Tilda to write an article about their resort and find guest stars from their show to make appearances at their resort.

Tilda goes to interview 1950s pinup girl Sandra Sschrest known as Sandy Sea Chest. Thanks to Tilda, Sandy has a nice business selling memorabilia on the web from her glory days. Shortly after the interview, Tilda returns to Sandy's home to pick up the camera she left there, but finds the woman dead with blood everywhere. The photos she showed Tilda are missing but Tilda has gotten the pictures for the Cowtown article on the net but someone shoves her into the street and steals the copies she made. When another person associated with Cowtown is killed, Tilda knows the crimes are obviously related, and Tilda intends to find out who the culprit is though someone is watching her and will take care if her if she gets too close to the truth

Toni L.P. Kelner has written a fascinating amateur sleuth tale that centers around the pinup girls of the 1950s. People at that time assumed these scantily clad young ladies were bad girls and decades later even with the sexual revolution many refuse to place that vocation on their resume as they are ashamed. This feeling plays a key role in the homicides as the intrepid reporter diligently investigates the murders. Readers will root for the admirable heroine and seek her previous Where Are They Now investigation, Curse of the Kissing Cousins.

A Mermaid's Ransom
Joey W. Hill
9780425230688 $15.00

Alexis has grown up in clam serene waters. The daughter of Jonah the angel and Anna the mermaid (see A Mermaid's Kiss) decides to go to college. However, she begins having dark dreams that frighten the innocent mer-angel.

Dante the Dark One vampire rules the Underground although he prefers to escape his destiny. His scheme is to kidnap the beautiful mer-angel daughter of the enemy's military leader. However, when he snatches the Prime Legion Commander's daughter he is stunned by the purity of her soul reaching out to his tortured mind. She makes him believe even he has goodness. Before he turns, Dante realizes he must rid himself of Alexis, but cannot as she not just brought back his soul, she also owns it.

The latest Daughters of Arianne oceanic-urban romantic fantasy (see A Witches Beauty) is much darker than the previous entries as Dante appears evil through much of the first part of the book. His potential transition from total darkness comes at a cost to Alexis who has lived a warm loving life until the dreams assault her followed by his appearance; as he has brought malevolent shadows into her previous 100% light. He is a hybrid too; the offspring of hellish violence between a vampire and a Dark One, Dante knows abuse and loathing domination fuel existence until he meets Alexis. Readers will be spellbound as the prize in the battle between good and evil is the soul of the loser as one of them must turn.

What I Wore to Save the World
Maryrose Wood
Berkley Jam
9780425229675 $9.99

Millenia ago Queen Titania of Faerie and a mortal produced a hybrid offspring. In the present Morgan Rawlinsonis a direct descendent of that long ago child; her DNA is half faerie Faerie although her parents are totally human. They pressure Morgan to choose a college although she has poor grades, a low SAT score, and no community service.

She is sent to a paying advisor who insists he can get her into Oxford on a full scholarship. While she prepares to go to England (not Mississippi); her Irish boyfriend Colin asks her to meet him at a resort in Wales. When she arrives, Colin swears he never sent her an email, but she soon learns the Oxford offer and the odd email has to do with Queen Titania lifting the veil between the two realms. She has to be stopped, but Colin believes she lied to him because she omitted to tell him she is a demi goddess. Between saving the world and her relationship, college has fallen to the bottom of Morgan's agenda just after what she should wear to save the world.

The third Morgan teen fantasy (see Why I Let My Hair Grow Out and How I Found the Perfect Dress) is a fun fast-paced frolic that young adolescents will especially enjoy the wee bit of magic in the world of Maryrose Wood. The seventeen years old heroine is a down to earth and pragmatic with a touch of romance in her soul as she loves her Colin, but fears he will reject her once he learns of her bloodline. Colin is science so Mojo magic goes against his belief in physics; yet he must adapt if he wants to remain with the woman he loves as she tries to save the world from the actions of her great ancestor many generations removed.

Tragedy at Two
Ann Purser
9780425230060 $23.95

In Long Farden Josie Meade is considering ending her relationship with her partner Rob. When they have fight leading to his accusing her of an affair with a cop, he runs out and goes to the pub where he gets drunk and acts violently out of character. That night he is found on the road severely battered. He is rushed to the hospital where he lingers for a few days before dying. Josie feels guilty.

Detective Chief Inspector Cowgill leads the investigation in which many of the townsfolk believe gypsies camped nearby killed Rob. Josie's mom Lois, owner of New Brooms cleaning firm and amateur sleuth consultant to Cowgill thinks otherwise having met the group's matriarch Athalia Lee. Although this case is personal and her husband Derek the electrician wants her to stay out of the inquiry, Lois assists the DCI by "ferretin".

This is an entertaining English village whodunit that is very personal for the heroine; so much so Cowgill is hesitant to use Lois as a resource. Much of the first half of the story line focuses on family dynamics inside a small village in which everyone knows everyone so secrets are difficult to conceal, but if the hidden is achieved it becomes more shocking when revealed. Fans of the Lois Meade amateur sleuths will enjoy a deep look at the heroine, her friends and neighbors when a Tragedy at Two occurs.

Double The Heat
Lori Foster, Deirdre Martin, Elizabeth Bevarly and Christie Ridgway
9780425230114 $15.00

"Hart and Soul" by Lori Foster. After switching places with his twin (see "Deuces Wild" in Double the Pleasure), Hart Winston avoids Lisa Vogle until he realizes how much he misses her; however, he is in for a surprise when he finally contacts her.

"Breaking the Ice" by Deirdre Martin. In New York Lennie Buckley has no interest in men until she meets in a comedy of errors NHL player Sebastian Ivanov.

"Double Booked" by Elizabeth Bevarly. Her friends allow Amanda Bingham to use their condo while she is on vacation; they also allow Max Callahan, whom she loathes, to use it too.

"Original Zin" by Christie Ridgway. John Henry Hudson and Zin Friday meet when she is his chauffeur. He wants her but she fears he will reject her if he gets to know her.

These are four entertaining contemporary romantic novellas starring fully developed characters. Fans will especially enjoy the return of the other Winston twin and another Deirdre martin hockey tale.

Hunter's Need
Shiloh Walker
9780425231500 $7.99

Psychic Analise Morell and shapeshifter Duke Lawson attend Excelsior exclusive private school for Hunters. They hate each other ever since she left him with a nasty vampire four years ago. His friends helped him escape hell, but neither of them could help him escape his bittersweet memory of kisses and betrayal. They also conceal how attracted they are to each other inside of their loathing for one another. Simply they keep their distance.

However Ana needs his help as she has no one else she feels she can turn to yet ironically she distrusts him. He would prefer to tell her to go get bit by a feral vampire in hell, but fears she will go after a killer by herself if he says no. Reluctantly though he distrusts her he agrees to be her co-Hunter going after a deadly predator whose victims haunt Ana to liberate their souls.

This is a terrific Hunters romantic fantasy starring two intriguing protagonists who have an interesting history that interferes with their present. The story line is fast-paced from the onset as Duke begins to understand his beloved enemy to his chagrin. Fans will relish this fine entry and seek previous Hunter thrilling tales (see Hunting the Hunter).

Mistress By Mistake
Susan Gee Heino
9780425231517 $7.99

In 1816 heiress Evaline Pinchley looks forward to her birthday coming soon when she reaches the age where she will control her money; she has no plans to marry some wastrel after her wealth. Lord Dashford is tired of matchmaking moms trying to get their daughters married to him because of his money; he decides to let everyone believe he is broke.

Evaline's Aunt Bella drags her to a party at the Dashford estate. She gets drunk in his garden to celebrate her liberation birthday. He sneaks out to his garden for a respite from the horde of marriage mommas. The pair accidentally meets in the garden. The next morning she awakens in his bed. However, when his former fiance arrives proclaiming he is hers; Evaline acquiesces but decides to taste another night in his bed.

This is an amusing Regency romance starring two individuals who deny love and marriage but cannot resist the sexual lure of the other. The story line is fast-paced as the lead couple with a strong support cast (her family and his two best friends) make for an amusing tale of I'm Not in Love only in lust. Susan Gee Heino provides sub-genre fans with a wonderful historical.

Ancient Laws
Jim Michael Hansen
Dark Sky Publishing
9780976924326 $13.95

In Denver almost one year has passed since twenty-two years old waitress Amanda Peterson was murdered. The killer ripped out the victim's eyes and put them backwards into the sockets. The case has gone cold in Colorado but now a second dead female with the same gruesome ritual has surfaced in Paris. Denver homicide detective Bryson Coventry flies to Paris to share what he knows with local authorities in an attempt to prevent further killings.

In Paris, Bryson meets his contact Detective Fallon La Rue and feels he is in love at first sight. However, seeing the corpse of the second person stuns him when Margaux Simon turns out to be Tracy White; she saw the killer in Denver and when Bryson mistakenly gave her name to the killer after being tricked, vanished. He further explains to Fallon that he took a bullet in the stomach trying to keep Tracy safe, but obviously failed. They work together employing his ruse of using a doctored version of the drawing of the killer as provided by Tracy last year, but this time Fallon is the bait. However, neither cross oceanic cop is prepared to the twists they face to solve this case.

The latest Laws police procedural is an extremely complex tale with multiple story lines that cleverly interact and twist. Fallon brings a special freshness that will have fans saying oui oui for more appearances by her and Bryson is his usual terrific self. However, it is the complicated whodunit that grips readers throughout as nothing is quite like it seems.

The Charm Stone
Lillian Stewart Carl
Five Star
9781594147708 $25.95

For the past several years Texas born forty year old writer Jean Fairbairn has lived in Scotland with her lover former cop Alasdair Cameron. However, she and Alasdair are in Virginia researching an article on Lady Dunsmore, wife of the last English governor of the Commonwealth for the magazine she co-owns, Great Scot. Whereas Jean plans on working, Alasdair plans on enjoying Williamsburg as a welcome respite from his private security company, Protect and Survive.

Dunsmore owned a "witch box" which allegedly contained a charm stone that is on display at the nearby DeWitt Wallace Museum. Meanwhile Alasdair receives a call from home that someone stole a replica of the Dunsmore witch box from Blair Castle, where his firm provides security. Apparently Kelly Dingwall accidentally set off an alarm in the private section of the castle; during the turmoil the box was taken. Alasdair has suspicions that the alarm was deliberate because Kelly is the sister to Tim Dingwall, who along with his wife Sharon, are infamous for their views. When two murders occur, Williamsburg Detective Stephanie Venegas leads the inquiry, but reluctantly allows the out of towners to assist once s he checks up on them.

This fascinating romantic police procedural works on two fronts. First the relationship that seemed so strong (see The Secret Portrait, The Murder Hole and The Burning Glass) seems to be unraveling with plenty of deep symbolism and metaphors in which readers will never look at a toothbrush or a hairbrush the same way. Second there is the investigation in which the local detective reluctantly allows the lead couple to help as the theft in Scotland seems tied to the homicides in Virginia. The forth entry is the charm for fans of the series.

A Word to the Wise
David Heinzmann
Five Star
9781594148477 $25.95

Former FBI Agent Augustine Flood has become a practicing attorney in Chicago at the law firm of Cronin, Drew and Guzman. Senior partner Alan Cronin assigns Flood to a certain case due to his eight years as a Fed to help a desperate client, Dan Westlake, find his missing wife, Marcy. Westlake is not being altruistic as he needs his spouse so he can obtain his money invested in an offshore account in Marcy's name.

Flood learns later that Westlake is connected to a mob-run casino project that is undergoing a federal investigation. From his former FBI contacts, Flood meets a battered corpse whom he assumes is Marcy. Now he must decide between his position at the firm and its client or the cops, not realizing he inadvertently places his girlfriend Jenny in jeopardy and not from his baking.

This is an engaging Chicago investigative thriller that is fun to read except when the hero bakes apple pie, etc. as his cooking feels forced to soften up his hardboiled personality (should have used quiche). The action-packed story line takes readers on an intriguing tour of Chicago as Flood leaves the downtown Lake Michigan area to loop his way into a hostage mess. A Word to the Wise is a bit thin, but enjoyable starring a lead character who is at his best outside the kitchen kicking down barriers especially human.

My Own Worst Enemy
Brandon Hebert
Five Star
9781594148279 $25.95

In Florida, Coral Gables police catch burglar Jack Murray outside of the house he and his partner Rudy Maxa just robbed. Rudy escapes with the loot while Jack is convicted of the crime and goes to prison for a year and a day.

Incarceration at Okeechobee Correctional Institute shook up Murray so once he is freed, he vows to go straight. Miami mob boss Caesar Pelli rewards Jackie for keeping quiet by hiring him as a manager of a club he has on Collins. At the club Jack is attracted to twenty six year old psychology major at Florida Atlantic club pole dancer Miranda Mendoza. She reciprocates but tries to conceal her feelings as she is an undercover FBI agent. When Murray meets Maxa, he finds his former partner has some powerful allies he made in the past year who will kill Murray if he even hints at harming Rudy.

Jack is a terrific protagonist, who wants to go straight, but no one seems to believe him as crime is in his blood; his cronies assume he is going through a short readjustment to civilian life after a year in jail. On the other hand, Miranda makes no sense as she is undercover but gives that away without a second thought as if she is thinking with her libido rather than her brains. Still even with a thin plot, fans will relish this fast-paced South Florida crime caper as everyone knows Jack, they think.

Dancing for the Hangman
Martin Edwards
Five Star
9781594148484 $25.95

In 1910 in London, stunned American physician Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen awaits execution as he has been convicted of the murder of his second wife Cora. He swears he is innocent, but no one believes him except the real killer.

However, he also believes a jury of his peers found him guilty of her homicide due to his flaunting of acceptable grieving. He abandoned his son so he could move in with no hindrances with his mistress. Now he confesses to his side of what has led to his wrongful date with the scaffold.

This is a fascinating ethnographical fiction of a real life person as Crippen tells his side of the tale in which he insists he is not a killer, but convicted of an unacceptable lifestyle. Fans will enjoy his narration though he comes across as an unsympathetic person as he pulls no punches. Apparently in (see Crippen by John Boyne), Crippen was an intriguing person whose behavior was unsavory but did he commit murder?

Vintage Soul
David Niall Wilson
Five Star
9781594147579 $25.95

In San Valencez, California someone with incredible skills breaks into the home of Johndrow, not an easy task considering the security he has and that he happens to be a master vampire. That individual killed an ancient wizard who was his security chief and abducted his lover three century old vampire vixen Vanessa. Neither of these actions is the work of a normal break and enter caper. Whoever did this has extraordinary power, but Johndrow has one goal: bring back his beloved home.

However, he is also realistic about a counter assault as his unknown foe he assumes has much greater power than he has. He needs help so he turns to ancient manuscript collector, the human mage Donavan DeChance, who walks on both sides of the normal-paranormal spectrum without fear of either. Donovan, accompanied by a crow, a cat and his lover the mage Amethyst, begins the inquiry into the super paranormal as the sleuth magician fears a ritual has begun that could destroy a hell of lot more than just a vampiress.

This is a fascinating urban fantasy noir that grips the reader from the opening encounter with bored vampires partying in a penthouse and never slows as the human mage casts spells to stop his opponents. The whodunit is terrific as the hero and his retinue explores the darkness made even darker by a grim serial killer who drains the blood of the undead. Fans will want to join Donovan and company on their trek to solve a supernatural murder mystery before it is too late.

The Mating Game
Barbara Raffin
Five Star
9781594148248 $25.95

Ten years ago they met in high school. He was a hunk and she was the too tall, too skinny and too shy. Clay Davidson made a bet that he could score with Kelby Richards, but when he had the chance in his mother's Winnebago, he fled. She later learned of the wager that just added to her broken heart as she knew he could not even make love to her.

His action towards "Stretch" upset Clay who ran away because he became frightened of his feelings towards Kelby. He changed how he treated people because of her. At a dog show in Wisconsin, they meet and he begs her for a second chance, but she refuses. He still sees the hurt in her eyes. His mom kidnaps his dog Pirate to persuade Kelby to breed with her canine Chancey. They sign a contract, but Stretch makes it clear one heat season only and she is not part of the deal. However, she fails to see the fine print he put on the contract.

This is an entertaining second chance at love romance as Kelby sees a second chance not to atone for what he did as a teen to Stretch, but to prove his love for her that he failed to understand back when they were in high school. The support cast enhances the tale whether they are four legged or two legged as each in their own way causes havoc. Fans will enjoy Clay's efforts to persuade Kelby that men like him stay (unlike him in high school or her father) though his lone regret at his desperate second chance is using his pet Pirate as a matchmaking stud.

Prodigal Father
Kara Lynn Russell
Five Star
9781594148231 $25.95

In Green Bay, three and a half years ago Scott Lind left his wife Beth who had miscarried shortly before he vanished. He never emailed or called her or his parents. Now he is back in town praying Beth will give him a second chance. He starts his search for her at his father's car dealership where he hopes his dad will help him. Instead, he is shocked to find shy Beth selling cars as he assumed she went back to her estranged parents and school.

After his angry cousin punches him, he persuades his wife to have coffee with him to talk. His father arrives and yells at him about being irresponsible deserting his pregnant spouse. Scott is stunned as he did not know his spouse was pregnant again and gave birth to a little girl Risa who has Down's syndrome. He explains to her he inherited a resort in Spruce Point from a late friend a few hours to the north and wants his family to join him there. Beth wants to say no as he left once before and fears he will harm Risa, but she sees how good he is with her daughter. Although her father in-law wants her to kick his son to the curb, she decides to take a chance on love.

Although his inheritance simplifies Scott's self esteem issue by giving him what he perceived he needed before he left, this is a terrific second chance at love family drama. His wife expects Scott to leave again when the going gets tough. He knows he must overcome his wife's doubts though he proves good with Risa. Fans will enjoy this fine tale as the Prodigal Father returns home to win back his wife only to learn he has a daughter to win over too.

The Poisoning in the Pub
Simon Brett
Five Star
9781594148903 $25.95

In Fethering, West Sussex, the Crown and Anchor pub has had some recent problems. First food poisoning with the media all over the establishment forced a temporary shutdown. Then the grand reopening is devastated by an unruly motorcycle gang. However, worse is the cruel stabbing of a mentally challenged kitchen helper Ray. Landlord Ted Crisp is stunned but soon feels like Job being tested when on top of all that a chain has threatened to open in Fethering.

Friends Carole Seddon and Jude investigate taking advantage of their age as no one would believe two old biddies would risk their lives except in a Christie novel. The pair begins to unravel who killed the gentle lad and why as they connect his death to the poisoned scallops.

The latest Fethering amateur sleuth tale (see Blood at the Bookies) is a terrific entry containing a cautionary message warning readers to beware of the chain stores as they may be more efficient, but at a price to the local flavoring. The lead ladies are at their best as they non-intrusively investigate what has been going on at the pub. Readers will enjoy Simon Brett's fine village mystery as image (not substance) in a pub, a shop, or a person means everything to most people.

Dixie Noir
Kirk Curnutt
Five Star
9781594148217 $25.95

After a decade behind bars for drug trafficking, former Alabama football star Ennis Skinner is freed from prison. He returns home to Montgomery, Alabama hoping to atone for his transgression. His ailing father, who was part of the Civil Rights Movement, welcomes Ennis home.

Even before he can settle in with his dad, former Meth salesman High C asks Ennis to find his missing nineteen year old mentally challenged daughter Caroline called Dixie by her late mom Alice "Faye" James. The request brings back memories Ennis would prefer to forget. On his way to the NFL, he and the late Faye had a heated tryst that led to the jock's drug ruin. At the same time when the city is divided over race as the white incumbent Amory Justice and African-American Walk Compson vie for the mayor's position, Dixie somehow seems to be caught in the middle somehow.

Dixie Noir is an intriguing amateur sleuth mystery that focuses on race relations in the Deep South during a heated mayoral election further fueled by Amory's daughter. The story line is fast-paced but character driven with homage paid to local heroes like the Bear, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Joe Willie. Ennis is terrific as an infamous legend in Crimson Tide football for his "cocaine on the membrane". Although a final Dixie twist seems more an unnecessary shocker that detracts from an otherwise strong regional drama, fans will enjoy this fine Alabama thriller.

Murder by Artifact: The Murder Quilt
Barbara Graham
Five Star
9781594148286 $25.95

Park County Sheriff Marc Antony Abernathy investigates the apparent stabbing death of unpopular "Queen" Doreen, wife of the Silersville, Tennessee Mayor Calvin Cashdollar. Her corpse was placed under a bloodstained "murder quilt". He also struggles with letters from places like Cincinnati that contain notes and newspaper accounts of vanishings two decades ago; Tony has no idea why he is receiving them. However to the shock of everyone who attends Queen's funeral, Doreen arrives with a smile and a so what attitude. The victim is her "twin" half sister.

Meanwhile, Tony's wife Theo, owner of Theo's Quilt Shop, finds skeletal remains behind the house of her best friend. Tony receives a tip from a dying man who swears on his death bed that there is a female serial killer who is on the county tax rolls. As he works a homicide and potentially several other murders, the biggest complaints coming into the Sheriff's Office are the thefts of garden gnomes.

This is a super Smoky Mountains cozy that uses quilts and Quilters to solve the crimes. The story line is fast-paced from the onset as a bewildered Tony leans one thing leads to another; just not what he expected. Fans will enjoy this entertaining mystery and Theo's quilt Night on the Mountain while also seeking out the previous case (see Murder by Serpents).

The Legacy
Diane Amos.
Five Star
9781594148156 $25.95

In 1887, Bostonian businessman Jeremiah T. Dalton leaves the east coast for Lowdown, Texas to say his good bye to his dying father Noah. Father and son were estranged for years. Jeremiah's ranch foreman, Abigail "Abby" Wilcox loathes the easterner for not having time for his kind father until he is on his deathbed.

The will is a bit of a surprise to both Jeremiah and Abby though reflecting on his father, the Bostonian knows it figures. Jeremiah must reside on Dalton Ranch for six months and learn ranching from Abby if he is to inherit. If he fails the test, his dad's estate will be divided between Abby, Pedro the cook, Uncle Mort, and Whip the ranch hand. Jeremiah considers returning home to his fiancee Evelyn DuBlois and forfeiting the estate, but his attraction to the foreman and her precocious daughter Calreissa has him considering a try at ranching. He is stunned when Brahmin Evelyn arrives in Texas.

This is an entertaining late nineteenth century Americana romantic suspense as someone wants Jeremiah dead. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the city slicker arrives in aptly named Lowdown and never slows down as he confronts the ghosts of his past. Although the support cast is stereotyped from Hollywood westerns, fans will enjoy the romance between the slick easterner and his foreman.

Sand Castles
Nancy Gotter Gates
Five Star
9781594148262 $25.95

In Columbus, Ohio, setting up a surprise retirement party for her sixty-two years old spouse Leland, Virginia "Ginny" McAllister takes a nasty fall. She is taken to the hospital where she undergoes knee surgery. While recovering in the hospital, Ginny and her "gimp twin" roommate Joy Wentowski becomes friends and she tries to help her new buddy through a bad time.

Her efforts lead to a confession from Leland that upsets Ginny. After his wife leaves the hospital, Leland relocates them to a Sarasota, Florida retirement community. However, instead of quality time together, he is off playing golf or fishing all the time while she feels like a widow whose friends and family are all back home. When she meets Nicholas at a poetry group meeting, Ginny considers ending her long marriage to Leland as her new "beau" is there for her while her husband is not. A hurricane that traps her and her sister Melba pushes Ginny to decide.

This is an interesting retirement age tale as two snowbirds move south, but drift apart as neither adjusts to their new situation; in fact each runs from the changes in their relationship. Although lacking any twists as the plot is obvious, fans will enjoy a different type of coming of age as two retirees must decide what each wants out of what is left in their lives and with whom.

Harrier Klausner
Dead Air
Mary Kennedy
9780451228772 $6.99

She is the host of On the Couch with Maggie Walsh on WYME radio; Maggie actually tries to help people with their problems. She left the big Apple because she could not handle another cold winter and moved to Cypress Grove, Florida where the temperatures are year round balmy and crime is low.

Her current guest is New Age guru Sanjay Gingii who Maggie instantly dislikes. She tells her roommate Lark how she feels and that Sanjay is staying at the motel next door to their home. Lark obsesses over the New Age prophet and buys all his tapes, CDs, and books. She goes to introducer herself to Sanjay and he welcomes her into his room, but she needs to escape when he constantly makes passes at her. The next day, the two roommates learn Sanjay is dead and Lark is the last known person to have been seen with him. Adding to Lark's troubles is her past police record for assault and her admitting to the cops that she hit him to escape his pawing. With motive, opportunity and a violent history, Lark is the only suspect that the police focus on. Maggie believes Lark is innocent in spite of overwhelming circumstantial evidence that might convince a Grand Jury otherwise. She investigates with the help of her eccentric lovable mom who would do anything to get into the limelight as she dreams of stardom.

Mary Kennedy opens up her new amateur sleuth series with a delightful homicide that will keep the audience guessing just who the killer is. Readers will agree with the cops that Lark is a sure bet; yet Maggie quickly learns seemingly most of Florida hated the self anointed guru. The relationship between the shrink and her mom is touching yet also amusing; but the entertaining story line belongs to the radio hostess who uses her psychology skills to abet her inquiry.

Men on Fire
Susan Lyons, Rachelle Chase, Jodi Lynn Copeland
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758238016 $12.95

"Too Hot to Handle" by Susan Lyons. Jade Rousseau needs a fiance to escort her to her company's social events. She may have found her man when she outbids her friends for firefighter Quinn O'Malley at a benefit event.

"The Firefighter Wears Prada" by Rachelle Chase. Fashion designer Delta Ballantyne asks firefighter Evan Marshall to model her line of men's underwear although she would not mind personally modeling him.

"Playing With Fire" by Jodi Lynn Copeland. Firefighter Lincoln Gabriel has helped Erica Donelson ever since her husband, his best friend, dumped her, but now wants more than friendship from her.

Though resolutions are too quick, these are three enjoyable erotic romances starring women who know how to bring the heat from the firefighters in their professional and personal lives.

Bonnie Edwards
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758238283 $12.95

"Breathless". At the TimeShop Blue McCann is confused by her desire to put on a silk corset, but cannot stop herself from doing so. She is transported back to 1913 into the body of midwife Stella McCann, but when she meets Dr. Stephens she knows where she belongs.

"To Die For". In Seattle Tawny James is afraid of the stalker who apparently is so perverted he went through her laundry. She reluctantly asks her former employer private investigator Stack Hamilton, for help with a stalker, but she unknowingly holds a deadly secret involving a four plus decade old theft.

"Body by Gibson". In Seattle, three years ago, an odious gallery owner Withers destroyed Mariel Gibson's dreams of becoming an artist as he called her mediocre except for her breasts, but carpenter Danny Glenn hopes to become her muse.

These three fun erotic novellas are tied together by undergarments and plenty of sex although the story lines are thin (except for the lead males' lower heads.

Scarlet Nights
Lucinda Betts
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758234605 $12.00

Fearing for the safety of her people especially her Supplicant Queen, the temple virgin Solstice breaks the law of her kingdom. Her illegal sexual action with an unlawful person also places her beloved childhood sweetheart Axel de la Couere in peril.

Axel uncovers a secret tunnel that leads inside the royal palace. However, he is caught inside the forbidden zone. Axel and Solstice are forced on a trek as their punishment. They remain attracted to one another, but she uses sexual enjoyment to pay homage to the Goddess while he rejects the notion.

This is an exhilarating erotic romantic fantasy with an intriguing world in which sexual activity is tied to religious beliefs. The story line is fast-paced from the opening gamut when Alex tries to bring to justice slavers and never slows down until the final confrontation with the Goddess. Although none of the cast is that deep as the action (erotic and other adventures) supersedes character depth, fans will enjoy a visit to the sexy realm of Lucinda Betts.

Soul Of The Wildcat
Devyn Quinn
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758231215 $12.95

In the South Mountains State Park of North Carolina, Native American Jesse Clawfoot is a Tlvdatsi tribesman. His clan consists of shapeshifters who can become cougars. Although powerful magic protects the Tlvdatsi, poachers still intrude and they face extinction as the cougar has just returned to the park.

When Jesse is taken captive park ranger Dakoda Jenkins rescues him and assists him in returning to his clan. However, he conceals from his rescuer that he has been tracking her as he knows who she is, what she means to him and his tribe and who she comes from; roots she knows nothing about and an attraction she does not understand.

Soul of the Wildcat is an exciting paranormal romantic suspense starring two likable lead protagonists in love yet conflicted over what to with dangerous poachers. Jesse is a terrific shapeshifter who believes his soulmate will save his tribe from extinction. Dakoda makes the tale as a strong woman confused by her feelings for Jesse and bewildered by what she observes. Readers will relish climbing the trails of the South Mountains as Devyn Quinn provides a thrilling shapeshifting tale of the power of love.

Sex Drive
Susan Lyons
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758238252 $12.95

On a flight from Australia to Canada, University of Sydney professor Dr. Theresa Fallon and author Damien Black share a row in the business class section. They are instantly attracted to one another although neither knows why. They still want one another even after introductions as she ripped his last novel.

Damien asks Theresa to join him on a getaway. She shocks both of them when she accepts his sexy invitation though she convinces herself this is research. They share the erotic and the intellectual with great pleasure and delight in both until her family intrudes with rage and the media feeding frenzy threatens both their careers.

The conflict in this fun entertaining mile high contemporary romance is how she sees his books as shallow crap, which when he recognizes who she is, a literary academic snob, is intrigued by her. Although the plot is as thin as the air the plane crosses through on the way to Vancouver, fans will enjoy this fun tale of the literary snob and the novelist falling in love over the Pacific.

Dating Outside Your DNA
Karen Kelley
Kensington Brava
9780758225764 $14.00

While recuperating from an on the job leg injury that keeps him from galactic field work, special agent Roan Hendrix trains tyro operatives. He detests having to work with Nerakians, but the stipulation for his return to space is mentoring half-Nerakian Lyraka. Deciding field work is more important than his detesting the aliens, he agrees.

Lyraka hates humans so prefers not to be trained by one of them. However, if she wants field work she will accept Roan as her instructor which she does as becoming an operative means more to her than her destesting his species.

Both are stunned when their animosity turns to attraction. However Lyraka fears her Nerakian sex drive will injure the soft himan she wants so decides to keep her libido in check, which drives Roan crazy with desire. Sadist Prince Banyon of Rovertia sees Lyraka as an opportunity to avenge the scar on his face that her mom etched on him when she said no. He abducts Lyraka leading to Roan and his unit giving chase to rescue her.

This is a faster than the speed of light science fiction romance starring two beloved enemies and a nasty villain. The story line is straightforward with a projectory that is obvious, but no one will care as Roan returns to active duty to rescue the half human he loves. With a gender sexual twist as the female heroine fears her Nerakian sex drive will physiclaly overpower her loved one, fans will enjoy being lost in space in the Kelley uivorse (see CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF A SEXY KIND and The Bad Boys Guide To The Galaxy).

With Extreme Pleasure
Alison Kent
Kensington Brava
9780758217585 $14.00

Makeup artist Cady Kowalski has been on the run for years ever since her brother was murdered, but her past has caught up with her. Battered and bruised she climbs into the hummer of former model and ex convict Kingdom Trahan, who looks forward to leaving the Big Apple for his home in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana. King reluctantly agrees to take Cady out of New York.

They stop at her apartment so she can take some stuff with her, but her roommate tries to kill her. With King's help and that of a Fed she eludes those trying to kill her. However, it is a long drive as King slowly learns the truth re Cady and what happened eight years ago when her brother died.

Cousin to Simon Baptiste of SG-5 (see No Limit), King is a terrific hero who cannot help but aid Cady though he keeps thinking of the unwanted paparazzi that constantly stalk his newly married cuz due to the man's famous bride. The story line is a fast-paced and exciting, but over the top of the Bayou and lacking in the hero's criminal back story. Still fans will be hooked the moment Cady climbs into King's hummer as this action packed thriller lives up to its title.

A Storm Of Passion
Terri Brisbin
Kensington Brava
9780758235169 $14.00

The seer sent killers to murder her and her family. The only survivor of the massacre, Moira swore vengeance and six years later her quest takes her to the camp of the Lord of the Isles Diarmid. His Counselor guiding the lord, Connor has visions that disturb him as he sees himself jailed in a luxurious prison yet also spending nights with an unknown beautiful female.

Moira plans to sleep with the seer before killing him. However, the night proves incredible and she fumbles her attempt to kill the seer. Instead only wounded Connor enslaves Moira. Over time she learns the secret price her captor pays for visions and begins to feel for Connor, but is it enough to overcome her loathing in order to forgive him and help him.

This is a super paranormal romance that grips the audience the moment Connor sees the beautiful Moira for the first time and makes a bad assumption that his liege sent her. The story line is fast-paced as she uses him but fails to kill him so she becomes his prisoner instead. As their relationship changes the key remains constant throughout the exhilarating story line: readers and the hero wonder whether Moira can leave her hatred behind for her love of him.

Seduction Island
Lorie O'Clare
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758234483 $13.95

His grandfather wants his heir Jordan Anton to embrace his affluence, but the youngster wants nothing to do with the idle wealthy as he loves managing his Aunt Penelope's Big Sky ranch. To tempt him, his grandfather sends him to Seduction Island accompanied by Sicilian Princess Tory Alixandre so that he can taste what he is ignoring.

However, he feels like he has been sentenced to hard time in spite of the pristine sea and coral reef until Jordon meets and is attracted to event planner Amber Stone. She reciprocates but conceals two damning secrets from him. First her true social status and second her lack of experience. As she falls in love she owes him the truth, but fears he will end their relationship; beside which he has the lovely Tory to occupy him on the island paradise that to Jordan is an island prison.

This is an interesting romantic triangle although none of the participants garner empathy from the reader. Still fans will enjoy Jordan's issues as he is expected to marry Tory who loathes being forced into a marriage, but he loves Amber who is on the island seeking a wealthy husband to bail out her bankrupt family. Fans will enjoy untangling the convoluted webs of marital deception.

Sexual Secrets
Melissa MacNeal
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758234490 $13.95

In 1898 wealthy Englishman Rutledge Bentley finds the identical twin beauties Colette and Camille on the streets of Paris. He brings them home with him to London where he marries Camille and his son Heath weds Colette.

Colette finds Heath quite the lover yet leaves her unfulfilled while Camille is left wanting by her much older spouse. As they did on the streets of Paris, Camille persuades her twin to switch places so each can taste some alternate lovemaking accompanied by the adrenalin rush of the swap. Now Camille and Colette know how to make and keep father and son coming. However, the siblings are caught with their respective garments down by a stranger who seems to intimately know both of them as he can tell them apart with one look or kiss.

Sexual Secrets is an intriguing late Victorian erotic romance that has double the fun, but also is a double edged blade as the family swapping is fascinating but never quite gels into a cohesive plot beyond the sexcapades. Older fans will keep thinking of the 1973 Yankees with the wife swapping of pitchers Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson. Still this is an interesting premise that will have the audience wondering whom will end up in whose bed.

Crystal Jordan
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758238290 $13.95

"Stolen Temptation". The Great Third World War was fought with biological weapons that devastated much of the planet. To survive, humanity adjusted on a cellular level. In New Chicago, hybrid human-lynx, Delilah Chase is a jewel thief. However, her current robbery of a valuable ruby goes wrong when half-human-half-hawk Hunter Avery catches her. He offers her a Faustian deal of going to jail or spending a week in his bed.

"Deadly Temptation". In New Chicago, Delilah's human-mink shifter sister Lorelei Chase owns The Tail techno brothel that handles any fantasy a client might request. She refuses to sample what her employees offer or her customers want but her worker jaguar-shifter Nolan Angelo and Fed wolf-shifter Pierce Vaughn have her ready to break her golden rule.

These two interrelated erotic urban romantic fantasies are fun to read as the cast heats up the Windy City from the moment the Avery flies to his penthouse and never slow down until Lorelei brings out the shivers in her two mates. The novella format limits the background even with two entries; this especially makes it difficult for fans to understand the true differences between the diverse hybrids (to include the villain Tarak the viper who gets the short straw) besides the obvious physical beastly attributes. Still fans will relish Crystal Jordon's erotic take on half breed shapeshifters.

Dusted to Death
Barbara Colley
9780758222534 $22.00

In New Orleans at sixty-three years of age, Charlotte LaRue still has the energy to perform the work of her business Maid for a Day as she cleans for selected clients who prefer her only. Bitsy Dhue asks Charlotte to watch her Victorian house as well as keeping it clean because a movie company is going to film there. It is a two week gig and she will receive $5000 for this pristine assignment.

One of the movie stars is Angel Martinique who has the reputation of her first name, but as Charlotte quickly learns G-string is apropos rather than the G rating reputation of this Hollywood heater, who away from the lights is a spoiled virago. Charlotte enters a room to find the body of Angel's boyfriend Nick Franklin. She also notices next to the corpse, the letter opener used in a recent Angel scene and later confirmed by the cops as the murder weapon. Angel is arrested but her chauffeur Benny who loves her persuades Charlotte, whom he has heard solved homicides, to help him prove her innocence by finding the real culprit.

This amateur sleuth is terrific due to the Hollywood invasion that leads to an intricately created mystery. The heroine has strong instincts and her work enables her to notice clues in what seems like spotless segues. Fans will enjoy Charlotte cleaning up the crime scene not aware the killer is watching her .

Red to Black
Alex Dryden
9780061803864 $25.99

In 1999 Moscow, Russian FSB intelligence Colonel Anna, daughter of a KGB spymaster meets Finn, a British M16 operative who allegedly is a trade secretary, but everyone in the field knows his real vocation, which he does not bother to conceal. He is aware of who's who like his peers are. He knows who Anna is and she knows who he is. Each is aware of the Putin "Plan".

Finn arranges for his return to England where he retires; knowing full well the suspicious Russians will not believe he is out of the cold. Like Pavlov's dogs, Putin's KGB followers want to know what they deem a ruse so they send his former Muscovite lover Anna to seduce him in London in order to extract his high level Russian contact. Over the years the two spies make love and elude war as they dream of a life together without lies but eventually unravel a scheme to launder money that supports the Putin Plan.

The espionage scenes are incredibly terrific as the focus on international finances by the FSB will stun the audience as Alex Dryden enables the reader to look into Putin's eyes and see a ruthless soul. The romantic subplot pales in comparison to the big picture schemes although watching two people in love lie to each other with the knowledge the other knows makes for an intriguing courtship. Although the writing at times feels stilted, readers will enjoy the frightening Red to Black as the audience obtains a deep look at a merciless Russia during the beginning of the Bush Administration.

The Interrogative Mood
Padgett Powell
9780061859410 $21.99

This is an odd yet fascinating book as there are no declarative sentences. Instead every line is a question that goes deeper and deeper in profundity and acerbity. Starting with a childlike innocence re "Are your emotions pure?" and asking seemingly silly questions like "Would you eat a monkey? and ending with the seemingly finish to a relationship between the interrogator and a silent responder (can that be readers?) whose lack of resonances implies much with "Are you leaving now? Intriguing with a weird psychological spin, recommend those who appreciate a deep internal look at one's self, answer the questions; just do it over a few weeks or your loved ones will ask are you crazy especially at $21.99? Hopefully yours do not answer that.

The Mental Floss History of the World
Erik Sass and Steve Wiegand with Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur
9780061842672 $14.99

This is a fun way to look at the history of the world (in 400 pages) as the mental Floss crowd provides their irreverent glimpse back in time and for a few pages the Great Bush Recession. With twelve chapters divided by eras, an appendix on Oh Canada and of course that Great Bush Recession, readers get a taste of chicken beer historical trivia. The reference tome includes chronological and locality asides, but mostly focuses on the who's who of the past and who they are doing it to; and not just Europe and North America; as Chapter 4 aptly represents the book with its "There's No Place Like Rome (Except China, Persia India, Mexico and Peru). Amusing and hip even when discussing pestilence, disease and war like how the great plague limited the great Justinian or that six battles on the western front in WW I resulted in at least 250,000 dead or there is a bit of land beyond the Hudson. Whether it is invoking divine approval by Sumerians, Persians, or Americans, this is an engaging look at the world's historical foibles even during critical pivotal points missed by that much by the Third Estate (some things remain the same whether the coverage is the French Revolution, Imperialism in Africa or The Iraq and Afghanistan Wars). The Mental Floss History of the World provides as Paul Harvey would say "the rest of the story". Did Abraham really give up that beach front property to his nephew?

The Discworld Graphic Novels
Terry Pratchett
9780061833106 $16.99

"The Colour of Magic". Discworld lies evenly flat on four elephants who ride on the back of a turtle orbiting around the universe. Tourist Twoflower from the Agatean Empire on the Counterweight Continent has come to Ankh-Morpork to see the famous sights. Noted loser, drop-out and coward Rincewind the worst wizard is assigned to show the visitor the city or he will lose a few extremities in case he foolishly refuses the kind offer. When an inferno engulfs Ankh-Morpork Rincewind and Twoflower run for their lives with two many legged luggage. Thus starts their miscapades.

"The Light Fantastic". Wizard extraordinaire Rincewind and tourist Twoflower escape the void of space at a time when Discworld appears on a course to collide with a red star that at a minimum would destroy the turtle, four elephants the planet and its residents. The great minds know that the eight great magic spells will save the turtle, four elephants, the planet and its residents. Seven spells seem ready for deployment; the eighth resides alone inside the brain of Rincewind.

The first two 1980s tales make for a fun graphic novel filled with humor, irony and satire that seems timely as health care for the uninsured, under insured, and economically deprived insured is debated by those who have access to the best in health care on the cheap. The adaptation is fun as Scott Rockwell captures the essence of the misadventures with great minds who belong in Congress debating the gender of the turtle, Cohen the Barbarian explaining the subtly of combat, and Death learning to play bridge before Bill and Ted. The graphics illustrated by Steven Ross enhance the belief that Discworld exists though readers will have their own mental images to compare with. Except for purists, fans of the saga will enjoy this adaptation of the original duology while floating at a turtle's pace through space.

Coldheart Canyon
Clive Barker
9780061769054 $14.99

Willem Zeffer manages the career of silent film star Katya Lupescu who sadistically took pleasure from others. While in Romania, Willem buys painted tiles from a medieval monastery that graphically show bizarre sexual encounters. He brings them to Hollywood though he is unable to explain to himself let alone his wife why he had to buy the erotic artwork. However, he has them placed inside of Katya's Coldheart Canyon mansion; which leads to a who's who of the silent film era coming to her home ostensibly to see the queen of frozen sadism, but deep down each knows they visit to admire the sexual arousing masterpieces.

Six decades since a bewildered Willem brought the tiles to California, movie star Todd Pickett recovers from slipshod cosmetic surgery at Coldheart Canyon mansion. At the same time he wallows in self pity, the president of a Todd fan club, unhappily married Tammy Lauper, decides to visit her recuperating hero to help him heal. Still visiting the mansion are the ghosts of Hollywood legends and wannabes who came to see the artwork of the Queen of Hell condemning a hunter to sexually depravity that gripped each of them when they were alive and continues its fascination well passed their death, a hellish time on earth.

This is a fascinating dark Hollywood ghost story that also pays homage to the legends of the silver screen. The story line is fast-paced and gripping though not particularly as frightening as some of Clive Barker's previous works. Fans will enjoy Mr. Barker turning Jacqueline Susan and the spirit of Harold Robbins on their respective heads as they are just two of the ghosts of Hollywood residing at Coldheart Canyon.

Wild Hunt
Margaret Ronald
9780061662423 $7.99

Know for her incredible olfactory sense that enables her to find missing persons and things, Evie "Hound" Scelan helped her former lover Frank McDermott escape from under the dictatorial control of the Fiana a cabal who controlled magic use in Boston (see Spiral Hunt). However Evie who is still upset with what the Fiana did to prevent the Sox from winning a World Series was so successful she left the city with no one in charge of magical practitioners although most users expected Evie would take over.

Chinese-American Yuen asks Evie for the favor of witnessing his death and to insure his father's spirit residing in a jar that he gives her is gone when he is gone; she owes him so she pays him back by being there for him. He dies a few minutes later; Evie checks the jar, which she tells his daughter Elizabeth is empty. However, Elizabeth fails to heed her father's directions, a major haunting mistake. Meanwhile Abigail Huston asks Evie to find out what her great-great-grandmother stole and who owns this item. Evie agrees to take her on as a client; not understanding what she has accepted as soon the trail leads to her own "messenger"-ancestor and the undercurrent Hounds.

Readers will enjoy the latest adventures of Evie who most of the Red Sox Nation expects her to take over from the cabal she toppled as successful coups always do. However, all she wants is to ride her bike, decide on how she feels about Nate Hunter who has his own paranormal problems, and take on clients needing her wonderful nose. Traders will enjoy her escapades in the urban fantasy noir landscape as Evie is a unique protagonist unlike most people who communicate through sight or hearing, her prime sense is smell.

Land of the Blind
Jess Walter
9780061712845 $14.99

Spokane detective Caroline Mabry knows she suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following her recent case (see Over Tumbled Graves). However, she is on the night shift trying to overcome the emotional crippling of burnout that has devastated her recent performance when self made millionaire Clark Mason enters the station in the early morning hours to confess he committed a murder. Caroline finds herself shocked by an attraction to Clark with his black eye patch, but lectures herself to stick to the facts.

Clark begins writing down his Statement of Fact on legal sized paper starting with his childhood betrayal of Eli Boyle whom he sacrificed his friend so he could avoid a beating from preadolescent bully Pete Kramer and again at the high school prom. Mason says he and Boyle created a video game together Empire that led to the latter's death. Caroline follows up on names Clark gives her, but struggles to find the corpse he alleges exists.

This is an odd well written police procedural in which the alleged culprit confesses to the cop before the corpse is found. The story line is at its best when Mason sadly muses on his weaknesses as he reflects back on his life and his negative dependency relationships with Boyle and Kramer. When the plot focuses on Mabry's investigation, it remains grim as she empathizes with him that life is violent, nasty, and ugly; just the way Spokane comes across. Although very little action occurs, fans who relish a vivid but pessimistic look at humanity will either climb on the ledge with Mabry and Mason or shout at them to jump.

The Dolphin People
Torsten Krol
9780061672965 $13.99

In 1943 on the Russian Front, Erich Linden's father died. Two years later, now sixteen years old, Erich, his widow mom Helga and his twelve years old brother Zeppi flee the ruined Third Reich for Geneva; there they board the Stromboli and sail to Venezuela where Uncle Klaus waits for them. He will marry Helga so he can care for her and her two sons while also using them as a front to dodge war crime prosecution for his work at the concentration camps.

In Venezuela the Brandt family, as they are now called, flies into the Amazon to their new home, but the plane crashes. The Yayomi tribe welcomes the lost Brandt family because they believe they are the dolphins wearing human garb prophesied by a tribesman's dreams. German anthropologist Gerhard Wentzler who lives with the tribe to study them assists the Brandt brood in their temporary not so easy adaptation.

The blood (and other liquids too frequently) flows in this deep dark allegorical historical thriller. Each of the Brandt family member has their civilization attire torn off along the lines of Carlyle's Sartor Resartus Clothing theory of man so that the reader can explore deeply their motivations to include growing up too fast, anti-Semitism, and other racial superiority. Not an easy read, The Dolphin People is a thought provoking Post WW II tale told mostly through the biased filtered lens of Erich as the narrator.

Lit: A Memoir
Mary Karr
9780060596989 $25.99

This is a fascinating memoir as writer Mary Karr obviously has come a long way. In Texas her parents were alcoholics who when sober were psychotic, but when drunk were beyond the fringe. However, much of that period is in her previous autobiographies The Liars' Club as a preadolescent and Cherry as a teen. Instead Ms. Karr picks up her saga in her late teens and takes it to her current age of fifty years old. She left for college on the west coast, but though bored tried to desperately to prove she belonged at school and with her boyfriend's affluent parents. Like her parents she turned to alcohol to numb her past so those demons would not harm her present. When she became a devout Catholic Ms. Karr feels that changed her emotionally so that she can feel good about living inside her skin as even Harvard failed to give her the inner confidence of belonging she desperately sought.

Well written with incredible insight and yet filled with self deprecating humor, Mary Karr explains her obsessive human need for self actualization and acceptance. Ms. Karr's third memoir looks deep at herself seemingly even more so than before; perhaps because this time the adult cannot use the unintended consequences of the shield of a child (The Liars' Club) or a teen (Cherry) to garner empathy from her readers. This is a winner of a courageous person overcoming her roots to make it in her mind.

Stirring Up Strife
Jennifer Stanley
9780312376857 $7.99

After her boyfriend of five years broke up with her, Cooper Lee moves into the garage apartment on her family's estate; as she needs their support. She fixes office machines for Make It Work. A client of the firm of the credit card company Capital City, Brooke Hughes, lost her wedding ring in a copier. When Cooper arrives to find the ring, Brooke talks to her, something few customers do. Brooke finds the ring and some paper stored in a weird place. She places the paper in her work case planning to toss the paper later. A grateful Brooke Invites Cooper to come to the Hope Street Church services and meet some good people at the Sunrise Bible Study.

At the first session she attends, Cooper and the other people she meets are stunned to learn that Brooke was murdered with her husband arrested for the crime. The group rejects the notion her spouse killed her. Brooke hopes the shredded paper offers a clue as to why Brooke seemed nervous when they met, as f she was afraid of someone. On the papers is the name Hazel; Cooper visits Brooke's assistant who explains the woman complained about her account being wrong. Cooper and the motley Hope Street Sunrise Bible Study posse investigate the homicide.

Although this fun amateur sleuth starts off a bit slow as the herd of characters are being introduced, readers will be hooked to learn what motivates each member of the group. Cooper is surprised and feels fickle that she is interested in one of the Sunrisers Nathan although she conceals her attraction to him. Jennifer Stanley provides an entertaining mystery with a strong lead character and a solid eccentric support crew.

Faces in the Pool
Jonathan Gash
9780312384111 $24.99

When his antique scam failed, Lovejoy is sent to prison for his con. However, Ellen Jaynor, owner of The Anglers Manglers Speed-Datery offers to get him out of jail immediately if he agrees to marry temporarily millionaire Laura Moon. In fact Laura wants Lovejoy to find her former spouse, but he smells a rat in which he will be left holding the crap when the ex is killed.

His apprentice Lydia and his son Mortimer persuade him to at least attend the antiques convention of the sixteen groups representing the world's Lost Tribes. They want him to authenticate their antiques. However, nothing goes right as Mortimer is kidnapped and the edifice storing the artifacts is burned to the ground. However, the worst is watching his beloved sail off into the sunset with her lover and the booty from the Lost Tribes' valuables. Jail seems safer.

The story line is all over the place as Jonathan Gash proves chaos theory can be fun to read inside a crime caper. The cast is strong as Lovejoy is his usual roguish self as nothing is quite what it seems or goes right. Not for everyone as the dots don't connect in a simple easy to follow way as B does not follow A, or precede C; fans who enjoy mass pandemonium will want to read convoluted Faces in the Pool.

The Good Son
Russel D. McLean
9780312576684 $24.99

Farmer James Robertson finds his brother Daniel hanging from a tree. Although the siblings were estranged for decades when Daniel left home at sixteen after an argument with their father, James rejects the official opinion that Daniel committed suicide. Instead he hires former Dundee police officer J. McNee, who is still recovering from a car accident that severely injured him and killed his fiancee.

McNee quickly uncovers that the deceased worked as a thug for former gangster Gordon Egg, who owns a London nightclub. Meanwhile Kat from London arrives insisting she was close to Daniel while two more bad eggs follow her. McNee fears he is in over his head as a hardboiled detective battling crime kings because his throbbing leg keeps telling him.

Taking the injured hardboiled urban American detective to Dundee makes for an engaging refreshing tale though the lead character never quite feels like he is from Scotland rather than the United States. Still his inquiry, aching leg and all, makes for a fun tale as the cops tell him to stay out, the thugs warn him to stay out, and his common sense pleads with him to stay out; three strokes and he stays in. Fans will enjoy McNee as an avenger trying to survive the case of the dead farmer's brother.

Murder on the Cliffs
Joanna Challis
9780312367145 $24.99

Wanting to become a writer, twenty one year old Daphne du Maurier is in Cornwall conducting research at Rothmarten Abbey. During a storm, Daphne notices a teenager leaning over the body of a woman on the beach. Daphne introduces herself to Lianne Hartley, who reluctantly says the deceased is former kitchen maid Victoria Bastion, who was engaged to Lianne's brother David over the objection of his family. Local magistrate Sir Edward rules the death an accident.

Soon after running into Lianne for the first time Daphne meets the rest of the aristocratic Hartley family whom she finds odd but fascinating. When she learns Victoria died from poisoning, Daphne investigates starting with the Hartley brood at nearby Padthaway Mansion.

The mystery takes a back seat to the early adult life of Daphne du Maurier whose investigation serves as the conduit to her one day writing Rebecca. The suspense never comes close to that described by the lead protagonist in her novels but is a fascinating device that enables the audience to have a glimpse at the author's life and her most famous work. Fans who enjoy historical fiction wrapped inside a thin amateur sleuth will want to read Murder on the Cliffs.

Where Armadillos Go to Die
James Hime
9780312534868 $25.99

He may be the most hated person in Brenham, Texas due to his mean spirited racism, but his restaurant Bouree is also the most popular. No one makes catfish like Sylvester Bradshaw can. His repeat customers come for the great food and not for the small talk; just the way nasty Bradshaw prefers it.

Sylvester has invented a gizmo that people want a piece of the action, but he tells everyone to stick it up their butt. When he vanishes Sheriff Dewey Sharpe thinks nothing of it as he has personal problems dealing with erectile dysfunction that is more important to him than some ignoramus disappearing. Former Texas Ranger Jeremiah Spur learns that the man's office was invaded and torn apart, he becomes concerned. However, when Bradshaw's worried daughter asks him to investigate he agrees as he hopes an inquiry will help him reduce his worry over his hospitalized wife Martha suffering from E. coli food poisoning and besides he may be the only pal of the ornery Sylvester.

This is a fast-paced investigative tales as Texans prove tougher than E. coli. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and never slows down from the moment that Sylvester's wife calls her daughter to tell her he never came home. Over the top of Guadalupe Peak, Where Armadillos Go to Die is an enjoyable thriller due to a wacky eccentric cast and a wonderful retired hero (see Scared Money and The Night of the Dance) who still has his moxie, Texas style.

Faces of the Gone
Brad Parks
9780312574772 $25.99

In Newark four men were assassinated with a bullet to their respective head and left in an empty lot. The cops assume the mass murders are connected to a robbery at a nearby bar. The media jumps on what the cops tell them.

Thus Newark Eagle-Examiner investigative reporter Carter Ross sees the killings in his paper. He disagrees with the official take and begins to work the streets. The four victims seem to have no connection beyond living in Jersey. He has editor Tina Thompson, Cuban-American intern Tommy Hernandez and stripper Tynesha Dales to assist him as one of the victims was an exotic dancer. Still he struggles to connect the dots and is unaware the Director is watching the thirty something journalist.

The lead pairing of the reporter vs. the Director makes for an enjoyable fast-paced investigative thriller with ironically the audience identifying the killer before the cops or the journalist can. From the opening mass murder scene until the final confrontation that fans anticipate, Faces of the Gone is action-packed throughout as the Director continues his gruesome business patiently waiting for Carter and his team to stumble onto who he is.

The Red Velvet Turnshoe
Cassandra Clark
9780312537364 $24.99

In 1383 the Archbishop of York directs Sister Hildegard to journey to Rome to bring home the Cross of Constantine. The trek is expected to be dangerous due to the Black Plague, the Hundred Years War, and two popes claiming Peter's See dividing loyalties. However, although she some doubts over taking the wooden cross said to have been the one the Emperor Constantine pledged his fealty to Christianity on, the abbess begins her trek by joining a baggage train led by her friend Ulf as the steward of Lord Roger de Hutton moving his cargo shipment to Bruges.

In Bruges a crate containing wool turns rancid with a horrific odor that everyone knows means death even before opening the box. Cocooned inside is Lord Roger's clerk Reynard of Risngholme whose throat was sliced open obviously in England. Everyone assumes Pierrekyn the sodomite minstrel killed the clerk; that is everyone except the nun dressed as a pilgrim. She sneaks Pierrekyn out of the city dressed as a squire to Sir Talbot, the knight keeping Sister Hildegard safe in dangerous Italy and back to England where she plans to prove the minstrel's innocence.

The second Sister Hildegard medieval thriller (see Hangman Blind) is a super tale that showcases Europe at a time of horrific strife as many believe the Black Plague and the wars are because of God's wrath over the papal divide and other heresies. Fans journeying with Hildegard obtain a taste of fourteenth century life in the moors of Yorkshire, impoverished Flemish villages and treacherous Renaissance Italy. Although the story line has been used before (see Company of Liars by Karen Maitland), Cassandra Clark keeps it fresh with a strong cast led by the courageous nun and a deep historical base to include a jurisdiction dispute over the homicide that has readers transported to fourteenth century Europe.

Merry Wives of Maggody
Joan Hess
9780312363611 $24.99

The 755 residents of Maggody, Arkansas are overall excited over hosting the first ever Maggody Charity Golf Tournament, which symbolizes how far from homemade cornpone to country club whiskey the townsfolk's have come; though secretly most prefer the products of the back woods distillery. Mrs. Jim Bob Buchanan who came up with the idea refuses to accept any issues to prevent the tournament; for instance there are no golf courses, clubs or players in the town; most of the folks cannot spell the word golf.

When Mrs. Jim Bob announces the prize of a $40,000 bass boat for the first hole in run, everyone takes out brooms and what not to practice golf. Faberville Country Cub professional Tommy Ridner wins the prize over the hoot and holler of locals claiming he is an outside ringer as is PGA player Bonaparte Buchanan brought in by his clan to keep the prizes inside the family. Someone murders Tommy and soon afterward his friend. Pregnant police chief Arly Hanks puts aside her tea for tee time to investigate the homicides; while a LPGA pro files an assault complaint.

Merry Wives of Maggody is even zanier than the title implies as golf proves a lethal sport with a hole in one having new meaning as a hole in the head. The thin story line is fast-paced from the moment Mrs. Jim Bob tries to change the town's rep from the centerfold of hick to glamour and never slows down as Arly investigates the homicides and the assault. Golf has never been crazier than in Maggody as Joan Hess strokes an ace on the sixteenth hole with this amusing cozy.

The Puzzle Lady vs. the Sudoku Lady
Parnell Hall
9780312612184 $24.99

In Japan, Minami "the Sudoku Lady" is shocked when an American pushes past her to number one on her country's bestseller list. Stunned and ashamed by this dishonor that that some ancient New England crone Cora "The Puzzle Lady" Felton has moved ahead of her, Minami accompanied by her teenage niece Michiko comes to Bakerhaven, Connecticut to challenge the foreign upstart in a puzzler's duel. Minami is unaware that Cora is the front for her shy recently married niece Sherry Carter who creates the crossword and sudoku puzzles.

Cora as the Wicked Witch of the West wants to ignore the Japanese diva, but Sherry persuades her otherwise. However, before the duel between the Japanese puzzle champion and her American rival can occur, Police Chief Harper informs the aunt and niece that Mrs. Ida Fielding was murdered, but not by her spouse who was in jail sleeping off a drunken binge and no puzzles to assist on the investigation. Harper wants Cora to help anyway because she is very good at finding clues. Minami sees them and follows them. As the two puzzle-makers compete, Minami is arrested for murder so her books move back to number one while Cora and Sherry try to prove the visitor is innocent and Michiko asks them to take their time so she can go mall shopping without adult supervision.

The latest Puzzle Lady tale is the usual enjoyable lighthearted whodunit in which the mystery takes a back seat to the cast. This time the aunt-niece relationship is double the fun as the Japanese equivalent to the Connecticut Yanks invades New England. With several Will Shortz sudoku and crossword puzzles included, readers who enjoy a fluffy entertaining cozy will want to watch the battle of the puzzle warriors with their nieces as their squires.

Heat Wave
Richard Castle
9781401323820 $19.99

At the exclusive Guilford in Manhattan, sexagenarian Matthew Starr falls from his sixth floor apartment. Leading the investigation into the death of the mega realtor is NYPD Detective Nikki Heat. Besides her competent team, she is saddled with writer Jameson Rook, who is researching an article on New York's finest.

The evidence on the balcony is Matthew was pushed. The inquiry follows up with an interview with the deceased's trophy wife twenty eight years old Kimberly after their seven year old son is taken out to play by the nanny. Soon the cops know she lies about her alibi and her affair with Barry Gable. They also learn from Matthew's accountant that Starr was broke as confirmed by the bare office though his penthouse was loaded with expensive art. With suspects everywhere from lovers, bookies, and rivals, the heat is on but not from the murder case as it is from the attraction she loathes for Rook.

This is an exciting rendition of the TV show as the police procedural is fun to follow although the romantic subplot never quite gels feeling forced to match the on air relationship. The inquiry will hook fans of Richard Castle from the moment Heat takes charge with her only thorn being the Rook that seems to want to castle her queen. Entertaining, this is a fun NYPD novella as kick-butt Nikki with pain in the butt Jameson along with her staff work the murder mystery.

The Darkness
Jason Pinter
9780778326717 $7.99

New York Gazette reporter Henry Parker encouraged by Jack O'Donnell investigates the murder of the former's previously unknown half-brother Stephen Gaines by apparently the drug kingpin The Fury. After confronting Henry's dad re a sibling he never knew existed until just before the homeless Stephen's death (see The Fury), the journalists seek to identify the Fury though no one seems to know who he is as they walk the mean streets of Manhattan seeking clues.

Their first lead is the crushed body of a victim found with bones plummeted to almost fine sand floating in the East River. The Fury is sending a warning to those seeking to destroy him and his empire. However, the corpse fails to deter Henry from his quest as he follows up with whatever leads the deceased left behind when his skeleton was whole.

The latest Henry Parker investigation (see THE STOLEN, THE MARK and GUILTY) is a terrific suspense laden thriller with the personal twist adding depth to the hero who obsesses over the destruction of the Fury. The super story line is fast-paced from the recovery of the broken body but must be read after perusing THE FURY, the first half of a duology.

Forbidden Falls
Robyn Carr
9780778327493 $7.99

Hope McCrea put the abandoned church building for sale on E-Bay. Widower reverend Noah Kincaid buys the edifice after talking with Hope as he has decided to relocate to Virgin River in Northern California to bring faith to the flock.

Noah arrives and immediately advertises for a Pastor's Assistant although he expects no applicants, but several do; none qualify. He hires former exotic dancer with no church experience Ellie Baldwin because he feels she has earned a second chance to prove herself as "respectable" so she can regain custody of her children. Starting with admiring her spirit and her somewhat wicked sense of humor, Noah falls in love as does Ellie. However, both understand the children and the flock come before their desires.

This is an interesting addition to the Virgin River saga as two characters from different walks of life fall in love; an emotion neither wants, desires because neither has a good track record. Ellie is not afraid to open her mouth as she is brassy and amusing while the Reverend is wallowing in self pity so much so the empathetic audience as well as many locals wants to help him. Fans will appreciate the latest return to Virgin River as Robyn Carr provides a wonderful contemporary second chance at life and love.

Joan Johnston
9780778328292 $7.99

In Austin, almost a decade has passed since Kate Grayhawk Pendleton caught her husband J.D. cheating; stunned she left and met Wyatt Shaw in a hotel bar. They made love and she left only to give birth to twins Lucky and Chance who are Wyatt's offspring. Now the mother of the late J.D. Ann Wade is running for president and needs to know what skeletons could derail her chances of winning the Republican nomination as the kids are not her biological grandchildren.

Son of a mobster, Wyatt has learned the kids are his. He wants them and Kate in his life. At the same time Texas Ranger Jack McKinley, who broke Kate's heart in high school, wants Kate back in his life while also trying to destroy Wyatt Shaw' who he assumes will take over his dad's D'Amato crime syndicate. Jack's wife Holly will do almost anything to keep her spouse whom she loves, but her son's needs come before her heart.

This is an exciting Bitter Creek romantic suspense that fans of the saga will enjoy as the entangled relationships between the lead foursome is fascinating and made more complicated by children and parents. The story line is filled with action although too many subplots make it difficult to follow especially for a newbie. Still romantic suspense readers will enjoy the tale with an engaging mystery and plenty of suspense while wondering who will end up with whom.

Reese's Bride
Kat Martin
9780778327448 $7.99

In 1855, Reese Dewar still uses a cane to help him get around his estate Briarwood after suffering wounds in battle in the Crimea. However, the biggest wound he took was to his heart when his beloved Elizabeth Clemens married the Earl of Aldridge eight years ago. Still in a rage over her betrayal, he vowed to never trust a woman again, especially this one who shared a bed with the late Edmund Holloway, her spouse.

In the middle of the night widow Elizabeth accompanied by her son Hared seeks sanctuary at Reese's home. She insists Edmund's brother and his wife is drugging her to control Jared's fortune that he inherited form his late father. She fears they will arrange the deaths of her and her child if need be. Reluctantly, Reese lets them into his home, but knows the only way to protect them is to give them his name. However, though Elizabeth knows he is right before agreeing to his offer, she also owes him the truth why she betrayed him and concealed a secret that will send him into a deeper rage.

The second Victorian Dewar sibling's Bride romance (see Royal's Bride) is a terrific tense thriller starring two terrific lead characters, a perhaps too precocious son, and two vile villains. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Elizabeth arrives at Briarwood and never slows down until the final confrontation between Dewar and Holloway. Fans will appreciate this superb second chance at love historical tale.

Pamela Klaffke
9780778327462 $13.95

Fifteen years ago Sara B and Ted founded Snap with no money to truly launch the magazine. However, with its Dos and Don'ts, the magazine has become one of Canada's most popular weekly. In fact if imitation is the ultimate flattery, than Snap is the top gun.

However, as Sara B closes in on her fortieth birthday, she has lost some of her edge; even she knows she is on cruise control professional and personally. Her affair with younger Jack is okay but not any euphoric incredible. Even her renowned page Dos and Don'ts has lost its luster at least in her mind. Sara B especially feels her age since she hired energetic youthful Eva, who represents what Sara B was before she realized the new forty is still forty.

This is a superb sarcastic saga of a woman not coming to grips with middle age hammering at her when she compares herself today with Eva and with herself at Eva's age. Time has moved on and she fears passed her by when she was not looking beyond the next Don'ts. Fans who relish a dark jocular acerbic tale will appreciate this strong tale as Sara B realizes she has gone from a Do to a Don't.

Veil Of Shadows
Jennifer Armintrout
9780778326786 $7.99

With the deaths of her royal parents Queen Ayla and Malachai during the battle between Lightworld and the Darkworld elves and waterhorses (see the second book Child of Darkness); the heir to the throne of Faery Queene, Cerridwen flees to the Upworld human realm. Accompanying her in order to keep her safe is her late mom's chosen betrothed for her Cedric. They make it to Eire, the last fairy realm amidst the mortals.

Ruling over Eire in the new queene's absence is the High Priestess Danae. Although she pretends to bow to Cerridwen as the rightful ruler of the Fae, she is setting up her highness to destroy her so she can reign as the rightful ruler. With no experience as a leader making life and death decisions, Cerridwen must learn fast or see the usurper take her crown, kill her allies, and plunge her people into civil war at a time they need unity to battle the Darkworld denizen.

The third Lightworld/ Darkworld (see the first book Queene of Light) centers on the next generation as Cerridwen with Cedric at her side having her back covered battles an internal betrayal as well as the Darkworld invaders. The story line is fast-paced with the romantic subplot enhancing the political seditious intrigue that threatens the heroine. Although it helps considerably to have read the previous two tales especially the Child of Darkness to understand how Cerridwen finds herself struggling to survive, fans will enjoy this exhilarating fantasy as the war has moved to Eire in the Upworld.

Cold River
Carla Neggers
9780778326557 $7.99

Eight months ago, Drew Cameron was murdered on Cameron Mountain in Vermont. Those who killed him also died; that is everyone except the person who hired the professional hit men. Drew's sons Sean and his brothers (see Cold Purist for Elijah's tale) believe Hannah Shay, owner of Her Three Sisters Cafe in nearby Black Falls, Vermont, is the key to their finding out who the culprit really was.

However, Sean approaches Hannah asking for her assistance, but she refuses as she is afraid her friend Bowie O'Rourke is in the middle of the blood flowing down Cameron Mountain. However, someone with less ethics when it comes to homicide awaits the right moment to learn what Hannah knows before killing her. Sean vows to keep the obstinate Hannah safe as he believes she is in the crosshairs and besides he has loved her since high school.

The latest Black Falls "Cold" thriller is a strong romantic suspense that turns pristine Green Mountain state into a dark grim landscape. Drew and Hannah are a delightful pairing as he knows somehow she is the center of danger, but she rejects his offers of protection out of loyalty. Fans will relish Carla Neggers' tense action-packed thriller that never slows down throughout the exhilarating story line.

Let Darkness Come
Angela Hunt
9780778326533 $7.99

In Chicago the police arrest Erin Tomassi for the murder of her husband state senator Jeffrey Tomassi. Her father-in-law wants the ungrateful white trash bitch to hang so he arranges for an inexperienced lawyer Briley Lester at the law firm he uses to represent Erin.

Briley looks over the case and believes her client is guilty just like the newspapers scream. Besides being a spousal abuse victim, Erin's fingerprints are on the murder weapon and there is no evidence of a house invasion. In fact the defense lawyer leans towards plea bargaining though the prosecution refuses to negotiate with this obvious sure shot conviction. However, as Briley begins to u understand her client, she begins to believe Erin is innocent, but to prove it remains elusive unless she can reveal the secrets that the accused prefers not discussed in court.

This is a super legal thriller with several twists including a terrific look at the DNA chimera issue. The story line is fast-paced and gripping as everyone from the onset believes Erin is guilty, but over time the audience and her attorney begin to wonder if she might be innocent. Angela Hunt provides a winner and sets up what looks like another Briley legal thriller with her apparently on the prosecution side next time.

Power Play
Nancy Warren
Harlequin Blaze
9780373795062 $4.99

Regretting saying yes to being a bridesmaid at Cousin Leanne's wedding, massage therapist Emily Saunders returns home to Elk Crossing, Idaho. She is staying at the Elk Crossing Lodge along with the ugliest dress in creation, pumpkin colored and shaped like it was grown in the field. Bed bugs attack her.

Cop Jonah Betts is in Elk Crossing for the over thirties Old Timers Hockey League tournament. He and his horde of players have left no rooms available for Emily and others forced out of theirs. Due to further incompetence, Emily and Jonah share a room. They are attracted to one another, but he promised her he would not make the first pass while they share a room; however if she makes that first pass, he will shoot for the hat trick with her. Instead she places him in the penalty box. Neither expected a Power Play by an unknown killer.

This is a super contemporary romance with hockey and homicide to round out the amusing comedy of errors. The story line is a fast-paced lighthearted frolic that readers will enjoy unless they recently purchased a bridesmaid dress. Readers will enjoy this fine Idaho caper especially the final resolution of what to do with Big Orange (except for fans in Syracuse or Denver) in a state rooting for blue as in the Boise State field.

Heart of Darkness
Gena Showalter, Maggie Shayne and Susan Krinard
9780373774319 $7.99

"The Darkest Angel" by Gena Showalter. Lysander is well known for being unemotional and perhaps the best demon slaying angel. He is one of the Elite Seven warriors of the One True Deity. His current target for death is Bianka Skyhawk, a daughter of a Harpy and a phoenix shapeshifter, but mostly a killer who is of Lucifer's bloodline, but he must remain patient until she breaks heavenly law. Instead his desire for her is killing him as he has never wanted anyone for the many millennia he has lived; yet she is inside his soul.

"Love Me to Death" by Maggie Shayne. Twenty-two years ago in Port Lucinda, Maine, the teens (David, Brad, Kevin, Randy and Mark) were drinking cheap booze near the abandoned old Muller Place and commiserating about being dumped or their girls being away when they set it on fire. They did not know that Sierra Terrence took shelter there and died in the inferno. Now over two decades later someone who seems to be Sierra from the grave haunts the five men who killed her and their loved ones.

"Lady of the Nile" by Susan Krinard. In 1890 London, the memories of ancient times have led Lady Tameri to believe she is the reincarnation of an Egyptian princess. Leo Erskine knows she is wrong and plans to prove to her she is just a lovely Victorian lady. However, neither the believer nor the skeptic is prepared for the prophecy that ties them in love forever.

This trilogy of urban romantic fantasies with differing spins will elate fans especially with the bonuses of a Lords of the Underworld tale and a sequel to Ms. Krinard's Lord of Sin.

Lead Me On
Victoria Dahl
9780373774340 $7.99

Although her taste in men was a chip off the old maternal block as her mom craved convicts and Jane Morgan relished the bad boys, she reinvented herself into Miss prim and proper. However, the Aspen office manager finds her perfect boyfriend Greg boring in spite of his being nice and considerate in and out of the bedroom. She dumps an outraged Greg.

Thus when tattooed William Chase of Extreme Excavations enters the office where she works, Jane rationalizes he is a one night stand that will relieve the ennui and get her refocused on snooty decorum. She failed to account for how explosive that one night proves to be as he is sympathetic to her needs as long as Jane accepts she will not be able to kick him to the curb.

This is an engaging contemporary romance starring a likable lead couple who make the bad image look good as the fun story line is driven by Jane and William. Although Aspen and the support cast never come into focus, fans will enjoy confused Jane as William proves bad girls need bad boys; which neither truly is.

The Earl and the Governess
Sarah Elliot
Harlequin Historical
9780373295777 $5.99

In 1822, William Stanton, Earl of Lennox, became the ward of goddaughter Mary Weston-Burke, an apparent hellion based on what the headmistress at her school told him. When he sees a woman being robbed by a boy, he gallantly rescues her. Isabelle Thomas is the daughter of a late antique dealer who was exposed as a fraud. Penniless with no home besides the street, she has no place to go; William, on the spur of the moment, offers her a position as governess to Mary, which a grateful Isabelle accepts.

Isabelle feels somewhat safe in William's home and wins over a frightened Mary. However, when her employer kisses her, she has a new fear; her deep attraction to the Earl who is of a different social class than her. Isabelle knows she must leave, but does not want to hurt Mary who needs and trusts her and besides someone wants to harm her to conceal his partnership with her late father.

Chaos theory abounds in this delightful regency romance as love blossoms all because of a newt in a teacup. Fans will root for the courageous heroine and appreciate romantic William who goes after what he wants: the love of his life regardless of her father's scandal and her social class and status. Mary enhances the tale of love between two people whose stations are as far apart as the top from the bottom of Big Ben.

Baby It's Cold Outside
Jennifer Greene, Merline Lovelace and Cindi Myers
9780373837397 $7.99

"Blame It on the Blizzard" by Jennifer Greene. After her patient dies, Dr. Emilie Sutherland needs time away by herself so heads to her family's hunting lodge in Alaska. However, engineer Rick Hunter arrives at her lodge seeking shelter from a blizzard.

"Deep freeze" by Merline Lovelace. After becoming number 112 of a vile Don Juan, Mia Harrelson allows her sister Emily to persuade her to head to the Southern Hemisphere for a cruise as it is summer down there. Bikinis prove a bit underdressed for Antarctica especially when the crew and passengers are in trouble until the Air Force arrives. Mia is soon in deeper trouble when she meets Palmer Station manager Brent Walker.

"Melting Point" by Cindi Myers. In Reykjavik, Eagle Mountain Sportswear marketing director Stacy Bristol hires Iceland's first Olympic Gold Medal winner skier Kristjan Gunnarson as a model for Troll's treasure sweaters. However he proves a gold medal winner of love when he also melts the ice from the heart of the consummate professional.

The three terrific contemporary romances live up to the classic song that is its title as love between strangers will warm the hearts of readers.

Christmas Male
Cara Summers
Harlequin Blaze
9780373795154 $4.99

Legend has it that the famous Rubinov Diamond causes incredible desire between people. At the National Gallery, Police Lieutenant Fiona Gallagher scoffs at the myth as a romantic hooey. However, she looks across a crowded room just before Christmas and her eyes meets that of a stranger; they connect.

Army Captain D.C. Campbell runs police security at Fort McNair. He finds himself unable to stop staring at Fiona. When the diamond is stolen, the military police officer and the civilian cop team up to try to recover the purloined gem.

With the National gallery and the rest of DC as a backdrop, they were "Strangers in the Night exchanging glances", but instead of dancing the night away, they team up to chase a thief and fall in love. Fans will enjoy this entertaining police procedural romance as the legendary Rubinov Diamond works its magic on two cops in time for Christmas.

Julie Kenner
Harlequin Blaze
9780373795123 $4.99

Alyssa Chambers is on a business trip to Dallas where she hopes to make contact with rich Russell Starr at the opening of his newest hotel as she wants to obtain his business. She persuades her friend Chris Hyde to allow her to accompany him to the festivities in which he has an invitation.

Alyssa is attracted to Chris, but writes him off as a potential mate because his friendship is important to her. She also knows his work as a freelance writer means his income is sporadic but mostly none. However, something odd happens at the gala, a magical need of two hearts beating as one.

Starstruck is an enjoyable heated contemporary romance starring two friends falling in love. The story line is fast-paced from the onset as Chris knows what he wants for Christmas while Alyssa hesitates as his friendship means so much to her. The plot may sound sub-genre typical, but Julie Kenner insures her readers will enjoy this couple's best Christmas as each discovers their love for one another.

Starfist: Double Jeopardy
David Sherman and Dan Cragg
Del Rey
9780345501011 $25.00

Amongst the units of the Confederate Marine Corps, the 34th FIST is the most highly regarded and most decorated. The unit is the first to be called upon when the going requires the bravest and the best.

However, those accolades prove a double edge sword to the soldiers as morale is at its lowest due to extended deployments in dangerous scenarios and the knowledge that more deadly battles in combat zones will follow. The 34th FIST never seems to get any R&R as the unit is sent to Ishtar in anticipation of a Skink attack on the planet. However, they are not greeted as heroic saviors by the indigenous population, but instead the native Fuzzies attack the squad especially as the marines uncover an illegal mining operation.

This is a super military science fiction that has great battles, but it is the insightful look at the morale of the troops after constant extended deployments that hits home with relevancy and poignancy. Ironically, no one is fully developed yet the 34 FIST marines' respites between combat brings the deepness to the plot. David Sherman and Dan Cragg provide a strong tale as the soldiers are mentally tired with several seemingly on the cusp of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Metal Gear Solid 2 - Sons of Liberty
Raymond Benson
Del Rey
9780345503435 $14.00

Anyone who noticed the lone figure on the GW Bridge overlooking the Hudson would have thought the person was committing suicide. That is if they could see him in the torrential rain. Instead former Foxhound field operative Solid Snake waits patiently for the point of no return when the tanker U.S.S. Discovery sails under the bridge so he can leap on board, which he does. However, outside of his landing nothing else goes right on this mission involving an anonymous tip from an associate's stepsister re new metal gear that looks increasingly like a Russian trap

Two years later, a rookie agent Raiden is assigned to investigate what happened on that fatal rainy day in the Hudson. Implications strongly tie that explosive event with a hostage situation in New York Harbor where the Big Shell environmental facility has become occupied by the terrorists Sons of Liberty, who have captured POTUS. The Sons of Liberty killers have worked with the precision of a unit led by Solid Snake, MIA for two years, and rumored to be in charge of these terrorists ready to trigger POTUS to blow up Manhattan.

As with the first book Metal Gear Solid, the well written second tale the Sons Of Liberty obviously ties to the popular game; as such it targets fans. For those who are not players, this is a fun read with a lot of action and a somewhat cartoonish (American manga) cast inside a thin plot. Still for MGS gurus, Sons of Liberty is an entertaining tale although it does not expand upon the knowledge lore.

Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Del Rey
9780345513762 $26.00

The Barque Cats are extremely valuable because they keep vermin off space ships and are adept at finding oxygen leaks or other hazardous gases as well as just keeping people on board the vessel safe. Thomas's Duchess, known as Chessie and her human companion Janina, whose title on the ship is Cat Person, dock on Head Station, where a pregnant Chessie goes for a check-up. Janina and Dr. Jared Vlest fly down to the planet Sherwood to look at the animals that need care.

A con artist Carlton Pontius aka Ponty steals Chessie and brings her to his farm on Sherwood as she is worth a fortune especially with a coming litter of Barque kittens. He gives Chessie to his son Jubal who takes care of her and her litter. Chessie loves all of her offspring, but the kitten Chester bonds with Jubal. Chessie needs to reunite with her Cat Person Janina. Unfortunately, they cannot, as a "supposed" plague has arrived leading to the impounding of all animals and those exposed (even the Barque cats). They will be executed. Janina and her allies try to free their companions, but an alien feline Pshaw-Ra with psionic power wants to take the cats to his planet so they can begin the universal domination of the known universe.

This is the first tale of a duology that contains the usual strong outer space world building, a trademark of the authors who make a whole galaxy seem real. The Sparkles plague is caused by a harmless beetle but the GG scientists refused to accept a simple explanation. The point of view is told mostly by various feline characters, but it comes across as believable and as important not simplistic cute as the cats understand their troubles. The humans are for the most part empathetic especially Janina and cranky Ponty who has his own pet cat. Although the audience will need to wait for the second entry to see whether Chessie and Chester have more than one life each, fans will enjoy the opening Barque Cat caper.

Flesh Circus
Lilith Saintcrow
9780316035453 $7.99

The Cirque de Charnu comes to Santa Luz although Jill Kismet would prevent them entry, but the compact these Hellspawn refuges live under does not give her that latitude. Still the hunter reminds the Ringmaster and the others of the sufferance rules of engagement and demands her hostage whom she rings. However, someone is even less tolerant than Jill and is killing the performers. Although sympathetic with the killer, Jill investigates fearing the murderer may be one of her colleagues.

The hunter also struggles with exorcisms linked to voodoo practitioners who are dying following the rites they perform. Zombie hordes are flocking to the city so between the Cirque and its death toll, the voodoo mage and its death toll, and the zombie needed death toll; Jill has no time for a rest.

The fourth Kismet Noir fantasy thriller (see Night Shift, Hunter's Prayer, and Redemption Alley) is loaded with action and starring a kick butt heroine who from the opening scene until the final climax is donkey kicking seemingly every character in sight. Jill makes the tale as she is a hardboiled noir with a soft inside but not when it comes to protecting Santa Luz; in this case from the memories of the past causing havoc on the present.

Mr. Shivers
Robert Jackson Bennett
9780316054683 $19.99

During the Great Depression, Marcus Connelly lives for one thing only. Vengeance! He stalks the killer of his beloved daughter Mr. Shivers. Everyone in the homeless camps and on the rails knows of this serial killing fiend, but none alive know who he is.

As Marcus gets closer to his target while the Dust Bowl grows, he will find nothing is quite what it seems. He is beginning to understand simply killing a mortal murderer is not what will Happen. Mr. Shivers is much more lethal if Marcus believes the proof he has gathered about this killing machine is true. He also wonders if his grief has painted a super unnatural hell spawn from an amoral predator.

This historical horror tale will grip readers from the clever set up, through the switch from cat and mouse suspense into the paranormal, to the fabulous climax. The key throughout the super story line is the grim setting as the rails and the Dust Bowl are depressing and lonely in a stark environment even before the audience realizes Mr. Shivers is something besides a psychopathic serial killer. Robert Jackson Bennett sends shivers up and down the spine of this deep Depression Era thriller.

Sarah Graves
9780553806809 $25.00

Six years ago, everyone believed Randy Dodd died because there was plenty of evidence backing that belief. It also was assumed that Randy killed his wife Cornelia. His brother Roger, who was married to Cornelia's sister, lost his spouse in an accident so he grieves all the tragedies that has hammered at his soul. Nothing altered these convictions until true crime writer Carolyn Rathbone and her assistant Chip Hahn arrive in Eastport, Maine to research the tragedy of the Lang sisters for a book she is writing.

Carolyn and Chip believe Randy is alive and is responsible for the deaths of both sisters as he wanted their inheritance. Randy is in town to access the money, but first kidnaps Carolyn with the intent to kill her because he simply enjoys murdering women.

Jacobia "Jake" Tiptree awakens to the realism her son Sam failed to come home last night and later discovers he was seen and recognized Randy. Sam is also the killer's prisoner. Jake is determined to find out where Randy hides and rescue the writer and her offspring. With help from her step-brother, her best friend, her housekeeper and Chip, Jake begins her search. A clue from Roger assists them, but they remain ignorant that they are entering a trap until it is sprung.

Crawlspace is much more violent than the usual Home Repair amateur sleuth tales due to the predator; rather than a cozy this tale is more a suspense thriller. Readers ironically know Randy lives from the onset when the residents of Eastport sleep serenely at night because they believe he is dead. The story line is terrific with a great finish that will stun the audience used to amateur sleuth superheroes as fans will salute Sarah Graves with a strong grim entry.

Hot As Sin
Bella Andre
9780440245018 $7.99

In a small Vail, Colorado cafe, television host Dianna Kelley meets her sister April who left home because her sibling was controlling and overprotective. Dianna wanted to make up for the years April was in foster care but she could not connect with her when April informs her she lives in a commune. Dianna explodes and April leaves; Diana drinks before driving and gets into an accident in which she is injured and the other driver dead.

In the Sierra Nevada range, firefighter Sam MacKenzie learns of Dianna's injuries. Although a decade has passed since she miscarried and left him, he runs to her side. When they meet again, the sparks that remained simmering for years ignites into a passionate firestorm. However both remain wary of being hurt so each hides their deep feelings from the other. Dianna learns April was kidnapped by someone seeking revenge. Sam swears he will rescue her sister, but Dianna insists on accompanying him on the arduous trek into the Sierras. On the dangerous journey, they realize not just how much love they share, but rejoice in revealing how much love they have for one another. However finding and rescuing April and surviving remain the goal.

Bella Andre has written a heated second chance at love romantic suspense starring a hotshot firefighter and a TV talk show host; each brings fear to their fiery relationship. April adds to the mix as a gutsy individual not waiting to be rescued. She makes the tale's thriller elements work with her courage and fortitude. Readers will relish this fine tale as April has choices to make and one wrong one could lead to her death.

Hard To Hold
Stephanie Tyler
9780440244349 $7.99

In the Congo, Navy SEAL Lieutenant Jake Hansen arrives to rescue Doctors Without Borders plastic surgeon Dr. Isabelle Markham from a ruthless mercenary Rage who kidnapped and raped her and left her for dead. Jake finds her barely alive without a stitch of clothing. He gets her out of Africa but a connection from the moment they met is evident.

When Rafe escapes captivity, Admiral Callahan assigns Jake to keep Izzy safe. He has mixed feelings about the assignment because he told her some things about himself he told no one. However, he would die to keep her safe, but feels bad that he has been ordered to conceal the truth about Rafe who is believed to be stalking Isabelle. When she learns the truth she leaves, but Rafe has been patient.

This is an exhilarating romantic military suspense thriller with the emphasis on the love story line over the dark SEAL operations. The lead couple makes the tale fun as each fall in love with the other but share in common relationship issues to overcome. The support cast that includes his SEAL mates (stars of future tales) and the man who took two of Naval officers into his home when they were teens (; the third is his son) add depth to the suspense and even more so the romance. Fans of SEAL romances in which the thrills of the coupling supersede that of the enemy actions will want to read this enjoyable tale.

Blood Cross
Faith Hunter
9780451463074 $7.99

Skinwalker Jane Yellowrock is the last of her kind; a Cherokee shapeshifter who shares her body with the Beast of a mountain lion as she hunts down rogue vampires. Currently she resides in New Orleans. Her best friend powerful earth witch Molly and her BFF's two young kids Angie and Evan are staying in her place while Molly's spouse Big Evan is in Brazil with Hurricane Ada hitting the city, but at level 2 is no Katrina or Rita; still they wait out the storm together.

Jane has a contract with the New Orleans Vampire Council to kill rogue master vampires who break the laws of the undead. However, the head of the council grieving Leo Pellistier hates Jane blaming her for the death of his son when she killed the walker who took over the body decades ago. He almost burns down her home with the two children inside shocking his four young vampire allies. Meanwhile Jane hunts a rogue as assigned to her by the Council as one of their own has broken the law; unaware her efforts might lead to civil war amongst the vampire factions and cross species war between the witches and the vampires.

The second Yellowrock urban fantasy noir stars a unique kick butt heroine whose tough edges are softened by Molly and her children. The story line is fast-paced and the Faith Hunter version New Orleans is vivid and genuine even with vamps running amok. Fans will appreciate the continued saga of the last known Skinwalker who prowls the mean streets alone.

The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny
Simon R. Green
9780441018161 $24.95

Welcome to the Darkside; a place within London that can only be accessed by people in the know; a place that is perpetually dark so that those soulless who are darkest can hide without contaminating the world of light and souls. There are some good people who reside in this hell hole like private investigator John Taylor, who is on an assignment to Lord Screech guarding him and the peace treaty between the Fairy Courts of Queens Mab and Tatiana.

Walker, the voice of authority dedicated to keeping the status quo in Nightside, wants the treaty in his hands; so he sends his army, werewolves and thugs who fly on carpets to obtain it. The elf tells John that Excalibur is coming, but he has to believe it is not what it seems.

His next case involves finding Tommy Oblivion who disappeared during the Lilith Wars. His client Tommy's brother Larry the zombie, who has deep family feelings, was the person who accidentally freed Mab from the hell she inhabited. To complicate John's life, Walker is dying and needs his replacement assisting the Authorities; his choice is Taylor.

The latest Nightside fantasy provides the readers with a fresh glimpse into the frightening community. Ironically though many of the denizens are evil, they are fascinating in a macabre way having survived even before the first dinosaur was born. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action, but it is the cast especially Taylor and his three clients, who make for an entertaining walk (make that a sprint) on the Darkside.

A Mother's Secret
Janice Kay Johnson
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716029 $5.50

Near San Francisco, Kane Construction company owner Daniel Kane is stunned to learn he has a four year old son. He is outraged that his former girlfriend Rebecca Ballard never informed him about Malcolm; just like his mother concealed who his father is from him.

He vows at a minimum he will be a father to Malcolm, but also knows he wants Rebecca in his life although he is angry with her. On the other hand, Rebecca never stopped loving Daniel, but fears his childhood hurts still haunts him and will never allow him to be a good father to Malcolm or a caring husband to her.

The solid cast especially the lead male makes for a deep contemporary romance as the child is the man. Daniel wants Rebecca and Malcolm in his life, but also fears having hem in his life. Rebecca knows here beloved carries baggage that prevents him from loving others. Fans will relish this poignant second chance as Daniel needs to embrace not run from love.

Baby Under The Mistletoe
Jamie Sobrato
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716043 $5.50

Soleil Freeman and West Morgan are the last couple one would expect to see paired up. He is career military; she is biracial teaching inner city children how to grow things on her farm. Before his latest deployment, they heated up the sheets.

However, now she is carrying his offspring, but though a bit frightened of being a single mother, her biggest concern is what to do about the father. Her hesitation to inform him abruptly ends when he comes home on leave and looks her up as he still wants her. When he learns she is pregnant, he knows he wants both of them as he loves her and his unborn.

This is a timely contemporary romance as the fully developed lead couple tests whether love can overcome racial and social differences. Fans will root for this couple to make it together as Soleil and West are attractive amiable lead protagonists. Jamie Sobrato provides a wonderful tale that insists love can break down artificial barriers.

The Christmas Present
Tracy Wolff
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373716074 $5.50

In San Francisco, Diego Sanchez who spends time at Rafael Cardoza's Helping Hands community center is accused of murdering his pregnant teenage girlfriend. Rafael believes Diego who swears he is innocent, not because the lad says so but because he knows how much Diego loved Esme. He needs to find a good criminal layer but that costs money.

Rafael rescues divorce attorney Vivian Wentworth from a gang of teens. A mutual friend Richard sent her to defend Diego pro bono though criminal law is far from her specialty. Rafael thinks he should kick her back to uptown designer clothing where she belongs, but she refuses to quit. Instead she works extremely hard to prove Diego is innocent while also persuading Rafael to escort her as they work the mean streets seeking expert witness.

This is an engaging legal thriller romance with a delightful lead couple from opposite sides of Geary Blvd falling in love while trying to defend a Hispanic teen from a murder rap. In many ways Diego owns the story line as he has no time to grieve his loss as the system is ready to lock away a poor Hispanic not caring whether he did the brutal deed. The Christmas Present is a strong tale with a deep social commentary bringing profoundness to the holiday season.

A Mommy for Christmas
Cathy Gillen Thacker
Harlequin American
9780373752904 $4.99

In Fort Worth, Texas, neighbors Travis Carson and Holly Butler are there for each other when it comes to raising their respective children. Both are single parents whose kids are used to being supervised by either parent. They even share the same nanny.

Widower Travis' daughters four year old Sophie and three year old Mia send a letter to Santa asking him to bring them a mommy for Christmas that shakes their daddy to the core. Holly's three years old twin boys Tucker and Tristan ask Santa for something more practical, a spaceship big enough to fly them away. Meanwhile Holly's former husband Clifford Baxter who rejected all rights to the kids suddenly wants to spend quality time with his twin offspring whom he ignored. These are the impetus for Travis and Holly to explore how they really feel beyond friendship.

This is a terrific holiday second chance at love family drama filled with a strong cast. The story line is character driven by the good, the precious and the shallow as events caused by the ex and the kids lead to love. Readers will enjoy this entertaining Christmas tale.

Her Christmas Wish
Cindi Myers
Harlequin American
9780373752911 $4.99

At the Vinotok fall festival in Crested Butte, paramedic Eric Sepulveda and Gunnison Valley Hospital respiratory therapist Alina Aliinova meet. However, she is stunned as seeing him initially made her think of psychic Baka Fania's prediction that she will soon meet the love of her life, but he looks nothing like the image her beloved grandma described to her.

As Eric and Alina begin to fall in love, his family prefers her best friend Marissa Alverez. They think he would be better off with someone who is not going back to her home in Croatia in a few months as that can only lead to heartbreak. However, love does not ask anyone for an opinion.

This is an interesting contemporary romance starring two solid lead characters and a caring secondary cast who are too involved but not fleshed out enough to understand their motives. Eric is an interesting individual who is decisive on the job and cowardly when it comes to relationship. Alina brings a welcome Croatian background to the mix. Although the cast is not as developed as they need to be, fans will enjoy this fun tale.

Night Of The Wolves
Heather Graham
9780373774043 $7.99

In 1864 in New Orleans a deadly serial killer shakes up the locals as well as the occupying army. Union officer Lieutenant Aldridge asks for former Confederate soldier Dr. Cody Fox who is sent to investigate as he has previous experience with these types of killings back in Alexandria in 1859 with a decapitating vicious serial killer. His assignment is to solve who is behind the mass murders and prevent more from happening.

Alex Green heads west to be with her father, but she arrives in Victory, Texas to learn he is dead although she is unaware how he died as no one will whisper a word of it as if they feared his fate if they say anything. Meanwhile deadly outlaw Milo Roundtree arrives in town as does Cody tracking the culprit who most believe is the vicious criminal. When Milo places a knife at Alex's throat, Cody kills him saving her life. However, nothing is resolved as the mass graves are empty and rumors abound to stay in-doors once the sun goes down.

This is a refreshing vampire historical romantic fantasy. The cast is solid especially the lead couple, the townsfolk, and the key second in command of the bloodsuckers who cleverly is hidden in plain sight. The prime weapon against the undead seems much more effective and realistic than the usual stake as Heather Graham provides a fun fast-paced story line as vampires and hunters collide in Civil War Texas.

Bound by Dreams
Christina Skye
9780373774067 $7.99

Kiera Morrissey promised her dying mom she would return to Draycott Abbey, which she does, but hell literally breaks out when she sneaks on to the grounds of the estate. Two goons attack her, but she shocks them when she fights back. They are followed by the biggest canine she has ever seen. She manages to escape the human thugs mostly because of the wolf.

Calan MacKay awakens the next day knowing he was drugged but that he saved the female's life. He has come back to Draycott Abbey because his friend Nicholas Draycott needs his help to keep his family safe during some political dealings. He wonders why Kiera apparently loathes the Draycott brood and whether she is the threat and why he believes she is the answer to controlling his curse, but allied as his enemy.

This is a super entry in the Draycott Scottish Highland fantasy series as DNA haunts the lead couple. Like Calan, readers will want to know why Kiera hates all things and people Draycott while also wondering will she accept his other the wolf. Fans will enjoy this terrific suspense thriller as each is Bound by Dreams to each other, but is love enough to overcome their respective heritage especially with someone willing to answer with a lethal negative.

Shadows From the Past
Lindsay McKenna
9780373774074 $7.99

Following the death of her mom in a Los Angeles earthquake, the baby Kamaria found alive in apartment rubble was adopted by Morgan and Laura Trayhern, who raised her as theirs with love in Montana. Everything was terrific, but the photojournalist always wanted to know more about her roots especially her patriarchal side. She has one clue as to who her biological father might be; three men in a photo with Morgan insisting Rudd Mason, owner of the Elkhorn Ranch in Wyoming, is her sire.

Kam learns Rudd is advertising for a caregiver to help his octogenarian mother, Iris. She applies and is hired. She easily becomes friends with the rancher and his mom, but his wife, Allison, and her younger half-siblings Zach and Regan loathe her. Worse she is attracted to ranch hand Wes Sheridan even as someone wants to insure the family estate remains as is and murder is a viable option.

This is an exciting ranch romantic suspense starring a likeable heroine. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Kam decides to uncover the identity of her biological dad with the help of her wonderful adopted father. Although the villain is too easily discarded, fans will enjoy the last Trayhern next generation tale (see Dangerous Prey and heart of the Storm) and hopefully persuade Lindsay McKenna to provide a futuristic follow up involving Zach and Regan.

Rules of the Game
Neil Strauss
!T Books (HarperCollins)
9780061911699 $16.99

Although the book is focused on becoming a successful pick up artist, it actually is a well written relationship primer on interrelation dynamics regardless of gender and scenario. The book is divided into three sections. The first "The Stylelife Challenge" consists of breaking bad habits and replacing them with good routines. This needs to occur over thirty days so as Mr. Strauss points out follow the instructions strictly and read each day the applicable section over the month in order to kick out the bad and bring in the win. The second chapter "The Routines Collection" is perhaps the most applicable to the male PUA as it describes different pick up scenarios. To us targets, this section is amusing as women will recognize some of the trite devil spawned pick up tries and some new at least to this retired target. The third and final chapter "The Style Diaries" once again is useful to kick any bad habit as keeping score is critical regardless whether it is to meet women or diet.

Not for everyone but more than just for those penis envy wanting to play the Game played at the level of a master PUA, Rules of the Game gives easy to read and applicable tips though difficult to achieve dynamics. A successful relationship depends on get ridding of the bad habits by replacing them with good ones. Mark Twain said: "It's easy to stop smoking. I stopped a thousand times."

Elric In the Dream Realms
Michael Moorcock
Del Rey
9780345498663 $16.00

"Fortress Of The Pearl". Lord Gho Fhaazi wants a position on the Council of Seven that rules over the city of Quarzhasaat, but he knows he needs help to overcome his rivals. He chooses Prince Elric of Melnibone as his tool to obtain the Pearl at the Heart of the World that will insure his spot on the council. To insure Elric cooperates, he poisons him using a slow acting agent in which he has the serum. Elric begins his escapades as the affluent class' minion the Sorcerer Adventurers try to prevent his success and eventually trap his mind inside that of a comatose teenage female, but with the Dreamthief to guide him through the Dream Realm, Elric continues his quest.

The novel above is half of Elric In the Dream Realms and is one of his greatest early tales and makes the book worth reading. The short story "A Portrait in Ivory" is terrific also as the albino hero is confronted by his worst enemy, the mirror reminding him he should be known as Elric Kinslayer filled with remorse for Cymoril more so than Imrryr. The other entries like "Elric: The Making of a Graphic Novel", the essay "Aspects of Fantasy", and the background material of "Earl Aubec of Malodor", etc. target die hard fans of Michael Moorcock only. Overall the fifth Chronicles of the last Emperor of Melnibone is an engaging look at Elric In The Dream realms.

Joe Haldeman
9780441018178 $24.95

Carmen Dula and her husband pilot Paul Collins met when she saved earth and Mars from the destruction of the Others (see Marsbound). However, though they were successful for now, everyone knows that the human-Martian alliance is not close to matching the military might of the Others. Desperation leads to a peace envoy to journey to the solar system that is home to the Others to try to negotiate a lasting peace.

Most people felt this Hail Mary quest was a suicide mission, but shockingly the six year trip has Carmen and Paul returning home, but on earth five decades have passed. In the interim mankind has constructed weapons of mass destruction to counter any Others invasion. However, neither earth nor Mars understands just how powerful the Others are as they refuse to accept the slightest hint of a counterinsurgency.

This is an almost as fast as light outer space thriller that uses Einstein's Theory of Relativity as a key underlying premise to the exciting story line. Although the plot is a middle book connecting the introduction of the Others with what looks like will be a confrontational bound finish as nothing major closes, fans will enjoy the ride as Joe Haldeman cleverly uses Relativity to tell an engaging character driven science fiction.

Steven Brust
9780765312082 $24.95

In Draegara, the House Jhereg crime syndicate has placed a price on the head of Vlad Taltos, who has avoided the mob for several years. However, his skill at staying in hiding ends in a small village tavern when he overhears news that his friend Aliera e'Kieron was arrested by the Empire for practicing taboo elder sorcery. As Aliera never concealed her activity from anyone and no one cared including the Empress, Vlad wonders why now especially with Sethra Labode to testify against her. Apparently, Aliera is accused of trying to kill the Empress Zerika, betray the country to some foreign army, and released a demon inside the House of the Dragon.

Vlad knows all the reasons to mind his business starting and ending with being a foreigner who betrayed his House Jhereg. So he heads to the capital city Adrilhanka that he has avoided for several years to rescue Aliera to learn the real truth behind the incarceration of his friend accused of violating Imperial Articles of Indictment for Felonious Conduct even if it kills him to do so.

This is a terrific entry in the long running Taltos saga as the latest Vlad's excellent adventure focuses on him landing in plenty of trouble; more tsuris than usual, which says a lot. His activities also stir up problems for everyone else within his circle including the female sorcerer he has come to rescue. Just another few days for Steven Brust's superb tale as the hero, his friends, his enemies and especially the reader learn life's critical meaning: "we are what we worry about." And some of us worry through life.

Heart's Blood
Gail Dayton
9780765362513 $6.99

London Master Conjurer Grey Carteret awakens in a nasty mood as everyone of his 206 bones feel like they were part of the battlefield between heaven and hell. As he slowly regains a semblance of his environs, he has no idea how he ended up in a gutter or who the street urchin holding his stick and hat is. Parkin protected him through the night and asks to become his apprentice. Grey normally does not train anyone so he suggests magic school; but Parkin explains magic school refuses female students. Parkin is Miss Pearl Parkin who used magic to disguise her gender. Reluctantly partly because he admires his grit, make that her grit, but mostly because he needs her help as he has been arrested for murder by magic of a woman, he accepts Miss Pearl Parkin as his apprentice.

When another homicide occurs, Grey realizes that someone is doing the forbidden; using murder of the innocent to raise a demon from hell. Grey with his student investigates prepared to prevent hell on earth although some would say this team has brought the demon forward by allowing the forbidden, a woman to practice magic.

This is a terrific historical urban fantasy starring two wonderful lead protagonists and a strong support cast as demons attack nineteenth century London in an era in which women are banned from practicing magic. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action as the Conjurer and the apprentice fall in love while battling a rogue magician and his demon. Setting up the next book with a clever related coda to Heart's Blood, fans will relish Gail Dayton's strong paranormal romantic suspense thriller as females make a case that New Blood is needed to save the world and prevent the spread of the dead zones.

Brooklyn Knight
C.J. Henderson
9780765320834 $14.99

A legend, Brooklyn Museum curator Professor Piers Knight enjoys collecting paranormal artifacts. His newest employee, summer intern Bridget Elkins is in awe and shock before she meets the mythical Professor Knight, known for finding the historical ancient lost and arcane.

Dr. Ashur Ungari in panic calls from the Middle East while Professor Knight shows Manhattan Island from a different perspective than Bridget ever noticed or hace been aware exists; explaining further that Jersey on the other side of the water is insignificant and Queens is the dumping ground. However Ashur tells Knight he found the site of Memak'tori in Assad's Syria; the birthplace of civilization. However, as Ashur describes the dig in terms of future archeologists uncovering the Empire State Building, astral thieves including a fire elemental and a terrorist try to steal the mysterious Dream Stone, the heart of an incredible find. Another elemental also comes for the stone with Knight leading the counterinsurgency against the paranormal horde and their evil allies.

Although the Professor never lets his hair down even when Briget throws herself at him (blushes and nitrates are not enough) and the NuYawk accent feels forced, fans will enjoy this over the top of at least the Observation Tower of the Empire State Building. Readers will relish the fast-pace from the frantic call by Ungari to the final climax in National Historic Landmark Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery as this is a fun pulp fiction paranormal thriller.

Destroyer of Worlds
Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner
9780765322050 $25.99

By 2670 those who predicted the explosion at the galactic core remain in flight. Humans and their allies the Puppeteers are desperately leaving the destruction expanding rapidly dead zone in a mass exodus.

However, at the same time of the mass flight, a third species the Pak also tries to escape after their world Pakhome was destroyed. Pak operative Thssthfok will do whatever it takes to save his species. He and others raid frightened worlds to steal supplies leaving pandemic corpses behind. When a distress signal from Gw'ot reaches the leadership the human-Puppeteer alliance, agent Sigmund Ausfaller accompanied by Baedeker investigates as an unmarked vessel heads towards the fleeing armada. Reluctantly Sigmund works with the Gw'oth to learn who is inside the ship, but he distrusts his new allies more than the Pak as he understands the ruthlessness of the latter but not science above all else of the former.

Destroyer of Worlds is kind of having Gulliver fleeing amidst the Batttlestar Galactica crowd. A decade since the Juggler of Worlds, the mass exodus is in full swing, but enemies exist causing havoc at a time when chaos does not need deadly outsiders to create more of it. Obviously for fans of the Known Space universe who will fully relish the prequel saga of the Puppeteers and humans running from the core meltdown but newcomers will be lost in space.

The Gathering Storm
Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
9780765302304 $29.99

The Last Battle of Tarmon Gai'don seems imminent as the Shadow has expanded with no countermeasure. The Dragon Reborn Rand al'Thor knows the time is now or it will be lost forever, but instead of preparing for the war he and humanity must fight, he is preoccupied with the Seanchan invasion as the enemy to the south acts oblivious to the threat.

As time run out, a key ally against the Seanchan assault, Egwene al'Vere remains at the White Tower trying to keep the Aes Sedai from deserting out of fear and despair. If she fails, nothing The Dragon Reborn does will stop the Shadow; although even he muses sadly that it already may be too late as The Wheel of Time turns waits for no one.

With the death of Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson begins the final trilogy in what is a well written entry that appears to be closing subplots though I have said that before seemingly a zillion years ago as the prime players appear to be coming back together though I also have said that before. The story line is well written as Mr. Sanderson picks up overarching theme nicely, even the overly used musing and reflections of their lives by the heroes. Fans of the saga will enjoy The Gathering Storm, which helps to know two to go.

Wings of Creation
Brenda Cooper
9780765320957 $27.99

Their family abandoned the siblings Joseph and Chelo Lee on Fremont (see The Silver Ship and the Sea), but they soon find themselves unwelcome here also. During a battle on the colony planet, Joseph the Wind Reader pilot saves the life of Chelo.

They and his beloved Alicia join their "new" family on Lopali. However, hostilities have ignited openly with war seemingly imminent between Lopali and Islas. The newcomers soon learn that Lopali is not quite the haven they thought when they first arrived; as everyone wants to fly free including Alicia, but few are allowed. Joseph's mentor Marcus wants him to help the subspecies soar soul and body, but to do so means many will die when the tyrannical state run modifications fail.

This is an entertaining antiwar teen fantasy that grips the audience from the moment the siblings are rejected again. Fans will root for courageous Joseph as he defies the law restricting who can fly to train locals to soar. The romantic subplot between him and Alicia is cute but also detracts from a strong entry in which many people choose to live free to fly or die.

A Young Man Without Magic
Lawrence Watt-Evans
9780765322791 $27.95

In Lume, food riots break out while noble magicians use commoners as sacrifices to bring in a needed harvest. The orphaned son of two renowned sorcerers who died using magic, Anrel Marau shows no skills so he loses his nobility status. His uncle makes him a clerk while also training his nephew's friend Valin, the son of the baker, who surprisingly as a commoner possesses the ability to employ magic. However, Valin a champion for change is accused of theft by Lord Allutal and dies in a duel.

His friend's death angers Anrel to the point of demanding justice from the Grand Council and is the impetus to awaken his dormant magic skills that had vanished when he became an orphan. As the emperor invokes a new Grand Council meeting to deal with unrest, Anrel causes a riot that leads to his being branded traitor. He flees for his life into the hinterland where kind witches teach him simple spells.

Although the transformation from mundane "commoner" to magic user rabble rouser seems unreal as the impetus to return the magic to the young hero, fans will enjoy his political coming of age fantasy. Anrel's loss of his talent is a classic defense mechanism reaction to the deaths of his parents, but the return appears impossible as is his sudden eloquence as a public speaker. Still the society is interesting as the caste system is unraveling and the masses seem heading towards a French revolution when the nobles' attitude is let them eat cake when they have no bread (or flour). Fans will have to set their plausibility index on low, but if one can they will enjoy the political and magical awakenings of Anrel; if not pass.

Through Stone and Sea
Barb and J.C. Hendee
9780451463128 $24.95

Wynn Hygeorht returned to the Guild of Sagecraft in Calm Seatt expecting a heroine's welcome due to the copies she made of arcane texts written by vampires during the time of the Forgotten History and the Great War, millennia ago. Instead of being one of the translators, she is ignored as the highest rank of scholars rejects her thesis that Noble Dead Vampires exist (see In Shade and Shadow).

The Guild Scholars continue to translate the incredible find while also sending them to be copied at selected scriptoriums. Two sages go to pick up the work, but are murdered. The belief is that the Stonewalker dwarves are behind the assassinations and thefts. Wynn, accompanied by the Noble Dead Chane and Shade the elven wolf, as both feel a deep heart felt need to keep her safe, treks to the mountain stronghold of the legendary Stonewalkers. There waits them someone from her past, when she quested with Leesil the half human elf and Magiere the half mortal vampire, who has resurfaced from what the heroine and her then allies thought were the permanent grave.

Stone and Sea is a fascinating entry in the Wynn Noble Dead quest fantasy. The heroine is terrific as she goes on her latest escapades; but is relatively simple compared to Chane and even to a degree Shade. The fast-paced story line grips fans who will relish this super entry that is an adventure unto itself yet sets in motion the next "wynning" exploit.

The Spirit Lens
Carol Berg
9780451463111 $16.00

The world of sorcery and magic may be coming to an end as increasingly historians and philosophers as well as King Philippe of Sabria turn to natural science for answers. When the ruler begins to close the collegia magica, the faculty and staff picture a threat to their lucrative way of life. Many of the mages believe assassinating the monarch will end this nonsense.

Portier de Savin-Duplais has failed at everything he has attempted including flunking out as a magic student. He gets by with cheap tricks and illusions as he knows he cannot charm a flea to live on a dog; instead he is a low life curator at the last collegia magica in Sabria. However, a despondent Portia battling depression is stunned when his cousin a zillion or so blood lines apart, King Philippe assigns him with the investigation into what the monarch thinks is a plot to murder him. Portier is euphoric as he feels his greatness will be fulfilled although his companions Ilario the chevalier and Dante the rogue sorcerer seem to keep tearing down his superego.

This is a super opening to what looks like a great alternate Renaissance fantasy. The cast is strong regardless of their significance, but especially the lead protagonist who seems like he suffers from Bipolar disorder and his zany companions. Fans will appreciate this strong beginning as science and sorcery collide when three undercover agents investigate the divine and unholy collision of murder, magic, and physics.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

The Bodyguard and the Snitch
Book 4 of the Bodyguard Series
Christy Tillery French
L & L Dreamspell
P.O. Box 1984, Friendswood TX 77549
9781603181280 $17.95

Natasha Chamberlain is back, along with her trademark sass, spunk and attitude. And what a delightful read this is! I know whenever a book by Ms. French arrives that I'm in for a treat and Book 4 in the Bodyguard series is, indeed, an entertaining treat. The characters are endearing, the plot exciting, the scenarios often laugh-out-loud funny, and the dialogue perfection.

In her latest assignment, Nattie is hired by Tommy James, a stubby, lecherous criminal defense attorney. His life has been threatened by person or persons unknown and he's willing to pay top dollar for 24/7 protection. He wants Nattie to pose as his girlfriend. Fans of this series know THAT isn't gonna happen! Nattie is engaged to the delicious Jonce Striker and will NOT be posing as a creepy lawyer's girlfriend. She discovers after the contract is signed that Tommy is the object of a Mafia hit. He's being tailed by the Mafia and the FBI. Nattie and her old friends, Pit and Bigun, work around the clock to keep their client alive. And the Mafia isn't alone in wanting Tommy dead. Half the time Nattie wants to kill him, along with a motley roster of his clients. Her seeming reckless disregard for her own safety drives Striker up the wall so he shadows the entire operation in hopes of keeping Nattie alive when the bullets fly.

Yes, Striker is still hovering in the background as Nattie's powerful protector. Any time Striker and Nattie share a scene, you can be sure the fireworks will explode in one way or another. Striker insists she retire from the bodyguard business. He doesn't want her to be in danger or to see her hurt. Unfortunately, our stubborn heroine has other ideas. When Striker issues the ultimatum that she quit the bodyguard business or leave, Nattie leaves. Will this be the end of their engagement? You'll have to read Book 4 to find out.

What I like best about this series is the way Ms. French writes it, with heart and spirit. Nattie, Striker, Pit and Bigun have become like dear, familiar friends to me now, thanks to her creativity. She has allowed them to grow and mature without taking all the fun and frolic out of the series. Nattie's self-confidence has blossomed, causing Striker's macho persona to flounder just a little. And the secondary characters - Nattie's mom and grandma, her cousin Cameron - add depth and flavor to the plot. Fans of the series will love Book 4. Those unfamiliar with the Bodyguard series need to start with the first book and grow up with the characters. This is more than just fiction. It's great, entertaining, action-filled fun.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

The Color-Blind Detective
Bill Capron
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440152436, $14.95,

Color is somewhat overrated when it comes to getting the job done. "The Color-Blind Detective" follows Detective C. B. Green as he is on the case of millions of dollars. Being a good guy in a harsh world, C.B.'s work is cut out for him in an entertaining read that doesn't take itself perfectly seriously. "The Color-Blind Detective" is a choice pick for mystery fans seeking something new.

The Last Guardian and the Reject Bike
Darren Simon
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Star Treatment (publicity)
PO Box 133, Beaver Crossing, NE 68313
9781440155857, $18.95,

Simple mistakes can prove life changing. "The Last Guardian and the Reject Bike" tells the story of Chuck Smelton, a boy who can't seem to get a break. Harassed endlessly at school, his life doesn't seem to get better when his father gets him a hunk of junk of a bike. But looks are deceiving when Chuck finds that there's more to his present than he actually sees. "The Last Guardian and the Reject Bike" is a choice and very recommended pick for younger readers.

Elizabeth Hubbell
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533161485, $12.50,

A brighter future starts in the classroom. "Learning: A Challenge to Parents, Educators, and Legislators" is Elizabeth Hubbell's call to action for readers to push for better schools for tomorrow. Bringing her own ideas to the table, she provides much inspiration and solutions to the many problems facing modern schools. "Learning: A Challenge to Parents, Educators and Legislators" is a read that should not be ignored for educators and parents.

Smells Like Fish
Trever Palmer
Snuff Books
9780981896731, $14.00,

Human nature doesn't care about boundaries. "Smells Like Fish" dives into the appalling side of human nature with his tales of murder and perversion that look at the worst that humanity has to offer people. Not taking itself with complete seriousness, Trever Palmer brings readers tales that are sure to please people who like their humor to be as black as their hearts. "Smells Like Fish" is a choice pick for alternative fiction readers, recommended.

The Shaman
Mark D. Longo
Privately Published
9781440412493, $14.95

Nature has a way of picking its fights with humanity. "The Shaman" tells the story of Mayan legend taking the Earth's revenge against Humanity's cruelty. When a film maker and his friend journey into the South American wilderness, they may be unintended bystanders of the evil that men do. Intriguing and fascinating influences from history, "The Shaman" is a fine read that should not be overlooked.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

High Crimes on the Magical Plane
Kris Neri
Red Coyote Press, LLC
P.O. Box 60582, Phoenix, AZ 85082
9780976673354 $16.95

Kris Neri introduces her new urban fantasy series with HIGH CRIMES ON THE MAGICAL PLANE. Past series by Kris Neri include the Tracy Eaton mysteries, which were nominated for Agatha, Anthony and Macavity Awards. She has also published short mysteries, which have also garnered Derringer Awards and Pushcart Prize nominations.

Samantha Brennan is a semi-established con artist of the New Age persuasion. Not only does she claim to be psychic, but she throws in Celtic goddess for good measure. When Molly Claire is abducted by a weird gangland uprising and made to rob banks Patricia Hearst style, Sam is yanked out of her comfortable universe by an FBI agent, who really is a Celtic goddess. As Samantha and Annabelle join forces, or rather Annabelle compels Sam to witness her own visions, the fun begins. What follows is a serious manhunt for Molly Claire. The only relief Samantha finds in her new exposure is Annabelle's cousin, who is truly a god of love and fun:

"And when he took me in his arms I felt magnificent. For the first time in my life I didn't feel like pudgy Samantha, squeezed-into-last-season's-clothes Samantha. I felt like the most divine woman on Earth. The touch of his lips on mine made me drunk with desire, the movement of his hands as they explored my body made me dizzy. And my body positively ignited when Angus left a trail of kisses, as soft as the breeze, from my neck to my breasts."

Ms. Neri's latest effort is a swirl of fantasy. From the little household gnomes to humans who turn out to be the opposite of first glance, her tale is chock full of fun. She's taken ordinary, mundane things and transformed them into a parallel universe that one would love to revel in forever. Her imagination is without bounds; her characters are weird in a scintillating way; and her plot is one exciting adventure after another. Samantha is the typical Valley Girl with a twist, and Ms. Neri has transformed a tired genre into a new and refreshing experience. Who would have thought that debauchery could become the new ethic? But under Ms. Neri's able hand, her reality turns into a new counter culture.

This reviewer will anxiously await MAGICAL ALIENATION, her next Samantha Brennan and Annabelle Haggerty installment.

Arctic Blue Death
R.J. Harlick
RendezVous Crime, Napoleon & Company,
Toronto, CAN
9781894917872 $16.95

R.J. Harlick is an erstwhile techie, who escaped to Western Quebec for a back-to-nature lifestyle that includes canoeing the waterways of Canada. She currently lives in Ottawa.

ARCTIC BLUE DEATH is her fourth Meg Harris mystery.

Meg Harris is also a bit of a hermit, choosing a modest home in the wild, much to the chagrin of her upper crust family. But the family hides a secret…or a series of secrets. When Meg was a little girl, her father, Sutton Harris, disappeared in a plane crash in the Arctic. It's thirty-six years later, and on a visit to her mother, Meg discovers that her mother has been receiving Inuit folk art that hints that her father may have survived the crash and chosen to live in Iqualuit. Inuit art has come of age, but there are dark forces that threaten the integrity of the art. Meg takes a journey to the Arctic to settle the question of her father's death once and for all. She meets an Inuit artist on the flight, and his reluctance to talk with her is underscored by his violent death hours later:

"I rushed towards the sound to see Pete bending over someone lying outside on the sand. He shook the still figure and cried, 'Johnnie! Johnnie! Don't die on me, you bastard!'"

Harlick portrays the rich array of cultures in Canada beautifully, whether it's the upper classes with their penchant to buy folk art, or the indigenous peoples who occupy the inhabitable lands to the North. Her character, Meg Harris, is a curious mix of all of the cultures, which makes her the perfect heroine. When Meg isn't rushing around looking for answers and placing herself in hairpin situations, she is busy trying to placate a mother with aristocratic expectations. But there is true love in the family, and Meg's courage helps to heal a gaping wound left from a horrible plane crash.

Harlick's writing fairly jumps out at the reader, pulling one in to her unique and fascinating plot. She nails her character types perfectly, adding a psychological component that makes this mystery absolutely appealing. Her plot moves right along, ending with the usual exciting denouement. All in all, this is a great read and appeals to any age group.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Just Waiting For The Bell
David Wehmeyer
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 E Trade Center, Terrace, Mustang OK 73064
9781607999775 $12.99

I don't know about you but I still have some scary dreams about the different principals that were in my life during my school years. I always thought they were out to get the students and were the ones with the big hammer just waiting for us to do something wrong so they could clobber us.
What a memory. So, I was interested to see just what this principal had to say about being a principal and I was surprised and delighted by what I read.

As I read along in this book I was finally opened up to the world of the one who holds so much responsibility in their hands. I realized the principals are the ones who take most of the blunt for anything that goes wrong, and they rarely get the applause when something goes right. They are expected to participate in more activities than any teacher would and settle any dispute that may arise. Not an easy job for anyone.

You might think how interesting could a book be about the life of a principal, think again. Most of us have no idea the many avenues a principal must go down, most times not knowing where they will lead him. Scary! I'll tell you, I sighed and giggled as I read this book. Every story had a charm of its own. It is written in an honest open way, smoothly flowing, and is just pure enjoyment from beginning to end. This book is fast paced, the stories are hilarious and often touching and it is a must have for every parent that thinks a principal has a cushion job. Your respect for them will go up and your appreciation will double after reading this book. Quite entertaining and will enlighten you in many ways, definitely a winner.

Principal Wehmeyer, you may take your seat now....but please continue to share your writings with us. Recommended, enjoy!

Heart & Soul
Sherry C. Jessop
0744301424 $7.95

I am always excited to read the work of any poet. I understand that a poet writes from their inward self, their spirit if you will. That fact in itself always intrigues me as to what is inside the author. I don't think any other writing draws from this special part as much as a poet's does. That said, I want to say that I was extremely impressed with the words in this book.

They are words of love, and a journey of emotions. I truly enjoyed "Daddy's Eyes," and "Journey, however my favorite of them all was, "In Gold Dust Ink." I really liked that one.'Bittersweet" was one that surprised this reader, but when a soul is speaking one must be prepared for what it will say.

A very good collection of poetry that many will enjoy.

Notes From the War-Torn
Joel L. Young
0744308399 $7.95

In this collection we are taken into the mind and soul of the war torn. From soldier to civilian we are placed in the battlefield, not just in the natural but of the mind, raw emotions abound, deep thoughts splashing across the page with each piercing word await you. Our author has his fingers on the very pulse of the soul of this area. Saying what is hidden in the hearts of many, perhaps afraid to release what has been so guarded within, seeing what others only partially discerned. My favorites were, "Unknown Soldier," "Midnight in Iraq" and "Reflection of 911." However, "The Sorcerer Sleeps No More," was outstanding and sent chills throughout me. Words of truth written by a heartfelt pen.

B.B. Wurge
LeapFrog Publishing
PO Box 2110, Teaticket, MA 02536
9780981514895 $9.95

As we begin this read we meet 9-year old, Lobelia, and what a child she is. Lobelia is very, very spoiled. Her parents give her everything she wants and she literally runs the household with her wants and needs. She is over weight, loud obnoxious, and mean. Lobelia does not appreciate anything, nor does she show love to anyone.

One day something strange happens that I will not go into, but it has to do with a little man and a magic potion that was not taken at the correct time. Because of that, Lobelia's mind ends up in a stuffed monkey whose name is, Squiggles. Lobelia looks around with the eyes of the monkey and sees her human body that for all purposes and appearances looks dead. Of course it has no head since it blew up. Oh My.!

Lobelia, or Squiggles, as she is now known, must live her life as a monkey if she doesn't find the little man who brought the magic, so off she goes to find many adventures and some very different people, or should I say strange people, that will change her life forever.

This book is one of those bizarre stories that you can't help but giggle as you are reading, yet you know the things that are happening should not be happening. The characters are exceptional, weird, true to life, funny, scary, different and definitely perk the story. I believe it does an exceptional job at showing how being a spoiled brat, not caring for anyone else can lead to misfortune, yet the ending is a happy one, if not somewhat strange.

I believe children will truly enjoy this book because it is zany and a little crazy, just the way they like it, and has just the right amount of action to keep their attention from beginning to end.

Beth Szillagyi
Illustrations by: Steven Fisher
0744309395 $7.95

In this fun read the children Amber and Danny are excited because it is almost spring and they can plant their garden. Mom and dad take them to the store to purchase all that will be needed and while there Danny sees an add where they may buy ladybugs to help fight off other insects that would eat their crop. The children's gardening adventure beings.

I enjoyed this book. It is one that teaches in a fun way about gardens. You will learn about soil, care of what you plant and many whys and hows of gardening. I didn't know that planting certain flowers and herbs would keep some bugs and rabbits away. Interesting, and I had no idea how important a lady bug could be to a garden. The illustrations are great and made me chuckle, and I enjoyed how the family worked together on a project they would all benefit from.

This is truly a wonderful book, written in such an easy to understand way, it is fun and is extremely interesting for all ages. I am proud to recommend this work.

Sometimes I Am
Illustrated by: Gillen
074431383X $5.95

In this warm and charming children's book we meet a little girl who tells us her 'sometimes.'
For example, sometimes she's happy and sometimes she's not. Sometimes she's angry and sometimes she's not. Each 'sometimes' is accompanied with big bold illustrations showing clearly her emotions at that time.

This is a great book for a young child that will allow them to discern their own emotions and understand we all have these same feelings from time to time. They will definitely identify with the child in the story, and will enjoy the pictures that accompany it. The ending summed it all up, I'm ME no matter what. An original idea for a children's book, well done.

Addicted Like Me
Karen Franklin and Lauren King
Seal Press
1700 Fourth Street, Berkele CA 94710
Perseus Books Group
9781580052863 $16.95

Inside the pages of this book you will find a heart rendering tale of two women who have overcome obstacles in their lives that have had their roots deep within their souls. Mother and daughter, Karen and Lauren had addictions to drugs and alcohol that was literally destroying their lives and those they touched.

Now I know that there are many books out there that have testimonies of overcoming such addictions, and they are very good and needed. However, what I personally liked about this book was the way the authors fully understood and told how the addiction was not just a personal problem, but a family problem. I am a firm believer that many things are passed from parent to child, both good and bad. Many of the trials we encounter are generational and need to be dealt with at the core. This mother and daughter recognized this and understood that this was the root of the problem and it had to stop with them. I was impressed.

Their battle was not an easy one, and they are quite frank and honest with all that they did to continue on with the lifestyle that had become theirs. However, they also share quite blankly what it took and will take to overcome this enemy. They leave out very few details in their battles but that is the beauty of their stories, This book could well be a life savior for anyone battling addictions, or those who are standing by watching, not knowing how to help someone they love. They will have more insight as to why this is happening, and knowledge is always a plus in any situation. I highly recommend this 'tell it like it is' book and thank our two authors for having the courage to lay their lives before others in hopes of bringing them recovery and healing. Well done.

The Great Grammar Book
Marsha Sramek
Arch Press
9095 Briar Forest Drive, Houston, Texas 77024
9780984115709 $TBA

I have to say that this book is something everyone should have. Grammar at times maybe a little tricky and we all make mistakes. Inside the pages of this book our author, Marsha Sramek, has taken a task to heart to bring us a book that will definitely help us to understand and learn correct grammar.

Wait, it isn't the usual boring textbook that you are use to. No, it is big and bold and holds some very interesting facts in her sentences that will take you a little higher up the smart chart, and hold your interest while you learn. Hey, you can't beat that.

You will learn many things such as essential sentence structure and punctuation. You are given exercises right in the book so you do not need extra paper. The answers are given in the back of the book, but don't cheat. You are also given a glossary to help with words that sound alike but have different meanings.

I believe this book will be a true blessing to many. If you need a quick check on something you are writing this book would be a life-saver sitting on your desk. It is a must have for all those who want to know what they write is written correctly. Very well done.

Mercury Falls
Robert Kroese
St. Culain Press
21482 S Olive Ave, Ripon, CA 95366
9780578032146 $12.00

We all have heard time and time again that the end is near. Some of us look forward to the relief, others coil back in horror, but what happens when an out of control angel is smack dab in the middle of events. That is what you will find in this novel by author, Robert Kroese.

Add with that an anti-Christ who is not what you would expect one should be, a reporter who isn't even sure where her faith is, a boss who believes he is hearing from the 'good' side and being led by such, and a host of off the wall characters both mortal and other zooming around the universe and your cast is set.

My favorite character was reporter, Christine Temetri. A young lady who has been stuck in the web of covering one after another event proclaiming the end of the world. Now, carried into events that she really didn't want any part of, she resigns herself to what the universe has dealt her way. Although she is not very happy about it. She handles each situation and 'person' she meets with humor and satire, definitely bringing some chuckles. I loved the way she dealt with Mercury, the off-beat angel, or is he? She is the star of the show as far as I am concerned, and definitely the glue that keeps the read together.

The author did a fine job of character development and local bringing the story up front and center in the minds eye of the reader. It is quick paced, yet flows smoothly and has a good ending, or is it? If you would like a break from all the serious writings coming out now on the end times, and would just like to giggle for a while, this book is for you.

A Very Strange Land: The First Adventure in the Merryvale Series
Steven Fisher
0744303087 $7.95

In this tale we meet two little girls, Sarah and Lorelei who ride horses. They received an invitation to ride in a horseshow, but they are not familiar with the town or the stables where it is being held.

The girls talk Lorelei's father into taking them and the adventure begins as they end up far above the clouds in a strange land called Merryvale, where horses fly and nothing is really the way you think it is.

In this book we are introduced to a very strange land indeed. It is high up in the heaven's or is it? Everything seems to be opposite of the way it should be, horses fly, as do some people, and talk, and is Merryvale really a place or a person that is both a person and a place? Yes, it can be confusing but yet has a way of luring you in the story and making you wonder just what is going on? The characters are different to say the least, yet that is what makes the charm in this tale.

As you keep reading you truly start to understand that 'different' is what this story is all about.
It is adventure in an almost Oz land with characters that are both loveable and annoying at the same time, but the clincher is this works and you definitely keep reading finding yourself immersed in the story. I liked it and look forward to book two to see what else is happening in this land of wonder.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

The Time To Be Happy is Now
Kenford Nedd
QP Press
c/o Charlie Barrett
9780973329117, $18.95

Happiness shouldn't be an eventual thing. "The Time To be Happy is Now: 52 Quick Prescriptions for Bringing Happiness into Your Life" is a guide for those who want to stop putting off their own happiness and bring it to more attention in their lives. Stating how readers can do little things to bring more happiness in the present day, no matter their situation, "The Time to Be Happy is Now" is a much read for those who have put off their own happiness for tomorrow for far too long.

Replacement Child
Judy L. Mandel
Schlesinger Books Publishing Company
9780982514603, $16.95,

How does it feel when you find out you're a replacement? "Replacement Child" is the poignant reflections of Judy Mandel as she reflects on her parent's tragedy before she was born, drawing on wisdom she gains as a daughter who turned into a mother herself. A touching story any parent will relate to when they have to make tough choices about their children and live their lives full of regret. "Replacement Child" is touching and is a memoir that should not be overlooked by grieving parents.

Depravity: A Narrative of 16 Serial Killers
Harvey Rosenfeld
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440128479, $23.95,

The cruelty of mankind knows no bounds. "Depravity: A Narrative of 16 Serial Killers" tells the story of some of the most evil individuals in human history, looking at their atrocities and crimes against mankind. For anyone who an interest in the evil and morose, "Depravity" is a solid and very worthwhile look at these men who should be taken as notes of what mankind is capable of.

The Times to Come Have Come
David White
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449016845, $10.99,

If it is truly the end times, what does it say of God and us? "The Times to Come Have Come: Hope and Help in Troubled Times" is a spiritual and metaphysical guide for readers that comes at them with much wisdom and advice. Believing that the current times are the last, he says God has a special mission for us, and states his methods. For those who buy into it being the End of Days, the advice found within "The Times to Come Have Come" is a worthwhile investment.

Kill the Addiction
John English
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road -- 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432739447, $11.95,

Stopping without quitting sounds like an oxymoron but it can be done. "Kill the Addiction: Stop Smoking: Without Quitting" takes a unique approach to fighting one's addiction. John English tells people that it's addiction, not the product that one must conquer, and offers much intriguing advice. For any who have tried and failed to quit smoking, "Kill the Addiction" is a top pick for self-help collections.

Tara's Cross
G. J. Bachmann
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440144721, $15.95,

For those who witnessed it, the events surrounding September 11th will stay with them forever. "Tara's Cross" is the memoir of G. J. Bachmann, reflecting on that fateful day from his perspective. A touching story of coping with massive disaster, his story is sure to inspire those who feel for the event, and give much personal insight for those who want to understand. "Tara's Cross" is a choice pick and a very highly recommended read.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Kaitlyn & Sandy Brannin
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533162291, $7.95,

Overwhelmed by a strange world, it can be intimidating to be asked to help save it. "Arteo" is a charming kid's story of Katie and Mike who find themselves in the world of talking animals, Arteo. But it seems Katie and Mike may be the only ones who can protect them from the predatory Hawk. "Arteo" is a fine choice that young readers will enjoy reading with their parents.

Monster Heart
Gary Turcotte
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432747176, $14.95,

The desire for better performance drives many young athletes. "Monster Heart: The Francis Norman Stein Story" tells the story of a young man who in the desire to improve his sports playing turns to drugs, and the consequences he faces from his decision. A cautionary tale for young readers, "Monster Heart" is a choice pick for young adult fiction collections.

The Animal
'Gommie' Westphal
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533161331, $8.95,

Curiosity drives all discovery. "The Animal" is a charming story of Little Gray Squirrel as he discovers an unusual animal. Along with his friends, he embarks on a discovery as he takes the animal to those who would know. "The Animal" is a nice story for younger readers with simple and cute drawings alongside the story.

K. S. Krueger
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781438964645, $16.00,

Perhaps you cannot see it, but that does not mean it is not there. "Traegonia: The Sunbow Prophecy" tells of a world that escapes the eyes of mankind and serves as the protector of the earth. Traegonia is a world of elves, gnomes, and faeries, and it may be up to three friends to save both the Earth and Traegonia before untold havoc may occur. "Traegonia: The Sunbow Prophecy" is a fine and highly recommended read that young fantasy readers will love.

N. E. Julian
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440133091, $19.95,

For survival, people would give anything. "Sanctuary" tells the story Lea Kostovic, a young Croatian woman in the midst of civil war. Broken from a chance at opportunity of college life, she finds herself having to act as an interpreter for a man named Russel, who wants more than her language skills. "Sanctuary" is a tragic tale of survival, that will grip readers.

Paul T. Vogel

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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