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The Art of Fixing Things
Lawrence E. Pierce
9781466296336, $12.95, www.theartoffixingthings.com
Being able to put things back together is a skill that is fading from many, but is still utterly invaluable. "The Art of Fixing Things" is a guide to general handyman status, a compilation of general knowledge that anyone can pick up to better gain a better grasp on how to keep their engine going, patching up clothes, getting lamps working again, potentially saving hundreds from hiring a handyman. "The Art of Fixing Things" is an invaluable general guide for those who realize the benefits of knowing a little bit of everything in life.
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440154706, $22.95, www.iuniverse.com
As one's homeland falls, your future becomes horribly uncertain..."Polyxena" is a story of the classical world, where the titular woman, daughter of the King of Troy, struggles with the romance of her conquerors and their pursuit of her. Spurning the advance, she prepares for death, and may still find love before it is over. "Polyxena" is a riveting story of ancient legend and mythology, recommended.
The Rebellion for Democracy
9780473187729, $17.00, www.amazon.com
Absolute power is all too tempting. "The Rebellion for Democracy" is a novel set twenty minutes into the future, as England faces growing corruption from those in power. Rebellion responds, and seeks to deliver England to democracy once more. But temptation lies everywhere, even within the rebellion, and the struggle against corruption will never be easy. "The Rebellion for Democracy" is a fine pick for those seeking a politically charged novel.
9780889712621, $18.95, www.nightwoodeditions.com
In Canada, Louis Riel holds an infamous status, but poet Gregory Scofield presents an intriguing picture of the controversial figure. "Louis" is a fascinating collection of poems about one Scofield regards as a folk hero and martyr for his cause, and of the man who he was like anyone else. "Louis" is a choice pick for any international poetry collection. "Novena to Saint Philip, Patron Saint of Clockmakers": O gracious Saint Philip/I implore unto thee/My reprehensible workings, the brass/Of my fittings,/The weeks, the days/I am cast upon the hour./O gracious Saint Philip/I beseech unto thee/My most derelict casing, the door/To my troubles./Be it not unlocked to Marguerite/Be it not left open/For Jean, my Little Marie-Angelique./Be they not burdened/With the weight of my hand, my arms,/The minute, the hour/I fall upon sleep./Our father... Hail Mary.../O Jesus, Holy Mary, Saint Philip,/Holy keeper of clocks,/I give unto thee my sorrow of waking./Amen.
Haiku on the Steppe
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781434361103, $11.99, www.authorhouse.com
There is soul in brevity. "Haiku on the Steppe" is a collection of over one thousand Haikus from experienced Turkish poet Nail Bezel, who presents this work of English which speaks on the many aspects of life, as he is inspired by Zen and related philosophies. "Haiku on the Steppe" is a fine pick for poetry fans, much recommended. "404": in such spring/say there was winter-/who's to believe.
Unlocking Your Entrepreneurial Potential
Tim S. McEneny
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462032440, $20.95, www.iuniverse.com
How does one find the will to lead the way to one's own business? "Unlocking Your Entrepreneurial Potential: Marketing, Money, and Management Strategies for the Self-Funded Entrepreneur" is a guide to embracing good planning to form one's own business. Stating practical advice for the whole process from good preparation and planning to becoming profitable to expanding when necessary, to possibly even selling the company, "Unlocking Your Entrepreneurial Potential" is an ideal pick for anyone who wants to embark on their own capitalist endeavor.
10940 S. Parker Road - 515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432776408, $31.95, www.outskirtspress.com
When uncertainty clouds your past, the future doesn't look much clearer. "The Revival" is a novel following Virginia Wilson as she tries to piece together what happened at a strange summer in Totoba in Africa. Returning to the continent to find some evidence of understanding through it all, to know what happened, to know what's going to happen. The second in the trilogy, "The Revival" is of interest for general fiction readers.
Follow the Sun
Anne M. Nordhaus-Bike
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781456759315, $39.95, www.authorhouse.com
A little guidance can do wonders for one's life. "Follow the Sun: A Simple Way to use Astrology for Living in Harmony" discusses astrology and how to embrace it to find one's path through life, understanding the signs of the zodiac, and understanding their signs and wisdom and much more. With photographs and art work scattered all throughout, "Follow the Sun" is a strong pick for followers of astrology who want to use it better int heir everyday lives to reach their potential.
Dark Before Dawn
9781466396210, $10.99, www.stacyjuba.com
Power that is not simple is feared. "Dark Before Dawn" is a novel surrounding the ESP abilities of young Dawn Christian, who has lived in fear of her talents throughout her life. Finding companionship in others like her, she finds that there is good that her talents can bring, and seeks out to do so, finding that even with supernatural powers, few things are easy. "Dark Before Dawn" is a choice pick for those seeking works of modern fantasy and ESP.
This Lady Here
Carol Ann Rusch
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781452020945, $14.49, www.authorhouse.com
In our trip through life, we find answers and find many more questions. "This Lady Here: I'll Drink to That" is a memoir from Carol Ann Rusch, as she reflects on her own life and the dark downs she has faced and how she has crawled out with her life in tact. Speaking firmly on the abuses of drugs and alcohol, "This Lady Here" is a fine memoir and very much recommended reading.
9781450797917 $2.99 http://www.chronosscifi.com
GULAG MOON is the novella prequel to the Chronos Military Science Fiction series, is set in the year 2113, and is a 'must' introduction for any reader of the Chronos series. This isn't to say that prior fans won't find it immensely satisfying to 'go back in time': just that newcomers to the series will find GULAG MOON neatly sets the place and tone for the following sagas.
GULAG MOON introduces the character of Zach Murphy, the main protagonist in the other titles, at a stage of his life when his military training is just beginning. On a planet uncommonly rich in natural resources the Mining Syndicate has dropped off a thousand unwanted factory workers to struggle for survival.
GULAG MOON tells of that event and the struggles and growth that ensue, and it's told from the viewpoint of freedom fighter Zep Hedgewick, who is the property of the Syndicate but who plans on spending his life opposing their repressive ways.
Zep's meeting with Zach Murphy will change his life, transforming him from an ineffective part-time black marketer to a worthy opponent of the Syndicate. The two meet outside of school during a robbery attempt where Zep has been instructed to help mug Zach. Zach easily thwarts the assault, spares Zep, and the two form a bond that will change their lives.
As they both become immersed in battles against the Syndicate, the Syndicate tightens food supplies and resources in an effort to starve out the gulag. Both Zep and Zach undergo further training that lead them to be invited to join the Rybos Militia, then find themselves caught by another militia who are also journeying to Rybos Five.
There they face laser array battles in the jungle, EMP attacks, and rapidly changing alliances on the battlefield, all of which hone Zach's military skills and bring him ever closer to being a seasoned leader of opposition forces, with Zep as his less savvy sidekick.
The military encounters and descriptions of high-tech battles are vivid and changing, reinforcing Zach's coming of age and also offering a satisfying contrast between Zep's abilities and Zach's growing leadership skills. Zep becomes a lieutenant in his own right and leads defenses against EMP and laser weaponry and other military devices, using their own high-tech tools for response.
GULAG MOON is a cat-and-mouse game well played: jungle advancements and retreats, check and checkmate battles, and military strategy played out well by both sides all keep the action fast-paced and the main protagonists edgy and well-developed. Zach learns to deftly field technologically advanced weaponry despite some disasters, and grows stronger with each encounter.
By novel's end Zep has been transformed from a bumbling sidekick to a military man with his own powers and passions - and Zach has moved from a soldier to a leader. The friendship that originally bound the two men deepens throughout conflicts and results in a rich connection by the conclusion of GULAG MOON, which promises further satisfying adventures in the Chronos series.
Lost Gatos, CA
9781466173118 $2.99 http://www.smashwords.com
SHADOW DANCE is set in 1853 on an island near Indonesia and tells of teen Starling Agara, who is slated to marry the island's prince in seven years to join the opposing forces that threaten to tear apart her world.
Sadly, being Princess isn't a solution to the violence wrecking her nation: on the eve of her wedding,opposing forces slaughter nearly everyone and Starling is rescued by missionaries who take her to America, still endangered when the missionaries are murdered by her countrymen.
Her resulting journey will cross nations and bring her into a world of rituals and ongoing dangers.
Descriptions throughout SHADOW DANCE are poetic and evocative: "The log's vibrations came as a hard knock that could have been God's tapping a clapbox of holy bamboo in Heaven's gamelan, orchestrating earthly success."
Religious references abound, social conflicts never cease, and Starling is locked into a world that seems destined to repeat a cycle of hope and violence. Her participation in rituals of life and death result in a slowly building resolve to save her world: "Calm as the coral above, the goddess said:
"One day, fem bird, I shall not be able to save you."
"That day," Starling whispered, "I shall save you."
Linking all her experiences are demons and angels, rituals and rescue, and water and weddings: for Starling is being prepared for her ultimate destiny and as in a biblical journey, must overcome much adversity and have many encounters with God before she can realize her true heritage.
This is a fine recommendation for adult readers. The graphic violence peppered throughout makes SHADOW DANCE inappropriate for teen readers despite its teen protagonist, but adult readers will find the action and Starling's journey to be compelling and filled with unexpected moments.
Starling's long journey to become a queen embraces different cultures, different religions, and different choices: at the heart of all of them lies a divine feminine presence identifying wellsprings of family, safety, and worship.
There is no journey comparable to Starling's in SHADOW DANCE: readers interested in an epic feminist vision will find this unique and compelling reading.
D.K. Montague, Publishers
269-10 Grand Central Parkway #29-V, Floral Park NY 11005
9780615412955 $20.00 pbk
9780615421377 $24.95 hc www.amazon.com
SURVIVOR'S GAME is a debut memoir offering the author's ordeals in Nazi concentration camps during World War II, and joins the Holocaust literature in exploring individual experience. David Karmi's family was deported to Poland, managed to return to their Hungarian home, and finally were deported to Auschwitz.
Separated from his family, David endured both Auschwitz and then a second camp in Warsaw and then was on the death march from Dachau to Germany as the Allies closed in.
One wouldn't expect a positive outlook from such experiences but SURVIVOR'S GAME is all about the game of maintaining individual hope and positive perspective under the harshest of conditions. David not only endured atrocities to survive: he never gave up hope - and SURVIVOR'S GAME is all about how he built this hope during the most trying of times.
It reads not so much like a memoir but like a novel, replete with tension, drama, and twists and turns. Through it all runs the message of hope provided by Karmi in a powerful introductory quote: "You had to believe that you would get through it in the end, and that there would be another life waiting for you in a place where the world had not gone insane."
SURVIVOR'S GAME progresses from childhood lessons and values learned from his family (such as the importance of money and holding on to what is grasped) to making choices towards survival against all odds.
The vivid moment-by-moment recollections are as immediate to the reader as they were when they occurred so many years ago: "There was so little food that people begged in the streets, and often died there. There was no work and no hope."
Once inside the camps, the author finds unusual and uncertain friendships and hope even in unlikely places: "In sharing his food, Lieutenant Werner reminded me that
I was a human being. In the camps, outside the quarters where I served the lieutenant, I was a faceless, nameless prisoner. Number 87672. To Lieutenant Werner I was more than that; I was a person worthy of talking to and interacting with."
SURVIVOR'S GAME holds a powerful message of hope - not just for Holocaust victims, but for the world: "More than anything else, the constant refusal to give in helped me to survive the tremendous suffering and pain."
It's a recommended pick not just for Holocaust libraries, but for any inspirational collection.
The Unauthorized Biography of Michele
Bachmann (and other stories)
Brew City Press
9781467974370 Kindle edition: $3.99 Print edition: $9.99 www.amazon.com
Eleven short stories in this collection provide inspiration and food for thought, and offer diverse yet creative settings, and as a whole make for a powerful collection highly recommended for any lending library. For a first collection of short stories it's powerful and unexpected. The stories have appeared in various publications but are united here for the first time, reflecting Ken Brosky's ability to create compelling, unusual scenes.
From phone hackers to an Iraqi searching for his missing leg, these are thought-provoking accounts packed with powerful images. They don't include Brosky's earlier horror writing, but they do provide a virtual feast of emotions that do include horror, humor and observations of the human condition.
'Amazon.com' is the only essay included in this collection of fiction, and provides a fine and unexpected survey of the internet giant.
Brosky's short stories always open with a bang: "I knew this guy, babe, he could do things with his mouth you ain't never seen. And I ain't talking about sex here, all right? All right? Get your head out of the gutter and listen to me, because this is a story that's gonna blow your mind."
That's part of his special power: imparting scenarios and openings that keep you reading. But the tension and unexpected twists don't end with the opening lines: it is evident throughout the chatty, involving story line: "It all started in the 1960s, when Cap'n Crunch cereal included a free toy whistle in every box. The whistle just so happened to produce a 2600hz tone, which is the exact same tone that AT&T used as a steady signal for unused long-distance lines."
And just how will the Four Horsemen appear during the Apocalypse? Read 'Apocalypse Wow' for the experiences of the Horsemen at the drive-in: "The moment they saw the horse in the drive-thru, they knew it was bad news.
Motorcycles? Occasionally. A truck pulling a boat? Once in awhile on a crisp Saturday morning in the summer. But not a horse. Not a guy sitting on a horse. They were watching him through the small TV screen hanging above the drive-thru register."
When it all gets too intense, read 'Intermission' - it is what it says....
Looking for something different and fast-paced? It doesn't get better than Ken Brosky's writing style, which profiles and builds delightfully unexpected scenarios.
Monsters Do Ugly Things
Mark Adam Kaplan
Mark Adam Kaplan and Glenn Scano have crafted a book that is exceptional, with Glenn Scano providing the engaging, fun illustrations for MONSTERS DO UGLY THINGS, using five brands of colored pencils to make his monsters come alive. A very simple e-book format features full color, one monster and one line of description per page, and offers hilarious scenarios kids and adults will appreciate.
Monsters play with their food (a knight hovers over a pot, held by his pants), they make a mess (picture a monster stomping through downtown holding trucks and crushing 'eat at Mo's' signs), and take things that aren't theirs (one monster steals meat from another).
Each page holds a different monster and a different behavior that makes him monstrous. Later pages outline behaviors that make monsters endearing, from caring for pets to enjoying art, flowers, and fun activities. Kids and parents will delight in a picturebook format that translates very well to digital, losing nothing in the translation process.
The bad monster/good monster format offers gentle fun lessons in a picturebook designed as a bedtime visual and verbal guide.
MONSTERS DO UGLY THINGS is the perfect item of choice for parents seeking something different for the very young. The digital format lends well to screen viewing, the monsters are colorful and original creations, and the one-line, big-print observations are very easy for the smallest child to digest.
A 'must' for any parent seeking an easy read-aloud, digital picturebook for bedtime! As a bonus, the publisher is selling coloring books and DVD's of the book (with audio) from their website (www.monstersunbound.com).
The Truth About Us
ASIN: B00642CEB6 $3.99 www.amazon.com
Available on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/104462
THE TRUTH ABOUT US is a fine novel centered around three women whose lives change when one of them decides to confess a sin of the past: a sin that affects them all. It's told from three different perspectives and voices, tracing the effects of confession and providing an intense story of entwined relationships and lives.
Perhaps the most compelling revelation in THE TRUTH ABOUT US is how, like a pebble in water, a personal decision to reveal a secret affects not just perceptions of others, but their own hidden secrets and denied associations.
Possibilities are also considered by the protagonist: "I could see four possibilities: 1. I talk Jude out of it. 2. Jude goes to the police but Erica and I deny it. 3. Erica sides with Jude and I still deny it. 4. I tell the truth. Obviously I wanted number one. And number four was out of the question."
Strong dialogue and poetic observation mark a vivid writing style throughout: "The voice on the phone said, "Hey Schmeid," and that's when Erica felt it; the shift, the veer of deviating balance, the visceral recognition that nothing would be the same again. If the day had not been ruptured enough, here was the big bang. The cruelty of the timing was almost funny."
There's plenty of tension that builds between the entwined stories, with chapters moving smoothly from one storyteller's perspective to another, all neatly labeled to avoid confusion and emphasize perspectives.
It's not necessarily an easy read: the reader is drawn into a complex web of relationships and observations that invite personal introspection and examination. Passion and angst are lines that run throughout the novel - as well as expectation, hope and a desire for peace.
The conclusion is vivid, revealing, and satisfying, making this a recommended novel for any reader.
10940 S. Parker Road - 515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432777883, $24.95, www.outskirtspress.com
Animals were almost members of the family in ancient times. "Dusk: God's Chosen Donkey" seeks to tell the early life of Christ through the eyes of his family's donkey. Offering a unique perspective, Carolyn Budd-Goertzen provides an unusually powerful story from the most unlikely of sources. The first of a series, "Dusk" is worth picking for those seeking original Christian fiction, recommended.
Dog-Friendly Trails for All Seasons
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452082882, $16.00, www.authorhouse.com
A hike can be greatly improved with an accompaniment of man's best friend. "Dog-Friendly Trails for All Seasons in California's Foothills and the Sierra Nevada" is a guide to family friendly trails all throughout the American Southwest. Outlining many trails throughout the region, how to bring one's dog along, extra preparation, other things of notes, and much more to get the most out of the trip, "Dog-Friendly Trails for All Seasons" is a strongly recommended pick for the dual lover of dogs and hiking.
From Kansas Wheat Fields to Alaska Tundra
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 East Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064
9781617772023, $21.99, www.tatepublishing.com
From the plainly typical life of Kansas to the harsh and unusual Alaska, Naomi Gaede-Penner was hit with a very strange shift in her young life. "From Kansas Wheat Fields to Alaska Tundra" is a memoir from Penner, who recalls her journey from the heartland to the frozen reaches of America, telling their story of how this move came to be, and the culture shock that came with it. With humor and insight one the ways we live our lives and realize what's important, "From Kansas Wheat Fields to Alaska Tundra" is a fine pick that should not be overlooked, highly recommended.
W. A. Harbinson
Custom Books Publishing
9781466237230, $10.99, www.inkdigital.org
Between life and death, there is a reflection on what has passed. "Iconic Voices" is a novel delve into the minds of five individuals who have passed on in the later twentieth century, voices of a generation in their own way, leading the way for society. "Iconic Voices" is an intriguing experiment of fiction, our legends, and history.
Women Outside the Walls
9781453715017, $12.95, www.amazon.com
Love can see people through the roughest times. "Women Outside the Walls" is a novel from Trisha Sugarek as she explores the nature of women outside the prison walls who are trying to get by as their men are serving time. Finding an unusual friendship through their tough time, more plight comes their way and challenges what they have left as independent women as one of their daughters goes missing. "Women Outside the Walls" carries a positive message, and shouldn't be overlooked, very much recommended.
Bloomin Prairie Poetry
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781463400613, $11.70, www.authorhouse.com
The land's beauty will resolve no matter what we do to it. "Bloomin' Prairie Poetry" is a collection of poetry from Helene Landenberger, as she compiles poetic works from lyrical song focusing on the great prairies of the heartland, with faith and a good old fashioned country charm. "Bloomin' Prairie Poetry" is a unique assortment with its own original flavor, much recommended. "Ode to the Little Bay Mare": cockelburr was a part of a special breed,/To many a kid, she was a trusted steed.//Over 30 years old and still going strong,/She had the kind of heart that made her life long.//Gymkhana, 4-H and kid's rodeo, her life,/She got out there and went with all her might.//Winning ribbons, trophies, buckles and saddles,/For all her kids, she'd down right skee-daddle!//All who knew her loved her to death,/And did til she drew her very last breath.
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462004706, $14.95, www.iuniverse.com
In our struggles to make ends meet and find something better, we toss in with the strangest of places. "Windfall Nights" follows struggling college student Julian who takes a job at a small motel to make his bills in college. Finding an unusual friendship in Thomas, Julian learns much about the world in his struggles, and years later, the two friends meet in Vietnam as it has become a warzone. "Windfall Nights" is a fine coming of age tale with plenty to consider.
Stop Motion Handbook
9780473189211, $24.99, http://stop-motion-handbook.com
Stop motion may not be widely as used as it once was, but it still has its charm and uses. "Stop Motion Handbook" " is a guide to making stop motion animation from Craig Lauridsen, who walks readers through how to use the Macintosh applications iStopMotion and GarageBand, iMovie, and more to make professional styled stop motion animation, focusing on uses within the classroom as a creative exercise and work with film and animation. "Stop Motion Handbook" is a fine pick for community library animation and education collections.
9780983905806, $14.95, www.amazon.com
Hate is nothing to live with. "Rebirth" is the story, drawn from true events according to author Dave Longeuay, as he tells of a story of Charles Devonshire, who turns away from his anti-Semitic family to find love with what they hate. Set in the volatile 1948 as the foundation of Israel is on the horizon, "Rebirth" is a riveting spin of historical fiction, very much recommended reading for those looking for a touch with a Jewish edge.
Is God Fair?
Michael Riley & James William
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781456757090, $25.00, www.authorhouse.com
To be a good and virtuous person does not require a Christian faith. "Is God Fair?: What About Gandhi?" seeks to discuss this curious question, as authors Michael Riley & James William discuss the many sects of Christianity and the salvation of humanity, condemning the idea that eternal salvation is limited to only those who follow their specific faith. With an inclusionary message that encourages forgiveness instead of damnation, "Is God Fair?" is worth considering for those pondering this important question of faith.
Heart of the Bison
Glen R. Scott
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595235001, $20.95, www.iuniverse.com
The future isn't always so bright. "Heart of the Bison" is a fantasy set in a world strongly inspired by traditional Native American Indian culture, where the people and their shamans respond the prophecy of dreams, seeking to survive as they had for millennia. But when people come from an alien world with the south with unforeseen technology, the union of two peoples won't come easily but will leave a lasting impression. "Heart of the Bison" is an excellent and much recommended read for fantasy collections and for readers seeking a different breed of fantasy.
10940 S. Parker Road - 515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432779641, $15.95, www.outskirtspress.com
Through the roughest of beginnings, one can still find a life worth living. "My Annie: The True to Life Story of a Liberated Woman Written by Her Husband" is a biography of love from Douglas Richie, who writes his wife's life story and tells how from the toughest of beginnings she found her calling as a mother and a woman. Celebrating six decades of marriage in the process, "My Annie" is a devoted and charming read, something to be considered.
Blood in the Promised Land
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462026111, $19.95, www.iuniverse.com
An opportunity is something that shouldn't be overlooked. "Blood in the Promised Land" is a historical novel set in World War II at the home front. A migration northwards leaves many rural blacks traveling north for their shot at a better life as huge chunks fight in Europe and in the Pacific. What they find is a racial minefield, and clashes with others during this tough time at both home and around the world. "Blood in the Promised Land" is an excellent read of clash of conflict, highly recommended.
Wouldn't It Be Nice if...
Stephanie S. Lalosh
9781426976230, $11.00, www.trafford.com
Health seems so expensive. "Wouldn't It Be Nice If...You Could Be Healthy on a Budget" is an advisory from Stephanie S. Lalosh on how to find greater health, better diet, and other factors when money is tight and time is short. With plenty of practical wisdom, "Wouldn't It Be Nice If... You Could Be Healthy on a Budget" is worth considering for those who find them under pressure due to health woes.
9781937158002, $14.95, www.uconnectsite.com
How does one form their own company and succeed, especially in today's rough economy? "Entrepreneur You: Passion Success Prosperity" is a guide from Holly Katko who writes on how readers can find their own will and drive to form their own business, conquer their bad habits that could lead to ruin, keeping a business well financed and successful. "Entrepreneur You" is a top pick for anyone who dreams of their own company and being their own boss.
9781466258457, $24.99, www.pawprint-la.us
Hollywood is vicious. "Malibu Confidential" follows hard to detect Hollywood PI Randal Bristol as he takes on clients to find out the truth at the bottom of Hollywood's corrupt ways and actions. Working under the radar, he takes on a wide array of cases, finding the root behind blackmailers, terrorists, relics of Hollywood history, murder, and much more. Fast paced and never boring, "Malibu Confidential" is well worth considering for fans of detective thrillers, especially those enchanted with Hollywood's legend of a seedy underworld.
The Genesis Beast
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781463449186, $23.99, www.authorhouse.com
Generosity spins into an evil plot. "The Genesis Beast" is a unique tale as a dying man makes his last pitch for a chance at immortality, locking his would be will beneficiaries to face off against his plots, a series of beasts that seek to destroy them. If they do not succeed, the dying man will get his wish, but out of desire to survive, they must not let that happen. "The Genesis Beast" is a fun read of action and adventure with the dangers of prehistoric creatures.
Terrible Tales 2
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462009404, $10.95, www.iuniverse.com
Few things ever go as beautifully as they do in fairy tales. "Terrible Tales 2" is a collection of twisted fairy tales as author Jennifer Gordon assumes the role of Felicitatus Miserius, as he presents a collection of unique takes on classic fairy tales, bringing a bit of humor and a different message to their morals. "Terrible Tales 2" is a fine collection of short fiction, not to be overlooked.
9780984384624, $24.95, www.wolfenovels.com
As power increases, the impact of a decision begins to weight more and more heavily. "Executive" is a thriller about power and those who hold it, and the wide reaching consequences of that power. From behind corporate doors to the trenches in Afghanistan, Leslie Wolfe creates a read of intrigue, suspense, with a powerful message behind it all, a read that will show much relevance to today's world. "Executive" is a fine addition to community and library collections.
The Universe Speaks
9781920533052, $23.00, www.kimaglobal.co.za
It can hard to hear a voice so loud. "The Universe Speaks: On the Love and Pain of 2012 to 2025" is a new age spirituality book that discusses what may be chaotic years ahead for the world and what it may mean for our souls and our search for peace of mind. For followers of new age philosophy, "The Universe Speaks" is strongly worth considering, recommended.
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781463431020, $15.95, www.ghanachristianmission.com
In a world which cares for few, brotherhood is sometimes all one has to survive. "Bethlehem's Brothers" is a novel set in the tumultuous times of Jesus of Nazareth, telling of two brothers who struggle to get by, trying to find something better for themselves. In their journey, they may find the most revolutionary and spiritual figure of their time for guidance. "Bethlehem's Brothers" is a choice pick for anyone seeking a Christian-driven novel, highly recommended.
Sage was the Perfect Shadow
9781466393615, $11.99, www.amazon.com
One vicious accident changed everything she considered by her future. "Sage Was the Perfect Shadow" is a memoir from Moona Krueger is the long recovery of Moona, who spent much of her life being spurned away from her dreams, after being in a car accident that severely burned her. Finding eventual peace, "Sage Was the Perfect Shadow" is a fine addition to memoir collections dealing with the aftermaths and finding the strength to conquer tragedy.
November Ever After
Craig T. Greenlee
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462004041, $12.95, www.iuniverse.com
Dozens of young lives lost is a tragedy that should not be forgotten. "November Ever After" is a memoir from Craig T. Greenlee as he reflects on a terrible accident that claimed many lives in 1970, when a plane carrying Marshall University's football team tragically crashed. Greenlee writes he left the football team a year earlier for personal reasons, and in wake of the tragedy, he worked to rebuild the team, a story of recovery for the school and those who lost that day. "November Ever After" is very much worth considering for sports memoir collections.
c/o SoCal Public Relations
8130 La Mesa Blvd., Ste. 137
La Mesa, CA 91942
9780578092775, $8.99, www.williamcastleproductions.com
When your father deals in death, you'd like to know why. "Fearmaker: Family Matters" is a young adult horror book as Adam tries to find the truth behind why his father is plotting murder on one of his classmates. As the evidence piles up, he looks to solve the reasons why with the help of his friend Julian, but not without their own endeavors along the way. "Fearmaker" is an excellent pick for young horror fans looking for something to test their bravery. Also from the Castle family is "From the Grave: The Prayer" (9780615507576, $8.99) by William Castle, a horror novel taking many cues from his films of decades ago which were lauded for their original spins on horror.
No Blue Sky
Glenda R. Burkett
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781456758974, $24.97, www.authorhouse.com
China, a rapidly growing player in the world, is horrendously misunderstood. "No Blue Sky: An American Traveler's Glimpse of China" discusses Glenda R. Burkett's own experiences in seeing this ancient country which is heavy with culture. Advocating that travelers choose China to see its many sights including the Great Wall, its natural beauty, and the unusual diamond of Hong Kong. "No Blue Sky" is a choice pick for anyone who may be considering China for their next world wide travel experience.
Bernard Leo Remakus
9781600476150, $13.95, www.wastelandpress.net
When one man stands between justice and a terrorist's goals, that man becomes a target. "Mia" is a spy thriller as Jack 'Tarzan' Trzanky must lead the way to rescue Captain Zack Adams from a terrorist cell so he may help them catch the notorious terrorist known as the Chameleon. But in order for his mission to be a success, he must turn to Mia, a woman who Jack isn't entirely certain will work in his best interests. "Mia" is fast paced and fun blend of romance and spy thriller, very much recommended.
The Clue Phone's Ringing
Christine K. Clifford
9781848290655, $14.95, www.divorcingdivas.net
Divorce should never be accepted as the end. "The Clue Phone's Ringing" is a book of humor for women who are trying to overcome their recent divorces and can feel like the entire world has betrayed them. With positive wisdom throughout that advises readers to find their way to move on, live the life, and most importantly, laugh. "The Clue Phone's Ringing" is a strong pick for those who want to be relieved with the burden of their former husband off their shoulders.
Zafire & Angels
T. Zafire Moon
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781463402556, $13.49, www.authorhouse.com
For some, their worth can come in helping others. "Zafire & Angels" is a memoir from T. Zafire Moon, who writes of her own journey from feeling as if she lacked worth and finding something worth revering in her life. She details her journey to creating the Zafire Bridge that seeks to help students struggling with burden and the pressures of life, to help them realize life is better than they think. "Zafire & Angels" is a heartwarming read, very much recommended.
On Joanna Russ
Farah Mendlesohn, ed.
Wesleyan University Press
215 Long Lane
Middletown, CT 06459
The thing I like best about this collection of sixteen essays is that they function as a portal into the rich and multi-faceted life of Joanna Russ as teacher, critic, editor and ground breaking feminist science fiction writer. I also like the way some of the essays include enough tantalizing personal details to give us insight into the grounding assumptions of Russ' activism. Paraphrasing her own words: She was tired that 'guys got all the good stuff.'
All the essays are very good, well structured, current, and timely, and the best of them takes the reader transparently to Russ, in a hermeneutic sense, so that one almost feels as if the author has diminished and Joanna Russ is speaking directly to us. Time and space do not allow me to do justice to all the individual essays, but rather I think it works best if the essays talk among themselves and dialogue around the central core of Russ' life and work. Yet that central core is necessarily illusive and even subjective, depending on the reader. Simply because Joanna Russ' creative life and work really stretches across seven decades, from the time she enrolled in Cornell University as a fifteen-year-old freshman (in the last years of the Truman administration and during the" Korean Police Action") right up to the second decade of the 21st century.
What a time for a gifted young mind to come of age in the United States of America, during the Cold War, and the Red Scare. The best of times if you were a well educated white protestant male and, and the worst of times for anybody at the margins because of something historians of revolution call "relative deprivation" when sexual diversity was medicalized into perversity and civil rights were a cruel joke to anyone who lacked white Northern European privilege. It was a time in which science fiction writer and Editor Frederick Pohl referred to science fiction publishing as the only free press in America.
I feel that it is critical at least make mention of the organizational structure of the collection with the essay titles and names of the contributors at the end of this review, since, to borrow David Hartwell's concept of the church of science fiction, one does not simply preach to the choir, but also to the benches in the back of the church. Many of the essayists are recognizable as major figures both in science fiction criticism, and inter-disciplinary scholarship. Some like Gary Wolfe and of course Samuel Delany, along with Russ herself, have been around since the start and contributed to the development of science fiction as a legitimate field of formal academic study, setting the scholarly parameters for the field.
Editor Farah Mendlesohn has done a fine job in selecting her contributors. The book appeals to a broad readership, as in Sandra Lindow's "Kittens Who Run with Wolves: Healthy Girl Development in Joanna Russ's Kittatiny." Among others this essay should appeal to the progressive professional educator as a useful tool in order to expand the scope of empowerment and coming of age narratives available to girls and young women, in order that an exclusive" heteronormalcy" does not appear as the only manner in which one may live happily ever after. In an eerie sense this essay evoked an answer I got from a now sadly departed non-violent, gay rights activist who simply could not find any positive identity that he could relate to in American mainstream media.
I agree with Lindow and would paraphrase her to say Russ engages in a kind of socially necessary labor when she creates other good stories with positive options for and roles for girls and young women. Samuel R. Delany, whose work also appears in this collection, put it another way at a lecture at U of Wisconsin-Madison in 1977. Delany called for narratives in which transgressions against "heteronormalcy," were not punished by slavery madness or death. One must remember that this was at a time when any sexual activity which was not "heterosexually normal" was still criminalized nearly everywhere, and it was only in 1973 that homosexuality was no longer consider by the DSM to be a mental disorder, and not until 1986 that it was removed as a sexual orientation disorder.
I found Sherryl Vint's "Joanna Russ's The Two of Them in an Age of Third Wave Feminism," a very timely and informative discussion of the evolving conversations in feminist theory as they related to what she refers to as "the troubling pessimism of The Two of Them," particularly in the way she summarizes and makes accessible the positions of the major participants in the discussions between second and third wave feminism and then brings it back to Russ' work, with its troubling lack of reconciliation. I find the erotically displayed bodies of female murder victim on such mainstream media shows as Criminal Minds and Law and Order: SVU far more disturbing than the ending of The Two of Them, and the figures quoted on nearly every campus about the persistence of sexual violence with little or no consequence to perpetrators makes me think long and hard, about third wave claims of progress when acts of sexual violence continue to function as a mechanism of patriarchal oppression, and victims face explicit, and implicit threats of violence, if not every day, still in far too many instances.
I found Samuel R. Delany's "Joanna Russ and D.W. Griffith," quite troubling because of my recent of study D.W Griffith's 1915 film Birth of a Nation as an instrument in the matrix of racial violence, oppression, and murder, and a defense and call to arms for the Ku Klux Klan, particularly in the case of the Tulsa Race War of 1921. Of course Delany uses another D.W Griffith film Intolerance (1916) to make his points of comparison between Russ and Griffith's use of female heroes in an effective way. The part I like the best about the essay was the glimpses that Delany gives us of Russ as a tall, vibrant, and creative young woman at Cornell in the fifties. I cannot help but wonder if she ever took a course from Nabokov at Cornell or ever went out on a blind date with Thomas Pynchon who was her classmate.
Gary K. Wolfe's essay "Alyx Among the Genres," does much to ground Joanna Russ' early career as what we used to call a working writer, well accustomed to genre conventions, and yet still able through her guile, craft, and talent to expand the readers' horizons of expectations . This was at time when science fiction writing was a way of earning at least a paltry living rather than as it is now in the second decade of the 21st when, for most, writing is either a kind avocation or a way of accumulating academic social capital and greasing the tenure track as it were. For all but perhaps a couple score of writers it's hard to believe that before the collapse of the slick magazines market in the late 1950's and early 1960's a writer like Kurt Vonnegut could actually make a living selling a handful of short stories in a year. Wolfe has done us a service as he gives us excerpts from her 1969 story "Second Inquisition" to make his point, which, at least for me, gets me back to reading the complete story.
The last essay in the collection, "The Narrative Topology of Resistance in the Fiction of Joanna Russ" by Brian Charles Clark, was for me the most eye opening, because it reminded me of the economy of language and political power of genre fiction. It did so by drawing on a scene from John le Carre's Little Drummer Girl, both book and film, where a PLO fighter claimed that the only difference between PLO bombings and Israeli state-sponsored reprisals was that the PLO could not afford high tech delivery systems, like missiles, drones, jets, or tanks. I also think that, using Brian Charles Clark's analytical framework, I finally understand Russ as an anti-colonial writer, in the deepest ecological sense, much in contrast with some of her early contemporaries like Clifford Simak in his short story "Beachead". I would like to see this essay expanded into a book.
I will close by disagreeing with Paul Kincaid's SF Site review of On Joanna Russ. In addressing anger, he called her an ideologue in a pejorative sense. But in a way if we liberate the word and use it in the manner of Noam Chomsky in his book Understanding Power, that is as a lever of power, why not then call her an ideologue of liberation in the Frankfort School sense Kincaid also thought that this collection was the best we could do until more of Russ came back into print. I think, based on the feedback I have gotten from some very bright undergraduate women who have never heard of Russ, that this collection should help, and would be a nice core around which to build a seminar or an honors undergraduate course.
To be sure you get a rounded picture of the essays and essayists, here's a list of the contents.
SECTION ONE: CRITICISM AND COMMUNITY: Alyx Among the Genres, Gary K. Wolfe; Russ of Writing Science Fiction, and Reviewing It, Edward James; A History of One's Own: Joanna Russ and the Creation of a Feminist Science Fiction Tradition, Lisa Yaszek; The Female 'Atlas' of Science Fiction? Russ, feminist and the SF community, Helen Merrick; Learning the 'Prophet Business': The Merrill-Russ Intersection, Dianne Newell and Jenea Tallentire
SECTION TWO: FICTION Joanna Russ's The Two of Them in an Age of Third Wave Feminism, Sherryl Vint; Assassin or Avenger-Vandal or Vigilante? Anger, Alienation and Escape Strategies in Joanna Russ's The Two of Them, Pat Wheeler; Les human beans? Alienation, Humanity and Community in Joanna Russ's On Strike Against God, Keridwen Luis; Kittens Who Run With Wolves: Healthy Girl Development in Joanna Russ's Kittatiny, Sandra Lindow; Medusa Laughs: Birds, Thieves, and Other Unruly Women, Andrew M. Butler; Violent Women, Womanly Violence: Joanna Russ's Femmes Fatales, Jason Vest; The 'Opposed Aesthetic' in Mina Loy and Joanna Russ, Paul March-Russell; Joanna Russ and D.W. Griffith, Samuel R. Delany; Extraordinary People, Graham Sleight; Castaway: Carnival and Sociobiological Satire in We Who Are About To..., Tess Williams; The Narrative Topology of Resistance in the Fiction of Joanna Russ, Brian Charles Clark
As should be apparent from the essayists' names, if not the essay titles, this collection deserves the attention of anyone interested in the history of women and science fiction as well as in the works of Joanna Russ.
Sublime Dreams of Living Machines: The Automaton in the European Imagination
Harvard University Press
79 Garden Street Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA
0674049357 price $ 39.95
When reading or writing a review of this sort, one sometimes finds it helpful to check out what others have to say about the item. In the process of checking the reception of Sublime Dreams of Living Machines, the phrase "broadly synthetic" frequently turned up. The term was used in a strongly positive sense when applied to Minsoo King's work, particularly if used in a broad Hegelian sense so that its timely historical present contains something of the past and future and also exists in the luminal space between them.
Minsoo Kang approach is demanding because it requires viewing his subject from an Archimedean perspective since he is covering the better part of three millenniums of European thought and history and looking at the automaton not so much as an entity but as a cultural product of that thought. If this approach is not done with style elegance and, most of all, self-confidence, it quickly falls prey to accusations of European logo-centrism and gets lost in the self referential semiotic language games of a reductionist postmodernism. Minsoo King is up to the task. King not only has a kind of Renaissance familiarity with the scope of his study, but intends to do the ground breaking work for others by mapping an emergent field at a very grand historical scale. This allows him to write an evolving conceptual history of the automaton, "a machine that mimics a living being as an idea in the European imagination," from the time of Hero of Alexandria right up to depictions of revolts of the machines in the 21st century.
King's book contains seven chapters, including "The Power of the Automaton"; "Between Magic and Mechanics: The Automaton in The Middle Ages and the Renaissance"; "The Man-machine in the World - machine, 1637-1748"; From the Man- machine to the Automaton-man, 1748-1793"; "The Uncanny Automaton, 1789-1833";"The Living Machines of the Industrial Age" ; and finally, "The Revolt of the Robots, 1914- 1935." It becomes clear that each chapter could be a study in itself, and one suspects that there will be more work done in this area in the 21st century as the boundaries between what is and what mimics a living being break down.
One would expect nothing less than that from Professor Minsoo Kang whose vita is both inter disciplinary and fascinating, especially in the academic world of the 21st century where many younger academics, particularly in the area history, tend to speak with trepidation outside of their own area of specialty. In addition to his academic work, Minsoo Kang is a successful fantasy writer, and this shows in his ability to give his readers what they need to understand the conceptual frame work that grounds his study. In a way, he gives us a refresher course in European intellectual history cultural production and material culture, drawing on current research. Thus, those of us who have removed ourselves from the field for a while (perhaps even a generation) may ramp ourselves up. His introduction is also a roadmap for the body of his work, something the reader with less than total familiarity with European intellectual history and cultural production will find gratifying.
For example, he compares and contrasts attitudes of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance presented in chapter two with those presented in chapter three. In the first period, science and magic are not highly differentiated, yet in the second there is a wall between them. However, the concepts of automation and the automaton, as Kang suggests, are highly adaptive and exist as a different iteration in each historical periodization he presents.
Kang concisely applies Freud's theory of the uncanny to the origins of our discomfort and ambivalence towards the automaton, which seems to exist in the liminal space between human and non-human. Yet at the same time, he is a story teller willing to draw from his own anecdotal experiences. For instance, he describes watching a little girl interact with a human impersonating a Robot. The human impersonator becomes most disturbing as a human who acts unhuman, alternately freezing and then animating himself. Finally, the girl runs off in frivolous dread, two terms that, in a sense, embody our attitude toward the uncanny and the liminal boundaries between human and machine. Minsoo also points out how the term machine, at least when used to describe human performance, is usually a positive or even a superlative. An android, on the other hand, is usually depicted as comic or grotesque and often graceless as he invites the reader to test his conceptual model against the fabric of their own experience.
Because the mission of our organization, the Science Fiction Research Association, is both international and interdisciplinary, I highly recommend Sublime Dreams of Living Machines: The Automaton in the European Imagination to our membership. I also think its thought provoking content and timely nature makes it a "must-read" for any research, college, or public library.
Animating Space: From Mickey To Wall.E
University of Kentucky Press
663 South Limestone Street Lexington, KY 40508
0813125863 Price $40.00
J.P .Telotte is a professor of literature and communication and culture at Georgia Institute of Technology. He has also has a number of major contributions to the subject of the fantastic and science fiction film to his credit. His timely book is both a historical study of animation and a means of giving theoretical grounding to it as a product of a cultural industry that has its roots in the late 19th Century and has morphed (as Frederic Jamison might say) its way into the second decade of the 21st.
It is also an excellent and entertaining read, and unlike much criticism I have recently come upon, does not lose its object of study in its attempt at critical tour de-force, thus it is both academic and interesting, something we could use a lot more of. J.P. Telotte starts before the beginning with his chapter" Early Animation of Figures and Spaces" then moves from Winsor "McKay's Warped Spaces" to "Ub Iwerks (Multi) Plane Camera," to "Looking in on Life" and then finally "The Digital Effects of the New Highbred cinema," with a number of fascinating chapters in between.
He covers his subject in a historical and critical manner in that reflects his familiarity with the Frankfort school approach to popular media, though he does not limit himself to its strictures, or its deprecating approach to the American popular culture. For example, I was delighted to find that the epic Soviet film maker, Sergei Eisenstein took Walt Disney quite seriously. Eisenstein refers to Disney "as an upheaval, a unique protest against the metaphysical immobility of the once- and -forever given" (64). Nor does he ignore the importance of eleven decades of technological advance, now driven, I will note, by the process of accumulated and accelerating computer processing power articulated by "Moore's law," which indicates processing power has doubled at constant cost every eighteen months (since 1966) with no end in sight, an issue I will be addressing more extensively in the forthcoming anthology, Picturing Tolkien.
Telotte is made particularly relevant and timely since social media networks like YouTube allow us to engage in a kind of collaborative effort with him and his text. He draws us to his historical, artistic exemplars, and discusses market and technological driven change, and the individuals and artists that were both its product and its agents from the start.
For example the illustration from page fifty with the caption, "A submarine periscope produces a threatening space in Winsor McKay's The Sinking of the Lusitania (1918)" acted as a pointer to take us to the cartoon itself on YouTube which on an essential level, still carries the great emotional impact of 1150 lives lost to two torpedo's from German submarine U39 less than a half hour within sight of the coast of Ireland.
Even ninety five years after the event, t this first example of a technology enhanced wholesale murder of civilians maintains poignancy in way that stress the limits of verbal or typographic expression. Incidentally within the body of the cartoon itself we are reminded by Winsor McKay that The Sinking of the Lusitania "involved the making and photographing of over twenty five thousand drawings", for its ten minute sequence.
I was captivated by Chapter 7,"What's UP- and Down-Doc, "(note 3 page 161,) in which Telotte shares with us producer Chuck Jones's reaction to his 1957 cartoon What's Opera Doc?,featuring Elmer Fudd as a Wagnerian hero, and Bugs Bunny as his betraying temptress. He quotes Jones as saying, "we took the entire Ring of the Niebelungen, which runs I believe sixteen hours ...and condensed it into a six minute picture, a chestnut stew, and (a peasant dish to please aristocrats). Yes as we watch What's Opera Doc on You Tube, we must agree that Chuck Jones made a parody of Wagner- in Wagnerian proportions. As Bugs says, "its opera what did you expect, a happy ending?"
On a sub textual level in his later chapters, Telotte causes one to reflect on how the demarcation line between the real and the imagined in media has transformed itself across the century long course of his study. He causes me to reflect that frontier has become as permeable as Berlin Wall in its last weeks before it fell in 1989. For those of us who can remember it feels like we are living inside a Philip K. Dick Novel.
The book has something for everyone from the precocious high school student enchanted from his families' last visit to The Magic Kingdom, to a student of the last days of 21st Century neo-liberal global visual rhetoric who wonders how we have come to love the ELECTRIC ECOMAGINATION DANCING ELEPHANT a corporate non-verbal spokes animal who is now dancing across all our screens morphed into an infinite house of mirrors and colonizing what used to be the real.
Heir of Danger
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781439170380, $7.99, www.amazon.com
Following the murder of his father seven years ago, Brendan Douglas fled Ireland and remained on the run. He left behind Elizabeth Fitzgerald at the altar to flee assassins while unable to leave behind the horror that haunts his every moment.
Finally, Brendan knows he ran out of time as he must prevent Maelodor the malevolent mage from raising King Arthur from the grave and destroying the world. To do so means retrieving the stone he left behind with his beloved Elizabeth who Brendan believes loathes him; she insists she does detest the dis-honorable one. He arrives in Dun Eyre, Ireland as his Lissie is set to marry Gordon Shaw. To keep her safe, Brendan abducts Lissie though the risk is that she will be in the midst of the fight, but he also needs her when he challenges the evil one.
The third Heirs of Kilronan Regency romantic fantasy (see the Earl of Darkness and the Lord of Shadows) is a terrific tale in which readers will believe they have been transported to 186 Ireland where mortals and Fey reside. The lead couple is a wonderful second chance at love tale; that is if they survive. Fans will appreciate the dark, fervid and deadly Rickloff mythos as the latest Douglas sibling and soul mate battle against impossible odds.
In the Land of the Faerie in 1294 human time, Elesyria is hysterical when she learns her only daughter Isabella vanished in the World of Man. The Earth Mother tells her that her offspring lives with her SoulMate but not in the time and place Elesyria left her. Heeding the advice of the Goddess she crosses into the World of Man seeking the Tinklers to find out who aided her child.
Clan MacGahan Laird Malcolm MacDowylt feels doomed as the old gods of Asgard must constantly test his mettle. His spouse Isabella is dead and his sister Christiana is held captive by their half-brother Torquil who demands homage and silver from Clan MacGahan. Finally to drive him crazy the old gods send him the untamable shrew Elesyria.
Orphaned very young, Danielle Dearmon of Texas believes fairies are real. Her belief proves correct when she is sent back the Earth Mother seven centuries to Castle MacGahan. She thinks her host the laird is her one true love while he feels guilty how much he wants the opinionated newcomer. Dani's magic enables Malcolm to survive the ordeal of his odious sibling while her love emboldens him to take the fight to the enemy as he begins to understand Christiana's destiny.
The latest Melissa Mayhue's marvelous magical mayhem (see Highlander's Curse) is a superb time travel fantasy romance starring a twenty-first century Texan and a besieged thirteenth century Highlander-Viking. The fresh story line is fast-paced as Malcolm in the middle as the victim of two kick butt tongue lashers that make his abusive evil half-brother seem like a non in comparison. Readers will enjoy this otherworld medieval thriller.
The Pleasure of Your Kiss
In 1834, Clarinda Cardew sails from England to marry her fiance Lord Dravenwood, Max Burke in spite of the fact her future brother-in-law Captain Ashton Burke was her first love who deserted her for a fortune. However, Corsair pirates attacked her ship and sold her to a sultan in El Jadida. No ransom has been asked by the sultan. Max rescues his wastrel brother from certain death for cuckolding a powerful sultan. In return he asks Ash to rescue his fiancee Clarinda offering an exorbitant reward, the girl who tormented Ash as a child and he loved as a young adult.
Ash and his sidekick Luca rescue the sultan Zin al-Farouk from assassins. He recognizes the sultan as Frankie from his Eton days. Farouk takes the pair into his palace where his Uncle Tarik shows his disdain for the foreigners. Upon first sight, Ash knows he still wants Clarinda. She on the other hand asks her beloved Farouk why he allows rogues in his home.
The Pleasure of Your Kiss is an entertaining nineteenth century historical romance with an offbeat setting as no one will look at cucumbers in the same way. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Ash realizes who he is to rescue and never slows as the pair fall in love while on a desert adventure. Although much of the support cast is stereotyped and readers will know who the enemy is, fans will appreciate Teresa Medeiros' sensational second chance romance.
In 1878 business mogul Rab Trudeau arrives from San Francisco in Virginia City, Nevada. He poses as a Great Western Detective Agency investigator; a firm he owns. He wants to know who is responsible for illegal silver mine stock dealings as reported by a B.D. Elliot about his Silver Falcon Mine in the Virginia City Pioneer.
Rab rescues reporter Susanna Ward Kirkland from a runaway wagon. They are attracted to one another although he refuses her request for an interview even as accidents seem to be the norm for the newcomer. As they fall in love while trying to solve the mysteries of the mine and the accidents, Rab's Nob Hill fiance Margaret Worthington and Susanna's future mate Jesse Kirkland the son of the man who rescued her as a child, refuse to give up their intended.
This is a superb Americana romance starring a strong cast especially the lead couple in a vivid setting. The story line focuses on silver fever and the complicated relationship between the affluent businessman with a haunting New Orleans past and the orphan. Fans will enjoy Sara Luck's fabulous late nineteenth century tale of avarice, honor and love.
Moonlight in the Morning
They met when she was nineteen and though he was attracted to her, Dr. Tristan Aldredge felt Jecca Layton was too young for him. A few years later, he is excited that Jecca will spend the summer painting at her BFF Kim's house in his hometown of Edilean, Virginia. She reciprocates his feelings especially in the dark.
As the town doctor and the Manhattan art gallery employee fall in love, each knows their career stands in the way of a permanent relationship. She resides in New Jersey and works in New York where a major opportunity has come her way. He resides in Virginia as the small town's physician since his father retired. Their passion for each other may not be enough to overcome their passion for their respective occupations.
The latest Edilean contemporary romance (see Heartwishes and The Scent of Jasmine) is an engaging charming tale between geographically impaired lovers. The story line is made fresh by the support cast like Kim and Tristan's parents who bring love and friendship into the story line. With a surprising final twist, fans will enjoy spending Moonlight in the Morning (and a lot of darkness time) in Edilean.
Jayne Heller realizes her recent victories against more powerful paranormal creatures (see Darker Angels and Vicious Grace) is improbably at best and impossible at most likely. She considers why she has such powers that she adeptly deploys in spite of only recently learning her affluent uncle's occultism.
Jayne believes a rider demon possesses her, in which a second rider effect is kicking butt. Needing help, Jayne turns to Ex the former priest who she trusts with her soul; that is if she still has a soul. Agreeing with her assertion, Ex knows the rider must be removed before his friend loses everything. In New Mexico, he takes Jayne on a journey to locate his teacher and his friends so they can exorcize the rider before it's too late. However, when the rite failed, Jayne finds her friends hunting her to kill her and the demon while another rider is nearby ready to take control if her current demon is removed from her. Realistically Jayne knows her only comrades in arms are the beast inside her and a vampiric exile she saved.
The latest Black Sun's Daughter urban fantasy is a gothic atmospheric introspective thriller in which the heroine has less fights and more time looking inside her soul. Jayne is terrific as she fears an evil rider owns her. Although the action is somewhat abated especially compared to the previous entries, fans will enjoy It Happened to Jayne, a creative and tantalizing urban fantasy thriller.
c/o Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781439183724, $25.00, www.amazon.com
While her family friend "Uncle" Nicco Marino is away, Detroit police detective Micayla "Mick" Lange house-sits his estate on New Year's Eve. A noise awakens her from the nightmare of her mom's murder. Mick investigates the sounds coming from Nicco's office. With her gun in hand, she catches Jason Davis, who thought the house was vacant for the holidays.
Mick sees the incriminating photos of the murders of Edward Lightfoot and his family. She realizes that the security cameras have caught her and Davis looking at the pictures. Knowing what that means, Mick and Jason take money from the safe and flee to the state's remote wilderness. Meanwhile Nicco's henchmen led by his security chief pursue them.
This an exhilarating romantic suspense as the lead couple play cat and mouse against a diabolical deadly criminal and his horde. Fast-paced throughout, the protagonists fall in love while on the lam, but they have no time for a respite as the enemy keeps on coming. Although why Nicco would ask anyone, especially a cop even if he loves her family, to baby-sit his house as he has super security who should have been the ones there, fans will appreciate Karen Robards' taut thriller.
World of Warcraft: Wolfheart
Richard A. Knaak
Fleeing Gilneas, the Worgen plead with the Alliance to accept them as a member. Filled with guilt over the Worgen Curse, Malfurion supports their position. However, King Varian opposes their entry and wants their ruler Genn dead. Although the monarch struggles with the recent merging of his two personas, the king has a short memory of Gilneas' role during the Second and Third Wars when they hid behind the Wall while Scourge devastated Lordaeron and the Forsaken conquered that kingdom.
At the same time the Highborne seek the Night Elf community who accepts them as an equal. Instead of being allowed to join, a serial killer assassinates the Highborne. Back from the Outland following the Illidan incident, Maiev investigates the murders.
Although the key characters act inconstantly and make strange decisions (one could claim they were under magical stress), Wolfheart is an interesting World of Warcraft sword and sorcery fantasy. The story line contains several more subplots than those above, but the theme predominantly is to join or not to join. Richard A. Knaak provides an overall solid entry with this Warcraft thriller.
Knit One Pearl One
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9781401341671, $14.99, www.amazon.com
In Broadgate, England, Jo Mackenzie is the mother of three children (Archie, Jack, and toddler Pearl); all from different fathers. She runs her Gran's knitting shop and co-owns a tea cafe with her friend, Connie. Her Gran and Connie's niece Cinzia help her with the kids.
Since Pearl's father internal photographer Daniel Fitzgerald is gone from her life, she considers recently divorced woodworker Martin "Dovetail" Trent as she likes him. However Daniel returns to take her and the kids on a vacation. She must make up her mind and choose one and leave the other behind.
The latest Broadgate Beach Street drama (see The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club, and Needles and Pearls) is an amusing tale starring a single mom running a business while seeking a social life. Jo remains an engaging supermom and energetic entrepreneur while the support cast enhances the somewhat thin but entertaining story line. Although there is no growth for Jo or anyone else, fans of the series will enjoy sipping tea and knitting one pearl at a time.
The Mulligans of Mt. Jefferson
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9781434764942, $14.99, www.amazon.com
In the 1930s the fifth graders Cal Vaxter and Harlan Stone were BFFs who were losing a fight to sixth graders. Buddy Briggs intervened. They became the Three Musketeers.
By 1959, Cal the Methodist Preacher was separated from his beloved Elle and their children; Harlan, married to Darcy with twin teenagers, ran the family store Stone Jewelers; Buddy the police lieutenant is married to Amanda with their teenage daughter married and pregnant. A masked intruder invades Harlan's home and shoots the owner in front of Darcy while the twins are away at Boy Scouts Camp. Harlan is rushed to Mt. Jefferson while Buddy investigates the shooting and Cal tries to provide comfort to his severely wounded friend and his wife.
Returning to Mt. Jefferson (see O Little Town), Don Reid provides an insightful look at family and friendship inside of an engaging historical police procedural. The story line is leisurely paced to enable the readers to obtain a deep look at the three BFFs in 1959 small-town Virginia. The Mulligans (as Mr. Vic calls the lead trio) are sort of Venn diagrams with various people inside the mostly overlapping circles. With an intriguing twisting climax, fans will enjoy a glimpse back in time in which Mr. Reid showcases friendship without social media while Buddy works the case and Cal the soul.
The Other Guy's Bride
c/o Amazon Imprints
9781612181448, $14.99, www.amazon.com
In 1897 Lady Althea lies about her grandson and heir driving away Charlotte who she thinks is not good enough to one day replace her. Her angry grandson leaves England, becomes Jim Owen and joins the Foreign Legion while his grandmother grooms his younger brother to become the duke. Jim fears he will soon be dead at the hands of Mahdists so he vows to never act stupid again due to a woman.
In 1905, Egyptologist student Genisse Braxton quits her job as a researcher to Professor Tyneborough when he rejected her belief she found a clue to the location of the lost city of Zerzura. Mildred Whimpelhall becomes seasick on her journey to meet her fiance, Colonel Lord Pomfrey, Commander of Fort Gordon in the Sahara near Genisse's destination. Mildred leaves the ship to take a train while Genisse in Cairo becomes Miss Whimpelhall to obtain a guide. Her escort to her "fiance" is Jim who owes Pomfrey a favor for saving his life in 1897. "Mildred" leaves with Jim who flees Cairo after a fight with the dangerous LeBoeuf. While "Mildred" lands into one perilous situation after another, in Cairo two groups follow the pair with different agendas
This is a great Edwardian era romantic adventure starring a brave woman who seems to be a trouble magnet and a confused man caught in the dilemma of how does a "ghost" deal with falling in love with The Other Guy's Bride. Fast-paced and loaded with action this outstanding tale also contains delightful light humor enhancing the insightful look at living one's life to fulfill your desires or your perception of your family's. Readers will envision Hepburn-Grant teaming up in Connie Brockway's fabulous historical.
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781451637618, $25.00, www.amazon.com
In mid June 1944 Germany, an American air raid turns into a dogfight with German planes. The battle is fierce; frightened twentyish First Lieutenant Paul Phips flies away from the fight. The Americans need to release their bombs to preserve fuel for the return trip. They drop a cluster on a group of buildings, unaware that they kill Hitler and his inner command.
SS leader Heinrich Himmler becomes head of the Third Reich. He methodically eliminates those fanatically loyal and connected to Hitler as he cements his control. Himmler also liberates his generals allowing them to fight the war without Hitler's tether. The allies, especially Great Britain, are weary from years of war. Many decide that Chamberlain not Churchill was right and push for a negotiated peace with Germany as the enemy has the atomic bomb, the American's great leader FDR is dead and his replacement had only a few weeks to get up to speed.,. However Harry S. Truman proves he has the mettle as he tries to rally the Grand Alliance to continue the fight knowing now that the Americans have superior weaponry.
Fans of Robert Conroy's alternate history Red Inferno thrillers (1945, 1942, 1901 and 1862) and Harry Turtledove's War that Came Early saga will fully relish this terrific tale that pivots with the death of Hitler just after the Normandy Invasion. The fighting is seen through the eyes of the grunts on the ground and in the air. They die and lose limbs while the leadership from the comfort in DC, London and Berlin makes policy that kill or maim millions. The key to this superb tale is the flow of events following Hitler's death seems plausible.
A Bertram Chandler
"Star Courier." Former Federation Survey Service Commander John Grimes establishes the Far Traveler Couriers. As owner and solo operator he makes deliveries from his home base of Tiralbin to Boggarty on board his Little Sister vessel until the Shaara capture him and display him as a low level beast.
"To Keep the Ship." Little Sister remains under arrest to be auctioned to pay Grimes' fines on Pangst for taking native animals to the New Syrtis Zoo. Grimes needs money so he takes the tedious job on the Bronson Star. However, when he rescues Susie and her friends; they reciprocate by taking over the cruiser and threatening to kill him unless he cooperates.
"Matilda's Stepchildren." On the Bronson Star, Grimes transport muckraker Fenella Pruin so that she can do a story on the sex industry of Venusberg. The pair mutually detest one another though the boring voyage is made fun by fighting for top potion. Grimes ends up in the midst of a clean-up operation and meets Underpeople Shirl & Darleen
"Star Loot." After Little Sister is sold, Grimes buys Epsilon Scorpii; which he rechristens as Sister Sue. He joins the El Doradan Navy as a privateer.
The third exciting John Grimes omnibus saga (see To The Galactic Rim and First Command) reprints his adventures as a Galactic Courier. There is somewhat a sameness in tone as Grimes meets females fatales who "help" him step into the crosshairs of dangerous rogues. The best two tales are the fresh Star Courier in which Grimes starts his new career and Star Loot in which much of what is going on is deftly tied together with an exciting climax. Fans of Grimes will relish his time as a courier.
Governor-General Chintawa seeks the only female Cobra Jin Moreau Broom. Her second son Lorne pretends ignorance though he knows his mom and older brother Merrick illegally fought on the side of the Qasamans against the Troft invaders (see Cobra Alliance). Merrick remains on Qasama receiving treatment for severe injuries while Jin travels with Siraj Akim the Qasaman Djinn to Aventine. Chintawa assigns Lorne to find his mother; he also directs his new assistant Nissa Gendreves to help him.
Troft ships arrive at Aventine where they release deadly spine leopards. Meanwhile a family reunion on Caelian occurs as the Cobra and the Qasaman become tentative allies in the hostilities against the Troft who are not entirely monolithic combative as the Cobra World Council previously thought.
The Cobra War Book 2 (see Cobra Alliance) is a terrific military science fiction rale as the conflict with the Qasaman has somewhat abated due to the heroism of the mother-son team. The Troft show a schism as not all their houses are behind a second war. Although the characterizations are very thin, the Jin-Siraj relationship is fascinating. Still with plenty of personal courage, fans of the saga will enjoy the latest escapades of those deployed in space military soldiers.
The Ata Bita Pie Cafe: Advice is Free
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463517359, $9.99, www.amazon.com
After divorcing her controlling cheating spouse Blake the flake, Casey left Seattle and their beloved high school senior son Wyatt to run the Ata Bita Pie Cafe in her hometown of Hannigan's Cove near Sacramento. Her internationally famous brother Jake the photographer returns home because he wants a second chance with Widow Nora who he deserted years ago. Nora considers insemination of her kind late husband Ethan's sperm; but wants nothing to do with Jake who hurt her. Ralph loves his wife Gloria, a waitress at the cafe; but though she cares for him she misses her wanderlust road days. Zack has loved Casey for years and hopes for a first time around, as he comes home from Alaska to be with his twelve year old daughter Kayla and his very ill former wife Mary. Elderly Miss Birdie the pie lady has a secret she has been warned not to share with anyone while seventeen year old Echo is an abuse victim of her uncle when he gets intoxicated. Advice is free at the cafe, but anyone who stops learns there is a cost when loving caring relationships form.
This is a warm tender relationship drama starring a strong ensemble cast with the interconnecting hubs being Casey, Nora and to a lesser degree Gloria. The character driven story line engages the readers as the audience follows the highs and lows of each player. Although the next generation (Wyatt, Echo, Kayla and later on Emma) are too precocious, fans will enjoy the lives of the sandwich generation as they form deep second chance at love bonds while caring for one another and the seniors and youngsters they cherish.
La Belle Christiane
In 1774 after fleeing France with her aristocratic Irish dad following the murder of her courtesan mother, Christiane Pelletier finds herself in British Canada being sold to the highest bidder by her Algonquin "father" Shaw-nee-awk-kee who rescued her when her dad died. While the French bid for her, His Majesty's Army Captain John Eastham intercedes, but after insuring her compliance allows the bride sale to occur. She marries Jean Claude Belmond while thinking how far one trained to serve royals has fallen and what happened to John.
In 1776, fleeing violence again Christiane, accompanied by her newborn Jean Claude, travels to Rumsveld Village. Jakob Kruger wants the lovely widow whose husband she claims died from a bear attack. Christiane is confused when Jakob, Tom and others discuss Washington's army jut outside Boston as that is quite a distance from this Western New York Colony settlement. She becomes Mts. Kruger while a massacre devastates the villagers. Forced to leave her son behind, she travels to Pennsylvania where she meets her Captain John. A pregnant Christiane soon finds herself in Mount Vernon with General Washington's wife Martha.
Book one of the Patriots and Seekers Revolutionary War era thriller is a great tale due to a strong cast and held together by a wonderful brave protagonist. Readers obtain a taste of life in the rebellious colonies through the trials and triumphs of courageous Christiane. Lyn Cote writes an engaging saga as epic events sweep La Belle Christiane struggling to survive the tsunami of war.
The House At Tyneford
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780452297647, $15.00, www.amazon.com
In 1938, Nazi encroachment into Austria makes it unsafe to be a Jew even in Vienna. Nineteen year old Elise Landau leaves her family and her privileged lifestyle to accept a position as a maid at The House at Tyneford.
Miserable as she misses her mother the opera star, her father the novelist and her sister, Elise is bitter at what has happened to her. Instead of dancing at galas and being served by servants, she serves drinks. While she struggles with being an outsider due to her previous social status and her religion, Elise fails to free her family. While the war comes to England, Elise and the Tyneford heir Kit fall in love, but he feels obligated to join the Royal Navy.
This is a strong WWII era drama starring a wonderful displaced protagonist who goes from anger at what happened to her and her family to contentment at Tyneford. The cast is solid especially the protagonist who keeps the discerning story line focused. Readers will root for Elise to meet up with her loved ones though chances are slim as the Nazis eradicated centuries of tradition; there is no longer a "Fiddler", but perhaps a glimmer of hope if a viola survives the Final Solution.
Magic, Murder and Microcircuits
c/o Amazon Imprints
Amazon Digital Services: B0060Y5IQ6; BN ID: 2940013212879, $1.99
Wizard Ilene McConnell travels to a North Carolina's Outer Banks Island to deliver a letter from her late father to exiled wizard Michael Morgan. The Diamond Council that she belongs to also wants her to learn what the loner is doing. As she muses sadly that twelve years ago he left her and her father without a word, she becomes under attack by powerful winds. Though not easily, Ilene makes it to Michael's home. However, soon afterward Jim the handyman is attacked. He is a private investigator spying on Michael. Jim gives them access to his information but is murdered.
Michael a brilliant physicist explains he is building a shield to protect him from magic having been the victim of organizational torture. However, his gizmo is stolen. After reading his former mentor's letter, with Ilene having his back, Michael begins a trek to retrieve his device that has the Diamond Council, the Ruby Council and other groups concerned with the balance of power. Their journey is filled with death, magical assaults and love.
The key to this great investigative urban fantasy is that magic seems real with Michael the physicist providing an intriguing scientific theory for how it works. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action as the lead couple search for the shield and who is killing anyone associated with his project. Karen McCullough writes an entreating thriller filled Magic, Murder and Microcircuits.
Dead Low Tide
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9781400063758, $25.00, www.amazon.com
Ten years ago in Charleston, South Carolina, then teenager Huger Dillard killed a man (see The Hunt Club). He remains traumatized as he suffers from PTSD leading to his dropping out of college and still living at the family home Landgrave Hall; his teenage girlfriend Tabitha Gaillard moved on with her life as she attends Stanford as a doctorate student.
At two in the morning in spite of the golf course being closed, Huger caddies for his blind father Unc. They arrive by boat, but finding the corpse of a woman ends their time on the links before it begins. Suddenly the marsh is loaded with activity as the cops and U.S. Naval Weapons Station operative arrive. When Huger returns home, he finds Naval Commander Prendergast with his mother. Meanwhile a dead male is found in the trunk of a car. Needing to know what is going on while wondering if his family is in peril, Huger snaps out of his doldrums to investigate the truth.
This is an entertaining second chance at life (if you live long enough) tale. The story line is at its best when the focus is on Huger still shut down after a decade has passed since his previous harrowing experience. When the story line turns into a standard thriller, Dead Low Tide loses some of its fascination as this seems of character for this sitting on the sidelines couch potato. Still fans will enjoy Huger's second coming if he survives his latest ordeal.
A Quiet Vendetta
The Overlook Press
141 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10012
9781590205082, $25.95, www.amazon.com
In New Orleans, someone kidnaps nineteen year old Catherine Ducane; the teen's bodyguard is brutally murdered. The NOPD reacts quickly as the victim is the teenage daughter of the state's Governor Charles Ducane.
The kidnapper Ernesto Perez fails to ask for money or governor-level request. Instead he notifies the FBI he wants to meet with Ray Hartmann, a minor bureaucrat in the New York district attorney's office. In exchange for this meeting, he will inform the Feds where Ducane is hidden. Perez informs Hartmann that he has been a mob hit-man for decades; he has been involved in at least 19 hits and recounts ties to Kennedy and Nixon. The FBI, the governor and the media wonder what Perez's secret agenda is and why he is picking to chat with a nonentity like Hartmann.
This is a great thriller that uses five decades of Mafia history in the Bronx, Manhattan, Vegas, Cuba and elsewhere as the background to a fascinating tale. Readers will be hooked from the moment Perez makes his demand known and will keep on reading until they learn what his agenda is and why. Perez and Hartmann are fully developed superb antagonists as this time the truth will set both of them free. A Quiet Vendetta is a superb and enthralling story.
How to Worship a Goddess
1935 Brookdale Road, #139
Naperville, IL 60563
9781402251504, $14.99, www.amazon.com
Lucy Aster happens to be Lusna the Etruscan Goddess of the Moon. She is a big hockey fan going to She goes to every Railers' game as she enjoys the gracefulness of the sport even at the minor leagues' level of her favorite team; as she has for the past two years. However, Lucy knows Brandon Stevenson born in 1976 as opposed to her two millennia plus life is the puck she follows.
Most fans are unaware that the players perform bird watching. Brand has only looked at one fan in the stands for the past two years. Feeling like a stalker, he finds her remote quaint bar, Brand and Lucy meet following her singing. They make love, but she erases his memory though he has quite a hangover. The next day while playing Trenton he is distracted because his goddess is not in her seat. After the game and a vicious hit, he works his way through last night and returns to the bar he should not have remembered. At the same time, an underground stalker plans to devour Lusna whose power is waning. However neither her hunter from hell or the Etruscan Goddess of the Moon factored in her brave soulmate; who is ready to do more than hip-check their opponent.
The latest Forgotten Goddesses (see What a Goddess Wants) is an entertaining amusing urban romantic fantasy starring two wonderful protagonists and a vile villain coming for her. The sex mixes enhance the improbable pair in love as he remains resolute as her defenseman against a seemingly invincible foe. Stephanie Julian writes a delightful twisting paranormal Stanley Cup winner.
Dreaming of the Wolf
In Breckenridge, Colorado, pack sub leader (to his older brother) Jake Silver stops at Cliffside Art Gallery to leave his latest popular photographs. However, the gallery is closed until later in the morning due to a family emergency. With time to waste, he notices a beautiful woman acting suspiciously before entering a restaurant. Jake follows her inside as she piqued his wolf. However, a brute accosts her and other brutes are outside. Unable to sit idly by, Jake enters the fray. He extracts her from the mess without a fight for now.
Alicia Greiston explains she is a bounty hunter after Danny Massaro and Mario Constantine as this case involves the mobsters who arranged the murder of her mother. Attracted to one another, Jake joins Alicia's quest. As they fall in love, they face the mob. At the same time the lovers wonder if they survive the gauntlet will their love endure too.
The latest exhilarating urban romantic werewolf thriller (see heart of the Highland Wolf) is a great entry starring a fabulous duet battling against mob goons. Filled with an intriguing paranormal twist, the queen of werewolf dramas Terry Spear provides a powerful tale as she makes her mythos seem real due to the author's blending of wolf pack culture into a great tale of love and war.
Demons Like It Hot
The Fore-Demons Council assigns Rafael DeLeon (see Demons Prefer Blondes) the Paladin as handler to Matthias Ambrose. Irate with the choice Matthias has personal reasons to object as DeLeon has ties to purebred caterer Serah SanGermano who has gotten under his skin. DeLeon informs the brooding Matthias his job is to protect his fiancee Lucy's BFF Serah SanGermano. Matthias considers Siberia instead of Connolly Park, but acquiesces.
Serah conceals her new supernatural skills that she finds as a nuisance rather than a convenience. She focuses on her try out for the American Chef IV reality show. Enter Matthias Ambrose, demon mercenary. Lucy arranged for Matthias to protect Serah, but her bodyguard wonders who will protect her from him. As they fall in love, they team up to try to save mankind.
This Demons Unleashed urban romantic fantasy is an engaging entry due to the wry banter between the lead couple; actually Serah is the protagonist who brings humor with her chats with her beloved demon and others to include some asides. Although the story line is slow for much of the first half, fans will enjoy Serah the chef and her demon lover cooking a tasty repast.
In the Bahamas, American lawyer Amelia Bailey knows how meaningless the Richter scale score is when an earthquake collapses a building on her and her newly adopted thirteen months old nephew, Joshua. Entombed she refuses to quit as she knows she needs to be there for the toddler.
Five years ago Air Force Pararescueman Master Sergeant Hugh Franco gave up on his own life; his mantra is "That others may live." He rescues Amelia and Joshua from the rubble. The adults are attracted to each other, but both gave up on relationships. However, as the aunt and her nephew heal in a ground zero tent hospital, a black market baby commodity exchange kidnaps the pair. Hugh goes after the trafficking ring as he has his first reason to live in five years while the enemy pursues them.
The second Elite Force romantic suspense (see Cover Me) is a complex exciting thriller with a strong cast. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing of two people refusing to dive into the cold relationship waters, so their hearts force them to take the plunge. The support characters are fully developed; the plot contains additional romances and the motivation behind the chief smuggler's trafficking enhancing the taut storyline. Catherine Mann provides a superb action-packed tale.
One Perfect Shot
Steven F. Havill
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590589564, $24.95, www.amazon.com
In 1987 in Posadas County, New Mexico, Sheriff Eduardo Salcido considers hiring nineteen year old Estelle Reyes-Guzman as a deputy. His Undersheriff Bill Gastner agrees to serve as the rookie's trainer and quickly becomes her mentor as he appreciates her energy and intelligence.
Her first major case under Bill's tutelage is the investigation into the shooting murder of county road grader Larry Zipoli while he sat in his vehicle. The evidence points to the deceased knowing his assassin; so the two law enforcement officials look into the victim's wife, neighbors, boss, and construction peers. Bill and Estelle also inquire into the youngsters Zipoli took boating.
The latest Posadas County police procedural is a terrific prequel that focuses on the first teaming of the series protagonists. The case is deftly handled so that the mentor trains the mentee (and readers). Besides a strong timely (with what has happened at Penn State) investigation, the key to Steven F. Havill's powerful thriller is long time fans will see clearly the traits that make Bill and Estelle strong law enforcement leaders and caring family members while newcomers will be introduced to these endearing heroes.
Love, Honour, and O'Brien
In Australia, financial adviser Andrew McNish withdraws the savings in the joint account he took out with his fiancee Gorgon Office Supplies clerk Holly Love. She is upset because he stole her money including her severance check from Gorgon and her heart. Holly vows revenge.
In the Blue Mountains where Andrew owned a house, Holly hires rundown private investigator Mick O'Brien to find her former fiance the SOB, but instead her sleuth dies on the job. Holly takes over the case, but soon all types of strange people assume she is Mick's partner. Holly encounters clairvoyant Abigail Honour who shares an office with dead Mick; Cage the mouthing parrot; Constable Chloe Gruff investigating Mick's death; the Elvis impersonator driving the hearse with Mick's body as a passenger; and elderly Una Maggott who insists someone in her household murdered Mick, Andrew or both.
This zany Australian amateur sleuth is an engaging tale starring a brave obstinate heroine who on her trek for vengeance as the scorned woman feels like she fell though the rabbit hole as even the fat tabby she meets adds to the insanity. Fans who appreciate something amusingly offbeat in the mysteries will enjoy Jennifer Rowe's humorous taut suspense thriller as Holly find her groove.
Six years ago Bob Dillon and his horde survived hit men, assassins and murderers to abscond with several million from a Bolivian drug lord (see Pest Control). He used his loot to obtain a truck with a bug on the roof.
In Oregon, Bob and his partner Klaus Muller the assassin experiment with a 'green' solution to chemical pest control. They genetically reengineer the assassin bug into a killer species but this is expensive and they are running out of money. Bob and Klaus contact a venture capitalist to obtain seed loot, but their sponsor works for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency' who want to apply their experiments on terrorists. They accept the terms and relocate to Los Angeles where a Bolivian drug lord out ten million dollars puts a Pest Control bounty of twenty million on the heads of the Bug Guys.
The second Assassin Bug Thriller is a fast-paced zany thriller that amusingly is over the top of the Hollywood Hills sign. Filled with action, spins and a horde of the assassins, fans will appreciate this jocular satire that skewers the right and left, celebrity worship, and the losing war on bugs.
The Rescuer's Path
Plain View Press
P.O. 42255, Austin, TX 78704
9781935514886, $15.95, www.PlainViewPress.net
In 1971 in Washington DC, seventeen years old Jewish Malca Bernovski rides Dragon in an off-trail in Rock Creek Park. The teenager finds Arab-American antiwar protestor Gavin Hareen severely injured from a bullet wound. She uses the first aid kit she has with her to treat his injury and leaves him her jacket. She returns every day to help him recover although the new proclaims Gavin as the prime suspect in a lethal bombing. They fall in love and flee together. However, as she is carrying his baby, the Feds catch up to them and kill him. Grieving Malca gives her baby up for adoption.
In 2001, Malca Bernovski-Cohn is married to kind Jeff; they have two teenage sons (Jason and Mason). However, she never forgot her first love as she believes his ghost is with her any time she enters "Other-where." One day a woman who lives in Berkley calls her. She introduces herself as Julie and wants to meet her biological mother. Both are excited and frightened as each need to let go of what happened three decades ago to the mother's lover and the daughter's father.
The rescuer's path is a wonderful epic extended family drama. The key to the tale is the cast especially Malca who is the link between the various years (including some after 2001 and between 1971 and 2001). Although the skipping back and forth in time can be a bit confusing, readers who relish complicated relationships will appreciate this profound epic.
The Forgotten Affairs of Youth
Alexander McCall Smith
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307379184, $24.95, www.amazon.com
Australian philosopher Jane Cooper takes a sabbatical to visit Edinburgh. Being adopted at birth, Jane seeks to locate her biological dad who apparently was a student in Edinburgh when she was conceived. Jane knows the odds of her succeeding with her quest are extremely low. Still she feels a gut need bordering on obsessiveness to make a legitimate attempt.
She asks Scottish philosopher and occasional amateur sleuth (see The Charming Quirks of Others) Isabel Dalhousie for help. Although she is overwhelmed with issues from her adorable active toddler Charlie, her caring fiance Jamie, her toxic niece Cat and her dedicated housekeeper Grace; Isabel agrees to try to locate Jane's father.
This marvelous mellow mystery is a brilliant entertaining philosophical treatise on what a family really is and whether personal history can better help people feel more contented/cope with the present and future. Character driven, readers will relish Isabel's latest cozy as her inquiry into Jane's roots and her relationships with her family enlighten the audience as to what matters in life.
Money Never Sleeps
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345525123, $15.00, www.amazon.com
BFFs Milan, Jaise, and Chaunci star in the hit reality show Millionaire Wives Club. However, fame has put a strain on their friendships leading to catfights that as a second order effect has given the show high ratings.
Milan and former NFL player Kendu are engaged after seeing each other for what she thinks has been forever. However, while he struggles because he is no longer playing, football player Samir wants Milan.
Jaise has never been able to teach her teenage son Jabril responsibility as he has fathered two children with different women. Her new mate Bilal tries to discipline Jabril, but his efforts may only end his marriage.
Chaunci learns that her man Idris married someone else. As a consequence of his betrayal, she distrusts the three legged hunks until she meets Emory.
New cast member Vera thinks her marriage is perfect. However, watching her diva mates has her look closer until she finds cracks in perfection.
The return to the scandalous Millionaire Wives Club is a lighthearted romp in which the entertaining story line never takes itself seriously by using hyperbolic melodrama, plenty of sex and female fights. None of the cast is likable yet the antics of these catty felines are fun to follow.
Sinners and Saints
Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781451608151, $15.00, www.amazon.com
It has been two years since the kidnapped little girl was returned to her parents, Jasmine and Hosea Bush. Since that trauma and joyful reunion, Jasmine has been the perfect preacher's wife. However, she will have to be even more perfect when the president of the American Baptist Coalition job becomes vacant as she wants Hosea occupying the position, which comes with enormous prestige and power; two items Jasmine covets. Ergo she plans to use every dirty trick in her arsenal when they attend the convention.
Jasmine's equal in all ways of good and bad is Rachel Jackson Adams who believes her spouse Lester is the perfect preacher to head the American Baptist Coalition. She covets the enormous prestige and power that comes with being the First Lady. Ergo Rachel plans to use every dirty trick in her arsenal when they attend the convention.
When the two contenders meet at the convention, each recognizes their prime rival and automatically loathes the other. Each applies their bag of ruses to discredit their competitor as the educated elitist and the street smart survivalist go toe to toe in fifteen rounds of dirty in-fighting. Ironically they also team up to eliminate the other opponent, the wife of the current president.
These two sinners married to saints make for a fascinating tale as the protagonists of the long running respective series by Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley battle with claws and fangs hidden by sweetness. The entertaining story line captures the essences of the lead couples in an amusing over the top of a church steeple romp.
Dale Wilmot has always been proud of his son Evan, a successful athlete who enlisted with the military. After tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Evan returns home with his legs and right arm amputated; his once beautiful face scarred so hideously he makes Krueger look handsome. Dale is angry and bitter at what the government did to his beloved son and plans to make the Feds pay in accordance with an eye for an eye.
A meth junkie waylays former State department employee Gideon Davis to inform the academic that a terrorist plot to decimate the government is in motion. Gideon tells his former girlfriend FBI Agent Nancy Clement, but her skeptical superiors reject the original source as unreliable as they have no collaborating data. The informant fails to make a meeting with Gideon and Nancy so the former heads to West Virginia to ask his brother Tillman, recipient of a presidential pardon, to infiltrate Wilmot's white supremacist militia. While the FBI continues to refuse to act on the Davis brothers' information, psychopathic Wilmot is in DC deploying his plan.
The second Davis thriller (see Gideon's War) is an exhilarating ultra fast-paced tale that starts in first gear and accelerates from there. The Davis brothers have reasons to be angry with the current administration and other leaders, but do not allow their personal contempt to prevent them from trying to stop a disaster from extreme right wing home grown terrorists. Howard Gordon is a top thriller writer thriller.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451230805, $9.99, www.amazon.com
In Chicago, Lily Parker attends St. Sophia School for Girls. The sophomore, the rest of her high school group and her BFF Scout protect the residents of the city from the Reapers; adepts who refused to give up the magic once they use their allotment so they absorb the soul from people to give them more time as practitioners.
One day Lily applies her firespell, but it fails to work. She soon learns that all the adepts in the city no longer possess magic. The adepts blame the reapers, but Lily finds out that the rogue practitioners have lost their talent too. Although the two groups distrust one another, Lily needs a reaper to help her regain what has vanished. Sebastian the reaper who does not follow the party line agrees to team up with Lily while the Enclave chief decides to take a chance on the rogue loner. Lily takes the biggest risk when she attempts to break the spell in order to bring back the magic; while the caster's plans sneak up on the teen.
Wiser than her age, Lily is the bridge between the two rival magical using groups as she rejects the black and white assertions of each side. This concept is critical for her and Sebastian to team up. She is a true heroine who takes dangerous chances to keep her Enclave safe. The third Dark Elite urban fantasy (see Firespell and Hexbound) is spellbound twisting winner.
DAW Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756407018, $25.95, www.amazon.com
In the Essalieyan Empire, the Terafin leader of the House Terafin is dead, a victim of demonic assassination. A power struggle ensues as to who will replace the head of the most powerful House. Former Averallaan street and Undercity urchin Jewel "Jay" ATerafin, encouraged by her late mentor, her den mates and her magical associates (two immortals, the Winter King stag and three giant winged cats who never shut up), considers applying for the vacant position.
Four candidates announce they want the job; Jay is not one of them. Demons stalk and attack her while she deliberates whether she wants the job. Peaceful transition is impossible as each side has human and magical allies that they deploy.
The latest House War political fantasy (see House Name and City of Night) is an engaging thriller as civil war to take charge of the most powerful House has begun. Jay has come a long way since Rath, the late Terafin's brother, found her (see Hidden City) and brought her to his estranged sister. However, the key to this exciting thriller is the magic feels genuine and lethal as paranormal combat has begun. Although fans will be disappointed in how Jay employs her skills, the demise of a major figure in the previous three entries brings freshness with death a real possibility to anyone in the House War saga.
Sins of the Demon
Beaulac, Louisiana Police Detective Kara Gillian a demon summoner remains concerned about the contract she agreed to with demon Lord Rhyskahl (see Mark of the Demon). In fairness, he has been most helpful providing key information on her cases (see Secret of the Demon and Blood of the Demon); on the other hand he brings with him many powerful enemies who target his human ally. Rhyskahl assigns Eilahn the demon to protect the police detective.
Several humans who hurt Kara at some time in her life are dropping dead. With her as the link between the deaths, her law enforcement peers on the supernatural task force wonder if she has gone rogue and become a serial killer. Kara and her normal and paranormal friends investigate what proves even more sinister and rooted in her past than she expected.
The fourth "Demon" police procedural is a terrific Bayou fantasy due to the depth of the Rowland mythos. Holding the exciting story line together, Kara is a fascinating protagonist who is a super cop with a little help from her friends and has intriguing relationships with demons. Fans of the saga will appreciate the tremendous Sins of the Demon, but feel frustrated with waiting for the next entry due to a cliffhanger climax even with the series theme moving forward.
Leaves of Flame
For several hundred years the three species have co-existed in a tentative peace by avoiding one another. The Alvritshai, Dwarren and Human races rarely have contact as none trust the others.
Much more than a human, Colin Harten notices the wraiths and their Shadow allies have increasingly posed a threat to the three races. Having mastered three of the five known magic's while in the wilderness for decades (see Well of Sorrow), he has arranged for his friends the magical Trees to provide some protection to the separate but equal races. However, he knows that is not enough as he realizes he needs them to unite before it is too late; once the insidious enemy gains control of the magic nothing Alvritshai, Dwarren, Human, the Faelehgre spirits of light or even him will survive.
This is a terrific social-military-political fantasy but pales in comparison to the excellent thought provoking Well of Sorrows as the colonization theme of the first tale is replaced by a more standard genre scenario. Still fans will appreciate the exciting escapades in the Tate realm as an increasingly desperate but capable and cynical Colin (instead of the enthusiastic rookie) knows if he cannot motive all three species to unite, the dark Shadows will put out the light.
City of the Lost
In Los Angeles Joe Sunday and his partner Julio Guerrera are enforcers working for mobster Simon Patterson. Though they mostly break a few bones, each has killed targets without a second thought. In a North Hollywood bar, Julio violently attacks Joe and the bartender before cutting his own throat. LAPD Detective Frank Tanake arrives and tells Joe to report anything suspiciously odd.
Simon explains to Joe that Sandro Giantetti who he killed decades ago murdered Julio. He assigns Joe to retrieve a stone from the elderly man. Julio's wife Mariel returns Joe's earlier call to tell him her spouse is home when she becomes hysterical. Julio smashes his beloved spouse into a wall as Joe enters the house. Sandro arrives and directs Julio to attack Joe. When Joe regains consciousness he realizes none of years of aches hurt. Sandro explains that Joe is his first success at reanimating a dead man. All hell breaks loose as Joe kills Simon for betraying him and Tanake shoots Sandro in the head. However, Tanake shows the non breathing Joe that Sandro posed in a Renaissance Era painting so will probably return to life. Joe knows the talisman he took from Sandro means a horde of zombies led by Sandro will come for him.
This is a brisk engaging zombie urban fantasy starring am antihero who has a strange values system as he has no compunctions being a hit man or cannibalizing a hooker, but feels he owes his partner by telling Julio's wife that he is dead. Although the reason for Sandro's experimentation comes late as this intuitively appears to conflict with his centuries-old longevity, sub-genre readers will enjoy the reanimated hit man takes Southern California.
Claudia Pineiro, translated by Miranda France
Bitter Lemon Press
37 Arundel Gardens
London, W11 2LW, United Kingdom
9781904738800, $14.95, www.amazon.com
In 1998 Buenos Aires, Ernesto Pereyra informs his wife Ines that he must go to the office late at night to deal with and emergency. Ines, recently having found a love note in his briefcase, assumes his office emergency is for his lower head as they have not slept tighter in a month or so.
Deciding to not fall into the trap that destroyed her mother who asked her husband what was wrong, Ines follows Ernesto into a remote woods where he meets with his secretary, Alicia. However, the cuckold wife is shocked when the rendezvous turns violent and Ernesto shoves Alicia, who cracks her head against a tree; Alicia is dead on the spot so Ernesto sinks her body in a nearby lake. Ines returns home knowing beyond a doubt her Ernesto loves her. When the police suspect Ernesto of killing Alicia, Ines provides him an airtight alibi. However, she becomes angry when she realizes her mate who she saved with her lies is a serial cheater.
This is a great twisting Argentinian noir as Ernesto and Ines learn what TrueLove is. Fast-paced, this deadly family drama grips the reader from the start and never slows down until the final spin. Claudia Pineiro provides a tense thriller that readers will appreciate.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451463562, $16.00, www.amazon.com
They are siblings, but the three dragons had diverse values. AuRon the scale-less grey chose isolation with his mate Protector Natasatch and their offspring (Commander AuSurath, Aerial Host Varatheela and former Protector Istach) from the humans as he felt co-mingling was impossible and deadly to his kind; though he heeded his mate's advice to get involved. His sister Wistala the Green believed dragons and humans could live in harmony together. Their brother Emperor RuGaard the Copper felt strongly that dragons were superior to humans who should obey their masters. Their values led to differing alliances and a war of mass destruction in which they were aligned against each other (see Dragon Rule).
Wiser and war weary, the dragon siblings realize what they wrought to their dying species. Each leaves the troubles they helped cause behind as the fight cost them family and friends. Meanwhile the wars of man and dragon remain unabated as ancient sorcery is deployed. To save their rapidly expiring race, the three siblings must unite for the first time since they were hatchlings, but AuRon remains bitter for what Copper did to him when they were young and none of the trio trusts the other to protect their wings. Failure to come together means dragonkind will be no more as humans and even dragons fight against dragons as the second Civil War turns increasingly towards extinction.
The sixth Age of Fire is an exhilarating climax to a strong fantasy saga, as the story line soars from the opening act and never decelerates to the tense climax. Filled with political backstabbing intrigue and military combat, readers will enjoy the tale of the three adversarial dragon siblings as united might save dragonkind while divided they extinct their species.
The Daemon Prism
In 883 Year of the Sabarian Realm, most knowledgeable people know to fear acrimonious blind practitioner Dante, the Queen's Sorcerer. Sabarian King Philippe, the leaders of the Temple and the Camarilla Magica have condemned him for what he did to the Veil between life and death. For two years he desperately trains his student Anne de Vernase with hope for his redemption if she will repair what he wrought as she saved him from insanity.
However, Anne suddenly leaves him for her family. Stunned while feeling betrayed and hopeless, Dante turns to a puzzle for solace. He is unaware that what he dabbles in is a trap for him to trigger a magical pandemic that could turn Sabaria into a wasteland. As his mind turns increasingly mad, Dante needs Anne and other allies who loath him to prevent the disaster.
The third Collegia Magica epic fantasy (see The Spirit Lens and The Soul Mirror) focuses on a necromancer considered by everyone as the vilest soulless person in Sabaria. The universal detesting of Dante leads to an intriguing profound look at relationships when life is at stake and the truest meaning of evil. Filled with action and feeling as if it occurs in a Berg version of the an Age of Reason, fans will appreciate this stupendous story and the rest of the super saga while newcomers need to read the first two terrific thrillers to better understand the Berg realm and how her world got to this point.
Left Hand Magic
Nancy A. Collins
Metal artist Tate Eresby the purebred human and Hexe the Kymeran sorcerer are in love. They reside together in the Lower east Side's supernatural ghetto Golgotham. However, a drunken riot has the supernatural, especially the Kymera, raging and the humans ready for a fight.
The heir to the Kymeran throne, Hexe is angry at his acrimonious Uncle Esau who pushes a-human cleansing endeavor, as he demands interracial relationships banned. At the same time the Sons of Adam want to cleanse the Kymerians from Manhattan. Meanwhile Tate is under suspicion for murder as people on a project she works on are being killed. Tension is stratospherically high between the two species even before someone murders two Kymerans. Tate and Hexe know they must act to prevent deadly riots, but neither know how to defuse the enflamed situation.
The second Golgotham urban fantasy (see Right Hand Magic) is an excellent tale as racial prejudice fuels anger. Hexe and Tate are a wonderful couple who wonder if love is enough to overcome the taboo of mixed species relationships. However, it is the vivid description of the Golgotham that will send readers joining other tourists visiting this ghetto.
The Towman's Daughters
David J. Walker
110 East 59th Street, 22th Fl., New York, NY 10022
9780727880666, $28.95, www.SevernHouse.com
In Chicago, Dugan the lawyer, whose license to practice may be revoked heads to Wancho's Towing to retrieve the car belonging to his wife Kirsten the private investigator which he caused it to be towed. Dugan accidently prevents Tyrone Beale from the kidnapping of Isobel Cho, daughter of the towing company and alleged criminal, Juan.
Dugan tells Kirstan what happened and the owner of Wild Onion, Inc. suggests they do nothing. However, they cannot stay out of it when they learn that Isobel's boyfriend Jamison Traynor, son of a U.S. Senator, hired Tyrone to keep her safe, which is what he was doing when Dugan interfered. Meanwhile her father and his family want the relationship ended for different reasons; as Isobel pleads with Kirsten to investigate who is after her and why.
The latest Wild Onion thriller is a terrific tale due to the strong relationship between capable Kirsten and bumbling Dugan. The case is cleverly filled with twists as Chicago lives up to its reputation for hardball politics. Readers will be hooked from the first fall to the final confrontation as Kirstan and Dugan investigate.
Warren Publishing Group
9781427636119, $14.95, www.amazon.com
In 1894 London, frightened fifteen year old Englishwoman Marlene marries Dutchman Paul van der Mehr. They met a month ago at a ball and now her parents arranged her marriage to him. As Paul's wife she accompanies him to his home in the Netherlands. However, Marlene quickly learns her old money aristocratic new spouse is abusive. When his brutality turns on their children, Marlene has no recourse but to flee with the kids to the sanctuary of the countryside as their respective families will not intrude on the rights of a husband-father. There she meets and falls in love with kind Baron Carlotti.
In 1999, after ending a comfortable relationship, Marieke travels from the United States to Amsterdam where she feels at home. At an antique jewelry store, Marieke sees a fascinating diamond ring on display and purchases it. She and the store manager Clemens Van der Mehr are attracted to one another and he invites her to his family home where she feels she belongs even as they fall in love. However, her real connection through the ring is to Marlene.
Rotating perspective between the two women, RingGoRound is a terrific family drama filled with fascinating twists. The lead females and their support cast are fully developed to complement one another in the interconnected (through the ring) over a century gap subplots. Readers will enjoy Patda Jim's haunting romantic tale as Marieke learns the truth about Marlene and herself.
Dora Heldt; translated by Jamie Lee Searle
c/o Amazon Imprints
9781611090222, $13.95, www.amazon.com
In Hamburg, Germany as she nears her forty-fourth birthday, Christine has moved passed in many ways the betrayals by her ex husband of ten years Bernd with her former life long BFF (see Life After Forty), but as a second order effect she no longer trusts people. While her career in publishing is successful and has a tepid relationship with Richard, Christine especially has doubts about friendships, in particular with females.
Her friend Dorothea wants to prove to Christine she is wrong to denounce friendship. With the help of her friend's sister in Cologne, Dorothea lines up twenty people from various stages in Christine's life who care about her to join in a surprise birthday bash. The objective to show friends care.
The second Christine tale is an engaging look at friendship as the heroine is in a funk when it comes to sisterhood. Much of the plot is gathering the faithful and learning of their tale, which in turn stretches the overall entertaining story line with too many repetitions. Still fans will enjoy Dora Heldt's heartfelt salute to friendship.
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9780758265180, $14.00, www.amazon.com
Archeologist Kenzie Macleod is a lone wolf shapeshifter because she has never forgotten her running away from raging human vigilantes when she was a fledgling in Scotland. That near fatal incident remains imprinted on her brain to trust no one even her kind as she conceals from both species what she truly is.
In the real final frontier of the Alaskan wilderness, Kenzie is driving towards a locale near Chistochina where she has permission to dig for Ahtna tribal artifacts. She gives a ride to Alaska Department of Fish and Wildlife expert Josh Talarkoteen who was stranded with two flats. When a cub becomes endangered, c he fretfully thinks back to the nightmare of another child in Afghanistan. Josh soon comes to Kenzie's camp to search for the lost cub that he knows is a Changeling just like Kenzie is as he belongs to the Tahltan tribe who read auras. As they try to help the frightened distrusting Changeling, Josh and Kenzie fall in love, but each has traumas to overcome while others have a different outcome in mind.
The latest Macleod werewolf romantic suspense (see Changeling Moon and Changeling Dream) is a superb thriller due to strong cast and location. Both protagonists suffer from Post traumatic Stress Disorder which motivates them to save the child while others in the area kidnap the young Changeling. Relationship driven with whether to trust or not to trust the key feelings, fans will enjoy this terrific taut tale.
The Deepest Sin
British operatives know they killed Montagu Faron the enemy agent who failed to steal the Rosetta Stone. However, recent mysterious events leave the Home officer wondering if somehow Faron survived. The wisdom is that if this miscreant lives, he will contact his lover. Thus Sir Richard Avery is assigned to observe Faron's lover, Lady Meredith Woolcott.
Richard understands his task is not to keep the traitor's woman safe, but to use her as an expendable pawn to catch Faron. To his chagrin, he is attracted to her, but keeps his head on the mission. That is until he realizes she places herself in peril to bring out her former lover. Unable to ignore the danger to Meredith, Richard intervenes learning she wants Faron out of her life.
The second :Sin" Woolcott family historical romantic suspense (see The Deadliest Sin) is a super thriller as the fully developed lead couple fall in love while playing a losing game of chess against each other and a deadly match with a diabolical grandmaster. Fast-paced with a great late twist, fans will appreciate Caroline Richards' exciting tale while awaiting Rowena's cold darkest sinful entry.
Stay At Home Dead
Rose Petal, Texas is a small town in which everyone remains up to date on the latest happenings especially scandals, misdemeanors and felonies. The townsfolk struggle with accepting that Deuce Winters is a househusband while his wife Julianne is a high powered attorney. Whereas she brings in the income, he is the primary caretaker of their three years old daughter Carly.
Nobody is more shocked than this father and daughter when they find the corpse of Benny Barnes inside their van parked in a supermarket lot. Overwhelmingly the locals assume Deuce killed the man responsible for destroying the "suspect's" football career and stealing his girlfriend Shayna over twenty years ago in high school. The clique of parents at the daycare center demands the removal Deuce as a school helper, which is symptomatic of others' belief that Deuce is a killer. Shayna asks him to come over, which he reluctantly does. She follows up by taking out a restraining order to keep him away from her. Life turns stranger when Victor the "little person" detective follows Deuce around town; conducting a surveillance for a client he refuses to name. Determined to clear his name, Deuce with Victor and Julianne's assistance investigates the murder; only to find a business plan turn deadly.
Stay At Home Dead is a charming (except if you are the beleaguered protagonist) creative cozy starring a likable hero and his spouse. She protects his interests and that of a daughter like a lioness. The plot seems simple as it smoothly flows until a twist turns the story line into a wild rapids ride as readers ponder what is going on in Rose Petal. Deuce makes the tale work as a househusband and an amateur sleuth.
Angel of Darkness
Keenan the Angel of Death stalks Nicole St. James as he has for weeks waiting to collect her soul as he has done countless times over several millennia. The moment he has anticipated is at hand with a vampire attacking Nicole. She pleads with him to save her life; though he knows he cannot. Keenan kills the vampire instead of the human female he is attracted to.
For failing to complete his mission, Keenan is exiled as a Fallen. He searches for her over the next six months and finally "of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks" (Casablanca) into this dive he drinks away his depression. He remains wanting her though he knows she is now a vampiric fledgling, but Keenan is unaware that Nicole is wanted for murder. Nicole wants her savior, but is unaware that if Keenan completes the kill he regains his former angel essence. Meanwhile besides NYPD, a horde of the paranormal and hunters of the paranormal stalk the pair
The first Fallen urban romantic fantasy is a fast-paced thriller starring a beleaguered pair as seemingly everyone in the Big Apple wants to take a bite out of both them. Fascinatingly, neither of the protagonists acts with typical human morality although Nicole is a recent convert to the other species. With too many adversaries cluttering the overall exciting but dark story line, sub-genre fans still will enjoy Cynthia Eden's opening entry.
Kate Douglas, Crystal Jordan and Lynn LaFleur
"Dream Catcher" by Kate Douglas. Mac has the greatest night of his life with the mysterious Zianne, but is unsure whether she is real. Zianne hopes this human hunk helps her free her energy race.
"Taken Between" by Crystal Jordan. Kira the shapeshifter guard protects her queen with her life, but loves her highness' brother-in-law Max who shares her passionate regard. As they enjoy their romantic interlude, they need to prevent a lethal threat to the Royal couple.
"The Right Number" by Lynn LaFleur: Jay the shapeshifter dials the wrong number, but enjoys his phone sex chat with Roni. He believes he got lucky as he knows this woman he has not met is his mate. When they do meet in person, his belief is affirmed but a pack feud leaves their love and their lives in peril.
These are three engaging erotic paranormal romances. Although the various realms require "New Rules" (with a nod to Bill Maher) that slow down the pace of the novellas and the endings are abrupt, readers will enjoy these heated couplings.
Neal Baer & Jonathan Greene
In 1989 in Rochester, New York eight year old BFFs Claire and Amy are jumping rope in front of the home of the former. A man in his forties arrives to introduce himself as Mr. Winslow, a friend of Amy's dad who was hurt in an accident and is in Strong memorial Hospital but wants to see his daughter. That was the last time Claire saw Amy though the trauma and survivor guilt remain with her as a forensic psychiatrist working at Rikers Island.
Claire's mentor Dr. Paul "Dr. Oz of Forensic Psychiatry" Curtin believes she could be one of the greats with her uncanny ability to work with the amoral untreatable. However, he is concerned with the way she acts discombobulated with feelings of self hating failure while working with inmate Todd Quimby, whose mother murdered his father. That violent fiasco leads Curtin to assign Claire to assist NYPD Manhattan South Detective Nick Lawler, who just returned to the job after dealing with his wife's suicide, on his hunt for a serial killer in which Quimby is a suspect.
This is an exciting police procedural starring two emotionally flawed individuals. The story line is fast-paced starting with the interview at Rikers and never slows down until the final confrontation. Filled with twists especially a terrific late one, readers will enjoy this entertaining taut suspense thriller.
Chocolate Covered Murder
The weather outside is frightful in wintery Tinker's Cove, Maine, but that does not prevent Pennysaver reporter Lucy Stone from completing her outdoor chores. She drops off her children at their various jobs and reports on the new exquisite chocolate shop Chanticleer's Chocolates owned by Trey Meacham. One of Lucy's youngest offspring works at Chanticleer's Chocolates; but Lucy does not think the store manager Tamzin Graves is a good influence so she gets her daighter fired.
Tragedy strikes when fisherman Max Fraser falls through the ice. The ME rules it an accident, but Lucy who owed Max believes a murder occurred. To pay the late Max back, Lucy investigates. A second death occurs when the chocolate covered naked Tamzin lies dead in Chanticleer's. The police arrest co-owner Dora of Fern's Famous Fudge, but Lucy believes the suspect is innocent. Her inquiry places her on the list of a murderer observing her investigation.
This delightful sweet (unless you're the victims) cozy will please fans of the series as the readers catch up on the lives of residents of Tinker's Cove. The protagonist risks her life to insure is done though she fails to see the peril in front of her nose until it slams into her protuberance from a killer hiding in plain sight.
Be My Texas Valentine
Jodi Thomas, Linda Broday, Phyliss Miranda and DeWanna Pace
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9781420119671, $6.99, www.amazon.com
"The Valentine Curse" by Jodi Thomas. In 1867 at the Double R Ranch, Brody works diligently but is a pariah due to the war. The boss' wife insists he attend their dance and shower attention on Widow Valerie. Since he shows her respect and knows farming, Valerie offers him a marriage partnership. Brody accepts but plans to be more than the "You'll do husband".
"Cupid's Arrow" by Linda Broday. In 1884 Rue Ann hates Logan who accepted money from her wealthy dad to dump her. He wonders why she is marrying abusive Theodore. Family friends Miss Emily and Miss Charlotte trick the pair into talking about her father's lies.
"Loving Miss Laurel" by Phyliss Miranda. In 1887 Mayor Hunter wants a railroad stop in town which means paving the streets as they compete with other cities. He hosts a meeting of men but finds three female spies including orphan Laurel who was east for years at school. The spies grab Laurel and take her to their leader, Hunter's mother Melba who insists they need a library.
"Sweet Talk" by DeWanna Pace. Dr. Noah knows his pet lovebird Amigo is lonely since he is away a lot on medical calls. JoEmma has been wheelchair bound since she suffered from Scarlet Fever. Her lovebird Gabby escapes. A week later Noah realizes he has two lovebirds. Noah arrives with the lovebirds, but also decides to take JoEmma to the dance.
The latest Texas quartet (see A Texas Christmas) contains strong lead characters and solid support casts. Although the story lines are thin and mostly fail to anchor time and place, fans will enjoy the novellas of Be My Texas Valentine.
Eight century old Immortal Guardian Marcus Graden is concerned with the recent military precise pack attacks by vampires; as that is out of the norm for the insane bloodsuckers who rarely work together. In Chapel Hill, Marcus meets Ami, a weapons expert, when both battle a vampire pack.
To his chagrin his Guardian superior Seth wants Ami to serve as a human Second to Marcus. She is appalled with working with this cold Guardian and he prefers to work alone; both make their feelings known to each other. However, as they team up to counterattack the new vampire king and his deadly shocking allies, Marcus and Ami fall in love but she owes him the revelation of the secret she conceals from everyone.
The second super Immortal Guardians romantic urban fantasy (see Darkness Dawns) is a fantastic thriller filled with twists that bring freshness to the action-packed story line. The protagonists are a delightful pairing of arrogance and butt kicker though neither are unique characters. Fast-paced from the moment the lead pair meets in Chapel Hill, fans will enjoy this vampire thriller.
When a Duke Says I Do
In 1862 French painter Laurent Desmarais and his mute assistant Alexander arrive at the Nottinghamshire home of Miss Elizabeth "Elsie" Stanhope. Her affluent father commissioned the famous Frenchman to complete a ballroom mural in time for his daughter's twenty-second birthday gala. At her ball, her dad will announce her engagement to a duke's heir.
Elsie discovers the secrets that Desmarais has rheumatism and Alexander is the artist. Alexander, whose father dumped him in an asylum, and Elsie are attracted to one another. As they fall in love, he knows she belongs to the future duke and not an assistant while she knows overcoming their class distinction will prove almost impossible.
Although readers will need to ignore plausibility, Victorian romance readers will enjoy Jane Goodger's fascinating historical as the issues of abuse on the mental health of victims is insightfully developed. Elsie is a courageous individual who must deal with her beloved being a hermit while he suffers from a crippling past. This is an engaging tale as there is rarely a lead protagonist in romances like Alexander is.
PO Box 65360, Baltimore, MD 21209
9781890862954, $14.95, www.amazon.com
As a junior, Taylor Dresden was a superstar pitcher in the New Jersey high school league (see Thrown a Curve). However, due to cutbacks, competitive baseball is longer being played. Depressed with no baseball options, she loved playing hardball with the boys; consequently, Taylor's grades fall.
Shockingly the Hazelton School for Boys offers Taylor an athletic scholarship. She meets the two scholarship coeds, six foot two basketball star Gabby Foster and petit Tara Kwan the brain. However, the three amigas are unwelcome by the arrogant wealthy male students. The Statesmen gang of bullies led by Sam Barrett wants to kick out the female trio so begin a campaign of terror; at a time when Taylor struggles to keep up in the classroom.
This is an exciting high school thriller that looks deeply into bullying, but not just against the three girls as some of the boys are victims too. Though the pressure on Taylor is stratospheric from the classroom to trying out for the team to the bullying, she refuses to quit. Fans will enjoy Taylor's senior year as Sara Griffiths pitches a near perfect game.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451413161, $9.99, www.amazon.com
In Romania British police detective Joel Solomon awakens to the horror that his former lover Federation's Vampire Intelligence Agency undercover enforcer Alex Bishop changed him into the abomination she is. She did so to save his life, but he rages at her because she has made him into what he most loathes in the world.
In Prague, Alex meets with Utz McCarthy explaining what happened that left the Federation leaderless as vampire traditionalist Gabriel Stone led an aerial assault on the assembly and a key special drugs pharmaceutical plant. She mentions she remains alive due to Solomon the human and the Cross of Ardaich that kills vampires, but was allegedly destroyed during the vampire civil war.
While the Ubervampyr leader Stone recruits a mortal cannibalistic serial killer to find the cross, three skiers (Rebecca, Lindsey, and Chloe) in Romania see a castle not in the guidebooks and locate fragments of the cross. Teaming up Joel and Alex must prevent Stone from obtaining the cross, but first the former cop must move past his fury.
The second Vampire Federation urban fantasy (see Uprising) contains a myriad of subplots (much more than above) that starts a bit slow, but insures the audience will believe in the McCabe mythos. The key rotating cast is full blooded especially the irate Solomon and the besieged Bishop. When all the players (including Dec Martin who knows the truth) converge, the action accelerates to speeds faster than a vampire can move as blood flows with an exhilarating High Noon finish.
Shaedes of Gray
A hundred years ago, her husband abused Darian. Her lover Azriel the immortal Shaede changes Darian into the gray shadowy walker that he is and informs her they are the last two of their species. He vanishes without a trace.
Feeling "Alone Again (Naturally)" (by Gilbert O'Sullivan) Darian becomes a skilled assassin whose current handler is Tyler. However her latest assignment stuns Darian as a key premise that she believed in for the past century proves false. Her kill target is King Xander Peck ruler of the Shaede Nation. Darian is caught in the crosshairs of supernatural combat as she carries out her task to assassinate the monarch while wondering what other transgressions her creator told her.
The first Shaede Assassin is an excellent urban fantasy starring a strong survivor. Intrepid Darian holds the exciting story line together as she learns the truth about the existence of the Shaede nation and tries to find out why Azriel lied to her and deserted her to her own wiles. Fast-paced, readers will believe in the existence of Shaedes of Gray as Darian professionally goes about completing her mission.
It's All Greek To Me
Six foot tall from Seattle Eglantine "Harry" Knight replaces her friend Timmy, who is hospitalized due to a ruptured appendix, as manager of a band of teens performing at a birthday gala on a Greek Island. When eighteen year old band member Cyndi becomes hysterical because Theo Papaioannou physically rejected her, Harry confronts him. He is arrogant towards her and the teenage bint he kicked out of his room. Harry kicks his butt in when Theo's brother billionaire Iakovos arrives at the scene.
Harry and Iakovos are attracted to each other from the first encounter when she offers to allow him to help her beat up his sibling and her butchering his surname. As they fall in love, his former wife and Theo make all types of trouble for the couple.
It's All Greek To Me is a wonderful lighthearted romantic romp as a kick butt American amazon and a hunky Greek find love. Filled with humor, fans will laugh with the zaniness of Harry meets Yacky.
In 1839, as she has done with two Sutherland sisters (see Ivy in Outrageously Yours and Laurel in Most Eagerly Yours), Queen Victoria asks the third sibling Holly for help. The monarch wants Holly to find and return a stolen horse she intended to give as a gift to Prince Fredrick. Anything but the right horse could be an affront.
Holly and her sisters are invited to Masterfield Park where she plans to investigate as she believes Earl Colin Ashworth, the heir to the Masterfield dukedom, is the thief. Cambridge Science Professor Colin knows the purloined colt descends from his family's renowned Ashworth stallions. As the undercover agent and the professor fall in love, they search for the colt that allegedly has the power to end the legendary Ashworth curse.
The third Her Majesty's Secret servants is an enjoyable early Victorian romance starring an intrepid heroine and a besotted male who knows he should get out of the English version Dodge before his beloved exposes him and his family. Although the story line is slow especially at the beginning, fans will enjoy the Ashworth curse as the reckless Sutherland sister must choose between love and a horse.
c/o Amazon Imprints
9781612181479, $14.99, www.amazon.com
LAPD hires British psychologist Dr. Jamie Beaverbrook to apply his Beaverbrook Program testing to determine whether suspects are insane or acting the part. The results of his examine will decide whether a person undergoes mental health treatment or an expensive investigation and court case. At the same time, Jamie's marriage is over following the death of their infant child.
The police arrest teenager Terry Ferriman for murder as she has blood on her mouth while standing over a corpse whose throat has been ripped apart. Terry tells Jamie she is a vampire but denies taking blood from the throats of mortals. She insists she is much older than she looks. Her comments sound sincere but are insane; yet she passes Jamie's sanity test. Unable to resist even as he tells himself to not investigate, Jamie needs to help Terry. He brings her to his home and searches her apartment where Jamie finds an old picture of an actor from what appears to a 1950s movie. Jamie has entered a world he never knew existed until now.
Jamie tells the storyline in the first person as his investigation nukes what he believes is truisms. Depressed over his daughter's death and the ugly divorce, he fears for his sanity as he obsesses over desire for his client and learning the truth about her and her claims that immortals need blood. The rest of the cast including Terry is seen through Jamie's biased eyes. His mental struggles between his belief system and what he learns makes a strong intriguing theme. However, the storyline loses some of its grip when the focus becomes a federal national security agencies intrusion. Still Once Bitten is an entertaining vampiric psychological thriller.
c/o Amazon Imprints
9781612181370, $14.95, www.amazon.com
In 1931 in the Narrows Gate section of Manhattan, the Benno family owns a small grocery store. Their patrons are predominately Sicilians including mobsters. However, there biggest problem is with Maguire the prejudicial Irish cop who walks the beat. He systematically roughs up Vito in front of the man's family and demands the grocer give him his shakedown honey. Eight year old Sal wanted to kill the abusive cop.
Polish Jew Leo Bell's father Abramo insists his family is from Ypres, Italy. Leo is brilliant yet a dope as he does not comprehend there is Italy and there is Sicily no matter how many times his best friend Sal tried to educate him. They remain close buddies even as adults but Leo conceals his heritage from Sal for years.
William Rosiglino is a misanthrope picked on by his peers. He has no friends though he awkwardly tries with Leo and Sal. His martinet mom Hennie knows his voice is her road to affluence and out of the neighborhood. She pushes him until he becomes a famous crooner as Bill "Bebe" Marsala, but psychologically he remains a cripple.
Through these three characters, readers obtain a taste of life in New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas in the 1930s and 1940s. Using real life persona like senators, singers, and mobsters, Jim Fusilli provides a terrific timely epic that deeply looks into the first and second generation immigrant experience only in America.
Thorns on Roses
L & L Dreamspell
In Broward County, Florida Police Detective Richards shows the corpse of an unidentified teenager to former Special Forces and ex Dallas cop Tom Jeffries, as the victim was carrying his private investigator business card. He insists he does not know her, but after leaving the morgue he calls his best friend Charlie Rogers informing him he just found his stepdaughter, Mary Lou Smithson.
The Thorns on Roses gang raped the seventeen years old girl before dumping her dead in an abandoned vehicle. Jeffries vows to avenge her death. Using the Rose Tattoo that he saw on May Lou's corpse as the identification key, Jeffries hunts down the gangbangers one at a time; while Richards follows the bloody trail in which he believes the wise ass P.I. is an avenging angel of death. The law firm of Bernstein, Goldsmith, Espinosa and Bernstein that employs Jeffries fears his vendetta could harm the company so they assign associate Abbey Archer to keep him out of trouble. Ergo he makes one critical error when his attraction to Abbey provides his enemies with his Achilles Heel.
This is an exciting South Florida noir starring a kick butt hero on a mission in which he "unites" the gang and the cops in an effort to end his serial killing spree. The romance may appear at first as standard shtick, but Randy Rawls uses several great spins (especially a late one) to make the relationship relevant to the action-packed story line. With a nod to a composite of Charles Bronson characters from Death Wish and Mr. Majestyk, etc. fans will root for Jeffries as he kicks butt in this superb over the top of Coconut Grove thriller.
Where She Belongs
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive
Waterville, ME 04901
9781432825454, $25.95, www.amazon.com
Nearly a decade has passed sine the logging tragedy killed the father and high school sweetheart of Jess Morgan. Grieving her dual loss, Jess cannot turn to her mom who found solace with another man. Jess left her hometown of Destiny Falls, British Columbia vowing to never return to the sight of her greatest trauma and betrayal.
However, when her stepfather dies, Jess the shoe buyer returns to Destiny Falls to briefly be there in order to persuade her mom to live with her in Toronto as she hopes to mend their estrangement. Jess is stunned by how much her mother needs her and how much forester Adam Wright wants her. Adam pushes for a permanent relationship amidst their families in Destiny Falls but fearful of relationships as loved ones die Jess prepares to flee back to Ontario.
This is an entertaining family drama starring a young woman unable to move past the losses of her dad and her boyfriend. Jess makes the tale as she brings realism with her trauma. Her mom's inability to cope then and now enhance how alone Jess felt back then. Although Adam is a bull in a china shop when his beloved needs gentle support, fans will enjoy visiting Destiny Falls in picaresque British Columbia.
Murder in Argeles
Thirtyish American expatriate technical writer Annie Young completes a business trip in Zurich. Afterward she returns to her apartment in Argeles-sur-mer, France. Following her coming home, Annie goes to see her friend Pere Yves to discuss the research he is doing in Rennes-le-Chateau, but instead she finds his dead body on his church floor.
Annie calls the police though that means dealing with her former boyfriend, Chief Roger Perrin. He accompanies Annie back to the church, but no body is anywhere. His staff believes she placed a false alarm to see Roger, but the police chief knows Annie would never do that as he wants her back not the other way around; and besides there is blood on a broken statue. Thus he assigns his staff to find the missing corpse.
The latest "Third Culture Kid" whodunit (see Murder in Caleb's Landing) is an engaging mystery starring a wonderful TCK heroine. The D-Lightful story line deftly merges the investigation with historical tidbits. Roger is a terrific cop who wants a second chance with Annie while his daughter encourages him. Readers will enjoy this exciting thriller starring an American in Argeles.
The Winslow Incident
In the summer of 2010 in Winslow, Washington, Pard Holloway's cattle begin acting weird and start dying for no apparent reason; he wonders if mad cow disease has struck the herd. Pard's seventeen year old niece Hazel Winslow is concerned and announces she will expose her uncle's tainted beef. Pard warns Hazel that if she should raise the alarm, he will likewise tell what really happened to the town's late baker Hawkin Rhone five years ago; a truth that would probably lock away her boyfriend Sean Adair.
Soon after their unfriendly confrontation, the crazy symptoms displayed by cattle spread to humans who act increasingly insane. As those humans still behaving normal dwindles rapidly, Hazel wonders what is going on in her hometown as she no longer believes mad cow disease has struck Winslow.
This is an entertaining small town supernatural thriller. The fun in the tale is following stunned Hazel as her family, friends and neighbors go insane leaving her as the last one standing. Although the horror element is not very suspenseful, readers will enjoy Elizabeth Voss' fun paranormal version of And Then There Was None.
The Compassion of Father Dowling
The latest Father Roger Dowling short story collection (see The Wisdom of Father Dowling) contains sixteen entertaining mysteries in Fox River, Illinois. Most of the contributions were previously printed in the Catholic Dossier; twelve of the entries were printed in the 1990s while the other four between 2000 and 2002. The anthology begins with "Occult Compensation" as someone leaves a suitcase filled with cash at Father Dowling's St. Hilary. Harriet and Leo are to marry at St. Hillary but ready to convert to Catholicism or pay any cost Earl wants her as his wife in "The Base of the Triangle". Harry the derelict works hard at the parish, but soon becomes embroiled in what happened to "The Missing Leonardo." This is a fine compilation as no one will think of Bingo in the same way while paying homage to the late Ralph McInerny who dies last January.
A Haunted Twist of Fate
Fourteen months ago her dad died only six month after her mom passed away. In top of that men wanted her fortune not her. So needing to leave Illinois, Shay Brennan arrives in Hill City, South Dakota. On a whim she contacts Widower realtor Colt Morgan and buys the historic Buckhorn Saloon, built in 1885.
Her sleep in her first night inside her new home is interrupted by a female ghost begging for her to help her. Not long afterward Colt arrives at midnight to make sure she is okay as a caller woke him to say he saw water running out the front door and a woman entered through the unopened door. Since the ground is dry, Colt assumes the caller was intoxicated. As the realtor and his client begin to fall in love, Shay realizes she has a second paranormal presence in her new house, but unlike the woman, he is evil.
This is an enjoyable ghost romance starring a wonderful female and an equally delightful male. They fall in love while sleuthing the saloon spooks to learn why they haunt the place and what happened over a century ago. The romantic subplot supersedes the ghost story as A Haunted Twist of Fate leads to love.
Nancy J. Cohen
South Florida beautician Marla Shore prays the next frantic four weeks does not prove to be a "Bad Hair" month. Besides getting married at the end of the stretch to detective Dalton Vail while keeping her mom and her future mother-in-law from a mutual beat-down, Marla renovates her beauty parlor into a spa, works along with her fiance on their new home, and participates as a bridesmaid in her friend Jill's wedding.
Jill's wedding is perfect until Marla finds the bride's sister Torrie with a knife in her chest under the cake table. The police suspect Jill as she had the motive since the sisters argued over what to do with property they both owned; the means and opportunity as well. Deciding she has a chance to delay her personal issues for a while, Marla investigates which guest murdered the Matron of Honor who had collected damning information on an assortment of people while her fiance the homicide detective pleads with her to stay out of the case.
It has been couple of years since the last "A Bad Hair Day Mystery" (see Killer Knots, Dead Roots and Perish by Pedicure), but Marla remains a wonderful amateur sleuth as she is a likable heroine who uses the homicide investigation to put off her personal workload. Although she has found corpses before (see Died Blonde), this is an engaging fast-paced romantic cozy in which readers will enjoy the antics of Marla as her life is overwhelming at the moment, but still adds one more murderous item to the mix.
Spells & Stitches
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780425241059, $7.99, www.amazon.com
In Sugar Maple, Vermont, Sticks and Strings knitting store owner Chloe Hobbs, a sorceress in training, struggles with her out of control half-human hormones as she is over eight months pregnant with her first child that comingle with her magical DNA. Chloe owes a zillion favors from her otherworldly pals for clean up duty such as sending two women from Boise on a magical mystery tour and sending a fire ball at her mate's mother Bunny when caught by surprise by the woman entering her establishment; apparently someone leaked to the MacKensie brood that a grandchild is coming. Chloe's significant other Police Chief Luke MacKensie, the only purebred resident of the town, is ecstatic over the upcoming birth of his first child.
Laria is born healthy while the parents and others go gaga over her. However, raising a baby and running a business or enforcing the law is difficult. Raising a baby with magical skills is impossible especially trying to conceal the paranormal from his family.
This bewitching charmer is filled with humor as it takes a village to raise a baby sorceress. Fast-paced the collision between the MacKensie human horde and the paranormal residents of the Vermont village is jocularly entertaining. However, it is Laria who makes this a fresh tale as she has typical baby needs and some extraordinary extras as Laria has unique ways of "communicating. Although it behooves sub-genre fans to read the previous A Knitting Mystery romantic Green Mountain village fantasies (see Spun by Sorcery) to understand family dynamics, Barbara Bretton provides an engaging tale of parenthood.
That Old Black Magic
In Toronto, psychic Eden Riley loves Darrak the cursed demon whom she met when he possessed her (see The Demon In Me). They still seek a way to end his centuries old curse, which would free him, keep her alive, and have a happy new beginning together in two separate bodies. Though tempted especially when his body surfaces Eden avoids using her recently required new black magic, but finds increasingly controlling her skills very difficult as she sets her blackberry on fire.
The psychic and the demon agree they need help as her soul-destroying black magic deploys without her employing it. They find a cure for the curse and control of her magic, but the risk to Eden is her life.
The third Living in Eden Canadian urban romantic fantasy (See Something Wicked) is an engaging finish to an enjoyable trilogy. The amusing story line is fast-paced from the moment the heroine lights up her blackberry and never slows down until the final manifestation; that ironically fans of the series will intuitively know before the lead couple does. That Old Black Magic is a winning climax to a fun series.
A dozen years ago the Change brought the Dark Age Dawning of evil into the world (see Nightfall). Most magic practitioners turned to the amoral side with no thoughts of mankind beyond expendable pawns. Penelope "Orchid" Sheehan remains persistent with her belief to help the surviving humans against the forces of General O'Malley, especially his hellhounds.
Pen wants to destroy the O'Malley murdering raiders, but is a prisoner of her enemy who plans to sell her as a slave to the highest bidder. Her childhood friend Tru Daugherty the lion skinwalker rescues her. She pleads with him to joins forces to take the battle to O'Malley. However, although attracted to Pen, Tru is a loner so he wants to say no though he fears for the life of the woman he always loved. Separately they will die; together they can change the world.
Daybreak, the final Dark Age Dawning romantic fantasy (see Midnight), is a great finish to a strong post-apocalyptic thriller. Extremely fast-paced throughout, yet vividly descriptive of the dark landscape and starring two fascinating heroes, fans will appreciate the climax as Pen will go after O'Malley with or without the shapeshifter she loves.
Hearts and Swords
Robin D. Owens
"Heart and Sword". As supplies and calm temperament run out, Captain Kelse Bountry confronts a mutiny while seeking a planet for his earth fleet to colonize while his wife Fern has his back.
"Heart Story". Over four centuries since the Colonization of Celta, in Druida City Blush Willow hid her Heartmate Dri Paris from her murderous insane mother. Now a year after her mom died, she hopes to have a second chance with her Heartmate, but their past remains an obstacle and his family's dire straits make her even more unacceptable.
"Heart and Soul". Over four centuries since the Colonization of Celta, in small Gael City Tinne Holly's ex wife Genista Furze obtains work assisting a clockmaker as Nista Gorse. GentleSir Cardus Parry is attracted to her, but she has no wish for any mate after her scandalous divorce shocked the FirstFamilies.
"Noble Heart". Over four centuries since the Colonization of Celta, in Druida City during the Passage, Walker Clover learns he has the Flair, which is so prevalent his family rises to GrandLord level. He must wed a member of the FirstFamilies, but wants none of them as he only desires the enigmatic Sedwy Grove.
This is a strong quartet as Robin D. Owens fills in some of the gaps in her terrific Celta romantic fantasy saga.
The Vamp Man Slade Johnson raids the research lab of scientist Jane Frederickson. He takes her prisoner as he believes she can save his people especially his dying nephew. Slade escorts Jane to his home Sanctuary where he and the other Renegades live.
Jane is shocked to realize Slade, a a technological genius is her intellectual equal and her sexual fantasy. Slade is stunned when he realizes Dr. Jane may be the savior of his people, but she is also his Mate. As they fall in love, she makes him promise not to convert her; as she has issues involving her stepfather and he has issues with what their relationship can do to her physically and to him emotionally. Finally there is her formula that everyone wants.
The latest Shadow Wranglers ranch romantic fantasy (see Jace, Jared and Caleb) is an engaging tale starring two geniuses falling in love. The irony of the story line is neither of the brilliant pair knows what to do with being each other's Mate. The exciting somewhat thin story line contains an insightful relationship drama inside an action-packed plot; as the lab rivals the boudoir for dominance.
A Play of Heresy
In 1438, Joliffe completed his espionage mission for Cardinal Bishop Beaufort of Winchester. He travels from Warwickshire to Coventry to join his troupe of six led by Basset who are in Coventry to perform at Festival of Corpus Christi.
Just outside of Coventry, Joliffe meets his mentor, undercover agent Sebastian. The latter tells Joliffe that he searches for missing mercer merchant Master Robyn Kydwa of Coventry who was to meet him in Bristol with information on the evil Lollards, but failed to show up. Sebastian asks Joliffe to help him locate Kydwa. Since Basset has no role for him, Joliffe performs with former troupe member Sendell presenting the Harrowing of Hell; while in his quest to find the vanished mercer he uncovers a dangerous heretic cult who plans to destroy the Church.
The latest Joliffe medieval "Play" (see A Play of Piety and A Play of Treachery) is a great fifteenth century thriller in which the suspense comes late. The story line brings vividly to life Coventry during a religious festive period though the cast of players. Joliffe holds the entertaining story line together as he escorts readers on a tour of medieval England while performing in a play and unraveling an ugly conspiracy.
Special FBI operative Samantha Trudeau does not need her psychic abilities to warn her she is in deep trouble with law enforcement when her BFF Zoe is killed but before dying informs her who they truly were working for. Knowing the cell she worked for and other law enforcement seeks her, she is shot at to silence her; Sam takes a bullet in the shoulder, but finds an unoccupied cabin to hide.
The cabin belongs to mundane civilian hunk Mac Hunter, a reporter. Although she detests bringing him into her tsuris she needs help although he rejects her insistence she can read minds and that men want her dead until the arrival of a team with weapons. They escape but have no place safe to hide. He suggests she stay with her sisters in Lake Avalon, Florida (see True Colors for Alex's story and True Vision for Charlie's thriller). However, Sam knows they and their mates cannot protect her from her former boss.
This is a strong finish to the tense Trudeau trilogy. Filled with action and danger, the fun is in the relationship as Sam is superwoman while Mac is super stubborn; their relationship. Readers will enjoy the solo super Sam and the family man Mac as they fall in love while eluding a super insane villain.
An Unexpected Gentleman
Twenty-seven years old spinster Adelaide Ward feels the weight of the world on her shoulders as she has no dowry but has to take care of a teenage sister, a brother in debtor's prison, and an infant nephew. She needs to accept a marriage proposal from prim and proper but boring yet wealthy Baron Robert Maxwell. If Adelaide could choose she would wed her beau's illegitimate half brother, former press gang prisoner Connor Brice. This rake kissed her in front of the Ton; stealing her heart and reputation with his sweet lips.
However, Adelaide reconsiders her affection for the charming rogue once she knows his secret agenda was to use her as a pawn in his sibling squabble. Irate with both feuding brothers, Adelaide demands the truth even if it means her family remains in dire economic straits.
This is a superb historical romance in which the intelligent triangle is set early leading to tension and danger. Action-packed but character driven by the fully developed lead trio, fans will enjoy Alissa Johnson's terrific thriller as the battling brothers seek the prize of the strong pragmatic heroine for the wrong reasons.
A Cookie Before Dying
In the Baltimore suburb Chatterley Heights, co-owners of the Gingerbread House and BFFs since childhood, Olivia Greyson and Maddie Briggs worked late into the night on themed cookie cutter events for their business. The next morning, Olivia looks out her window to see a sea of white on her lawn in spite of the high eighties temperature. Someone dumped crunched paper on the lawn of the Gingerbread House. The note says "Sugar Kills" and invites people to attend The Vegetable Plate every Tuesday to battle against "demon sugar."
Livie goes to confront Charlene Critch, owner of The Vegetable Plate, only to see someone racing out of the establishment. She enters the open door, sees the trashed establishment, and calls Sheriff Del Jenkins who orders her to stay in her shop. With Maddie she finds Charlene who accuses Olivia of causing trouble and trashing her store while denying papering her enemy's lawn. Not long afterward, Livie and her Yorkie Spunky hear a dog howling louder than the noise of the storm hitting the town. When they look they see the Vegetable Plate intruder dead on their lawn.
The latest Cookie Cutter shop Mystery (see Cookie Dough or Die) is an entertaining investigative thriller. The early story line is lighthearted fun as Olivia argues with stereotypical fanatic Charlene that sugar does not kill; people kill. The tale turns deadly leading to Livie and Maddie, the amateur sleuths, making inquiries as does the sheriff. Fans of cozies will enjoy this Maryland small-town whodunit.
A Spirited Gift
Joyce and Jim Lavene
Duck, North Carolina Mayor Dae O'Donnell hosts the Mayors' Conference Weekend at the Blue Whale Inn, owned by her boyfriend Kevin Brickman. When feeder bands from Hurricane Kelly slam into the Outer Banks Island, everyone gathers in the ballroom. After the weather subsides, Dae does a head count and notices Manteo Mayor Sandi Foxx missing.
A search fails to find Sandi, but Dae, heading to the bathroom, locates the missing mayor's diamond ruby ring, which she picks up and sees a nasty vision of a man with a gun. She has Sandi's younger assistant Matthew Wright restrained until Sheriff Michaels arrives to lead the inquiry. Dae soon locates Sandi's corpse. She, former FBI agent Kevin and Michaels realize someone who attended the conference murdered the mayor, but who had the motive remains unclear.
The latest Dae in a life of a Duck Missing Pieces tale (see A Touch of Gold and A Timely Vision) is an engaging mystery in which the homicide comes a bit later in the story line than usual as the early focus is on the gala with the storm causing the suspense. Dae makes the paranormal thriller work with her psychometric ability to find clues. Mindful of the TV show Bedlam though the Team Lavene series was started earlier, fans know this writing duet can always be banked on for a strong thriller.
Seductive as Flame
In 1894, Scottish Zelda Mackenzie has just returned home after spending time exploring the Brazilian rainforest. She attends her cousin Jamie Blackwood's house party where she meets his friend an earl Alec Munro who shows he is interested in her.
However though attracted to the earl, she rejects his seduction as she refuses to bed a married man. He insists he has a "free" arrangement, but she still declines although she likes the way he is kind and nurturing with his young stepson. As Alec continues to press her into an affair, Zelda reconsiders her earlier position and agrees to a tryst. As they shock each other by falling in love, his feckless wife interferes with their relationship as much as his fear that he will prove to be just like his abusive dad.
This late Victorian erotic romance is a fun read though the storyline is emaciated except in the boudoir as the only external suspense involves to divorce or not to divorce his despicable wife. The heroine is a courageous person who does not acre one iota what society thinks of her; as what you see is what you get. The lead male is much more complex with an ugly history. Sub-genre fans will enjoy Susan Johnson's heater.
The Boy Who Shoots Crows
In Cumberland County, Pennsylvania twelve year old Jesse Rankin heads into the woods with a rifle almost every day. Affluent former New York artist Charlotte Dunleavy, who prefers to be left alone, has noticed the tweener's daily sojourn.
This time Boy Who Shoots Crows fails to come home. Sheriff Mark Gatesman questions the newcomer whose responses are spotty as she suffers from a migraine. However she mentions seeing high school student Dylan Hayes on a tractor in the area where Jesse was last seen.. Assuming foul play, Gatesman suspects Dylan harmed the younger child, but has no evidence beyond a foggy recollection of the painter saying she thought he was nearby.
This is an entertaining police investigative psychological suspense although I have a bias having had a child born in Camp Hill in Cumberland County. The story line looks deep into the minds of the four prime players, but especially the painter. However, that depth also slows down the pace of the search for the missing child. Still the mystery will grip readers as Randall Silvis provides clues and red herrings in plain sight.
Double Booked For Death
In Brooklyn with the death of her Aunt Dee, Darla Pettistone inherits Pettistone's Fine Books and Hamlet the cat. Darla knows she has a lot to prove to herself, to the neighborhood (and beyond) and mostly to that darn cat whose air of superiority bothers her now owner almost as much as the feline appears to have a higher IQ than she has.
She feels good about her first major event since taking over Pettistone's. Best-selling YA author Valerie Baylor will stop at Pettistone on her tour promoting her third bestselling Haunted High paranormal series. Darla anticipates five hundred or more teen girls attending the signing. She knows the gala has some problems from a person accusing the author of plagiarism and from a fundamentalist church thinking of picketing the bookstore. Those are minor to when Baylor arrives as she dies just outside the shop in what the police declare is a tragic accident. Hamlet the wise thinks otherwise and finds clues that propel Darla and her tenant former cop Jacqueline "Jake" Martelli, to investigate a homicide.
The first A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery is an entertaining whodunit starring a brilliant feline (who does not speak in human tongues), a beleaguered new store owner and an ex cop. The story line is fast-paced as Hamlet uncovers the clues that the two females working the case follow up on. Having an ex cop somewhat mitigates the amateur sleuth paradoxical flaw as fans will enjoy Double Booked For Death.
The Last Word
In Oyster Bay, North Carolina, Olivia Limoges and the rest of the Bayside Book Writers are ecstatic that bestselling novelist Nick Plumley has come to town to work on his next book. That euphoria goes stratospheric when the Booker Prize winning author comes to the Bayside Book Writer's meeting hosted by Harris Williams in his recently purchased "aged' bungalow.
Olivia and her canine Captain Havilland visit the newcomer at his rental, but instead of a gracious welcome, she finds him dead; apparently strangled. She calls Chief Rawlings, but believes Plumley's library search into the town's past led to his murder so Olivia conducts her own investigation.
The latest Books by the Bay Mystery is a delightful Tarheel amateur sleuth mystery starring a strong independent person. The murder occurs about a third of the way into the entertaining storyline, as motives and suspects are established before the homicide happens. Although Olivia has tripped over corpses twice before (see A Killer Plot and A Deadly Cliche) readers will enjoy this regional whodunit as Olivia or the killer will get in The last Word.
Crops and Robbers
In Monson, South Carolina Bailey's Farmer's Market manager Allison orders everyone to be on their best behavior when the Central South Carolina Restaurant Association visits them. Allison's fraternal twin Becca, who has a stall where she sells her jams and preserves, is excited even if she thinks her sibling is acting loco with her demands to clean everything in sight and many things not; Becca muses sweeping the dirt floor will be the final commandment.
Central South Carolina Restaurant Association President Joan Ashworth and her son Nobel make the rounds tasting and praising everyone until she tries Becca's strawberry preserves. In front of the vendor's parents, who just came home, Joan instead of orgasmic joy as her customers show 1000 percent of the time on their face, the woman's visage turns sour. Feeling rejected, Becca and her dog Hobbit go home only to find her mother's hands bloodied and Joan dead on her kitchen floor. After fainting, Becca knows she must investigate to prove her mom's innocence as even her friend on the force Sam probably will not look elsewhere.
The latest A Farmers' Market Mystery (see Farm Fresh Murder and Fruit of All Evil) is an enjoyable Magnolia State amateur sleuth as the heroine feels obligated to investigate the murder that occurred in her house in which her mom is the only suspect. The story line is fast-paced and filled with twists while recipes from the farmer's market sellers may be a sub-genre staple of culinary mysteries but fans will relish their inclusion.
In Utah, wildlife biologist Sam Westin is at the park for the Save the Wilderness Fund. This park is where she arranged for the release of cougars into the wild. Sam finds a wandering toddler who she returns to his father at a camp site. Not long afterward two years old Zachary Fischer is reported missing again.
The media including her friend Adam Steele goes into frenzy mode blaming cougars though there is no clues that the animals are involved with the vanished toddler. Sam blames herself as she thought she sent the boy to his dad, but believes otherwise now. She and FBI Agent Chase Perez go into the backcountry searching for the infant to save his life and prove her cats are innocent before they become the endangered targets of vigilante injustice as hunters arrive in mass.
The first Summer Westin Mystery is a terrific wildlife investigation in which the biologist and the Fed know time is running out on the toddler and perhaps the cougars. Their inquiry is filled with stunning twists while readers will believe they are trekking the wild high country alongside the lead duo. With a nod to Anna Pigeon, readers with enjoy going outdoors with Sam as their guide.
Foul Play At Four
Recent serial robberies have shaken the villagers of Long Farnden, England. Grocery store owner Josie March is the latest robbery victim as someone took one hundred pounds from her establishment. Josie's fiance Police Sergeant Matthew Vickers and her mom New Brooms cleaning service owner Lois are as irate as the victim is as a hundred pounds could bankrupt Josie.
However, mother and daughter becomes angrier when family patriarch Derek the electrician is hammered to death during a theft at the home of magistrate Mrs. Tollervey-Jones. Lois-and Detective Chief Inspector Hunter Cowgill investigate the robberies that are turning increasingly violent.
The latest Lois Meade amateur sleuth whodunit (see Threats at Three) is an intriguing English village investigation with a fresh twist in which the readers ironically know the identity of the thieves, brothers Gerald and Clive Mowlem, long before the cleaner or the cops do. Thus in spite of being fast-paced, the entertaining story line lacks the taut suspense of previous entries in the long running series. Still fans will enjoy Lois' latest case as the global economic meltdown hammers Long Farnden, Tresham and the other nearby villages.
Two teens find the body of an apparently homeless elderly woman near a movie theater in Excelsior, Minnesota. The female is identified as fifty-three years old Carolyn Marie Carlson who had a long rap sheet. The assumption is she froze to death while intoxicated; but a week later the autopsy proved she had no alcohol in her blood. Thus Sergeant Malloy revises his assumption as he now believes Carolyn was murdered and suspects the family.
Carolyn's cousin Margaret Smith, a frequent patron of Crewel World knitting shop, begs owner Betsy Devonshire to investigate the death of Carrie. Meanwhile North Dakota investigator Irvin Morcambe visits Emily Hame in Excelsior to ask if she knows where homeless Janet Turnquist is as she has inherited a fortune; Emily says no though she worries about her troubled Aunt Janet. A teen finds Janet's corpse and on her blouse is embroidered her last will and testament in which her kind loving niece Emily inherits her estate if it proves legal. Wanting to know who killed her Aunt Janet, Emily asks Betsy to investigate. Betsy knows there is a link between the two homicides besides both are homeless females, but struggles to knit cohesively the clues.
The latest Crew World needlecraft mystery (see Buttons and Bones) is an engaging whodunit as Malloy and Devonshire find the evidence does not come together in either murder case or together with one murderer. The entertaining story line is fun to follow as Betsy works two seemingly related homicides, but how they tie together never seems to surface as series fans will appreciate what the "tie" is once Monica Ferris reveals it to the audience.
Border Lord's Bride
9780983899972, $1.99, www.amazon.com
In 1332 Lucius Carr returns home to take on the mantle of the Carrick earldom on the Scottish side of the Borderlands. However, the reason he returned is to protect his four sisters, named after flowers, since his brother Marcus recently died during an English raid. Lucius also carries guilt from when he fled his home and family after Elizabeth Huntingdon rejected him and his brother Peter joined him only to die by being burned at the stakes.
The biggest shock to his coming home comes from the Seward who tells Lucius that his duty as the new earl includes marrying Elizabeth in four days. He does not wish to wed the woman he hates as he believes she betrayed their love; she also does not wish to wed the man who hurt her. For his sisters who they both love, they marry. However someone will do anything including murder to keep this pair apart.
The fourth Brotherhood of the Scottish Templars (see To Tempt a Knight, Seducing a Knight and A Knight to Desire) is a super fourteenth century Borderlands romance. As always in a Gerri Russell historical, the lead couple is a charming pair while the support cast (especially his sisters) is powerful and the deadly Machiavellian villain hidden in plain sight. Sub-genre readers will appreciate Ms. Russell's engaging novella as love is not enough when trust does not exist.
Tricks of the Trade
Laura Anne Gilman
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373803316, $14.95, www.amazon.com
Private Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations (PUPI) top dogs assign Paranormal Scene Investigator Bonnie Torres as part of the team looking into two cases. First there is an affluent Null human claiming a Talent broke into his home damaging two rooms and stealing two objects. Second there is the murder of a floater found by NYPD, but who turns out to be a fatae so it becomes PUPI's inquiry. Both cases go nowhere while pressure mounts on PUPI to resolve them.
At the same time, Bonnie and her supervisor Ben Venec struggle to ignore their respective magical essences that want them to merge in order to create their offspring. Finally in the Electric Apple is frustrated rock-in Roblin who wants to destroy Bonnie and her teammates.
The third Paranormal Scene Investigations (see Hard Magic and Pack of Lies) is an exciting urban fantasy mystery that employs magical forensics. Bonnie is a terrific protagonist while her teammates especially Big Ben enhance the thriller. Although the three prime PSI detecting subplots never quite merge, readers will enjoy touring the Electric Apple with Bonnie and the pups.
The Scottish Prisoner
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780385337519, $25.00, www.amazon.com
In 1760, former Rising soldier Jamie Fraser knows how fortunate he is to be only a paroled prisoner of war; instead of rendition to a West Indies sugar cane field, he lives in the Lake District near his son who he cannot acknowledge as his but also misses his wife Claire who he prays is safe. Tired of war, Jamie wants to be left alone in peace.
However, his quiet reclusive lifestyle ends when Irish Lord Tobias Quinn, a brother in arms from the failed Jacobite Rising rebellion arrives in the Lake District. Tobias wants Jamie to support a new rebellion as he claims he possesses a relic that will stir the Irish to overthrow the English rulers.
Lord John Grey has found what allegedly are documents claiming a British officer of treason. He needs the packet translated from Erse, an ancient Highland dialect, so Lord John comes to the Lake District to ask Jamie to do it. Although neither trusts the other as they were on opposite sides during the recent rebellion and Jamie was a prisoner while Lord John was a warden of the prison he was in, the pair reluctantly unite on a treacherous trek to Ireland to prevent more blood from flowing.
The latest Lord John historical thriller story is a great entry in which Diana Gabaldon brings Jamie Fraser from her Outlander saga into the mix as both series move forward. The story line is fast-paced once the players converge in the Lake District and never slows down while the unlikely allies rush to Ireland to prevent a tragedy. Ms. Gabaldon's fans will relish this Georgian era mystery as Lord John and Jamie Fraser shine on the historical stage in this terrific tale.
It Takes A Witch
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451235527, $7.99, www.amazon.com
Enchanted Village in Salem, Massachusetts is a tourist attraction in which practitioners of the Craft (witches) can practice their skills without mortals knowing it. If a witch tells a mortal what she is, she loses her Crafty power.
The latest residents in the village are the Merriweather sisters (Darcy and Harper) of Ohio, who never knew they possessed such power until their Aunt Velma told them three weeks ago. They came to Salem to learn how to use the craft. Darcy settles in her new home' and starts to adjust to the paradigm switch and finally begins moving past the betrayal of her ex husband. However, all is not well in the bucolic village because a pickpocket is on the loose; word of mouth will destroy the tourist trade if this felon is not stopped soonest. Matters turn ugly when Darcy discovers the body of wannabe witch Alexandra Shipley who believed she was a Crafter. Refusing to leave it to the incompetent village police after meeting with these bumblers, Darcy investigates the homicide because Aunt Velma's beau has been arrested; everyone except the cops and the killer knows she is innocent. In the process she learns more about her powers and the limitations of the village rules especially when she breaks one.
Although all the typical elements of an amateur sleuth urban fantasy (including romance) is in this fine tale, readers will believe It Takes a Witch is a brisk paranormal mystery. The Enchanted Village lives up to its name as a sort bewitching tourist attraction (think Disneyland). Darcy adjusts too easily to her new world order of granting wishes, but fans will enjoy her investigation as Heather Blake casts a spell on her audience.
The Cocoa Conspiracy
Lady Arianna Hadley stops at Messrs. Harvey & Watkins Rare Book Emporium to buy an expensive book on chocolate for her husband Charles' birthday present. However, a man accosts her in the bookstore insisting the book is his. Instead of swooning from the threats, Lady Saybrook kicks his butt. He flees and she purchases the book.
However before she gives Saybrook his birthday gift, she finds classified documents concealed inside the seam. Arianna fears her uncle-in-law has managed to step into it again. Meanwhile someone shoots at Saybrook wounding the former military Intel officer Charles when he is hunting. The Saybrook pair has quite a mystery to unravel as each incident is dangerous and personal.
The latest Lady Arianna Regency Mystery (see Sweet Revenge) is a terrific tale due to the unique kick butt heroine who is not afraid to brawl against tough rogues. Although starting each chapter with an Arianna cocoa recipe seems out of place with the non stop action (better to have fewer included in domestic scenes), the story line is fast-paced from the moment Arianna beats up a foreign thief in the book "shop" and never slows down as she works the case of the Cocoa Conspiracy.
Ghoul Getters TV reality show investigator M.J. Holliday, her lover Heath Whitefeather whose late grandfather Sam is her spirit guide, and her BFF Gilley Gillespie are on ghost busting tour. The trio is on their way to Dunkirk when the spirit of Holliday's mom warns her that she will soon be on the most dangerous hunt of her perilous career. Sam informs her that a horrific evil attacks the Pueblo and if not stopped will kill all Whitefeather kin just like what happened to Heath's late uncle.
Heath receives the call his uncle is dead. He informs M.J. he must go to the Zanto Pueblo in New Mexico. M.J. and Gilley accompany him. They learn that a demon, freed from a long incarceration, is causing deadly havoc. No one believes the threesome's assertion even after a humongous claw mark is found embedded in a tree. The dragon-shaped demon continues its killing spree while the trio risks their lives to end the murders even though most of the tribe including the elders thinks they are loco.
The latest Ghost Hunter mystery (see What's A Ghoul to Do?) is a fantastic paranormal serial killer thriller as the group battle against a demon of Native American mythos. Heath fears for his kin (and himself) while Gilley brings eccentricity, humor and loyalty as he supports her Georgia childhood friend in dark deadly scenarios; this time with no local help. However, once again M.J. is the star who rushes in where the brave dare not enter as she takes the hill first and thinks afterward how crazy her actions were. Victoria Laurie is one of the best at creating exciting supernatural mysteries.
You Might As Well Die
In Manhattan Vanity Fair columnist Dorothy Parker is a member of the Algonquin Hotel Round Table where the Vicious Circle hold discussions. Minor league illustrator Ernie MacGuffin asks Dorothy about suicide as the witty columnist has tried the inane exit strategy once before. He gives her his suicide note but she refuses to accept it.
Prohibition remains in full swing, but Dorothy buys drinks at Tony Soma's speakeasy. Soma's wife demands Parker and her best friend Robert Benchley pay their alcohol tab. When she goes to get some money, Dorothy finds the suicide note in her bag. Ernie writes he will leap from the Brooklyn Bridge. Parker and Benchley grab a cab. At the Brooklyn Bridge they see a painting and a neatly placed pair of shoes. NYPD Detective O'Rannigan investigates the apparent suicide though no body has been found. Harold Ross offers them a, $500 fee to write an article on MacGuffin for his new magazine the New Yorker. As they investigate McGuffin's life, they meet his very tall wife Midge, his mistress turned clairvoyant Vida Sweet, and his agent Abraham Snath as the deceased's art work jumps exponentially in value while Dorothy thinks something is not quite right.
'The latest Algonquin Round Table Mystery (see Murder Your Darlings) is a charming 1920s period piece. Obviously Parker and Benchley are the prime players; the story line brings to life the members of the Round Table although my favorite character for personal reasons is outsider Midge. With a strong sense of time and place, fans will enjoy this engaging Americana as the superb twisting investigation enhances a feeling of being a part of the Round Table.
Red Coyote Press
PO Box 60582, Phoenix, AZ 85082
9780976673316, $15.95, www.redcoyotepress.com
Pseudo psychic Samantha Brennan obtains a spiritual advisor gig to rock star Rand Riker of the ban Devil's Disciple. As his personal psychic, she travels with him to Sedona, Arizona where he will gives a benefit concert showing his support to Normal Frankly, a militia advocate who sent a vial of toxin to the state's junior U.S. Senator Kenny Campbell killing his aide. While Frankly was being transported from the courthouse, his militia kidnaps a judge, cops and jurors as well as
a Military convoy.
At about the same time, Samantha and Celtic Goddess FBI Agent Annabelle Haggerty meet. Annabelle has been assigned to protect Senator Campbell. However, her mission changes to getting the hostages safely out of Frankly's compound without letting the killer go free. Once again Annabelle needs Samantha's help (see High Crimes on the Magical Plane); especially with her power at an ebb due to draining by "aliens" from Area 51 in reaction to the Frankly militia demands. The pair of opposite females must figure out who is mortal, alien and deity before the Harmonic Convergence occurs in which anything can happen.
The second Samantha Brennan and Annabelle Haggerty Magical Mystery is a witty irreverent and enthralling paranormal thriller starring a seemingly unlikely duet who have a bond that neither can explain yet both knows they have their partner's back. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy the fascinating return of Brennan and Haggerty on their latest magical mystery tour.
The White Fox
Medallion Press, Inc.
1020 Cedar Lane, No. 2N, St. Charles, IL 60174
9781605424620, $9.95, www.amazon.com
In Birchford, England sixteen-year-old orphan Jack Lawson is walking with one of his few friends popular Lucy when he sees the glowing white fox; she fails to notice anything as she was babbling in teen speak. A few days later, the pair notices dangerous looking hooded figures stalking the town. The White Fox introduces himself to Jack as his guardian and warns him to remain vigilant. Not long afterward members of the Cult of Dionysus attack Jack and Lucy and his other friend Alex vanishes.
The Apollonians rescue the teens by taking them to the planet Rauthr where elves are at war with demons at a time when the Darkness is spreading across the universe. Although they have doubts that Jack is the savior, the practical Apollonians know he is there only hope to use the magical shards of starlight against the encroaching Darkness.
This is an entertaining quest fantasy written by a teen for a teenage audience. Jack is an intriguing hero who burns beans while living in an orphanage that is more a prison than a home; his sidekick Lucy sums up their escapades together as he is Gandalf the young and she is the karate Kid. Mindful of Michael Ende's "The Neverending Story" though targeting an older audience, readers will enjoy James Bartholomeusz's exciting The White Fox while looking forward to more of Jack's adventures.
Dave Barry & Alan Zweibel
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399158698, $25.95, www.amazon.com
In Fort Lee, New Jersey, family man Philip Horkman referees an ATSO soccer championship game. He calls offside against Taylor Peckerman as she kicked the tying goal. Taylor's dad Jeffrey, a forensic plumber, goes crazy cursing and threatening Phillip.
That night Jeffery's wife asks him to stop for a bottle of wine as the Oprah Reading Club will meet in their house. Jeffrey stops at The Wine Shop only to learn it is a pet shop named after the prime in-law investors and the owner is Philip. Still fuming over the call, Jeffrey threatens Philip who grabs a bat. Expecting his enemy to swing, Jeffrey grabs a lemur before fleeing into the night with Philip in pursuit. One thing leads to another and soon the pair is on TV as terrorists trying to blow up the GW Bridge and shooting a cop in the scrotum. They are on the run from cops, soldiers, Charo, Chuck E. Cheese and terrorists.
Rotating first person accounts between the two antagonists (and authors), this is a zany over the top of Washington Heights thriller. Amusing and fast-paced, readers will enjoy the escalating soccer war between two individuals as the media puts on its spin to events while the government agencies insure the enemy combatants are accused of all sorts of felons to hide their incompetency and mistakes. With an insane spin into politics, the aptly titled Lunatics is a fun tale as fans will enjoy this pair of misfits jocular antics.
The Chalk Girl
After being declared mentally incompetent and unfit for duty, Kathy Mallory takes three months of leave. Although not officially declared ready for work, Kathy shows up at the NYPD Special Crimes Unit. No one challenges the return of "Mallory the Machine".
In Central Park, eight-year-old Coco observed a murder and kidnapping. She has blood on her shoulder that she says fell from the sky and her uncle is in a tree. When they find her relative dead in the tree, police question the child, but she cannot describe the killer. Kathy and Coco bond as each recognizes a hurting soul in the other. The cop begins to tie the Central Park homicide to two other similar cases and begins to connect dots totwo fifteen years old cold cases.
The latest Mallory police procedural (see Find Me) is a super investigative thriller starring two emotionally damaged females. The inquiry is excellent as Mallory methodically ties three present day investigations to two cold cases. The ties between the so called "machine" and the Chalk Girl enhance a strong New York thriller.
The Secret Crown
Former Special Forces BFFs Jonathon Payne and David Jones are in Pittsburgher when Kaiser calls them to come immediately to Munich to discuss buried treasure. Once they arrive, he explains that crates buried during WWII were recently discovered with some containing a black swan insignia belonging to late nineteenth century Mad King Ludwig II. Before he was allegedly assassinated the Mad King supposedly put aside a humongous horde of gold and jewels to build a castle. However, after his murder, no evidence was found to prove this assertion until these crates were located.
Kaiser believes they can make a fortune. Payne and Jones agree though they hesitate because any dealings with Kaiser usually proves to be extremely dangerous. As they follow the clues, the two former Special Forces soldiers find their basic Kaiser assertion true as enemies wanting to own the treasure stalk them.
The latest Payne and Jones thriller (see The Lost Throne and The Prophecy) is a fun exciting tale in which the history of Bavaria enhances the suspense. The lead dudes provide humorous asides such as racist sausage and a zillion teenage locker room sex jokes, but never seem quite challenged by their adversaries. Still in spite of the evil enemy never seeming like much of a threat, fans will enjoy The Secret Crown as Payne and Jones search for the treasure of the Mad King.
Jayne Ann Krentz
Lander Knox, claiming to be the dying patient's son, visits Quinn Knox at Oakmont Hospital in Florida to gloat that he will soon obtain his rightful inheritance by opening the Phoenix Mine and using the crystals for personal gain. He explains he found a freelancing underground hot books code breaker in Seattle who he will hire to open Ray Willis psi-coded nab book. A stunned Quinn calls Elias Coppersmith who had his back like a brother forty years ago to warn him.
A maniac arrives with a gun that he points at octogenarian wheelchair bound Hannah Vaughn and her housekeeper Mrs. Jensen. Grady Hastings demands she give him the Key and her employee Abby Radwell who will unlock the Key to the Latent Power of Stones. She uses psychic energy from the tome to knock him out. The next day she receives a blackmailing email that states the sender knows what she did to Hastings.
Abby takes the water taxi to visit Elias' son paranormal crystal expert Sam Coppersmith on the San Juan Islands. He agrees to keep her safe and hunt for her blackmailer if she can finds a dangerous book that his father asked him to locate in order to conceal it. They also are aura attracted to one another.
The first Dark Legacy romantic suspense is an engaging thriller starring two likable protagonists and an apparent insane antagonist; while the support cast enhances the engaging paranormal thriller. Although the storyline contains several meandering entertaining twists, the plot never veers from the course readers will expect. Still the key to enjoyable Copper Beach are the courageous lead couple who risks their lives to keep a dangerous tome from a mad man.
In Chicago private investigator V. I. Warshawski attends a glamorous gala for Wade Lawlor, the star of Global Entertainment Network's top show Wade's World, a right-wing network. Her cousin Petra works for the Malina Foundation on a book club in which wealthy and penniless young girls meet.
A concerned Petra asks V. I. to search for the missing book club girls. She locates them conducting a rite from a YA vampire thriller in nearby closed Mount Moriah Cemetery. Besides the seven tweeners, V. I. also finds a corpse with a metal rod protruding from the victim's heart. Though she knows she should not, V. I. helps the girls leave the murder scene before CPD arrives. V. I. begins her own inquiry into what proves a twisting case that makes Rubik's Cube look like a kindergarten puzzle.
This is a great Warshawski suspenseful investigative thriller as the heroine works a confusing case but never shuts down her moral compass of helping the helpless. The story line is fast-paced while keeping readers up late with what spin follows next. Fans will enjoy kick butt Warshawski as she escorts fans on a vast tour of the diverse Chicago landscape.
A Devil Is Waiting
Following a difficult rough tour in Afghanistan, British Captain Sara Gideon heir to the Gideon Bank returns home. The Prime Minister's "private army" leader General Charles Ferguson recruits war hero Sara to join his elite antiterrorism team. He knows her linguistic skills will enhance his unit's chances for success against a devious enemy.
Meanwhile Muslim terrorist Ali Selim offers a special blessing to anyone who kills the infidel leaders of the West. Ferguson takes Selim's threat serious as POTUS is coming to London to meet with the P.M. He assigns agents Sean Dillon, Daniel Holley and Sara to take out Selim before anyone acts on his assassination blessing. However as they follows clues to the Persian Gulf in seeking the Mullah, a kidnapping turns the mission into a desperate quest.
The latest Dillon-Holly tale (see The Judas Gate) is an action-packed thriller although somewhat similar in theme to this series and other stop the terrorists' sagas. The story line refreshed by Sara who brings a feminist perspective to the mix. Although the story line is thin and the terrorists seem stereotypes, fans will enjoy this fast-paced novel.
Nobel Prize winner, molecular geneticist Tobias Rothman, who worked with virulent strains of typhoid-causing salmonella, concentrates on organogenesis, growing fully functional entire organs from stem cells. He notices the energy and intelligence of Columbia Medical School student Pia Grazdani so Tobias brings the troubled twenty-six years old onto his team.
Avaricious board chair of LifeDeals Inc. Edmund Mathews uses his firm's assets to buy life insurance policies from the sick and elderly on the cheap. However, if Rothman's work succeeds making organs cheap, Mathews and his partners would go bankrupt and potentially face criminal charges of fraud and embezzlement. An accident at the safe lab shakes up Pia who soon realizes someone caused the lethal incident and wants her dead too. She turns to Columbia medical student George Wilson, who loves her, for safety.
Although an exciting medical thriller, Death Benefits is over the top of Morningside Heights; thus requiring readers to ignore their plausibility measures. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the lab incident occurs and never slows down. Robin Cook shines a fascinating spotlight on the multitrillion dollar insurance commodity market inside an engaging Manhattan tale.
At Elaine's New York City lawyer Stone Barrington believes his son Peter does not need him (see Son of Stone) though his best friend NYPD Lieutenant Dino Bacchetti insists otherwise. However, their daddy discussion ends when CIA Assistant Deputy Director Holly Barker joins them. She reminds them they are consultants on call who need to go to DC though she cannot reveal why; she explains they will need credentials to visit the White House.
In Washington, CIA Director and First Lady Katharine Rule Lee greets them while they wait for her husband to arrive from the West Coast. President Will Lee wants them to investigate the murder suicide of the First Lady's social secretary Mimi Kendrick by her husband Brixton Kendrick the White House manager of the physical layout investigated last year by the FBI and Secret Service.
This is an engaging Barrington-Bacchetti investigative thriller though the reason for the inquiry makes a strong case that the First Lady should not be a CIA director as she states the "FBI agents are not awfully good at investigating homicides." The story line is fast-paced from the onset though Stone has time for a tryst with Holly. Over the top of the Washington Monument and containing an unnecessary subplot involving a former agent, fans of the series still will enjoy D.C. Dead.
Dr. Kay Scarpetta, head of the joint DOD-Massachusetts Cambridge Forensics Center, travels to the Georgia Prison for Women (GPFW) in Savannah to meet with inmate Kathleen Lawler to discuss the murder of her former deputy chief, Jack Fielding. Several months ago, Dawn Kinkaid killed her biological dad Jack who had her with Kathleen when the latter was a social worker and he a twelve years old boy. Scarpetta wants to understand what forces were at work that made Jack do what she did.
Kay gets a bad feeling from the attitude of the warden and guards, but is unsure what makes her uneasy. The star attraction at GPFW is Lola Daggett who resides in death row awaiting her Halloween execution. She was convicted of killing a prominent local doctor and his family. While taking with Kathleen, a note is transferred from her to Kay. The forensics expert calls the number in the note and former ADA Jamie Berger answers. She asks her to come to her temporary home. Jamie informs Kay she has proof that Lola is innocent but needs Kay's expertise to support her when she files an order to stop the execution. Unwittingly due to her dedication, Kay is drawn into a series of events that connect the Lawler family massacre, inexplicable deaths at GPFW and a possible new way to destroy the military.
As always Patricia Cornwell writes an exhilarating thriller that will elate her fans who will immerse themselves deeply into the exciting story line. Readers will feel they are at the prison where several spins later much of the answers reside. Lucy and Pete play pivotal roles as Scarpetta goes from seeking the why Jack died to what looks like a conspiracy of such magnitude the military could be affected. Red Mist is Cornwell at her very best.
The Feng Shui Detective Goes West
Felony & Mayhem
9781934609798, $14.95 http://felonyandmayhem.com
Singapore feng shui specialist C.F. Wong brokers a business deal involving fruit-shaped highlighters between a member of the Chinese mafia and a supplier. However, instead of the colors of fruits, the pens are filled with black ink. As the middleman Wong owes a fortune to the mafia.
Wong obtains two lucrative commissions. He is to apply his expertise to insure a flying conference center aircraft is balanced spiritually and to do likewise to the occupants of Buckingham Palace though he feels his inner harmony is out of whack as he hates the west he has seen in the movies. Before he can perform his magic, someone murders an oil company executive leaving his requests in jeopardy.
This feng shui amateur sleuth tale contains a madcap story line that entertains readers with an east meets west clashing of cultures. The jocular story line is fun to follow as the whodunit takes a spin to the delight of readers and chagrin of the protagonist. Fans will enjoy Wong's second caper (see The Feng Shui Detective) as he goes west to his consternation in order to remit his angry enforcer eastern customer.
The Bitter Seed of Magic
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
Email Notification: Kaitlyn.Kennedy@us.penguingroup.com
9781937007201, $7.99, www.amazon.com
In London, with the witches deciding she is no longer a person of interest, Sidhe Genny Taylor welcomes a brief respite after recent harrowing events (see the Spellcrackers saga - The Sweet Scent of Blood and The Cold Kiss of Death). However, her R&R time ends rather quickly as the body of a dead faeling is taken out of the Thames; the cause of death is related to the Curse. Everyone knows that any curse is a bad thing especially to the recipients, but this one is horrific as the lesser fae become barren; losing their fertility means that magic will die along with the endangered species.
Genny is the focus of this insidious Curse. She contains the means to end the wicked Curse by becoming pregnant. The number of fae willing to do the deed could fill Wembley Stadium. As she tries to find an alternate way to prevent another victim of the Curse, the raging Gods intervene.
The third Spellcrackers urban fantasy is a terrific twisting thriller as Genny learns the roots of evil. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the faeling is found dead and never slows down as the beleaguered Sidhe heroine has run out of time to save several fae species from extinction.
The Bride Wore Leather
Simon R. Green
After trying to escape from Darkside, John Taylor has accepted his place in the darkest part of London. He has become the new Walker Voice of the Authorities and is marrying his beloved Suzie Shooter, the most dangerous bounty hunter in town.
However, before settling down, John wants to work one last case as a private investigator. He learns of a plot at the annual Ball of Forever to destroy an immortality serum. John gets inside and finds himself investigating the murder of the King of Skin. As the Walker, he and his friend Julien Advent search for the Sun King who believes that this locality abomination and its denizen need ethnic cleansing. Meanwhile nothing goes right; everyone hunts John including his leather clad fiancee who he fears might choose the bounty over love.
Although a bit thinner than usual, the latest Nightside thriller (see A Hard day's Night) is a fast-paced exhilarating thriller. John tells the tale of how he goes from the fire into the frying pan while someone in the shadows manipulates the scenario. Fans will enjoy John's tsuris as Darkside and the Sun King come after him while he wonders if he knows Suzie.
Robert Asprin & Jody Lynn Nye
Having competed for the presidency of M.Y.T.H. Inc., Skeeve the Klahd magician and Aahz the Pervect eliminate each other leaving more capable Bunny running the show (see Myth-Chief). Samwise the Impish salesman offers a deal to Skeeve and Aahz to join in on making a fortune with the construction of a pyramid in Aegis.
The three visit the site where accidents have slowed down the work. The Imp eventually sells his memorial stones concept to Aahz. They soon see first hand the accidents that hinder the building of the pyramid, but must return to the M.Y.T.H. Inc. office to attend Bunny's weekly staff meeting. They explain the contract to Bunny who approves the deal with the Imp. While Aahz dreams of eternal memorial at the top, Skeeve seeks the source of the accidents that seem deliberate.
This is an amusing entry, apparently the last one in which the late Robert Asprin was involved as capable Jody Lynn Nye takes over the reins solo. The pyramid scheme story line is fast-paced though the plot is thin even with Skeeve giving readers a tour of the kingdom. Filled with the usual fun satirizing, fans will enjoy Myth-Fortunes, a fitting homage to Mr. Asprin.
A Fighting Chance
William C. Dietz
In the war against the Ramanthian Hive, the Confederacy of Sentient beings are losing. Earth has fallen to the enemy although some Ramanthian military leaders feel the cost of occupation is not worth the waste of soldiers when the orb Cab can be glassed while the units can be redeployed to help complete the victory, which will allow home planets for the five billion recently hatched by the Mother.
After hitching a ride on the humongous Lictor supply ship, Major Antonio Santana and his unit drop onto O-Chi 4 but receive "friendly" fire from the surface. Santana meets with Colonel Anton who explains the planet is divided between the Ramanthian bugs, his loyal to the Confederacy force, and the self-appointed Governor Temo's traitors. Santana's mission is to assault Headstone where many humans have died while the bugs control the high ground. Meanwhile his beloved Foreign Officer -2 diplomat Christine Vanderveen arrives on planet with a mission to protect the Ramanthian Queen wounded from an assassination.
The superb finish to the great Legion of the Damned military science fiction (see When Duty Calls and For Those Who Fell) is an exciting, action-packed tale. Fast-paced, the key to the final thriller is the ease in which William C. Dietz provides various perspectives to the war; ranging from a convicted killer turned into a cyborg, a Hudathan, the locals, the Ubatha hive, and the lead couple, etc. What happens on O-Chi 4 gives the beleaguered Confederacy A Fighting Chance; albeit still somewhat of a long shot.
A Million Suns
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, NY, NY 10014
9781595143983, $17.99, www.amazon.com
Eldest is dead along with the lies (see Across the Universe); Elder reluctantly takes charge of the Godspeed. He quickly learns their food supply is reaching critical scarcity levels, which makes reaching their target that mush more difficult.
Amy was unplugged from her cryogenic chamber fifty years earlier than her scheduled three centuries sleep. She struggles to adapt to her world on board the vessel, but though she distrusted Eldest, wants to trust Elder who she is attracted to. They begin to investigate what is going on with the living and dead while trying to prevent the use of the drug phydus at a time when the feeders are gaining control.
The Across the Universe young adult futuristic science fiction thriller is an exciting "locked" shop mystery in which the audience will feel they are on board the gigantic yet claustrophobic Godspeed. Amy the freak is a super protagonist who feels anxiety and panic with the close vessel, but refuses to allow her emotions to cripple her. Elder is a fascinating leader as readers and Amy wonder if he is the hero or the villain. Fans will enjoy the middle book as the walls are closing in on Elder and Amy.
The Space Between
In the silver city of Pandemonium, Hell, Daphne lives a luxurious life as the youngest daughter of Lucifer and Lilith. However, in spite of her golden spoon lifestyle, Daphne feels adrift. She considers following the leads of her Succubi half-sisters stalking mortal souls while dodging Azrael the sadistic angel and his ogre BFF Dark Dreadful, but that thought gives her no pleasure.
Her half-brother Obie, son of Adam, is her best friend. He saves the souls of the Lost Ones, human-angel hybrids. His current rescue is that of alcoholic suicidal teenager Truman Flynn who Daphne feels attracted to though his time in hell is short. When Obie vanishes on earth, Daphne and Truman search for him while struggling to elude Azrael and DD.
The Space Between is a great romantic investigative fantasy that hooks young adult readers (and others) with a sense of realism as if the city exists and the paranormal cast genuine; especially the female who wants to feel love and the male who wants to abate his overwhelming emotions. The story line shifts perspective between Daphne's first hand account and Truman's third person viewpoint as they team up on a rescue mission while the nasty angel of death and his even more brutal sidekick stalk them.
SEAL of My Dreams
Christie Ridegeway (editor)
Bell Bridge Books
P.O. Box 300921, Memphis, TN 38130
9781611940510, $15.95, www.amazon.com
These are eighteen well written romantic short stories that pay homage to the dedicated Navy SEALs. Nick is "Coming Home" (by Jami Alden) to bury his beloved mom, as duty kept him away too frequently from her and Sarah who he will always love. Stephanie Bond returns readers to Sweetness, Georgia in "Baby, I'm Back" as Barry the seaman comes home with a prosthetic lower leg and a desire for his physical therapist. SEAL "Panama Jack" (by Tara Janzen wants Little Miss Blondie the field operative he escorts in Panama. After his parents died, Shane the SEAL came home to be there for eight year old half-sister Shannon, but soon wants Teri to be there for both siblings. All the entries are exciting with none sinking; the contributions star surprisingly developed lead characters, especially the SEALs. In addition all proceeds will go to the Veterans Research Corporation not for profit raising funds for veterans' medical research.
In 1861 fifteen years old Madeline Bradford leaves Portsmouth, New Hampshire to live with her Aunt Salome in the nation's capital Washington City as her father enlisted in the New Hampshire Infantry Regiment for three years and her mother Jenny is recently deceased. Maddie wishes she could join her dad as a soldier, but knows that is impossible.
She sightsees in her temporary home city, but it is not the sights of the capital that excite her. She notices one of the boarders Timothy Webster of the Carolina at her Aunt's boardinghouse dressed as a preacher near the home of rebel supporter Rose Greenhow. Webster is shocked by the teen's observation skills and introduces her to Pinkerton. They train her to be a spy as Maddie does what she can for the Union cause.
This is an exhilarating young adult Civil War thriller starring a wonderful intrepid teenager. The fast-paced story line grips the audience as Jane Singer provides her readers with a strong sense of time and place due to the diverse viewpoints; for instance slave traders willing to destroy the "merchandise"; held together by Maddie. With tidbits of information (quilts will not be seen in the same way), fans will feel they are in Washington City in 1861 at a time when the capital is divided but more sympathetic to the Southern cause.
The Wedding Gift
In December 1975 in Dalton City, Oklahoma, thirtyish Robina Willets murdered her spouse Roger and their five young children before committing suicide. Empty since the mass murders, on Halloween 1986, two teenagers Charlie Worthier and Donald Readle are found severely injured and in comas in the Willets House swimming pool; Charlie dies the next day while Donald survives their harrowing experience.
In 2004, pregnant Leeann Worthier the beauty queen and George Willets the heir to Willets Petroleum Services marry. As a wedding present to his bride, George declares the still empty Willets House is where they will reside so that the can have their own home. Leeann is concerned with moving into a place with such a recent tragic history, but does so. When unexplainable eerie and nasty events happen including seeing when awake and asleep Robina's restless spirit, Leeann refuses to leave; instead she vows to risk her life to learn the truth as to what haunts Willets House.
The superb opening and closing sections use newspaper clippings that read like real deadly incidents, which sets the atmospheric tone of the small-town supernatural thriller. However, much of the story line stays away from the exciting Amityville like Sooner state haunting to focus on the dysfunctional relationships between egocentric Leeann, stoic George and their respective families. Still overall this is an engaging haunted house tale.
In the affluent Ruby Point neighborhood of Laguna Beach, California, Kevin Blackstone used the PAWS (Professional Animal Wellness Specialist) clinic last year to cure his two German Shepherds (Zeus and Tommy Boy) from chomping on the furniture. Thus when the canines incessantly bark over the past two days, he calls PAWS pet therapist Carolina Lamont to calm down his agitated dogs. The canines escape the house and go after a landscaper who is rescued by Caro and Kevin. Caro teaches Kevin how to use behavior modification to end the barking syndrome
A few hours later, Homicide Detective Judd Malone arrives at Caro's home to question her as the last known person to have seen Kevin alive. She asks him about the dogs who he says are upset locked out on the patio awaiting transportation to the Animal Shelter. Stunned Caro proves her innocence but as a second order effect inadvertently leads to the arrest of her best friend, former movie star Diana Knight who relishes the limelight just in time for the Fur Ball annual animal rescue fundraiser. Realizing ditzy Di thrives on the PR; Caro investigates upsetting barking Detective Malone.
Though out of the amateur sleuth script, this is a fun lighthearted murder investigation starring a former Texas psychologist who turned from people to animals as the latters' bites are easier to cope with. Caro is a wonderful detective who conducts her inquiries with the help of the barking canine crowd. Sub-genre fans will enjoy her antics as she sets out to prove her BFF is innocent while the cop tells her to stay out of the investigation or stay in jail with Di.
Sophie and the Rising Sun
Miss Anne recalls what happened to Miss Sophie Willis over two decades ago back in 1939 in Salty Creek, Georgia although she admits she does not know how it ended only how it got to that point. Allegedly Miss Sophie's true love died during WWI combat. After some supposed grief, Sophie apparently accepted her life as being a dry loneliness taking care of her mom and two aunts.
However, Miss Sophie and Miss Anne's fiftyish Japanese-American gardener Mr. Grover Cleveland Oto become friends as they enjoy spending Sunday morning painting in silence. As the pair falls in love, Pearl Harbor places the California born Mr. Oto in peril from local retaliation. Miss Anne and Miss Sophie hide Mr. Oto from the terror of the angry Salty Creek vigilantes.
This is an engaging historical thriller that focuses on the impact of war on people and relationships even thousands of miles from the front. The story line is character driven by the three above, Miss Sophie's deceased family, and several other key players like Big Sally, Miss Ruth and Eulalie as they bring a sense of time and place to the strong WWII drama told by Miss Anne in the early 1960s.
Robert Fitzpatrick & Jon Land
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765335517, $24.99, www.amazon.com
In 1980 Washington, FBI Assistant Director Roy McKinnon assigns one of his best field agents Robert Fitzpatrick to go to Boston to "kick ass". Fitzpatrick had success in the 1970s in Miami and previously to that worked on the KKK bombings in Mississippi (Burning) and the King assassination. Being Irish-American was the other trait that made him perfect for the job of turning Boston "straight and narrow." His agenda is to clean out the corrupt field office that went Boston Irish native for three decades and put away Irish mob chief James "Whitey" Bulger and his top enforcer Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi. The two murderers killed anyone in their way, gun trafficked with the IRA and had high political and FBI protection. Three years with trying to bring down Bulger and clean the agency led to Fitzpatrick, getting no cooperation, lost his job for allegedly embarrassing the agency. Still he returned to the Mount Loretto Orphanage in Astoria, Queens where he first dreamed of being an FBI agent and visited the gravesite of Father Kenny knowing his mentor would believe he acted honorably.
The timing of this autobiography is sadly perfect with the scandal at Penn State as a reminder that the institution and its entrenched always protect themselves by maintaining the status quo even when that includes covering up horrific crimes. Betrayal provides a well written cautionary realism that reminds the readers that the truly courageous like Agent Fitzpatrick never give up your values in order to keep an organization's "reputation" safe.
Harold Robbins' The Curse
The Sphinx sends Fatima Sari to kill former New York's Piedmont Museum curator Madison Dupree, but the amateur assassin does not want to murder the art expert. Instead, as Madison watches in horror, Fatima jumps under an oncoming train.
Meanwhile broke Madison accepts an authentication assignment in Cairo though she ponders why Dr. Mounir Kassem chose her with her being internationally disgraced. Her assignment is to determine whether this is the genuine Heart of Egypt scarab stolen by Sir Jacob Radcliff from King Tut's tomb in 1922 before the self proclaimed owners pay the exorbitant "fee".
The latest Dupree antiquities thriller (see The Shroud) is an exciting over the top of the Great Pyramid when the focus is on the artifact. On the other hand when the male populace bed Dupree, she seems pathetic and the plot loses momentum. Putting aside the lack of the Arab Spring and no sense of place beyond inane obvious references, only Dupree fans will enjoy her African adventure as she jumps from one man to another in between the scarab related escapades.
The Temple Mount Code
Linguists Professor Thomas Lourds is at an archaeological dig in China when a tortoise shell marked with odd inscriptions is found. Lourds believes the ancient text offer clues to a mystery at the Scholar's Rock Temple in the Himalayas.
His Israeli colleague Lev Strauss asks him to come to Jerusalem to decipher a find in Cairo that the former believes leads to where Mohammad hid his handwritten original Koran. However, as Lourds arrives in Israel, assassins kill Strauss. Clues take Lourds to Tehran where Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei believes the Mohammad document bestowed on the prophet by Allah will enable him to establish a Caliphate and order a Global Jihad
The latest Lourds over the top of the Dome of the Rock Byzantium thriller is an entertaining tale that grips the audience from the moment the professor leaves for Israel and only slows down for detracting trysts in every city. Still readers who suspend credibility will fully relish Lourds' latest exhilarating bloody roller coaster adventures (see The Lucifer Code and The Atlantis Code) as he tries to prevent a global religious war from happening.
All The Flowers in Shanghai
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062081605, $13.99, www.amazon.com
In 1932 Shanghai Sister is obligated to marry Xiong Fa. Her parents are pleased with the match as his family is wealthy and of a socially higher status. However, when Sister dies, unprepared Feng must marry Xiong. Feng prefers exploring gardens with her grandfather and her BFF Bi, Bi, the seamstress's son, but is an obedient daughter so she marries Xiong.
Following seventeen years of freedom to do much of what she wants, Feng is unhappy with her suddenly restricted life amidst the Sang clan of her spouse. They treat her as a vessel for the required male heir. However, she soon figures out the power of her uterus and becomes the bitter tyrannical First Wife and First Mother to her son. The Japanese invade China leading to centuries of social class distinction collapsing. Remorseful Feng realizes what her acrimony has wrought as she must face what she did to her wrong gender first child.
All The Flowers in Shanghai is a deep historical tale that provides a profound look at China during the middle decades of the twentieth century when social upheaval was the norm. The story line is seen predominately though the eyes of Feng, an intriguing individual whose loathing of her lot makes her do ugly things. Although eras and key moments flash by too quickly becoming a distraction, overall readers will relish Duncan Jepson's engaging glimpse of China circa 1930s-through the late 1960s Cultural Revolution.
The Demi-Monde: Winter
In 2018 British develop ABBA, which can create a realistic nineteenth century cyber-world. The American military applies ABBA to simulated military training in which units enter the Demi-Monde; a place where ABBA is the supreme God, war and racism are constant parts of society. To enhance the combat experience by real soldiers, avatars of history's most psychopathic genocidal mass murders like Beria, Heydrich and Torquemada etc. are part of the mix of normal cyber people whose only quirk is a need for blood as a critical sustenance; the prime sources are banks and the black market selling of drained real soldiers' blood.
Shutting down ABBA will fry the brains of any real person trapped inside; although the soldiers are expendable, First Daughter Norma Williams is not. Teenage jazz singer Ella Thomas is trained to enter Demi-Monde to bring Norma out. Inside of Noirville on the cyber world Ella learns the frightening metamorphic truth about Demi-Monde as a "millennia" has passed since the creation.
This exciting science fiction thriller is owned by the richly textured cyber world in which a glossary is a necessity. The famous and notorious from history are part of the structured caste system while landmarks enhance the sense of a distorted image of nineteenth century Earth as a millennium has passed since Demi-Monde was created; ergo this world has changed somewhat from the original model. Thus Ella learns that fact the hard way as her training missed critical information. Readers see Rod Rees' world though Ella's eyes as The Demi-Monde: Winter is a fascinating creative futuristic thriller.
KBL Kill Bin Laden
In December 2010, American expatriate Charlie Becker is in Abbottabad, Pakistan begging for spare change. The veteran suffered crippling injuries in the Afghanistan campaign so most Pakistani does not give him a second look at they go about their business. However, they are wrong about Charlie. Based on vague degrees of connection, he is in Abbottabad undercover seeking any leads that Osama bin Laden resides in this town inside of a high walled villa. If he confirms the whereabouts, a specially trained SEAL top secret team will enter the villa to complete the mission of turning Bin Laden into a hamburger.
This is a fictionalized account of what may have happened that led to the assassination of Bin Laden. Fast-paced, the story line hooks readers who will believe that John Weisman provides a plausible account of what could have happened. Especially fascinating is the political fight in DC before, during and after the kill including the at sea burial debate and the claims of who takes credit for the successful KBL operation. With a nod to Liberty Valance (print the legend not the truth), Mr. Weisman writes a stirring thriller.
Cat Telling Tales
Shirley Rousseau Murphy
The housing bubble implosion has had a negative impact on Molena Point, California as many residents, who lost their homes, abandoned their pets who have no skills living on the streets. Several caring people and special cats try to help the starving animals. For instance, Dr. Firetti, his pal Misto and Joe Grey save two domesticated cats of Emmylou Warren who let them go when she moved into her car.
A fire at the cabin of Emmylou's neighbor leaves elderly drunk Hesmerra Young dead and her grandson Billy homeless. As Billy and his cats relocate to the Harper spread, Detective Garza investigates the murder of Hesmerra who died from wood alcohol poisoning. Joe, his human pets Ryan and Clyde, and others learn that realtor Eric Kraft gave alcohol to Hesmerra. Eric's ex wife Debbie arrives from Eugene, Oregon with their two kids (four years old Tessa and eleven years old Vinnie. The trio moves in with Ryan instead of with her estranged mom or sister while claiming to be broke. Joe and his feline sleuths soon learn the woman has money when her abandoned cat Pan arrives while they also find several murder suspects tied to a real estate scam.
The latest Joe Grey anthropomorphic whodunit (see Cat Stroking Home and Cat Coming Back) is a fabulous entry even with the investigation starting later than usual. The story line focuses on the clever mystery but also provides a deep spotlight on the impact on animals and people when families leave behind pets as they are forced from their homes. The former makes for an enjoyable feline detective thriller; while the latter affirms why Shirley Rousseau Murphy has won Cat Writers Association Awards.
Adam and Evelyn
Ingo Schulze; John E. Woods (Translator)
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307272812, $27.95, www.amazon.com
In 1989 in East Germany, Adam the highly regarded tailor loves his girlfriend Evelyn the waitress. However, though they reside together, womanizing Adam enjoys trysts with his customers. Evi quits her job and comes home early only to find her mate unfaithful with a client. She calmly leaves him and East Germany for Hungary with cousins Simone and Michael.
Adam pursues his beloved while helping Katja sneak into Hungary. He is attracted to his companion while Evi likewise is to Michael. Once free of East Germany, Adam suffers from displacement until the quartet reunites in West Germany; at a time when the Wall comes tumbling down.
This is a great translation of a thought provoking timely odyssey. The story line has readers thinking in terms of Genesis and Milton; the complex impact of era making global events on the lives of everyday people; and the plight of the "forced" refugees. Each of the prime foursome is fully developed, more so the title characters; leading to the readers understanding individual and group relationships, motives and fears in a world no longer like the "Garden" that they were accustomed to for much of their lives.
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765331342, $25.99, www.amazon.com
In Xanth, Picka Bones lives a rather mundane life. His daily highlight is playing tunes on his ribs and exploring cemeteries with his sister Joy'nt.
The two skeletons meet three former pets (Tweeter the bird, Midrange the cat, and Woofer the dog) who recently crossed over from Mundania. The outside trio challenges the bony siblings to discover their magic. Thus the quintet agrees to find and ask Princesses Dawn and Eve. They soon learn Eve is visiting someone (or thing) in Hades while Dawn needs a prince charming (with a bit more substance). Eve joins the traveling menage who visit the good magician Humphrey. He suggests they visit the very dangerous Caprice Castle guarded by Attila the Pun and the home of Pundora's Box.
This is an entertaining Xanth fantasy filled with the usual inane but fun puns. The zany story line is similar in theme to previous entries yet contains its own wild adventures. Xanthophyll fans will appreciate this amusing entry as once again the punster prince Piers Anthony provides an amusing action adventure, Xanth style.
In 1119, the archangels warned the Knights of the Templar not to dig beneath the Temple Mount. They ignored the archangels and excavated holy relics. Their punishment for their disobedience is to combat Azrael's demons until they become evil Knights of Azrael; as each demon slain places a darkness on their soul until they are engulfed. By 2011, six Templars remain loyal though time is running out. Their only salvation is to find the Seraphim before Azrael obtains the eight remaining relics needed to defeat the Almighty.
In Atchison, Kansas Professor Anne MacPherson has six weeks left to complete her Knights Templar thesis. Cursed Templar Knight Merrick du Loire believes Anne may be his salvation; as she possesses a relic that Gabriel gave to her to protect when he saved her from her Salem witch-hunt. Attracted to Anne, Merrick must take her to the Temple Mount for her to heal whomever she is supposed to save. If she chooses him, she has marked him for death while he fears for his cousin who is on the edge of turning. Meanwhile Azrael is coming.
The first Curse of the Templars urban fantasy is a super tale in which readers will believe in the curse, centuries old knights, demons, and a brave bookworm professor who cannot hurt a fly but carries a sharp sword. Claire Ashgrove deftly sets her background especially the curse and the Templar past in the first page. With a deep mythos, sub-genre fans will relish this action-packed thriller as Merrick faces twisting paradoxes before and after he meets his beloved salvation. Sub-genre readers will appreciate this terrific tense thriller as Merrick has a reason to live, but believes death not love is his salvation.
The Thirteen Hallows
Michael Scott and Colette Freedman
Twentyish Londoner, Sarah Miller hates her life. Her tedious job goes nowhere, but she cannot afford to quit as Sarah supports her widowed mom while living together.
Having heard of the murder of her long time friend Millie and an apparent Good Samaritan, septuagenarian Judith Walker fears what the old man warned them seven decades ago not to bring the Hallows together is happening. Millie, Tommy, Georgie, Nina and Bea have been tortured and murdered for the artifacts they protected as Keepers. She expects to be next as she possesses Dyrnwyn, the broken sword of Rhydderch. She proves right when Skinner assaults her. However, Sarah intervenes and between them they batter her mugger. She pleads with Sarah to deliver her Hallow sword to her American nephew, Owen. The Dark Man is furious with his first setback, but takes his fight to Sarah with a gas leak explosion. He will soon realize she is not just a minor irritant as an angry Sarah with Owen at her side prepare to fight the evil Dark Man and his malevolent mistress while the cops seek her and the Yank for questioning in a string of murders.
As Nicholas Flamel takes a deserving respite, Michael Scott and Colette Freedman provide a strong exhilarating urban fantasy. This tale is fast-paced from the moment Judith defends herself and never slows down and fans will enjoy the adventures of the newly drafted Keepers against an amoral psychopath with paranormal powers and no compunctions to use them. Filled with twists and a vile villain, readers will enjoy touring London with Sarah and Owen as their guides.
Adjunct astronomy professor Dr. Jake Ross met his mentor Dr. Leverett Caldwell when he was in middle school on a field trip to James A, Van Allen Museum of science. Lev suggest Jake accept the position of science advisor to senatorial candidate Frank Tomlinson, who is making a run against incumbent Senator Leeds. Tomlinson fantasizes that he is JFK so he needs his moon mission. He chooses magnetohydrodynamics as a cheaper yet more effective way to generate electricity. Tomlinson makes the offer and Toss accepts.
Leeds sends his henchmen Ignacio "Nacho" Perez; and Benito "Monster" Falciglia to persuade Ross he can obtain tenure if he joins the right team by sabotaging his boss' support to MHD. Ross refuses but also fears his employer is rushing things as MHD is not ready for prime time with potentially dangerous safety issues to resolve.
Power Play is an interesting political-economic thriller starring a dedicated likable hero who finds himself at the center of senatorial electoral hardball (Chris Matthews' style). The support cast is inane with females sleeping around and goons acting like comic book rejects. Still, with a strong premise in which many in power prefer MHD to fail, fans will enjoy Ross' growing awareness of what counts in DC and who is expendable.
Sisterhood of Dune
Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Over eight decades ago, humanity defeated the tyrannical sentient cybernetics at the key Battle of Corrin. Debate rages over the use of safe machines in the everyday lives of people.
First Reverend Mother of the Sisterhood Raquella Berto-Anirul opens the Bene Gesserit School on the rainforest planet of Rossak as a place to teach women to use technology to improve their lot. The Venport descendants deploy mutated Navigators to fly early versions of Heighliners. On the other side of the argument is the Butlerian opposition, led by Manford Torondo and Swordmaster Anari Idaho, against technology as being dangerous. Soon everyone will have to pick a side as a human civil war over machinery seems imminent.
This is an exciting, fast-paced but thin Dune science fiction thriller as two diametrically opposite visions of the future surface even eighty plus years since the war against the machines. With what is going on in DC, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson provide a timely tale built on the premise that idealism without pragmatism can turn into uncompromising tyranny.
Green was sold by her father as an infant to the Immortal Duke. She was trained as a courtesan assassin, but instead of using her skills to further her owner's ambition, she killed her owner and created the God Endurance before fleeing (see Green).
The Interim Council of Copper Downs needs her assistance. Bittern Court diplomats have arrived from Green's homeland. They conceal their agenda except for the demand that pregnant Green return home to them. At the same time, magical practitioners are murdering the deities. Green is confused even though she understands a fight to fill the power vacuum is occurring. Mother Vajpai the assassin dedicated to the Lily Goddess like Green is has teamed up with the brutal Surali; and the Pardines non-humans declare war over the stolen Eyes of the Hills jewels. Finally the God of Pain demands her son once born and powerful murderous priests Osi and Iso have plans to use the chaos caused by the death of the Immortal Duke.
This is an entertaining fantasy starring an unlikable fresh heroine who has no qualms with assassinating her enemies though she does not revel in the kill. There are several exciting subplot that are held together by Green who struggles with her pregnancy reducing her skills (think of Frances McDormand in the movie Fargo). Although the Jiminy Cricket like "mentoring conscience" leads to overly long soliloquies, genre fans will enjoy the latest adventures of Green; struggling
L. E. Modesitt Jr.
Three of the five nations compete for control of the Lydar continent. The only land abutting all the other countries, Bovaria is considered the most feral. Antiago and Telaryn remain on alert expecting their bellicose neighbor to attack while Khel feels the mountains protect it from invasion. Ironically a decade ago Telaryn annexed its northern neighbor Tilbor.
Telaryn ruler Bhayar wants to bring home some of the occupied force from Tilbor to deeply on the western border against Bovaria. His prime advisor Quaeryt the scholar says they lack information as to the situation to the north. He persuades his liege to let him go to Tilbor to learn on the ground how safe it would be to do a partial withdrawal. The trek proves dangerous on land and at sea but the imager survives. In Tilbor, he is stunned to find out that Governor Rescalyn has deployed a highly trained army to allegedly put down the rebellion of High Holders. Having doubts about the veracity of the governor, Quaeryt investigates only to find his life in peril.
The fourth Imager Portfolio political fantasy (see Imager, Imager's Challenge and Imager's Intrigue) is an enjoyable tale that takes place centuries before the previous trilogy. The hero is a terrific complex individual as he takes his scholarly pursuits seriously and is a do-gooder but when he believes necessary he can be a cold blooded assassin. Although at times overwritten with details that add realism to nation building but slows down the pace, series fans will appreciate what happened before.
Stands a Shadow
The Roshun order sent aging master assassin Ash and his apprentice Nico on a suicide mission to kill the son of the Holy Matriarch ruler of Mann Empire. They succeed but Nico dies at the hands of Sasheen in the endeavor (see Farlander). In retaliation the Holy Empire of Mann destroys the Roshun before turning its full attention to the siege of the city of Bar-Khos.
Sasheen leads the empire's armies against thr besieged city Bar Khos. General Marsalas Creed defends the city, but lacks the force to defeat the invaders; while his allies fear assisting him knowing how brutal Sasheen retaliates. Ash feeling survivor guilt and a need to avenge his late acolyte, vows to kill the Matriarch or die trying. His plan is to "join" the army of Mann as they prepare to breach Bar Khos.
The second Heart of the World military fantasy (see Farlander) is an exciting epic thriller that focuses on war in the fully developed Buchanan world. The story line is action although frequently changing viewpoints slows down the overall pace. Still readers will enjoy joining the raging suicidal assassin as he converges on Bar Khos in order to kill Sasheen.
Bound by the Vampire Queen
Joey W. Hill
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425243442, $16.00, www.amazon.com
Leaving Atlanta following her fall from grace with the Council, Lady Lyssa and her servant Jacob investigate her paternal fae ties even as their attraction intensifies with the birth of their son Kane. Ironically whereas Jacob has converted to vampirism to be closer to his beloved, Lyssa has lost her vampire abilities.
However, the fae world proves unwelcoming as her half-sister does not want another sibling rival. Other perils from those resenting a vampire and a half-breed in their midst has single minded Jacob on full alert to keep his queen safe from the machinations of the cunning fae royalty while he silently prays their offspring remains protected back in Atlanta by Mason the vampire..
The latest Vampire Queen romantic fantasy (see Mark of the Vampire Queen and The Vampire Queen's Servant) is a superb entry that has two strong loving individuals having each other's back as they venture into hostile territory. The excellent story line is fast-paced while once again the Hill mythos expands as the audience learns of the vampire queen's other roots while touring the realm of the sly fae.
In late nineteenth century Mexico, Lareina stalks Noah. She sets her trap in a cantina forcing him to follow her as she exits the bar. As he takes her, she changes into a beast who turns him into a were-lion.
In present day Santa Clarita Valley, California, Jenny Lincoln runs Big cat Canyon, a rescue mission. She lacks funding until a donor gives her a large infusion of cash. Noah offers more if she spends one night at his BDSM sex club Aeonian in Los Angeles. Attracted to him, but also needing the money to keep her grandfather's dream afloat, she shows up. He has wanted her ever since he saw her image on her Cat Canyon web site. Noah gives her a tour that stuns her as sexual activity in animal costumes is everywhere. Then Noah changes into a lion as he goes after his fantasy.
This is an exciting romantic urban fantasy starring two likeable individuals in love and heat. The story line is fast-paced as the road to mating is easy but to being mates proves complicated. Sheri Whitefeather provides an engaging BDSM romance with a shapeshifting Native American mythos as the foundation.
Agony/Ecstasy: Original Stories of Agonizing Pleasure/Exquisite Pain
Jane Litte (editor)
"Agony." This section contains eleven BDSM escapades that run the genres gamut. In "Transfixed" by Anne Calhoun, Cole the Sub and Marin the Dom meet when he is a client of her employer. No one brings Warlord Ai-Kan Fen Jul to his knees except the "Sybil" by Jean Johnson. Nora visits the wolf in his cage while wanting her and for her to say his name in "Caged" by J.K. Coi.
"Ecstasy." This section also contains ten BDSM erotic escapades that run the genres gamut. In Christine D'Abo's "Bruised Ego", Lee the CEO who boxes seeks therapy for his bruises and for his attraction to pain when he visits Diana the Dom who insists it's not sex. In the "Kiss of Life" by Lily Daniels, newlyweds Hugh and Theodora are lucky to be alive after the Titanic sank, but his anger even in sex makes their marriage shaky.
Though the characters mostly relate in trysts, most are surprisingly much more developed than normally seen in a short story collection. Readers will enjoy this entertaining erotic collection that includes a variety of sub-genres
Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446564373, $26.99, www.amazon.com
In his short life, Gideon Crew has seen plenty of ugliness starting when his father, accused of treason, was gunned down. He recently learned the truth about the dad he once admired when his dying mom said he was innocent and assassinated. Now Gideon has a reason to live: revenge. Gideon went from a thief to a nuclear scientist motivated by his new quest. However, after his mission is accomplished he learns he suffers from a terminal illness with about one year to live.
Glinn, who runs the mysterious Elective Engineering Solution firm, ruins a rare serene Zen moment for Gideon by telling him a co-worker has taken a family hostage. By the time Gideon reaches the scene, Chalker is incoherent. Gideon learns his cohort is radioactive while the Feds believe he turned into a Jihadist when he converted to Islam and that he fashioned a nuke while working at Los Alamos. Gideon relooks email exchanges he had with Glinn and concludes like his late father, his peer is being framed. His superiors believe the real terrorists plan to nuke DC but Gideon's intuition tells him they have something even worse planned.
Readers will root for Gideon whose life was shattered with the killing of his father and now has a death watch to contend with, but like the hero he is, Gideon refuses to quit. As his friends and peers turn against him, Gideon knows he wears his father's shoes, but has the advantage of understanding what is going on and why they believe he is a chip off his treasonous block. Preston & Childs provide another exciting over the top of the Washington Monument suspense thriller.
Battlefield 3 The Russian
Andy McNab and Peter Grimsdale
In 2014 in Moscow, former Spetsnaz officer Dima Mayakovsky and the only person he trusts Kroll rescue the daughter of a wealthy Russian. He kills the kidnappers including an old honorable comrade and with Kroll beats up the SWOT team that is only interested in the ransom money. Afterward Chief of Operational Security Paliov lectures Dima for killing the kidnappers before they could be interrogated and for hammering his unit. Dima leaves the "Aquarium" knowing he and Kroll did the honorable thing; something his former leaders like Paliov will never understand.
Secretary of Defense and Security Timofayen wants Dima to rescue Tajik arms dealer Kaffarov held by PCR leader Al Basher in Iran. Dima hates Kaffarov who the Russians should be euphoric is incarcerated yet wonders why they want this sob freed. They show him a Parisian photo that enlists Dima to undergo the mission that will take him from Iran to Paris on a nuclear trail.
With obvious ties to the Battlefield 3, The Russian showcases how good a military thriller author Andy McNab is as those unfamiliar with the games will still appreciate this action-packed tale. The insight into the Russian elitist industrial-military-political complex (Eisenhower's worst nightmare but with a Russian bureaucratic spin) brings a realism to the exhilarating story line as Dima has no time for armchair fools. Gamesters and sub-genre readers will appreciate the escapes of Dima and Black in a Tale of two Cities threatened by nuclear maniacs.
Shaq Uncut: My Story
Shaquille O'Neal with Jackie MacMullan
Shaq Uncut is simply Shaq being Shaq even with the zillion nicknames and the humping into other arenas besides basketball like movies and rapping. Gregarious, Mr. O'Neal grew up impoverish, but had steady role models who he credits for keeping him straight without breaking his spirit. Although literally the big man on campus his time at LSU was short and ended in defeat in the NCAA tournament. In the NBA, he started in Orlando; won championships in Los Angeles and Miami, and finishing in Cleveland and Boston. However, the fascination with the NBA travels is how Shaq paints his departures and his intriguing relationships with other superstar teammates and coaches such as Wade, Bryant, Jackson, James and the Celtic trilogy (plus Rondo). Still proving in retirement he remains Mr. Charisma with a Shaq Attack wink, this is a fun autobiography as the Big Aristotle understood he wore the bulls-eye when a loss occurred like the Magic losing in the finals and shared the triumphs with Kobe and Dwayne.
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778313007, $7.99, www.amazon.com
Leslie Petruso left Grants Pass and her ex husband Greg to start over in Virgin River, California hoping to regain her self esteem working for one of her former bosses at Haggarty Construction Paul Haggarty offered her a job as office assistant. She wants peace with no relationships beyond friendship as she still recovers from catching her husband of eight years cheating; he since has remarried and his new wife is pregnant. The hurt is big because Greg told her no children.
Sacramento Office of the District Attorney ADA Ray Maxwell asks his former colleague Brie Valenzuela to provide carpenter Conner Danson a place to hide until he testifies against affluent Regis Mathis in a homicide case. Thus Connor is in Virgin River temporarily.
When Connor and Leslie meet, they are attracted to one another. However, each is wary of any attraction having been hurt before. Still as they spend time together Connor and Leslie fall in love; but their pasts remain a hindrance to their future.
The latest Virgin River romance (see Bring Me Home for Christmas) is an engaging tale starring two newcomers finding love as they start over together. Greg is a fascinating troubled individual who is a harassing codependent with a need to be first chair; while Connors former wife Samantha is a manipulative piece of sh*t. Although neither spouse has any redeeming qualities, readers will enjoy a visit to Virgin River.
All Fall Down
Sunshine's Mama sends her nineteen years old daughter and her three grandchildren (Peace, Bliss and Happy) away from the Family of Superior Bliss compound. Mama tells Sunny to go to her real biological father, as the teen learns John Superior is not.
Sunny and her three preschoolers arrive at the home of Christopher Albright. He wants nothing to do with a daughter or his grandchildren who he never knew he had; but his wife Liesel welcomes the foursome into their home. Already in shock with the revelations, Sunny is despondent to learn everyone at the Family of Superior Bliss compound including Mama committed suicide.
This is an engaging look at a cult from the perspective of someone who escaped but quickly realizes she will never fully escape mentally. Character driven, readers will root for this "family" to make it but Sunny's adjustment issues are overwhelming having spent almost two decades with a truth that proved false. Although a deeper look at the thought processes of Sunny, her oldest four years old child, and her father would have been enlightening, fans will relish this family drama.
Touch of Power
Maria V. Snyder
The plague spread across the Fifteen Realms killing many people as the once adulated healers failed to prevent the pandemic. Raging at their plight, people held the healers culpable; some leaders accused them of causing the deadly disease. Healing became outlawed and healers are hunted and executed.
The last breathing healer Avry of Kazan used her power to save a dying toddler as she could not stop herself from interceding. However, her reward was being turned in to the law for execution by villagers collecting the gold bounty placed on healers. Kerrick of Alga and his men free Avry, as he believes the people need her skill while the royal leaders battle with one another for power.
Touch of Power is the exciting opening act of Maria V. Snyder's latest fantasy (see the author's "Study" and Glass" trilogies). The world-building is superb with class distinctions; while the political machinations by the aristocracy are insightful as the upper crust seek power and wealth while using healers as scapegoats for their failures when it comes to the plight of their subjects. Kerrick is somewhat stereotypical of the genre as a charismatic caring roguish hero. However, this is Avry's saga as the last healer who cannot stop herself from deploying her skills though she knows the cost. The romance between them is somewhat muted as both know the objective is to help the people so their desire for one another takes a back seat in an engaging fantasy.
Measure of Darkness
After contacting a friend "Gentleman" Jack Delancey for assistance, former FBI agent and child rescuer Randall Shane meets with his pal's employer Naomi Nantz who runs an investigative firm at the Back Bay resident's office. Randall explains a government agency is setting him up to take the fall for the murder of reticent MIT Professor Joseph Keener whose five years old son music prodigy Joey is missing. Joseph hired Randall to find his kidnapped son. Before he can say anything further, Black operatives smash through Naomi's window and using tranq guns abduct Randall.
Nantz is outraged with what happened on her home turf. She and Jack realize whoever knew Shane was coming here has quite a surveillance system as he was snuck into the mansion from the latter's car trunk. Fuming and embarrassed with the boot as a reminder of her being under her desk, she informs her team they will rescue the child and then the sleuth before solving the homicide case and confronting whichever agency is responsible for the assault on her office. The only problems are the evidence proves there appears to be no child and Shane killed his client.
The latest Shane investigative tale (see Taken, Trapped and Torn) takes a spin as he becomes the victim, which leads to the Nantz group as the lead to the exciting story line. Action-packed, readers will appreciate this taut suspense thriller as the evidence proves Shane guilty yet one lingering doubt remains as to why he was snatched. Fans will want to know the answer to this and more as Team Nantz works the streets of Boston seeking the truth.
In 1981 Mississippi, Taylor Stafford has finally earned the approval of her powerful mother, Judge Lily Stafford because she is marrying the golden boy of the moment, Jack Sullivan. However, the night of the wedding party, Jack rapes Taylor's sister Suzanne. Afterward, he warns her to keep quiet if she knows what is good for her sister. The violent act leaves her pregnant.
Fifteen years later, Suzanne is a judge, Jack is the governor-elect, and Taylor pretends to be happy to the outside world. Suzanne's world collapses when Jack, wanting a political favor, threatens to reveal the identity of their teenage child. However, Suzanne refuses. At a reception, Jack is assassinated. Did Suzanne do it to hide the truth? Did Taylor do it because she could no longer abide being the victim of a masterful manipulator? Or perhaps their cousin Annie did it out of love for her two closest friends? The one thing Jack's murder does do to the three women, is force them to depend on each other like they did as children.
Good Girls is a reprint of a late 1997 thriller that superbly blends a character study with a murder mystery. All three leading ladies are wonderful, empathetic characters even when they accept being victims to protect one another. However, it is the vile Jack who steals the show as he beguiles the media with his charismatic charm and manipulates the sisterly love that the three women have for each other in order to further his own ambition. The well designed who-done-it adds suspense to the fabulous intriguing take on the down side of loving someone.
Baby Don't Go
A decade ago a tornado destroyed their small town in the Georgia Mountains. However, the three Armstrong brothers want to rebuild Sweetness. The only problem with their plan for greening Sweetness is the lack of women. Thus they advertised for females to settle in their town renovation project.
Feminine Power magazine reporter Alicia Randall reads the ad asking for women to come to the Georgia Mountains and her journalistic instincts smells a con. Leaving Manhattan she goes undercover as Alicia Waters to expose the Armstrong brothers as fakes. Although his two younger siblings believe in the ad that has brought love into their lives, the oldest Armstrong brother Marcus remains a skeptic who has a rebirthing town to run. When he and Alicia meet, he changes his mind about the embarrassing ad while she plans to use the boudoir to seduce the truth from him. The reporter runs into two problems while going under the covers with the town leader. First she uncovers no sordid secrets and second she falls in love.
The final Southern Roads contemporary romance (see Baby, Drive South and Baby Come Home) is an entertaining regional romance as big city meets rural town. The story line is character driven as is the previous entries. Although somewhat similar in tone to the previous Armstrong falling in love tales, the lead couple brings the freshness as she is undercover and he is the skeptic. Stephanie Bond provides an engaging tale in a warm series.
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345527714, $28.00, www.amazon.com
New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum looked forward to her vacation in Hawaii with her lover. However, nothing goes right especially when her other love interest arrives to join her as a big surprise. Stephanie flies back to Newark with a stopover in Los Angeles leaving behind two raging testosterones.
In Trenton, FBI Agents Lance Lancer and Sly Slasher demand Stephanie give them an envelope she may have inadvertently picked up while flying home. She calls Morelli to check if they are legit and her mom to pull out of the trash the photo and envelope she tossed out there. Her mom says this was pickup day. Two more Feds show up demanding the photo or her lawyer. Meanwhile back in L.A. Dr. Richard Crick who carried the photo and sat next to her on the leg from Hawaii rests peacefully in a LAX garbage can. Besides the FBI, other miscreants want the photo that Stephanie's grandma tossed out. Things are just as ugly at Vincent Plum Bail Bonds.
This Plum thriller contains the usual zaniness but the main plot is thin; and what happened with Ranger/Morelli in Hawaii obviously stayed in Hawaii as this segue is disappointingly underdeveloped. Filled with madcap scenarios fans of the series will enjoy the heroine's photographic memory (not) while also singing the Lovin' Spoonful's Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?
77 Shadow Street
In the nineteenth century, Pendleton built the luxurious Shadow Hill. After the tycoon died, his palatial abode was broken into apartments in which only the one tenth of one percent of the affluent can afford to reside there. In 1888 the disappearances of his wife and their two children broke Andrew North Pendleton's spirit. Every thirty-eight years since, people simply vanish from this grandiose building never to be seen or heard from again.
In the 1970s, the impossible begins again with fluctuations that enable the current residents to glimpse into the history of this imposing edifice. The security cameras pick up images that cannot exist and communication in tongues that seem arcane as no one understands them. The cycle of darkness that has engulfed this magnificent mansion has begun once again in 2011and those inside will soon feel abandoned as hell has come to them.
This exciting haunted mansion thriller rotates perspective between several characters so that the reader obtains a variety of views as to what is happening inside their current residence. However that technique proves somewhat confusing as the transitions are choppy and no one stands out except for 77 Shadow Street until late in the story line. Still Dean Koontz provides his fans with a tense horror thriller as fans will wonder who will be left standing on this plane and why those who are not were chosen.
Empire of Gold
While working as consultants on an Interpol investigation of stolen artifacts, archaeologist Nina Wilde realizes that the purloined relics contain clues to the location of the mythical El Dorado. She and her spouse, former SAS bodyguard, Eddie Chase begin an inquiry that has them leave New York for Singapore.
Clues take the pair to Venezuelan jungles. However, their trek to locate one of the great legends is perilous as several murderous groups chase after Wilde with Chase protecting her. Venezuelan military opportunists, revolutionaries seeking funding for their deadly cause, and drug lords want to obtain the treasures of the legendary city of gold; killing each other and a dedicated archeological pair is no problem.
The latest Wilde Chase thriller (see The Pyramid of Doom) is as always over the top (this time it is Pico Bolivar) but readers who ignore the plausibility of the action-packed story line will relish the adventures of the lead married couple. Fast-paced except for the inane squabbling banter, Andy McDermott provides an exciting entry in his enthralling archeological legends saga though the ending of Empire of Gold is a cliffhanger.
Khan: Empire of Silver
After forging an incredible empire that spread across Mongol Europe the Great Khan is dead. His oldest son Ogedai is his replacement as Khan, but delays the coronation ceremony to finish the building of Karakorum while the horde battle the Chin whose use of gunpowder has been a shocker to the invincible Mongols. In Europe, General Tsubodai easily defeats the Russians and the Poles.
However, betrayal back home betrayal begins when Ogedai's brother Chagatai challenges his rule while their other sibling Tolui finds himself pulled by both of his kin. Others like the Great late Khan's brothers (Khasar and Kachiun) plot; his grandchildren (Batu, Baidur and Mongke) show the family conquering skills. Finally there is the youngest grandchild Kublai observing and absorbing the intrigue.
The fourth Khan historical thriller moves passed the late Genghis to his heir in what is a great twisting entry. Filled with treachery and jealousy, the story line is character driven by a horde of rivals to replace the legend. With a deep historical base, powerfully vivid battle scenes and political machinations that make contemporary politicians look extremely soft (no chicken hawks in this late thirteenth century crowd), fans will enjoy beyond the golden age of Genghis with his heirs battling to rule the Empire of Silver.
The Land of Painted Caves
Jean M. Auel
Ayla and Jondalar live with their baby daughter Jonayla amidst his people in the clan of the Ninth Cave of the Zelandonaii. A healer, she is in training to become a Zelandonaii, which keeps Ayla apart from her mate and their infant. However, not all are pleased with her being chosen as a shaman in training. Balderan the hunter wants Ayla dead and Marona wants her removed any which way including death from the cave.
Over time her training proves difficult but she finds solace in the cave paintings she sees as the First escorts the acolytes on a tour. Ayla also misses Jondalar and vows to have no other man while she hopes she can persuade her beloved to do likewise.
The final return to the prehistoric world of Earth's Children (see The Shelters of Stone) is an engaging societal tale that dramatically could have been reduced by a few less tours of cave paintings. Ayla is a fascinating protagonist who comes across as the Da Vinci of the cave dwellers with her inventing a horde of ideas. Although the action is somewhat limited with the profound look at the prehistoric society being the prime venue, fans of the saga will want to read the last visit to the world of Ayla.
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781595552464, $19.99, www.amazon.com
This is a great biography of Lutheran Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer who while in his thirties confronted Hitler's Nazi takeover of the Churches within Germany when hardly anyone even from outside the Their Reich would do so. His faith in the Lord guided him as he joined the failed assassination plot and was executed at the Flossenberg. Besides the insight into Bonhoeffer's heroic martyred stand as a believer that the Church must speak for those without a voice. He had a strong faith in God he was an espionage agent. Eric Metaxas provides a powerful look at Germany from the defeat at the peace conference ending WWI to the ethnic cleansing atrocities of WWII. Well written with a profound look at Pastor Bonhoeffer and his Germany, but downplaying the detractors who give credence to his resistance and acceptance of death, but also take exception to the martyr's theological positions that are not espoused with the same levels of zeal and clarity.
Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me: A Memoir ... of Sorts
Ian Morgan Cron
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9780849946103, $15.99, www.amazon.com
The youngest child of four siblings, Ian Morgan Cron grew up afraid of his abusive drunk of a father. As a teen, he learned his alcoholic sire, who worked in the film industry, also was employed by the CIA. Decades later, Ian, an alcoholic like his dad, knew he needs to battle and slay his demons. However, to do so, he felt impelled to return to the origins of what haunted him; issues that he preferred not to face, but must if he believes is to liberate himself from the chains that bind him. To survive emotionally and be a good dad to his three children emulating Jesus and not his biological father, Mr. Cron turned to the Lord who the mortal writer believes asked him to forgive him, as he turned to music, writing and at one time alcohol.
Mr. Cron's insightful memoir affirms the belief that the child is the adult as he lived in fear in the affluent household (with a nanny as mom worked) of a verbally mean drunk. Filled with pathos, a strong belief in Jesus, and some self deprecating humor, readers will appreciate this well written autobiography but also wonder why his siblings make infrequent appearances.
The Human Blend
Alan Dean Foster
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345511980, $15.00, www.amazon.com
Mankind bickered over whether climate change was voodoo until it became too late to stop the catastrophes that placed major port cities under the sea. In this new world order that includes Mars and Titan, still dependent on personal finances, humans choose between remaining a "natural" unmodified person and a "meld" altered with natural or mechanical augmentations.
Two thieves work with a body parts dealer by killing victims and harvesting parts for resale on the black market. Their latest kill looks worth a fortune as the victim had an expensive prosthetic hand and a metallic thread attached to a data port. However, the cops interrupt their dealing, which leads to the two thugs fleeing separately; one with the hand and the other the thread.
Dr. Ingrid Seastrom remains a natural whose career is thriving. She also performs the government mandated house calls where she treats a teenage girl with a bad meld; however, during her fixing the botched job Ingrid finds a miniature device implanted in the teen. She begins to study the gizmo that her patient did not know was inside her when she meets a patient Whispr the thief who has Police micro-tracking units and a thread inside him. The odd couple teams up on an investigation to learn the truth while also eluding the cops who are coming for them.
The first Tipping Point futuristic science fiction mystery provides a strong world view, but that proves a two edged sword as Alan Dean Foster's vision is incredibly deep reaching literally to the bone marrow, but in turn it takes up more than half the book before accelerating. Whispr and Ingrid are a fascinating pairing, but so far obviously are not Pip and Flinx. Still in spite of the slow early pace, readers who prefer a fully developed setting will want to join the doctor and the thief as they investigate what is going on.
Star Wars: Darth Plagueis
After killing his Master, Sith Lord Darth Sidious looks at the corpse of the late Muun Darth Plagueis with amusement as he concludes the assassination went perfectly. He muses back sixty-five years ago when his dead Master killed his Master Darth Tenebrous. However, although recruited, mentored and trained by Plagueis, Sidious had a different ambitious outcome that went well with the Sith tradition of the acolyte, when ready, killing the master.
Whereas his master sought the ultimate power of eternal life and could use the force to save the dying, Sidious seeks total power; thus he killed his mentor. His alter ego Palpatine rises in the galactic government until he becomes the emperor, but continues the plan of eradicating the Jedi in order to totally rule of the galaxy. Like Plagueis, Sidious vows to never allow his chosen acolyte Skywalker to kill him.
Going down a parallel path to the prequel trilogy, James Luceno fills in the story of Plagueis and Sidious (who mentioned the tragic fate of his former master to Skywalker in the Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith film). The clever story line is filled with action, but what makes it work is readers seeing the same events referenced in or occurring in the prequel trilogy from the jaundiced Sith perceptions. In spite of knowing what is to come in the Prequel trilogy and the New Hope trilogy, this insightful relativity works brilliantly to enhance that knowledge from the dark side of the force as the Sith value system becomes better understood.
How the Marquess Was Won
Julie Anne Long
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061885693, $7.99, www.amazon.com
Six weeks earlier Phoebe Vale, a tutor at Miss Marietta Endicott's Academy, receives a note from her former student Lisbeth Redmond which invites her to stay at her family home as a paid companion. While Phoebe reads the note at Postlethwaite's Shop, Dryden enters followed by Waterburn. The latter bets the former he cannot get a kiss from the "unkissable" teacher. Jules ignores him as he thinks of his late dad who left the estate in ruin and scandal. He has behaved perfectly as he bought back the land with one estate left; from his mom's dowry owned by Isaiah Redmond.
Jules arrives at the academy to see if it is suited for his niece who has alienated her third stepmom. Phoebe shows him the place, while exchanging innuendoes and retorts with the Marquess. She offers him ten pounds to pay Waterburn if he would get over the kiss. He is shocked by her attitude, but enjoys her friskiness and intelligence. She assumes he is going to Redmond to court Lisbeth. At Redmond, Phoebe tells Jules her parents left when she was ten years old. She met Charybdis the cat and they adopted each other. A benefactor got her into the academy as a student. Jules tells her he wants her as his mistress, but she assumes while Lisbeth is spousal acceptability she wants to be his wife; nothing less is acceptable by her.
The latest Pennyroyal Green (see What I Did for a Duke) historical romance is delightful amusing entry with a solid cast; especially humorous is the Marquess' fashion sense satirizing the Ton. Although the plot is straightforward and thin, readers will enjoy the fun in getting there.
Beyond the Darkness
Pope the Callorian "Shine" assassin disobeyed a command to kill Eric. He returned to his dimension where his superiors at the Collaborate order his execution for failing to carry out his orders. Fleeing back to the human dimension, Pope knows the C will dispatch assassins to kill him as he has been declared Scarlet.
Pope turns to Eric's sister hybrid Petra for help in finding her former boyfriend Cheveyo the shapeshifter who dumped her out of fear his dark innerness will destroy his beloved. The renegade Callorian fears that if the C learns about the Offspring's genetic tie to the Callorians, they will send a horde of Shine to kill the hybrids. Yurek the assassin learns who Petra is, forcing Cheveyo to come out of the shadows to protect the female he loves.
The latest Offspring romantic urban fantasy (see Touching Darkness and Out of the Darkness) is a super suspense thriller as the adversaries come from another dimension rather than arrogant government agents. The story line is action-packed throughout as readers anticipate a High Noon confrontation that when it comes will please fans of Jaime Rush.
Within the Flames
Marjorie M. Liu
Dirk and Steele Detective Agency operative pyrokinetic Eddie nearly flamed out when he somewhat lost control of his fire. He remains shaky at his near death and at his struggle to contain his skill.
The Agency's Roland orders Eddie to go to New York to find and protect Lyssa the dragon shifter on the run from the Cruor Venator witches who she witnessed murder her parents. Eddie locates the frightened orphaned shifter in the city sewers where she has taken refuge. Though he was reluctant to take on the assignment as his talent remains unreliable and he knows to fear the powerful adversary, Eddie bonds with Lyssa over their flaming problems as orphans.
The latest Dirk and Steele Detective Agency paranormal suspense (see In the Dark of Dreams) is a great thriller due to the neurosis of the lead couple; both are PTSD sufferers. Readers will feel the danger of confronting the powerful enemy whose name denotes nightmares for victims. However, it is the tenuous mental states of the lead characters who make this super action packed story line into a profound tale.
A Scottish Love
In 1859 in Inverness, Scotland, war hero Gordon MacDermond visits his ailing best friend Fergus Imrie who was injured while in combat under his command. He is greeted rather coldly by Fergus' sister Widow Countess Shona Morton. She blames Gordon for her sibling's health. He tells his friend he left the army and that his martinet father the General is dead. Shona thinks back seven years ago when his father insisted his son had no future with a wife and that he would marry her out of pity. She needed money to support her and Fergus so she wed elderly Bruce. He died two years ago and she finds she is broke so to support herself, Fergus and her cousin in law Helen Shoma needs to sell Gairloch Castle to visiting Americans.
Shona and Helen head to Gairloch, Gordon takes Fergus with him to his home Rathmor. The Americans arrive several days early. Accompanying obese Mr. Lofton is his daughter Miriam, his bodyguard Helmut and his nurse Elizabeth. When Fergus sees Elizabeth, they stare at each other before he walks out rudely. Fergus recalls Elizabeth caring for his men in the Crimea. He fell in love with her. Gordon asks Fergus to run his local ammo plant as he trusts him while he also knows he still loves Shona.
The ensemble cast is solid with diverse personalities though the Loftus pair is stereotypes of the "Ugly American". The two romances will delight Victorian fans even as each is similar in tone. With a late suspense involving Shona, fans will enjoy the rocky path to true love.
Egypt: The Book of Chaos
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780060765941, $25.99, www.amazon.com
Egyptian General Horemheb threatens the shaky 18th dynasty as the late Pharaoh Tutankhamun's widow Queen Ankhesenamun has no support from the leadership. Knowing her reign is tenuous at best, she sends former Thebes' chief detective Rahotep to the Hittites to forge a relationship between their countries through her marrying one of his sons. The Queen knows if Horemheb or the elite learn what she is attempting, she will be executed for treason as the Hittites are her kingdom's enemy.
Rahotep knows his top secret mission will anger his family for his breaking a pledge to them and worse allow a murderer to remain free to behead more teenage Nubian boys. Still in spite of his reluctance to break his family vow and knowing the threat of the General and his allies, loyal Rahotep serves Queen Ankhesenamun.
The third Rahotep "seeker of mysteries" Ancient Egyptian thriller (see Nefertiti: The Book of Shadows and Tutankhamun: The Book of the Dead) is a great tale in one of the best trilogies in years. The story line is fast-paced as the weary Theban sleuth struggles with perilous political intrigue and a serial killer case. Egypt: The Book of Chaos is super ancient historical thriller.
This is a reprint of Agatha Christie's autobiography over a period between 1950 and 1965. Out of print for over three decades, this new edition includes a CD in which Agatha Christie talks about being a writer. Note that the famous eleven-day disappearance in 1926 (see the movie Agatha for speculation) is not explained which in turn is disappointing yet adds an aura of mystery to Ms. Christie. Born in 1890, her late Victorian childhood in Ashfield comes across as idyllic (but somewhat boring) except for her vivid description of her caring indolent dad and the Agatha's Husband game played with her sister. The action picks up in the second act with her first marriage to Archibald Christie, their child Rosalind and her first novel. Her second marriage to younger Max Mallowan during the Depression also provides insight into what made Ms. Christie tick while her characters like Poirot and Marple almost seem real. Ironically readers know of her novels, but few have seen her plays (like Witness for the Prosecution) on the stage. At times in her works, Ms. Christie sympathizes with murderers as their cause was just (see Murder on the Orient Express) which is intriguing. Filled with pathos and humor; and enhanced by photos and the CD, An Autobiography by Agatha Christie is a wonderful look at the life of the Grand Dame of mystery
A Perfect Blood
She may have won the battle, but lost the outcome as Rachel Morgan suffers from PTSD having almost lost her aura by unwittingly creating a new ley line that causes havoc (see Pale Rider). Feeling the weights of failure and responsibility overwhelming her, the witch turned demon decides to vanish in plain sight by deploying an Elven bracelet that Trent made. Almost everyone assumes she died in the combat.
Being declared dead makes it difficult to obtain a driver's license as she learns first hand at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Nina the live vampire allows the dead vampire chief of Inderlander Security to cut a deal with Rachel. The ancient dead one wants Rachel and Ivy Tamwood to investigate demon-like murders of Inderlander in the greater Cincinnati area in exchange for a valid license and registration. Rachel will soon learn that fanatical Humans Against Paranormal Association (HAPA) operatives have worked on an Inderlander Species ethnic cleansing project by developing a weapon of demonic mass destruction using the blood of witches like Rachel containing the Rosewood syndrome.
This is an intriguing and enthralling entry as Rachel feels she is a magnet of hurt to her friends so has chosen isolation. She will soon learn what FDR meant when he said in 1933: "...that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." The inquiry in Cincinnati is deftly handled as Rachel soon realizes she is both hunter and hunted. With a direct silver bracelet link to Pale Rider, fans will enjoy the .latest Hollows urban fantasy as the heroine comes back from the dead to battle the toughest, most sinister, and diabolical opponent to date: the dreaded humans.
Honor Among Thieves
Fate chose Malden the thief as the savior of the people of the Skrae Kingdom when he obtained one of the seven Ancient Blades. However being the chosen one (of seven) does not automatically denote success; Malden failed to prevent the horde from the East devastating Skrae. The mass destruction taught the clever thief several lessons as he flees from the Dwarven Kingdom southward towards the Free City of Ness. Understanding a thieves' first principle to never trust an ally to have your back, his associates who jumped on his bandwagon have leaped away from him as if he is a pariah. Everyone with a few exceptions abandon Malden though many from the King of Skrae and the leaders of the Free City of Ness like Cutbill of the thieves' guild (that is before he abruptly vanished after receiving a message from his operative in the always squabbling Northern Kingdoms) covet the loser's magical power.
Malden has an army of harlots and thieves, along with Cythera the sorceress and Slag the dwarf. However, all is not lost though it looks hopeless; Malden may have a sword of magic, but he applies his thieving experiences to concoct a plan.
The final Ancient Blades military fantasy (see A Thief in the Night and Den of Thieves) is a fast-paced thriller as the beleaguered hero learns honor and dishonor among thieves and political leaders (who many will say are thieves). The story line is fast-paced with a great early hook involving Cutbill. Although the swords that were prevalent in the previous entries (especially the first one) plays a lesser role than expected, quest fans will appreciate Malden's final stand.
Having spent two years in an asylum, Angela Mathers remains haunted by angels. Her only respite from the nightmares is her paintings that depict the dark visions that have possessed her mind for years.
Although she knows as a blood head with her dark red hair, she can never be normal; she hopes to find relief from her gloomy dreams as a student at the Vatican's West Wood Academy on the isle of Luz. However, instead some insist she is the prophesied reincarnation of the dead angel Raziel expected to arise as the Archon tool of the Angels to change the world and most likely eradicate mankind. Angela is attracted to Kim, which turns raging witch Stephanie into her enemy. Neither woman is aware of Kim's dark secret.
This is an entertaining gothic young adult fantasy starring an intriguing heroine whose vivid visions of the world has displayed by her art will remind readers of paintings by Bosch and Munch. As the only developed character (though more background would have helped), Angela keeps the too chaotic story line somewhat focused in spite of too many changing viewpoints. Still Sabrina Benulis paints an extremely grim apocalyptic world in which angels possess a different value system than humans.
In Portland, Oregon, Chloe Pinter loves her work as the director of the domestic adoption program at Chosen Child. Although the demands of two sets of parents can be overwhelming, she takes pleasure when she successfully brings together the biological and adopting parents.
Her current clients are wealthy Francie and John as the adopting parents and poor Penny and Jason as the biological parents. When Chloe visits eight months pregnant Penny, she notices the basinet in their dumpy pad. Chloe realizes the birthing couple may be having late thoughts though they cannot afford the cost of a child. She warns Francie and John that the adoption may not occur.
This is an intriguing story line that looks deeply at the impact of adoption on various adults. However, Chloe is the only developed character as her childhood trauma of losing her family comes across as a powerful motivator for her work. The rest of the key players lack sympathy as the extended family of Penny is dangerously dysfunctional and Francie and John never move past their affluence. Still fans will appreciate Chandra Hoffman's look at second and third order effects of adoption.
c/o Coffeetown Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603818704, $14.95, www.amazon.com
Rookie sportswriter Cat McDaniel works the minor leagues beat as she follows the Porterville Bulldogs. When Brad Derhiff, the reporter covering the Major league Las Vegas Chips dies from a prescription overdose, the team's CEO and General Manager Erich Konig surprisingly hire Cat to replace the late journalist. Her selection angers junior reporter Dustin Carlyle who thought he was the heir apparent to the senior position.
Cat loves her new assignment though Dustin is nasty. She is concerned with charismatic Erich's admiration and she likes her neighbor Professor Benji Levy who prefers comic books over baseball. All is right in her world until outfielder Jamal Abercrombie dies when his heart stops beating. Stunned, Cat believes Jamal did not do drugs and was in great shape so encouraged by her Gram, she investigates only to place herself in peril at Hohenschwangau Stadium.
Although I did not think beat reporters were on a team's payroll but with the internet that seems plausible as readers will enjoy this engaging sports amateur sleuth. The story line focuses on what happens behind the scenes of a major league baseball team with the whodunit starting in about the fifth or sixth inning. There will be no seventh inning stretch as Jen Estes provides an enjoyable time at the ballpark.
What Happens in Vegas, Dies in Vegas
Mark Everett Stone
After a decade plus as the top agent at the Bureau of Supernatural Investigation and resolving Things to Do in Denver When You're Un-Dead, Kal Hakala has a personal mission that he doubts BSI will let him undertake. Thus, he sets up his death so he can go after the monster that killed his sister.
Although a loner, he surprisingly finds his former BSI associates assisting him on his quest. Kal searches for the ancient key to activate the Tesla Coil, the only gizmo he knows that can kill his invincible adversary, Finland's legendary Iku-Turso. However, finding this artifact in Vegas without arousing his former boss BB at BSI proves difficult; especially when he and his teammates run into a threat to mankind by an evil with roots in 1943 Nazi Germany and the morality of a believer that the death of millions is a historical footnote while the death of billions is a welcoming to a new world order.
This is a great intelligent action-packed urban fantasy in which once again the Worlds of Stone seem real. Filled with wry satirical humor, fans will enjoy Kal's High Noon confrontation with monsters, Nazis, and worse. Readers will never look at a lojack or the Big Picture in the same way due to this exhilarating supernatural thriller while awaiting the next stop on the Mark Everett Stone global tour.
The Cost of Silence
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373717460, $5.50, www.amazon.com
Dying from cancer, Victor Wigham asks his friend Redmond "Red" Malone to deal with a situation that will hurt his family. Red is willing to do anything for his friend so after Victor dies, he heads to Windsor Beach where he will offer money to waitress Allison York to keep quite about her affair with Victor and their three month old lovechild Eddie.
After a fender bender in the Windsor Beach Peacock cafe lot introduce Red and Allison to each other, he tries to arrange the deal, but she refuses to have anything to do with Red or his money though she can use the income with an ailing baby. Red is shocked by her reaction as he assumed she was a gold-digger taking advantage of a sick man. As he begins to know the inconvenient truth behind her affair with his late buddy, Red and Alli fall in love, but he must choose between his beloved and a deathbed pledge.
The key to this strong family drama is all the prime players including the late Victor seem genuine. Character driven, readers will appreciate Red's dilemma as love for Alli and for the deceased man who acted more like a father to him, and his desire not to hurt the grieving widow Mari leaves him confused. Kathleen O'Brien provides a super contemporary.
A Southern Reunion
Ready-to-Wear designer Cassandra Brennan opens up two more Cassie's Closet Boutiques in Atlanta in the same week she ends her engagement to Ned Patterson. Finally her estranged widower father Marcus asks her to come home as he is dying.
Cassie drives the four hours from Atlanta to her family Camellia Plantation in South Georgia to find Cal Collins and Marsha Reynolds together. Cal broke her heart when she saw him years ago in a clinch with Marsha. He tells her he works at the plantation while thinking her father once threatened to kill him for what he did to his daughter. Her dad explains their home is in financial trouble and that for her to inherit it she must marry Cal. Meanwhile he regrets what he did to Cassie and to himself but had no choice though her return makes him realize he still loves her; which means regaining her trust by telling her the truth behind what ended their relationship and why he came back.
A Southern Reunion is a strong Georgia family drama starring a wonderful lead couple and a solid support cast. The truth may set you free but does not guarantee happiness as Cal and Cassie begin to learn. Readers will enjoy this insightful regional contemporary.
The Texan's Christmas
Shilah Oil CEO Cadde Hardin (see The Texan's Bride) sends his brother Cisco "Kid" back home to High Cotton, Texas to negotiate a deal with Lucinda "Lucky" Littlefield as their firm needs to lease her land. Kid procrastinates meeting Lucky; stopping to see family including his brother Chance (see The Texan's Secret) as he fears how she will greet he man who broke her heart years ago.
Stopping at the Beer Joint which she owns, Kid learns that time heals no wounds as two decades have passed since he left her behind to play football at Texas Tech and never came back for her. Lucky loathes him; acting colder than the brew she served him. She tells him she will never lease to a Hardin. His brothers offer to work out a deal, but Kid says no. He needs to learn why Lucky works at her Beer Joint, but finds out she is employed by the Texas and Southwest Cattle Raisers Association where she and Travis investigate rustling. However, it is the final truth that shakes him as he failed to be there when she really needed him. Now he knows what love is but fears he will not get Lucky persuading her he wants her not the lease.
The latest Hardin Boys Texas romance is a great finish to a terrific family saga. The lead couple has a history together but he needs to learn what he failed to realize twenty years ago if he wants a second chance with the woman he loves. Readers will relish this wonderful entry starring two seemingly antagonists as Kid needs to figure out why his Lucky resents him so much.
Decorated Marine Reservist Jackson Savage has one last assignment at his older brother Jason's (see Undeniable Pleasures) bar before quitting as he has accepted a job at Lazarus Security. His final task is to be Santa while his fondest wish is that his older brother who raised him after their parents died would accept him as an adult not a kid.
His childhood friend, Marine Maxine "Max" McGuire climbs onto his Santa lap with plans to tell him what she wants for Christmas. He changes his fondest wish as he wants her as much as she needs him. After the greatest Christmas of their respective lives, they are on a dangerous assignment with each fearing the other will remain distracted.
This Uniformly Hot romantic suspense is a super thriller filled with action and a wonderful lead pair. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the heroine sits on the hero's lap and never slows down in the boudoir or on the perilous mission. Team Carrington provides a winner with the second Savage tale.
Atlanta police detective Charlene "Charlie" Martin arrives for an interview with the renowned Ranger Security but believes she lack a key element in obtaining the position: a penis. Still she wants out of APD as a third generation cop whose peers assume her promotions are due to her pedigree rather than merit. She is disappointed when former Army Ranger Jay Weatherford gets the job she wants.
His first assignment is to work the dognapping of Truffles, the heir to the Betterworth candy fortune. Charlie handles the investigation for APD. The abductees demand two million or else. As they fall in love, each understands rescuing the Yorkie comes before their desires as time is running out for the famous canine.
The latest Men Out of Uniform is a charming regional romantic mystery. The protagonists are two people unafraid of facing danger but deathly afraid of facing love. Although the heat is somewhat limited as the rescue subplot efforts are the prime subplot, fans will enjoy the escapades of the Phoenix and the detective.
Home in Key West for three weeks Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Scott Everly believes in his agency's motto: "Semper Paratus," but when he sees marine biology graduate student Jackie Birchard he feels unprepared. She is working on her thesis by finding the elusive Key blenny but shares Scott's mutual interest upon seeing him.
Meanwhile a drug dealer uses the Keys to smuggle cocaine into the country. This deadly felon wants no witnesses, which means destroying the researcher's marine equipment and killing her.
As Scott and Jackie fall in lust, each denies they are in love. However though on vacation, he teams up with her using her equipment to end the cocaine trafficking of a nasty seller.
Readers will enjoy this heated Uniformly Hot romantic suspense while never looking at a hammock or a beach in the same way. Fast-paced, the lead couple is a wonderful pairing as he rationalizes that six months of abstinence is why he needs her and she has barriers bigger than the Great Florida Reef. Fans will enjoy this enjoyable Wilde tale as the heroes prove they have The Right Stuff.
Merry Christmas, Baby
Vicki Lewis Thompson, Jennifer LaBrecque and Rhonda Nelson
"It's Christmas, Cowboy" by Vicki Lewis Thompson. As a blizzard is coming to the Last Chance Ranch, cowboy Tucker Ramsey, who did not celebrate Christmas, searches for Houdini the escape artist horse. Forest Service Ranger Lacey Evans stays in a cabin when Tucker, Houdini and his overturned snowmobile arrive. Lacey and Tucker soon celebrate the holiday in bed as the blizzard hits in a Sons of Chance Holiday tale.
"Northern Fantasy" by Jennifer LaBrecque. Manhattan stockbroker Jared Martin accompanies his childhood friend Nick Hudson to Good Riddance, Alaska as a groomsman at his pal's wedding to Gus Tippens. Jared thinks Nick is nuts until he meets bridesmaid Teddy Monroe in this Alaskan Heat Holiday tale.
"He'll Be Home for Christmas" by Rhonda Nelson. Major Silas Davenport comes home on holiday leave, but his parents are not there to greet him. Instead, interior decorator Delphie Moreau welcomes him home for Christmas in this Uniformly Hot Holiday tale.
These are three heated holiday romances starring engaging protagonists.
In Michigan June Scott seemed perfect, but just before graduating from high school she commits suicide. Her sixteen year old sister Harper is grieving and in shock as she cannot believe June took her life. She seeks clues in the musical mix June listened to when she died but remains confused. Unable to deal with the sympathy from those paying respects at the Scott home, Harper hides in the back yard with her BFF Laney. The younger sibling loathes her divorced parents dividing the ashes between them. Instead she wants to spread her sister's ashes in California where June wanted to go, but lacks transportation to do the deed.
At the funeral she meets Jake, who offers to drive the two girls to California. Harper and Laney accept the offer and begin an odyssey to spread the ashes in the Pacific. Jake and Harper are attracted to each other, but their relationship will end if she learns about his relationship with June and his involvement in her suicide.
This is an insightful look at the impact of a teen suicide on those in her sphere who love and care about her. The musical debates on the road distract Harper from her struggles to accept she will never see her sister again, but those refrains are temporary as the kid sister goes though the emotional stages of grief. Not an easy read even with the music playing a major role, teen readers and their parents will appreciate the profound Saving June.
Pride & Passion
Lucy Ashton dreamed of marrying her true love, but her father the Marquess of Stonebrook, unaware of his daughter's loneliness and desires, arranges for a proper staid marriage to Adrian, the Duke of Sussex. She misses her true love Thomas whom she had a fling with, but weds Adrian.
After they marry, Lucy is shocked by her new husband's passion for her and even more so by her falling in love with Adrian. She learns her spouse is a Brethren Guardian of ancient artifacts and that Thomas still lives but is an enemy of her husband. Manipulated by Orpheus, the man the Brethren need to capture, Lucy inadvertently places her beloved Adrian in peril.
The second Brethren Guardian Victorian romantic suspense is an exhilarating thriller that grips readers once the players are established. The action-packed story line contains a strong lead couple although their relationship in several key ways mirrors that of Black and Lucy's cousin Isabella (stars of the first entry, Seduction & Scandal Isabella) with Thomas as the refreshing wild card. Readers will enjoy Pride & Passion as Lucy learns the true meaning of true love.
In 1816, everyone amongst the Ton who knows three times a widow Lady Tess Darent would insist the woman has no depth. However, Tess cultivates her image of a shallow scandalous sop to hide her alter ego as the radical cartoonist Jupiter and her philanthropy.
American Owen Purchase misses his seafaring adventures as he struggles to be come a viscount rather than sail the Sea Witch, He is fascinated by Lady Tess who is much more intelligent than her simpering smile let's on. Owen wonders why she hides her brilliance so to silence him Tess stuns him with a proposal of marriage that he shocks himself by accepting. As he learns her secrets, he also finds her myriad of enemies coming for his Tess.
The latest Scandalous Women of the Ton (see Notorious and Mistress by Midnight) is a great Regency romance due to the intrepid refreshing heroine. The intelligent fast-paced story line follows Tess' escapades while Owen uncovers the truth about his wife. Readers will enjoy the passion between the lead couple, but before they can fully settle down they must contend with her horde of adversaries.
A Midsummer's Night Sin
Although she has trepidations, the daughter of an uncouth shipping merchant and an arrogant aristocrat, Regina Hackett and her cousin Miranda Mentmore decide to attend a taboo masquerade ball. At the London gala, the illegitimate son of a Marquess, Robin "Puck" Goodfellow Blackthorn dances with and kisses Regina, but stops when he realizes she is an innocent.
She wants to go home, but cannot find her cousin. She turns to Puck for help. He fears Miranda is the latest blonde-haired blue-eyed beauty to vanish during the season. Knowing they need help as Puck believes slave traffickers abducted Miranda, he turns to his brother Black Jack who is already investigating the kidnappings.
The second Blackthorn Brothers historical romance (see The Taming of the Rake) is an engaging suspense thriller as the lead couple and Black Jack search for Miranda and other abducted females. Puck and Regina learn much about one another while on their inquiry as she proves brave and intelligent and he proves reliable and caring. Although the prime villain seems too obvious early on, readers will enjoy Kasey Michaels' exciting nineteenth century romantic thriller.
The Last Cowboy
When the parents of twins Slade and Griff McPherson died when they were six years old, the siblings were separated. Slade stayed on the family Tetons ranch, which he and his brother co-own, to be raised by an aunt and uncle. Griff went to New York raised by a different uncle. Slade became a champion endurance rider while Griff became a successful stockbroker.
Dr. Jordana Lawton accompanied by her mustang mare Stormy arrives at Tetons Ranch where she wants Slade to train her and her horse in endurance riding. He wants to say no because she is a female, but he needs the money so accepts her as a student. Unlike his ex city wife, she and Stormy prove they are A level students.
Like Jordana, Griff lost a fortune in the stock market collapse. He comes to the ranch although his brother does not welcome him as he failed to invest when the spread needed money. When Slade is injured from an attacking bull just before a competition in which he needs the prize money, he fears the ranch and the sports doctor he loves will be lost.
This is an engaging contemporary ranch romance that focuses on the aftermath of the stock market crash. The insight into endurance racing is fascinating while the history of mustangs is also interesting but detracts from the prime story line. Still readers will enjoy the romance between the rancher and the doctor while waiting for city slicker's tale to be told.
Bride of the Night
In 1865 Pinkerton detective Finn Dunne believes Confederate spy Tara Fox plans to assassinate President Lincoln when Tara tries to run the Union blockade of her hometown of Key West. She fails as her ship and Finn's vessel become shipwrecked on an island. However, the half-vampire is wrong about her intentions. Instead of wanting him dead, she follows her visions in an effort to prevent the killing of the president.
Tara explains to him what her mission is, but he distrusts her. As they fall in love, vampires attack them. They survive the assault and begin a perilous journey to DC hoping to arrive in time to prevent the murder of President Lincoln and expose the diabolical leader behind the conspiracy
This is an entertaining Civil War era paranormal romance in which Heather Graham merges historical facts with a vampire thriller. The story line is fast-paced except when Tara goes into vision mode, which detracts and slows down dramatically rather than enhancing the plot. Still in spite of being over the top of the Key West Lighthouse, fans of the author will enjoy this overall entertaining Americana thriller.
The Paris Secret
Americans Maya and her boyfriend for a year Ben were to go to Paris together, but just before their trip, he returned to his former wife. Maya goes to France without Ben. At the Bienvenue Hotel where she is staying, Maya meets Dr. Juliet Rice who the desk booked as Dr. Julius Price and has no room. Kindhearted Maya shares her double occupancy room with Juliet. The next morning Julie is found murdered in the hotel room and the police suspect Maya.
The cops are not the only problem confronting Maya. Apparently dangerous predators stalk her. She is unaware that the Moret Society believes that she possesses the Moret Crucifix, which they want at any cost. French reporter Simon Girard investigates the murder of his brother who had ties to Juliet. He comes to her aid, but as they investigate together and fall in love, Maya fears she will not survive her ordeal.
The Paris Secret is an exciting twisting thriller starring a beleaguered woman in peril and a heroic man risking his life to keep her safe. Although somewhat over the top of the Eifel Tower, the story line brings to life An American in Paris (and Versailles), her romance and a bit of history, but it is the taut suspense that makes for a fun time for armchair travelers in Paris.
Shapeshifting skinwalker Bess Suncatcher seeks solace in the Northern California forests to escape from the grief of the death of her father. However, she comes across the corpse of a woman who through a C-section recently gave birth.
Niyanoka Soul Whisperer Cesar Garza finds the two females as he is assigned to locate the evil that destroyed the victim. Cesar realizes he cannot resolve this case without the assistance of Bess who he suspects may be the culprit. He also detests his attraction to the stranger that has him thinking of her more often than the case. Both are stunned to realize the twin babies killed their mother as the infants are the offspring of Nagi the evil God.
The third Trackers paranormal romance (see Ghost Stalker and Dream Stalkers) is a terrific brisk thriller starring two likable heroes who are natural enemies falling in a taboo love. The lead couple is fully developed as each showcases their respective paranormal skill (and race). However, this time the children of Nagi the supernatural malevolence provide unique villains to a wonderful take on Native American mythology.
Lord of the Abyss
Two decades ago in Elden, the Blood Sorcerer conducted a bloody coup killing the rulers. He made two critical mistakes when he failed to prevent the dying king from sending to his offspring an obsessed need to avenge their deaths; and the queen using her last breath of power sends their four children into hiding so they could buy time to complete her husband's vendetta. Thus the Blood Sorcerer failed to kill the Crown prince Nicolai (see Lord of the Vampires by Gena Showalter) and his three siblings; Breena (see Lord of Rage by Jill Monroe), Dayn (see Lord of the Wolfyn by Jessica Andersen) and Micah.
The evil one also made another miscalculation when his daughter Liliana the Blood Sorcerer decides time is running out to end her father's reign of terror. She turns to the youngest son Micah, the lord of the Black Castle as she must persuade him to join his siblings in Elden or else all of them including her will die. However this dark Guardian who dispatches souls to the Abyss remembers nothing and only wants to play with her. She would like that too, but it is now or never.
This is a great finish to a fabulous collaborative effort as Nalini Singh wraps up the key threads, but does so with a man who lost his childhood and his heart until the daughter of the enemy brings both and a quest to his soul. No reader will look at soap the same way as somehow the "monstrous" dark soul gatherer is turned into a young man in love doing inane things. Fans will relish this quality quartet as all four authors bring their A game to this series.
A Rodeo's Man Promise
Champion rodeo performer Riley Fitzgerald was flying his Cessna from Colorado to Arizona when an object crashes into his propeller while in Albuquerque air space. With a prayer he shuts down the engine and propeller seeking to land his crippled plane. Schoolteacher Maria Alvarez is driving when she sees the plane emergency landing in Mesita near the turf of the Los Locos gang. They meet when he calmly asks her if she knows an avionics mechanic.
Though she assumes he is a drug dealer as cowboys don't fly planes or carry hundred dollar bills, they are instantly attracted to each other. As he dreams of mud wrestling, she has doubts since she is a decade older than he and on a mission to save three at risk teens (Alonso Marquez, Victor Vicario and Cruz Rivera). He needs to persuade the teacher they belong together.
The latest Rodeo Rebels (see The Bullrider's Secret) is an exciting older woman younger man romance. Although the lead couple is a solid fresh pairing of a dedicated teacher (her brother was a victim of gang violence) and a younger rodeo star, the three at risk teens own this insightful entertaining contemporary.
Big City Cowboy
Adverting executive Elizabeth Harrington-Smyth arrives from New York as a bridesmaid at her cousin Janice's wedding in Estes Park, Colorado. She feels like a fish out of water especially after meeting the outdoors other bridesmaids at the Twin Creeks Ranch. However, she also believes Rory McAlister would be the perfect Rhinestone Cowboy model to showcase her Devlin Designs. He laughs at her offer.
He wants to say no, but needs the, $30,000 fee to pay part of his mom's cancer treatment. When he arrives in New York for the shoot, he feels like a fish out of water. Neither likes the feeling of the attraction that each shares towards one another in spite of recognizing being geographically divided.
This is an entertaining opposites attract romance between the big city woman and ranch male. Rory is a fabulous individual who understands family first. However, Elizabeth is a nasty person who treats her cowboy with contempt until the revelation of what she stands to lose. Although compromise is one sided fans will enjoy this contemporary romance.
All Necessary Force
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor, NY, NY 10014-3657
9780525952626, $25.95, www.amazon.com
The alphabet soup of U.S. intelligence agencies learns via the internet that a terrorist group plans an attack inside America rather soon. However, the CIA, FBI or DIS can't identify who, when or where. Top Secret Taskforce is assigned to find the needed information before it is too late.
When a Taskforce operation in Asia leaves an agent dead, former chief Logan Pike is placed in charge of the field operation. He and his girlfriend/business partner Jennifer Cahill begin to unravel two planned attacks by separate terrorist groups. However, as he and Jennifer learn of the smuggling into the country of a WMD like none before, Logan knows he will violate the law in which Taskforce is not authorized to operate inside the United States, but he has no choice.
The second Pike Logan Taskforce thriller (see One Rough Man) is an action-packed tale from start to finish. The lead couple is an interesting pair as Logan struggles to run the show while Jennifer has a difficult moral dilemma to face. Although the government officials and the terrorists are stereotypes (except for the recruited inmates); readers will appreciate this fast-paced violent thriller.
The Devil's Elixir
Drug kingpin Raoul "El Brujo" Navarro has been using a rare herb the Devil's Elixir for years. He realizes that if the drug can be converted into a synthesized pill, he can make a fortune.
While Navarro sets in motion the manufacturing of the Devil's Elixier, DEA agent Michelle Martinez calls her former boyfriend FBI agent Sean Reilly at his Mamaroneck, New York house. She tells him thugs with guns entered her San Diego home firing shots at her and hitting her boyfriend. Sean and his girlfriend Tess Chaykin head for the West Coast where they soon connect dots between Martinez, her four years old son, Navarro and his hoods, and law enforcement officials as whoever controls the Devil's Elixir may, like what happened centuries ago in Mexico, end civilization as we know it today.
Although the premise seems over the top of the Mayan pyramids of Teotihuacan, somehow Raymond Khoury makes the elixir seem plausible. The return of Sean and Tess will please fans of the Templar sagas as they work another odd case. The Devil's Elixir is a superb thriller as time is running out on the protagonists while their enemies are a drug sorcerer and law enforcement operative in which neither side has any moral fiber even with the death of civilization imminent.
San Francisco private investigator Wyatt Hunt was raised by loving adoptive parents. He had no inclination to learn who his biological roots are as he knows who is true parents are.
However, Hunt changes his mind when he receives a strange text message: "How did your mother die?" Apparently she was murdered. His adoptive parents have no solid information on his roots as none were provided when he joined their family as a toddler. Hunt learns his dad lives in hiding having survived two murder charges and the Jim Jones's mass suicide in 1978. As Hunt searches for the messenger of gloom and doom, he will learn the hard way that a dark secret interred for decades might prove dangerous for those he cherishes.
This is a strong exhilarating thriller as Hunt and an unknown individual who he is unsure is friend or foe plays a deadly game of chess with him. Hunt's investigation is fast-paced and very entertaining though he seems to obtain information that is over three decades old and buried rather too easily. Still fans will enjoy this taut tale wondering whether the protagonist is The Hunter or the hunted.
Down the Darkest Road
In 1990, fortyish interior decorator Lauren Lawton and her sixteen year old daughter Leah move to Oak Knoll, California to escape the horror of Santa Barbara. Four years ago, her then sixteen year old daughter Leslie vanished. The police suspected photographer Roland Ballencoa, but found no proof he abducted the teen. Not long afterward, Leslie's father Lance committed suicide. She is still an emotional disaster and unable to help her other child so Lauren decides to escape the horrid tragic scene.
However, only a few months in their new town, Lauren sees her worst nightmare is there too. Ballencoa has come to Oak Knoll. Trying to protect her younger daughter from this psychopath, Lauren learns the horrible meaning of deja vu.
The third Oak Knoll investigative thriller is a taut but obvious (even with an interesting twist) tale in which the pioneer days of forensic science play a key cornerstone of storyline (as it does in its predecessors - Deeper Than the Dead and Secrets to the Grave). Fast-paced, fans of the series will enjoy this entertaining cat and mouse novel even knowing the direction Down the Darkest Road that Tami Hoag takes us.
Society declared Xander and Cassias an official Match. However, Cassia who had always obeyed the rules knows she loves Ky and nothing Society says or does will alter that fact.
Ky has been removed from her, but Cassia vows to free herself from the work camps she currently is assigned to in order to reunite with her true love. She assumes Society has banished him to the dangerous Outer Provinces where the undesirable are stationed to die as cannon fodder "decoys" for the unnamed Enemy to kill. Cassie maneuvers Society enabling her to be sent to the Outer Provinces in search of Ky though she knows the risks are great and that Xander will demand his Matched mate come to him.
This is a terrific middle book though nothing major is tied up and it behooves the audience to read Matched first to understand what has happened to the lead couple. The story line is action-packed yet told in the diverse first person rotating between pessimistic depressed Ky and optimistic upbeat Cassia. High school age science fiction readers will appreciate Ally Condie's powerfully vivid romantic triangle within a dictatorial 1984 like Society.
Hide From Evil
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780446572798, $7.99, www.amazon.com
King County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Krista Slater feels guilty over her successful prosecution of Sean Flynn in the murder of Evangeline Gordon (see Beg For Mercy). Flynn spent two years on death row, but recently was exonerated, freed, and compensated. Whereas everyone else involved including her boss want to forget the embarrassment, Krista feels a need to learn the truth so has spent her own money hiring private investigator Stew Kowalski to look into the case. Stew arranges for her to meet with Jimmy Caparulo whose testimony helped convict his pal Flynn. When she arrives for the meeting, Krista finds him dead; an alleged suicide she believes was a homicide. A second hit shakes Krista up as she wonders if someone is watching her.
Sean has vanished from the betrayal of friends and the jurisprudence system as well as escaping from the fickle media who originally hung him two years ago but now call him a victim worthy of pity. However, Krista decides to visit him to ask for his help though she expects his refusal. To her shock, instead of loathing, he shows his attraction to her. As they team up, danger threatens their every step in seeking the truth.
This is an exciting legal romantic thriller that starts off with a strong premise of having am ADA needing the wrongful convicted person assist her on her unofficial inquiry, but slows down with their tryst when they first meet. When the duet leaves his cabin, the story line accelerates into a super fast-paced suspense thriller. Readers will enjoy Jami Alden's entertaining tale as Krista and Sean learn you can run from evil, but can't really Hide From Evil.
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316098793, $25.99, www.amazon.com
In a London park, the woman awakens during a storm surrounded by corpses wearing gloves. She has two letters on her so opens the one identified as first. Inside a note is addressed to "Dear You from "Sincerely Me" as the writer explains the body hosting her was once that of the writer. Thus Myfanwy Thomas, as the note calls her, follows the instructions of finding a safe house before reading the second memo.
The second letter explains her choices. She can flee London to live a conformable life overseas or seek out those responsible for her lost memory. Thomas number two soon learns her predecessor was a Rook who fought for the top secret Chequy organization against supernatural evil. She also finds out she possesses a rare lethal paranormal skill. As she decides at least for now to learn the truth of who betrayed her, Thomas number two struggles on the mundane plane against deadly children warriors and on the dream plane from an aristocrat who easily enters him subconscious. The more Thomas two learns, the more convolute her inquiry turns as she struggles with what everyone she encounters assumes she knows; although that is a handicap Thomas two realizes she sees things differently than her Chequy mates enabling her to envision a diabolical conspiracy that others fail to fathom.
This may be the paranormal thriller of the year as Daniel O'Malley creates a fresh, fast-paced and entertaining tale. A sort of urban fantasy version of the movie Memento, readers will enjoy the escapades of "You" guided by "Me" in what is a fabulous fascinating fall though the "Rabbit Hole".
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316194723, $25.99, www.amazon.com
Five young girls have vanished. Eerily, six left arms are found in what appears to be a sort of graveyard. Mila Vasquez the famous profiler and Goran Gavila the renowned psychic criminologist lead the investigation. The pair believes the arms belong to the five missing girls, but have no idea who the sixth arm belongs to.
They also think they know who the identity of the serial killer is, but that proves apparently false. As their inquiry goes nowhere, the two sleuths become paranoid with the possibility that they were named as leads not to solve the impossible case but to take the fall when it goes cold. Mila and Goran obstinately refuse to quit, but each victim leads them to a different outcome.
This is an entertaining tough somewhat standard chess game between a brilliant psychopath and two investigators with lofty reputations for case resolution. The story line is fast-paced but over the top of wherever the setting actually is (the plot lacks a place anchor). Still fans will enjoy the contest between the desperate investigators and the diabolical adversary.
Assassin of Secrets
Q. R. Markham
During the Korean War, CIA top field operative Jonathan Chase was captured and tortured. When he freed himself, he vowed to use his covert abilities and knowledge of war to seek a lasting peace though he understands blood will flow to achieve his objective. In 1962 President Kennedy, a James Bond fan, creates a top secret agency whose mission is to watchdog the watchdog agencies. In 1965 Chase joins the team as Number Two.
In 1968, the Zero Directorate Swiss-based assassins have abducted, tortured and killed secret agents from the West, the Communist Bloc and even third world nations. The Zero Directorate target Chase, who knows to get inside the enemy he must allow them the opportunity to capture him.
With a nod to 007, Assassins of Secrets is a superb espionage thriller in which the hero and the enemy recognize one truth: "kill or be killed." The story line is action packed even before the readers meet Chase as his friend Number One is killed on a train. The plot never slows down as Chase plays a deadly game of chicken with the Zero Directorate.
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312366179, $25.99, www.amazon.com
At the latest Hollywood in-crowd spot Club 3 AM, someone shoots and kills two people. Police Detective Lena Gamble arrives at the murder scene to lead the official investigation. She knows the media will follow her with a frenzied microscope and the brass will gladly let her take the media's hits while claiming the accolades.
However that was her feelings before she learns the identities of the victims. Club owner Johnny Bosco had high level political connections and twenty-five year old Jacob Gant recently was acquitted of raping and murdering sixteen year old Lily Hight due to police missteps in the latest trial of the century. Gamble knows this case is a nightmare as the prime suspect is Lily's father who has the court of public opinion turning him into a hero. The detective looks closer at the Gant investigation led by seemingly unbalanced Dan Cobb and finds other discrepancies in the case put together by Deputy DA Steven Bennett. Meanwhile District Attorney Jimmy J. Higgins sees the homicides as a springboard to a state office while Gamble turns to another Deputy DA Greg Vaughan.
The latest LAPD Gamble police procedural (see The Lost Witness) is an exciting thriller that focuses on the taint of the judicial system when it fails to protect the innocent as the measure of success is convictions. Filled with plenty of suspense and taut twists, fans will relish Murder Season as Gamble works a convoluted case under the scrutinizing public spotlight.
James W. Hall
Sawyer Moss, son of Miami Herald obit reporter April, uses his mom's obituaries as a key source in writing scripts for the cable series "Miami Ops"; a show in which his twin stars. The show's theme centers on a serial killer using obituaries as a guide to selecting his next kill.
However, a fan duplicates the TV show using April's obits to pick and kill. Starkville, Oklahoma teenage sheriff Buddha Hilton travels to Key Largo to ask for reclusive grieving widower Daniel Thorn's help. Thorn's late wife Rusty's Aunt Michaela Stabler (who also was Buddha's adoptive mother) was stabbed to death in Starkville; Rusty's Miami Herald obituary next to her. Thorn agrees to assist the Sooner law enforcement official in finding out who enforces real life to imitate art.
The latest Thorn thriller (see Silencer) is a superb whodunit as the protagonist wonders if someone from the show is willing to do anything for publicity. The story line is fast-paced while containing plausible exciting twists. Thorn is at his best as he prefers to grieve his loss alone, but out of homage to his late wife works the case. James W. Hall always provides a great mystery.
Miss Dimple Rallies to the Cause
Mignon F. Ballard
In 1943, Elderberry, Georgia residents looks forward to the war bon rally. The gala includes several events including an all-male wedding stage performance. Librarian Virginia Balliew heads the committee putting on the festivities. She receives superb assistance and encouragement from her friend first-grade teacher Miss Dimple Kilpatrick and annoying interference from bus driver Buddy Oglesby whose Aunt Emmaline Brumlow dumped her nephew on Virginia.
Children find the corpse of Cynthia Murphy putting a pallor on the bond drive. Most locals assume one of her trysts killed her. Miss Dimple has her plate full worrying about her friend Phoebe Chadwick, who is very upset but refuses to reveal what is bothering her. Finally at the rally, someone shoots volunteer Jesse Dean Greeson and half the money raised is stolen. Buddy, responsible for the money, is the suspect in the theft, the homicide and the backstage shooting. Miss Dimple investigates.
The latest Miss Dimple WWII regional amateur sleuth (see Miss Dimple Disappears) is a great Southern cozy. The townsfolk are a strong group who bring out life in the small-town Georgian home-front. Many locals assist Miss Dimple on her inquiry though she wishes most would stay out of the way as they inadvertently obfuscate the case. Mignon F. Ballard provides a wonderful mystery inside a terrific period piece.
The Barbary Dogs-Start from here
Wannabe but failed writer Frank Kelly leaps off the Golden Gate Bridge. In a suicide note, Frank directed his friend opera singer Max Bravo to dispose of his estate. Though he knows he should feel guilty for his thinking a dead friend in need is a pest, Max and Dixie the pug (The Dog Park Club) begin the handling of what the late Frank left behind.
Max is taken aback when he finds a journal allegedly written by Frank that contains two distinctively different handwritings as well as enigmatic secrets he does not understand. He vows to interpret the journal unaware that he is a puppet on a strong pulled by the ghost of Barbary Coast thug Duffield Waverly Fallon. With the ghost of his Roma grandmother and with Dixie having his back, Max investigates the death of Frank.
This is an entertaining paranormal amateur sleuth starring a baritone who finds himself manipulated by the dead and a dog as he works the case. The serpentine story line has more wonderful curves than Lombard Street as Max, accompanied by Dixie and the ghosts, provides an intriguing tour of San Francisco.
A Burial At Sea
By 1873, Lord Charles Lenox feels his sleuthing days are behind him as he has joined Parliament and his wife Jane is pregnant carrying their first child. However, war with France seems imminent when five English spies have been murdered on the French occupied Egypt Protectorate. Charles' brother Sir Edmund, an adviser to Prime Minister Gladstone, asks his sibling to go to Egypt to investigate the homicides. Though he would prefer to remain with his spouse, duty calls.
The detective sails the Lucy on the Mediterranean with his nephew Teddy on board as a midshipman. Captain Jacob Martin requests Charles probe the brutal murder of Lieutenant Halifax before the superstitious crew reacts without reason. Once again believing duty calls, Charles investigates the murder.
The latest Lenox Victorian whodunit is a great locked ship mystery that effortlessly ties the inquiry with the daily on board activities. Charles understands that everyone is a suspect, but seeks someone with a powerful motive as the victim was viciously killed with no apparent witnesses. Fans of the series (see A Stranger in Mayfair) will appreciate this exciting at sea investigation.
The Templar Magician
In 1152 in Tripoli, French Templar knight Edmund de Payens and his English comrade Philip Mayele observe the assassination of Count Raymond of Tripoli by killers who escape as the deceased's constable rages at the crowd, murdering the innocent. Angry Templar Grand Master Bertrand de Tremelai orders the arrest of the witness for failing to protect the count and for not capturing his killers.
Edmund hears rumors that the Naziris Islamic cult murdered the Count. However, even as he waits judgment, the Templar Knight feels deep in his gut that nothing adds up in this so called simple solution especially since the constables failed to pursue the assassins. As de Payens seeks the truth, his mentor William Trussell fears the loosening of entrance standards since the Templars' founding five decades ago will doom its future. De Payens' investigation takes him back to the Templars in England where he finds the truth does not free him.
The second Templar historical mystery (see The Templar) is a great medieval whodunit based on the real assassination of Count Raymond. Edmund is a fabulous protagonist who quickly believes that the Naziris are being framed, but also fears who he feels are behind setting up the Islamic sect. Filled with political machinations, readers will appreciate this excellent twelfth century mystery.
St. Martin's Griffin
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312647025, $9.99, www.amazon.com
Sixteen years old Trinity Monsour was raised by her paternal Gran in isolation in the Colorado Mountains hoping to keep her granddaughter safe from her maternal heritage. When Gran died, Trinity's Aunt Sara takes her orphaned niece to live with her in New Orleans. Gran's hopes to shelter Trinity from her DNA had already failed in Colorado as she suffered horrific nightmares about her late parents and visions of catastrophic happenings; just like her mom did.
At the new high school she attends in New Orleans, Jessica the cruel popular girl makes sure the newcomer is a pariah especially after her boyfriend Chase shows interest in Trinity. Soon afterward, Jessica vanishes just as Trinity envisioned it. While NOPD suspects Trinity of enacting revenge, she and Chase mount a rescue attempt.
Mindful of My Lunatic Life by Sharon Sala, Shattered Dreams is an entertaining young adult urban fantasy. Narrated by the heroine, Trinity is a fascinating heroine who struggles to understand her paranormal skills and life in a New Orleans high school while no reader will look at Halo in the same way. Although the story line jumps from one subplot to another at a disjointed too rapid rate, the first Midnight Dragonfly novel is a fun middle school age paranormal thriller.
Some Like It Hot
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312534394, $7.99, www.amazon.com
New Yorker Danny Lunden joins his family and his team as they compete in Chicago in the Rising Star Chef Competition to be shown on the Cooking Channel. Eva Jansen replaces her father as the director of the competition. Both have in common a deep need not to let down their loved ones.
They meet and are instantly attracted to one another. Danny finds her fascinating with her take charge vulnerability but also thinks she is a spoiled rich brat; Eva finds him kind especially since he seems to ignore her affluence, but also thinks he is a know it all New Yorker. However, her father scrutinizes her every move so they agree to do nothing personal. As her dad wants the melodramatic embarrassments like food fights and affairs aired, Eva wonders if ratings are all that matter.
This is an engaging culinary romance starring two heated opposites in love. In some ways the kitchen combat and trysts supersedes the romantic subplot. Still sub-genre fans will enjoy the second Lunden Rising Star Chef tale (see Too Hot to Touch) as Danny and Eva fall in love amidst food fights and family drama.
At the Mercy of the Queen
Anne Clinard Barnhill
St. Martin's Griffin
In 1533 King Henry VIII marries Anne Boleyn. The ambitious family of the monarch's second wife sends her cousin fifteen years old Lady Margaret "Madge" Shelton to serve as a Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Anne.
Madge falls in love with Arthur Brandon, the illegitimate son of a duke; they secretly marry as he is beneath her in social status so for them to overtly wed requires a royal decree. Meanwhile fearing her husband's affection is waning as he has stayed away from her bed since she failed to provide him with a male heir, scheming Anne arranges for Madge to become Henry's latest mistress before he turns to Jane Seymour.
This is an engaging look at a real historical figure who allegedly in 1535 became Henry's mistress. Anne Clinard Barnhill paints her as a naive woman whose well-being relies totally At the Mercy of the Queen. Madge is an interesting individual caught between her love for Arthur and her loyalty to her cousin. Anne Boleyn comes across inconsistent; as she is too sympathetic in spite of her manipulation of her relative. Fans of Tudor historical fiction will enjoy her latest portrayal seen through the eyes of her cousin.
Love In a Nutshell
Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly
In Oak Ridge, Michigan Kate Appleton loses her position as an assistant editor at a business magazine due to the amoral machination of sleazy the Melvin. Her spouse Richard leaves her for a marriage wrecker; so she decides to leave the Detroit area for Keene's Harbor to convert her parents' summer house the Nutshell into a Bed and Breakfast.
However, she needs cash, but loses her job at the bar due to bad beer. She confronts the Depot Brewing Company owner Matt Culhane who likes her energy. He hires her as a floater filling in when someone is out but that is to conceal his real reason for giving her work. He wants her to go undercover in order to determine who is sabotaging his company from within. Matt offers floater salary and a, $20,000 bonus if she identifies the rat. She hates beer but likes her boss while everyone distrusts the newcomer.
This is an enjoyable lighthearted frolic starring two likeable protagonists, a villain in plain sight, and a heroic three legged canine. Fans will enjoy this tale that in some ways feels like a throwback to a 1930s romantic comedic mystery even without a plum in sight.
St. Martin's Griffin
In Las Vegas the three women are wealthy and famous, but their respective marriages lack love and passion. Kristin Fox is the bestselling novelist of suburban erotica though she lacks any heat in her life; as her mate is just a nasty person. Jennifer Payne is a marriage and family therapist who helps others but fails with her relationships as she does not understand her husband; finally Billie Shelton, a casino singer-dance star is controlled by her martinet husband.
The trio separately hires former NFL player turned paid escort Cam Lawford for some heated trysts. However, instead of continuing euphoric climaxes, someone, probably one of the ladies or their mates sack the ex football player permanently.
The Strip is a hot engaging thriller in which the three females are fully developed while the rest of the cast are stereotypes filling roles especially the spouses and the sex toy. Although the whodunit takes a back seat to the sex as Cam proves incredibly resilient, fans will enjoy this lighthearted frolic as what happens in Sin City becomes homicidal.
K. Ryer Breese
In his senior year, Ade no longer uses concussions to achieve the Buzz and see the future as he has found love with Vauxhall (see Future Imperfect). Still he feels something is missing since he stopped knocking his head so he joins the Pandora Crew oracles who use Delirium to cause chaos.
Ade remains discontented and believes mostly this is because he absorbed the abusive memories of Jimi. He needs them deleted so he turns to the Glove who can alter the past. When Ade emerges from the Glove's successful treatment, he learns his beloved Vauxhall does not know him. Feeling he will win her affection, Ade is shocked to find rivals competing for the love of his life; all are him.
This is an action-packed high school age science fiction thriller that grips the audience from start to finish in which reality proves fleeting. Fast-paced, this is Ade's tale as he seeks the metaphysical future and changes his past. Vauxhall, the other Ade personas, the Pandora Crew, the Glove and others enhance his actions. Although the science behind the time travel and changing of the past is basically ignored, fans will appreciate Ade's awesome adventures in the past, two presents and the future.
It's Hard Not to Hate You
Her doctor informed Valerie Frankel that her family tree was a hanging tree as the DNA made her and her blood relatives susceptible to abdominal cancer. As such she was told to reduce stress. The author decided the best way to lesson her stress level was to release the causes like air from a balloon. Thus Ms. Frankel has written a jocular series of essays on what has been her pent up in her gut anger about to turn into a raging nuclear meltdown. More a series of anecdotal entries that loosely tie into an amusing but insightful memoir Ms. Frankel takes shots at those who criticized her for being overweight or for writing chick lit. No one escapes including her mom and her once two BFFs who disclaimed her in seventh grade. Taking kvetching to a degree that only a practitioner of Hebonics could deliver; this is a well written entertaining collection of essays. Perhaps the most relevant is "The Subway Sandwich Shop" in which her daughter informs her Dad that "Mom had a tuna meltdown." With a pointed cover and filled with heart felt kvetching that hit home, readers will commiserate with the tsuris, laugh with the exposing of those who deserve hemorrhoids named for them, and kvetch with Ms. Frankel as this is an amusing stress releaser that affirms laugher is a great healer.
St. Martin's Griffin
In the Hamptons when Wendy Everly was five years old, her dad died. One year later her mother tried to kill Wendy with a butcher's knife; claiming her offspring was a monster who switched places with her baby. Wendy physically survived the assault thanks to her older brother Matt's intervention, but mentally she was not the same. Aunt Maggie is her legal guardian. Over a decade later, emotionally distant loner Wendy is filled with rage, has weird eating habits and just comes across as different.
In a new location after being expelled from school for punching out the Dean's bullying daughter, Wendy promises Matt she will stay out of trouble and even try to make a friend or two. Wendy has a telepathic skill in which she can get people to do what she wants as teacher Mr. Meade learns. She meets the other school newcomer Finn Holmes, who Wendy confronts for his constant staring at her. When Wendy becomes angry at Finn, she gets kind student Patrick to take her home. That night Finn climbs into her room to tell Wendy what she is and to escort her on a journey to a realm she does not want to visit.
The first Trylle teenage tale is an enjoyable paranormal thriller starring an enigmatic dichotomous protagonist who suffers from PTSD after her mom's attack while turning into a strange combo of in your face heroine who chooses flight over fight almost every time. The surfacing of her powers is not fully explained as to why now, but fans will enjoy her self discovery into what she is; yet also feel disappointed that the engaging Switched climaxes with a cliffhanger.
A Little Night Magic
St. Martin's Griffin
In Nodaway Falls, New York, twenty-eight year old Olivia knows what it is like to get what you wish for so she does not make any wishes on the magical square. Currently, she feels she is in a Grand Canyon sized rut. Since high school, she has worked at Crazy Cousin Betty's Waffle House and for the past four years has loved Tobias the short order cook, but based on her kissing him last week she knows he does not reciprocate. Adding to her feelings of needing to go out and find the real Olivia is her Saturday night ritual of drinking with her three BFFs (Peach, Millie, and Stacy). Thus she decides to commit to spontaneity and a dart toss has her traveling to Scotland.
Just before closing the waffle house, Davina Granville enters and orders the sugariness, fattest and radioactive unhealthiest item on the menu. She informs Liv that life is much more than wishes and dreams while helping the sad local come to grips with her magical powers. However, Liv finds once gain the down side of wishes coming true when she realizes someone else is using paranormal powers to change good townsfolk into evil ogres. Preferring flight, Liv fights for those she loves one waffle at a time.
This is an entertaining whimsical fantasy starring an interesting heroine supported by a strong quirky cast. The exciting good vs. evil story line is fast-paced from the moment Davina orders her toxic dessert and never slows down as readers will wish for more love and waffles from Lucy March.
Too Much Stuff
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G
Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781608090174, $25.95, www.amazon.com
Knowing his girlfriend, Mary Trueblood contacts private investigator Skip More of More or Less Investigations. She wants to learn what happened to her great grandfather Mathew Kriegel, the finance director of the East Coast Railway, and the then valued at 1.2 Million dollars in gold bullion he was carrying by rail when the hurricane struck the Keys in 1935 killing five hundred and destroying the train in under a minute. Mary informs Skip she thinks her relative survived and hid the bullion in the Keys village of Islamorad; she conceals that she hired a team six months ago who vanished.
Skip knows his partner James Lessor would accept the case without blinking. Still he agrees to search for the treasure and what happened to her relative never heard from after the tragic incident. The investigators and Em arrive in Islamorad only to find smugglers greeting them as unwelcome and the corpse of an apparent treasure hunter "telling" them to leave.
The fifth More or Less Investigations (see Don't Sweat the Small Stuff) is an amusing Florida Keys version of the Treasure of the Sierra Madre as the lead detectives fumble, bumble and stumble their way into one perilous incident after another. To his awakening realism, Skip knows Em is the better sleuth as he and James stink at investigations. Filled with more jocularity and less suspense, fans of the two slackers will enjoy their latest comedic caper.
H. Terrell Griffin
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G
Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781608090266, $25.95, www.amazon.com
On Longboat Key, Florida, newlywed Jim Desmond goes out for his morning jog the day after he married. His new bride Meredith of Savannah waits for him to return to their room at the Hilton, but a sniper kills the Atlanta resident.
Jim's grieving dad Charles "Doc" Desmond asks his Vietnam War U.S. Marine buddy former lawyer turned local beach bum Matt Royal to investigate. Matt agrees to help his comrade in arms who desperately needs answers to receive some closure. Meanwhile Longboat Key's police detective J.D. Duncan investigates the Desmond homicide as well as the mass murder of three people on the Dulcimer dinner cruise ship. When clues lead to Laos drug trafficking, Matt asks his pals Logan Hamilton and Jock Algren to help him.
The latest Royal investigative thriller (see Wyatt's Revenge and Bitter Legacy) is a suburb Florida Keys whodunit. The story line hooks the audience with the opening line and never lets go until the final confrontation as readers will relish Royal's investigation ably backed by recurring characters Logan and Jock that nicely converges with the official one conducted by J.D.
Swimming in Moses' Well: Poems on Numbers
Time Being Books
10411 Clayton Rd., St. Louis MO 63131
9781568091440, 15.95, www.amazon.com
In this 4th book in a series on the Pentateuch, Yakov Azriel continues his poems on the Torah and Life by weaving the ancient texts and modern world together in beautiful ways. His poems are often stunning, breath taking, imbued with a power that goes beyond mere words.
In "Viral Infection" he compares the misery of leprosy to writing:
(Yet poetry, like prophecy, is a fire burning in your bones
And though you try to extinguish the flames, the heat, the blaze, the light,
For if you put out the fire,
You would freeze to death
From the ice within.)
Azriel is a master of poetry in all its forms, from haiku to formal, free verse to sonnets. "Revive My Failing, Ailing Sight" is an exceptional example of modern man seeking his God through ancient texts in sonnet form:
Lord of all worlds, to You I turn, in fear
Of watching once-bright days transform to night;
For all my sins have blotted out your light
While dusk and dimness darken everywhere.
Lord of all worlds, to You I turn, in prayer
That you revive my failing, ailing sight,
And let me glimpse the fading, waning white
Before my last few candles disappear.
In this latest book, as he does in each book of the series, Yakov Azriel brings God's words and covenants to life in human form. Regardless of religion or belief system, poetry lovers will find treasure here, words to savor, comfort, or entice. Highly recommended.
Camellias and Cannons
Poetry by Vivian Bolland Schroeder
17502 Typhoon Way, Crosby TX 77532-4126
9780975913420, $14.98, www.amazon.com
Ms. Schroeder's latest book of poetry is laced with optimism, introspection, and joy. Yes, readers will find sorrows scattered among the gentle, joyful reflections, but these are tempered by the poet's innate hopefulness. These are poems to savor, to "sip like hummingbirds the honeyed nectar..." found within these pages.
Life is never perfect. No matter how much we love, hope, and believe in the best, trials will mar our intentions. This excerpt from "As Long As We Both Shall Live" shows the gentle realism this poet lives by:
We shall continue to be human.
Eager vows have not conferred sainthood.
We shall sometimes disagree,
We shall err and be forgiven.
Sorrow is part of living. "All I Have" is a musing on loss, simple and powerful:
I garner one more memory
To sustain me when you have nothing left to give.
Your words are dredged more slowly now
From a faulty reservoir
Slowly swirling thoughts to sludge.
And I fear giving way to even sleep,
Wasting the little time we have
While you still know me.
Camellias and Cannons has a dreamlike quality I can't adequately express in a review. Ms. Schroeder tenderly shares visions of migrants dying in the desert sun, of old soldiers reliving war's horrors, of corruption in high places, of love, honor, loss and kindness. Regardless of topic, her words become nestlings, cradled by the sturdy branches of each poem.
What Music Means To Me (Book and DVD)
Richard Rejino, photographer
Brian Chung, Foreword
Barbara Kreader, poet
7777 W. Bluemound Rd., Milwaukee, WI
9781423499145, $29.99, www.whatmusicmeanstome.org
"What Music Means To Me" is a stunning, moving series of exquisitely composed color photo portraits of young musicians, with accompanying personal essays. In addition, there is also a continuing narrative of poems on music as joy, music as passion, music as wisdom, music as healing & wellness, music as determination, music as sanctuary, and music as profession. Here are a variety of faces and personal profiles, each engaged in the art making and creating of music. Each story, each young musician or composer is unique, and all are arresting. A profound connection to the power of music is experienced, over and over, in a variety of ways. For many, their identity becomes entwine with music as they create and recreate who and what they are with their experience in music. From start to finish, "What Music Means To Me" is compelling, authentic, alive, and vibrantly whole. Here is a book for not only musicians and music lovers everywhere - here is a book for everyone. "What Music Means To Me" is accompanied by a DVD which features more interview and performance excerpts from the musicians who were interviewed and featured. "What Music Means To Me" is a magnificent contribution to the library of the arts and their significance to all.
Monographs in Musicology No. 14
Georg Feder, author
Bruce C. MacIntyre, translator
PO Box 190, Hillsdale, NY 12529
9781576471135, $42.00, www.amazon.com
"Music Philology: An Introduction to Musical Textual Criticism, Hermeneutics, and Editorial Techniques" is a precious monograph on musical textual criticism and editorial techniques aimed primarily at instrumental, not vocal music. Translated to English from the German work by Bruce MacIntyre with expert assistance (see Translator's Preface Acknowledgements, pp. x-xii), "Music Philology makes the work of Georg Feder (b. 11-30-27, d. 12-11-2006) in musical textual criticism accessible to the English speaking audience. With precise analytical thought and logic, "Music Philology" is divided into eight chapters. They are, in order, I. Presuppositions, II. Definition, III. Foundations, IV. Textual Criticism, V. Hermeneutics, (including rules, or canons, objects of understanding, and the compositions's meaning,), VI. Work Criticism (Musical Aesthetic of the Variant), VII. Editorial Technique, and VIII. Remarks on the History of Textual Criticism in Music. Because the author created most of the text in the late 80's, a General Comments section in the beginning notes that "the translator has made some emendations when more recent discoveries, new publications, or electronic technologies warrant them (p.xii)." Although the essential nature of music philology is perhaps obscure, there is no doubt that this seminal work presents a defining setting of the compass upon the deep vastness of the universe of composed music (William Blake's painting echoes in the mind as these pages are read).
The core value of "Music Philology" perhaps undeniably rests in much of the content of Chapter V. Hermeneutics, including hermeneutics canons, the meaning of the musical text - transcription and performance, and the composition's meaning. But flashes of analytic brilliance light many of the digressions, including most spectacularly Digression 4 (Chapter VI., Work Criticism), Musical Aesthetic of the Variant. For example: "Information theory..interprets the aesthetic rule as a general 'optimization principle' according to which the sign structures used by artists depend on a favorable relationship between information and redundancy. The sign structures must contain a large amount of innovation and, at the same time, reduce the information to a comprehensible size. Decisive in this is the creative productivity which is explained as a process of chance. Basically all these views go back to ARISTOTLE who in his Poetics says: Beautiful is the style which uses unfamiliar words with moderation; the use of nouns which everyone uses and the avoidance of metaphors, rare words, etc. result in the vulgar, while their immoderate use results in a puzzle or barbarism (jargon), and their improper use in the ridiculous.38 In the end, the correct mixture, the right measure, cannot be determined. As Kant observed, the rule according to which the 'product of genius' comes into being can 'not serve as a direction in a kind of formula; otherwise the judgement about what is beautiful would be determined by concepts.' 39 Differently expressed, a rule for the deviation from the norm would itself be a norm and would therefore conflict with the aesthetic principle itself.40 (p. 134)." This portion is followed by a simple clarifying diagram 6 showing a triangular relationship between inspiration and tradition or rule, and deviations and innovation.
Similar nuggets of musical textual criticism and philosophy are found throughout the dense text of "Music Philology," a rare gift to scholars and students of Western music criticism and analysis.
Rolf Toman, editor
Achim Bednorz, photographer
H. F. Ullmann Publishing
c/o 60 Cycle Media Relations LLC
38 High Avenue, 4th floor office, Nyack, New York 10960
9783833151392, $199.00, www.ullmann-publishing.com
"Ars Sacra: Christian Art and Architecture of the Western World From the Very Beginning Up Until Today" is a magnificent documentary collection of exquisite photographs of artistic elements of Christian art and architecture from the early third century until the present day, illuminated by learned cultural historians specializing in the era represented. A ponderous volume, filled with 800 oversize pages of incredibly sharp detailed color photographs of interiors and exteriors of memorable places of worship, "Ars Sacra" is like a sacred reference document, worthy of its own special stand and accoutrements. The size of the book allows extra attention to the intricate detail revealed in the astonishing photographs of carved altars and vestments, stained glass window masterpieces, walls, ceilings, exteriors and precious works of art. "Ars Sacra" presents chapters on Christian art and architecture of Late Antiquity to Byzantium, Early Middle Ages, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance - Mannerism, Baroque - Rococo, Neoclassicism - Romanticism - Historicism, and finally Art Nouveau - Expressionism - Modern Age. Example churches are chosen from Germany, France, Great Britain, Spain, Hungary, Italy, Poland, and South America. and also Russia, Denmark and Czechoslovakia. Chapter essays are condensed, informed, and illuminating to culture historians and art appreciators alike. "Ars Sacra" represents a massive coordinated effort to compress nearly 2000 years of Western art and history into one volume. This volume deserves the highest praise, and is worthy of many hours of study. It would fit well into college and other educational libraries and collections, or in private collections of devoted art appreciators. From its gilded letters of title on the heavy cover to the final indices of names, places, glossary and picture credits, "Ars Sacra" is an art reference work to be used and treasured. Of particular interest to this reviewer was the final section on modern and contemporary designs in Christian art and architecture, showing new, expanded or restored churches between 1970 and 2005. There were many stunning contemporary church designs and interiors that caught the eye, in particular the South Transept Window in the Cologne Cathedral, designed by Gerhard Richter's use of random generated distributions of color blocks. A magnificent feast for the eye, "Ars Sacra" presents its reader with unforgettable vistas of Christian art history and accomplishment.
The Shadows That Run Past
Rachel A. Qitsualik, author and storyteller
Emily Figenschuh and Larry MacDougall, illustrators
Inhabit Media, Inc.
P.O. Box 11125, Iqaluit, Nunavut, X0A 1H0, Canada
9781926569468, $13.95, www.inhabitmedia.com
"The Shadows That Run Past: A Collection of Frightening Inuit Folktales" is an amazing collection of ancient Inuit stories of terrifying monsters and scary beings that feast on puny human flesh and feed our spirits with awe. The author explains that stories told and beloved by the Inuit are in fact codes, dream histories, and sacred works, even more importantly, they are "tools that empower the minds of the Inuit, linking them to their ancestry (p. 1)." Here is a tale of the Amautalik, a horrible monstrous old woman who kidnaps a boy who is forced to become her slave and pick off her giant lice. Through the help of the boy's grandmother, an angakkuk or shaman, and a courageous bunting bird, the boy is rescued and the amautalik is overcome. She is truly a frightening monster, presented in terrifying clarity in illustrations. Then there is the Akhla, a possibly subhuman monster that ate human flesh. The Man kills the father akhla, but, even more frightening for the angakkuk Man who undertakes to destroy the akhla is the sight of a mother akhla and her two monster children, waiting hungrily to eat him. Fortunately the Man is wily enough to trick the monster into drinking all the river, or attempting to. This results in the first display of mist in this early time of creation, and the akhla dissolves, becoming a part of the mist and the river flows on. There are more tales of terror and beauty and wonder in this weird collection, all beautifully illustrated and each ending with Pijariiqpunga (all I have to say).
May I Have the First Dance?
Sonja Paschal Linsley, author
Paul Linsley, author
Higher Ground Press
425 Shady Valley Dr., Allen, TX 75002
9780976606208, $19.99, www.highergroundpress.com
"May I Have the First Dance?" is a book celebrating the special bond between fathers and daughters. Wildly ebullient illustrations trace the revolving carousel of dance that begins between a father and his daughter when she is born, ending only when one of them passes on. All the phases of a growing girl's life are seen through the loving eyes of her encouraging father, always ready to ask for the first daring dance in the newest phase of his daughter's life. From tossing a toddler and twirling a teen to waltzing a bride and a last dance in dreams, "May I Have the First Dance?' is a warm and vibrant tribute to the steadfast love of fathers for their daughters (and vice versa). "May I Have the First Dance?" is a book to be treasured by every daughter and every father.
A Matter of Understanding
c/o Buy Books On The Web
1094 New Dehaven Street, #100
West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
9780741460110, $13.95, www.amazon.com
Even if you do everything right, your world can still fall apart. "A Matter of Understanding" is a novel following the daughters of Dolores Chandler as they cope with her passing and her last will and testament. What they find is left for them is nothing they expected, and their views of the world will be challenged as they recount the events as they occur. "A Matter of Understanding" is a novel of life's revelations, very much recommended.
Leverage Fear and Achieve Success
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462046119, $13.95, www.iuniverse.com
Fear is something we don't want, but it is there - so it's best to put it to work for us. "Leverage Fear and Achieve Success: Six Powerful Steps in Using Fear to Your Advantage" is an inspirational read from Shanna McFarlane who advises readers to find their fears and use it to drive themselves away from it and to find success. Mindful and thoughtful, "Leverage Fear and Achieve Success" is a strong pick for anyone seeking advice to conquer the fears that we all have.
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450236263, $25.95, www.iuniverse.com
Through decades, great progress was made. "Caroline Severance" chronicles the life of a life long progressive activist in Virginia Elwood-Akers, who writes of the titular woman who campaigned for equal rights for women and everyone else from before the civil war. Always at odds with the mainstream, her crusade led her to seeing the civil war and experience a great victory in casting her vote in the 1920 Presidential election. "Caroline Severance" is a powerful and much recommended addition to any biography collection focuses on women's rights.
Dust, Bones, and the Forever
J. W. Becker
9781463756604, $13.95, www.amazon.com
When humans are prey, survival becomes a lot harder. "Dust, Bones, and the Forever" is a post-apocalyptic fiction novel as a beast comes to the world and feasts on human blood for sustenance. Following a young doctor in Daniel Bryant, he tries to guard young children and forms something of a family, but there are too many of those among them who want to sell out humanity and lead them to extinction. "Dust, Bones, and the Forever" is a thrilling read that should prove hard to put down, recommended.
Angels, Prophecy and the Holy Spirit
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781463412043, $10.68, www.authorhouse.com
For many, remembering faith is what keeps them moving through their lives. "Angels, Prophecy, and the Holy Spirit" discusses faith and our pursuit of a better understanding of it through it all. Drawing from her own experiences, she advises others to find their holy spirit and embrace it, no matter what their faith is. "Angels, Prophecy, and the Holy Spirit" is a choice and much recommended pick, not to be overlooked.
The Experience Publishers
9780968315842, $17.50, www.experiencebooks.ca
What drives one to make running such a major part of your life? "The Messengers" is a collection of interviews with those who have run over one hundred marathons and ultra-marathons. Malcolm Anderson delves into the works of these people who he calls Messengers, and offers their stories as a unique study of sorts. "The Messengers" is a fine read with plenty of thought and philosophy to consider, highly recommended.
Shadows of Secrets
Anita R. Fisk
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781463435820, $15.19, www.authorhouse.com
A coffee shop is where we stop and try to take a break from the world's crushing pressures. "Shadows of Secrets" tells of one particular coffee shop owner in Josefine Castle, and her shop's million dollar contest to create a chocolate-sugar sculpture, and the conflict that the contest brings. Bringing romance and inner demons to the forefront, "Shadows of Secrets" is a choice work of fiction.
From My Mother
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781456471347, $9.95, www.createspace.com
In honor of those who came before us, we try to understand their plight. "From My Mother" is a novel following Nadia, as he faces a major marathon, looking back into her family's history and struggles to survive. She thinks of her mother who fled a communist revolution all those years ago, and looks to understand her, and the struggles we face through generations. "From My Mother" is a strong pick for world fiction collections.
Kris Kringle Crimes
PO Box 3988, Akron, OH 44314
9780965403641, $19.95, www.brennymanbooks.com
Eileen Sherlock is a researcher by trade and an adventurer at heart. She loves to snoop and travel, a combination that lends her unique talents to mystery writing. These selfsame talents also led her to her husband, Kevin Sherlock, a published author, radio show host, and her partner in life. Together they run a "Leverage" type of business, tracking the bad guys to gain justice for victims. Eileen also grows heirloom vegetables and quilts. Both of these knowledge bases are on display in KRIS KRINGLE CRIMES.
In this finalist in the St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic competition under the title of YULETIDE PERIL, Sherlock (the perfect name for a mystery writer) sets up the mother of all scavenger hunts. Rachel Petros and two of her friends are invited to participate through the will of an eccentric female multimillionaire. Little do they know that revenge is the motive of a twisted mind enraptured with puzzles that will lead them on a wintery chase in the United States and Europe:
"She finished her business with Mr. Gregson today. Each detail of her will be carefully checked. Everything was in place and the arrangements made. She verified that all the master plan details were in place. It was too late to change her mind now. The plans were made.
The house servants would be dismissed next month. Provisions for at least a year were needed.
This was the month to finalize the decisions regarding her appearance. She had an appointment with the famous plastic surgeon. No one would ever see the old face again. She considered which wigs she needed and purchased them. Her new wardrobe would be chosen from the catalogs covering the table."
KRIS KRINGLE CRIMES is a well-plotted, highly original tale that takes the reader on a chase covering several fascinating locales and backdrops. The action is non-stop, and the characters are well drawn. It is simply one of the best mysteries of its time.
Big Boys Don't Spy
P.O. Box 1154, Crawfordville, Fl 32326
9780981949598, $9.00, www.amazon.com
In this tale we meet 12-year old Will Wand. Will and his two brothers have lost their father to an accident and live with their mom who owns an advertising company. Will is an adventurous boy who loves everything about secret agents and wants desperately to have an assignment. Any assignment would be great. Will's cousin Penelope visits from the U.K. and Will is not happy about it at first, until they join forces to help Will's mom. It seems someone is sneaking all of mom's advertising ideas and taking customers away from her. Mom does not know about this and Will takes it upon himself to solve this mystery. The children, along with Will's two brothers need to save the day, but will they be able to? And how will they do all this without mom finding out?
This is a really good book. It has all the elements needed to draw the reader into the storyline. The characters are real and likeable and our author does a very good job at bringing their personalities to life in the story. Each one adds a charm to the tale all their own as they begin to work together to break the case and bring justice for mom. That was a good point the author did, showing how working together can accomplish more than working alone. It is quick paced, but not too fast where it would cause confusion in the read. I enjoyed seeing the love of family in this story as well. Of course it has the usual sibling encounters that all families have, but the story showed the value of family and I liked it. All in all this is a very well written book with a story that is sure to bring reading enjoyment to young and old. Well done.
Sam's Desert Adventure
Moonlight Mesa Associates, Inc.
18620 Moonlight Mesa Rd, Wickenburg, AZ 85390
No ISBN, $9.95, www.moonlightmesaassociates.com
In this delightful tale, by author, Jonah Arizona, we meet Sam Davenport Sam is a middle school age boy living in Alaska, but about to move to Arizona with his family. Sam is a good boy, however he seems to have a way of getting into mischief. Little things he does seem to blow up into major events, to the dismay of those around him.. Let me put it this way, when Sam's Principal and teachers heard the news of the move, they were anything but unhappy. Sam wasn't sure how he felt about the move, he knew he would miss his best friend, Tommy, and all the adventures they had, but he was also excited to see what Arizona had to offer.
After the family arrives in Arizona, Sam accidentally buys a mule at a local auction, to the horror of his family. Sam finds out quickly that nothing comes without a price as he learns responsibility in so many areas, and adventure in so many others. New friends are made, family ties are strengthened and life lessons are learned.
I truly enjoyed this read . Our author did a great job bringing to life the characters. Sam became endearing to me right from the start, and I especially liked the family atmosphere. It was a joy to see a family that actually had rules for their children that were enforced with love. I also liked the author bringing in a friendship for Sam with a grandfather age figure . I feel it will show children that they can relate to those that are older, enjoy a friendship and learn from them. All in all this book is a winner, it has warmth, a great story, wonderful characters and a top-notch ending. I highly recommend it.
Kathryn The Grapes: Colorful Adventure
Kathryn Cloward with Ginny Hornby
Illustrated by: Christine Winscott
9780982927717, $14.95, www.amazon.com
Kathryn has three older brothers and at times she feels her mom and dad love them more than they do her. One night at dinner, one she didn't like because she didn't like hamburgers, Kathryn felt left out. After all, she had stories she wanted to tell but her brothers were hogging all the time and she was mad. When mom asked her what was wrong Kathryn was not nice so she was sent to her room. It is here her friend Maggie, a butterfly shows up and takes her on a journey that will change Kathryn's feelings and show her what is important.
This is a very nice book. To start the illustrations are rich, colorful and bold. They bring the story across very nicely. As with a lot of children's stories there is a lesson to be learned, in this one as well. However, the playing out of several different lessons are done in a very different way. Maggie gives Kathryn a colorful charm bracelet and takes her on a journey. Here she learns how colorful she is, how exciting she is. She learns of trust and love and she learns to understand what it means to belong.Children go through a lot of emotions as they grow. It is often difficult to know where they fit in and sometimes they don't see their own talents and qualities. This story opens that world to them. It is very well done and I'm sure will be treasured by many a smiling child.
Kelli Sue Landon
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
978146377823, $14.95, www.amazon.com
Kimberly and Deborah are happy that High School is now behind them. Now they can plan their lives their way. Deb invites Kim to spend a month with her at her parents' cottage in Wisconsin. The girls are excited, after all they are now masters of their own souls. There is only one thing Deb requires and that is for Kim to help her film a documentary of the area. She wants it for a pre college project. Kim doesn't think that is a bad price to pay for an entire month of fun.
Soon after arriving, the girls were surprised to hear about the arrest of a serial killer. It was both scary and exciting to them and as they hear more and more stories from the locals, Deb decides this story would make a better film. Deb decides that being the first to film inside the killer's beach house, where the bodies were, would seal the films success. But what will happen to the girls and their friends as they go places they should never be?
I enjoyed this book. The author did a very good job of bringing forth the characters and the part they played in the storyline using the different personalities in Kim, Deb and their two friends. Each young lady brought to the table an element that helped bring the story alive and keep it flowing. She also did a nice job in her description of the locals and the local people. You wondered (and that is what you should be doing) just how each one fit into the mystery that was growing. As usual, I did not see the ending coming and I was surprised. All in all it was a smooth flowing read, had elements of surprise and definitely suspense. The story also addressed some issues that young girls may be facing and it had a great ending.
This book delivered and I recommend it.
Canyon of Death: Book III of the Jake Silver Series
Jere D James
Moonlight Mesa Associates, Inc.
18620 Moonlight Mesa Rd, Wickenburg, AZ 85390
9780982758540, $15.95, www.moonlightmesaassociates.com
I have read Book 1, Saving Tom Black, and Book 11, Apache, by author Jere D James and I was excited to begin this read. I have tasted this authors words before and I have come to know it will be a tale that will wrap around your heart. Going into the story, the love of U.S. Deputy Marshal Jake Silver, Betsy, lays recovering from the brutal treatment from an outlaw named, Geiger and his gang. Jake knows he has to find the ones that hurt his love and make them pay. However, Jake's heart is torn as he knows his child is growing within Betsy and only time can heal the wounds of both. He longs to stay with them, but he cannot free himself from the drive to right the wrong that has been done. As Jake leaves, Betsy knows decisions will be made and her heart is sorrowful. Perhaps her life will not take the turn she had hoped it would. as another man releases his love to her in the absence of Jake.
Jake begins his travels, his heart is heavy but his determination is steadfast. He simply must right the wrong done and nothing will stop him. But perhaps Jake is using his quest to run, to not be committed, and to stay the free spirit he has always been. Love is wonderful, but a man's passion often calls, and can become a consuming fire. As Jake travels he meets friends and foes but as always Jake uses his inward spirit to avert many problems, and the respect he has gained from the Indians help him along the way. His travels take him deep into the wilderness and our author paints a picture with his words that allows you to become part of the local, breath the air, gaze at the stars. Excellent job. Finally Jake is faced with his purpose and his revenge on Geiger is carried out, but not without Jake taking the blows that nearly kill him. Now, recuperating from his battle, Jake is far from home and Betsy tires of waiting. When a proposal of marriage is made to her, she accepts, but what will happen when Jake finally returns home?
As always Mr. James pens a novel that webs you in from beginning to end. This book takes you more into the intent, the heart of our characters but yet leaves you wondering where is it all going? Why can't Jake release himself from her wondering, and how much longer will Betsy wait. I have to say I didn't like Jake as much in this book as I have in the past. That's a good thing because as I said our author is giving more depth to his characters.
Perhaps I just expect Jake to fall before Betsy and make all her dreams come true. However, this is a cowboy story, not a romance novel, and so it holds to ways that were, and perhaps are. We'll see what happens, but Jake better watch it, he's not on my good side right now. Well done Mr. James, keep um coming!
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781462031283, $22.95, www.iuniverse.com
No one got to where they are alone, and giving back is a great thing. "My America: The Culture of Giving: Admiration, Values, and Generosity Without Borders" is Jens Moe, as he looks fondly on America as a Norwegian-Canadian who calls for a more generosity in all our lives, as he shares his travels of what he has learned and the people he has met. "My America" is a thoughtful and optimistic look at America from the outside looking in.
Laura Gower Jackson
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450220255, $11.95, www.iuniverse.com
What leads a young man to become an infamous figure of history? "Doroteo" seeks to tell the story of a young Pancho Villa in novel form, as author Laura Glower Jackson describes the story of Doroteo, who rebelled against a corrupt government which cared not for the small villages from whence he came, and led to much lost life and bloodshed. "Doroteo" is an intriguing and recommended work of historical fiction that offers a different perspective on the man.
River in the Sea
9781466292079, $12.99, www.tinaboscha.com
Loyalty to one's family or loyalty to oneself is a dilemma many face down. "River in the Sea" is a novel following Lenn De Graaf, a teenager turning into a young woman too soon, as her native Netherlands is under siege by German forces. But happiness may still be possible, but the act could look to her people as betrayal. "River in the Sea" is a fascinating delve into coming of age tales, recommended.
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462048649, $19.99, www.iunivere.com
Sometimes the victim deserves it. "Beyond Terror" tells the story of Jean Davis, who under the oppression of her husband John, lashed out and struck first, fearing for her life. Now facing the law, her case isn't clear, as the jury and the lawyers debate whether she was acting in self-defense or simply murder. Author Ralph Thornton draws on his own legal experience for many years, and makes "Beyond Terror" a riveting and choice legal thriller.
Sidetracked in the Midwest
Itchy Cat Press
9780981516127, $23.00, www.itchycatpress.com
There's more in the Midwest than many people realize. "Sidetracked in the Midwest" is a green travel guide from Mary Bergin who shows people on how to experience the Midwestern United States through environment and sustainability, sights to see that don't violate the decency of recent environmental ordinances and promote local growing. For the environmentally conscious traveler, "Sidetracked in the Midwest" is a strong and much recommended pick for community library travel and environmentalism collections.
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595273690, $17.95, www.iuniverse.com
There are many points in history that could radically change on the smallest of alterations. "1916: The Creation of the First Nation-State in the 20th Century" is a spin of history, surrounding the English Isles and America, presenting a twist of history with a scholarly take on it all. For fans of alternative history, "1916" is a novel that is well worth considering, covering six years in a critical period of history.
Come One, Come All
9781461170228, $18.95, www.amazon.com
When hate is tossed about in all directions, it can be hard to find some help. "Come One, Come All: is a novel following Psychologist Abe Redden as he tries to deal with the pressures surrounding a woman's health clinic where a death recently occurred, and only finds a hostile environment from all sides. With a blunt dose of humor and protests raging outside the clinic, "Come One, Come All" is poignant about the struggles we all face and how hard a friend can be to find.
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781460915691, $14.95, www.createspace.com
Trauma leaves wounds that can reach through decades. "Catharsis" is a novel from Ann Wachter, as she crafts the tale of Amzy, a girl who is put through the tragedy of her once ideal young life by constant tragedy and divorce. As her family's problems stack up and make her feel more and more alone, she tries to find familial love in a family that has none of it. "Catharsis" is a tragic and much recommended pick for general fiction collections.
Getting Out of Dodge City, Heading for LA on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe
Clifton E. Marsh
PO Box 151
Frederick, MD 21705-0151
9781456089436, $24.95, www.publishamerica.com
For something better, one must run a gauntlet of hardships. "Getting Out of Dodge City, Heading for L.A., on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe" tells the story of a black family moving through the America throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Dr. Clifton E. Marsh recalls his family's story and everything that they faced in search of something better, constantly migrating. "Getting Out of Dodge City" is worth considering for those seeking black studies and memoir collections.
Alone Among Many
9781466402577, $14.99, www.btinternet.com
We live in cities of millions, yet loneliness remains a powerful force. "Alone Among Many" is a collection of poetry from Spargo Postle, as he discusses our search for others and our search for belonging in our everyday lives. With humor and poignancy amidst soul searching, "Alone Among Many" is a fine pick that shouldn't be overlooked. "A Mothers Arms...": We all need a Mother's arms/to hold us tight/keep us warm/shield away the cruelty of life//That's it/there is no more/save to say/my love will ever be//end!
Through Struggle, The Stars
John J. Lumpkin
9781461195443, $14.99, www.amazon.com
Pushing beyond our frontiers has seemingly only driven humanity further apart. "Through Struggle, The Stars" is a novel set a century in the future, where the discovery of worm holes has allowed mankind to find far off star systems, and this had led to a conflict of earthly super powers. Neil Mercer, officer of United States Space Force, finds he must defuse a rising conflict between China and Japan, or Earth and its interests in space may be ruined before they begin. "Through Struggle, the Stars" is a fine and fast paced read, very much recommended.
Romance with a Touch of Love
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432771386, $9.95, www.outskirtspress.com
Romance is what we all yearn for, but it often eludes us. "Romance with a Touch of Love" is a collection of poetry touching on this need for others and our yearning, as Kevin Hollingsworth presents a certain thought and charm to the picture. "Romance with a Touch of Love" is a fine collection of poetry, much recommended. "He Said Goodbye My Love": He will always remember those wonderful moments./He can never forget their unforgettable splendor./These loving memories will be with him until his heart/breathes no more.
Easy Money Smarts
Jim W. Mathe
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462035410, $16.95, www.iuniverse.com
With a little luck, capital, and piece of mind, one can turn a little money into much more. "Easy Money Smarts" delves into Jim W. Mathe's tips on how to extend one's money, use it wisely, and start on one's own way to financial security and wise money management. Practical and straight-forward, "Easy Money Smarts" is not to be overlooked, much-recommended reading.
The Leopold Succession
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432781682, $12.95, www.outskirtspress.com
To help others is a worthy goal, but no good deed goes unpunished. "The Leopold Succession" follows pilot Samantha Connor, who flies missions into the ravaged Congo. Going beyond the call of duty, she finds the worst happening as she makes a stop. With no hope, she fights her fate, trusting few but her own wits. A riveting adventure, "The Leopold Succession" is not to be missed for those who like fast paced thrillers.
The Kindness Cure
Scott H. Lewis
9781466230200, $14.95, www.amazon.com
Kindness is horribly contagious. "The Kindness Cure" is an inspirational call to good will from Scott H. Lewis as he advises readers to embrace kindness and spread it, stating that while a miserable person will make everyone around them miserable, genuine kindness too will inspire kindness and positivity all around them. Stating that being positive in life may be harder than you think, Scott Lewis states it's very much doable and very much worth it. "The Kindness Cure" is a powerful and driven read, not to be overlooked by community library inspirational and motivational collections.
White Lies, Black Blood
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432770181, $31.95, www.outskirtspress.com
Reality can be all too cruel. "White Lies, Black Blood" tells the story of Angelica, a raised and bred bigot. When she learns of her heritage, she realizes her mistakes and tries to seek to understand and make up for her mistakes. She learns that our common heritage as human beings and under the eyes of God, "White Lies, Black Blood" is a novel that explores race and what brings us together on top of keeping us apart.
Paul T. Vogel
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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