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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 12, Number 1 January 2013 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

Up Sell Your Home
James A. Harner, CRS
Real Estate Education Foundation
102 2nd Avenue
Royersford, PA 19468
9780615727479 $19.95

Real Estate industry veteran James A. Harner, CRS presents Up Sell Your Home: Why Some People Always Make Money in Any Real Estate Market, a practical guide packed with solid home-selling advice, as well as unconventional insights into how the real estate industry really works. One of Harner's core principles is that "advertising doesn't sell homes - agents do". In other words, since prospective home buyers almost always rely upon real estate agents, appealing to those agents is far more important than placing classified ads in print publications that no one reads anymore. If a home is in excellent condition and not overpriced, Harner encourages prospective sellers to consider raising the price and raising the buying agent's commission above the local average, in order to effectively "bribe" the agent to sell the home! Other valuable tips, tricks, and techniques include an exhaustive laundry list of tasks to "stage" one's home (making it look warm and appealing to prospective buyers) such as sending one's personal clutter to a storage bin or tidying up the front lawn. Up Sell Your Home also has invaluable warnings against pitfalls such as hosting an open house (which has led to sellers being victimized by thieves who seize the opportunity to case a home's valuables, or worse). Simple, easy-to-do arithmetic calculations to objectively gauge the state of one's local real estate market (and determine whether the market is hot enough that one can sell one's own home without an agent) round out this "must-have" resource for anyone who needs to sell their home quickly and profitably! "It is MUCH easier to deal directly with the buyer's agent than with the buyer themselves. Buyers want to get your house for as little as possible; buyer's agents want to get paid."

Art of Ink Painting
Valentina Battler
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781479302529, $34.95,

Cultures spread across the globe, and artists embrace the styles that were previously unknown to them. "Art of Ink Painting" is a collection of art and poetry from the western Valentina Battler, who channels her appreciation for the traditional Eastern Asian artistic styles, providing her take on the traditions of the region. Capturing the haunting beauty of ink painting and presenting them in full color accompanied by poetry, "Art of Ink Painting" is a must for anyone who seeks a reinterpretation of style and cross cultural influence, highly recommendation.

Chutes, Beer, & Bullets
Jesse C. Holder
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781468675125, $16.95,

War has changed, as the people have changed. "Chutes, Beer, & Bullets: Not Your Grandpa's War Story" is a memoir of conflict as he brings the lighter human side to the international conflicts in Afghanistan, sharing stories of the life he lived and sharing stories of the true to life people he encountered along the way in his years in service. "Chutes, Beer, & Bullets" is a thoughtful modern memoir, well worth considering.

A Rhythm of Life
Victor-Antoine D'Avila Latourrette
9780764822278, $19.99,

Life in service to the lord is a life knowing the lord awaits. "A Rhythm of Life: The Monastic Way" is an introduction into the modern monastic life from Brother Victor-Antoine D'Avila Latorrette, a modern monk living at Our Lady of the Resurrection Monastery. Showing the devotion of this modern day and what has changed for those living in service of Christ, "A Rhythm of Life" is a much dedication and devotional read, proving fascinating about the institution of the monastery and how it has advanced and changed to stay relevant in the twenty first century.

David E. Stevens
Monarch Books
9780857212498, $14.99,

To save the world, one must offer your life, even if it is only metaphorical. "Resurrect" is an adventure thriller following Josh Logan, a Navy commander who died after a vicious jet crash - or so the world believes. Waking a year later, Logan takes his second chance at life with a new purpose he doesn't fully understand to protect humanity from the encroaching military industrial complex. "Resurrect" is a riveting and much recommended pick for adventure fiction collections.

Bilingual is Better
Roxana A. Soto & Ana L. Flores
Bilingual Readers
9788492968213, $17.95,

The world will never speak one language, so knowing more than one can only help. "Bilingual is Better: Two Latina Moms on How The Bilingual Parenting Revolution is Changing the Face of America" is an advisory to parents of immigrant or mixed language families, encouraging them to develop both their country's dominant language as well as their own, equipping their children with the knowledge of two cultures and how it better prepares them for tomorrow. "Bilingual is Better" is a strong addition to any parenting collection focusing on cross-cultural child rearing.

The Christian's Guide to Harry Potter
Leslie Barnhart
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781477575086, $20.00,

Witchcraft and Wizardry have long been standing alarms for many Christians. "The Christian's Guide to Harry Potter" is Leslie's Barnhart's exploration of the stories from a Christian perspective as she details the foundation of Rowling's world and how to better understand it on many levels and how it holds true to Christ's message and good moral character. "The Christian's Guide to Harry Potter" is strongly recommended for Christian literary studies collections.

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

Lay Saints
Adam Connell
Adam Connell Publishing
9781476036175 $3.99

Set in a modern-era New York City which hosts an underworld where telepaths read and alter thoughts, Lay Saints opens with a familiar bang - and a twist: "Call me Ishmael. Forget that. Call me Sir. Sirs get the top bunk. You just be glad I don't wet the mattress."

The first-person narrator is a prisoner: a prisoner who can see and hear things 'far away', and whose unique talents set him apart in a world of gifted individuals. He's been assigned to watch over one new arrival whose powers have been wiped along with his memories; but in defiance of his overseers, 'Ishmael' is telling the new inmate/murderer the history of his arrival - which is also the history of battles between telepaths and the evolution of one Calder. He's always avoided New York City because he's been afraid of meeting other telepaths. He's twenty-something and as the novel starts he's in New York City for the first time because his solitary wanderings have grown lonely and he's finally hungry for the company of his own kind.

It isn't long before Calder is drawn into an underworld of competing gangs of telepaths with changing alliances and political associations. He experiences an uncertain romance only to find his possibilities twisted by the push/pull of different interest groups, and grapples with too many conflicting sides vying for his loyalties and powers.

A large cast of protagonists all struggle to gain the upper hand in a novel that reads more like a detective story than your usual science fiction novel. This is just one of the features that sets Lay Saints apart from genre competitors and elevates it to a recommendation for mystery and detective readers as well as science fiction and fantasy aficionados: there's no singular genre association that would limit its audience, and plenty of action that will attract novel enthusiasts with different interests.

Telepaths don't follow any given track for all their talents, either: from twins who share not only powers but love interests to an unusual alliance forged between a psychic and a non-psychic ex-priest, Lay Saints throws together a range of disparate personalities all united by unusual abilities and the possibility of unusual profits to be gained by them.

Another central figure is the character of Faraday, an overseer who runs a sleazy club offering special services and talents to its clientele. Faraday's objectives and power ultimately create a dangerous enemy inside prison walls: one who has nothing but time to formulate the perfect, ultimate revenge.

Lay Saints, with its realistic and complex cast of protagonists and the added bonus of wild talents up for exploit, is a powerful read that is gritty, honest, gripping and unpredictable. Any who enjoy noir detective stories, explorations with New York City underworld settings, and a touch of science fiction injected into complex social and political interactions will find this an absorbing read, impossible to put down.

Soldiers' Field
Raymond M. Weinstein
Raymond M. Weinstein, Publisher
ASIN: B007W53HDI $0.99

A young soldier, David Streiber, eighteen months into a U.S. Army stint at California's Fort Ord in 1959, receives well-regarded orders which will take him overseas to a coveted assignment in Germany, crossing the Atlantic to move from connections to nearby family to fulfilling the job he's been training for. His life is then transformed. David is Jewish and the war is long over, but Germany is still filled with pro-Nazi sentiments. Before he leaves home, his mother warns him not to get involved with German people, and a friend who just returned from the Army in Germany tells him not to get married.

Stationed in Nuremberg near the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds, an area replete with historic memories, David comes face-to-face with lingering Nazi sentiments, tensions between white and black American soldiers, and uncertain and sometimes volatile interactions between German and Jewish factions.

One-by-one he must confront those different forces at odds with each other both in Germany and in his own life, and one-by-one he wages his own internal war as he attempts to come to grips with history, the impact of the past on future generations, and his personal involvement with lasting psychological effects of World War II.

Soldiers' Field personalizes the aftermath of war in a way other World War II novels do not, making the protagonist a young Jewish man who does not initially believe that the legacy and beliefs of Naziism should condemn future generations. His journey to postwar Germany is thus begun with hope and idealism, a hope that begins in Fort Ord with his new orders ("I realized my remaining time in the Army would be radically different.") and only dim perceptions that his forthcoming journey will be paradigm-changing ("I would be traveling thousands of miles to a foreign land, to live and work for almost a year and a half with a former enemy of the United States.").

David's philosophy of life is summarized in his interactions with his family before leaving, during which he maintains two basic credos: that "people should be judged as individuals, not as members of a group" and his belief "I know today's young Germans are not responsible for what their parents or grandparents did . . . or didn't do."

Thus, with full knowledge of his family's Jewish heritage but filled with youthful optimism, David embarks for Germany. There he will experience confrontations and realizations beyond his wildest dreams.

First, the nineteen-year-old faces personal challenges in coming of age, from his initial sexual encounter with a German woman to the differences between his family's Jewish ideals and his own connections to past and present events. Second, David faces philosophical challenges as his basic perception of the underlying goodness in people is tested in his encounters with radically different personalities in Germany. A third layer to the saga is the social, military, and historical factors underlying the World War II experience which permeates modern culture and world perspectives, challenging efforts to enact permanent changes.

Where other novels typically employ the third person to add distance to all these layers, Soldiers' Field's use of the first person provides a personal edge to a saga that probes the fundamentals of belief, change, and the synthesis of experience and youth with historical and cultural perspectives.

Throughout the novel, David's perspectives and changes are told with a focus on the personal--the evolution of his experiences with German women, his quest for lovemaking, his encounters with postwar legacies of Germany's physical destruction and economic downfall, his understanding of the ban on fraternization between Germans and G.I.s lifted after the first years of Germany's occupation by American forces. All of these elements fall into place as David embarks on a journey to understand the real future of relationships between Germans, Jews, and the rest of the world. He writes: "I was willing to set out on a solicited safari, disposed to just accompany him (a German working on David's Army camp) without any foreknowledge of where he was taking me or what or whom I might be getting myself into. My mothers' admonitions about not getting involved with the German people were brushed aside. This could be my chance, I reasoned, to meet a local female as yet untouched by G.I. hands."

David's encounters with all these people--military and non-military, friends and lovers, and those who enter his orbit and influence his thinking--will ultimately change his world forever. In the Epilogue, after he returns home, he muses: "The most important frontier I had to cross was the change of mind set. My Army days were gone but not forgotten. I may have left Germany but Germany did not leave me."

Soldiers' Field is not another novel filled with light encounters or casual reflection. It is the very real, always-moving and very personal story of a young man whose worldview, romances, and perceptions of history itself are changed from singular narratives presented and reinforced by family and military establishment to a wider, multi-faceted, and complex set of insights supported by encounters throughout Germany during the course of his tour of duty in 1959 and 1960.

Military collections and individuals interested in a blend of history and personal growth will find this an exceptional, highly recommended, and complex read.

Why Leadership Sucks: Fundamentals of Servant Leadership
Miles Anthony Smith, MBA
Kompelling Publishing
Paperback ISBN: 9780988405301
Kindle ISBN: 9780988405325
Epub ISBN: 9780988405318
eBook: $7.96; Paperback: $14.95

Why Leadership Sucks: Fundamentals of Servant Leadership opens with a contention that immediately identifies the foundation of this book: "Why does leadership suck? It sucks because real leadership is hard and requires selfless service." The alternative to such leadership, which leads to rigid routines and harsh treatments, is the path toward 'Level 5 servant leadership' - often a more difficult choice, but ultimately more rewarding.

The remaining meat of this intense discussion focuses on different elements of this style of leadership, truths behind effective leadership approaches, and how they contrast with traditional leadership roles and ideals.

Chapters consider what stops leaders from achieving these higher goals, analyzing the wisdom and elements that separate common leadership from servant-oriented leadership objectives and approaches.

Biblical references throughout provide additional, spiritual examples of this style of leadership, reinforcing the basics of leadership principles that move beyond business pursuits and into the realm of human interactions on many levels.

With a basic commitment to the right kind of learning, anyone can become a Level 5 servant leader: while Miles Smith's book isn't the only guide available, it is the most succinct, hard-hitting survey on the market, linking personal ideals and ethics to business and spiritual pursuits alike.

Miles Smith uses the first person throughout to personalize the account, which is based upon not only his perspective, but his successful experiences as such a leader. As he explains, a leader role is less forgiving, with organizational leaders held to a much higher standard and less able to recover from mistakes. Non-managers can always move to another position in the company if they err: leaders don't have that luxury.

More importantly, the most successful leaders should consider themselves servants of a company - not its owners. Based on the teachings of Christ, a model evolves for accountable leadership based on sacrifice, negotiation, and building bridges instead of walls. From fighting for the underdog to rejecting selfish motivations and focusing on honesty and doing good, Why Leadership Sucks links leadership actions to accountability in a way many business books fail to achieve. It succeeds in pinpointing the pitfalls and failures of traditional leadership ideals, and points the way to a better path.

Any spirituality or business reader - particularly those seeking a union between the two approaches - will find Why Leadership Sucks a powerful affirmation of possibilities and real successes.

Mac Fallows
The Musical Press
9780991678310 $2.99

Neil is a shy pre-teen with a special ability to discern anything about a person by merely touching their possessions. Only his grandmother, who harbors her own hidden talent, understands him - and it is she who tells him the magical story of an unlikely hero in another world, Wondertown, that makes up the fable in this riveting fantasy.

Wondertown is an example of multimedia at its best: one highlight of the book is twelve accompanying songs (note: the songs don't come within the Amazon ebook version, but are available separately on CD or MP3: one must choose the Enhanced ebook available on the Wondertownproject site to gain the music, book and illustrations alltogether.)

Another note: unlike your typical musical, the songs actually go beyond complimenting the book and are a key part of absorbing the complex characters and settings of Wondertown. In other words - you simply can't appreciate the full value of the text sans the music! The author is both a composer and a writer, and this dual talent gives Wondertown a multidimensional complexity that absolutely requires multimedia to 'pop'.

Wondertown opens with a powerful preface in which Neil, seventeen, is found freezing in the woods and near-mad after a winter storm. Some say he is fulfilling his own prophecy of madness which he's been foretelling since childhood, but in actuality his predicament is the aftermath of a courageous struggle to save the world.

Three transformative experiences have shaped his life to this point: Wondertown, the subject of this book, is the first.

Fast forward to Neil as a pre-teen, facing the angst of his parents' lives and their own disappointments: "Then one day he realized that parents made mistakes, that his mother hadn't meant to end up where she had, and that not everyone could know things about the unseen world, even if their mother could, or their son..."

'Neil's Song' is the first musical interlude, paired with a color drawing of a despondent boy: a powerful reflection by Neil on his abilities, his decision to hide from the world, and confusion over the adults affecting his world. It's synthesizer and harmonized voices with subthemes running through: it's lilting, rushes like water - and is absolutely compelling; even more so for its solid, reinforcing pairing with the story line.

As the novel progresses, readers of all ages will be drawn by the vivid writing reinforced by the peppering of color drawings by illustrator Emrah Elmasli, and by the powerful music. One might argue that compelling prose needs no further embellishment, but they'd be wrong: each multimedia addition expands and enhances the whole, already made powerful by observational words and phrases: "Children often have a signature expression that tugs at the corners of their mouths when they're calm, and that takes over completely when they're unsure how to react. Not Neil. He was already cast in the shadow of the grown-up he'd become, his expression wrought by his unwavering scrutiny of the world around him; he was the one his schoolmates would recognize in fifty years, the one whose mind was already free and whose features were already sharply defined, the sort of almost-twelve-year-old you didn't touch unless he was deathly ill, falling backward off a roof, or asleep."

Neil (a.k.a. 'Rabbit')'s grandmother introduces him a land of tree fairies (which often prove too fragile, with volatile results), princesses, and demons, where Speakers can be evil and all the stories Neil has heard all his life are interconnected - much as the music and colorful illustrations connect plot to visual and auditory cues for a deeper understanding of Neil's perspective and role in the story.

Neil's struggle to piece together clues from his grandmother's stories is juxtaposed with the fantasy story itself, offering satisfying movement between two very different, yet interconnected, worlds.

Constantly faced with the repeated admonition and experience that only one person can survive to be a winner, Rabbit struggles to find a happy medium good for all - even as Neil learns how to identify and handle the demons in his own life. Alternating between rock, folk, classical influences and everything in between, the songs provide support and exciting, uplifting sequences that compliment the book's drama at all points.

The result has no definitive conclusion because this is first in a trilogy of exploration - and invites readers to continue the journey. Once you've become immersed in the magic that is Wondertown and Neil's explorations, you WILL want to continue ... be forewarned!

Immigration: How to Avoid its Perils and Make it Work
Bruce D. Thatcher
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781478379058 $19.99

Up until 1965 Americans were generally pleased with the U.S. approach to immigration ... but that was the year when Congress and the President began to tinker with long-standing immigration laws, making major changes whose ramifications linger to this day. Other books on immigration stop here: with identifying issues and pitfalls to policies and laying blame on particular events or laws that led to problems: not so Immigration: How to Avoid Its Perils and Make It Work.

After exploring the history of U.S. immigration policy changes and their lasting ramifications, Bruce Thatcher proceeds to contrast this with policies from other countries over the decades, outlining three basic rules for crafting successful immigration policies and drawing connections between these rules and assimilation processes.

This makes for complex reading: chapters summarize and analyze policies in diverse nations from Palestine and Canada to Australia and Singapore; in several cases returning to some of the nations to contrast early policies with modern revised strategies.

Documentation and history includes coverage of the kinds of people and social groups who immigrated to each nation, the policies which governed their arrival, temporary and permanent status, and influences both early and modern on racial integration processes.

From early laws and decrees and their intentions and impact to later changes that affected citizenship possibilities and ethnic group content, Immigration: How to Avoid Its Perils and Make It Work surveys political and social objectives and their impact, pinpointing the legal and policy changes that held lasting influences on the demographics of immigrant populations. It makes important distinctions between foreign workers who may be transient and new immigrants who intend on citizenship to refugee acts and letting the market work to direct immigrant options and needs (rather than political processes). Chapters supported by statistical information and social analysis offer a fine survey of the key elements that immigration reform should be addressing in America.

Quotes from source material on all nations and their policies include government interest in supporting particular occupations or immigrant talents, misconceptions about immigrant impact on their new countries, analysis of government national interests in regard to immigration policies, and even political relationships between nations.

Our current system is loaded with inconsistencies, special interest conflicts, and poor assimilation processes. By providing explicit historical background and examples of where current policies bog down, Immigration: How to Avoid Its Perils and Make It Work provides keys to solid reform, making it a top recommendation for any collection looking for a clear coverage of reform options.

Thatcher's conclusion is quite clear, supported by chapters packed with documentation, historical fact, and supportive statistical analysis: "...replace all existing immigration law with a comprehensive and cohesive new immigration law."

In pinpointing the 'how', his book goes far beyond your usual history or immigration issues coverage and weaves a blueprint for action within supportive chapters packed with information.

The Buddha at Culver
Richard Gwyn Davies
Unlimited Publishing LLC
145280417X $16.99

The Buddha at Culver provides a sequel to Swords At Culver, a fantasy novel set at Culver Military Academy in Indiana, and is a special recommendation for prior readers who want more of the literary fantasy adventure provided in the first.

Here again Merthyn Jones and Timothy Makers are targets of rogue Native American forces; only this time they're joined by Shi Wu Ling, a Buddhist nun who provides them with a new tool: Tibetan Buddhist meditation.

Using this tool, Tim finds that in his dreams he can go back to the world of the Natives who were forced by tribal custom to kill his father because he'd killed his mother ...just as a group of Tibetan monks come to Culver to destroy a mandala, prompting an attack on classmate Jessica as she's leading a healing ceremony.

The forces that arise during the course of struggle pit Native Americans against Eastern religious forces and will heighten the struggle as the Natives discover they are losing power, and pinpoint the boys as the source: "The people I worry about are not back in the past; they are in the present including you, my young friend. You and the others must be extra vigilant for the next few days."

Past and present struggles intersect in a dangerous sequence of events that ultimately pits good forces against evil and involves Tibetan demons, nuns and evil creatures, symbolic images designed to awaken the Buddha mind, and much more.

Fans of fantasy in general and the prior Culver adventure in particular will find this steeped in action and supernatural forces, and will find it a solid mystery fantasy filled with unexpected twists and turns to the end.

Diane C. Donovan
Senior Reviewer

Dunford's Bookshelf

21st Century Yoga
Carol Horton & Roseanne Harvey, editors
Kleio Books
9780615617602, $15.00,

Yoga is gaining ground in popular culture. "21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics, and Practice" discusses Yoga and its place in today's society, drawing from its roots in ancient Eastern philosophy to its place in modern health and wellness. Discussing the many benefits of Yoga and how they apply to many afflictions of the mind and soul, "21st Century Yoga" is a strong addition to any social issues and health collection, highly recommended.

Tears in Rain
Rosa Montero
Amazon Crossing
PO Box 400818, Las Vegas, NV 89140
c/o Wunderkind PR (publicity)
9781612184388 $14.95

Tears in Rain is a dark science fiction thriller, about a replicant "technohuman" named Detective Bruna Husky. She was created to perform deadly tasks, and her body is destined to self-destruct after a mere ten years. But as "antitechno" ire surges, prompting a spate of premature deaths among replicants. Bruna's investigation of the mystery reveals a ruthless conspiracy at the very core of the United States - the nation that created her. No matter how long or short her life may be, Bruna will not go down without a fight! Tense and exciting, Tears in Rain is highly recommended especially for fans of sci-fi noir.

Full Circle
Alfred R. Taylor
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781477614587, $12.00,

As technology advances, the capability of man's plots grow more obscene. "Full Circle: Electronic Afterlife" is a science fiction adventure from Alfred R. Taylor who tells the story of the quest of Mark Aaron whose vacation from the Nora Corporation leaves him flung through time with everything he holds dear, and perhaps humanity itself, struggling. Stranded in 1842 with knowledge of an unnatural plot against a young Lincoln, "Full Circle" is an enticing read of time travel and adventure.

Perilous Paths
George G. McClellan
c/o AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781475925319, $12.95,

There are those who risked everything to make a difference. "Perilous Paths: The Story of Robert McClellan: Indian Fighter, Soldier, Trapper, Explorer, and Member of the John J. Astor Fur Company" is a biography of author George G. McClellan's revolution-era Ancestor, who did much on the frontier, breaking out into what was then the very hostile frontier and the uncharted wilderness of America. "Perilous Paths" is a snapshot of what was done to survive in late eighteenth century America.

Mary Lou Gediman
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781478360650, $12.99,

The goodness of man is universal through many cultures. "Connections" follows Pontiac Parker, a ritualistic and culturally traditional man who finds that his wedding day is challenged by the unusual threat that enters the scene, and the lives of many may hang in the balance. "Connections" follows the Native American gentleman as he gets to the bottom of the problem and has his very nature threatened in the process.

The Presenter's Handbook: How To Present With New Found Confidence, Energy, and Ability
Philip Adcock & Ian Callow
Presenter's Handbook Press
9780957190900, $16.25,

The presentation is almost as important as the product itself. "The Presenter's Handbook: How To Present With New Found Confidence, Energy, and Ability" is an advisory guide that encourages readers to master the art of presentation and salesmanship on many levels, communicating one's purpose and ideas to others more effectively. With plenty of practical advice on those who want to bring the performance into their presentations, "The Presenter's Handbook" is a powerful and much recommended addition to self-help and inspirational collections, not to be missed.

The Brothers
Allen D. Anderson
Langdon Press
9781936782918, $17.95,

A cycle of violence is a cycle no one really wants to repeat. "The Brothers" is a novel as twin brothers Peter and Andrew see their future in their war torn father, having a heavy impact on their lives and living. With war facing their near future, they see a potential repeat for themselves, and have only one another to rely on to break the cycle. "The Brothers" is a fine addition to general fiction collections, highly recommended.

Black Boogiemen
Tallis Piaget
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781462895335, $19.99,

The Darkness that resides within us all is something very much to be afraid of. "Black Boogiemen" is a novel of near future America, where Black America launches its own civil war to purge itself of darkness, and the long, hard road that results. With much to ponder on society and improving it, "Black Boogiemen" is a curious and recommended read, not to be overlooked.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

We Became Mexican American
Carlos B. Gil
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781477136546 $18.99 pbk
9781477136553 $26.99 hc
9781477136560 $3.99 ebook

A handful of black-and-white photographs illustrate We Became Mexican American: How Our Immigrant Family Survived to Pursue the American Dream, the true-life story of a Mexican family that settled in America in the 1920s, as penned by one of their sons, Carlos B. Gil. Carlos tells of how crushing poverty pushed his relatives to leave their old homes and settle in the barrio city of San Fernando. Drawing upon direct interviews, We Became Mexican American tells how Carlos' parents met and married just as the Great Depression began. Carlos' father labored as a citrus worker, while his mother labored to help the family make ends meet after the great crash of 1929. The family engaged in micro business to survive the hardship of the Great Depression, and their children reached young adulthood in the 1940's. A multifaceted portrayal of determination, surviving hardship, familial love, and everyday life growing up in the barrio, We Became Mexican American is a personal testimony with broad-ranging insight into the challenges that American immigrants (especially Latinos) have endured, and continue to face to this day. Highly recommended.

The Grandparenting Journey
Mary Ellen Davis
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781449071561, $23.49,

A grandparent can be an important influence on the lives of their grandchildren. "The Grandparenting Journey: Leading the Way" is a parenting advice manual for grandparents who want to reach out to the people in their lives and make a good and solid impact on them, being good role models for their future, and helping them deal with everything that comes from being the grandparent as parent. "The Grandparenting Journey" is much recommended for any grandparent who wants to go the extra mile to help.

The Sky Behind Me
Byron Edgington
Zip Publishing/The Educational Publisher
9781622490370, $17.95,

The skies used to be merely a dream, but now they can be a career. "The Sky Behind Me" is a memoir from Byron Edgington as he recounts his life in the skies, telling of how he gained his wings and how life is coming back down to earth for him after four decades in the air. Poignant and very human reading, "The Sky Behind Me" is a fine read with plenty to consider for memoir and aviation collections, highly recommended.

Glory Main
Henry V. O'Neil
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468107449, $7.99,

Against a different type of humanity, the struggle to survive seems so very difficult. "Glory Main" is a novel from Henry V. O'Neil telling of mankind's battle with the Sims, and how humanity hangs in the balance and in the hands of those who may not be up with the salvation of humanity for their own selfish interests and inexperience. "Glory Main" is a science fiction read worth considering, recommended.

Design Your Own Destiny
Mary A. Molloy
TRB Press
9780985379674, $21.95,

A plan can take us where we want out of our lives. "Design Your Own Destiny: Life Planning for the 21st Century" is an inspirational guide to life planning and success from Mary A. Molloy who advises readers to better understand what they want out of their lives, and how to build their lives towards it for greater personal success on many levels. "Design Your Own Destiny" has plenty of practical advice for working to that goal out of life, highly recommended.

The Hudson Chronicles
Daniel P. Hudson
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432795696, $14.95,

God's presence can resonate so very strongly in our lives. "The Hudson Chronicles: A Life Far From Ordinary" is a memoir of faith from Daniel P. Hudson as he explores his bond with his faith and encourages readers to form their own relationship with god and help bring it together further. With much to consider and sharing strong personal tales of faith in action, "The Hudson Chronicles" is a worthy addition to religious memoir collections.

An Island Between Two Shores
Graham Wilson
Friday 501 Media Inc.
9780978036768, $9.95,

Nature is a cruel overlord that many must unfortunately face. "An Island Between Two Shores" is a novel of adventure, seeking to deconstruct and embrace it as the same time, as Liana faces the cruel aftermath of the Klondike gold rush as she endures the most cruel aspects of winter. "An Island Between Two Shores" is a pick for fans of the genre of survival fiction, recommended.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

The Book of Oriental Medicine
Clive Witham
Findhorn Press
Delft Cottage, Dykle Forres IV36 2TF
Scotland, UK
9781844096046 $22.95

Licensed acupuncturist Clive Witham presents The Book of Oriental Medicine, an in-depth guide to Eastern traditional alternatives to Western medicine. Methods of acupressure and massage especially are covered at length, as are recommendations for improving one's diet and exercise, and techniques such as scraping and tapping. Accessible to readers of all backgrounds, The Book of Oriental Medicine is an excellent resource for self-treating common medical conditions such as nasal allergies, pain in various parts of the body, skin conditions and much more. Of course, the contents of The Book of Oriental Medicine cannot substitute for the diagnosis of a medical professional (as a disclaimer on the first page expressly warns), but its invaluable advice is an excellent complement to a doctor's wisdom, especially with regard to pain relief and managing common symptoms without relying excessively on drugs. Highly recommended.

Karen Kataline
Swift Ink Books
9780985967901, $14.99,

Health is important, but there's a point where the obsession goes too far. "Fatlash!: Food Police & The Fear of Thin" is a combination memoir and health advisory as she recounts growing up under an obsessed mother who was driven to control what she ate in the pursuit of thin and the problems that stem from that level of madness. Cautioning readers towards good health and encouraging good body image, "Fatlash!" is well worth considering for general health and wellness collections, not to be missed.

Drawing Breath
Laurie Boris
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475270235, $8.99,

Compassion, pity, kindness, whatever term it takes, some people are drawn to it, no matter the consequences. "Drawing Breath" is a novel following the relationship of high school student Caitlin Kelly and her art teacher Daniel Benedetto, who suffers from cystic fibrosis. Living close to her home, their bond goes beyond student and teacher as Caitlin grows weary of the way people treat Daniel. Pushing the bonds of what is accepted, "Drawing Breath" is an intriguing story of disease, compassion, and taboo.

The Poe Consequence
Keith Steinbaum
Abbott Press
c/o AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781458201621, $20.99,

An eye for an eye makes the world go blind. "The Poe Consequence" is a novel of a gang war in Los Angeles, as the Diablos and the Lobos wage war and leave many dead from the two of them. Those within it begin to examine the conflict from both sides and try to gain a spiritual and mystic understanding of why history continues to repeat itself. Looking at the divide in much of the gang warfare in America, "The Poe Consequence" is an unusual perspective on it all, much recommended.

The Life Line
W. H. Dean Olson
Bookstand Publishing
9781618632937, $14.95,

The struggles of those who came before us are many. "The Life Line" is a collection of stories from W. H. Dean Olson as he discusses the stories of his ancestors and shares their stories of coming to America, establishing themselves, and the adversity they felt along the way, in finding the methods to better complete their own lives. "The Life Line" is worth considering for general fiction collections, recommended.

Remission of Sins
Clara Tucker
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432797331, $9.95,

For many, faith can take them far in finding success. "Remission of Sins: Prayers for Grace" is a ministry of Christian faith as Clara Tucker provides her own insight on ringing God more strongly into one's life, accepting his will, and using his guidance to succeed and flourish on much higher levels. "Remission of Sins" is much recommended for religion and spirituality collections.

The Almond Tree
Michelle Cohen Corasanti
Garnet Publishing
9781859643297, $14.95,

With the onset of adulthood, one already must cope with so much. "The Almond Tree" follows the struggles of young Ichmad Hamid as his family is lose to strife, imprisonment, and everything they hold dear. The twelve year old learns it may be on him to use his limited talents to help his family and bring back something of a life. "The Almond Tree" is a strong addition to coming of age fiction collections, highly recommended.

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

Heaven To Wudang
Kylie Chan
Harper Voyager
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062210340, $7.99,

Hong Kong based John Chen is also Xuan Wu the Dark Lord of the Northern Heavens. His Dark Lady Emma Donahue has proven to more than just have his back as she fought at his side and with him missing to defeat the demons of Simon Wong; with the help of Leo the bodyguard she also kept his rebellious teenage hybrid daughter Simone safe after he vanished.

However, neither John nor Emma has time to rest and heal as allies of Wong remains out there as does Kitty Kwok. As Wudang Mountain turns extremely dark, the enemy creates identical replicas to trap and kill ailing Emma, defiant Simone and amnesiac Xuan Wu, who returned home sometimes as a human and as a turtle.

The third Journey to Wudang Chinese mythological fantasy (see Hell to Heaven and Earth to Hell) is an exciting thriller with plenty of over the top of Wudang Mountain action. The protagonists are solid but display little growth (except for Emma) since their introductions in the previous Dark Heavens trilogy (see Blue Dragon, Red Phoenix and White Tiger); while the antagonists prove to be strong adversaries. At times the poignancy slows down the plot, but fans of the saga will relish Emma's exhilarating escapades.

Lori Armstrong
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781451625363, $15.00,

Former Army sniper Mercy Gunderson recently became an FBI special agent. Mercy struggles to adjust to the boring training in Rapid City for new law enforcement officials and as a civilian with her love-in ranch boyfriend Eagle River County Sheriff Mason Dawson and being legally recognized as a Minneconjou Sioux tribesman due to her one-fourth blood but not accepted as a member. Adding to her chaos is his tweener son Lex who was exiled to live with them.

Mercy and her partner Shay Turnbull investigate the murder of teenage Arlette Shooting Star, the Eagle River Reservation tribal president's niece. She was found naked with a staked protruding in her heart. When she challenges tribal leaders and FBI superior officers, Mercy is exiled to researching tribal archives; where she finds cold case evidence of a probable serial killer. Unbeknownst to her, this psychopath targets Mercy as the next victim.

The third Mercy Gunderson investigative thriller is a strong entry as the protagonist, used to making her own rules on a case (see Mercy Kill and No Mercy), finds she is hampered by bureaucratic officialdom. The storyline is fast-paced and filled with action as the audience anticipates a showdown between a predatory maniac and a diligent law enforcement operative.

Vampire Defense
James D. Bell
Sartoris Literary Group
Maryglenn McCombs (publicity)
9780985885212, $14.95,

In Jackson, Mississippi lawyer John Brooks works ethically and diligently providing the best legal advice to his clients. The court administrator appoints Brooks with his first media-frenzy case; defending Hal "the Butcher of Belhaven" Boyd who is charged with arson and four counts of murder. Boyd tells Brooks his reason for living ended when he killed the creature who destroyed his fiance; and now he just wants to die.

As the international press comes to Mississippi for the Boyd trial, Brooks files a guilty by reason of insanity plea; as his client claims he killed a vampire. The media and the legal world have a field day ridiculing the "Vampire Defense"while heaping scorn on the dedicated attorney and his staff. Soon threats to drop the case arrive followed by assaults, arson and abductions.

The Vampire Defense is a terrific over the top of Woodall Mountain "paranormal" legal thriller that enthralls the audience with wondering whether the undead live. Fast-paced, fans will widen their definition of good and evil with obsessed individuals willing to do anything to further their agenda. With a double helix climax, fans who appreciate something different will want to read the legal defense of an avenging vampire slayer and cultists seeking their brand of revenge; caught in the crosshairs is Brooks and his team.

Grain of Truth
Zygmunt Miloszewski
Bitter Lemon Press
37 Arundel Gardens
London, W11 2LW, United Kingdom
9781908524027, $14.99,

In 2009 former Warsaw Prosecutor Teodor Szacki knows his unfulfilling affair with reporter Monica Grzelka destroyed his marriage, and left him alone without family in exile in Sandomierz, a provincial city that shuts down at 6 PM. However, he became a local celebrity when he solved the case of a murdered Ukrainian prostitute that led to him breaking up a human-trafficking ring.

An unknown psychopath viciously slashes numerous times the throat of Elzbieta Budnik before dumping her nude body for all passerby to see in a ravine below the city's medieval walls. Szacki leads the homicide investigation in which the exorbitant number of cuts and draining of the blood imply a crime of ritual passion. Szacki learns a knife used by Jewish butchers is the murder weapon, which has the prosecutor wondering if a religious sacrifice occurred. Additional similar murders occur including Budnik's spouse and Szacki feels pressure to end the serial ritual killings.

The second Polish State Prosecutor Szacki case (see Entanglement) is a great murder mystery that hooks the audience from start to finish as the whodunit takes center stage but cleverly enhanced by a close look at Szacko's middle age despair. The terrific storyline contains ties to anti-Semitism dating back to WWII, but leaves the reader pondering until the super climax whether it is a Jew enacting vengeance or a non-Jew using a convenient scapegoat.

The Conjurer's Boy
Michael Raleigh
Harvard Square Editions
9780983321668, $15.95,

Their father had them move five times in six years. However, as the Cuban Missile Crisis is the big news, high school student Thomas Faye learns from his mother that his dad deserted them. Stunned, Thomas wanders around smoking Salem while trying to comprehend why. Eventually he enters a second hand store filled with junk where he meets the owner Arthur Farrell the magician wounded WWII veteran with healing power and angry homeless Meyer the survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto atrocities.

They mentor Thomas who begins to open his eyes to the world few can see as he seeks to understand what normal is and why fate set in motion his trek back in 1962. He begins his solo journey using and discarding roles along the way with his only link being his two spirit guides and a disturbed Rachel.

This profound coming of age low keyed fantasy is an engaging thought provoking tale starring a fascinating lead character who, after meeting his mentors, needs to know why him. With a nod to the higher levels of the expanded Maslow's Hierarchy, The Conjurer's Boy is a delightful tale of the human need to achieve self-esteem and cognitive awareness, but first one must belong somewhere.

Wyoming Bride
Joan Johnston
Dell Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780345527462, $7.99,

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 left the six Wentworth children orphaned. The sextet has lived at the Chicago Institute for Orphaned Children for three years under the abusive control of headmistress Miss Birch. However, the oldest Miranda left as a mail order Texas Bride taking her two youngest siblings (ten years old Nick and four years old Harry) with her to San Antonio and plans to arrange her sisters seventeen years old twins Hannah and Hetty, and sixteen years old Josie to join her.

However, having not heard from Miranda, a desperate Josie arranges for Hannah to become a mail order Wyoming Bride. On the Oregon Trail, Hannah's new husband McMurtey dies from cholera leaving her pregnant. The Sioux injure Hetty and capture Josie. Rancher Flint Creed finds Hannah trekking for help while her twin lay dying and her other sister is missing. In love with his brother's fiancee, he proposes to Hannah who accepts though neither mentions love nor imply any passion between them.

The second Wentworth Mail Order Bride historical is a super Reconstruction Era western romance starring two interesting lead characters concealing critical secrets from one another. Action-packed with a secondary romance (Flint's brother), fans will appreciate Joan Johnston's entertaining tale.

Janna McMahon
Koehler Books
210 60th Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
9781938467233, $15.95,

Teenager Lorelei arrives in Austin by bus. She heads to the Tumbleweed Street Outreach young adult center where she can get some chow, pick up clothing and even shelter. She enjoys the food and selects some items to wear, but rejects the cot.

Twentyish Emily works as a bartender. When she meets David the reporter investigating the gutter punks who live as an unwanted underbelly of the city, she agrees to be his photographer. Emily meets Lorelei and wants to help the teen. The two women becomes friends, but Emily learns the true meaning of good intentions as every time she tries to get Lorelei off the street, danger surfaces from the teen's past; Emily also tries to assist other young lost souls by bringing attention to their plight through her unforgiving harsh camera.

This is a deep look at the teen homeless living on the streets of Austin. The insightful storyline rotates perspective mostly between the two women though others like Emily's mom Barbara take the lead at times. This character driven urban tale driven by a strong cast has readers wondering whether Emily has found her groove with photographing the gutter punks.

Blessed Are Those Who Thirst
Anne Holt, author; Anne Bruce, translator
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451634785, $15.00,

Oslo Detective Inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen hides her relationship with her live-in lover Cecilie from the brass to the consternation of her significant other. At the same time she leads a homicide investigation in which every Saturday night eight digits written in blood on walls in rooms soaked in blood but with no corpses appear in various places in the city.

She and police attorney Hakon Sand struggle to figure out what the numbers represent and whether a serial killer is on a killing spree in Oslo. That is until Sand concludes the numbers are the formal government database assigned to individual foreign immigrants. The pair realizes all are females and missing and to get the numbers implies government insider. Wilhelmsen also works a serial rape case unaware that a victim Kristine and her father have plans to avenge the violent assault.

The latest Wilhelmsen Norwegian police procedural (see 1222 and The Blind Goddess) is a strong investigative thriller that focuses on the resentment towards immigrants. Both cases are strong especially the anti-immigration fervor while the protagonist's personal life is rocky. Readers will appreciate this deep Norwegian Noir.

Path of Freedom
Jennifer Hudson Taylor
Abingdon Press
PO Box 801, Nashville, TN 37202
9781426752636, $12.99,

When they were children, Bruce Millikan teased Flora Saferight unmercifully. She hated his barbs and was elated when he left their Quaker town.

Bruce is back to Flora's disgust as she still feels the pain of his unkind words mimicked by others; he regrets what he did to her. Flora and her sister Irene are taking a train to visit their aunt and uncle in Charlottesville. Pastor John wants to use the siblings as cover so that Bruce can escort a runaway slave couple via the Underground Railroad to Pennsylvania; the female is pregnant so Flora's midwife skills are also needed. Using a quilt as their guide, the journey proves less dangerous than expected except for one near deadly mistake and the effect on the respective hearts of Flora and Bruce.

The latest fabulous Quilts of Love inspirational (see A Wild Goose Chase Christmas by Jennifer AlLee and Beyond the Storm by Carolyn Zane) is a delightful historical romance starring two beloved enemies who find their souls freed to love by the brave deeds they do together. The quilt guiding their passage on the Underground Railroad enhances a strong tale of to forgive is divine.

True Love at Silver Creek Ranch
Emma Cane
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780062102294, $5.99,

After leaving the Marines Adam Desantis returns home to Valentine filled with guilt over his final military assignment. His mission in the Colorado town is to spend time with his elderly grandmother though that means being the point of the matchmaking geriatrics staying at the Widows' Boardinghouse with his beloved relative.

Silver Creek Ranch cowgirl Brooke Thalberg knew Adam when he was the high school football star, but stayed a football field away from him. She needs help on her family ranch and though he believes he is making a mistake, Adam volunteers after he rescues her from a fiery barn. As they fall in love, his PTSD from that last fatal combat haunts him while she doubts he has staying power.

The return to Valentine Valley (see A Town Called Valentine) is an engaging Rocky Mountain romance starring two likable protagonists and eccentric senior citizens. Readers will enjoy the second time but first in love relationship fostered by the gregarious guerilla grannies who know best.

Saving Gideon
Amy Lillard
B&H Publishing Group
127 Ninth Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37234-0143
9781433677526, $14.99,

Dallas socialite Avery Ann Hamilton flew to Tulsa and drove a rental to Clover Ridge to surprise her fiance Jack by telling him she no longer wants to wait a year to marry. She assumes they will go on to Vegas. Spotting the Mercedes she lent to him in a motel parking lot, she finds her beloved Jack with another woman. Heartbroken Avery leaves knowing he wanted her father's money not her. On the drive back to Tulsa, the rain turns to snow and she crashes.

Gideon Fisher still grieves the deaths of his wife and son as he isolates himself from his caring Amish community; he no longer even attends church. He rescues Avery who crashed near his farm. Taking her to his home, the recluse cannot wait for her to leave, but Annie as he calls her ignores his desire; instead she plans to stay in hiding here while she emotionally heals from another failed relationship. She soon has a greater cause; helping her reluctant host regains his faith in love.

The first Clover Ridge Amish romance is an enjoyable contemporary starring two mentally wounded warriors whose respective faith has been nuked by traumas though his is much more devastating. Although I doubt the hermit would let anyone stay beyond an initial Good Samaritan response, this is a wonderful story of love between an Amish farmer and an Englisher socialite.

The Armageddon Rag
George R. R. Martin
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor
New York, NY 10019
9780553383072, $16.00,

In the 1960s Sandy Blair was a happy protesting radical. Under two decades later, Sandy is an unhappy establishment novelist in Brooklyn. He knows he has met the system and the system won. Hedgehog magazine publisher Jared Paterson offers Sandy an assignment. Sandy reminds the a-hole he fired him seven years ago, which Jared gleefully acknowledges that he sold the rag to the mainstream as he points out both of them sold out. The publisher wants his former reporter to do a story on the murder of Jamie Lynch, who once was promoter of the Satanic band Nazgul. Excited as he has not been since he became a pulp fiction writer, Sandy agrees but on his terms.

Sandy learns that Nazgul is making a comeback though the band collapsed with the murder of the lead singer Patrick Henry Hobbins during a live performance. Apparently promoter Eden Morse has replaced the late Hobbins with plastic surgery enhanced singer Larry Richmond who she calls Pat. Eden asks Sandy to promote Nazgul as he did in their heyday.

This is a reprint of an early 1980s tale that takes a close look at how aging hippies fondly recall their protest days of less than two decades earlier through Sandy's investigation. The paranormal elements never quite gel and the plot feels dated as only hippie geezers whose memories recall the good while ignoring the bad and the ugly will appreciate this tale. Still us geriatrics and DOPs (dirty old people to be politically correct) will appreciate this engaging tale with its references to the counterculture of our youths.

Clumsy Girl's Guide To Falling In Love
Karen Wiesner
Whiskey Creek Press
PO Box 51052, Casper, WY 82605-1052
9781611602746 (electronic, $4.99)
9781105201226 (trade paperback, $7.99)

In Peaceful, Wisconsin, clumsy Zoe Rossdale and financial wizard Curt Bertoletti met four years ago when they were walking their Maine coons Nutmeg and Cayenne in Pet Park. For six months they were an entry as he was the clumsy girl's first and only boyfriend until he dumped her by voice message for humongous boobs of Bonnie "Bon Bon Magnifico" Mgnoli.

Three beautiful women (Samantha - see Glass Angels; Jordan and LeeAnn) befriend and mentor Zoe, who has come a long way since "the Italian Stallion Chub" left her. While she moved on in many ways, she remains trapped by her knowledge that she will always be the clumsy girl who failed at love. Curt misses his Zoe as he knows he made the biggest mistake of his life when he left her. He vows to prove to her he loves her and they deserve a second chance though this may ruin his chance to prove to his family that his financial plans for their Italian restaurant Ciatti's Italiano is sound as his kin never approved of his Zoe.

The first Friendship Heirlooms inspirational romance is a strong spinoff of the Family Heirlooms series. The protagonists are a super pairing of a second chance at love couple with him being sophisticated while she knows she is an embarrassment to herself, him and his family. Using hyperbole to embellish the engaging storyline, readers will relish Curt's redemption as Zoe puts him through an emotional gauntlet (which she is running through too) while both pray to God for guidance.

Alien: The Illustrated Story
Archie Goodwin, author
Walt Simonson, illustrator
Titan Books
144 Southwark Street
London SE1 OUP, UK
9781781161296, $14.95,

In outer space, the civilian mining ship the Nostromo completed its mission and is heading home with the crew sleeping in a cryo-frozen state. The Nostromo computer Mother wakes everyone up after receiving an alien distress message. They head to the source of the SOS and soon crewman Kane and others explore an alien ship where he finds an egg. At that moment humanity meets an Alien species.

This is a reprint of the great 1979 graphic comic book as Archie Goodwin brings the film's plot to life while Walt Simonson's fabulous illustrations enhance the tale with his pre computer generated art. Fans will appreciate this super adaptation of a fabulous horror science fiction movie.

The Listeners
Harrison Demchick
Bancroft Press
PO Box 65360, Baltimore, MD 21209
9781610880817, $21.99,

The plague struck the city with biblical proportions. Teenage best friends Daniel and Katie know very little beyond the quarantine that isolated them and that medical personnel were evacuated out early on. They also know what Katie's dad said about the monstrous Listeners who cut off an ear as a ritual of joining. The police, including Katie's dad, take over rationing supplies but those like Daniel and his mom are beneath the ladder so they receive little. It turns worse for Daniel when his mom went out to the store but never returned, and the broken window allows the airborne virus to enter their apartment.

With Daniel having no hope, the Listeners, led by Adam the prophet, arrive and give him a reason to live; and take what they insist should be his rather than hide until the disease turns him into an evil abomination before it horribly kills him. Giving up an ear is worth the price as Daniel joins the Listeners.

This is an exciting horror thriller with a fascinating premise that when civilization caves monsters come out of the holes in diverse packages. Fast-paced, the atmosphere grips the audience as Daniel struggles with adapting to the Listener morality that uses the concept of how young suicide bombers are recruited to die (purpose, food and shelter). Fast-paced fans will enjoy this dark thriller from the opening knock to the final decision Daniel makes.

Rogue Rider
Larissa Ione
Forever Romance
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017-0010
9780446574488, $7.99,

The angel Reaver removed Reseph's memory of the terror he caused on earth as one of the Four Horsemen, Pestilence. Reaver sends Reseph back to Earth.

Jillian Cardiff fled Florida for blizzard conditions after the demon assault that left visible scars on her body and even worse on her soul. On her way back to her remote mountain cabin, Jillian finds a hunk lying naked in the snow. She helps him inside her lodging while learning he remembers nothing except he thinks his name is Reseph. The pair is attracted to one another, but their idyll ends when demons murder neighbors. As hunters arrive to kill the demons, Reseph reawakens to the paralyzing guilt of what he wrought as Pestilence.

The final Lords of Deliverance romantic fantasy (see Immortal Rider, Eternal Rider and Lethal Rider) is a superb finish to the strong The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse saga. The protagonists are star-crossed as lovers as he unleashed the demon horde that practically destroyed her. Fans will relish the climax as redemption seems a mountain too high for guilt-wracked Reseph with what he caused to humanity.

The Bones Of The Old Ones
Howard Andrew Jones
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312646752, $25.99,

In the eighth century Old Mosul is almost as ancient as the Assyrian ruins across the river. Seven Sebitti wizards have cast a spell on Persian aristocrat Najya binta Alimah to find The Bones Of The Old Ones, a source of great power. During a snowstorm blanketing the city, Najya escapes from these dangerous mages; and takes refuge in the home of Dabir ibn Khalil the scholar; also there is Dabir's friend the swordsman Captain Asim el Abbas.

Dabir and Asim agree to keep Najya safe and liberate her from the Sebitti spell as her soul turns darker with a comingling spirit planning on an ice age like none before. As the pair begins their quest, the wizards send a lethal shapeshifting assassin to kill them. Meanwhile Asim increasingly acts as if Najya enchanted him while Dabir fears their beautiful charge may prove more dangerous to them and Mosul than the stalking killer or the wizards, they make a devil's deal with their enemy Lydia the Greek necromancer.

The second thrilling eighth century Dabir and Asim sword and sorcery fantasy (see The Desert of Souls) is a great tale as the heroes struggle to stay alive while on their quest. Fast-paced and filled with action in a real locale, the cast makes the tale as Najya, Lydian, the assassin and the wizards provide depth to the adventures of the protagonists in the Jones mythology.

Touch of the Demon
Diana Rowland
DAW Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
9780756407759, $7.99,

Beaulac, Louisiana Police Detective Kara Gillian is a demon summoner who has a contract with demon Lord Rhyzkahl. However, Rhyzkahl's apparent rival demon Lord Mzatal summons an uncooperative Kara into the demon realm. Kara expects Rhyzkahl will rescue her, but the Bayou cop is not waiting for that to happen; as she plans to free herself.

While Kara works on her extraction, she also wonders why her abductor wants to end her bond with Rhyzkahl as part of an end game she cannot fathom. She hypothesizes that Mzatal's objective links with what she knows about FBI agent Ryan Kristoff, but not sure why and how she fits in the demon's scheme.

The latest Kara Gillian Bayou fantasy (see Mark of the Demon) is a terrific entry that turns the Rowland mythos inside out as the heroine searches for answers to her questions but instead finds betrayal awaits her. Fast-paced, series fans will appreciate this stunning entry though newcomers need to read Sins of the Demon first as that storyline's cliffhanging climax feeds Touch of the Demon

Alien vs. Alien
Gini Koch
9780756407704, $7.99

Jeff and Kitty Martini resigned their positions as Centaurion Division exterminators-commanders to raise their hybrid infant Jamie, who while in the womb sent fluids to his mom that led to her obtaining superpowers. The family moved to Washington DC as head diplomats at the recently established Centaurion Embassy.

Currently Kitty and Jamie are near the Kennedy Space Center visiting her in-laws at Martini Manor. Florida senior Senator Vincent Armstrong arrives from Miami after Kitty kept giving him excuses of being too busy to see him. He shows her naked pictures of Kitty with Chuckie Reynolds though both know they are fakes. Kitty wonders what the originators want to gain from these. Soon afterward, an android claiming Chuckie directed him, assaults Kitty leaving her to also wonder who wants to separate her from her strong support system of earthlings and Cantaurions and why.

The latest Kitty Katt Martini amusing satirical science fiction thriller (see Alien Proliferation, Touched by an Alien, Alien Tango and Alien Diplomacy) is a superb jocular entry that is filled with twists, spins and humor as the heroine seems to constantly step in it. Fast-paced, readers will believe the two species are real (as are other feral ETs); while the Jamie effect continues to nuke the lifestyle of the parents. Fans will appreciate Kitty's nine lives as once again sh*t happens but the tongue in cheek manner hopefully rolls down someone else's hill.

Elemental Magic: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters
Mercedes Lackey
9780756407872, $7.99

This solid nineteen short story collection focuses on Mercedes Lackey's historical Elemental Masters fantasy with all entries no later than 1919. In Oahu, "Makana" (by Fiona Patton) tries to emulate his foster father, a fabulous fisherman but cannot be one with the waves. In ancient times, Kyria and Meto are sailing to their marriage when the sirens call in "A Song of the Sea" by Diana L. Paxson. In 1885 Fire Mage and Daily Clarion reporter Jane Emerson notices the little match girl at a time when arsons threaten New York City in Michele Lang's "The Phoenix of Mulberry Street." As McKinley is shot, injured black war veteran Nathanial obtains growing paranormal powers at a time his rage explodes due to overt racism in Georgia (Ron Collins's "The Collector"). In "I Have heard the Mermaid Sing" by Mercedes Lackey, Miriam the air mage struggles to help a family friend earth mage in coastal Maine. Overall this is an enjoyable anthology in which Ms. Lackey's fans will appreciate though the strife for the most part is kept to a limited personal conflict (i.e., racism, feminism, etc.).

Dinosaur Thunder
James F. David
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765323781, $27.99,

Eighteen years have passed since time as a linear concept ended when the prehistory age of the dinosaur surfaced at the end of the twentieth century. Urban jungles were buried beneath the Cretaceous rainforest (see Footprints of Thunder and Thunder of Time) while hordes of various dinosaur species roam places like Manhattan. Director of the Office of Security Science Nick Paulson led the struggle to end the time wave invasion and apparently succeeded as the intrusion ended, but too late; as war for dominant species between human religious purebred fanatics and dinosaur descendants seems imminent.

On the moon, shocked astronauts find a T. Rex. Paulson concludes another timeline exists. He uses this to go back to the prehistoric era where he finds displaced contemporary humans in a losing lethal situation. Finally, the asteroid that changed time is returning.

The third Thunder alternate time science fiction is an exciting thriller that fans will enjoy as the perils of Paulson action never slow down. With a nod to Michael Crichton in spite of the science not appearing reasonable, readers will enjoy this fun tale.

Silver Cross
B. Kent Anderson
9780765328625, $25.99

In October 1864, Southern spy Rose Greenhow possesses a letter in which French Emperor Napoleon III informs Confederate President Jefferson Davis that he supports their noble cause and will provide aid in exchange for the "Silver Cross." However, Greenhow drowns off the North Carolina coast near the mouth of the Cape Fear River while trying to deliver the message.

In the present, Federal Research and Investigations Office Deputy Director Meg Tolman finds out that her friend Dana Cable accidentally died while walking on a seawall below Kure Beach near the mouth of the Cape Fear River. At the funeral, a stranger gives Tolman the Napoleon III note that Greenhow was toting and soon believes her cellist friend from Pennsylvania was murdered. Tolman and History Professor Nick Journey team up again (see Cold Glory) in search of the Silver Cross in West Texas even while the Associates pursue them and rogue assassin Ann Gray will kill anyone who stands in her way of obtaining the relic.

The second Tolman-Journey thriller is an exciting tale that deftly merges a strange death over a century and a half ago with a strange death in the present. Fast-paced and filled with action (including acts of terrorism), readers will enjoy this taut storyline with a strong cast especially the protagonists.

Phoenix Rising
Ryk E. Spoor
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781451638417, $14.00,

The prophecy of the cyclical Chaoswars plunging the Zarathan planet into a dark age appears on the brink of happening again; as apparently the Gods have spoken once more. At a gala in small Evanwyl near the western coast, the aristocratic family of Kyri are betrayed and murdered though she escapes leaving her beloved country behind in chaos; praying to return to free her people one day. Exiled Prince Tobimar Silverun hopes to one day return to his homeland Skysand in the Northeast.

Both flee across the lone known continent as she seeks an ancient armorer to create her a special sword to lead warriors against the forces of the dark that have devastated Evanwyl and he believes he will never go home even as he become a master swordsman. When they meet, each feels they have found a lost kindred soul. Soon a third champion, tiny Poplock Duckweed, joins them.

The keys that make this strong fantasy a great read are the vivid dark world of Ryk E. Spoor and the fully developed cast as the audience visit a planet on the brink while the good, the bad and the ugly seem genuine due to moments of reflective thought amidst the action. Fast-paced, readers will demand more escapades against the forces of the dark by the heroic trio on Zarathan as well as hints of previous Chaoswars leaving a fertile realm for further adventures of other champions.

Captain Vorpatril's Alliance
Lois McMaster Bujold
9781451638455, $25.00

Unlike the rest of his family, the ambition gene skipped Captain Ivan Vorpatril. He enjoys working as an aide to General Desplain in the Barrayaran military on Komarr as that planet keeps him away from his mother Lady Alys and other imperial relatives. Barrayaran civilian Byerly Votrrutyer visits Ivan to ask a favor of him. She wants Ivan to take out Akuti Tejaswini Jyoti ghem Estif Arqua on a date. By fails to inform Ivan that Tej is in hiding from a change in power on Jackson Whole in which her House Cordonah fell; her companion Rish is her bodyguard.

However, when Ivan arrives at Tej's house, Rish welcomes him with a stun gun before tying him up. Two men invade the apartment, but Ivan's warning enables Rish to stun them. They flee to his home while he calls the police about the intrusion. When Komarran immigration authorities demand he hand over the women to them, Ivan marries Tej instead and hires Rish to protect her. His mother rejoices at the news, but his attempts to annul their marriage are disallowed while Tej's House welcomes the dupe their style.

The latest Vorkosigan Saga science fiction (see Cryoburn) is a fabulous fresh frolic due to the comedic missteps of the hero; as mellow Ivan is the polar opposite of his heroic cousin Miles. Lois McMaster Bujold captures Ivan's intrigue avoidance laid-back personality as the antihero just wanted a "Blind Date".

Kristine Kathryn Rusch
9780615688503, $18.99

Six months ago on Anniversary Day, nineteen cities were bombed. Those who committed the atrocities got away as authorities have no idea who did the nefarious mass murdering of civilians or why. However, the leadership believes another wave is imminent.

Making no progress on her inquiry and fearing a second round of deadly terrorism, United Domes of the Moon Chief of Security Noelle DeRicci asks former Retrieval Artist Miles Flint to investigate. Though retired to spend time with his daughter Talia, Miles accepts the job. With the help of shady individuals and Talia, Miles begins to uncover an inconvenient truth as increasingly the evidence points to terrorists close to him.

The latest Retrieval Artist science fiction thriller (see The Possession of Paavo Deshin) is an engaging investigative whodunit starring popular Miles Flint on a comeback mission. The suspenseful storyline is fast-paced and filled with twists as the hero comes out of retirement to confront his worst nightmare.

Rosemary Opens her Heart
Naomi King
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451237972, $14.00,

Friends and family from nearby and other states arrive in Cedar Creek, Missouri to attend the wedding of Zanna Lambright and Jonny Ropp. The bride's sister Abby, who thought she loved the groom, sits with James Graber. Zanna's brother Matt enjoys the company of James' sister Emma though he feels attracted to single mom Widow Rosemary Yutzy.

Matt tries to court Rosemary, but she declines as apparently she still loves her late husband. Knowing he loves Rosemary and her three year old daughter, Matt continues his pursuit of the two females. Abby and James consider becoming an entry, but each has a schedule that leaves no room for courting.

The second Home at Cedar Creek Amish romance follows up on Abby Finds Her Calling as two couples find the path to happiness contains many detours. The cast is fully developed as readers understand the motives of the protagonists. Readers will relish Rosemary Opens her Heart, but that may not be enough for her and Matt.

The Fangover
Erin McCarthy and Kathy Love
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10014
9780425253236, $15.00,

In New Orleans the Impalers vampire rock band and their manager Stella Malone throw a wake to honor their lead singer Johnny Malone who committed suicide. The alcohol-blood concoction flows as the band members grieve their loss but not as much as Stella who feels alone with her brother dead.

Stella and bass Wyatt Axelrod find solace with each other until he says the L word love which sends her fleeing like a bat in hell. Berto Cortez awakens wondering if he converted washboard player Katie Lambert into a vampire before or after marrying her. Keyboard player Saxon has a cross etched on his head giving him a headache. Finally the other Impaler Drake lost a fang. Each wants to know what happened last night.

This is a fun lighthearted vampiric take of the Hangover as a vampire quartet have one hell of a wakeup call as they try to piece together what happened last night. Fast-paced and amusing, readers will want to know what else was in the alcoholic blood drinks.

The Accidental Genie
Dakota Cassidy
9780425253243, $15.00

The OOPS (Out in the Open Paranormal Support) 800 help line team take a paranormal girls' day off to go shopping while one of them Marty persuades her brother-in-law Sloan Flaherty to work the phone. He finds the job tedious until caterer Jeannie Carlyle calls from her cell phone asking if OOPS is real as she is trapped inside a bottle. She explains to Sloan that she opened an old bottle at the request of a client only to become trapped inside as someone else popped outside; making matters worse is her ancient looking harem garb.

Sloan comes to the rescue by finding the bottle and rubbing it. Freed from her glass prison Jeannie calls her savior master. The OOPS quartet and Sloan struggle with truly liberating Jeannie but know nothing about djinn as their genie companion keeps granting wishes.

The latest Accidental romantic fantasy (see The Accidental Werewolf and Accidentally Dead, Again) is a fast-paced amusing tale starring an engaging lead couple and the return of the previous stars. Lighthearted, fans will laugh at the scenarios that the OOPS squad confronts due to Jeannie's out of control wishes.

Never Love a Lord
Heather Grothaus
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9781420112443, $6.99,

In 1277, King Edward's finest fighters lay siege to Fallstowe Castle where he wants captured the castle and its traitorous protector Lady Sybilla Foxe. She knows her side cannot win but loathes giving up to the enemy. The monarch's soldier in charge of the assault Julian Griffin sends a missive by arrow that almost kills Sybilla who considers suicide rather than surrender. He suggests they negotiate so no one dies today. She answers with a fiery arrow with "you alone."

Julian knows His Highness expects him to prove Sybilla betrayed the throne, but he is attracted to her beauty, intelligence and mostly her courage. She finds a kindred soul in him and adores his infant child Lucy who he took with him (as well as Murrin her nursemaid) while they speak; still Sybilla believes they have no room to negotiate. However, Sybilla remains ignorant to how much he knows about her family secrets though he wonders about the one she vows to die for rather than reveal and break a deathbed pledge.

The third Foxe Sisters series (see Never Kiss a Stranger and Never Seduce A Scoundrel) is a magnificent medieval romance starring two incredibly developed beloved enemies and a matchmaking baby. The storyline is action-packed from the opening siege and never slows down yet also contains a strong emotional pull. Fans will keep reading in one sitting this fabulous final fable with an obsessive need to know if love can bring together the legendary lady and the loyal Lord.

My Lord Eternity
Alexandra Ivy
9781420128611, $7.99

Over two centuries ago, Nefri, the most powerful vampire, used the magic of a Medallion to create the Veil that separates the world of mankind from the realm of the undead. Recently Nefri fears an undetermined threat that could destroy both planes. Knowing the Medallion is the avenue for the evil ones, she breaks it into three parts before hiding them amidst three young mortal ladies unaware of what they possess. However, Nefri realizes three avaricious vampires plan to take the objects; so she sends trustworthy vamps to protect them.

The vampire Great Council assigns Lucien Valin to protect Jocelyn Kingly who possesses one of the three parts of the powerful Medallion used by Nefri to create the veil separating their realm from the mortals. Though he knows dangerous rogue vampires target Jocelyn to obtain her amulet, he looks forward to the task as he prefers field work to musty tomes. Jocelyn helps the unfortunate but is short funds so she takes in Lucien as a renter as a series of brutal murders rock the neighborhood. Lucien knows his evil enemy is closing in on Jocelyn who already owns his heart.

This reprint of the second Immortal Rogues vampire romance is an entertaining thriller starring a strong human female, a bewildered arrogant vampire and a vile villain. Fast-paced even though the storyline reads somewhat similar to My Lord Vampire, paranormal fans will enjoy this engaging tale.

The Right Hand
Derek Haas
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316198462, $25.99,

CIA leadership recognizes that field operative Austin "Right Hand" Clay is one of their best assets though no one would admit this revelation as he handles the most covert dirty jobs in which the government denies involvement. In other words he is the ultimate in the cold agent who the left hand spy agencies deny knowing what The Right Hand is doing; as his section consists of Clay and his handler of three years Andrew Stedding.

His current assignment is to bring in missing Blake Nelson, dead or alive. Nelson who works in Moscow has failed to make contact in five days and the brass fear he may have turned greedy. Clay quickly learns Hungarian Marika Csontos has become a target for elimination by enemies who need to insure she remains silent as she accidently has uncovered top Russian secrets including a traitor selling America out for decades and an assassin targeting inside the organization.

The Right Hand is an exhilarating espionage thriller starring a hero who does the dirty jobs outside the law. Early on Clay's black ops outside the law persona is set when he confronts Beto who has Intel connections. Filled with incredible action, fans will enjoy The Right Hand as he goes after traitors and enemy operatives with no regard to his safety or the law.

The Doctor of Thessaly
Anne Zouroudi
Reagan Arthur Books
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316217873, $24.99,

In Morfi, Greece, French Dr. Louis Chabrol and local Chrissa Kalgi were engaged. However, he jilts Chrissa on their wedding day. Heartbroken she heads to the beach to weep. Meanwhile Louis struggles with the pain caused by acid tossed into his face. His eyes are blinded and part of his visage scarred as Adonis Anapodos brings him water to cool his face.

Athens investigator Hermes "Fat Man" Diaktoros arrives in Morfi. He asks questions re the incident but no one talks about what happened to the doctor. Even more puzzling is Chabrol prefers the matter dropped. Ignoring the desires of the injured doctor and others, Diaktoros continues to probe.

The latest Seven Deadly Sins Greek mystery (see A Touch of Midas and The Messenger of Athens) is an exciting investigative thriller that focuses on envy. Leisurely-paced, readers will want to know why the doctor chooses to let the brutal assault go unpunished, who did the attack and why.

Guardians of Stone
Anita Clenney
Montlake Romance
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781612186542, $12.95,

Like her father, a renowned archeologist, Kendall Morgan possesses am extrasensory affinity with relics that enables her to find hidden long interred objects. Thus she spent her childhood accompanying her dad touching objects on his searches. That ended when a plane crash left her father and her best friend dead. Kendall vowed to honor their memories by protecting artifacts from insidious greed.

Billionaire Nathan Larraby hires Kendall as the guide on an expedition to locate four powerful relics. The idealist is unprepared for the danger from rival groups especially the psychopathic Reaper coveting the same artifacts. Larraby assigns mercenary Jake Stone to protect his compass finder while hiding key facts from Kendall and her bodyguard; placing them and others on his team in danger.

This is an exhilarating fast-paced romantic suspense fantasy starring an intriguing heroine and the two hunks in her life. The storyline is superb when the focus is on Kendall's skills or the quest. The romance feels unnecessary and forced as cynical Jake is overtly too nasty towards Kendall and Nathan never fully developed beyond his search. Still fans will appreciate the Guardians of Stone as readers anticipate a confrontational convergence of the good, the bad and the ugly in Italy.

The Llama of Death
Betty Webb
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464200663, $24.95,

In Central California, Aster Edwina Gunn assigns her employees Gunn Zoo Zookeeper Theodora "Teddy" Bentley and Alejandro the llama to provide rides for children at the Gunn Landing Renaissance Faire. Neither Teddy nor Alejandro is ecstatic over this demeaning assignment though it is the llama doing the spitting.

At the pen enclosing Alejandro's rides, someone murders mail order minister Victor Emerson who played the role of Henry VIII at the Faire. Deputy Elvin Dade initially considers arresting the llama until it is pointed out that Alejandro would have had a hard time shooting the arrow into the head of Emerson. Instead he arrests serial wife Caroline Petersen (her surname for now) as the killer; her motive involves two of her myriad of weddings ministered by the late Rev. Teddy knows her mom Caroline, who was performing as Anne Boleyn at the Faire, is not the culprit so she investigates; while her father surprisingly arrives from Costa Rican exile with plans to break out his ex-wife from jail; that is when he is not befriending Aster.

The latest Gunn Zoo amateur sleuth (see The Anteater of Death and The Koala of Death) is an engaging amusing cozy starring a zookeeper, a llama, a dysfunctional family, an incompetent cop and a killer. Fast-paced with interesting insight into zoos and animals wrapped inside of Teddy's inquiry, fans will enjoy this fun cozy.

Unnatural Habits
Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen Press
9781464201233, $24.95

In Melbourne, the Honorable Phryne Fisher and Dr. Elizabeth MacMillan head to the Adventuresses Club when they observe three thugs about to attack a lone female. Phryne gives them a warning they ignore so three Chinese working for her lover Lin Chung beat the hooligans up.

The target is reporter Margaret "Polly" Kettle. She explains that she is investigating a story on three pregnant girls allegedly vanishing from a nursing home after working at the Abbotsford Convent's Magdalen Laundry. Furthermore the journalist says she told the cops who ignored her plea. She begs Phryne to help, but soon afterward Polly disappears. Phryne makes inquiries finding shocking inhuman conditions.

The latest Phryne Fisher Australian 1920s mystery (see Dead Man's Chest) is a powerful thriller that uses the real Magdalen Laundry as the base for an investigation into despicable greed ignored or conspiratorially concealed by authorities due to influence peddling. The insightful storyline will shake readers with the premise that the brothels house their female supply in much nicer conditions than the convent's laundry room filled with pregnant unwed girls as the former is needed in top condition while the latter is being punished for their sins. Readers will appreciate Phryne's trek into the darkest side of post WWI Melbourne.

Jail Coach
Hillary Bell Locke
Poisoned Pen Press
9781464200267, $24.95

New Paradigm Studio's Performing Artist took out a multi-million dollar insurance policy with Trans/Oxana insurance on Hollywood A level actor Kent Trowbridge after their star banged up his Ferrari while the cops busted him for DUI. Trans/Oxana assigns "loss prevention specialist" Jay Davidovich to protect the firm from paying millions by keeping the bad boy out of trouble while he serves time.

Jay knows how difficult this task will prove; as besides jail time for the DUI, Trowbridge also faces assault charges. He hires ex-marine Katrina Starr Thompson (and her toddler) as a jail coach to mentor Trowbridge on surviving prison. However, Jay also must keep his client safe as Trowbridge goes on a final publicity tour; Stan Chaladian has other plans for the farewell appearance.

The first Jay Davidovich loss prevention assignment is an amusing action-packed thriller starring a combat veteran who will do what it takes to complete the assignment. Trowbridge is a delightful pampered counterpart to the hero while Katrina and Chaladian add depth to the exciting opening act as readers will take over and under bets on how much time the actor spends behind bars.

The Sanctity of Hate
Priscilla Royal
Poisoned Pen Press
9781464200205, $24.95

In 1276 village newcomer Kenelm is found dead in a millpond. Brother Thomas determines that the murder is of a Christian hired to escort and protect Jews and it occurred on the grounds of the Tyndal Priory.

Prioress Eleanor and Crowner Ralf agree to investigate the homicide together. The villagers universally disliked the deceased, but refuse to allow any of them to be accused. Instead they blame a displaced family of three Jews forced to relocate under King Edward's 1275 Statue of the Jewry. The trio stopped in Tyndal due to the wife's pregnancy. The townsfolk explain to the investigators that Kenelm and Jacob ben Asser the Jew publically argued and therefore he and his kind killed the Christian. Crowner Ralf disagrees due to the injuries on the deceased makes it doubtful that the Jew assaulted the victim.

The latest Thomas and Eleanor medieval mystery (see Killing Season, Chambers of Death and Valley of Dry Bones) is a super historical that may be the long running series best. The key to this strong saga is "A Season of Hate" decreed and deployed by King Edward who has no further use of the Jewish financial support of him. This anti-Semitic background weaves brilliantly with a strong whodunit in which the villagers including residents of the priory prefer a scapegoat rather than the truth.

The Sum of Her Parts
Alan Dean Foster
Del Rey
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor
New York, NY 10019
9780345512024, $15.00,

Namericans Dr. Ingrid Seastrom and Whispr the emaciated thief continue their effort to understand the data thread made from a material that cannot exist. Each has different motives as Seastrom hopes this is the beginning of saving a planet ravaged by centuries of manmade abuse and Whispr seeks to sell it to the highest bidder.

Genetically enhanced to be an army of one ruthless killer Napun Mole stalks them, they trek across Africa trying to reach a the South African Economic Combine (known as SICK) research facility in the Namib Desert where experiments have occurred. Embarrassed by his failures to assassinate the pair (see Body, Inc. and The Human Blend), Mole needs to kill them as much as for his self-esteem as for his mission. Besides the raging psychopath Mole, Seastrom and Whispr struggles from a lack of water, vicious animals seeking to make them meals and other predators wanting to control the filament.

The action-packed final Tipping Point futuristic industrial espionage science fiction satire is a fast-paced thriller that is fun to read though the constant danger and rescue seems over the top of Namibia's Brandberg Mountain. Still fans will enjoy the misadventures of the doctor and the thief as the world has gone beyond the Tipping Point of what a human is.

Pandora's Temple
Jon Land
Open Road Integrated Media
9781453224632, $16.95,

Blaine McCracken leads a team on a search and rescue mission of four kidnapped Americans from a Mexican druglord. Soon after McCracken successfully extracts the students leaving behind a lot of dead gangsters in their in Juarez encampment, his friend Paul Basmajian leads the drilling of the deepest well ever, the Deepwater Venture oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. However, he and his top assistant George Arnold feel something is wrong and try to shut down the drill just before the looming disaster occurs. They fail and all hell breaks loose.

McCracken learns Paul is missing and the hundred person crew is either dead or near dead. He leads an inquiry at the damaged site where he concludes that oil was not the product sought. Instead the firm tried to corral unstable dark energy; the failure leaves the world in danger with the only salvation being a temple that may not exist.

The latest McCracken thriller (see Dead Simple) is a fun save the world from a manmade environmental disaster starring a team of heroes mindful of Doc Savage and his team of taunting teasers in the face of deadly danger. However, the three enemy groups (a Japanese cult, an energy magnum and a giant squid) come across as underdeveloped unneeded caricatures as the true adversary is preventing dark matter from taking over the planet.

Midnight's Warrior
Donna Grant
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312552596, $7.99,

A decade has passed since Tara Kincaid thought she could rely on Declan Wallace to have her back at a time when her family went to the dark side of druid magic and became Drough. When she realized he betrayed her with his scheme to manipulate her into turning into a Drough, she fled. For the last ten years she has been in hiding in Scotland looking back over her shoulder for deadly Druids and the wicked Warriors.

Now a tour guide, Tara fears that Wallace and his minion have found her. However, she remains ignorant that the Warriors have also located the skittish Tara. Powerful Druid Warrior Ramsey MacDonald is assigned to protect the reluctant Tara who trusts no one. As they fall in love, he knows he owes the truth about his extraordinary hybrid magical skills but fears his beloved will flee into the night at a time when Dark Warriors, Darker Drough and the darkest Druid Declan come for her.

The latest Midnight's Warrior continues the Dark Sword spin off series (see Midnight's Lover and Midnight Masters) with another terrific wicked Wallace entry (see Midnight's Seduction). The protagonists are a fascinating pairing as each is motivated as much by their respective fears as by love; Tara is afraid that love weakens her chance of survival and Ramsey is afraid of deploying his full power. Although the threat by the evil Declan does not seem different from his assault by the lead avengers of Midnight's Seduction, series fans will relish adventures of Midnight's Warrior and his reluctant Druid.

Celeste Bradley
St. Martin's
9781250017253, $7.99

In 1831 England, Isadore "Izzy" Temple thought she was having an erotic dream until she heard her bed companion moan. She realizes that a drunken Eppingham Rowley is sharing her bed. When other members of the Ton catch them in bed, the innocent Izzy claims a lover's spat to ease the pressure off of the alcoholic Eppingham. She also knows she is ruined as far as the Ton is concerned because everyone now believes that she is a FALLEN woman of no virtue except for Eppie, who knows the truth.

Regardless of her defense of him, Eppie does the right thing and marries Izzy. However, he soon finds his intoxicated turn into the wrong bed may have been the best thing that ever happened to him. Izzy brings light to his worried soul and soon he is besotted with love for her.

Fallen is a reprint of an amusing 2001 historical romance that stars two wonderful characters and secondary players who add depths to the layers of misinterpretation of feelings and relationships. The story line is fun and filled with double meanings and tongue in cheek (not saying whose) retorts that add to the delectation. Celeste Bradley satirizes her sub-genre in a mirthful manner that should bring acclaim and a large contingency of readers to this debut author.

Amanda Hocking
St. Martin's Griffin
9781250005656, $17.99

In order to keep her family and friends safe, teenager Gemma Fisher decides to swim with the sirens though she plans to control her evil unlike her new sisters (Penn, Lexi and Thea). However, leaving behind her loved ones was an extremely difficult decision, but controlling her urges seems increasingly impossible as her supernatural prowess grows stronger and her compulsion to kill turns obsessively.

Gemma's boyfriend Alex, her older sister Harper, and Harper's boyfriend Daniel refuse to give up on bringing her home. The trio knows that will entail the seemingly impossible act of eliminating the three surviving sirens. Stunningly, they bring Gemma home, but the siren trio pursues those who abducted one of them with plans to exterminate their newest sister's loved ones.

The second Watersong urban fantasy (see Wake) is an exciting thriller as two teams vie for the "affection" of Gemma. The key is that the three sirens are fully developed with Thea displaying a fascinating feeling that differentiates her from Penn and Lexi. Filled with action, Lullaby is a fast-paced horror tale.

Ashes of Twilight
Kassy Tayler
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312641788, $9.99

In 1878 English astronomers detected a comet heading straight to earth. Mankind constructed the great glass Dome to protect the royals and selected others from the comet that ultimately burned the sky.

One hundred and ninety-eight years after people moved inside the Dome, some residents want out. Alex a Shiner tells his friend Wren that "The sky is blue" outside the Dome before he tries to escape the smog-laden city. Alex fails in his attempt; his body burned and placed on display as a warning to other wannabe radicals. However, Alex's efforts stir Wren to begin a quest with friends at her side even as civil war seems imminent inside the Dome especially with coal running out.

The first Ashes of Twilight post-apocalyptic thriller is a great environmental cautionary tale starring a wonderful coming of age heroine. The Taylor world inside the Dome seems genuine as the residents face the scarcity of the non-renewable energy source at a time when the 1% remains disinterested in what happens to the masses as long as their lifestyle remains intact. Action-packed, fans will appreciate this strong alternate vision of a world struggling to survive two centuries after the great cataclysmic comet changed the planet.

Cassie Alexander
St. Martin's
9780312553401, $7.99

Edie Spence works as a nurse on floor Y4 of County Hospital. The patients on this floor are diversly paranormal. She and her friend Charles head to Rock Ronalds for lunch. They enter a crosswalk as does a silver haired man on the other side of the street. A truck slowing down for the light abruptly accelerates and hits the pedestrian. Charles and Edie rush over to help the injured Hit and Run victim; a werewolf still is alive due to the quick response of the nurses, but remains in critical condition.

After Anna the living vampire visits her to tell her she will be at a gala, Edie rests before starting her next shift where she learns her new patient is Karl Winter, the werewolf king. His daughter Helen, nephew Lucas and pack member Jorgen arrives demanding information from Edie who offers nothing to them. They howl at her and warn her to keep their king alive or else. Attracted to Lucas, Edie trusts none of the weres as bellicose adversarial packs are at war with one another.

The second Edie Spence urban fantasy (see Nightshifted) is a fabulous paranormal thriller starring a fascinating heroine who tries to stay outside the fray, but no one including dead relatives allows her to remain detached. Fast-paced from the moment the hit and run occurs and never slowing down, readers will relish a visit in the fabulous realm of Alexander the Great while looking forward to the next entry in the life of Edie Spence, nurse to the paranormal.

Extra Credit
Maggie Barbieri
9781250001887, $24.99

In Westchester County, New York, NYPD Detective Bobby Crawford and his ex-wife Christine celebrate their twin daughters' nineteenth birthday. Family attending the bash is Bobby's wife Professor Alison Bergeron and Christine's husband and his four children. Christine's brother Uncle Chick, who no one has seen or heard from in years, makes a surprise visit. He gives $5,000 each to the twins.

After the shock wears off, Bobby and Christine agree to return the loot to Uncle Chick. Bobby and Alison visit Chick only to find him near death. The police arrive and find $250,000 inside the mattress. The cops conclude suicide, but Christine believes someone murdered her sibling. While her friends (Max, Fred and ex-priest Kevin) warn Alison to not investigate, they assist her when she does.

The latest Murder 101 amateur sleuth (see Physical Education, Third Degree, Final Exam and Quick Study) is an engaging extended family affair that reflects the complex relationships. The cast is solid in support of the heroine who feels out of her element hosting a teen bash but in her element detecting; while explaining to Max and fans why she obsessively must investigate. Readers will enjoy this entertaining whodunit

Orders from Berlin
Simon Tolkien
9780312632144, $25.99

In 1940 Gestapo Chief Reinhard Heydrich has planted a mole inside British MI6. Meanwhile in London, someone shoves former MI6 Chief Albert Morrison over a banister outside his apartment. His horrified daughter Ava watches her dad plunge to his death, but cannot identify the killer due to the darkened streets.

Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector John Quaid almost immediately decides Ava's husband Bertie killed his father-in-law. Quaid's employee Detective William Trave believes the case is much more than a family matter as he believes the deceased's previous occupation is involved with his death; especially after he found a strange note in Albert's pocket and that the MI6 Deputy Chief Alec Thorn visited him earlier on that fatal day. Trave theorizes that the county's ex spymaster was silenced before he could expose a traitor.

The third terrific Trave historical police procedural actually occurs almost two decades before the previous two investigations (see The Inheritance and The King of Diamonds). Filled with action and taut suspense, readers will believe they are in London during the Nazi air blitz as the raids impact the case. Orders From Berlin is a strong whodunit wrapped inside a powerful espionage thriller.

A Death in the Small Hours
Charles Finch
9781250011602, $24.99

In 1874 Charles Lenox is in Parliament, but misses his days as a private detection investigator though his former apprentice John Dallington allows him some precarious thrills by consulting with him. A new dad, Charles is excited that he will provide the opening remarks of the next parliamentary session.

While he prepares for the honor; Charles, his wife Jane, their baby Sophie and Miss Taylor the nursemaid visit his beloved Uncle Frederick Ponsonby in Plumbley. Dallington joins them as he lays low after a recent scandalous intoxication. He learns someone vandalizes the small Somerset village. This unknown individual has drawn a picture of a man hanging on the doors of two merchants and the Roman number XXII on the door of the church. When a teenage constable is stabbed to death and Uncle Freddie abducted, Charles investigates wondering if the vandal is now a murderer and kidnapper.

The latest Charles Lenox Victorian whodunit (see A Burial at Sea and A Stranger in Mayfair) is a terrific historical village mystery. Lenox is at his best with this case as he feels a reprieve from his Parliament duties with a chance to dabble in his preferred vocation of detecting. His obsession turns desperate when his uncle is snatched while his family round out a strong late nineteenth century investigative thriller.

Unbridled Greed
Barry Johnson
Rocochi Ridge Publishing
2510 Warren Ave., Cheyenne, WY 82001
9780986024603, $14.99,

In Chicago, FBI Agent Nina Moretti goes undercover as patient Alice Rizzo trying to obtain hardcore information that Dr. Hugh Patterson is committing medical insurance fraud. She succeeds to the delight of Justice Department investigator Bryan Hampton and Sideral Healthcare SIU investigator Ted Kucharski. Bryan makes his case to the US Attorney for the Chicago District Albert Tacovic who agrees to a raid in two days. Al turns to his sister, family friendly Judge Markowski, and Patterson's lawyer to get the doctor off the hook with no ties back to him; while also blackmailing a donation for his congressional run from the physician.

With help from anti-medical fraud combatant Da Silva, an irate Hampton obtains a position working for his former college roommate the US Attorney for the Nevada District Paul Dixon. Hampton learns his new boss has personal reasons to fight medical insurance fraud. As they work together alongside of BeatMedicalFraud operative Gayle Baker, danger mounts while Hampton is attracted to Dixon's assistant single mom Charlie Cruz.

Unbridled Greed is a fast-paced medical thriller in which Barry Johnson shines a vivid light on health care insurance fraud. Fast-paced throughout even with explanations for instance on threshold monetary figures triggering investigations (small amounts are ignored as the cost of prosecution exceeds the fraudulent claims). Although black and white as the good guys are ethical Diogenes' candidates and the bad guys are Darth Vader protege, readers will relish this powerful look at the impact of a multi-billion dollar medical insurance fraud industry.

The Ghost Of Christmas Present
Scott Abbott and Amy Maude Swinton
Howard Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451660395, $16.99,

In Manhattan Widower Patrick Guthrie still grieves the death of his wife Linda from an enlarged heart only he learns that the other person he loves in this world, their eight-year-old son Braden, is dying from the same condition. Adding pressure on Patrick is the loss of his job as a drama teacher and his affluent angry father-in-law Tom Cake is filing a custody suit based on his son-in-law's inability to care for Braden; just like he feels his son-in-law failed his beloved daughter.

Child Protective Services social worker Rebecca Brody reviews the case at a time when a procedure could save Braden's life. Thinking his son may be better offer with his grandfather, Patrick considers suicide, but concludes Braden needs him and he will do anything to be there for his beloved child. Needing a Christmas miracle, Patrick turns to Shakespeare and street performing to raise money before he appears in court.

The Ghost of Christmas Present is a charming holiday tale starring a desperate father seeking to make his own Miracle on 34th Street. His efforts change the attitudes of many as those who watch his performance are tenderly touched even coldly efficient Rebecca and Ted the scrooge begin seeing him in a different light. Readers will enjoy this warm Christmas tale.

A Winter Dream
Richard Paul Evans
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451628036, $19.99,

In Denver, Jacobson Advertising is a very successful firm in which the four-time married patriarch Israel employs his twelve sons and one daughter. Israel's favorite offspring is number twelve, twenty-nine years old Joseph AKA JJ. Joseph's siblings are jealous of him especially when their dad names him as his heir though JJ is the second youngest. Joseph is not very close to his older half-siblings, but is with his younger full brother Benjamin.

His brothers mount an attack on JJ who finally succumbs and leaves his family, fiancee and home for Chicago. There Joseph succeeds at an advertising firm at a time many companies including Jacobson are in trouble due to the recession. He also meets and falls in love with April, but he feels betrayed again when he learns of her secret at a time his family begs him to come home and save the company.

The latest Richard Paul Evans's holiday novel (see The Christmas Box) is a modern day rendition of the Genesis story of Joseph. JJ is superb holding the storyline focused while the support cast in Denver, Colorado, New York and Utah enhance the plot. Fast-paced from the moment JJ goes into exile, fans will enjoy this engaging contemporary version of the Old Testament tale as the Jacobson clan learns lessons on being a loving family.

I'm Not Sam
Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit 7
Forest Hill, Maryland 21050
9781587673535, $17.99,

"I'm Not Sam." Artist Patrick and forensic pathologist Samantha are a happily married couple deeply in love with one another. Both enjoy their respective work, each is very fond of Zoey the cat and still enjoy love-making after years together. Everything seems perfect in their shared world. In the middle of the night, Patrick awakens to a scream. He finds naked Sam in a corner crying and telling him not to touch her as he hurt her. However her other contention confuses and panics Patrick when his Sam insists she is Lily who knows Zoey but not Patrick while she wants her Teddy liberated from being locked amidst the Barbies. Patrick wants to know what happened to his Sam as the days pass and she continues to act like a young child.

"Who's Lily?" She awakens knowing something is not right as she has a bandage on her foot though she knows not why, feels wet and sticky, and has two weeks of hair growth on her legs. She wakes up Patrick who calls her Lily. Sam asks him "Who's Lily?"

I'm Not Sam is an exciting psychological thriller starring a perfect couple facing their first crisis. Fast-paced but character driven, readers will appreciate this dark novella; made even darker by the related stunning short story coda Who's Lily?

The Circle
Bentley Little
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit 7
Forest Hill, Maryland 21050
9781587673009, $19.99,

"Helen" answers the knock at her door to find a strange child oddly dressed. The boy enters her house and goes to the bathroom where he releases a dump in the toilet. However, his excretion turns out to be diamonds. He enters her garage where he continues to drop gems from his butt to the exhilaration of his hostess and her spouse; until he begins releasing a horde beetles.

"Frank" is an eighth grader whose family lives near Helen. He and his friend visit the backyard dump of a neighbor rumored to be a witch as allegedly her altar is there. They plan to make a request not understanding that the witch will demand remittance.

"Gil" is Frank's father. A hysterical teen who accompanied Frank on their adventure tells him what happened. He goes to confront the obese lady professor who many believe is a witch.

This is a reprint of a dark graphic (never look at poop in the same way) horror thriller told in three related stories that flow in a Circle starting with the middle tale before shifting to how it began and ultimately climaxed.

Tyler's Third Act
Mick Garris author
William Stout, illustrator
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit 7
Forest Hill, Maryland 21050
9781587673016, $35.00,

Tyler Sparrow's first act was as a television script writer. That gig ended with the 2007 Writers Guild strike as the stations' management and accountant learned viewers loved cheaper reality shows so they inundated the market during and after the strike. Script writers like Tyler were unemployed in his second act.

Desperate as he is running out of resources, Tyler creates a third act. He develops a bloody gory show You Want a Piece of Me for an Internet only audience with a final curtain call that he believes will make him a household name as he will satiate the blood-curdle mob.

Mindful of the movie Network, Tyler's Third Act shines a discomforting spotlight on reality shows and the culture that supports these shows through spectators observing a Christians and the Lions last person-beast standing competition as each new gig requires increasing violence. With strong illustrations enhancing the plot, readers will act like Tyler's audience macabrely fascinated with a need to know the climax of Tyler's Third Act in what is a solid contemporary allegory.

Tears of Rain
Rosa Montero
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781612184388, $14.95,

In the United States of Earth, thirty one years old Bruna Husky actually has lived for only six years and will die in four when her time expires. Though she has memories of a childhood, Bruna learns her recall of events over six years ago are false imprints; as she is a techno-human created in a lab to do work humans do not want to perform.

In 2109 in Madrid, there has been an angry assault on replicants; many murdered before there expiration date ends their lives. Detective Bruna Husky investigates the violent mysterious deaths of her peers; knowing she will likely end up like her dead colleagues. As she follows leads, Bruna realizes that behind the serial killings there is a world-wide conspiracy to take control of the globe.

With a nod to Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Tears of Rain is an exhilarating futuristic thriller that looks deeply into the psychology of being an individual with no rights who knows their shut off date yet possessing feelings similar to their human creators. The well written investigation enables the audience to compare the social and political realm of the natural born with the lab born in a divided world in which origin prejudice is prevalent. Although the prose at times feels out of place with a persistent Pollyanna optimism instead of Bruna's dark environs, fans will enjoy the techno-human investigating the serial killing of techno-humans.

The Neighbors
Ania Ahlborn
Thomas & Mercer
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781612184456, $14.95,

In Creekside, Kansas Andrew Morrison gave up his life to care for an acrimonious agoraphobic and alcoholic mother. Though feeling guilty for deserting his mom, now he is freed as he moves in with a childhood friend Mickey Fitch though the house is an eyesore as the squalid dump of Magnolia Lane.

Though they differ over white picket fences and paint, the two roommates get on well. Their biggest contention is over The Neighbors. Drew feels welcomed by Harlow and Red Ward while also envying their Leave It To Beaver lifestyle as what they have is what he always wanted. Mickey warns his roommate about his fascination with the Neighbors especially kind Harlow; that is until she tries to seduce Andrew who sees her as Harriet Ward. As Drew wonders about the odd behavior of Ward couple and of Mickey who vanishes a lot and keeps a room that he has not entered as it is always locked, the newcomer wonders if living in hell with mom is better than this taste of heaven.

This is a taut horror thriller in which readers ponder if the perfect couple next door are monsters or whether Drew suffers from a psychosis. The four protagonists are fully developed, which adds to the audience wondering what is going on. Filled with increasing suspense, fans will enjoy the Neighbors as things are rarely what they seem on the outside.

Karen Robards
Gallery Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451678673, $25.00,

In St. Louis, twentyish single mom of four year old Tyler, Samantha Jones attends EMT certification classes while working nights repossessing cars. She arrives to tow away a BMW only to find critically battered and shot Danny Panterro in the trunk.

Danny is an undercover FBI agent, who was outed when the drug cartel he had infiltrated blew up the safe house he was hiding in. That explosion confuses Danny as it seems wrong for drug lord Veith to blow up the townhouse before collecting the missing money. Sam saved his life, but he knows she and her son are now in peril as vicious drug runners pursue them with one objective, three deaths.

Shiver is an action-packed romantic suspense thriller that starts off with an incredible opening scene and never slows down as nothing is quite like it seems. Fast-paced and starring two intrepid protagonists, readers will enjoy Shiver as the bad guys keep the lethal pressure on the good guys.

Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors: Ann Rule's Crime Files Volume 16
Ann Rule
Pocket Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451648287, $7.99,

In 2009 a blizzard hammers West Valley, City, Utah. During the storm, Susan Powell vanished. Her husband Josh said he assumed she ran off with another man leaving him with their two pre-school sons. Susan's parents and three sisters insisted this was out of character for her as she always wanted a family. In 2011, a second tragedy strikes the Powell family.

In 2011 at the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado, California, billionaire owner Jonah Shacknai's son Maxfield falls from a balcony; he is placed in a medical induced coma. Jonah's girlfriend Rebecca is found hung to death.

These two taut novella-length true crime entries and the seven other shorts affirm that the author still rules the genre. The sixteenth Crime Files lives up to its title of beware of "Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors."

Blood Winter
Diana Pharaoh Francis
9781451613865, $7.99

In Horngate, the ice-cold wintry weather makes scarcities of food, water, and heat severe. Desperate townsfolk turn to the only salvation in town, Earth's Last Stand fundamentalist Preacher Sterling Savage for sustenance whose fiery message to his growing flock as the self-proclaimed Hand of God is to destroy the ungodly magic practitioners.

As the protector of the Horngate coven, Max learns that Savage is a witch whose voice of God is a diabolical demon. Max also concludes she and her allies have no chance against their adversaries unless she risks her life by voluntarily walking into what she knows is a trap to save the world starting in Horngate. The Earth's Last Stand shows the soul of their captive to everyone including her lover Alexander the Shadowblade warrior as Max fears she may have lost her beloved anchor and with him her hope.

The latest Horngate Witches urban fantasy (see Shadow City, Bitter Night and Crimson Wind) is an exhilarating dark entry starring a dedicated heroine who seems to always be "enslaved" to nasty soulless individuals. Filled with dangerous action, series fans will relish this thriller as Max offers up her life and soul as sacrifices to save people but it is Alexander's reaction that could cause her to finally give up the good fight.

Last Kiss Goodnight
Gena Showalter
9781451671599, $7.99

Michael Black found the three Otherworlder newborns just after their biological parents abandoned them on earth. He arranged for them to grow up with human families while he trained Solomon Judah, John No Last Name and Corbin Blue to be elite black operatives.

The bombing of Black's office left Black fading and his three adult mentees missing. Evil Gregory Star captures the three Otherworlders. Solo awakens inside a magical cage as a freak attraction on display. The malevolent owner Lukas assigns his abused deaf daughter Vika to take care of the latest animal the Allorian they just purchased from Star as she does all of the captives. Solo recognizes Vika as his though his initial reaction is to kill her due to her carrying out the orders of her brutal father. He soon realizes she does her best to keep the "animals" safe and hopes this Allorian she wants can save her just like she tries to save him.

The opening Otherworld Assassin is a super ultra-dark urban fantasy starring two soulmates trapped in cages as their relationship positively evolves until they recognize that "I am my beloved and my beloved is mine" (Song of Solomon). With biblical citations like that just mentioned to enhance the sense of something epic going on, fans will appreciate this thriller as the warm romance and the brutal viciousness serve as counter weights to a strong introduction to Gena Showalter's newest realm.

A Soul So Wicked
Sharie Kohler
9781451611427, $7.99

In the first century, raging Tresa the witch pledges her loyalty to Balthazar the demon in exchange for his placing a curse on the descendants of the aristocrat who murdered her family. One of the heirs Darius stalks the witch, as he has for centuries, who cursed him and his family. He prays that killing Tresa will bring an end to his immortal life as a Lycan.

When Darius and Tresa meet, each is shocked by how wrong their perception of the other is. Both seek to free themselves from their respective bonds while wondering if their love will prove a savior or a curse. Meanwhile Tresa "sees" the murders of Balthazar's latest recruit the Rose Petal Killer.

The sixth Moon Chasers paranormal romance (see Night Falls on the Wicked) is an exciting Lycan redemption thriller. The storyline follows the most obvious path that readers expect and the changing relationship between the haunted and the haunted seems unlikely in spite of raging hormones. Still fans will enjoy this romantic urban fantasy as the lead couple team up in love to end the reign of terror of the Rose Petal Killer.

Lust For Life
Jeri Smith-Ready
9781439163504, $7.99

Con artist Ciara Griffin had to choose adhering to her parents' grifter advice of keep moving or staying in one place permanently buried in a cemetery as she was dying. Thus the manager of radio station WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock 'n' Roll, chooses life of a sort when she voluntarily becomes converted into a vampire.

Concerned for her safety, Ciara's vampire fiance Shane McAllister vows to protect her ever since Jim the vampiric DJ attacked her. Though Jim is incarcerated his loyal horde targets Ciara and anyone close to her for sun-bathing eradication.

The latest Ciara Griffin vampire thriller (see Bring on the Night, Bad to the Bone and Wicked Game) is an exciting tale as fanatic frenzied fans (of Jim) literally want the heroine's blood; while her guitar playing cross bow trainee fiance risks his undead-ness to keep her safe. Fast-paced, readers will en joy this entry wondering whether the wedding dress will be virginal white, bloody red or grieving black.

Killer Librarian
Mary Lou Kirwin
9781451684643, $7.99

In Minnesota, Sunshine Valley librarian Karen Nash and her boyfriend Dave the plumber plan to travel to England, a place she has visited many times in books. Hours before they are to leave, Dave flushes his relationship down the toilet and cancels the trip. Though she is disappointed and hurt by "Mr. Toad," Karen decides to go anyway on her magical mystery tour especially after seeing Dave accompanied by a blonde board the same jet she flies. Ironically in spite of the close quarters on the transatlantic flight, the cuddling pair fails to notice Karen while she turns to novels for creative ways to murder Dave.

In London at a pub near the B&B where she is staying and run by bibliophile Caldwell Perkins, Karen and a stranger drink and chat. She mentions her rage towards Mr. Toad saying she wants him dead. The next day a guest at the B&B is found dead. Soon afterward, Karen's inner librarian begins to notice evidence that point to a killer targeting Dave and his new squeeze.

This is a terrific cozy starring a Killer Librarian who uses her skills to investigate. The literary references from English authors enhance the engaging amateur sleuth storyline as no one, not even a killer or a politician, messes with the librarian.

Gold Fire
Star Ambrose
9781451623642, $7.99

In Barringer's Pass, Colorado, the Alpine Sky Ski Resort owners want to expand but former Olympic skier Jase Garrett refuses to sell his property including the Rusty Wire bar. They send Zoe Larkin to buy the land willing to pay an exorbitant price.

Zoe lays out the offer, which he admits is more than fair, but Jase refuses anyway. Frustrated she feels this purchase will go a long way to change her image from one of the wild sisters to businesswoman. Worse Zoe loathes her attraction to the obstinate Jase. When his saloon becomes the target of unscrupulous peers of Zoe, she reconsiders her goals as she vows to protect her beloved.

This is an engaging Colorado romantic suspense using a premise similar to that of its predecessor (see Silver Sparks) though with a reverse gender twist. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Jase makes it clear the only business between them is love-making and never slows down as Zoe makes an altitude attitude adjustment.

Badlands Bride
Adrianne Wood
9781451698244, $7.99

Her Boston Brahmin family exiled Lily Highfill to Denver. Bored though she appears on the brink of an engagement to an affluent gentleman, Lily joins her grandfather's fossil dig on the Colorado Badlands before returning to her God-given rightful place in Massachusetts high society as an engaged heiress.

Journalist Mason Donnelly has hit hard times recently. He comes to the Badlands seeking a story to elevate him back to the top. Instead the reporter meets and is attracted to the excavation leader's granddaughter; in turn the heiress is falling in love with the writer as they team up; him helping her obtain that needed betrothal and her assisting him on solving a dangerous mystery that soon leaves him with an ethical dilemma.

This is an enjoyable Americana romance starring two seemingly opposites falling in love in a fabulous locale as readers wonder whether either the journalist or the heiress will admit their love to themselves and the other. Fast-paced, Badlands Bride is an engaging historical.

The Scoundrel Takes A Bride
Stefanie Sloane
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor
New York, NY 10019
9780345531155, $7.99,

Over a decade ago, someone murdered Lady Beatrice Afton in Afton Manor in Petworth, Sussex. No one was accused of the homicide.

Over the years, Beatrice's daughter Lady Sophia never turned to her arranged by her mom betrothed Langdon Bourne for comfort or help with her obsession to find her mom's killer. Instead she studied criminology so that by 1813 she feels ready to investigate her mom's homicide. She believes the one person who could assist her with achieving her objective has come home after years abroad amassing a fortune in India. She pleads with Langdon's brother Nicholas to be there on her investigation. He reluctantly agrees as he obsesses over keeping the woman he has loved seemingly forever safe on their journey of discovery.

The latest rousing Regency Rogues (see The Saint Who Stole My Heart) is a terrific historical romantic mystery made stronger by Langdon being a decent honorable person. The amateur sleuthing is fun to follow as forbidden passion between the daring duet makes their inquiry that much more difficult.

The Lady of Secrets
Susan Carroll
9780345502957, $15.00

In 1605, healer Margaret Wolfe feels relief with the death of her mad mom Cassandra Lascelles the witch. Now the Lady of the Faire Isle following the death of her beloved mentor Ariane, Meg returns home, accompanied by Contessa Seraphine Beaufoy, knowing everyone is wary of her power due to her mother's mad misuse. She plans to lay low and enjoy the sense of feeling safe at last.

King James dispatches Sir Patrick Graham and Dr. Armagil Blackwood to Faire Isle to escort Lady Meg to his court where a witch's curse devastates the royals. Meg is attracted to the kind Sir Graham while keeping her distant from the sullen physician. Trusting no one especially anyone engaging her heart, Meg deploys her bewitching powers to identify the culprit behind a dangerous magical spell that has placed the monarch, his family and his retinue in peril.

Though the Dark Queen is dead, Susan Carroll superbly continues her historical romantic fantasy saga (see Twilight of a Queen) with a fabulous entry that follows the adventures in magic and love of the newest Lady of the Faire Isle. Fast-paced from the moment Graham and Dr. Armagil Blackwood come for Meg, readers will appreciate this deep thriller as the heroine knows the risk she takes by deploying her paranormal skills at a time when curse phobia has led to witch burnings.

Fox Tracks
Rita Mae Brown
9780345532978, $26.00

Septuagenarian Master of the Jefferson Hunt Club in Virginia "Sister" Jane Arnold is staying at Manhattan's posh Pierre while attending the Masters Ball. She and college student Anne "Tootie" Harris walk in the snow to a nearby Fifth Avenue tobacco shop where the proprietor Aldolfo Galdos sells Sister a special WWI lighter. The two visitors return to the hotel only Sister forgot her cell phone so go back to the shop. In the few minutes between their stops, someone put a bullet between the eyes of Aldofo. The victim had an Amercian Smokes cigarette pack on him.

An eerily similar murder occurs in Boston. Sister begins to think the murders tie back to tobacco farms, but unsure how. When she mentions her feelings, she becomes a target too. At the same time Sister's enemy Crawford Howard deploys a scheme to devastate the Jefferson Hunt Club. In both cases, Sister and her four legged posse refuse to go away quietly.

The latest Sister Jane amateur sleuth (see Hounded to Death) is an enjoyable whodunit that provides a spotlight on the sport of the hounds and the foxes. The storyline starts passive as readers meet the players while obtaining a deep look into what motivates the passionate two legged players and the various friendly and hostile rivalries between groups and participants. Series fans will enjoy Sister's sleuthing.

Shawntelle Madison
9780345529176, $7.99

Once an outcast due to her compulsive obsessive behavior, exiled Natalya Stravinsky looks forward to rejoining her South Toms River, New Jersey werewolf pack. However, before she can come home, the Russian Mafia werewolf pack abducts her father. Putting aside her OCD to hoard holiday ornaments, Nat plans to rescue her dad.

Her ex-lover Thorn Grantham insists on helping her while her current boyfriend Nick the wizard wants to be there for her too. They head to Atlantic City on her quest while a who's who of the supernatural stalk Nat for the mysterious goods she needs to deliver.

The second Natalya Stravinsky suburban romantic fantasy (See Coveted) is an amusing thriller due to a cast of neurotic and psychotic paranormal from several species. Nat remains a terrific, unique protagonist suffering from OCD, which can just as easily subtract or enhance her kick butt skills. The road trip with Thorn is fun as Nat the hoarder fights her attraction to two males and a sicko paranormal horde.

When The Duke Found Love
Isabella Bradford
9780345527332, $7.99

In 1764 London, Lady Diana Wylder remains the only one of three sisters unmarried (see When You Wish Upon A Duke and When The Duchess Said Yes). Diana prefers to remain in single status, but duty calls when her mother arranges for her to marry older and austere Lord Crump.

She wants to end their engagement as he is extremely prim and proper while she has a lust for life. When Diana meets George Atherton the Duke of Sheffield and his matchmaking dog Fantome AKA Monsieur le Gros, she knows he is the one to bring love and passion into her dull but respectable life. As they fall in love, her caring family continues with plans for Diana to wed dull Crump.

The final spirited Wylder sisters scandalous Georgian romance is an entertaining historical starring a fascinating triangle supported by her family. Although the stereotyped grim and rigid Crump proves no competition, fans will enjoy this entry as Diana, her Duke and his dog share the passion of love.

Running Wild
Linda Howard and Linda Jones
9780345520784, $7.99

In Houston Carlin Reed went out on a couple of dates with Brad Hendersen, but ended their relationship as he frightened her. She moved to Dallas to stay away from him, but she is unaware that he followed her patiently; waiting for the right moment to pounce as no one dumps Brad. When he sees her leaving her place of work, he shoots and kills her. Only Brad makes his first error as he kills Carlin's cubicle mate Jina Matthews instead of his intended target.

Ten months later, Carlin has moved several times to stay off the radar as she knows her psychopath hunts her to finish the job. With winter arriving, Carlin obtains a position as a housekeeper and cook at Zeke Decker's ranch in Battle Ridge, Wyoming. Zeke knows the woman he is falling in love with is in trouble and wishes she would tell him so he could protect her. Carlin thinks of leaving as she fears Brad will come to kill her and harm her beloved employer.

The first Men from Battle Ridge is an exhilarating ranch romantic suspense starring a woman in peril, the cowboy who vows to protect his beloved, and a predatory psychopath. Though the premise has been done before, Team Linda keeps it fresh as fans await a triangular confrontation in the Cowboy State.

The Start of Everything
Emily Winslow
Delacorte Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor
New York, NY 10019
9780385342902, $26.00,

Just outside Cambridge, the decomposed corpse of a female teen comes ashore in the marshes. Recently promoted Police DI Chloe Frohmann and her just off medical leave partner DCI Morris Keene investigate the case. Chloe feels added pressure from other cops for failing to provide back-up to Morris when he was injured during an interview and her superior wants her to report whether Keene is ready for active duty.

At the same time as the two cops struggle to learn who their victim is, the daughter of Cambridge University Mathematics Professor Tobias Oliver, Mathilde, has made it her mission to locate campus people whose mail is undeliverable. She currently searches for a student Katja; unaware of the mess she steps into. Soon all converge on Deeping House.

Emily Winslow's second Cambridge University police procedural (see The Whole World) is an exciting thriller that rotates perspective between the key players in the past and present. That methodology enhances the reader's insight into the motives of the cast but also leaves the storyline somewhat disjointed. Still this is a suspenseful tale as the audience will want to know what transpired at Deeping House over the holidays.

The Sins of the Mother
Danielle Steel
9780385343206, $20.00

When Olivia Grayson was eighteen years old she went to work at her widowed mother's local hardware business. She widened the scope and eventually replaced her mom as the CEO of the world wide home products The Factory. Worth billions, Olivia married Joe and had four children with him. While she ignored her kids as they were growing up, Joe and his mom raised them with love.

Now five decades since she joined the Factory, widowed Olivia wants to make amends with her adult offspring and her grandchildren; previous efforts having proven fruitless. With Joe dead from a heart attack and his mom in a nursing home Olivia has no buffer. Olivia arranges a super two-week vacation on a luxury yacht that will sail the Mediterranean. Her two sons (Phillip and John), who work for her look forward to the trip but their wives want out. Her oldest daughter Liz also wants no part of the sailing adventure as anytime she gets together with her mom and siblings, she feels ashamed of what she has done with her life. Finally her other child Cass outright refuses to join the family on any vacation. As the five adults battle their internal demons, the grandchildren enjoy the gala.

The Sins of the Mother is an entertaining dysfunctional family drama starring an ensemble cast that Cecil B. DeMille would be proud of though the exorbitant numbers overwhelm the storyline (keep a scorecard handy to keep score of who's who). Still the insight into the theory that adult is the child makes for an engaging tale as the four offspring customize the error their matriarch made with them in how they relate to others.

Remember Me, Cowboy
CJ Carmichael
Harlequin American
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373754380, $5.25,

In Montana at the Coffee Creek United Church, the bride Winnie Hays worries when the groom Brock Lambert, the best man sibling Corb Lambert and their driver Jackson Stone fail to arrive on time. Winnie's BFF Laurel Sheridan, who spent quality time with Corb, tries to calm down the panicking bride. Sheriff Savannah Moody arrives at the church sadly to tell the wedding party that Jackson's SUV hit a moose killing Brock, leaving Corb comatose and the driver injured but mentally devastated.

Two months later, a pregnant Laurel wonders what to do as the father of her baby Corb does not remember her name since he regained consciousness but lost his memory. She considers returning to New York where she has made a life for herself since she left Montana after college; while Corb wants to do right with the mother of his child even if he cannot recognize her. As he courts her their attraction grows until she flees due to her fear of love.

Though amnesia has been used as a plot device frequently, CJ Carmichael deftly deploys it to enhance an emotional second chance at love tale (though the first time around neither was aware of how deep their feelings were). Character driven, readers will remember this powerful Big Sky drama.

A Callahan Outlaw's Twins
Tina Leonard
Harlequin American
9780373754373, $5.25

Former Navy SEAL Sloan Chacon prefers the life of a loner. His paternal grandfather Chief Running Bear sends him a vague message to travel to New Mexico in order to protect his family and their heritage as represented by the seven large stones. Ignoring his desire to disregard the plea, Sloan heads to the Land of Enchantment in order to safeguard his extended family (including Callahan cousins he never met) and their land.

Kendall Phillips serves as the link between the Callahan and Chacon cousins. She and the lone wolf ex-Navy are attracted to one another, a desire neither wants. When she becomes pregnant carrying his twins, Sloan realizes he wants her and their babies as part of his family. However, it is the abduction attempt of his beloved that has Sloan knowing he loves the petit spitfire.

The latest Callahan enchanting New Mexico ranch romance (see The Cowboy Soldier's Son) is a terrific entry that expands the original family by introducing cousins. Though somewhat typical of the sub-genre, this fast-paced engaging tale of love hooks contemporary fans from the moment the two obstinate protagonists meet.

The Risk-Taker
Kira Sinclair
Harlequin Blaze
9780373797332, $5.25

Army Ranger Gage Harper came home from the war suffering from PTSD. The torture never broke him even when the enemy used pliers on his nails. However, his screw-up has left him with guilt as he still hears the screams of his comrades. Gage is so mentally battered he cannot defend himself against a bully he could easily beat up. Adding to his depression is the public want to make him a hero when he feels like a failure.

Wannabe reporter Hope Rawlings wants to get Gage's side of the story. He does not want to talk but she is the one girl he had an unrequited crush on back in high school. Resisting her proves harder than remaining silent while tortured.

The latest Uniformly Hot! romance is superb heated tale that focuses on the mental state of a wounded warrior (please support the worthy Wounded Warrior Project) to move on passed what occurred in the theater of operation. The lead couple is a nice pairing of a couple falling in love the second time around while at cross goals.

The Wedding Fling
Meg Maguire
Harlequin Blaze
9780373797387, $5.25

On the morning of her wedding, reluctant tabloid celebrity and out of work actress Leigh Bailey overhears her fiance Dan cheating with Allie. Though she should confront the rat, she chooses to avid her mother and Dan to go on their honeymoon without him at a remote Barbados resort.

The tabloids assume she ran off with a man so they offer a fortune to shuttle pilot Will Burgess to give them the insider dope on Leigh. Though he knows spying on her is wrong, the money is too good to be ignore and besides he rationalizes she is a publicity hound anyway. When they meet, each is attracted to the other and realizes she is nothing like he envisioned. However, the tabloids have plenty of money and other willing operatives.

The antics of the lead couple make for an entertaining island romance that follows classic lines of B& G; as the pair starts as two adversaries turning to love only turning back to enemies while playing out their sand dance on a scandalous tabloid celebrity stage. Fans will enjoy The Wedding Fling especially the from the jar peanut butter solution (hopefully one does not choke on this) to all tsuris.

Jill Sorenson
9780373777327, $7.99

In San Diego, paramedics Lauren and Joe respond to an emergency call. However, an earthquake measured at 8.5 on the Richter scale wracks the city. Joe dies and Lauren is buried in a gigantic hole with highway debris including cars above her and thus trapping her inside.

Lauren searches for other trapped survivors and soon meets Iraq war veteran Garrett. With his help, they rescue a pregnant teen, an elderly man and his granddaughter. Three dangerous criminals also survive. Lauren and Garrett set up an emergency operation, but the felons demand the food, water, and medicine.

With a nod to the World Series earthquake and the Stallone movie Daylight, Aftershock is a great thriller that grips readers from the moment the tremor occurs until the final confrontation. The key to the strong storyline is that the romance between the lead couple is palatable but takes a back seat to the survival theme. Readers will appreciate Jill Sorenson's superb tense romantic suspense as the thriller subplot comes across as genuine leaving readers feeling trapped alongside Lauren and Joe under the freeway.

The Time Of Her Life
Jeanie London
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373718191, $5.50

Widow Susanna Adams copes with the empty nest syndrome of having her children at college by accepting a position in Charlotte as manager of an Alzheimer's nursing home. Owner Jay Canady, who Susanna replaces as manager, wants to sell the facility though his heart keeps him from doing so as this has been his home and vocation.

Jay sets the quality bar high and Susanna thrives to reach and move it higher. Each also knows there is a strong attraction between them. As love blossoms, Susanna and Jay changer their respective dreams as each believes two managers can run the facility better than lonely one.

The Time of her Life is an enjoyable contemporary romance that is deepened by the close look at running a nursing home especially the impact on management and staff. The changing relationship between the lead couple is deftly handled but it is the glimpse at life in a home that makes Jeanie London's tale special.

Wish Upon A Christmas Star
Darlene Gardner
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373718221, $5.50

In Lexington, Kentucky, Caroline Webb stuns private investigator Maria DiMarco with the claim that the sleuth's late brother Mike is blackmailing her. Maria insists Mike died when the Towers collapsed to the woman who broke her sibling's heart when they were an entry in high school. Carole explains she received photos and letters that lead to Key West.

Praying for a miracle but wondering why Mike failed to inform his family he lives, Maria travels to Key West to determine the truth. At the request of her sister Annalise, Maria's former boyfriend Logan Collier, who broke her heart when he chose high finance over her, follows her to the Conch Republic.

This is an entertaining second chance at love investigative thriller as the mystery of Mike is cleverly constructed. The romance enhances the inquiry as the strong lead couple begins having revelations of the heart and what each lost the first time around.

The Spirit of Christmas
Liz Talley
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373718184, $5.50

In New Orleans, due to her ex-boyfriend, accountant Mary Paige Gentry is short cash. Though running late for Uncle Fred's crazy pre-Christmas bash, Mary stops to buy socks and coffee for a homeless old goat. He thanks her, calling her the Spirit of Christmas and gives her a gift of a $2 million check as the homeless person is department store owner Malcolm Henry, Jr.

Malcolm's grandson Brennan is livid as he ponders whether he needs to take power of attorney away from his aging relative. However, the bottom line Brennan first must deal with o
is the Spirit of Christmas. As he tries to prove her a sham, he starts to believe she is his caring conscience as the couple fall in love.

The Spirit of Christmas is a fun warm holiday romance starring a Scrooge disciple and a woman who shines a light on his dark soul. Fans will enjoy this gender war as Liz Talley provides a tender Christmas tale.

Rancher's Son
Leigh Duncan
Harlequin American Romance
9780373754359, $5.25

In Fort Pierce, Florida Department of Family and Children Services senior caseworker Sarah Magarity had always wanted to make a difference, but recently feels she is irrelevant when it comes to genuinely helping her needy clients. On Christmas Eve with the office closed and everyone gone, Candy "Storm" Candace delivers five year old Jimmy Parker; insisting she is doing this at the request of her best friend, Millie Gage the late mother of the child. On the birth certificate the father listed is Tyrone Parker, a nearby rancher. Storm leaves without the little boy.

Sarah takes Jimmy with her. Over the next few days, she calls Tyrone who fails to call her back as he had one brawl with her over juvenile delinquents. However, Ty finally arrives at the DFC office where she explains to him about Millie, Candy and Jimmy. Though he doubts the child is his even if Miller was his ex-wife, Ty likes the lad. While he waits for DNA results, Ty persuades Sarah and Jimmy to come on a cattle drive where the adults fall in love.

Although the DNA matchmaking premise has been used before, Rancher's Son is a warn holiday family drama in which two adults and a child begin to form a loving relationship. Character driven, fans will enjoy this engaging Yuletide romance as a late twist accentuates that love is the foundation for a functioning family.

Tomas: Cowboy Homecoming
Linda Warren
Harlequin American Romance
9780373754335, $5.25

Marine Staff Sergeant Tomas "Tuf" Hart had no plans to come home except perhaps in a pine box with a flag draped on it. Now two years since he left the marines, Tuf heads to Roundup, Montana as his family's Thunder Ranch faces bankruptcy. On the road he sees a little girl Sadie whose mother calls to her. Tuf recognizes the voice of Cheyenne Wright, who he has wanted since they were teens and rodeo performers.

The adults are attracted to one another and he quickly falls in love with Sadie and her twin Sammie. However, Cheyenne refuses to get involved with a veteran as her late husband Ryan came back from the war zone radically changed into a violent raging maniac. Meanwhile the Hart family banks on Midnight saving the ranch by winning the National Finals Rodeo.

The final Hart romance (written by different authors) is a terrific contemporary ranch romance that adds poignancy with a deep look at how war changes a person and consequently that individual's family. The lead couple is a strong pairing, but it is how the twins differently react to their father's rage and death that make for a strong wounded warrior homecoming.

Michele Vail
Harlequin Teen
9780373210466, $9.99

Molly Bartolucci's father owns Big Al's Zomporium; the place where a person can have someone recently deceased turned into a zombie. Wanting to just fit in at high school, Molly knows her ability to remove souls from bodies makes that difficult. On her sixteenth birthday she learns how hard it is when her boyfriend Rick kisses her, dies in an accident, and she sort of brings him back.

Anubis selects Molly as a reaper. Her long lost missing grandparents arrive sending her to Nekyia Academy for necromancer rookies. Rath the reaper, whose work she recently unraveled, is selected to mentor her. Rick follows her to the school. Soon afterward, students die and her mentor vanishes. Fearing Rick is involved, Molly investigates.

The first Reaper Diaries young adult fantasy stars a wonderful teenage who acts like a sixteen years old person as she struggles with all sorts of tsuris. The storyline is character driven by Molly who narrates the plot through her first person account and her dairy. Although readers obtain incredible insight into her and how she perceives the world (and beyond), the rest of the cast including the two males in her life are only seen though her filter and thus underdeveloped. Still, fans will appreciate unsinkable Molly Bartolucci reaper rookie.

Hot Stuff
Don Bruns
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G
Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781608090617, $25.95,

The difference between the amateur and the pro is the pro gets paid even when they lack experience as is the case with Miami's Moore or Less Investigations PIs Skip Moore and James Lessor. Besides being sleuthing tyros, the pair acts more like teens on the prowl of a good time than investigators on a case.

When someone murders L'Elfe sous chef Amanda Wright, her friend Emily Minard wants the culprit caught as a way to pay back a debt to her late buddy. She asks her boyfriend Skip to make inquiries and persuades the French restaurant's chef Jean Bouvier to hire Moore or Less to go undercover in order to determine who on the staff has a motive. Possessing a culinary arts degree, James replaces Amanda as the sous chef while Skip possessing two hands replaces AWOL dishwasher Juan Castro. Police Detective Ted Conway warns the bungling pair to stay out of his way.

The latest Stuff investigation (see Too Much Stuff) is an amusing murder mystery as the two stooges cause havoc in the posh French restaurant while trying to uncover a killer one dish at a time. The whodunit is fun but thin while fans of the Stuff duo will enjoy their jocular juvenile jaunts amidst a stuffy elite dining class.

The Cezanne Chase
Thomas Swan
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022-5299
9781557049674, $14.99,

In St. Petersburg's Hermitage Museum, someone mutilates Paul Cezanne's Self-Portrait in a Beret. In London's National Gallery, someone tosses acid on Paul Cezanne's Self-Portrait without a Beret. Scotland Yard's Art and Antiques Detective Chief Inspector Jack Oxby investigates the destruction of the Cezanne in the National Gallery only to learn that another work by the great artist owned by private collector Alan Pinkster was destroyed by acid too. This time the director of the Pinkster Gallery in Surry Clarence Boggs died from the toxin used to destroy the third Cezanne.

Shocked like everyone in the art world except perhaps one nefarious patron by the international destruction of the Cezanne masterpieces, affluent New Yorker Edwin Llewellyn worries about the safety of the Cezanne self-portrait he owns. Astrid Haraldsen introduces herself to Llewellyn as the opening gambit for her and her associate Peder Aukrust to destroy Llewellyn's Cezanne as the original 26 known self-portraits methodically are being destroyed.

This reprint of the first Oxby art mystery is an action-packed globetrotting thriller that will keep readers enthralled from start to finish even as the engaging storyline becomes obvious. Filled with suspense, Thomas Swan paints an intriguing mystery inside of the capitalist world of art.

The Final Faberge
Thomas Swan
9781557049698, $14.99

In 1916 Petrograd, Rasputin picks up the Imperial Easter Egg he commissioned master artisan Peter Carl Faberge to create. Rasputin loves the work and dubs it "The Egg of Eternal Blessing". He places a near perfect sapphire and diamond inside the egg. Rasputin intends to give the Faberge egg as a present to Czarina Alexandra Feodorovna. That very night, friends kill the enigmatic monk. Nikolai Karsalov stealthily steals the egg.

In the 1990's, Mike Carson owns several car dealerships. An old family friend from Russia, Sasha Akimov visits Mike and informs him how his father lost Rasputin's egg in a rigged poker game around the time of the Kennedy assassination. When someone murders Akimov, NYPD detective Alex Tobias investigates. Meanwhile, New Scotland Yard Inspector Jack Oxby takes a leave of absence to accept a job to find the missing Faberge. Jack and Alex meet and connect murder with the egg.

This reprint of The Final Faberge, the third entry in the Oxby art mysteries, is a wonderful tale that takes readers across the globe in a non-stop story line. The intertwining of the two cases strengthens the plot especially when Mr. New York and Mr. London join forces. As with The Da Vinci Deception and The Cezanne Chase, Thomas Swan instills this tale with warm characters, deadly villains, and a fabulous art mystery that will entertain sub-genre readers.

The Da Vinci Deception
Thomas Swan
9781557049681, $14.99

Super-egotistic art expert Jonas Kalem has concocted a major con on the art world. He has enlisted four people to help him sell phony da Vinci sketches from what he reported is recently found manuscripts. Jonas blackmails ex-con Curtis Stiehl into forging the works. Retired professor Giorgi Burri will authenticate Stiehl's products. Chemist Eleanor Shepard has been tricked into locating five-century old art material. Finally, Tony Walters will insure no one disobeys Jonas' orders and perform any ugly deeds he requires.

However, the perfect plan unravels almost from the start when the police quickly realize that a da Vinci collection (borrowed by Kalem and his team so as to help fine tune Stiehl's eye) is found to be stolen long before the criminals were ready for its detection. Obstinate Inspector John Oxby and Superintendent Walter Deats of the Scotland Yard Art and Antiques Squad begin the investigation. They follow the fleeing crooks to New York and Lake Como in an effort to insure justice is done.

This reprint of the Da Vinci Deception is an exciting art mystery that happily includes the return of bullheaded John Oxby (see The Cezanne Chase). The story line is crisp and fun to follow, but occasionally bogs down with too much art specific information that can easily be skipped without missing a beat. Fans of the sub-genre will enjoy Thomas Swan's cat and mouse thriller.

The Blood Gospel
James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell
9780061991042, $27.99

In Caesarea, archaeologist Dr. Erin Granger and her team find evidence of a tomb containing hundreds of dead babies buried two millennia ago. She thinks they may have found King Herod's "Massacre of the Innocents." In Masada, an earthquake kills hundreds including the parents of Tommy, a child taking chemo due to melanoma; he survives and miraculously his cancer is cured.

Erin, U.S. Army Sergeant Jordan Stone and Father Ruhn Korza explore a tomb concealed for centuries until the earthquake. They find the crucified body of a child who died just over a decade ago. While still inside the tomb, the trio fights for their lives when inhuman beings attack them. Father Ruhn believes the answers can be found in the mystical missing tome allegedly scribed by Christ in his blood. The threesome begins a trek to obtain this holiest of holy books by Christ in order to bring divine sanctification to a secret Vatican order the Sanguines exposed by Rembrandt but ignored by all until now.

The first exciting Order Sanguines Christian horror thriller grips the audience from the moment the tomb in Mount Masada is discovered and keeps that hold until the final sacrament occurs. Readers will enjoy traveling to Germany, Russia and ultimately the Vatican with the protagonists as our guides through a Church with a history of good and bad. Although the storyline is straightforward, The Blood Gospel is a super ride.

Cat Bearing Gifts
Shirley Rousseau Murphy
9780061806940, $19.99

On a mountain road near Molena Point, California, violent Vic Amson's pickup is wrecked in a multi - vehicle accident. Not one to sit around, Vic and his injured partner Birely Miller steal Pedric and Lucinda Greenlaw's Lincoln Town Car. They take the "abandoned" vehicle so that they can return to their search for bank robbery money taken by Birely's grandpa and hidden by her sister Samantha though the property now belongs to Emmylou Warren. The Greenlaw couple is in the hospital having been injured by a landslide just before losing their car.

Vic and Birely soon find the stolen vehicle contains priceless antiques and plenty of jewels. Clyde and Ryan Damen help sneak the Greenlaw companion Kit into the hospital to see Pedric and Lucinda. Afterward the feline and some pals like Joe Grey protect their two legged friends while investigating the theft and subsequently murder.

The key to this entry and for that matter the Joe Grey series (see Cat Telling Tales and Cat Coming Home) is that readers will believe in the feline anthropomorphist behavior especially sleuthing and watching over their two legged pets. The investigation is top rate and the human sitting well done as Kit (and others) works the case while Dulcie works the computers.

Against the Odds
Kat Martin
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778314226, $7.99,

Former Houston stockbroker Sabrina "Rina" Eckhart inherits desert property from her late uncle. In near financial ruin, she decides to visit her new land in West Texas, as she believes there is a silver mine there; but goes against her independent streak by wisely hiring the ex-Navy pilot turned private investigator Alex Justice to protect her on her sojourn.

However, their journey proves harrowing from the helicopter crash to those who want her gone or dead to a serial killer seeking revenge against Alex. As they team up against an unknown clever adversary, Rina and Alex fall in love, but need to survive first before they can deal with their personal commitment doubts.

The latest Raines of Wind Canyon romantic suspense (see Against the Sun, Against the Wind and Against the Night) is a fast-paced action-filled thriller that never takes a respite. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing of two people not ready to commit while trying to stay alive as accidents keep occurring. Although Alex's exploits seem over the top of Guadalupe Peak, readers will appreciate his efforts to keep his beloved client safe.

The Prince
Tiffany Reisz
9780778314103, $13.95

A reporter forced dominatrix Nora Sutherlin into hiding. Her owner Soren sends Nora from New York to Kentucky to stay out of unwanted publicity. At the same time that Nora goes into exile, Kingsley Edge replaces her with Soren, a place she has been at on and off for years.

In Bluegrass Country, Nora reunites with thoroughbred king Wes Railey in his realm rather than her turf. Meanwhile Soren and Kingsley search for the predator threatening to expose their kinky lifestyle.

The third Original Sinners BDSM tale (see The Siren and The Angel) is an engaging drama that contains two interesting subplots. First Nora seems on the cusp of choosing between two different hunks though one she can never have one completely and the other only partially satiates her kinky needs. Second Kingsley and Soren hunt the stalker. Fans of the series will enjoy the latest erotic adventures in New York and in Kentucky where Wes' lower head affirms why he is The Prince.

The Steam Mole
Dave Freer
59 John Glenn Drive
Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616146924, $16.95,

Brother to the king of the British-German Empire, Duke Malcolm sends his minion after Clara Calland and her scientist mom because the latter knows how to manufacture ammonia. While Clara's father lingers in jail in the eastern side of Australia, on the Cuttlefish mother and daughter reach Westralia, a desert part of the continent that the empire prefers to contain not own.

However, the Cuttlefish needs repairs so the Calland duo and the crew are stranded. Whereas the crew obtains work on the underground Steam Moles, Clara and her mother try to persuade the local leadership to buy their manufacturing secret. However, when her mother becomes ill, Clara turns to her boyfriend Tim Barnabas a submariner for help, but he fled due to a racist incident. Meanwhile the nefarious Duke has not given up the pursuit but in fact expanded his plan.

The second Clara Calland alternate historical (see Cuttlefish) is an exciting young adult steampunk thriller starring a brave heroine and a strong support cast in the fully developed Freer world. Although it behooves the audience to read Cuttlefish first to better appreciate what is happening in this realm, fans will relish this entertaining tale.

A Red Sun Also Rises
Mark Hodder
9781616146948, $16.95

The bookworm priest Aiden Fleischer and the social outcast Miss Clarissa Stark the hunchback are transported to the planet Ptallaya of the two yellow suns. The duo meets the indigent sentient species the peaceful Yatsil.

The natives read the mind of Clarissa and create a London from her image of the great earth city. To honor her, the Yatsil add her onto the Council of Magicians; they make Aiden a city guard though he wonders if this is an honorary title as crime never occurs here. That is until the day equivalent to months on their home world finally sets and the evil red sun arises in the sky bringing out the blood gods.

Without a Burton or Swinburne in sight (see Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon), Mark Hodder provides a strong psychological fantasy thriller with a nightmarish version of Victorian London as the base for destruction. The Yatsil are a fascinating race of mimics who use Clarissa's angry version of her hometown to construct a new London on their orb before morphing into a powerful good and evil confrontation as the two earthlings must look within at their less stellar acts before they can fight the enemy.

The Doctor and the Rough Rider
Mike Resnick
9781616146900, $17.95

In the summer of 1884, suffering from consumption, Doc Holliday expects to die shortly in a Leadville, Colorado sanitarium. Medicine man Geronimo arrives at the sanitarium wanting Doc's help to protect a visitor from the United States. The Apache explains that Theodore Roosevelt, whom he expected would be one day calling, is heading to Tombstone.

The tribes know Geronimo plans to soon end the spell he created to prevent the United States from crossing the Mississippi. Several tribes oppose the American belief in their manifest destiny and want the barrier to remain. They have created a humongous beastly medicine man War Bonnet to insure United States remains on the other side of the mighty Mississippi. In turn, the invincible War Bonnet hires notorious gunfighter John Wesley Hardin to abet him in killing Roosevelt, Geronimo and any foolish allies they enlist.

The latest Weird West Tale (see The Doctor And The Kid and The Buntline Special) is a delightful steampunk mishmash that is entertaining fun. The action-packed storyline is faster than Hardin or Doc can draw a gun. Readers will appreciate this engaging entry in a continually appealing series.

Apollo's Outcast
Allen Steele
9781616146863, $16.95

In Burtonsville, Maryland, because of relative gravity, born on the moon Jamey Barlowe is wheelchair bound. In 2097 an assassination of President Wilford as part of a coup in the United States led by Vice President Shapar leaves his widower father concerned for the safety of his three children as the VEEP named him an enemy of the state. As such he sends his teenage son Jamey, his two older daughters and other youngsters to live at the Apollo mining town on the moon.

Jamey begins to learn to walk to achieve his objective to become a Lunar Search and Rescue Ranger. As Jamey achieves his goal, the new American leader plans to invade the moon when Apollo stops sending shipments of valuable Helium-3. Jamey and Rangers prepare for a Luna landing assault.

Apollo's Outcast is an engaging political science fiction thriller in which the coup and the moon colony seem plausible. Ironically the big picture political-military machinations come across less fascinating than Jamey's coming of age subplot. Not an easy read, as the geo-political military industrial complex is extremely complex, fans will enjoy Jamey Barlowe's life on the moon.

The Lazarus Machine
Paul Crilley
9781616146887, $16.95

Late in nineteenth century, the Ministry rules London with an iron fist. Seventeen year old Sebastian Tweed and his father know to avoid the Ministry while eking out an existence in the city. However everything changes when masked thugs terrorize London and kidnap Tweed's dad.

One a year ago in London, teenager Octavia Nightingale's mother vanished. She has diligently but unsuccessful searched for her mom while obtaining information on the thugs who abducted her mother. The two teens meet and team up in their respective quest to rescue their parent as all roads lead underground to the Ministry.

The Lazarus Machine is an entertaining steampunk investigative thriller. The teenage amateur sleuths and a couple abetting them are fascinating heroes struggling against a powerful governmental oligopoly using technology and size to launch plans for the Empire. Although there are more gizmos than Inspector Gadget possesses, which detract from the two teens challenging the invincible Goliath, readers will enjoy this action-packed alternate late Victorian.

The Creative Fire
Brenda Cooper
9781616146849, $17.95

On the generation ship Creative Fire, the Reds run the show while the Grays are the manual labor pool. The Reds deploy the ship's artificial intelligence and powerful weaponry to maintain the status quo hierarchy while the Grays, in spite of much greater numbers, acrimoniously perform the arduous tasks.

Ruby Martin is a rare Gray who is a Dreamer wanting a free future for herself and her race. She learns that they are bearing their destination of what will be their new home planet, which orbits the star Adiamo. Courageous Ruby carefully challenges the establishment as she believes change is needed. Ruby becomes the focal point of demands for the downtrodden Grays to be freed.

The first Ruby's Song science fiction thriller focuses on class warfare between a powerful ruling minority and enslaved populace. The story line is great when intelligent quick witted Ruby is front and center; but loses some traction when her fellow male rebels take the lead. Still readers will enjoy Ruby's quest for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The Eldritch Conspiracy
Cat Adams
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765328748, $14.99,

Siren Princess Adriana and Rusland King Dahlmar agree to a political marriage of convenience to the delight of their respective families. However, the Guardians of the Faith oppose the merger as their mission is Siren genocide. They have killed several individuals with close ties to the royal bride.

The family enlists Adriana's cousin hybrid vamp-siren Celia Graves as a bodyguard bridesmaid with the threat from the Guardians growing. Celia proves her value when she prevents an assault on the bride's wedding party at a bridal salon. Adriana returns home to prevent a coup from occurring while Celia stalks the terrorists and the mage abetting their ethnic cleansing agenda. She also needs to set aside time to find a dress for the wedding.

The latest Blood Singer urban romantic fantasy (see Blood Song, Siren Song, Demon Song, and The Isis Collar) is a superb thriller starring a fabulous soul-searching heroine who wonders where she belongs as a no longer human hybrid. While she ponders her place in one of three societies, the impact of feeling like an outsider on her personal life is negatively immense. Fans will appreciate her latest escapades as she hopes to make it to the royal wedding in a kick butt dress after sending the Guardians and their mage to well-deserved graves.

The Hermetic Millennia
John C. Wright
9780765329288, $25.99

Crew members of the starship Hermetic discover the alien warehouse, which contained advanced knowledge and an energy source way beyond what humanity knew. Menelaus Montrose and Zimen "Blackie" Del Azarchel had two diverse visions of a future earth. Whereas Montrose wants his home planet to thrive with the shared discovery and prepares to challenge the alien menace, Blackie feels the need to reengineer the species to make them worthy of the warehouse owners the Domination of Hyades when they return in eight millennia to determine whether enslaving mankind is worthy of them. Blackie wins the first round as he persuades other crew members this is the only way their species survives the return.

Meanwhile Menelaus turns to cryo sleep to be there when the Domination of Hyades return to harvest earthlings in eight millennia and his wife Rania travels in deep space to confront the Hyades' executive leader. Only thirty-five years into his sleep, Sir Knight awakens him. Apparently, Blackie's Blue Men horde assaulted the tombs where Montrose and others lied dormant. Obviously Blackie continues to prepare earth for the return of the Hyades with him as overseer of the humans.

The second crew of the Hermetic science fiction thriller (see Count to a Trillion) is an exhilarating complex tale as there are two visions that compete for mankind's future. Convoluted and difficult to read with so many competing concepts involved, readers who appreciate a profound look at the impact on society by a quantum advance in science and technology will enjoy this strong saga.

Luck of the Draw
Piers Anthony
9780765331359, $25.99

Magic relocates ailing octogenarian widower Bryce from Mundania to Xanth where he becomes a twentyish person who can see the future. Princess Dawn informs the confused Bryce that Demons placed a bet on him and others over who will win the affection of sixteen years old Princess Harmony; he being a long shot. Furthermore she explains his quest is dangerous but he has no choice as he is compulsively spellbound to compete although he feels some remorse as an ex-geriatric with a young man's bod but the mind of a geezer courting a teen.

Given the mighty weapon of a pen, Bryce on his mission with two allies; Rachel the talking German short-haired pointer and nineteen year old Mindy join him. However, as he enjoys his fountain of youth and loves to draw, the teen object of his desire rejects his and her other suitors.

The latest Xanth fantasy (see Well-Tempered Clavicle) is a fun, pun-filled entry. Fast-paced with amusing (and some awful) bon mots, fans of the series will enjoy the Luck of the Draw.

Bard's Oath
Joanne Bertin
9780312873707, $25.99

For millennia, the Dragonlord dragon-human shape-shifters have ruled the world with a caring kindness. However, in this paradise evil ambition emerges.

Years ago, a loved one's death left the heart of Master Bard Leet filled with rage and loathing as he vowed vengeance against those he blamed including his brother-in-law. He became adept at dark magic until he deployed his plan by using a blood-drinking harp that musically enslaves listeners to do anything even murder. Evidence overwhelmingly proclaims horse breeding Bard Raven Redhawkson of a homicide though he swears he does not recall killing anyone. Dragonlord Linden Rathan believes his friend would never commit murder so he investigates the homicide; even as the human leaders prepare to execute Raven.

The first Dragonlords fantasy in years (see The Last Dragonlord, Dragon and Phoenix) is an engaging investigative thriller that enables the audience to see close up the Bertin world enhanced by the concept that the music is the magic. Although the storyline is low-keyed as Leet's scheming seems minor (unless you are the victim or the accused), fans will enjoy Rathan's magical murder mystery tour.

The Shadow Rising
Robert Jordan
9780765334671, $15.99

The weary battered band of travelers split up after their recent escapades to possess Callandor and confront evil (see The Dragon Unborn). Rand, Mat, Egwene, Moiraine and Lan journey together as Rand turns to the Aiel wasteland. Nynaeve, Elayne, Julian and Thom head to Tanchico to uncover the plans of the hideous Black Ajah in order to thwart and ultimately defeat this evil. Perrin, Loial and Faile travel home to Emond's Field by Two Rivers to join the fight to repel the more powerful Trollocs and Whitecloaks invaders. Min seemingly vanishes in Tar Valon.

In the Forsaken, Rand finds a mentor as he apparently continues his path of destiny while Mat faces a near death experience that leaves him with memories of a dead warrior. Perring and Faile marry while never losing sight of the peril facing the Two Rivers.

Book Four of the Wheel of Time takes a different approach to the storyline as the adventurers split into separate escapades and subplots). Each of the prime subplots move forward the overarching premise as well as providing background into the respective cultures and geographies where the action occurs. Although this writing approach can feel disjointed and difficult to follow who's who, where and why with a seemingly quadrillion heroes and as many malevolent beings, series fans will enjoy the action as the heroes establish divergent BHAGs.

Blood and Other Cravings
Ellen Datlow (editor)
9780765328298, $16.99

This super seventeen short story collection focuses on paranormal compulsive obsessive disorder and codependency. Each of the excellent entries provides the reader with insight into deviant supernatural cravings. In Kaaron Warren's "All You Can Do Is Breath," the trapped miner witnesses a creature attacking a peer and after being saved sees that same beast outside the mine. The vampire struggles between instinctive hunger and maternal cravings in Elizabeth Bear's "Needles." The mother grieves her son while living only to keep his memory alive in "Keeping Corky" by Melanie Tem. The incarcerated vampire struggles with controlling his needs and his mind in Michael Cisco's "Bread and Water." "The Mulberry Boys" (by Margo Lanagan) know you are what you eat as their bodies convert into silk manufacturing plants. The other contributions are all top rate as this anthology affirms its claim of "Blood and Other Cravings."

Immortal Burden
Paul Lewis
9781613181126, $11.95,

Late in the eleventh century Darien the Viking met Rachel when she was a passenger on his ship. They fell in love, but she was already sold to Julian the vampire in exchange for the undead granting immortality to Rachel's sire Stephen. Julian captured the pair, but Sophia freed them. Darien became a monster to save Rachel, but buried her and his reason for living, a depressing state for an immortal (see Immortal Betrayal).

In 1492 Joshua the first vampire tells Darien he needs his help to kill his father Torin the first werewolf. He tells his tale of nine millennia as one of drinking magical water and slaughtering countless innocents for pleasure and some sustenance until ten thousand years ago Tobias the angel cursed him and his sire. Whereas Joshua heeded the warning, Torin did not. Over the millennia father and son unsuccessfully tried to kill one another. Now the first vampire believes that Darien enhanced by Joshua's blood can do the deed. In exchange Joshua will bring back to life Rachel whose body he has preserved for centuries with his blood.

This is an exhilarating historical romantic fantasy that expands on the Lewis Immortal mythos. The exciting storyline feels a bit disjoined at first when Joshua tells his autobiography to Darien and his companion Krista. I would have preferred a short opening novella in which readers learn how he became the first vampire followed up by Darien's adventures to bring his beloved back to him. Still readers will relish Immortal Burden as love never dies even when ultimate evil tries to destroy it. This reviewer additionally suggests Paul Lewis consider an anthology starring the fascinating father and son pair.

Jamus' Sorrow
Trevis Powell
9781613181188, $11.95,

In the wilderness of the Kingdom of Aldrigal, the Were attacked the coach killing Eldena, wife of the Viscount of Gelbow, Jamus, and the driver Conn. Jamus survived along with Gran the healer and the woodsman, but his companions are injured and unconscious. He pulls the wagon containing his traveling mates as the Were, including a one-armed predator, murder anything in their path as corpses of the violent Quargs, humans and wolves are everywhere.

As Jamus reaches a farm, the Firthian Grand Liaison blitzkrieg consists of Were, infantry, mercenaries and signalers. Led by General Hendrick, this overwhelming force reaches Aldrigal City in incredible time due to the magic of the signalers. Inside the city, activities by signalers abet the invasion. War with the Firthian and the Were dominate the besieged kingdom.

The third Were-War fantasy thriller (see Gran's Secret and Albrim's Curse) is a super entry that moves forward on several fronts as war comes to the capital city, Gran worries about her Were grandson Albrim whose special collar to control the beast was removed and the rampage of the Were. Young adult fans of the series will enjoy this action-packed tale as gran continues to face personal dilemmas.

Legends of Darkness
Georgia L Jones
9781613181218, $15.95,

While her husband Rob is away on business, cosmetologist Samantha Garrett drops her six year old son Chris off at school before driving to Springfield to pick up supplies for her shop. On the interstate heading home, an out of control car swerves across the medium crashing into Samantha's SUV; her last thoughts before she dies are of her loved ones.

She awakens recalling her final moments. This Death proves confusing as she feels healthy while walking to a funeral in which the body inside the coffin is her and her loved ones deeply grieving their loss. However, her initial thoughts of this neo-existence could not be hell change when she learns what she has become in her afterlife. Samantha is Samoda a blood thirsty warrior in the army of Nuem though she refuses to give up on what she once was as a mom, wife, sister, daughter and beloved human; unaware that failure to move on leaves her, her loved ones and her new comrades like Drake in peril from an avarice traitorous avenger.

Legends of Darkness is a refreshing paranormal thriller that spins an intriguing afterlife premise. Sam is terrific as she holds the engaging storyline together while struggling to adjust to a new world order until she realizes the threat to humanity including her loved ones and to her new species. Fast-paced, fans will appreciate Sam's efforts to save two realms from a sinister traitor.

The Eyes of Sandala
Cathy Benedetto
9781613181157, $15.95,

Inside their extinct volcanic Crater home in the Sea of Death, the Shala know they are to protect the humans living in the five nations on the continent of Sandala. Recently strange happenings worry the Shala that the five centuries of peace is coming to an end. Shala TahJeen Teir has a vision that affirms this belief and Sealand on the southeastern coast has closed its borders to its three neighbors.

Fearing what is happening with reports of marauding bands all over the continent, Dania King Sorbonne sends out former Sentinels like Devon to learn the truth. He journeys across Palaton and Sealand reaching the coastal city of Seadawn as an armada from the eastern sea invades the coastal city. From the western sea, another armada invades Dania. As betrayal haunts the Shala, TahJeen struggles to adhere to the prophecy he prefers to ignore in order to mount a counterattack against the invaders and their Quisling allies; having his 7-foot plus back is Ariann.

The first Sandala thriller is an exciting military fantasy though typical of the sub-genre. The storyline is fast-paced throughout even as the climax sets up the next entry with little closure to The Eyes of Sandala. Still fans will appreciate the adventures of Devon and TahJeen in a realm where five hundred years of peace has left few if any ready for hostilities.

Bleeding Edge: Cyberpunk Short Stories
Ramsey Lundock
9781613181041, $11.95,

"Information Super Highway." Rachael is a driver on the police force. She seeks the only other driver in the city as this rogue breaks the law while apparently working for the hacker the Code Master.

"Captain's Quarters." Pirate Captain Lopez captures Navy Ensign Spearman whose father owns a major ship yard. She demands a ransom accordingly.

"Binary Angel." When Cybernetic Research Institute security guard Yawako is near death after an assault on the facility, Cyan the cyborg demands they save the life of the female he loves.

"Dead Zone." Near Jacksonville, Loki enters Green Oak, a dead zone area where no signal occurs. He meets with bank owner Slim who hires him to investigate a bank robbery.

"Children and Emperors." In twenty second century Japan, Tenriki demands the long vacant emperor's throne as a 49. Four 3s children challenge his claim.

"Fable of the Fox and the Crow, Version 2.0." On Mars, Raven and Vixen are a team of bounty hunters with her being the brawn while he is the face. Stritous Pen captures and crucifies Vixen. Though Raven knows his Vixen could easily kill him which means Stritous is even deadlier, he confronts the enemy as he risks death to save the female he loves.

These are six exciting violent entries in realms in which society has no heart but individuals prove they do. Filled with action and solid protagonists, fans will enjoy this entertaining twisting anthology as Ramsey Lundock's Cyberpunk realm will remind readers of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone.

The Thieves of Genesis
William I. Levy
9781613181348, $11.95,

Irv is driving in Iowa when distracted by boring Heartland music; he fails to see the Hole. In Nexus the Crossroads of the Universe, City Father Timez and his apprentice Calla worry about disappearing humans who are coming home minus a heart. As the pair fight Zarthok "the Merciless" and his gang, Irv and his car drops through a Hole landing on Timez. Calla, after slicing Merciless' hands, attacks Irv who shocks himself when he uses magic to stop her. Timez comes out of the rubble and assigns Calla and her protector Bumper the assassin to escort Irv to a safe-house.

On their journey, the trio travels through a Hole but fail to reach their destination as someone with power changed the Hole. Instead they land in Post Tarnum earth where the two males become prisoners while Callas is left behind. That changes when a tormentor threatens to capture and torture Calla, which leads Irv into a rage induced magical attack that injures his hands but frees the pair. When they catch up to Calla, she likes her skinny hero being protective of her, but Bumper wonder why this nobody seems be the most powerful mage in the land even if her Irv cannot control his magic.

William I. Levy's exciting romantic fantasy stars an unlikely hero and a kick butt female warrior. The action-packed storyline is fast-paced throughout while Weng Shu's words of wisdom at the start of each chapter add humorous commentary. Although the extremely short chapters (averaging just over four pages per chapter) keeps the cast thin (even Rubensque Calla), readers will have a great time following the misadventures of The Thieves of Genesis.

Ian Hardoc
9781613181294, $19.95,

United Bay Autonomies Lieutenant Dr. Macintyre knows his side lost the war that truly ended war as was previously known as the seeming victors Northwest Alliance was left with an apocalypse. Still he drives behind enemy lines seeking to help any survivors of the doomed Lost Patrol and also gives aid to others. The Medic Macintyre battles Seeker robots who kill randomly due to lacking ethical codes and insane fanatics still are fighting a war in which everyone lost except perhaps war lords; at the same time he brings health care to those in need.

He comes across severely injured UBA Corporal Jacob Markowitz who says he and five others hid in a bunker for three years. He admits he killed his captain as he felt her order was suicide. Macintyre executes Markowitz as enforcement is his other duty. Though an AI red ambulance, Macintyre remains wary yet optimistic that humans will come out of the ruins stronger though he also fears the brutal suppressors remain violently in charge.

This is an exhilarating post-apocalyptic thriller starring an intriguing AI who sees life in a stark black and white code; as he is prepared to provide medical care to the ailing yet also mete out justice to those who deserve punishment in his mind. The thrilling storyline takes too long to deliver the prime premise; yet fans will appreciate the non-stop action and the Hardoc landscape vividly bleak as readers will believe they ride the Macintyre ambulance tour guided by the Medic!

Vine: An Urban Legend
Michael Williams
9781613181256, $11.95,

Stephen Thorne teaches English and drama at North High School in Louisville, a far cry from the dreams Muriel had for him before the shootings at Kent killed his fantasies. He directs the senior play and an amateur summer theater. The production he leads this season is the Greek tragedy The Bacchae by Euripides.

The crew and cast consist of eccentric individuals, making it difficult to create a cohesive production. However, Thorne's efforts are well received by arcane forces who with his abetting them want to turn the tragedy on the stage into a real life tragedy in the theater and beyond.

Vine: An Urban Legend is a fascinating whimsical look at how individuals perceive their lives especially when mortality hits the gut. The cast whether they are Thorne, muses and other ancient ilk or townsfolk are fully developed with each major player containing critical flaws. At times difficult to read as the storyline shifts rather quickly, but worth the effort as fans will relish this twentieth century paranormal update of The Bacchae.

The Legend of Gwerinatha: Chaos' Corner
Brad Parnell
9781613181119, $11.95,

Teenage slacker Robert has returned from his harrowing adventures in Gwerinatha where he and Louie the wolf rescued Branwen (see Branwen's Garden). His best friend Cameron Gray, who was with him when Robert vanished, decides to enter Gwerinatha, but only for a short while as he wants to be back in time for lunch.

However, Cameron, to his chagrin, learns that entering was easy, but leaving impossible. With no fast food available, Cameron must adapt to the strange Land of Gwerinatha if he is to survive. Over the next few years Cameron becomes an adept hunter. However, Cameron soon realizes he is part of an Originator ethnic cleansing plot to rid the Unfinished Lands of Gwerinatha of the unwanted humans like Seren.

The second Legend of Gwerinatha is a fabulous twisting middle school coming of age fantasy starring a slacker who has the grow up fast to survive only to find himself caught in the crosshairs of a diabolical genocidal scheme. Action-packed yet character driven by Cameron, Seren and others, fans will relish Chaos' Corner as the protagonist feels like Alice entering an eerie "Looking Glass" version of the Eagle's "Hotel California".

Body and Sold
William Levy
9781613181140, $11.95,

They arrived on Pree, an earth-like planet sixty light years from their home world. Their message to the technologically inferior cat-morphs is that we are from earth and come to help. When one of the aliens Barret and native Paum met, they fell in love. The Star-crossed pair found the road to a loving relationship devastated by their respective races proclaiming their mating taboo; even her loving older sister Col loathed having an earthling as a brother-in-law. Along the way they also confronted zombies, his military peers, vampiress, other ilk and his imprisonment to stay together.

Now Paum and Barret are on trial for crimes against nature. The Prosecuting Examiner goes for the jugular while in space feral invaders target Pree, earth and points in between as these deadly plundering warriors have done so before. Meanwhile mad geneticists crave time to study Paum and her cat-morph people as the trial goes badly for the dependents with increasingly the kept-apart star-crossed lovers realizing they have no hope to be together unless a miracle occurs.

The sequel to The Starcrossed is an exciting Pythonesque thriller in which a Romeo and Juliet couple confronts racism in a science fiction-fantasy stew. The action-packed storyline is fast-paced from the opening courtroom drama until the final clever denouement. Readers will enjoy Body And Sold as Paum and Barret face the most lethal species in the universe, lawyers.

Deliver Me From Temptation
Tes Hilaire
1935 Brookdale Road, #139
Naperville, IL 60563
9781402264375, $6.99,

As the only purebred Paladin warrior angel Logan Calhoun sees those he has sworn (to his Father) to protect as weak. Over the ages, Logan has diligently performed his duty in combat against vampires, demons and other similar evil ilk; while through all that time he scorned humans as pathetic creatures easily swayed to the dark side. Currently he is working in the Bronx hunting Ganelon's demonic army while struggling to overcome crankiness and ennui.

Police Detective Jessica Waters leads the investigation into the murder of a-hole date rapist Thomas Rhodes by a vigilante in the Hunts Point section. Her inquiry leads her to Logan and other Paladins. She realizes the hunk conceals what he knows about the case from her while for the first time he shirks his duty by not erasing her memory of him and the other angels. While he violates for the first time the divine intervention rules, he protects her from a malevolent minion. As the human and the angel fall in love; Logan after so many countless eons finally understands what his Father sees in these helpless losers.

The second Paladin Warriors romantic urban fantasy is a wonderful thriller though it behooves newcomers to read Deliver Me From Darkness first so as to ease the dive into the Hilaire heaven and hell on earth mythos. The storyline is fast-paced from the first encounter between the bored arrogant angel and the dedicated diligent detective. Readers will appreciate love taking down the haughty Paladin.

Elisabeth Naughton
9781402262159, $7.99

His hybrid daemon-Argonaut twin Orpheus the Eternal Guardian and Skyla of the Siren Order rescued Gryphon from the Underworld (see Enraptured). However they may have saved him physically from the hell of Tartarus, but can do little to help Gryph cope with the persistent voice of Atalanta in his head sweetly asking him to come back to her with the orb she craves. Gryph believes he must kill Atalanta if he is to mute the voice driving him crazy. He knows that the voice is real as Eternal Guardian Titus can hear anyone's thoughts.

Malea, the daughter of Zeus and Persephone, wants to go home, but must persuade her father that she merits residing in Mt. Olympus. She and Gryph meet to his euphoria because somehow when he stands at her side, the voice vanishes. They team up as they traverse tunnels filled with hellhounds, daemons and much worse as his former brothers in arms including his twin try to prevent Gryph and Malea from completing their quest.

The latest Eternal Guardians romantic fantasy (see Marked and Tempted) is an exhilarating thriller that stars two troubled protagonists fearing but falling in love. The awesome Naughton Greek mythology continues its deep deadly vividness as two wary warriors seek salvation but find love instead.

Wolfishly Yours
Lydia Dare
9781402263491, $7.99

In 1820, Papa places his angry daughter Liviana Mayeux on one of his ships sailing from New Orleans to England where she will live with her grandfather. Worried about his Lycan wild child, he hopes her grandfather can teach her to behave like a proper British lady.

Grayson Hadley's mother fears for her son, as she feels he is an out of control wild Lycan. She believes he needs to learn to behave like a proper London aristocrat before he gets into trouble. When Livi and Grayson meet, both know the other is a werewolf. Though attracted to one another each believes they can avoid falling in love even as they agree to use one another as a shield against high society and in her case to return to Louisiana as soon as she can.

Wolfishly Yours is a straightforward Regency romance between two werewolves. Although the Lycan elements are passive, fans will enjoy this engaging psychological tale as the Lycan protagonists try to tame the beast within themselves and with their beloved through love.

Sara Humphreys
9781402258497, $6.99

Photographer Layla Nickelsen knows all about her hybrid roots as a human-Amoveo species. She understands that one day she will meet her fated life mate, but refuses to allow even fate to dictate her behavior. In her dreams, she meets her mate only to tell fate and the hunk to kiss her butt.

Corporate lawyer William Fleury realizes Layla is his destiny, but instead of welcoming him she rejects him to his horror. He also has mixed feelings about their relationship as he wants a true partner not a subordinate dependent. When the Amoveo Purists continue their ethnic cleansing of the mixed breed, they target Layla and her family for extermination. William risks his life to keep his reluctant partner safe.

The latest Amoveo Legend paranormal romance (see Untouched and Unleashed) is a strong entry with a female who knows what she is and what she wants and a male who wants her as his equal not his servant. Fast-paced from the first dream encounter until the final confrontation, readers will appreciate two opposites fated to be in love but that is not enough for them to become life mates.

A Royal Pain
Megan Mulry
9781402269974, $14.99

In New York City, ambitious career woman Bronte Talbott thought she loved Mr. Texas but that ended badly for her. In Chicago Bronte next meets British doctoral student Max Heyworth in a bookstore. They were supposed to meet in New York when she met Mr. Texas, but Max's flight arrived late. Now he thinks kismet with plans to make her his duchess and she thinks a quickie tryst as he is a "Transitional Man".

As they begin a whirlwind courtship since he will soon return home, Bronte, who loves following the royal scandal across the pond, taunts Max about his nation's aristocracy only to learn he is one of them as the Duke of Northrop. With paparazzi stalking her and his family disdaining the American, even Bronte wonders if love is enough for her to give up Midwest coffee for London tea.

This is an entertaining amusing contemporary romance starring two fascinating protagonists. The third war between the colonies and the mother nation is lighthearted chick lit fun.

D.B. Reynolds
ImaJinn Books
PO Box 74274, Phoenix, AZ 85087-1004
9781610261005, $15.00,

Though it may cost her the job she loves with the Feds due to insubordination, FBI Special Agent Kathryn Hunter defies her superior's orders not to search for her missing brother Daniel the photographer. Instead Kathryn follows clues that lead to South Dakota's home of Lucas Donlon.

Though the Lord Vampire wants to bite Kathryn all over her body, he has no time for the tasty morsel as he has a war brewing with rival vampire lord Klemens who craves adding Lucas' Plains territory to his Chicago based empire. Lucas tells her to go back to working FBI cases, but a defiant Kathryn insists on finding her sibling, which places her in the crossfires of hostilities between two vampire clans and besides she wouldn't mind dining on her delicious albeit reluctant host.

The latest Vampires in America romantic fantasy (see Sophia, Duncan, Rajmund, Jabril and Raphael) is a great thriller starring two kick butt protagonists as the female, used to competing in a men's club, proves the equal to the vampire lord, unused to anyone competing at his level. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy this strong entry with a stunning fabulous late twist as D.B. Reynolds provides another winner.

Angel In Chains
Cynthia Eden
Kensington Brava
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9780758267634, $14.00,

Azrael had been the most powerful Angel of Death in Heaven before he became one of the Fallen and burned six months ago. Now he angrily lives in the Hell known as New Orleans by the humans who dwell on death and stink. He lives for one thing: escaping this hellish realm by returning to golden Heaven.

Azrael comes across a pack of were-panthers surrounding a seemingly helpless mortal female. He intervenes unaware that Jade Pierce has fled from her former evil lover who obsesses over her return. No longer wanting to run, Jade believes the supernatural power of Azrael might allow her to stop retreating. Thus she plans to seduce the powerful stranger while he struggles with his desire for her and his craving to go home.

The latest Fallen romantic urban fantasy (see Angel Betrayed) is a strong entry that combines a powerful suspense with a heated paranormal love story. Fast-paced from the moment of the heavenly intervention and never slowing down, fans will appreciate the human and the Fallen finding salvation in each other.

So I'm A Heel/Flint/The Big Out
Arnold Hano (writing as Mike Heller and Gil Dodge)
Stark House Press
1315 H Street, Eureka, CA 95501
9781933586502, $23.95,

"So I'm a Heel" by Mike Heller. In 1944, the Howitzer exploded killing a dozen solders and leaving the "lucky" one Hawkins with a disfigured face having lost his lower jaw. He lives with his wife Mary and ten-year-old son Matt in Laredo Rock, California. Acrimonious Hawkins uses his deformity to take advantage of others and blackmails lawyer Otto Weylin. However Weylin plans to take out Hawkins who is attracted to the attorney's trashy wife Millie.

"Flint" by Gil Dodge. The only one way a hired killer retires is in a coffin. Flint struggles with a bullet lodged in his lungs. He hopes to walk away after he completes his last job so he heads to Colorado where rancher Good hires him to kill Thomason. Flint obtains a job working for Thomason, but is attracted to his employer's wife Cora.

"The Big Out" by Arnold Hano. The syndicate informs Blues' catcher Brick Palmer that his brother forged his signature on a $10,000 debt. They demand remittance. Herald sports reporter Randy York witnesses the money exchange and the player busting the collector's nose. He exposes Brick who is thrown out of the league. He and his wife head to Montreal to play but is treated with rage while an irate syndicate debt collector travels to Canada for payback.

Using two pseudonyms, Arnold Hano showed his vast depth with this exciting 1950s crime caper collection reprints in differing milieus. The three entries are fast-paced with strong characters in troubled waters way over their heads. Although the exciting suspenseful tales do not fully pass the test of time, fans will appreciate these diverse noirs.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Prophet of Confree, Book I
Marshall S. Thomas
9781621418207 $20.95 pbk / $4.99 Kindle

I'm happy to see this first book in a new sci fi series by Marshall S. Thomas. As a reader, I was drawn into the action so thoroughly I became part of the Legion. I saw, felt, heard, and smelled everything in real time. His Soldier of the Legion series has ended. With this book, he introduces readers to Squad Delta, a new generation of Legion warriors.

Richard Rains grew up in an idyllic Confree society where insulting people is illegal. He's a mouthy 17-year-old, labeled a "parasite" because he contributes nothing helpful to society. Rains has two options: go to jail or join the Legion. He chooses the Legion and becomes Prophet of Squad Delta. Delta is an odd mix of races and personalities, all societal rejects in one way or another. The Legion goals and philosophies soon transform them into a cohesive team of competent, immortal troopers, each with individual strengths and gifts. The young troopers are now part of a world where Confree provides devoted care to members of their military and serves citizens without the usual political greed or guile.

The scourge of the Universe was previously the Omnis - horrible aliens with formidable weapons the Legion had never seen. When an unknown race of ancient aliens attack an Omni planet, their weapons and capabilities make fighting the Omnis seem like child's play. The Legion calls these new enemies from another dimension Demons, a fitting designation. The Demons are more vicious than the Omnis, and far more advanced in every way. When Squad Delta captures a living Demon, they learn that the only entities the Demons fear are a race they call the Brights. In an intriguing plot development, the Brights turn out to be angel-like beings who were human ancestors in ancient times.

Somehow, Confree troopers must overcome the Demons. Prophet and his squad fight ferocious land and air battles so realistic I held my breath and battled alongside them. Legion troopers are sworn to fight evil wherever they find it, and nothing has ever been more evil and ghastly than the Demons. Will Confree survive? Can Squad Delta stay alive long enough to eliminate the Demons? And will the Brights be allies or adversaries? You'll have to read the book to find those answers.

As in every book by Thomas, the characters are well-developed, the plot fast-paced, and the action thrilling. Highly recommended for sci fi devotees and readers who relish detailed, well-written prose.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

The Living Room Sessions
Chris Rice, composer
Hal Leonard
7777 W. Bluemound Rd.
P.O. Box 13819, Milwaukee, WI 53213
9780634036972, $14.95,

"The Living Room Sessions" is a collection of twelve beloved favorite hymns re imagined as contemporary piano solos for worship music. Accessible to intermediate to advanced pianists, "The Living Room Sessions" hymn rearrangements are ideal for use in contemporary blended worship services. Some of the hymn titles included are All Creatures of Our God and King, Be Still My Soul, The Church's One Foundation, Like a River Glorious, Savior Like a Shepherd Lead us, and This Is My Father's World, along with many others. Arrangements are sensitive and contemplative, suitable for offertories or meditation music, in addition to preludes and postludes in blended or contemporary Christian services. "The Living Room Sessions" solos reflect a calm, considered recollection of a familiar old friend, and should appeal to a wide variety of congregations. Additional recommended music titles from Hal Leonard Corporation for worship music repertory include the following: "Passion: White Flag," piano/vocal guitar, 9781458440662, $16.99; "Hillsong Worship Favorites," piano solo, 9781458401, $12.99 "Casting Crowns Come to the Well," piano/vocal/guitar, 978145841655, $16.99; "Blessings, Laura Story," piano/vocal/guitar, 9781598021424, book and DVD, $TBA; and "10,000 Reasons Matt Redman," piano/vocal/guitar, 9781458411860, $16.99.

Fundamentals of Organ Playing, Two Practices
Richard Enright
Concordia Publishing House
3588 Jefferson Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63118
0570013380, $19.95,

"Fundamentals of Organ Playing" is an organ tutor book for church organists particularly in the Lutheran traditional worship style 19th century performance practices. The reference to two practices pertains to first the smooth legato organ playing technique and second, the earlier, more articulate style of organ playing, introduced in chapter 8. Included are multiple helpful exercises and examples to help familiarize the organist with the needed techniques, plus actual arrangements and examples of organ music commonly performed in traditional church services today. In addition to chapters on manual exercises, pedal exercises, part playing, articulation, use of the expression pedal, earlier playing techniques, and ornamentation, there is a practical chapter on hymn playing, plus a complete index of the 37 compositions included, listed by title and composer. "Fundamentals of Organ Playing" is an excellent resource book for the church organist whose background may have emphasized piano preparation more than organ training.

Hotdish to Die For
Pat Dennis, author
Penury Press
c/ol Adventure Publications
820 Cleveland St. S.
Cambridge, MN 55008
9780967643307, $9.95,

"Hotdish to Die For: A Collection of Culinary Mystery Short Stories" is a fun collection of 6 short story murder mysteries which hotdish plays a key role. Written by a witty author with tongue firmly in cheek, "Hotdish to Die For" begins with an unofficial guide and definitions, including: "Hotdish: 1) Midwestern colloquialism for a hot entree that is similar to a French casserole except that it is often inedible; 2) the bastard offspring of canned Cream of Mushroom soup..." and "Hotdish Mystery: 1) a culinary mystery short story where a hotdish is somehow involved in a crime; 2) a reiteration of the fact that it is often a crime to serve a hotdish (p. 7)." The chapter mysteries are titled Death by Idaho, Cabin Fever, The Elder Hostile, Hotdish to Die For, The Lutheran Who Lusted, and The Maltese Tater Tot. In addition to the mysteries, there are 18 exemplary, related hotdish recipes, including Three Cheese Tater, Old Fashioned Tater Surprise, and April Anderson's Tater Tot Hotdish. As the reader discerns, Tater Tots and Cream of Mushroom Soup figure largely among top criminal ingredients of hotdish. These mysteries are a total Midwestern hoot with a capital Hoo! Lovers of Garrison Keillor, Prairie Home Companion, and Minnesota murder mystery authors will be perfectly at home in these pages. If ever a regional cuisine were designed for caricature, it is certainly the Midwestern hotdish. The mysteries are short, funny, direct and full of deadpan Minnesota nice humor. Other Midwestern states are included in the spoofs, so as not to feel left out, like Iowa, and the Dakotas, North and South. But the original flavor of "Hotdish to Die For" will always be Minnesota nice to this reader, also born a Minnesotan. Sometimes you have to speak Minnesotan to catch the subtle humor, but it is definitely there in a twinkling of the author's eyes. "Hotdish to Die For" is a great winter backup emergency read to stash, waiting for the next white blizzard and immobilization to be devoured. You might even want to try the recipes, minus the deadly ingredient, of course.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

In Tune with the Moon 2013
Michel Gros
Findhorn Press
9781844096015, $15.00,

The moon and the stars may have much to say about one's horticultural ambitions. "In Tune with the Moon 2013: The Complete Day-by-Day Moon Planner for Growing and Living in 2013" is a guide for followers of astrology's impact on getting the most out of organic gardening and crops throughout the year, with practical advice on the gardening process and getting the most out of natural fertilizer and pesticides. "In Tune with the Moon 2013" is in full color and has plenty of good advice for the organic gardener.

The Arcade
Christopher Young, author
Victor Guiza, illustrator
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781478718703 $24.95

The Arcade is a compendium of brief, original poems that use lilting rhyme to explore challenging themes. The inner core of a person's humanity and spirituality, the quest for meaning in an increasingly divided and distanced world, the power of love and the heartbreak of loss, and much more are touched upon in these profound verses that play opposite striking color photographs (mostly of classical artwork; some artistic nudity is present in certain images). A thought-provoking journey of ideas, The Arcade is quick to browse but long to ponder. "The Hetaera": She casts upon the world a spell, / in order to possess in full / her lip's melodious distill; / an adamantine villanelle. // The muse of poetry and prose, / her star. A matter of the rose // is beauty (imminently frail), / that waxes day and night as well.

Wright for America
Robin Lamont
Grayling Press
c/o Meryl Zegarek Public Relations, Inc.
255 West 108 Street, Suite 9D1
New York, NY 10025
9780985848507, $14.95,

Words can hurt far more than any stick or stone. "Wright for America" focuses on the pain inflicted by a racist and hateful radio host Pryor Wright, who has spent much of his airtime ranting against the liberal left. Maren Garrity, an actress who has had enough of the hate speech thrown her way, bands with other actors to teach Wright their own brand of a lesson. "Wright for America" is a humorous twist of battling hate with unconventional weaponry, recommended.

Worlds of Samsara
James Heron
c/o AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781469793092, $15.95,

On the borders of the world as we know it, there lies other answers of life and living. "Worlds of Samsara" is a novel following Alex, a man struggling with the loss of his daughter, viewing himself at fault. But the unusual nature of the world comes in the form of his daughter's spirit, many worlds lie open before him, allowing him to shift and change the world as he knows it, and he hopes for the better. "Worlds of Samsara" is a strong addition to those seeking spiritual stories with a good dose of science fiction added, recommended.

At Drake's Command
David Wesley Hill
Temurlone Press
9780983611721, $14.95,

To travel the globe was never an easy task. "At Drake's Command" is a historical adventure as Peregrine James, a young cook who with a false criminal record, takes the chance to follow the path of Sir Francis Drake as he travels the globe. A novel of the age of exploration, the many stories of being a member of the legendary crew and sea voyages, "At Drake's Command" is a choice pick for those who like the old seafaring adventures.

Global Tesol
Sarah Anne Shope
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9780578110851, $46.95,

English can be a difficult language to master to non-native speakers. "Global Tesol: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages" is a guide to better teaching English to second language learners, as Sarah Anne Shoppe advises on creating a course to help foreign learners better grasp the languages, with techniques taken from personal experience and study. "Global Tesol" is well worth considering for those who want to better educate in this language study.

Blood and Whiskey
Clark Hays & Kathleen McFall
Pumpjack Press
9780983820017, $14.95,

Relationships are tumultuous when they may only last a few decades, but when they last eternity, it can get more difficult. "Blood and Whiskey" is a novel of adventure, horror, and cowboys as a follow up to previous novel 'The Cowboy and the Vampire', as couple Tucker and Lizzie retreat to a tiny town to of LonePine, hoping to settle down, but the reality of the Vampires on their trail may make that an impossibility. A riveting read that explores many concepts on top of the intrigue of vampires in the lawless lands of the west, "Blood and Whiskey" is a choice and very much recommended read, not to be missed.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

Glen C. Allison
Yoke Press
883 Mt. Vernon Rd., Tupelo, MS 38804
9780971810540, $14.95,

Glen Allison hails from Tupelo, Mississippi, where he and his wife are camping and motorcycle enthusiasts. One of their favorite destinations is New Orleans, home of Glen's hero, Al Forte. Allison's Forte series includes MISCUE, NETBLUE, and now the latest offering, SNAFU. He also authored STILL STANDING, the story of the Williams Brothers gospel group.

Al Forte is a man suffering the worst form of anguish. The love of his life, his wife, was murdered before his very eyes. Al is an ex-Navy Seal who went through the ravages of drug and alcohol addiction after his wife's death. He is still recovering when the very young man who shot his wife asks for his help. Little does Al Forte know that he is a marked man, and that his enemy, Brock Randall, is a rich psychopath, who targets him because of an imagined slight:

"'I especially wanted to talk to you, Al,' Randall said. He waved his hand around the sun room. 'These plants come from Central America. Most beautiful place in the world. Beautiful flowers. Beautiful people.' He sipped his drink and looked down at Forte. 'You have been there before, right? I'm sure you agree.'

'I didn't take the scenic tours much. But I know there are good people there.' Randall chuckled. 'My company does a bit of business there. We would use a good man like you.'

'I appreciate that, Mr. Randall, but I already have a...'"

Whether it's Al's friend, Seal partner, and faithful sidekick, Nomad, or Jackie Shaw, the tragic and heroic woman who pulls Al out of the depths with her love, Allison's characters fairly jump off the page. His plotline and style are reminiscent of David Baldachi, with flawed military heroes battling their own demons. An excellent read.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Simply Christmas
Robin Harper
Featuring Marvin Goldstein
The Sayles Organization
22647 Ventura Blvd, #219
Woodland Hills, CA 91364
79357308571, CD, $TBA

I was excited to be asked to review a Christmas CD. I love the Christmas Season and everything that it brings, especially the music. As I listened to the warm voice of Robin Harper I was taken into the wonderful land of Christmas. At times I was encompassed with the tenderness of God as Ms. Harper sang songs such as, "Mary, Did You Know" "Silent Night," and "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem. I was also brought into the joy of the Season as I listened to, "(Everybody waitin' For) The Man With The Bag, and "Santa Baby." If you are like me and the music of the Season brings you into the entire experience, you will love this CD. Mr. Harper will capture your heart with the melodies of Christmas, sung with a voice kissed of God. Recommended.

Tears For Nanertak
Skip Hofstrand
Outskirts Press
10940S Parker Rd.
Parker, Colorado 80134
9781478720812, $29.95,

In this warm read we meet, Nanertak and her mom. Nanertak is a polar bear cub who began her life in the Arctic. However, something terrible is happening there, it is melting, and as it melts so does Nanertak's home. Now, she and her mother must find a new home just to survive, but will they find one in time? I have to say at first I was reluctant to read this story because I didn't want to be sad, but I'm glad I did. We have all heard about the melting in the Arctic, but really do we think about the effects it is having? I know I have not. This book will awaken you to what is happening every single day to our planet, how our decisions effect those that live there, and how serious it really is. Although it is a sad for Nanertak and her mom, author, Skip Hofstrand, gently guides you through their journey., taking you into the hands of those who understand and care. I liked this book, it reminded me that what we do on this earth has consequences, good or bad. I believe that this story will help others to remember we are not alone on this planet and that we must work together for the good of both mankind and the animals that have been placed in our care. A wonderful tale for young and old. Recommended.

Hafren:A Fantasy For the Young At Heart
Craig Dressler
Lighthouse Christian Publishing
5531 Dufferin Drive
Savage, Minnesota, 55378
9781478150329, $12.95,

This is the story of an adventure of two youths, although these youths are not like the ones we are use to., nor do they live or travel as we are use to. Their names, Shuh and Ufh. You find out in the story how these two got their names, which is quite fun to learn. The two fellows looked different and because of that others stayed away from them, but that doesn't stop their quest for adventure as they go on a journey and find themselves helping to fight with others against the invasion of Haren.. Are they afraid? Perhaps! But this trip holds many surprises for them.

As the battle continues they encounter the Queen. The Queen, who is evil, tries to make the boys serve her, but is unable to make her witchcraft work. Is the power of God preventing it? You decide. The boys are resourceful and after much learning to work together and interaction with others they met and join with on the way, they overcome the enemy. During this time,Ufh becomes serious with taking Jesus into his heart.

This story is one of overcoming evil with the help of God, friendship, and helping your fellow man. It is an entertaining and God principal story that any teen should enjoy.

The Bear Facts
K.A. Meade & A.M. Meade
K.A. Meade, illustrator
Forest Meadow Publishing
9780956894991, $7.99,

I want to start this review by commenting on the illustrations of this adorable book, "The Bear Facts." I have seen a lot of illustrations in my years of reviewing, but the ones in this book definitely caught my eye. Of course it is filled with bears, but what I was captured with is the expressions of them that so brought to life the words you were reading. The story, using each letter of the alphabet for the named bears was exceptional, and will make you giggle as you are introduced to the many colorful, different bears. You have, just to name a few, Fair Bears, Just There Bears, and Scare Bears, each with a mini explanation of their Bear job. I especially loved the Hair Bears and the illustrations that went with them.

Listen, there are lots of alphabet story books out there, but this one definitely stands above the rest. The letter of the alphabet that is being used is in bright read so your child will immediately notice it. What a fun way to teach your little one, a learning experience that is sure to bring some giggles and smiles. Recommended. .

Pansy at the Palace
Cynthia Bardes, author
Kim Weissenborn, illustrator
Octobre Press
736-22nd Place, Vero Beach, Fl 32960
9780615692531, $17.95,

In this delightful read, we meet Pansy, a sweet little dog who lives at the Animal Shelter. Pansy does not think she will ever be adopted, but one day a little girl comes in and immediately falls in love with her. Pansy than begins her new life at the Palace Hotel in Beverly Hills. Pansy loves her new family and her new life but something is happening at the hotel. Jewels are missing. Who could the thief be? With the help of Pansy the mystery is soon solved.

I enjoyed this read. the author immediately captured your attention with the hopeful animals that were awaiting love and a home at the Shelter. The story brings to light the love between human and animals, and the devotion animals give to their owners. Although just a story, I believe it also brings home the point that our animals are aware of our emotions and situations that upset us. The fact that Pansy saved the day was perfect. Perhaps not too far fetched, as I myself have read many stories where animals have indeed 'saved the day.' The illustrations were wonderful, big, bold, bright and colorful. They definitely brought to life the story. I truly enjoyed looking at each one, gazing upon the faces of the people and the activities going on. Great job. The construction of the book is outstanding, well made and should endure many page turnings from the little one. All in all a wonderful book that I am pleased to recommend.

Sarah's Rainbow Angel
Cory Cochiolo
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781480147164, $5.98,

In this tale our little girl, Sarah shares a special friend, her Rainbow Angel. Whenever Sara feels ill, or get hurt her Angel comes and covers her with colors like red if her tummy hurts, or yellow when Sarah feels sad, bringing her sunshine. She also listens to the jiggle of bells from her Angel, that help her to feel happy. Her Angel is her special friend., and one she can count on to make her feel better. I enjoyed this read, it has simple but cute illustrations that brought the story across. I feel little ones may well be comforted by Sarah's tale of her Angel helper. I do know that colors have an effect on our moods and perhaps even the healing process of our body,as do sounds. This little book may give children something else to think about when they are feeling ill or sad, and hopefully they will feel better. Cute read.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

My Memoir Workbook
Marcia Rosen
Abbott Press
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781458203014 $12.99

Literary agent Marcia Rosen presents My Memoir Workbook, an award-winning tool for getting started on writing one's own memoirs. Concisely phrased tips, tricks, techniques, and practical advice along with "hands-on" exercises to get creative juices flowing in this handy resource peppered with blank pages ideal for sketching out one's thoughts. A few valuable pieces of advice on publishing or marketing one's memoirs round out this "hands-on" guide, highly recommended for aspiring writers everywhere. "Like first impressions, first lines DO matter. They draw in your reader and set the tone for your first paragraph and your entire book. You want to set off in the right direction, capture your reader and have your voice, point of view and a compelling hint of the tone of the book show through. Be willing to revisit your opening lines as your book progresses."

Realm of the Unknown
James B. McPike
Inkwater Press
9781529998708, $19.95 print / $4.99 Kindle

Deep into history there are things buried and forgotten about, hoped to never emerge again. "Realm of the Unknown" follows investigator Vince Ramsey as a string of deaths in Israel leads him on a trail to finding the truth, with no mundane explanation on their deaths. Finding notes in history, he meets up with historian April Fulton, and with her knowledge, finds that someone is forcing the hand of the events of Revelations. "Realm of the Unknown" is a riveting thriller exploring the end of the world and those who seek it.

Bone River
Megan Chance
Amazon Publishing
9781612184845, $14.95,

Mummies are not native artifacts of Washington, yet here was one. "Bone River" is a novel of mid-19th century Washington Territory as Leonie Russell follows in her father's footsteps in seeking the lost artifacts of the region. Uncovering an out of place mummy, she looks for its story and truth, and finds the mysticism of the region reaching out for her, and she may need to be prepared to face it. "Bone River" is an enticing read of historical fiction focusing on the pioneering era and the meetings with the natives and their culture.

The Dirty Days
Norma Welty
c/o AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781475931501, $15.95,

The sweeping waves of dust during the 1930s displaced many individuals. "The Dirty Days: A Young Girl's Journey to and From the Oklahoma Dust Bowl" is a novel set amongst the migrations of the Great Depression as many families were shifted through the country in pursuits of any opportunity they could take to make things better. A tale of growing up and facing the harsh realities of the era, "The Dirty Days" is an insightful and much recommended addition to historical fiction collections with a focus on the Great Depression.

A Guiding Life
Mark Shepard
Erewhon Press
9780615664019, $13.00,

There's a certain enlightened wisdom to be taken from the hunters and ranchers of the world. "A Guiding Life: Living, Fishing, and Hunting the American Dream" is a memoir from Mark Shepard who discusses life as a gamesman, a hunter and fisher who has seen much of the world in many different careers in the process. With a sense of humor of life and a practical wisdom on how to approach it, "A Guiding Life" is well worth considering for those seeking down to earth memoirs, much recommended.

The Last Summoner
Nina Munteanu
Starfire World Syndicate
9781938658990, $19.95,

Altering time is not to be done so haphazardly. "The Last Summoner" is a fantasy from Nina Munteanu, following Vivianne Schoen, who discovers her abilities to change history. Her actions allow the Teutonic Black Knights to gain control of France, and gets her accused of witchcraft. Struggling to set history and time right, she learns the levity of her actions. "The Last Summoner" is an enticing fantasy exploring the Knightly order and adding many new perspectives.

Then Like the Blind Man
Freddie Owens
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475084498, $15.00,

The weight of the world was never meant for the young. "Then Like the Blind Man: Orbie's Story" tells the story of nine year old Orbie as the death of his father pushes him off from his mother as she marries a man he can't get along with. Living with his grandparents, Orbie learns much of the world, his parents, and faith. With much of faith and learning, "Then Like the Blind Man" is a strong addition to general fiction collections with a focus on coming of age tales.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Corporate Recruiter Tells All
Ryan Fisher
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781469933184 $14.99

Corporate Recruiter Tells All: Tips, Secrets, and Strategies to Landing Your Dream Job! lives up to its title with a wealth of tips, tricks, and techniques for getting hired. Author Ryan Fisher draws upon his twelve years of experience as a professional recruiter to reveal how the hiring process works, and offer guidelines for successfully negotiating a higher salary. Chapters cover the value of doing research, networking, learning how to work with recruiters, giving a stellar interview, and perhaps most importantly, fully understanding a job offer before accepting it. A "must-have" for anyone looking to launch (or relaunch!) their career!

Heroes, Mentors, and Friends
John Dowd Jr.
Balboa Press
c/o AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781452555157, $13.99,

There are many teachers in our lives, and accepting their lessons in their many forms will take us far. "Heroes, Mentors, and Friends: Learning from Our Spiritual Guides" is an inspirational guide from John Dowd as he speaks of the stories of our lives, and how these mentors of our life shed much light on us, and how he describes these individuals as a type of angel in our lives. "Heroes, Mentors, and Friends" is a much recommended spiritual read with a powerful message, highly recommended.

Coming of Age... Again
Carol Mizrahi
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466337435, $9.99,

You never stop learning, and when that knowledge comes at you all once, the world as you know it changes. "Coming of Age... Again" follows four aging women who come together as their lives change and alter as their spouses find other allures, their children age and find their own lives, and trying to find what to do with the rest of their lives. Exploring the mid-life crisis in its many forms, "Coming of Age... Again" is an inspirational and much recommended addition to general fiction collections.

Robert Miskimon
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781477128725, $19.99,

Two families can easy join together with the same goals and future. "Shenandoah" is a novel of the early twentieth century and over the generations as the bond between the MacAlpine and Ballantine families and what they face, analyzing the evolution of a family and the union of souls. An intriguing twist on the family drama, "Shenandoah" is reading worth considering, recommended.

Blaze of Glory
M. Garzon
Petal Press
9780988001305, $13.95,

Love can be wonderful...but love can be terrible if aimed in the right direction. "Blaze of Glory" is a novel from M. Garzon, following young adult Tea, who is enjoying success with her jumping horses and having the time of her life. But when she falls for her step-cousin, she is drawn to him despite the taboo nature of their relationship, even with the volatility that it brings their families. "Blaze of Glory" is an original romance exploring the taboo nature of such relationships and what they can do to families.

Pillow Stalk
Diane Vallere
Polyester Press
9780984965328, $14.95,

A unique style should be a fun diversion, not something to gain the ire of those out to kill. "Pillow Stalk" is an entry into Diane Vallere's Mad for Mod mystery series, following interior decorator Madison Night who finds herself involved with murder, something that does not fit her style at all. With a building body count and a trail of death leading back decades, it may take her own wits to find justice and save her own life. "Pillow Stalk" is a humorous yet adventurous read of mystery, very much worth considering.

Gerald Cislon
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781469181509, $19.99,

The stories of life cannot always be shared word for word, but we can share those essences with others. "Gander" is a novel following a journey that takes strong influences from Gerald Cislon, a Vietnam veteran, and his life's work, as he shares his many experiences with everything about life, bringing a personal and human touch to the journeys. "Gander" is worth considering for those seeking a down to earth story of life in the past few decades.

Paul T. Vogel

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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