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

MBR Bookwatch

Volume 11, Number 7 July 2012 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

The Evolution of Human Sexual Privacy
Andrew Haywein
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432773724, $33.95,

Sex is on everyone's minds, everyone wants to talk about it, but no one really does. "The Evolution of Human Sexual Privacy: An Objective Study of a Subjective Realm" is by Andrew Haywein, a long time primary care physician, who examines the origins of human sexuality and the strange quirks that humans have as a species. Focusing on the idea of privacy and its role in human sexual relationships, "The Evolution of Human Sexual Privacy" presents a unique look at biology, emotions, and much more. "The Evolution of Human Sexual Privacy" provides a fascinating take on the history of human sexuality, and is very much recommended reading.

Dyslexic Dick
Richard W. Kraemer
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781469986463, $16.00,

Dyslexia can do more than turn words backwards. "Dyslexic Dick" is Richard W. Kraemer's exploration of the challenges that come with Dyslexia and his own retrospective with the disorder as he discovers its presence later in life, and explores where it has caused them issues throughout their lives, providing his research on the challenges of the disorder. "Dyslexic Dick" is a fine look into the impact of Dyslexia, and how its problems are more pronounced than many believe.

John Edgar Wideman
Lulu Press
3101 Hillsborough St.
Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9780557310043, $19.96,

A prolific and established author, John Edgar Wideman continues his craft with "Briefs: Stories for the Palm of the Mind", a collection of short stories and flash fiction. Discussing the many aspects of life he has faced and the lives around him have faced, Wideman writes with a certain dedication and insightful nature. "Briefs" is worth considering for fans of short fiction in general, highly recommended.

Born to Tell
Jennifer Lewis
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781463444976, $11.70,

Throughout abuse, there are times where it all seems hopeless. "Born to Tell" is a memoir from Jennifer Lewis, who writes from a Jamaican perspective as she shares her own struggles against sexual abuse and family abuse which has left her questioning life. With an inspirational drive, "Born to Tell" is worth considering for memoir collections focused on the struggles of those under the tyranny of abuse.

Dot to Dot
Kit Bakke
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781456368043, $8.95,

Tragedy can turn one's life entirely upside down. "Dot to Dot" is a novel from Kit Bakke, telling the story of Dot, a soon to be teenager faced with the loss of her mother and all the troubles that can come with it. With the help of a dedicated aunt, she learns to find the strength to carry on and live her life in this moving coming of age tale. "Dot to Dot" is a fine addition to any teenage fiction collections.

Freedom: From Fear to There
Eno Mondesir
1st Books Library
1663 Liberty Dr., Bloomington IN 47404-5161
1403348286, $24.95,

Freedom is not being dominated by fear. "Freedom: From Fear to There" is an inspirational read from Eno Mondesir, as he seeks to push people to drive themselves forward to overcome their fears and find there own inspirational joy among it all. A strong read that encourages greater overall health, "Freedom" is a strong addition to self-help and motivational collections.

Holy Gym
Louisa Rae Hobbs
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466394612, $9.99,

Exercise is a major component to a healthy life, but anything can be taken to excess. "Holy Gym" is a memoir from Louisa Rae Hobbs as she speaks on how she allowed exercise to consume her life and become her obsession, adding onto her previous problems with bulimia and eating disorders, turning to certain drugs just to keep her obsession alive. "Holy Gym" is a fine and much recommended pick to memoir collections on fighting addictions.

Not All Out of Love
Jamie Schoffman
One Day
9780615601953, $12.95,

As we enter into adulthood, we have the weight of the world dumped on our shoulders. "Not All Out of Love" is a memoir from Jamie Schoffman as he shares his own struggles into adulthood with all the obstacles that come with it all. With humility and good humor, "Not All Out of Love" is a strong pick for those seeking a youth memoir, recommended.

A Girl Like Her
Michelle Millington
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781468520254, $27.95,

Choice, or lack thereof, defines our lives. "A Girl Like Her" is a novel from Michelle Millington, spinning a tale of Lexi, who's life is bogged down and chaotic about the world surrounding her. Drawn by the turmoil of life how it is, the family she can't escape, and the attractions she can't fully understand, Lexi must find what free will she can to get through it all. "A Girl Like Her" will find much relevance with women struggling to get by through it all.

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

Blue Light of Dawn
Roger D. Plothow
Amazon Kindle
9780985633806, $4.99,

BLUE LIGHT OF DAWN: MURDER AND DIRTY LAUNDRY IN A SMALL TOWN is a romance, intrigue, and murder mystery all in one, and is a delightful read centering around crusty character Dan Pittman, new owner of a little newspaper in Cottage Grove, Oregon.

It opens with a bang: a frustrated female employee has murder on the mind, justifying her thoughts by reflecting on her employer's dubious associations with women and several strange, unsolved murders that point to her boss as the suspect. She's thought it through even to the point of having her boss sign his own suicide note, disguised as office paperwork, and her co-conspirator is coaching her on how to make the gunshot look self-inflicted.

Fast forward to a newspaper publisher's investigations of a puzzling charge against a local judge and the political ripples it's causing, his unexpected involvement with a woman who's being stalked by the judge - then add further social and political entanglements into the mix.

What begins as a simple account of stalking and an unexpected romance with the victim turns into a complicated series of social and political associations creating a dirty dance between Dan Pittman, his new squeeze Nicole, and a judge who seems to be increasingly threatening her - or, is it the judge?

Murder most foul, an added complexity of a million dollars, the possible involvement of Nicole in a dangerous plot, and twists and turns of intention keep BLUE LIGHT OF DAWN riveting - but it's the realistic dance between small town members that keeps this murder mystery fast-paced, unpredictable and ultimately satisfying.

Everything moves to a slow disaster in BLUE LIGHT: a romance, danger, and the entwined involvement of other small-town officials and their special agendas.

In the end what sets BLUE LIGHT OF DAWN apart from other mysteries is powerful characterization and the realistic setting of small-town Cottage Grove, Oregon: a backdrop that's perfect for airing mystery, dirty laundry, and a series of close encounters with the law.

Highly recommended as a powerful first-person story that's hard to put down and impossible to predict!

The Battle for Chronos
Tom Ciolli
Amazon Kindle
9781450797924, $3.99

Prior fans of Tom Ciolli's 'Chronos' military sci-fi setting will welcome this final conclusion to the chronicle, documenting an escalating struggle with a corrupt mining syndicate on the planet of Chronos.

The initial rebellion has broken the Syndicate's hold on the planet and in the last installment, it was to be another year before forces could be amassed to take back the planet: but that time has passed and now Chronos is facing its final battle, with the battlefield extending into space.

Here the resistance movement on Chronis is facing its greatest challenge in a conflict fought not just with high-tech weaponry and telepaths, but with sledgehammers, revolvers, and primitive weaponry on the ground, as well. Even as the Mining Syndicate has created orphans and mutants, so its actions have succeeded in forging unexpected connections between residents willing to do anything for freedom - or die in the process.

Tools of telepathy, stretching and warping time itself, and more would seem to give the colonists and edge in the battle; but the Mining Syndicate's resources are vast and unending, and Chronos would be doomed without the creative rebellious thinking of its many characters, from Zach Murphy to Brian, Falcone, and others willing to die for permanent freedom.

What makes THE BATTLE FOR CHRONOS so exciting is its different layering of military might and strategies that embrace old and new technology and old and new ideas about warfare and battle. Descriptions of these tactics are specific and will prove tantalizing and satisfying to followers of military science fiction who enjoy specific details:

"General Mithras had a grim look on his face. "No breathable atmosphere, so they'll be hindered by Enviro-Suits. If any Kantele survive, then they can zap the rescue craft with an Electro Magnetic Pulse and it will drop out of the sky like a stone. If our missiles are improperly calibrated for Apollo's gravity, that's another way we can fail. What am I missing?""

What's missing is the element of time-jumping in all its complexity, which adds a satisfying extra dimension to the entire military encounter and keeps THE BATTLE FOR CHRONOS packed with unexpected twists, turns, and extraordinary possibilities:

"Minervadoe was smiling. "Think of it Mr. Murphy. The layers of our attempts to rewind and redo the events of Chronos' history are so myriad that we have lost track of how many times events have been played out and repeated." Minervadoe turned and faced Tracy. "Through repetition, rules have evolved that seem ridiculous. One of them is that we are not allowed to discuss the origin of certain artifacts which are being distributed among your people. I can tell you that the origins of Colonel Magnuson's belt, Colonel Falcone's cloak, Mr. Mur-phy's android, and the large hammers must, for the time being, remain unknown. I know it is a subject of great curiosity to you, but it is this trait of your simian ancestry which has proven to cause the greatest difficulty during our ordeal with your race." "

This riveting conclusion to the fine series is simply not to be missed by any who have followed the prior Chronos plots and who want a fine conclusion to an epic saga!

Resurrect and Restore
Paul A. Zecos
Altrutech LLC.
9781620505649, $1.00

Christians with a special interest in the concept of eternal life will find RESURRECT AND RESTORE a powerful account drawing connections between the divine spirit, the difference between eternal life and living and dying, and various ways in which God's love restores the spirit and leads to revelations of spirit and soul.

Admonitions and revelations about the Holy Spirit are precise, pointed, and use color-coded words and phrases for emphasis: "If you lived a lie, you die and no longer exist. If you become righteous you are rewarded. The Holy Spirit determines the destiny of each soul after death."

The emphasis is on personal choice and its consequences, with chapters building a Biblical foundation for their contentions, then moving into social and political arenas that link world events with Biblical insights: "Without an Independent, Demilitarized, disarmed, antiviolent, democratic Land of Love, (I use Love because in some places the word God has been wrongly defamed) within your nation, humanity's sufferings will increase."

Building this foundation of Biblical wisdom, Paul A. Zecos provides a framework for self-assessment, social assessment, and revelation: "As to how to accomplish what you truly want by converting (negative) problems into (positive) solutions, the process is simple and always the same whether it is for an individual, a relationship, a business, a non-profit or for a government. Start from what you truly believe in; that becomes your mission; that mission requires that certain longer term objectives (goals) are met; the objectives require you to lead others into supporting those objectives..."

The Biblical foundation built here is supported by a Theory of "Dimensionality" (graphically shown as a Cross) that claims to provide a Unified understanding of modern physics and of psychology.

While personal assessment is a big piece of the equation in RESURRECT AND RESTORE, there's an overriding and primary message here for politicians - which makes the title of special interest to Christian politicians and social leaders alike.

The conclusion advocates the establishment of an "Independent Demilitarized Land of God" - and is a call to action.

Fairy Tales of Our Grandmothers
Karel Hlobil
Karel Hlobil, Publisher
9780987671202, $48.00 + shipping

FAIRY TALES OF OUR GRANDMOTHERS is the third volume in the 'Forest Friends Series' recommended for children's and pre-teen collections, and is for any who want to explore themes of friendship, world exploration and growth through a set of fairy tales. Lured into the wild forest by nursemaid Joana, three little princesses find themselves on their own, abandoned in a dark strange world where three Fates forecast their very different destinies.

The three are sent to different realms and experience different challenges that lead them to experience love, danger, and even ancestors who will help lead them to their true destinies.

Good-sized print accompanies a peppering of lovely color illustrations in a hardcover replete with adventure and magic.

Good reading skills (or parental assistance) will be required: this is no picturebook, but holds nearly a hundred pages of story packed with insights about nature, animals, angels, and fairy creatures, and religious allusions to God and his creatures in a land where "every boy is a prince and every girl is a princess".

The end offers resolution, hope, and reunited families with new strengths and awareness in a finely crafted, spirited series of adventures all ages can enjoy.

Up the Agency
Peter Mayle
Escargot-Books, $3.99e-version, $9.99 paperback
ISBN 9781908191502 (ePub)
ISBN 9781908191519 (Kindle)
ISBN 9781908191526 (CD audio)
ISBN 9781908191533 (Audio download) *,

Any reader interested in advertising history will find Peter Mayle's first-person account UP THE AGENCY to be a lively blend of memoir and ad agency history: the perfect combination for a readable, involving piece documenting the growth and changes of the New York ad industry during the 1960s and 70s.

Peter Mayle was once known as the 'greatest copywriter alive', and his position in the center of a whirlwind of company and industry growth serves him well in UP THE AGENCY, packing pages with first-person observation of the industry's skyrocking changes.

Those who believe the topic sounds familiar will discover that UP THE AGENCY is actually a forerunner (of sorts) to the hit TV show Mad Men, which has just concluded its Season 5 finale. Mad Men is an American drama which began in 2007 and continues strong to this day, is set in the 1960s, and has received much critical acclaim; so UP THE AGENCY segues perfectly into the show and is a special recommendation for audiences who are already fans and avid followers of Mad Men.

The subtitle of the paperback book format is 'The Funny Business of Advertising': and funny it is, with chapters documenting the evolving (sometimes puzzling) cultural milieu that is Madison Avenue.

Chapter headings are simply hilarious ('On the Menu: Poached Client' and 'Pigs with Checkbooks', for two examples) and serve as fair warning for the candid yet fun observations within, tossing quips and barbs with the precision of a fly fisherman: "Some of the larger agencies maintain a small squad of corporate poachers whose sole job it is to cultivate contacts and tickle them into a sufficiently receptive mood for a presentation. In other agencies, the principals have to assume these duties in addition to working for the clients they already have, and this is their excuse for the out-of-office diversions we shall come to later.:

From the politics of gaining (and explaining losses of) clients to actually shooting an ad and dealing with actors and ironies, UP THE AGENCY offers social, cultural and ad agency observations that explain many underlying influences on choices and results - including the inexplicable, often inevitable, weight gain process: "There are frequent pauses for refreshment after the first coffee break - the early lunch break, the disturbed lunch break, the afternoon break, the preovertime break - and it is possible to eat rather badly five or six times in the course of the day. It is the proud boast of the film technicians' union that it has never in its history lost a member though lack of nourishment."

It's not all fun and games: industry facts, figures, and practices are solid observations from a pro and offer plenty of insights into the evolution of the New York ad industry: "There are at least fifty U.S. corporations whose advertising budgets exceed, $200 million worldwide. A, $200 million account delivers, $30 million income to the agency. For this kind of money, the client expects and demands advertising that he considers to be effective, but advertising effectiveness is extraordinarily difficult to measure with any kind of accuracy. After all the research and testing has been done, there is still room for debate and opinion. The client's opinion may, and frequently does, differ from the way the agency sees things. If persuasion fails, the agency can either agree with the client or kiss, $30 million goodbye, and it's easy enough to guess what will happen."

Now, readers already familiar with the name of Peter Mayle may associate that name with his already-popular travel pieces (among others): A Year in Provence and French Lessons - but for a taste of something different and just as talented, UP THE AGENCY can't be beat.

Ad history, business myths, and creative changes mingle in a powerful account that will captivate even audiences with no prior familiarity with either the Mad Men TV series or Peter Mayle's previous works.


Whisper Her Name
Kate Wilhelm
InfinityBox Press
9781622050208, $7.99,

Homicide detective Charlie doesn't want this new case: it smacks of insanity and involves a crazy will, money hidden in a dead man's house, and associated mysterious deaths which reek of murder. His life with psychologist Constance is a good one: the last thing he needs is the demands of a dead man interrupting their lives - until he learns about a curse and finds his interest piqued.

From then on he and Constance find themselves working together on one of the strangest cases of his life: a puzzler involving an ancient accident, siblings at odds with one another, and the history of the Bainbridge curse, which threatens a widening circle of people.

Lies, greed, family battles, and a hidden fortune within the bequest of a million-dollar house make for a centrifuge of action and personalities who are not only at odds with each other, but serve as effective barriers to the ultimate truth.

Charlie may have been hired to determine if Eve Parrish's death was premeditated murder, but his investigations exceed the realm of his usual murder case and even crosses political jurisdictions as he encounters a sheriff and local authorities who each play an uncertain role in the distribution of a fortune and the location of a murderer.

As Charlie and Constance become more embroiled in family affairs and mystery they begin to discover that the curious will may have more behind it than a fortune - and more unforeseen consequences than even its creator could have imagined.

Strong characterization, a myriad of sub-plots, and satisfying twists and turns of plot make WHISPER HER NAME a lively, involving murder mystery that departs from formula writing to produce a truly original, compelling story.

It's satisfying all the way to its unexpected conclusion, and is a recommended read for any murder mystery enthusiast!

Mothers Teach Foetus All About A Smile
Dr. Garth Pettit
4 Your Smile 2 Shine Pty Ltd
9780987346209, $5.95, ASIN: B008B4S8JC

MOTHERS TEACH FOETUS ALL ABOUT A SMILE represents a compilation of extracts from all thirteen 'How Do I Look After My Kids Teeth?' titles by dentist Dr. Garth Pettit, and is a powerful survey from a dentist who bases his advice on research showing that mothers have the ability to communicate with their fetus as early as 16 weeks into pregnancy.

This revelation powers a unique approach to dental hygiene that offers mothers-to-be a program for fetus communication and baby health. It advocates singing and speaking words to impart elementary oral hygiene directions and create early pleasant associations about oral health, and it uses extracts of songs, text and characters from dentist Pettit's prior books to help pregnant mothers begin early oral health education programs.

Online links are provided to song melodies, while the clear lyrics embellished with cartoon characters from Dr. Pettit's prior books offer expectant mothers an easy and simple way to sing to and teach their unborn child.

The synthesis of all Dr. Pettit's dental education basics into one easy primer for expectant mothers assures that dental insights will be received at quite an early age (pre-birth): an achievement that is unique and exciting.

There are very few books on the market that emphasize pre-birth health, and no dental care books that address subliminal and pre-birth approaches to dental health.

MOTHERS TEACH FOETUS ALL ABOUT A SMILE stands alone and will be of interest to any mother who wants the earliest start on a child's dental awareness.

Diane Donovan
Senior Reviewer

Dunford's Bookshelf

You, According to Them
Sara Canaday
T& C Publishing
9780984669111, $19.95,

The opinions of others do matter when you're trying to make your career go forward. "You, According to Them" is a career advisory guide from Sara Canaday as she suggests how to help one's outward appearance as an employee. Canaday grants practical advice in how to present oneself as a valuable employee and break through the stalling of one's career. "You, According to Them" is a strong pick for self-improvement and career collections, highly recommended.

Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and the Ghost of Dr. King
Kevin Powell
Lulu Press
3101 Hillsborough St., Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781105414091, $15.00,

There are many issues that are important today in determining our future as a people. "Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and the Ghost of Dr. King" is a collection of essays on many topics from Kevin Powell, his 11th collection of blogs and essays, as he speaks on current events and popular culture topics as well as politics. With plenty of insight and much to think about, "Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and the Ghost of Dr. King" is well worth considering for current event essay collections, highly recommended.

Purging Matters
Paul Gaasenbeek
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781462060764, $17.95,

The struggle to survive and thrive is a common story among many modern young people. "Purging Matters" is a work of narrative nonfiction, as Paul Gaasenbeek explores the life of Jamie, a young man crippled by the anxiety of life and his struggles to get by in his life. Gaasenbeek writes that Jamie's struggle is similar to the struggles of many, a world oppressed with little opportunity, little hope, and little future. "Purging Matters" is a fine pick for collections featuring books focusing on current events.

Adam's Rib
Robert Gillooly
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781465391100, $19.99,

All legends have their origins, and the origins of Christian legends may be more mundane that some would like to admit. "Adam's Rib: A Witchy Brew of Christian Myth" is an exploration of the foundations of Christian belief, as Robert Gillooly seeks their origins throughout Humanity's infancy, borrowing myths from many cultures and forming a religion all its own. "Adam's Rib" is an intriguing take on the origins of the Christian tradition, very much recommended.

It's Just a Matter of Balance
Kevin S. Garrison
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781462062843, $12.95,

Cancer can suddenly change everything. "It's Just a Matter of Balance: You Can't Put a Straight Leg on a Crooked Man" is a memoir from Kevin Garrison as he recounts his own journey against cancer which claimed his foot and potentially his life. Stating how it revolutionized his life in many ways, and how he revolutionized his spirit in the process, "It's Just a Matter of Balance" is a powerful and recommended read, not to be overlooked.

A Lovely, Indecent Departure
Steven Lee Gilbert
Privately Published
9780985336509, $11.00,

Driven by a mother's love in the face of the law, sometimes one will go to any length. "A Lovely, Indecent Departure" follows a child custody battle as it spills over into international conflict as Anna Miller takes her son to Italy after losing legal custody to his father. A clash of former lovers over custody leads to a conflict that seems to car title about the child. "A Lovely, Indecent Departure" is a choice and much recommended addition to general fiction collections.

Stuart Maloney
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781467007887, $17.09,

26 minutes have defined the nature of his life. "26" is a memoir of Stuart Maloney as he writes of his endeavors of growing up with cerebral palsy, caused by being dead for twenty-six minutes at birth, and how he has struggled to overcome his disadvantages throughout his life, hoping to inspire others to push themselves forward through their crises. "26" is a must for those who want to understand the endeavor of the memoir collection.

Flame of Surrender
Rhiannon Paille
Cascom Entertainment
9781927339022, $14.99,

Death and destruction seem to be natural fits for one another. "Flame of Surrender" is a novel from Rhiannon Paille as she explores the relationship of Krishani and Kaliel, two who both hold dark origins and destinies. Krishani knows he is destined to become the next Ferryman, a life of facing death in the face. Kaliel is a flame, a weapon that can bring the end of the world. Through their love, they must face the onslaught of those who would abuse the both of them. "Flame of Surrender" is a strong pick for lovers of fantasy, highly recommended.

Judy Kay
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781469772011, $15.95,

Returning from where we came from may come with its own shocks. "Changes: Down the Road of Life" is a novel from Judy Kay, telling of a country girl returning to her hometown after living in the big city for a time. Concerned for her family, she has a lot to truth to find to getting back the peace that she thought she remembered. "Changes" is a fine pick for contemporary fiction collections, recommended.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Getting Things Done in Washington
Joseph H. Boyett
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781450294720, $23.95,

The progressive movement in America has been struggling for quite some time, but struggle is all that it knows how to do. "Getting Things Done in Washington: Lessons for Progressive from Landmark Legislation" is a discussion of politics and the progressive movement, as Joseph H. Boyett explores the many topics of progress in history and shows their endeavor to make a big breakthrough. "Getting Things Done in Washington" is a strong pick for politics and political science collections, highly recommended.

Everything for Love
W. C. Turck
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781440132926, $21.95,

A battlefield is not the place to find love, but when you do find it, cherish it. "Everything for Love" is a novel from W. C. Turck as he spins a romance amongst the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, where an artist finds the woman that he saw in a dream, and finds himself tasked with getting himself and her out of a warzone that seeks to end them. A riveting thriller of romance, "Everything for Love" is a treasure, very much recommended.

Web of Lies
Sarah Tate
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781456516680, $12.99,

What may at first be love reveals the most deeply troubled aspects with it. "Web of Lies" is a memoir of Sarah Tate, who recounts her struggles with an older and more experienced company manager. Beneath the first charms of romance however, the horrible truth emerges under dishonesty and personality disorder, and her struggles to break free of the abuses. "Web of Lies" is a strong recommended novel of life's abuses, highly recommended.

A Child's Way
Jeannie Battagin
Medio Media
9789810716950, $TBA,

Meditation is not a strictly eastern religious thing. "A Child's Way: How to Teach and Practice Christian Meditation with Children" is a guide to the concept of Christian meditation as Jeannie Battagin explores the concept and how it can empower readers to better understand the words of God and concepts of Christianity. For those who want to introduce it to their Sunday school classes, "A Child's Way" is well worth considering for Christian studies collections.

Angels, Chimps, & Tater Mitts
Mike Ball
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475115222, $15.99,

The lessons of life never stop coming. "Angels, Chimps, & Tater Mitts" is a collection of humor as Mike Ball muses about the world around him, facing the tide of anything and everything with knowledge fit for a spell on the old throne. With plenty of knowledge mixed in with the wit, "Angels, Chimps, & Tater Mitts" is an excellent and much recommended pick for general humor and memoir collections.

Absence of Grace
Ann Warner
Silky Stone Press
9781470199173, $TBA,

One mistake in youth can cost years of your life. "Absence of Grace" is a novel following young Clen McClendon, who through a bad move at the age of 19 scars herself for life, and tries to hide it. As it emerges later in life, she is forced to stare it down and try to make a difference. "Absence of Grace" is a riveting read of personal struggle, very much recommended reading.

The Expendable Man
Peter G. Pollak
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9780615434742, $11.99,

Cancer may have been his only salvation. "The Expendable Man" is a novel from Peter G. Pollak as he writes of a wrongfully accused businessman who on medical leave from the Turkish prison he was doomed to, finds that he may just have a chance to find the truth. But there are those content with him being the fall man, and will do whatever it takes to keep it as such. "The Expendable Man" is a fine and much recommended addition to international political thriller fans.

The Temptation of Father Lorenzo
Paul Salsini
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
978146970763, $22.95,

When a novel ends, the stories of the characters don't end. "The Temptation of Father Lorenzo: 10 Stories of 1970s Tuscany" is a collection of short stories from Paul Salsini, as he follows his trilogy of novels 'The Cielo', 'Sparrow's Revenge', and 'Dino's Story', following the characters within those stories as they reach the next chapters of their lives. A choice pick for fans of Salsini's previous work, "The Temptation of Father Lorenzo" is well worth considering.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Ken Beckley
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781467874212, $19.99,

Life never gives us it right down the middle. "Knuckleball: The Uncertainties of a Life" is a novel from Ken Beckley as he tells the story of Davie Miller, who was potential as a ball player, but must run a gauntlet of life to help his mother and trying to love like to the fullest in the process. Drawing on the author's love of the game and own life's experiences, Beckley seeks to inspire, making "Knuckleball" a read that is very much recommended reading for those seeking motivational fiction.

The End of Sunshine Street
Johanna Constance Hunt
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466360044, $14.00,

A perfect setup doesn't have to lead to a perfect life. "The End of Sunshine Street" is a novel from Johanna Constance Hunt as she tells the story of Judy, a woman living with a millionaire in Palm Beach without the benefits it entails. With a strong dose of off beat humor, Hunt presents a down to earth story of a woman trying to get by and running the gauntlet that comes with it. "The End of Sunshine Street" is a strong pick for contemporary fiction collections.

Last Stop This Town
David H. Steinberg
Monkey Business Press
9781469902661, $12.99,

The friendships of highschool are limited, but it doesn't mean they are suppose to be without one last hurrah. "Last Stop This Town" is a novel of high school graduation as four friends prepare to let their high school years end on a high note. They face the fears of growing up and entering the real world, and all the weight that goes with it. "Last Stop This Town" is a fun coming of age read, highly recommended.

Post-Academic Stress Disorder
Nikolas Kozloff
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466207042, $12.00,

Academics only lead people to even more questions. "Post-Academic Stress Disorder" is a humorous twist of new professor Andy Friedman who ponders what is to be done with his new education and influence, only to find that the world around him lead him to doubt every choice he could make. "Post-Academic Stress Disorder" reflects on the lack of purpose that many people feel as they move on from their educational careers.

Out of the Woods
Katina I Makris
Elite Books
9781600700712, $18.00,

Lyme disease can be dangerous, but at the same time is very much conquerable. "Out of the Woods: Healing Lyme Disease - Body, Mind, & Spirit" is a spiritual memoir from Katina I Makris as she shares her own struggle with Lyme disease and advises other readers to help themselves and deal with the disorder to come out and conquer the disease and reclaim their lives. "Out of the Woods" is a must for general health and spirituality collections.

Ali and Ramazan
Perihan Magden
Amazon Crossing
PO Box 400818, Las Vegas, NV 89140
9781611091410, $14.95,

Under the harsh assault of the world, their only comfort was each other. "Ali and Ramazan" is a novel following the titular two characters as they come of age in the rough nature of Istanbul, Turkey. Acting in ways they only know how, author Perihan Magden presents a different sort of romance and makes for an enticing read that defies many genre conventions. "Ali and Ramazan" is an excellent and heartily recommended pick.

Ibex Proper
Clemens Haltern
c/o Buy Books On The Web
1094 New Dehaven Street, #100
West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
0741455358, $13.95,

The death of millions can often lie in the hands of a few. "Ibex Proper" is a fast paced thriller from Clemens Haltern as he tells of two rock climbers in Katja and Sage, as they find themselves dragged into the conflict between a genocidal terrorist and a reckless FBI agent who are waging a war which may hold the future of the Remote Tule Valley in Utah in the balance. "Ibex Proper" is a fun and hard to put down read for those who enjoy modern thrillers.

On Top of My Game
Johnny W. Jackson III
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781466910034, $11.99,

As we search for someone to share our lives with, we try to put our best out there. "On Top of My Game" is a collection of poetry from Johnny W. Jackson III, as he speaks from his soul and ponders on his journey to try to find something better out of his life and from his life in Chicago. "On Top of My Game" is a strong pick for modern poetry assortments. "Too Deep": Hold my hand and crawl with me./What is the possibility of this relationship?/Maybe we can grow into an inseparable romance./Reality has no boundaries./Let's talk about why we are here... and where we can go./Thoughts of us become new subjects to the world./Look outside our kingdom is waiting for us./It's the year of raining smiles./When I'm here happiness is unlimited.

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

Chase Me
Tamara Hogan
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139, Naperville, IL 60563
9781402246043, $14.99,

Several centuries have passed since the vessel containing paranormal aliens crashed in the northern Minnesota woods. The survivors understood they were not leaving any time soon if ever so they agreed to remain hidden amongst the human population. As such they form the Underworld Council to oversee their behavior.

In the present, Valkyrie Lorin Schlessinger heads an archeological expedition of student volunteers in search of the now mythical ship; while werewolf geologist Gabe Lupinsky leads the on-site excavation. Lorin and Gabe are attracted to one another, but their dig triggers a beacon that attracts an off-world vampire to this remote meaningless planet as the creature knows this rock contains some valuable treasure that he will plunder regardless of the cost to the ignorant innocent. While the Underworld Council members ponder about punishing the expedition members, Lorin and Gabe confront the evil treasure hunter.

The sequel to Taste Me is a terrific jocular romantic urban fantasy with a wonderful satirical spin; summed up nicely by Carl Sagan as the Emeritus member of the Underground Council. The storyline rotates perspective from the assertive in your face Valkyrie chasing after the reticent werewolf to the student escapades to the Council behaving like Congress doing nothing that matters to the malevolent vampire. Fans will relish this fine tale as we await the paranormal confrontation.

Her Highness, the Traitor
Susan Higginbotham
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139, Naperville, IL 60563
9781402265587, $14.99,

With the death of King Henry VIII, his only male offspring becomes King Edward VI in 1547. However, since King Edward is only nine years old, a Regency Council (selected by the late ruler before his death) forms led by his maternal uncle Edward Seymour. Meanwhile men from three families (Seymour, Grey and Dudley) greedily compete for power. John Dudley's son Jack and Edward Seymour's daughter Anne marry, and another of his sons Guildford weds Henry Grey's daughter Jane. . Dudley becomes a favorite of King Edward especially after the death of Seymour. When King Edward becomes deathly ill, he selects Jane Grey as his successor instead of either of his half-sisters. However, when Edward dies, Princess Mary, backed by the Regency Council' makes a bid for the throne; while the Dudley and Grey families know what is at stake so they push Jane Grey.

Using the premise that behind every great man is a woman, this entertaining Tudor historical focuses on the manipulations by the crafty wives of John Dudley, Jane, and Henry Grey, Frances as they team up to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne. Fans of the era will enjoy this engaging entry filled with plenty of tidbits from the period between the two Tudor ruling giants though neither of the behind the scenes female powerbrokers come across as fully developed.

A Conspiracy of Friends
Alexander McCall Smith
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307907233, $24.95,

In London, from her mew house just behind Corduroy Mansions, noted psychoanalyst Berthea Snark continues writing her hostile expose biography "My Son Oedipus"; as she hates the "only unpleasant Liberal Democrat" Member of Parliament. She is encouraged by Oedipus' former lover literary agent Barbara Ragg who loathes him too. At the same time, Berthea's fiance Hugh is unhappy with her after they share some dark secrets; and Barbara's business partner Rupert Porter is irate with her and seeking revenge. Meanwhile Oedipus is named the Undersecretary for some department that he cannot recall its name.

Wine merchant William French panics when his significant other Freddie de la Hay the M16 Terrier (see The Dog Who Came in from the Cold) vanishes. At the same time William's son Eddie, funded by wealthy girlfriend Merle of the Windward Islands, hires designer Cosmo Bartonette to create a Hemingway-themed restaurant. William's neighbor Caroline Jarvis muses over a passionate relationship rather than just a friendship with her BFF James. Finally, Berthea's brother Terence Moongrove decides to own a racecar that he plans to drive in competition.

The ensemble cast starring in the latest Corduroy Mansions contemporary tale makes for an entertaining look at desires and needs; not all positive and friendly. The action is limited as much of the storyline focuses on inner turmoil and longings. Readers who enjoy a low keyed philosophical character study will appreciate the cleverly musings of A Conspiracy of Friends.

Peggy Payne
Amazon Digital Services
B007X45DOO, $3.99,

In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, late thirtyish Presbyterian Pastor Swain Hammond keeps an emotional distance from his wife Julie and his congregation. However, his holier than thou conceit is tested when he hears a voice who he assumes is God speaking to him only. He so shook, Julie fears he is having a stroke. Over a week later he hears the voice again that no one else nearby apparently hears.

He tells the flock that God speaks to him in messages he does not comprehend, but his congregation believes their pastor is losing it. In a weird accident in church land, tweener Jakey Miles is blinded. The lad's angry despondent father rages at Hammond; who finally punches the man out of frustration. With a vigil at the child's hospital bed, Hammond begs God to perform a miracle and restore Jakey's sight.

This digitalization of a wonderful 1990s inspirational tale that holds up nicely even with over a decade since first being published. Hammond is a fabulous protagonist whose flock and wife do not believe God speaks to him as the assumption is he is losing his grip on reality. The Jakey tragedy shakes the pastor from his aloof distancing as he prays the youngster fully heals, but begins to heal himself from hates that have crippled him emotionally. Revelation is an inspiring poignant character study of a man of God beginning to accept the lord works in mysterious ways.

Vanished in the Dunes
Allan Retzky
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G, Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781608090532, $25.95,

Under Justice Department investigation for two years for alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, fiftyish Amos Posner was forced to resign from his position though the firm gave him a generous severance package as someone has to take the fall for all the company's questionable dealings. While he resides at the beach house in Amagansett, his wife Sara mostly lives in their Manhattan apartment as she still practices law in the city. She comes out to Long Island on weekends as often as possible while he never ventures into the city. Sara believes Amos is cheating.

While riding the Hampton Jitney, Posner meets sexy Heidi Kashani, a resident in psychiatry at Mt. Sinai hospital. He invites her to his beach house. He steps out for a moment only to find her dead from an apparent fall. Instead of 911, he buries her corpse. Soon afterward Detective Peter Wisdom questions him and the late Heidi's obsessed lover Dr. Henry Stern threatens him. Heidi's identically looking sister Brigid Kashani further complicates the convoluted scenario.

Vanished In The Dunes is an engaging psychological suspense thriller starring a depressed lonely former international trader whose decision-making process keeps digging him deeper into trouble. Fast-paced from the moment the protagonist muses over What's My Line upon seeing Heidi for the first time, fans will appreciate this exhilarating tale though the climax is weaker than the powerful spiral leading to the end.

Night Watch
Linda Fairstein
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor, NY, NY 10014-3657
9780525952633, $26.95,

Manhattan ADA sex crimes prosecutor Alexandra Cooper visits her boyfriend restaurateur Luc Rouget at his French estate overlooking the Bay of Cannes. Two days after leaving New York on her vacation, village police officer Claude Chenier joins Alex and Luc. The cop says Luc's former employee Lisette Honfleur was found dead in a nearby pond; the victim had a on her a matchbook advertising his latest New York restaurant.

Meanwhile her boss Paul Battaglia calls Alex back to New York when a maid Blanca Robles accuses the head of the World Economic Bureau Mohammed Gil-"MGD" Darsin of rape. The case is a media circus while the prosecution believes the victim until they begin to find out more about her history. At the same time in Brooklyn, a murder victim possesses a matchbook from Luc's new restaurant.

Obviously taken from the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, one of the subplots in the latest Alexandra Cooper legal thriller (see Silent Mercy) is an exciting entry that focuses on an accuser whose account keeps changing. The Luc subplot though well written pales next to the MGD segue. Sub-genre fans will appreciate Linda Fairstein's strong fictional version of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case.

Ransom River
Meg Gardiner
9780525952855, $25.99

Attorney Aurora "Rory" Mackenzie comes home to Ransom River, California, a place she hates, in answer to a jury summons. She becomes part of a jury in a Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles case in which two cops (Lucy Elmendorf and Jared Smith) are accused of shooting a burglar Obrad Mirkovic. Two gunmen (Nixon and Reagan) assault the courtroom but a SWAT team ends the hostage siege.

The Ransom River PD believes Rory is an accomplice to the gunmen as one of them targeted her as shown in the courtroom video. Detective Zelinksi angrily and accusatorily asks her why her if she was not an accomplice, and about her being unemployed since the not for profit Asylum Action lost its funding. Her childhood friend former undercover cop Seth Colder warns her that the police force contains deadly dirty cops so she better remain vigilant at all times.

This is a taut thriller in which the tough protagonist deals with being the prime surviving suspect in a hostage situation that soon spirals even further out of control for her. Fast-paced from the moment Nixon and Reagan invade the court, readers will relish this superb tale while wondering what is going on in Ransom River.

John Lutz
Pinnacle Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9780786020287, $9.99,

In 2002 Florida, a contingent of police officers is driving serial killer Daniel Danielle to a top secret maximum security prison when hurricane winds turned the car upside down. Daniel escapes but not before he killed his escorts. He vanishes into the eye of the storm and becomes an urban legend never seen again.

In the present, a series of female homicides occur in which the victims were tortured and mutilated employing the same M.O. as Daniel used. Whether the psychopath is Daniel or a copycat is irrelevant to Police Commissioner Renz who wants the maniac stopped. He hires former cop turned private investigator Frank Quinn's firm to capture this predator. Pearl is reunited with Jody Jason the daughter she gave up for adoption and the two women and Quinn bond. Jody finds the link to the serial killer that involves the law firm she is interning at, the college she attends and Meading properties. Now Pearl and Quinn must identify who the killer hides behind before another woman is brutally murdered.

Thriller master John Lutz is known for his suspense and his ability to enable readers to understand the bone marrow deep motives that drive both the heroes and the villains. Ironically the chapters when the killer tells his perspective, fans do not learn why he is a monster as he does not see himself that way. Though a serial kill hunt is not new, Pulse is kept fresh by rotating time, place and point of view. This fast-paced tale grips fans from start to finish as time is running out on the next victim.

Reavis Z. Wortham
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464200076, $24.95,

In 1964 Ned Parker retires as the Center Springs, Texas constable. He plans to rusticate as a cotton farmer while his nephew Vietnam vet Cody replaces him at the town's constable. Ned looks forward to spending time with his two ten-year-old grandchildren Top and Pepper as they struggle with coping after the recent trauma they suffered at The Rock Hole.

Meanwhile, a headless corpse is found in the nearby Red River and a psychopath who escaped incarceration has slaughtered a farm family. Cody and Deputy John Washington follow clues that lead them to the abandoned Cotton Exchange in Chisum where the garbage laden warehouse is filled with deadly booby-traps as the killings continue.

The latest Red River mystery is a great historical police procedural that focuses on a tense serial killer whodunit. Burrows also invokes time and place as Cody's experience with booby-traps in Vietnam may save their lives and John's ass the first black law enforcement officer in the county shows the early impact of the Civil Rights movement. Readers will appreciate Reavis Z. Wortham's taut Texas thriller.

Ann Littlewood
Poisoned Pen Press
9781590587850, $24.95

In Vancouver, Washington, at the request of Fish and Wildlife, Finley Memorial Zoo curator Neal Humboldt sends Iris Oakley and Denny Stellar to the Tipton place to assist law enforcement and Animal Control by removing exotic birds and endangered turtles; many are dead from the horrible conditions. The Tipton parents were found dead and the brothers arrested; as they ran a meth lab out of one of the barns and grew marijuana. Iris says this was also a wildlife smuggling operation, but the cops are uninterested in that.

Iris finds the corpse of a female Tipton. Meanwhile the brothers are free and raid Iris' home threatening the widow and her son as they believe she knows the last words of their father before he died. Taking her child with her, Iris flees from the dangerous siblings before taking the confrontation to them.

The third zoo mystery (see Did Not Survive and Night Kill) is a fabulous amateur sleuth starring a likable dedicated heroine as caring Iris represents what is good about America while The Tipton family (with a few female exceptions) showcases the dark side of American life. With a powerful spotlight on wildlife smuggling, readers will enjoy Ann Littlewood's tense thriller.

The 13th Target
Mark de Castrique
Poisoned Pen Press
9781590586174, $24.95

Russell "Rusty" Mullins was a Secret Service agent who protected four POTUS, but left the agency when he failed to protect his most important person, his wife Laurie from ovarian cancer. The widower became a private protection operative whose current client is Paul "Old Greenbacks" Luguire, a top Federal Reserve official who was the Board's top contact with the Treasury.

Rusty becomes stunned to learn from DC police that his client who had become a friend committed suicide. Rusty refuses to believe Paul killed himself as he was so proud of his grandson among other signs that Old Greenbacks relished his life. Former Secret service peer Amanda Church, who works at the Fed's cyber-security cell, informs Rusty she found a strange transaction authorized by Robert that was erased; the Regional bank shows Russell Mullins as the person who wired the money to them. Stunned, Rusty investigates, but soon finds himself accused of a homicide. With further assistance from Detective Robert Sullivan and blogger Sidney Levine, Rusty eludes the law while trying to stay out of jail and prevent a conspiracy to destroy the American financial system by going after twelve known key participants and an unknown 13th target.

A timely thriller with the Great Recession in which the Fed played a key role (and still does), fans will enjoy this action-packed mystery. Rusty is a solid protagonist while his allies enhance his effort to prove his innocence and stop a terrific plot. Although, there is a tendency to overwrite the financial relationship that slows down the storyline (though understandable as that is so convoluted it makes the DNA helix look simple), Mark de Castrique provides a fascinating conspiracy tale.

The Formula for Murder
Carol McCleary
c/o Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765328694, $24.95,

In 1890, saddened reporter Nellie Bly arrives in London to bury her mentee cub reporter Hailey McGuire, who reportedly committed suicide. Nellie rejects the notion that Hailey took her own life as she knew the young journalist was euphoric over her profession. Instead, Nellie thinks the story Hailey was working on led to her death. Enhancing her beliefs are someone emptied Hailey's desk and files, and searched her room, and is threatening Nellie.

Not one to run from a challenge especially a menacing one, Nellie follows clues to an affluent spa in Bath, where owner Dr. Anthony Lacroix claims miraculous rejuvenation with peat moss. Soon after Nellie arrives in Bath, Lacroix vanishes. Nellie receives help from biology teacher H. G. Wells, scandalous Oscar Wilde fleeing his latest sexual peccadillo as he was doing when they previously met (see The Alchemy of Murder) and Arthur Conan Doyle stalking a beast on the moors of Dartmoor. As a mad test tube scientist, beasts, and lunatics chase Nellie and her companions, murders seem everywhere they go.

The latest Nellie Bly Victorian investigative thriller (see The Illusion of Murder) is an action-packed tale that once again uses famous persona as key players who also anchor time and place. This fast-paced mystery grips readers from start to finish, but Nellie not only keeps it focused, she brings energy and enthusiasm to the engaging historical.

Strong Vengeance
Jon Land
9780765330994, $24.99

In 1820 off the Texas Gulf Coast, Captain Neal of the Mother Mary slave ship carries valuable cargo when they run aground in one of the swampy channels. Due to his cousin Mother Mary First Mate Mr. Jeffreys, Captain Jean Lafitte and Jim Bowe lead their pirates to take control of the Mother Mary. They take the slaves onto the Goelette la Dilidente. The pirates next steal a pouch from a "guest" Quentin Cusp who warns them his employer will come for them before sinking the vessel.

In the present, an oil rig crew finds the lost Mother Mary and apparently something else; but they are slaughtered. Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong investigates the massacre with help from her lover Cort Wesley Masters, who was recently freed from a Mexican prison. As the pair seeks a motive for the mass murders, they are unaware that Cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, assumed dead in a drone attack, killed the crew to keep his deep water plot secret until he deploys a scheme to kill several hundred thousand Americans.

The latest Caitlin Strong thriller (see Strong at the Break) is a terrific action-packed tale starring a courageous fifth generation Texas Ranger. The good (the brave heroine and her loyal partner) fight the bad (unscrupulous business moguls and corrupt officials - these are not oxymoron) and the ugly (Muslim and homegrown terrorists, and deadly sexual predators). Fast-paced to include fascinating Ranger history and mythos interwoven into the super complex storyline, fans will relish this strong entry.

Cliff Walk
Bruce DeSilva
9780765332370, $24.95

In Pascoag, Cosmo Scalici owner of Scalici Recycling's farm that feeds waste to pigs notices what looks like a child's hand amidst the trash. Before he can act, a pig eats the hand. The pig is slaughtered and an autopsy affirms Cosmos' fears.

Someone is shot on Newport's Cliff Walk. The victim falls off the Cliff Walk to his death. State Police Captain Steve Parisi refuses to release the identity of the victim.

Providence Dispatch reporter Liam Mulligan covers both stories. He believes the pig recycle plant was used to cover a crime involving children and feels certain the Cliff Walk diver is pornographer and strip club owner Sal Maniella. Liam begins to connect the two incidents as he believes a vigilante is assassinating low life predators running a child porn ring. If his boss Edward Anthony Mason IV's dying paper lives long enough, albeit a couple of weeks or so, he plans to break a converged super story. State AG Fiona "Attila the Nun" McNerney tells Liam to back off, Maniella's bodyguards warns him to stay away from their dead boss' daughter and his wife Dorcas continues to aflame his ulcer.

Filled with blood and gore, this is an exciting Rhode Island investigative thriller built on the premise of legalized prostitution, which was true in the state until 2010 when it became banned. Providence shines as it did in Mulligan's first journalistic stew (see Rogue Island) while the comparisons between the dying newspaper and the dying porn industry enhance a strong mystery.

Mira Grant
Orbit Books
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780316081078, $9.99,

In 2041, it has been almost three decades since the Rising of the dead began and a couple of years since CDC murdered news blogger Georgia Mason after the siblings uncovered a hellish conspiracy and cover-up. Her brother Shaun continues their investigative work at After the End Times with his sister's ghost assisting him. However, his staff fears that the constant pressure of the job and his failure to move on in the grieving process has left Shaun teetering over the edge.

Georgia guides her sibling though the labs of mad scientists and past a horde of zombies not all who were formerly human. Then there is the Feds who obsess over corpses as they will do anything to keep the status quo especially burying scandals and plots even if their path dooms the United States.

The final Newsflesh post-apocalyptic urban fantasy (see Feed and Deadline) is a great climax to a wonderful trilogy. The story line is fast-paced as the key threads are resolved not all in a positive manner for the bloggers. Mira Grant closes out her futuristic America with hope in the darkness.

Susannah Sandlin
Montlake Romance
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781612183541, $12.95,

The vaccine saved mankind, but left the vampire world reeling; as human blood instead of substance became toxic. Realizing only in remote rural areas will live the dwindling few without the vaccine, Aidan Murphy established Penton, Alabama as a place where vampires like him and untreated humans live together in peace; the humans voluntarily allow the vampires to drink some of their blood.

In New York City, Matthias Ludlam is irate that his son William resides in Penton; he demands the extraction of his offspring Will. Vampire Tribunal private investigator Roger Hobbs explains that William is blood-bonded to Aidan as is the Tribunal top Slayer Mirren Kincaid and over twenty five other vamps. Ludlam realizes Aidan could defeat the Tribunal. He offers Aidan's estranged brother Owen a deal he cannot refuse because the alternative is execution. Owen arrives in Penton and attacks humans killing the only doctor. A desperate Aidan breaks a commandment and kidnaps Dr. Krystal Harris, an untreated human with no vampire experience. However both are stunned when they fall in love as he remembers vividly the deaths of his wife and child centuries ago and she loathes "abusive" alpha males like her dad.

This is a super romantic urban fantasy with a terrific backdrop. The action-packed story line is fast-paced from the moment Ludlam sends his operative to Alabama and never slows down until the Cain and Abel confrontation. Although Aidan's anguish is overdone becoming a minor irritant, readers will relish the refreshing stunning Susannah Sandlin vampire mythos.

Monster Hunter
Larry Correia
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781451637847, $24.00,

"Monster Hunter International." Owen Pitt wants the American dream, but instead got Monster Hunter International when his boss tried to bite off his head; in self-defense he pushed the miscreant out of a fourteenth floor story window. MHI offers scar faced Owen a position with their firm as monster eradicator. The Cursed One returns with an ancient vendetta to destroy the world. As time runs out on mankind, the rookie faces the Cursed One's undead horde, feral Feds, a ghost sharing his skull, and his beloved's cursed family without hazardous duty pay.

"Monster Hunter Vendetta." Having deployed a bottom line solution to the Cursed One's war, Pitt learns The Dread Overlord rages over what Owen arranged in his recent victory. The monster chieftain orders his supporters to bring him Mr. Pitt for special torture as saving humanity is an unacceptable defense. The Church of the Temporary Mortal Condition led by the Shadow Man stalks Owen as a perfect sacrifice to gain favor with the Old Ones.
"Monster Hunter Alpha." MHI Chief Earl Harbinger conceals from his subordinates that he is a werewolf who dedicated his life to protect mankind just like his dad the greatest Hunter ever. Earl learns ruthless former KGB werewolf Nikolai killed a deputy sheriff in Copper Lake, Michigan. The MHI leader realizes that he and Stalin's favorite agent must hunt each other until only one is left howling. However, Earl is ignorant of why his foe is in the Wolverine State.

The omnibus reprint of three MHI cases are entertaining satirical urban fantasies that deploys plenty of hyperbole to lampoon how society deals with "monsters". Pitt makes a more fascinating lead than Harbinger, but still each entry is fun.

Midwinter Blood
Mons Kallentoff
Emily Bestler Books
c/o Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781451642476, $25.95,

In Linköping, Sweden, the naked battered corpse of three hundred plus pounds recluse Bengt Andersson is found hanging from a tree. Thirty three years old Inspector Malin Fors and her partner Inspector Zeke Martinsson lead the homicide investigation.

They start with the victim's dysfunctional family and from them to teenage boys with a history of tormenting Andersson. The two cops question a professor of history who called the murder a "Midwinter Blood" sacrifice out of the country's Viking heritage. As the case comes together slowly, Malin tries to balance her police work with raising her thirteen years old Tove.

This is a fabulous Swedish police procedural in which the torture murder case serves as a mechanism to enable readers to understand the protagonist especially her relationships with her family (especially Tove) and her peers. Andersson's spirit floats around providing intelligent commentary on the investigation, his family, his abusers and the ice cold city; as only an unwanted outsider could. Readers who appreciate an insightful Swedish psychological thriller will enjoy the first translation of a Malin Fors' case.

Game of Secrets
Dawn Tripp
Random House
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780812971484, $15.00,

In 1957, Luce vanished leaving behind his skiff. Three years later, his skull with a bullet-hole in it is found in a gravel pit.

In 2004, Luce's granddaughter Marne comes home from California after her brother Alex calls her about the state of their mom Jane, who never fully moved pass the murder of her father when she was a tweener and the recent death of her weekly Scrabble partner Ada. Marne is attracted to her brother's best friend Ray, but will not act on her feelings because he is one of two sons (Huck is the other) of Ada, who was having an affair with Luce when he was murdered. However, Ray keeps showing up ostensibly to see Alex, but he really wants to date Marne. As they begin to go out together, Marne begins to better understand what haunts her mother who played Scrabble every week for years with Ada though the players rarely discussed Luce.

Though a murder ties and yet keeps apart two families, Game of Secrets is an entertaining character study that switches era and viewpoint seemingly effortlessly. As Marne looks deeper at her mom, she and readers understand the need for Jane to learn who killed her dad and the reason she played Scrabble as she believes Ada knows the truth. The eeriness of the game is a stunner but also can slow down the psychological drama with sidebar cat and mouse commentary on children. Still fans will relish this otherwise enjoyable unusual family affair as like Jane we are hooked with a need to know who.

The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.
Nichole Bernier
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307887801, $24.00,

For five years Kate Spencer and Elizabeth Martin were best friends as card carrying members of the mommy brigade. They shared family picnics and other events especially involving their children although at times they escaped parenting and husbands together. The tragic death of Elizabeth in a plane crash ends their sisterhood.

The late Elizabeth shocks everyone especially her husband Dave and her BFF Kate when she bequests her diaries to the latter and not her spouse. Dave tells Kate that his wife was flying to meet her lover Michael. Stunned by his accusation about his late wife, Kate begins to read what her buddy wrote, but she is overwhelmed to find a different person than the one she knew. Instead of the nurturing mother, wife and friend; there lurked an artist begging to come out of the shadows. However, what shakes Kate the most is Elizabeth's unmasked opinions of her at a time when her relationship with her husband Chris is shaky.

This is a superb character study that reads like a mystery as Kate begins to learn the full complex Elizabeth and what at times her BFF thought of her. The storyline focuses on how people wear masks to hide desires and hurts; little innocent nothings in one person's mind can fester into major pain in the other person's mind as relationships are complex and convoluted. Encouraged to let your inner self flow free and not worry about the opinions of others, readers will appreciate this discerning look at unmasking the real you and me outside of our societal roles.

Old Ladies
Nancy Huddleston Packer
Daniel & Daniel Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781564745279, $15.00,

"Night Noises." Widow Louise begins renting out a room to men (Edward and then Leo) and finally a woman (Ingrid) as a means of companionship, but none match Ross.

"Her Men." Her grandson Jackie hits on Katherine to fund his latest "Big Chance". She has doubts as she lives off her money, but reflects back years ago to her twentyish son Jay and his then teenage girlfriend pregnant Gail before deciding whether to be the Iron Duchess or the doting grandma.

"Charade." Planning to sell the house with its bitter reminders of what was, Helen hires Eddie to fix it up while she reflects back to when she and Lamar were together before he left her. However, her flirting has both men upset.

"Two's Company." Rosa the short muscular immigrant cleaning lady and her employer Virginia the six foot slim with roots going back to colonial times decide to fire one another though each needs the other.

"A Woman and His Dog." Before going to the hospital where he died, Martin asked Lydia to take care of Ozzie. As they walk each day in different directions, Ozzie introduces Lydia to the neighbors.

"Bridge." At Ridgeside Retirement Residence, Norman the widower replaces the recently deceased Angela as the fourth at bridge with Millie, Jean and Charlotte though they ridicule him for stinking at the game.

These well-written eleven stories showcase the diversity of Old Ladies as each protagonist differs from one another as do their circumstances. Each of the stars learns you can teach an old dog new tricks when they discover something new about themselves.

Nebula Awards Showcase 2012
James Patrick Kelly & John Kessel, editors
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616146191, $17.95,

This Nebula Award Showcase contains entries (partial and full) from the four award categories (Novel, Novelette, Novella and Short Story). Of the seven nominees for short story, four are presented including the two winners ("How Interesting a Tiny Man" by Harlan Ellison and "Ponies" by Kij Johnson). Four of the seven novelettes are provided to include the winner "That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made" by Eric James Stone. In the Novella category, two of the six nominees are presented to include the winner "The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen's Window" by Rachel Swirsky. Of the six nominees for Best Novel, an extract from the winner "Blackout/All Clear" by Connie Willis is part of the compilation.

The collection also includes the winners of other awards. An extract from The Andre Norton Award for Children's and Young Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy winner ("I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett) is provided. Fans can read the winners of the Dwarf Star Award for Poetry ("Bumbershoot" by Howard Hendrix), the Rhysling Awards for Long Poetry ("In the Astronaut Asylum" by Kendell Evans and Samantha Henderson) and Short Poetry ("To Theia" by Ann K. Schneider), and one of the two Solstice Award winners ("And I Awoke And Found Me Here On the Cold Hill's Side" By James Tiptree, Jr.

This is a strong compilation with a wide look at the genres though I preferred last year's approach which included all the short stories and novelette finalists so I could compare my selections with that of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Still once again the Nebula Awards Showcase is a fabulous look at science fiction and fantasy in 2011.

Destroyer of Worlds
Mark Chadbourn
9781616146177, $17.95

The universe is at a crossroad in which life on earth, the Land of the Dead and other realms will survive barely but changed or more likely die in a big crunch extinction event. Even the recently awakened ancient Gods in all probability will find their existence Void.

Champion of Existence Jack Churchill is the last hope. He and his horde, the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons, understand they must attack the Fortress of the Enemy in what is a suicide mission to get to the enemy The Burning Man. Though these brave souls would prefer to run for their lives instead of confronting the seemingly invincible Destroyer of Worlds in a hopeless cause as several fear that Jack is not the Champion of Existence but as the prophecies imply soon will metamorphose into a malevolent Champion of Nonexistence. Betrayal from within from those who fear Jack could change into the evil ender of life and pray for a miracle that they did the right thing (though the deities will unlikely not answer the plea as they are in trouble too). This complicates the perilous mission as Jack and his supporters must destroy the Burning Man (or as some think Jack) before this essence turns the universe into the Void.

This is a super finish to the multi-mythological Kingdom of Serpent fantasy trilogy. Starting with the Caretaker's brief synapsis of what happened in the precious tales (see The Burning Man and Jack of Ravens) fans will feel they are inside an incredible realm created by Mark Chadbourn. Readers will enjoy his escapades leading e Brothers and Sisters of Dragons on a suicide mission in which doing nothing is death anyway.

The Namesake
Conor Fitzgerald
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, NY, NY 10010
9781608198450, $25.00,

Just outside the courthouses in Rome's Piazzo Clodio, someone kidnaps and subsequently murders visiting Milan insurance agent Matteo Arconti. The victim was murdered to warn government officials to end their investigation into organized crime as the insurance agent has the same name as the magistrate leading the inquiry.

Magistrate Arconti is outraged that these thugs would kill an innocent civilian as a message of intimidation. He assigns Commissario Alec Blume to join the mob leaders at their convention Calabria. As Blume goes undercover in hopes of capturing the Ndrangheta gang whose leaders reside in the open in Germany, his lover and deputy Caterina Mattiola looks onto the homicide. However, impatient, Blume pulls a ruse using a forgery to insure the murderous chief of Ndrangheta is back in Italy.

The latest Commissario Alec Blume Italian police procedural (see The Dogs of Rome and The Fatal Touch) is a complicated exciting mystery in which ironically readers know what is happening due to engaging changing perspectives while Blume, Mattiola and other cops are in the dark. Loaded with action, The Namesake is a fabulous investigative thriller as Conor Fitzgerald deftly juggles several subplots which as a bonus enable armchair readers to obtain a taste of historical Italy.

A Plain Death
Amanda Flower
B&H Books
127 Ninth Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37234-0143
9781433676970, $14.99,

In the town of Appleseed Creek, Ohio in the middle of Amish country is Harshberger College where twentyish Chloe Humphrey is the new director of computer services. Chloe hopes she can stick it out for two years so she can add experience to her resume before she seeks a job in a big city.

On her way to her new home, Chloe rescues Amish teenager Becky from two harassing Englischer lairds. Becky needs a place to stay since she left her Old Amish community. Chloe allows her to stay with her. Not long after their first meeting, Becky, who has no license or insurance, "borrows" Chloe's car to go on a job interview. When the brakes fail, she kills local Amish elder Bishop Glick. The police discover someone cut the brake line, but Chloe had no time in the area to make any enemies. Chloe wonders whether someone in the "peaceful" community anticipated Becky driving the vehicle but cannot theorize how the Bishop fits into the scenario so decides he might not be intended victim. With the help of Becky's sexy brother Timothy, she investigates seeking a motive.

Readers will thoroughly enjoy this action-packed Ohio Amish cozy; in which the rigid rules of the Bishop must be totally obeyed if one is to avoid shunning by family and friends; for instance Timothy left becoming a Mennonite. The California native Chloe makes friends with several Amish including Becky who she feels a need to prove her innocence though that means confrontations with criminals. With India Hayes (see Maid of Murder) taking a breather, Amanda Flower's first Appleseed Creek Mystery is a wonderful amateur sleuth.

Further: Beyond the Threshold
Chris Roberson
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781612182438, $14.95,

Wayfarer One Captain Jason Ramachandra "RJ" Stone went into hibernation a few weeks after his crew. He expected to be awakened shortly in Alpha Centauri. However, when he regains consciousness from his cryogenic nap, he finds dog people barking in English. Stone soon learns that he took a twelve millennia nap. Not only are their dog people and other animal-humans hybrids, but also AIs and earth is at the center, The Human Entelechy connected by wormholes crosses three thousand light-years.

As he struggles to acclimate to a world that even science fiction had not imagined, Stone is given command of the FTL Further, the first vessel expected to break the speed of light barrier has a directive to explore a pulsar in which signs of intelligent life emulates. Instead the millennia old exiled Iron Mass cult captures him and his crew. Not only must they escape from their feral captors, Stone needs to also uncover the secret of the planet's stone towers, which he believes is the proof he sought on his mission.

With a nod to Buck Rogers and Rip Van Winkle, this is a creative far futuristic science fiction thriller with fascinating gizmos, intriguing definition of humanity and amusing satirical anthropological errors of how the past is conceived. The "heretical" Iron Mass cultists are never fully developed beyond their belief in religion amidst a sea of atheists. Although Stone put in command of a ship is like giving Columbus command of the space shuttle, fans will enjoy
Further: Beyond the Threshold as an exciting thirty-fourth century space thriller that is fascinating and absorbing.

The Search
Shelley Shepard Gray
Avon Inspire
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780062089724, $12.99,

After several months in Crittenden, Kentucky Perry Borntrager vanished. Three teenagers found his corpse at the bottom of an abandoned well on the Miller Farm. Knowing he was in over his head, Crittenden County Deputy Sheriff Mose Kramer asked his friend Cincinnati PD Detective Luke Reynolds to help with the inquiry, which he agreed to do (see The Secrets of Crittenden County: Missing).

Luke focuses on Frannie Eicher, Amish owner of the Yellow Bird Inn, as he believes she is hiding something important. She is filled with guilt and remorse blaming herself for Perry's death because she rejected his plan for them to leave the Amish and failed to get Perry off the drugs. However, she also feels unhappy that she is fickly is attracted to the Englischer detective. When Frannie is hurt in an accident, Beth Byler takes over running the inn; while Luke, already struggling with his desire for her, knows his heart is winning the battle with his brain.

The second Secrets of Crittenden police procedural romance continues the engaging investigation by the Englischer detective amidst uncooperative Amish, but made more complicated by his unprofessional attraction to one of the prime suspects. The clash of cultures is deftly handled so that differences don't overwhelm the delightful prime plot of falling in love while a murder investigation is occurring. Although it behooves fans to have read Missing first as Search builds off of the first book's foundation, readers will appreciate this fine entry as Luke "Found" his heart, but not the killer.

Rescue Me
Rachel Gibson
9780062069122, $7.99

When Sadie Hollowell turned eighteen she left Lovett, Texas. Over the next few years, she only came home to attend family events as she and her dad did not have a warm relationship and she realized she could never compete with his ranch for his affection; ergo she prefers her single life as a Phoenix realtor than time on the ranch. Sadie is in Lovett for her cousin's wedding but plans to leave ASAP.

Former SEAL Vince Haven struggles with adapting to a less regimental lifestyle as a civilian. He comes to Lovett because his aunt wants to talk a business deal with him. Vince and Sadie meet when she gives him a ride after his truck breaks down. Forced to remain in town when her dad is injured, she and Vince begin a casual affair, but neither expected to fall in love.

This is an engaging contemporary romance starring a resigned heroine who believes "love was only true in fairy tales" (Monkees' I'm A Believer) and the angry sibling in Any Man of Mine who wanted to rip out the guts of the hockey player who left his sister a single mom. The storyline is amusing as the zillion folks in Lovett provide a local jocular eccentricity to the plot. Although typical of the relationship-phobic theme and the ending sudden, fans will enjoy the protagonists' rescue each other's heart.

Darkness Becomes Her
Jaime Rush
9780062018922, $7.99

Ali's Uncle Russell apparently kills her parents and takes over her daddy's body. She has been on the run ever since.

Lachlan Macleod loved using his power as an Offspring until he accidently killed his mom. Filled with guilt and remorse, he has withdrawn from the world and rejects his paranormal skills. His brother Magnus is worried about Lachlan's mental state. Magnus tells his sibling her has fallen for Jessie Bellandre. However, Lachlan warns him that he has seen Jessie kill Magnus. Meanwhile, Jessie has been in hiding from her uncle for fifteen years ever since she witnessed his murdering her mom and taking control of her dad's body. Her biggest trepidation is the Darkness inside of her will one day surface. Concerned for Magnus, Lachlan confronts Jessie who fears her uncle is near.

The latest Offspring romantic urban fantasy (see Beyond the Darkness, Touching Darkness and Out of the Darkness) is filled with intelligent twists that provide a light into the Darkness. The lead pair is a super coupling as each has reasons to be a loner s dreading that horrific condition called love. Action-packed, sub-genre readers will enjoy Jamie Rush's tour of Annapolis.

A Blood Seduction
Pamela Palmer
9780062107497, $7.99

In Bethesda Quinn Lennox works as a researcher at the National Institute of Health. Besides government work, she uses her lab to run tests on her own blood, but to her chagrin the results are always normal in spite of strange things happening to her including two recent scary visions and the Shimmers who have left her social life dead. The only person still in her life is her younger brother Zack and by extension his girlfriend Lily.

A frantic Zack and Quinn search for a missing Lily. Quinn sees an odd light while Zack picks up Lily's pen from on the ground just as his sister grabs him. They fall into the dark world of Vamp City, which exists several hundred years ago. Vampires run the city while humans are blood banks. Arturo Mazza takes Quinn as his slave but wants more than just her blood that he craves; he needs her as his emotional slave too. He explains to her that a sorcerer created V.C. centuries ago, but the city is dying unless a new mage is found to save it. They are attracted to each other, but another vampire owns Zack; and Quinn will do anything to rescue her brother.

The first Vamp City is an exciting fantasy that grips readers from the moment the siblings arrive in V, C. Fast-paced, betrayal and deception are the dark shimmers that run through the super story line. This is a strong opening act which sets the Palmer V.C. mythos' paranormal boundaries mythos yet with so many treacherous acts, fans will wonder what Pamela Palmer has installed in her dark vampire series.

A Night Like This
Julia Quinn
9780062072900, $7.99

Raging High Prentice accuses drunken Daniel Smythe-Smith of cheating at cards. Though struggling for coherency, Daniels denies it, but Hugh, who knows every card, insist he could not have an ace. They agree to a duel. Hugh fires his gun a nanosecond early hitting Daniel in the shoulder. Though irate Daniel plans to shoots at a tree, but is distracted and hits Hugh causing permanent harm to a leg. Hugh's angry father Ramsgate vows vengeance as Daniel leaves the country for Italy.

For eight years Anne Wynter has hidden from her past. Currently she is governess to three Smythe-Smith females. Whether she butchers the piano at the family musicale or fears death by tuba, Anne does all with calmness until she meets the Earl of Winstead; as after three years on the continent Daniel is back. As they become friends and fall in love, accidents begin to occur that Daniel believes is intended to hurt him with only the Hugh incident coming to mind as the likely source.

The second Smythe-Smith Quartet Regency romantic suspense (see Just Like Heaven for the story of Daniel's sister Honoria and his BFF Marcus) is an engaging historical starring two likable protagonists who find love strip away their caution. Filled with humor, tension and a surprising plausible twist, fans will enjoy this wonderful entry.

Along Came A Duke
Elizabeth Boyle
9780062089069, $7.99

In 1810, orphan Tabitha Timmons lives with uncle and aunt who treat her as unpaid help. However, she will inherit a fortune if she marries respectable Mr. Barkworth before she turns twenty-five; which is one month from now.

Stopping at an inn on her way to meet her fiance in London, Tabitha meets the rakish Duke of Preston who is exiled by the Ton for his scandalous behavior. Though he knows better as like her he needs to make a socially correct marriage, he steals a kiss. Both are stunned by their reaction. However, she continues her journey but he follows her. At a London ball, Preston insults Barkworth and dances with Tabby. With family, friends and dogs matchmaking Preston and Tabby, they fall in love. However, Preston believes he must do what is right by his Tabby, but first looks into the will that has the odd stipulation regarding her inheritance.

The first Rhymes With Love Regency romance is an amusing historical that satirizes the sub-genre with hyperbolic characterizations to include the ultimate rake, the on the shelf spinster, the proper fop, matchmaking dogs and cruel relatives, etc. Filled with humor, fans will wonder whether the heroine will choose scandalous love, prim money, or lonely asylum.

Disappearing Nightly
Laura Resnick
DAW Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756407667, $7.99,

In the off-Broadway production Sorcerers, actress Golly Gee gets the part of Virtue; a role that Esther Diamond wanted. Esther, who waits tables in Little Italy is Golly's understudy and has a part in the chorus; which her agent says is better than nothing as the Big Apple has more unemployed performers than the residents in most other cities. Still Esther wishes Golly would get sick so she can take over the role.

On stage, Golly steps inside a crystal cage as part of an illusion, but vanishes. Excited Esther looks forward to being Virtue, but receives a strange note warning her not to enter the cage as evil has engulfed the city. She shows the note to Police Detective Connor Lopez who says it is just a dumb prank. Later three-century and a half old Dr. Maximillian Zadok of the Magnum Collegium informs Esther that several magician assistants disappeared while on stage doing an illusion. Maximillian joins Esther, several drag queens, dancing cowgirls, and pretentious magicians to fight the malevolence.

This Esther Diamond urban fantasy is an engaging tale starring an eccentric intrepid heroine who has a fast education into the paranormal. Fast-paced, Esther and Connor are attracted to one another, but he refuses to act on his desire because he thinks she is a nut who is a prime suspect in the missing Golly Gee case. Readers will enjoy Disappearing Nightly as the understudy finds a show she would prefer not to be one of the stars.

Reincarnation: A Story About Love, Hate, Time and Pain
Edgardo Quinones
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432774899, $12.95,

In the present, Elizabeth lives with her parents in an isolated area. She recently made an older friend Zafael, who her parents do not know about. In fact when they see her talking to air, they assume she talking to an imaginary friend.

Fifteen hundred years before Jesus, brutal Jericho Commander Drakos leads an army of five thousand soldiers defending the walled city anyway has can. Only Elizabeth calms his raging soul. When Elizabeth's parents died, Drakos' lieutenant Vampros took her in as he loves her. Zafael the fallen angel also loves Elizabeth. He demands she leave with him, but she chooses Vampros. Irate Zafael touches Vampros before fleeing as three angels arrive. They discuss what to do about the paradox of Vampros who has been changed into a bloodsucker and suicide is not an option as either is holy sins against the Lord. The angelic trio does nothing and leaves. When Elizabeth dies at the hands of invaders, Vampros becomes a rabid animal until centuries later he learns his beloved is reincarnated. However, love proves weaker than hate as his ancient enemies from Jericho kept the soul mates apart. Now he tries once again in the twenty-first century, but Zafael is already there and Drakos will surely follow.

Reincarnation is a wonderful thriller that lives up to its subtitle. The use of <<>> to separate first person commentary from third person action is distracting to me though others more tolerant with diverse styles will appreciate the technique. Character driven yet loaded with action, Edgardo Quinones provides an engaging tale as eternal love is heavenly while eternal hate is hellish pain.

The Homemade Stuffing Caper: Charlie Collier, Snoop for Hire
John V. Madormo
c/o Penguin Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780399255434, $15.99,

In Oak Grove, Illinois Roosevelt Middle School sixth-grader Charlie loves the 1930s Chicago based pulp fiction starring fictional hero Sam Solomon private investigator. The overweight Charlie and his best friend Henry compete at puzzle solving while they run a detective agency in the Collier family garage. Hiding what they do from their parents, the pair solves cases for their middle school paying clients relying on their brains and shoes as they believe the Internet makes resolution too easy.

However though the best friends conceal what they do to earn a living very well, Charlie's free-spirited grandmother Constance and Eugene the librarian know about Solomon's novels and that Charlie works minor investigations. Statuesque femme fatale classmate Scarlett joins the kids sleuthing team. Eugene who is more than a librarian hires them to work undercover on a missing exotic birds' inquiry.

With a nod to the movie Jr. Detective Agency, "The Homemade Stuffing Caper: Charlie Collier, Snoop for Hire" is an entertaining kid sleuthing tale and a fun investigative novel. The hardboiled tweener detective emulates his hero (each chapter refers back to the Solomon novels). Fast-paced, middle school students will appreciate the escapades of "Charlie Collier, Snoop for Hire" and his teammates.

Differential Equations
Julian Iragorri and Lou Aronica
Fiction Studio Books
9781936558469, $14.95,

In 2010 Manhattan, businessman Alex Soberano observes Sandbrook Media CEO Tim Waxman before surprisingly saying no to a merger deal. He abruptly takes two weeks off to go to Ashram on the West Coast; a stunner as he never takes time off. His girlfriend Angelica is also shocked.

In 1928 in Anhelo, Legado, Tia Vidante reads the colors of others in order to tell them their destiny. She looks deep into Ana as she does every month but this time instead of the usual brown of loneliness she sees passion and her own death.

In 1920, Khaled Hebron left behind his wife and three small children in Bethlehem to obtain work in Legado. Not long after he arrived in South America, his family back in Palestine is slaughtered.

In 1985, teenager Dro arrives from Anhelo, Legado to attend MIT though he has not applied. Associate admissions director Susan Roemer arranges for him to attend BC before coming to MIT. At a party, he learns to read colors and meets his country's ambassador to America.

Rotating perspective between the four subplots before merging them on the West Coast with a neat twist, Differential Equations is a fascinating character study that digs deep into individuals in different eras but tied together by the colors emulating from others. Fans will compare the protagonists as Khaled is grieving until he finds a second chance at love; Vidante is caring of others especially those she loves; Dro is a naive intelligent idealist until he is hurt by love; and Alex lacks the wisdom that comes with love. Readers who relish something different will appreciate this odd but sensitive look at what being human means.

When the Past Haunts You
L.C. Hayden
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470074791, $10.00,

Carol Bronson lectures her husband of thirty-one years for keeping a secret from her. The retired Dallas cop never told her he has a sister Lorraine who just called. He explains to his spouse that his sibling informed him and their parents she wanted nothing to do with them and left without a second glance back. Harry wants nothing to do with Lorraine and deletes her increasingly desperate calls as he remembers how she blew pot smoke into the face of their ailing dad.

When he finally answers, she says she is in deadly trouble, cannot talk on the phone and is in Whittle City near Pittsburgh. He refuses to go there but Carol persuades him to fly from South Dakota to Pennsylvania to meet at Glacier Valley State Park where she is shot dead as she runs to him. Bronson informs lead police investigator Ivy Cannody that he is staying at the home of his former partner Mike's ex-wife Ellen in Pittsburgh. Feeling guilty, Harry decides to find his sibling's killer; Mike and Ellen assist him.

The latest Harry Bronson (see When Death Intervenes) is a great twisting thriller as the remorseful protagonist needs to find the murderer, but to do so means uncovering his sister's convoluted surprising past. Action-packed but also filled with pathos, readers will relish this strong entry as Harry learns you can't go home if you wait too long.

Changing Worlds: Book 1 of: The Dharalyn Chronicles
Donald Dambois
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466271111, $13.99,

Her dad Big John Walkerman is very worried about his sixteen year old daughter Danielle who no longer acts like girls her age. He knows the change in personality occurred when her momma Marilyn died in a car accident a few months ago. Though he misses his wife of almost two decades too, Big John has no time to deeply grieve as his children, especially Danielle needs him. Heeding the advice of his sister Sara, Big John decides Danielle needs professional help; he will offer the same to his son Aaron but the lad seems adjusted to the loss of his mom.

However, prayers like those from despondent Danielle often get answered in mysterious ways. Danielle meets depressed Dharalyn just before the latter was dining on the blood of the former's Gran. While their dangerous adventures together begin in the city with the selling of gems, they become close friends as the human and the vampire hide the vamp's sustenance need from Danielle's family and Dharalyn's species; knowing neither of their kin would take kindly to their being BFFs.

The first Dharalyn Chronicles is filled with action, but driven by the BFFs' close relationship as two lost souls from polar opposite lifestyles forge a needed friendship at a critical time in their lives. Both are full blooded while the support cast enhances the plot. Fans will enjoy the Changing World of the two delightful Ds as Donald Dambois deftly provides a unique teen lit vampire thriller.

Kiss The Bride
Lori Wilde
Forever Romance
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9781455512676, $7.99,

"There Goes The Bride." In Houston the upcoming marriage between Delaney Cartwright and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Evan van Zandt makes all of the societal pages. However, the bride has doubts although she admits Evan is a nice likable person; she wants sparks and there are none. Delaney stops at a consignment shop where she makes a wish to get out of her nuptials while holding a wedding veil. Her friends persuade her to abduct Evan and have her way with him. Instead she almost kidnaps Evan's patient, undercover Detective Dominic Vanetti, whom she has seen in a vision when she first touched the veil. Still her plan now is to hire someone to abduct her so she does not have to say I do, but someone else has the same agenda with a different outcome.

"Once Smitten, Twice Shy." Two years ago Secret Service agent Shane Tremont and wedding videographer Tish Gallagher divorced though they remain hot for one another. While Tish's business borders on bankruptcy, Shane protects the POTUS' daughter Elysee. When he is injured in the line of duty, Elysee thinks he is her knight in shining armor; Shane thinks he is in love. They become engaged as the country goes wild over the romance between the government agent and the First Daughter. Elysee hires Tish to videotape their engagement party and their wedding as she knows Shane still has a torch for his ex and believes that should bring finality to the couple. However, Elysee's plan backfires as Shane and Tish realize they still love each other, but they failed once.

This reprint of two whimsical Wedding Veil Wishes tales contains Wilde madcap entertaining contemporary romances.

Lucky In Love
Jill Shalvis
9781455503728, $7.99

In Lucky Harbor, Washington Mallory Quinn is tired of being the Mary Poppins of her hew town as she always is there for others in need. The nurse wants to have a fling, which would go against her image of being a nice caring girl.

Ty Garrison is the newcomer in town. He makes sure everyone knows he is here for a short stay as the SEAL medic recovers from injuries sustained in a burning plane over the Pacific. Mallory decides Ty is perfect though he is not Mr. Right or Mr. Wrong to mentor her in the art of sex. Not one to forsake his duty, Ty willingly becomes her instructor while wondering who is teaching who as each begins to muse could they have become Lucky In Love.

The latest Lucky Harbor contemporary romance (see At Last and Forever And A Day) is a wonderful amusing tale made fresh by the townsfolk. The lead couple is a strong pairing of two nice people with diverse outlooks on life. Seemingly everyone has advice for the town's good girl poster child while Ty finds it amusing to be caught in the crosshairs from her loyal posse including that darn cat Sweet pea. Though the premise of the sex teacher and willing student falling in love is not new, fans will relish this delightful charmer.

The Sadness of the Samurai
Victor del Arbol
Henry Holt
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 400
New York, NY 10010-7725
9780805094756, $28.00,

In 1981 in Barcelona, thirty-something lawyer Maria Bengoecha lies dying on a hospital deathbed while under police guard. Her pending death is the only reason Maria is not on trial for numerous homicides including the Mola brothers as part of an anti-fascist movement when she allegedly helped Cesar Alcala escape from custody. Not in the news about the anti-fascist conspiracy is clever homicidal Congressman Publio.

In 1941 in Merida, Spain Isabel Mola tries to escape from her violent husband with her son Andres. She had hoped to leave with her lover but a betrayal thwarts that. While her husband's clever homicidal top aide Publio seeks her out, Isabel is sad over leaving behind her other child Fernando while taking the train to Portugal.

The prime subplots are four decades apart, but connected by family ties and fascism. Readers will appreciate the first English translation of a Victor del Arbol's novel as the aptly titled The Sadness of the Samurai is a great historical suspense.

Ghost Song
Sarah Rayne
Felony & Mayhem
9781937384104, $14.95,

In present day London, surveyor Robert Fallon muses that the Tarleton Music Hall has to be the ugliest building he ever seen before entering the edifice. The Harlequin Society hired him to survey the boarded up theater, closed in 1914 but no one knows why. Robert finds a wall which seals off part of a room underneath the stage while the trapdoor is nailed shut.

Harlequin Society employee Hilary Bryant teams up with Robert to uncover the secret of what happened in 1914. Meanwhile her boss Shona Seymour receives a letter asking whether they plan to reopen the Tarleton. While Robert seeks a way into the sealed section, Shona struggles with suppressed memories from her childhood. Hilary learns of the star of the theater Toby Chance who vanished in 1914 after a trip to Sarajevo to protest against Archduke Ferdinand while Robert feels haunted as he hears the tunes of the allegedly Singing Ghost.

Ghost Song is a fabulous historical theater mystery as Hilary and Robert diligently try to piece together what happened to the Tarleton and its star just prior to WW1. Although the Shona subplot seems improbable, the exciting storyline grips the audience starting with Robert's exploration of the closed for almost a century theater and never slows down. Appreciative fans will want to know what led to the final curtain call.

Herring on the Nile
L.C. Tyler
Felony & Mayhem
9781937384029, $14.95,

Third level list mystery writer (under two aliases) and romance author (under another name) Ethelred Tressider informs his agent Elsie Thirkettle that he is going to Egypt to conduct research for his next book. Accompanying him is Annabelle, the widow of the late Lord Muntham. Annabelle is not coming with him; so Ethelred invites Elise giving her eight days' notice.

The writer and his agent sail up the Nile on the Khedive, a luxurious paddle steamer. Also on board is bonehead private investigator Herbie Proctor, who foolishly boasts he is on the ship protecting a client. Another passenger Mr. Pirbright believes Ethelred is a former MI5 field operative who became the author Paul Fielder. Two Egyptians inform Elsie they are undercover detectives pursuing two criminals. The two Brits compare notes re the other passengers are a felonious crew, but the trek proves worse when the engine's die and a murdered corpse is found; everyone even apparently Elsie assumes Ethelred is the culprit.

The fourth E squared amateur sleuth (see The Herring Seller's Apprentice, Herring In The Library and Ten Little Herrings) once again pays homage to Agatha Christie. The fast-paced storyline is filled with wit and irony inside of a wonderful whodunit that satirizes Death One The Nile due in part to the relationship between the perfect English gentleman and his in your face agent who insists if he worked diligently and applied his talent he could attain a level two status.

Casket of the Souls
Lynn Flewelling
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345522306, $7.99,

The war between the Plenimarians and Rhiminee continues in Mycena with the former's Overlord asks for a parlay for peace but the latter's Queen Phoria refuses to negotiate in spite the hostilities going bad for her kingdom. Meanwhile Watchers espionage operatives Alec and Seregil informs their chief Thero the wizard that they plan to visit the summer home of the Duke Reltheus for a client needing the services of Rhiminee Cat burglar to steal letters before the rat's ex-mistress marries. They succeed in obtaining the love letters but also find an incriminating note, which Reltheus should not have, that incriminates Princess Klia of sedition against the Queen.

At the same time, a plague has struck the overcrowded Rhiminee filled with refugees from the war as well as the local residents. As the death count mounts, an already anxious city feels fear and panic, while some members of the Royal Court conspire to further their personal objectives.

The sixth Nightrunner military-political fantasy (see The White Road and Shadow's Return) is an engaging thriller that keeps The Traveling Twosome (aside - great show) close to home with the only distant scenarios involving Commander Beka Cavish leading the Royal forces against the Plenimarians. The storyline starts a bit slowly as the protagonists and others attend the theater, but the plot accelerates when the thieves break into the Duke's home and never slows down from there even with some repetitious activity. Well written and exciting, fans of the series will want know whether the Princess plots against the Queen.

Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow
Juliet Grey
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345523884, $15.00,

In 1774 when King Louis XV dies, his grandson becomes King Louis XVI. The new Majesty's Austrian wife eighteen year old Marie Antoinette vows to be different from her late pious predecessor who was overshadowed by the royal mistresses like Madame du Barry. Over the next few years in Versailles, behind a facade of silk, Marie fears for her personal safety and the Bourbon dynasty as she senses trouble coming especially with what happened in American colonies. She is surrounded by those who want the foreigner off the throne even if she is the mother of the heir who becomes part of the gossip as many insist his father is Swedish military officer Axel von Fersen who Marie had an affair with that left her feeling guilty. Marie's reputation is destroyed by the Affair of the Diamond Necklace in which she rejected the present that the former king commissioned for his last mistress, but a diabolical pair persuades Cardinal de Rohan that Her Majesty loves him. The people blame Marie Antoinette for the Affair as the common belief fostered by xenophobes in the court is that the Queen blamed the Cardinal for her avarice. The sharks emboldened by public opinion grow bolder.

The insightful and entertaining second Marie Antoinette biographical fiction (see Becoming Marie Antoinette) focuses on the royal years through the eyes of the Queen. Though the key support cast like the Cardinal, the con artist and her Swedish lover are not as fully fleshed out as one would want, this historical is a deep look at the Queen culminating with to stay or not to stay as the question.

A Fatal Debt
John Gapper
9780345527899, $26.00

Fiftyish Wall Street banker Harold Shapiro is depressed after being fired. His wife Nora worries about his mental state. Nora takes Harry to Episcopal Psychiatric ER after he was shouting at traffic and frightening dog walkers in Central Park. Psychiatrist Dr. Ben Cowper treats the patient. Harry demands to leave over the objection of Ben; the hospital administration sides with Harry so reluctantly Ben signs the release form.

Not long after Nora takes Harry to their place in East Hampton, he murders Marcus Greene. Harry's lawyer blames Ben for releasing his client too soon. The media roasts Ben who they blame for the Long Island tragedy. The hospital administration and Ben's peers reject mea culpa insisting it is a doctor's solo decision to release or not. The ambitious DA goes after Ben rather than a sick man. Ben decides to save his reputation by making inquiries into the homicide, but runs up against lies and denial.

This is an exciting thriller that has an incredible set up starting with insight into Wall Street fraud and the media condemnation of Ben. When he turns into an amateur sleuth his incompetency as a detective adds to the excitement though one must wonder why he did not hire a pro. However, in the second half, the storyline loses plausibility but remains gripping except for a seemingly "required" romance that detracts from the overall engaging plot.

The Twelfth Enchantment
David Liss
9780345520180, $15.00

At sixteen Lucy Derrick eloped with Jonas Morrison, but their running away was never finished though it partially wrecked her reputation as being foolish but not a whore. She believes her aborted elopement destroyed her family. A few years later, her oldest sister Emily died just before her father passed. Her middle sister Martha married Mr. Buckles who rejects having Lucy in his house as he obeys his patroness Widow Lady Harriett Dyer. Lucy lives as the poor relation of her resentful martinet Uncle Richard Lowell and his towering abusive housekeeper Mrs. Quince. She is forced to accept a marriage offer from Mr. Olson, owner of a mill with brutal working conditions.

The poet Lord Byron arrives babbling she must not marry before collapsing. Medical man Mr. Snyder arrives and says he cannot help the cursed Byron; he suggests they consult with Miss Mary Crawford. Lucy and Mrs. Quince visit Mary. The "witch" guides Lucy as she lifts the curse haunting Byron. The strangeness turns weirder as Lucy becomes the foci of a colossal conspiratorial collision between the ancient and modern times. Lucy must find a mystical tome to save her country while two enigmatic males court her.

The Twelfth Enchantment is a strange yet engaging Regency fantasy starring a charming heroine struggling with being the unwanted relative fostered off to an engagement she does not remotely accept when her vision of the world is shattered. The storyline is leisurely paced especially towards the beginning to establish time and place (through Byron) and the laws of Liss magic. Readers will appreciate this twisting coming of age historical fantasy as Lucy Derrick tries to save a world she never knew existed until Byron arrived.

Playing Dead
Julia Heaberlin
9780345527011, $15.00

Thirty-something Tommie McCloud returns home to Ponder, Texas for the funeral of her father. Her dad's sexagenarian secretary Melva gives Tommie a letter addressed to her that she assumed would be a sympathy card. Instead the author starts with "Dear Tommie: Have you ever wondered about who you are?" From there she claims that Tommie is her kidnapped daughter taken from her over three decades ago.

Though she assumes the note is sick joke especially when she thinks about growing up with her sister Sadie and her late brother Tuck on a Texas ranch, Tommie still looks back for anomalies in her childhood. Her mom suffers from dementia so offers nothing to Tommie. Still motivated, she begins to search for the author of the letter. As Tommie uncovers harrowing deadly truths about her genealogy, several interested parties watch her every move but one plans to kill to keep the past buried.

This is an exciting suspense thriller starring a fascinating purposely stereotyped protagonist whose search of identity teaches her sometimes the truth can be deadly. Told by Tommie and filled with twists that many readers will anticipate, Playing Dead is an exhilarating multi-family drama as fans will wonder whose Tommie's biological parents?

Home For The Summer
Mariah Stewart
9780345531223, $7.99

Thirtyish Lucy Sinclair loves her family and relished growing up in St. Denis, Maryland but as an adult loathes going back there; not just because her business in in California. One traumatic incident that she has shared with no one has left her hating any return to Chesapeake Bay.

Clay Madison was her best friend but she never told him what happened and he believes something must have occurred that has Lucy never coming home unless there is an occasion and fleeing the first chance she can. He stayed behind to run his family farm and recently opened up a brewery. When she comes back to plan a wedding, they spend time together as they renew their friendship and soon show tokens of affection, which blossoms into love. However, besides their vocations being on different sides of the country, her two-decade old nightmare remains in the way.

The newest Chesapeake Diaries (see Hometown Girl, Home Again and Almost Home) is owned by Lucy who learns she can come home to love from her family and from Clay if she let's go of the nightmare that haunts her. Though the engaging storyline goes totally as expected, fans will enjoy the latest visit to Chesapeake Bay.

Wife 22
Melanie Gideon
9780345527950, $26.00

Alice Buckle has been married to advertising executive William for almost two decades. They have two children fifteen year old Zoe who struggles with an eating disorder after being dumped by her first boyfriend the son of Alice's BFF Nedra the divorce lawyer and twelve year old Peter who shows early signs of being gay.

Worried about her kids, Alice also fears her haunting next birthday as forty-five is the age her mother died. She cannot turn to her support group of women without mothers as she knows what they will say or her spouse who has been acting weird lately since his esteem collapsed when he was demoted on the job. Alice receives an email inviting her to participate in an online survey of long-married women. Dubbed Wife 22 She answers the questions while looking closely at her marriage and family and at the play she wrote that bombed. Upset with William's grumpy aloofness, Wife 22 flirts online with survey Researcher 101 while ignoring the needs of her troubled children.

This is an entertaining middle age chick lit tale for the communication age. The cast is solid especially the protagonist and her family. However, readers will become frustrated with the parents as initially William but rather quickly Alice become egomaniacs looking to take care of their respective needs while failing at parenting at a time when their teen and tweener are in crisis. Still this is an interesting older (bit not wiser) Brigit Jones Diary over the Smart Phone.

Heat Wave
Nancy Thayer
9780345518323, $15.00

On Nantucket Island, thirty-two year old Carley Winsted is unprepared to suddenly become the single mom of her daughters (five years old Margaret and twelve years old Cisco), but has no choice when her spouse Gus dies from an undetected heart defect. However, besides having to take care of their devastated children, Carley is shocked to learn what a financial disaster Gus left her in spite of his being a lawyer.

Gus' parents (Annabel and Russell) push their daughter-in-law to leave the expensive historical home and move in with them. Though she respects them, Carley prefers for her and the kids to remain in their present residence as a move on top of their father's death would cause more harm than good for the children and she knows for her self-esteem. Over the objection of Annabel who feels she demeans her family home though Carley owns it, she decides to convert the historical house into a bed-and-breakfast with the help of friends like Gus' partner Wyatt.

This is an entertaining family drama that focuses on moving on after an unexpected death of a loved one. The cast is fully developed including Carley's close friends Maud and Vanessa, but the well-written character-driven storyline never veers off a cause straighter than the Bonneville Salt Flats even with a further death and a newborn.

The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation
Elizabeth Letts
9780345521095, $16.00

After WWII, Harry de Leyer left Holland seeking work in America. His skills with horses led to his position as the riding master at the Knox School all-girls boarding school in St. James, Long Island. In 1956, because of a faulty headlight on his dilapidated vehicle, Harry was late for a horse auction in New Holland, Pennsylvania. Still he buys an eight years old plow horse heading to the slaughterhouse for eight bucks. The kids adored the likable gelding they called Snowman. Harry soon sells Snowman to a neighbor who wanted a clam horse for his daughter. However, Snowman refused to remain there leaping over the fence to return to Harry who realized the steed had talent, which was turned into a two-time National Horse Show champion.

Although there is a sense of hyperbole re Snowman's impact on America even with Harry as a role model for the "dream team" and degrees of peripheral separation sidebars that either detract or add nothing to the prime theme, fans will enjoy this engaging biography. Late 1950s- early 1960s Long Island comes alive as a place in flux from rustic to increasingly urban while Harry and Snowman are reminders of an age in which the American dream could be achieved with talent, hard work and little money.

Charmed by His Love
Janet Chapman
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780515150902, $7.99,

Widow and single mom of four young children (Charlotte, Isabel and the twins Pete and Jacob) Peg Thompson needs to earn a living and believes she has a fortuitous way due to a recent earthquake that created an inland sea out of a mountain and made the gravel quarry on her land valuable. Duncan MacKeage (see Pine Creek Highlander saga - Highlander for the Holidays) arrives to lead the construction of roads and bridges using the widow's gravel.

Duncan enjoys spending time with the four impish heathens and is attracted to their mother. However, Peg knows the family curse leaves men dead so she refuses to get involved with Duncan. The earthquake maker Mr. Oceanus (see Spellbound Falls) encourages Duncan to embrace his magical skills that he has ignored that is if he wants Peg.

The second Spellbound Falls urban fantasy romance is an engaging tale starring an interesting lead couple as she fears the curse will kill Duncan while he fears deploying the magic he left dormant. The kids may be too precocious, but add mischievous fun as fans will enjoy Janet Chapman's merging of two of her romantic fantasy series.

Feast of Ice and Fire
Chelsea Monroe-Cassel
Sariann Lehrer
George R.R. Martin
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345534491, $35.00,

Obviously as the title states "Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook" targets fans of the Game of Thrones saga. The entries include what a reasonable Medieval Kitchen requires like Aurochs, Savory and Grains of Paradise, etc. and easy substitutes like in these cases beef, thyme and black pepper. The recipes are divided into the six regions with the entries enabling the modern chef to bake with contemporary equipment or the fanatical chef cooking in a medieval manner.

With a nod to Renaissance Faires' food fare and homage to George R.R. Martin's super series, fans will enjoy learning how to properly prepare Dragons Eggs in diverse styles and dining by region with Mutton in Onion-Ale Broth at the Wall; Aurochs with Roasted Leeks in the North; tasty Poached Pears in the South, scrumptious Sweetcorn Fritters at King's Landing that rival in taste the Atlanta south-side bakeries and Bowls of Brown; Dornish Snake with Fiery Sauce in Dorne; and Honey-Spiced Locusts Across the Narrow Sea. With colorful mouthwatering pictures fans will relish this cookbook, but should be warned we armchair warriors are a tad less active than Tyrion and others in the Seven Kingdoms.

When Passion Lies
J.K. Beck
9780345525635, $7.99

Caris and Tiberius were lovers for centuries until a mission in the early eighteenth century shattered their relationship and drove her away from her mate to his rival Gunnolf the Weren. He is devastated by her betrayal but remains dedicated to the cause of protecting the shadow world; she becomes bitter at the world and her former lover.

In the present, Tiberius objects to a nasty beast joining the Alliance as Weren Lihter the Therian representative will challenge Tiberius for the leadership. Lihter holds hostage the daughter of Cyrus Reinholt; Tiberius seeks the man in hiding to learn why. However, he arrives too late as Caris kills Cyrus. With little choice, Caris and Tiberius team up to prevent the ruthless Lihter from destroying the Alliance while a Texas hellhound investigator Gabriel Casavetes hunts the killer of Reinholt.

The latest Shadow Keepers romantic urban fantasy (see When Pleasure Rules and When Wicked Craves) is an exciting second chance at love thriller. When Passion Lies is fast-paced from the moment Tiberius confronts Caris with what she just did and never slowing down as the more the pair learns about Lihter's agenda the more diligent they become to prevent it. Although the snappy retorts are overdone making each lead seem too acrimonious, series fans will enjoy this exhilarating entry. Additionally, a bonus "Shadow Keepers novella "Midnight" provides the first chance historical romance when Caris(sa) asks Tiberius to help rescue her brother.

The Very Picture of You
Isabel Wolfe
9780553386639, $15.00

In London, thirty-five years old Gabriella "Ella" Graham is a highly regarded portrait artist who the rich commission to paint them. Her prime demand is that the client poses for hours as she refuses to use photos so that she bring out the true essence of the subject.

Ella's dad John sends her an e-mail asking to see her. She prefers to ignore him as decades ago he dumped her and her ballerina mom for another woman. At about the same time, Ella's sister Chloe wins a charity auction bid in which Ella will paint her sibling's fiance Nate, an American working in London. Overhearing him talk sweetly to someone over the phone, Ella loathes Nate for cheating on Chloe who is just recovering from a bad relationship. However, as she paints Nate's portrait, Ella begins to fall in love with her model. She also works on other clients like the Frenchwoman having an affair and the M.P. who probably killed a bicyclist in a hit and run. Finally there is a half-sister she never knew existed.

This is an engaging contemporary drama with a wonderful twist of having a portrait artist capturing the essence of her models on canvas. Ella is wonderful as a watcher of others who enables the audience to learn who her subjects are (and were) though she remains somewhat distant. Although the ending seems off kilter for this otherwise deep character study, fans will appreciate the Very Picture of You; this reviewer suggests Isobel Wolff provides a short story collection of people Ella painted before she met Nate and years after they met.

A Gentleman Undone
Cecilia Grant
9780553593846, $7.99

Those who survived the bloody Battle of Waterloo were considered heroes back home, but Lieutenant Will Blackshear watched his brothers in arms die; the most devastating was Talbot who left behind a wife and son. Suffering emotionally, he returns to London broken but a quest gives him focus. He obsesses over making enough money to insure Talbot's family is financially secure, but needs to do so fast, which means winning at cards at the gentlemen's clubs.

Lydia Slaughter takes Will to the cleaners, which awakens him to the fact that he needs a teacher. They strike a deal in which she will instruct him and he will assist her with her goal to leave her current protector and become independent not beholding to any man. As the war hero and the card sharp team up, they buck the odds by falling in love.

This is a terrific character driven Regency romance starring two fascinating protagonists. Whereas he suffers mentally from battle fatigue, she suffers economically from codependence. With a passionate timely (the soldiers returning from the wars) plot, Cecilia Grant provides a super historical (see A Lady Awakened).

No One Left To Tell
Karen Rose
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451236166, $7.99,

Paige Holden moved to Baltimore to start over as a private investigator. To her shock she watches someone shoot Elena Munoz. The dying woman tells her that cops chased her and gives her a flash drive. Elena believed that husband Ramon the gardener was wrongly convicted of murdering Crystal Jones during a party on the estate owned by retired Maryland State Senator James McCloud.

Assistant State Attorney Grayson Smith prosecuted the Munoz murder trial. The Elena assassination has him wondering whether he sent the wrong person to prison. Paige's information adds to his doubts. When he intervenes on an assault against the rookie sleuth, Grayson concludes there is more to the Jones murder so with Holden at his side he investigates what was a closed and shut case only to find a decade of murder and blackmail reaching to the highest levels of the state.

The second Karen Rose Baltimore romance suspense (see You Belong To Me) is an action-packed thriller from the opening homicide until the final confrontation. The romantic subplot between the passionate P.I. and the pragmatic ADA is deftly handled to simmer before boiling over while the investigation takes front and center. Well written, sub-genre readers will enjoy this twisting tale

Visions of Chains
Regan Hastings
9780451237309, $7.99

First Daughter Deidre Sterling is tired of having constant protection and being unendingly used for the benefit of others as even her mom the President has done so. She is tired that the only men in her life are Secret Service, but also wonders why she sees a huge dog across from her apartment while her friend Shauna Jackson cannot.

She and Shauna belong to the peaceful Rights for Witches group protesting the state execution of five witches slated for burning. Shauna betrays her handing her over to the Witches Liberation Front whose leader Finn the Eternal plans to use Deidre to rescue the condemned five. In the ensuing battle, Deidre's dormant witch skills surface as Finn saves her life knowing she is the mate he has waited for centuries to meet.

The latest Awakening romantic urban fantasy (see Visions of Skyfire and Visions of Magic) is a great tale in a fabulous thought-provoking series. The underlying premise that the government and militia patriots ignore the First Amendment rights under the guise of national security remains a timely theme as ethnic condemnation has occurred in our history. With a strong cast especially the confused almost schizoid heroine, fans will appreciate this deep paranormal political thriller. Once again Regan Hastings builds on her cautionary discourse that "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security" Benjamin Franklin).

Vengeance Moon
Lee Roland
9780451236432, $7.99

Seventeen years old Madeline Corso is filled with rage after three men killed her mom whose legacy to her was a vision of them and a curse to avenge her. Two years later she murdered one in Seattle and another in New York, but the latter was caught on camera. Convicted of homicide, Madeline is sentenced to twenty five to life at the Upstate New York Sisters of Justice Correctional College.

Now twenty six, Mother Evelyn offers Madeline a risky opportunity to escape incarceration. If she accepts and fails she will go to a maximum security prison. Madeline says if she fails she will be dead. The Mother assigns her to go to the Barrows in Duivel, Missouri to hunt down the third killer who has the Portal gem Madeline's mom foolishly wore out in the open rather than protect as the Earth Mother decreed.

In Duivel, Madeline meets Michael and to her chagrin she feels an unwanted attraction. However, she has no time for matters of the heart as she is running out of time since an evil being plans to deploy the Portal to cause untold destruction.

The second superb Earth Witches romantic urban fantasy (see Viper Moon) is a great thriller as readers return to Duivel where the Earth Mother created a magical prison to contain the malevolent Darkness. The keys to this gripping storyline are that the paranormal seems normal and that the romance between Michael (a major player in the first novel) and Madeline is kept somewhat in the background as preventing the Portal disaster comes first. With a wonderful genealogical twist and a fascinating spin on what caused the curse, fans will appreciate Lee Roland's exhilarating entry.

Messenger's Angel
Heather Killough-Walden
9780451237316, $7.99

Four loyal archangels (Uriel, Michael, Gabriel and Azrael) were rewarded for their faithfulness with the granting of a female archess soulmate. To insure no jealousy occurs amongst the remaining archangels, the quartet is sent to earth to find their soulmate. Their brother, angry Samael leads a revolt against the "old man", but is exiled as The Fallen One in defeat. For too many countless millennia they sought their mate, but now each believes it was a cruel cosmic joke until Uriel meets Eleanore Granger (see Avenger's Angels).

Like his peers, Gabriel had lost all hope, but now with Uriel's success has a new belief. He heads to Rodel, Scotland as he has for centuries as a getaway. Only this time in a pub he meets American Juliette Anderson who is researching her doctoral thesis due to a grant from media mogul Samuel Lambent; the same CEO who offered Eleanore a deal she couldn't refuse. As Juliette struggles with her sanity, Adarian Abraxos want to drink the blood of the four archess.

The second Lost Angels romantic urban fantasy (see Avenger's Angels) is a fast-paced thriller that is fun because Gabriel is pathetic as a fated lover who does nothing right when he first meets his archess; he fumbles it so badly he needs the evil enemy to serve as matchmaker. Once again the enigmatic Samael steals the show as Mr. Lonely rather than the wicked Fallen One.

More Than A Stranger
Erin Knightley
9780451237712, $7.99

In 1804 England, Richard Moore informs his family he has met a new best friend at Eton. His eleven years old sister Evie is irate with his announcement and writes a letter to intruder Benedict Hastings that her sibling has a best friend. Lonely since his family deserted him as a worthless second son at Eton, Benedict finds solace in the letters he and Evie exchange over the next few years until he abruptly stopped sending them in 1809 though he regrets never having met his Evie.

After years working for the Crown, in 1816, Benedict comes to Mayfair to ask his friend Richard to allow him to say at Hertford Hall as a safe house while he ponders what to do about a serious situation without involving his friend as this is his fight so he blames his Mother. Due to his lover fiery Isabella, Richard agrees rustication sounds healthy. Evie runs into James Benedict who for her safety hides his identity. However, his teen love remains strong as the reality proves better than the fantasy; Benedict wants to tell his Evie who he is, why he vanished and how much he loves her. Fearing his family is treasonously abetting his enemy and having lost focus, his adversary arrives placing Evie and her family in peril.

The first Sealed with a Kiss Regency romantic suspense hooks the readers with the youthful correspondence between the loving protective Little Bit of a sister and the lonely second son and never loses that hold as the adults are in love but his past has arrived bringing danger to two families. Action-packed, sub-genre readers will enjoy this warm passionate yet taut tale starring two charming protagonists.

Dead End Deal
Allen Wyler
Astor + Blue
9781938231056, $12.99,

In Seattle, Trophozyme Corporation is in financial trouble but Richard Stillman believes the answer is in Alzheimer's research. However, he is given only six months to create the magic pill. Richard knows his best bet resides with researcher John Ritter who with his partner Dobbs is close to curing Alzheimer's using transplanted non-human stem cells. However, in the garage a man with a gun warns Ritter that he better stop killing babies. When Gabe Lippmann enters the garage, another man kills him; the first assailant hammers John in the head. Later that first man, professional hit man Nigel Fiest kills his stupid partner Raymond Thompson. FBI Agent Gary Fisher leads the investigation.

Dobbs quits the research team out of fear for his life. Stillman offers Ritter a chance to continue safely his work in South Korea. When his test patients are murdered, the local authorities believe Ritter killed them. On the run from the Korean cops and from Fiest, Ritter knows he must return to the Pacific Northwest to prove his innocence though he has no idea how to end the deadly professional stalking him except in death.

Starting with the garage assault, Dead End Deal is an exciting medical thriller. Fast-paced, fans will root for ethical Ritter whose motive for his work is the cure while hissing at amoral Stillman who represents the worst in the government-health care industry in which the bottom line supersedes patient care as the market would weed out those whose only choice is no choice for those unable to afford to pay for treatment. Though the key trio is stereotyped as the good (Ritter), the bad (Fiest) and the ugly (Stillman), sub-genre fans will anticipate their convergence.

Bleeding Out
Jes Battis
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9781937007638, $7.99,

In Victoria, Occult Special Investigations squad agent Tess Corday is on medical leave recuperating from on the job injuries (see Infernal Affairs). With time on her hands, Tess follows up to what she learned about her paternal roots to find out more about her origin. On her way to buy cigarettes, Tess notices an anomaly, a stoned vampire.

OSI Detective Selena Ward calls Tess to ask her and Derrick to help her for a few hours investigating the murder of Lord Nightingale the ruler of the necromancers and governor of Ttrinovantum who died at the Simon Fraser University Bennett Library. The pair head to the crime scene. Soon Tess and her "family" (Derrick, Miles, Patrick and Mia) make inquiries into the homicide while she also looks into a drug that leaves vampires dazed and the whereabouts of her father.

The last OSI urban fantasy (see A Flash of Hex and Inhuman Resources) is a great finish to a strong paranormal police procedural. Tess is at her best as she works three cases (one authorized) with each different yet dangerous. Fans will enjoy the heroine's curtain call and hope for her to return one day soon somewhere else in Canada like Toronto.

All Spells Break Loose
Lisa Shearin
9781937007713, $7.99

Elf Raine Benares the seeker should feel great that she finally is no longer bonded to the soul-stealing rock Saghred. Instead she feels ire as the damned stone stole her innate magic when it left her guilt and merged with the dark goblin mage Sarad Nukpana (see Con and Conjured). Unlike Raine whose only goal when the stone possessed her was to liberate herself from the rock, Sarad plans to deploy the Saghred to destroy the world.

Raine recruits elves (Mychael and Piaras) and goblins (Tam, Imala, Talon and Prince Chigaru) on a quest to prevent Sarad from using the Saghrad. They sneak into the Goblin capital Regor where they plan to destroy the rock before it can destroy the world. Her only fear is her distrust of her band as any one of them friend and foe could feel ambitious.

The final Raine Benares fantasy (see Bewitched and Betrayed, and The Trouble With Demons) is a terrific finish to an exhilarating saga as the heroine learns what it means sometimes when you get what you wished for. The storyline is fast-paced and filled with action while the heroine may be entering hell without her magic but does so with her sarcastic amusing noir-like barbs. Readers will enjoy this High Noon confrontation as Raine takes the fight to Sarad and Saghred.

In A Witch's Wardrobe
Juliet Blackwell
Obsidian Mystery
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451237477, $7.99,

In San Francisco Lily Ivory and Aidan Rhodes, two powerful witches, attend the Art Deco Ball at the Paramount Theater. Lily enters the women's bathroom only to find a comatose woman on the floor and her soul caught in the mirror. Aidan warns Lily to stay out of this scenario as he will deal with the curse that separated the woman Miriam's soul from her body.

SFPD Homicide detective Carlos Romero comes to Lily's vintage clothing shop Aunt Cora's to ask for her help on how Tara Dark Moon died as he expects no cooperation from the covens. Lily learns Tara and Miriam belonged to the Unseen Coven and that the witch hating group Defenders of Morality (DOM) is trashing witch's stores. Aiden dumps the Miriam curse inquiry on Lily who obtains assistance from psychic Sailor.

The latest engaging Witchcraft Mystery (see A Castoff Coven and Hexes and Hemlines) is a wonderful paranormal amateur sleuth tale. The two inquiries are fun to follow as the heroine struggles with finding the link beyond the coven connection and her attraction to Sailor who is magically owned by roguish Aiden, a practitioner of magic that is sometimes dark. Lily's familiar the gobgoyle hybrid gargoyle-goblin adds humor and a sense of realism to the urban fantasy setting. Fans will enjoy Lily's magical mystery tour of San Francisco

The Scarlet Pepper
Dorothy St. James
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780425247044, $7.99,

White House assistant gardener Casey Calhoun oversees the organic vegetable garden that First Lady Margaret Bradley loves. However Casey notices digging marks at the Kitchen Garden that she assumes the First Dog did until green pepper sprouts instead of the red she planted and cabbage rather than lettuce. Someone is trying to embarrass the First Lady as the Watercressgate scandal breaks in which Casey is accused of cheating.

Media Today investigative reporter Griffon Parker and Casey publicly argue just before he is murdered. The wife of the chief of staff, garden volunteer Francesca Dearing informs the DC police that the death matches Casey's suggestion for a murder mystery dinner benefit. TV Scotsman Gillis Farquhar host of Gardening the Farquhar Way: Organic! is hired to save the organic Kitchen Garden. With her esteem low, Casey investigates who is behind the gardening stunts, but her inquiry places her in peril and Jack the Secret Service Agent who likes her warns her to stop investigating before an "accident" kills her.

The second White House Gardener Mystery (see Flowerbed of State) is a fabulous amateur sleuth starring a likeable woman with commitment issues except when it comes to her passion, plants. Her violent childhood allows readers to accept Casey's investigation and her inability to deal with a relationship. Although she proves too good a sleuth as the culprit would testify, fans will enjoy this entertaining whodunit enhanced by the eccentric people who diligently work at the White House.

Threaded For Trouble
Janet Bolin
9780425251324, $7.99

The locals call Elderberry Bay, Pennsylvania Threadville due to the abundance of craft shops. Willow Vanderling, owner of In Stitches embroidery shop, will present to Darlene Coddlefield, the winner of the Chandler Champion Sewing and Embroidery Machine Contest, with the first prize the top of the line Chandler Champion.

Arrogant Darlene arrives to collect her winning accompanied by her eight kids who she is nasty towards. That night she is killed when her heavy machine falls through the table onto her; as for some unknown reason she was underneath the table. Willow takes the machine apart for the police and realizes someone tampered with it. A fire breaks out at the Coddlefield House almost killing the occupants including the widower fire chief. To investigate from the inside, Willow and her best friend Haylee become volunteer firefighters and soon rescue Felicity the Chandler Champion representative trapped inside a blaze. The intrepid pair continue their inquiry as to who the killer is and why.

The second Threadville Mystery (see Dire Threads) is a wonderful amateur sleuth that showcases the close relationships between the small village shop owners who watch out for one another as friends and as a smart business model. Willow's motive for jumping into the fire to rescue two people is her deep need for justice even though she is risking her own life on a hunch. Readers will have no sympathy for the victim who is a charity gamer conning people out of money for her non-existent charities but the heroine's actions make for an enjoyable whodunit.

Accidentally, Dead Again
Dakota Cassidy
9780425247518, $15.00

Following the recent conversion of her Buffalo friend Marty Andrews into THE ACCIDENTAL WEREWOLF, Hackensack dental assistant Nina Blackman knows there are some strange things out there. She just never expected someone's overbite to cause her a problem of sorts at the office. While prepping the patient Gregori "Greg" Statleon for dentist Dr. Berkenstein, under anesthesia he accidentally bit her and turned her into an undead. Marty and their third pal Wanda rush to Hackensack to help their friend fang face who thinks at least she does not have tail issues.

She is his first (and he prays Last) conversion. He is chagrined and unable to take back his bite, but irate Nina's acerbic diatribe accompanied by her two friends leaves him feel as if "Snaggletooth" took two pints of blood from him. Greg swears he will mentor her on all things vampiric while her pals offer support. However, the dentist with suddenly large canines wants to revert back to human although she would not mind snacking on Greg.

The sequel to amusing THE ACCIDENTAL WEREWOLF is an enjoyable humorous satire that takes a bite out of the vampire romance sub-genre. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the woman from the Bronx calls her recently changed Lycan friend to shuffle from Buffalo to Jersey as she now has a biting problem. Fans will appreciate the non-stop hilarity as Nina rips skin with her tongue from everyone even while she and Greg fall in undead love.

Pies and Prejudice
Ellery Adams
9780425251409, $7.99

Happily married to Sloan Kitteridge, Ella Mae LaFaye was shocked to find her husband cheating. A sad, Ella Mae leaves him in New York and returns to her hometown of Havenwood, Georgia with the clothes she is wearing and her puppy Chevy. Her mom and her maternal aunts welcome home the prodigal daughter who they have not seen during her marriage. Not one to sit idly moping, Ella Mae opens up The Charmed Pie Shoppe, which proves successful as Georgians love her pastries that contain an extra magical "ingredient".

The police question Ella Mae over the death of her longtime adversary Loralyn Gaynor's fiance equine veterinarian Bradford Knox; as the murder weapon is one of her baking rolling pins. Soon afterward, a second murder occurs. Concluding someone is diabolically framing her, Ella Mae investigates the homicides before the cops arrest her first.

A Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery is a fun rural fantasy amateur sleuth with part of the enjoyment comings from knowing Ella Mae and her family possessed different paranormal gifts. The heroine is likable while the secondary characters like her high school crush Hugh Dylan, who is attracted to her, add local flavor and eccentricity. With a nod to the movie You, Again readers will enjoy this regional mystery although the motive for investigating is typical of the sub-genre; as the paranormal elements bring the fresh magic to this enjoyable Georgia culinary whodunit.

Murder For Choir
Joelle Charbonneau
9780425251379, $7.99

Paige Marshall has worked hard at achieving her goal of becoming an opera star, but so far has failed to achieve her life's ambition. Needing to keep costs down, she moves into her Aunt Millie's miniature castle in Lake Forest and needing to eat accepts a job as a choir instructor to students from four Chicago area high schools.

She finds working at Prospect Glen High School a hellish experience. After dispatching students Chessie Bock and Eric Metz from a practice room to the master choir area, Paige looks for Larry DeWeese; but instead finds arrogant Show Choir Director Greg Lucas dead. Prospect Glen Police detective Michael Kaiser leads the investigation. Larry gives Michael someone else's cellphone that he had. The phone belongs to Eric who is a prime suspect as the victim hit on Chessie. Paige wonders if Larry is the killer as he cowered whenever Greg was nearby; he insisted on looking closely at the murder scene before calling the cops; his statement to the cop unfairly implicates Paige somewhat; and he gave Eric's cell phone to Kaiser. Though she knows she should not, Paige investigates.

The first Glee Club Mystery is an entertaining amateur sleuth starring a beleaguered heroine and a strong support cast at the school (students and teachers) and at the castle (especially Millie's aptly named vicious poodle Monsieur de Tueur de Dame - Mister Lady Killer). Paige is a delightful lead who works the hardest gig of her life, surviving the canine, the kids and her peers like Felicity the Martha Stewart wannabe and "gay" drama teacher Devyn. Although Paige's rationale to investigate is unrealistic, fans will enjoy the antics of the ensemble performing a Murder For Choir

Red Velvet Revenge
Jenny McKinley
9780425251386, $7.99

For several weeks the temperatures in Arizona have hovered in the hundreds. People remain indoors only going out into the oppressive heat if they have no choice. Businesses like the Fairy Tale Cupcakes are hurting with few customers. Owners Melanie Cooper and Angie DeLauro borrow a refrigerated truck so they can deliver their baked goods to their customers. When the vehicle breaks down, legendary cowboy Slim Hazard rides to the rescue as he hires them to sell cupcakes at the annual Juniper Pass rodeo, an event 20,000 people will attend.

Silent partner Tate Harper (see Sprinkle With Murder for his wife's murder) has been friends with the bakery owners since grade school and he quietly loves Angie. He helps them with the rodeo gig. However, at the opening ceremony, someone shoots Slim in the shoulder while the star bull rider Ty Stokes is overtly hostile towards Mel and Angie. When Ty is murdered, Angie, unable to resist the urge to investigate, begins an inquiry since the local police seem incompenant.

The latest Cupcake Bakery Mystery (see Buttercream Bump-Off and Death by the Dozen) is an entertaining amateur sleuth due to an engaging mystery and plenty of humor especially the wager between the bakers and a redneck food vender on who sells the most food. Mel makes her investigation seem reasonable (for her that is); as a profile of her behavior leads to the conclusion that her DNA contains the sleuthing genome.

The Casanova Code
Donna MacMeans
9780425250839, $7.99

Edwina, Faith, Sarah and Claire are unhappy with the Mayfair Messenger failure to include an article on how many birds die to make a fashionable woman's hat. The female reformists also upset over a personal ad from a "the refined gentleman" advertising for a companion to stay home for conversation rather than the social whirls of the Ton. They know the author Ashton Trewelyn is a rake who has seduced several naive women forced to escape to the continent. To stop his predatory ways, they form the Rake Patrol with him being their first target.

In fact Ashton is not that scandalous person anymore ever since he served in the King's Royal Rifles which has changed him. He has found a coded message that implies trouble for the Crown and his family. Soon he "abducts" Edwina taking her into a secret room inside the hidden gallery. Knowing she is an expert on finding patterns he asks for her help with deciphering the code. Can a rake and a modern woman find love?

The first Rake Patrol historical romance is an entertaining thriller starring a reformed rake and a "modern" woman. Filled with action, The Casanova Code is a fun read whether it is investigating the pattern of the mysterious message or enjoying pillow talk.

Chaos Burning
Lauren Dane
9780425250822, $7.99

Lark Jaansen of Clan Gennessee knows the life of a hunter fits her perfectly as violence is her middle name. When she and off world soldier Simon Leviathan meet, they are attracted to each other and respect each other's warrior ethic.

At the same time, hostilities heat up with the war between witches and humans sending the frightened fae into hiding and giving an opportunity for the suddenly brazen vampires to flex their power. Lark and Simon find evidence that the prehistoric malevolent Magister from across the veil has begun to suck dry the magick of the Others with time running out on all sentient species. The hunter and the alien warrior know finding the Magister will prove much easier than defeating the Magister; survival is unlikely regardless.

The latest Bound by Magick urban fantasy (see Heart of Darkness) is a super thriller due to the fascinating Dane mythos that comes alive in the hunt for the invincible Magister. The lead couple is a solid pairing of two alpha warriors while the evil enemy has been around seemingly forever. Fans will enjoy this exciting entry starting with "MacArthur Park is melting in the dark" (Richard Harris' MacArthur Park) and continuing with the anticipated showdown.

Hot Button
Kylie Logan
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425251355, $7.99

Who would ever have thought that buttons and murder would go together like peanut butter and jelly? Button Box Shop owner Josie Giancola never remotely saw that deadly combo until she was Button-Holed in a homicide.

Currently Josie as the Chair of the International Society of Antiques and Vintage Button Collectors hosts an international conference. Her first inkling that this gala will not be smooth occurs at the airport where she picks up the star attraction Thad Wyant who is abrasive and arrogant. He expects hand and foot catering to his needs including an endless flow of alcohol. He is the guest of honor because he is the only known collector to possess a historic Geronimo button with the correct provenance. At the conference, he proves even uglier than at the airport; he has a public feud with a collector, pushes aside an elderly woman, and steals supplies from a vendor. A hotel security guard finds Thad's corpse in the hotel laundry room. Josie's friend Detective Nevin Riley leads the investigation and though he hesitates he enlists her help since he knows nothing about the world of button collectors and she proved to be a good sleuth on a recent homicide case (see Button-Holed).

The second Button Box mystery is a fascinating cozy starring an interesting cast that includes the gala attendees (eccentric crowd), the victim (a pompous A-hole), the protagonist (independent and resolute though others insists obstinate and obsessive), the cop (think Colombo) and the king of chutzpah Josie's ex-husband Kaz needing a favor. Once again, Kylie Logan overcomes the sub-genre flaw of why the heroine investigates with this entertaining whodunit.

Jacked Up
Erin McCarthy
9780425250808, $7.99

Public relations specialist Eve Monroe reads the riot act to Jackman Nolan Ford for his ass showing up on You Tube when he ripped his pants working crew while his brother Evan drove. As she yells at him as the sponsors are outraged, he thinks she is hot as he has had a crush on her for quite a while. He claims an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction and uses her blouse as an example that this happens.

Nolan asks Eve to join him for a beer. She is shocked as men run when she rants and raves. They begin dating and he tosses her a birthday bash in Vegas that leads to sex. As she struggles with her unwanted feelings, he encourages her to go around the track permanently with him.

The latest Fast Track contemporary romance (see Hot Finish) is a fun tale of two polar opposites falling in love; she is a prim and proper workaholic while he is the king of mellow. Though somewhat similar in tone to Hard and Fast, fans will enjoy this trek around the Fast Track.

Colter's Promise
Maya Banks
9780425258620, $7.99

In Clyde, Colorado, Dr. Burton informs Lily Colter that she is pregnant in spite of her using birth control. She fears losing another child while thinking of her sweet Rose. Lily knows she owes her three husbands (Seth the Sheriff, Dillon the pub owner and Michael the vet) the truth but is paralyzed with the news that she dreads.

Her mother-in-law Holly Colter (see Colter's Legacy) is euphoric as her extended family is coming for Christmas. Though her cooking skills are legendary as a family joke, she plans to make a holiday dinner for all to enjoy. She turns to Lily to mentor her in the kitchen, but her daughter-in-law has mind-numbing issues with her past and present pregnancies.

This is an entertaining family drama as two generations of polygamous relationships take center stage over the holidays. Targeting fans of the saga as Lily deals with an unwanted pregnancy while knowing her three husbands (the Colter siblings), her mother-in-law and her three father-in-laws would look forward to the next generation.

Faithful Unto Death
Stephanie Jaye Evans
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425247730, $15.00

In Sugar Land, Texas, thirteen year old Jessica Min finds attorney Graham Garcia dead on Bridgewater Country Club Golf Course. Police Detective James Wanderley leads the homicide inquiry. He learns that former U of Texas Longhorn football player turned preacher Walker "Bear" Wells met with the victim a week ago.

However, Bear refuses to reveal what they discussed as he insists he must honor his pledge of confidentiality even with Graham dead. Frustrated Wanderley insists the homicide ended the vow of silence. Already overworked with church business, Bear gets deeper involved with the trouble Graham family and learns one of his two daughters is dating the chief suspect, the deceased's son Alex. Bear reluctantly decides to investigate.

Intelligent, caring and flippant even when invoking the Lord; Bear is a wonderful amateur sleuth as he follows clues around a seemingly paradise. The whodunit is low keyed but fun to follow as Bear escorts the reader around Sugar Land as the hero finds out his theological tomes may sell better on Amazon due to the murder case, but he is no Stephanie meyer.

Grace Among Thieves
Julie Hyzy
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425251393, $7.99

In Emberstowne, North Carolina, Grace Wheaton manages Marshfield Manor, a combination manor house and museum that is a popular tourist attraction. Security chief Terrence Carr is concerned with recent thefts while Grace worries about the drop in tourism due to the recession.

Currently there is a movie being made to immortalize the manor while the owner Bennett Marshfield's stepdaughter Hillary Singletary is back causing trouble for the filmmaker Corbin Shaw. Bennett suspects Hillary is the thief. Grace follows Lenore Honore when the petit woman enters a forbidden area. Terrance, followed by others, arrives. Not long afterward the corpse of Lenore is found in an off limit area; Terence tells Grave, the victim was pushed to her death. While Corbin is attracted to Grace (while Jack seemingly is not anymore), she investigates the murder and the thefts.

The third Manor House Mystery (see Grace Under Pressure and Grace Interrupted) is an engaging twisting amateur sleuth. The case is fun due to the eccentric staff and Lenore the spoiled nudnik who come alive under Grace's inquiry. Cozy fans will enjoy visiting the North Carolina mountains with Grace as our guide.

Corpse In The Crystal Ball
Kari Lee Townsend
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425251331, $7.99

Psychic Sunny Meadows left New York City to live in pastoral Divinity, New York where she opened up a fortuneteller shop. However, her arrival proved not very blissful as she worked to prove her innocence in the town librarian Amanda Robbins murder case (see Tempest In The Tea Leaves).

Sunny is attracted to police detective Mitch Stone who she met when he suspected her as Amanda's killer. When Mitch's former girlfriend Isabel Gonzales arrives in town to reclaim him, Sunny is surprised that she is jealous. Sunny uses her crystal ball to perform a reading for Isabel and learns the woman has some dire secrets. Not long afterward, Isabel vanishes and Sunny locates her corpse via her crystal ball. Near her murdered body is a clue that points to Mitch as her murderer. Sunny offers to help the police on their inquiry using her crystal ball to identity the killer.

The second Fortune Teller Mystery is an entertaining paranormal police procedural in which the cops use Sunny's talent on their homicide investigation. Mindful of Victoria Laurie's Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye but with its own unique spin, this is a wonderful fast-paced crystal ball whodunit.

The Diva Digs Up Dirt
Krista Davis
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425251348, $7.99

In Alexandria, persistent Mona pleads with Sophie Winston to find her missing daughter Linda who vanished five years ago. Sophie explains she has never found a missing person and is not an investigator. Meanwhile her ex-husband Mar's girlfriend Natasha wants to star on TV so she arranges with Tear It Up With Troy to fix up the backyard; however, she uses Sophie's backyard as their venue.

Sophie temporarily moves into her boyfriend Wolf's home. When she digs up a dead rosebush in his yard, she uncovers a purse belonging to his missing wife. As she tries to avoid speculating whether a body is buried in the yard, two poisoned corpses are found.

The latest Domestic Diva Mystery (see The Diva Haunts the House) is an engaging amateur sleuth as the heroine prefers digging in real dirt not homicidal dirt. The gardening tips are fun and the whodunit entertaining. However, the cast seems too aloof as none including the protagonist get excited over murders and a potential homicide. Still this is a fun Old Town murder mystery as Sophie ends up investigating.

Cast On, Kill Off
Maggie Sefton
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425247594, $25.95

In Fort Connor, Colorado, IT consultant and House of Lambspun knitter Megan Smith is marrying attorney Marty Harrington. A friend of the bride and groom, CPA and House of Lambspun knitter Kelly Flynn is happy for them and relishes the honor of being a bridesmaid.

Local seamstress Zoe Yeager is making the wedding party gowns, but is short tempered and her face bruised most likely from her abusive husband; while Leann O'Hara accuses Zoe of stealing her designs. Kelly intercedes when a frightened Zoe leaves her husband by placing her in a women's shelter. However, not long afterward, someone murders Zoe.

The latest Knitting Murder (see Dropped Dead Stitch, Skein of the Crime and Unraveled) is an interesting amateur sleuth although the killer seems obvious relatively early. Much of the storyline focuses on the protagonist, her friends and the Lambspun Knitters discussing the wedding, Kelly and Steve Townsend's broken relationship, and the CPA's nonexistent sexual activity (abstinence proves humorous unless you're the one abstaining). Although the whodunit takes a back seat to the friends theme, readers will enjoy this engaging tale.

Tangle of Need
Nalini Singh
9780425247563, $25.95

Sienna Lauren released her X-Psy powers against the Pure Psy Forces to protect the SnowDancer and DarkRiver packs who took her and her family in when they fled from the PsyNet years ago though she knew this will speed up her death (see Kiss of Snow). Her actions have shaken up both sides in the hostilities over the PsyNet and bring civil war that much closer.

Riaz has returned home to his SnowDancer pack after a stint in Europe. He is depressed that his "mate" is married to someone else, but will not allow his broken heart to prevent him from doing his job for his pack. Adria also has returned to the pack as her mate dumped her because her alpha strength left him feeling emaciated. Adria and Riaz are attracted to one another, but both assume this is a rebound sexual need only. Ironically these two powerful alpha warriors, who willingly risk their lives in mortal combat, fear risking their hearts on love.

This Psy/Changeling romantic fantasy is a great entry that compares the big picture hostilities with the small picture relationships. As the war seems shortly imminent with its accompanying death and maiming, the pairing of two heartbroken changelings and a look at previous leads are doing as mates provide a strong counterpoint in the fabulous Singh mythos.

Marissa Day
9780425247723, $15.00

Lord Edward Carstairs is a Catalyst whose skill is to extract power from the natural world for Sorcerers to use in spells. He is attracted to Alicia Hartwell who has never remotely felt love, but wonders about her odd behavior that most ignore as her being a spinster. He proposes and though shocked she accepts. Belonging to a cell of operatives that keep magic under control, Edward fears his fiancee is either a witch or cursed by powerful enchantment.

Enlisting his agent peers, he begins his endeavor to free the woman he loves by erotic means. As Alice begins to taste passion and fall in love with her betrothed, Edward risks losing her when the fairies' curse is finally removed.

This entertaining historical romantic fantasy (see The Surrender of Lady Jane) is a fun tale with an intriguing premise in which the hero deploys several types of erotic scenarios in order for his beloved to feel passion to overcome the curse. The storyline is somewhat limited but fast-paced heat as love proves to be the most powerful spell of all.

Mine To Hold
Shayla Black
9780425245514, $15.00

LA Times reporter Delaney Catalano wrote fluff pieces when LAPD Vice Detective Tyler Murphy knew her. Now she is at his Lafayette, Louisiana home carrying his infant son Seth while she is on the run from ADA Martin Carlson who had her car with loads of evidence blown up. Tyler asks how his former partner wheelchair bound Eric is doing. She says they divorced sixteen months ago when Eric realized his wife loved his friend and only stayed with him out of duty; he rejected her pity.

However, Carlson's reach is wide and his goons follow Del. As the enemy attempt to kill her and her protector, Del and Tyler know Seth's safety comes before their passion that led to the baby's birth and even their love as they must deal with the ADA's murderous minion.

This is a heated romantic suspense starring a caring "Cockzilla" and a dedicated single mom journalist in trouble. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy this entertaining tale though Carlson's evil empire seems over the top of Mount Lukens. Still filed with twists, Mine to Hold is an engaging heated thriller.

So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler's Guide to Time Travel
Phil Hornshaw and Nick Hurwitch
9780425245583, $15.00

So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler's Guide to Time Travel is an entertaining yet educational romp through related physics and pop culture. Where else can someone learn how to travel back to prehistoric times to create a battery out of dinosaur drippings that one steps in as the animal source changes but humans stepping in it are universal? This is a guide to General Relativity and Quantum Physics through the excellent adventures of Bill and Ted, and the DeLorean adventures of McFly and Doc Brown, etc. Included are helpful tips on surviving all sorts of eras and key illustrations and detailed blueprint on what to do in a crisis like building a Rube Goldberg Time Machine that rivals his Smithsonian alarm clock. Mindful of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy though not a novel, readers who appreciate an irreverent frolic through time and space will want to learn how to create a wormhole and other essential facts of surviving a relatively quantum universe.

The Scarlet Bride
Cheryl Ann Smith
9780425250815, $7.99

Simon Harrington hears a woman cry and sees two footmen accost a female. He rescues Laura and takes her to a home where sisters Eva and Noelle sponsor a school to rescue courtesans. Laura fears her patron Earl of Westwick who held her prisoner for fourteen months in a locked room while torturing her; she expects him to kill her. He was selling Sabine as he called her at an auction when she escaped.

Two weeks later, Laura feels good as her enemy has not found her. Simon asks her to come help him decorate an estate he just bought. She agrees but is shocked as the estate was owned by her cousin and she and her late dad lived there. She even married here but her husband said they never wed as the parson was a fake. He used her as his sex prisoner. Simon admires Laura's spirit that was not broken. A storm forces them to spend the night there. Laura and Simon make love. Later Laura learns Westwick was murdered allegedly by his missing courtesan Sabine. Simon plans to find the real killer.

The third School for Brides Regency romance (see An Accidental Courtesan) nicely sets the time and place mostly through how much power a male exerts over a female. The heroine is a courageous person who suffered terrible abuse, but never lost her spirit; while the lead male is a strong person. Although the killer gets in and out of secure places too easily and two early major coincidences involving random encounters seem improbable, fans will appreciate this investigative historical thriller.

Bride of the High Country
Kaki Warner
9780425247501, $15.00

In 1855 New York City, brothel owner Mrs. Beale sells children to her patrons. A fire guts her place just before the latest auction. Father O'Rourke finds twelve year old Cathleen Donavon in a nearby alley. He takes her to a friend Judge and Mrs. Throckmorten.

In 1870 railroad mogul Doyle Kerrigan and Widow Ida Throckmorten's ward Margaret Hamilton are engaged. Doyle's partner Tait Rylander regrets not courting Margaret first as he is attracted to her. Margaret intercedes when she sees a man abusing a woman with a child. She also sees pedophile Horne who she knows from her Beale days; he is running for governor. Doyle says he will take care of the woman who accuses him of murdering her husband. Later she overhears servants talk that the mother and child were dumped in the East River. Margaret learns Doyle was a runner; an occupation that has destroyed many Irish lives including her family.

On the wedding day, Ida tells her to go west. At the ceremony, Doyle gives his bride railroad stock. However, before they sign the documents that would legalize their marriage, Ida shams she cannot breathe. She persuades Margaret to leave giving her a pre-packaged valise. Margaret takes the stock with her and leaves. Doyle is angry and Tait confused as they fail to find Margaret. Tait soon follows her as she flees the city

The latest Runaway Bride historical romance (see Colorado Dawn and Heartbreak Creek) is a wonderful tale that brings to life Post Civil War America through the eyes of the super survivor heroine and a strong secondary cast. Fans will appreciate this deep drama as Margaret proves her mettle.

The King's Concubine
Anne O'Brien
NAL (New American Library)
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451236807, $15.00,

In1362, ailing Queen Philippa selects a fifteen years old orphaned virgin at a convent to serve as the Royal Mistress to her beloved husband King Edward III as her deteriorating health will no longer allow her to take care of the needs of her soulmate. The Queen expects Alice Perrers to be loyal to her regal sponsors while also providing sexual release to the monarch. Ambitious beyond her years as she sees an opportunity for a good life, Alice relishes being the King's Concubine while also honoring her "guardian" by her and Edward keeping their mouths shut about their affair as long as Philippa lived. However, though intelligent and prepared for the end of her financial arrangement with the king, an uncompromising Alice fails to recognize the full scope of what will happen to her after Edward dies even as she observes his decline in health in his later years. Sir William Windsor comes to her aid when others want her exiled or dead; as he and Alice forge a lasting loving relationship.

To the victors go the history books, which treat Alice as a dolt who used her body to gain riches. Instead this superb medieval biographical fiction paints a different complete picture of an ambitious smart young lady who understood the importance of loyalty though envious others at court disdained her. Anne O'Brien brings to life the successful reign of King Edward III and the beginning of the successor rivalry that led to his rule's outcome, the War of the Roses, as seen by his mistress.

The Last Four Things
Paul Hoffman
9780451235121, $15.00

The cruel Redeemer warrior monks capture acolyte Thomas Cale who had escaped from their Sanctuary. No one leaves the Redeemers. Meanwhile the Redeemers continue to indoctrinate and train their young males as expendable foot soldiers to fight their enemy the Antagonists.

Redeemer Bosco sees special skills in Cale. He trains the lad personally to become the Angel of Death who will end the world. Over time Cale becomes a famous military leader who takes the fight to the enemy winning victory after victory as he closes in on the Redeemer vision of humanity's extinction. However, in spite of his fame, he never moved pass the betrayal of his beloved Arbell Materazzi.

The sequel to The Left Hand of God is a fascinating action-packed quest fantasy as readers learn more of the Redeemer philosophy based on The Last Four Things in life start with death and eternal judgment on the worthlessness of mankind and the worthiness (or not) of a human. In spite of all the escapades confronting "I'm not worthy" (with a nod to Wayne's World) Cale, the overarching plot moves very little yet is well worth reading by those who perused the first entry.

Next to Love
Ellen Feldman
Spiegel & Grau
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780812982411, $15.00,

In 1941 in South Downs, Massachusetts, Babe, Grace and Millie worry about the men they love as the wars overseas seem heading to the States. Grace and Millie marry Charlie and Pete respectively before they ship out, but say their goodbyes at home. Babe follows her Claude who sends her telegram from his basic training base for her to come and marry him; on the train to North Carolina, she is raped. Ashamed she hides the truth from him and they marry. When babe learns she is pregnant she fears it is not Claude's child.

The men deploy overseas, but Charlie and Pete die in combat. Claude returns home from the war, but is not the same person he was before combat. Whereas Babe from the wrong side of the tracks finds work at Western Union and vows to remain independent, Grace and Millie pray for men to take care of them. Still the trio has each other as the social reform movement sweeps the country and their kids prepare to leave the nest.

This is an engaging epic drama that focuses on three BFFs as the world radically changes from WWII into the 1960s. The cast is strong while intimate letters especially telegrams bring home life and death. Although the story line can slow down especially in the 1950s with the extended families; rotating viewpoint between the three amigas provides a strong spotlight on changing values as summed up by Claude: imagine a world without war.

Thriller 3: Love Is Murder
Sandra Brown (editor)
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778313441, $24.95,

Adhering to the Love Is Murder theme, this is a great romantic suspense collection that will elate fans of both genres as all thirty contributions are well written fun. The tales span the globe and include some recurring stars like Shelley Caldwell in "Hot Note" by Patricia Rosemoor, Mercy Gunderson in "Holding Mercy" by Lori Armstrong and Lucy Kincaid in "Vacation Interrupted" by Allison Brennan, as well as recurring series like the Bullet Catchers starring in "Diamond Drop" by Roxanne St Claire and "B.A.D. Mission" by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Tales like "Poisoned" by Beverly Barton, "Speechless" by Robert Browne and "Lockdown" by Andrea Kane are also superb as this is a winning collection from Ms. Armstrong's opening entry to Lee Child's excellent closer.

The Line Between Here and Gone
Andrea Kane
9780778313373, $25.95

Eight months ago realtor Paul Everett vanished on Long Island; unaware that his girlfriend photojournalist Amanda Gleason was carrying his child. Whereas everyone believes Paul was murdered, Amanda thinks he is alive as a friend sent her a grainy cell picture of a man who looks like Paul in DC. Amanda is desperate as Paul is the last hope to save the life of their baby Justin, suffering from immunodeficiency and needing a compatible stem cell transplant.

She turns to Forensic Instincts (see The Girl Who Disappeared Twice) to locate Paul. Behaviorist Casey Woods, ex SEAL Marc Devereaux, technocrat Ryan McKay and Hero the dog investigate the missing person's case knowing time is short. However, they find little about Paul's history as if he never existed and law enforcement is not just uncooperative they strongly demand FI end their inquiry or else as the life of a dying baby is not important. FI ignores the not so subtle threats and soon uncovers a conspiracy that connects the Hamptons to Congress, but finding Paul in time seems impossible as they run into a maze of impediments and stonewalling.

Like the FI operatives, this case grips readers as time is running out on a newborn with one last hope to save his life, but that person apparently never existed. Fast-paced from the moment Amanda pleads with FI to find her baby's father, fans will relish this twisting thriller wondering what next.

Out of the Blue
Isabel Wolff
9780778313663, $14.95

Faith and Peter Martin celebrate their fifteenth wedding anniversary, which he completely forgot about, with friends and family including their two teenage children. Peter apologizes to his wife blaming it on the pressure at work caused by new a new chairwoman at the publishing firm where he works as a director. At the party, Faith's friend Lily makes a seemingly innocuous remark praising Faith for being "marvelous to trust him".

However, Lily's casual comment makes Faith relook Peter who has bought new clothing and lost weight. She checks his credit card where she finds he bought flowers for someone. She questions him and he blows her off as being silly. Ultimately, she believes he is innocent and praises him for his faithfulness only to have him break down and confess he had an affair. As Peter tries to win back his wife, Faith begins to branch into other areas encouraged by her daughter and best friend.

This reprint of Out of the Blue could have been another "He did, she did" tale, but is more than that due to the rich cast that turns the prime theme of deceit into a deep character study. Faith lives up to her name until she learns Peter cheated. Peter feels guilt over his actions and his subsequent cover-up. Their daughter Katie steals the show with her Freudian analysis of everyone around her while Lily is a rip the skin off of everyone else magazine editor. These and other secondary players make for an upbeat amusing tale of relationships in the modern age that will have every spouse checking his pockets.

Shadow Bound
Rachel Vincent
9780778313434, $7.99

Shadow-walker Kori Daniels is Blood Bound to work for the Tower. However, she found a loophole on her oath and betrayed the Boss Jake Tower who almost died because of her actions. He punished her by locking her away in the basement for weeks of torture. Now Jake offers her a deal to get out of the torture cell. All she has to do is persuade Ian Holt the dark manipulator to join Tower; failure on her part means punishing her sister Kenley the blood-binder.

Ian needs to kill Kenley in order to break a binding that is killing his brother. To get to her, he accepts Kori's invitation to come to the Tower though he has no plan to join this crime syndicate. However, though he distrusts Kori as she is Blood Bound, he is attracted to her and reconsiders his options besides having Kenley or his brother die.

The second Unbound romantic fantasy (see Blood Bound) is an exciting twisting thriller as Ian seeks a third choice re his sibling. For the most part fast-paced though there is a tendency to reiterate the rules of order in the fascinating Vincent mythos in which people are Skilled or Unskilled and the Skilled must belong to a Syndicate or hide. Fans will enjoy this thrilling tale wondering how Ian will handle his deadly dilemma.

Against The Sun
Kat Martin
9780778313502, $7.99

In Houston, Atlas Security bodyguard Jake Cantrell is assigned personal protection duty of Marine Drilling International official S.E. Dumont while the executive closes a deal with the Saudis. He looks forward to the mission after spending time behind a desk while the boss went on his honeymoon. Jake is surprised that S.E. is a beautiful female, but he remains focused on keeping her safe.

Something seems off kilter to Jake who survived harrowing danger when he served as a Special Forces Marine by heeding his gut's screams. Sage thinks he is off-base but has always heeded her beloved grandfather's advice and he hired Jake to protect her. Deciding to prove her bodyguard wrong, Sage drills deep only to find a horrible truth.

The latest Raines of Wind Canyon (see Against the Wind and Against the Night) is an exciting romantic suspense that grips the readers from the moment the bodyguard and his client meet and never slows down as the pair finds themselves struggling with their attraction and a terrorist plot. Fast-paced fans will enjoy Kat Martin's entertaining thriller as sex, love and terrorism converge.

Pamela Callow
9780778313021, $7.99

After spending over a decade behind bars on a manslaughter conviction followed by an assault conviction, John McNally leaves prison. He blames his incarceration on attorney Kate Lange who interfered with his plans along with his high school sweetheart Kenzie Sloane to kill Kate's sister Imogen before opening up a tattoo parlor together. Kenzie even has their vow tattooed on her. Ironically, he muses that Kate's rescue mission led to her sibling dying in a car crash.

Halifax Police Detective Ethan Drake confirms that the recently found remains are that of a girl who vanished in the 1990s. He investigates the cold case murder while a frightened Kenzie panics as she knows she shares a tattoo with the victim. Kate is soon in the crosshairs of a sinister psychopath who plots revenge on the woman who he knows cost him everything.

The latest Kate Lange Nova Scotia thriller (see Indefensible and Damaged) is a tense cat and mouse tale as the lawyer and a lunatic go at it. Intriguing is John whose violent history has him spent most of his life in institutions yet his first murder and other deadly assaults have not yet been tied to him. His complex personality makes for a strong taut suspense as readers anticipate a High Noon confrontation in Halifax under his rules of engagement.

The Book of Summers
Emylia Hall
9780778314110, $14.95

It has been twelve years since then seventeen years old Beth Lowe left home to attend art school in London; in all that time her father never came to her abodes until now. He arrives carrying a package for Beth. Inside is a letter with news that her estranged mom died and a scrapbook filled with photos of those incredible summers she spent with her mother on Hungary from when she was nine until she was sixteen. That last summer was the most miserable of her life as her mom ended their close relationship leaving a teenage daughter filled with rage and hurt that as she nears thirty still holds its grip on her.

This is an engaging character study that focuses on ethnic identity as The Book of Summers looks back through Beth's memories triggered by the photos of her life over those seven years. The tweener entries are more in depth than the late teen years (except for the explosive final summer of betrayal, which gives the discerning storyline a sense of imbalance as it is the latter relationships that lead to the implosion. Still with a wonderful look at Hungary, readers will appreciate this tender complicated family drama.

End of the Trail
Vickie McDonough
River North
c/o Moody Publishers
820 N. LaSalle Blvd., Chicago, IL 60610
9780802404084, $14.99,

In 1886 in Waco, his mom and older sister deride sixteen year old Brooks Morgan for not doing his fair share of the chores. His dad lectures him further. Upset, he becomes angry when his dad says he will sell Brooks' horse jester. Brooks leaves.

In 1896 Brooks meets elderly ailing Will Langston. They play cards and Brooks wins the man's Raven Creek Ranch; Will asks him to take care of Keri. Feeling guilty, Brooks decides to return the spread to Will, but instead his new friend is dead. At the same time, Keri Langston looks forward to leaving Wesleyan Female College in Georgia to return to her beloved Uncle Will's ranch. Brooks arrives at the ranch only to be strung up with a rope around his neck. Keri rescues him, but believes in spite of the deed Brooks possesses that her Uncle Will would want her to own Raven Creek Ranch. As they fall in love, someone has plans for the ranch, which exclude the niece and the deed holder.

The sixth Texas Trails Morgan Family nineteenth century western romance is a superb finish to a strong historical saga. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action while bringing to life Texas in the last decade of the twentieth century. Written by three authors romance (see Darlene Franklin's Ranger's Trail and The Lone Star Trail; Cowgirl Trail and The Captive Trail by Susan Page Davis; and Long Trail Home by Vickie McDonough), this is a fitting End of the Trail for a great epic.

Harvest of Rubies
Tessa Agshar
River North
c/o Moody Publishers
820 N. LaSalle Blvd., Chicago, IL 60610
9780802405586, $14.99,

In the third year of the reign of King Artaxerxes of Persia, seven years old Sarah's mom died. Her dad Simeon ignores his grieving daughter. To get the attention of her father, a royal scribe at the Persian court, Sarah teaches herself to read and write. Five months of hard labor proves fruitful when Simeon realizes what his child can do. He mentors her while she shows tremendous proclivity towards several languages.

Her cousin Nehemiah the Cupbearer to King Artaxerxes notices Sarah's talent. He recommends her as a scribe to Queen Damaspia. Sarah quickly becomes the queen's chief scribe. When Sarah prevents a conspiracy to destroy the queen, Damaspia rewards her with a marriage to Lord Darius. Sarah tries to stop the wedding, but fails to do so and is unprepared when she exchanges vows with her husband. Her behavior leaves her in disfavor as the royals, her spouse, her father and others accuse her of insulting the Queen and Darius. Forced to remain behind in her husband's palace while he travels, Sarah learns that Darius' steward Teispes is stealing. She seeks proof while her adversary seeks to stop her anyway possible.

The latest Tessa Agshar's ancient biblical romantic thriller (see Pearl in the Sand) is a great saga that takes place in a vividly described Persia not long after the reign of Xerxes and Esther of Purim fame in which assimilation has occurred although Jerusalem is being rebuilt. Sarah is a tremendous protagonist as she learns her self-worth is more than just being a scribe and that God did not abandon her when the Lord took her mom away, but her lessons learned may be too late for her marriage and even her life.

Destiny Kills
S. D. Tooley
Full Moon Publishing
433 Mystic Point Dr., Bluffton, SC 29909
9780984635757, $16.95,

In Chasen Heights, Illinois Marti Johnson is having fun with her nine moth old daughter Savannah when her cell phone rings. Immediately after the four-second call ends; she puts on her sneakers, ignores her baby, walks out of the condo onto an overpass, and leaps. She lands on a semi to her death.

The police call Marti's death a suicide but her husband Forrest rejects the official position as his wife was a contented person. He pleads with the police to reopen the case, but the cops have no grounds to do so; instead they refer bereaving Forrest to police consultant and former cop Sam Casey. She also meets a client who tells her that her sister calmly walked into Lake Michigan and drowned herself just after a four-second call one week before her wedding. Sam's husband, police detective Jake Mitchell investigates the case of a woman strangled to death by her purse strap. When Sam touches the victim's purses, she hears the same word destiny, same as the two "suicides". They need all of Sam's Indian magic and Jake's police smarts to figure out who or what the caller is.

The sixth stupendous Sam Casey paranormal police procedural (see What Lies Within, When the Dead Speak and Echoes From The Grave) is the usual great mystery. Sam and Jake are a terrific yin and yang pairing as she believes in the ethereal and he in technology; together they are an incredible team. With some humor especially when the heroine deals with her spouse, Destiny Kills is a fabulous whodunit it as S.D. Tooley makes her cast and the Lake Michigan fantasy elements seem real inside of an enjoyable tale.

Curse of the Jade Lady
David Housewright
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312642310, $25.99,

Midwest Farmers Insurance Group agent Vincent Donatucci visits former cop Rushmore McKenzie who muses the last time he saw the insurance man was when he received a check for $3,128,584.50. The visitor says most people with large payouts become withdrawn due to the reaction of loved ones; some become philanthropists; and then there is McKenzie who became Batman. He further explains that someone stole the Qing Dynasty Jade Lily from the City of Lakes Art Museum in Minneapolis. The "artnappers" called the museum director Perrin Stewart with a ransom demand of one third of the insurance which is just under 1.3 million. The thieves asked for McKenzie to act as the delivery boy.

The simple exchange turns complex when the State Department, the FBI, Heavenly the woman representing a nebulous entity, and others demand McKenzie give them the gem allegedly cursed like Tut's tomb. When one of the thieves is found murdered and other deaths follow, the Curse of the Jade Lily seems at work.

The latest McKenzie mystery (see Highway 61) is a wonderful thriller as the protagonist wonders who next will show up ordering him to do something. Filled with humor and a strong cast that are 360 degrees encircling the Jade Lily, this is a fast-paced winner as the hero believes the Jade Lily is not cursed; he is cursed.

Dead Scared
S.J. Bolton
9780312600532, $25.99

Cambridge University has been horrified by several recent grisly suicides. The cops profile of the dead students show significant similar social behavior and claimed nightmares of being raped. Metropolitan Police DI Mark Joesbury needs someone who could pass as a student so he enlists DC Lacey Flint (see Now You See Me) to go undercover as psychology undergraduate student Laura Farrow attending Cambridge University's St. John's College.

Lucy is assigned the same room of the last victim who immolated herself at a Christmas party. Her only contact inside the school is counseling chief psychiatrist Dr. Evi Oliver (see Blood Harvest). Flint ignores Joesbury's warning to observe not participate. As Lacey acts like a vulnerable lonely individual, she becomes a person of interest, but what Joesbury failed to realize is she is not playing a role.

This is a dark British police procedural that grips the audience from the moment Joesbury recruits Flint and never slows down until the final confrontation on a ledge. This is a harrowing twisting psychological thriller they seems plausible with sinister predators preying on vulnerable people like Lacey Flint.

Ice Cap
Chris Knopf
9781250005175, $25.99

During a blizzard, Franklin Delano Raffini calls his Southampton, Long Island attorney Jackie Swaitkowski to hurry over. Raffini served three years for killing Donald Pritz, husband of his lover Eliz; the widow earned 7.5 million in insurance from her spouse's death.

The latest Raffini dead body is Tad Buczek who outraged his neighbors when he built eyesore monstrous Metal Madness. Police detective Joe Sullivan is outraged that the former banker turned convict had the audacity to move the body of the spouse of his mistress Katarzina Buczek, a much younger mail-order bride. The evidence points to Raffini, who will have a difficult time claiming self-defense as he did with the first case. While the DA goes for second degree, Jackie works the defense by questioning those close to Buczek; who the lawyer knows because they are the extended family of her late husband Pete, his mother Paulina Swaitkowski, his Aunt (Tad's sister) Salina Lumsden and her husband Freddy.

The latest Swaitkowski thriller (see Short Squeeze and Bad Bird) is a zany jocular whodunit. The support cast enhances either the inquiry or the quirkiness as the heroine is ably assisted by her boyfriend Harry, Sam the carpenter (see Hard Stop and Black Swan), and computer guru Randall while the Polish connection complicate the case.

A Cold Day in Paradise
Steve Hamilton
9781250012685, $14.99

Detroit police officer Alex McKnight was forced to accept a disability retirement when he took a bullet near his heart. Alex moves to Paradise, a small community in Michigan's Upper Peninsula where he rents cabins to hunters. Local attorney Lane Uttley urges Alex to get his private investigator's license by promising to send the former cop his investigating business.

When Edwin Fulton of the wealthy Detroit family is mixed up with the murder of his bookie, Alex is hired to protect the Fulton name. However, a second murder of another local bookie and the disappearance of Eddie change the case. Alex and Lane begin to investigate the murders and the disappearance. However, at the same time the ex-cop begins to receive mail and calls allegedly from the individual who shot him near the heart fourteen years ago, a person supposedly spending life behind bars without parole.

This is a reprint of the first engaging Alex McKnight Upper Peninsular private investigator case. The characters are brilliantly developed and the mysteries are fun puzzles that blend together in a witty and wonderful story line. However, what really makes Steve Hamilton's debut a smashing success is the clever way the author provides background material from several different years and incidents from Alex's past in the context of a current situational dilemma. Readers who have spent cold days in paradise with Alex and the local community will want to do so with other McKnight tales.

Don't Ever Get Old
Daniel Friedman
9780312606930, $24.99

Jim Wallace is dying at the MED geriatric ICU. He asks octogenarian Buck Schatz to visit him though they were not friends even when they were incarcerated in a POW camp back in '44. Buck's wife of over six decades Rose makes him honor the dying man's request. Because he cannot drive that far, Jim's daughter Emily Feely takes him.

Wallace tells him he saw camp commandant SS officer Heinrich Ziegler in France in 1946. Schatz hated Ziegler who abused him for being Jewish and looked for the SOB after the war, but learned the Russians killed the Nazi. However, Wallace says he accepted a gold bar to let the man go. He begs Buck to forgive him, but instead Schatz tells him to enjoy hell; Wallace dies immediately before Buck leaves.

Buck plans to return to daytime TV, but apparently Emily, her husband Norris, and a horde of others know what Wallace told Buck and assume he will go after the Nazi and the gold. As those with an interest begin to die, Buck decides he better get involved before someone comes after him or Rose; he drafts his NYU law student grandson Billy to help him find Ziegler.

Mindful of Mike Befeler's octogenarian Paul Jacobson Geezer-mysteries (see Retirement Homes Are Murder); this is a terrific geriatric noir. The key is the protagonist suffers from memory loss and a ton of physical ailments but retains his witty sense of humor as he and his sidekick end in one jam after another. Fast-paced Daniel Friedman makes a strong case that revenge may be a dish served cold but it still served even after six decades of being dormant.

The Reckoning
Jane Casey
9780312622008, $24.99

In London Metropolitan police Superintendent Charles Godley, assigns Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan and Detective Inspector Josh Derwent to investigate two similar homicides. Both victims were convicted sex offenders and tortured by the culprit; however Barry Palmer's skull was fractured while Ivan Tremlett's throat was sliced. A third pedophile is murdered in a similar manner but his head was blown off his body.

Someone on their task force is leaking information to the media who makes the killer into a hero because of whom the victims were. Kerrigan and Josh Derwent save the fourth victim. This sends them to search for Cheyenne, the missing teenage daughter of brutal gangster John Skinner as time is running out for the girl.

The latest DC Kerrigan police procedural (see The Burning) is a fabulous investigative thriller as reticent Maeve swims upstream in a testosterone ocean. She makes the tale work with her feminine perspective as she shows confidence on the job though copes poorly with nasty bullying Derwent who ridicules her as being inadequate; she knows she cannot report him to her superior as Giodley will assume she is too sensitive to do the job. Her maybe romance with Detective Constable Rob Langton lessens Kerrigan's self-esteem though this is somewhat a standard but distracting sub-genre element. With a couple of twists including who is behind the killings, fans will enjoy Kerrigan's second case.

The Nano Flower
Peter F. Hamilton
Del Rey
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345533142, $19.95,

Years have passed since the case of A Quantum Murder. Former warrior Suzi deploys a cyborg cockroach to obtain a data dump for a client. After succeeding, Commander Leol Reiger informs her he was the client and he made almost ten times she did.

Former Mindstar Brigade captain turned psychic detective Greg Mandel is happily married to pregnant Eleanor, raising four children on their farm. Event Horizon owner Julia Evans arrives to obtain Greg's help in finding her missing husband Royan. She explains her assistant Rachel gave her a box given to her in Monaco; inside is an alien flower and a note from Royan who has been missing for eight months. She wants Greg to find the woman in Monaco. Greg, Suzi, Rachel and Event Horizon security chief Victor fly to Monaco. They identify the delivery person as Charlotte Fielder, a Baronski girl. Greg and Suzi head to Salzburg to talk to Baronski to ask about Charlotte. Baronski says her patron is Jason Whitehurst and his teenage son Fabian. Reiger fails twice to capture Greg and Suzi. All are converging on the New London asteroid including a dangerous extraterrestrial from Jupiter's rings.

The final superb Greg Mandel futuristic science fiction detective series The Nano Flower is reprinted as volume 2; Volume 1 included Mindstar Rising and A Quantum Murder. The storyline is fast-paced and loaded with action as the retired sleuth and his cohorts follow the trail of Charlotte (and Russian mobsters) in their search for Roylan, but ignore his main message the flower. Fans will appreciate this entry and the Mandel saga as the trilogy is sci fi mystery at its best.

China Mieville
Del Rey
9780345524522, $18.00

Sham Yes ap Soorap the orphan has obtained an apprentice position working for a doctor on the Medes moletrain that rides the railsea with hunters seeking the giant moldywarpes that live beneath the dirt as these beasts are worth a fortune on the mainland. Sham appreciates the contests between the harpoonists and the moles, but wonders if riding the railsea for a lifetime is what he wants to do. He quickly realizes to never mention his doubts to Medes Captain Naphi as she obsesses over killing Mocker Jack the ivory mole who took her arm.

The Mede comes across the wreckage of a train. Amidst the mess, Sham finds several pictures of something that could not be. As he follows the clues; his captain, other train mates, pirates, monsters and salvagers pursue him.

This is a superb young adult fantasy that pays homage to Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. The story line is fast-paced and exciting with a strong cast including the prairie as a metamorphic ocean of land with monsters under the "sea." China Mieville provides a wonderful refreshing coming of age allegorical adventure.

His Dark Embrace
Amanda Ashley
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9781420121339, $7.99,

After leaving home for college eight years ago, Skylynn McNamara O'Brien never came back until now as she returns for her grandfather's funeral. As a teen she had a crush on the next door neighbor, the mysterious recluse Kaiden Thorne, who only came out at night to collect his mail and paper. Her older brother said he was a vampire, but her Granda told her there is not such creature.

She is shocked when she sees him for the first since he left home as he has not aged one iota in the eight years since she last saw him and as she muses from when she first saw him when she was five. One other thing that has not changed is Skylynn still thinks Kaiden is an ultra-hunk. Kaiden realizes Skylynn has aroused his bloodlust that he struggles to control. One biting bloody kiss later, both are in the heat of desire. However, she can either save him from the darkness or allow him to drown in the darkness.

His Dark Embrace is a warm engaging romantic urban fantasy starring two enticing protagonists. The fast-paced simplistic storyline grips the reader when the lead couple sees each other for the first time in almost a decade; their attraction could heat up New England for a winter or two. Fans who enjoy a straight forward vampire romance will appreciate Amanda Ashley's ardent page-turner.

Bedding Lord Ned
Sally Mackenzie
9781420123210, $7.99

Miss Eleanor Bowman loves Lord Ned, but he had married her best friend Cicely Headley who died in childbirth along with their offspring. Though she grieved her loss, she hoped Ned would turn to her, but he did not. Now four years since Cicely's death, twenty-six year old Eleanor wants children so giving up on Ned, she seeks a husband before she becomes placed on the shelf.

Known as the "Duchess of Love", Ned's mother The Duchess of Greycliffe hosts her annual Valentine house party that Eleanor attends. The duchess believes Ned and Ellie belong together, but her son still struggles with the death of his wife. To Eleanor's chagrin, her infamous silky red drawers that almost ended with her being labeled a Jezebel is in her bag. Sir Reginald the cat steals her bloomers and dumps them in Ned's room. Though afraid to love again, the silky red drawers have Ned dreaming of loving Ellie if he dares take a chance on love and life.

This is an amusing lighthearted historical romance starring a grieving widow, an unrequited in love lady, a felonious cat, and the scandalous silky red bloomers. Fast-paced from the moment the kleptomaniac Reggie pilfers the lingerie, fans will appreciate this Duchess of Love madcap romantic comedy.

Dark Kiss
Michelle Rowen
Harlequin Teen
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373210473, $9.99,

In Trinity, New York teenage BFFs Samantha and Carly Kessler are clubbing when Stephen Keyes joins them. Sam has had a crush on the hunk seemingly forever. When he asks to kiss her but warns her that his kiss will change her life, she readily agrees. After he says he is sorry kid, he leaves while she faints.

Soon afterward boys hit on her; girls scream at her; and she is always hungry just not for food. The head angel on a heavenly quest Bishop is attracted to Sam who has lost her soul to that kiss. His team consists of two angels (Zach and Connor) who work closely with and against two demons (Kraven and Roth). Their Nightwatchers' mission is to prevent the evil darkness from devouring Trinity.

The first Nightwatchers' teen urban fantasy is an exciting twisting thriller which grips readers from that first Dark Kiss until the final confrontation. The cast is fully developed with diverse personalities while the Rowen mythology is intriguing as there are things so wicked even heaven and hell have to team up.

The Girl in the Clockwork Collar
Kady Cross
Harlequin Teen
9780373210534, $17.99

In 1897 Finley Jayne and her "straynge" friends (Lord Griffin King, Sam Morgan and Emily) travel on Griff's airship Helena from London to New York to help their friend Jasper Renn out of a nasty predicament. Dalton captured Mei Xing in order to get to her boyfriend Jasper, his former felonious associate. The crime king placed a clockwork collar on Mei's neck so that if Jasper fails or betrays Dalton, she dies as the gizmo will turn into a choker. He orders Jasper to retrieves the parts of a machine if he wants his beloved alive and well.

The English visitors begin a quest to save Jasper while also rescuing Mei. They seek the machine parts and look for a means to rid the clockwork collar from around Mei's neck without harming her. However within the team emotions run high. Sam may be more mechanical than human but his heart works as he has fallen for Emily who loves him. Griff loves Jasper but fears she will return to the dark side while he falls deeper into his need for the Aether.

The second Steampunk Chronicles historical fantasy (see The Girl In The Steel Corset) is a superb thriller that hooks the audience when the Helena flies over late Victorian Manhattan, which anchors time and place in the Cross alternate world. Action-packed but character driven
as the team struggles with emotions that could betray the mission, teen readers will appreciate the exhilarating The Girl in the Clockwork Collar.

Death of a Beauty Queen
Mallory Kane
Harlequin Intrigue
9780373696239, $5.25

A dozen years ago new NOPD Police Detective Dixon Lloyd worked the harrowing Beauty Queen Murders as his first investigation. He failed to solve the case of what happened to Rosemary Delancey.

Twelve years later, that inquiry still haunts him as Dixon can still picture the bloody scene including the murdered corpse of Rosemary's fiance Lyndon Banker. Now, parole violator T-Bo Pereau insists he saw Rosemary. Besides Dixon, hit man Aron Wasabe learns what happened to the only target to escape alive from him. Dixon visits Rose Boheme, who explains she has no memory of who she was before awakening in the home of Cajun Maman Renee. At the same time Aron stalks her so he can get back into the good graces of his employer the Boss.

With a nod to the classic Otto Preminger movie Laura, Death of a Beauty Queen is a superb romantic police procedural. The romance between the Dark Angel and his Rose take a back seat to protecting her as readers anticipate a High Noon confrontation with a unique look at New Orleans as the backdrop. Mallory Kane provides a winning tale because fans will need to know the motive behind the homicides and attempted murder.

The Only Man For Her
Kristi Gold
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717859, $5.50

Though they came from different sides of the tracks and her family objected to him as not good enough for her, Rachel Wainwright and Matthew Boyd knew each other for several years before they married. They were a happy wedded couple for twelve plus years until the tragedy hit them four months ago when their premature baby Caleb died just a few hours after his birth. Both grieved their loss; one month ago, she left him as she explained he gave her no choice by his refusal to talk with her over the decision he made to save her life over that of unborn Caleb.

Rachel feels guilty that she chose to conceive by skipping her birth control pills though she knew her spouse did not want children. Matt feels he owes her the truth but believes even with bourbon he could not survive the look he fears he will see in her visage. Each feels they failed Caleb and their beloved mate.

Filled with angst, this is a super tale that centers on grief compounded by crippling guilt leading to an inability to talk about what bothers each of the protagonists. Matt and Rachel seem real which contributes to crafting this powerful and exciting family drama.

Bring Him Home
Karina Bliss
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717842, $5.50

Eighteen months ago in Northern Afghanistan, Steve Langford, Nate Wyatt and others are in deep trouble after an IED explosion is followed by an assault. Steve's leg is trapped in their vehicle while Nate helps another wounded soldier to safety. Before he can return to his BFF, an explosion kills Steve. Stunned and feeling survivor guilt, Nate knows Steve asked him to take care of his widow Claire and their teenage son.

Claire travels from New Zealand to Los Angeles to ask Nate to come home to co-sign papers enabling her to sell her home so she can start a charter fishing business. He ignored his late BFF's dying plea because he cannot face Claire. However, her coming to Southern California makes him realize he needs to honor that death bed vow he made so he returns to New Zealand.

The key to this strong military romance is the impact of a soldier's death in combat on his loved ones. Nate and the Langford duet grieve their loss deeply but differently as Claire knows it is time to move on while the veteran wants to still hide. As he shocks her with his caring, they begin to fall in love, but neither wants to harm her son or their memory of Steve. Readers will appreciate this strong look at the impact of combat on a veteran and two dependents that chicken hawks ignore when they debate sending the young into war.

A Life Rebuilt
Jean Brashear
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717873, $5.50

The Foundations for Families are building their fourth house in a bad neighborhood using volunteers. Jenna MacAllister heads over to see the progress on the Marin family dream home when she spots a volunteer kid Freddie stealing copper. Someone bigger and older than Freddie grabs her from behind and orders the troubled teen to finish the job.

Suffering from PTSD, Special Forces soldier Roman Gallardo has become a night owl who cannot sleep for more than four hours at a time since he came home from Iraq. He sees the gangbanger with the knife on top of the woman and intercedes. When the cops arrive, he disappears into the darkness like a ghost. When she and her partner Teo Hernandez arrive in the morning, the sheetrock mess was removed anonymously. Roman finds Freddie who says Mako made him help by threating his little brother Damien. Freddie cons Roman into helping at the site. As Roman reluctantly gets involved with Freddie and Jenna, he finds a reason to care, which means he will need to obtain help for his PTSD.

This is a strong poignant look at the impact of PTSD on a brave war veteran so crippled by the ailment, he has become an urban recluse who cannot sleep or even shake hands. Jean Brashear makes a powerful case for more mental healthcare funding (including training professionals) for the vet and active soldier. Action-packed from the moment he intervenes in the assault on her, fans will relish this deep tale as Pollyanna shines her loving light onto the darkness that engulfs the former combat vet.

Alix Ohlin
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307596925, $25.00,

In 1996, Grace Tomlinson, a dedicated therapist, is cross country skiing on Mount Royal when she trips over a man who tried to hang himself. She calls 911 and he is taken to Montreal General. She follows and learns his name is John Tugwell and offers to listen to him. After he tells authorities it was a lover's prank with his girlfriend Grace that went bad, she takes him home and insists on staying to insure he does not try again.

Her sixteen years old patient Annie Hardwick is a cutter who feels ugly and fears telling her perfect parents she is pregnant. To help her with her woes, Grace tells her to pretend to be an actress in various roles. However, Annie plans to run away to New York where she will become an actress at any cost without any relationships as she knows they always cut.

Meanwhile Grace's ex-husband Mitch the therapist decides to head to the Arctic to help a native village struggling to survive in the harsh conditions. He leaves behind in Montreal the woman he cherishes.

This character study focuses on four Canadians connected by Grace over several years and locales including Rwanda. Each of the protagonists is unique with flaws that drive them at times to react excessively. The two therapists feel "reaching out into the darkness" to a friend and lover is why they chose their profession as a boost to their ego; while the two patients feel their self-esteem crumble whenever they accept the reaching out offer of help. Insightful and thought provoking, codependency can prove emotionally dangerous to the transmitter and the receiver.

In the Kingdom of Men
Kim Barnes
9780307273390, $24.95

Her parents were dead by the time Gin was seven. Her strict devout Methodist minister grandfather raised her in a dilapidated shack in rural Oklahoma. As a teen Gin meets Mason McPhee who stuns her by showing interest in her. When she becomes pregnant, they marry.

The pair moves to Houston where he obtained work in the oil industry. The Arabian American Oil company hires Mason so they relocate to Abqaiq an American enclave in the Arabian Desert. For Gin their life there is a fairy tale comes true as she reflects back on her humble beginnings while wearing her first swimming suit and having servants though she also feels restricted by Arabian society. Still as Mason, disgusted with the firm's mistreatment of the Bedouin workers tries to help them, a Bedouin woman washes ashore on the Persian Gulf. He is caught in the crosshairs of a conspiratorial cover-up with only his wife risking all to save her spouse.

This enjoyable storyline starts off as a coming of age tale before turning into an engaging twisting amateur sleuth story starring an intrepid persistent heroine out of her element. Gin tells her tale as she matures from a naive Sooner bewildered by the Sharia Law culture as much as by oil dynamics. Her obsession with the truth makes for a strong drama as sometimes the truth fails to set you free.

The Undertow
Jo Baker
9780307957092, $25.95

In 1914 London, recently married William and Amelia Hastings are excited over her pregnancy though he leaves to fight in the war. William sends home postcards to his wife and baby Billy. In Malta, William has sex with a local just before dying in combat at sea. His shipmate George Sully visits Amelia with William's last postcard. Billy distrusts Sully so he protects his mom from a man he thinks is a lowlife.

When WW II breaks out, stand out cyclist Billy goes off to fight riding a bike during the D-Day invasion. He returns from combat to marry Jewish Ruby, who has had issues with George that she hid from her spouse. Their first child Will suffers from Perthes disease and his father is unable to love him unconditionally.

Will becomes a professor, but he keeps everyone at an emotional distance includong his first wife and their daughter Billie even though he wants desperately to get close to his offspring. Instead his father has the relationship Will wants with his daughter. Though Will remarries and has a son who fights in the Afghanistan War, he struggles with showing his daughter how much he loves her and wants to be part of her life.

This is a great British family drama with a strong cast starring in each of the featured decades. The storyline focuses on the impacts of war even years after the combat is over on people at the front and at home. Fans of epic sagas will want to read the mostly twentieth century tale of the four generations of "Wills".

The Chemistry of Tears
Peter Carey
9780307592712, $26.00

In 2010 London, Swinburne Museum Horologist Catherine Gehrig finds out her married lover of thirteen years, Head Curator of Metals, Matthew Tindall died from a heart attack. Catherine knows she must hide her grief so that her late beloved's name is not smeared for the sake of his two sons. Her sympathetic boss Head Curator of Horology Eric "Crafty" Crofty says he will arrange the deletion of personal email using the office account and assigns to work at the Annexe so that no one in the Museum proper will notice her anguish.

He assigns her to revive an avian automaton. Catherine begins to fix the precise clockwork machine while also discovering eleven notebooks written in 1854 by the first owner, Henry Brandling; who had it built by Germans as a distraction for his son Percy suffering from consumption. Catherine finds solace in Brandling's journals and with the automaton he had made for his child.

This is a powerful story of love and grief as a century and a half apart; two people connected by a mechanical swan mourn their losses. Rotating between Catherine's saga and Henry's notebooks, readers will appreciate this terrific character driven poignant tale as grieving individuals seek objects to personify their loss who they will always love.

Aerogrammes: and Other Stories
Tania James
9780307268914, $24.00

"Lion and Panther in London." In 1910 Gama the Great India wrestling champ comes to London but no one challenges him until the John Bull Tournament is arranged to crown the world champ.

"What To Do with Henry?" Retired Ohio teacher Pearl travels to Sierra Leone to bring to Canton the daughter Neneh her husband sired during one of his research trips. Henry the chimpanzee joins them.

"The Gulf." In India she was four when her father left to work in Dubai; she is eight when a stranger insists he is her dad.

"The Scriptological Review: A Last Letter from the Editor." Scriptological Review editor Vijay studies his father's handwriting trying to understand his death.

"Aerogrammes." Newcomer Hari hates Renaissance Gardens where his family dumped him but he has no options while waiting for a son who never seems to visit him until he meets demented May.

"Ethnic Ken." Ammu the tweener visits her grandfather but detests his behavior as being old fashion even as she needs her Barbie to have a Ken.

"Light & Luminous," In India Minal the dance instructor desperately wants to win the contest, but upsets her students as she acts the diva instead of the mentoring teacher.

"Escape Key." Neet teaches creative writing near Boston. When his brother fell off a roof, he returned home to India while realizing his fiction is terrible.

"Girl Marries Ghost." Lonely Gina meets once married Hank the ghost who looks forward to marrying her so he can return to the physical world.

These are nine excellent shorts that probe the diversity of loneliness when one feels like a stranger in a strange land whether a person is home or living in a foreign land.

The Chemistry of Tears
Peter Carey
9780307592712, $26.00

In 2010 London, Swinburne Museum Horologist Catherine Gehrig finds out her married lover of thirteen years, Head Curator of Metals, Matthew Tindall died from a heart attack. Catherine knows she must hide her grief so that her late beloved's name is not smeared for the sake of his two sons. Her sympathetic boss Head Curator of Horology Eric "Crafty" Crofty says he will arrange the deletion of personal email using the office account and assigns to work at the Annexe so that no one in the Museum proper will notice her anguish.

He assigns her to revive an avian automaton. Catherine begins to fix the precise clockwork machine while also discovering eleven notebooks written in 1854 by the first owner, Henry Brandling; who had it built by Germans as a distraction for his son Percy suffering from consumption. Catherine finds solace in Brandling's journals and with the automaton he had made for his child.

This is a powerful story of love and grief as a century and a half apart; two people connected by a mechanical swan mourn their losses. Rotating between Catherine's saga and Henry's notebooks, readers will appreciate this terrific character driven poignant tale as grieving individuals seek objects to personify their loss who they will always love.

Aerogrammes: and Other Stories
Tania James
9780307268914, $24.00

"Lion and Panther in London." In 1910 Gama the Great India wrestling champ comes to London but no one challenges him until the John Bull Tournament is arranged to crown the world champ.

"What To Do with Henry?" Retired Ohio teacher Pearl travels to Sierra Leone to bring to Canton the daughter Neneh her husband sired during one of his research trips. Henry the chimpanzee joins them.

"The Gulf." In India she was four when her father left to work in Dubai; she is eight when a stranger insists he is her dad.

"The Scriptological Review: A Last Letter from the Editor." Scriptological Review editor Vijay studies his father's handwriting trying to understand his death.

"Aerogrammes." Newcomer Hari hates Renaissance Gardens where his family dumped him but he has no options while waiting for a son who never seems to visit him until he meets demented May.

"Ethnic Ken." Ammu the tweener visits her grandfather but detests his behavior as being old fashion even as she needs her Barbie to have a Ken.

"Light & Luminous," In India Minal the dance instructor desperately wants to win the contest, but upsets her students as she acts the diva instead of the mentoring teacher.

"Escape Key." Neet teaches creative writing near Boston. When his brother fell off a roof, he returned home to India while realizing his fiction is terrible.

"Girl Marries Ghost." Lonely Gina meets once married Hank the ghost who looks forward to marrying her so he can return to the physical world.

These are nine excellent shorts that probe the diversity of loneliness when one feels like a stranger in a strange land whether a person is home or living in a foreign land.

The Seventh Messenger
Carol Costa
Anaphora Literary Press
163 Lucas Rd., Apt. i2, Cochran, GA 31014
9781463561024, $15.00,

Naomi was born in the House of David religious community in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Now, as an adult, with her always emotionally distant mom dying, she has returned to learn whether the founder Benjamin Franklin Purnell was her father. She demands Benjamin's widow Mary to tell her the truth with no omissions or deceptions.

Mary begins her story back five decades ago to the turn of the century when Benjamin said the Spirit of the Lord told him that he was the Seventh Messenger while their convicted leader of the Holy Rollers Michael Mills was false. He became King Benjamin and she Queen Mary of the House of David religious commune. In 1903 they moved to Benton Harbor where they created a place to live, an amusement park, an orchestra, a zoo, and a baseball team with a park, etc. Sex was prohibited even between married couples. The only exception to the rule was King David and his Inner Circle of girls under the age of sixteen who needed purification. One Inner Circle girl became pregnant and planned to destroy the reign of King Benjamin.

This is an exciting insightful novelization of the creation and twenty plus years (up to the trial and death of Benjamin) of the House Of David. Mary is a terrific narrator who understood her late husband's strengths as a charismatic leader who got people to believe and his serpent in Eden endeavors as she tells Naomi what happened to him and her mom hoping to bring some sunshine into the younger woman's life. Character driven to include the commune, Carol Costa provides a deep twentieth century historical in which Mary's salvation of the ruins of Eden and the City of David, still thrives.

A. J. Hartley and David Hewson
Thomas & Mercer
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781612183015, $14.95,

Lord of Moray, Macbeth and his wife Skena have always supported Scottish King Duncan. However, recently Lord Macbeth has had doubts that the monarch is good for the country as he does little to keep outside raiders from pillaging the borders especially the coast; has allowed bloody clan warfare; and has led loyal followers into unnecessary deadly battles.

Macbeth meets three witches who further his belief that Duncan is destroying Scotland. He discusses with his wife his fears for their country and whether they should rebel; an act some will call treason and others heroic. Skena a patriot says loyally is to Scotland not Duncan and encourages her husband to assassinate the king and take over as the ruler for the sake of the people. However, once they deploy their plans, Lord and Lady Macbeth soon learn the road to hell is paved with good intentions as nothing seems to go right after the murder of Duncan.

This is an engaging novelization that pays homage to the classic play even with providing a wider perspective of what motivates Lord and Lady Macbeth while emphasizing their country patriotism. Fast-paced from the moment the plotters decide to end Duncan's horrific reign, fans, except for purists, of the Bard will enjoy the A. J. Hartley and David Hewson rendition of Macbeth.

King City
Lee Goldberg
Thomas & Mercer
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781612183176, $14.95,

The FBI arrested the entire King City Major Crimes Unit on corruption charges. The only exception is thirty-five years old Detective Tom Wade who worked undercover with the Justice Department for two years. Seven cops are convicted while Tom testified against them and has been kept on administrative leave by Police Chief Reardon.

Everyone associated with KCPD including family members loathe Tom for destroying the lives of his peers and their dependents. Reardon assigns him to work the deadliest and most impoverished slum in the city Darwin Gardens where survival of the fittest is tested every moment. Tom says nothing in spite of knowing he has been given a death sentence. However, being an honest cop is who he is and with little help, Tom and his team of two unwanted rookies investigate a serial killer viciously murdering young women.

Paying homage to Frank Serpico, this is an exhilarating taut police procedural as one honest cop brings down a corrupt department but pays the price in his personal life and on the job where he wears the "Scarlet Letter" of traitor. Fast-paced from the moment Tom enters a hostage situation involving one of the cops he turned in and never slows down as he works a deadly beat with two tyros; one barely graduated the academy and the other a black female who the brass wants to force out as racially and sexually undesirable. Diogenes would have found his honest man in Tom, but even the Greek mythical traveler would wonder whether honesty is the best policy.

S. G. Redling
Thomas & Mercer
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781612183022, $14.95,

Six years ago, Feno Chemical spilled an experimental lethal pesticide in rural Penn County, Iowa. Many residents of what was then Dalesbrook died and not long afterward the army barricaded the survivors inside a containment zone. Medicine is provided to those quarantined to combat the deadly toxin; the flowery odor of the meds has led to the PennCo Containment Area being derogatorily called Flowertown.

Raging Ellie Cauley is sick of brown water and dwindling supplies. Her best friend Bing believes there is an avarice conspiracy to exploit what is going on in Flowertown, but Ellie is uninterested as she only wants to stay high and make love with her Army sergeant boyfriend Guy. However, she cannot ignore what is happening when people die in a bomb blast and vanish via an underground railroad. Ellie finds evidence that supports Bing's contention, but is unsure whether Guy is her friend and ally or a mole spying on her and the other quarantined. As she begins to uncover what the outside plans for the Flowertown imprisoned, she remains hesitant as to what she should do even as her rage explodes and she finally takes a stand.

Fans who relish an exciting cautionary conspiracy thriller in which it is nearly impossible to figure out what is going on inside and outside the fence will want to read until S.G. Redling's first published work. The suspenseful storyline grips the audience starting with the eerie front cover and never loses that hook until the final confrontation. The cast seems plausible as paranoia, self-pity and anger are prime traits of the residents while the premise also works reminding readers of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy. Flowertown is a taut tale.

Linda Windsor
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9781434764768, $14.99,

In the late sixth century AD, Abbess Ninian took his confession and gave him his last rites before announcing the death of Merlin Emrys. His demise comes at an unsettling time for the Cymri as the succession has been left confused with Rome demanding Urien of Rheged instead of High King Arthur's nephew King Modred of Lothian who Queen Gwenhyfar prefers. Besides the schism between the old religions including that of Christ and that of the new Christianity of Merlin's successor as advisor to Arthur Archbishop Cassian, the land is further divided between the Brits, Welsh, Scots and Pict.

Kella O'Toole, Queen Gwenhyfar's scribe, learns her fiance died in battle and her father Glenarden's Champion Egan vanished in the hostile land of the Pict. Gwenhyfar orders Kella to keep working on the vellum, Arthur, Prince of Dalraida. Instead defying the royal decree, Kella, accompanied by her foster brother Alyn the third son of O'Byrne Clan of Glenarden who left his priestly studies to attend Merlin's funeral, search for her dad.

The latest Brides of Alba Arthurian saga (see Healer and Thief) is a great tale that brings to life sixth century British Isles at a time of deep bloody schisms. Action-packed but vividly describing the era, readers will relish this strong romantic adventure starring two disillusioned individuals who have doubts about religion and royalty as each has witnessed manipulations in the name of God by men and women.

Two Testaments
Elizabeth Musser
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9780781404990, $14.99,

In 1962, twenty-two year old Gabriella Madison remains in Castelnau, France as part of the Franco-American exchange program at the Church of Saint Joseph. She continues her work helping School Director Mother Griolet with forty-three orphans, mostly collateral damage by the Algerian War for Independence.

Her biggest struggle is that she fears for her boyfriend teacher M. David Hoffmann who has left for Marseilles on his way to Algeria to help refugees. The Mediterranean African country is on the verge of exploding as tensions (there and in France) is stratospheric. Gabriella also struggles to show Christian kindness to Anne-Marie Duchemin, David's former girlfriend who has come to Castelnau. While she waits for David's return Anne Marie helps with the orphans too while hoping her ex will choose her over the American. However, both rivals soon fear neither will win the David sweepstake as David is trapped inside the Algerian war for independence.

The reprint of the second Secrets of the Cross historical Christian thriller is a great tale of a young woman who still questions her faith but, proving there are no atheists in the foxhole, prays for God to protect David and the orphans. Gabriella has matured as she shows tolerance to all people regardless of race, religion or ethnicity. Using the Algerian War of Independence, Elizabeth Musser provides a timely story of faith on the home front during a violent period.

Relentless Pursuit
Kathy Herman
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9780781403429, $14.99,

Sax Henry fled his family home to escape his abusive father when he was seventeen years old. He married three times but though his wives were kind they each told him he had to face the guilt that he left behind his mom and sis to deal with the patriarch. Finally, almost three decades later, knowing his mom is dead he has begun to search for the little girl in the photo he has always carried with him. Clues lead him to Les Barbes, Louisiana where he must persuade Adele Woodmore to help him locate his Shelby as his sister once worked for her.

At the same time, people are hospitalized at Hargrove Medical Center due to cyanide poisoning; a four years old child and the parents of Chance Durand are dead. Saint Catherine Parish Sheriff Jude Prejean learns the source is tampered bottled water sold at Marcotte's market food bar.

The third Secrets of Roux River Bayou (see Dangerous Mercy and False Pretenses) continues to follow the stories of residents through the two prime subplots. The poisoning impacts everyone as the sheriff and police chief investigate, Zoe B's Cajun Eatery struggles with the impact and the funeral of the toddler attended by many locals and readers. The Sax segue is a warm tale of redemption and forgiveness as he seeks internal peace. Kathy Herman provides a strong, plausible (everyone will check the bottom of their plastics) and exciting inspirational thriller.

Last Summer
Holly Chamberlin
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9780758235084, $15.00,

BFFs Jane Patterson and Frannie Giroux are next door neighbors in Yorktide, Maine. Jane's husband Mike is very accepting of their friendship while Frannie's ex-husband is a deadbeat dad. Their teenage daughters Rosie and Meg are also best friends.

However, relationships are shattered when the fourteen years old girls enter Yorktide Memorial High School. The older students bully the freshmen with pretty reticent Rosie a prime target. Fearing she will be abused too, Meg tells the bullies a devastating secret about her buddy. The taunting intensifies until Rosie mentally breaks down. Rejecting their personal blame, the moms argue over culpability as their friendship withers. Rosie undergoes intense therapy over the next few months as she heals and gains a new perspective on her own strengths and the vulnerabilities of her mom, her former BFF and her friend's mother.

This is a timely tale of the impact of bullying on the victim and her loved ones as each of the two generations of mother and daughter protagonists suffer from guilt, blame and a need to forgive themselves and the others if they are to feel good about themselves. Rosie believes she caused the bullying as she excuses those torturing her and holds herself responsible for the unhappiness of her loved ones. Meg hides behind an aggressive veneer, her feelings of failing her loved ones. Jane fears her over-protecting her daughter left her unprepared for life in high school. Finally Frannie condemns herself for not being there for her child. Although the long term trauma of bullying is somewhat muted, readers will appreciate this engaging character study as the four females struggle with their deepest fears that divides them at a time when they need each other.

The Reluctant Matchmaker
Shobhan Bantwal
9780758258854, $15.00

In Princeton Junction, New Jersey, pint-sized marketing and public relations manager Meena Shenoy is excited over her upcoming first meeting with her boss Prajay Nayak, the CEO and president of Rathnaya, Inc. Eighty-five pounds when dripping wet Meena never expected to meet her employer when they collide. She sprains her ankle as her body felt like a truck ran over it. However, it is her mind that is discombobulated as she now understands what her mom means in her native language Konkani when she says nasheeba kheloo (destiny's game).

Prajay tells Meena that at thirty-nine his family expects him to marry as his siblings are married with kids; they wonder if he might be gay; a thought that Meena had too. Meena commiserates as her family wants her to wed soonest and is upset over who her brother is seeing. He asks Meena to write an ad in the matrimonial columns of a few select India-American newspapers and websites with a key requirement that she be at least six feet tall educated Hindu with a sense of humor. Stunned, as she wants to be the chosen one, Meena works on finding her boss a spouse though she wished he would look down to her.

The Reluctant Matchmaker is a fabulous fun frolic starring two likable protagonists while providing readers with a close look at the Indian-American culture, which mingles tradition from the old country with modern technology and the ways of the new country. The storyline reads like a 1930s madcap comedy in a Bollywood-New Jersey setting as Shobhan Bantwal provides an enjoyable contemporary romance

Canyon Shadows
Vonna Harper
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758242273, $14.00

In Oregon, Shari Afton runs a kennel and K9 training business. Wyoming cattle rancher Maco Durant wants to purchase two of her Doberman guard dogs. Shari is shocked how much she fantasizes running wild with her newest customer based on his voice only.

However, someone shoots Shari's dog Ona and fires a second shot at her; Maco arrives to rescue her and Ona. They conjecture whether the assassin belongs to an angry ranch group that violently opposes a dam project Maco's brother is building, could it be her history as her father was a murder victim or a poacher. As Shari and Maco fall in love, they have each other's back though they are unsure from whom; only this lethal enemy wants one or both of them dead.

This heated romantic suspense deftly blends sex with a stalker subplot. Fast-paced from the first call that stirred the respective libido of the lead couple and never slowing down whether the focus is erotic or mystery, Vonna Harper provides a tense thriller.

Killer Critique
Alexander Campion
9780758268792, $23.00

In Paris, Le Figaro senior food critic Gautier du Fesnay reviews chic Left Bank restaurant Chez Beatrice. He records on a camcorder from the moment he arrives. Gautier takes a piece of lobster d'horand and dies. Not long after that at Dans le Noir someone jams a basting needle into the ear of food critic Jean Monteil in the darkened dining room.

Paris Police Judiciaire Commissaire Capucine Le Tellier leads the investigation while concerned her husband wine and food expert husband Alexandre de Huguelet could be next. Someone murders other food critics while Capucine finds a horde of suspects especially raging chefs. With the case going nowhere and the count mounting, Capucine has one way to find the culprit: dangle her beloved spouse as food bait.

The third captivating Capucine culinary Paris police procedural (see Grave Gourmet and Crime Fraîche) is a terrific serial killer thriller as you are what you eat. Fast-paced with a wonderful tour of the Left Bank and mindful of the Vincent Price movie Theatre of Blood, fans will enjoy this delicious tale that connects the Eifel Tower with haute cuisine.

Bannon Brothers: Honor
Janet Dailey
9780758255778, $25.00

Following his brother's wedding (see Trust), Intelligence Agent Linc Bannon sees a news report of a car crash in which he recognizes the license plate KENZYZ. He rushes to the hospital to see but gets no information so after she fails to answer her phone; he races to her house where he notices someone run off. Army K9 trainer Kenzie Mackenzie is at home as she lent her car to her friend Christine Corelli who is like a sister to her.

Soon afterward, Kenzie learns that another friend, Frank Branigan died while on a routine patrol in Kandahar. Linc and Kenzie find a link between the accident and the death that has Kenzie shook up. She and Linc investigate in an attempt to prevent more lethal incidents.

The latest Bannon Brothers romantic suspense is an exciting thriller starring two fascinating protagonists. He brings to life contemporary technology and she enables the audience to obtain a handle on the K9 corps. Although the romantic subplot seems off as her I'm Not In Love refrain grows tedious (unlike the 10cc song), fans will enjoy this taut tale.

Beach Season
Lisa Jackson, Holly Chamberlin, Cathy Lamb, Rosalind Noonan
9780758265630, $15.00

"June Lace" by Cathy Lamb. On the Oregon coast, wedding dress designer June McKenna briefly turned her back to the ocean when a wave hits. Songwriter Reece O'Brien saves her life and perhaps her soul too.

"Second Chance Sweethearts" by Holly Chamberlin. Thirtyish Thea Foss fled Boston to escape her abusive former husband Mark Marais. She stops in Ogunquit, Maine but Mark continues to torment her. In a diner, she meets her first love Hugh Landry, who reminds her she was once Thea with a brave heart. With Hugh, her kind landlady Alice Monroe and Henrietta the cat she is ready to confront Mark.

"Carolina Summer" by Rosalind Noonan. New York realtor Jane Doyle and her friend Tia witnessed a murder. However, the culprit kills Tia; before he can eliminate Jane, she flees for Florida. Bad weather forces her to stay in the North Carolina Outer Banks where Sheriff Cooper Locklear rescues her from the storm, but she knows the real storm is pursuing her.

"The Brass Ring" by Lisa Jackson. Shawna McGuire's fiance Parker Harrison suffers a head trauma as well as other injuries. As he heals, he still suffers from amnesia unable to recall ever meeting Shawna before the accident. Shawna refuses to give up on love.

Beach Season lives up its title with fun but thin stories. Whereas the first three tales are new, Ms. Jackson's entry is a reprint of a 1988 novel.

The Sumerton Woman
D. L. Bogdan
9780758271372, $15.00

In 1527 in Lincolnshire, England, eight years old Lady Cecily Burkhart becomes an orphan when her mother dies just a few weeks after her father passed. The Earl of Sumerton Harold Pierce becomes her guardian. He and his wife Lady Grace treat Cecily as one of their children. Cecily and their son Brey become friends while their daughter Mirabella remains aloof with her interests limited to religious beliefs and the family tutor Father Alec Cahill.

However, King Henry VIII obsesses over Anne Boleyn, which leads to a bloody religious revolution. His actions impact all of England and beyond. Mirabelle can no longer overly practice her religious beliefs as her convent has been destroyed. Cecily tries to keep her adopted family safe while trying to ignore her attraction to her former tutor who shares her feelings. However, a frustrated Mirabelle vows vengeance against those she blames for her hell: Cecily and Father Alec who works for Archbishop Cranmer's reformation efforts.

This is an enjoyable but grim look at what happened to those not inside of Henry VIII's inner circle when he breaks from the Roman Catholic Church to form the Anglican Church as the upheaval is dramatic and deadly. The Sumerton Women (and men) suffer from the effects of the Reformation that began over a dame. Although Mirabelle's cruelly towards loved ones can be rationalized by what has happened to her mind when her reason for life, her devout belief, is destroyed; Cecily is too Little Miss Sunshine as she forgives everyone everything. Still, fans of the Tudor dynasty will appreciate this compelling glimpse into the impact on an extended family far from court by the actions of the King.

Elizabeth Amber
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758241313, $14.00

"Sevin." In 1882 Rome, Lord Sevin Satyr builds Salone di Passione where he and his hybrid satyrs can enjoy sexual pleasures especially during the full moon ritual when their second lower head sprouts. Failure to release their sperm into a female means death. His half-brother Lucien accidentally takes Sevin and himself to the catacombs underneath the home of Alexa Patrizzi, whose family used Lucien for ages. When Sevin and Alexa meet, each is attracted to the other as his full moon Calling occurs.

"Lucien." His uncontrollable magic took Lucien and Sevin to the latter's bond mate, but also to a place he hates as he was a sex slave to the Patrizzi clan. Lucien's wild magic sends the former to another realm. There he is trapped inside a statue in which only the touch by his destined one can free him. Lucien senses Natalia the healer is the one for him to liberate him from his physical and mental prison.

The latest Lords of the Satyr entry is an exciting erotic historical romantic fantasy that contains two entries within the Roman clan. Both tales are well written with the protagonists possessing different personalities. Fans will enjoy the entire Satyr saga as this generation (not so subtle hint to Elizabeth Amber) of Roman clan (see Bastian and Dane) and Tuscany clan (see Dominic, Nicholas, Lyon and Raine) comes to a fabulous end.

Going Organic Can Kill You
Staci McLaughlin
9780758275004, $7.99

After being unemployed for a year, Dana Lewis receives the perfect marketing job offer from a well-known company, but turns down the position. Instead she returns home to Blossom Valley, California to live with her still grieving widowed mom and her sister Ashlee. Dana hopes to help her mom, who has turned into a hermit since her spouse die last year. Dana wants her to reconnect with friends.

Her mother's friend Esther O'Connell hires Dana to promote her new business O'Connell Organic Farm and Spa. It is not the ideal job as she chases after Wilbur the runaway pig, who's an escape artist that Houdini would pay homage to. Dana assists a maid by placing fresh towels in the guest rooms when she finds the corpse of Hollywood producer Maxwell Mendelsohn with a sheep knife in his chest in a bed. Concerned for the spa's reputation and her job, Dana investigates following clues that lead to the dead body of the beekeeper whose land abuts with that of Esther. The police, the staff and reporter Jason Forrester know the two deaths are connected, but like Dana no one knows how except the killer who plans on no degree of deadly separation from the Hollywood producer, the beekeeper and the nosy sisters.

The first Blossom Valley Mystery is a great regional cozy due to the strong cast struggling with the Great Recession. The heroine understands surviving in this downturn means embracing other duties as assigned as she goes the extra kilometer beyond blogging and other marketing tools. Readers obtain a close look at living in a small town during terrible economic times through mostly the Lewis females but also other townsfolk out of work.

No Tan Lines
Kate Angell
9780758269195, $14.00

Their families have hated each other for several generations as they compete for beach customers in Florida. Like their kin, Shaye Cates and Trace Sanders have detested one another since they were small children.

Shaye runs her family's failing boardwalk and nearby fishing village businesses. Realtor Trace recently came home to help his ailing father injured in a fall; he runs his family's boardwalk businesses. They must team up on a beach volleyball tournament that neither wants though the money is too good to ignore. Worse still is the attraction that both feels and loathes yet each also knows how their blood would react if they made physical contact.

This is a lighthearted contemporary romance in which the family feud is part of the DNA of each disputing side. The storyline is symbolized by her being shorts and him being suits. Although the ending seems weak, fans will enjoy this fun story while wondering what the survey says about love, sand, kids' softball baseball and family visits.

The Grim
Raynetta J. Stocks
Dog Ear Publishing
4010 West 86th Street, Suite H
Indianapolis, IN 46268
9781457509971, $19.99,

Jaycee Baynes misses her son Noah, but knows she is going nowhere as she is a resident of the Grim psychiatric facility. She does not remember killing her lover Tony who haunts her, but cannot recall shooting him numerous times. Jay worries about her delicate best friend Maddy at the institution and wonders whether Aaron who says he loves her will still want her as a notorious murderous lunatic.

Though he believes Jaycee does not want to mentally heal as she never cooperates, facility director Dr. Stewart assigns Dr. Tina Roarke to try to get through to her. With Tina's help, psychotic Jaycee struggles with a need to know what happened that led to her killing Tony, but ironically she believes only Tony can help set her free.

Aptly titled, this deep character study of a mentally ill individual is an insightful tale as the reader gets inside the head of Jaycee and a close up of a psychiatric facility symbolized by the lights out bureaucratic operating procedure that metamorphic denotes lights out on hope. The action is limited, as the storyline focuses on the protagonist's struggles to regain her mind by recovering her repressed memory of what happened on that fatal day. Readers will root for Jaycee (and Maddy) while hissing at night nurse Evelyn as life inside the Grim is grim for patients and caregivers.

Jeffrey Deaver
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781439156377, $26.99,

Edwin Sharp likes country music singer and songwriter Kayleigh Towne. He sends her an email, which her email system automatically responds to like it does all her fans. His like turns into a dangerous attraction as he begins sending her tons of emails which gets past her staff in spite of their diligence to stop him. He also knows more about her than seemingly she knows about herself and likewise her key staffers especially her father Bishop Towne; her personal assistant Alicia Sessions; her producer Barry Zeigler and her chief roadie Bobby Prescott.

Kayleigh returns to her hometown Fresno to perform. Attending the concert is Edwin and her friend CBI Agent Kathryn Dance. When a light fixture falls on the head of Prescott, sheriff's deputy P.K. Madigan leads the investigation that Kathryn Dance joins over the local's objection. Her efforts to kinetically read Edwin's body language prove impossible, which means he is innocent of the Prescott incident or insane. She figures out what happens but lacks evidence, enables the stalker to remain free while other dangerous events occur.

The latest Kathryn Dance police procedural (see Roadside Crosses) is an exciting thriller filled with duplicity, double-crosses (too many) and Rhyme and Sachs making brief appearances. The storyline is fast-paced as Dance mentors Madigan on the proper way to investigate while also using her kinetic reading skill. However, there is too many perfidious villains that overwhelm the tale though some may be deceitful and they prove to be red herrings. Overall this is a solid mystery with too many crooks in the kitchen.

Gilded Age
Claire McMillan
Simon & Schuster
9781451640472, $25.00

Eleanor Hart returns to Cleveland when her Manhattan-based marriage ended in divorce. Rumors abound that the beautiful chic Ellie stopped on her way home for a thirty day stay at Sierra Tucson, a noted rehab center.

Ellie still has her magnetic control of men who are attracted to her like bees buzzing around honey. Her best friend quickly realizes when they meet at the opera for the first time since Ellie cane home that she remains as self-indulged as always. Knowing Ellie has no money, her BFF suggests she marry a rich suitor like wealthy ambulance chasing lawyer Randall Leforte. As Ellie makes the rounds of Cleveland's in-bred acrimonious affluent, she seems to always return to case Reserve Western University English professor William Selden.

This is a superb modernization of The House of Mirth that makes a case that women may claim they have come a long way since the early twentieth century of the Edith Wharton novel, but realistically have not gotten very far as a woman's societal standing has not altered that much. Though sexual views seem antiquated yet ironically timely with the Vagina War, Ellie's unnamed BFF provides a strong sharp condemnation of society that assaults women who choose to break out of their pre-determined by DNA caste.

The Road to Grace
Richard Paul Evans
Simon & Schuster
9781451628180, $19.99

Still grieving the death of his wife McKale from a fall off a horse, widower Alan Christoffersen realized he had nothing left in Seattle. Adding to his sense of no connection was his business partner Kyle Craig stole all their clients and his home and cars were repossessed. Alan decided to walk across America to the farthest point from Washington State: Key West (see The Walk).

He has made it to Custer, South Dakota (see Miles to Go) where the one person besides his former partner that he never wants to see pleads with him to talk to her. That person is McKale's mom, who he met once before at his wife's funeral. Alan refuses as he considers her name on a par with Hitler for abandoning her daughter. Filled with remorse, Pamela refuses to give up on her need for forgiveness from Alan. Filled with regrets and guilt, he cannot grant to her what she covets for only her late daughter can do that and she is no longer here. However, Pamela explains she understands that but just having him forgive her would be a small step towards her redemption

The entertaining third Alan Christoffersen diaries continue the protagonist's travels as he heads from South Dakota through Iowa to St. Louis. The people he meets (especially those overwhelmed by abject loneliness) and the places he visits brings to life these three states although at times the plot can be overly melodramatic. Still this tender tale focuses on "To err is human, to forgive divine"; but Alan is a grieving human so The Road to Grace may be one he refuses to travel.

Some Kind of Peace
Camilla Grebe and Åsa Träff
The Free Press
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781451654592, $24.00,

Thirtyish Siri Bergmann is a psychologist who runs a practice in Stockholm with her best friend Aina. As she works with her patients, Siri has her own issues with the recent death of her husband Stefan either from an accident or suicide. Not long before his death their newborn had died. Aina Davidson encourages her to move out of the mausoleum where she lives less than an hour from Stockholm, but Siri cannot leave nor even give away Stefan's stuff. The therapist also suffers from crippling anxiety attacks when plunged into darkness so her house is always lit when she is home. On top of that Siri feels she is being stalked with the culprit daringly peering through her home's windows though she has no proof.

Aina is hospitalized after a hit and run. Soon after that Siri's cat Ziggy vanishes. Siri becomes further shook when the corpse of her eighteen years old paranoid patient Sara Matteus is found. The teen was a drug addict who suffered sexual abuse and claimed someone was trying to hurt her. Police officer Markus teams up with Siri, Aina and their college mentor Vijay to find a killer.

This translation of a dark Swedish psychological suspense is a character driven thriller starring a woman in trouble as much mentally as physically. Until the final taut twisting climax, fans will wonder if Siri is the prey or the predator.

Allison Leotta
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781451644845, $25.00,

At the U.S. Capitol building, escort Caroline McBride falls to her death from the office balcony of District representative Emmett Lionel. Assistant U.S. Attorney sex crimes prosecutor Anna Curtis investigates the death.

Running for election, Lionel proves uncooperative as he claims the Speech and Debate Clause limits any search of his office. His lawyers and his political advisers are even less cooperative as they construct barrier after barrier to thwart the inquiry. At the same time, the high profile case threatens to disclose Anna's relationship with the office head of homicide, single dad Jack Bailey at a time that she struggles to gain trust from his angry six year old daughter who still grieves for her late mom.

The second Anna Curtis legal thriller (see Law of Attraction) is an engaging DC thriller starring an ambitious ADA who is struggling with a case that could make or break her career and her romance. Mindful of Margaret Truman's novels like Murder at the White House (and its subsequent movie Murder at 1600), this is a fast-paced entertaining though somewhat expected "Capital Crimes" investigation.

Destiny's Divas
Victoria Christopher Murray
9781451650464, $15.00

Destiny's Divas gospel trio consists of Sierra Dixon, Liza Washington and Raine Omari. The threesome sings as if heaven must be missing three angels (paraphrasing Tavares). They also tell their personal trials and tribulations before each found the Lord.

Twentyish Sierra insists she is sexually abstinent, but in actuality she beds every male she can hoping this is the one she will marry. Liza says relationships require honesty but she knows she needs to stop and forgive her husband the pastor before his scandalous behavior destroys their ministry, but cannot as she fears repercussions with the revelation of his dark secret. Raine proclaims to love everyone but she knows she is hypocritical when it comes to her Kenyan mother-in-law. Soon their secrets will become known and each will have even more difficult issues to face hopefully with God having their back.

This is an engaging inspirational tale as three women face differing degrees of crisis. Character driven by Destiny's Divas, two of the subplots goes the expected way though each contains a solid spin while third entry follows a surprising path. Readers will enjoy following the roads to redemption or perdition for these gospel performers.

Wallflower in Bloom
Claire Cook
9781451672763, $24.99

Deirdre Griffin feels like a ghost when compared to her siblings. This she feel is especially true as she is at best a wilted wallflower in comparison to her charismatic brother Tag, considered the "next big thing." As his personal assistant and house sitter Deirdre puts up with a lot, but in Austin, she abruptly quits when she feels he abuses her support of him.

When her on and off boyfriend tells her he is marrying the woman carrying his baby, Deirdre explodes as he had told her no children. Intoxicated by drinking Tag's vodka, Deirdre uses her sibling's humongous massive online fan base to arrange for her inclusion on Dancing with the Stars as she decides it is past time for a wallflower to bloom.

This amusing lighthearted contemporary story is a strong coming of age tale as the wallflower struggles to overcome her doubts and insecurities. The storyline is fast-paced with readers rooting for the heroine to succeed at Dancing with the Stars and in Austin with Steve the garden guru. With a nod to America's Sweethearts, fans will enjoy the comedic yet deep look at a Wallflower in Bloom.

The Art Hunters Handbook
Les and Sue Fox
West Highland Fine Art & Publishing
750 Highview Dr., Wyckoff, New Jersey
9780615593906, $16.95,

Though obviously a self-help book offering advice to readers to recognize one of the estimated 50 million paintings that may be for sale at a yard sale, "The Art Hunters Handbook: How To Buy Art For $5 And Sell It For $1,000,000" offers much more for us armchair buyers who enjoy looking at paintings. The Fox pair insist that discovering lost valuable art by chance is at best slim to none as the buyer must have an idea what to look for; how often at a yard sale occurs or at Goodwill which has paintings that have been ignored as someone's family junk. The keys are to know who the famous artists are in order to recognize one of their works (though without the book being handy recognition will be difficult) and how to tell a reprint from an original (easy to use tips included). The authors provide a list of 120 artists with a sample of their work sold at auction and their trademark signature. The tone is set with the opening story of Ripening Pears bought for $5.00 at a garage sale because the purchaser liked it and sold for when he decided to obtain a new frame and learned its value as $1,000,000 though that was an accident but affirms they are out there even at a hot dog stand. The Art Hunters Handbook is a well written guide with terrific photos of paintings by artists who Les and Sue Fox believe have valuable works to be found.

Gears of War: The Slab
Karen Traviss
c/o Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781439184073, $27.00,

A decade ago just after the Pendulum Wars ended, Emergence Day occurred when the Locust Horde left the underground to attack the surface dwellers across Sera. Over the ensuing years billions died due to the Horde and Coalition of Ordered Government Chairman Richard Prescott deploying the Hammer of Dawn created by Adam Fenix to slow down the enemy advance. The humans are down to one stronghold Ephyra with that expected to fall soon in spite of the courageous efforts of Colonel Hoffman and his soldiers including Adam's son Marcus.

Considered a hero, Adam is filled with guilt as he knew of the enemy's existence years before ED due to his late wife finding proof. He made contact years before ED and learned the Horde was fleeing an insidious adversary the Lambent parasite but told no one until now when he tells his top aide who goes from reverence to loathing in a nanosecond.

Marcus learns his estranged father was buried under rubble. He deserts his post, but fails to find his father as Ephyra falls. Marcus is court-martialed and sent to the Slab while Prescott took Adam to a top secret bunker on Azura Island. Adam works at destroying the Lambent while Marcus seeks a way to destroy the Locust.

The latest exciting Gears of War military science fiction thriller (see Aspho Fields, Jacinto's Remnant and Anvil Gate) occurs before Coalition's End. Fast-paced but also filled with pathos as a remorseful Adam regrets his decision and Marcus is filled with sorrow when his father apparently died during an assault on the family mansion. Fans of COG will relish Slab as the Fenix duo filled with crippling guilt continue their respective fight.

This Dark Earth
John Horner Jacobs
9781451666663, $15.00

In an Arkansas Emergency Room, the patients exhibit the same symptoms. Pathologist Lucy treats a baby who dies only to rise again. Others do likewise. Frantic Lucy hitches a ride with Knock-Out the trucker to get home to see her husband Frank and their ten year old son Gus as helicopters patrol the air. Abruptly the truck's motor and radio conk out; Lucy knows an EMP event has mad electronic gizmo s extinct. They find shelter before the radiation spreads; when she makes it home she finds Frank is a zombie but Gus remains human.

Lucy, Knock-Out and Gus meet a military patrol and join them. Zombies are everywhere leaving the living seeking shelter from the Shamblers. Gus makes a suggestion that the adults accept as sound. Over the next few years, they build Bridge City as a medieval-style fortress while killing the Zombies and avoid being killed in turn out of fear of coming back. Besides the Shamblers, the residents of Bridge City must contend with a vicious army of slavers that want the fortification at any cost; even the extinction of mankind.

John Horner Jacobs provides a great zombie thriller as the survivors struggle with the plague and nuclear bombing as they have two enemies with a common cause of eradicating them. The characters act plausible while coping with a biblical-proportion extinction event; for instance Lucy due to her medical skills becomes a needed leader. The changes in their world can be seen through Gus who was a genius tweener before but five years later he is a brilliant tough adult at fifteen. As the darkness spreads, one little light of hope shines strongly with Lucy giving birth to Knock-Out's baby.

Soft Target
Stephen Hunter
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451675344, $15.00,

On Thanksgiving Friday in Bloomington, Minnesota, Brigade Mumbai operatives assault the Mall America starting with the assassination of Santa Claus while a child four years old sits on his lap. Rather quickly the terrorists shut off the Mall using surprisingly advanced technology and begin to round up the thousand plus stranded shoppers unable to escape in time. Most are women and children. Among the upper level hostages is fortyish former Marine sniper Ray Cruz who had found the Mall almost as bad as avoiding IUDs in Afghanistan but came because his commanding officer his fiance Molly Chan insisted they go.

The terrorists provide their demands while outside Minnesota State Police Douglas Obobo and SWOT state police Commander Mike Jefferson argue over the response. However, inside Cruz knows this is a suicide mission so he must take action or all will die.

Passing the torch from Bob Lee Swagger to his son (see Dead Zero for their initial encounter), this is an exciting action-packed thriller. The Cecile B. DeMille size cast gets in the way of the action and the villains prove inept. Still paying homage to Die Hard while satirizing President Obama, Stephen Hunter provides a chilling suspense thriller.

The Taming of a Scottish Princess
Karen Hawkins
9781439175958, $7.99

In 1822, Egyptologist Michael Hunt and his prim and proper assistant Miss Jane Smythe-Haughton continue their search for the Hurst Amulet, but he is stunned by where he believes he will find the gem. An encoded map of Scotland leads the intrepid pair to the Hebrides Isle of Barra.

Jane acts out of character as they head to the archipelago to the west. The locals are stunned when they see Jane who they insist looks exactly like their deceased princess. Meanwhile Michael realizes he loves his loyal aide as he knows life without her in his ventures and at home is unacceptable; but additionally is fascinated by her "resemblance" as her secret past becomes revealed while adversaries want them dead.

With a delightful twist, the finale of the Hurst Amulet Regency romantic adventure saga (see Scandal in Scotland, One Night in Scotland and A Most Dangerous Profession) is a super climax to an engaging series. The protagonists are a wonderful pairing while the secrets of the amulet and the lost princess are deftly written by Karen Hawkins. Readers will enjoy the Hurst episodes filled with love and danger.

Targets of Opportunity
Jeffrey S. Stephens
9781451672565, $7.99

CIA Agent John Sandor is rushed from New York to Virginia to interrogate Ahmad Jaber, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard soldier demanding protection from his comrades in exchange for information on a pending terrorist attack. Jaber insists the axis of evil has formed a united triangle of Iran, North Korea and Venezuela. The Iranian offers no details as to the plan as he insists he was not privy to such information, but that the target is America's heartland.

The terrorists blow up a passenger jet in the French West Indies and destroy a French classified communications outpost. While the Intel groups (domestic and foreign) react to the Caribbean assault, Sandor believes these are not the main show but simply diversity assaults. He follows a different path including leading a secret mission into North Korea where he loses one of his team but capture a key government official. Using his interrogation techniques that even Cheney might consider over the line lead him away from Baytown, Texas where the rest of the Intelligence community expect the major attack to be Baton Rouge, but with a Category 3 hurricane arriving, he may be too late; then again it could be Texas.

The stupendous second Sandor thriller (see Porfino Deception) is a great action tale as the renegade CIA agent causes his superiors to name their respective hemorrhoids after him. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the protagonist interviews Jaber and never slows down as the hero tries to prevent a catastrophe with too many Targets of Opportunity for one if not more axis of evil partners. Readers will relish this taut suspense thriller as time is running out on the Americans.

Jeremy Robinson
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312617868, $25.99,

The NCIS assigns former SEAL agent Lincoln Miller to Aquarius, underwater research station nine miles south of Key Largo, Florida. Miller notices the blue ocean has become a sea of red, which he soon realizes is not the usual industrial polluting by the enormous number of dead fish floating nearby. When a large object crashes into Aquarius, Miller is forced to go ashore only to learn that the land is void of life too as the red flakes has eliminated oxygen from the South Florida atmosphere; he survives due to his oxygen tank. He follows the oxygen trail of hospitals to stay alive as heads to Miami.

At Mount Sinai Medical Center, Miller sees the symbol of the SecondWorld with a message from these neo-Nazis. He also meets twelve years old Arwen inside an oxygen tent. Miller takes Arwen with him, as Aryans give chase. The National Guard rescue them and take them to DC where he learns Nazis killed 2.2 million in the Miami area and have thousands of satellites ready to destroy the air supply of select locations so that the Master Race remains as the only survivors. POTUS trusts Miller after what he did to keep the tweener alive so he assigns him on a special mission.

Over the top, this is an adrenalin pumping thriller that never slows down from the moment Miller struggles to survive until the final confrontation on his world anti-terrorism tour. Fast-paced, readers will not stop for an oxygen break as Jeremy Robinson provides an exhilarating tale.

Terminal Point
K.M. Ruiz
9780312681555, $25.99

Two and a half centuries have passed since the global nuclear war eradicated much of the population. The planet has not recovered from the radiation battering. However, one thing remains the same from the pre-war; a small group of wealthy "registered" as the five generations of throwback purebred humanity World Court led currently by Nathan Serca rules over the short lived Stryker force psions who possess psi skills.

To escape the dying planet that he cedes to the psions, the gene trash and his son by leaving for the Mars Colony of the Pure, Nathan hides his psi powers. His traitorous son Lucas has joined a rebel syndicate of former Strykers led by Threnody Corwin. She and her team hope to save the world for the humans while the World Court wants them dead so they can continue to exploit psi and human. However, Threnody is unaware that the Pure Lucas and his warhounds are of her kind.

The second Strykers Syndicate futuristic post-apocalyptic thriller (see Mind Storm) is an exciting gory military science fiction thriller that continues the blood and guts flow as the countdown to earth's demise is running out. Fast-paced and loaded with feral action, the storyline never digs deep into what any of the prime three surviving groups think re a dying planet except tor the World Court leaving behind what they wrought as they reject accountability. Still fans who enjoy blood and guts will want to read Terminal Pont as mankind's reign is through."

Everything Zing: Winter
Grant Stone
Tate Publishing
127 East Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064
9781613466827, $21.99,

On December 24, 1999, George Everest of Manhattan believed in a big spectacular entrance. He just was unprepared for this one when he looked out his apartment window. He was falling rather fast through a colorful spectrum until he stopped and began moving horizontally. Finally he landed on a soft surface after having fallen through the roof of Grand Central Station. However, when he opens his eyes he sees a Christmas pageant with animated figures singing; that is until the tree fell in his chest. George Everest believes in a big entrance and this one was a doozy.

However, his adventures have just begun when he ends up on the Train of Thought until he reaches Ozilline's cottage on Lake Englehook. There Marnie and Ozilline discuss how the survival of the Imagine Nation Kingdom rests with George because Landon believes his teacher George owns the unexplained hourglass that means only doom. All these Pursesands children wonder how life can pathetically twist to make an adult hold the Key to saving their kingdom from their nemesis.

This whimsical odd fantasy grips the audience from the moment readers feel we accompany George on his mystical journey. Fast-paced and filled with action, fans will appreciate this turn of the millennium adventure as George feels like a sort of Gulliver working a dangerous holiday gig in which two adversarial camps know he is the key to victory or defeat.

The Other Romanian
Anne Argula
c/o Pleasure Boat Studios
201 West 89th Street, NY, NY 10024
9781929355853, $16.00,

Seattle Police Detective Sergeant Beckman calls the number he finds written on a Copper Gate matchbook cover possessed by a murdered John Doe without any ID. Former Spokane cop turned private investigator Quinn answers the call. The cop asks her to ID the corpse; she does not recognize him nor know how he got her number. At the Copper Gate, Quinn chats with the bartender and receives a text message from Bruno that states: "Stefano must die." She does not know either man.

Shelly Lavender, wife of missing and presumed dead famous Hollywood screenwriter Alex Krapp, asks Quinn to investigate what happened to her husband who vanished while biking two years ago. She explains an unknown person sent Krapp's last cassettes to her; she chose Quinn because she knows the sleuth loved Krapp whom she met when he hired her (see KRAPP'S LAST CASSETTE). Quinn listens to the cassettes until a clue leads to a young female biker Krapp met on the road. Soon the missing person's case, the strange Bruno calls, Beckman's homicide investigation, and a Hitler 18 Karat bookmark has Quinn wondering whether she should become a full time writer.

Quinn's fourth fabulous mystery (see WALLA WALLA SUITE and HOMICIDE, MY OWN) is an excellent thriller filled with twists that keep readers wondering what next as nothing is quite like it seems. The heroine has a need to know re Krapp though she wishes that wasn't so while the Bruno scenario just will not go away. With Beckman encouraging her to get involved and help on his case while assisting her with the calls, readers will appreciate Quinn's adventures as she is caught in the crosshairs by The Other Romanian.

The Executioner's Song
Norman Mailer
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10017
9780446584388, $18.99,

In 1976, thirtyish Gary Gilmore was released from an Indiana prison after serving twelve years for a robbery conviction. He moved to Utah to live with his uncle, aunt and his cousin Brenda. Gilmore meets and falls in love with single mom of two widow Nicole Barrett. Like his family especially Brenda, Nicole tries to help him, but in spite of his high IQ and caring people he continues to brawl just like he did at Marion and robbed stores. On two consecutive nights Gilmore kills a person during a robbery. He is arrested and convicted of a capital offense. His lawyer Lawrence Schiller appealed the death sentence, but Gilmore demanded the state execute him by firing squad. On January 17, 1977, Gilmore is executed as the first person killed by a state in almost a decade.

This is a reprint of a great true crime tale with its insightful look at the effect of institutionalization (half of Gilmore's life was inside) as the government-prison industrial complex prefers warehousing to educating; the right to die (Gilmore's lawyers appealed without his consent) with the Utah court ruling as judicial grounds for others who choose death (not just prisoners), and the true value of the death penalty. The first section focuses in Gilmore's life before the homicides with much of his time in detention facilities and his final months of freedom in Utah. Part two centers on the trial and Gilmore's quest for the state execution. Using interviews with 360 degrees of Gilmore contacts, court and police documents, and the defense attorney's notes, but with no communication with the defendant, Norman Mailer's work remains relevant today.

Lethal Rider
Larissa Ione
Grand Central
9780446574501, $7.99

Thanatos the Horsemen of the Apocalypse Death rages over what has happened to him. For centuries this Lord of Deliverance knew he must remain sexual abstinent to prevent his Agimortus seal from breaking. An ancient prophecy claims that his offspring will save the world so two of his Horsemen siblings (Ares and Limos) drugged him so that Aegis Guardian Regan Matthews could seduce him in order to become pregnant (see Immortal Rider).

Feeling date raped and betrayed Thanatos abducts Regan in order to make her his sexual prisoner. However, he finds an obsessive compulsive disorder individual filled with remorse and eight months pageant. Stunned Thanatos realizes the baby is his Agimortus and the fourth Horseman Pestilence, whose seal was broken (see Eternal Rider), hunts them for he knows killing the infant will fuel the Apocalypse.

The third Lords of Deliverance romantic urban fantasy is a superb apocalyptic thriller that grips the reader from the moment Thanatos realizes he has been betrayed and never slows down until the final confrontation. Though it helps to have read Immortal Rider as the drugged seduction occurs as a secondary plot; that is not necessary as this fast-paced story line filled with betrayals can be read alone; while setting up the Ione apocalyptic mythos final doomsday confrontation.

The Family Corleone
Ed Falco
Grand Central
9780446574624, $27.99

The Great Depression has left most people ruined. However, one of the most thriving market businesses is fuelled by the Prohibition that has led to crime families making a fortune selling bootlegged liquor. However, the social experiment since the end of WWI has been repealed by 1933. The crime families will compete for control of other illegal activities as their government sponsored great profit maker comes to an end.

In New York, Don Vito Corleone worries about his children's future. His three youngest kids (Michael, Fredo, and Connie) attend school while his adopted son Tom Hagen goes to college, but alienates lunatic Luca Brasi. However, Vito is upset with his oldest offspring seventeen year old Sonny. He wants Sonny to become a businessman, but his son prefers the old fashioned violent way to affirm he is next in line to run the family business. The Don knows his son is too ragingly violent to head the family though he lectures him to know when to use your heart instead of always your gun or fists. Meanwhile in the boroughs, Corleone's enemy Giuseppe Mariposa teams up with Emilio Barzini and Phillip Tattaglia to destroy the family.

This is an engaging Godfather entry that takes place when Vito is a relatively young Don with small children and a volatile teen. The key is that the personalities that make up Mario Puzo's saga remain consistent as for instance Vito uses the Teddy Roosevelt mantra to "speak softly and carry a big stick..." Fans will appreciate Ed Falco's strong entry, which hopefully leads to more 1930s prequels.

Beach Colors
Shelley Noble
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062103086, $14.99,

Designer Margaux Sullivan introduced her line to universal praise at New York City's Fashion Week. However, while she shows off her line, her husband Louis vanishes, but not before emptying all their accounts. Still reeling, Margaux takes another double shot to her gut when the bank forecloses on her Manhattan-based business and her apartment. Humiliated, despondent and feeling like an idiot, Margaux crawls back to her family's summer beach house in Crescent Cove, Connecticut where Police Chief Nick Prescott greets her with a speeding ticket.

Nick a townie wanted Margaux when they were growing up but never crossed the great divide between the permanent and the summer. After a stint with the army, he came home to help his mom raise his nephew Connor. He still wants the star of his fantasies, but gave her a ticket anyway because she was thirty miles over the limit. As she enjoys the beach with Nick and Connor, Margaux works on a new line to regain her position at the top of haute couture ladder, but will soon need to decide between New York and Connecticut.

This is a warm contemporary romance starring two engaging protagonists and a caring support cast (Manhattan and Connecticut) with one exception; Louis is a pathetic weasel who not only stole their savings, he visits Margaux to demand she give him more money. The enjoyable storyline focuses on love and goals as the heroine must choose between ambition to overcome her shame and her love for Nick and Connor though there is a third option if she wished for it at the grotto.

An Unmarked Grave
Charles Todd
9780062015723, $24.99

In 1918 dedicated British nurses are in France to be close to those at the front. However, the medicos also deal with the pandemic Spanish flu that is devastating everyone. Flu victims are placed in sheds where Private Wilson finds one corpse too many; he shows Nurse Bess Crawford that Major Vincent Carson died from a broken neck instead of the flu. However, before Bess can act on what she assumes is a homicide; she catches the flu and is sent home to recover.

By the time she heals, Bess knows Carson's body is long gone and she soon learns Wilson committed suicide. Though Bess knows she has little chance to find out what happened to the major who served with her father, Bess investigates anyway focusing on Vincent's family.

The fourth Bess Crawford WWI mystery (see An Impartial Witness and A Bitter Truth) is a fabulous historical that focuses on trench warfare and its aftermath on the soldier and his family, and the impact of the 1918 pandemic influence that left many dead. The whodunit is entertaining though Bess' starting premise seems odd during a time of war and disease. Still, this is an exciting thriller with much of the sleuthing occurring from the extended fog of war.

Size 12 and Ready to Rock
Meg Cabot
9780061734786, $14.99

New York College may have been partially shut for summer but the Fischer Hall dorm is filled to capacity with fifty fourteen to sixteen years old girls attending the first annual Tania Trace Rock Camp for two weeks. Hostess pop star Tania is married to Fischer Hall Assistant Dorm Director Heather Wells' former boyfriend Jordan Cartwright. To make matters worse, the dorm is not ready for occupation and the event will be filmed.

Assistant TV producer Jared Greenberg eats rat poison vegan cupcakes while at Fisher "Death Dorm" Hall. The evidence points to the pop star as the intended victim as a fan dropped off the toxic treat. Tania hires her brother-in-law Heather's fiance private investigator Cooper Cartwright to keep her safe. Tania tells Heather a secret that has the assistant dorm director and Cooper seeking to find a killer before someone else dies.

The latest Heather Wells Mysteries (see Big Boned) is an amusing tale in which the sleuthing is somewhat in the background to the protagonist's frantic coping with a college president seeking fame and fortune for the school, a diva pop star, her ex, and fifty screaming diva wannabe teens. Fast-paced, fans of the series will enjoy this jocular dry entry in spite of the limited detecting.

The Wurst Is Yet To Come
Mary Daheim
9780062089830, $23.99

In return for not yanking Judith McMonigle Flynn's innkeeper license to operate her Hillside Manor Bed-and-Breakfast, she (and her cohort in trouble cousin Renie) promises to go to Little Bavaria to man the B&B booth at the Oktoberfest. At the opening ceremony, Victor Dietrich Wessler is killed with a knife left besides his bloodied body. Locals believe Dietrich saved their town when he changed it into an authentic Bavarian village after the mining and lumber industries closed.

The village police chief more Bavarian Barney Fife than Andy Taylor know of Judith's sleuthing reputation for tripping over corpses; he pleads with her to assist him with the inquiry. She agrees though concerned how the innkeeper board will react. While she looks into the murder of the beloved nonagenarian, they also ask her to investigate the murder of lawyer Bob Stafford whose corpse was found in the river though he died from a trauma to the head. The Pacific Northwest cousins begin to piece together the puzzles only the culprit plans to eliminate the nosy Americans.

The latest Bed and Breakfast Mystery (see All The Pretty Hearses) retains the jocular freshness expected of this long running series because of the Bavarian locale and the clever idea of switching cousins (think of the Patty Duke TV show) as Renie pretends to be the sleuth to protect the innkeeper license. The energizing sexagenarians make for a fun tale as they cause havoc in the Bavarian countryside enabling armchair readers to believe they are in Europe on a visit while Judith realizes her biggest mistake was to assume Renie as her front would not lead to trouble.

Porch Lights
Dorothea Benton Frank
9780061961298, $25.99

With the death of her firefighter husband Jimmy in a blaze, army nurse Jackie McMullen returns home to Brooklyn from Afghanistan for the funeral and being there for their ten year old son Charlie. Her father Buster did not attend the funeral because her mother "Glan" who did is estranged from him. Buster visits his daughter and grandson and realizes they are in trouble. Charlie tells his mom the house is creepy without his dad. Jackie drives them to her mom's home on Sullivan Island in South Carolina.

Glan welcomes them as she is elated to have them staying with her. When Charlie cries as he listens to his dad talk on voice mail, knowing they hurt, Glan plans to keep them occupied. She introduces her family to her new neighbor widower Dr. Steven Ploffer and his two dogs. Jackie notices her mom is attracted to the younger man who seems interested in her instead though the widow has no plans of reciprocating his feelings. Steven hires Charlie to walk his dogs. Glan offers Jackie rooms at her house, but her daughter plans to accept a job at the VA hospital in Brooklyn. Buster arrives and is great with Charlie who insists he wants to stay here. As a storm hits, Charlie runs away.

This is a warm tale of healing as the solid ensemble cast each grieves in their own way. The rotating perspective between the grandmother and her daughter deftly enhances the relationship family drama. Although there is no action until late and we never learn why Buster left his wife years ago, fans will enjoy returning to Dorothea Benton Frank's Lowcountry (see Folly Beach and Sullivan's Island).

The Janus Affair
Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
Harper Voyager
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062049780, $7.99,

On the hypersteam train, Lena cries out "Eliza, help me" just before she vanishes in a lightning flash. Eliza Braun saw the woman vanish and realized she was asking her to rescue her. A member of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, Eliza is used to working oddities so with her partner archivist Wellington Thornhill Books, Esquire plans to investigate and find the woman. Instead she is told to back down as field agent Bruce Campbell leads the inquiry.

Eliza learns that Lena is not the first suffragist to disappear into thin air. As such she vows to keep her visiting New Zealand friend Kate Sheppard safe over the objection of her superiors. As more suffragists vanish, someone assaults Eliza in her home and Books confronts visiting Douglas Sheppard as he wants him to leave Eliza alone in spite of her welcoming him. Soon the two MPO operatives realize nothing short of the Crown is in peril by someone who purposely placed pathetic Campbell in charge of the case.

The latest Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences steampunk fantasy (see Phoenix Rising) is a great thriller as they defy orders to confront a diabolical foe. Though the prime plot is thin but brilliant, fast paced from the opening Lady Vanishes, fans will enjoy the brain and the brawn as they once again set forth to save mighty England.

The Taken
Vicki Pettersson
Harper Voyager
9780062064646, $13.99

Five decades ago Griffin Shaw private investigator was murdered. His gig is collecting the souls of murder victims like Nicole Rockwell who in spite of a crushed larynx tells him she is a photographer not a hooker who due to the movie Ghost distrusts him to Take her soul to Everlast. Unable to resist a crying female; he breaks the rules and allows her to change her clothing; allowing Anas of the Powers angels to claim the soul. Griff's efforts to prevent the theft angers Anas who clips his wings and returns him to life in a skin of sin.

Nicole's friend Las Vegas reporter Katherine "Kit" Craig arrives as Griff flees. Kit and Nicole were working on a child prostitution ring. Meanwhile Griff figures since he is being punished by the heavenly powers, he will investigate the cold case murders of himself and his wife Evie. However, he is given one last chance to regain his heavenly status: he must collect the soul of Kit Craig whose guilt and obsession to avenge her friend's death has her facing death. Falling in love Griff cannot deliver though it means damnation.

This is an engaging romantic urban fantasy as Vicki Pettersson deftly exaggerates the traits of the hard boiled 1950s detective with a soft boiled heart and the go into hell for a story reporter (Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday). The paranormal hierarchy contains a uniqueness that is two-sword as the premise enables the reader to understand Griff's "sin" and the universe he works, but the complexity of the Pettersson pantheon also slows down the storyline while never explaining his "fickleness" between Evie and Kit. Still this is an entertaining paranormal as two souls defy heaven.

The Paths of the Dead
Steven Brust
c/o Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765330307, $15.99,

Two centuries have passed since Adron's Disaster imploded the Empire with the magical destruction of the capital Dragaera (see The Phoenix Guards and Five Hundred Years After) and the loss of the emperor. Many ambitious dukes vie for leadership of the unstable remnants especially the powerful Dragonlord Duke of Kana Skinter. The Gods are divided with some insisting the present cycle requires a Phoenix as emperor and therefore they support the Phoenix heiress Zerika as the Empress; others defend Skinter.

To become the Empress Zerika must retrieve the Orb that is the primary base of wizardry. To obtain the orb she must traverse the dangerous Paths of the Dead. The Enchantress of Dzur Mountain Sethra Lavode supports her and lines her up the offspring of legendary warriors to assist her on her quest. Viscount of Adrilankha Piro, Tazendra the Dzurlord wizard, Kytraan the warrior, and others escort her to the Paths of the Dead while the sorceress Orlaan and her bandits led by Wadre and Mora, and Skinter's loyal supporters try to prevent them from achieving their goal.

This reprint of Book One of the Viscount of Adrilankha, allegedly written by Sir Paarfi and translated by Steven Brust, remains an exciting uniquely written teen quest fantasy that assumes young readers are intelligent and savvy. The story line contains other subplots but the one above is the main theme of The Paths of the Dead while the others are for another day (future book). Although it behooves the audience to read the previous two volumes to learn how the Empire got to where it is, readers will appreciate this witty entry that remains fresh with its unconventional approach to a quest fantasy.

Orb Sceptre Throne
Ian C. Esslemont
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765329998, $18.99,

Darujhistan lies on a dry plain in the southern region of the Genabackis continent. Many people believe that the arid land outside the city contains hidden treasure for those bold (or perhaps foolish) enough to look.

The Scholar Ebbin is conducting research into the legendary Imperial Age of Darujhistan, seeking proof of his hypothesis amidst the barren wasteland. At the same time the Darujhistani leaders ingeniously influence hostilities between their nearby neighbors, the Moranth and Seguleh. While the Darujhistan rulers deploy their devious ruse, Ebbin finds an artifact that could shake the balance of power still somewhat teetering after the Malazan failed invasion. Others bloodily also seek the Moon Spawn's treasures while the Queen of Dreams' ancient prophecy has begun to Claw its way into existence.

The latest Ian C. Esslemont's Malazan Empire entry (see Stonewielder and The Return of the Crimson Guard) is an exciting fantasy with several subplots (besides those described above) that eventually merge together into an exhilarating but somewhat convoluted climax. With a sold cast, readers of the saga including fans of Steve Erickson will appreciate Orb Sceptre Throne; while newcomers will be lost in the Genabackis even with maps of the southern portion of the landmass (but lacking where events occur elsewhere on the continent) and Darujhistan.

Broken Universe
Paul Melko
9780765329141, $27.99

John Rayburn has come a long way since John Prime gave him the technology to cross into alternate realities (see The Walls of the Universe). With friends and their doppelgangers from among the Johns, Graces, Henrys, and Caseys, Rayburn builds a cross-realty corporation Pinball Wizards Transuniversal to trade products from one realm to another.

However the entrepreneur's vision differs from many of his associates as he wants to improve mankind's lot across the realities while others focus on the bottom line. He learned when he accidently invented "pinball", literally cutthroat competitors will do anything to eliminate rivals and in his case also want his technology. The CEO anticipated the external deadly business adversaries especially from stranded cross-travelers, but John is unprepared for betrayal from within as he personally selected his team from among buddies. Forgetting one of the golden rules that of it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck it still may be a vulture capitalist from another reality. With friends like this he will not need to worry about enemies and then there is a need for investment money so he turns to venture capitalist John Prime, who beat a murder rap.

The second Rayburn parallel universe science fiction thriller is an exciting tale as the hero learns some hard, potentially deadly, lessons about life across the realities. The storyline is fast-paced with a satirical look at global capitalism; where there is apparently no room for an idealist amidst a multi Broken Universe of bottom feeding leeches.

F. Paul Wilson
9780765321671, $25.99

Glaeken has grown weak with age and too many battles over time and space against the ultimate evil Rasalom. Thus the malevolent being begins his latest assault by breaking the laws of physics when the sun's path is altered and consequently reduces daylight hours around the world. The evil one also begins releasing his horde of monsters coming through gigantic bottomless sink holes like the one in Central Park. Glaeken knows he cannot confront his eternal adversary by himself. As riots and gang war further destroys the mortal population, Glaeken puts together a team of specialists starting with his apprentice Repairman Jack.

The quest starts in Monroe, Long island where Glaeken and Father Bill Ryan come to pick up Jeffrey a young child. The lad contains the Dat-tay-vao healing touch that left Vietnam in 1968 inside medic Walter Erskine passed to Dr. Alan Bulmer and from him to his adopted son. Glaeken and his team also must obtain two talisman necklaces as weapons to use against the growing evil who is winning the war.

This is a major revision of the original 1992 final apocalyptic Adversary Circle (see Reprisal and Reborn, etc.). Jack is a key player but shares billing with Glaeken, Jeffy and others. The superb storyline is fast-paced and loaded with action as the force of good is reeling from the evil one's assaults while the fading sun becomes a metaphysical Times Square countdown clock to Year Zero doomsday.

Dark Shadows: Angelique's Descent
Lara Parker
9780765332608, $12.99

Thanks to his savior Dr. Julia Hoffman, Barnabas Collins is no longer a vampire. However, he is not totally free of Angelique's curse when the remains of a body are found where his coffin used to be located in the Old House. A fire destroys much of the Old House, but the journal of Angelique Bouchard the witch who cursed him centuries ago somehow survived. Julia pleads with Barnabas to destroy this evil tome, but he feels compelled to read it.

Barnabas begins to read Angelique's journal. On Martinique her father took her from her mother as he recognized his daughter possessed the voodoo craft family skill. He used her witchcraft ability to control his slaves on his plantation and she sells her soul in exchange for eternal darkness. Angelique escaped from her sire and obtained a position working for Barnabas's seventeenth century love Josette du Pres. He turns his attention to her, but dumped her when he became engaged to Josette. She cursed him to be her eternal blood sucking slave.

This is a reprint of a 1998 Dark Shadows thriller with a revised climax written by the actress who played Angelique on the TV show. The storyline is at its best when it dwells on the intriguing seventeenth century volatile chemistry between Angelique and Barnabas on Martinique and in Salem as he learns what William Congreve said in The Mourning Bride (1697): "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned; Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned." On the other hand, the present day segue is overwhelmed by too many underdeveloped subplots. Obviously for fans of Dark Shadows, Angelique's Descent is a fun tale.

Dark Shadows: The Salem Branch
Lara Parker
9780765332882, $14.99

In 1971 Collinsport, the vampire Barnabas Collins has been changed into a mortal thanks to the medical elixir Dr. Julia Hoffman created. Although he asked Julia to marry him and she accepted his proposal, Barnabas is curiously reluctant to tell the family. He finds his newfound humanity a weakness and regrets losing the intensity he felt as a vampire. The Old House has been sold to flower child Antoinette, who bears a striking resemblance to Angelique, the woman who made him a vampire.

Barnabas tries to woo Antoinette but she is more interested in his cousin Quentin then him. He follows her to a seance in Salem where they are thrust back to 1692. Miranda Duval has been accused of witchcraft and will be judged by those who want her land and her farmhouse. Both Antoinette and Barnabas try in different ways to save Miranda who is Antoinette's troubled daughter in 1971. Barnabas also must track down the vampire that has entered Collinwood and has killed at least one person but he has no idea who that person is and his own humanity limits what he can do.

This is a reprint of a 2006 tale, as Lara Parker, the actress who played Angelique on the first Dark Shadows television show, has written another chapter in the Collins saga. While one subplot takes place in 1971, much of the tale takes place in Salem at the height of the witch trials where another branch of the Collins family has settled and plays an important role in the fate of Miranda. Fans of the series will love reading about characters that they enjoyed watching three decades ago as the author captures their essence.

Dark Magic
James Swain
9780765329943, $24.99

Peter Warlock the renowned stage magician is also a real warlock who conceals his psychic skills from the public. He becomes concerned when he sees a vision of a future disaster in Times Square in which many people will suddenly die. Feeling the need to inform authorities, Peter tells the police, but they ridicule his warning.

With his adept allies, Peter begins a search for who is behind the upcoming disaster. He learns that the Order of Astrum has sent an assassin to kill him and his inner circle of adepts. Though he knows he may die in the attempt to prevent the calamity, Peter risks his life by deploying his talent to save innocent civilians.

Dark Magic is an engaging urban fantasy filled with the paranormal of Manhattan and starring an intriguing hero who is not a 100% percent angelic good guy. The cast especially the adversaries are emaciated caricatures as even deadly Wolfe lacks depth beyond being the cartoonish evil enemy. Still this is an enjoyable fast-paced thriller as the deadly ball drops with time counting down at Times Square.

The Battle of Blood and Ink: A Fable of the Flying City
Jared Axelrod and Steve Walker (illustrator)
9780765331304, $25.99

Amperstam is unique as the only flying city. The city's leader is the powerful Provost who runs an extremely tight ship. His most persistent pest is a street urchin turned crusading journalist; Ashe the young female reporter has a knack of exposing scandals and secrets on her one page rag The Lurker's Guide that the Provost and other leaders prefer remaining buried and away from public outrage and scrutiny.

However, her latest clandestine activity has led Ashe to uncover the darkest secret of her city. Horrified she now knows the source of what enables Amperstam to fly. If she reports what she knows to the Amperstammer residents, her city will almost certainly be grounded; if she does not Ashe could not live with herself. The city leaders realize what she has learned as they conclude she is no longer an irrelevant irritant since instead of just embarrassing them she could cost them their power and that is unacceptable.

This is a fascinating graphic steampunk thriller starring an intrepid crusading reporter who is a Davidette going up against Goliath and his horde. The first section sets much of the city laws, the Amperstammer social order and customs, and a ton of characters introduced in machine gun style. Once established, overwhelmed readers will enjoy this fast-paced cat and mouse dark tale made grimmer by the B&W illustrations.

L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
9780765330956, $27.99

In Tilbor, Quaeryt prevented the coup attempt against Lord Bhayar. As his reward for preventing a bloody civil war from occurring, Quaeryt is named Princeps and ordered by Bhayar to marry his sister Vaelora. In his new position, Quaeryt plans on rebuilding the land, but he is unaware that his wife is unhappy with the disrespect the High Holders show toward them because of her husband's birth class.

A volcano destroys the old capital of Telaryn in Extela killing the governor and others. Bhayar names his brother-in-law as the interim governor of the battered province and sends him to restore order and provide sustenance to the populace in a place where official corruption has always been an acceptable norm but now looting has begun too. At the same time nearby Bovaria sees an opportunity with what the volcano wrought so they mobilize. Knowing he needs Quaeryt's unique secret imaging skills, Bhayar places him in charge of a special imaging unit.

The second Imager Portfolio (see Scholar) continues the exciting prequel saga that occurs centuries before the tales of Rhennthyl. Filled with action, the keys to this engaging fantasy are the fully developed social and economic systems that seem plausible. L.E. Modesitt, Jr. provides a fabulous thriller as his hero needs to be in two places at the same time.

Shadow Blizzard
Alexey Pehov
9780765324054, $26.99

Shadow Harold the thief seeks the horn to prevent the awakened Nameless One Dark Lord from destroying Sial. His journey has been marked by the deaths of comrades in arms as they fight the forces of the Dark Lord, but though he would prefer to return to the shadows of thievery, Harold remains resolute in his quest to obtain the horn by breaching the impregnable Hrad Spein, a place no army, even that of wizards, has entered. If he and those allies who live and have not betrayed him (yet) reach the dark underground palace, only Shadow Harold alone, as the Dancer in the Shadows can complete the journey.

Even if Harold obtains the horn and escapes Hrad Spein, he knows he remains behind enemy lines with orcs hunting him to recapture him. However, Harold cannot think that far ahead as war explodes in Sial. Before he can take the horn, he still has to confront deadly hindrances entering and leaving Hrad Spein; obstacles that have destroyed every fool trying to steal the artifact.

With a nod to the Lord of the Rings, the Shadow Chronicles of Sial epic fantasy (see Shadow Prowler and Shadow Chaser) is an engaging trilogy as the third entry is a taut thriller that never abates the tension until the anticipated final confrontation between good and evil. Shadow Blizzard contains greater tension than the previous novels as the jocularity that seemed out of place with so much death and destruction is virtually nonexistent. Harold is terrific as he deals with immense pressure as he expects his destiny is death, but remains steadfast on his quest as he knows in the end he must go it alone.

The River Witch
Kimberly Brock
Bell Bridge Books
c/o Belle Books
P.O. Box 300921, Memphis, TN 38130
9781611941234, $14.95,

Thirty years old Roslyn Byrne's charmed life ended with the crash. Her career as a professional ballet dancer on the Atlanta stage ended and while healing at her mom's house, she gave birth to a stillborn.

Worried about her daughter's inability to move past her grief, Rosalyn's mom pushes her to spend a summer healing on Manny's Island; Georgia just off St. Simon's. Rosalyn rents a house from the Trezevant family. Their tweener daughter Damascus adopts the grieving Roslyn by introducing her to gators and hoodoo magic as the ten years old knows loss too with her mom dead. As Roslyn's past and that of the Trezevant family become known due to the river where the dead rest, the former dancer begins to heal.

The gothic atmosphere makes for a strong character driven tale of people struggling with grief. The support cast is solid especially ephemeral cousin Nonnie and patriarch Urey. However, this haunting whimsical tale of soul healing belongs to the Sea Isle with its magical music by the riverbank and the two females; each barely coping with their respective losses until they meet.

Catherine Coulter
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399157325, $26.95,

In San Francisco, Clive and Cindy Cahill stand trial for serial killings and abetting espionage. Soon after that presiding Judge Ramsey Hunt is shot in the back near his home overlooking the ocean.

In DC an unaddressed letter is given to FBI Agent Dillon Savich with no deadly chemicals or biological agents; only a note: "FOR WHAT YOU DID YOU DESERVE THIS". Soon after that Ramsey's wife Molly calls Savich to beg him to come to find out who shot her husband. She further says Ramsey is in surgery to save his life. Savich and his partner Lacey Sherlock head for California immediately to provide support to Moly and to investigate the shooting of their friend, a federal official. Working with California-based law enforcement officials' task force, they learn the Cahill proceedings started off with a shocker when in your face federal prosecutor Mickey O'Rourke provided a weak opening argument and now cannot be found.

The latest S&S FBI procedural (see Split Second and Whiplash) is an exciting suspense-laden whodunit. Somewhat a family affair, fans will enjoy this twisting over the top of the Golden gate bridge mystery as the fast-paced thriller never slows down until after the final confrontation.

The Wrong Man
David Ellis
9780399158285, $26.95

After class, paralegal Kathy Rubinkowski heads to her SUV to go home when someone shoots her in her head. Detective Frank Danilo and Mona Gregus arrest Iraqi war veteran Tom Stoller who is incoherent and apparently homeless in spite of an address. Stoller was found with the murder weapon and Kathy's purse near the homicide scene. The cops get a confession out of the mentally unstable Stoller.

Tom's Aunt Deidre Maley observes in court attorney Jason Kolarich destroy the testimony of a key prosecution witness in a murder case. She pleads with him to defend her nephew as public defender Bryan Childress is leaving the office. He agrees though the trial is in a few weeks and his client wants it over so a continuance is unlikely. As he goes over the evidence and talks with his client, Jason begins to believe Tom confessed to a horrible event in Iraq not to the killing of Kathy. He finds proof that Kathy was assassinated because someone wanted to end her inquiry into a terrorists' money trail.

The third Jason Kolarich legal thriller (see The Hidden Man and Breach of Trust) is an exciting tale that is at its best in the courtroom and in client-lawyer meetings. The attorney defends an individual suffering from PTSD triggered Disorganized Schizophrenia who mumbles okay though he apparently has no idea what he responds to. When the case turns into an improbable thriller, the storyline remains fast-paced but loses some of its freshness of defending a person whose sanity seems unlikely.

The Bird Saviors
William J. Cobb
Unbridled Books
2000 Wadsworth Boulevard, #195
Lakewood, CO 80214
9781609530709, $25.95,

Ruby Cole knows the world has gone wrong when the government pays hunters to kill birds she loves to count. They rationalize the kills on a deadly flu fever blamed on birds, but do nothing about dust storms, fires and deadly felonious activity. Her Colorado no longer has room for a Moon Bird or for that matter her.

Meanwhile her dad "Lord God" the disabled Forsaken Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints preacher gives his daughter Ruby Cole two untenable choices. She must give up her baby Lila or marry Page a man her dad's age who has two wives because Lord God received a heavenly vision. Deciding to not honor her martinet father, Ruby selects a third option when she decides to run away with Lila. Her seemingly isolated act of defiance turns into a butterfly effect on Widower Ward Costello and other people involved in aviary population and criminal activity.

The Bird Saviors is a fascinating low-key character driven thriller starring a young woman who decides to take a chance on living instead of dying a slow domestic death. The storyline starts slow as the world around Pueblo and the key cast are established during a difficult recession. Once done, chaos theory takes effect as one thing leads to another in a world that seems to have gone mad. Readers will enjoy Ruby's impact as she becomes a bird savior while searching for a good happy life for her and her baby.

Close Your Eyes
Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312611613, $27.99,

Dr. Kendra Michaels was born blind but she learned to compensate by exponentially increasing the use of her other senses and dramatically deploying logical analysis to situations. After two decades in darkness, she gained sight with little impact on the high acumen of her other senses. Law enforcement likes to consult with this music therapist on their seemingly unsolvable cases.

Former FBI agent Adam "Puppetmaster" Lynch visits Kendra as she works with a young patient. He realizes she is nothing like the agents told him and finds he looks forward to learn what her buttons are so he can push them. Challenging Kendra to display her skill, he is shocked how accurate she describes him and what he did earlier. Later they meet and she explains how she read him and he tells her that her former boyfriend FBI Agent Jeff Stedler has vanished and may be dead, a victim of a serial killer he was investigating in San Diego. They team up hoping Stedler lives, but soon are caught in a deadly conspiracy in which she is targeted for elimination.

Mindful of the movie Blink but starring a Sherlock ("Shirley") Holmes, this is an excellent investigative thriller. Fast-paced, filled with twists and starring protagonists who seem real; it is Kendra's skill at evaluation that occurs early on and throughout, and the acerbic teaming that make for a strong suspense.

Midnight Master
Donna Grant
St. Martin's
9780312552480, $7.99

Rice University anthology Professor Gary Austin sends a cryptic message to his daughter Gwynn that has concerned for her widowed father. She flies to Scotland to insure he is all right though she is unsure where exactly he is. While driving west towards the isles, she receives a stunning call from Phil Manning of Rice who informs her Professor Austin resigned last month.

In 1603 Scotland, the Druids told warrior Logan Hamilton and his brothers in arms that they do not know where they will end up in time as they pursue the evil Deirdre and her minions to find her twin Ian who she took with her. Logan learns he is in 2012 Scotland and feels a need to head west to Isle of Eigg; one time home of the Druids once lived. Gwynn and Logan are attracted to one another from their first meeting. He believes she is a dormant Druid and offers to search for her dad while she offers to guide him through the twenty-first century.

The first Dark Warriors romantic urban fantasy is a great spin off from the fabulous Dark Sword saga. The fun in this engaging storyline is observing the bewildered lead couple as he struggles to adapt to modern conveniences taken for granted and she struggles to accept her awakening powers. Deidre adjusts much easier as evil adapts to any environs by not having any concerns for others. Donna Grant provides a wonderful fresh spin to her historical fantasy saga with the opening act of her medieval warriors arriving in the twenty-first century.

Broken Illusions
Ellie James
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312647032, $9.99

In New Orleans five weeks before Carnival, sixteen year old psychic Trinity Monsour wants to spend time with her boyfriend Chase and works diligently at her new job at her Aunt Sara's shop Fleurish!. However, another girl has vanished while Trinity sees a vision of an empty street except for severely run-down buildings and a corpse in nearby grass; someone also warns her to be wary as danger lurks nearby.

Though she would prefer to ignore the horrific images, Trinity believes she cannot as she is convinced the only way to cope with them is to learn why she sees them and hopefully that will end them. She begins her quest for knowledge by searching for the lost girl. Those who care about her worry about her; however not her aunt, her BFF, or her boyfriend join her on her mission. Only enigmatic Dylan Fourcade does while Detective LaSalle follows them hoping she leads him to the missing person.

The second Midnight Dragonfly middle school age paranormal thriller (see Shattered Dreams) is a wonderful entry with engaging, surprising but improbable twists. Trinity works on the mystery of her DNA, the missing girl, and the body in the grass while wondering how young love could be as convoluted as she cares for Chase and Dylan.

Obsidian Flame
Caris Roane
St. Martin's
9781250008534, $7.99

Due to her psychic skills and her fanatical parents demanding she adhere to their beliefs, for one hundred years, Marguerite was incarcerated in the Convent in Prescott Two on Second Earth. Her only respites from the ennui were her hope for freedom and "conjugal" visits from Thorne her Warriors of the Blood vampire lover.

When she is freed, she leaves Thorne behind on Second Earth while she journeys to Mortal Earth to start anew as Marguerite Dresner. As Commander Greaves and his Liberation Army begin their assault to control both Earths, Thorne deserts his post as second in command of the Warriors of the Blood for the first time in two millennia to follow his breh-hedden soulmate. However, other vampires recognize the rare skills of one of the Obsidian Flame triad that make Marguerite the Red Flame an extremely valuable commodity as a weapon of mass destruction especially with her two "sisters".

As with the previous four fantastic Guardians of Ascension romantic fantasies (see Wings of Fire and Born of Ashes), the key to this entry is the cast; as the good, the bad and the ugly seem real with strengths, weaknesses and potentially fatal flaws. These characters ensure that the Roane mythology feels genuine. Action-packed, readers will root for Thorne as he joins the chase for Marguerite, but his motive is love not power.

Diamonds Are Truly Forever
Gina Robinson
St. Martin's
9780312542405, $7.99

CIA National Clandestine Services head spook Emmett Nelson assigns agent Drew Fields to end the seditious dealings of Sam "Fisherman" Deeds who is selling satellite information to the Revolutionary International Organization of Terrorists (RIOT). He does not want this mission as he knows the way to Sam is through his daughter Staci who is Drew's soon to be ex-wife.

Staci filed for divorce when her honesty almost led to her beloved husband's death as she knows she cannot tell a lie; Drew never challenged her decision. Now he wants her back in her life and she would like him back. However, loose lips sink undercover agents so she has doubts. As they work out their differences, their love remains strong. However, Drew must stay focused on her father regardless of how he fears Staci will react when she realizes his motive for their reconciliation.

The latest Agent Ex espionage romance (see The Spy Who Left Me) is an entertaining thriller based on the premise that a spy can go home again. Action-packed, fans will enjoy this twisting triple crossing second chance at love if they survive tale although the tension even when Staci in dire straits never quite grips the reader.

Cherry Adair
St. Martin's
9780312371951, $7.99

Midnight in the Pacific a hundred miles from the nearest land Peru with no other ship around, Logan Cutter struggles with a fully panicked woman who is drowning but fighting him. When she finally succumbs to unconsciousness from the exposure to the cold and swallowing tons of water, he gets her to his treasure hunting ship the Sea Wolf.

When she recovers a little, a furious and freezing Daniela Rosado vows to kill her criminal cousins who tossed her into the ocean after hitting her believing Logan will rescue her. She pretends ignorance as to how she got there and says her name is Annie. He believes she lies and probably works for his adversary Rydell Case. Instead the Lima art gallery owner's stupid felonious relatives want her to help Cutter with a map to find sunken treasure they claim as theirs.

The latest Cutter Cay romantic suspense (see two of Logan's brothers' adventures - Riptide and Undertow) is an exciting at sea and somewhat on land thriller. Fast-paced from the moment the hero rescues the damsel in distress and never slows down until the final unlikely (but exhilarating confrontation, readers will enjoy action-packed Vortex while knowing sibling Jonah will steer the next story.

If The Slipper Fits
Olivia Drake
St. Martin's
9781250001771, $7.99

In 1836 Yorkshire, Annabelle Quinn wants to leave Mrs. Baxter's Academy for Young Ladies where she has spent much of her twenty-four years after being left there as a baby. Now a teacher, she disobeys the headmistress Mrs. Baxter by using a cat's ploy to obtain an interview with visiting Lady Milford for the position of governess to eight year old orphaned Duke of Kevern. Very tall Annabelle passes the key test when dainty Lady Milford has her try on her glass slippers. She is hired.

Annabelle travels to her position in Cornwall where she meets the young the duke's guardian his uncle Lord Simon Westbury. He makes it clear to her she is to keep her distance from him. However, Simon struggles to keep his distance from her as he enjoys her intelligence and her nurturing of his nephew. As they fall in love, danger arises from an unknown adversary willing to kidnap and kill though the motive is unknown to Simon and Annabelle.

The first Cinderella Sisterhood historical romance is a terrific suspense thriller starring two strong protagonists who initially wage a gender war that turns into a mystery. Fast-paced from the moment Annabelle puts on the slippers, fans will relish this twisting thrilling pre-Victorian romantic intrigue.

When Morning Comes
Francis Ray
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312681623, $14.99

At Texas Hospital in Dallas, patient advocate Sabrina Thomas and Dr. Cade Mathis clash over a patient needing surgery to remove a brain tumor. This is not the first argument they had. Sabrina knows she plays with fire challenging the star sturgeon, but her job requires the patient comes first, which is why she left Houston and fears she will be gone from Dallas soon too. However, she tells the patient Ann Ward if she needed the operation Mathis would be at the top of her list. When he learns this Cade is stunned. He goes to her place to thank her, but is shocked to see the third degree burn scars on her body as she swims. She is attracted to him and wants to see him smile once while he is unable to ignore her.

Her best friend is hospital social worker Kara Simmons, a talented artist who recently broke off with a cheating Dr. Collins. She meets Tristan Landers, who works renovation projects that he also writes about. He likes her art and wants to use her work in his efforts but also is attracted to Kara.

This Family Affair romance is a tender tale that contains two love matches. Filled with a warm though unlikely twist, the strong cast including patients makes for a fabulous contemporary tale as fans will want the best for the couples, their extended families (with an nasty exception) and the patients and their families.

Never Knowing
Chevy Stevens
St. Martin's Griffin
9781250009319, $14.99

Thirtyish Sara Gallagher was raised by adopted parents on Vancouver Island, but never felt like she was part of the family. For years she obsessed over meeting her biological parents. Though engaged to Evan and raising with him their six years old daughter Ally, she recently located her mom Professor Julia Laroche. Sara visits her mother, who rejects her.

Despondent Sara needs to know why. She learns her mom's birth name was Karen Christianson and her father is the Campsite Killer, who murdered numerous people over four decades. He raped Julia who gave birth to Sara as a result of his assault. When the media makes a fuss about Sara's lineage, her still on the loose dad demands she and his granddaughter visit him. If she fails to obey, he will increase his homicidal count.

This is an exciting twisting family drama as the protagonist fears she may be a violent chip off the old man's block. With a nurturing vs. naturing undercurrent, fast-paced from the moment Julia shows she fears Sara and never slowing down, fans will appreciate this tense suspense thriller although the climax is weaker than the path getting there.

The Borgia Mistress
Sara Poole
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312609856, $14.99

Rodrigo Borgia has been elected Pope Alexander VI and his son Cesare a cardinal. Realizing the threats from his enemies towards his family has exponentially increased and fearing the spread of plague, Pope Alexander moves his kin and his retinue from Rome to Viterbo, a nearby fortified town.

Amongst those relocating with the House of Borgia is the family's Jewish poisoner Francesca Giordano who has her own issues staring with the unsolved murder of her dad, her late mom rumored to be alive, her relationship with Cesare and her addicted dependency on opium. However, Francesca has a greater concern at the moment with the sudden unexplained deaths of several staff members. Many look at the Spanish contingent traveling with them, but as the Borgia coroner Francesca has doubts because they support their kingdom's alliance with the Borgia so she knows not to rule them out but to look elsewhere too as must find the assassin while wondering who the ultimate target is.

The third Poisoner Mysteries (see Poison and The Borgia Betrayal) is a superb twisting historical that combines a strong sense of time and place with a fabulous whodunit. Readers will enjoy the exploits of Francesca as she works several inquiries, but knows the one that matters is ending the serial killings of an insider assassin.

Suzanne Fagence-Cooper
St. Martin's Griffin
9781250016256, $15.99

In 1854, Effie Gray, abetted and encouraged by Lady Easterly, wife of the head of the Royal Academy, did the unthinkable though she knew her action will ostracize her; she filed for an annulment after six years of marriage to famous art critic John Ruskin on the grounds she remained a virgin. Soon after obtaining the dissolution of her marriage, Effie married Ruskin's student, pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais and along with her sister Sophy became his muse and mother of their eight children.

Suzanne Fagence-Cooper provides an intriguing biography that combines knowledge obtained from family correspondence mostly written by the upper class heroine with the state of Victorian art and aristocratic history. Though insightful, Ms. Cooper also fills in gaps with speculation. Those that are based on the state of Victorian art and high society seem reasonable and enhance the bio especially the annulment events; on the other hand those that are psychological fillers like Sophy's relationship with Millais and Ruskin's rejection of his wife ask too much of the reader. Still "Effie: The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, John Ruskin and John Everett Millais" is an enjoyable Victorian biography.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Operation Marriage
Cynthia Chin-Lee, author
Lea Lyon, illustrator
PM Press
PO Box 23912, Oakland, CA 94623
Reach And Teach
29 Mira Vista Court, Daly City, CA 94014,
9781604864229, $14.95,

"Operation Marriage" is a touching, timely story about two best friends, a boy and girl named Zach and Alex, who believe they can't continue their friendship because "her parents aren't married." The story is told from the viewpoints of Alex and Nikki, the two children of Mama Kathy and Mama Lee, a lesbian couple who have had a commitment ceremony but have not been legally allowed to become married. When California's Proposition 8 is passed, this changes and Alex and Nikki's parents obtain the legal right to marry in the state of California. The reactions of both children and adults to this story displays the human importance of this legislation and this current issue. "Operation Marriage" is a real story with real people living real lives and teaching real lessons in human compassion and enlightenment.

The Reinvention of Religious Music
Sander Van Maas
Fordham University Press
University Box L, 2546 Belmont Ave.
Bronx, New York 10458
9780823230587, $24.00, Paper
9780823230570, $75.00, Cloth

Olivier Messiaen (12-10-18 to 4-27-92) and his music of the "breakthrough toward the beyond" is the subject of this vigorous analysis of a highly unique, challenging modern composer. Although arising from Western origins, Messiaen's music is described as being essentially 'outside Western music traditions.' Influenced by diverse music and rhythms of Hindu, Greek, Japanese origins as well as a vast assortment of carefully catalogued birdsongs, Messiaen used a composition technique called modes of limited transposition to convey colors of sound, an innovation described by George Benjamin as the use of color as a structural, fundamental element of music. ( Messiaen experienced different colors while listening to chords, birdsong, and music, referred to as synaesthesia.) His famous "Quartet Pour le Fin du Temp (1940-41)" for piano, cello, violin and clarinet was first written and performed by the composer and fellow prisoners during the Nazi occupation of France. The title of this piece has a double meaning, first in reference to the Apocalypse, and second, in reference to the cessation of traditional time in music.

A famously talented and gifted organist, composer, ornithologist, and religious mystic, Messiaen is both celebrated and incompletely understood still today. To begin to remedy that lack, "The Reinvention of Religious Music: Olivier Messiaen's Breakthrough Toward the Beyond" is a stunning, informed vanguard advanced through tenets of both religious/philosophical thought and musicology, incorporating dialogue between the composer and Hans Urs von Balthasar (musical theologist), Jean-Luc Marion (phenomenologist), Jacques Derrida, Bernard Stiegler, and further Augustine-influenced work by Soren Kierkegaard and Jean-Francois Lyotard. The music that is the "evidence of things unseen" becomes Messiaen's "breakthrough toward the beyond," possibly his defining contribution to musica sacra. All of this complex analysis demands great intellectual flexibility of the reader, as possibly true appreciation of Messiaen's music demands a reconstruction or even a deconstruction of the ear and listening attitudes. It is rewarding to wade through the tortuous spectrums, nevertheless, for there are many enriching moments of insight in this fascinating study of a deeply complex composer and humanist.

In the end the author sums his work best: "Ultimately this confrontation (beginning from an analysis of the oratorio "La Transfiguration de Notre-Seigneur Jesus-Christ" underscores the challenging yet deeply affirmative nature of Messiaen's music." A bonus to the publication of "The Reinvention of Religious Music" is the reintroduction of a great composer's inspired music to a whole new generation, who will hopefully glean new insights and inspiration from it.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

A Galaxy of Immortal Women
Brian Griffith
Exterminating Angel Press
9781935259145, $16.95,

The place of women in society often varied throughout the world. "A Galaxy of Immortal Women: The Yin Side of Chinese Civilization" explores the place of women in Chinese mythology and legend throughout its history and its place in the greater mythos of women throughout the world. With a focus that stretches deep into China's history and presents much to ponder, "A Galaxy of Immortal Women" is a must for those who want an excellent woman-focused delve into China's myths and legends.

I'll Go Home Then, It's Warm and Has Chairs
David Thorne
9780615615950, $19.95,

With a bit of eccentricity, humor comes in unusual doses. "I'll Go Home Then, It's Warm and Has Chairs" is a collection of offbeat humor and knowledge from David Thorne who ponders the universe as he compiles his viral e-mails and bizarre sense of humor all throughout with his thoughts on advertising, publishing, cats, and just about everything else. "I'll Go Home Then, It's Warm and Has Chairs" is worth considering for humor collections, recommended.

The Grasshopper King
David Stanley
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466470408, $12.95,

In a shattered family, what home means is never truly clear. "The Grasshopper King" is a novel following Cosmas Sarvey, a boy who is separated from his family, pulled between an abusive father, a mother unable to care for him, and a Catholic orphanage. When he goes to visit 'home', he finds his life in crisis. "The Grasshopper King" is a tragic tale of family dysfunction and its long lasting effects.

To Find The Way of Love
Oliver E. Deehan
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781425998516, $15.95,

Love should not be for ourselves alone. "To Find The Way of Love: The Purpose of Our Existence" is an exploration of altruism and self-interest, as Oliver E. Deehan states that people all too often are lured by their own self-interest above all else, and he feels this is bringing a lack of satisfaction to many of our lives, and states that the harmony of society is what can forge better lives for ourselves. "To Find the Way of Love" is an excellent addition to inspirational collections.

The Hunter's Journal
Michael Drotos
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466411678, $9.99,

Hunting has turned from necessity to pastime. "The Hunter's Journal" is a memoir from Michael Drotos, who recounts the collapse of everything he held dear and as he tried to pierce together his life after losing his marriage, his finances, and his father. He writes how hunting helped him recover from his funk and hopes it inspires others who hunt to find their joy in it once more. "The Hunter's Journal" is a fine and much recommended addition to memoir and hunting collections.

Liz, Inc.
Jim Halter
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781469767949, $13.95,

Vacations are a break from life's grind, and there will always sit a market for it. "Liz, Inc." is a novel from Jim Halter, following "Lucky" Joe Hall, who is enjoying a growing business, but when Ann enters his life, his world is turned upside down and not in a bad way. With an optimistic adventure of romance, "Liz, Inc" may be worth considering.

When a Woman Loves God
Deashia D. Swan
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468194494, $15.99,

Faith can be a woman's best friend through life. "When a Woman Loves God" is a faithful read from Deashia D. Swan who discusses the role of faith in a woman's life, calling on the stories of powerful biblical women and how to use their spirit as power throughout one's life. "When a Woman Loves God" is a strong and much recommended pick for Christian and women's empowerment collections.

How to Make Your Mortgage in a Weekend
Cathy Burch & Anthony D. Parnell
Melrah Books
9780578074184, $24.00,

No one needs a vacation home to themselves year round. "How to Make Your Mortgage in a Weekend: 7 Easy Steps to Vacation Home Rental Business Success" is a guide for those looking for an alternative to real estate dealing, through the practice of vacation home rental and how to make a good secondary income from it. With plenty of practical advice for getting the ball rolling, "How to Make Your Mortgage in a Weekend" is a strong pick for general finance and advisory collections, highly recommended.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

Chesapeake Crimes: The Job Is Murder!
Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman and Marcia Talley, eds.
Wildside Press
9710 Traville Gateway Dr., #234, Rockville, MD 20850
9781434440600, $14.99,

Cleverly written by a group of women who have had their share of dead-end jobs, the Chesapeake Chapter of the Sisters in Crime have published anthologies which have showcased upcoming authors. Of course, in "Chesapeake Crimes: The Job Is Murder!" (ably edited by the team of Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman and Marcia Talley), Sisters in Crime also feature at least two men, just to keep things interesting. Let's face it, today's job economy creates the mood for murder, and Sisters in Crime make their stories compelling.

In "Keep It Simple," fledgling PI Serena is assigned to follow a cheating spouse, at the same time the other spouse is being murdered. The secretary at Acerman Security is the pain, but at least Serena has a boss with a bit of a brain. "Alligator Is For Shoes" features a PI who has to fake being a chef, which terrifies her more than the murder itself. "Next Stop, Foggy Bottom" has an original who is already dead. "Murder by Mediation" is a legal beagle murder, with a shocking ending.

"Deadrise" has a compelling introduction:

"Plunging into the cold water of the Chesapeake Bay jolted me awake. Fear and panic overwhelmed me. I gasped for air as the boat sped off into the darkness. The last thing I remembered before hitting the water was a kaleidoscope exploding in my head. Someone on the boat had hit me from behind before dumping me overboard."

Whether you had limited time and like a quick thrill, or you enjoy a variety of authors all writing and being published in one volume, short stories are worth the effort. Most read like an Alfred Hitchcock episode...quick death, whether due to water, getting even with a brute of a boss who is sexually abusing his staff, God sending one of his angels to do a little sleuthing on earth, an abused adjunct professor trying to make a mark, a secretary falsely accused, each tale has its own charm. Hotel murders, mean girls, and a family bumping off Dad round it off.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Dark Soul
Don Castle
Create Space
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468184976, $14.95,

Jack Somers is on another case, but this one seems to be more up and personal as the evil searches even to those Jack cares about. It is a story that is layered with mystery, twists and turns, likeable and unlikeable people. The story takes you into Jack's private life and merges you with people he loves and are important to him, thus bringing a more realistic feel to the read. Our author even brings in a new friend for Jack, a dog that perfectly merges in with all the characters, and adds just the right touch of compassion for our four legged friends. You will smile as this new addition becomes a hero, nice touch.

I read Mr. Castles first book, Pecan Gap, and it was excellent. Our author certainly seems to have created an outstanding series with, Jack Somers, as the star. This book had all the elements you would look for in a mystery read and a few extras. It was fast moving and had a special personal touch, to me that is the glue that pulls you in. I am pleased to highly recommend this read and look forward to the next. Well done, Mr. Castle, keep it up.

Bizzy Bee and the Flowers
Jill Warren
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd, Parker CO 80134
978432782399, $16.95,

I first must comment on the cover of this book. We see a Bee, who we will find out is called, Bizzy. Bizzy looks a little frazzled and you wonder why? As you begin this delightful read you find Bizzy emerging from his cocoon for the first time. He knows what he is to do for the rest of his life, and sets out to accomplish his task. He knows that he will drink nectar and carry pollen from one flower to another and he is happy to do it. However, as Bizzy goes from flower to flower, he finds out not all flowers are happy to see him. As night quickly approaches Bizzy is weary from his journey and needs a place to rest. He finds a special friend who is happy to have him spend the night, and rests his weary head.

This is a wonderful story for young and old. In this read you will find out exactly how important the Bee is to our world and how devoted it is to doing its job. Told in a very entertaining way, all who read this will better understand nature. The illustrations are large, bringing the meadow, rock, water, grass, flower and bee to life. Almost in a calming way, very well done.
This is a quick, easy to read story that teaches and also brings a smile. Recommended.

Eyes of Justice
Lis Wiehl
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781595547088, $24.99,

In this exceptional read we have three friends who call themselves, The Triple Threat Club. Cassidy is a TV station crime reporter, Nicole, Investigator for the FBI and Allison Prosecutor for the FBI. The ladies always worked on cases together, even if they were not told to. Friendship between the three was deep and unbreakable, except through death. To my shock the book sails you into the murder of a main player, Cassidy, and puts our other two ladies in grave danger. I was so surprised, I had to keep reading to find out who killed her and why.

As you could well imagine the ladies are totally devastated by the loss of their friend and the knowing that they could well be next. Tragedy strikes again as another close to them is killed. singled out and yet for no apparent reason. More sorrow grips them, however, this does not stop them from diving into the investigation head on, despite stern warning to leave it to the police. The story takes you into many dark corners that involve people that can be deadly. We are introduced to a new character in this read, Ophelia, who although different in so many ways, merges herself with Nicole and Allison to help stop a killer. This is a quick moving read, jumping you from one explosion to another to find this killer before he strikes again. However, author, Lis Wiehl does not leave out the human interest that pulls you into caring what happens to these woman. There is a secret with one of them that will bring a smile even through the tumbling times they are in. I enjoyed this read, it held my attention from beginning to end and I look forward to more adventures in the future.

Mind Games
Deborah Nicholson
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463681821, $14.95,

Andrew Beckman has discovered something, something that could bring in a lot of money. A drug that could help unleash the telepathic centre of the brain. The problem is, he needs people to experiment on, and they have to be certain ones, not just anyone. Children were good, and certain adults, but many have died, and many more will die if he continues what he is doing. Ian Hunger is a doctor, one that Andrew had tried to lure into helping him, but Ian knew the danger and when he found out that his sister, Sarah had been given the drug and tried to stop it, his life was over. Strange things are happening to Sarah, visions that she cannot explain, she is afraid, and only her friendship with a detective could possibly save her life. Will it be enough?

Wow! What a read. I have to say that this story takes you by the tail and does not let go. It has mysteries that reaches into dark areas of the mind and flashes them before you, and characters that you love, and those that you hate. It has chilling adventure as the race for the life of the innocent takes place and the evil is not far behind, and you know if it catches the innocent their lives are over. I wish I could tell you more about this story but I do not want to give anything away. Just trust me, this tale packs a wallop and is truly a story you will not soon forget. You really will wonder, could this happen? Adventure, Romance, Danger and Innocence....all packed into one great read. Recommended.

The Obsessive Chronicles
Josh Greenfield
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781105036095, $14.95,

In this life we all have trials and tribulations, sometimes they are easy to overcome and sometimes they are not. Our author, Josh Greenfield shares his life and his trails as he first struggles to understand what is happening to him. He travels, he studies, yet things are looming, things that he himself does not understand. This is a book of his life, his challenges as he battles obsessive behavior. He is honest and forthcoming within this book in the hopes that others will find courage and understanding in their battles as well. As I read this book I thought of the many people who struggle alone and I was glad that Josh had the courage to share his fears and his victories. I recommend this not just for those struggling, but for all of us to better understand one another and have compassion for our fellow man. I wish Josh the best, he is certainly walking forward to a brighter tomorrow, everyday is a new beginning.

Starlette Universe
Kathy Johnson, author
Dick Kuipa, illustrator
Kulpa Publishing
9780615611778, $14.95,

Inside the pages of this book you will find a story, a story of good and evil. We have six young Ladies who call themselves The Starlettes. Each one has different personalities and different charms, but they all live for God and goodness. In this tale Ashlee is alone in the woods and finds a poor kitty who has been tortured and is tied up. She is afraid but knows she must save the kitten, she also calls for her friends to come and help her. As the girls arrive and they begin to analyze the situation an evil enters in the form of a girl named, Eva. Eva does not have the love of God but portrays the dark side of the Devil. As the story progresses you see Eva show her power and you also see the determination of the Starlettes to show goodness. This book is the beginning of the story so you are not sure what will happen.

Now, I have mixed feelings about this book. The good point is definitely the storyline because I am totally for young girls being encouraged to live for God and to fight the Devil in this world. This book shows the beauty of these girls, both inside and out, and their determination to not allow evil to prevail. I also think it is good for the youth to understand that there is good and evil in this world and the consequences that happen when you chose to live for the wrong one. I feel this book will show that. I also must say that I was impressed with the way the author rhymes in this read. I myself know how difficult that can be especially in a long book. She does a good job. She also introduces the reader to some words and gives meanings to them.

I didn't really see any illustrations in the book other than the girls in their introduction. I think the story would have come more alive if there were illustrations of what was happenings. I know this is for older girls, but still a few pictures would have brought things clearer to the minds eyes.

I did have trouble with the format for several reasons. I found it hard to read and a little annoying. I didn't mind the different color ink, that's okay, but all the little sub-titles were irritating to some degree and just broke up the story too much. I think it would have flowed nicely without them. The stars around the pages weren't bad but perhaps not having the title of the book and the author on each page would have been a plus. I did ask my 12 year old granddaughter to give it a look and she said about the same things I did. She said it looked like a good story but it was too frustrating to continue the read. All in all I think the author has something here that could end up to be a great help to young girls with just a few changes here and there. She has a great storyline, cool characters, adventure, good and evil - all drawing cards that would make a great book. I believe we'll see this in the future and I wish this author the best.

Yield: Book One of The Armageddia Series
Bryan K. Johnson
Bedside Books
14510 Big Basin Way #155
Saratoga Village, Ca 95070
9781589826816, $24.95,

I don't know about you, but I wake up each morning wondering how many more days we will have of peace in this world we live in. It's a scary thought, I know, but unfortunately destruction seems to be heading towards us. In this read by, Bryan K. Johnson, this fear becomes a reality as our precious nation is attacked by our enemies. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye everything changes for the American people and out of work fireman, Devin, and his family. Devin is the main character throughout this book, separated from his family due to a trip, he is saved miraculously as his plane crashes and he pulls others out of the wreckage. These people soon unite and try to battle their own fear and suffering to help one another. As they gaze upon the city of Seattle burning before them, they wonder if they even have a home to return to. Unfortunately they will encounter much tribulations and heartaches along the way, some will live, some will die. We also meet a determined News crew that battles Hell to try and get the latest news to the American people, and we are taken into the lives of the American people as they battle for their very existence.

This is a remarkable story, one that will touch the very core of your fears. It is a tale that unfortunately could well be tomorrow's reality. As I walked with these people I wondered how I would handle the different events they encountered. Would I have the courage that would be needed to survive? Would I share my last piece of bread? Would I stand up against evil people to save a life of someone I didn't know? I hope so, but at this point these are questions without answers. This story will make you think, what is this does happen? Very well written and I am pleased to recommend it.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

A Degree Is Not Enough
Katherine Berntzen
Privately Published
9780982345252, $10.29,

The job market grows more and more competitive, and even a college education isn't enough to guarantee a job. "A Degree is Not Enough!: 8 Smart Things You Need to Do in College to Jump Start Your Career and Finances" is a career guide from Katherine Berntzen as she advises recent college graduates on how to push themselves to succeed at a higher level and get the jobs their education should allow them to. "A Degree to Not Enough!" is a strong pick for general career collections.

Finding Heart
Steven Mayer
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466379756, $14.95,

To be skeptical of the world is not to reject spirituality. "Finding Heart: Philosophical Memoirs, Essays, and Prose" is a collection of memoirs as he presents a meeting of the rational skeptic agnostic and atheist with the spirituality of the world, trying to find something that meets between all of these forces and gain a more clear piece of mind through it all. "Finding Heart" has much to ponder, and is strongly recommended reading.

Whatever Sticks Most
Darren Hogarth
Hoge Publishing
9780987917508, $16.33,

Moderation is a virtue constantly espoused, but harder to attain than man know. "Whatever Sticks Most" follows workaholic Myles as he faces years of endless drive and the toll it has taken on him, as he tries to attain the elusive balance in his life and something of enlightenment. With a touch of humor, romance, and the life's pursuit of it, "Whatever Sticks Most" is a strong pick for those seeking a novel of mid-life crisis.

Getting the Message Out
Allen A. Frey
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470092856, $21.95,

The contest for the presidency has been fierce more often than not. "Getting the Message Out: A Collector's View of Presidential Campaigns" discusses the contention for the office throughout history, as author and enthusiastic collector Allen A. Frey shares his own story of collecting throughout history, with detailed notes on the campaigns for presidency from the unanimous election of George Washington to the contested elections of W. Bush and Obama, with full color photos of campaign banners and buttons throughout. "Getting the Message Out" is a fine read for those interested in Presidential history.

The Story of a Soul
Therese of Lisieux
TAN Classics
9780895551559, $11.95,

Faced with an early death, St. Therese of Lisieux still managed to impact the world. "The Story of a Soul" tells St. Therese's story, and her writings in the later half of the nineteenth century. At the age of 15 she entered the Carmelite convent and for the next nine years she did much work and gained many posthumous honors as people examined her work. "The Story of a Soul" is a faithful and very much recommended addition to biography and Christian studies collections.

The Mom Comedies: Do Dragonflies Roar?
Lauren Lauterwassen
Privately Published
9780615577715, $7.99,

Normalcy certainly doesn't seem all that normal. "The Mom Comedies: Do Dragonflies Roar?" is a collection of humor and memoir from Lauren Lauterwassen who compiles these stories under her Mom Comedies series, drawing from her own experiences as well as the experiences of her neighbors and other loved ones as they face the absurdity of what is supposed to be normal. "The Mom Comedies: Do Dragonflies Roar?" is a strong recommendation for humor and memoir collections, especially for mothers.

From Blood
Edward Wright
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, 18th floor
New York, NY 10016
9781936467280, $14.95,

Many enemies were made in the turmoil of the 60s, and those battles may rage to this day. "From Blood" is a novel from Edward Wright, following Shannon Fairchild, a daughter of the era who is charged by her dying parents to rescue two such individuals who in the 1960s who went far and beyond protesting the Vietnam War. In her journey between the hunters and the hunted, she finds that passion is a dangerous thing and many more may end up dead. "From Blood" is a strong pick for general fiction and thriller collections.

My Top 40 at 40
Kari Loya
XK Productions
9780984763702, $24.95,

A pile of life experiences is a worthwhile way to spend the first forty years of one's life. "My Top 40 at 40: Making the First Half Count" as he shares a collection of short story memoirs and what it spells out in his own life's challenges and goals in the process. With plenty of humor and plenty to think about, Kari Loya shares his journeys around the world, his conflicts with the IRS, and the adventures he has seen. "My Top 40 at 40" is a strong addition to general memoir and humor collections, highly recommended.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

A Funny Thing Happened
Lester Colodny
SciArt Media
9780982351284, $19.95

The road to success in Hollywood is never remotely normal. "A Funny Thing Happened: Life Behind the Scenes: Hollywood Hilarity and Manhattan Mayhem" is a memoir from Lester Colodny as he reflects on career in the Hollywood Golden age, he shares his ups and downs and where he has brushed shoulders with many icons of Hollywood and and show business. "A Funny Thing Happened" is a choice addition to community library memoir collections focusing on film.

30 Failures by Age 30
Katharine Miller
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781458124425, $7.95,

Failure is not an option; it's an inevitability. "30 Failures by Age 30: One Woman's Exploration of Personal and Social Failure and the Hilarity that Ensues" is a humorous exploration of Katharine Miller's many successes and failures that she has faced in her life and how she has pieced together something of a life in spite of it all. Each chapter focuses on a struggle in her life, from making the mistake of moving to New York, failure to work well with others, and occasionally more rough issues such as drug addiction. "30 Failures by Age 30" is a humorous and poignant memoir about life's failures and how they make us who we are.

Heart of a Native
Tom St. Dennis
c/o AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781462069118, $12.95,

At some point in our lives we must learn who we truly are. "Heart of a Native" is a novel from Tom St. Dennis, facing the midlife crisis of Jack Clay, who is faced being pulled between the pressures of Wall Street and his potential rise and petition, and his heritage as a Native American. Exploring the Native American psyche in today's world, "Heart of a Native" is an intriguing novel with a Native American twist, much recommended.

Doc's Rules
M. Alan Jacobs
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463565626, $12.99,

The odds never seem to let up for some. "Doc's Rules" is a spy thriller from M. Alan Jacobs, as he tells the story of H. I. Tech, an agent charged with racing against time as the nefarious Victor Rykoff pursues his cruel intentions ever further. Channeling many popular spy thrillers, "Doc's Rules" may be a read very much worth considering.

AntiQuitas Lost
Robert Louis Smith
9780615460475, $14.95,

Against the ongoing onslaught of strange creatures, one's own weirdness loses its bite. "AntiQuitas Lost" is a young adult fantasy following bullied Elliott, who trying to fit into a new life in New Orleans, he finds a labyrinth that will spill him into the world of Pangrelor, and finds himself charged with making a difference in what seems to be his permanent new home. "AntiQuitas Lost" is illustrated throughout by famed Marvel illustrator Geof Isherwood, and makes for an excellent pick for young fantasy readers.

A Bridge Apart
David DiPillo
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470052577, $6.25,

On the road of sales, one will learn much of the world that surrounds them. "A Bridge Apart" is a novel from David DiPillo as he writes of a craftsman out to sell his work, on the arduous journey of making his work known, and in the process he must face the reality of poverty and the tragedies that will test him. "A Bridge Apart" is a worthy read for those seeking a tale of travel and facing the world.

Harry Posner
Privately Published
9780981109213, $15.95,

The insanity of the circus is a metaphor all too often used, but all too proper as well. "Charivari" is a story of 1960s Psychiatrist Professor Thomas Quincy travels across America during this time of social upheaval and turmoil, and facing the memories of his father's obsessions and tries to find something very much worth living. "Charivari" is worth considering for fiction collections focusing on facing family issues and works set in the 1960s.

A Father's Story
Doyle Walker
Belle & Chloe Productions
c/o CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470041809, $20.00,

A father should pass his story to his sons. "A Father's Story: From the Farm to the City" is a personal and driven memoir of growing up on a farm and then living in the big city for a time and the culture shock that goes on when one moves between them. Aiming his story at his son, the read proves of intriguing worth anyone seeking a deeply personal story of parenthood and life. "A Father's Story" is very much worth considering for personal memoir collections.

The Old Ones in the Old Book
Philip West
Moon Books
c/o O-Books
9781780991719, $16.95,

The old testament draws much of its legend from old pagan beliefs. "The Old Ones in the Old Book: Pagan Roots of the Hebrew Old Testament" discusses the origins the Hebrew old testaments, trying to find its inspiration and origins dating back to 1000 BCE, early paganism, and the parallels between Yahweh and many other tribal deities of the period. An intriguing study of faith and religion and the God of Abraham, "The Old Ones in the Old Book" is a strong and intriguing pick, not to be overlooked.

Paul T. Vogel

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design