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

MBR Bookwatch

Volume 4, Number 6 June 2005 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Donovan's Bookshelf Harold's Bookshelf Klausner's Bookshelf
Laurel's Bookshelf Shelley's Bookshelf Shirley's Bookshelf
Vicki's Bookshelf    

Donovan's Bookshelf

Chicken Fried
Nicola Morgan
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140
0763627356 $15.99

Becca's family is odd to say the least and Becca needs some new friends - but she lives in the country, is being homeschooled, and has to spend her time tending chickens on their farm. So how can she meet new people? It's natural she'd be attracted to Jazz and Mel, cool girls who live nearby, and invite them to an under-supervised party which provides a recipe for disaster

The Royal Mice: The Sword and the Horn
Loretta Krupinski
Hyperion Books
77 West 66th St., NY, NY 10023-6298
0786818360 $16.99 1-800-423-4525

The Queen has employed Max the Magnificant to chase the royal mice from the castle - but the mice plan to chase away Max instead. Can the royal palace mice use magic to go up against one of the greatest mouse-catchers of all time? An engaging story evolves.

Horse Hooves and Chicken Feet
Selected by Neil Philip
Clarion Books
215 Park Avenue South, New York NY 10003
0618194630 $19.00 1-800-225-3362

Mexican folk stories don't just tell a tall tale: they include a healthy dose of Mexican culture and insight in the process. Folklorist Neil Philip uses authentic sources to create this collection, which blends classic folklore, Catholic images, and Mexican-American story traditions. Kids in grades 4-6 will enjoy the diverse stories - and the colorful drawings of Jacqueline Mair, whose illustrations are enchanting additions to an already-strong collection.

Dust to Eat
Michael L. Cooper
Clarion Books
215 Park Avenue South, New York NY 10003
0618154493 $15.00 1-800-225-3362

Readers in grades 5-6 will relish an unusual account of the drought and the 1930s Depression in the same book. Michael Cooper has written many young adult books on American history: DUST TO EAT pairs vintage photos with insights on the twin disasters which led to struggles for survival. Add personal anecdotes by John Steinbeck and more and you have a moving review of a nation in crisis.

Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Avenue South, New York NY 10003

Two exceptional stories are very different and fun presentations. Regina Hanson's A SEASON FOR MANGOES (061815972X, $15.00) reveals Sareen's first 'sit-up', a Jamaican tradition celebrating the life of a loved one who has died. The entire village is mourning her beloved Nana: Sareen wants to tell stories of Nana's last mango season, but what if she just can't find the words, or cries? A poignant story of death and revitalization includes many cultural insights on Jamaica. Alastair Taylor's MR. BLEWITT'S NOSE (0618423532, $16.00) tells of one primrose Pumpkin, who finds a lost nose on a park bench. Something has to be done to locate its owner: but what? It's up to her smelly dog Dirk to connect the missing nose with its owner in this zany tale.

The Champ
Tonya Bolden
Knopf/Random House
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
0375824014 $17.95 1-800-726-0600

Tonya Bolden has produced many books for adults and children alike: her picturebook biography THE CHAMP: THE STORY OF MUHAMMAD ALI receives fine realistic paintings by R. Gregory Christie as it tells of the life of the former boxing champ who served as an inspiration for millions. While some reading skills are required, kids will find THE CHAMP a quite accessible account.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Roald Dahl
Knopf/Random House
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
0375831975 $22.95 1-800-726-0600

It's hard to believe it's the 40th anniversary of the classic CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, but here it is again, illustrated by Quentin Blake and celebrating nearly half a century of notoriety as a children's best-selling favorite. Young Charlie's magical tour of Mr. Wonka's chocolate factory provides a lesson in what happens to disobedient kids, with full-color artwork by Blake embellishing the experience.

Knopf/Random House
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019

Three new titles provide intriguing plots for young leisure readers in advanced elementary grade levels. Wendelin Van Draanen's SHREDDERMAN: MEET THE GECKO (0375823530, $12.95) presents the third in the 'Shredderman' series about a nerdy eleven-year-old who is an online superhero at night, exposing villains on the Internet. A new adventure pits him against a young film star's evil reporter. If Trixie Belden sounds familiar, she is - she's back with new covers for contemporary audiences and new releases, and adventure #10, THE MARSHLAND MYSTERY (0375830502, $6.99), presents a set of marshy mysteries involving a burned-out house, and a spooky story surrounding pirate treasure. Trixie first appeared over fifty years ago under the pen of Julie Campbell, who wrote the first six in the series before turning the books over to a variety of writers who wrote under Kathryn Kenny, producing over thirty adventures total. Modern audiences will relish the mystery. Grace Cavendish's CONSPIRACY (0385731531, $6.95) joins others in the 'Lady Grace' historical mysteries, telling of Lady Grace's struggle to foil the plot to murder Queen Elizabeth. CONSPIRACY is the third in the series and here the spunky young detective sniffs out who the perp is in the Queen's murder plot.

I See a Kookaburra!
Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
Houghton Mifflin
222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02116
0618507647 $16.00

Combine an 'I see ' peekaboo animal habitat format with facts about animals and a host of colorful drawings and you have an engaging picturebook surveying the world's habitats and the unique animals which live in them. The blend of a full page of clear animal pictures and a page of jungle and other habitats where the animals 'hide' make I SEE AKOOKABURRA! DISCOVERING ANIMAL HABITATS AROUND THE WORLD a lively, special coverage.

Hotel Deep
Kurt Cyrus
Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, Ca 92101
0152167714 $16.00 1-800-543-1918

Ages 4-10 will find striking and lovely HOTEL DEEP: LIGHT VERSE FROM DARK WATER, juxtaposing the strong poems and equally powerful paintings by Kurt Cyrus. Full colorful pages of realistic illustrations accompany rhyming poems which aren't just presented in stanzas, but circle the fish playfully. The art work and impact are simply exquisite. Cyrus lives near the Pacific Ocean: source of much inspiration for HOTEL DEEP.

Harcourt Inc.
525 'B' St., San Diego, CA 92101

Young leisure readers receive something different with these new releases, which feature bright drawings and different, unusual plots. Karen Beaumont's I AIN'T GONNA PAINT NO MORE! (0152024883, $16.00) enjoys bright and zany illustration by David Catrow, an award-winning political cartoonist and a prior children's book illustrator, as it dabs paint into a world made black-and-white by a mother tired of her son's mess. Unpredictable results mix with bright, fun colors. Linda Ashamn's TO THE BEACH! (0152164901, $16.00) will reach ages 3-7 with its fun story of a wacky family's struggle to reach the beach. Nadine Bernard Westcott's drawings are the funny, perfect accompaniment to the lively tale of a family which keeps forgetting everything in their haste to make way. Alexander Stadler's BEVERLY BILLINGSLY TAKES THE CAKE (0152053573, $16.00) will reach the same age group with its equally hilarious story of young Beverly's birthday journey to the Land of Cake. A baking crisis on a special friend's day leads to her struggle for resolution. J. Patrick Lewis' PLEASE BURY ME IN THE LIBRARY (0152163875, $16.00) will reach ages 6-9 with a lovely tale receiving fun, appealing drawings by Kyle M. Stone as it pays tribute to the joys of reading. Zany rollicking rhymes bring everything to life. Mem Fox's HUNWICK'S EGG (0152163182, $16.00) tells of a mysterious egg which appears outside Hunwick's burrow and doesn't hatch right away. Hunwick thinks it's his friend and he knows its secret. Simply gorgeous, outstanding illustrations by Pamela Lofts combined with Mem Fox's usual winsome original theme makes HUCKWICK'S EGG one of the top recommended picks of the Spring children's picturebook publishing season.

Fire in the Heart
Deepak Chopra
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY NY 10020
0689862164 $14.95 1-800-223-2336

Deepak Chopra is well known for his spiritual advice titles for adults: well, here's one for teens: a spiritual set of lessons which presents an easy series of 'what I learned' lessons blending autobiographical reflection, spiritual insights, and inspirations for teens.

The Salem Witch Trials
Jane Yolen & Heidi Elisabet Yolen Stemple
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY NY 10020
0689846207 $16.95 1-800-223-2336

Roger Roth provides realistic drawings to accent THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS, a survey of one of history's unsolved mysteries. Why did the hysteria over witches occur when the townspeople already had their hands full with smallpox, Indians, and land division issues? Study the clues to the mystery and find out possible influences.

The Girl In Rose
Peter Hobday
Weidenfeld & Nicolson/Trafalgar Square, dist.
PO Box 257, Howe Hill Road, North Pomfret, VT 05053-0257
0297847473 $32.50 1-800-423-4525

Rebecca Schroeter was a lady of fashion in Georgian England with few prospects for romance until she fell in love with her music master and eloped with him to London, becoming a part of the big city musical world and meeting London's leading politicians and bluestockings. THE GIRL IN ROSE chronicles the vivid world of classical composer Haydn, and reads like fiction with high dramac and action.

Coconut Comes To School
Berlie Doherty
Collins/Trafalgar Square, dist.
PO Box 257, Howe Hill Road, North Pomfret, VT 05053-0257
0007104332 $17.95 1-800-423-4525

The donkey Coconut lives to come to school as much as the kids like having her: but teacher Mr. Clapper doesn't appreciate Coconut's braying and disruptions, and has a plan to make Coconut go away. His plan works all too well - but Mr. Clapper comes to find value in Coconut, after all, in Doherty's warm story of an unwelcome school guest.

The Lonely Giraffe
Peter Blight
Bloomsbury Books/Trafalgar Square, dist.
PO Box 257, Howe Hill Road, North Pomfret, VT 05053-0257
0747568944 $16.99 1-800-423-4525

Poor giraffe is feeling left out: his long neck keeps him from the action and he startles his friends and isolates them but when disaster strikes, it's the lonely giraffe who discovers his underlying talents in Blight's appealing LONELY GIRAFFE, offering Michael Terry's engaging drawings.

Floppy Ears
Ruth Louise Symes
Orion/Trafalgar Square, dist.
PO Box 257, Howe Hill Road, North Pomfret, VT 05053-0257
1842552543 $13.99 1-800-423-4525

Tony Kenyon creates lovely, engaging drawings in FLOPPY EARS, the story of a little rabbit who tries to keep up with his siblings, to no avail. Floppy Ears is always being told he's too little but he does have some talents

Homage to Eros
Dannie Abse, Selector
Robson/Trafalgar Square
PO Box 257, Howe Hill Road, N. Pomfret, VT 05053
1861057644 $15.00 1-800-423-4525

100 poems perfect for Valentine's or any anniversary celebration, pack HOMAGE TO EROS: 100 GREAT POEMS OF LOVE AND LUST. These poems all say 'I love you' in different ways, from Ovid to the more modern Garcia Lorca and DH Lawrence: enthusiasts of poetry with more than a bit of romantic in 'em will relish the fine presentation.

Hesperus Press/Trafalgar Square
PO Box 257, Howe Hill Road, N. Pomfret, VT 05053
$13.00 each 1-800-423-4525

Hesperus Press continues to expand their unique line of reprints of famous authors' lesser-known literary works, adding two major publications to the set. Charlotte Bronte's THE FOUNDLING (1843910985) tells of one Edward Sydney, an abandoned orphan who finds a mentor and protector in a rich local landowner who raises him. When the landowner dies, only then does Edward discover the circumstances of his birth, and sets out to journey to his roots in a mythical kingdom. George Sand's THE DEVIL'S POOL (1843911051) tells of a man's determination to remarry after his wife dies and he is left with three young children. His journey to a rich widow leads to an unexpected romance with a simple shepherdess from his own village in this star-crossed romance of ironies and missed signs.

Trafalgar Square Press
PO Box 257, Howe Hill Road, N. Pomfret, VT 05053

Two new travel guides appear in updated editions to provide the latest facts. Shane Winser edits The Royal Geographical Society's EXPEDITION HANDBOOK (1861970447, $29.99), providing many updates to information equipment, techniques, and travel relating to scientific and adventure expeditions. EXPEDITION HANDBOOK isn't for the casual tourist who would shop Paris: it's for the person or group embarking on desert, mountain, or tropical forest expeditions and covers everything from choice of machetes and caving equipment to maps and how to write expedition reports. The new edition of Ronald Bergan's classic GREAT THEATRES OF LONDON (0233000666, $30.00) reflects extensive updates to the influx of new stars to the London theater scene. New sections have been added on the Almeida, Shakespeare's Globe and more, to update cultural history, shows, and theatre atmosphere.

Easy Orchids
Liz Johnson
Firefly Books
155 East 34th St. #5B, New York NY 10016
1552979350 $29.95 1-800-387-5085

If you've ever admired those lovely blooming orchids in the nursery but heard they were fussy and difficult to grow, then Liz Johnson's EASY ORCHIDS; THE FAIL-SAFE GUIDE TO GROWING ORCHIDS INDOORS is for you. Johnson is owner of McBean's Orchids in the UK: the company has grown them since 1879, and renown in its industry for its expertise. Liz is also an orchid judge. Her background lends to a clear survey of orchid growing requirements, dos and don'ts. Chapters recommend varieties which will grow most successfully in the home, discuss care from potting and feeding to humidity, and provide a wealth of gorgeous illustration to go along with the advice. What more could you wish for?

Firefly Books
155 E. 34th St. #5B, New York NY 10016

Two exciting, very different transportation books are recommended picks for discriminating collections seeking something different. William Fotheringham's CYCLE RACING: HOW TO TRAIN, RACE AND WIN (1554070139, $19.95) is aimed at competitive cyclers and covers everything from equipment and training to diet, health and undertaking successful races. While there are color photos throughout, the meat and heart of CYCLE RACING lies in its race-specific instructions and precise guidelines on how to win. Marc H. Choko and David . Jones' POSTERS OF THE CANADIAN PACIFIC (1552979172, $49.95) packs in over 300 examples of Canadian Pacific train travel in full-page color displays. At its height the Canadian Pacific was heralded as the world's finest railway, and it produced over 2,000 posters promoting its railway services over the course of nearly 100 years. POSTERS OF THE CANADIAN PACIFIC is a specialty item - but a luxurious, lovely collection honing over 300 of the best examples from the company's history.

Firefly Books
155 E. 34th St. #5B, New York NY 10016

Homeowners should consider having these handy guides in their home library: they promise lasting value as references for any do-it-yourselfer. Helen Bowers' INTERIOR MATERIALS & SURFACES: THE COMPLETE GUIDE (1552979679, $35.00) provides a sourcebook packed with a comprehensive breakdown of each material's possible applications. From finishes to suitability of the material to a particular project, INTERIOR MATERIALS & SURFACES discusses properties, use and maintenance, safety, and availability and cost. Steve Dodds' TOOLS: A TOOL-BY-TOOL GUIDE TO CHOOSING AND USING 150 HOME ESSENTIALS (1554070600, $19.95) provides a thorough guide to what tools should be basic to a beginner's collection, how to choose, and how to use. Detailed descriptions provide solid information on tool history, what applications each tool is suited for, and nine types of tool kits, from home and car to children's kits. Very practical guides, each: both promise lasting use for the homeowner.

Firefly Books
155 E. 34th St. #5B, New York NY 10016

Two very different, excellent sports guides provide colorful blends of history and practical advice for enthusiasts in each area. Joe Tomlinson and Ed Leigh's EXTREME SPORTS: IN SEARCH OF THE ULTIMATE THRILL (155297992X, $19.95) packs in the color action photos to accompany discussions of cliff diving, skateboarding, sky flying and more. Tips run from the very basic of equipment and clothing purchases to the more advanced advice on tricks, safety and descriptions of the special challenges of each jump or maneuver. It's the blend of specific tip and overall review of each 'extreme sport' which makes EXTREME SPORTS: IN SEARCH OF THE ULTIMATE THRILL a winning review. James Davis pairs with photographer Skin Phillips IN SKATEBOARDING IS NOT A CRIME: 50 YEARS OF STREET CULTURE (1554070015, $19.95): a comprehensive history of skateboarding from the 1950s to modern times. Discussions analyze skateboarding greats and venues around the world, survey equipment and sports figures alike, and pack in plenty of colorful action photos throughout.

Firefly Books
4 Daybreak Lane, Westport, CT 06880

Memory is an alliance of systems that work together: but how does it operate to encourage learning, cognition, and forgetting - and how about repressed memories and memory's applications in specific incidents? Alan Baddeley's YOUR MEMORY: A USER'S GUIDE (1552979857 $24.95) provides an illustrated new edition for specialists and non-specialists alike, surveying how memory works, the mechanics of short- and long-term memory, and the latest research in psychology pertaining to memory. Outstanding and impressive is the weighty, oversized volume PHOTOGRAPHIC ATLAS OF THE BODY (1552970733, $49.95), packing in astonishing color photos of the inner workings of the human body using new imaging technology, from microscopic close-ups to dyes and colors to enhance blood clots and more. An introduction to imaging techniques is followed by chapters filled with essays and explanations of body parts and images. Simply a 'must' for any comprehensive health library collection. Drs. Sasha Bernatsky and Jean-Luc Senecal edit LUPUS: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW (1554070635, $16.95), a comprehensive overview of the disease, its symptoms, and its management. This isn't just a doctor or two's expertise: over 15 lupus experts contribute their case studies, resources, and insights for a consumer-oriented guide which is easy to understand.

Local and Regional Government Information
Mary Martin, Editor
Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
1573564125 $65.00 1-800-225-5800

All kinds of citizens will find this reference on using government information to be important; from students and government workers to corporate researchers, making it a recommended pick for public as well as college-level library holdings. LOCAL AND REGIONAL GOVERNMENT INFORMATION: HOW TO FIND IT, HOW TO USE IT provides an easily-used reference to the basics of locating local and regional government information, from what to look for to what to expect in results. From legal codes and court records to police reports and school and zoning records, the maze of government agencies and information holdings are compiled into chapters with easy headings for quick consultation. Certain to be a lasting reference, LOCAL AND REGIONAL GOVERNMENT INFORMATION provides exact steps on locating and using all kinds of government information for many different agencies.

From Daytime to Primetime: The History of American Television Programs
James Roman
Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
0313319723 $49.95 1-800-225-5800

From Westerns and soap operas which have spilled into evening television to sports broadcasts and miniseries, the fine line between daytime and evening television has blurred, and has shaped American society itself. James Roman surveys this changing landscape in FROM DAYTIME TO PRIMETIME, providing a history of American television programming, examining popular sitcom and series show, and drawing important connections between viewing choices and changing consumer expectations. A fine history presents a logical set of transitions between themes and delivery choices based on programming history.

Diamonds Around the Globe
Peter C. Bjarkman
Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
0313322686 $75.00 1-800-225-5800

There are plenty of baseball guides on the market covering everything from how to play to how to observe: so why another? Because Diamonds Around the Globe: The Encyclopedia of International Baseball is studded with facts about international playing, revealing the evolution of baseball in each country or region, discussing globalization influences, and covering the history of tournament play and teams around the world. Organized by country, DIAMONDS AROUND THE GLOBE presents biographical sketches of major players, discussions of batting history and averages, and top stories of notable events.

Understanding Melville's Short Fiction
Claudia Durst Johnson
Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
0313331294 $45.00 1-800-225-5800

Herman Melville is best known for Moby Dick, a much-studied novel; but students often receive preliminary introductions via his shorter works - "Billy Budd", for example. Understanding Melville's Short Fiction: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources & Historical Documents is the best guide to accompany a study of these shorter works, reviewing the issues central to Melville's 19th-century world and revealing the underlying economic and social issues within each story. Chapters arranged by theme provide contrasts, quotes, and critical analysis of these key topics, making UNDERSTANDING MELVILLE'S SHORT FICTION perfect supplemental reading for any in-depth Melville report at the high school or college levels.

Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881

Military history collections as well as general world history holdings will easily find a place for Richard A. Gabriel's weighty 3-volume reference EMPIRES AT WAR (0313332169, $225.00): for over 5,000 years empires have battled to determine the course of world history, and this encyclopedia survey details their military might, using a A-Z chronological approach to chart the first clashes of war to modern times. Each volume includes over a hundred maps and illustrations to demonstrate weaponry, dress and military strategy, outlines of logistics and tactics as well as weaponry, and a review of at least one major battle by each empire. Two additions to Greenwood's 'guides to historic events of the ancient world' ($45.00 each) provide excellent overviews of two selected historical periods. James W. Ermatinger's DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE (0313326924) is designed as a basic introduction to the period, combining lively chapters with biographical sketches of key figures and annotated primary source materials. Classroom as well as library use will keep DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE in wide circulation. The second arrival is Stanley Bursetin's REIGN OF CLEOPATRA (0313326278): a survey to Cleopatra VII and her time. Chapters provide a fine overview of Cleopatra's era and dynasty, packing in details on her multicultural Egyptian society and Alexandria's conflicts. If it's American history through music which is desired, John Ogasapian's MUSIC OF THE COLONIAL AND REVOLUTIONARY ERA (0313324352, $55.00) fits the bill. Especially recommended for collections with an in-depth American music history or American Civil War holding, MUSIC OF THE COLONIAL AND REVOLUTIONARY ERA focuses on the cultural and times of early Colonial America, which gave rise to new kinds of music incorporating multicultural influences across New England. If it's a history of Germany society you wish, especially a survey of ground-breaking, society-altering events, don't miss Frank W. Thackeray's EVENTS THAT CHANGED GERMANY (0313328145, $65.0). Ten topical chapters profile ten events which changed the face of Germany, with essays from different contributors providing background expertise and depth to discussions of these events. A chronological order allows for ease in progressing from theme to theme, and allows for an easier understanding of how the events linked to create the German psyche. THE HISTORY OF KOREA by Djun Kil Kim (0313332967, $45.00) is also key to understanding Korea's place in the modern world: part of Greenwood's 'Histories of Modern Nations' series, it surveys the social and political changes Korea has experienced over the centuries. Friom the three great Korean dynasties which kept peace starting in the 7th century to the influence of neighboring nations in modern times, readers receive a fine overview. For an excellent reference on early American history, Patricia L. Dooley's THE EARLY REPUBLIC (0313320845, $65.00) fits the bill for discriminating collections seeking primary documents on early American events. Documents are presented from 17909 to 1820, and were key to debates on issues in the media of the time: such documents include multiple citations for newspapers of the day, illustrating both sides of a given debate of the times, from the nation's first regime change when the Federalists lost the White House to the Republicans, to the wars against the Native Americans. Three treatises on early history are picks for high school to college collections which have courses in these subject areas. Gregory S. Aldrete's DAILY LIFE IN THE ROMAN CITY (031333174X, $49.95) covers life in Rome, Pompeii and Ostia, covering not just history but political and governmental structures, local culture, dangers and pleasures, and the arts. Students receive plenty of references and supporting documentation. Carol G. Thomas and Craig Conant's THE TROJAN WAR (031332526X, $45.00) surveys a critical event in history and serves as a foundation introduction to the times. Chapters use primary documents and studies to survey the late Bronze Age and thestate of Troy before, during and after the Trojan War. An excellent reference, as is James Allan Evans' THE EMPEROR JUSTINIAN AND THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE (0313326820, $45.00), another addition to Greenwood's 'Guides to Historic Events of the Ancient World'; this providing an introduction to Justinian's reign and time. Biography blends with history using annotated primary documents to provide a review of the Late Antiquity and its influences.

557 Broadway, New York NY 10012

Nic Bishop's colorful chameleon photos lend in Joy Cowley's captivating CHAMELEON, CHAMELEON (0439666538 $16.95), a fine picturebook survey of a cautious chameleon who searches for a new home. The two chameleons photographed for the book are panther chameleons from Madagascar: the 'plot' may read like fiction but the very simple coverage is all factual - and appealing with its colorful close-ups. Saxton Freymann and oost Elffers' FOOD FOR THOUGHT (0439110181, $14.95) uses garden veggies to emphasize five major concepts kids need to learn: shapes, colors, numbers, letters and opposites. Fun vegetable and fruit art accompany very simple one-page concept coverages, lending to an intriguing learning experience. Montgomery Alabama, Birmingham: these served as early fronts testing newly established civil rights laws, and Diane McWhorter has written A DREAM OF FREEDOM (0439576784 $19.95), which focuses on the movements of these battlegrounds, using the movements themselves - SNCC, SCLC - as a foundation for a logical analysis of civil rights issues, events, and historic rallies. Add vintage black and white photos of people and places and you have an unforgettable documentary for grades 4-7. Also unforgettable is Walter Dean Myers' ANTARCTICA: JOURNEYS TO THE SOUTH POLE (0439220017, $18.95), charting the journeys of early explorers who risked their lives to cross the Antarctic Circle. Primary source material - letters and journals - details the words and experiences of the explorers themselves.

Guru: My Days with Del Close
Jeff Griggs
Ivan R. Dee
1332 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60622
1566636140 $24.95 1-800-462-6420

If the name Del Close sounds familiar, it should be: he was a legend of improvisational theater, discovered many comedy giants from Bill Murray to Mike Myers, and he built a reputation as one of the zaniest theater gurus ever: author Jeff Griggs was his student in Chicago when he was asked to help his mentor on weekly errands. GURU tells of the friendship that evolved, examining Close's genius and eccentricity in a biography which ranges form his Kansas childhood to his notorious adult years. A whimsical, fond and controversial coverage and image evolves.

Ivan R. Dee
1332 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60622
$8.95 Each

Numerous easy to read titles by Paul Strathern have provided students of philosophy with essential study guides to the works and ideas of different philosophers: now students have a set of biographical studies of the world's finest writers to choose from which adopt the same approach in reviewing major works and culling major writer ideas into easily-digested chapter overviews. Three new additions to this "In 90 Minutes" series are BECKETT (1566635861), NABAKOV (156663590X) and D.H. LAWRENCE (1566636345): each title provides an entertaining, lively survey of each writer's ideas and work, synthesizing the extent of each writer's major works into a discussion which is very simple to absorb. A 'must' for high school students to adults seeking an excellent, easy introduction to each major figure.

Amacom Books
1601 Broadway, New York NY 10019

Two new guides are recommended picks for workers: each provides food for thought on how to handle workplace issues. Mette Norgaard's THE UGLY DUCKLING GOES TO WORK: WISDOM FOR THE WORKPLACE FROM THE CLASSIC TALES OF HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN (0814408710, $17.95) uses the fun and colorful lessons gleaned from folk story teller Hans Christian Andersen to provide links between the lessons of his folk stories and the modern workplace. Chapters are arranged by popular stories such as Ugly Duckling and Emperor's New Clothes, and use each story lesson as a foundation for understanding common workplace conflicts and issues. More serious but no less pointed is Salvatore R. Maddi and Deborah M. Khoshaba's RESILIENCE AT WORK (0814472605, $22.00), demonstrating how the successful workforce person handles a turbulent business world with apparent ease. The key is using resilience and flexibility to combat the effects of chaos, stress and workplace challenges: case studies, examples and self-assessment tools encourage readers to learn and apply the basic lessons of resilience to the workplace.

Diane C. Donovan
West Coast Editor

Harold's Bookshelf

The Johns Hopkins Complete Home Guide to Symptoms & Remedies
Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc.
151 West 19th Street, New York, NY 10011
ISBN: 157912402X $19.95 725 pp. plus index

This book has a rather unique layout that actually makes it easier to use than most similar books. The first part of the book focuses on symptoms. You look up your primary symptom, and then look to see if there are associated symptoms that match yours. If you have a match of symptoms then you read the different possible diagnosis for those symptoms and the distinguishing features of each diagnosis. The best way to illustrate how easy it is to use an example. Suppose you see some blood in your urine. You look up "Blood in the urine" and find that there are two subdivisions - with urinary difficulty or incontinence, without urinary difficulty or incontinence. If there is no urinary difficulty or incontinence then there are five possible diagnoses provided. Each of these five provides distinguishing features so you can easily figure out if you match one of them.

The second part of the book details the disorders provided in the symptom diagnosis portion. So, if you determined that you probably have an esophageal stricture you can look that disorder up and find out what it is, what causes it, prevention strategies, diagnostic techniques, how to treat it, and most importantly, when to call a doctor. With clear writing and lavish illustrations it provides a clear understanding of the problem. The John Hopkins Complete Home Guide to Symptoms & Remedies is a very highly recommended book to have handy in every home.

The Big Book of IQ Tests
Norman Sullivan, Philip J. Carter
Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc.
151 West 19th Street, New York, NY 10011
ISBN: 1579120229 $9.95

This fun book is divided into four sections: Elementary Level, Challenging Level, Master Level, and Comprehensive Supertests. As you might guess from those section titles some of the tests are much easier than others and within the tests some types of questions are much easier than others. Each test series contains a wide cross-section of different types of puzzles so you are tested thoroughly. For example, there are diagrammatic puzzles, probability questions, crosswords, cryptograms, anagrams and other questions that really don't fit neatly into any of these categories. Self-scoring answer sheets complete the book and let you know approximately where you fall. I found that it was not uncommon to vary by as much as ten points around a median. Fun to do and interesting, The Big Book of IQ Tests is recommended to anyone who enjoys solving puzzles.

Country Wisdom and Know-How
Janet Rubel
Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers
151 West 19th Street, New York, NY 10011
ISBN: 1579123686 $19.95 476 pp. plus index

If you could gather up the wisdom of the many generations of farmers, ranchers, outdoorsmen, homesteaders, and mountain-men and put it into a book you would end up with a book like this. While this is not as thorough as the multi-volume sets like the older Foxfire series, it is one of the most complete single-volume works available. The text is small in order to cram all the information into this oversized almost 500 page book but it is still readable and very interesting. The book is divided into the six major sections of animals, cooking, crafts, gardening, health and well-being, and home. Each of these major divisions is subdivided into multiple more detailed sections. For example, the animals section includes information on attracting desirable animals such as humming birds, building bird shelters, feeding birds while preventing squirrels from robbing the feeder, getting rid of problem animals, taking care of your pets, herbal treatments for dog problems, rabbit husbandry, horsemanship, raising chickens and ducks, beekeeping, and butchering. Each section is similarly detailed with the gardening section being particularly large. Country Wisdom and Know-How is an indispensable reference volume for anyone interested in country living and is highly recommended.

Firefox Hacks
Nigel McFarlane
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596009283 $24.95 363 pp. plus index

When I started reading this book I was somewhat disappointed. The first "hacks" were of such a mundane nature that not knowing them would make me wonder if you were even an Internet surfer at all. Everyone who surfs the net should already know this stuff. By the time he gets to the ninth hack it starts to get really interesting and by the time I ended the book I had completely changed my opinion. The book does develop into what I would expect of a book with this title and from this publisher. By the time I had read them all and tested several of the hacks this book had become one of my favorite resources on Firefox (my personal browser of choice). McFarlane includes a great deal of valuable information on security, efficiency, web surfing, RSS feeds, and even web development and hacking the interface. Firefox Hacks is highly recommended to anyone wishing to use the browser to its fullest extent.

Corporate Software Project Management
Guy W. Lecky-Thompson
Charles River Media, Inc.
10 Downer Avenue, Hingham, MA 02043
ISBN: 1584503858 $44.95 341 pp. plus appendix and index

Basically this is one of many books on software project management. However, it does have a few features that make it a standout in this category. One of the things that differentiate this book is the included software tools like Open Work Bench and version control software. While many project management books cover just management of the project from an internal perspective, this one includes management of the external factors with the client. For example they discuss the importance of setting up a liaison center as a primary contact point for the client and dealing with client dissatisfaction. It is obvious that the author has had some experience with project management from gathering client expectations through delivering the final product.

Some of the areas discussed include setting standards and guidelines, project specifications, development and testing, and requirements definition. He details some of the things that need to be captured up front for a successful project such as system context, operating environment, end-user services, supporting services, documentation, and maintenance.

I've seen a lot of software projects go awry for various reasons and this book details the steps to be taken to prevent those problems right from the start. Because it takes a complete view and deals not only with the coding and the internal perspective of project management but also with client relations and setting up a framework within which to work with the client, Corporate Software Project Management is highly recommended and superior to most other project management books.

Pro Apache, Third Edition
Peter Wainwright
2560 Ninth Street, Suite 219, Berkeley, CA 94710
ISBN: 1590593006 $49.99 839 pp. plus index

In this voluminous title author Peter Wainwright covers the Apache web server in detail. Chapters include Installing Apache and basic configuration, building Apache the way you want it, configuring Apache the way you want it, deciding what the client needs, delivering dynamic content, hosting more than one web site, improving Apache's performance, monitoring Apache, Securing Apache, Improving Web Server Security, and Extending Apache. It has some excellent sections on advanced configuration, handling robots, dealing with errors and handling them correctly, name-based and IP-based virtual servers, and improving the performance of your server. The section on securing Apache covers authentication (including digest and LDAP) and using SSL (including some advanced configuration techniques).

There are better books that deal with some of the specific areas of this text (for example, Hardening Apache is much more thorough on the subject of securing your server) but you won't find a more comprehensive text in a single volume than this one. Pro Apache, Third Edition is highly recommended and my first choice for anyone looking for a single book to learn how to setup and configure an Apache server or serve as their primary reference.

Beginning SUSE Linux
Keir Thomas
2560 Ninth Street, Suite 219, Berkeley, CA 94710
ISBN: 1590594584 $39.99 446 pp. plus appendixes and index

I've spent years working with Linux and think it is one of the best operating systems going but I have spent very little time with the SUSE distribution. This book not only describes the basics of SUSE Linux but also includes a DVD with a complete copy of version 9.1 ready to install. Why should you consider looking at SUSE? If you work in the networking technical support arena then sooner or later you will have to deal with a SUSE system. Since Novell and IBM worked together to purchase the rights to SUSE Linux you can be sure it will appear in many networking environments.

The first part of the book provides the reader with the history of Linux, its benefits, and a description of some of the different distributions of Linux. This is common to all introductory Linux books and can be skipped if you are already knowledgeable about Linux in general.

The second section covers installing Linux and walks the reader through the installation process for the version on the DVD. It is absolutely critical that this section be detailed and thorough. The authors do an excellent job by dividing it up into four sections - pre-installation steps, installing SUSE, solving installation problems, and GUI configuration with SaX2

Part three includes instruction on the very basics of what you need to know in order to work effectively in Linux. The subjects in this section include booting Linux for the first time and logging in, virtual desktops, setting up e-mail and instant messaging, getting your hardware up and running, securing your system with the basic security tools and setting up the Linux firewall, using Linux replacements of Windows programs, managing your files, including accessing Windows files, floppies, CDs and DVDs, and dealing with common problems.

If you want to have a deeper understanding of Linux (beyond the basic user level), part four introduces the Linux shell (the BASH shell in particular) and how it can be used to work with the system from the command line. The authors also discuss the Linux virtual file system and how it works. They conclude with a discussion of how to control processes and jobs. This is one of the really great things about Linux - the ability to change priorities for specific jobs.

Part five covers multimedia and working with MP3s, CDs, viewing movies, and editing images. Of course it also covers playing and ripping MP3 Music, recording audio and burning CDs. It includes the very basics of using GIMP, the powerful image editing software included with Linux.

Part six covers working with Open Office. Open Office is Linux software that does essentially the equivalent tasks as Microsoft Office (it even reads and writes Microsoft Office files). Of, if you prefer, they also cover how to install Microsoft Office in Linux so that it works correctly. The various chapters in this section each take on one aspect of office including using Writer, Calc, Impress (presentation software), and ReKall (database).

Part seven is various operating system administration tasks including installing new software, managing users, optimizing the system, backing up data, scheduling, and remote access. The authors do an excellent job in this area for a beginner book. If you are an administrator of a SUSE system you will want a much more detailed book.

This is a good book that is fun to work with, very well written, and covers the subjects in appropriate detail for a beginner volume. There are better and more thorough books on some of the programs covered in this book (for example, there are complete books dedicated just to OpenOffice) but this book is not intended to be a complete reference on all the Linux programs. Beginning SUSE Linux is a beginning book to get the reader familiar with the operating system and common programs and at this task it does an excellent job. Beginning SUSE Linux is highly recommended and comes with a great operating system and default software.

Hardening Linux
James Turnbull
2560 Ninth Street, Suite 219, Berkeley, CA 94710
ISBN: 1590594444 $44.99 510 pp. plus appendixes and index

The book starts with the basics of hardening a Linux system to prevent purposeful attack as well as the inadvertently harm some users may cause. This basic section includes booting securely, securing virtual consoles, passwords, groups, users, authentication modules, package management, hardening your kernel, and removing development tools that are not needed.

Of course no book on hardening a system would be complete without discussing how to build an effective firewall. The section on firewalling is excellent and strikes a solid balance between a technical presentation and a user level presentation.

Other important areas include securing connections, secure remote administration, public-key encryption, securing files and file systems, mounting drives securely, securing removable drives, encrypting the file system, and file integrity using tripwire.

Of course setting all of that security up helps a lot but you still need to test the system to see that it works the way you want it to. The author examines several security testing tools to scan your system for root kits and weak passwords as well as using packet sniffers, the Snort intrusion detection system, and other tools.

The book assumes some very basic familiarity with Linux including a file editor, the grep utility, file permissions and ownership, user administration, package management, the purpose and layout of init and init scripts, the basics of networking (TCP/IP, subnetting, etc.), and mounting and unmounting a partition. Hardening Linux is a highly recommended book and provides a better overall view of Linux security than most similar choices.

Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld's 2005 Breakthrough Health
Isadore Rosenfeld, M.D.
Rodale Press
33 East Minor St., Emmaus, PA 18098-0099
ISBN: 1594861404 $14.99 261 pp. plus index

Once again Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld, M.D. brings the reader up to date with the most recent advances in health. He provides current research including not only traditional methods of treating medical problems but also all the current research using less conventional techniques. Areas covered include allergies and asthma, alzheimer's, arthritis, cancer, depression, diabetes, ear infections, heartburn, heart disease, high blood pressure, overactive bladder, tendonitis, uterine fibroids, and many others. For each item he gives a brief synopsis of it, follows with a section titled "Here's What's New", and concludes with a section called "The Bottom Line". A great reference for catching up with current research from a highly respected source, Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld's 2005 Breakthrough Health: Up-to-the-Minute Medical News You Need to Know is highly recommended.

Ocean Whisper
Dennis Rockhill
Raven Tree Press, LLC
200 S. Washington St., Suite 306, Green Bay, WI 54301
ISBN: 0974199249 $16.95 32 pp. Ages: 4 - 8

This is a children's picture book that encourages creative thinking. The pictures follow a logical sequence so a child can make up their own story by filling in the details. At the beginning of the book is a poem that can be used for guidance on how the author meant the story to be viewed. The poem is printed in both English and Spanish for those who are learning one or the other of the languages. Ocean Whisper is a fun book for parent and child to enjoy together and recommended for creative thinking.

Tito, the Firefighter
Tim Hoppey
Raven Tree Press, LLC
200 S. Washington St., Suite 306, Green Bay, WI 54301
ISBN: 0972497331 $16.95 32 pp. Ages: 4 - 8

Written in English but introducing 17 Spanish words, Tito, the Firefighter is the story of a young boy who lives in East Harlem where most of the residents speak Spanish as their first language. Tito wants to be a firefighter but he is too young. Finally he finds an opportunity to help the firemen when a person needs help but cannot speak English. An inspiring book for young children and a good way to learn Spanish vocabulary, Tito, the Firefighter is a recommended read.

Alcoholism Myths and Realities
Doug Thorburn
Galt Publishing
PO Box 7777, Northridge, CA 91327-7777
ISBN: 0967578825 $14.95 148 pp. plus appendix, endnotes, and index

In this book Doug Thorburn takes on 118 common and often pervasive myths about alcoholism and alcoholics. Each myth is defined and explained and then followed by an explanation of why it is inaccurate. One of the benefits of the various books by Doug Thorburn is his discussion of ways to diagnose alcoholism much earlier than current, commonly accepted methods. Instead of waiting until the problem of the alcoholic has created financial, legal, or medical troubles he proposes ways to diagnose the disease much earlier. Some of these myths are concepts that continue to conceal the early stage alcoholic and so encourage their progression into latter stage diagnosable alcoholics. Destroying these myths is part of the process of educating others so they can intervene before the person becomes the more advanced alcoholic we are all familiar with. Alcoholism Myths and Realities is recommended for anyone interested in the subject of alcoholism.

The Story
Zondervan Publishing
5300 Patterson SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49530
ISBN: 0310923719 $24.99 444 pp.

This is Today's New International Version of the Bible organized not by book and verse but as one seamless story from beginning to end. One of the difficulties for many people who study the Bible is the fact that it is not organized chronologically but the historical books often cover the same period (i.e. 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles) or are organized by the length of the book (major prophets vs. minor prophets) or other ways. This is a unique way of presenting the complete Bible story that brings pattern and structure to all the disconnected stories we tend to learn in church.

Others have taken the Bible and organized it into chronological order before but generally they have produced a paraphrased story and not a translation. What makes this book unique is that they have retained the translation so it is still a good study Bible. I recommend The Story as the best chronological Bible available today because it stays as true as possible to being a translation that has just had the chapters and verses reorganized to make it a single story.

I Love You This Much
Lynn Hodges, Sue Buchanan
Zondervan Publishing
Zonderkidz imprint
5300 Patterson SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49530
ISBN: 0310232686 $14.99 36 pp. Ages: 8 and under

Based on a lullaby that expresses the daily love between a parent and child, this book also comes with a CD so a child can learn the song or follow along with the book. With a calming melody it is a great way to start or end a day. With illustrations of a bear parent and cub the book illustrates the various things a parent and child do as expressions of that special bond. The book ends with the bears praying and trusting each other "to God's loving care". I Love You This Much is a great feel-good book to share with your young child, a beautiful and soothing lullaby, and a recommended purchase.

Loving Your Parents When They Can No Longer Love You
Terry D. Hargrave
Zondervan Publishing
5300 Patterson SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49530
ISBN: 0310255635 $14.99 251 pp.

Taking on a tough and timely issue for millions of Americans, Terry D. Hargrave's book is much more than the title would suggest. It is about more than dealing with aging parents with Alzheimers or another mental problems where they can no longer express affection for you the way they once did. It also examines the problems of how the need to care for aging parents may disrupt your life and plans. How do you deal with dependent parents? How do you deal with forgetfulness, not taking medicine, doing things they should no longer be doing, etc. The book and the advice it contains is both practical, such as finishing up family business, and enlightening.

The author deals with this problem in part by changing perspective and viewing the process of caring for aging parents as a spiritual journey that you undertake. He also looks from the perspective of the parent - trying to deal with declining health, a lack of independence, and other normal changes that come with age.

One particularly valuable aspect of the book is that it provides a clear vision of areas that need to be discussed and dealt with as parents age. These areas include legal and financial decisions, how much care is needed, when it needs to be done, by whom it should be done, various living options, depression, dementia, alzheimer's disease, dealing with a parent who has been unkind, and accepting and planning for death. Loving Your Parents When They Can No Longer Love You is highly recommended for anyone dealing with aging parents and the life changes that come about as a result.

Breakout Churches: Discover How to Make the Leap
Thom S. Rainer
Zondervan Publishing
5300 Patterson SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49530
ISBN: 031025745X $22.99 203 pp. plus multiple appendixes, notes, and index

This is a thorough examination of what causes some churches to suddenly have a tremendous growth surge while others in the same area falter. The author limited the analysis to churches where there was no change in leadership so the sudden growth could not be related to that change. The analysis of the growth pattern is fairly detailed given the complexity of the situation under study. It includes examining the situation before the sudden growth, the structure of the church leadership, doctrinal positions (conservative vs. liberal), and many other pertinent factors. This is a well-researched book presented in a way that is easy to understand and follow. Thom Rainer does an excellent job of wading through the various potential factors and getting down to the ones that actually affect the results. Some of these pertinent factors were ones I expected, others were surprising and conflict with much of the current ideas of church expansion. Breakout Churches: Discover How to Make the Leap is recommended to all churches who want to understand the common factors of church growth and the sometimes confusing times that tend to occur just before the leap.

10 Great Dates for Empty Nesters
David Arp, Claudia Arp
Zondervan Publishing
5300 Patterson SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49530
ISBN: 0310256569 $12.99 224 pp.

This book is much more than just ten unrelated date suggestions for Empty Nesters. The dates form a specific progression of activities designed to help you rekindle your relationship with each other. It can be hard for any couple to adjust their lifestyle after years of focusing on their children and suddenly that focus in their life is gone. The dates go from Celebrating the Empty Nest to Becoming a Couple Again, Rediscovering "Intimate Talk", Clearing the Air, Rocking the Roles, Discovering the Second Spring of Love, Loving Your Family Tree, Growing Together Spiritually, Investing In Your Future, and Feathering Your Empty Nest with Fun. The second part of the book is a dating guide that includes the plan for each date, dating ground rules, suggested things to discuss, directions to take on the date, etc. This is really an excellent guide and a bit of organized self-help therapy organized into a dating format. Creative, fun, and an opportunity to revitalize your marriage after the children are gone, 10 Great Dates for Empty Nesters is highly recommended.

NIV Audio Bible: Dramatized [MP3 AUDIO]
Zondervan Publishing
5300 Patterson SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49530
ISBN: 031092264X $49.99, 6 audio CDs

This is the complete New International Version of the Bible in a compressed MP3 format. This format has both advantages and disadvantages. The greatest advantage is that you get the entire Bible on just six CDs. It even comes with a nice fabric CD holder to keep them from getting scratched. The entire Bible can be placed in a common 6 CD changer and listened to at your convenience. The down side of the MP3 format is a problem with the format itself. If you are traveling short distances or only listening for a short while then each time you start to listen it begins at the start of that MP3 track. As a result I found myself often having to listen to the same verses over and over because I didn't listen to it long enough to go to the next track. The Zondervan company has done a good job of ameliorating this problem to some extent by putting each chapter on its own track, but some chapters are long and so it is still a problem at times. With a true audio CD my player will pick up in the middle of a song or wherever I left off, not so with the MP3 format.

The actual dramatized reading of the Bible is excellently done and I am very impressed with it. My experience with similar products from other publishers has been that the dramatization is highly overacted and includes background music that more suited to a Cecil B. DeMille movie than an audio Bible. Zondervan strikes a perfect balance between the dramatization and the reading such that it is a joy to listen to and effectively pulls the listener into the story.

This is the perfect choice for those who plan to listen to it for at least half an hour or more at a time. If you plan to listen for shorter periods of time you may be better off choosing the much larger 64 CD audio product. The perfect combination of size and dramatization makes the NIV Audio Bible: Dramatized a highly recommended choice.

The Missing Canary
Ann Doro
Tree of Life Publishing
P.O. Box 421004, Summerland Key, FL 33042
ISBN: 0974505226 $12.95 92 pp. Ages: 7 - 14

A well-written juvenile mystery story, The Missing Canary leads the reader on a fun-filled journey. After solving a minor mystery two youngsters start their own detective agency. But the next case is not so easy to solve. What could the disappearance of a horse and a canary have in common? What are the strangers in town up to? Only when you reach the end will you find out how everything relates to each other. A fun adventure/mystery for the juvenile market, The Missing Canary is a highly recommended purchase.

Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends
David Wilton
Oxford University Press, Inc.
198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
ISBN: 0195172841 $21.95 200 pp. plus notes and index

We have all heard stories of where different words and phrases originated. Some are quite fascinating and most are at least somewhat logical. The problem is that many of these legends are simply wrong. With a long list of word myths that include "dirt poor", "devil to pay", "under the weather", "real McCoy", "squaw", and "kangaroo" it is a fascinating read that not only debunks the traditional myths but also, where possible, supplies the correct origin of the word or phrase. Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends is hard to put down once you get started and thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end - highly recommended.

The University of Maryland at College Park, A History
George H. Callcott
Noble House
8019 Belair Road, Suite 10, Baltimore, MD 21236
ISBN: 1561678899 $24.95 165 pp. plus index

Although I have no particular knowledge or interest in the University of Maryland at College Park, this history is so well written that I still found it an interesting read that was hard to put down until I had finished it. The author goes through the history of the college from its founding as the Maryland Agricultural College through the Civil War, the Great Depression, and the riots of the 1970's to today. An intimate portrait of the college as well as a trip through the history of this part of Maryland it contains many period photographs that add to the charm of the book. "The University of Maryland at College Park, a History, is highly recommended to anyone interested either in the college or the history of Maryland in general.

Cyber Spying
Ted Fair, Michael Nordfelt, Sandra Ring
Syngress Publishing, Inc.
800 Hingham Street, Rockland, MA 02370
ISBN: 1931836418 $39.95 426 pp. plus index

This is not a book about security and defending yourself from spying but the basics of why one might consider spying on other members of their family. Whether because they suspect infidelity, criminal activity or some other concern there are a lot of reasons why people might want to find out what others are doing on their computer. A very important point made in the beginning of the book is the question of the ethics of spying including the effect it has on the trust of a relationship. The authors also point out that sometimes spying is much less of an ethical consideration. Sometimes it might be part of protecting your children from online predators or other real dangers.

The book covers the basics of spying including creating a plan, getting the right software or hardware to implement the plan and actual implementation. The authors do a good job of pointing out how we leave tracks behind and how to get rid of those tracks as well as how to exploit them.

Written for the novice user it starts at the very beginning with things like how to open the command prompt and running explorer. From there it goes on to look at more basic as well as intermediate level techniques. The authors even include information on some rather advanced software such as ethereal (one of my personal favorites). It does give you a solid understanding of what the different software is capable of doing but really doesn't provide a thorough treatment of any of them. In the case of Ethereal and Snort both have complete books written about how to use them effectively so obviously part of a chapter barely scratches the surface of what can be done.

For the most part it teaches the easier ways of finding out information without using difficult advanced tools. It includes how to access areas where passwords, usernames, etc. are stored as well as directories and files that do not show up in explorer unless you know how to hand-enter the path to them.

Whether you are spying on someone's web browsing, e-mail, internet chat, or instant messaging the basics are all here. They even include information on how to remove evidence of your activities and ways to tell if you are being watched.

These techniques are mainly for local network spying and not for use over the Internet. Although still subject to many ethical and other considerations, for the purpose of finding out what is going on within your local network Cyber Spying is highly recommended.

Looking Forward: An Optimist's Guide to Retirement
Ellen Freudenheim
Stewart, Tabori & Chang
115 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011
ISBN: 1584793422 $15.95 356 pp. plus index

Taking a positive view on retirement as an opportunity to pursue options in your life that were not available while working full time, author Ellen Freudenheim provides a fresh look at the wide open world of a positive retirement. She suggests that you start by getting to know yourself again in a retirement perspective. From there you can branch out to altruistic opportunities, traveling, spiritual growth, hobbies, and passions. She ends the book with a section on dealing with practical matters of retirement such as paying for it and decluttering your life. Viewing retirement not as an end of your working years but the birth of another stage of your life including new opportunities makes Looking Forward a recommended read.

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too!
Nancy Fayrweather Bailey
Elderberry Press, LLC
1393 Old Homestead Drive, Second Floor, Oakland, OR 97462
ISBN: 1932762329 $19.95 190 pp.

If you are on a low-carbohydrate diet you find out quickly just how many recipes have some sort of bread in them. To resolve this problem Nancy Fayrweather Bailey has come up with a recipe for a low-carbohydrate substitute for flour that can be used in most recipes for a surprisingly good result. The flour substitute is called MixQuick and contains soy flour and oat flour to increase the protein count while greatly reducing the carbohydrate count. Recipes in the book include pancakes, souffles, muffins, quiche, lasagna, pizza, and burritos.

The MixQuick is the base for all the recipes and while I only tried making one unit of the MixQuick and two recipes the results were surprisingly good. These are low-carbohydrate recipes that I could live with. Have Your Cake and Eat It Too is recommended to most readers and highly recommended to anyone on a low-carbohydrate diet.

Taijiquan: The Art of Nurturing, the Science of Power
Yang Yang
Zhenwu Publications
PO Box 11386, Champaign, IL 61826
ISBN: 0974099007 $29.95 200 pp. plus references and index

More than just a collection of the movements for various forms of Taijiquan, this book includes the theories and principles of Taiji from both Eastern and Western perspectives. The author examines the mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of the art to bring the reader a deeper appreciation of what it is and is not. It even includes one of the best sections I have ever seen on what to look for in a good teacher. With the popularity of Taiji there has been a flood of teachers, some of whom know little about the art other then one of the standard forms.

Of course it includes the expected meditation forms and techniques that are in all Taijiquan books. If you have ever wondered why you should practice Taiji this book contains an excellent section on the best of what Taiji has to offer the practitioner. The book concludes with an appendix that covers the history of the popular Chen Style. Taijiquan: The Art of Nurturing, the Science of Power is a highly recommended book to anyone interested in Taiji.

We Interrupt This Broadcast
Joe Garner
PO Box 4410, Naperville, IL 60567-4410
ISBN: 1570719748 $49.95 175 pp.

Perhaps one of the most innovative ways to study and share history, We Interrupt This Broadcast contains not only information on 43 of the most important events of the 20th century but also actual audio tracks from the original radio broadcasts. The stories told and broadcasts heard range from the Hindenburg explosion to the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan's Surrender, Lee Harvey Oswald's Assassination, Martin Luther King Jr.'s Assassination, Apollo 13, the Kent State Massacre, Nixon's resignation, the shooting of President Reagan, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the O. J. Simpson saga, Princess Diana's death, the 2000 election, and finally the September 11th attacks, as well as 29 other historically important events. Each event is described in detail including important facts leading up to the event and the effect it had on the U.S. We Interrupt This Broadcast is very highly recommended and should be in the library of everyone who loves or teaches history.

The Dog from Arf! Arf! To Zzzzzz
The Dog Artist Collection
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019-4703
ISBN: 0060598573 $14.99 40 pp. Ages: 4 - 8

If you are a fan of "The Dog" you will find twenty-six pictures here, one for each letter of the alphabet. Each page contains a word for that letter of the alphabet with an appropriate "The Dog" picture. For example, Beg shows a dog sitting up and begging and Fetch shows a dog with a stick in its mouth. If you are a fan of "The Dog" and your child is just learning to read you will get a lot of fun together out of this book. Be sure not to miss the picture at the very beginning before the alphabet begins, it is perhaps the best illustration of "puppy dog eyes" you'll ever see. The Dog from Arf! Arf! To Zzzzzz is recommended.

The Making of a Bestseller
Brian Hill, Dee Power
Dearborn Trade Publishing
30 South Wacker Drive, Suite 2500, Chicago, IL 60606-7481
ISBN: 0793193087 $19.95 241 pp. plus index

This is a collection of information from interviews with authors, editors, agents and booksellers who were involved in the making of a bestseller. It is organized into three distinct sections - The Bestseller, Publishing, and The Author. Part one includes an examination of what makes a book become a bestseller, the effect of reviews, and how the constant change readers' taste affects the sale of a book. Part two examines editors and publishers, what publishers look for in a book they select for publication, why some books are declined, using literary agents, establishing brand name awareness, and book promotion. Part three examines how to build a career as an author from the initial idea to writing the book and the ins and outs of life as a bestselling author. There are no theories in this book; it is all advice and experiences from established publishers and bestselling authors. The Making of a Bestseller is recommended to anyone who wants to understand what it takes to become a bestselling author.

A Child's ABCs of Praise
Patti Wiens
Creative Marketing Concepts, Inc.
2775 Jade Street, Mora, MN 55051
ISBN: 0976140802 $14.99 60 pp.

Working through the alphabet one letter at a time each letter is used to point out one aspect of the nature of God and includes a related Bible verse. For example the letter D is "I praise you because you Deliver". It then provides and opportunity for discussion by asking the question "Have you ever been rescued, or needed someone's help?". The page ends with Matthew 6:13 which says "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." This is a wonderfully done book that opens the opportunity for discussion between parent and child. As a way to bond deeper with your child while teaching them the nature of God this is one of the best books I have seen. A Child's ABCs of Praise is highly recommended.

Harold McFarland
Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

Graveyard Shift
Kelly Lange
ISBN: 0892967579 $24.95

Los Angeles TV news anchorwoman Maxi Poole is outraged when her boss managing editor Pete Capra assigns her to work the graveyard shift, which means one of two things: you're a rookie or your career is in jeopardy. She wants to tell Pete to stick his assignment up his butt, but also knows that will end any hope of returning to either the morning or evening shift. Adding to Maxi's concern is that Pete hires stringer Tom McCartney to keep an eye on her while the newcomer investigates serial killings tied to the derelict at MacArthur's Park. Meanwhile someone breaks into the home of Maxi's neighbor, city councilman Conrad Lightner killing his wife and kidnapping his housekeeper's child. Maxi and Tom investigate the Lightner scenario hoping to rescue an apparent innocent child and uncovering a murderer's identity, exposing a serial killer, and most important learn why Pete put her on the overnight shift as she romantically sizzles with her new partner. The third Poole tale, GRAVEYARD SHIFT, is a wacky wild investigative thriller that grips the audience from the moment that Maxi is exiled to the ratings cometary shift. The story line is a breezy fun romp staring magnificent Maxi, a terrific protagonist who this time her romantic interest is alive and kicking that is if they survive the cases (unlike her deceased manipulative spouse actor Jack N in THE REPORTER). Fluffy, Unconditionally! Outrageous, of course! A fun frolic, absolutely!

Charlotte Boyett-Compo
Amber Quill
ISBN: 1592799213 $18.00

Conar McGregor barely survived the horrific Labyrinth and his subsequent freedom as the Dark Lord seeking vengeance against his long time enemy the evil sorcerer Kaileel Tohre. He remained alive in the Labyrinth and afterward by dreaming of his beloved wife Liza. However, while he was thought dead, Liza, who loved Conar with her soul, married his best friend Legion A'Lex. Her second spouse loved her even before she wed Conar, but hid his feelings until he concluded that his friend was dead. However, Conar returns from the dead and wants Liza back. Legion has tasted heaven and feels his wife reciprocates so he refuses to cede the field to Conar. Liza must choose between her first husband who she loves with all her soul and her second spouse who she loves with all her heart. Kaileel plans to use the triangle to kill Conar. The sixth tale in the Windlegend saga, WINDDREAMER, is a terrific dark romantic fantasy that centers on a triangle that will tear at the hearts of the audience as each of the trio deserves better than fate's latest torment. Conar is a battered tortured soul whose solace is Liza and knows Legion has been a loyal friend; Liza loves both her men who she feels deserve the best, which she begins to believe is not her as she struggles to choose knowing one will be shattered; Legion is a good person who loves Liza and cherishes his fond friendship he once had with Conar. Throw in the evil Machiavellian sorcerer into the already entangled relationships lead to a great fantasy although reading the previous tales especially Book V, WINDREAPER, enhances the experience.

Rick Buda
Twilight Times
ISBN: 1931201080 $15.50 175 pp.

Ace Underground Specialists Earl Suggs prides himself with always being first at the job site, but this time when he tosses his match into the ditch a fire ball erupts and engulfs him. Timber Park Police Department Officer Malcolm "Mac" MacKurghdy arrives at the scene as the first responder to investigate. He realizes that the case is not quite a negligent accident as some things involving the "gas" fails to fit the circumstances. Still his superior Captain Dave Strickland informs him the case is resolved as a stupid tragic incident. Veterinarian Dr. Elaine Johnson alarmingly wonders about a geometric increase in the number of animals tortured, mutilated and murdered. She and Mac make inquiries that lead to wealthy Clinton Delevan, who has under construction over one hundred homes that will sell for $500,000 each, but only town leaders and Delevan know that underneath the exclusive site is a toxic swamp. Ironically unbeknownst to these avarice souls the toxin in the swamp has dramatically magnified the Ojibwa Indians' Windigo deep hatred of humanity, as the spirit wolf speaks for the swamp desecrated by mankind. The cast turns this intriguing supernatural police procedural into a must read for fans of both genres. The story line mixes everyday rural living with greedy investors and an otherworldly essence into an action-packed tale. Interestingly Mac is a terific character struggling with his who-done-it inquiries that is difficult enough since the evidence seems illogical, but also with his superior yanking him off his investigation for reasons that just fail to make sense to him. Rick Buda is on the environmental side of the development debate, yet any fan of a supernatural tale will appreciate his cautionary thriller.

The Bright Forever
Lee Martin
Crown (Three River)
ISBN: 1400097916 $23.00

In a summer night in 1972 Tower Hill, Indiana, nine-year-old Katie bikes to the library but fails to return home. Her family owns the "itty-bitty" town's biggest business a glassworks firm and is considered Tower Hill's First Family so when something happens, townsfolk react. Katie's parents and her teenage older brother seem to love Katie, who always appeared contented. Her summer math tutor reticent lonely Henry kissed the preadolescent on the day she vanished and has stolen hair from her bedroom; he feels guilty for his pedophilic desires but his student respected him something he has never known especially during his abusive childhood. Remarried widow Clare knows her charming abusive spouse Raymond has drug induced blackouts and wonders could he have killed the girl. Raymond knows that pathetic Henry has a crush on the little girl and uses it. Though hope remains at first, as days pass, a stunned town believes the First Daughter is dead. The searchers become angry while pondering their own transgressions; increasingly the conversation turns towards avenging vigilante righteousness. Readers will appreciate this tense thriller that brings the underlying tension of the Ox-Bow Incident to the 1970s. The seemingly simple act of riding a bike turns ugly forcing everyone to introspect on their own sins as the changing perspectives enable the audience to understand the actions and reactions over a few days to the missing child; especially intriguing is Katie's parents wondering if they are being "punished". The collective guilt (though overdone) insures that THE BRIGHT FOREVER turns eternally dark for the townsfolk as the loss of innocence means no counterbalance to the eternal gloom of adulthood's reality shattering youthful dreams.

Kingston by Starlight
Christopher John Farley
Crown (Three Rivers)
ISBN: 1400082455 $13.95, 336 pp.

In the eighteenth century in County Cork Ireland, Anne Bonny enjoys her wealthy childhood until her father gambles away their fortune; he flees to America leaving his two women behind buried under a cloud of scandal and a mountain of debt. Annie and "Ma" book passage on a slave ship heading to the Americas. However, Ma dies on the journey and Annie lands in South Carolina but she has no idea where her dad is and has no inclination to find him. Instead the ocean voyage fueled a desire in Annie to sail the seven seas. As a female she knows that would be impossible; however being as tall and broad shouldered as some men, Annie dresses like a man. Thus she begins sailing the Caribbean and drinking at taverns in the Bahamas where she meets pirate Calico Jack Rackam who is shocked to meet a buccaneer who can play chess better than he can. She joins his crew as William "a man of the sea" and his bed as Anne. They make a fortune attacking Spanish vessels and are joined by another pirate Read with a similar secret as that of William. All is well until the trio is caught and forced to stand trial. KINGSTON BY STARLIGHT is an interesting biographical fiction that provides a different spin to the legendary female pirates of the Caribbean. Interestingly the audience obtains the perspective of an aging Bonny looking back at what she considered her prime time. Christopher John Farley provides a powerful, colorful, but tainted (after all it is the cross dressing pirate telling her story) tale of life in the eighteenth century Caribbean.

Snap Hook
John R. Corrigan
University Press of New England
ISBN: 1584653329 $24.95, 251 pp.

Though almost ten years on the PGA Tour, golfer Jack Austin struggles to keep his playing card. Though he has never won a tournament and he understands the significance of an experienced caddie can have on the game, Jack still hires a new caddie Nash Henley with limited experience but who suffers from dyslexia like he does. As he battles to make the cut, he notices a strange individual hanging around the tour. He asks questions and soon learns that Nikoli Silcandrov of the Russian Mafia is scheming to use the PGA Tour to launder money. To insure cooperation, the Nikolai and his thugs kidnap the four month old daughter of PGA Tour Charities Director Brian Taylor, who leads the raising and distributing of $50 million annually. Unable to ignore the double bogie, Jack tries to rescue a youngster and insuring the mob's plan fails while also playing against Phil Mickelson. In his second book tour, Jack shoots a birdie as golf fans and sport mystery buffs will enjoy his efforts to make the cut and to stop the mobsters. The story line is fast-paced on the greens, in the clubhouse, and off the course as Jack searches for the kidnapped child. His caddie enables the audience to see another side of the caring Jack. Though the audience will have to accept the blackmail premise, readers will believe that John R. Corrigan finished in the top ten with SNAP HOOK.

Center Cut
John R. Corrigan
University Press of New England
ISBN: 1584654058 $24.95

Since choking at the end of a tournament further placing his PGA card membership in jeopardy, golfer Jack Austin has played poorly as his confidence has tanked. Adding to his woes that his game is imploding, he fears he soon will have to play the satellite tour after ten years in the majors even without a single win. As he begins to show signs of attaining par and feels ready top go head to head with Tiger or Phil, Jack notices that Lynn Ashley, wife of PGA player friend Grant, is seen in the company of Jack's married agent, Jim Dempsey. Not long afterward, someone kills Grant's caddy in what appears to be a drug deal turned ugly. Just after that Jim and Lynn announce they are leaving their respective families for one another. Nothing seems logical to Jack who is just starting to regain his game and does not need the distraction, but cannot help investigating although that places him in danger of missing the cut on the course and in life. In his third golf mystery, John R. Corrigan aces the tale with a terrific look at the PGA coupled with an intriguing murder mystery. Jack is at his best as he makes mistakes about life, golf, and the who-done-it. His insight into his rivals, their caddies, and lastly their spouses is worth the price of admission. Because the characters are so fully developed especially Jack, fans of a strong sports mystery, not necessarily golf aficionados, will take the eighteen-hole tour and enjoy every hole.

Goat Song
Chantal Pelletier
Bitter Lemon Press
ISBN: 1904738036 $13.95, 176 pp.

In Montmarte, a double murder occurs in the Moulin Rouge. Gloom and doom French Inspector Maurice "More is Less" Laice and his superior Aline LefŠvre, a positive thinking active lesbian who at times lets her other "head" do her thinking, lead the investigation. The crime scene produces nothing. Thus the two cops turn to the victims seeking who might have a motive to kill the duo. Lead dancer Manfred and Lisa the trainee are the victims; the culprit intermingled their corpses in some sort of macabre dance. However, outside of the Moulin Rouge, the victims seem to have little in common as Manfred is a purebred native and Lisa is a Corsican emigrant. The case goes nowhere sending the pessimistic Maurice deeper into depression while Aline tells him to find solace in orgasms. Still the two cops argue about life, but keep digging within the Moulin Rouge community and the growing Corsican immigrants flocking to the city. The key to this strong often amusing and as often gloomy French police procedural is the two cops, as opposite of a pair that readers will ever find. Laice is a fortyish person who at times acts like an ailing octogenarian who no longer can get it up while the promiscuous Aline lives for multiple orgasms with her female partners. At times the depth into the lead couple is so deep and powerful the murder mystery takes a back seat even with the fast-pacing of the plot that like the stars contrast between the upbeat and the downbeat.

Havana Red
Leonardo Padura
Bitter Lemon
ISBN: 1904738095 $13.95, 233 pp.

In 1989 the strangled corpse of a man choked to death by a red ribbon around his throat but also wearing a beautiful expensive red dress is found in the Havana Woods. Lieutenant Mario Conde leads the investigation into the homicide of Alexis Arayan, the son of a highly respected diplomat, making the case politically significant. Mario learns that the victim lived with playwright and director Alberto Marques so he begins his inquiries with the former theater great disgraced and exiled by the government as a non because he is a homosexual. Marques gave Alexis, who fled from his family, refuge allowing the young transvestite to move into his falling apart home alongside his only treasure, books. As the case turns even darker under the tropical summer sun, Marques assists Mario on the investigation while trying not to hinder the law enforcement official due to his sexual preference branding him an outcast. HAVANA RED is a terrific Cuban police procedural that provides a dark view of life on the island. The cast makes the story line as the audience sees first hand how a dedicated cop struggles to solve a murder mystery while the Party looks over his shoulder. Marques is a two edged sword as the government's displeasure with him is a problem, but his access to the underground is an asset. Leonardo Padura has three more Conde novels to come in what has started off as a fantastic first tale.

Killer Summer
Lynda Curnyn
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895224 $12.95, 336 pp.

Zoe, Sage and Nick look forward to sharing the beach house for the entire summer on Fire Island, New York as guests of documentary filmmaker Maggie Landon. However, even before they can use their first drops of suntan lotion, Maggie's naked corpse is found on the beach. Maggie's spirit watches her friends and her spouse go on as if nothing happened to her. Her spouse Tom even has the audacity of throwing summer parties. No one mourns for her and in fact everyone seems happier without her. However, Zoe feels guilty about not seeming to care and wonders how Maggie's husband keeps partying when he should be grieving and wondering who killed his wife unless he knows. She also observes that Nick is not himself as if he struggles with secrets perhaps dealing with Maggie. Finally Sage acts as if Maggie possessed her soul trying to score as because any moment she might go to the great beyond. Zoe needs to learn the truth even if it means putting a damper on the summer including breaking her heart. Ironically the unpopular Maggie in the afterlife is the best character of this chick lit amateur sleuth tale as her commentaries on the reactions to her murder are amusing and fun. Zoe runs a fine second as her conscience guides her and she could have carried the tale. Instead the alternating chapters between the cast jars the reader though providing differing perspective especially explicit descriptive that is not always needed. Still Zoe's investigation into her friends and Maggie's lament make for an overall humorous fun tale.

Clinton McKinzie
ISBN: 0385338473 $23.00, 324 pp.

Wyoming State Police Special investigator Antonio "Ant" Burns is depressed since his life is collapsing. From being a law enforcement superstar to someone who is on unofficial "probation" for an incident at a prison when he used unwanted force, Ant knows he must watch his step or else lose the badge. Worse, he badly misses his infant daughter living in Denver with her mother. Finally the most dismal assault on his psyche is his guilty memory that his actions almost killed his brother, leaving him disfigured. Only mountain climbing gives him a reprieve from his feelings of failure. Currently, he assists the prosecution on a high visibility case in which the defendant is accused of negligence leading to the drowning death of a ten-year-old boy. The townsfolk of Badwater want the accused tourist convicted of murder. However, Ant finds interesting evidence that will radically change the perspective of the case though no one seems interested in what he has uncovered. Instead the attorneys on both sides work for themselves as neither camp cares about a deceased child or a despondent tourist languishing in jail. Alone or perhaps with his sibling at his side if he can muster the courage to ask, Ant risks becoming a victim too. In his latest rock climbing case, Ant is over the edge in freefall with failures in his personal life leading to job fiascos. The investigation is shrewdly developed to insure Ant's woes get in the way and that regardless of his findings the dueling legal teams only care about furthering their careers. Fans of strong police procedurals will appreciate this fine tale in which Lady Macbeth would envy the lawyers.

Curse the Dark
Laura Anne Gilman
ISBN 0373802277 $13.99, 400 pp.

In a world where most people don't believe in magic, there is a group of practitioners, humans who have talent to use the current from electricity to perform magic. Wren is a Retriever, a lonejack (a Talent not affiliated with the Mage Council); a person who finds and returns missing objects to the client. Her partner Sergei convinces her to take a contract from the Silence an organization who keeps the world from imploding. Their first assignment is to retrieve a manuscript that was stolen from the House of Legend a church in Sienna, Italy. When they arrive there, they learn that the church is not wired for electricity because the monks, unknowingly are guarding the library which contains malevolent manuscripts, texts and books. These guardians know that whoever reads the manuscript disappeared. Information sends them back to New York where the book is now in the hands of a private library that they are unable to gain access to due to spells. If they don't find a way to return the book to the Silence, the tome will wreck havoc on the city and then the country and if not unchecked, the world. CURSE THE DARK is a great romantic fantasy that will appeal to readers of Laurell K. Hamilton. The heroine is blacklisted by the Mage Council, is trying to keep the lonejacks from battling the council and is trying to adjust to the consummation of her relationship with Sergei. She also wants the fatae (the non-human magical creatures) protected by Talents who see them as an unfavorable species. Laura Anne Gilman is a master at characterizations, a great world builder and a gifted storyteller.

The Destined Queen
Deborah Hale
ISBN 0373802439 $13.95, 400 pp.

When Maura Woodbury started on her quest to find the Waiting King she was destined to marry him as she was THE DESTINED QUEEN. She is accompanied by outlaw Rath Talward. They fall in love but it is not until the Sacred Glade that Rath is revealed as the Waiting King, the reincarnation of King Elzeban who is destined to return to help Umbria in the darkest hour which is now as the cruel and oppressive Hans rules with an iron fist. A small bird carrying a message tells them to go the Vestan Islands. When they arrive, the islanders, who fled Umbria when the Hans invaded, give Rath an army to free his countrymen. As the rightful king returns to the homeland Maura must find the staff of Velarken which will grant Rath one wish he must use wisely if he is to defeat the Hans without turning into a tyrant like them. THE DESTINED QUEEN is romantic fantasy at its very best. The love between the two protagonists gives them the strength against overwhelming odds to believe they can defeat their enemies if they listen to their hearts as well as to their heads. The common people rally around this legendary king but more is needed to oust the enemy from their homeland. Deborah Hale's romantic fantasy is a moving and beautiful tale showcasing two characters who capture the readers interest because they are flawed people trying to do the right thing ever when they are not sure which course that is.

Cast In Shadow
Michelle Sagara
ISBN: 0373802366 $13.95, 400 pp.

In the Kingdom of Karaazon, in the capital of Elantra, the river Abalyne separates the fiefs from the rest of society. In the fiefs, warlords rule over their own domain and have their own laws and armies. Surprisingly, the sentient species on both sides of the river, human, avian, immortal, etc get along with one another. Now there is a crisis brewing that has it roots in a series of killings that happened in the fiefs years ago when children were killed over a period of three years. Now the killings have started only this time there are only three days between killings and the victims, like the ones three years ago have strange tatoo like makings on their bodies. Kaylin, who originally came from the fiefs, also had the mysterious markings on her body before the killings started. Now she works on the right side of the law and is determined to find the killer before the magical ritual is completed and more lives are lost. CAST IN SHADOW is a magnificent fantasy filled with plenty of suspense, a terrific who-done-it, and a wonderful heroine sacrificing her own needs to provide selfless service to end the killing in the fiefs. Michelle Sagara provides a fantastic realm in which the audience will believe that diverse sentient species exist and live and work in harmony at least until the murders occur leading to everyone pointing fingers at anyone different. Ms. Sagara smoothly has combined mystery and fantasy in this terrific tale. She has the talent to become a star in the fantasy genre.

The Misted Cliffs
Catherine Asaro
ISBN 0373802269 $13.95, 352 pp.

Verquelle was the King of Harsdown but when he was defeated in battle to annex the Kingdom of Aronsdale, the monarch vanquished him to a place where he has been imprisoned for eighteen years. King Muller and Queen Chime are the rulers of Harsdown and the country has flourished under their reign. The heir is Princess Melody, a bright beautiful and loving person who is adored by her subjects. Verquelle's son Cobalt the Dark rescues his father and brings him to his home the Castle of the Clouds. Cobalt was raised by a sadistic grandfather and a distant mother but his newfound father gives him the approval he needs. Both his grandfather and his father want to go to war with Harsdown so Verquelle can reclaim his throne but Cobalt convinces them that he should marry the heir and their offspring will sit on the throne. Melody has no choice but to agree to this arrangement as she doesn't want her country to go to war but she concludes that Cobalt is not evil but a person deprived of kindness and affection. He decides to conquer two countries that border Aronsdale using his grandfather's troops and his father's knowledge of war. Melody hopes that her love will temper his dark side so that he doesn't become a tyrant others fears. Catherine Asaro has written a beautiful and vividly descriptive tale that is a cross between a romantic fantasy and a swords and sorcery tale. The heroine is a bright lodestar that attracts her dark prince who is a tragic figure in the tradition of Heathcliffe. Hearts will go out to the beleaguered anti hero who seeks love and acceptance. Catherine Asaro is one of the reigning queens of brilliant romantic fantasy.

The Wizard of Washington Square
Jane Yolen
ISBN: 0765350165 $5.99, 78 pp.

Preadolescent David accompanied by his canine D. Dog walks around Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village feeling lonely. His family has just relocated from Connecticut to New York and he has no friends. When his canine's ball lands in the fountain in the middle of the park he meets Leilah who goes into the water to retrieve the toy. Leilah informs him that the fountain is home to a wizard. David scoffs at the inane girl, but soon they encounter THE WIZARD OF WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK, who explains he is a second rate failure, which is why he has been exiled to the land of non-believers. He proves his incompetence when he accidentally turns D. Dog into a statue. Before the Wizard can figure out how to rectify his blunder, antiques dealer Mr. Pickwell steals the statue to sell it. David and Leilah team up to retrieve D. Dog while the Wizard works on a reversal spell. THE WIZARD OF WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK is a fantastic urban fantasy that the elementary school crowd and their parents will enjoy. The story line enchants the audience as David and Leilah become friends while trying to rescue his dog from a terrible fate. The Wizard will remind readers of Oz as he bungles spells. Jane Yolen entertains her young readers with a fine friendship fantasy.

Talk of the Ton
Eloisa James, Julia London, Rebecca Hagan Lee and Jacqueline Navin
ISBN: 0515139300 $7.99, 422 pp.

"A Proper Englishwoman" by Eloisa James. In 1817, the Ton enjoys the scandalous behavior of Kerr rumored to have been seen about town with a Frenchwoman. That is the Ton minus Kerr's fiancee Emma who decides if Franco amour is what her wandering future spouse desires so be it. "The Vicar's Widow" by Julia London. In 1816 Darien wildly kisses Kate, the Vicar's wife, until she sadly walks away. Three years later, he is the toast of the Ton and she is a widow that he still desires. However, Emily wants Darien so she spreads rumors to eliminate her rival by turning the Vicar's Widow into the TALK OF THE TON. "Clearly a Couple" by Rebecca Hagan Lee. Free Fellows League agent Jonathan escort India, just freed from a harem imprisonment, to her family. The Ton blames India for her captivity though she was an innocent victim and assumes he has gotten his way with the "loose" woman. Instead Jonathan has fallen in love with India. "Miss Jenny Alt's First Kiss" by Jacqueline Navin. Everyone knows that Jenny, her aunt's companion, is on the shelf. Everyone that is except Miles who seeks a bride and based on their first kiss knows who he wants as his permanent lady. The four tales are well written especially the Ton exchanging malicious gossip that leaves a reader feeling like a Peeping Thomasina. However, the lead couples fall in love too fast as the novella format somewhat shortchanges the romances. Still these are four fine Regencies and fans will appreciate the titillating tremors of Polite Society causing a scandal even when unwarranted.

The White Wolf's Son
Michael Moorcock
ISBN 0446577022 $24.95, 330 pp.

Oonagh von Bek is staying at the family home in Ingleton, West Yorkshire in England where she meets two men she instinctually distrusts. Friends of her grandmother Oona Von Bek also arrive in the village to guard her from her enemies. As she explores the nearby caves, a quake opens the multiverse sending Oonagh into another realm where she meets an educated fox who walks upright and wears clothes. He becomes her protector when the two men follow her into the underground city of Mirenburg, a mirror image of the city above ground. It is there that she is reunited with her grandmother, the near immortal beautiful Oona who has, with the champions who tried to protect her in Ingleton, come to bring her home if they can find the right road in the multiverse. Elric the Eternal champion is diverted from his one thousand year quest to find his sword Stormbringer to search for his great-granddaughter and foments a rebellion against the twisted science and sorcery using empire of Granbretan in order to try to find her more easily. Oonagh and her friends travel into the heart of the rebellion where she is kidnapped by her enemies who want to remake the multiverse in their own image. Different Avatars of the Eternal Champion make appearances in this classic Good vs. Evil fantasy. Elric's role as the Eternal champion is to make sure that Oonagh isn't used to bring about the apocalypse her enemies desire. He is a heroic and tragic figure, controlled by forces that nobody can defeat because they bring balance to the universe. Michael Moorcock, the grandmaster of sword and sorcery fantasy, provides one of the best books he has ever written.

The Prometheus Project
Steve White
ISBN: 0743498917 $24.00

The President explains to the President-elect the real burden past down from leaders since the Truman-Eisenhower transition when Mr. Inconnu arrived with the threat. With evidence including the ship he stole, Mr. Inconnu proved that the galaxy is owned by superpowers that use the technologically backward like Earth as colonial pawns. To survive Earth must show they are much higher up on the food chain than we are. Former Special Forces grunt Bob Devaney (not the Cornhusker) works for THE PROMETHEUS PROJECT; the greatest disinformation campaign ever conducted, whose mission is to keep aliens from realizing how backward we really are. Bob understands that failure means earth will become an exploited protectorate. However, two events have occurred that could wreck the deception. The President elect is an ideologue who may not be able to accept the real meaning of the theory of relativity and that someone intimately involved in the hoax is selling real world information to an outer space criminal mob. Bob is to find out who is the traitor worse than Judas is and insure that THE PROMETHEUS PROJECT continues to fake out the ETs. The prime suspect is the woman Bob loves. Steve White writes a fabulous satirical science fiction thriller that skewers we're number one American political- information-military-production complex. The story line is fast-paced with the audience learning from the onset how the greatest disinformation top secret project works and why through the change of administrations. Bob is a terrific protagonist as he struggles to uncover the identity of the traitor with all evidence pointing towards his beloved. Fans except those who believe God directs the president will appreciate this terrific lampooning of the values of the USA.

Alternate Generals III
Edited by Harry Turtledove
ISBN: 0743498976 $24.00, 306 pp.

The premise of this terrific alternate military history collection is to change circumstances of famous war heroes (depending on which side the reader is on) by placing them in some other scenario whether that is Joan of Arc not being burned or Robert E Lee named as ambassador to England for the triumphant Confederacy, etc. Modifying a pivotal moment or placing a victorious leader into a difference circumstance to "determine" whether they would remain winners are the underlying themes behind this strong anthology. Readers will appreciate all thirteen tales starring a diverse bunch of conquerors and generals, but not quite in the role that history reveals to us. Each tale is well written and fans of alternate history will complete the book in one sitting. Especially enlightening is how much other factors besides strong leadership play in success and how easily yet disconcertingly the Iraq freedom invasion seems so analogous even when looking for a missing elephant in Ancient Rome. This is a great series of tales that will keep the audience reflecting on war and leaders.

Expiration Date
Eric Wilson
ISBN: 1578567459 $13.99, 400 pp.

Clay Ryker left town with a basketball scholarship to the University of Wyoming. Afterward he stayed in state and opened up a successful business and married. In the past year his life collapsed starting with his business and followed by his marriage. Twenty-nine years old Clay crawls home to live with his parents in Junction City, Oregon. As a teen Clay witnessed bad eerie things that he shared with no one. Now he touches people and knows their EXPIRATION DATE, when they will die. He begins receiving ugly notes and soon people begin dying just as he predicted. Clay realizes his past has come back and this time he cannot flee as he must face a malevolence residing in a 1917 Russian Rasputin train on display. The human representative of the malicious Consortium wants him dead as a sacrifice to hell. EXPIRATION DATE is an intriguing horror tale filled with twists that spin the reader from comfort zones into wondering what next. Clay is a fine character struggling with failure and with the return of the evil he first experienced as a teen. Fans will wonder just who are or perhaps what the Consortium is as Eric Wilson slowly provides insight into this group and their current agents of evil Asgoth and Monde. The Good vs. Evil war is cleverly handled as the Good is far from perfect and in some ways bad.

Emily Ever After
Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt
ISBN: 1400070422 $11.95, 320 pp.

Her Uncle Matthew obtains Emily Hinton a job as assistant to a long time friend Bennett, a publisher at Morrow and Sons, a highly regarded Manhattan publishing firm. Though her parents are concerned that their daughter is moving to the capital of glitz, an excited Emily relocates from Jenks, California (near San Diego). In New York, Emily tussles with the looser lifestyle as emulated by her roommate, her boss and her peers at the company. She finds some solace when she works at her Uncle's soup kitchen, but notices how his partner Josie loves him though Matthew is unaware of her feelings. Emily struggles between what she believes is right and the hedonistic fun of her new friends and city until she must take a moral stand on a book's content knowing it will cost her a job she treasures if she doe. Will Emily do what she believes is the right thing or will she remain silent as a lamb? EMILY AFTER EVER is an intriguing contemporary tale starring a delightful protagonist struggling with the materialistic and often cynical assault on her spiritual beliefs. Emily is a terrific character who originally goes along to belong, but soon has doubts as she is uncomfortable with not being herself. Though her final stand turns too easily as black and white in spite of a revelation about the married Bennett and his "girlfriend" readers will admire Emily's courage to adhering to her beliefs rather than pretending all is well.

The Sound of My Voice
Jo Kadlecek
ISBN: 1578568587 $12.99, 352 pp.

Her mother cooks Jordan her favorite meal before she moves from her Jackson, Mississippi home to New York City; however her last supper becomes a battlefield between her father Peter, an assistant Baptist pastor, and her. They bitterly argue over her move to New York City. In Manhattan Jordan studies playwriting at a theater workshop while tasting the city. A few years pass with Jordan waitressing at the Dream Time Tavern while she writes a play Windfall with religious overtones that contain basic human values that is performed in the Village. Peter preaches to the hometown flock. He can accept their needs but is unwilling to reconcile with his daughter as he remains steadfast in his belief that theater and his ministry do not mix. He refuses to speak to Jordan. When her mother lies dying, her Aunt calls her home to say her goodbyes to the woman Jordan has missed. Her mom's last wish is for her two loved ones to make up and come together. THE SOUND OF MY VOICE is an interesting character study that focuses on the debate of whether modern day artistic endeavors fit inside or outside the Christian religion. Jordan and Peter represent the poles in the dispute on the place of secular art in a religious pantheon. That enables the audience to look much deeper into the argument, but also makes the spat seem childish and inane, but then again many family arguments that lead to years of non communication are heated but silly in terms of the price. Jo Kadlecek provides an interesting family drama played on a two-state stage but with universal implications.

Aprons on a Clothesline
Traci DePree
ISBN: 1578567300 $12.99, 320 pp.

In Austin, Minnesota, near Lake Emily, Virginia Morgan tells her friend Lillian Biddle that she has a bad headache, but will be okay. However, not long afterward, Virginia collapses inside the Spam Museum. Nurse Mary Shrupp calls 911 believing the kindhearted grandmother suffered a stroke. Virginia survives, but is not the same person as she feels unneeded since she is unable to help others like she has all her life. Depressed, Virginia begins to question whether she and those caring for her would be better off if she was dead especially since she knows that others in town need help but her body refuses to cooperate. However, she thinks her worst failure is not being there for Jessie Wise who needs a nurturing mother just like the pre stroke Virginia provided to everyone for decades in the Lake Emily area. Instead the post stroke Virginia has given up on life. APRONS ON A CLOTHESLINE is a deep look at small town rural life with an emphasis on believing in God, hard work, and honesty with one's self and towards others. Many of the characters return from previous novels (see A CAN OF PEAS and DANDELIONS IN A JELLY JAR) with new troubles as relationships change. However, the star of this tale is Virginia who goes from an active elderly person providing assistance and nurturing whenever she can to a beaten individual struggling with receiving love and care as opposed to giving. Fans of inspirational character driven tales will enjoy the Lake Emily series especially this powerful third entry.

Heavens to Betsy
Beth Pattillo
ISBN: 1400070449 $12.99, 320 pp.

In Nashville, thirty years old Associate Reverend Betsy Blessing is planning to tell the congregation at the Church of the Shepard that she is quitting the pulpit though she remains a staunch believer. Her problem is not doubts, but fear of failure letting down the Congregation. Betsy believes the most difficult task will be to tell her two best friends, Reverends David Swenson and Laronda Mason. Betsy and David go to a movie together as friends when he reaches over to grab her popcorn and touches her thigh instead. She feels the electricity of his touch and reassess how she feels about her friend. However, Betsy vows not to act on her sudden attraction for David because she believes two reverends in a family always lead to divorce as neither has the time to provide full emotional support to the other. When Reverend Black decides to retire, Betsy takes over the ministry, but besides her fears of failing her flock she fears her feelings for David have grown deeper; could he be falling for her too? This chick lit goes pulpit is an entertaining contemporary romance starring a likable protagonist who provides a deep understanding into the lifestyle of a reverend. The friendship turning romance will remind the audience of that Bonnie Riatt hit song and the barbs between the pair are amusing but also show how supportive they are of one another. Though her conversion from the queen of frump to enlightened looks seems a stretch, readers will appreciate this insightful look at the romance of two reverends.

Completely Yours
Sheridon Smythe
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526131 $6.99

Fontaine Spencer owns Next Stop, a travel magazine that reviews restaurants, hotels, and other entertainment centers so tourists know the best, the worst, and the ugly. Someone from within the magazine warned Dallas businesses that Fontaine was coming; this cost her the ability to obtain unbiased insight. Thus she needs a decoy for Atlanta to prevent deja vu, so that she can serendipitously do her job and uncover who is selling information. She asks her twin sister Callie to pose as her. Fontaine arranges for Mr. Complete to escort her sibling around town. Nightclub owner Dillon Love is keeping an eye on his friend's escort service while his friend is away on vacation. Dillon is irate with Night Stop for a blistering review of his nightclub. He decides to escort Callie to teach her a lesson avenging her bad comments about his establishment. However, he soon finds he wants her to give him positive reviews to a lifetime plan, but fears how she will react to his duplicity; she on the other hand cannot understand why she feels in love with him one moment and aloof the next. Unbeknownst to Callie, Dillon's ruse includes his identical twin Wyatt. Twins switching places has been done seemingly forever, but Sheridon Smythe refreshes the technique by having two pair exchange places leading to a wild romantic romp that works because the audience can still "see" who is who while ironically the players misunderstand what is going on. Readers will find the exchanges intelligent while the twins switch so that actions and reactions differ and confuse the participants. Fans of amusing contemporaries will enjoy this tale of mischievous twins and its humorous gender war predecessor MR. COMPLETE.

Follow Me
Mary Beth Bass
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526344 $5.99, 352 pp.

On the advice of her friend Toby, Dr. Ian Gilbertson takes his beloved Clare Islington to the Black Hound Inn in Dorset, Vermont. Seven years ago Clare had an eerie experience at this supposedly haunted historical site; Toby insists that returning her will enable her to move on with her life and Ian's hopes with him. In 1824, Harcourt Abernathy stays at the relatively new Black Hound Inn in Vermont where he is conducting business. He mourns the death of his beloved Kate, who passed away five months ago, but he has never recovered form the loss. Clare thinks back to her first stay at the inn when she met an almost two century old ghost Harcourt who insists she is the reincarnation of his Kate. Shaken to her core, Clare fled. Now that she is back, Harcourt hopes to woo her back to his time where he is a mortal not a spirit although Ian is worthy human competition. Though at times it is difficult to follow the plot switches between the past and present, readers will enjoy this enthralling paranormal romance. The characters drive the tale as the romantic triangle of the present and the melancholy love story from the nineteenth century come across due to fully developed key players. Fans will want to follow Mary Beth Bass for future tales of love from beyond if this is an indicator of her work.

The Hallowed Hunt
Lois McMaster Bujold
ISBN 0060574623 $24.95, 480 pp.

Lord Ingrey Kin Wolfcliff is dispatched by his employer to bring back the body of the murdered Prince Boleso to the capital city of Easthome for the funeral. He is also to bring back the royal's killer Lady Ijada who claims self-defense as he tried to rape her and was prepared to sacrifice her in a black magical rite. Instead, she conked him on the head and the spirit of the leopard he killed entered her body when she touched the dying prince. Ingrey knows all about animal spirits inhabiting humans as he is possessed by a wolf in a rite that was conducted by his father. On the way back to the capital where the hallows king is dying, Ingrey is attracted to his prisoner but finds himself compelled to kill her. The geas is broken by a powerful sorcerer and they make it safely to Easthome. Ingrey spies on Earl Wencil because the people in power are afraid that he will try to usurp the rightful heir, Prince Biast. Little do any of them know that Wencil's plan for Ingrey involves the old magics outlawed when the Weald was invaded by the Darthacan Quintarians who worshipped five gods and forced their religion on the conquered people. Ingrey grows into his acceptance of his wolf spirit and he is helped by Lady Ijada who accepts the spirit leopard that was thrust into her. She has a role to play in the final working of the weald magic one that could cost her life or that of Ingrey if she falters in her convictions. Brilliant characterizations, a fast paced and exciting storyline and a villain it is hard to hate make THE HALLOWED HUNT a fantastic epic fantasy worthy of a Hugo or a Nebula Award nomination.

Society Girls
Sarah Mason
ISBN: 0345469577 $12.95, 368 pp.

Clemmie Colshannon returns crawling to her actor parents' home in Cornwall to wait tables after her globetrotting around the world proved disastrous following the loss of her job and her boyfriend importance in that order. However, she has no time to mope as she learns that Bristol Gazette society pages editor Emma McKellan has vanished one week before her marriage to Charlie Davidson over the objection of her wealthy father solicitor Sir Christopher. The Bristol Gazette crime reporter Clemmie's sister Holly (see PLAYING JAMES) thinks Sir C has abducted his daughter to prevent the nuptials and she plans to break the story. She enlists Clemmie to assist her, but the bumbling siblings uncover a lot more than an irate father protecting his daughter from a gold-digger. Instead they connect Sir C to a drug case involving Charlie, who he put behind bars, and learn that Emma is pregnant and being used by Charlie to enact revenge. When Charlie realizes what the sisters are doing he switches targets causing Clan Colshannon to invade France. The second Colshannon tale is a wacky amateur sleuth tale starring an eccentric crowd that seems like the Little Foys were turned on their head. The investigative story line hooks the audience as much for the interrelationship between the lead family as for the mystery. Readers will appreciate this amusing mystery and look forward to a third Colshannon sibling leading miscues in a future cozy.

Stolen Magic
M.J. Putney
Ballantine/Del Rey
ISBN: 0345476891 $23.95, 352 pp.

In 1748 England, the Guardian Council Chief Enforcer of the use of magic, Earl Simon Malmain travels to the castle of Lord Drayton to charge him with using his mage skills to abet the Jacobytes. Drayton remains relaxed considering who is unwanted guest is and coolly changes his foe into a unicorn; only a virgin can convert Simon back into a human. The evil magician boasts that having a unicorn will make him the most powerful person ever on the planet. However, Simon escapes from the castle though he remains in his mythological form. Simon the unicorn meets Drayton's servant "Mad Meggie", who is a virgin with a special skill with animals. She frees him from the spell and in turn he liberates her from an enchantment that left her under Drayton's control. They partner in an effort to stop Drayton, who wants to halt the Industrial Age from replacing the enlightened magical era. This is a terrific romantic fantasy that uses mid eighteenth century England as a backdrop to anchor the magical elements so that the audience believes in spells, unicorns, and the battle of the mages. The story line is action-packed yet insures the key three characters appear fully developed. The romantic subplot between Meg and Simon accentuate a fabulous tale that will send enchanted readers seeking A KISS OF FATE.

The God Particle
Richard Cox
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345462858 $13.95, 320 pp.

Los Angeles-based businessman Steve Keely is in Zurich with his assistant Serena who does not hide how much she wants him although he plans to marry Janine. After a spat with Serena, Steve answers his ringing cell phone to overhear his beloved Janine making love to someone named Barry. Heartbroken he quietly and sadly says goodbye. He picks up a Russian, Ana, in a bar and goes to her place, but someone enters her room and beats Steve up. He goes to the hospital where after physically healing he finds he is able to predict the future with uncanny accuracy and perform things on a par with a Jesus miracle. Mike McNair is the head physicist of the North Texas Superconducting Super Collider project. On a plane heading to Dallas, he meets news anchor Kelly Smith over Mark Twain. As they become acquainted his Noble Prize obsession takes back seat to this woman who has opened his eyes to a vast world he ignored. However, she will take a back seat to the universe that Steve shows him when the business mogul desperately turns to the physicist for help as he struggles to cope with powers beyond that of a human. THE GOD PARTICLE is a superb science fiction thriller that uses relatively up to date theories on subatomic particles as a base for a terrific action-packed thriller. The amazing feat of this tale is even with a deep science base that educates the reader and plenty of non-stop action, the key players, especially Steve and Mike, seem genuine. Richard Cox writes a deep thriller that will remind readers of Ursula Le Guin's THE LATHE OF HEAVEN.

The Power of the Dog
Don Winslow
ISBN: 0375405380 $25.95

President Nixon declares war on drug trafficking so in Culiacan, Mexico, United States DEA Agent Art Keller is assigned to destroy the evil empire of drug kingpin Don Pedro Aviles. In his endeavor, Art meets and befriends Adan and Raul Barrera; not realizing that the two siblings are nephews of rising drug lord Miguel Barrera. . Meanwhile in San Diego Nora Hayden decides to get paid for what men want from her at about the same time that Manhattan's Sean Callan becomes a mob hit man. Over the next three decades the paths of these six people intersect several times until 1999 when a no longer idealistic Art sees his side losing the war on drugs with peers coming home in body bags. He no longer worries about the line between the law and crime as justice is what he demands. He plans to begin with his former friends the Barrera brothers. As for Nora as Adan's mistress if she becomes collateral damage so be it even if that means Sean will come after him. Don Winslow provides a deep look at the war on drugs that seem a failure after three decades, which will lead readers to ponder the chances of winning the war on terrorism by military means. The story line is action-packed though it occurs over three decades and is clearly driven by the key cast members especially the Barrera brothers and Keller. THE POWER OF THE DOG is that rare thriller that has the audience on the edge of their seats yet analyzing the outcome in terms of the potential of a slow win of the war on terror.

Acts of Faith
Philip Caputo
ISBN: 0375411666 $26.95, 669 pp.

In the oil rich Nuba Mountains of Sudan, Muslims wage war on the natives. A variety of individuals with differing purposes try to provide sustenance to the beleaguered populace. One relief group Knight Air includes Biracial Kenyan Fitzhugh Martin who fills his previously vapid life as a soccer star with meaning due to the relief operation. Americans Douglas Brathwaite and Wes Dare, and Canadian Mary English also find spiritual sustenance with the fly lift effort. At the same time as Knight Air and other rival relief groups struggle to assist the blacks, the ferocious slaughter continues as Arab warlord Ibrahim Idirs keeps fighting though he misses his black mistress who is probably dead. The Sudanese People's Liberation Army has its agenda too and so does the altruistic Knight Air who chooses an immoral means that will geometrically increase the death rate in order to end the killings. Using detailed events to describe a devastating war, Philip Caputo provides a deep look at what Colin Powell declared as genocide. The story line uses action to paint a complex multifaceted look into the killing fields of Sudan and how mercenaries, missionaries, military and mindless humanitarians cause havoc on the beleaguered local populace. Though depressingly a Rwanda replay, ACTS OF FAITH is a thought provoking anti-war thriller that even uses seemingly out of place romantic subplots to serve as ironic counterpoint to the killings in which all is not quiet on the southern front.

Bangkok Tattoo
John Burkett
ISBN: 1400040450 $24.00

In Bangkok, Nong, part owner of the Old Man's Club, calls her son Royal Thai police detective Chai Jipleecheep and her partner, Chai's superior Colonel Vikorn to inform them that one of their ladies, Chanya killed a visiting American. While Nong thinks killing customers is bad for business, Vikorn informs Chai that the homicide was an act of self defense without visiting the crime scene or interviewing the woman who has confessed. Chai persuades his boss to come to the hotel room where the murder occurred. The victim not only had his penis removed, but possessed an interesting Visa that allowed multiple reentries over the next two years. In other words Mitch Turner was from the CIA. Vikorn knows self defense or homicide means the CIA, the FBI, and the Thai government will be all over them from head to toes. Instead Vikorn, needing to protect his investment decides to throw the blame on Al Qaeda, which will make the Americans happy. While Vikorn tries to con the Yanks and his superiors, Chai conducts inquiries into the homicide because he has problems accepting that even an opium dazed Chanya would commit mutilation. This Thai police procedural is a wonderful tale starring an interesting detective trying to remain honest when surrounded by corrupt individuals including his mother. The secondary cast provides insight into the society as well as set an amoral tone to the tale that only seemingly Chai counters. The official inquiries are cleverly designed to occur below the radar screen of the Americans seeking the Al Qaeda connection. Fans of exotic locale who-done-its will enjoy this fine tale and seek Chai's previous solid investigative tale (see BANGKOK 8).

The Missing Person
Alix Ohlin
ISBN: 0375415246 $22.95, 292 pp.

Three years ago Lynn Fleming left Albuquerque to study art history as a graduate student in New York. Her mom notices her scorn towards her dusty hometown as if Brooklyn and Manhattan are the world. Mom is concerned that her son Wylie cut off his phone and refuses to talk to her. Mom, a travel agent, informs her not listening daughter that she booked a flight for her via Minneapolis to come home to talk sense into Wylie who has been abducted by eco-freaks. Knowing her research grant is gone and her affair with her married faculty advisor finished though he offers a final Paris fling, Lynn returns to Albuquerque. Finding her younger brother proves easy. Wylie's eco-criminal crony Angus and Lynn begin an affair as she is attracted to his upbeat charm until she begins seeing a dangerous side to her lover as she becomes involved with the risky actions of Wylie's eco-terrorist group. She even makes progress on her dissertation when she finds two works left by her late father painted by a 1970s local artist Eva Kent who has tragic ties to her parents. THE MISSING PERSON is a well written character study as much as a mystery that hooks the audience the moment mom refuses to take no as an answer from her daughter. Lynn holds the tale together several intriguing subplots converge through her as she struggles with the past that seems to have imposed a will on her present and immediate future. Don't let the title fool you, this is not an amateur sleuth investigation, but instead a must read bittersweet tale for fans who appreciate a strong family drama.

The Book of Renfield
Tim Lucas
ISBN: 0743243544 $14.00, 416 pp.

After the events that led to the death of Dracula, the four principal players keep quiet about what happened as if by keeping silent, they can pretend Evil doesn't exist in the world. Seven years later, Jonathan and Mina Harker, Dr. Seward and Arthur think the world needs to know the truth that Evil does exist and culling their diaries, journals, letters and photographic recordings, they created a work called Dracula written collectively by four people but credit given to one Bram Stoker. Dr. John Steward, the owner and chief administrator of Carfax Asylum, feels the book Dracula doesn't dwell enough on the role R.M. Renfield played in the horrific ordeal. Through notes, recordings, papers and journals, Dr. Seward comes to see that Renfield has been Dracula's pawn most of his life, placed in the asylum in order to gain entry to the edifice so he can get close to Mina. Renfield's death (or rather murder) was his last attempt to save Mina from the clutches of his Master. Told in the form of journal entries, diary comments and conversations between the doctor and Renfield, readers feel sorry for the man who was abandoned as an infant and thus was easy prey for Dracula to convert him into one of his minions. Although at times he is pathetic and acts in a disgusting manner, his lifelong fight to be free of Dracula and his attempt to stop him from going after Mina raises him to heroic proportions in Dr. Seward's eyes years after his death. Dracula fans will love reading this side tale of the legendary vampire.

To Kingdom Come
Will Thomas
ISBN: 0743256220 $22.95, 288 pp.

In 1884 London Enquiry Agent Cyrus Baker and his assistant Thomas Llewelyn are practicing martial arts exercises when they hear the explosion. Feeling they may be able to help, the two rush to the devastating scene of the Scotland Yard wing containing the newly formed Criminal Investigation Department Special Irish branch. As they assist the surgeon with field operations, the twosome learn of another bomb exploding at the Junior Carleton Club. The police brass at the Yard assumes both blasts were the work of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a radical group willing to murder innocent civilians to foster a free Irish state. Inspector Poole informs Baker and Llewelyn that several other bombs were found before they ignited. Believing that the narrow focus on SIB is going to prove false, Baker quietly spreads the word that he and his associate are explosive experts to see who they can reel in. Not long afterward, the Invisibles want to employ them in a plan to explode London in TO KINGDOM COME. The latest Baker Victorian mystery is a terrific historical tale that uses the bias between the Scotland Yard leadership and SIB to provide insight to the beginning of the Irish issue that still haunts the Isles. The efforts to uncover and stop the Invisibles are cleverly developed to provide a fabulous thriller, but also shed addition light on the late ninetieth century. Baker is a fine sleuth while his assistant who narrates the tale is his Watson except much more innocent in worldly affairs. There will be no doubting Thomas that this is one of the best historical series on the market today.

Lori Foster
ISBN: 0821775146 $6.99, 384 pp.

In Visitation, North Carolina Mountain Man recluse Jamie Creed prefers to remain in the background hiding in the shadows rather than living life to the fullest. However, in spite of his need to stay hidden and encouraged by the townsfolk, Jamie feels obsessed to help anyone he deems in trouble. On a stormy day, Faith soaked to the bone and shivering from a fever climbs the mountain seeking Jamie's help. He finds her almost unconscious and naked; he carries her to his hideaway. When she recovers enough to say more than her name, she refuses to explain why or what she requires of him. Still his fixation kicks in and he feels obligated to assist the woman anyway he can. Instead she tells him nothing believing deep in her soul that she first must earn his trust before she can reveal her secrets and her mission. As he wonders about the enigmatic female chatterbox, Faith begins to explain in bits and pieces their previous connection, why she need his help, and how much she loved him and still does or her quest will fail. Since the first Visitation tale introduced readers to celibate hermit Jamie, readers have waited for his tale to be told; fans of the mini series will agree that the wait was worth it. The story line is character driven as Jamie who feels he must avoid human contact because of his special or curse skills has met his match in Faith who believes they belong together. Lori Foster meets the pressure to deliver as she hooked her audience with Jamie's tale long before the first page of this sold regional romance.

Deep Freeze
Thom Racina
ISBN 0451215524 $7.99, 384 pp.

In an area that is known for its warm climate and sunshine, Southern California is undergoing horrible weather including unseasonably cold temperatures and weeks of heavy rain. The worst is yet to come as leading meteorologists predict ice storms and snow with a good chance of a blizzard. The people of Southern California are woefully unprepared for this horrific weather. The Kings, the people who worship Jeffrey the way Charles Manson was once revered by his followers, are waiting for the blizzard to come. The Kings know that the poor people in the valley who will feel the effects of the weather first will go to the hills and take over the homes of the rich people, killing the wealthy because the Kings will egg them on. The family of Robert Hanwell needs to get out their home and get their daughter to the hospital for an operation or she will die. Some other members of the Hanwell family reach out a helping hand while others react to the situation by drinking themselves into oblivion or looting, a microcosm of what is happening in all of Southern California. Readers who like disaster books or movies (this novel would make a fantastic one) like Earthquake, Volcano and Typhoon will want to read DEEP FREEZE. A crisis of this magnitude brings out the best in some and the worse in others as brilliantly portrayed by two brothers who react in diametrically opposite ways. Mr. Racina is a master of suspense who creates deep characterizations and this tale demonstrates the wide range of his considerably unique talent.

Beyond the Pale
Savannah Russe
ISBN: 0451215648 $6.99, 304 pp.

In New York City, Daphne "Daphy" Urban reflects on being a four hundred and fifty year old vampire without a male relationship since Byron died from a bad bite when Uncle Sam greets her and tells her that they need her. She is escorted to a top spy cell where J gives Daphy and fellow vampires Benny Polycarp of Missouri and Cormac O'Reilly of Manhattan an offer they cannot refuse. Work for the Feds as espionage ring Darkwing or die. Daphy is assigned to get close to nefarious arms dealer Bonaventure who sells to the highest bidder especially terrorists. She is unsure whether she is to kill the man or just bring him in. As she struggles with her assignment, her two associates battle to accomplish their tasks. Meanwhile she knows someone is following her, which she assumes is either an untrusting J operative or a vampire hunter. Darius della Chiesa, extraordinaire vampire slayer, knows he must kill Daphne, but he feels like a traitor as he desires her too. Fans of paranormal thrillers will appreciate the exciting first Vampire Chronicle, BEYOND THE PALE. The story line is a counter terrorism tale enhanced by the audience belief that vampires, hunters, and an assortment of other creatures exist. The star crossed romance between the hunter and the vampire adds to the feel that the uncanny is real. Readers will value this superior supernatural suspense and look forward to more adventures starring the Darkwing secret agents.

First Date
Karen Kendall
ISBN: 0451215559 $6.99

In South River, New Jersey Marty demanded his daughter Syd Spinelli drop everything to come home to evaluate his books since his assistant of thirty years Betty Lou Fiotche embezzled money from the Marvs Motor Inn chain. Syd, an accountant, resents her task as she knows Marty can afford to hire a team to do what she is doing for free and that the loot stolen amounts to an insignificant total. However, everything at home seems unimportant when her younger sister Julia, who manages the smallest motel in the chain in spite of her seeming incompetence, sends an email announcing she is engaged to a Roman Sonntag. Syd drops everything and quickly heads to Texas to stop her sibling from a disaster. As she interferes with the plans of Julia and Roman, the best friend of her future brother-in-law Alex Kimball tries to preoccupy her. Soon "Jersey" and the "toad" begin to fall in love, but he knows he owes her the truth as to why he initially pursued her. Big sis Jersey's invasion of Texas leads to a fine contemporary romance starring a likable cast. The Toad knows he has much to make up for if he wants to keep his Jersey girl with him, but that is for the next few books to determine how successful Alex is. Syd is a delight although dropping everything to protect an adult from herself seems odd especially since their parents seem numb and dumb. Fans will enjoy the amusing chick lit FIRST DATE between Syd and Alex and look forward to Karen Kendall's next step in the Bridesmaid Chronicles FIRST KISS.

Cover the Butter
Carrie Kabak
ISBN: 0525948767 $23.95, 352 pp.

In Dorton, England forty-something Kate Vadogan comes home after being away for a few days to find a disaster. Apparently her teenage son Charlie hosted a party that got out of control leaving their house a ruin and apparently the police came to end the gala when neighbors complained. Disgusted, Kate questions Charlie, who's indifferent. She turns to her spouse Rodney who was home, but he tells her he has a golf date and leaves. Other efforts to reach Rodney fail as he ignores her to watch sports. Disappointed in her two men, Kate drinks several glasses of wine to forget her woes. As she gets drunk, she suddenly travels back three decades to 1965 when as a young teen she is about to obtain her first bra. Kate sees herself as a suppressed youngster raised by a harsh dominant mother and a feeble father. With her two best friends at her side, she begins to enjoy life, but which Kate will become the two decade married woman, the suppressed soul who always covered and refrigerated the butter or the passionate person who joined with her family enjoying the butter? Similar to Peggy Sue Got Married, COVER THE BUTTER is an insightful family drama. Kate's frustration seems totally right until readers realize that there are a series of small insignificant matters that Kate turned into Mount Everest driving her males into avoiding her. COVER THE BUTTER is a deep relationship tale with a fantasy twist that enlightens Kate that leaving the butter uncovered is not life significant; don't sweat the small stuff and work those that matter.

A Month of Sundays: Searching For the Spirit and My Sister
Julie Mars
ISBN: 0974207454 $12.95, 224 pp.

Author Julie Mars drops everything to be with her beloved sister Shirley Ann Carter dying of pancreatic cancer. Ms. Mars observed how her sibling returned to Catholicism, but worried that she waited to long and will burn in hell. When death finally occurred, Ms. Mars grieved deeply, but everyone reminded her that life goes on so she should leave Upstate New York to return to New Mexico to complete her PhD that she put on hold. Still that did not feel right to just go back to her lifestyle. Instead Ms. Mars vowed to visit thirty-one churches over thirty-one consecutive Sundays to learn more about the spiritualism and faith that Shirley discovered towards the end that gave her sister comfort that there is more and discomfit that she thought she failed to achieve the ultimate goal. Thus the readers gain an intriguing look at a journey for more than the author's search for personal spiritualism and her sister. Instead this is a deep look at the living who need closure when a loved one dies. The various churches run the gamut of congregations to include different races, social and economic classes, etc; some provided warmth to the stranger while others enhanced her doubts re organized religion. Still all remain irrelevant as mourning is personal. Ms. Mar's journey is a memorable memoir of an individual seeking solace and worth reading especially by those going recently or expecting to go down that lonely path soon.

Lucky Strike
Nancy Zafris
ISBN: 1932961046 $23.95

In 1954 widow Jean Waterman brings her two children to the Utah desert for two prime reasons. She prays that dry desert air will alleviate the damaged lungs of her son Charlie and that she finds scrap uranium to sell. Her travels into the desert introduce Jean to an assortment of eccentric characters. Some people she meets are traveling salesman Harry who sells Geiger counters and other radioactive related paraphernalia; Jo the youthful child-like spouse of Dawson, a uranium prospector down on his luck but still searching for the mother lode; and Pollyanna optimist Miss Dazzle who owns the remote Stagecoach Oasis motel, which has is own collection of zany folks. These people bond as each is lonely, but have discovered "family" with the others. Still uranium fever still calls out to the searchers though a form of love blossoms between them. The key to this intriguing historical character is the irony that the reader knows the effect of radioactivity while the prospectors earn their living searching and selling uranium scrap. The cast comes across as if Bret Harte's classic the Outcasts of Poker Flat was brought into the Eisenhower era. Similar in tone to Nancy Zafris' previous distinctive The Metal Shredders, fans will take immense armchair pleasure visiting a unique realm that has a Twilight Zone feel to it yet somehow this talented author makes her characters seem genuine inside a weirdly entertaining 1950s drama.

The Education of Arnold Hitler
Marc Estrin
ISBN: 1932961038 $15.95

During World War II in Italy American GI George Hitler met and married half Jewish Anna. Following the fall of his namesake, they move to his hometown Mansfield, Texas and have a son Arnold. They raise their son in a happy home and he turns out to be a genius. By the late 1950s, six years old Arnold grows into a chess prodigy, but it is at a parade where he observes the impact of the use of the N word in his racist hometown that shapes him the most. He sees the hurt and the power that one word imbues in people. During high school he letters in football but his love remains linguistics and he publishes a popular newsletter on the subject. While he loses his girlfriend to radical feminism, Arnold enters Harvard where the anti ism movements converge but as often clash. He obtains a taste of the world, but sees it through a linguistic lens where words, names, and nomenclature have magic to destroy. THE EDUCATION OF ARNOLD HITLER is a deep satirical look at the power through negativism of labeling people. Arnold is an intelligent Forest Gump though he plays on a lesser stage as he observes impacts starting with that 1956 parade and continuing through his life including ironically the effect of his last name on how people react to him. Although this is a deep linguistic look at how we use the potency of language to classify and demean others, the tale lacks a central plot; Marc Estrin uses anecdotal incidents to educate Hitler with rhetoric ruling this thought provoking novel that also become difficult to follow.

Smoke and Mirrors
Tanya Huff
ISBN 075640262X $24.95, 400 pp.

Art imitates life when former street prostitute Tony Foster lands a job as a production assistant for the television show Darkest Night. The show stars a vampire-detective while for years Tony was the food supply and lover of Henry Fitzroy, the four hundred and fifty year old vampire. Tony has fought supernatural entities for years but he never expected to fight them in the mundane world of television. Last year on the set, he fought the Shadowlord who came from another dimension (see SMOKE AND SHADOWS) and the Shadows who the people on the set. Current filming is in Caulfield House, which comes alive closing them in and keeping outsiders from entering. Several murders/suicides keep replaying with the spirits trapped in endless reruns of what they did when they were alive. The house feeds off of these scenes and wants the eighteen living people trapped inside to repeat the murder- suicide cycle in order to feed on the essence of the dying. Tony, who found out he was a wizard when he battled the Shadowlord, seeks a way to destroy this malevolence, otherwise he and all his companions will die over and over again in a dance that has no ending. In SMOKE AND MIRRORS, Henry Fitzroy makes a cameo appearance as the focus is on Tony who has to develop his own wizardly skills and become a leader if he is to defeat the evil that is Caulfield House. Over the course of seven books, Tony has changed from a street prostitute to a member of mainstream society who wants to battle evil whenever it comes his way. Not since Hell House has a haunted house horror story been so frightening.

Raising Hope
Kate Willard
ISBN: 0446576875 $23.95

Twelve years ago in Ridley Falls, Bobby Teller could not handle the death of his wife in childbirth three weeks after his ma died. Though the infant lived, the grieving Bobby left town as he saw no hope in remaining behind. The newborn was left to be raised by Bobby's uncouth sister Ruth and his meticulous former lover Sara Lynn Hoffman. Since Sara Lynn's house is much bigger than Ruth's dump, the three females reside in the former's home. Not one of the townsfolk would predict that this abnormal arrangement would work as the two females are polar opposites with Ruth cleaning houses for a living and former class valedictorian Sara Lynn on the path to greatness. However, Hope needs nurturing so they put aside their differences in order to raise the child. Surprisingly Sara Lynn's somewhat snobbish mother Aimee joins the twosome providing a grandmotherly nurturing to RAISING HOPE. This is a terrific family drama using four switching perspectives to provide a deep look at relationships. Each of the key quartet member and to a lesser degree Ruth's mother and brother come across as deep fully developed characters. Obviously a character study with no major action, readers who appreciate a powerful definitive look at what really makes a loving caring family will appreciate this fine inspirational tale that should be required reading for the "family values" snake oil peddlers.

Only for a Knight
Sue-Ellen Welfonder
ISBN: 0446613827 $6.50, 384 pp.

In 1344 after staying away from home for ten years to avoid marriage to Lady Ephemia Macleod, Robbie MacKenzie heads home to Kintal because honor demands he weds the woman. At the same time, the mother of Juliana MacKay is dying, but she insists that her daughter pay back the debt they owe Duncan "Black Stag" MacKenzie. Although Juliana does not believe Duncan deserves a cent, she gives a death bed vow to do so. Robbie rescues Julian from drowning in a loch. She does not remember who she is and why she is traveling. He assumes she is a peasant due to her rough hands, but a thief too because she carries a cache of coins. As they journey together, they fall in love. However, at Kintal, as Juliana regains her memory, besides honor, Robbie learns that even if Duncan willingly risked the wrath of the Macleods, he explains to his son he cannot marry his beloved because they are first cousins. Sue-Ellen Welfonder's latest medieval romance is a terrific tale starring a star-crossed couple whose love for one another seems helpless because of alliances and blood. The story line is filled with a feel for the era, but is driven by the cast including the return of the Mackenzie clan. Although the rival fiancee is too nasty to matter even if the affronts by her future spouse and her future mother-in-law are blatant, fans will take delight with this fine tale that clears up many of the threads from previous novels.

A Clean Kill
Leslie Glass
ISBN: 0451411897 $7.99, 368 pp.

NYPD Chief of the Midtown North Detective Unit April Woo and her spouse Precinct Captain Mike Sanchez look forward to their upcoming but delayed twice honeymoon. However, their week away may be delayed again as someone slashed to death thirty-four year old Madeleine "Maddy" Wilson, wife of renowned chef Wayne and mother of their two young children. The prime suspect is the nanny Remy Banks, but she is reedy thin and could not have overpowered the in shape victim who fought back; the other possible killer is Maddy's trainer Derek who had the strength and opportunity, but motive seems lacking. Neither suspect shows any signs of being in a recent fight. Not long afterwards, someone slashes to death Maddy's best friend Alison Perkins, a mother of two. Once again the nanny Lynn and Derek the trainer are the prime suspects with Derek being the obvious tie between the two victims. As Lieutenant Detective Woo and Captain Sanchez investigate homicides in the exclusive East Side of Manhattan, motive seems lacking for the trainer an unless there is a nanny conspiracy the same holds true for Lynn and Remy at least with the other's employer. While illicit secrets and affairs become known, the killer remains unknown illicitly in plain sight. Leslie Glass' latest police procedural will Woo her new fans as the tale is a solid investigative novel. The story line focuses on the case, but also provides insight into a married law enforcement couple seeking personal time together. Although the killer seems obvious especially by the second murder, readers will enjoy this Manhattan romp starring two likable protagonists whose extra incentive to solve the case fast is honeymooning before retirement.

The Historian
Elizabeth Kostova
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316011770 $25.95, 656 pp.

In 1972, the sixteen year old American has lived in Amsterdam as the daughter of a widowed diplomat so long she cannot remember much of her time in the United States. While in her father's library, the teen finds an ancient tome that contains no writing only a disturbingly menacing looking picture of a dragon and the word "Drakulya". However, numerous letters from 1930 are also inside with the enigmatic salutation: "My dear and unfortunate successor". The daughter asks her father what this all means. Despondent he explains what he knows and how he "inherited" the book and the related terrifying quest from his former adviser at Oxford, who became convinced that Drakulya lives, but vanished soon afterward. He picked up the mantle risking ridicule, but though he has made progress, he fears that the search for Drakuyla will be what he bequests his beloved daughter. Still he tells her to concentrate on school and forget his obsession. She cannot as the book has hooked her as it has done others including her dad; the daughter begins her research into the living legend of Drakulya. THE HISTORIAN is a terrific suspense thriller that grips the audience when the naive narrator picks up the quest over the objection yet expectation of her father. The story line takes the audience across Europe as the teen investigates Drakulya, what happened to the history professor, and related sidebars as she follows the mantra that the truth is out there. Fans will accompany her every twisted step of the way wondering what is at the end of this darkened rainbow. Like the book within the book, THE HISTORIAN grips the audience from the start causing some sleepless nights.

All This Heavenly Glory
Elizabeth Crane
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316000892 $22.95, 231 pp.

New Yorker Charlotte Anne Byers grows up in a family quite different than seen on sitcoms. For instance Charlotte Anne receives opportunities to perform in mother's opera company. As a teen in the 1970s she begins dating, but finds the boys too boyish for her; in her twenties she dates men, but finds them to boyish for her so relationships always fail. She can thank the men not in her life for her alcohol addiction. Lists keep her going whether it is why she wants to be a filmmaker or the dude that she desires who rejects her. This biographical fiction is not for everyone as Elizabeth Crane constantly changes writing style to reflect the mood of her heroine, which in turn leads to the reader at times liking and at other segues disliking Charlotte Anne. The story line is non linear following no chronological order, and containing no climax. The approach bewildered this reviewer who considered not finishing, but could not put the book down because Ms. Crane hooks readers with a fascinating insightful character study that reflects the chaos of life. In some ways ALL THIS HEAVENLY GLORY is more a series of vignettes tied together by a lead protagonist normally the type that stars in a novel. Blending chick lit humor with a different approach, Ms. Crane writes a fine randomly scattered look at an intriguing individual that is well written, complex as there is no beginning or ending, just an insightful tale.

Lullaby and Goodnight
Wendy Corsi Staub
ISBN: 0786016426 $6.99, 384 pp.

In Manhattan, advertising account manger Peyton Somerset is close to forty when her doctor informs her she is pregnant. The father of her unborn wants nothing to do with a child so they break up as the single mom to be plans to raise the child as her own though she has fears and doubts. Needing watermelon, Peyton arrives at the store but does not have enough money. The next customer on line researcher Thomas Reilly buys the fruit for her and walks her home although Peyton worries about this kind stranger being a killer because this is New York and not her home town of Talbot Corners, Kansas. As she goes deeper into her pregnancy, Peyton begins to wonder if someone has been inside her apartment several times as things just seem slightly off kilter. She wonders if New York City has made her gone native; paranoid that someone is stalking her. Peyton wonders if that someone could be Thomas who seems to be around a lot. When she learns that the paranoid sometimes are right, it may prove too late as trimester pregnant females are the target of a serial killer. This frightening tale will leave readers saying no way throughout the reading, but at the end realize with some of the headline atrocities in the news yes way. The story line grips the audience switching between the killer and several pregnant women (the above paragraphs highlights one key potential victim) so that the audience sees various perspectives. Wendy Corsi Staub writes a frightening suspense thriller that grabs the attention of the audience with the comparison of a matricidal serial killer vs. pregnant victims going through the months of what should be joyful occasions.

Glimpses of Paradise
James Scott Bell
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764226487 $12.99, 411 pp.

In Nebraska, teenager Zee Miller, a minister's daughter, looks forward to leaving town for Hollywood stardom though her parents object to her dreams. Her friend Doyle Lawrence is being pressured by his wealthy father to follow in his footsteps by studying law though the lad has doubts. However, World War I shatters everyone's thoughts of the future with Doyle dropping out of school to fight overseas while Zee heads to the bright lights of Los Angeles. After serving in France, Doyle returns burned out with no desire to please his father by studying law. He drifts around until he arrives in Los Angeles; at the same time Zee remains below the Hollywood food chain. When these former idealistic high school pals meet, Zee is climbing the ladder using the alias of Taylor Layne while Doyle has met his beloved Molly. However, a murder with Taylor on trial and more will devastate their world, but a glimmer of hope radiates between them that faith and love can bring miracles even when sacrifice and tragedy occur. GLIMPSES OF PARADISE is a fabulous historical fiction novel that brings to life the aftereffect of World War I on a former GI and on someone so removed from the fighting mindful of those like this reviewer "sacrificing" nothing while soldiers fight in Iraq. The story line is action-packed yet driven by Doyle and Zee. Readers will understand his disillusionment with everything until Molly comes along. Zee also loses her idealism as she is grinded by the Hollywood beat. Yet through all this darkness, a light of hope begins to twinkle as James Scott Bell provides a fine 1920s tale that feels so relevant today.

The Scent of Lilacs
Ann H. Gabhart
Revell (Bethany House)
ISBN: 0800730801 $12.99, 320 pp.

In 1964 Hollyhill, Kentucky, the owner of the Hollyhill Barrier David Brooke knows why he can only be an interim pastor at the Mt. Pleasant Church because the congregation expects its leader married. Thus David works the newspaper to feed his extended family and the church out of love. Seven years ago, David's wife Adrienne left without a look back taking their older daughter then thirteen years old Tabitha with her. She left behind their other child then six years old Jocie. David's septuagenarian Aunt Love lives with them, but he feels more like a referee between his two female relatives than their kin. Jocie wants to know about her family to what made Aunt Love into a preaching stoic spinster who is turning senile except for her biblical citations and why her mother left especially without her. She would also like to see her older sister who turn twenty shortly. As Jocie investigates her recent roots, secrets some would prefer left hidden begin to surface; she learns more about her aunt, her parents, and even the newspaper pressman. THE SCENT OF LILACS is a well written Christian historical family drama that sub-genre will deeply cherish. Jocie is a great inquisitive young teen struggling to understand the dynamics that engulf her in a shroud. The totally in black Aunt love will surprise readers when they learn alongside Jocie about her past. Finally, David is split apart as suffers guilt over his broken marriage and loss of a child and finding solace tending to his flock so that secularly he feels broken while spiritually connected. Ann. H. Gabhart provides an inspirational family drama.

For the Love of the Land
Bonnie Leon
ISBN: 0800758978 $12.99, 304 pp.

In 1872 about a year has passed since Bostonian Rebecca Williams married Australian rancher Daniel Thornton and moved to his Dooloo Station in Down Under (see THE HEART OF THORNTON CREEK). Although her father-in-law has since passed away, Rebecca is happy and pregnant. Adding to her feelings of euphoria is her beloved Aunt Mildred has come for a visit. Perhaps her only concern is how hard Daniel works to keep the station afloat especially with the devastating drought. Daniel feels like a loser as he works as hard as he can but feels failure is pending. He believes he is not the man his dad was as his father would never allow their family station to go under. Still in spite of his efforts Daniel finds each day closer to the doom with only his beloved mother, wife, and now newborn keeping him going. Rebecca, unable to help her spouse, prays everyday for rain. The return to Thornton Creek is an interesting Australian historical romance that showcases the plight of farmers when the weather fails to cooperate for an extended period as much as living up to the title FOR THE LOVE OF THE LAND. The story line provides a deep look at people struggling to cope with a drought especially Daniel who feels the weight of the world on his shoulders as he believes he is not up to the standard set by his late dad in spite of the women who love him telling him his father would be proud of his efforts. Bonnie Leon writes a terrific family driven Queensland saga.

Buddha's Money
Martin Limon
ISBN: 1569473994 $14.00

Twenty years have passed since the cease fire, but some things never change even when the demarcation line representing the front is not far away. For instance in the Itaewon red light district of Seoul, South Korea, the brass "protects" young soldiers from their own desires; Criminal Investigation Division Agents Corporal George Sueno and Sergeant Ernie Bascom are assigned to insure GIs do not barter liquor and cigarettes for sex. However, Sueno and Bascom ignore the inane military rules; if a grunt wants to barter for local flavor they look the other way unless they perceive danger; that includes the "business girls". Thus when ally peddler Sooki tells them something bad happened, the twosome ignores duty and go into hero mode. They soon perceive a connection between thugs beating up a Buddhist nun and the kidnapping of nine year old Mi-ja, adopted daughter of former NCO Herman "Father" Burkowicz. That entangles the CID agents with the kidnapper's quest to own a Ghengis Khan jade scull possessed by the self-anointed Queen of the Chinese Dragon Throne, who refuses all offers even violent ones. BUDDHA'S MONEY feels like a madcap 1950s serial movie as the two agents dash from one incident to another in their quest to bring justice not military law to the back allies of Seoul in the 1970s. The two mavericks are at their best beating up bad guys, but their opponents are two dimensional stereotypes from B movies. Still this action packed pulp thriller provides a fine look at Korea during a period when Viet Nam is the hot spot and containment is America's foreign policy.

The Night She Died
Jennifer Patrick
ISBN: 1569473986 $13.00, 326 pp.

Unable to cope with the death of her boyfriend in a car accident, thirty years old Lara Walton needs to escape the memories that are everywhere in Washington DC. She drives south, but her vehicle breaks down in Winston, Georgia. While waiting around, Lara sees an old fixer upper Victorian home that on the spur of the moment she buys. Lara drops in at the local Dairy Queen where she meets teenager Sterling O'Connor, whose attitude for a seventeen year old is refreshingly punk to the outsider. She hires him to renovate her new house. Meanwhile her new neighbors Dave and Pam Grier think that the couple is having an illicit affair and he as the district attorney wants to insure propriety occurs. However, someone puts five bullets into Lara killing her. Winston police chief Jimmy Edgars investigates the murder that has two prime suspects: Sterling and record store owner Eric Teague, who desired the Washingtonian competing with the teen. THE NIGHT SHE DIED is a strange but excellent police procedural that starts with Jimmy investigating the homicide of Lara, but is actually more of a character study that uses a murder investigation as a tool to look at the lead triangle of the victim and her two beaus. The story line is intriguing as readers learn what makes Lara tick and how the two men in her life react to her whims. Although much of the support cast fails to become much more than shadows, readers will appreciate this fine drama.

The Circle
Peter Lovesey
ISBN: 1569473927 $24.00, 368 pp.

The police investigate the fiery murder of unpopular publisher Edgar Blacker, who died following a talk he gave to the Chichester Writers' Circle, an unpublished writers' group. The motive seems obvious as Blacker conned the wannabes into investing in a doomed vanity press con making one of the group most likely the arsonist-killer. The prime suspect is the group's chair Maurice McDade as Blacker shammed the true crime author of the unpublished Unsolved into a hefty investment and gave nothing back. Meanwhile two more fatal fires occur and the newest member Bob Naylor barely survives an attempt to fry him. As the group investigates one another; Inspector Henrietta "Hen" Mallin takes over the official investigation that has been fumbled while a serial arsonists-murderer has escaped identification. Cigar smoking Hen is a diamond of a cop who turns Peter Lovesey's latest police procedural into a fabulous reading experience. The story line is typical of the grandmaster as the cast seems real especially the wannabe writers turned amateur sleuths and the who-done-it complex yet interesting. As usual the plot contains plenty of red herrings and twists as well as humor as Hen, who played a secondary role in THE HOUSE SITTER, takes the starring role carrying a terrific investigative tale on her pint sized back.

Richard Marcinko and Jim DeFelice
ISBN: 0743422473 $25.00

Rich Armstead of Homeland Security hires Marcinko and his Rogue Warrior team to simulate an incident in the heartland similar to what he and his men and one woman accomplished with Red Cell when his squad showed the vulnerability of nuclear subs and Air Force I. Marcinko and his crew "hijack" a train in Kansas carrying cyanide as their first stunt. As region Homeland Security chief Colonel Telly goes berserk over the incident, Marcinko notices explosives on a bridge not put there by his unit. They also find a headless handless corpse in the nearby water. Next stop is Iowa where Marcinko's team pulls off another terrorist act against Brozilla Cordelia and her unit followed by besting Telly again in Iowa. However, as Marcinko and the Rogue warriors head east, a pattern forms that makes them wonder if a real terrorist operative or cell follows their path with an agenda to take out the antiterrorist group and blow up some landmarks in the American heartland. This is an exhilarating faster than a speeding train thriller as Richard Marcinko and Jim DeFelice showcase what is wrong with Homeland Security. Especially intriguing is Telly, a bureaucrat more interested in saving face than lives as he constantly berates Marcinko and the Rogue Warriors for embarrassing him, not caring that he can correct problems. VENGEANCE is a top rate tale that readers will deeply enjoy. Fans of Tom Clancy will fond this novel hard to resist.

The Black Angel
John Connolly
ISBN: 0743487869 $25.00, 480 pp.

Charlie "Bird" Parker thought he overcame the brutal murders of his wife and daughter by quitting as a NYPD detective, returning to his home of Portland, Maine and especially since he forged a new relationship with psychologist Rachel. They share a home and have a newborn boy Sam. Still Charlie senses the ghosts of his deceased spouse and daughter linger nearby. The Woman arrived by bus to pound the streets of Portland, Maine searching for her missing daughter Alice with no success. Feeling desperate, the Woman crashes Sam's christening seeking her nephew, Louis, who failed to watch over Alice as he promised her. Charlie and Louis accompanied by the latter's boyfriend Angel begin inquiries to find Alice. However, they quickly learn that Alice, a heroin using prostitute, was part of a gang that stole a fragment of a sixteenth century Christian map that if all the pieces are put together would mark the spot in Eastern Europe where a fallen angel was allegedly hidden. A simple missing person's case turns internationally dangerous as various groups want to possess the angel; each expects Charlie to work for them or else be dispatched to his next life sooner. Charlie really soars in this exciting tale in which his fans and his two cohorts traveling with him to find a missing woman and instead end up in the Czech Republic seeking the BLACK ANGEL. The support cast is as usual way out enhancing Charlie's investigation by interfering, recruiting, or misinforming him. On the personal side, Rachel and Sam have left him as the blood and gore that seems to be a magnet for the beleaguered hero overwhelms the doc. This is another terrific Parker tale that readers will appreciate.

John Connolly
ISBN: 0743270193 $12.95, 406 pp.

This is an interesting anthology that bookends with two novellas and thirteen short stories (nine are actually transcripts written for radio) in between the two longer tales. Regardless of format, all the entries are thrilling, chilling and fulfilling as John Connolly dives deeper into the dark side of the supernatural than he previously has. "The Cancer Cowboy Rides". The drifter spreads the fast-acting cancer by touch. He "accidentally" on purpose makes physical contact with people knowing what a casual bump does to the recipient. He runs amuck spreading deadly illness like a cancerous Typhoid Mary touching and bringing death to the multitude and seems unstoppable as no one knows about his "Midas" touch. "The Reflecting Eye". In Maine, private detective Charlie Parker feels as peaceful as he has in a long time, definitely before the murders of his wife and child. Much of his positive feelings are caused by his upbeat relationship with his pregnant girlfriend Rachel. Reluctantly Parker investigates an abandoned house last occupied by a serial killer whose targets were children. The current owner wants Parker to insure that the good, the bad and the ugly spirits have gone on and are not waiting in mirrors to pounce on mortals. The remaining tales showcase John Connolly's range to use everyday scenes to portray the macabre dark in which the supernatural is the norm and the natural is the otherworldly. Combined with two deep novellas, especially a Parker thriller, readers will become creatures of the night reading Mr. Connolly's eerie anthology.

Damaged Goods
Roland Jefferson
ISBN: 0743268865 $23.00, 224 pp.

Ten years ago, Alonzo "Motion Picture Bank Robber" Crane was sentenced by a court to spend twenty-five years to life behind bars for his planning and leadership of a failed Thomas Crown Affair imitation bank robbery. However, the Marion Federal Penitentiary Warden Cranford "The Speaker" Moffett offers Crane a chance for freedom. If he steals a steamer trunk from the top floor of a Los Angeles hotel, Moffett will get him a new identity and ergo a new life. However, this is not a simple B&E as the Department of Justice has the trunk under surveillance by armed feds. On the outside for the first time in a decade, but under close scrutiny, Crane recruits his former cellmate Duffy to help him get the old crowd back together for the heist. While struggling to adjust to a wired world, Crane meets Duffy's girlfriend Trixie. As Crane and Trixie begin making moves on one another, violent prone Duffy becomes angrier by the moment; the triangle jeopardizing the plan in which Crane hides the final act from everyone expecting no honor among thieves. DAMAGED GOODS is a fast-paced crime thriller in which honor is tossed aside as an unnecessary evil by the key players, who each has their own agenda. Crane is a fabulous protagonist holding the action-packed story line together as the star. Filled with twists caused by treachery as no one trusts anyone else, fans of dark urban noir thrillers focusing on criminal behavior will feel Roland Jefferson provides terrific goods; now for that movie.

Two to Tango
Peter Guttridge
ISBN: 1933108002 $14.00, 220 pp.

On the Amazon freelance journalist Nick Madrid is on assignment to follow the Rock Against Drugs tour. His friend (just friend skeptics) Bridget has accompanied him though traveling by boat is not one of her favorite transportation choices. Nick's target is a former rock superstar making a major comeback Otis Barnes. However, Nick can't even go to the bathroom without being mugged, eluding spiders that make Daniels' Arachnophobia look a garden variety type or take a helpful dive amongst hungry piranhas. Nick's cool with that as this is the Amazon norm. Barnes is another story as he has fallen off the drug and alcohol temperance wagon in spite of touring against drugs; he is a nasty drunk and Nick is his punching bag. As they head towards Peru for the last concert, someone tries to kill Barnes. Though much of the touring members and staff have motive to harm the nasty superstar, who would murder him remains a question that Nick plans to resolve before the rocker's final curtain call. As is the norm when Madrid is on a story, readers will finish in a one sitting six-pack as the hero provides his usual amusing asides to the audience and to the antagonists whether they be a mugger, a kidnapper, a deadly fish, or a boxing druggie rocker. The current story line is humorous as the reporter tries to prevent a culprit from killing "Bad News" Barnes (not the basketball great). Fans of the series will enjoy paddling a alongside Madrid while newcomers will want to read his humorous capers (see NO LAUGHING MATTER and A GHOST OF A CHANCE).

Dixieland Sushi
Cara Lockwood
ISBN: 0743499425 $13.00, 304 pp.

While growing up in Arkansas with a Japanese American mother and White southerner father, Jen Nakamura Taylor felt like she never belonged. When she became old enough she moved to Chicago with plans to avoid her roots as much as possible. Her sister did likewise relocating to San Francisco. When cousin Lucy announces she and Kevin Peterson are to marry, the bride and her family including Jen's mother expects her to come for the ceremony. Unable to escape Jen needs to find a date, but not an Arkansas yokel. She persuades her best friend in the Windy City Nigel Riley to escort her home although she feels her boisterous clan will embarrass her in front of him. Riley has hidden his feelings for Jen that he keeps from her because he fears she only sees him as a pal. However, as she feels abashed by her family's antics, Riley seems to enjoy being with them. Jen starts to see things differently when she begins to realize they are her people and they love her just like she begins to see Riley in a different light. The aptly named DIXIELAND SUSHI is a terrific glimpse at the blending of races and cultures displaying how complex humanity truly is. Cara Lockwood switches back and forth between the present Jen and the teenage Jen so that the audience can see how much the younger felt displaced in Dixie while showing how the child becomes the adult. Though the ending seems less filling than the tasty tale that leads to it, readers will appreciate this deep chick lit look at interracial offspring.

Awaken Me Darkly
Gena Showalter
ISBN: 074349749X $12.00, 352 pp.

Chief of the Chicago Police Department Alien Investigation and Removal Agents, huntress Mia Snow and her second in command Dallas Gutierrez investigate the murder of human William Steele. Mia quickly recognizes that the victim died from onadyn poisoning, an item used by three alien groups to breathe in earth's oxygen world. She next notices three pieces of hair tied to one follicle which means a deadly Arcadian committed the murder. Other evidence link Arcadian Lilla en Arr to Steele. Lilla is taken downtown, but insists her brother Kyrinen will avenge this affront even as she hypnotizes males to abet her escape. At the precinct, for no known reason, Isabel Hussin shoots Dallas, whose chances of surviving are nil; only Kyrinen can save him, but Mia wonders at what price as he wants her. He also seems to know who the killer is and how the murder connects to Mia, but refuses to reveal anything at this time. Using the Men In Black concept, Gena Showalter provides a strong ET police procedural that grips the audience from the moment the tough heroine investigates the murder scene and never slows down until the final altercation. Mia is a fabulous "Bad Girl" who has a license to kill, but struggles with her growing feelings for an alien Kyrinen who she believes his sister is probably the serial murderer. The final spin will shock the audience though clues are cleverly placed in our faces as Gena Showalter will awaken more than just her female champion with this fine sci fi who-done-it.

Dirty Little Secrets
Julie Leto
ISBN: 1416501622 $12.00, 336 pp.

In Tampa at the Club Electric, Marisela Morales runs into her former lover Francisco "Frankie" Vega. Ten years ago when she was a teen they were an entry, but he spent seven years in prison as an undercover DEA informer, has been out two years, but recently was busted for possession. Unbeknownst to him, Marisela works for AAA-Able Bail Bonds and has for the last seven years as an enforcer. Although he still desires her, Frankie has other problems to deal with so he plans to go home alone. She plans to bring bail jumper Frankie back with her. However, she also has not forgiven Frankie for breaking her heart a decade ago. Before taking him in, Marisela wants vengeance as only a woman scorned can demand even if she still finds she loves the rat. Mindful of Stephanie Plum, Marisela is a fine protagonist who has been a terrific enforcer for several years because her boss Alberto Garcia understood a basic tenet of not sending an employee back to home turf especially relatives and friends. Thus her chasing after the man she loved who she believes jilted her brings tension as Marisela proves Alberto is right. Readers will appreciate this strong cat and mouse thriller while wondering throughout just who is the rodent as the teenage love of the lead couple threatens to enflame them as adults, but both believe that there time has passed and have other issues to deal with first. Julie Leto provides a tense character driven suspense laden "Bad Girl" tale that subgenre fans will read in one sitting.

Shari Shattuck
ISBN: 0743463854 $12.00, 352 pp.

In Los Angeles, Calloway "Cally" Wilde finishes her shopping at the Little Tokyo Plaza and heads towards her car, when she sees a man with a gun accost an Asian girl. She intercedes using her umbrella as a weapon, but the guy shoots her before fleeing the scene. Although not much more than a scratch, the potential victim Aya Aikosha ensures Cally goes to the hospital. As Cally and Aya become acquainted, she begins to realize that a seemingly everyday occurrence, a mugging, is just the tip of the iceberg. Soon with her beloved Detective Evan Paley at her side more to do the impossible and keep her safe, Cally investigates illegal drug activities, the Geisha and homicide. However, someone perhaps the guy with the gun who introduced her to Aya, wants to silent the nosy American. Even Evan may prove not enough. LETHAL is a fast-paced investigative tale LOADED with plenty of action and strong characters especially the heroine, who is a Good Samaritan instead of the "Bad Girl" label. The story line grips the audience once Cally intercedes in the mugging and never slows down until Los Angeles residents will feel they were hit by an earthquake. Shari Shattuck writes a fine romantic mystery with the emphasis on the wild female champion digging deeper into what is going on as much as her own grave if she is not cautious (a word not fully in her vocabulary).

The Givenchy Code
Julie Kenner
ISBN: 0743496132 $12.00, 368 pp.

Before he died, brilliant online game maker Archibald Grimaldi developed the most popular role playing game yet when he created PSW (Play, Survive, Win). The participant would answer questions about themselves and if approved would be assigned as a Target, Protector, or Assassin. The Target would run around the cyber city seeking clues and safeguarded by the Protector while the Assassin tries to kill the Target before the opponent solved the puzzle. Grimaldi placed in motion a real world version of his hit Internet game. Former counterterrorist marine Major Matthew Stryker applied to PSW years ago, but never played. He was assigned to protect Jamie Tate with twenty thousand dollars deposited in his bank account. He ignored the assignment and the money until he learns that someone, he assumes an Assassin, murdered the Target Jamie in real life. He is sent anther 20K and told the Target for him keep safe is Melanie "Mel" Prescott, who has played online PSW successfully. She rejects the role of real life Target as a hoax until Matthew risks his life to keep her safe leaving behind a corpse as they flee for their lives from a mentally unbalanced Assassin. This action thriller never slows down once Matthew realizes that the PSW game is played for real. In some ways, the story line will remind the audience of the movie The Tenth Victim, but has it owns freshness. Matthew is a delightful skeptical Protector while cryptographic aficionado Mel refuses to become a victim. Julie Kenner writes a tense suspense novel that will grip the audience from start to exhilarating final countdown.

Did the Earth Move?
Carmen Reid
ISBN: 0743493761 $13.00, 352 pp.

Three years without sex until this afternoon; yet Eve comes three times sharing a bed with her cat's veterinarian Nils. As she ponders her wantonness she looks at her fourth finger wearing the ring of her second ex husband Joseph, but cannot fathom why she still has it on. Eve struggles with two adult children (twenty-two years idol Denny and twenty-year old Tom) and two preadolescent (nine years old Anna and Two years old Robbie- that last sexual act before today). Especially wearying her tired soul is her youngest who has become the poster boy for the terrible twos. Still as she ponders to sex or not to sex that is the question, Eve wonders if she blew it when she let Joseph go. Although the vet has proven to be a good and caring lover asking HOW WAS IT FOR YOU?, Eve wonders if her coming even three times is enough for only with Joseph DID THE EARTH MOVE. This is an amusing look at a woman in a mid life crisis struggling with her everyday existence raising what she assumes is a hyperactive infant and the reincarnation of Freud daughter while wondering how she went wrong since Joseph remains in her heart. The story line is character driven as the forty something Eve begins to realize she must first rediscover who she is before she can decide on what she wants. Carmen Reid writes a fine drama starring a woman struggling with what she truly desires out of life.

Cold Feet
Elise Juska, Tara McCarthy, Pamela Ribbon, Heather Swain & Lisa Tucker
ISBN: 141650754X $13.00

"Perfect Weather for Driving" by Elise Juska. PhD candidate in statistics Joel and adult fluff graduate Megan leave Philadelphia together to attend the same wedding. As they share a hotel room when they are in an accident, will they prove opposites attract? "Losing California" by Tara McCarthy. The wedding of Colin and Allison is delayed due to a tragedy. She is secretly happy the wedding is delayed. On a whim, Allison flees the West Coast to meet her favorite singer Michael Madsen in Nova Scotia; Colin pursues. "Sara King Goes Bad" by Pamela Ribbon. Sara has been the good girl all her life so just before her marriage to Mitchell she abandons decorum figuring this will be her only chance. However, her one night wildness leads to capers including out of this world sex. "The Happiest Day of Your Life" by Heather Swain. Annie has ignored her upcoming wedding and has only three months to go. However, before she can analyze why she has no enthusiasm for her big day, a bomb explodes on the subway and her fiance Ben is amongst the missing. "Emily & Jules" by Lisa Tucker. Emily and Jules are in love, but have never met. Instead these chat line pals share in common agoraphobia. When her brother David invites Emily to his upcoming marriage to Clara, she knows she must attend. Her only hope is if her virtually best friend accompanies her, but first they need to meet. These five chick lit pre-wedding tales are amusing with serious undertones that make for a strong anthology.

Balancing in High Heels
Eileen Rendahl
ISBN: 0743471156 $13.00

Though they were going through a tough period attorney Alissa Lindley is stunned when her husband Thomas informs her he needs her to sign the divorce papers because he must do the right thing by Bethany who is caaying his child. Already frustrated by a non-cooperating fax machine, an irate Alissa tosses the gadget. She is fired and forced to attend an anger management seminar. Needing to pick up the pieces, Alissa opens her own practice and volunteers to serve as a pro bono public defender in the San Jose area. The clerk of the court assigns her to defend Sheila the stripper head of a vigilante exotic dance troupe avenging the wrongs done to the downtrodden. As Detective E.J. Rodriguez who arrested Sheila investigates other reports of vandalism probably instigated by the avenging dancers, he and Alissa are attracted to one another, but both understand the maxim about sleeping with the enemy. Alissa and to a lesser degree the support cast seem lost in today's society and struggle to find where they fit; thus the audience receives a focused look at being oneself whatever that might be. The relationship between E.J. and Alissa is well drawn, but also adds to the overall feel of a lost soul seeking satisfaction in a disposable society.

Where the River Runs
Patti Callahan Henry
ISBN: 0451215052 $12.95, 236 pp.

Meridy Dresden is married to her college sweetheart and lives in an upscale home in Atlanta. She experience empty nest syndrome because their only child is at college while her spouse is busy on a case that will make him a partner in a prestigious law firm. She loves her husband, but feels disconnected from him as if their relationship is a fa‡ade. Meridy learns from her mother that her childhood friend Tim is being asked to pay for the reconstruction of Keeper's Cottage; the townsfolk blame him for destroying it on graduation night. She returns to her hometown of Seaboro in the Low Country to set the record straight. While at home, she feels reborn as she opens up for the first since her high school boyfriend died. Now Meridy believes she owes her husband the truth about her life before him and prays he accepts and loves the real Meridy. WHERE THE RIVER RUNS stars a beautiful woman who seems to have it all, but feels empty and only going through the motion of living. In returning to her home town, Meridy concludes that she must face all the aspects of her past that she buried even from herself if she is to become a whole person again. Fans of Anne River Siddens will want to read Patti Callahan Henry's deep character study.

Map of Bones
James Rollins
ISBN 0060763876 $24.95, 448 pp.

In Cologne, Germany in the Kolner Dom Cathedral, during services celebrating the Feast of The Three Kings, killers dressed in monk robes kill almost the entire congregation. Some were shot but most died in the same manner at the same time. The golden sarcophagus was opened and the bones of the magi were stolen. The sole survivor tells how the people died and describes the symbol on the monks' robes that belong to the Royal Dragon Court, a fraternal order of alchemists who want the world to return to a feudal order with them as the leaders. The Vatican sends two of its agents and asks for help from the U.S. Sigma Force, a secret organization known to very few. Working together, the group figures out that the bone dust in the sarcophagus was also in the wafer that everyone had eaten. The Royal Dragon Court wants to possess the knowledge the Magi possessed so that it would give them unlimited power and it is up to the Sigma force and the Vatican spies to stop them from completing their quest for world domination. Readers who like action thrillers in the vein of Jack Higgins and a story reminiscent of Dan Brown's THE DAVINCI CODE will find MAP OF BONES an exquisitely exciting and entertaining reading experience. The audience will find that James Rollins also attempts to educate his readers about the inner working of the Catholic Church and the early teachings of the Apostles that were later destroyed as heretical. There will be other Sigma Force books that readers will eagerly await them coming out in the same manner as anticipating their publication like waiting for a Clancy or Brown thriller.

Highway 61 Resurfaced
Bill Fitzhugh
ISBN: 0060597615 $23.95, 353 pp.

DJ Rick Shannon has a night music show on a Vicksburg, Mississippi radio station. Though he still believes his mission in life is to save FM radio by reclaiming its southern blues roots, Rick feels emboldened by his recent success in solving multiple homicides. Thus he believes he earned his private investigative license and opens up Rockin' Vestigations. Lollie Woolfolk swivels her way into Rick's office to hire him to locate her missing grandfather, blues record producer Tucker Woolfolk. The DJ PI figures this case is perfect for him as he knows the blues. Rick learns that Tucker was murdered and his client is missing. He searches for the lost Lollie until a different female sashays her way into his office asserting she is the real Woolfolk. As he ponders will the real Lollie please stand up, Rick meets an assortment of eccentrics, some dangerous in search of revenge and some purring seeking a hand out; none seem helpful. If the DJ sleuth is not careful his fans will sing the eulogy blues for him. The latest Shannon tale is a solid regional investigative novel that is more detective than musically inclined (RADIO ACTIVITY was more balanced). Still Rick provides deep in sight into musical history especially in the Mississippi Delta. The sleuthing is fun to follow as the DJ fumbles his way through the investigation more like a stumbling amateur than a professional (he is being paid so he is a pro) except when musicology is involved. Bill Fitzhugh provides a fine who-done-it that his fans will want to sing along with as he travels HIGHWAY 61 RESURFACED.

Act of War
Dale Brown
ISBN 0060752998 $25.95 400 pp.

The events of 9/11 are nothing compared to the actions of a terrorist group a few years later. At the Tans Global Energy Transshipment and Refinery Company, a single man detonates a nuclear device inside the complex killing thousands of people and emitting a massive dose of radiation into the atmosphere. The president declares a war on terrorism and has a joint civilian military unit formed to seek out the terrorists all over the world. Major Jason Richter is part of the few because he created an exoskeleton that is practically invulnerable with a man inside who can control the advanced machine loaded with plenty of weapon power. It is a new kind of soldier in a new kind of war and the people in charge of the operation feel that the CID's (Cybernetic Infantry Division) are too new and untested to use them as the main force in the upcoming campaign. Jason is determined to destroy the terrorist group GAMMAs because they believe refineries and other such targets are polluting the earth. Neither Gamma nor Jason realize the true enemy is hiding in the shadows; they must be found and taken out with the best ones to do that are Jason and the CID's. Dale Brown out does himself with this action packed thriller that starts off with a nuclear bang and just gets more exciting . The protagonist is a warrior geek, a scientist who invented a powerful weapon and is not afraid to be part of the combat team. Atari is releasing a game based on ACT OF WAR, which should be a fantastic game, because although there is plenty of action, the choices are based on the decisions the characters make.

The Inside Ring
Michael Lawson
ISBN: 0385515316 $24.95, 264 pp.

Homeland Security Secretary Andy Banks received a note warning him that Eagle One is in trouble as the INSIDE RING has been compromised; he passed the memo on to Secret Service Director Patrick Donnelly, whose agency is the INSIDE RING, but he chose to ignore the warning. Not long afterward by Georgia's Chattooga River, someone fires at the President hitting him in the shoulder and killing writer Phillip Montgomery and Secret Service Agent Robert James. The assassin escapes, but a few days later in Maryland, Harold Edwards commits suicide leaving behind a note claiming he was the assassin. Banks tells Speaker of the House John Fitzpatrick Mahoney what happened and his belief there is more to the story besides an unemployed angry machinist. Mahoney assigns attorney Joe DeMarco to investigate the INSIDE RING especially since Donnelly failed to react to a specific threat. DeMarco quickly hones in on Agent Billy Ray Mattis, but someone kills the prime suspect. DeMarco follows Billy's trail back to Georgia, but finds high placed individuals want to make him gater bait before he can learn the full truth. THE INSIDE RING is a terrific suspense thriller that starts off literally with a bang (the presidential assassination attempt) that turns into an exhilarating action-packed investigative tale. Readers will be hooked as DeMarco peels away the deceptions as if he is cutting up a Vidalia onion. If readers had to select only one thriller, Michael Lawson's tense deep and refreshing tale is a great choice as corruption is everywhere permeating everything including the sacred INSIDE RING where agents prime mission is to die for Eagle One not kill Eagle One.

The J.A.P. Chronicles
Isabel Rose
ISBN: 0385512864 $23.95, 341 pp.

Though a decade has passed since the magnificent seven were bunk mates at prestigious Willow Lake Camp, one of the them award winning filmmaker Ali Cohen has been invited back to film the hundredth anniversary celebration. She was the outsider treated like crap and tortured constantly by her six Jewish American princess bunk mates. In spite of her success, Ali remains haunted by what they did to her so she proposes a documentary on the pivotal moments in the lives of the antagonistic six hoping that God has punished each one of them. Not long after the reunion, Ali concludes there is a God. Dafna no longer has daddy's twenty thousand dollars a month allowance, a job or a spouse. Beth is planning her marriage but desires the photographer not the groom. Arden resides more in rehab than in her home. Jessica is a wannabe actress unable to break out of regional summer stock. Laura is a successful talent agent, but struggles with a lump on her breast. Finally public enemy number one Wendy, wife and mother, hides her affair with a woman. Ali is ready to expose the seven deadly sinners. THE J.A.P. CHRONICLES is an interesting relationship drama that enables the audience to see how bullying can hurt a person years after the events have occurred; people do not let go. The characters seem real and unique as Isabel Rose insures her ensemble has differing personalities that each retains throughout the tale. Though seemingly heavenly retribution to each sinner darkens the tale with overkill that takes away from the reality, fans of insightful character studies will enjoy this strong story.

Disturbed Earth
Reggie Nadelson
ISBN: 0802733832 $24.00, 352 pp.

The jogger running near Coney Island finds blood stained clothing. The Special Unit Dealing with Kids Crimes chief Sonny Lippert is disturbed by the apparent crime scene because he has been involved with similar and now cold cases like this one. Bloody clothing belonging to a preadolescent, a nearby hole, and no corpse at the locale, but the body turns up elsewhere later. He orders Detective Artie Cohen to help with the inquiry officially because he can speak Russian so will foster communication with the local community, but unofficially because he trusts him unlike the rest of law enforcement involved in the case. Artie would like nothing to do with the case, but knows he must become involved especially with the Russian community that is his heritage. When a possible second child homicide occurs, the city, still under siege mentally and physically from 9/11, goes berserk. With a storm coming, Artie realizes that his godson Billy is missing and could be the next victim of an apparent serial killer. This series is one of the best urban police procedurals on the market today as Reggie Nadelson combines a deep look at the Russian communities living in the Brooklyn Spit beaches with a top rate investigation. Artie is a terrific protagonist whose barbs lighten a tense tale at just the right moments. The investigation is fabulous as readers watch Artie turn desperate as the child he loves like a son has gone missing.

Who Needs Boys?
Stephie Davis
ISBN: 0843953977 $5.99, 193 pp.

In Massachusetts, fourteen years old Allie Morrison looks forward to spending the summer with her father in Los Angeles. Since her parents divorced, she rarely sees him. For that matter she never sees her mother either though she lives with her. Mom is too busy at work or on dates so Allie lives on frozen pizza. While she is in California, her best friends, Blue, Natalie, and Frances all have jobs at Sam's Farm Stand, run and owned by Latin schoolteacher Sam Novak. The day before she is to fly to the West Coast, her father cancels the trip claiming his pregnant wife is ailing. A despondent Allie has no mom around to empathize with her. Allie manages to get work at Sam's Farm Stand. Sam assigns her to work with his younger brother Tad who is Allie's age. He is nasty to her besides being too young; his eighteen years old brother Rand is much nicer towards her and the right age. As Allie adjusts to field work from being a teen Fashionista, her three friends bet stuffed bras as to whether she becomes the girlfriend of the younger brother. WHO NEEDS BOYS? is a fabulous young teen angst tale starring a terrific lock key protagonist. The story line focuses on Allie, inadvertently abandoned by her parents, but the consequences of feeling discarded are powerful and deftly described in her philosophy of life: be dumped or do the dumping rather quickly. Though a confrontation with mom deals to easily with the estrangement, young adults will appreciate Stephie Davis' fine tale that requires Natalie the runner needing a boyfriend, preferably a non-athletic nerd.

Texas Triumph
Elaine Barbieri
ISBN: 0843954094 $6.99

In 1850 New Orleans, Buck Star seduced his friend's wife. She is willing to give up everything for Buck, but the handsome lothario deserts her leaving behind the broken Gannon family without a look back or feeling the slightest of remorse. In 1869, an ailing Buck's past has come home to roost (see TEXAS STAR and TEXAS GLORY). Several people have the motive to want Buck dead for the havoc he caused and left behind two decades ago. His son Pinkerton Agent Taylor Star returns to the family spread to investigate a murder. He is accompanied by his partner Vida Malone, who Taylor quickly realizes is the only person he trusts to include blood relatives. As the two agents investigate and protect each other's back, the attraction they already have for one another but deny explodes into the open. While danger mounts from an avenging unknown culprit, Vida and Taylor fall in love, but first must uncover who wants anything remotely Star dead. The last Texas Star tale is an enjoyable historical private investigative romance as the lead couple investigates who wants to destroy Buck even while falling in love. Taylor and Vida make a wonderful pairing as the Agents have avoided their growing attraction until the danger turns personal and they fear for their partner. The final of this fine trilogy is a triumph for fans of Reconstruction Era Texas romantic mysteries as Elaine Barbieri star will shine with glory.

Hot and Heavy
Sandra Hill
ISBN: 0843951605 $6.99, 384 pp.

Navy SEAL Lieutenant Ian MacLean leads his commando team on Operation Rodent; the objective is to eliminate terrorist leader Jamal ben Hassan in Northern Iraq. The SEALS safely land near their target with Ian entering an empty cave to use as the rendezvous point. In 1013 Madrene Olgadotter is paraded naked and in chains by Steinolf the Vicious who has taken over her home Norstead. When she continues to display a vitriolic tongue, he sells her to a harem. Over the next three years she is sold nine times, but no one touches her as she curses her owners with a shriveled jewel. She escapes her last captivity in Northern Iraq and hides in a cave. Madrene surprises Ian and hits him with a rock. She binds him, but he easily escapes. He believes the sharp tongued beauty is Jamal's girlfriend while she thinks he is a caliph's slave. As they become acquainted during the dangerous mission, they fall in love, but neither is sure how much time she has although she will soon find her parents and siblings living comfortably in twenty-first century California. The latest Viking time travel-SEAL romance is a fun tale starring two protagonists who belong together even if their birth dates are over a millennium apart. Madrene is terrific as she curses males with a shriveling ease until she meets Ian who thinks she is crazy but seems to enchanted by her with an opposite spell that leaves him in a permanent state of hardness due. Readers will enjoy Sandra Hill's latest romantic thriller starring this time a female Viking warrior and the SEAL she tames.

Linda Broday
ISBN: 0843955651 $5.99, 352 pp.

In 1869 Redemption, Texas co restaurant owner of Ollie's cafe Laurel James works hard to overcome the stink of whoring during the war although she knows she was not at fault having been abducted and sold when she was fifteen to a brothel. She is engaged to marry kind hearted Murphy Yates, but procrastinates on setting the date. Although she is fond of her fiance, Laurel doubts that she loves him, but is that enough or does he deserve better. With the Civil War over, Murphy's brother Brodie comes out of the cold having spied for the Confederacy at Shenandoah to visit his sibling. He is shocked to learn Lil, a prostitute he met in St. Louis, is Murphy's fiancee Laurel. Angry and jealous, Brodie warns Laurel to end her engagement or he will reveal her past to Murphy as his brother deserves better than a prostitute. Laurel rejects his blackmail, but detests herself because she wants and feels she probably still loves Brodie as she did when they first met during the war. REDEMPTION is a fabulous Reconstruction Era romance starring two super lead protagonists and a powerful insightful support cast. Post Civil War Texas is filled with action although the outlaws who invade the town make it too easy for Brodie to reassess Laurel. The triangle is delivered perfectly so that the audience will follow the heroine as she must choose between the brothers knowing that when she selects a schism between siblings could result. This is a strong historical with a delightful not so tender love story.

At Risk
Judith E. French
ISBN: 0843953942 $6.99, 384 pp.

The Game Master kept a memento from each of his victims to remind him of the euphoria of hearing the Sophomore, the Wife, and the Nurse scream until their blood stopped flowing. His next intended victim, the Professor, seems perfect for his tastes though he ponders what he will take from her as his keepsake. He assumes she should prove the easiest because her farmhouse borders nothing except a remote isolated swamp. Professor Liz Clark teaches history at Somerville College in Dover, Delaware. She feels pretty good about her work and her personal life as she has hunks to choose from for a change. She fantasizes sleeping with the grad student, her former boyfriend, or the wheelchair-bound ex cop. However, her sexual dreams turn into a nightmare when Liz finds the brutally slashed corpse of Tracy Fleming a sophomore in her office. Unbeknownst to her, that is a gift from a serial killer who plans to make the Professor his next victim. Suspense thriller fans will not be AT RISK reading Judith E French's terrific tension driven tale. Interestingly most of the cast is two dimensional, which adds psychological intrigue to the exhilarating story line as the one fully developed person Liz (and readers) has no idea who is stalking her or why. Instead the culprit remains murky except in terms of serial killing. Will the Game Master check mate Liz who seems to have no allies or will she survive this murdering machine; fans will read this book in one sitting to learn what happens to Liz.

The Cobra and the Concubine
Bonnie Vanak
ISBN: 0843955295 $5.99, 352 pp.

In the late nineteenth century in the Egyptian desert, Khepri of the Warriors of the Wind learns that he will inherit a dukedom from his English grandfather, Lord Caldwell, who the desert Cobra forgot when his parents died while digging amidst the pyramids. He struggles with leaving behind his family and friends, but knows he must do the right thing. Still to stay connected he asks Badra to marry him, but she refuses. Badra has a secret that she has hidden from Khepri. As a child of the Sahara, she learned how men behave when Sheikh Fareeq took more than her virginity; he took her trust in men and her passion for life with him. Though her nemesis is dead and the her rescuers, the Khamsin the Warriors of the Wind, have proven honorable, Badra cannot sleep with any man even one she loves like Khepri because the pain of Fareeq's rape lingers. For Khepri, Kenneth Tristan when he returns to the land of his ancestors, all is like the sand in the wind blowing away since he knows he failed to protect Badra and worse failed to win her. Bonnie Vanak's latest historical romance is a wonderful tale that brings alive a bygone era on the sands of the Sahara at a time when Egyptology was the rage in London. The story line brings back Badra, a victim in THE FALCON & THE DOVE as the female lead, who exasperates the man who cherishes her. Khepri is an intriguing protagonist struggling between his heritage and his lifestyle. Ms. Vanak is at her best with this triumphant tale of second chances.

Robin Cook
ISBN 0399152938 $25.95, 544 pp.

Dr. Laurie Montgomery and Dr. Jack Stapleton (see VECTOR) both work for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and off duty they are lovers living together although each has kept their own apartment. She wants marriage and children while Jack who lost his family is afraid of a commitment. One morning Laurie wakes up and realizes that at forty three she has very few child bearing years left and breaks it off with Jack. She throws herself into her work and she finds the case of a twenty-eight year old man very puzzling. He had a foot injury and died but there is no evidence what caused his death. When a woman who has had knee surgery dies for no apparent reason, Laurie begins to think that the two cases are related. When two more exact cases come in, Laurie begins to believe there is a serial killer operating in Manhattan General. As more cases pile up, the only thing the victims have in common is they were young, healthy and new subscribers to AmeriCare Health Insurance. Laurie investigates off the radar because the powers that be don't want to believe her and order her to keep her findings in house. Robin Cook has written another exciting trademark medical thriller that includes his opinion on the state of medical care in this country, the nursing shortage and the faults of the health care system which are all woven into a mesmerizing storyline. The heroine feels like the Lone Ranger as she struggles to get someone to listen to her and believe what she is saying. MARKER is another triumph for the grandmaster of medical thrillers.

Killing Rain
Barry Eisler
ISBN: 0399152849 $24.95, 320 pp.

The Israeli Mossad needs an unaffiliated freelance assassin to eradicate an individual peddling a special bomb to the highest bidding terrorists. However, because the target appears to have CIA connections, he may actually be an agent and not wanting American fury, the Israelis need an outsider. They hire Rain who cannot be connected to the Mossad although he sleeps with one of their agents deadly Delilah. Rain sets up the execution perfectly and enters the kill zone to complete the assassination. A child enters the locale ad though he has killed many times sometimes with justice not on his side, he refuses to murder when children are involved. However, failure is unacceptable to the Israelis and besides they fear he will inform the Americans of his assignment; the Mossad comes calling with the objective to kill Rain. When it Rains it pours action, action, and more action. KILLING RAIN is an exhilarating fast-paced tale that sets speed records so much so that readers better be aware of G-Force. The story line is action-packed from the get go and never slows down even when Rain questions his work, his methodology, and his personal death toll. Don't worry his conscience is sort of a sidebar to the reader as he methodically does what he does best, assassinate the enemy although this time the Mossad may prove to overwhelming.

Fire Sale
Sara Paretsky
ISBN: 0399152792 $25.95

Private Investigator V.I. Warshawski says no when her former basketball coach at Bertha Palmer High School Ms. McFarlane asks her to take over the girl's team until she can come back to work or another volunteer surfaces. The coach reminds Victoria that basketball enabled her to get a scholarship to the U of Chicago. That fails to move Victoria, but when Coach mentions she is having cancer surgery implying she will never return Vic reluctantly takes over the sixteen girl squad that includes gang members and a center with two kids. One of the team's stars Josie Dorrado asks Ms. Warshawski to talk with her mother who is concerned with rumors she overheard that someone is going to blow up By Smart's nearby manufacturing plant. If this happens many people including the older Dorrado will be out of work as By Smart is the biggest employee besides maybe the gangs in the depressed South Chicago. In spite of expecting nothing, Vic. goes to check out the tip when the explosion occurs. At about the same time, Josie and Billy Young, grandson of the By-Smart owner, run away. Vic hopes to find the teens before they get into trouble and also uncover who blew up the plant killing someone she knows while recovering from injuries and finally coaching teen basketball. The who-done-it starts late, as Sara Paretsky provides her fans with an absorbing tour of Warshawski's old neighborhood. The team is delightful to follow with their fights, cliches, and camaraderie with several having unique personalities. More personal than usual, FIRE SALE is a fabulous South Chicago mystery that provides an interesting new side to V.I. that of mentoring coach. Sara Paretsky talent shines through with each book she writes.

Captain Alatriste
Arturo Perez-Reverte
ISBN 039915275X $23.95 272 pp.

The invincible Armada has recently lost and Spain is in upheaval from the shocker. Meanwhile former Spanish Captain Diego Alatriste returns home to Madrid because war injuries make the life of a soldier impossible to continue. Still he is a renowned swordsman so the President of the Holy Tribunal of the Inquisition Fray Emilio Bocanegra hires him and an Italian assassin who normally works for the King's Secretary Gualterio Malatesta to allegedly frighten two Englishmen who have come to Madrid. Gualterio is irate because Diego confronts the two visitors giving them a chance to defend themselves; Gualterio prefers to kill from behind as a frontal fight frightens him. When the two Brits put up a strong defense, Diego, adhering to his mission, prevents Gualterio from killing them. However, by doing so he now has a deadly livid enemy who will patiently wait for the moment to strike him down from behind. Diego assists the English on their mission by keeping them safe, but also finds he is caught in the middle of disputing factions blaming one another for the Armada debacle. CAPTAIN ALASTRISTE is such a superb seventeenth century swashbuckler that any moment this reviewer expected Errol Flynn to show up. The story line is fast-paced, filled with non stop action, and the fully developed cast provides a deep look at Spain still reeling from the Amada catastrophe. It is that latter element that refreshes the sword swinging tale as readers will appreciate how deep a cut the impact that disaster had on the country and to a lesser degree through the two visitors on England. Arturo Perez-Reverte writes a strong historical novel.

Small Mediums at Large
Terry Iacuzzo
ISBN: 0399152350 $22.95

Baby boomer Ask the Psychic Cosmo Girl columnist Terry Iacuzzo writes an intriguing second insightful biography that showcases growing up in Buffalo and beyond as an adult as part of a fortune telling family of seers. The acclaimed psychic provides a complete picture including non-paranormal relationships as much as the otherworldly seances and visions. Whether you believe or not, this is a terrific bio that showcases a family that dared to be different yet had dysfunctional elements such as a fortune telling matriarch who could work the other side but was unable to nurture her children. Most interesting is the teenage Terry who used her powers to gain social acceptance in high school. The 1950s through 1970s dialogues are fascinating especially the supernatural claims even if a doubting Thomasina questions recall during the drug haze of the Nixon era. Still this remains a superb engaging memoir of a complex convoluted family where the incredible is accepted as the norm, but the norm is questionable at best.

Take My Breath Away
Tina Donahue
Kensington Brava
ISBN: 0758210787 $14.00

Former marine, Hollywood director Cole Ryder decides he needs a better understanding of survival in the tropics to bring reality to his next action flick. He arranges first hand research with survival expert Ariel Leigh as his guide for three days and nights in Paradise. However, upon seeing his hostess, Cole thinks more of romance rather than adventure though her wealthy influential uncle warns Cole that Ariel is forbidden fruit and to stay away from his beloved niece or watch his film career end. Ariel begins showing Cole survival techniques that tempt Cole beyond anything he ever wanted, her kisses burn his insides so that he wonders if he will survive this trek and has no regard for his movie future as all he can think of is Ariel in his arms and more. Cole does not fear her uncle, but is totally frightened by his feelings and needs for Ariel. However, she believes males except for her relative are fickle with no endurance for the long term. Cole seems different, but one last torturing temptation will determine if he is the one to bring paradise to Ariel as he already owns her heart. The exotic location enhances an erotic plot starring two individuals who heat the pages. The story line combines intelligent yet absurd humor with torrid antics as the lead couple amusingly banters back and forth; even when the event seems innocent there is a double entendre; for instance no one will ever go fishing again without thinking of Ariel's "catch". Tina Donahue provides her audience with a fabulous funny sultry story.

Out of Control
Shannon McKenna
ISBN: 0758205627 $14.00

Cynical private investigator Davy McCloud was hurt by a woman he counted on so once burned he mistrusts all females who complicate life. That is until Margo Vetter begins instruction at the gym next door to his office. He wants her with his soul and is willing to ignore his brain telling him not to dive in. He even goes so far to do a background check and realizes she has mysterious secrets. When Margot fled the police targeting her as the prime suspect for a murder she has been framed for but didn't commit, she thought she hit rock bottom and her life could only look up. However, she quickly realizes that bottom is endless as now someone is stalking her leaving bloody body parts as presents. She needs help and Davy seems the right person at the right time, but she fears how she feels for him. Margot knows that first the stalker must be stopped; then she must clear her name; and finally she can pursue how her heart beats when Davy is near. Davy has his own list when it comes to Margot who has gotten inside his heart. Shannon McKenna's third torrid investigative romantic thriller is a fantastic suspense tale due to a wonderful lead couple and a vile villain who makes the story line work from the shadows. Davy is a reluctant champion who knows that if he intercedes to keep Margot safe he is a goner just like his two sleuthing pals before him (see BEHIND CLOSED DOORS AND STANDING IN THE SHADOWS). Margot wants her hero, but fears the troubles she brings to a relationship as her life is totally OUT OF CONTROL to the joy of Ms. McKenna's fans.

Southern Exposure
Karen Kelley
ISBN: 0758207115 $14.00

For her birthday, the girls take patrol officer Jody Dupree to a strip joint where she watches Logan Hart perform. That night Jody and Logan celebrate her birthday by themselves. However, by morning light Jody is gone. New Orleans Gazette columnist Logan challenged his readers to send him jobs to perform as he insists he can handle anything for a shift even stripping. His next assignment is patrolling the mean streets of the Big Easy alongside of Jody. As their attraction grows, Logan senses a mystery with Jody. He makes inquiries and soon learns of an unsolved murder from her childhood. If he reveals her secret he could make his career but endanger the woman he loves that is if he understands the threat to Jody if he publishes his report. Karen Kelley provides a heated romantic suspense starring two likable protagonists, the return of the lead couple from SOUTHERN COMFORT (cleverly closing their tale), and a journalistic ethics issue to add to the solid drama. The story line starts off in an amusing way, but twists into a hot police procedural as Logan patrols with Jody before spinning into a private investigative plot when he makes inquiries into her mysterious past. The transitions are smoothly done as are the romance and love between the lead duet. Ms. Kelly writes a gripping thriller that the audience will wonder whether Logan chooses fame and fortune or love.

Bad Boys Over Easy
Erin McCarthy, Jen Nicholas and Jordan Summers
ISBN: 0758208456 $14.00

"Fuzzy Logic" by Erin McCarthy. The package contained adult sex toys that should have went to his best friend Pleasure Party advisor Ashley Andrews, but a mistake delivered it to scholarly Lucas Marcus instead. Lucas realizes his friend has a thriving business over the Internet, but he wants to change their relationship by making him her sex toy. . "Cupid Curse" by Jen Nicholas. Lonely and despondent Valentine Lewis, named for her holiday being her birthday, pleads with Cupid to send her true love to her. Cupid's apprentice over a century old Gideon intercepts the entreaty. Felling capable of handling the assignment, Gideon visits Valentine only to find he no longer wants to be a virgin as he desires the mortal; she reciprocates. "Mesmerized" by Jordan Summers. Performer Amanda Dillon hypnotizes men in her act making them desire her. Journalist Derek Armstrong joins the audience to prove she is a fake. However, this time she is unable to bring the hunk out of his trance. Show over, she takes him with her to her home so that she can undo what she did to Derek, who shammed going under, but instead finds he is mesmerized by real desire. These three erotic romances will hypnotize readers with fine erotic tales in which Cupid would agree that love is illogically fuzzy but searing fun.

Lois Greiman
ISBN 0440242622 $6.99, 336 pp.

After a series of unflattering lessons with the opposite sex, Christine McMullen thinks there is something seriously wrong with them and she wants to help them. Twelve years of waitressing and going for a degree allows her to become a psychologist practicing in California where she tries extra hard to straighten up men who come to see her for help. Her most famous patient is Andrew R. Bomstad, a wealthy former tight end for the NFL Lions who Christina is treating for impotency. She finds her renowned patient sensitive and caring until the day he brings in a bottle of her favorite alcoholic beverage; takes out his erect penis and tries to rape her. She fights with him trying to fend him off and the next thing she knows he is dead. Lieutenant Rivera believes she killed him in a lovers' quarrel and refuses to believe her when she tells him their relationship was professional. To clear her name Christine starts asking questions which result in her getting beat up, her brake line cut, and almost killed. Move over Stephanie Plum and Bubbles Yablonsky to make way for Christina McMullen, the newest blue collar sexy professional woman who finds herself in hair raising predicaments that almost get her murdered. The chemistry between the psychologist and the police lieutenant is so hot that readers will see sparks fly off the pages. Lois Greiman, who has written over fifteen delightful romance books, appears to have a great career as a mystery writer also.

Inside Out
John Ramsey Miller
ISBN 0553583379 $6.99, 446 pp.

Dylan Devlin is driving around New Orleans when he gets in a car accident and his trunk pops open, spilling out the bodies of two men he murdered on orders of Sam Manelli, a former Mafiosi who has gone legitimate. Sam bequeathed his illegal enterprises to his second-in-command Johnny Russo. Devlin, who has killed over a dozen men on Manelli's orders, makes a deal with the federal prosecutor and is taken into protective custody. Dylan is taken to Rook Island off the coast of North Carolina and his wife Sean is brought to him. Federal Marshal Winter Massey is assigned to watch them along with other U.S. Marshals, but a group of men find out Dylan's location and kills everyone on the island except for Sean and Winter, who survive until help arrives. Sean goes into hiding knowing that Sam is looking for her and Winter is kidnapped by the head of a black ops agency with links to the Rock Island fiasco. Both Sean and Winter are targets and it will take a miracle to outwit their enemies who want them dead. John Ramsey Miller, author of THE LAST FAMILY, has written a compelling and exciting action thriller starring a likeable protagonist, a widower raising his blind son who still misses his wife who died in the same accident that injured their son. Winters is attracted to Sean and goes beyond the call of to make sure she is safe. Be on the lookout for UPSIDE DOWN which continues the adventures of Winter coming next month.

Fearful Symmetry
Morag Joss
ISBN: 0440242428 $6.99

At the Oxfam store in Bath, septuagenarian Imogen Beven puts out an old fur piece for sale. Animal rights activists Anna Ward-Partigan and Bren kick up a fuss to get it removed from the shelf. Imogen tells the irate duo to leave. As they do he says he will get even with the SOB. Not long afterward, Imogen receives a package in the mail. When she goes to open it, the package explodes. She dies in the hospital. Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Poole leads the investigation into the letter bomb homicide. He is distracted by his estrangement with his wife Valerie; she punishes him for an alleged affair with his beloved internationally acclaimed cellist Sara Selkirk that he wants but has not acted on out of fears of hurting his three children. Andrew learns of the Oxfam incident. He interviews Anna, who admits Bren vowed he would get even, has since vanished, and demands she see her father a judge as her animal rights idealism vanished once she understands the trouble she is in. A second homicide forces Sara into the investigation. FEARFUL SYMMETRY is a fabulous tale that starts off as a pure English police procedural, but towards the middle becomes an amateur sleuth investigation. The transition is effortlessly handled so that the audience accepts Sara's involvement without blinking. Andrew is an intriguing protagonist struggling with his growing love for Sara, but trying to remain faithful to his wife. Czech composer Herve Pretescu accentuates the personal drama when he meets Valerie and already knows Sara, but in turn somewhat overwhelms the mystery. As with the finely tuned FUNERAL MUSIC, Morag Joss provides a delightful mystery that looks deep into the key quartet.

Whitfield Grant
Denver Austin
ISBN: 0976118106 $27.00, 322 pp.

In Hawaii Pittsburgh Steeler superstar free safety Tony Williams indulges at a party and sleeps with a white woman. The next day he knows he made a mistake as he loves his wife and always has been faithful. He vows never again, but failed to consider his sex partner as Marianne Scott, daughter of the Steeler's owner, is obsessed with Tony. When he ignores her letters and rejects her advances at training camp, Marianne accuses Tony of assault and rape. The media assumes the worse of him stereotyping him as a black athlete on the prowl. Allegheny County Assistant District Attorney Joey Kearns prosecutes the case that he sees as a career maker; so does Judge Gerald O'Connor. Tony turns to his friends from high school for support and hires a top rate lawyer. While her dad wants the truth to prevail, as insurance Marianne's mom brings north her Mississippi Klan relatives, but the intelligent eloquent Tony refuses to allow his family and his life to be sacked by a vengeful SOB. RAILROADED is a terrific legal thriller that grips the audience the moment that Tony recognizes Marianne as the woman he shared consensual sex with and never slows down until the final clean up in Ohio. The characters are purposely turned into extremes to accentuate the theme that justice conveniently blinks as even a popular good family person can be RAILROADED for a crime that he or she never committed. Whitfield Grant will leave his audience entertained but pondering a jurisprudence system that can be manipulated and defining justice as personal.

Beth Ciotta
ISBN: 1932815236 $6.99

Male fan favorite Sofia Marino stars on the hit TV sitcom Spy Girl as heroine Cherry Onatop. However, the Hollywood star is stunned to wake up in the Arizona desert near Scottsdale with blood caked all over her body and no memory of the last few hours. She calls her sister Lulu at her sibling's Vermont B&B, but her brother-in-law Colin Murphy answers. He tells her to sit tight in the Camelback Inn in Scottsdale until help arrives. He sends his brother in arms Joe, a former FBI agent, whose last case left him burned out and distrustful of women. Joe arrives to assist a bewildered Sofia. Neither is aware that the James brothers, Frank and Jess, are searching for Sofia and that she is in the middle of a homicide. As Joe tries to keep her safe, Sofia, thinking as Cherry, decides to kick butt even as she falls in love with her champion. Though still hurting from the bad odor of his last official case, Joe finds his heart healing though palpitating at dangerous rates because he loves Sofia and fears for her wellbeing. SEDUCED is an amusing romantic suspense that returns Joe (who "introduced" Murphy to Lulu in CHARMED) and Sofia, but this time to the forefront. The story line is wacky as the audience along with the lead duet struggles to find out what is going on. Feeling JINXED, but also CHARMED by her protective hunk, Sofia's courage and fighting back SEDUCED the reluctant Joe into falling in love while risking his life to keep her safe. Beth Ciotta writes a jocular romantic romp that fans will enjoy laughing at the antics.

Men of Bronze
Scott Oden
ISBN 193281518X $26.95, 473 pp.

In 526 B.C. in Egypt, the kingdom is in deep trouble with duplicity from the inner circle of dying Pharaoh Khnemibre Ahmose abetting an immense deployed Persian force prepared to invade. Phoenician mercenary Hasdrubal Barca, loyal to the Pharaoh, leads the military defending Egypt's eastern flank normally from Bedouin raiders but now prepares for the Persians. Barca is the best leader when it comes to war as he shows no mercy to his own force let alone the enemy. He learns that a critical Greek unit commanded by Phanes has joined the other side plotting to assist the Persians at a pivotal moment. Being at a strategic locale, this treachery could destroy the kingdom, which has a newly anointed Pharaoh. Barca feels he must protect Egypt, but Phanes knows for his nefarious scheme to succeed he must eliminate the only person who could save the kingdom Barca. However, the wannabe savior has no allies even amongst those still devoted to Egypt except an Arabian slave Jauharah who Barca loves, but questions her loyalties. MEN OF BRONZE is a terrific insightful Ancient Egypt historical thriller. The story line provides a deep look at Egypt at a time when a Pharaoh who ruled for over four decades dies and is replaced by a shaky newcomer at a critical point in time when the Persians are coming and an empire is on the brink of collapse. Scott Oden provides a deep look at court pageantry and in counterpoint devastating battles while the romance between the finely developed lead couple enhances the era. The inner circle intrigues including treason augments a deep look back over two and half millennium ago.

The Second Seduction
Shelly Munro
ISBN: 1932815198 $6.99

In 1720, Lucien Viscount Hastings has returned home but nothing feels right although his father insists he is his son George. While on a grand tour of Italy, an unknown assailant attacked him costing him much of his memory. Worse ten months ago someone murdered his beloved pregnant wife Francesca; he lives to solve the homicide so as to enact vengeance. His father has arranged a marriage for Lucien with Rosalind. Lucien tries to persuade her to look elsewhere for a spouse, but she feels she has no choice as she has been branded a witch. Unbeknownst to Lucien she "sees" the spouse he cherishes so holds no hope beyond friendship for herself. He even rejects that until someone from the shadows threatens both of them. As he tries to keep his second wife from succumbing to the fate of his first spouse, Lucien falls in love with Rosalind; she reciprocates but has no hope for he feels guilty for surviving, for caring for someone else and for knowing women he loves die. THE SECOND SEDUCTION is a fine Georgian paranormal romance starring a scarred hero as women have not done well when associated with him and his perfect counterpoint who has no options but to except him. The story line is mostly typical of the sub-genre, but refreshed by the heroine's second sight skills used cleverly at selective moments and the mystery of who killed Lucien's wife and what happened to his sister who vanished when she was six years old.

R. Garland Gray
ISBN: 193281552X $6.99, 350 pp.

Almost two decades have passed since newborn Bryna was abandoned. Raised as a slave to the Romans, she has no family that she knows of and no friends except an ancient Druid Derina. The Sorcerer has chained a naked Tynan to an ancient stone hoping that this one is the Dark Chieftain of Prophecy. Derina sends Bryna to help the prisoner; she starts by bringing water with crushed apples. Meanwhile Tynan hears voices of fairies crying to him to rescue them from the darkest lowest dungeon. He is the Dark Chieftain who will break the spell that binds the fairies in the pits beneath the keep. His only hope to escape rests in rescue by the territorial goddess not by a Roman slave even if he admires her courage and in spite of his predicament desires her. PREDESTINED is a terrific Ancient Britannia romantic fantasy that grips the audience the moment that Bryna serendipitously provides water to the chained Tynan. This is more a fantasy than a romance though the latter is heavily imbued in the fast-paced plot. Tynan is a terrific champion seeking his ally the territorial goddess but ironically as he is attracted to his rescuer he fails to realize who she really is. For that matter the Sorcerer fails to comprehend who his slave is. While these two rivals seek the key female, readers have a fine time knowing what we know as R. Garland Gray provides a colorful historical tale that will elate fans of both genres.

Citizen Vince
Jess Walter
HarperCollins Regan
ISBN: 0060394412 $24.95, 293 pp.

New Yorker Marty Hagen earned his first merit badge at fifteen years old; over two decades later his resume is filled with felonies, convictions and other activity although his rap sheet contains no violent incidents. The Feds become aware of Marty as a valuable tool. They enroll him in the witness protection program under the name Vince Camden residing in Spokane, Washington working as a manager at Donut Make You Hungry. The adjustment is initially a killer for the Manhattan street guy, but soon finds he need not rush to survive. He breaks family tradition registering to vote in the upcoming Reagan Carter presidential race. However after two calm years on the West Coast, the easterner's serene life shatters when hit man Ray (Sticks) Scatieri arrives to provide mob payback. Marty actually likes his lifestyle and wants to keep living it for decades to come. He need to figure out how to cancel the contract when Sticks is the best at completing his mission and has a reputation to maintain. Readers will appreciate the metamorphoses of small time crook Vince into CITIZEN VINCE who finds he likes himself when he is productive in a positive way. Vince's path to solid citizenship is not easy with tiny setbacks that could avalanche into a throwback to the felonious Vince if he falls through the donut hole back to the "easy" life. Jess Walter writes a fabulous character study that makes the case that to change behavior conditions must change also (Einstein's definition of insanity comes to mind). CITIZEN VINCE is a terrific insightful tale that subtly makes a societal case on the significance of the environment on the person.

Devil's Corner
Lisa Scottoline
ISBN: 0060742887 $25.95, 400 pp.

In Philadelphia, US Justice Department Assistant District Attorney Vicki Allegretti was to interview the informant, but instead a young teen holds a Glock aimed at her as she realizes that she stumbled into a robbery in progress. Her partner ATF Case Agent Bob Morton finishes his cigarette and steps inside to join her when a shot is fired. The teenage culprit and a partner flee the scene while Morty dies in Vick's arms. Her boss, Howard Bale shows Vicki that the murder involved pure "fish scale" cocaine worth easily 40K on the street. Vicki conjectures that the informant Shayla Jackson who selected the deadly rendezvous spot did not seem like a crack head and never showed up because apparently she is dead. Could there be a link to the Reheema Bristow straw purchase case coming to trial next week that died with the events that just occurred. Feeling at fault for Morty's death though Howard says otherwise, Vicki, without official sanctioning, decides to investigate. She and Reheema, who has a personal vendetta to learn who murdered her mother, join forces seeking to uncover the identity of a killer whose victims seem disconnected yet hint at a missing link. DEVIL'S CORNER is a powerful action thriller that takes the audience deep into the drug trafficking streets of Philadelphia especially the title neighborhood. The story line grips the audience, but some realistic humor and a subplot involving the heroine's love life eases the accelerator just enough. Lisa Scottoline is at her best with this stand alone urban thriller that grips readers from the exhilarating onset until the final community garden plot is planted.

Down the Rabbit Hole
Peter Abrahams
ISBN: 0060737018 $15.99, 375 pp.

In Echo Falls, thirteen -year-old Ingrid Levin-Hill idolizes Sherlock Holmes for his ability to see the obvious, which mostly people miss, but is proud of being named as Alice in a local production of Wonderland. However, Ingrid has a new role as life imitates art when someone murders "Cracked-Up Katie" just after the unfortunate victim was visited by the teen sleuth as she rushed from her orthodontist to soccer practice. When the newspaper report the murder, Ingrid worries that the cops will pin the rap on her since she left her soccer cleats at the crime scene. She decides to sneak into the house to reclaim her sneakers. Meanwhile, the police chief wants to interrogate Ingrid on her soccer cleats even as she is beginning to like her adversary's son. Still Ingrid realizes she has to be better than Holmes if she is to get the top cop and a killer off her back. Sort of like of Harriet the Spy meets Sherlock Holmes; DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE is a terrific young adult amateur sleuth tale. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action and plenty of twists as Ingrid tries to solve the case out of fear of lock up. The support cast either enhances her sleuthing, her personality, or her hometown. Though her older much bigger brother got away with sibling violence sending the wrong message to the youthful audience, readers of all ages will appreciate Ingrid Levin Hill, teen detective.

A Sundial in a Grave: 1610
Mary Gentle
Perennial (HarperCollins)
ISBN: 0380820412 $14.95, 672 pp.

In 1610 England, astrological mathematician Robert Fludd concludes that if current trends continue, a comet will crash into the earth in five centuries killing every living organism. Robert knows he must alter the calculations by changing the near future so that the planet can begin preparing to prevent the disaster. He concludes the most effective altering of what is to be would be to kill King James before his reign influences the paths mankind travels if he lived to complete his destiny. In 1610 Paris Queen Marie de Medici blackmails Valentin Rochefort into assassinating King Henri IV forcing him to flee cross the Channel. He is joined by swordsman Dariole, who humiliated him with pastry, penis and two duels, but is actually a disguised female, and a samurai Tanaka Saburo. In England Fludd meets Rochefort and realizes he has the means of success. However, as valid as his calculations may be, Fludd failed to consider the effect on the intended output of the King's death or the outcome of saving the future because his foolish tool has two companions causing deviations to the scheme. In 2005, readers will realize how excellent Mary Gentle is with this terrific tale that is similar to her delightful novel ASH. The story line is loaded with difficult issues that are not easily resolved; for instance does the end justify the mean if it saves lives. The characters seem genuine and the feel for the age is so real that the audience will know they are there watching history change or does it for us armchair philosophers will ponder which is the true path.

An Everlasting Love
Bette Ford
Harper Torch
ISBN: 0060533080 $6.50, 352 pp.

In Detroit, Shepperd's Women Crisis Center Counselor Laura Murdock persuades her best friend counselor Brynne Armstrong to come with her to former NBA player Ralph Prescott's birthday party. Though she would prefer to spend time with her preschool daughter Shanna, Brynne agrees. St. Louis Rams star quarterback Devin Prescott attends his cousin Ralph's party, but is bored until Brynne enters. After only seeing her profile he knows she is the woman he loved four years ago, but she dumped him without a look back. Brynne is stunned to see the man she loved, but ran away from like a coward after he proposed. Brynne worries that one day Shanna will want to know about her father; that final night she made love with Devin, but was raped afterward by one of his friends, either could be Shanna's sire. Brynne asks Devlin to take a paternity test; he angrily agrees but refuses to listen about the other guy. When the test proves he is the father, Brynne agrees to let him into Shanna's life. As a three year old plays matchmaker, her parents realize they still love one another, but he refuses to listen to what happened. The latest Prescott family tale is an entertaining romance with a darker yet deeper undercurrent than the previous UNFORGETTABLE novel. Though some readers will insist that Brynne should have turned to her beloved following the rape, others will feel she was over the edge emotionally with the recent deaths of her parents, the fight with Devin, and the rape. All will agree that Bette Ford provides an intense second chance at love story fostered by a precious (perhaps too precocious) little matchmaker.

Scratch the Surface
Susan Conant
ISBN 0425202593 $22.95, 288 pp.

Felicity Pride is a mid-list author who writes mysteries about cats who communicate with their human. The irony is that Felicity doesn't have nor ever had a feline and knows nothing about their care and upkeep except what she reads in books. Although she quits her job as a teacher to write full time she doesn't have to worry about income because she inherited a Mansion in Newton, Massachusetts from her deceased aunt and uncle. One day when Felicity returns home she finds a dead man in her vestibule; his mouth and nose are duct taped. She later learns the victim received a blow to his head and a plastic bag was placed over his face. A cat is by the body; Felicity takes it home to care for it. She brings it to the vet and learns from the microchip in her ear that the cat is Edith and belongs to Quinlan Coates who has another feline Brigitte which Felicity brings home after the landlord lets her into his apartment. Felicity wants to discover who Coates' killer is because it will give her some great free publicity. What she doesn't expect is that she will come to love the cats and they will be instrumental in saving her life from a deranged killer. Susan Conant, well known for her Dog Lover's mysteries, has written an exciting animal mystery starring two adorable felines. Learning to love them makes the heroine a more sensitive and caring person and as the book progresses, the character metamorphosis into someone it is easy to care about. SCRATCH THE SURFACE will appeal to readers who enjoy a good cozy and to feline lovers.

Flamingo Fatale
Jimmie Ruth Evans
ISBN: 0425203980 $6.99, 304 pp.

In Tullahoma, Mississippi Wanda Nell Culpepper works two on your feet jobs to keep food on the table for her three children and her grandchild. When she finishes her shift as a waitress at the Kountry Kitchen she comes home to take a nap before working graveyard stocking the shelves at the Budget Mart. This time she comes home to find her deadbeat ex-husband Bobby Ray inside their trailer home; since he never pays child support, Wanda Nell is shocked to see him give five one hundred dollar bills to their daughter for her to use on his grandson. Wanda Nell tosses Bobby Ray out of her home with many of the trailer park residents witnessing the ugly scene. The next morning Wanda Nell finds Bobby Ray dead just outsde her trailer with the family pink flamingo lawn ornament shoved through his body. Sheriff Department Officer Elmer Lee Johnson, Bobby Ray's friend, leads the investigation. He assumes Wanda Nell killed Bobby Ray; she realizes she better uncover the identity of the killer or between Elmer and her former mother-in-law she could end up in prison. FLAMINGO FATALE is a solid regional amateur sleuth tale that uses the backdrop of the rural south to provide a fine who-done-it. Wanda Nell feels strongly that she has no choice but to solve the murder of her former spouse because the lead investigator only looks her way. Jimmie Ruth Evans provides a wonderful Mississippi mystery that stars a fabulous protagonist, a delightful eccentric support cast that brings Tullahoma especially the diner and the trailer park alive, and a surprising final peck.

Carved in Stone
Vickie Taylor
ISBN: 0425202917 $6.99, 336 pp.

After being reborn fourteen times, Nathan Cross no longer wants a next life so he refuses to get a human pregnant. The Gargoyle has also left his group that has for centuries protected humans from evil, but are no longer are needed. His only solace is in art as he counts down his last lifetime. At a gala at the Chicago Museum of Fine Arts, Nathan is attracted to Rachel Vandermere, who uncannily focuses in on him. She introduces herself to him, but he flees the scene. Rachel sensed he was different and working undercover to catch a serial killer that targeted him. She later learns that Nathan is an art history professor at Chicago University. As they keep crossing paths, the cop and the professor begin to fall in love, but he fears how she will react to his bloodline while she holds back that she can see otherworldly things including the beast that killed her parents when she was a frightened child. This police procedural fantasy romance will hook the audience from the onset and never slows down until the final twist that will surprise most of the readers. The story line is action-packed but insures that the lead couple is fully developed and that the support cast makes Gargoyles and other creatures seem like genuine races. Vickie Taylor owes her fans at least two more Gargoyle tales as she joins Jim Butcher in making Chicago a center for weirdness.

Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom
Julie Kenner
ISBN: 0425202526 $12.95, 320 pp.

Trained in the Vatican, Kate became a Level Four demon hunter. Her kill rate one of the top until she met her match. Kate fell in love with her slaying peer Eric who returned her deepest feelings. They married, retired, and relocated to San Diablo, California. A demon hunter retiring is rare, but they do the unheard of; they even have a child Allie. Allie is fourteen and Eric is dead while Kate has remarried and has a terrible two Timmy that is a result of her second marriage to attorney Stuart Connor, who is running for a County seat. Kate is a contented suburban soccer mom whose slayer days seem like a childhood dream. That changes when High Demon Goramesh "the decimator" visits her town. Now Kate is battling a demon horde that senses she is a hunter. Goramesh knows hunters kill if not killed. Mindful of Geena Davis' Long Kiss Goodnight and Buffy, CARPE DEMON: ADVENTURES OF A DEMON-HUNTING SOCCER MOM is an amusing horror romance that grips the audience once the first demon arrives in the supermarket. Kate is a terrific heroine who is contented with the PTA, but soon has to use her latent skills to battle demon invaders who assault her house and threaten her children even while her spouse wonders what is going on. Amusing at times, Julie Kenner provides a fun otherworldly thriller that readers will treasure as they root for the soccer mom to defeat the demon horde.

Tangle of Lies
Patricia Potter
ISBN: 0425203948 $7.99

In Santa Fe, high school Principal Steve Connor comes home knowing something is not right with his wife. Steve's daughter Liz agrees with her father something is off kilter. Liz calls family friend DA Robert Adams who tells her to come alone to his office. There Liz meets FBI agents who inform her that her mother has been arrested for the murder of two armored car guards during a hold up thirty-four years ago; her real name is Sarah Jane Maynard. The Feds want her three associates. Liz believes they captured the wrong person, but her father does not seem s shocked. In nearby Sangre de Cristo Mountains, former Boston cop Garrett Caleb Adams learns of the arrest of one of those who killed his father thirty four years ago so he arrives at FBI Headquarters in Albuquerque. He offers his services to Liz saying he is writing a book on the armored car robbery. Incidents occur to Sarah's family and cohorts die, but she insists she is guilty and does not want to see anyone again. Liz asks Cal to help them. They fall in love, but he knows that once she learns the truth, their relationship will end. This fast-paced investigative story line hooks the audience once readers get over the shock that kindhearted motherly Sarah Jane and her cohorts killed two armored car guards including Cal's dad. The cast makes the tale believable as the strong lead couple struggle to learn the whole truth while a solid support in Boston, Chicago, Kansas City as well as New Mexico enhance the tale. Though many will believe that the "survivors" get off too softly, fans will agree that Patricia Potter provides a fantastic suspense thriller.

Robert Masello
ISBN 0425203506 $7.99, 384 pp.

In Lago D'Avernus, Italy, a cave that has been under water for millennia is finally able to be seen. Inside the cave is a fossil entombed of a block of stone. The fossil what could be seen of it has talons and some hominid aspects but the carbon dating shows it is too early for hominids to exist. In fact the fossil is as old as or older than the earth. Professor Russo is given permission to take the find to the United States where he will work with his friend Professor Carter Cox in an attempt to get some answers regarding the creature in the rock. An accident in the lab lets the creature loose, killing a professor and injuring Russo badly. Before he passes out he sees the creature of light is alive even though Carter has a hard time believing this story especially that the creature caused all the church bells to ring in the city at the same time. Ezra Metzberg, who just from Israel o come back to the United States, is piecing together and translating the last book of Enoch which has the answers to what the creature is. They join forces in the hope of preventing the apocalypse from happening by destroying it. Take biblical history in the tradition of Dan Brown, mix it with a Tom Clancy thriller and place it in a Stephen King plot and one will have an idea what VIGIL is all about. This is an action packed fast-paced work of horror that gives an interpretation to an evil spoken about in the New Testament. Robert Masello is a talented writer who is not only worthy of a Bram Stoker award but is rising star in the horror horizon.

The Moon Witch
Linda Winstead Jones
ISBN: 0425201295 $6.99, 336 pp.

In Colubyana, the Fyne witch rejected the wizard making him so angry he cursed the Fyne women so that their love will always die. Over the next three centuries any Fyne witch who married for love watched either their mate die young or ultimately end up hating them. Of the three current generations of Fyne siblings, the oldest Isadore watched her spouse die as he neared his thirtieth birthday. Thus she and her sisters vow to never fall in love until the youngest Sophie breaks the pledge (see THE SUN WITCH) but fears her beloved will die when he turns thirty. The middle sibling Juliet sees the curse operate by observing her sisters. She swears to avoid men as she cannot deal with a loved one dying because of her family curse. When the Emperor's soldiers abduct her, Ryn recognizes her as the star of his dreams and rescues her from them. He insists they belong together for eternity, but she fears for his life and has doubts anyway about a witch and a shapeshifter like him belonging together even as she falls in love with Ryn. The middle Fyne Witch tale is an enjoyable romantic fantasy that grips the audience from the moment Ryn insists she is his intended. The story line is action-packed and fans will commiserate with Juliet's reticence, but fails to go deep into her emotional baggage so that newcomers will not fully grasp what makes her tick. Still this is a fun novel as Ryn tries to persuade Juliet, whose whole existence has been that love means young death, that their love can conquer the curse.

Tears of the Dragon
Holly Baxter
Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN: 1590581466 $24.95, 314 pp.

Their father died in 1927, but the four Browne sisters and their mom did not know how financially scrapped they would become until after the 1929 great crash. Now the three oldest siblings and their mother work to bring in income (the youngest is still in high school), but never know if they will get paid as even schoolteachers like mom sometimes forfeit their pay. The prime money maker is Elodie who works as a script writer for radio. One night she stops off at the office to drop off an idea for her boss, but the elevator stops at the tenth floor instead of the fifteenth. Elodie hears noises that frighten her. She tells her friend Bernice Barker, who tells her she is being silly and gets her a gig as a waitress at a party hosted by Chinaman Lee Change, an antiques importer. When a dying man arrives at the gala, Elodie sees a link to what she heard at the office and the homicide, but also wonders if the killer thinks she saw something that would identify the culprit. TEARS OF THE DRAGON is a fabulous Depression Era Chicago cozy that readers of historical fiction will fully gain pleasure from. The story line provides an interesting glimpse at the 1930s in the Windy City through a heroine and to a lesser degree her sisters and best friend struggling to make a living in a male dominated world in which men cannot find legal work. The mystery slowly comes into focus which enhances the strength of understanding the period and the female protagonist struggling with what to do if anything.

Ruddy Gore
Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN: 1590581180 $24.95

In 1928 Australia Phyrne Fisher and her best friend Bunji Ross are walking to His Majesty's theatre to see a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta Ruddigore. However, Bunji notices several men accosting an elderly Chinese woman so she intercedes taking a shot to her gut. Phyrne follows scattering the assaulters so she can rescue the woman. Her grandson Lin Chung thanks Phyrne and Bunji for rescuing his grandmother from a nasty mob. Phyrne enjoys the performance, but between acts theatre manager Sir Bernard Tarrant asks her to come to the back area as an accident occurred. However, another patron Dr. Fielding states that actor Ruthven was poisoned with an opiate. Deputy Inspector John "Jack" Robinson heads the official investigation. Another performer Leila Esperanza insists ghosts were haunting the theater and caused the incident. Bernard knowing Phyrne's reputation for solving mysteries wants her to investigate before someone else is hurt or killed. Historical mystery fans who have not read the Phyrne Fisher tales are missing out on one of the best series available today. The latest who-done-it contains a fabulous sleuthing subplot as well as the first meeting between Phyrne and her lover Lin. Phyrne is a terrific protagonist who is a delightful gender bender accepted as more than just an equal by men in typically male roles at least in 1920s Australia. Her detective work is top rate as Kerry Greenwood combines real events like the 1928 showing of Ruddigore with a fabulous mystery.

Owls Well that Ends Well
Donna Andrews
ISBN: 0312329385 $21.95

In Virginia, decorative blacksmith Meg Langslow and her lover Professor Michael Waterston move into the house they bought from the estate of the late Edwina Sprocket, the founder of SPOOR (Stop Poisoning Our Owls and Raptors). However, before they can reside comfortably the house needs a cleaning as the former SPOOR president was a rat pack. Meg and Michael decide to host a yard sale. Neighbors and family are encouraged to make the sale into a mega-gala by selling junk and providing special discounts for those in costume. The only rule is that the barn is off-limits. Chaos reigns as is typical when Meg's family shows up for an event. However, bedlam takes a deadly turn when slimy antique dealer Gordon McCoy enters the forbidden zone barn; someone obvious followed as the culprit uses a bookend to kill the intrusive intruder. Police Chief Henry Burke has plenty of suspects as a lot of people apparently entered the barn, but hones in on a professor at Michael's school. Meg thinks the cop is way off base so she begins her own loony investigation. This satirical amateur sleuth stars a wonderful heroine and a flock of zany relatives, friends, acquaintances, and other loons and birdbrains. The story line focuses on the nuttiness more so than the who-done-it. Fans of amusing mysteries that plays for laughs as opposed to serious drama will want to fly with Donna Andrews' fun tale.

Cabin Fever
Karen Rose Smith
Silhouette Special Edition
ISBN: 037324682X $4.99

Wealthy Brad Vaughn informs his father, owner of Vaughn Associates, a Chicago based PI firm, that he did not impregnate Suzette Brouchard and rejects her efforts to blackmail him. Instead, he insists he will undergo DNA testing and accept the bad PR until he proves otherwise. Brad asks his secretary Emily Stanton if she will accompany him on a deed search in Thunder Canyon, Montana. She is hesitant believing he sired Suzette's child, but reluctantly agrees. In Montana, gold rush fever has led to no rooms available except a cabin loaned to him by his client Caleb Douglas; this forces Brad and Emily to share a small area. Caleb wants Brad to determine who owns the Queen of Hearts Gold Mine that he thought belonged to his family, but he could not find the deed. As he follows clues laid out in the nineteenth century, Brad and Emily begin to fall in love, but he distrusts females so cannot commit his heart to his beloved. CABIN FEVER is a terrific private investigative romance starring two likable fully developed protagonists who belong together. However the male obsessively distrusts females starting from when his dad caught his mom cheating while the woman feels it is better to avoid love than to be hurt. The deed inquiries are cleverly intertwined into the fine story line not just by the lead couple and their client, but also by interested eccentric locals and gold fevered tourists. A second investigation involving a missing child adds mystery elements to a fine contemporary as Karen Rose Smith raises the bar for other authors in the Montana Mavericks: Gold continuous series.

Once Upon a Princess
Holly Jacobs
Silhouette Romance
ISBN: 0373197683 $4.25, 186 pp.

Parker Dillon informs her two best friends Shey Carlson and Cara Phillips that she needs a job so she becomes a waitress at Monarch's, Shey's coffeehouse in Erie, Pennsylvania. That would not be strange for a business degree graduate to work tables, but Parker is not your typical waitress as her full name is Princess Maria Anna Parker Mickovich Dillonetti; all she wants is to be middle class not royalty. She waits on a man with a small girl and boy who is their Uncle Jace O'Donnell, a local private investigator who knows that his server is not an ordinary waitress as he has been hired by her family to keep her safe and to feed them information about her. Now Prince Eduardo Matthew Tanner Ericson of Amar is coming to marry her. Parker blames her mess on Shey who insisted she call home to tell them she is safe. She does not want to marry Tanner; she wants Shey to deal with the prince (in July) as Parker prefers exploring the princess and her private eye. ONCE UPON A PRINCESS is a fun fairy tale reminiscent of Roman Holiday. Parker is a delightful protagonist who wants to live life outside the royal fishbowl while Jace believes she deserves better than a small town sleuth and also feels guilty for spying on her with her family though he rationalizes that it is for her good. Holly Jacobs provides a fine contemporary romance that her retinue will enjoy and look forward to riding a motorcycle with Shey and Tanner in the sequel ONCE UPON A PRINCE.

That's Amore
Janelle Denison, Tori Carirngton, and Leslie Kelly
Silhouette Signature Collection
ISBN: 037383649X $5.99

"Meet the Parents" by Janelle Denison. Mainlander Jason Crofton meets Hawaiian Leila Malekala while on vacation. They fall in love over the course of the next few days. However he must persuade her parents he is the one for their daughter because they expect her to wed native Kalani Pakolu and have purebred grandchildren, not hybrids from a California haole. "I Do, Don't I?" by Tori Carirngton. In one week Efi Panayotopoulou and Nick Constaninos are to marry in a Greek wedding in Michigan. Instead of a blissful final seven days, the extended family drives Efi and Nick into reconsidering what they are getting into. Everyone is acting crazy at home, at the family owned My Big Fat Pastry Shop, and anywhere that two Greeks meet in the state especially if one is the Crete spinster. "There Goes the groom" by Leslie Kelly. In Chicago, bridal boutique owner Rachel Grant dreams of being the bride when DA Lucas Santori says "I do"; however instead the Italian Stallion is marrying the "Nazi bride" of Taylor Ave, Maria Martinelli. Lucas has had doubts ever since Maria became "bridezilla and now that he has begun to know Rachel his reservations have grown enormously as he is attracted to her even if she fails the family ethnicity test. Linked by the internet wedding favors firm, the three stories are well written with likable lead protagonists and a wonderful horde of ethnic secondary characters. Each of the fun tale adheres to the theme of the struggles just before the vows so that readers will feel like honored guests at the nuptials.

Jean Brashear
Silhouette Signature Sagas
ISBN: 0373836503 $5.99

Lucas Walker soon will be a free man after spending twenty years in Attica for murder and rape. He survived his incarceration only due to the MERCY letter sent to him two decades ago by the late Juliette Gerard, mother of both the man he was convicted of killing and the woman he allegedly raped. When Lucas learns that the rape victim Tansy Gerard is marrying Carlton Sanford, expected to be named Ambassador to England, he concludes he must warn her that she must never wed the man who framed him to take the fall for the homicide of her twin and the rape of her. After being released, Lucas travels to New York City knowing he will not be welcomed by the Gerard family and risking making a prophet out of the guard who taunted him that he will be back. He secretly meets Tansy and tries to persuade her that he never harmed her or her sibling. Tansy wants to believe the man she loved, but the evidence is overwhelmingly contrary; besides which the manipulative Carlton sets in motion a scheme to return Lucas to prison with the key tossed away. This tense romantic suspense works because the cast seems genuine although most seemingly carry the weight of the world on their shoulders yet the amazement of MERCY is that Jean Brasher never allows the plot to turn into a soap opera. The story line is fast-paced as Lucas has two objectives: to save Tansy from the monster and to bring back the smile and elan to his beloved that he still remembers when they were teenage lovers.

On the Edge
Susan Kearney
Silhouette Signature Spotlight
ISBN: 0373836481 $5.99

Twenty-two years old clairvoyant Kaylin Dancroft abruptly wakes up because she senses her teenage sister Jenna in trouble. She is proven right when she sees an intruder heading towards Jenna. Kaylin tries to rescue her sibling, but fails as the evil man knocks her out and abducts Jenna. Four years later in Tampa Bay, Kaylin struggles with nightmares that never fully focus. Psychic Shane Lynch has returned from penetrating terrorist cells in Iraq and Kuwait to Tampa Bay to help Kaylin deal with her bad dreams, but she never slows down for even a minute so he has no way of casually meeting her. He feels he can soothe her restless soul while she sleeps and in her dreams confronts the evil that snatched her sister, who she believes is alive. As he finally succeeds in meeting her when she dozes off in a movie theater, he provides her the needed help to look at the faceless evil haunting her. As they fall in love, both know that rescuing Jenna comes first. Susan Kearny writes a fantastic paranormal romantic suspense that will make believers out of the most skeptical physicist. The story line is action-packed but character driven as the lead couple step slowly towards confronting the vile villain. Readers will remain ON THE EDGE of their seat wondering whether Kaylin assisted by Shane will save Jenna in time.

The Amazon Strain
Katherine Garbera
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513577 $4.99, 304 pp.

From the Peruvian Amazon Dr. Rob Miller sends what he consider a new form of a deadly virus to his daughter, CDC virologist Jane. She realizes her father has caught the dangerous disease and wants to rescue him and others that are contaminated. However, her boss Meredith Redding informs her that CDC-South America checked the Yura tribe area and found nothing, but that Jane can go on her own time and money. Jane's former colleague and lover Raul Veracruz works for Thompson-Marks Pharmaceutical; he knows she has something and he wants to claim whatever it is as his own. He follows her to Peru sending thugs after her. Her only hope to save her dad and herself resides with maverick Mac Coleman, owner of Rebel Virology, whose actions years ago led to numerous deaths. Together they flee through the jungle, fall in love while eluding a persistent deadly foe. THE AMAZON STRAIN is an action-packed thriller that never slows down once Jane decides to search for her father. The story line is fast-paced with two wonderful lead characters, a vile villain, and a top of the line support cast. In addition to all that, the Amazon descriptions are incredible as the audience will travel along side Jane and Mac on quite an adventure.

Cindy Dees
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513569 $4.99, 304 pp.

Diana Lockworth is a conspiracy theorist working for the Feds seeking out the real terrorist threats from the myths. She catches someone trying to enter her home computer, but he escapes after a brawl between them. The cops not only fail to take her seriously, they become concerned when they see her wall of pictures of President-elect Gabe Monihan. Diana explains to the cynical cops that she has been following him ever since the failed suicide bomber tried to kill him just before the election. Not long afterward she gets a cryptic message from the Delphi of Oracle insisting that a viable threat to kill Gabe exists. Diana begins making inquiries as she tries to learn four of the five Ws (she knows why) to insure the safety of the next president. However, someone knows that she is on to them and plans to kill her first. As she risks her life to keep Gave alive, she is attracted to him; he reciprocates, but the mission comes first. This fast-paced, action-packed political thriller hooks the audience from the moment that the intruder attacks Diana in her home and never lets up until the final attempt to kill Gabe occurs. Diana is an interesting bureaucrat chasing down conspiracies to see if any might lead to terrorist action. Probably for the first time in his political career Gabe plays second fiddle to the courageous Athena Academy graduate. Cindy Dees provides a tense cat and mouse suspenseful novel.

Parallel Lies
Kate Donovan
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513585 $4.99, 304 pp.

Uncle Theo Howell informs his twenty years old niece Sabrina "Breeze" Sullivan that criminal Adonis Zenner, with revenge as the motive, killed her father. Sabrina's dad, while working for the CIA killed Adonis' drug lord father Pluto. Theo also believes he will come after Breeze and her younger sister Michelle. To keep them safe, the siblings are placed in the Witness Protection Program. Five years later, Sabrina surfaces because her sister is missing. She begins her hunt to rescue Michelle by assuming that somehow Adonis caught her. Security expert Zack Lansing joins Sabrina on her quest. As they work together with danger everywhere, Zack and Sabrina fall in love, but first must save Michelle and eliminate the Adonis threat before they can explore a relationship. PARALLEL LIES is a fantastic thriller that is filled with action yet stars fully developed characters including the antagonist whose backdrop obsession induces the chain reaction of events. The feuding family suspense focuses on the intertwining of both families with death being the common denominator that links them. Who will survive the finale confrontation is not as clear as readers would expect as the good guys have some mountains to overcome. Kate Donovan writes a great action adventure tale.

Sophie's Last Stand
Nancy Bartholomew
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513550 $4.99, 304 pp.

When her spouse of ten years is arrested and convicted of selling illegally obtained movies of naked neighbors, Sophie Mazaretti divorces Nick "the Dick" as the media dubs him and moves from Philadelphia to New Bern, North Carolina to start over. However, peace eludes the kindergarten teacher as people visit her claiming that Nick owed them money or are seeking revenge for having been filmed without permission by the peeping camera tom. Working in the backyard of her new home, Sophie finds a corpse of a woman with the tattoo hate on her arm. She calls the cops who act nasty to her until her brother Joey arrives to run interference. Soon afterward, Detective Gray "Mr. Wonderful" Evans takes over the investigation. Her husband finds her, followed by the mob and the Feds, with Gray trying to keep her safe while they fall in love. First he must insure she is safe because even if the brave South Philly transplant is tough, Nick's associates are thugs demanding his wife pay his debts. SOPHIE'S LAST STAND is an entertaining police procedural romance starring a delightful street smart heroine and the cop who not only wants to insure her safety, wants her. The story line is driven by Sophie's struggles to start over after the debacle her ex-spouse caused her, but no one from his past will leave her alone. Fans of romantic suspense will appreciate this fine second chance at love and life, but not necessarily in that order.

Cross Bones
Kathy Reichs
ISBN 0743233484 $25.00, 366 pp.

At Quebec's Central Crime and Medical Lab, forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan is assigned to work on the case of Orthodox Jew Avram Ferris. The on-site investigators thought he committed suicide but Tempe, an expert at skeletal anatomy, comes to the conclusion that he was murdered. When she steps out of the autopsy room a man stops her and gives her a picture saying this was the reason Ferris was killed. When she sends the picture to her colleague, biblical archeologist Jake Drum, he becomes very excited and believes that the intact skeleton is that of a man who lived in the first century. Jake traces the skeleton from a monastery to a museum to Ferris wanting to sell it on the black market. Tempe, her lover detective Andrew Ryan and Jake end up in Israel where they hope to identify the bones that were in the picture that were found in Cave 221 in Masada. A tooth that doesn't belong to the skeleton is traced to a tomb in the Kidron Valley where it is thought is the resting place of Jesus and his family. The closer they get to the answer, the more danger Tempe finds herself in. Kathy Reichs writes as well as Patricia Cornwall and her storylines are just as exciting, complex and innovative. CROSS BONES takes the heroine out of her milieu and places her in Israel keeping the series fresh and interesting. The heroine is a brilliant and strong willed woman who is determined to get the answers she seeks even if it means putting herself in dangerous situations. Readers who love fast paced action packed thrillers will definitely want to read the book.

The Goodbye Body
Joan Hess
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312313047 $24.95, 291 pp.

In Farberville, Arkansas, Claire Malloy lectures her landlord Mr. Kalker about rats in the kitchen, mice everywhere else, and ants running amuck ever since he rented the downstairs to summer tenants who believe trash is next to godliness. Mr. Kalker agrees to have exterminators clean out the building, but Claire and her sixteen years old daughter Caron will need temporary quarters for the next two weeks. In her bookstore, The Book Depot, Claire vents to customer Dolly Goforth, who offers her lavish home as a place to stay while she is on the road. After Claire, Caron and friend Inez Thornton move into the Goforth house, the two teens find a corpse near the gazebo. By the time the police and Claire arrive, the body is missing. The cops assume the "victim" is alive while Claire figures her daughter is a drama queen who needs to go to school in Canada or Finland. Soon afterward an assortment of traveling kooks show up asking for Dolly and claiming open ended invitations to stay. When the original body turns up but vanishes again and Dolly is no where to be found, Claire, who prefers not to get involved, reluctantly begins to investigate the case of THE GOODBYE BODY. Joan Hess is at her amusing best with this complex enjoyable amateur sleuth tale. The story line contains Claire's cynical humor whether the victim is her landlord, her daughter, rodents, her lover, or a vanishing corpse. Fans of the series will appreciate this jocular yet deep tale while newcomers will think of Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry. A relationship decision with the man of her dreams (and several nightmares) adds a surprise twist to a fine regional tale.

Eleven On Top
Janet Evanovich
St. Martin's
ISBN 0312306261 $26.95, 320 pp.

Everyone's favorite bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has had enough of her job. She is tired of her cars blowing up, being shot at and trying to bring some bail jumper into the police because invariably they fight her every step of the way. The final straw comes when Stephanie tries to catch Sam and someone shoots at her. Even though she caught her man, she wants a nice safe job. She takes a job at the button factory but is late on her first day at work and is fired. She then works for a dry cleaners and is fired from that place of employment because she is giving her friends discounts. The woman who fired her drives her away in her car which blows up. Stephanie thinks this has something to do with the threatening letters she has been getting. Her job in a fast food place ends with the store being blown up. When her lover Joe suffers a broken leg due to Stephanie's stalker running over him in his car, she begins to investigate. She believing her stalker is linked to a case Ranger is working on, but proving it could prove fatal. Each Stephanie Plum book is better than the one before. In ELEVEN ON TOP we discover Stephanie is commitment phobic. Joe loves her and Ranger wants her. Her cars getting blown up is a symbol of the crime, adrenaline filled life she leads and even though she no longer works as a bounty hunter she still involves herself with Ranger's case and tries to take out her own stalker. Janet Evanovich is a creative writer who brilliantly spins slapstick into life threatening events.

Company Man
Joseph Finder
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312319169 $24.95, 528 pp.

In Fenwick, Michigan, Fairfield Equity has taken over Stratton Corporation. The new owners order Stratton CEO Nick Conover to lay off 5000 employees, which makes the local resident the most detested person in the area; his nickname the Slasher". On top of his pressure at work, Nick struggles with the recent accidental death of his wife Laura and raising two children alone. However, someone is stalking Nick and his children, entering his home, and recently upped the ante by brutally killing his family dog. His friend, Stratton security chief, Eddie Rinaldi, installs a burglar alarm that leads to Nick killing an intruder. Eddie convinces a reluctant Nick to hide the corpse. Meanwhile Detective Audrey Rhimes investigates the homicide and its links to Nick, who is already unglued with his neighbors' feelings, his wife's death, his distraught children, and now a murder. Worse he does not trust Fairfield to destroy him as culpable fodder for the masses. This is a terrific thriller that focuses on the gimmicks and misdeeds of the modern day corporation as much as it does on a police investigation. The story line is action-packed, but insures the audience understands how much Nick's world is collapsing. Although why Nick would hide the body when he was in the right seems stretched for a sensible albeit beleaguered guy, fans will want to find out what happens to this COMPANY MAN under siege from family, friends, cops, and employers.

Same Time, Same Murder
Robert J. Randisi & Christine Matthews
St. Martin's
ISBN: 031231728X $23.95, 256 pp.

Celebrating their seventh anniversary together, St. Louis bookstore owner Gil Hunt and his wife, shopping channel seller Claire Dunlap, head to the Ozarks where their friend Tucker hosts them. Tucker asks the obviously in love couple how they met and both say over a homicide at a mystery convention in Omaha. Curious, Tucker asks for the full story. The first time Gil and Claire met was through author Marlys Milhauser at the convention, but they were married to other spouses. They met again the next year, but nothing came of it as Gil was going through hard times with a divorce and a dying dad. The third time they came together proved the charm as the homicide served as matchmaker. Gil's friend convention organizer Dave Spenser sends Gil to find renowned writer and guest of honor Robin Westerly. Accompanied by Claire they find a dead body. Omaha Detective Ed Donovan leads the investigation, but Gil and Claire begin working together to uncover a clever plotter who designed a killing tale. The latest Gil and Claire amateur sleuth provides the audience with insight as to how the pair met and the early days of their courtship. This brings fullness to each of the lead characters, but also delays the murder mystery investigation that served as their first dates. Fans of the series will welcome the look back at the beginning of a couple still in love while newcomers might find the cozy a bit slow getting started, but worth the wait once the duo describe their inquiries.

Corrupts Absolutely
Alexa Hunt
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0765311496 $24.95, 332 pp.

A Columbian drug cartel has terrorized the American justice system by assassinating thousands of Judges, cops, federal agents and innocent bystanders ever since the Feds cracked down on Elevator, a cocaine Viagra combo. The media goes berserk over the slaughter of the lamb. The President of the United States declares a state of emergency and Congress passes a Martial Law Act that leads to the establishment of the Bureau of Illegal Substance Control (BISC) which serves as cop, judge, and jury allegedly to battle the drug cartel. However, having absolute power proves too heady apparently for BISC and soon the FBI wonders if several of their agents have been assassinated by BISC. Former FBI Agent turned investigative reporter Elliott Delgado looks into determining whether BISC has misused its authority by killing Federal agents who have found abuse by the bureau and whether the rumors are true that the organization is going to attack the drug cartel in Colombia regardless of collateral damage. BISC assassin Leah Berglund is sent to eliminate Delgado. This terrific tale uses the maxim that absolute power corrupts absolutely even when caring people are involved to furbish the audience with a tense thriller. Readers will take immense delight in the story line in which the good guys (Delgado and the FBI) battles the bad guys (BISC) while the ugly (drug cartel) waits in the wings for round two. Though the romantic subplot between Elliot and Leah is distracting throw in, thriller fans will absolutely want to read Alexa Hunt's fine allegorical salute to the Patriot Act.

The Rogue
Celeste Bradley
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312931158 $6.99

In 1813, Lady Jane Pennington has met every eligible bachelor in London in the three months that she has stayed with her uncle, aunt and five Maywell Mob cousins. Jane notices a light in a room that her uncle closed off. To get a closer look she climbs a tree, but gets stuck on a branch just as gambler Ethan Damont leaves. He rescues her. She later learns that her hero is a filler "place card", but not suited for any of her cousins. Ethan is tired of the Liar's Club following him around so he confronts Lord Dalton Etheridge who warns him either he spies for the crown or else. The Liar's want him to play cards with Maywell a traitor. Ethan realizes that Maywell endangers Jane and her cousins with his traitorous activity so he reluctantly agrees. Maywell knows Ethan desires his niece so he asks him to escort Jane to a party because he plans to recruit the lad to spy on the Liar's Club even as he knows Etheride is also using Ethan to spy on him. As Ethan and Jane fall in love, he chooses his own path to keep her safe, not knowing that she has a more intricate role in her uncle's activities. The latest Liar's Club novels (see THE SPY and THE PRETENDER) is filled with suspense and romance headed by a likable lead couple in which Jane is the courageous patriot while Ethan has doubts. The story line is action-packed as the audience anticipates a showdown between the traitor and the doubter thorough that climax seems weak. He also makes her come in a carriage without touching her by using seductive words; she is too strong for that to occur. Still this is a strong Regency romantic suspense thriller that Celeste Bradley's readers will enjoy.

The Russian Hill Murders
Shirley Tallman
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312328575 $23.95, 288 pp.

In the nineteenth century, attorney Sarah Woolson struggles with the sexist attitude of her employer Joseph Shepard of Shepard, Shepard, McNaughton and Hall; he believes women belong at home not in the workplace. Joseph assigns Sarah to menial tasks in hopes of driving her out of his firm. In the few months at the law firm, Sarah has become disillusioned but refuses to allow Neanderthal to drive her away. Impoverish pregnant Lily Mankin "hires" Sarah to work her claim that her husband Jack and four other men died when the back exit of the workshop had been nailed shut so that he was unable escape an inferno. As Sarah seeks out Jack's former boss Paddy MacGuire and his cohort Killy Doyle, she is threatened to back off or else. Meanwhile Pierce Godfrey informs a choking Joseph that Allie, who he met at a charity gala in which his sister-in-law suddenly died, will handle his company's legal matters. Others involved with the fund raiser have also passed away mysteriously while Sarah also defends in the all male courtroom a Chinese cook accused of murder. If Sarah's plate seems overwhelming to the reader, the above paragraphs hardly go into the depth of her activities. The story line provides a deep look into sexism and racism in historical America, but does both in the confines of an exhilarating legal thriller; for instance through a short inset of the Pierce-Joseph debate which is an incredible look at business attitudes in the nineteenth century. Readers will gain immense pleasure from THE RUSSIAN HILL MURDERS as the heroine struggles with a male chauvinistic network while working hard to provide the best service to her clients.

Nerds Who Kill
Mark Richard Zubro
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312333013 $23.95, 272 pp.

Chicago Police Department Detective widower Paul Turner raises his two sons Brian and Jeff with the help of his gay lover Ben. Lately Jeff, who is wheelchair bound, has become quite independent, which is driving poor Paul to distraction, but he admits only to himself that life has been good of late though he frets over Jeff constantly. Paul takes his two teenage sons wearing costumes to the World's Ultimate Science Fiction Convention at the Greater Chicago Hotel and Convention Center. The cop figures he will survive even if Brian is a butt and Jeff is a pain until his official job intercedes. Someone murders renowned popular fantasy author Muriam Devers using a broadsword, a not so common weapon except at a sci fi convention where almost every teen including Paul's son has one. Soon other attendees are murdered with an assortment of convention weaponry. Paul and his partner Buck Fenwick seek a serial killer attendee who knows his or her armaments, a wolf amongst geeky sheep. This is a terrific police procedural that is humanized by Mark Richard Zubro's making a strong argument on what constitutes a loving family. The cleverly crafted who-done-it hooks the audience as the two detectives make inquires at the gala. However, it is the personal side of Paul that grips the tale as he is openly gay yet is a nurturing father and a solid cop who shows how inane "Don't tell" is and how ridiculous using sexual preference as a values barometer truly is. NERDS WHO KILL is a fabulous murder mystery in a fine series that reminds the audience that individual behavior and respect are what counts not sexual preference.

A Gladiator Dies Only Once
Steven Saylor
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312271204 $23.95, 288 pp.

These nine tales all written in the past decade take place in Ancient Rome in the middle of the first century BC and star Gordianus the finder whose clients provides him with plenty of work (payment is a different story). The cases vary and those "hiring" Gordianus are as wild a group as any detective (make that a finder) might imagine working for. The stories are fun mostly because they provide a deep look at Ancient Rome and the eccentricity of the support characters. Gordianus is his usual witty self, matching and trumping opponents with his intelligence and humor especially the asides. Though not quite as strong as the novels (see THE JUDGMENT OF CAESAR), readers will find each contribution is well written and fun to read.

Rogue Angel
Jeff Rovin
St. Martin's
ISBN: 031293694X $6.99, 416 pp.

The earthquake on the Pacific Ocean bed registered 8.2. The tremors lead to tsunamis with one heading towards the West Coast of the United States. In the path is the research military vessel the USS Hidalgo where scientist Captain Flynn and others have worked for six years on the Guardian Angel Project as a means to shoot down enemy or hijacked aircraft. The brains behind GAP will not know how successful their project is as the waves traveling at near supersonic speed devastates the Hidalgo. No one controls Angel, which is destroying aircraft. The military assigns the Land, Air, Sea Emergency Rescue team (LASER) led by Major Tom Bryan to stop Angel, whose attacks have brought the world to the brink of the ultimate war. Tom and his crew have to enter the Hidalgo buried under mud, water, and twisted metal and who knows what else to reach the GAP controls if they are still operational. They better do this fast if they want to see their loved ones waiting back in Corpus Christie. ROGUE ANGEL is an action-packed thriller so that even when the LASER team is on an exercise entering a Hawaiian volcano, the novel grips the audience who think of the destruction caused by the recent deadly tsunami. Jeff Rovin makes his super team fun to follow though even their leader with a wife waiting for him to come home back in Texas never seems gets past action hero status. Still these super warriors battling to save air space from a ROGUE ANGEL will leave fans wanting to follow more of their adventures that will remind the audience of Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt adventures.

The Way He Makes Feels
Tamara Sneed
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312987315 $6.99, 320 pp.

Electrician Duncan Hillston brags to his friends Hawk Morrissey and Patrick Morley that he made it with Hollywood star Janette Baxter who makes Halle look ugly. His friends have listened to him boast that he is the player since ninth grade, but this time they feel his hyperbole is outrageous. He insists he can pick up any woman through his time tested three step process of soothe them, entice them, and finally seduce them. They offer to pay for a Europe trip if he can get Claire "Medusa" Scott to fall in love with him by accompanying him to the Westfield annual block party in two weeks. Though he puts up a front, Duncan remembers Medusa as the brain of school, graduating with his class though three years younger. Her intelligence intimidated him then and he fears she still does. Unbeknownst to him, Claire had a crush on Duncan and never forgot him though he avoided her. As Duncan applies his scientific method to score, a strange thing happens; he falls in love with Claire, but though he believes she reciprocates, he fears how she will react when he mentions the wager something he believes he must tell her. THE WAY HE MAKES ME FEEL is an enjoyable contemporary romance starring a likable player who succeeds with the women (though at times exaggerates his prowess) because he treats females with respect. His counterpart Claire is a genius in the lab as a research pharmacist, but the little ninth grader resides inside her. Together, Duncan and Claire make for a fine reading experience for sub-genre fans.

The Illuminator
Brenda Rickman Vantrease
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312331916 $24.95, 406 pp.

Late in the fourteenth century, Lady Kathryn struggles to maintain her small East Anglia estate so that her fifteen years old twin sons Colin and Alfred have a future. To accomplish her objective and stay on the good side of the local abbey, Kathryn accepts two guests at her home, widower Finn a master illuminator, and his sixteen years old daughter Rose. Finn and Kathryn hit it off from the start as the two kindhearted souls tumble into an affair of the heart while the devout Colin and Rose are also attracted to one another. However, as Finn works for the nearby abbey, he is also a strong secret supporter of heretic John Wycliffe, who wants the Church's fundamental scriptures put into the common speak of the people. Finn is translating a version in English that if he is caught is certain death for him and potentially for his hostess and his daughter. Set during a period of unrest (the Peasant's Revolt of 1381), this is a fabulous historical work of fiction that brings to life a pivotal moment in the history of England; whether the Norman rulers will choose English as the state and religious language or not. The prime characters enable the reader to grasp the nuances of the age as duty comes before love and conflict resolution means the strong do more than just survive; they take what they want including an unprotected widow who must use her wit to elude suitors who see her estate up for grabs. Brenda Rickman Vantrease illuminates the medieval era with a deep tale that sub-genre readers will cherish.

To Darkness and To Death
Julia Spencer-Fleming
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312334850 $23.95, 320 pp.

John Huggins of the Millers Kill Search and Rescue asks volunteer Episcopalian Priest Clare Fergusson to help look for a missing woman lost in the Adirondacks. The nine year Air Force veteran joins the team learning that the missing woman is twenty-six years old Millie van der Hoeven, who was staying at her brother's home for the past three months, but failed to return from a walk. At about the same time, Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne feels guilt over falling in love with Revered Fergusson though he is married to Lindy, who lovingly has been at his side every step of the way for twenty-five years. Adding to his discomfort Lindy gives him a special rifle for his fiftieth birthday while he struggles to say the words I love you to her. The missing person's case leads to a homicide and a land deal going bad all within the Blue Line that demarcates the Adirondack State Park. As Russ and Clare team up once again, their feelings for one another remain deep, but both fears the first step because it means telling Lindy. The fourth entry in the Millers Kill, New York investigative series is a wonderful tale that provides an atmosphere of a small mountain town struggling with a deadly land deal. The lead couple remains an interesting pair in love, but trying not to hurt the kind innocent third party to their triangle. The who-done-it is cleverly developed so that the storyline, like the roads in the area, serpentine around the mountain. The audience obtains a tense terrific thriller that builds up from one scenario to a different one until the final altercation.

The Sergeant's Baby
Bonnie Gardner
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373750714 $4.99, 248 pp.

Air Force Sergeant Danny Murphey believes he has found the woman for him as he loves Allison Carter; she reciprocates but they disagree over whether she should work. He insists no Murphey female ever held a job and his will follow tradition; she says that she enjoys working and will continue to do so. She leaves when her obstinate beloved cannot understand how important her work is. In Fayetteville, North Carolina, Ally, whose mother comes from the Middle-Eastern country Tamahykla, is a civil servant teaching students at the Military Deployment Readiness School on the culture shock they will face when deployed to the Middle East. In her current class is her former lover Danny, who seeing she is several months pregnant, angrily concludes that she dumped him for a new lover until he confronts her; He believes the child she carries is his and plans to be in both their lives. Ally still loves the gruff NCO, but refuses to spend her life barefoot and pregnant at her master's beck and call. THE SERGEANT'S BABY is an interesting military romance starring a likable heroine and an unlikable throwback cretin. The story line centers on the battle between the sexes, which is fun to follow. It is difficult to accept a sergeant in the modern military in which females fly bombers and serve as MPs in the combat zones would have difficulty allowing his spouse to teach even if family tradition says otherwise. Still Bonnie Gardner writes a fine tale that enables her audience to glimpse at what the military tries to do as part of soldier and unit readiness prior to troops deploying.

Hometown Honey
Kara Lennox
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373750722 $4.99, 249 pp.

One year ago in Cottonwood, Texas her husband Jim died when his truck and a train collided leaving widow Cindy Lefler to raise their child Adam alone. However, the owner of the Miracle Cafe is remarrying in a few days wealthy realtor Dex Shalimar. Most of her friends are happy for her, but Sheriff's Deputy Luke Rheems detested Dex from the start perhaps because he is in love with the widow or just instinctively thinks the outsider sells snake oil. However, Luke proves right when Dex vanishes with all her money leaving Cindy with nothing not even a home to raise her baby. She and Adam move in with Luke. They begin a duel odyssey chasing the missing con artist while also chasing the elusive butterfly of love. The former seems easier to Luke as Cindy, still vulnerable from Jim's death, also hurts after her recent male betrayal. The "Blind Justice" mini series starts off with a fun investigative romance starring two likable protagonists on the road chasing a con artist while hampered by the needs of the baby. The key to the road show prime plot is Adam as he could not care one iota what plans his mom and the kind sheriff's deputy make when he has biological needs. HOMETOWN HONEY is a fine contemporary second chance at love.

I Thee Bed
Jule McBride
Harlequin Temptation
ISBN: 0373692218 $4.50

Big Apples Brides wedding planner Edie Benning knows that she has a chance to make it in the Big Apple if the Darden nuptials go off as planned. Edie would have her hands full just insuring nothing goes wrong under normal conditions, but hosting the wedding of the year, perhaps the decade means the paparazzi are out in full force. She keeps thanking God that her assistant is so good that is until her helper elopes with SOMETHING BORROWED permanently, someone else's intended groom. Still there must be a God watching over the beleaguered Edie as Jimmy Delaney persuades her to hire him to assist her with the Darden gala. Jimmy also charms his way into his boss' bed. He is terrific at both, but what will happen to their relationship when Edie learns her able assistant knows so much about photography because she has been sleeping with the enemy, a paparazzi. This fine contemporary romance contains fabulous lead characters and a terrific horde of secondary players especially the wedding crowds many from hell. The story line is fun to follow as Jimmy finds he wants a permanent job with the woman he loves, but knows trust issues will surface once she finds out what he does for a living. Although the heated boudoir relationship between Edie and Jimmy seems slightly artificial, fans will enjoy the latest work from the aptly named Jule McBride.

His Wicked Ways
Joanne Rock
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373791860 $4.75, 250 pp.

NYPD Detective Vanessa Torres heads to her old neighborhood in the Bronx seeking to find millionaire realtor Alec Messina. His partners including his Mafia tied Uncle Sergio insists he embezzled from their firm McPherson real Estate. Vanessa tracks him to a gym where he gives lessons in self defense under the name Al Perez. Vanessa volunteers to fight Al with everyone feeling each hit that lands.. After the kids leave, Vanessa informs Messina that she is a cop and taking him in. He pleads with her that he is innocent and can prove it. When she explains that she read and understood the firm's finances, he asks for her help insisting he has evidence that the books were cooked to make him look like the felon. Though knowing she should refuse and follow police procedural, Vanessa agrees to help Messina with the caveat that if she finds him guilty he goes to prison. As they work together with the mob in pursuit they fall in love, but neither know if they will live long enough to prove his innocence. Though readers will question Vanessa's disregard of official procedure that could cost her the job she cherishes to assist Alec on proving his innocence, fans will appreciate this fine police procedural romance due to the strength of the female protagonist. The story line is action-packed from the moment Vanessa challenges Al in the gym and never slows down until their respective hearts dares the other to vow their love. Fans will enjoy this solid tale as the cop and the realtor with mob connections try to confirm that Uncle Sergio cooked books.

Glimpse of Fire
Debbi Rawlins
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373791879 $4.75, 251 pp.

Ad executive Eric Harmon is stunned when he looks at a mannequin in a department store window as the dummy looks life like and is the most beautiful "person" he has ever seen. After he leaves to attend a corporate party, the mannequin rushes to the bathroom as former model Dallas Shea agreed to play a joke on Eric. At the party, Eric is stunned to see his mannequin walking around and introduces himself to her after figuring out that he was the victim of a prank. Eric and Dallas begin seeing one another, but she hides what she does for a living from him. As they fall in love, Dallas believes the executive will dump her when he learns she is a construction worker as her blue collar work does not make for a manager's wife. He does not know why she wants to end what he thought was mutual bliss, but he plans to find out and remove the barrier to his fantasy becoming permanent reality. This interesting contemporary romance stars a white collar male courting a lunch pail female mindful of welder Beals in Flashdance (though Dallas' image is somewhat tempered as she comes from a wealthy family). The gender bending story line is entertaining as Dallas concludes that the button down collar stud she loves could not deal with her occupation. The lead duet pulls off the tale as both seem genuine especially her concerns so that the audience obtains a delightful modern day romance.

With Child
Janice Kay Johnson
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373712731 $5.50, 299 pp.

In Seattle Police Detective Brendan Quinn learns that his best friend Dean Fenton was murdered. Apparently Dean, who owned a security firm, was working a warehouse when two youths entered. They came not so much to rob the place, but to locate the meth they stashed in a trailer. In a senseless killing, the youngsters shot Dean when he found them. Feeling obligated, Brendan, who played ball with Dean as a child, informs Mindy, the pregnant wife of his late buddy. Brendan tries to be there though he never liked the widow. He soon realizes that his previous feelings towards Mindy was a form of reaction formation to hide even from himself how attracted he was and is to his best friend's widow. As Mindy begins to reciprocate, both feel guilt that they are betraying the memory of a nice man. The likable lead couple will keep the audience glued to this fine romantic contemporary as they struggle with love for one another and deep regard and love for the deceased. The story line is character driven with Brendan and Mindy feeling guilty that they are betraying a loved on, turning any relationship into a forbidden triangle. Janice Kay Johnson writes a strong relationship drama as the unborn symbolizes the future and the past.

The Secret Wife
Carrie Weaver
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 037371274X $5.50, 298 pp.

Traveling across the country with her infant, a dead broke Maggie McGuire arrives in McGuireville, Arkansas, seeking her deadbeat runaway husband Eric to help at least financially with their child. She crashes a family reunion gala demanding to see Eric; the half brother of her missing spouse James David "J.D." used to cleaning up his siblings females messes, intercedes. J.D. informs a stunned Maggie that Eric is married to his high school sweetheart Nancy and has been for quite a while. J.D. insures Maggie and his nephew are cared for while she rests up and decides what to do next. However, she soon has no choice as someone murders Eric and the police suspect her as the culprit. As she and J.D. work together to uncover who killed Eric, they fall in love, but soon he will have to choose between his family and his beloved. This is a terrific romantic amateur sleuth tale starring two likable lead protagonists and an immature support character who even after his death causes problems for his extended families. The story line centers on the growing love between Maggie and J.D. who is quite good with his nephew while also providing an interesting who-done-it as a solid subplot. A final twist involving who done it makes sense but will rock readers as the author lives up to her surname weaving a fine tale.

High Mountain Home
Sherry Lewis
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373712758 $5.50, 299 pp.

After becoming very ill six months ago and still recuperating, cultural anthropologist Gabe King is told to go home to recover. He wants to say no as he believes his home is in the South American Rainforest, but a lost letter arriving way after it was sent by his mother informs him his brother Peter died in a sawmill accident eighteen months ago. Gabe heads to Libby, Montana to see if his mom is okay even as he remains estranged with his dad who tossed him out ten years ago. Gabe plans to stay no more than a week until he meets Peter's widow Siddah and his nephew ten years old Bobby. He finds himself attracted to Siddah and admires her independence; he realizes Bobby, who has not coped well with the death of his father, needs someone just like him. As he wrestles and tickles his troubled nephew back to a happy state, Gabe for the first time in a long time feels at home especially since he loves his sister-in-law and her child; they reciprocate, but the ghost of likable Peter and the incident that caused the rift with his dad a decade ago threatens to keep everyone apart. HIGH MOUNTAIN HOME is a fine family drama that focuses on how well individuals cope with the death of a nice loved one even though almost two years have passed since he passed away. The key cast is fully drawn to include Gabe, Siddah, Bobby, his grandparents and Peter though his is built upon the memories everyone shares with readers. Sherry Lewis provides a close look into love and loss in this strong contemporary character study.

Dee Davis
ISBN: 0373770480 $6.99, 384 pp.

Cullen Pulaski, chief of the Last Chance, recruits ATF Explosives Enforcement Officer Samantha "Sam" Waters to join his top secret agency. She accepts. Someone placed a bomb in the Plager Hotel in San Antonio; among the dead are three senators so her new superiors want her to "identify" the bomber from the explosive "signature". No longer caring about his life since an Afghan fiasco, CIA Agent Payton Reynolds receives a simple assignment for the elite black ops professional; keep Sam safe while she does her job. However, the assignment proves difficult as Sam is a risk taker and his heart palpitates whenever he sees her. As Sam and Payton fight to hide their mutual attraction, they find mounting evidence that the bomber has been organizing and training for an extraordinary incident while having Sam play cat and mouse with him. If she wins, the villain knows he is dead, but if he triumphs as he expects she will be at his side forever. First however, there is the matter of the pesky CIA agent who wants his charge safe for personal reasons. ENIGMA, the sequel to the ENDGAME, is an exhilarating thriller starring two strong protagonists playing cat and mouse against a shadowy deadly foe. The story line is action-packed, but the audience also understands what motivates the key players; for instance the deaths of his brother and his lover in the Afghan fiasco have Payton feeling guilty for surviving as much as for the failed mission. The return of the heroes from the first novel add to the strength of an action-packed thriller that the audience will appreciate is not the end game with one more romantic suspense to follow.

Bertrice Small
ISBN: 037377026X $12.95, 464 pp.

John Swiftsword lives up to his surname as one Hetar's elite warriors, but will never be recognized as one of the top gun knights because he is too poor to purchase the needed ceremonial insignias and wardrobe to enter the tournament. His wife Susanna, wanting out of poverty, decides to invest in her spouse's prowess by selling her stepdaughter, a half fairy female. The money they obtain for selling the hauntingly ethereally beautiful Lara would enable John to participate in a tournament and win fame and fortune. Lara would also no longer live the life of a pauper as she would live the life of luxury serving males in a pleasure houses. Lara seemingly acquiesces as she can become great as a courtesan. However, instead of bringing in the vast fortune her beauty would seem to warrant, jealousy squabbles and fights make Lara worthless. Wanting some profit for the lass, her stepmother sells Lara to the only bidding customer, the forest lords, who abuse and use her beyond human capacity until she escapes. As Lara learns to use fairy magic, she exploits anyone who crosses her path even those with pure souls. LARA is an exciting romantic fantasy that fans of Bertrice Small's bondage erotica will appreciate. For others the thought of sexual indentured servitude will prove difficult to accept. The story line makes Hetar seem genuine though a depraved Sodom and Gomorrah. The cast is a nasty lot whether it is her stepmother selling Lara, or her father failing to prevent the sale; even Lara transforms from victim to abuser. Though an intriguing realm, this novel is not for everyone only those who appreciate highly erotic S&M fantasy.

Her Bodyguard
Geralyn Dawson
ISBN: 037377043X $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1888 San Antonio, on the eve of Emma's wedding, she ands her siblings (Mari and Kat), the renowned McBride Menaces visit fortune teller Baobh who tells them their two families go way back to Scotland together. Baobh explains that the Clan McBride curse can only be broken by true love; to find true love the girls must first find their own true nature. Two years later Emma is a widow while Kat believes she loves an actor; Mari loves her candy store. Outlaw Luke Garrett enters Mari's shop to purchase something for his sweet tooth, but instead compares Mari's kisses to her chocolate kisses over the protective objection of her father, who knows the bounder too well. Not long afterward, Mari rejects the common belief that Kat died in a theater fire. She vows to find her sibling; Luke cannot allow her to wander around as the deadly Brazos Valley gang is nearby although protecting her probably means revealing he is a Texas Ranger. As they travel from one caper to another, Mari begins to find out who she is and her essence reflects her love for HER BODYGUARD. The McBride curse turns to the next generation (see the Bad Luck trilogy) as Trace's daughter Mari stars with her two sisters providing strong secondary support. Luke is an intriguing individual who desires the confectionary store owner although he knows he must not compromise his cover. Still he cannot resist comparing chocolate kisses to Mari's kisses and when she goes on her quest, he knows where his loyalty lies. Fans of western romances will want to read Geralyn Dawson's latest Texas historical starring one of the Menaces and HER BODYGUARD.

The Twelfth Card
Jeffrey Deaver
Simon & Schuster
ISBN 0743260929 $25.00, 395 pp.

Sixteen years old high school student Geneva Settle is at the Museum of African American Culture early in the morning reading microfilmed copies of Coloreds Weekly Illustrated in the basement. She is interested in researching her ancestor Charles Singleton, a slave who was freed by his master, given a farm, but eventually incarcerated for robbery. Geneva hears a noise and takes off running because she knows it was the click of a gun. Thompson Boyd, a killer for hire, was going to murder her and he was using a rape kit as camouflage to disguise how the young woman had to die. Police consultant Lincoln Rhyme, a paraplegic and his lover and partner Amelia Sachs are assigned the case. They hire a security firm to watch over her because she is the target of the killer. Thompson Boyd outwits them at every turn but luck keeps Geneva alive until they catch the hitman. However the person who wants Geneva dead still plans to kill her as she can destroy all he worked so hard to possess. THE TWELFTH CARD is an exciting police procedural that centers on a high school student who has survived on her own for two years and has no idea why someone wants her dead. Jeffrey Deaver's strength as a writer is his ability to create characters, major and secondary, that readers come to care about. Fans will feel for the policeman who loses his nerve; the hero who fears being tested to see if he regained any feeling in his paralyzed body; and the student who doesn't understand why her world is in danger of detonating.

Gods of Aberdeen
Micah Nathan
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743250826 $24.00, 384 pp.

Sixteen years old orphan Eric Dunne leaves his second cousin's home in New Jersey to attend Aberdeen University in Fairwich, Connecticut on an academic scholarship. To help relieve some of the costs, the teenage genius works at the school library under the guise of Cornelius Graves, a weird sort rumored to be investigating the immortality legend surrounding the Philosopher's Stone. Because Eric is proficient in Latin, senior student and research assistant Arthur Fitch recruits the freshman onto the team of Dr. William Cade, also pursuing the Philosopher's Stone. With fellow student researchers Howie Spacks and Dan Higgins, they conduct experiments, but one alchemist test goes awry killing Dan. Eric is stunned by the death, but also remains hooked as knowledge is everything to him although he has not quite yet attained the obsessed level of the rival professors or Art who all three blithely keep working as the show must go one. This is an interesting look at the end all pursuit of knowledge at any cost (a modern King Solomon) including death. Though the sidebars involving a female interest seem unnecessary even on a free wheeling campus like this one, the key players including that coed are fully developed especially the eccentric fixated professors and the senior. However, in the end this allegory belongs to Eric who has obtained an education the hard way.

Video Cowboys
Yolanda Joe
Simon & Schuster
ISBN 0743250389 $23.00, 232 pp.

After covering a news event, television journalist Georgia Barnett and her cameraman Zeke Barnett stop at the bank to withdraw money when a shot rings out. A man holding a bomb and a gun tells them they are hostages until his daughter Mandy is returned to him. He has Georgia run a tape of him asking for Mandy to be brought to him and then goes on to tell everyone she could be found with a criminal (he shows a wanted picture of the person on the tape). He has one of the female hostages deliver the tape but the police officer in charge of the case, Wild Bill, won't let it be shown because it will look as if he is soft on crime. Georgia gets Brett the gunman to trust her after swearing they will communicate by tapes played on television. Georgia has the tape aired and leaves before the police arrest her for obstruction of justice. She and the VIDEO COWBOYS, former employers who were let go from the television station, look for Mandy, and dodge the police, the mafia, drug dealers who don't want the girl and her companion Merc found. However, Georgia and the VIDEO COWBOYS are determined to find Mandy and bring her to Brett before he blows up the bank with the people inside it. Yolanda Joe (aka Ardella Garland) has written an action packed crime caper that is at times humorous and at other times deadly serious. The heroine epitomizes the word courage as she puts her life on the line several times to save the hostages. VIDEO COWBOYS is a special treat that will be eagerly read in one sitting.

The Middle Sin
Merline Lovelace
ISBN: 077832172X $6.99, 384 pp.

In Charleston, CEO of Sloan Enterprises, Marcus Sloan hires Dallas-based private investigator Cleo North to look into the disappearance of a young office assistant, Trish Jackson. Marcus' personal assistant Diane Walker knows that he met Cleo a few months ago on a case involving his twin and though she turned out to be an excellent sleuth, he probably wants to bed her too. Cleo, a former Air Force Office of Special Investigations Agent, arrives in town and begins immediately trailing Trish's path to include Weight Watchers where she learns the woman might be pregnant. The next day Air Force Office of Special Investigations Agent Jack Donovan arrives at Sloan Enterprises to interview Marcus, whose prime customer is the military. Jack and Cleo have been lovers whenever the time and place converge. Jack asks Marcus when he last accessed the DNA signature Top Secret Defense Department Afloat Prepositions Program; Marcus responds several weeks ago; Jack states yesterday. Someone perhaps Trish has used Marcus' DNA to attain access and perhaps gained a schematic of a vessel carrying a potentially deadly weapon. Jack and Trish know their cases have converged and work closely to stop a potential calamity. THE MIDDLE SIN is an exhilarating military-industrial complex investigative tale that starts off at a leisure private detective tracking a missing person through the suburbs, but soon turns into a race against time thriller. Merline Lovelace smoothly transitions the story line while keeping the believability intact due to strong characters and building off of Cleo's first day inquiries. This is a five star billet with a sequel to follow starring the lead couple of this fine tale.

White Rabbit
Erica Spindler
ISBN: 077832186X $19.95, 384 pp.

The pop noise awakens former Dallas Homicide Detective Stacy Killian. Though a grad student in Eng Lit, she is still conditioned to react instantly from her days as a police officer. Stacy goes on alert searching for the source when she realizes the decibels meant the apartment of her next door neighbors, University of New Orleans students Cassie and Beth who were shot to death. After looking at the crime scene, Stacy calls 911. New Orleans Homicide Detective Spencer Malone and rotational partner Tony Sciame team up to head the investigation into the homicides. The two cops interview Stacy, first at the scene so she is a suspect. She mentions that she and Cassie became friends and that the coed enjoyed role playing games (RPG). Since the murders were not sexual or a break and enter robbery, and a laptop is missing, Stacy wonders if an RPG is somehow involved. Not trusting the rookie or the near retirement detectives to solve the case, Stacy investigates until she joins forces with Spencer looking into the RPG White Rabbit and its designer Leo Noble when other murders occur. Neither the former cop nor the detective realizes the danger of falling down the hole into the RPG realm of White Rabbit. Police procedural suspense thriller fans will want to read Erica Spindler's tense tale as the action-packed novel glides on two investigative paths; that of Stacy and that of Spencer until they merge their efforts. The key to the suspenseful story line is how the serial killer has raised the stakes of White Rabbit RPG into a real life game of winner takes all while losers die. Readers will enjoy this fine effort and hopefully see future pairing of the lead duet especially if the heroine returns to the force.

The Last Bullet
Merline Lovelace
ISBN: 0778321819 $6.99, 384 pp.

USAF Office of Special Investigations General Barnes hires former agent turned private security consultant Cleo North to accompany Major Jack Donovan on an investigation of the murder of an air force tanker pilot in England. As he briefs the two sleuths, Barnes warns North not to blow up anything as the brass is still reeling over the loss of millions of dollars worth of munitions when she blew up a cargo ship on her last mission. Someone shot two bullets into the head of Captain Doug Caswell who had quite a dossier involving black marketeering, porn rings, and gambling though none stuck. The oddity of the homicide is the bullets come from a special stock made in 1939 and used by a Sergeant Gordon who along with his plane and a shipment of gold vanished in 1943. As the modern day case takes several out of control spins, the American detectives learn that the past offers something more sinister and deadly, a biological agent that strengthens with age. The final tale in the exciting North trilogy (see THE FIRST MISTAKE and THE MIDDLE SIN) is a fast-paced action thriller that links a World War II unsolved event with a modern day mystery. The story line never slows down, but also furthers the relationship between the heroes who are in love but must concentrate on uncovering the culprit before a catastrophe occurs. Fans of military thrillers will appreciate Merline Lovelace's latest triumphant tale that once again proves why she is one of the sub-genre's ranking writers.

Never Tell
Karen Young
ISBN: 0778321436 $6.99

CentrxO CEO Morton Trask informs his surprised wife Lillian that he is on the short list for an ambassadorship. She prefers to stay in Houston where her son Hunter from her first marriage lives and be available if her troubled daughter Jocelyn needs her; besides Lillian enjoys sponsoring the arts including serendipitously assisting clothing designer Erica Stewart. Family friend Hank Colson reminds Hunter that for his mother's birthday she might enjoy an item from Erica's store since she mentions the gifted designer a lot. Hunter gives the present he bought from Erica to his mom and asks her about the designer. His mom turns pale and says she does not know her. Hunter sees Erica and they fall in love, but his mother's reactions and later that of his half-sister makes him wonder what is going on. Erica tells him that she is beginning to remember the details of nine years ago when her husband and child died in a hit and run accident. Someone is willing to kill to keep her from revealing the truth. The lead couple is an interesting duet whose relationship seems increasingly doomed as the truth about the tragedy slowly surfaces in an intriguing way that includes the impact on others. The support cast provides insight into the personalities of the lead couple and the villain, who is too nasty with no redeeming qualities and is too easily dispatched. Still fans will read NEVER TELL in one sitting to learn along with the hero what the connection between his beloved and his family.

Dark Angel
Karen Harper
ISBN: 0778321797 $7.50, 384 pp.

In Maplecreek, Ohio, school teacher Leah Kurtz's life long friend, more a sister than a pal, Barbara Yoder is dying from leukemia after giving birth just one month ago. Her husband Sam is not coping well and in some ways blames his infant daughter Becca. Before dying, Barbara, with Sam's blessing, asks Leah to raise Becca as her own. Leah agrees loving the child as if she is the biological mother. Research Doctor Mark Morelli investigates natal accelerated aging, one of several genetic problems plaguing the Amish. He has a mixed welcome as some Plain People want him to stop playing God; while others welcome him. Leah has become knowledgeable with genetic illness since Barbara became sick; she wants the outsider to succeed. Mark realizes she is his liaison with the community. Leah starts having doubts that the infant she cares for is Becca; increasingly believing a switch occurred. Finding dead flowers everywhere adds to her paranoia, but perhaps someone is trying to drive her and Mark out of town before they discover the dark secrets that someone wants kept hidden. DARK ANGEL, Karen Harper's third "Dark" Amish tale (see DARK ROAD HOME and DARK HARVEST) is more a medical murder thriller than a romance though the love subplot between the lead couple enhances the prime mystery. The story line provides terrific juxtapositions between frightening crimes and nurturing caring individuals. Early on the tale slowly establishes the cast and their but once the eerie intrigue takes over, the pace goes to jet speed until the finish as the audience wonders who is the DARK ANGEL?

A Good Yarn
Debbie Macomber
ISBN: 0778321444 $19.95, 352 pp.

When Lydia Hoffman was a teen she conquered breast cancer but though chemo helped, it was the woman in the next treatment chair who gave her the needed edge; she learned to knit. Eventually, she opened up a shop A GOOD YARN about a year ago that has done well and has met a man Brad Goetz she likes, but his former wife is back in town. One of Lydia's students, retired librarian Elise Beaumont lives with her daughter Aurora as her ex husband gambler Marvin the "Maverick" lost everything they possessed. The two women battle over whether Aurora should allow her father into her life. Another pupil Bethanne Hamlin faces a midlife crisis since her spouse left her and their teens for another woman. Her confidence is shattered. Finally overweight teen Courtney Pulanski is depressed that her grandmother intercedes in her life by dragging her to senior citizen events like knitting. She wants nothing to do with the old losers in the class. The sequel to THE SHOP ON BLOSSOM STREET is A GOOD YARN that contemporary women's fiction readers will appreciate. The characters are fully developed so that the audience feels their pain and fear as they go through the phases of a group until they "perform" by helping each other gain self esteem by the high regard they begin to display to one another. Though the viewpoint between the four prime characters can be difficult to follow, readers will observe their differences and commonality as Debbie Macomber returns to Seattle with an uplifting inspirational yarn.

While the Daffodils Danced
Cathi LaMarche
ISBN: 1590804023 $15.99

In St. Elizabeth Hospital in Michigan, Cara Robertson feels alone ever since Mitch Sanders wished her "good luck" and ended their relationship as he already had a wife without knowing Cara carries his child. She gives birth, but refuses to touch or see her child or name the father as she decides to let people thinks she is an uncaring slut. Cara believes Mitch does not deserve the truth since he omitted to tell her about his marital status. She also knows she cannot care for the infant, but also believes she would be even worse than off than she is now if she makes even eye contact. Over time her broken heart mends with the help of Noah, but he vanishes shattering her fragile heart. When she rebounds with Jack, a clone of her supportive father, she feels like will work out okay though she still misses her little Jane as she called her child. However, when she learns Jack cheated on her, Cara turns to her only true solace, the dancing daffodils that display the healing of nature. Though the betrayals that confront Cara with the ethically deprived males she meets would devastate Job and edges the plot into soap opera territory, Cathi LaMarche provides a fine tale due to the slow strengthening of the inner soul of Cara. Fans will feel her sorrow over her child; weep with her when Noah chooses his musical gigs over her; and empathize while proudly supporting the heroine when she overcomes Jack's betrayal. This solid contemporary women's fiction stars a wonderful heroine, whose metamorphosis from weak and pliable into strong and independent will leave the audience dancing in their gardens.

Within the Shadows
Brandon Massey
Dafina Books
ISBN 0758210698 $14.00, 368 pp.

While driving back with his father after a round of golf, Raymond makes a sudden turn and drives until he has an accident. Nearby is a mansion which his son Andrew enters to look for a phone. The place seems haunted so he quickly goes outside gets a signal on his cell phone. When his father is admitted to the hospital because of injuries due to the accident, Andrew asks him if he knows about the house and he says no but his son knows his father is lying. Not long after that episode, Andrew, a thriller writer, is in his favorite coffee shop prepared to do some writer when he meets Mika Woods. She makes it plain she is interested in him and entices him into coming back to her hotel room where they have hot sex. Mika makes it plain that she loves him and he is the soul mate she waited years to find but Andrew wants to take things slow which upset her greatly. Her obsession leads her to stalk Andrew and his friends while his father dreams about the mansion. When Andrew finally admits something supernatural is going on, anyone who gets close to him is in danger from Mika and her paranormal powers. It is up to Andrew's father to save the son he abandoned so many years ago. Brandon Massey is a fantastic horror writer who will appeal to readers who like Bentley Little. Andrew rings true as he goes from skeptical non believer in the paranormal to a believer because he has witnessed strange happenings and knows he needs to destroy Mika before she further hurts those he loves. WITHIN THIS SHADOW is worthy of a Bram Stoker award nomination.

Within The Shadows
Brandon Massey
Dafina Books
ISBN 0758210698 $14.00, 368 pp.

While driving back with his father after a round of golf, Raymond makes a sudden turn and drives until he has an accident. Nearby is a mansion which his son Andrew enters to look for a phone. The place seems haunted so he quickly goes outside gets a signal on his cell phone. When his father is admitted to the hospital because of injuries due to the accident, Andrew asks him if he knows about the house and he says no but his son knows his father is lying. Not long after that episode, Andrew, a thriller writer, is in his favorite coffee shop prepared to do some writer when he meets Mika Woods. She makes it plain she is interested in him and entices him into coming back to her hotel room where they have hot sex. Mika makes it plain that she loves him and he is the soul mate she waited years to find but Andrew wants to take things slow which upset her greatly. Her obsession leads her to stalk Andrew and his friends while his father dreams about the mansion. When Andrew finally admits something supernatural is going on, anyone who gets close to him is in danger from Mika and her paranormal powers. It is up to Andrew's father to save the son he abandoned so many years ago. Brandon Massey is a fantastic horror writer who will appeal to readers who like Bentley Little. Andrew rings true as he goes from skeptical non believer in the paranormal to a believer because he has witnessed strange happenings and knows he needs to destroy Mika before she further hurts those he loves. WITHIN THIS SHADOW is worthy of a Bram Stoker award nomination.

Lord of Sin
Madeline Hunter
ISBN: 0553587307 $6.99, 432 pp.

Ewan McLean does not believe his Uncle Duncan, the Earl of Lyndale, when he insists he is dying. Instead the womanizing Ewan is irritated that he left the warmth of Mrs. Norton to heed the call. Duncan tells him that the next earl must correct the youthful error caused by his going too far. Reluctantly Ewan agrees to nag the next earl to rectify Duncan's mistakes. The next morning Duncan is dead. Within a couple weeks Duncan's heir and spare die in an avalanche leaving their cousin Ewan as the earl. Ewan plans to use his new wealth to add more erotic art to his collection, but first must handle that indiscretion as he promised his uncle on the man's death bed. He heads to Scotland where he meets Bride Cameron, raising her three younger sisters by himself. He offers her help, but she tells him to return to London as she wants nothing to do with the wastrel. Instead of heeding her warning and his own inner advice to scoot, Ewan is curious and attracted to Bride. She reciprocates his feelings as she begins to fall in love with Lyndale, but refuses his charm as she does not want history to repeat itself. LORD OF SIN is an engaging historical romance starring two fully developed characters who even as they fall in love are more antagonists than protagonists. The story line is fast-paced filled with intriguing twists as Ewan, though out of the Rake 101 mould, finds he obsessively needs to tame the shrew that demands he go home. The support cast enhances a fine battle of the sexes' tale.

The Water Room
Christopher Fowler
ISBN: 0553803891 $24.00

In London, the Peculiar Crimes Unit (PCU) continues to work out of leased office space while their facility is being repaired having been devastated by an explosion followed by a fire. Team leaders Arthur Bryant and John May are used to the ups and downs for their odd squad having been doing this job for over five decades with the threat of shut down always over their shoulders as the squad handles the nasty cases rejected by other police units. However, the threat this time is different. The two aging leaders informed have six months to turn the unit around to include following the rule book or cantankerous Arthur and cranky John will be retired. Long time friend Benjamin Singh visits Arthur to complain about the local police ignoring the death of his sister Ruth and to plead with the copper to take a look at the crime scene. Arthur is shocked that the recluse drowned while sitting on a dry chair in a dry room. As PCU investigates, they find themselves at odds with realtors who want the area for development and racists who want the Indian population removed. Meanwhile someone is killing people using hidden passages from the rivers flowing beneath the city to perform the act. The latest geriatric police procedural is a fabulous tale as the case begins as a seemingly minor scenario blossoms into a watery serial killer. The story line is fast-paced as the two aging not so gracefully detectives assisted by Sergeant Longbright begin making inquires while influential realtors run off to the brass to shut them down. Christopher Fowler writes a fine tale starring a pair of peevish protagonists that sub-genre friends will appreciate and want more capers.

Marc D. Giller
ISBN 0553383310 $12.00, 400 pp.

In the far distant future, world governments have disappeared to be replaced by seven corporations known as the Collective, the members from each forming the Assembly. It is a world where everyone is plugged into the information network and information is the king. Hammerjacks ride the waves to find out corporate secrets and sell it to a rival willing to pay a higher price. Cray Alden is a corporate spy working for GenTech when he is assigned to bring back the runner Zoe who has in her bloodstream information that belongs to his boss. Cray finds himself in a tug of war between the opposing forces, the corporate Collective who has invested heavily in a synthetic intelligent computer and the Innu who sees that such an entity could replace man as the dominant species. While he tries to figure out is who he can trust, Cray is unaware that he is changing and to stop himself from becoming a danger, he must return to the source of the conflict, the self-aware sentient computer known as Lyssa. The future that Mark D Giller paints is bleak, dark and plausible. With the advances in computer technology, a sentient AI doesn't seem like science fiction because the author, a computer systems techie, bases his work on technology known today that he takes to it's final conclusion. The protagonist is a man who realizes he is a prisoner of the corporation that hires him and feels very little, certainly not joy. HAMMERJACK is an exciting science fiction noir thriller that will appeal to fans who like to be taken to the edge and beyond.

To Crush The Moon
Wil McCarthy
ISBN 055358717X $6.99, 400 pp.

In the far distant future, mankind has achieved immortality, fax machines that transport people from point A to Point B are commonly used and the Negcog a telecommunications network allows messages to be transmitted almost instantaneously. The Queendom of Sol benevolently rules all the inhabited worlds but the seeds for the monarchy's destruction are already planted. Colony planets are failing and refugees race to a home that has no room for them. The homeless on earth is in the millions and a new world is needed for these refugees. King Bruno decides on a daring plan to crush the moon internally and make it habitable for billions of people. The architect for this plan is Conrad Mursk, who was rescued from the crippled Newhope out of Banard's, another collapsing colony world. In cyro are 25,000 men and women who escaped and now form the workforce of the moon which is now named Lune. The refugees from Eridani want to live on Lune not in cold storage. When the monarchy refuses to give into their demands, they unleash a virus that destroys the Nescog. Years later, mortal humans are faced with a war with the Glitter King and the immortal Bruno and Conrad lead the opposing army, knowing if they fail, human life may very well disappear from the galaxy. For all of its technological achievements the world of the future seems a very bleak place. Wil McCarthy makes immortality seem like a curse because with nobody dying, there is no room for more people on Earth. This is outer space noir science fiction with a gothic feel because instead of harmony, there is chaos because mankind doesn't have what it takes to create viable human habitable planets. TO CRUSH THE MOON is cutting edge science fiction at its very best.

Brian Keene
ISBN: 0553587382 $6.99, 336 pp.

Like many living in Hanover, an industrial ghost town, ailing Tommy O'Brien has no health insurance so he delays visiting the doctor until his wife Michelle insists that he goes following two weeks of intense headaches and a major weight loss. The doctor informs Tommy that he suffers grade four-cancer so serious and aggressive that there is no treatment and he will die in one to three months. Stunned and worried about the welfare of his wife and their son T.J. after he goes, Tommy and his two best friends Sherm and John discuss robbing a bank while drinking beer at Murphy's Place. The bank robbery goes wrong, but the three thieves have hostages. One oft he prisoners, the boy Benjy, apparently has mystical healing powers and miraculously Tommy is cured and his crony shot in the stomach recovers immediately. However, Tommy and his pals will soon learn the extent of Benjy's healing even as they are arrested. TERMINAL is an exciting suspense thriller starring a "condemned" man whose philosophy is "life's a bit*h and then you die". The story line is action-packed, but contains an intriguing paranormal twist that takes a fabulous final Twilight Zone spin. Readers will agree that money can buy you health as those without put off until it is too late. This is a keen tale that the audience will appreciate.

November Mourns
Tom Piccirilli
ISBN 055358720X $5.99, 388 pp.

After beating and near killing Zeke Hester for trying to rape his fifteen year old sister Megan, Shad Jenkins is sent up to state prison for two years. While in prison, he takes college courses and teaches another convict how to read. Just before he is due to be released, his father informs him that his sister is dead, found on Gospel Road, only a mark on her cheek and no idea how she died. When Shad is released he returns to Moon Run Hollow with its ignorant back woods folk where incest is common and nobody ever speaks of the children born of such a union. Shad is determined to figure out who killed his sister. He visits a congregation of snake handlers who live nearest to the place where Megan died. When he returns to the Hollow he confronts the last person he would ever expect to have killed his innocent sister and realizes no one is sane in the Hollow. The protagonist night walks and doesn't remember what he does when that happens. He also sees the shade of his sister's hand and a convict from the prison he stayed at. Is he hallucinating, going insane or has he come to realize that the natural laws don't apply inside the Hollow? Tom Piccirilli writes a dark foreboding gothic like tale in which readers sense that Shad is on the road to his own destiny if he can remain on the path. The lyrical prose and the noir atmosphere makes NOVEMBER MOURNS a memorable work.

Stephen Spignesi
ISBN: 0553804014 $23.00, 354 pp.

Since the police arrested her for six murders, several people have conversed with Tory Troy including her lawyer in a guarded mental hospital. However, the most persistent psychiatrist Dr. Baraku Bexley has interviewed Tory several times to ascertain whether the genius can delineate right from wrong enough to stand trial in a Connecticut court. Over a year ago, Tory lost her job at a pharmaceutical firm that felt the Internet was a better way to sell drugs. Before she left, Tory stole a paralytic drug that leaves victims conscious but paralyzed. Tory worked as a euthanasia technician at the Waterbridge Animal Shelter in Connecticut, where every Friday she kills animals in a gas chamber. Tory detests her job, but needs the income as she has no other prospects. As she turns into a loner, her loathing for her work converts towards her peers until she decides to take action. Using the paralytic she stole, Tory begins injecting fellow shelter employees and while they remain awake kills them in the gas chamber. Through the dialogues with Tory at the mental hospital readers get a picture of what happened that drove the woman into killing her peers. Additionally, the audience obtains several other dialogues besides the central figure as her distraught parents, the judge, the prosecution team, the jurors, and others discuss Tory. Interestingly fans also get a different side to the indicted murderer through a strong short story and novella she wrote that adds to the feel that we are looking at a real person wondering why. By the uncanny climax, Stephen Spignesi will have readers exchanging dialogues on this insightful uniquely rendered thriller.

Francine Mathews
ISBN: 0553803301 $24.00, 336 pp.

The 30 April terrorist group was thought to have been destroyed during a deadly shootout in Europe (see THE CUTOUT). However, unbeknownst to the CIA this lunatic fringe has an American cell. One such devotee, Daniel Becker commits mass murder at Washington's Marine Corps Marathon. Distributing water during the race, Daniel included deadly Ricin in the drinks he served to the runners. CIA intelligence analyst Caroline Carmichael ran that fatal race and almost succumbed to Daniels' deadly elixir. She soon learns that the perpetrators behind the mass murder marathon belong to 30 April, a group that she and other members of a task force thought they eliminated across the Atlantic. Now, bragging to the Washington Post that retribution for the European debacle has begun, this dangerous group plans vengeance on a biblical scale with Caroline being one of the eye for an eye targets. Carline makes BLOWN must reading for readers who appreciate a powerful terrorist vs. anti terrorist action-packed thriller with the enemy wrapped inside the American flag. A sidebar involving a 30 April task force peer falling in love with her adds depth to the heroine, who loves her spouse, an undercover operative somewhere in Europe. Caroline, a human epitome of the energizer bunny, keeps on ticking even when confronted with overwhelming odds including her husband compromised by DC bureaucrats forcing her to choose between her country and her man. Francine Matthews provides a fabulous action-packed tale.

Kelley Armstrong
ISBN 0553587080 $6.99, 496 pp.

In life, Aspico half-demon and witch master of the black arts Eve Levine ran away when she realizes she is pregnant with the heir of a cabal sorcerer. Three years after Eve's death, she haunts the home where her daughter Savannah lives, hoping to find a way to breakthrough into the mortal world. Savannah's father Kris who lives on the same ghostly plane as Eve believes the woman he loves most should get her own life preferably with him and forget about making contact with their daughter. He believes Eve needs something worthwhile to do so that she won't constantly looking in on Savannah. The fates have a very special job for Eve to perform. They need her to capture a Nix who escaped from a supposedly secure level of hell. A Nix is a very dangerous supernatural being because it provides the human it possesses the chance to act on her darkest desires. Some of the most notorious female killers were possessed by a Nix. While Eve is chasing after the supernatural creature, the Nix discovers who really matters to Eve and intends to destroy them unless Eve can find a way to send her back to Hell. This romantic urban fantasy is absolutely incredible. It is innovatively original and the storyline is a magical creation. Eve learns that her tie is to Kris and she must stop visiting her daughter. She intends to succeed in her quest but she might have to give up her lover to save those she loves in the mortal realm. Kelley Armstrong's latest work is refreshing, exciting, and a great work of urban fantasy.

Locked Rooms
Laurie R. King
ISBN: 055380197X $24.00, 400 pp.

In 1924 Sherlock Holmes and his wife Mary Russell journey from Bombay to San Francisco where she plans to settle the estate of her deceased parents who died a decade ago along with her brother in a car accident. However, during the watery trek across the Pacific, three dreams haunts Mary. The first dream involves flying objects; the second contains a faceless man telling her not to be afraid little girl; finally her last nightmare centers on a locked room. Holmes is worried about his wife who looks pale and has not slept well nor eaten properly. In San Francisco, Mary meets her late father's attorney who explains the will to her and in response to her question says they met in 1906 when the earthquake devastated the city. Mary is stunned as she insisted she was not here during the quake. Holmes acting more like Freud believes her dreams are repressed memories trying to surface. As Mary begins to put together what happened, she begins to remember, but someone prefers her memories remain hidden behind the LOCKED ROOMS of her mind. This author shows why she is a genre king with the terrific eighth entry in the Russell-Holmes series. The story line grips the audience from the moment Holmes displays his concern for his wife until the complex finale. Mary is terrific, perhaps her best role to date, as she struggles with inner demons that threaten her sanity while her beloved husband can only offer platitudes and a degree of safety as he follows her around San Francisco. Laurie R. King is at the top of her game with this superb historical mystery.

My Surrender
Connie Brockway
ISBN: 0743463242 $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1801 their father died; one year later their mother passed away. Within six months of their mother's death, the three Nash sisters being practical females all found work. The oldest Helena was a companion (see MY SEDUCTION); the middle Kate provided music lesions (see MY PLEASURE); the youngest Charlotte became a companion to Margaret Weston. By 1806 with her sisters married, Charlotte continues her father's work to uncover a French agent. She breaks the rules wildly flirting with Comte St. Lyon, hoping she can seduce him into revealing his work for Napoleon. Meanwhile, Dand Ross initially provides unwanted protection to Charlotte. However, as he gets to know her, he realizes they need to work together to uncover a spy. Neither expected to fall in love, but both intuitively knows that the world of espionage has no place for the feelings of desire towards others. Readers will appreciate the exhilarating escapades of Daring Dand and courageous Charlotte even with the story line is over the edge. The audience is hooked from the moment fans realize Charlotte is masquerading as a loose woman to capture a spy. Connie Brockway closes her wonderful Regency trilogy with a smashing climax that sub-genre fans will enjoy as much for the romance as for the action-packed at times jocular capers.

My Wicked Highlander
Jen Holling
ISBN: 0743471067 $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1597 Highlander Sir Phillip Kilpatrick arrives at Atmore Manor in England to escort twenty-four years old Lady Isobel MacDonell home at the bequest of her sire to marry Earl Nicholas Lyon. Isobel was sent to England by her father when her mother was killed as a witch twelve years ago. Isobel and her two sisters are chips off the maternal block as witches too. Isobel is attracted to her guide, but he tries to hide his feelings from her because he finds her desirable. As they trek to Scotland, they begin to fall in love, but he feels guilty for failing his long missing then six years old younger sister and fears he will fail likewise in protecting his beloved if he makes a move; she fears placing him jeopardy because witches are hung to death. On top of that there is the alliance her father is arranging through her upcoming marriage. MY WICKED HIGHLANDER is a fun historical fantasy romance that bewitches the audience due to the lead couple; both in denial when it comes to loving one another. Isobel is a fabulous protagonist whose efforts to hide her skills fail as her hostess for a dozen years points out to the visiting Philip; while his "trauma" seems disconnected to his feelings towards Isobel. Fans of late sixteenth century romances with a paranormal twist will enjoy this fine tale and look forward to being further bewitched by Jen Holling two more times.

Brenda L. Thomas
ISBN: 0743497058 $12.00, 176 pp.

In 1998 Philadelphia legal firm executive assistant Sasha Borianni has had an affair for several years with married Cole Allan when his wife Paulette arrives at Sasha's home with a gun. Seeing the naked twosome sends Paulette over the edge; she shoots herself in Sasha's bedroom. The police wonder if Sasha and Cole killed Paulette to get her out of the way. A contrite Sasha realizes the cost of her affair as it hits home that Cole's child no longer has a loving mother. The suicide ends Sasha's relationship with Cole as if he blames her. The lingering guilt sends Sasha on a downward spiral of lovers until she leaves town for the glitter of the West Coast, working for NBA star and PR nightmare Phoenix Carter, which leads to high price sex, drugs, and depravity. That is until she meets button down collar Trent, but her past has caught up to her. Her father blamed her for the death of her mother in childbirth and Cole and his family holds her culpable for Paulette's suicide. Ashamed of her behavior with Phoenix and others, a rueful and feeling unworthy Sasha sees no future with Trent. Sasha is lonely though quite intelligent and performs her work duties at a superior level; she always seeks love in the wrong places because she needs men to confirm she is not worthy of their staying permanently. Thus she chooses "safe" males who are married until Trent opens her eyes, but abashed she feels he is too late or is he. THREESOME is a realistic character driven tale (most of the plot has Sasha revealing all in the first case) that looks deep at what drives the other woman.

The Dangerous Protector
Janet Chapman
ISBN: 0743486315 $6.99, 368 pp.

Eighteen months ago in Puffin Harbor, Maine Duncan Ross and Willow Foster shared a blissful night together. He thought it was the beginning of a lifetime as he believes he found his soulmate; she catalogues it as a delightful one night stand fearing how deep she feels for the Scot. Duncan has all the townsfolk including her mother believing that they will wed soon once he persuades her to accept his offer of matrimony, but Willow avoids even coming home acting like the elusive butterfly eluding his net of love. However, as a Maine Assistant District Attorney Willow comes home when a lobster catch in the nearby waters proves contaminated. She, joined by Duncan, begins an investigation to determine what happened, who is responsible, and whether criminal charges should be filed. As they work the dangerous waters of corporate America seeking to identify the polluter, Willow realizes she loves her protector, but fears commitment. Contemporary readers will find THE DANGEROUS PROTECTOR is an intriguing but odd romantic suspense thriller that seems to combine historical courting elements into a modern day investigative tale. The story line is at its best when the lead duet working in tandem make inquiries including searching the money and paper trails. When the plot turns romantic, it feels strange as if the time and place was eighteenth century Scotland and even an Internet romance feels old fashioned. Still Janet Chapman entertains her audience with this fine romantic mystery.

Blood from a Stone
Donna Leon
Atlantic Monthly
ISBN: 0871138875 $23.00

In Venice, two men kill an illegal alien from Senegal, who was selling counterfeit designer luggage. The police shock the locals by "speedily" arriving at the crime scene in a half hour, but the American tourists who witnessed the homicide had already given up. Most of the evidence at least with resalable value like the African's merchandise has been stolen from the Campo San Stefano Square where he was killed. Commissario Guido Brunetti leads the official investigation and almost immediately believes it was a professional hit not just a robbery or an economic cleansing by storekeepers who complain about these foreign street peddlers. Brunetti also knows how his wife, a left wing professor, will lecture him that the crime is another example of the social malice and failures of the current system. The case will enable the Commissario to avoid much of her oration, but will send him into the dregs of Venice as he uncovers clues with the help of his computer hacking expert Elettra. The Brunetti police procedural series provides some of the best the sub-genre offers combing a strong mystery with a deep social issue. The current tale focuses on the illegal immigrant problem impacting Italy and other western nations, but places the complexities within a delightful who-done-it. His family especially his spouse shows the Commissario is more than just a super cop. However, as always the star of Donna Leon's latest thriller is Venice, a city the author pays homage to while her hero tramps it cold damp streets.

Jonathan Moeller
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142785 $25.95, 437 pp.

It has been fifteen years since Sir Mazael Cravenlock was thrown out of Castle Cravenlock so that his father's heir learns to rule unopposed. Now Mazael accompanied by his friend Sir Gerald Roland, the son of his liege lord, returns to his childhood home to find out if the rumors that people are disappearing are true and a wizard's power enables the dead to walk again under his control. When the two companions stop at an inn, they see his sister Rachel kidnapped by Lord Richard who is the liege lord of the Grim Marches. Mazael rescues her and returns her to the castle where his brother now the ruler of Cravenlock has a less than enthusiastic greeting for his long lost brother. He and his wife intend to go to war to regain the Grim Marches that once belonged to them. Mazael and his friend Lord Gerald allied with a good wizard who practices white magic sees for himself that the dead are indeed walking under their master's control. Mazael intends to put a stop to the evil doings that originate at the castle where a snake cult is worshiped and the dark arts practiced. The protagonist learns that he is Demonsouled, the blood of the Great demon who died three thousand years ago runs in his veins. Unlike most Demonsouls, he has the power to overcome the darkness that dwells within him and turn his back on his evil heritage if he can resist the lure of the dark powers which entice him with what they have to offer him. Jonathan Moeller has written a fantastic, spell binding and enthralling fantasy where the winner of the battle of good vs. evil depends on a dark one fighting for the light.

Witch Angel
Trana Mae Simmons
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143250 $25.95

In 2005 Guardian Angel Sylvia suffers from battle fatigue syndrome after fifteen years on earth trying to help crazy human Jackie. She asks her boss Superior Guardian Angel Francesca for a vacation, but her reaction is one of disbelief as angels do not take vacations. However following Janine's latest insanity behind a wheel, Francesca agrees that she and Sylvia need to go on sabbatical to an easier quieter era. She selects 1875. In 2005, architectural restorationist Alaynia Mirabeau drives her rental from Baton Rouge to her new home Chenaie that she inherited form her late aunt and not been occupied for five years. However, something weird happens and she ends up in a ditch with no paved road in sight. Shain St. Clair sees her and tries to help the reluctant strange female who claims his estate is hers although he sees a horseless carriage for the first time. As they become acquainted they fall in love, but she came from the future because Basil the ghost wanted to stop her plans to renovate his home while two angels insist he send her back where she belongs. WITCH ANGEL is a fun fantasy romance that lampoons the recent flood of angelic matchmakers. The story line contains five solid characters the displaced but mortal lovers, the crusty ghost, and the pair of not vacationing angels. Readers will take immense delight as the angels argue with the free will ghost to return the heroine to her times even while they debate between themselves how nicely Alaynia and Shain seem together.

Korean Intercept
Stephen Mertz
Five Star
ISBN: 159414303X $25.95

Fifteen minutes into the Shuttle Liberty mission to deploy a top secret space defense satellite, Houston tells the crew to abort and come home without using radio contact. As they descend Commander Ron Scott realizes something is wrong and soon realizes they are on a path to land in China or North Korea. He also does not control the vessel as someone outside is operating the ship. To land Ron must take over and he bypasses a lit up airstrip to crash land a few miles away. Two astronauts die, Ron breaks his leg another is severely injured and two are okay. Washington is stunned and wonders if a traitor in Houston caused the shuttle to change course. China and North Korea vow to cooperate, but both want the cargo on board and that does not include the humans if they get in the way. Co-pilot Kate Daniels takes charge of the evacuation helped by sixty-eight years old local Ahn Chang angered over the recent death of his spouse for no reason except lack of medical care. Kate's estranged husband, NSC assigned Major Trev Galt with the help of his Japanese reporter girlfriend mount an assault to rescue the astronauts from global treachery. Fans of action thrillers that travel faster than a speeding shuttle will want to read the fast-paced KOREAN INTERCEPT. The story line never slows down even as the varying competing groups converge on the stranded astronauts. Though the technology to cause the original intercept especially keeping NASA blind seems impossible yet somehow Stephen Mertz makes it seem plausible as he provides a fantastic tale that will keep readers up all night.

X-treme Dating
Cathy McDavid
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143552 $26.95

Tucson, Arizona firefighter Park Evenson fears nothing so her friends and family are not shocked when she applied for a spot as a contestant on the TV show X-treme Dating. However, surprising the beautiful first responder, the show accepts her. Producer Natasha Gorsky introduces Park to her dating companion Justin Mann, who is gorgeous and knows it. She also meets the cameraman Grant Hastings, who she finds much more attractive than her date. The rules are simple: do what you want as long as it is legal and ignore the camera even if it is your face. Park follows the rule to a T, but what she wants has nothing to do with Justin and all to do with Grant. She has no trouble ignoring the camera, but not the man behind the lens. Grant reciprocates even after Natasha admonishes him for hitting on the contestant, but must wait in the wings until the first act ends before taking on the lead male role with the woman he admires and loves. Chick lit goes reality TV in this fine contemporary romance starring an interesting "triangle". The story line is a lighthearted romp with two likable protagonists forced to tamper down their growing feelings for one another as that is not part of the contract. The story line is fun although Justin is too into himself to provide competition for the caring Grant. Readers will laugh with the antics of the cast as Grant takes Park from Justin in spite of the rules.

Deadly Blessings
Julie Hyzy
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142904 $25.95

In Chicago Alexandrine "Alex" St. James has a story that can make her TV journalist career revolving around a twenty-two year old Polish immigrant Milla Voight impregnated by Father Carlos de los Santos. However, someone kills Milla while Carlos flees to his native Brazil. To Alex's chagrin her boss at Midwest Focus Television newsmagazine Philip "Bass" Bassett takes her off the follow-up story replacing her with newcomer Fenton Foss, nephew of a management big cheese. She is assigned to investigate beauty salons that have failed its clients with poor perms. Since Milla worked Hair to Die For salon, Alex starts there figuring she can meet the assignment, but also investigate the homicide. DEADLY BLESSINGS is a solid journalist investigative tale starring a delightful heroine who needs future appearances. Alex makes the tale work as she plays with the cards that her boss and her boyfriend provide to her in a game that the two men rig. The twists are shrewdly used to provide insight into the heroine as much as into the case except for an eye opening final spin in which professional ethics is discarded for career enhancement. Julie Hyzy provides a tense tale that showcases a darker side to Chicago and the church that comes across badly using the flock for personal gain.

The Heist
Michael A. Black
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142777 $25.95

Desert Storm veterans Linc Jackson and Rick Weaver served their country well, but have been discarded since returning to civilian life in Chicago. However, an opportunity arises when a rare flood threatens downtown. The two former combat soldiers think that during the mass confusion they can steal about a million dollars from the Mafia with no detection and the raising waters serving as the escape. Linc and Rick succeed in the heist beyond their wildest imagination, but failed to have a post game plan on how to spend the loot. The mob cannot afford to allow anyone to hijack their cash so they send their best The Regulator to clean up the problem. At the same time, cops, some questionable on which side of the law they lie also want the former marines and the money they stole. High noon in the ocean of Chicago is coming. This is an action packed thriller that moves at a rapid pace once Linc and Rick decide to use their military skills under the cover of the weather to pull off THE HEIST and never slows down as the Regulator keeps coming after them. The story line is caper driven with the events enabling the audience to somewhat see how the characters, especially the lead duo, react. No one stays on the legal side of the law leading to a fun testosterone overflow Chicago joy ride.

The Spy Next Door
Cathy Liggett
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143277 $26.95, 244 pp.

Author of three romantic spy novels under the pseudonym of Hope Starr, Hope Hathaway lives in Bearsville, New York raising her fifth grade son Theodore by herself and driving the school bus. She does not trust men ever since her ex spouse Robert walked out on her after cheating while she gave birth. Moving into her Uncle Cary's B&B is hunk Chandler Adams, who informs her that he is an international spy going domestic. She assumes somehow he knows about her other life and has a sense of humor. Still when he leaves for Manhattan, she decides to be just like her heroine Sela Theodore and follow him. However, she soon learns that the glamorous world of her novels is not quite the same inside a musty car trunk. Already realizing she is involved and wanting to keep her safe, Chandler decides to let Hope stay by him as he works to uncover to break up an art fraud ring, but finds he loves sharing under the cover work even inside car trunks with Hope at his side. Though Hope trailing Chandler seems out of character for this single suburban mom, THE SPY NEXT DOOR is a tongue in cheek undercover romance. The lighthearted story line is fun as Chandler tells Hope he is a spy just in from the cold and she reacts by spying on him, which leads to both into trouble. Fans of blithe romantic romps will appreciate this second chance at love starring a debonair former spy turned under the cover operative and an author no longer in the cold when it comes to warm relationships with her man.

Essence of Trust
Melinda Rucker Haynes
Five Star
ISBN: 1594141169 $26.95, 257 pp.

Psychologist Rian Farsante begins having visions that her godson eleven year old Marty and his parents Michael and Dorel Gabrielli are in danger form her former employee, mentor, and lover Ian Stoddard of Datascape Systems. She calls her former partner and her last lover Jonathan Spencer to ask if Marty is okay, but instead of concern he demands she come back to him to create the Sword of Balance that he swears he will only use for good. Rian refuses having left her beloved because he is turning to the dark and the Swords of Balance that he and Ian covet will destroy his soul. Rian's vision turns out truer than she even dreamed as Michael and Dorel are murdered and Marty is abducted. Deciding rescuing Marty is top priority; Rian agrees to partner with her soulmate risking her life and soul by doing so. As the danger mounts with Ian having the support of the evil God Anubis, Jonathan pressures her to create a new Swords of Balance, but she remains reluctant as she does not trust her beloved even as Ian psychically tries to coerce her to return to him. ESSENCE OF TRUST is an exciting paranormal fantasy that grips readers once the triangular relationships between Rian, Jonathan, and Ian and their abilities surface. Rian is the key to the story line as the two men from her past demand she join their side of the dispute, but she distrusts both of them. Though complex and overloaded with otherworldly elements, fans of modern day fantasy thrillers can trust Melinda Rucker Haynes for providing an enchanting tale.

Formidable Enemy
Terry Bramlett
Five Star
ISBN 1594142807 $25.95, 226 pp.

The Enochians took Earth totally by surprise when they attacked without provocation. Earth was losing to the technologically superior race when the discovery of the mutated gene in their system that if tweaked the right way would be almost one hundred percent fatal. Captain Roger Stimson of the U.S. Intelligence Biological and Chemical Warfare Unit developed and released a virus that killed billions of the aliens and sent them running home. Roger lives with the genocide he committed by becoming an ER nurse in New Orleans and he is on duty when the Enochian Dingo is admitted. Dingo states that one group of Enochians want to restart the war and they will do that by assassinating the President when he comes to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Also targeted for assassination is the Enochian Prefect who is coming to Earth to open up trade negotiations. The Enochian believe that an enemy that can defeat you is worthy of friendship and trade but there are humans and aliens who don't agree with that concept; these strange bedfellows will do whatever it takes to restart the war to destroy the other's civilization. FORMIDABLE ENEMY is a serio-comic work of science fiction. The protagonist is viewed by some as a hero that ended the war and by others as a genocidal Hitler. He has to live with his own conscience, but courageously intends to help Dingo stop the assassinations or die trying. Terry Bramlett is excellent with character development inside an action-packed storyline that would make a great movie.

Everran's Bane
Sylvia Kelso
Five Star
ISBN 1594143536 $25.95, 225 pp.

The Kingdom of Everran was a happy place where anyone who wanted to work could find a job and no family was homeless. The vineyards bring in enough money to keep the treasury full and the handsome king is beloved by his subjects, his military, and especially by his adoring wife. Everran's peace ended when the skybane ( a dragon) came. No army can defeat it; no champion can kill it.To stop the ruin of his kingdom, King Beryx sends hearthbard Harran to the dragon's lair to ask what it will take to bring about a truce. Terms are agreed upon but the dragon gives more to the king when he says the "weapon has not been forged" that could kill it implying something not yet invented could. When a jewel disappears from the dragon's cave, it goes on a rampage destroying the capital and the surrounding areas. Banished from his own lands the king and his advisors seek the weapon that would end the life of Hawge the dragon not knowing the answer will cause the king a high cost he must pay in order to save his kingdom. Not every adult fairy tale has a happily ever after ending, EVERRAN'S BANE is a poignant and moving fantasy in which the real hero must choose between giving up much he holds dear or losing everything to the dragon.. There are clues sprinkled throughout the tense plot that hint at what must happen to defeat the dragon, but the king and readers will never guess what they reveal until the climax. That shocker will leave the audience stunned with the revelation that Sylvia Kelso is the real thing.

According To Crow
E. Sedia
Five Star
ISBN 1594143080 $25.95, 330 pp.

Eighteen years ago, the Meran Empire went to war against the kingdom of Sium reaching the village of Fiam. It was thought that General Sefar would raze the village but Ruth, a beautiful young woman was able to get into his tent; when she left she carried the general's head, which was put in the church as a reminder of victory. Nine months later, Ruth gives birth to Josiah. While Ruth is regarded as a heroine, Josiah is treated like an outcast. A Meran missionary arrives to bring home the bones of his kinsman Sefar. When the visitor meets Josiah he realizes immediately that the teen is Sefar's son and also his kinsman. He invites Josiah to visit his paternal family in Meran before war breaks out again and is welcomed by every relative he has. War breaks out and after witnessing Sium treachery. Josiah joins the Meran army although he is still not sure what country he calls home. ACCORDING TO CROW is a coming of age story in which a young man witnesses treachery and the horrors of war. This is also a tale of choices as Josiah struggles to learn where he truly belongs and what he is meant to do. This fantasy world has only a hint of magic as it is more sword than sorcery but actually is a clash between two very different cultures. E. Sedia writes a moving and memorable tale.

Till We Next Meet
Karen Ranney
ISBN: 006075737X $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1761 Canada Catherine Dunnan loves the romantic letters her military deployed spouse Harry sends her. Unbeknownst to Catherine, Harry is too busy womanizing to write her let alone read her replies. Instead trying to do a good deed, his leader Colonel Moncrief responds pretending he is Harry. Catherine comes to Scotland to surprise her Harry. However, Moncrief informs her Harry died. Stunned and filled with grief, Catherine overdoses with an opiate; Moncrief saves her life. As they become acquainted, he offers her protection by marrying her. As Moncrief and Catherine fall in love, apparently Harry's ghost wants to keep them apart though the Colonel wonders if the culprit might be more mortal like one of the deceased philanderer's lovers. This terrific Georgian romantic suspense combines a mystery with a Cyrano like plot as the audience ponders paranormal or human and what will happen to the relationship when (readers will expect the ethical Moncrief will tell the truth) the hero reveals his secret. The lead couple is a likable pair as Catherine has fallen in love with her letter writing "spouse" and Moncrief reciprocates even before they have met. Fans will enjoy this fine historical take on the Edmond Rostand classic.

The Stiff and the Dead
Lori Avocato
ISBN: 0060731664 $6.99

After twelve years as a nurse, Pauline Sokol could not take it anymore so she quit. Her roommate Miles got her a job as a fraud claims investigator for Scarpello and Tonelli Insurance Company because his Uncle Fabio owns the firm. With Miles' boyfriend glitzy transvestite and star investigator Goldie Perlman ill, newbie Pauline is assigned to look into prescription fraud at the Hope Valley Senior Citizens Center. Pauline goes undercover as a senior citizen working as a temporary at the center's pharmacy with Goldie preparing her for her role to observe prime suspect Sophie Banko. Pauline also struggles with the attention given her by two male peers. Nick is a clean cut hunk while Jagger is an exasperating handsome pain. With three advisors to assist her at uncovering the prescription scam at the clinic's pharmacy, Pauline wonders if Goldie can help her better understand her sudden seemingly alive love life that was dormant as a nurse. The second Pauline Sokol insurance investigation case is an amusing tale that once again focuses in on a medical scam enabling the former nurse simply to go undercover though trying to pretend to be elderly is not that easy accomplished. Her love interest has expanded since mysterious and sexy Jagger introduced her to the job and seemed to want her under the cover with Nick apparently interested in her too. Lori Avocato provides a humorous investigative tale starring a likable flake and her eccentric cronies though at times the quirky behavior distracts from a fine who-done-it.

The Waitress
Melissa Nathan
ISBN: 0060736658 $12.95

In a London cafe, waitress Katie Simmmonds goes on a date with Dan Crichton when his previous girlfriend Geraldine pulls off a stunt that sends the commitment-phobic woman running. However, she is unable to hide from Dan when he becomes her next boss and is not sure she wants too. However, her mixed emotions do not matter as Dandy Dan is back with Geraldine. Meanwhile the stud from Katie's longest relationship, a mind boggling almost a year Hugh is back and wants her though he spent four years with Maxine the pencil. Adding to Katie's confusion is that Dan though engaged to Geraldine seems to want her instead. Confused Katie is attracted to both men, but fears either one will demand more from her than she can give. THE WAITRESS is an amusing chick lit tale that stars real people in real situations. The story line focuses on kissable Katie's crazy antics to elude commitment while Hugh seems to want her back in his life and Dan is confused and doesn't know who he really wants. Melissa Nathan writes a warm, very humorous yet deep character study that will have her audience laughing at the antics of the heroine and her cohorts while also empathizing with Katie's fears of relationships.

Beyond Temptation: The Templar Knights
Mary Reed McCall
ISBN: 0060593687 $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1307 France, the four Templar knights flee for their lives from the wrath of King Philip who hunts them and their brethren like animals. They agree to split up as each carries Templar treasure. Richard de Cantor suggests they meet at his estate in England Hawksley Manor. A few weeks later Richard reaches his home to find everyone holds him in contempt for what he did to his wife Eleanor especially after the death of their daughter. He meets Ella's cousin and companion Margaret Newcombe and learns that his wife is still ailing. Richard is shocked that he is attracted to Meg as he has not felt anything towards women since his chastity vow upon joining the Templars five years ago. He thinks on his marriage to Ella who he wed to protect, but failed. Richard realizes his penitence did not help his spouse heal as he is stunned by how thin she is and the vacancy in her eyes. Meg realizes that he is not an abusive animal, but sees his tender concern for his wife. As Richard and Meg fall in love, they must overcome living ghosts, family opposition and powerful opponents to find happiness. Readers will appreciate the strong lead couple and solid support cast who provide a deep insight into the Templars from differing perspectives, but also cleverly interwoven into the plot. Fans of the author will enjoy the return of Braeden (Richard's older brother) and Fiona stars of THE CRIMSON LADY. Although his spouse is eliminated to easily and her father displays no qualities beyond avarice, fans will receive immense satisfaction with this fine medieval romance.

The Runaway Heiress
Brenda Hiatt
ISBN: 0060723793 $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1816 England, Dina Moore meets her fiance Diggory Tallow so that they can elope to Gretna Green. In four days Dina turns twenty-five and fears the loss of her trust fund as her late father's will stipulated that if she remained unmarried by that birthday her brother Silas will mange her money. Silas has wasted a fortune gambling. Diggory tells Dina that they will not elope so she travels to Gretna Green alone. Grant "Thor" Turpin learns that his sister Violet eloped with a fortune hunter Gregory. In Gretna Green Dina meets Violet and Gregory; she realizes the man is a fortune hunter. The next morning Violet breaks off with Gregory when a screaming Thor arrives. Gregory flees and Violet explains all. Thor tells Dina he owes her so she says marry her. Dina explains her reasons; Thor agrees as he feels honor calls for it. They marry although they know nothing about one another. Soon they begin to fall in love while their siblings directly or indirectly cause problems. Dina is a terrific and unique heroine for the era as she works out with weights and a boxing bag though the audience will wonder why she waited so long to escape from Silas. Thor is her perfect partner though neither realize it when they first meet; that makes for a fine tale as they discover one another. Silas displays no honor as he mistreated his sister who he was supposed to protect and Violet's judge of men seems too naive for an obviously intelligent person. Still the lead couple make for a fabulous regency as they bring freshness to the sub-genre.

When Dashing Met Danger
Shana Galen
ISBN: 0060773154 $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1805 England, at a party Lady Lucia Dashing is manhandled by her drunken fiance Reginald Dandridge over her objections. Earl Alexander Scarston intercedes and is a bit taken aback by how beautiful she has become. He last saw her five years ago as a young teen at their siblings' marriage. Ignoring the bluster of Reginald and Lucia's insistence that she is fine, Alex insures her safety using his "brotherly" connection though he admits to himself he does not have sibling thoughts about her. An espionage maestro Alexander is concerned that Lucia's twin brother is missing. As he begins to investigate the disappearance, Lucia refuses to stay out of his inquiry. As the spymaster and the debutante work together, they fall in love, but he believes he is too old for her and lives too dangerous a life for a wife; she thinks otherwise. WHEN DASHING MET DANGER is an exciting Regency romantic suspense starring two interesting protagonists. The story line is action-packed gripping fans from the moment Alex intercedes and never slows down until the exhilarating climax. Though the lead couple is typical of the sub-genre with the heroine being feisty and independent and her champion being a courageous sacrificing for England hero, readers will appreciate this fine thriller.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evie
Marianne Stillings
ISBN: 0060734760 $5.99, 384 pp.

In Port Henry, Washington, mystery writer Thomas Heyworth decided to go out in style by setting up a winner take all treasure hunt in which the triumphant team obtains his considerable wealth. Thomas' attorney Felix Barlow explains that the will is legal and that three teams of two each will participate for the prize. If you refuse to play your team forfeits. The deceased's ward Evie Randall is teamed up with police detective Max Galloway, who hated his stepfather Thomas who "stole" his mother from him. While Evie wants to uncover who killed her beloved Thomas, Max leans towards not participating. Still he plays the game, and soon he and Evie fall in love, but someone is willing to kill all rivals to be the sole beneficiary. Though Thomas may feel he set up something unique, treasure hunts have been a part of novels and movies (It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World) forever yet Marianne Stillings makes it seem as if this is the first time the concept is employed. The story line combines humor (Mariners, llamas, and profanities oh my) with homicides while the three teams compete. The lead couple is a delight as neither realizes how manipulative even from the grave Thomas is; only that their diverse opinion on him keeps a wedge between them. Fans of lighthearted investigative romances will enjoy reading at MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIE.

The Pajama Game
Eugenie Seifer Olson
ISBN: 0060732091 $12.95, 313 pp.

Rebecca "Moxie" Brecker tried teaching science to middle school students, but while she remained in a state of rest her pupils seem to be in a perpetual state that proves sexual energy never vanishes only changes form. Unable to deal with the fifth state of matter (teenagers), Moxie quits the classroom to work at the local lingerie chain store. She still feels tired. Moxie is attracted to her new Combat Zone neighbor Steven Tyler who receives a lot of packages from fans confusing him with that singer-father of the actresses. Though he is friendly he never seems to move beyond showing her his latest "gift"; Moxie wonders if he sells drugs. Moxie is dragging from dealing with cups and serial underwear thieves so is unable to follow up with the ringless hunk that came in to buy lingerie. Her shrink insists her fatigue is psychosomatic, but when Moxie finally gets tested, she learns that she must deal with a physical disease not mental burnout. While her only friend Gerald freaks out over James Spader, Steven tries to persuade Moxie that she is his foxy. Although the story line contains a serious subplot involving health, the well being of this story line centers on the heroine's amusing asides. Steven is a delightful support character trying to convince Moxie that he is not a dealer and that he wants her; Gerald enables the audience to see deeper inside Moxie. Although the numerous subplots tie together, they can leave a reader weary trying to follow yet Eugenie Seifer Olson provides a very humorous chick lit Bostonian joyride.

Blood of Wolves
Loren J. Coleman
ISBN 0441012922 $6.99, 272 pp.

To the villagers of Gaud in the Kingdom of Cimmeria, winter feels like it will never end. Food is being rationed and the people go on raids seeking bounty held by others. The animals have not yet appeared so there is no hunting for fresh meat and the Vanir raiders from the north steal what little the clans have. When Cul becomes chief, he exiles the weakest of Clan Gaudt as well as Kern "Wolf-Eye" who people distrust because of his appearance. Unlike the dark blued eyed clansmen, he has pale skin and amber glowing eyes with white hair. While on the trek to bury the dead clan chief, he sees the men of Vanir raiding villages and he returns to warn his former clansmen and help them in their fight. He decides to follow the raiders and bring back the hostages and his little band travels north and west into the heart of the land of the men of Vanir determined to fight the men who want to destroy the clans. This takes place at the time Conan is king and magic is a fighting skill used in battle. The leader of the enemy Grimnir is said to be immortal, a son of Ymir who has the strength of many men and is a friend of the gods his people worship. There is plenty of action and gory battle scenes but the most exciting part of this storyline is the protagonist who goes from outcast to hero and leader. Sword and sorcery fans as well as readers who love the Conan stories will have a lot of fun reading this exceptional tale.

John Varley
ISBN: 0441012817 $23.95, 368 pp.

Multibillionaire Howard Christian is known for a lack of patience and obsession when he sets a stretch goal. Currently, he has his team searching Nunavent Territory, Canada in a quest to find a wooly mammoth, which they do thanks to the Inuit. Howard wants to clone one with his plan to use the bull's testicles to provide DNA to have expert Dr. Susan Morgan in vitro fertilize an elephant. However, a corpse by the frozen mammoth reveals two startling developments, a body with a wristwatch on and a brief case with words in English etched on it. Meanwhile Howard hires the world's leading mathematical physicist on time theories Professor Matthew Wright to lead a team repairing a time machine that Howard possesses. As Matthew and Susan wonders what is gong on and who is the corpse with the watch, they ponder what Howard's true agenda actually is. MAMMOTH is a terrific science fiction thriller with a fabulous final twist that will shock the audience. The story line grips the audience who will wonder along with the two leading scientists why Howard is pushing both paths and how the briefcase and watch got to the prehistoric epoch mindful of a classic EC comic involving modern day scientists and the first creature trying to leave the sea. The cast is a delight as the prime players seem real, but it is the science in which John Varley has HG Wells meets Jurassic Park that hooks the audience.

Od Magic
Patricia A. McKillip
ISBN: 0441012485 $22.95, 320 pp.

In the Northern Country of the Kingdom of Numis, the giantess wizard Od asks Brenden Vetch to come to the capital of Kelior to become gardener at the Old School of Magic that she established years ago after protecting the city from invaders. Living in sorrow since his parents died and his brother Jode and his girlfriend Meryd left the sadness behind by moving on, Brenden accepts the position. Brenden arrives at the school after walking for several months, but shocks instructor Yar Ayrwood by entering through the door under the big shoe; a portal not used in almost two decades and not seen by most people. The students are mostly the sons and daughters of the ruling class hoping to gain an edge in their loyal support of King Galin. Former student Wizard Valoren arrives as the monarch's chosen one to spy this year's students to insure none display disloyalty. Valoren is unaware at this time that the real threat lies in a reticent new employee who talks and listens to the plants as he speaks their language. OLD MAGIC is a terrific fantasy tale starring a delightful protagonist, a vile villain, and an assortment of eccentric supporting characters including the mysterious wonderful Wizard of Od. The story line grips the reader from the moment that a befuddled Brenden enters the school through an unused for two decades portal and though wizardry driven, mesmerizes readers until the final spell is spun. Patricia A. McKillip writes a charming tale that showcases why she consistently one of the best fantasists on the market today.

Century Rain
Alastair Reynolds
ISBN: 0441012906 $24.95, 512 pp.

Not long after the end of World War II, American jazz musician Wendell Floyd came to Paris to play. Though he had some gigs, he and his band partner Andre Custine earn their keep as private investigators. French landlord Blanchard hires them to investigate the death of a tenant Susan White; the cops declared her death a suicide or accident, but their current client believes a homicide occurred. Three hundred years later, the earth is a frozen wasteland devastated by the twenty-third century technological calamity the Nanocaust. Archeologist Verity Augur leads a dig beneath the icy landscape of Paris until an assistant is killed during the excavation. Verity expects to be blamed and her career aborted when the tribunal hearing rules. Still, she keeps working as the bureaucracy is slow to begin the inquiry. Soon she finds "threads" that tie her present to 1950s Paris and the route to arrive in this warmer upbeat city. There she meets Wendell; they quickly realize they need one another to solve their respective scenarios; neither expected nor prepared for an overarching revelation that they find in the Paris Metro that could destroy space occupying both worlds. CENTURY RAIN is an exciting mixing of an Urban Noir inside a fabulous quantum physics based science fiction thriller. The story line is action-packed, moving back and forth between the ages but mostly commingling in the 1950s. Wendell and Verity are a fine pairing while the support cast enhances understanding of both ages and the string that bounds time and place. The set up for the finale is so good that a wonderfully developed finish feels almost anti-climatic as Alastair Reynolds is at his best.

Do You Believe?
Ann Lawrence
ISBN: 0765348888 $6.99

Pennsylvanian Rose Early is in Marleton Village, the last known address of her missing sister Joan, a photographer who recently vanished while on assignment for the Cotswolds Diocese of the Church of England. Rose's only clue to find her sister is Joan's copy of Do You Believe in Evil, a horror novel written by local author Vic Drummond. She visits Drummond's home, but he pretends to be the gardener and blows her away. Vic is impressed with Rose's persistence and decides to help her find her sister. As the Yank and the Brit investigate, both reconsider whether evil exists because something is not right in the remote sleepy village especially with the local All Saints Church; all who enter suffer nightmares and physical emanations. Whatever is inside is beginning to get outside. As Rose and Vic become believers, they also reassess the existence of love at first sight for that is the only weapon they have found so far to counter the malevolence that is spreading beyond the village. Readers will believe in Ann Lawrence's talent as the author effortlessly combines a heated contemporary romance with a supernatural thriller that grips the audience once Vic agrees to help the obstinate American. The relationship between the lead couple is cleverly set up so that the attraction starts early (no pun intended) but his secret about her sister that he hides from her becomes critical later; to survive evil she must trust in their love even though she learns he hid things from her. The essence to trust or not to trust makes this a strong supernatural romantic suspense thriller that never slows down until the final confrontational rites occur.

Darkwitch Rising
Sara Douglass
ISBN: 0765305429 $27.95

The Troy Game continues with reincarnations in seventeenth century England. English King Charles II was once the Celtic Stagking of folklore. Former King of Troy Brutus has become the English monarch's companion and his Trojan spouse Cornelia is a young commoner Noah. The sorceress Genvissa is currently the sex slave Kate controlled by her master Asterion the first Minotaur while his sister Ariadne the Darkwitch seems unchanged. The Labyrinth exists in the Faerie universe while the Troy Game remains dangerous with its plans to win at all costs. Even deadlier is the aspirations of Asterion who schemes to win over the Game and to defeat her Ancient battle weary foes. His sibling abets his efforts to triumph over the regal band as well as The Game while Genvissa as Kate finds her master not as evil as she once thought. Soon plague devastates London forcing Charles to react with a fiery response to save the many at the cost of the lesser. The third Troy Game is exciting but complex as the players switch roles from the previous books (see GOD'S CONCUBINE and HADES' DAUGHTER). The story line is loaded with twists that play out in a finely detailed seventeenth century English stage. The ensemble cast is put through the ringer by the Game with the two camps still far apart yet beginning to understand the "enemy". Fans of Sara Douglass will appreciate this complicated some what convoluted spin, but newcomers would be better suited starting with Game One as the reincarnations are clever but difficult to follow.

Richard Matheson
ISBN: 0765311712 $13.95, 224 pp.

In Southern California, David and Ellen Cooper recognize that their two decade plus marriage is collapsing, but neither want to give up on the other. They agree to a change of scenery to see if they can renew their vows. Thus the couple lease a beach cottage in Long island. Not long after settling into their temporary retreat, Mariana comes out of nowhere to see David. He is immediately enchanted by the beautiful ephemeral females. However, when he thinks lucidly he feels guilty that he has illicit thoughts for another woman while trying to salvage his marriage. Still guilty or not he is unable to resist Mariana's lure and they make love in a secret room in what has become hell house; David turns increasingly despondent that he cheated yet obsessed for wanting more while Ellen cannot fathom what is happening to him. Every time he and Mariana make love, his depression and need intensify as she sucks away the very core of David's essence from him until she threatens Ellen. Deep inside his depraved soul his heart still loves Ellen and no one including a succubus that has psychically controlled him through sex will prevent him risking his life to keep his beloved safe. EARTHBOUND is a tense ghost story filled with suspense that grips the audience wondering who Mariana is. In some ways the story line is a love story as David regains some of his equilibrium and what defines him as human once he realizes Mariana menaces Ellen. Though the sexual encounters demonstrate Mariana's power over David, this interrupts a terse ghost story in which the incredible shrinking soul must fight his obsession to save his beloved.

Building Harlequin's Moon
Larry Niven & Brenda Cooper
ISBN: 0765312662 $25.95, 464 pp.

In Earth's distant future, AI's don't always act in a manner that will help humanity, nanotechnology is out of control; and politics make the planet a very unsafe place to live. The machines that were designed to help mankind might very well be the seeds of their own destruction. Three spaceships flee earth heading for the planet Ymir vowing to do away with the advanced technologies that brought their home world to the brink of ruin. The John Glen had a mishap that caused them to end up in a solar system dominated by the gas giant Harlequin. Gabriel, a terraformer, creates Selene out of the various moons. When Selene is habitable the High Council has the colonists breed children that are native to Selene. Their job is to help the Earthborn to build a collidor that will gather anti-matter to power the John Glenn so they can travel to their original destination. As the moonborn, who are little more than slaves, begin to realize their ultimate fate once they are left behind, a schism opens up between the two groups that could lead to violence unless the council takes a less militant attitude and rectifies the situation. Larry Niven and Brenda Cooper are an excellent writing team. Readers are able to see how Selene is created from an uninhabited rock into a terraformed world capable of supporting humanity. The authors concentrate on world building and characterizations so that readers are privy to the birth of a new orb and how it was done. A sequel involving the planet Ymir would satisfy many readers' curiosity about the eventual fate of the other two ships.

Ben Bova
ISBN: 0765304120 $24.95, 320 pp.

Industrialist Saito Yamagata died from cancer, but his body was frozen, eventually nanotechnology provided a remedy, and cured him; he has a second chance at life and plans to live it to the fullest. He plans to provide mankind a venue to the solar system and ultimately the stars though a previous effort headed by Mance Bracknell a decade ago led to death and destruction, and ultimately exile of the chief engineer from Earth. To achieve his stellar objective and avoid the earthly disaster of Mance in which millions died, Saito hires Dante Alexios to build a fleet of satellites to orbit Mercury. From these man made moons, spaceships will venture throughout space. Though he is positive he never met his space engineer, Saito wonders why Dante seems so familiar to him in a deja vu way. At the same time, exobiologist Victor Molina learns that rocks found on Mercury include remains of a life form. Victor turns to Dante for help, but wonders why the space engineer who he swears he never met before looks so familiar. Meanwhile Bishop Elliot Danvers of New Morality plans to disgrace Molina. Ben Bova provides an interesting science fiction thriller that will please his fans although ironically readers will know the connections between the prime characters long before most of the protagonists figure it out, which removes some of the air from the suspense. The cast is solid as readers will accept the brilliance and abilities of the different engineers to achieve their objectives including a personal agenda and the world they live in. Though not quite his best work, Mr. Bova writes a fine tale that paints an interesting picture of the future in outer space.

Three Hands for Scorpio
Andre Norton
ISBN: 0765304643 $23.95, 302 pp.

Princess triplets Drucilla, Sabina, and Tamara of the House of Skorpys share a telepathic connection that has made the three siblings best friends. Their homeland is constantly under threat and assault by feral neighbors wanting to destroy their father the Earl. Especially troublesome is the constant raids from Gurlyon, which this time includes the abduction of the trio. With Skorpys in pursuit to resche his daughter, their abductors decide to dump the women in order to foster their escape. However, they don't discard the females anywhere; they thrust the women inside the Dismals, a deadly underground world filled with dangerous strange creatures and oddly, a large forest. Rather then fold, Drucilla, Sabrina, and Tamara begin their trek out of these badlands starting by allying with a ferocious feline creature, the Climber and next with a human hermit Zolan, who insists there is no way out of the Dismals and that he communicates with the spirits of the former lost tribes that once resided in this wasteland. While the ladies struggle to survive, their home is under siege by a malevolence that once ran rampant in the Dismals. Though triplets sharing so much in common, the three females come across as unique individuals with diverse tastes due to Andre Norton rotating the narration enabling the audience to see the same event from differing perspectives. The story line is action-packed with the alternate Dismal underground realm an interesting locale though the connection to Skorpys is not clear until very late in the tale. Fans of strong female fantasy characters will gain immense pleasure from THREE HANDS FOR SCORPIO as Andre Norton remains the Grand Dame of fantasy.

Little Black Dress
Loren D. Estleman
ISBN: 0765308940 $24.95, 240 pp.

Hit man Peter Macklin "steals" Laurie by persuading her to become his wife although her mother Pamela raises an eyebrow or two since he is her age not her daughter's age. However, his profession's retirement plan is death so he and his spouse leave Detroit to move to her hometown in Ohio where they plan to buy back her late grandfather's farm. Bookstore manager Pamela is seeing Ben Grinnell, who Peter recognizes as a peer at his former employment. Peter rejects coincidence and assumes that the "case man" is in town either to set him up or more likely select a location for robbery. Peter assumes the obvious moment would be when best selling author Francis Spain hosts an autograph sale at the bookstore. However, like Peter Ben wants out, but the mob has other thoughts about individuals retiring alive. Peter expects violence and prepares accordingly although he hides his knowledge from his beloved who expects honesty in their relationship. High noon is coming to Ohio on two fronts that of the mob with state police involvement and that of the relationship between the Macklins. This is a terrific thriller starring a fabulous cast headed by the Macklins who are seeking a niche together while external forces have other ideas especially for Peter. The story line is cleverly set up with Peter believing that he can have love and post mob living in his middle age with his Laurie. Once that is established, Loren D. Estleman pulls out the rug from underneath peter and the reader as he spins the intrusion plot with several twists. Fans of powerful thrillers with solid casting will appreciate the enjoyable LITTLE BLACK DRESS.

Tower of Ravens
Kate Forsyth
ISBN 0451460324 $7.99, 448 pp.

In the mountains live wild satyricon, fairies with horns and hoofs instead of feet. Living among them is a female outcast who has human feet and no horn. She captures a flying winged horse and escapes to the home of Lewen, an apprentice witch and his family who tend to her injuries. They name her Rhiannon and decide that she should be taken to the city of Lucescere to the Tower of Two Moons to be tested for any power she might have. They travel with a caravan of witches' apprentices but when they find the body of Connor A Yeoman of the Guard, they race to the capital to report the murder. Rhiannon doesn't volunteer the information that it was her arrow that killed the man but because she has his possessions she falls under suspicion. They travel to Fettercain Valley where the dead walk and children are snatched from their homes and killed. The laird,Malvern MacFerris invites the tired troupe to stay at his haunted castle but the evil that resides within the walls threatens their lives. It is up to Rhiannon and any power she may have to rescue her friends and break the malevolence that surround them. Book one of Rhiannon's Ride is a fabulous fantasy where magic is taken for granted and the people acknowledge and grant equal rights to species straight out of mythology. The hero turns from a feral girl into a caring woman willing to risk her life to save those she has come to care about. The Highlands of medieval Scotland are the basis for TOWER OF RAVEN and Kate Forsyth proves once more that she is a master of creating a mythical world based on an actual bygone era.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Herbal Hodgepodge - The Garden Series #2
Marie Summers
Shadow Poetry
1209 Milwaukee Street, Excelsior Springs MO 64024
Item# HHMSA05 (No ISBN) $5.00 plus s&h, 40 pages, Chapbook

Not many poets can master diverse styles of poetry, and I'm always humbled to discover one who can. Marie Summers is such a poet. As the multi-published recipient of many awards, aspiring poets would do well to read her work. Within this chapbook alone readers will find prime examples of triolet, paradelle, cinquain, sonnet, tetractys, sonnet, rondeau, pantoum, free verse, and acrostic.

The first poem, "January," tackles the bane of every poet and writer's existence, a problem beautifully expressed in free verse:

writer's block...

Winter has left me cold,
cracked and dry
with no moisture for words.

My paper crumbles
like the last Autumn leaf.
Another year, another poem
slipped through my fingers.

...silently as a whisper.

"To the Poet Departed" is dedicated to Pranit Bhasin, a poet whose 'gentle pen strokes of peace' were lost too soon:

Even in your last moments,
spangles of sunlight danced
upon the graying ocean waves -
...and still she weeps.

In "Standing Still" Ms. Summers contemplates the timeless essence of trees, as in this excerpt:

With a moss-fringed trunk
and forest-soft leaves,
I embrace the graying wind
upon my hardened skin
like a second-rate lover
among the mighty oaks.

And in the cinquain, "Long Shadows," the poet says much in few lines:

in the morning
sunlight cast long shadows
upon the snow like a roadmap
of limbs.

To paraphrase the witty pantoum, "Overdosed on Poetry," Marie Summers offers up a treat to readers in her latest chapbook. She 'nibbles on stanzas for a meal and washes it down with free verse.' Regardless of topic or poetic style, Summers zeroes in on the essence of life and communicates with readers. If you enjoy poetry, whether traditional, formal, or free verse, this chapbook is a bargain at any price.

Passing on the Comfort
An Keuning-Tichelaar and Lynn Kaplanian-Buller
P.O. Box 419, Intercourse PA 17534
ISBN 1561484822 $14.95 186 pages

The authors of this endearing book come from two different worlds and generations. An is a native of Holland, married to a Mennonite pastor for more than sixty years. Lynn is from Minnesota, now living and working in Amsterdam. They meet through fate and these amazing women gradually share their stories. Passing on the Comfort takes us back through time to an era of quiet courage, when an oppressed people found fleeting moments of warmth and comfort wrapped in quilts provided them by strangers. It seems a simple premise, but this story blossoms through the wonder of these quilts and the skillful weaving of two lives.

An is 23 in 1944, an inexperienced girl working with the Dutch Resistance during World War Two. The Nazi Occupation of her homeland changes life for everyone. Families are separated. Food once so abundant is scarce. Collaborators who were previously friends or neighbors lurk in every town and village. When An marries Herman, a Mennonite pastor, their home becomes a way station for starving children and vermin infested Resistance fighters. Throughout the Occupation and after the war, the Mennonite Central Committee of North America provides food, personal items, clothing, and quilts to the people of Holland. An shares this history of wartime Occupation simply. The telling is poignant and powerful.

In 1972 a youthful Lynn meets her future husband in Holland while searching for meaning in a troubled world. She's a peace activist befriended by a group of Palestinian men and European women. Among those men is Avo. Lynn finds love and a new home in Amsterdam. On a trip in 1980, Lynn meets An and sees her collection of quilts received during the war. As their friendship grows through correspondence, Lynn asks to show the quilts at her bookstore.

This story is a fascinating view of history, a view few readers will remember. Throughout millennia, the Dutch have helped oppressed countries without fanfare. They helped because they could. In World War Two that help was returned to them during the Occupation in many great and small ways. It's through the quilts that An preserves her memories of the war years. Worn by time and use, family quilts donated by the women who made them, their faded beauty reflects history and represents generosity at its finest. They bear silent witness to a place and time we should not forget.

Nineteen quilts are featured in this beautiful book, reproduced in vibrant color on glossy pages. Everything about this book is beautiful, in fact, from the women who wrote it to the words they wrote to the quilts they both hold dear. Mennonite readers will take pride in their heritage. History buffs will love every part of this story. To all, of any age, Passing on the Comfort is highly recommended.

Extra Extra!: Memoirs from a Piece of Human Furniture
Adam-Michael James
PO Box 151, Frederick MD 21705
ISBN 1413774393 $14.95 79 pages

Let's face it. Most of us love tell alls about Hollywood and show biz. In Extra Extra!, Adam- Michael James gives us the inside scoop on what it's like to be an extra in movies and TV shows. No, as a professional, James doesn't give us names. But this extra turned actor / lyricist / award winning radio personality shares his Hollywood experience from the perspective of a "piece of human furniture" -- the Tinseltown extra.

The first thing the author learned when applying for work as an extra is that Hollywood prefers the young, cute, and clean shaven with short hair as background. Except for his goatee, he met that criteria. The second lesson learned was to hang onto those pay vouchers! Non-union extras earn only minimum wage but a buck is a buck and you don't get paid without your voucher. And whatever you do, don't eat the prop food. Mark that one down because it's important and your health may rely on remembering it.

Did you imagine that working as an extra in movies or TV would have you hobnobbing with stars? That hasn't been Adam-Michael James' experience. Extras are warned up front not to mingle with or hassle stars. That's not to say James hasn't gabbed face to face with a star or two. Most stars are not what he expected. For example, one lady labeled as a diva turned out to be salt of the earth. And an actor rumored to be dangerous and difficult was actually gracious and professional on every shoot. But those two instances of schmoozing with stars are rare.

Among the many difficulties faced by extras is managing a wardrobe. Most TV and movie production companies expect extras to provide their own wardrobe. How many low paid extras have three piece business suits in three colors, hip and trendy outfits by Versace, or retro duds from the fifties? The Salvation Army store can only do so much, so sometimes James lost out for lack of proper "costume."

This book is full of fascinating tidbits. If you ever thought of catching the next bus to Hollywood and breaking into show biz as an extra, you need to read what this author has to say. In movies they wear makeup, right? Extras have to take their own or do without. Opportunities can make or break an extra, so James shares his own hits and misses, the best and worst of being background furniture in Hollywood. Is there a "casting couch" for extras? Read the book and find out.

This author is a man who knows his strengths and weaknesses and details both in an appealing, chatty style. He's one of those rarities in life, a man of humor and integrity. Both attributes shine through clearly in Extra Extra!

Beyond the Kissing Door
Rosy Latur
PO Box 151, Frederick MD 21705
ISBN 141377041X $14.95 101 pages

The author's father came to America in 1906 from Sicily as a youth. Arrival on Ellis Island was both exciting and confusing for immigrants seeking hope in a new homeland. They faced rigorous mental and physical examinations. Many, like Pellegrino Angelo, spoke no English. But once they passed all examinations and passed through the door of Ellis Island to the world beyond, the hope of new beginnings awaited them. Many immigrants kissed that door with joy and relief. Beyond the Kissing Door is the true story of one Sicilian immigrant and his descendents.

Pellegrino Angelo was a man of the "old world." Life in Sicily had been hard but making a go of it in America was harder. He had no education or special training, had little comprehension of mechanization. But Pellegrino proceeded with determination to become a productive citizen. His arranged marriage with the teenage Mary proved to be the roots that would anchor his new life. Pellegrino and Mary Angelo had no expectations of grandeur or wealth. Their focus was raising, feeding, and clothing nine children. Rosy Latur is one of those nine children.

The author's memories of life in the Angelo household are bittersweet. As an adult, riding a train to Pellegrino's funeral, Ms. Latur revisits her life growing up as Pellegrino's daughter. Her father was a man of many facets, not all of them loveable in her opinion. As a child, she saw him as a "raggedy man" who wore shabby clothes and wore a rope around his waist to hold his pants up. On one hand, he was a penny pincher who rarely spent his hard earned money on anything but sheer necessities. But he was also a man who sang with joy, who danced, who gave generously of his garden produce to those in need. Despite his lack of education, he was a man of native intelligence and pride, capable of accomplishing anything he set his mind to. As the train heads towards her parents' home in Illinois, Latur weighs the essence of the man who was her father and regrets her attitudes towards him in youth.

Rosy Latur could be the voice for every child raised by immigrant parents in America. Her memories are sweet and sad as she documents the life of Pellegrino and Mary Angelo. As a fitting climax to their story, readers accompany the author and her daughter as they make a pilgrimage to Italy and Sicily to view Pellegrino's homeland with their own eyes.

Beyond the Kissing Door is uplifting and informative. Ms. Latur treasures her heritage and generously shares it with readers who may have a limited knowledge of what coming to America means to immigrants.

5 Speed
Klyd Watkins
The Temple Inc. Inc.
40 S. Colville, P.O. Box 1773 Walla Walla WA 99362
no ISBN $5.00 plus s & h, 40 pages

In the introduction, Stephen Thomas says Klyd Watkins' poetry is written with a "superb spontaneity." I can't think of a more appropriate description. Watkins takes fleeting moments and memorializes them in amusing, poignant, and insightful ways. He writes with sweet purity and quixotic boldness, regardless of subject.

Of particular enjoyment to me are the poet's self-descriptions scattered throughout the book. In "Nathan, I Was Telling You a Story 'Bout My Hair" he is a "streaking ball of joy and light", a man with long white hair he calls "a veil like strands of solid milk." And in "December 31, 1999" he takes a hard fall on his favorite hiking trail and wonders what observers might think of rescuing "two hundred pounds of man turning old hippie..."

In the haunting and lyrical "Radnor Lake, 9/21/01 Second Observation Deck" Watkins allows his thoughts to wander from the simple beauties of nature to the horrors of 9/11. He shares his personal thoughts of birdsongs as winds blow across the lake -- a peaceful prospect -- then segues to that awful day of sorrows for awhile before returning us to calming visions of the lake, wind, and air.

This poet's contemplations about love are alternately exuberant and bittersweet. In "3/21/02 Bob Comes Home from Work", Watkins witnesses his son greeting his child after work. Love in this poem is "as deep as the molten center/of the earth." And in "Forty Third Anniversary", he celebrates his long term marriage. This is a marriage they "...sundered and sundered/And sundered over/And over./ What nevertheless has become/A monstrous ship of light --"

Watkins celebrates simple things, like "the sound of the wind rising." He views life with the curiosity and delight of a child, seeking and seeing, processing and probing with masterful results. Readers familiar with Klyd Watkins' work will consider 5 Speed a "must have." Poetry lovers not yet acquainted with this poet's distinctive style might consider starting with this book. In my opinion, Klyd Watkins should not be an undiscovered gem for long.

D.C. Poets Against the War: An Anthology -- Second Edition
Edited by Browning, Elliott, and Rose
The Argonne House Press
1620 Argonne Place NW, Washington DC 20009
ISBN 188764198X $10.95 128 pages

In an eloquent Foreword by Cornelius Eady and Introduction by Sarah Browning, citizens are encouraged to think clearly, avoid the pablum fed us on TV, and recognize the truth: Our government is "The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." But this anthology of work by non-partisan peace activists who speak out through their poetry does not simply bash the Bush White House. Regardless of who is in the White House, the system perpetuates itself because "power and accountability is taken out of the hands of the people."

Singling out poems to quote is difficult when each poet's work is so very pertinent to the message. For review purposes I've chosen excerpts that represent a wide range of philosophies and topics, hoping to distill the essence of this fine work. Excerpts from the first poem, "This Moment" by Ann B. Knox, read in front of the White House 2/12/2003, is an appropriate beginning:

We meet in this wind-harsh square
with some expectation,
some hope our presence will count,
our voices be heard.

Has the mailed fist
so closed on its own purpose
we speak to stone?

Kenneth Carroll draws a sorrowful comparison in "A Poet's War". American and Iraqui voices have more in common than the news portrays:

In Baghdad, a hundred poets laureat sing
the mad man to sleep
In Washington, the mad man hears dissent
in every verse that does not honor war

And in "Fateema", Grace Cavalieri tells the poignant story of a fellow poet in another land:

She wanted to write
legends on paper, words
that would not perish in flame.

"At the Halliburton Family Picnic" by Dean Smith is a scathing metaphor so skillful it must be read in its entirety to be appreciated.

"Dear Laura" by Scott Ecksel is a sad reference to Laura Bush and the gathering of poets she cancelled when dissenting voices could not be controlled or stilled:

You thought poems were pretty flowers,
the kind you water every so often
when you want a splash of beauty....

You thought poets were gardeners,
pruning the thorns from their pretty
little words, crushing the vermin....

How little you understand....
....that poetry is beauty and

"George Crashes the Congressional Black Caucus After Watching Five on the Black Hand Side" by John S. Murillo is a Rap poem that presents the bare truth in ways pertinent and profane. I can't do it justice with an excerpt.

"A Lie-Awake Dirge" by David Gewanter, sung or spoken to "Sailor's Hornpipe" is a charming, ironic little ditty that holds the absolute true key to all wars: the lust for money and power. Nothing is sacred when big business and politics cohabit:

it's never a crime if the market is free
and opium in China buys judges in London
and Exxon supports the PBS programs
that show us how Exxon won't pay for its spills.

Afterword essays by Danny Rose and Wade Fletcher must not be passed over. The thrust of their message, pared down, is this: "Any system that would place all power into the hands of a wealthy few and reduce our main way of having a voice to checking a box, is inherently flawed."

DC Poets Against the War delivers a chilling message. Who can we believe? Why are dissenting voices systematically silenced or held to a whisper? How can we reach the silent majority with our message? Is the Iraqui war REALLY a payback for what happened here on 9/11? Or does the lust for oil and power explain why America and her allies are so willing to destroy the Cradle of Civilization and 5000 years of irreplaceable history?

As Camille Dungy asks in "Daisy Cutter":

What gruesome genius invents our brutal hearts?

I recommend you read this anthology of poetry by poets from ages ten to eighty. Whether you agree with them or not, celebrate the fact that they speak their minds, their outrage, with courage.

Toward the Sun-Rising
Rachel Dayvault
Xlibris Corporation
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113-1513
ISBN 1413449026 $18.69 trade paper, $28.79 hardbound, 299 pages

This is Rachel Dayvault's first novel. Those who have the good fortune of reading it will hope it isn't her last. Dayvault definitely has a way with words and tells a captivating story. The characters are realistic, the dialogue true to life, and the prose often beautiful.

In the imaginative prologue we meet Maralee who is contemplating actions no friend should have to face. Her life long friend Julia has perished in the Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah Building. Almost simultaneously, the love of Julia's life dies in an Arizona plane crash. Tales of heroism and thrilling acts of kindness on the news can't reach Maralee's heart. Her heart is broken from Julia's loss. Somehow she must bring the ashes of Julia and her lover together in death as they were in life. But how?

Knowing that both main characters have died does not detract from the story. It strengthens and enriches each chapter and every moment. Julia Hollander is a woman with a strong moral compass and an adventuresome spirit. She's endured an inattentive husband and a dead marriage for years. Now her husband is in a nursing home, slowly deteriorating from Alzheimer's. Despite the protests of her grown children, she and friend Maralee book a tour of Italy.

Austin Randolph is a fifty-something widower. His marriage to an alcoholic, manipulative woman left deep wounds. A cautious, solemn man, he's always been the rock to his three children. He finds great peace in travel, reading guidebooks and brochures to occupy his thoughts. When he meets Julia in Italy, every hope and dream he ever had regarding love and travel is epitomized in her beauty and vivacious personality. With Julia he can laugh and be himself without fear of reprisal.

Both in their fifties, Julia and Austin are no longer young. Each has learned to consider life's risks and avoid pain. In lengthy conversations, they share their love of travel and especially enjoy exploring quaint villages. In a few short days of sight seeing, they fall in love. Their time in Italy is idyllic. Nothing is out of bounds -- not their deepest fears or secret dreams -- as each allows the other into their world. Such intimacies give them hope as Julia contemplates divorce from her husband and marriage to Austin.

Stateside, the aging lovers struggle to maintain the joy they knew in Italy. Vitriolic in-laws shatter Julia's joy, while Austin fights a deep depression caused by his children. They meet occasionally and manage to reconfirm their devotion or to resolve family differences. But eventually they decide to marry and throw caution to the wind, regardless of what their families might think.

What sets this book apart for me is the descriptive prose. Austin and Julia don't simply travel, talk, and make love. They generously share the world they see around them. The following is one small sample:

"Late afternoon shadows etched depth and contrast into the rustic stone walls and hid dusty lanes behind rows of yellowing saplings. A season-end tartness drifted through the air from surrounding vineyards, awakening taste buds to the promise of fruity wine now flowing into huge, oak casks. Centuries-old olive trees, lovingly pruned and plucked, preened like aging aristocrats. The misty hills of the Appenines had witnessed change, and remained changeless."

Not every person who falls in love is young and nubile. Timeless love can work its miracle at any age. Toward the Sun-Rising is a magnificent example of such miracles.

A Bride Called Freedom / Una Novia Ilamada Libertad
Brett Alan Sanders
Translation by Sebastian R. Bekes
Ediciones Nuevo Espacio
53 Jackson Street, Fair Haven NJ 07704
ISBN 1930879318 $14.95 182 pages

Ediciones Nuevo Espacio is a publisher specializing in fine literature appealing to Spanish-speaking countries and people. A Bride Called Freedom, for example, is based on the South American legend of an Argentine-born girl kidnapped by Ranquel Indians. In the retelling of this legend, author Brett Alan Sanders and translator Sebastian R. Bekes demonstrate through appealing prose the universal concerns common to us all. The tale is told simply but effectively, through the words of those featured in the legend.

According to the legend, Dorotea Bazan is a peasant girl born in the Argentine Pampas of the mid-19th century. Her father is a cruel drunkard who frequently beats his wife and children into unconsciousness. Life for Dorotea and her kind is difficult and unpleasant. At age twelve she is farmed out as a low-paid servant to the family of a wealthy judge. Despite their riches and Christian standing in the community, the Judge and his wife are harsh taskmasters. After several years of slavery, Dorotea falls in love with a young farmer. His love is the first compassion she has known in her troubled life. The night they plan to elope, Dorotea's suitor is killed by her father. She escapes death at her father's hand when a Ranquel Indian warrior rescues her and carries her off to his village.

Life for a white Christian girl with the Ranquel is no more pleasant at first than her childhood. As a slave, her life is harsh. Dorotea cooks, hauls water and wood, tends horses, and endures daily beatings from Indian women and fellow captives. At first she sees the Ranquel people as savages without a true religion. But she soon begins to love the Pampas with its wide open spaces and fresh air. The wild spaces and silent places soothe her spirit. She silently observes each Ranquel family unit. Children are raised and nurtured lovingly by both parents. Wives and husbands treat each other with mutual respect. Her opinion of life among the Indians is changed dramatically by her observations, and then by her marriage to a Ranquel warrior. As a lover, he respects her wishes and desires in tender, kindly ways. As husband and father he is devoted to Dorotea and their children. Her life as wife and mother is joyous, perfect, far better than she ever dreamed life could be. Dorotea's happy world is torn to shreds when Christian soldiers raid the Ranquel village and "rescue" her.

Far away from her husband and children, Dorotea faces down the officers responsible for her rescue. Although she is ill-educated, she makes her displeasure with their interference clear. Captain Rivadavia is the quintessential Christian soldier, believing all savages should be herded into camps or exterminated, or both. Colonel Mansilla is curious about Dorotea and asks to hear her story. Sensing that Mansilla is a respectful man of his word, Dorotea sets out to make her case in hopes of being reunited with her family. She tells her story quietly, sometimes angrily in her efforts to convince Mansilla that she has become more Indian than white through the mystery of love. Through her dignity and esloquence, Mansilla learns a lesson in humanity and realizes civilization and men like him have despoiled a pristine land and people. In a time of racial and religious bigotry, when Christian soldiers showed no mercy to Indians, he knows Dorotea's ways are right and his are wrong.

A Bride Called Freedom could be set in any land that man has plundered with utter disregard for the lives of indigenous people. Dorotea's legend should be read by teenagers and adults who might benefit from the simple truths it tells so eloquently. Highly recommended to speakers of English and Spanish.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

Alder Shot 1945
Bruce Allen Powe
NeWest Press
#201, 8540-109 St., Edmonton, Alberta, CAN T6G 1E6
ISBN: 1896300774 $17.95 U.S. $22.95 CAN

A native of Edmonton, Alberta, Bruce Allen Powe served in the Canadian Army during WW II from 1943-45. He went on to earn BA and MA degrees in Economics from the University of Alberta. He worked as a federal employee, held positions in public relations, and later started his own company writing for corporations. He has published five novels.

Hitler has been routed, but soldiers are still dying fighting Japan. Canadian soldiers housed in deplorable conditions in Aldershot, England rip up the town out of sheer frustration. The following night, Lieutenant Colonel Wellesley, the point man for the soldiers, is neatly shot between the eyes. An enraged Churchill sends in his own Scotland Yard to investigate what turns out to be a blaze of smuggling, death, and corruption that reaches across Europe. The murder, when investigated, seems to center on the Lieutenant's affair with an enlisted woman. But is this the only motivation?

"How it came about happened so gradually and naturally she could hardly recall the moment. She brought in files, he talked to her, admired her intelligence, but was never obvious like Marvin or the others. The actual date was June 6, 1945, the first anniversary of D-day, a relatively modest celebration - this time no turning out the Quacks in their nightclothes, as they told her he had ordered back in Red Deer in '43 when Italy surrendered. Typical of him, he came back from the officers' loose for a change, to find her slaving away on stacks of files in her cubicle down the hall. Almost shyly, a rare moment that entranced her, he asked if she would care to join him for a drink."

Bruce Allen Powe writes as if he is painting a picture for the reader. We are treated to a low-key mystery where everyone has something to hide. Powe meticulously recreates the world of Aldershot and its seething tensions, with the Canadian soldiers waiting to be released from service or reassigned to an almost certain death. His plot is a compelling tangle of war time profiteering, politics, conspiracies, self-indulgent wealth, and exploitation. Powe's dark and brooding mystery provides for riveting reading. This is an excellent tale!!

Sand Castle
Joe Palmer
Barnhardt & Ashe Publishing
Suite 51, PMB 432, 444 Brickell Ave., Miami, FL 33131
ISBN: 0971540233 $18.95

Joe Palmer wrote this novel of a powerful family's machinations based on his time in Youngstown in New England as a youth. Although he has roots in Monte Paone, Calabria, Italy, Palmer has no connection to organized crime. SAND CASTLE will be followed up by MURDER AT SAND CASTLE. Joe Palmer is presently director of the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library.

When Angelo Viscomi, founder of a multi-million dollar construction company in Youngstown, Ohio, suddenly dies his daughter Teresa Viscomi Blake Mahoney arrives home to find that her father's wife Claudia had completely remodeled the mansion. Her old flame Joe Cutruzzula, the family lawyer, arrived to help her sort through the legal tangle. Joe and Robert, Teresa's first husband and the love of her life, were best friends. Teresa then visits the "Sand Castle" home that she and Robert shared. Her current husband, John, is insanely jealous of her first husband and is pressuring her to sell Sand Castle and sign over her father's home to her stepmother. But then John is murdered, and Teresa and Joe must piece together what has happened over the last seven years to save her family and the business:

"Joe responded in a calm way. 'I agree with you. However, we need to be on guard. We know that John was murdered. We believe that Robert and your father could have been murdered also. Those supposed murders might have been tied to John's murder. If that is true, then it is all tied to the company. You will now be a major player in the company - perhaps the real power. Changing the direction of the company will cause much anger and unhappiness for those who have been directing it. We have to be careful. We have to keep our cards close to our chest.'"

There is nothing more fun than reading about a powerful family who are at each other's throats. Add murder and you have the scene set for a luscious piece of entertainment. Palmer is a smooth writer who carefully builds the plot and develops characters that are riveting. Teresa is an easily lovable character, and Joe's unrequited love for her is sweet and pure. Children scamper about in the many mansions, creating a life energy that positively adds to the plot. A great read!

Kathryn Lively
Mundania Press LLC
6470 Glenway Ave., #109, Cincinnati, OH 45211-5222
ISBN: 1594260923 $10.00 U.S. $15.00 CAN

Kathryn Lively lives up to her name, with expertise in many areas: writing, book reviewing, webmistressing, editing, music, and reading. She is a graduate of Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Florida, her home of origin. She gained acclaim with her first novel, LITTLE FLOWERS between 2001 to 2003. She also contributed chapters to SAINTS OF THE JUBILEE by Timothy Drake. She has been nominated for an Eppie, and has also published SAINTS PRESERVE US as a novel and DANGEROUS WORDS, an electronic book novella. Kathryn sounds like a fun girl to this reviewer!

Andy Farmer received an unnerving phone call from his fellow biology teacher, Chuck Cleveland, one fateful morning. Chuck insisted he had "pithed" Principal Horace Shelton, which is biology speak for stabbing him in the spinal cord. Indeed, Andy arrives at school to find the police and news of Shelton's demise:

"'Shelton. He was murdered this morning. Slumped over his desk with a knife in his back. Corrine found him.' This from Lucy Wilde, sophomore World History Standard, junior faculty, at times senior pain in the ass (according to others, anyway; what reason have I to risk a harassment suit?). I don't mind her, but I don't get her type at all - the batik skirts and ropes of beaded costume jewelry, spelling 'women' with a 'y' and two 'm's' and for all I know, a silent 'q' for good measure."

School mysteries are usually such fun because of the potential for a character driven plot, and Kathryn Lively plays it to the max. Poor Andy Farmer finds himself as one of the prime suspects in the murder of a vile man who had the power and loved to destroy careers. His fellow teachers all have their coping mechanisms for dealing with such machinations, but Andy's best friend Chuck has the most to hide and believes he committed the murder in a moment of loyalty to Andy. As if Andy didn't have enough to feel guilty about! Enough said...this is a cozy mystery written by a woman with wisdom far beyond her years. She understands the desperation of baby boomers nearing retirement and spins a darn good yard around that idea. Kathryn Lively is definitely an up and comer, and PITHED is a great little mystery!

Cobwebs and Contraband
Lana Waite
Infinity Publishing
1094 New DeHaven St., Suite 100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
ISBN: 074142486X $15.95

Cobwebs and Contraband is the third of this California writer. Buried in Burrywood is set in Washington, and The Madd Mountain Murders takes place in the mountains of California. Each tale revolves around either a mansion or a resort, with lots of nooks and crannies to hide corpses, whether frozen or not. But Lana Waite has clearly outdone herself with her latest spooky whodunit, set in Grampus Island, where Granada Inn is located.

Maren O'Connor has a talent for trying to help her relatives run their resorts in times of need. It isn't her fault that people begin to die just as she arrives on the scene. But when she is called by her long ago fiance, Norman, to come back to her family inn in Granada, California, she answers the call, even if it means leaving her comfortable little business in the city to help out an ailing aunt, who may or may not have been poisoned. The problem is, nine years before Maren was on a sailing trip with her parents and twin brother during which her parents died from apparent food poisoning, and her brother washed overboard during a sudden storm as Maren tried to guide to boat back to shore. Or was he? And who is the monk who is haunting the Inn?

Maren arrives on the scene to find her aunt in a frail condition and the inn's main desk undermanned. It seems that there is a smuggling operation taking place in the inn's cellars and some very unsavory characters hanging around like wraiths. Maren's childhood friend, a cop in town, never seems to be there when she needs him, and his boss continually gives her the eye:

"'What are you doing here anyway?' I asked. 'I'm sure you're not just taking a walk. You must have been following me.' Was that why I had felt watched? 'Are you following me?' He ignored my question. 'Why did you come here?' I looked around and spread my hands. 'It's my family's burial ground.' I was amazed that he should ask.'"

In her own inimitable fashion, Lana Waite hooks the reader from the first page with her fast-paced plot, quirky characters, and well-crafted writing. Claiming a kinship with Mildred Benson, aka Carolyn Keene of Nancy Drew fame, we hope Waite also writes to a very old age.

Deadly Redlands
M.E. Cooper
Padlock Mystery Press
412 E. 9th, Stillwater, OK 74074
ISBN: 0974331627 $12.95

Mary Ellen Cooper is an inspiration, as well as being a Renaissance woman. After raising eight children and running a motorcycle dealership, she turned her considerable energies to calligraphy, cake decorating, and floral arrangements before finally settling on writing. She never looked back, and has published over fifty articles and eight books. Needless to say, she is an excellent role model for any aspiring writer! Her books now sell out early and FATAL TRUST will be made into a TV movie.

Chris Penney, local homicide detective, investigates a death of a local American Indian by hanging which could be suicide. When Christine discovers the victim is the brother of one of her quilt group friends, she promises to investigate it as a possible homicide and secures the skeptical approval of her boss. Daniel KnifeChief was a standout dancer who was planning to compete in the local Redlands Indian Festival war dance competition. Chris couldn't shake the feeling that somehow Daniel's death was connected to the competition, and she knew that her investigation had to move quickly before the festival ended. Meanwhile, her love life was beginning to improve, but were the men who suddenly appeared "skirt chasers" of the real thing?

"Despite her best intentions, she found herself agreeing to see Luke the next evening, since he promised to bring the food and cook at her place. Silently, she considered spending an evening with Luke before her Saturday date with Wade was the act of a fickle floozie; but she justified it by reminding herself it had been a long time since she had been sought after by such desirable men, and the flattering attention was a balm to her morale."

DEADLY REDLANDS has a page turner plot, contains lots of well crafted characters and plenty of action. Chris Penney is a likable heroine, and her struggles with her self confidence after a bad marriage to a nasty philanderer make her all the more endearing. Cooper's inclusion of quilting and Indian crafts and lore of Oklahoma tribes adds a perfect backdrop for this insightful mystery. Cooper knows how to bring diversity issues to the spotlight to create a compelling story. She has mastered her craft and has emerged as an author extraordinaire!

The Secret at St. Sans
Terri Kay
Xlibris Corporation
436 Walnut St., 11th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19106
ISBN: 1413447899 $21.99 (soft); $31.99 (hardcover)

Originally a lawyer, Terri Kay (which is a pen name) presently lives on a farm in Indiana. She worked closely in the health care industry for many years, particularly in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Secret of St. Sans is the second in a series that begins with A Promise of Revenge. All books trace corruption in the health care industry and the impact it has on one of the families who are victims of unscrupulous business and interpersonal medical ethics of one particular doctor.

Dr. Brian Tanner and his son-in-law, Dr. Tom Swanson are two peas in a pod. Both are greedy doctors intent upon enriching themselves far beyond what a normally lucrative medical practice would yield. They also hate each other, and when Dr. Tom spends a year poring over the records in the clinic, his lack of finesse ultimately costs him his life. Meanwhile, another family whose son, Javier, died mysteriously is putting the pieces together to incriminate Dr. Brian Tanner. Dr. Tanner is busy extricating himself from Alma, a bookkeeper who knows his secrets and wants to entrap him into a marriage:

"'To make our story a little bit more believable, I think you and I should start spending more time together, especially in public or around the clinic.' Alma mused thoughtfully. 'I mean, if you've told the police that you were with me, other people should be able to back that up, don't you think?'"

Terri Kay writes an utterly believable murder mystery based on a small town doctor who is a tyrant and has no scruples. The people who think they are his match get tromped underfoot, and Kay creates characters who drive the riveting plot with sheer malice, manipulation, and mayhem. THE SECRET AT ST. SANS is a disturbing and enjoyable mystery that beckons to the reader and ends with the promise of more in the next installment.

Kay crafts a seductive tale with no sexually explicit scenes, which makes it a safe book for people of all ages. Her story is worth reading, and she will no doubt gather a growing audience with each installment. She uses her knowledge of the medical and legal fields to create a dire warning about medical malpractice that provides an education for consumers of health care.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

A Dedication
John Zaiss
Synergy Books
2100 Kramer Lane, Austin, TX 78757
ISBN# 0975592238 $21.95 272 pages

Quinn Marshall maybe your next door neighbor; or he maybe your own son. We all know a Quinn, a teenager struggling to find his own identity and purpose in life. For Quinn, he battles against authority, does not use the intellect that is his, but a man named Joe Toscano is about to make a mark on Quinn's life. Joe is a no-nonsense man, having fought in Korea and Vietnam, and also having made some foolish mistakes in his life; he extends wisdom in a way that young Quinn cannot refuse and in doing so changes both of their lives. In this work we see a boy coming to terms with life, with all of it's goodness and evil; we cheer, we cry, we shake our head and perhaps even remember or connect in someway to the raw emotions that we see. We watch as a friendship bridges the gap and fills the voids in the lives it touches. And in the end we smile at the mark it has made in our world. A Dedication is a story of life, of taking and giving, loving and hating, living and dying, but most important of forgiveness of oneself and of others. A story of life, yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Hidden Under The Corporate Ladder
J K LaMay
Turnkey Press
100 Kramer Lane, Suite 300, Austin, Texas 78758
ISBN# 0975480367 $19.95 379 pages

In the beginning of this exceptional read, we are introduced to Jackie Weatherby, a saleswoman with talent that surpasses most of her peers. Securing a position with a prestigious housing company, Jackie looks forward to settling down and finally having a life with the man she loves, but she is about to embark on the ride of her life as her job turns into a nightmare. Jackie soon finds herself confronted with extreme sexual harassment and as she attempts to right this wrong, done not just to her but to others, she opens Pandora's box; for hidden in the crevasses of this company is corruption of the darkest kind, that intertwines with people and places that will do anything to hide their involvement and which leads all the way to the President. Jackie is faced with the battle of a life-time as she takes on the fight against corruption that staggers the mind, singes the senses, and nearly takes her life. An over the top, page turning read, adventure and suspense at it's pinnacle. Based on a true story, "Hidden Under the Corporate Ladder," is a story you do not want to miss.

Round Up
Tony Cheatham
Quiet Storm Publishing
PO Box 1666, Martinsburg, WV 25402
Phone: (304)283-3838 Fax: (208)498-9259
ISBN# 0975857137 $25.95 246 pages

I was taken back upon reading this book, not in a bad way, but a refreshing way. I thought it would be the normal 'who done it' variety of read, which don't get me wrong I truly love; but this work was different. "Richi Rich" is a reformed drug dealer, one who has been trying desperately to clean-up his life. He received news that his cousin Mark and his girlfriend have been killed. Richard makes his way back to his Mom and his hometown and is thrust into the streets of crime once again. However, this time he is looking for the who and why concerning the death of someone he loved. This is a story full of mystery and intrigue bringing you into the world of street drug runners, prostitutes, those who go from one fix to another; and the detectives who battle these crimes, yet live perhaps in a world almost as dark as the criminals they are trying to discover. However, it also has a shadow of some thought provoking undertones. You are taken deep into the world of those that are prisoners to the darker side of life. You are given a glimpse into the world that they live, their inward thoughts and the thirst they have for power and ultimately their own destruction. Is Richard lured back into the world that he has escaped from? The ending of this book will shock you as the murder is revealed, and the world of those caught in the darkness continues. Highly Recommended.

I Would Rather Be Audited By The IRS Than Give A Speech
David H. Brown
Kendall Hunt Publishing
PO Box 965, Spanish Fork UT 84660
ISBN# 0787203149 $12.95 170 pages

We all know from childhood throughout our lives there will, without a shadow of a doubt, be countless times we are called upon to give a speech in one form or another. Young or old, rich or poor, educated or illiterate, this is a experience in life that we will all share. If you are one of the millions that begin to tremble and quake at the very thought of such a prospect and feel there is no hope for you, this book if right up your alley. Author David Brown takes the fear and uncertainty of speech giving and simply turns your fear into your asset. Giving you more then 40 ways to control your anxiety and lead you to confidence, this book will be a treasure find if you let it. His writing is simple yet full of wisdom, easy to understand and enhanced by many examples of people that have overcome their fear. I dearly loved the cover and all the delightful illustrations that awaited me in this book; they certainly enhanced the read. Priceless. Of course, as with any self-help work, these wonderful suggestions will not help you if you do not implement them in your life. The decision must be your, but if you truly seek help in this arena this book will be a source you will turn to time and time again. A confidence building book, recommended.

No Simple Thing
Sara Miller
Unlimited Publishing LLC
PO Box 3007, Bloomington, Indiana 47452
ISBN# 1588321142 $15.99 287 pages

Kate Van Horn is a successful business woman. Her independence and strength are evident to all that know her, but when she falls in love with Alec Callahan her frailties begin to surface and Kate is confronted with her own inward demons. Alec has a beautiful little girl from his first marriage, a child that is fine on weekend visits, as far as Kate is concerned, but when circumstances change and she is to become a permanent fixture, Kate is not so sure how she feels. To complicate matters, Alec's ex-wife is not a stable person, but one that is set on destroying any happiness that Kate and Alec might hope for. In this story, Kate begins to deal with many inner conflicts, beginning with her own relationship with her mother. She battles feelings of anger and rejection, deep seated emotions of her own strength and weaknesses.As her life begins to tumble and spin out of control she searches deeply for the true meaning of life and love. Is she able to overcome her own feelings of inability and allow love to take it's journey in her life? A book raw emotions, of giving and receiving and coming to terms with what truly is important. A very good read.

The Murmurings
Authorhouse Publishers
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, Indiana 7403
ISBN# 1403325014 $24.95 600 pages

Ely Stone is not your typical man, nor is the adventure he is about to undertake typical. An Indian by heritage, a warrior by nature, he begins a journey that will tap his courage and shake his being. His past military life has been unique; death and the righting of wrongs had been paramount in his life. His job was one many men would find distasteful, yet a necessary part of the survival of decency in our world, despite the means to achieve it. Now retired, he finds himself caught up in the past of his heritage and finds, despite his objections, that he is the chosen one to lead his people to the next plateau of their existence. In traveling with him, you realize that his entire life has been training for the task before him as he is thrust into being a Special Agent for the Pukaskwa Tribal police and the Tribal pathfinder; a title and a job that Ely desperately wanted to run from, yet he could not escape the inward knowing that indeed this was his purpose for living.

We meet Amos, the Tribal Spiritual leader, who helps to guide Ely on his journey; a colorful man, full of tradition and brimming with spirituality of life. We also meet Annette, who wins the heart of our hero and adds just the right amount of tenderness and love to our story. One by one the author adds characters rich in secret identities, cloaked in mystery, each enhancing the already building suspense of the read.

As the story goes, the Indians have an island in Lake Michigan, an island that must be used to better the financial situation of the people. However, unknown to them, hidden on this island is something so important that nations have been seeking it for years. Now, the race is on for this object that is shrouded in mystery and you hungrily read on to find out just what this maybe. An object of such importance that nothing or no one will stop those seeking it until it is found. Be forewarned, this is no small read, but don't let the 582 page work scare you. Each page draws you deeper and deeper into the world of those you will not soon forget, and a story that will be etched in your memory forever. The Murmurings, a novel of mystery, a novel of mystic-spiritual power, a novel of love, loyalty,friendship, betrayal, and murder; with a storyline woven so intricately together that is a masterpiece. Highly recommended.

The Spiritual Millionaire
Keith Cameron Smith
WKIJ Publishing
10 Eloise Circle, Ormond Beach, Florida 32216
ISBN# 0975507001 $19.95 160 pages

I knew I was going to be blessed by this book the moment I picked it up; and I was not disappointed. The Spiritual Millionaire is packed full of true wisdom that will enhance anyone's life, and help them to achieve their desired results in their life quests. The author gently explains to you about wisdom and teaches you how to recognize and follow the leading that is nudging you towards success. He does this by helping you to understand the workings of your mind, or thought life, your desires, and helping you to see the vision that the Lord has for you. Once you see and understand that, you can reach for the stars and continue to climb. If you have Spiritual wisdom, there is no limit to your future; questions asked and answers given help to establish an understanding of what to do and how to achieve your goal. This work is very reader friendly, easy to understand and quite uplifting. It is full of hope and encouragement for a better tomorrow. Well worth your time and attention.

Wishful Thinking
Jacqi Lumer
Caffeine Society
516 Cole Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
ISBN# 097535972X $11.95 96 pages

It is said that it does our spirit well to stop, think and write down our inward feelings. If you have ever done this you know it can be quite surprising what we see written before us, and the release that it brings is always refreshing. In Ms Lumer's work, "Wishful Thinking," we hold in our hand a beautiful constructed book with words and pictures that gently nudge us to be free to express our feelings. On each page we are given the beginning of a sentence such as, "I always daydream about," or "If I could do anything," and we look at the blank page that follows waiting for us to fill it with our hearts wishes. This is a beautiful book, the sketched pictures that are merged into soft blue color of the pages seem to bring peace and a longing to release your inward feelings. "Wishful Thinking," is definitely a very tender way to keep a journal of ones desires and I believe any woman would truly love to have it.

22 Stories: Falling Upward Through The Tarot
David Lawrence
iUniverse Publishers
2021 Pine Lake Road Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN# 0595329845 $16.95 250 pages

Inside the pages of the book we have one unique story of a couple, Philip and Emily. Participants in an experiment called Project Immersion, these two desperately need some answers to just what has been and is happening in their lives, their minds. Just what did happen to them in this experiment? They have to know. They are invited to a party and decide to attend in hopes of finding out some answers and recovering some missing memories. The journey they are about to take will be like no other. This story is not the norm, but is brimming with subject matter that is a far cry from your everyday read. Peaks and valleys roll you along each page; well developed characters, both good and evil keep your interest keen, definitely not your everyday story. If you want something different, a read that stretches and exercises your mind, your spirit, and is perhaps a little strange, this one is for you. Quite a journey awaits the reader, a joy for those whose interest draws them towards the inward man, and the spiritual. Just what does await you there?

Coconut Cures
Bruce Fife, N.D.
Piccadilly Books, Ltd
P.O. Box 25203, Colorado Springs, CO 8936
ISBN# 0961599604 $15.95 235 pages

I absolutely love to read books that teach me about the goodness in the foods that are available to us; this book certainly brought me joy. Discovering the amazing health benefits of coconut meat, milk, water and oil just amazed me. Here are just a few things that the coconut can do for you; prevent heart disease, dissolve kidney stones, enhance the immune system and protect against cancer. Wow! What an eye opener. The book starts out with explaining about the coconut and giving you some examples how those on islands use it. Very interesting! After that, the author goes into the healing aspects of the fruit, from the meat to the oil. He does this in a very concise and easy to understand mannen; giving you examples of what they can do for you, how to use them and also gives testimonies on how this fruit has helped others. I really enjoyed this book and intend to give what I have learned a try. I believe there are a lot of natural foods out there that we just don't know how good they are for us, now I believe coconut is one of them. I recommend this book for anyone that is interested in being a healthier person. I believe you will find many health reasons to give coconuts a try. A read well worth your time.

Love After 50
Marion A. Eggleton
Helm Publishing
3923 Seward Ave, Rockford, Il 61108
ISBN# 0976091933 $9.95 208 pages

In this outstanding work author Marion Eggleton lays bare the many hidden concerns with finding a meaningful relationship after the age of 50. Many by this age are alone due to death or divorce and face the prospects of years of loneliness because of misconceptions of allowing oneself to be open to a new relationship. In this work, our author discusses openly the many fears and challenges that tend to prevent people from moving forward and enjoying the latter part of their lives with someone new. Such questions are addresses as, "Love," "Why Do I Need Someone New?" "Dating Myths," and so much more. He challenges you to examine your own motives that are hindering you from meeting someone new and you will find pages of practical advice to help you overcome these fears. You will also find pages of websites that offer safe ways to meet new people and listings of magazines that allow you to search for the person who may be just right for you. A little apprehensive? Don't worry, these fears are addressed as well. There is even a website listed that provides a background search for you to use that would definitely make you feel more secure concerning that new person you just might be interested in. All in all this is a real encouraging book for men and women over the age of 50, who long to continue enjoying life to the fullest and would like someone to share that with. Recommended.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Vicki's Bookshelf

Angel's Grave
Tracey Baptiste
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN 0689867735 $15.95, 168 pages,

Grace has always had wild red hair like no one else in her family and a birthmark on her shoulder that her mother told her was the mark of an angel. When Grave is sent from New York to spend the summer with her grandmother in Trinidad, she looks through the family album and discovers a blurred photograph of a stranger with a birthmark - her birthmark - and Grave is full of questions. No one is able to identify the man in the photo, and Grace is left with no choice but to find out who he is and what he might mean to her. What Grave does not know is that her search will lead to a discovery about herself and her family that she never could have imagined. A tender coming-of-age story.

Everything I Know About Cars
Tom Lichtenheld
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN 0689843828 $16.95, 32 pages,

Wisenheimer Tom Lichtenheld is at it again with his "Everything I Know" picture book series. Having fibbed his way through hilarious books about pirates and monsters, his wild imagination is now working overtime on all things automotive. What's your car I.Q.? For instance, he challenges us to guess which is the fastest kind of car: "A) a jet-powered dragster; B) an invisible spy car; or C) Any car that is red and has flames painted on the sides." Cars were invented by: "A) Karl Benz; B) Professor Flubber; or c) Two horses in Ohio who got tired of carrying people around all day." Pedal-to-the metal funny, and so filled with extras and manufacturer upgrades that young readers will clock miles and miles of repeat readings.

Magnus at the Fire
Jennifer Armstrong, illustrated by Owen Smith
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN 0689839227 $15.95, 32 pages,

Magnus lives and works at the Broadway Firehouse. He knows that when the fire alarm clangs, he and his partners, Billy and Sparks, are supposed to spring into action. Without them the firemen would never be able to move the gigantic steam pumper. And without a pumper the crew wouldn't be able to put out fires. Then one day the captain drives into the firehouse on a loud, newfangled contraption called a motorized fire truck. It doesn't need horses to pull it to a fire. So just like that, Magnus, Sparks, and Billy are out of a job. A little history, a little humor, and a whole lot of heart are artfully blended in this rousing tale of one high-spirited horse who can't accept being put out to pasture. And thank goodness! Because it's this steadfast sense of duty that ultimately saves the day in the lovely historical adventure picture book.

The Shot Heard 'Round The World
Phil Bilder
illustrated by C.F. Payne
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN 0689862733 $16.95, 32 pages,

"If you lived in Brooklyn in 1951, your life revolved around the Brooklyn Dodgers Come summertime you bled dodger blue." For the young Brooklyn Dodger fan in this story, the summer of 1951 was a summer for heroes. The Dodgers, with players like Jackie Robinson, Carl Erskine, and Clem Labine, faced off against the New York Giants in a pennant race that no one had seen the likes of and no one would ever forget. On October 3, 1951, the borough of Brooklyn held its breath as the Dodgers faced the Giants for the third, tie-breaking game to determine which team would go on to play the Yankees in the World Series. More than just a story about baseball, this is a sweeping picture book view of life in Brooklyn in the summer of 1951, from its streets, to its Cyclone, to its stadium.

The Magician's Boy
Susan Cooper
illustrated by Serena Riglietti
Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN 068987622X $14.95, 104 pages, www.Simon

In this chapter book fantasy for children 7-10, a nameless boy works for a magician. He polishes the Magician's wands, and catches the rabbits that the Magician pulls our of hats. But the Boy's favorite job is operating the puppets for the Magician's famous puppet play, "Saint George and the Dragon" - until one terrible day when, in the middle of a performance, the Boy can't find the Saint George puppet. The Magician is furious. He points a long magical finger at the Boy, and - poof! - the Boy is suddenly in the strange Land of Story, where he must find Saint George. The Boy's hunt for Saint George is full of adventures with oddly familiar people. He saves the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe from losing her children; he spols the wolf's plan to eat Little Red Riding Hood; and he narrowly escapes being eaten himself by the Giant at the top of Jack's beanstalk. But the Boy's last adventure is the most amazing of all - and changes his life forever. No child who reads this delightful tale by master storyteller Susan Cooper is likely to forget it.

How The Amazon Queen Fought the Prince of Egypt
Tamara Bower
Antheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN 0689844344 $16.95, 32 pages,

Can woman ever conquer man? Queen Serpot rules the Land of Women, where the Amazon women live free, without men, and hunt and fight their own battles. But one day their peace is broken. An army of Egyptian soldiers is approaching their land, led by their prince, Pedikhons. Pedikhons has heard stories of these warrior women. Now he has come to see them with his own eyes - and to challenge them to combat. But the brave Serpot and her women are full of surprises. Can woman truly equal man in strength and courage? The story of love and war is based on an actual Egyptian scroll from the Greco-Roman period. Hieroglyphic translations of key phrases, intricate paintings in the Egyptian and Assyrian styles, and extensive notes about both cultures enrich this fascinating, untold legend.

Shadow Life: A portrait of Anne Frank and Her Family
Barry Denenberg
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN 0439416787 $16.95, 224 pages,

"Shadow Life" is a vivid and poignant portrait of Anne Frank and her family written by the acclaimed author of "Voices from Vietnam" and "An American Hero: The True Story of Charles A. Lindbergh." After laying out the facts surrounding World War II and the Holocaust, Denenberg follows the Franks from Frankfurt, Germany, to Amsterdam, where they hoped to resume a normal life, but instead were forced into hiding. In creating a fictional diary from Margot Frank's perspective, Denenberg introduces a new voice from the family's two years in hiding. The line between fiction and fact is blurred this way, making one wonder about the validity of the oral histories reported here from primary sources. Once readers take the required leap of faith, they will find this to be a deeply engrossing new perspective of the horrifying reality of the last months of the Frank family's lives, including rarely seen details of Anne and Margot's final days. For ages 12 and up.

The King of Slippery Falls
Sid Hite
Scholastic Reference
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN 0439342570 $16.95, 218 pages,

Take an ordinary boy, add a mysterious letter, a royal birth, a giant trout, and an unexpected romance, and you get "The King of Slippery Falls." Sid Hit's latest resplendent tale follows Lewis Hinton, a young boy in pursuit of two things: an elusive giant trout, taunting him from the depths of the river, and his true identity. The arrival of a mysterious letter stirs the townspeople of Slippery Falls to uncover Lewis's past along with him. His adoptive parents, Martha and Avery Hinton, know they must let him search for clues about his past. His quirky neighbor, Mapel Baderhoovenlisterah, urges him to figure out what story he wants to tell with his life. And meanwhile, the townspeople simply want to know if the rumors are true: Is Lewis really descended from French royalty? Could a simple boy from Idaho really be a king?

Jennifer McFann
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN 0439639875 $9.95, 190 pages,

In "Laveidem," Jason, a peasant, and Chris, royal assistant to the king (but secretly a gnome), stumble across the kingdom on an urgent mission from the lovely Princess Jennier. They'll deliver her secret message and win the princess's favor if they can make it past a poisoned omelet, a prophetic desert mirage, the river of fiery combustion, and of course, Dr. Troll. A funny debut from 18-year-old Jennifer McFann, winner of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Novel Contest. For ages 10 and up.

The Fish in Room 11
Heather Dyer
Chicken House / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN 0439579759 $15.95, 158 pages,

Toby can't remember a time he didn't live at the hotel by the sea. Left there as a baby, he's grown up without a family of his own. So when he meets Eliza Flot down by the pier, he takes to her, well, like a fish to water. And when he gets to know her parents, that tips the scales even more. In fact, Toby practically joins the family. So what if they're mermaids? But Toby's friendship with Eliza arouses suspicion, and soon he has to hatch a plan to keep the Flots' identity a secret. That's when Toby comes up with the ingenious idea to disguise the mermaids as hotel guests. But trying to disguise a family with fins and tails is tougher than Toby thinks! Funny twists and turns abound in this lighthearted tale that young readers will fall for hook, line, and sinker.

The Young Man And The Sea
Rodman Philbrick
Blue Sky Press / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN 0439368294 $16.95, 190 pages,

Skiff Beaman has a boatload of problems. Ever since his mother died, his father doesn't want to get up off the TV couch - even when the Mary Rose, his fishing boat, sinks at the dock. Twelve-year-old Skiff's been bailing out Rose by himself for months, getting up before dawn to pump out the bilge and keep her floating, just in case his dad decides to put his beer aside and get up and go fishing. But once a boat has gone under you can't bail it out. With a (huge) nod to Hemingway, award-winning novelist Rodman Philbrick presents a starkly dramatic yet poignant story about a determined boy who refuses to give up, despite overwhelming odds. Skiff Beaman makes a choice to take on the world - but can he possibly beat the odds and win? For ages 8-11.

The Waterless Sea
Kate Constable
Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN 0439554802 $16.95, 314 pages,

In the second book in the "Chanters of Tremaris Trilogy," Calwyn was drawn to three companions by chantment - a magic worked through singing. Now She and her friends travel to the desolate Merithuran Empire in search of a group of kidnapped children with the gift of chantment. There they must negotiate both the unforgiving desert and the treacherous Palace of Cobwebs, where they uncover the dreadful secret that holds the empire together. Meanwhile, Darrow has broken away from the group to form a dangerous new alliance. Can he still be trusted? "The Waterless Sea" introduced Calwyn and her friends to a whole new set of challenges. Calwyn's quest for peace and justice in Tremaris has greater consequences than she could have imagined. For ages 12 and up.

Melanie in Manhattan
Carol Weston
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN 0375830286 $15.95, 278 pages,

Melanie Martin charmed readers when she discovered gelato in Italy, Vincent Van Go Go Go in Holland, and flamenco and first love in Spain. Now the globetrotting 11-year-old gives readers a tour of her very own New York City, as well as tour of her heart. It's the end of fifth grade, and a cute boy in math class has started Iming Melanie (good). But a new girl, Suze the Ooze, is taking over Melanie's best-friend Cecily (bad). And Miguel, Melanie's sort-of boyfriend, has stopped emailing (confusing). There's even trouble at home because Milkshake and Pancake, Melanie and Matt the Brat's pair of mice, have been multiplying. Their babies are having babies. As Melanie Martin takes little bites out of the Big Apple, even diehard New York fans are likely to go places they have never been. For ages 8-12.

Shackelton's Stowaway
Victoria McKernan
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN 0375826912 $15.95, 224 pages,

This high-seas adventure offers a new twist on the famous Endurance voyage. Told through the eyes of the ship's real-life teenage stowaway, Perce Blackborow, the dramatization is meticulously researched and is sure to enthrall readers with its thrilling and epic adventure storytelling. In October of 1941, Ernest Shackleton and his crew began a historic journey in the hopes of sailing across the continent of Antarctica. Unbeknownst to Shackleton, a secret passenger - 18-year-old Blackborow - was also on board, seasick and cramped, hidden in a locker. When another sailor, Frank Wild discovers the boy and learns of his desperate desire toe sail with Shackleton, they decide to give him a chance and keep him on board. What ensues is the mythical high seas adventure so often written about, but here uniquely told through the eyes of the young traveler. Through this fictionalized account and the invented diaries of Blackborow, readers learn of the Endurance's trapped fate in the Antarctic ice and their struggle to stay alive in open boats on the desolate Elephant Island. For adventurous readers 12 and up.

Enchanted, Inc.
Shanna Swendson
Ballantine / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN 0345481259 $12.95,

Shanna Swendson's debut novel, "Enchanted, Inc." is a magical story featuring Katie Chandler, a 20something, small-town Texas girl, who finds that being average in New York City is anything but. Katie loves the energy of Manhattan, and if she finds some of the people odd, well, that's New York, right? Where else would you see a person on the subway wearing fairy wings? In fact, if Katie wasn't completely sure those wings must be a costume, she'd think they were real, the way they flutter in the breeze. Certainly the gargoyle that perches above the door of the church she passes on the way to and from work isn't real. Its eyes seem to follow her, and she could have sworn it winked at her once, but now that she thinks about it, it was really hot that day, and she hadn't eaten lunch.... Katie is still adjusting to life in the big city while working a for a nightmare boss, when she gets a fantastic offer to work for a mysterious company, MSI, Inc. Through her new job and the magical folk she meets, Katie comes to find out she isn't quite as average as she thought; and the fairy tale life she has longed for begins to come true in surprising ways. What Katie doesn't realize is how rare and important being ordinary can be. In fact, it is her ordinary characteristics that make her the perfect secret weapon for MSI, Inc. Suddenly the very qualities she thought made her average are what make her special! Now she has magicians and fairies meddling in her attempted romances, a secret life she needs to keep hidden from her non-magical friends, not to mention that dangerous pull she feels for Owen, an attractive but shy wizard who might be the most powerful magic man since Merlin."Enchanted, Inc." is a delight that will be a fun summer read for anyone who's wished upon a star or hoped for a sprinkle of fairy dust.

Bollywood Babes
Narinder Dhami
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN 0385731787 $14.95, 214 pages,

Amber, Geena, and Jazz Dhillon are only trying to be nice. When they learn that former Bollywood superstar Molly Mahal is about to be evicted from her cheap, dingy flat, they offer to let her stay with them - just until she gets back on her feet. Their auntie is less than thrilled by the idea especially when Molly takes over her room and starts wearing her clothes. But their dad, who had a crush on Molly back in the day, is a little more welcoming. Little do the Dhillon sisters know that Molly will take her own sweet time getting back on her feet - and may drive them crazy in the process! For ages 8 and up.

Julie Gonzalez
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN 0385732279 $15.95, 198 pages,

In "Wings" - the winner of the 21st annual Delacorte Press Prize for a First Young Adult Novel - Ben Delaney has a steadfast belief: someday he will fly. He'll sprout wings and really begin his life. But in all of his 17 years, there's been no sign of any wings. Ben blames Gravity, his sworn enemy, fo rkeeping him down. Yet if there's one thing Ben isn't, it's a ground-dweller. He can feel his wings wanting out, just biding their time. But when will they be ready to emerge? And when will his older brother, parents, and friends accept his inevitable destiny? For flying is what Ben was born to do and no one can persuade him otherwise. Told from the alternating points of view of the two brothers, Julie Gonzalez's novel is a lyrical and haunting story about sibling bonds, family life and the power of faith. For ages 12 and up.

Odo Hirsch
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN 0385731876 $16.95, 198 pages,

The story of a sheltered boy who sets out to see a world he has never known, "Yoss" is a haunting and compelling novel that will instantly captivate readers. At 14-years old, the boys in Yoss's mountain-top villiage are officially considered adults. The occasion, marked by a feast, is followed by the symbolic departure of the boys. Most of them return by the next morning, but a few are known to have never come home. So it is with Yoss, who hungers to see what lies beyond his villiage, and who sets off into the unknown. As his journey begins, Yoss finds himself face-to-face with all types of schemers: thiees, merchants, beggars, and mistresses. All are drawn to Yoss' innocence, and he soon becomes enveloped in their webs of lies and deceit. Will Yoss fall prey to the evils of the townspeople, or will he make his way back to the security of his villiage? Discover adventure through the journey of "Yoss."

The Ravenmaster's Secret
Elvira Woodruff
Blackstone Audiobooks
P.O. Box 969, Ashland OR 97520
ISBN 0786180900 $36.00, 4 CDs,

In London in 1735, 11-year-old Forrest Harper is living with his family at the Tower of London. There he helps his father tend the ravens and guard the prisoners. Still, life is lonely, so when vicious Scottish Rebels are captured, Forrest is delighted. Perhaps now he can prove his courage and impress the local bullies who torment him. His happiness is short lived, though, when the Harpers are only given custody of Maddy, a Scottish Rebel's daughter. But as the days pass, Maddy's warmth and her touching stories of life in Scotland seal a friendship between them. However, when she is slated for execution, Forrest is faced with a horrifying choice. He can either commit treason and help her escape, or obey the law and allow his innocent friend to be executed. A gripping historical audio book for children well- read by Kate Reading. Approximately 4 hours.

Sarah: Woman of Genesis
Orson Scott Card
Blackstone Audiobooks
P.O. Box 969, Ashland OR 97520
ISBN 0786180897 $90.00, 10 CDs,

Sarah, child of the desert, wife of Abraham, takes on vivid reality as a woman desirable to kings, a devoted wife, and a faithful follower of the God of Abraham, chosen to experience an incomparable miracle. Best-selling author Orson Scott Card tells the story of a unique woman, one who is beautiful, tough, smart, and resourceful. This deep, yet playful, work of fiction brings to life the original - and considerably more slight - tale of the Biblical figure. This unabridged version -- lasting for more than 12 hours - is read and produced by Gabrielle de Cuir, the recipient of multiple AudioFile's Earphones Awards.

A Negro League Scrapbook
Carole Boston Weatherford
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church St., Honesdale, Penn. 18431
ISBN 1590780914 $19.95, 32 pages, www.boydsmillspress

Imagine that you're an outstanding baseball player, but banned from the major leagues. Imagine having a dream, but no chance to make that dream come true. This is what life was like for African American baseball players before Jackie Robinson broke major league baseball's color barrier. Because of segregation, man of the best players in the history of baseball never played in the major leagues. Yet Negro League players were the equal to, and sometimes surpassed, stars in the all-white major leagues. Meet Josh Gibson, called "the black Babe Ruth," who hit 75 home runs in 1931; James "Cool Papa" Bell, the fastest man in baseball' legendary Satchel Paige, who once struck out 24 batters in a single game; and, of course, Jackie Robinson, the first black player in major league baseball, and one of the greatest players of all time. A unique look at a remarkable era in sports, for young readers 6-10.

East O' the Sun and West O' the Moon
Illustrated by P.J. Lynch
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
ISBN 1564020495 $16.99, 32 pages,

A kind of Scandinavian "Beauty and the Beast," this epic romantic story about a bewitched prince and the determined lassie who loves him has just about everything: rags and riches, hags and heroism, magic and mystery, a curse and a quest, wicked trolls, a shape-shifting bear, and finally a happy ending. Master children's book illustrator P.J Lynch has created a luminous backdrop worthy of this grand adventure, transporting readers to a world of fantasy and imagination.

Moon Runner
Carolyn Marsden
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
ISBN 076362117X $15.99, 102 pages,

When Mina, a self-professeed "girlie-girl" and non-athlete, turns out to excel at track, her friends are as surprised as she is, especially the competitive Ruth. Even more surprising is the way running seems to lift Mina up and make her happy. But when Coach chooses her to run the firth-meter against Ruth, Mina faces an unhappy predicament. Should she hold back on purpose and let Ruth win? Or let herself soar? In "Moon Runner," Carolyn Marsden crafts a lyrical and sensitive portrait of a young person discovering her potential - with joy and trepidation - while maintaining the fragile bonds of friendship.

Not Norman: A Goldfish Story
Kelly Bennett, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
ISBN 0763623849 $15.99, 32 pages,

Norman the goldfish wasn't what this little boy had in mind. He wanted a different kind of pet - one that could run and catch, or chase strings and climb trees, a soft furry pet to sleep on his bed at night. Not Norman. But when he tries to trade Norman for a "good pet," things don't go as he planned. Could it be that Norman is a better pet than he thought? With wry humor and lighthearted affection, author Kelly Bennett and illustrator Noah Z. Jones offer an unexpected and positively fishy take on exactly what kind of pet a goldfish can be.

Megan McDonald
illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
ISBN 0763620254 $12.99, 102 pages,

Fans of Megan McDonald's spunky chapter book heroine Judy Moody will thoroughly enjoy this series introduction to Stink, Judy Moody's little brother. And when I say little, let's just say that's a big understatement. You see Stink is shrinking. Every morning, Judy measures Stink, and it's always the same: three feet, eight inches tall. Even the class newt is growing faster than he is. Then one day the ruler reads three feet, seven and three quarters inches! Can it be? Is Stink shrinking? Delightful fun for newly independent readers ages 6- 9.

Eat Your Peas, Ivy Louise!
Leo Landry
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
ISBN 0618448861 $12.00, 32 pages,

Welcome to a tiny circus where the stars - the amazing and stupendous Tender Tiny Peas! - perform to the delight of a little girl. As they fly through the air with the greatest of ease and balance in a precarious pyramid of peas, Ivy Louise cheers them on. With his trademark ease and humor, the author/illustrator Leo Landy reveals that there can be much more to a child's dinnertime than meets the eye. This charming, one-of-a-kind fantasy is the perfect book for every parent who has ever tried to get a toddler to eat and for every toddler who has refused. For ages 2-5.

Alone in the World
Catherine Reef
Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin
251 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10003
ISBN 0618356703 $18.00, 136 pages,

Who hasn't wondered what it would be like to grow up in an orphanage? What was the food like? Where did the children sleep? Were the caregivers kind or cruel? How did one end up in an orphanage in the first place? In the first book of its kind, award-winning nonfiction author Catherine Reef reveals what daily life in orphanages and other homes for children was really like. She explores the attitudes toward children that affected how orphans were treated, reports what happened to the, once they left the "home," and explains why, today, there are hardly any orphanages left. Carefully researched and vividly brought to life through accessible writing, first-hand accounts, and more than seventy archival photographs and prints, this is the compelling true history of orphanage institutions.

Guys Read
Edited by Jon Scieszka
Viking / Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
ISBN 0670060275 $10.99, 272 pages,

"There's something for every guy," is author Jon Scieszka's theory about books. So with the reluctant boy reader in mind, he's collected this book of short stories, mini-menoirs, advice, poems, comics and drawings. Chosen by readers on Scieszka's Guys Read website, contributors included notable writers, illustrators and editors of such boy-favorite publications as Sports Illustrated, Esquire and The Onion, namely: Neil Gaiman, Avi, M.T. Anderson, Tony Diterlizzi, Eoin Colfer, Chris Crutcher, Matt Groening, Dav Pilkey, Brian Jaccques, Stephen King, and dozens more. Not a slacker in the bunch. So who says guys don't read? They will, if they can read the writers they love, so just put this short-attention-span delight in front of them, turn off the TV, unplug the PlayStation, and watch 'em go.

The Ribbajack and Other Curious Yarns
Brian Jacques
Philomel / Penguin
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
ISBN 0399242201 $16.99, 168 pages,

What if revenge were a monster of your own creation? If all you needed to summon this monster were enough hatred and enough imagination? Which of you would really be the monster? One boy is about to find out. From vengeance monsters to haunted schools to the threat of a modern-day Medusa, best-selling author Brian Jacques ("Loambedge," "The Angel's Command") spins six all-new tales of horror and suspense. Read on, but be careful of what brews in your heart. You may just find yourself the next victim of the Ribbajack.

Tripping Over the Lunch Lady and Other School Stories
Edited by Nancy E. Mercado
Dial Books for Young Readers
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014-3657
ISBN 0803728735 $16.99, 178 pages,

One thing you can say for school: it is never the same. Some days you have lots of friends, other days there's tumbleweed blowing around the cafeteria table and you're flying totally solo with a soggy bag lunch. Some days you score the winning run. And then other days you've kicked the ball in the wrong goal and the entire team is acting like you're not fit to lick their cleats. Some days you've got your homework done and are actually looking forward to class. And other days you spend the entire period silently praying "please don't pick me." This funny little collection is filled with ten original stories that bring back those moments in rear-view mirror Technicolor. A-plus short stories about (mostly) C-minus memories from Avi, Angela Johnson, David Lubar, James Proimos, David Rise, Susan Shreve, Terry Trueman, Rachel Vail, Lee Wardlaw, and Sarah Weeks

Batman Begins: The Visual Guide
Scott Beatty
DK Publishing
ISBN: 0756612330 $19.99, 64 pages,

Uncover the origins of Batman, from the events that forged the Dark Knight to the friends and foes he faces in his fight against injustice with a new book by DK Publishing entitled "Batman Begins: The Visual Guide," based on the highly anticipated movie Batman Begins. Batman, a superhero endowed with no superpowers, forges his mind and body into a living, breathing weapon against the crime and corruption ravaging Gotham City. Cloaked in mystery and shadow, the masked crusader uses his strength, intellect and an array of high tech deceptions to fight the sinister forces that threaten the city. Director Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins explores the origins of the Batman legend and the Dark Knight's emergence as a force for good in Gotham City. Created in full collaboration with DC Comics and Warner Bros. Pictures, this companion book to the movie features character profiles and maps, live-action stills, details of Batman's weaponry, diagrams, cross-sections, and new illustrations of the Batcave and Batmobile.

A Thief in the House of Memory
Tim Wynne-Jones
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
ISBN 0374374783 $17.00, 210 pages,

It's been six years since Dec's free-spirited mother, Lindy, disappeared. But 16-year-old Dec is so caught up in trying to escape the present that he's avoided examining the past. Then an intruder dies in Steeple Hall, the family home that Dec's father has preserved like a museum, and the man's death sends forth tremors that reawaken forgotten memories. Suddenly Dec is flooded with visions of his mother so tangible it's hard to believe they're not real: Lindy in her Wonder Woman costume, Lindy playing a strange game of hide-and-seek in his father's study; Lindy blowing a shrill whistle in his face and shouting "Get me out of here, Declan. Before it's too late!" At least Dec has his best friend - gifted, funny Ezra - to help him figure out what's real and what isn't. What happened to his mother? Why does his father never talk about her? And who really is the thief in the House of Memory?

Common Sense and Fowls
Jane Cutler
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
ISBN 0374322627 $16.00, 136 pages,

Take some unreasonable neighbors, a few idealistic teens, an elderly woman who lives in a world of her own, and a self-proclaimed reluctant reader who - as he says - doesn't understand anything. Add a plague of pigeons befouling the block, a legendary artist turned vandal, a bike-riding tutor, and a curious 11-year-old. Throw in some confusion having to do with vowels and consonants (and communication in general), and you have the basic recipe for a nasty-tasting stew. Who can figure out the secret ingredients that will sweeten this mess of misunderstandings and competing needs? And can they be provided in time to head off "fowl" play?

Palms to the Ground
Amy Stolls
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
ISBN 0374357315 $17.00, 244 pages,

Calman Pulowitz is an only child whose parents have been sending him to a therapist since he was seven. Now a teenager, he has reduced his suffering to insomnia, fainting spells, an addiction to Pepto-Bismol, and a dependence on the Psychic Hotline. But things are going to change, as he's about to travel far away from his home in Boston to Walla Walla, Washington, to meet his pen pal. Out West, he'll encounter Simon, the nine-fingered banjo player; Eleanor, the rose-scented Mah-Jongg player; Tank, the fix-it man with an odd speech impediment; and, most importantly, Rizzy, his bully of a pen pal, who greets Calman with a big surprise. Over the next week, he'll uncover truths about Rizzy and about himself, and in the thrill of rushing endorphins, he will finally begin to understand what it means to be a man. In her very funny debut, Amy Stolls introduces readers to two brave, surprising, and utterly unforgettable characters who learn that growing up is a lot easier - and more fun - if you can count on a friend.

The Search for Belle Prater
Ruth White
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
ISBN 0374308535 $16.00, 170 pages,

In this sequel to a Newbery Honor Book Belle Prater's Boy," Belle Prater is missing. Since she disappeared a year ago, her son, Woodrow, has been living with his grandparents, next door to his cousin, Gypsy. The two are best friends, joined by their adventurous spirits and shared love of stories and magic. On the stroke of midnight on Woodrow's birthday, the phone rings. No one is at the other end of the line, but Woodrow is certain it was his mama who placed the call. They find out that it came from nearby Bluefield, and Woodrow and Gypsy set off to see if they can track her dwon. Joining them is Cassie Caulborne, the new girl in school, who has the valuable gift of second sight. Unfortunately, belle proves elusive, and once again Woodrow realizes that perhaps even worse than not knowing where she is, is not understanding why his mama would leave him. Woodrow, Gypsy, and Cassie help one another to find what they're looking for, deepening their friendship along the way and figuring out what it means to sprout wings and be somebody.

The Next Door Dogs
Colby Rodowsky
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
ISBN 0374364109 $15.00, 104 pages,

Though she wouldn't like you to know it, Sara Barker is afraid of dogs. Whenever she sees even a picture of one, she feels clammy and cold all over. So what's Sara to do when she learns that her new next-door neighbor owns two of them? Two young and big dogs, to be specific. In certain situations, confronting one's fears cannot be avoided, as Sara is soon to find out. A charming and sweetly satisfying chapter book that strikes a warm, emotional chord.

You & You & You
Per Nilsson, translated by Tara Chace
Front Street
20 Battery Park Ave., Asheville, NC 28801
ISBN 1932425195 $16.95, 304 pages,

Twelve-year-old Anon is so lost in his dual fantasies of befriending Sara, the owner of the library card he's found, and of his absentee father's god-like qualities that he doesn't mind that everyone at school is making fun of him. Seventeen-year-old Zarah has her mind on the alarming behavior of her jealous boyfriend as well as her relationship with a woman at work, which suddenly becomes complicated. Nils, who is going through an existential crisis, engages in some risky behavior while exploring how it might feel to be dead. He is also obsessed with Zarah, although he doesn't really know her. Then Nils's friend Hannes makes a misstep that might have deadly consequences. When Anon meets Sara, and Nils meets Zarah, and Anon and Zarah and Nils all come together unexpectedly, their lives take surprising new turns.

Here's a Penny: Penny and Peter
Carolyn Haywood
Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
ISBN 0152052275
ISBN 0152052321 $16.00,

Two gentle-humored children's stories for ages 6 to 10. "Here's A Penny" introduces Penny, who's real name isn't Penny at all: it's William. But long ago, when his parents first saw him in the hospital as a newborn, his hair looked just like a shiny copper penny. Now, wherever Penny goes, he's sure to find adventure. He loses his overalls in a very sticky situation, searches for his new kittens only to find them dressed up in doll clothes, and meets his match in a Halloween surprise. "Penny and Peter" features the brothers who are always trying to help, but usually end up making trouble. When they paint the floor of Peter's bedroom to surprise Daddy, they paint themselves right into a corner and have to be rescued. When the beautiful crabs they catch escape from the basket they've used to hold them, Penny and Peter chase them all over the train. And when a package of hotdogs falls into a stream while they're camping, they end up fishing for their lunch.

Ice Drift
Theodore Taylor
Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
ISBN 0152050817 $16.00, 224 pages,

In this thrilling adventure from the author of "The Cay," it is 1868 and two young Inuit brothers are hunting seals on an Arctic ice floe when they suddenly hear a terrible crack. The floe has broken free form the mainland and starts drifting south - away from their home, their family, and everything they've ever know. Acclaimed author Theodore Taylor has created an edge-of-your-seat adventure epic for young readers. As the boys and their dog drift south for six months on the large floe, they face bitter cold, starvation, loneliness, and most frightening of all, vicious polar bears. Their story of survival is a moving testament to the bond between brothers, and of the enduring strength of the human spirit.

1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703

Harold and the Purple Crayon
Crockett Johnson
ISBN 0060229357 $15.99

The Carrot Seed
The Happy Egg
Ruth Krauss, author
Crockett Johnson, illustrator
ISBN 0060233508 $14.99 (Carrot)
ISBN 0060760052 $12.99 (Egg)

The Little Fish That Got Away
Bernadine Cook, author
Crockett Johnson, illustrator
ISBN 0060557133 $14.99

This year, Crockett Johnson's legendary children's book character Harold celebrates 50 years of creating worlds with the magic of his purple crayon and his quick imagination. To mark this milestone, HarperCollins Children's Books is producing a 50th anniversary edition of Johnson's tribute to creativity, "Harold and the Purple Crayon." Since its original publication in 1955, "Harold and the Purple Crayon" has sold more than two million copies and has never been out of print. For the last 50 years, Johnson's original and enchanting adventure has undisputedly been one of the most beloved and influential children's books. Johnson's books are, ultimately, "love letters to drawing." His illustrations in wife Ruth Krauss' "The Carrot Seed" and "The Happy Egg" are similarly unforgettable. "The Carrot Seed," celebrating 60 years in print with a 60th anniversary edition, is a deceptively simple and deeply satisfying tale of perseverance and belief. Similar themes are sounded in "The Happy Egg," a Krauss/Johnson collaboration that has been out of print for more than 20 years. This new edition follows the journey of a little bird form inside an egg to all the wondrous possibilities that await him once he comes out. Also back in print, "The Little Fish That Got Away," illustrated by Johnson and written by Bernadine Cook, is now re-published in a new package. Persistence pays off and faith is rewarded for one little boy in this witty twist on an old fisherman's tale.

Ruby Tuesday
Jennifer Anne Kogler
1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703
ISBN 0060739568 $15.99, 308 pages,

How does a 23-year-old first-time author know so much about bookies, Vegas, the '88 World Series and the Rolling Stones? Jennifer Anne Kogler has turned her senior thesis at Princeton University into a hilarious and perceptive new teen novel, "Ruby Tuesday." In the book, Kogler utilizes her experiences at clandestine teen piker games with her twin brother and sitting on crates backstage at Bruce Springsteen concerts with her parents ("the world's oldest living rock 'n' roll groupies"), to weave a story so wild and adventurous, yet full of heart, that rock stars, gamblers, and sports buffs will find quite satisfying. At it's center is a unique family's unique girl, who is trying to figure out why a winning bet on the World Series has turned her life upside down and sent her on an odyssey form her home in the "O.C." to Vegas. The '88 Dodgers and an iguana-loving, blackjack-playing grandmother populate this odd-ball bunch of characters. For ages 12 and up.

Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook
Shel Silverstein
1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703
ISBN 0060256532 $17.99, 90 pages,

The new book by the incomparable Shel Silverstein is a jilly soy, er, a silly joy kids and not-so-grown-ups will love. By the legendary creator of "Where the Sidewalk Ends," "A Light in the Attic," "Falling Up," and "The Giving Tree," the new "Runny Babbit" delightfully reveals distinctive characters and mixed-up wordplay, rhymes, and the clever language of spoonerisms. Named for the Rev. W. A. Spooner, who was inordinately guilty of this mistake, a spoonerism is a form of malapropism in which there is an accidental transposition of the parts of two or more words. For example, "Runny Babbit" for "Bunny Rabbit," or "Toe Jurtle" for Joe Turtle." Silverstein extends this concept to create a magical new language, rich with layers of humor, meaning and playfulness. Completed before his death in 1999, this collection of poems and drawings was a work-in-progress for over 20 years and is as ground-breaking, insightful, witty, and wondrous as Shel Silverstein's imagination.

Under The Wild Western Sky
Jim Arnosky
1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703
ISBN 0688171214 $15.99, 32 pages,

Saddle up! Fresh from an extensive trip out West, naturalist Jim Arnosky returned to his drawing table bursting with scenes to paint and information to share. He evokes the excitement of seeing buffalo, horses, sandhill cranes, prairie dogs, rattlesnakes, and other amazing animals in their natural settings in some of the best paintings he's ever done. An inspirational teacher, Arnosky conveys information and easy, useful outdoor tips in a friendly manner that encourages children and adults alike to learn about nature. With an engagingly personal narrative and art that records places that he has seen, Arnosky's new picture book shows just how enjoyable wildlife watching can be.

Shakespeare's Secret
Elise Broach
Henry Holt & Co.
115 W. 18th St., NY, NY 10011
ISBN 0805073876 $16.95, 250 pages,

When Hero starts sixth grade at a new school, she's less concerned about the literary origins of her Shakespearean name that about the teasing she's sure to suffer because of it. So she has the same name as a girl in a play by a dusty old author. Hero is simply not interested in the connections. But that's just the thing: suddenly connections are cropping up all over. There's a million-dollar diamond hidden in her new house (or so she's told), a curious woman next door who seems to know an awful lot about it, and then, well, then there's Shakespeare. Not to mention Danny Cordova, only the most popular kid in school, who seems intent on uncovering the mystery with Hero. Is it all in keeping with her namesake's origin? Hero, being Hero, is determined to figure it out.

Sing A Song of Tuna Fish: Hard to Swallow Stories from Fifth Grade
Esme Raji Codell
114 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10011-5690
ISBN 0786855096 $14.99, 134 pages,

Do you remember what you did in the fifth grade? Did you play with your friends? Do your reading and math homework? Maybe get into a bit of mischief? Or did you and your mother ever egg an illegally parked car? And did you ever go to a school where you could choose disco dancing lessons over math? Acclaimed author Esme Raji Codell ("Sahara Special") talks about how she did just that and more in the fifth grade. It's not about songs or tuna fish, but a book of stuff that really happened when she was in fifth grade growing up in Chicago. With illustrations of Esme and her wacky family and friends from award-winning illustrator LeUyen Pham, "Sings A Song of Tuna Fish" is sure to give readers a good laugh and inspire them to write their own weird and wacky "everyday life" stores.

Um, Like Om: A Girl Goddess's Guide to Yoga
Evan Cooper
Little, Brown and Company
1271 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN 0316980013 $9.99, 178 pages,

This isn't just a yoga book - it's a guide to being a teenage girl in the healthiest, smartest, coolest way possible. Packed with illustrations of yoga poses, easy-to-follow instructions, inspiring quotations and real-life stories from teens, "Um, Like Om" goes beyond teaching the practice and technique of yoga. Written in a hip, empathetic style by a yoga practitioner who knows all about the difficulties of being a teenage girl, "Um, Like Om" reveals how yoga can help readers face any challenge, from pesky parents to bratty boys to fickle friends. This book also provides tips and tricks on how girls can tell their inner critic to take a hike and feel comfortable with their awesome selves. For ages 12 and up.

Maximum Ride
James Patterson
Little, Brown and Company
1271 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN 031615556X $16.99, 424 pages,

I'll make a bold prediction: James Patterson's "Maximum Ride" will become the biggest book to crossover from teens to adult readers since the "Harry Potter" series. Patterson is pure gold, moving from one bestseller to the next without pause, in a variety of genres including suspense, fantasy, and romance, and now young adult fantasy. His first book for children will not disappoint the masses. Welcome to the world of Maximum Ride where you'll meet six kids pretty normal in most ways, except that they're 98% human and 2% bird. In this world, freedom has its price and danger lurks around every corner, so the previously-caged winged children fly free, and yet their world can morph into a nightmare in a single instant. When the Erasers - half men, half wolves genetically engineered by sinister scientists - kidnap little Angel, the Flock of friends embark on a rescue mission that will change them forever. A thrilling ride of non-stop action and adventure.

Jorinda and Jorindel
Retold and illustrated by Bernadette Watts
North-South Books
11 East 26th Street, NY, NY 10010
ISBN 0735819874 $15.95, 32 pages,

One upon a time, deep in the middle of a forest, stood an old castle. An ancient witch lived in the castle, and she had powerful magic. She cast a spell on any young man who came within 100 steps of the castle, freezing him to the spot so he could not move or speak until the witch set him free, which she would only do if he promised never to return. If a young girl wandered too near the castle walls, the witch turned her into a bird and locked her in a cage inside the castle. But true love triumphs over evil enchantment in this picture book story of one young couple, the beautiful Jorinda and Jorindel, the shepherd boy who loves her, who break free of the witch's spell and live happily ever after. Adapted and illustrated by Bernadette Watts from the original tale by the Brothers Grimm

My Friend
Beatrice Alemagna
North-South Books
11 East 26th Street, NY, NY 10010
ISBN 0735819939 $15.95, 32 pages,

"I am a most unusual animal. I have fur like a dog and I', shaped like a sheep. But no one seems to know just what I am." Everyone tries to categorize the remarkable creature, but while he may not know what is is, he knows very well what he isn't: a cat, a rat, a lion, a wild boar, or a hippopotamus. Then one day he meets an equally unusual animal and together they make a very important discovery. This sweet story will bring comfort and reassurance to any child who has ever felt "different."

Stealing Henry
Carolyn MacCullough
Roaring Brook Press
2 Old New Milford Rd., Brookfield, CT 06804
ISBN 1596430451 $16.95, 202 pages

The night Savannah brains her stepfather with the frying pan is the night she decides to leave home for good. Her life before was a nomadic one as she and her mother, Alice, drifted from town to town with seemingly little direction or purpose. But all that changed when their car broke down on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike and her soon-to-be stepfather, Jack, stops to help them. Now Savannah finds herself suddenly and unexpectedly once more on the road; only this time without Alice. Fleeing from Jack's wrath, Savanna and her eight-year-old half brother, Henry, head north into the territory of Alice's childhood. As the runaways embark on their journey, another story begins to unfold: glimpses of Alice as a teenager, caught in poignant first love and completely unaware of all the consequences love can carry.

The Big Book of U.S. Presidents
Marc Frey and Todd Davis
Running Press / Courage Books
125 South Twenty-Second St., Philadelphia, PA 19103-4399
ISBN 0762420294 $9.98, 56 pages,

This big book is a big bargain for school libraries and home libraries alike. This fully revised edition of the original "The Big Book of U.S. Presidents" features new artwork, along with a beautiful portrait and brief text for each president. To provide a comprehensive context for understanding each president, this edition includes a timeline detailing the great inventions, literature, wars and other historical contributions that shaped the remarkable life and times of these great men. More than 50 full-color and black-and-white portraits of the presidents are provided by the National Portrait Guide of the Smithsonian Institution. Filled with fun facts and fascinating features, this is an excellent introduction to America's Presidents and the United States government for ages 8 - 12.

T is For Teachers: A School Alphabet
Steven L. Layne and Deborah Dover Layne
Illustrated by Doris Ettlinger
Sleeping Bear Press / Gale Group
310 North Main St., Suite 300, Chelsea, MI 48118
ISBN 1585361593 $16.93, 32 pages,

The latest alphabet picture book "with facts" from Sleeping Bear Press gathers little trivia tidbits about elementary school subjects, history and every-day elements. Written in a two-tier format with rhyming text for beginning readers and detailed expository for older students. "T is For Teachers" gives a guided A to Z tour through a day at school. German and Latin sources for the words "kindergarten" and "arithmetic" are explored, and everything from the gymnasium to the school custodian are given brief spotlights.

Vicki Arkoff
Senior Reviewer

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