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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 11, Number 6 June 2012 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

Edifying Justice
Paul Arthur Cassidy
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781467872973, $12.95,

The current criminal justice system is definitely flawed. "Edifying Justice: A Wellspring of Healing" is Paul Arthur Cassidy's call for a revision and reform of America's current criminal justice system, as he calls for a multi-armed Criminal justice system that is meant to offer a counter balance to the finality of a Judge's ruling. "Edifying Justice" presents intriguing ideas for reform, and may be worth considering for students of law or those who are simply curious.

No Problem!
EM Hanley
M Livre
9780977587247, $29.95,

Optimism is a powerful thing in solving problems. "No Problem!: How to Focus on Solutions" is an inspirational read from EM Hanley as he advises readers on how to gain control of one's mind and find the clarity need to look at one's problems and find to the point solutions surrounding them. With a simple and driven solution to the basics of problem solving, "No Problem!" is a must for inspirational and motivational collections, highly recommended.

A Reason to Tremble
Bob Mustin
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781469908977, $14.95,

One shocking event leads to more. "A Reason to Tremble" chronicles the story of Hope, Georgia. When a young girl is victim of a hit and run, and the fingers of blame begin to fire through the town, as Pat, the girl's father feels justice is not being properly pursued. A story of family, corruption, and a growing body count, "A Reason to Tremble" quickly develops into a riveting read that should be hard to put down.

Unordinary Love
Antonio F. Vianna
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781468546774, $19.95,

Entering a family via adoption can often be stressful for the new child and the pre-existing children. "Unordinary Love" is a novel from Antonio F. Vianna tells of a family that invites young Carl into the family, who enters the family and butts head with the existing family. Forming a bond with his younger stepsister that pushes the limits they thought they shouldn't, "Unordinary Love" is a unique novel that bounces between the ideas of family and taboo.

A Model Wife for a Gentle Imam
Tariq Rana
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468162721, $17.99,

Polygamy is an aspect of traditional Islam, but it has fallen into decay in recent decades. "A Model Wife for a Gentle Imam: An Imam. A Model. A Dream. A Novel." is an original novel from Tariq Rana speaks of an aging Imam, Ali Mansoor Khan as he decides to take a second wife and the problems that come with it as a Muslim in the western world and a man meant to help bridge the ever more dangerous gap between Christianity and Islam. An intriguing addition to religious fiction collections that explores the differences and how they let gaps of similarities be known, "A Model Wife for a Gentle Imam" is a strong and recommended pick.

9 Lives
George M. Moser
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781469753119, $20.95,

The common house cat is something we typically fear. "9 Lives" is a tale of unique horror from George M. Moser, as he crafts a tale of Michael Merlino, a man who out of happenstance accidentally kills a stray cat. But when the cat begins to re-enter his life after the fact, Michael begins to realize that not everything is as it seems, and it has eight chances for revenge in its twisted feline ways. "9 Lives" is a fine pick and much recommended addition to horror fiction collections.

Hanged for the Few
James T. Carpenter
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781461040040, $15.00,

A group of people with various origins, their union was hired to make a difference. "Hanged for the Few" is a novel set in a world of fantasy, focusing on faith. The King Merkvor orders a group find Weslin, the city that holds the sect of Flandism, to exterminate it. The group within are a diverse sort, and their goal may not sit well with all those involved. "Hanged for the Few" is a riveting read, very much recommended reading

Christians with Pervasive Issues
Annie Brown
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432775766, $13.95,

Between one and God there should be nothing between them. "Christians with Pervasive Issues" is a faithful guide for those who are facing tough times int heir life, dealing problems such as drug addiction and being the victim of sexual assault, how to get the help needed and bring one's bond closer to God. "Christians with Pervasive Issues" is a strong pick for general faith and Christian issues collections, recommended.

There: Red Top Prison to Mt. Nebo
Janice Russell
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781468524543, $14.95,

Trying to go down the path of the law can often prove very difficult with the pressures surrounding us. "There: Red Top Prison to Mt. Nebo" follows the struggles of young Johnnie who in 1937 found himself with a four hundred year prison sentence despite his efforts to walk the straight and narrow path of life. A story of a life lost and facing horrendous prison conditions, "There" is a tragic story of prison life, recommended.

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

The Qualities of Wood
Mary Vensel White
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
77-85 Fulham Palace Road, London, W6 8JB, UK
9780007469505, $1.99,

First novels aren't particularly known for their powerful writing; but from the first sentence, Mary Vensel White's THE QUALITIES OF WOOD captivates and holds the reader: "In the small, congested airport, Vivian didn't recognize her husband."

Betty Gardiner's death leads her grandson and his young wife to take a break from city living and come to prepare her country house for sale, where her grandson envisions a peaceful cottage suitable for writing his mystery novel.

What isn't expected is the evolution of a real mystery when a local girl is discovered dead behind their house, involving wife and artist Vivian in an eventual search for truth despite police claims that the death was accidental.

Her search for this truth will involve her husband, their different artistic talents, and the background story of a girl whose choices in life lead to her death.

Slowly a small town's secrets come to light in a story that skits a fine line between mystery and psychological suspense as Vivian uncovers secrets that several residents are working so hard to keep hidden: "First Katherine's behavior, she thought, and now this. Why did everyone act so uncomfortable when she brought up Nowell's father?"

One of the elements that keeps White's fiction realistic and involving is her ability to provide exact descriptions that paint sharp mental images of the entire town, its inhabitants, and its qualities: "The restaurant was like a little house. The wooden shutters were painted white to match the lattice encircling a small front area landscaped with rosebushes and small trees. Strung through the branches and hanging from the awnings, tiny white lights dimly shone in the gray twilight. On the roof, green neon spelled Silvana's Ristorante in flowing, cursive letters."

Besides the slowly-evolving protagonists and their individual mysteries, there's a sense of self and a sense of place that lend to an eerily absorbing atmosphere throughout.

The conclusion (no spoilers here) is a satisfying surprise, perfectly keyed to the novel's vivid progression.

The Cat Letters: A Tale of Longing, Adventure and True Love
Lexis De Rothschild
Lexis De Rothschild, Publisher
ASIN: B007D2YDK6, $0.99

The Cat Letters: A Tale of Longing, Adventure and True Love includes fine line drawings in black and white by Patrick Maloney to accompany a solid adventure story about a saucy Nantucket bartender, only named "Me". She sails across the Bermuda Triangle to end a love affair at home, only to find herself writing {to her cat, Baxter, about her experiences with the sea and crew alike. This collection of letters offer ample descriptions of "Me's" experiences with people during her journeys, with descriptions of technical sailing details and schedules, whimsical observations of peoples and cultures, and more.

Her comments are fun, lively and revealing: "That's when I discover a courtyard Luncheria, a cheap place were I can eat and write to you, Baxter. Chickens rustle at my feet, hoping for crumbs from the two-taco-special that will become my staple. Hundreds of roosters and chickens are fearlessly strutting up and down these streets, crowing to the morning, the evening and even the late night. There is one, then ten, then a thousand crying out "I am here!" From romance to homesickness, struggles with debt, renting an apartment 'in the middle of nowhere' and the subsequent desire to escape, Baxter receives correspondence that observes the nature of traveling and an ongoing quest for love and meaning in life.

The result is a powerful story of wanderlust and home, with Baxter the Cat serving as the pivot point for past, present and future; providing grounding for a poignant, thought-provoking novella. Fans of Nicholas Sparks, in particular, will find The Cat Letters a wonderful read.

No Good Deed
Bill Blais
Amazon Kindle
ASIN: B007IXY6UC $2.99

Kelly McGinnis has her hands full as the mother of twins and the wife of a man suffering from multiple sclerosis, but when she interrupts a scene of police brutality and thwarts an actual demon, her penchant for righting wrongs rises to new, supernatural levels.

She manages to kill the demon through instinct alone; then is approached by a secret group of demon hunters who solicit her talents in their ongoing quest for justice.

Kelly joins their battle - only to confront a powerful demon who presents her with a compelling story with a different angle on matters. Now she's uncertain about which side really holds truth and justice - and about her own alliances in an evolving battle between magical forces overlying reality itself.

Any reader of urban fantasy and P.I. investigations will find No Good Deed a powerful story of magic and survival which opens with a 'bang' right from the first paragraphs of the Epilogue: "I can barely shove one foot in front of the other and I have no idea which way I'm going, but I can't stop. Down every hall is a gruesome tangle of impossible creatures, and every one of them is split open or strung with barbs or dragging their insides after them, flailing along on shattered limbs or shredded wings or blasted stumps. I've got the pistol, half a can of spray and a handful of useless shotgun slugs. I'm dead."

Over a two-week period Kelly's life changes drastically and Kelly's first person account of her transformation holds vivid action, reflection, and enough twists and turns of plot to keep readers guessing as to the nature of evil and the outcome of her mission.

Kelly's confrontations with creatures from hell bring new perspectives on the nature of belief and the human condition itself: "Telling someone like my mother that Hell is a real, physical place, somewhere you can travel to and from, would be like spray-painting the statue of Jesus hanging over the pulpit during mass. Better off telling her the Pope is gay. That's what I really learned from CCD. Faith is based on the intangible, the un-provable. If you take something from behind the curtain and hold it up to the light, you're going to find problems with it, so keep it hidden and you can always pretend it's perfect."

Slowly Kelly comes to realize truths about herself, Umber, and the demons - and most of all, about her true nature if she becomes involved in killing them off. She finds it's not always about 'smart' choices, but about right ones. And she comes to a diverging road that will determine not only her own future, but that of the world.

No Good Deed is a powerful story of demons without and those within the human psyche. It's a fine story highly recommended for any who want a more literary and thoughtful read than is offered by the usual tale of magical encounters.

Cannon Fodder
Kevin Cotter
Escargot Books Online Ltd.
North Yorkshire, England, LS21 2JJ
9781908191427 ePUB $9.99
9781908191434 Kindle $9.99
9781908191441 Trade Paperback $14.99

'Cannon fodder' is an informal term for soldiers who are expendable during battle, and the eight short stories that make up CANNON FODDER feature men and women who sense that whether they fight or not, their lives hold elements of such meaninglessness.

The term as used here is wider-ranging than military applications, and describes characters in all kinds of scenarios, from those entangled in social and political conflict to others facing their own inner demons.

Scenes of violence, terrible acts, senseless responses, and struggles for justice and meaning permeate these short stories; so don't expect light reading or a casual voice here.

From the opening story about Nice One, a man with no arms who holds out hope for his own humanity in 'Bits and Pieces', but must face his own terrible acts of inhumanity while serving in the military to the title story 'Cannon Fodder', about a dying man struggling for survival in the desert who faces a terrible price paid by individuals during conflict ("They sacrificed their right to life for the rights of many, and cannon fodder is the blood that flows through their veins."), these are stories packed with insight, reflection, and often violent, hard truths about man's inhumanity to man.

'War' takes on many meanings on many different levels here, and so 'cannon fodder' comes to represent not just the sacrifices of soldiers and civilians, but the sacrifice of life's purpose itself.

If you're looking for light reading, CANNON FODDER is not it. If you're looking for powerful short stories that identify and pinpoint acts of inhumanity and struggle, and that portray different kinds of conflicts between people from broken families to broken soldiers, then the short stories in CANNON FODDER will provide powerful, lasting impact and deep resonance. Highly recommended for readers who want short stories that pack a punch!

How To Prevent Rape: How To Detect And Defeat Today's Spy Technology
Daniel Hanson
eISBN: 9781618427441 $4.99

How To Prevent Rape: How To Detect And Defeat Today's Spy Technology is for two audiences: women who want to prevent rape, and those who have been raped who want to prevent a recurrence. While this might seem a theme that's been done before, this title's emphasis on modern spy technology and how it can lead to rape and identity theft makes for a unique, specific approach not addressed in depth elsewhere, and is therefore highly recommended for any concerned about safety in a changing world of high technology.

From various spy methods that individuals can employ to spy upon one another to how trash and mail provide information and how to detect spy devices, How To Prevent Rape is a powerful set of varied insights into the entire process of spyware and information-gathering technology.

Whether the concern is for privacy when traveling to moving to a new address where spy methods may have been previously employed, chapters provide a clear understanding of the varied approaches spying and information collection can take.

Some methods described are more intensive - and less commonly used - than others, such as laser listening devices, which are expensive and limited by requiring a particular angle of listening to work. Defense methods for suspected laser listening devices include detectors and electronic defeaters that foil the listening device.

Explanations of electronics accompanies sections discussing simple child safety lessons (such as not taking food from strangers) and often translate these lessons to adult scenarios; such as paying attention to surroundings and reacting appropriately even when in a public place, when trouble seems to be heading your direction.

There's even a section covering the basics warning signs of abuse in children and how child predators operate. With statistics and tips on how to handle a child who has been abused, this section offers many keys to understanding how a predator can get to a child, and how to prevent it.

Any penny spent on this title is money well spent: it goes where other titles do not and probes the foundations of spy actions and information acquisition, from electronic devices to putting together personal information from the garbage, the Internet, or even relatives.

Daniel Hanson's electronics savvy offers plenty of insights into how electronics can be used both in the spy process and in anti-spy efforts, while his street savvy kicks in to address all kinds of scenarios which could lead to identity theft, home invasion, and rape. Each threat is presented, analyzed, and tips are provided for thwarting or short-circuiting the threat. The fact that Daniel Hanson well knows his electronics - which is an exceptionally strong piece of this self-help safety book - lends to covering ground lacking in most competing titles.

It's a 'must have' book for any concerned about personal safety and information security in today's high-tech world.

Aging Gratefully
Michael McGan
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B007XWQOQW $3.99

Plenty of books cover aging, from medical concerns to how to handle changes over the decades. Few add a sense of humor to the mix, which helps AGING GRATEFULLY stand out and lends it an attractive, easily-digested format perfect for readers who want an appealing take on aging.

AGING GRATEFULLY considers the differing perspectives between middle-aged and older-aged adults, analyzing changing goals, perceptions and experiences and uses a first-person analysis of cultural changes to add life and zest to observations of trends and transition points: "She just laughed and asked me if we had malls. I said that we didn't. She asked if we had videos. I said that we didn't. She asked if we had TVs. I said yes, we did. "What? Do you think I lived in the Stone Age?" I didn't tell her that the picture was in black and white and we only had three channels. That would probably freak her out."

Humor shines throughout AGING GRATEFULLY's experiential coverage, identifying what it means to 'age Gratefully' and showing readers how aging differences can be cultivated to create appealing moments and choices of fun reflection over angst and sorrow.

From what's on TV and how it differs between generations to differing goals of different kinds of baby boomers and how to use new techniques to improve memory, handle hair loss, and embrace the entire aging process with goodwill and humor, AGING GRATEFULLY holds a satisfying blend of practical applications and funny observations.

These are the heart of a title that doesn't just tell how to age Gratefully, but captures it in poignant, always-fun observations and vignettes:

"Tissues are to old folks, what cigarettes are to people in prison, I guess. Put a box of tissues in the middle a table and within a minute there will be a fight over that tissue box, with frail, old people straining to reach it, to claim it, to possess it, tugging, cursing... It's not a pretty sight."

The perspective is enlightening and Michael McGan's Voice is captivating and fun: what's not to enjoy about aging?:

"The reality of old age will eventually rear its ugly head, but it can be whacked back down into its hole with the mallet of denial for quite some time. As long as you can keep swinging it. The mallet, that is. "

The grateful part comes from being grateful for what we have rather than focusing on why it should be different: AGING GRATEFULLY should be a 'must' for any determined to enter into later years with a minimum of whining.

Diane C. Donovan
Senior Reviewer

Dunford's Bookshelf

Ten Healthy Teas
Valerie B. Lull
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432784935, $8.95,

Tea can be healthy and delicious if you know how to prepare it right. "Ten Healthy Teas" is a collection of recipes aimed at providing simple and easy to understand recipes to make better tea for relaxation and health during what may be a busy day. For fans of teas of any sort, "Ten Healthy Teas" is a must for tea lovers who want to try something new in their cookbooks.

Peruvian Short Stories
Dorila A. Marting
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, 18th floor
New York, NY 10016
9780533164585, $16.95,

All cultures have their stories, and Peru is no different. "Peruvian Short Stories" is a compilation of traditional Peruvian tales from Dorila A. Marting, who captures these tales with her own expertise, sharing stories that are familiar but with their own flavor throughout. Insightful, "Peruvian Short Stories" is an excellent pick for short stories collection looking to appeal to international fiction collections.

The Earth Endures
L. H. Knickerbocker
Booksurge LLC
7290-B Investment Drive
Charleston, SC 29418
9781419652929, $17.95,

When plans begin to fail, one has to roll with the changes well. "The Earth Endures" follows CIA agent Kurt-Gustaf von Arnheim as he's dispatched to help crumble Argentina under the America's desire for easier access to oil. As the plot fails, he becomes a man wanted in every direction, with the very woman he loves sent to end him. "The Earth Endures" is a thriller that should prove hard to put down, very much recommended.

Good RX V
Benjamin Benoit
Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781468537024, $16.95,

The American dream drove many to succeed, for themselves and for their families. "Good RX V: Grinding Out an American Dream" is a memoir from Benjamin Benoit who shares his stories of struggling to create a worthy life coming to America, through the American pastime of baseball and the struggles of family and struggling to make one's way. "Good RX V" is a memoir collection worth considering for those seeking immigrant stories.

The Virgin Journals
Travis Laurence Naught
ASD Publishing
9780983604976, $9.99,

A wheelchair is a heavy burden in life, and limits one's future. "The Virgin Journals" is a collection of prose and poetry from wheelchair bound Travis Laurence, as he reflects on his struggles going through life as a wheelchair, speaking on his frustration and lack of romance that his condition forces on him. "The Virgin Journals" is a fine and much recommended piece for poetry collections. "Taste": Taste your own mortality/As it accumulates at the back of your throat/Then wash it all away/After percolating mud that could fill/A hot coffee moat.

The Legacy of Wisdom
J. W. Nottage
c/o Troubador
9781848766723, $7.99,

The power of thought and wisdom is what separates mankind from all other animals, but too often we lose sight of that. "The Legacy of Wisdom" is a novel from J.W. Nottage circling around the transnational friendship of Dan Adams and Harry Bakhoum, set amongst the social and cultural upheaval that seems to define today's world. Searching for that wisdom that seems to b e in danger of being lost, "The Legacy of Wisdom" is a strong pick for literary fiction collections.

In Short
Larry Short
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781462058358, $18.95,

Knowing how to manage one's economics in rough times in the key to success. "In Short: Successful Investing During Turbulent Times" is a business advisory guide from Larry Short as he advises readers to his alternative mindset of investing, that focusing on what your investments are and how to use them to get higher returns on one's investments. "In Short" is well worth considering for those who are considering their finances and how to better prepare them for the future.

From Madhouse to Mental Health
Harvey J. Widroe
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781461112075, $14.99,

The strides made in treating mental health have been immense. "From Madhouse to Mental Health" discusses the advancements in mental health made in the past hundred years, and the growth from sealing the mentally ill away from treating them like any other ill person. Written by a psychiatrist with an optimistic viewpoint for medical science's advancement in treating the disease, "From Madhouse to Mental Health" is a positive book for those who wish to learn more about modern mental health and its medicines.

The Jesus Gospel
Osman Kartal
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466494794, $11.99,

The accounts of Jesus we have are all secondary sources...but what if we knew the story from the man himself? "The Jesus Gospel" is a religious thriller, following the discovery of what may have been penned by Jesus of Nazareth two thousand years ago. British Agent Frankie Karter is hot on the trail of such a thing as he clashes with the agents of other nations as well the church itself. "The Jesus Gospel" is a fine pick for those who enjoy religious mysteries, recommended.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

The Selective Mutism Treatment Guide
Ruth Perednik
9789659178308, $25.00,

Anxiety can strike and come together in many ways. "The Selective Mutism Treatment Guide: Manuals for Parents, Teachers, and Therapists" is a guide for helping children with the disorder of Selective Mutism where a child who is capable of speech and understands language cannot bring themselves to speak in some situations. A problem for many youths as they enter school for the first time, Ruth Perednik advises parents and professionals well in how to help students through this tough time. "The Selective Mutism Treatment Guide" is a strong pick for any who deal with young children often and want to increase classroom harmony.

Best Friendship Beacons
B. L. Gordon
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781466912939, $11.11,

A best friend is a pillar in your life that can always be relied on. "Best Friendship Beacons" is an inspirational read from B. L. Gordon as she advises readers to search for a friendship that much like a good romantic relationship, is founded on unconditional and unselfish love that goes on to improve the lives of all those involved. "Best Friendship Beacons" is a worth considering for those who want to understand what friendship truly is.

Because You Can!
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466345911, $17.95,

Believing in the self is a major component to one's success in life. "Because You Can!" is a positive and forward thinking spirituality read from Ulrike, who shares her own drive for success with readers and how to push themselves forward to make more a difference in their lives. "Because You Can!" is a powerful read and strong pick for those looking to empower their drive to succeed.

The Big Picture
Garry Gilfoy
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781462071074, $16.95,

The world is made up of many stories, and they are connected by an overlying connection to the world. "The Big Picture: Insights from the Spiritual World" is a spiritual look into the spiritual connections that our world has and what we have in our minds, and explore our places throughout faith and spirituality in many ways. "The Big Picture" is a strong pick for those who want to meditate their place in the world through their lives and connection to it all.

Safari Jema
Teresa O'Kane
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463741792, $14.95,

Seeing the world is a dream of many, but few have the capabilities of realizing it. "Safari Jema" is a memoir from Teresa O'Kane, as she tells the story of her and her husband throwing caution to the wind and going on a trip to see Africa and what lies beyond. With many brushes with death and many more experiences she'll never forget, "Safari Jema" is a powerful read of the risks of pursuing one's dream and how they all pay off.

Progressive Solution Prayers for Fruitfulness and Fulfillment
Dr. Pauline Walley-Daniels
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781469773445, $24.95,

Prayer exists to help us find the light to guide us through the darkness in life. "Progressive Solution Prayers for Fruitfulness and Fulfillment" is a Christian spiritual guide from Pauline Walley-Daniels who advises readers on how to find their faith and use it as a guiding light through many of the problems of their life and gain personal fulfillment. "Progressive Solution Prayers for Fruitfulness and Fulfillment" is a must for self-help and inspirational collections, highly recommended.

Elevate Your Life
Juna Jinsei
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432779900, $15.95,

A little positivity goes a long way. "Elevate Your Life: Achieve Success by Applying Positive Inspirational Affirmations" is an inspirational read from Juna Jinsei who encourages a positive outlook in their life, and apply them to any spiritual pursuit in their lives, be it through prayer, meditation or otherwise. Advising readers to always push their own limits, "Elevate Your Life" is a positive and much recommended read for those seeking motivational and inspirational works.

Spirit's Path
Lisi Mayer
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781463442910, $14.03,

Many nations in our world provide very different views of culture. "Spirit's Path: A Story of Three Women" is a memoir of Lisi Mayer, who growing up in the twentieth century, shares her experiences with many cultures and life as she's experienced them in her life time, each seeming like a whole new world. "Spirit's Path" is a strong addition to personal memoir collections, highly recommended.

Pamella Hays
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466400610, $12.99,

The legacy of the dwindling Native American peoples is sought to be preserved, but against the tide of the modern world, it grows more difficult. "Circling" is a novel of a family of mixed heritage, split between the rituals and beliefs of the Blackfeet Indian nature and the weight of the modern world. Trying to find their place in the world and balancing it all together, "Circling" blends the elements of a natural culture and the modern world together for an insightful and recommended story.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Between Love & Honor
Alexandra LaPierre
Amazon Crossing
9781611091458, $14.95,

The weight of what the world demands and what your heart wants can crush a person. "Between Love & Honor" is a novel of the ongoing conflict between the Russians and the Muslims of Chechnya. As a warlord's son is offered to the Tzar as a gesture of peace, Jamal Eddin grows into a proper gentlemen within the court, maintaining his faith and place as a Chechnyan Muslim. As romance asks him to abandon his faith, a call from his homeland also asks him to return to his people, leaving Jamal stuck between two worlds. "Between Love & Honor" is a fine and much recommended pick for international fiction collections looking to expand on historical fiction.

The Quest
Oliver Morgen
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781426902727, $10.64,

Trying to understand faith and life can often be a long process. "The Quest: For a Personal Understanding of Life" is a memoir from Oliver Morgen as he writes of his own search of faith and understanding our own place in the world. With curious and insightful ideas on the purpose of faith in our lives, "The Quest" is a read that should be very much worth considering.

Weird Space: The Devil's Nebula
Eric Brown
Abaddon Books
9781781080238, $7.99,

As humanity's lust for expansion goes into space, those in its way have much to fear. "Weird Space: The Devil's Nebula" is a science fiction novel set in a distant future where Ed Carew and his band of smugglers find themselves drafted to Humanity's expansionist cause under the pain of death. Going into Vetch territory, they soon find the threat that lies before humanity is not the Vetch, but something far worse. "The Devil's Nebula" is a fun spin on deep space science fiction, very much recommended reading for genre fans.

Aletta Henry
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 East Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064
9781618621122, $12.99,

What it takes to break a rut can be the sometimes the strangest of things. "Strike!" follows criminologist Gilbert Bishop Crane as the death of a retired actress brings him back into the investigative nature of his career. An apparent accident that quickly begins to seem a little off, Bishop gets the thrill of the hunt for truth back and finds the devious and clever murderer. "Strike!" is an exciting novel of twists and turns, highly recommended.

Find the Diamond Light in You
Barbara Jean Judd
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781469780634, $15.95,

One terrifying experience can turn out to be one of the better things to happen to you. "Find the Diamond Light in You" is a spiritual memoir from Barbara Jean Judd as she touches on the spiritual nature of finding the light within her, and how a near death experience renewed her faith and put her on the path she believes God intended for her. "Find the Diamond Light in You" is a must for those seeking a spiritual memoir on finding the path that God intends us to go down, much recommended for Christian spirituality collections.

Splintered Souls
Cynthia Lyn
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781463426491, $23.95,

As those who need help are deprived of it, the world grows bleaker. "Splintered Souls" is a novel from Cynthia Lyn following nurse Kathryn Kane, a nurse who was in charge of the care of the mentally tortured Kerry Sullivan, who finds herself working with local authorities when she goes missing, and it seems to have link to a string of killings. "Splintered Souls" is a strong pick for mystery fans, very much recommended.

The Key to Job Success in Any Career
Frank B. Leibold
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432760465, $19.95,

America is falling behind in business success, but that gap can be closed. "The Key to Job Success in Any Career: Developing Six Competencies That Close America's Global Skills Gap" discusses how to increase the potential and skills that one needs to compete in today's global marketplace, with much practical advice for greater success on many levels. "The Key to Job Success in Any Career" is a strong addition to career and self-improvement collections.

Darkness Visible
Trilby Busch
Steeelworks Press
c/o Smith Publicity
9780615564791, $14.95,

The right to have a voice in your business was once not a right at all. "Darkness Visible" is a novel set in 1892, as the conflict between laborers and their businesses was rising to the point of warfare. Emlyn Philips, coming to America for a new chance, finds himself in the conflict in the new world, a man divided by himself and his drive to find his own success. "Darkness Visible" is a riveting read of the era and catches how bloody it once was.

The Rich Get Richer, the Poor Can Too!
Stacey Currie
Balboa Press
c/o AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781452502915, $19.99,

Even if the world is against you, one should never let that stand between one and success. "The Rich Get Richer, the Poor Can Too!" is an inspirational book from Stacey Currie, who presents her own daunting life story and how she clawed her way to her dreams in spite of it all, stating that a drive and a will to succeed are what people need to get closer to what they want out of life. "The Rich Get Richer, The Poor Can Too!" is a strong pick for self-help and inspirational collections.

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

Where There's Smoke
Karen Kelley
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139
Naperville, IL 60563
9781402263866, $14.99,

In 1959 Destiny Carter died and went straight to hell. Vetis the demon informs Destiny that she must destroy the soul of a mortal in one week before she can achieve demon status; she does not want to know what failure denotes. Vetis sends her back to earth.

In Fort Worth, Texas near the stockyards, Destiny enters the Stompin' Ground bar where she chooses lonesome cowboy Chance Bellow as she assumes he is an easy mark. Chance the nephilim has waited in the dive for the demon apprentice to arrive so he can show her what she failed to read in the fine print of her deal with Vetis. However, from the first smoldering touch, Chance and Destiny are so hot for each other; hell seems to have frozen over. As they fight for control, they fall in love, but there is no room for such a wasteful mortal emotion in hell.

This is a fast-paced urban fantasy romance starring two enticing paranormal engaged in a holy gender war. Although the ending seems too simplistic for the protagonists' journey, this somewhat tongue in cheek lampooning of capitalist religious dogma will have fans cheering for the rookie demon and the heavenly hybrid to light their respective fire.

Kiss of the Goblin Prince
Shona Husk
9781402262067, $6.99

Amanda married in a registry office. Three months later she was a pregnant widow. Now Amanda Coulter is a single mom raising an asthmatic daughter Brigit with love. At her sister-in-law Eliza Coulter's wedding to Roan King (see The Goblin King), Amanda and Brigit meet his brother Dai, a noted scholar.

Dai, like his sibling, survived his Druid millennia banishment in the Shadowlands by his compulsion for knowledge. Now he finally has returned to the human Fixed Realm where his magical experiments over the centuries have the Birch Trustees watching him carefully. The best man and the matron of honor are attracted to one another. However, his actions to keep Roan and other family members safe lead him believe he is unworthy of her; while she knows Brigit comes first in her heart.

The second Shadowlands romantic urban fantasy is an engaging tale of two people who believe love is not enough to cement a permanent relationship. The storyline is at its best when it stays in the present; when the scholar looks back at his deeds against Rome and in the Shadowlands, the storyline loses momentum as those segues are well written but come across as unnecessary. Still fans will enjoy the love story of the goblin and the mom.

The Danger That Is Damian
Lisa Renee Jones
9781402251627, $6.99

GTECH Renegades soldier Damion Browne keeps reminding himself to remain focused on his current mission in the war against the Zodius. Instead the woman in the bikini keeps distracting him.

His assignment goes wrong, but Damion escapes with the bikini woman Lara Martin. He takes her to his apartment where he is stunned when he realizes she is a female GTECH. He is unaware she is one of a newly engineered super woman soldier Serenity whose mission is to end the Renegades. Although he soothes her headaches and has her heart pumping, Lara's customized brainwashing is to destroy her beloved who has doubts about his beloved's loyalty.

Once again with a nod to Captain America, Lisa Renee Jones provides a great romantic military fantasy. The action-packed story line grips the reader from the moment Damion's mission fails and never slows down as readers will wonder whether love can supersede intense brainwashing. Fans will enjoy this Project Zodius (see The Legend of Michael) as the two adversarial groups of Super Soldiers bring a deadlier female element into the war.

Under Fire
Catherine Mann
9781402245015, $6.99

Pararescueman Major Liam McCabe and Rachel Flores worked together in the Bahamas rescuing people during an earthquake. For the next six months he tried to make contact with her, but she refused to respond though she is attracted to Liam. She has a problem with his multi failed marriages somewhat but deep down she knows her fears of commitment go back to her fiance who died on a mission.

On Patrick Air Force base, Florida, Liam and his team provide external security for a NASA sponsored international summit. This is the thirty eight year old soldier's farewell mission after a career in the military though he knows he is going out with a whimper. Rachel finds Liam's car and breaks into it. Meanwhile her house is ablaze due to an explosion. Liam is stunned to find her and one of her rescue dogs Disco inside his vehicle. She explains a flag officer has betrayed the country and wants her dead; she trusts only Liam to help her.

The latest Elite Force military romantic thriller (see Cover Me) is an exciting tale starring two individuals who met during the Bahamas rescue mission (see Hot Zone). Fast-paced and filled with action, Liam knows that if he chooses his heart, he could lose his twenty year career retirement; but if he ignores his heart he will live with regret as his unit's mantra "that others may live" haunts him especially since Rachel is the one asking him. Fans will enjoy Under Fire as the protagonists, assisted by his squad, team up to try to bring down a highly ranked officer.

COAST: An Act Of Burial
Xander Richards
9781620956076, $7.99,

Tactical Deployment and Response Team (TDR-12) chief special ops agent Corporal Ian McKinley assassinates his Uncle Brennan, weapons dealer who sold high-tech armament to terrorists. He returns to his base under the streets of Nottingham where his superior officer General Sutton assigns TDR-12 to get to the Fort William navy supply ship that has foundered in the Persian Gulf because the vessel contains four trident nuclear warheads that they must possess. McKinley and his teammates Carter and Brook arrive quickly, but are attacked and two nukes are gone.

At the same time, members of the TDR units are being murdered. When TDR-7 is wiped out, TDR-12 takes over their mission traveling to Russia to meet arms dealer Vladimir Kholitczyn to learn what he knows about the two nukes. They survive an assault as the Russian informs them to look back home. Sutton realizes a traitor is betraying the TDR from within; so he sets up a scheme to find the operative who has betrayed his brothers in arms and his country.

This is an action-packed international espionage thriller starring a team of agents trying to prevent the use of the stolen bombs on British citizens and to uncover the diabolical killing traitor. The entertaining plot can turn passively wordy when Xander Richards goes deep into the thought processes of TDR-12 during the planning, execution, and after action debriefing of an operation. I found the insight fascinating but the action to the nth degree fan might not. With a great twist adding to the fun, COAST: An Act Of Burial is a fabulous war against terrorism tale though Ian and company can use some R&R.

The Investigation of Ariel Warning
Robert Kalich
Macadam Cage
9781596923720, $24.00,

Identical twins Adam and David Remler want to film the former's novel. They hire Ariel Warning to help them make their movie. Ariel and David begin a romance, but she soon has an affair with Adam while still seeing his sibling. Adam feels guilty about betraying his brother but cannot resist Ariel's allure; so he attempts to conceal from David his tryst with Ariel.

His esteem shattered and filled with remorse with what he is doing to David behind his back; Adam feels a need to protect the brother who for the first time in their lives he has acted disloyal towards. He investigates Ariel with an inquiry that sends him to America and Asia as each new clue leads to increasing confusion and "warning" to beware.

This engaging amateur sleuth also looks deep at the connection between identical twins. The mystery of Ariel is very alluring though in many ways it is more a self-awareness journey as Adam discovers who he is as a single entity. The twins' aspects start strongly by establishing their personalities, but become a redundant distractor that takes away from the enticing Investigation of Ariel Warning.

The Mongoliad
Neal Stephenson, et al.
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781612182360, $14.95,

By 1241, the feral Mongol Horde led by Onghwe the dissolute Khan of Khans defeated the armies of Christendom at Legnica. The third son of the Great Genghis has built a city here as he plans to use this locale as a springboard to continue his western conquest.

Reeling from the slaughter at Legnica only three months ago, a band of warriors and mystics led by elderly Feronantus of the Skjaldbraedur shield-brethren begin a desperate trek to end the bloody invasion. They need to learn why superpowers war with each other for top dog at the cost of the innocents. Evidence point to powerful secret societies shaping the world in their image. Some of the warriors prefer assassinating the Khan of Khans, which wise Feronantus knows is a short term fix of a millennium problem. Cnan the messenger using the name Vaetha enters their camp, which has all of them mystified by her except Feronantus who welcomes her as he knows she is the first sign if he can gain her trust. She tells him Illarion lives minus his right ear and he sent her to him to rescue Illarion as Feronantus needs his information.

The first book of The Foreworld Saga is a terrific alternate history thriller starring a brave band of warriors on a mission behind enemy lines. Filled with gory action from the start (the killing of captives is vividly haunting) and never slowing down, it is the full blooded cast that makes for a strong opening act.

Blood Kin
M.J. Scott
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451464583, $7.99,

Half-fae Holly leaves a room charmed before going to a nearby roof to see what happens. The weather is unusually cold and damp so she is freezing at her surveillance spot. She watches as Henri Favreau of the Favreau pack and Blood Lord Ignatius Grey meet in the charmed room. Holly knows her employer will pay big for the knowledge that this meeting occurred, but as she leaves someone on a horse saw through her invisibility charm and shouts at her. She slips off the four story roof to certain death except that Templar knight Guy DuCaine catches her. Holy tells him a lie as to why she was on the roof.

Her father orders Holly to spy on Guy's brother Simon the healer (see Shadow Kin). Guy catches her again when his secret investigation collides with her espionage. They agree to team up undercover as a fallen knight is in love with a hybrid. Neither is prepared for fiction to become reality.

The second Half-Light City political romantic fantasy is an exciting thriller as various factions manipulate the shaky treaty that peacefully governs the city. Fast-paced and well written, the storyline feels like deja vu as the lead couple is identical to the protagonists of Shadow Kin with Guy being a dedicated Templar like Simon and Holly a half fae forced to do the villain's bidding like Lily.

Live And Let Drood
Simon R. Green
9780451464521, $25.95

Eddie "Shaman Bond" Drood muses that he saved the world and went on vacation in the South of France with his beloved Molly Metcalf the witch only to come home to find Drood Hall a burned ruin. Since there is no whisper of smoke the incident occurred a few days ago. Finally as he thinks he no longer has that rooftop he has escaped to many times over the years, he wonders what happened to his family who seemingly are all dead and why no one notified him?

Eddie knows he must honor his Shamon Bond as the last Drood standing to make the vile Crow Lee pay for this assault. The only problem Eddie has is that his Drood armour is no more, which means a frontal suicidal attack against Mr. Evil is doomed to failure. As he and Molly begin to find enigmatic clues that imply Drood Hall is intact and his family lives, Eddie asks the Regent of Shadows for help knowing the powerful essence will enact an exorbitant price.

The latest Secret Histories urban fantasy (see For Heaven's Eyes Only and From Hell with Love) is a fresh thriller as Drood realizes he is stripped of his weapons and armour while facing malevolence. Thus he learns to err is Drood; to forgive is death as Eddie and Molly work a twisting vendetta that turns into something more complex and lethal.

Home From The Sea
Mercedes Lackey
DAW Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756407278, $25.95,

In Edwardian England, magic has faded from the minds of most people while psychic powers are thought to be evil. In Clogwyn, Wales, Mari Prothero's father Daffyd does not blink when going out in storms to fish in his coracle as he always comes home regardless of the fury of the torrent with a boatload filled with the catch.

On her eighteenth birthday, Daffyd tells his daughter that the first Prothero made an arrangement with the clan leader of the Selch (a seal who can turn into a human and vice versa).

A Selch and a Prothero would copulate and give birth to twins and the Selch and one of the twins would return to the sea. Mari is so furious she makes her own deal with the Selch clan leader Gethin. He would send some Selch to court her and another to teach her to use her powers as a Master Water Elemental. Master of Masters Lord Alberscroft sent two psychicals Nan and Sarah to help Mari from the enemies who want her dead.

With a nod to the Nordic tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon, the latest Elemental Masters historical fantasy (see Unnatural Issues and Reserved for the Cat) is a thrilling tale due to the brave heroine who will fight for those she cherishes and to keep what is rightfully hers. She possesses the protection of Puck, a Power who used to be worshiped as a god. Nan and Sarah (see Wizard of London) with their respective bonded birds enhance the tale of a world in which magic is becoming a forgotten force.

Barbara Ashford
9780756407292, $7.99

In Vermont, after she freed Rowan Mackenzie from the earthbound curse and enabled him to return to Faerie, former actress Maggie Graham replaced him as director of the non-profit Crossroards Theatre. The summer stock season has been difficult on her because of the cast. The professionals are an obnoxious group scornful of Maggie and nasty towards the bewildered amateurs while the children seem like an out of control army.

She considers using the magic she found at the converted old barn, but knows her first mission is selling tickets to get her boss out of her theater. However, ignoring the magic proves an unviable option as she finds herself drawn into a past personal mystery that needs resolution before the first curtain call.

The second Graham Vermont fantasy (see Spellcast) is an engaging whimsical witty tale due to Maggie who casts a spell on readers. The charming storyline is fast-paced while the musical numbers bring the freshness from the previous entry as the heroine is the sideline general rather than the on stage participant. Barbara Ashford provides a magical tale that readers will enjoy.

Damage Control
John Gilstrap
Pinnacle Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9780786024933, $9.99,

The Crystal Palace Cathedral Reverend Jackie Mitchell hires Security Solutions to rescue church members held hostage in Mexico. Operatives Big Guy (Brian Van de Meulebroeke) and Scorpion (John Grave) head to the drop point in the Mexican jungle to exchange three million dollars for the safe return of the teen and adult hostages. However, as the bus arrives containing the church prisoners, the two Americans with the electronic help of Mother Hen back in Fisherman Cove's Virginia notice another group nearby. All hell breaks out leaving everyone dead outside the bus except Bug Guy and Scorpion; inside only seventeen years old Tristan Wagner survives.

The two men and the teen begin a harrowing trek with an angry enemy waiting for them at several points. In Virginia, Venice (Mother Hen), Gail and Father Dom gather information as to who set up their field agents leading to the massacre of the church missionaries. The evidence points to a highly placed CIA operative, a powerful Mexican drug cartel chief and the Crystal Palace Cathedral. Grave knows his thirst for revenge will wait until he and Boxer safely delivers the only surviving "Precious Cargo" to his family.

The latest Jonathan Grave thriller (see Hostage Zero and No Mercy) is an incredible action-packed tale that grips the audience from start to finish. Fast-paced throughout, fans will enjoy this tale as someone has murdered innocent civilians to set a trap for his or her real target.

The Demands
Mark Billingham
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316126632, $24.99,

Several months ago, Amin Akhtar tuned himself in to Detective Inspector Tom Thorne for having killed a boy in what he claimed was self-defense. Shockingly, Amin received an eight-year sentence. In a detention facility, someone attacked and injured Amin. He went to the hospital and soon afterward authorities inform the lad's father convenience store owner Mr. Akhtar that his son died a few months ago from an overdose of drugs.

Despondent Mr. Akhtar believes his beloved Amin was murdered or died from negligence. Already irate over the unfair sentencing, he fails to persuade anyone to probe what really happened to his child. Mother of a one year old, Detective Helen Weeks enters the store to pick up her daily candy bar. Mr. Akhtar holds her and another patron hostage. His demand is that Thorne investigate what happened to Amin.

The latest Detective Inspector Tom Thorne police procedural (see Death Message and Bloodline) is a great thriller, which takes place over three harrowing days. Thorne's investigation is top rate as reverse engineers the known facts to determine why Amin was at the original crime scene so as to better understand that motive and seek links to his death, if any. The convenience store scene is a fabulous psychological counterpoint to Thorne's inquiry. Readers will realize how little parents truly know or perhaps choose not to acknowledge about their offspring as Thorne methodically works the case while time is running out on the hostages.

Two Crosses
Elizabeth Musser
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9780781405003, $14.99,

In 1961, twenty-one year old Gabriella Madison arrives in Castelnau, France as part of the Franco-American exchange program at the Church of Saint Joseph. Director Mother Griolet welcomes the forty-two young women.

After Mother Griolet dismisses the students, Gabriella and her housemate Stephanie rush over to their first class "Visions of Man, Past and Present" conducted in English and French by M. David Hoffmann. The young ladies try to act mature with him as each assumed she is the perfect debutante for him which amuses the professor. However, he is stunned by his attraction to the red haired pupil wearing the Huguenot Cross as this Gabriella reminds him of a Raphaelite angel who shocks him that she knows Alexander Pope's "Essay on Man." Gabriella is attracted to her literature professor but after offering to help at the orphanage she meets the little children, mostly victims of the Algerian war for independence. She finds herself challenging her Christian beliefs.

The reprint of the first Secrets of the Cross historical Christian thriller is a great opener starring a young woman who begins to question her faith as she learns more about the war and herself. A coming of age tale, readers will relish Gabriella's growth as a woman who cares. With a warm regard to various religions, Elizabeth Musser provides a timely story of faith in the home front during the time of a violent war.

The Next Target
Nikki Arana
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9780781404310, $14.99,

Her Uncle condemns Sabirah for disgracing their Muslim family when she embraced Jesus. He kills her while planning to find the identity of the Christian who corrupted his niece because that infidel must die too.

Widow ESL teacher Austia mourns the murder of her friend and student Sabirah. She hires Zaki as a translator as she teaches Muslim immigrants to speak English while also trying to reach out to help Muslim females assimilate. However, Austia fears she made a mistake when she employed Zaki as she believes he has ties to a Muslim terrorist cell that wants her dead as an infidel leading Muslims away from the true religion. Zaki is an undercover FBI agent trying to penetrate the terrorists in order to destroy them from within. He fears for his caring employer and wants to keep her safe, but cannot jeopardize his mission as intervening would do; while her and the women she helps become targets from Muslim fundamentalists.

This is a fabulous Christian romantic suspense that grips readers because Nikki Arana insures the followers of Christianity, Islam and Judaism are treated with tolerance and respect regardless of which religion a person follows. Using her experiences from her real-life ministry A Voice for the Persecuted Ms. Arana provides a strong storyline that is action-packed from the moment her family kills Sabirah IAW Sharia law and never slows down until a final confrontation. The heroine is The Next Target while the agent falling in love with her feels torn between government duty and his heart and soul.

The Frenzy War
Gregory Lamberson
Medallion Press, Inc.
100 South River Street, Aurora, IL 60506
9781605424538, $14.95,

NYPD Captain Tony Mace risked his life before finally killing psychopathic werewolf Janus Farel, who terrorized the city (see The Frenzy Way). His award from his superiors for ending this brutal predator's serial killing spree is he kept his rank, but for the two years since Tony has worked in the office in support of the K-9 unit.

The Vatican sends it top secret, highly trained and armed Brotherhood of Torquemada unit to New York with the objective to eradicate these wicked werewolves as the only good shifter is a dead shifter. These elite Christian warriors attack the werewolf population in the name of God. They abduct teenage Lycan Rhonda Wilson and assassinate several werewolves using silver bullets and the Blade of Salvation. Pack alpha Gabriel Domini has lost his hold as his pack wants to rip the throats of their stalkers. Take out of mothballs as the NYPD werewolf expert, Mace and a select law enforcement teal hunt the hunters to end the Torquemada terrorism while continuing to hide the existence of werewolves from the public while his wife Cheryl the reporter believes the people have a right to know.

This is an exhilarating gory police procedural urban fantasy as the death scenes are not for those with a queasy stomach, but enhance the overall war is hell theme. The action on the mean streets of the Big Apple grips readers, but also never allows any of the characters including the hero to be fully developed. In spite of the emaciated cast, readers will enjoy this bloody entertaining thriller.

Asgard Park
Ronald Simonar
Eventhor Media
c/o Kelly & Hall (publicity)
9789197966719, $14.99,

In June 1991, psychologist Dr. Birger Wallenberg flies from Copenhagen to New York to become the Director of Research at Asgard Park Mental Institution. He has no idea why him as his experience is limited and he only applied because a friend nagged him to do so.

Birger replaces retiring Dr. Karl Leamas who will still reside at the Westchester County facility. Upon arrival, chief psychiatrist Dr. George Kennan informs him a patient Haakon Beale left the place last night and killed two men. Soon after his auspicious welcoming, he finds Birger everywhere as the older man encourages the newcomer to embrace the Nordic God Heimdallr as the chosen one.

In Albania, Rakipe "The Kid" whore argues with widow Shequere Avhiu over the value of sex. Rakipe relies on herself to survive while Shequere, whose late husband committed suicide, depends on her dealing brother Spiro. Soon they will find a connection to a bewildered European doctor in New York who learned Leamas funded the protection of the chosen children of Heimdallr.

This is a fascinating but odd thriller that is not an easy read as the storyline predominantly rotates between Westchester and Albania, but their link comes later so readers who remain patient will relish learning the secret behind what is going on. While, the key players are fully developed so that the audience understands what motivates each of them. Fans will appreciate this strange yet engaging modernization of Heimdallr the Nordic Watchman who never sleeps.

The Understory
Elizabeth Leiknes
Bancroft Press
PO Box 65360, Baltimore, MD 21209
9781610880497, $21.99,

Twenty-nine years old Story Easton knows she is a total failure who recently has had a compulsion to break into homes at night in order to pretend to be someone else rather than her unremarkable life. She sleeps in their beds before sneaking out early in the morning.

Story enters the home of Martin Baxter, an author and botanist. She realizes he is very sad as his wife Katherine and their daughter Hope are dead. He once wrote "Once Upon a Moonflower" in which Hope was the narrator and star.

The next night Story enters the home of eight year old Cooper Payne and his therapist mom Claire who grieve the loss of his dad, her husband. Each night Claire reads "Once Upon a Moonflower" to her son while he holds a wooden umbrella. Story realizes there are people worse off than she is as Cooper considers ending it if he does not see the Amazon rainforest where the moonflower can be found by the time he turns nine. Story leaves later than usual but runs into Hans Turner, repairing the Payne door; he kisses her. Encouraged by an Ouija board, Story decides to help Cooper with his dream of visiting the enchanted land that Hope told. She starts her quest by contacting the author.

This is a fabulous whimsical tale starring an intriguing individual trying to succeed at something she believes is worthwhile, saving the life of a grieving child; for the first time in a long time, Story knows failure is unacceptable. The entertaining storyline is filled with irony, humor, pathos and a major coincidence that foster the concept that there are no degrees of separation as everyone is linked to everyone in some manner.

An Unquenchable Thirst
Mary Johnson
Spiegel & Grau
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780385527477, $27.00,

At nineteen, Mary Johnson aspired to become a Missionary of Charity in Rome as she felt her purpose in life was to help the poorest on the planet. She became Sister Donata and spent the next two decades working closely with Mother Teresa in the latter's order. However, Sister Donata struggled with adjusting to the rigid rules and even more the impossible to achieve religious code that Mother expected of her followers. After twenty years of "failing", disenchanted Sister Donata left the Missionary and soon after her faith.

"An Unquenchable Thirst: Following Mother Teresa in Search of Love, Service, and an Authentic Life " is stunning insightful memoir that follows a journey into and away from the spiritual realm and also provides a rare look inside the Missionary of Charity especially Mary Johnson's work as Sister Donata alongside of Mother. Although a tryst with a priest and dealing with a sexual predator and bullying nuns add fascinating scandalous depth, it is the impact of everyday occurrences that make this a winner as second order effects of kindness can prove deadly to the recipient; no one will look at an egg in the same way. The glimpses of Mother make her seem even more saintly as she comes across as human with problems of balancing her need to tend to the impoverished with her Order's needs. Readers will appreciate An Unquenchable Thirst: Following Mother Teresa in Search of Love, Service, and an Authentic Life as Mary Johnson argues that for her and she believes most people "having an authentic life" denotes not joining the church.

Target: Tinos
Jeffrey Siger
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590589786, $24.95,

When two gypsies are immolated on Tinos, Special Crimes Division Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis and his boss, Greece's Minister of Public Order Spiros Renatis, head to the Aegean Sea pilgrimage island to investigate what appears to be a hate crime. His fiancee Lila is outraged with Andreas leaving on a case with less than a week to their marriage on Mykonos.

The Greek governmental leadership wants the investigation stopped as they believe the country cannot afford further bad press at a time when tourism is down and the financial crisis international news. Thus Renatis orders Kaldis to end his inquiry. Kaldis, his chief assistant Yianni Kouros and Cyclades chief homicide investigator Tassos Stamatos continue to work the case that spins into diverse interests including the Albanian mob, the growing Gypsy presence on the island and a cult with a two hundred years old tenet.

The latest Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis Greek police procedural (see Prey on Patmos, Assassins of Athens and Murder in Mykonos) is a great tale as the whodunit and the "Greek Lourdes" island make for a winning combination. Kaldis is terrific as the most feared cop in Greece, but he fears what Lila will do to him if he fails to hustle back like yesterday. Action-packed fans will relish this trip to the Aegean with Kaldis as our tour guide.

Skelton Picnic
Michael Norman
Poisoned Pen
9781590586112, $14.95

Third generation pot hunters, Rolly and Abigail Rogers enjoy collecting Anasazi artifacts. Their collection contains human remains gathered during their "skeleton picnics" in which the couple desecrates burial sites. When the pair fails to return from their latest scavenger hunt, their concerned neighbor in Kane County, Utah, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Ranger J.D. Books, investigates.

Books learns that the Rogers' home was burglarized with their artifacts. Their truck is found abandoned at a dig site. Books assumes the burglary and their vanishing is connected though he wonders how that will help him find the missing pair. Kane County Sheriff Charley Sutter assigns rookie deputy Beth Tanner to investigate the Rogers burglary under the tutelage of Books. They track the loot to a pawn shop in St. George and from there to a Navajo with a record while arguing over the ethics of lying to a suspect. They soon find a potential connection to cold cases in which people disappeared into the desert

The second J.D. Books mystery (see On Deadly Ground) is an enjoyable Utah mystery starring an interesting hero whose not one of the sharpest knives in the draw as he finds himself isolated as the prey in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and then there is the golf game. The insight into the ethics of law enforcement and generational pot hunters add to the storyline although the solution to the whodunit is somewhat obvious.

Jeanne Matthews
Poisoned Pen
9781590586204, $24.95

Anthropologist Dinah Pelerin is one of an American contingent delivering seeds to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Longyearbyen, Norway; just six hundred miles from the Pole. Also among the American group to the "Doomsday Vault" are United States Senator Colt Sheridan (from Montana) who as a wheat farmer plans a White House run, his Norwegian born wife Erika, his biggest supporter Tillcorp Industries agribusiness CEO Jake Mahler, and American Senators Keyes of Massachusetts and Frye of Hawaii; as well as high ranking Norwegian officials like the agricultural minister. An incident occurs at the press conference as a protestor goes after the senators with a laser gun blinding a Norwegian official while shouting about the death gene.

Dinah wonders why she gave up tropical Hawaii to spend December inside of the Arctic Circle as zero is a heat wave in this tundra. Two homicides occur and attempts on Dinah's life also happen. She knows sh*t goes downhill even amidst the permafrost, which means as the lowest person visiting Longyearbyen, she is the most likely left carrying the guilt as she understands the political industrial complex always insures the low ball takes the hit. Not one to wait for the crap to hit her, Dinah investigates.

The third Dinah Pelerin amateur sleuth (see Bones of Contention and Bet Your Bones) is an engaging whodunit. The storyline occurs in an intriguing location while focused on the fascinating controversy of genetically engineered food and the debate over placing these seeds inside the Doomsday Vault. The whodunit is nicely handled, but it is the agribusiness corporations with Congressional support trying to gain control of the seed bank that makes for a strong entry.

Photo Finish
John McEvoy
Poisoned Pen
9781464200151, $24.95

County Cork bookmaker Niall Hanratty calls his friend Jack Doyle in Chicago. He asks Jack to become an agent to seventeen year old Irish jockey Mickey Sheehan, who Niall says is as talented as her brother Kieran except she won't throw races. Though he has no experience as an agent, he's been around the track too many times and is between gigs so Jack agrees. He meets Mickey and her older sister Nora at O'Hare while Jack reels from the fact his client is a girl.

Jack introduces the sisters to trainer Ralph Tenuta at nearby Heartland Downs. The trainer has problems with his fired highly functional mean-spirited alcoholic veterinarian Eric Allgauer who also seems to desire destroying Ingrid McGuire, known for her communication skills with horses. Jack and his friend mob connected Moe Kellman buy Plotkin who is ridden by Mickey. Meanwhile someone is drugging the horses leading to Jack investigating to insure his jockey on his horse has a safe successful ride in the million dollar Heartland Downs Futurity.

The latest Jack Doyle turf mystery (see Close Call and The Significant Seven) is an entertaining amateur sleuth with the prime concentration on the track. Fast-paced, fans will know Jack is a sure bet as he looks into the threats to his friend Ralph and the drugging scandal while his tender relationships with the Sheehan sister soften the in your face protagonist.

Black & White
Raymond Benson
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G
Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781608090419, $25.95,

In the present fortyish Martin Talbot finds an 8mm film dated 1959 inside a strongbox given to him by his "Uncle" Thomas that belongs to his Alzheimer's ill septuagenarian mother Judy, a resident of the Woodlands Nursing Home in Riverwoods, Illinois. However, Martin learns of a second copy when the apparent filmmaker's son demands payments or else he will go to the Feds as the FBI wanted the Black Stiletto. At about the same time he deals with blackmail, in New York City Martin's daughter Gina is viciously attacked.

In 1959 Judy Cooper as the Black Stiletto challenges the deadly heroin king of Harlem when her martial arts instructor Soichiro's teenage daughter Isuzu becomes a prisoner in a narcotics den. She invades the place to mount a rescue while planning to bring justice to the owner Carl Purdy. At the same time a filmmaker threatens to reveal her alter-ego to the media unless she pays him.

This exciting thriller moves back and forth between five decades as in the present Martin watches the film and reads his mom's dairy, and deals with the blackmailer and his daughter's assault; while in 1959 Judy battles drug dealers and a sleazy filmmaker. The story line is over the top of the old Yankee Stadium but is exciting fun to read as a young female heroine kicks butt.

Carla Stewart
Faith Words
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9781455504282, $13.99,

In 1952 in Mayhaw, Texas, Georgia Peyton finds the note her Book of Knowledge encyclopedia salesman husband O'Dell left her in the sugar bowl. O'Dell informed her he left her and their two daughters (Rosey and Avril) because he found a woman who appreciates him. Two months later Georgia buries her runaway spouse whose body was found by the Zion.

Georgia was three years old when her parents left her at the Stardust Motel. Her Aunt Cora raised her while the motel owners Doreen and Paddy always welcomed her. O'Dell's life insurance beneficiary is Fiona Callahan. Sheriff Bolander informs Georgia that Paddy died from cancer. She learns Paddy left the Stardust to her. Doreen fears for her great-niece who she loves like a daughter as running a highway motel is dangerous for a woman. Instead of selling the run down motel, Georgia decides to prove herself by making it successful. To her shock, Georgia's grieving mother-in-law Mary Frances moves into one of the Stardust's cabins. Korean veteran Peter Reese and his dog Sebastian stop at the Stardust and makes repairs. An ailing pregnant woman with a young daughter Bonnie arrives at the Stardust. The woman goes to the hospital while Georgia watches the child of the last woman she wants to help.

Putting micro economics aside, Stardust is an enjoyable historical starring a wonderful but besieged single mom whose motel is a magnet to a horde of tousled people. The motel has a metaphysical life of its own with its symbolic flickering lights while each resident is fully developed as each enhances the reader's stay at the motel. Still this is Georgia's tale as she muses to forgive or not forgive; that is the question.

The Reckoning
Alma Katsu
c/o Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451651805, $25.00,

In 1817 immortal alchemist Count Adair saved the life of Lanore McIlvrae when he gave her an immortality potion but at the cost of her becoming his mistress. However, when her savior went after her true love Jonathan, she imprisoned him in a secret tomb in Boston (see The Taker). Now he is free though confused by contemporary Boston.

Still the Count knows achieving his objective is all that matters. He will break his betraying former lover who plans to own her for eternity. As he searches for his lost treasures and amasses a fortune, he knows the way to get to Lanore is through her mortal lover Luke Findley.

The second Taker paranormal thriller continues the adventures of Lanore and the three males in her life. The key players seem fully developed and remain in character from the first Taker tale. Fast-paced throughout, Lanore seeks redemption while the Count seeks possession. Although an obvious middle book as it sets the table for the climax, fans will enjoy this supernatural drama as the heart beat between love and obsession is very faint.

Bad Faith
Robert K. Tanenbaum
9781451635522, $26.00

After learning the facts about the painful death of ten year old Micah Ellis, New York County District Attorney Roger "Butch" Karp prosecutes the parents Nonie and David Ellis for reckless manslaughter because they denied their son treatment for cancer on religious grounds. As God's emissary Reverend C.G. Westlund is outraged at the DA's affront to the Lord's will as he led the Ellis family with their prayers for a divine miracle at his End of Days Reformation Church of Jesus Christ Resurrected.

At the same time Federal prisoner Nadya "Ajmaani" Malovo informs law enforcement officials about planned terrorist attacks. She also works on her escape fueled by her need to destroy Karp. Reverend Westlund and his followers protest the arrests of two their flock, but he conceals the fact that Nonie signed over life insurance taken out on her child to the church and its leader without her husband's knowledge. Attorney Marlene Ciampi, Karp's wife, investigates Westlund's past in Memphis.

The latest Karp-Ciampi tale (see Outrage) is an action-packed in your face thriller. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Karp chooses to prosecute. However, making Westlund into an avaricious villain instead of a deeply devout believer in prayer rather than medical intervention detracts from the novel as Bad Faith becomes a standard legal thriller rather than a complex First Amendment case.

Gears of War: Coalition's End
Karen Traviss
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781439184042, $9.99,

It seems like ancient history when the war of the world began, but in fact it is just fifteen years since the Locust Horde came from within to assault the humans (see Aspho Fields). Their objective was total annihilation of all humans. Mankind fought back though billions died as the ruthless enemy made no distinction between soldier and civilian.

The Gears of the Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) destroy what is left of civilization though they defeated their insidious foe and another powerful adversary at one hellish cost (see Jacinto's Remnant and Anvil Gate). The survivors take refuge on Vectes, a difficult to reach isolated island. As the COG begins to argue, haven turns to hell when the mutilating Lambent begin a deadly assault which explains why the Locust left the underground to fight on the surface. Marcus Fenix and Dom Santiago know a last stand on Vectes is suicide as the polyps make the tickers and berserkers look benign; the only place left for the dwindling few humans are the equally suicidal Wastelands.

The fourth Gears of War tied to the games is a terrific entry as Karen Travis provides a fascinating spin to the military science fiction saga with the motive to the recent global war of destruction. The story line showcases the desperation humanity faces as the remaining two survival choices will remind readers of Joshua playing Tic-Tac-Toe in WarGames as each solution facing humans leads to total annihilation. Although there is somewhat a similar tone to Anvil Gate, fans of the Gears of War universe will enjoy action-packed Coalition's End as things have gotten dramatically worse enhanced by a major betrayal for the human race.

Seeker of Shadows
Nancy Gideon
9781439199510, $7.99

In New Orleans, shifter-chosen geneticist researcher Dr. Susanna Duchamps of the Chosen arrives at Cheveaux Du Chien shifter club to meet with Nica Fraser who asked for her help so she took the train from Chicago as she owes the assassin (see Hunter of Shadows). Nica's friend has a human buddy who was injured with no chance of recovery; her friend and a male shifter bonded and his regenerative qualities were passed on to her, and perhaps could be passed on to save the human. Considering ethical issues, Susanna is excited yet uncertain she should proceed.

Nica's boss Jacques LaRoche orders her back on the floor while Susanna recognizes his scent and voice from when he was in the North, but she knows he is unaware of who she is; only what she is. As he dreams of the mysterious female from the North who is his lost mate, Jacques realizes Susanna is trouble, but unaware of why beyond her being a stray in his shifter world. As clans bloody the streets, Susanna fears she will not be able to let go of her Jacques a second time.

The second Shadows romantic urban fantasy with links to Nancy Gideon's Moonlight saga (see Masked by Moonlight and Bound by Moonlight) is a wonderful thriller and Nica serving as the tie to the previous entry Hunter of Shadows. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Susanna enters the club and never slows down as the pair dance an intriguing tango. While the overarching themes move forward in the complicated Gideon mythos, fans will enjoy this latest paranormal romance.

Deadly Descendent
Jenna Black
9781451606805, $7.99

The son of the Gods of Death and Vengeance, Anderson Kane leads the Liberi team whose goal is to make the world a better place while their enemy the Olympians hunts down the Descendants of the Gods. Reluctantly Nikki Glass, a Descendent of Artemis, has joined the Liberi while wondering how she will pay her bills as her paying private investigative work is shut down by her new job and her office was burned down by an idiot. Anderson assigns her to look into the files of those they have hidden in their equivalent to the witness protection program to ascertain vulnerability.

Olympian Phoebe the Oracle accompanied by Cyrus Constantine visit the Liberi to discuss her latest vision about one of Anderson's team pretending to be Anubis' Descendants attacking mortals in the DC area. She says if the humans catch this serial killer, they will learn of the existence of the Liberi and the Olympians. Nikki investigates, but Phoebe underestimated, probably on purpose, who the predator behind the hell hounds is.

The second Nikki Glass urban fantasy (see Dark Descendent) is an exciting thriller that feels like a paranormal hardboiled detective tale. Nikki is an intriguing protagonist who still struggles with the concept that due to abetting an Immortal's suicide, she has become an Immortal. Sub-genre fans will enjoy her take no prisoners attitude (just ask Emma the Liberi or a coke bottle) as she provides readers with a fascinating tour of the jackal underbelly of DC.

Summoning The Night
Jenn Bennett
9781451620535, $7.99

In Morella, California, Arcadia Bell co-owns Tambuku Tiki Lounge where some of her best customers are demons. Several years ago her parents Enola and Alexander Duval were accused of killing three rival mage occultists. When they returned to the States they tried to sacrifice their daughter as their penance, but failed (see Kindling The Moon).

Back at her bar with Halloween coming soon, she is dating Earthbound demon Lon Butler, father of teenager Jupe. However, the Hellfire Club leader Dare asks Cady to investigate a recent series of abductions of paranormal offspring. With Lon as a club member, she dare not refuse. Thus with Lon at her side and assisted by patrons of the lounge, she follows the clues applying her recently activated Moonchild powers. The amateur sleuths soon learn that these insidious kidnapping mirror the snatching of seven children three decades ago.

The second Cady Bell urban fantasy is a superb thriller from the moment Dare assigns the reluctant heroine to end the reign of terror. Fast-paced while the lovers hunt down a devious predator, fans will appreciate the inquiry as the protagonists follow leads into danger.

The Risk Agent
Ridley Pearson
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399158834, $25.95,

The Rutherford Risk firm performs security for the humongous Berthold Group construction conglomerate. When two employers of Berthold are kidnapped on the streets of Shanghai in daylight, Rutherford Risk hires city based importer John Knox and forensic accountant Grace Chu to rescue them as the company knows the risk of sleuthing, an illegal activity in China. Knox accepts the job because he needs the money to provide a good life for his learning disabled brother Tommy and besides one of the abductees is a friend Clete Danner; Grace agrees to take on the job because the other victim is her friend Lu Hao.

Each brings uniqueness to the pairing as they follow the money trail. As time runs out on the kidnappers' deadline, every step closer to saving the lives of the missing pair proves dangerous to Knox and Chu. Yet while he worries about what will happen to Tommy if he dies, he trusts no one not even their client or his partner; she shares his distrusting mantra. However, not relying on one another proves even more perilous.

This is a great suspense thriller as Ridley Pearson provides a dynamic look at Shanghai. The support cast is sold, but it is the refreshing duet of opposites in personality (he believes charge the hill while she thinks finesse is smarter) who understands that as a team they can succeed, but first comes trust something neither gives away willingly. This is a great opening act as the activities of Knox and Chu give fans a vivid picture of Shanghai.

Saved: Cancer, Katrina Dogs And Me
Anne Gurchick
Transformation Media Books
c/o Pen & Publish, Inc.
4735 S. SR 446, Bloomington, IN 47401
9780985273729, $16.95,

Six months before, Dr. Nelson informed Anne Gurchick they got all of the cancer. Now Dr. Nelson informs her "It's cancer and it's bad." Anne is heartbroken that her beloved Hannah the Rottweiler needs chemo. She leaves Austin behind so that Hannah receives the best treatment at Colorado State in Fort Collins. Distraught she tells her sister she wishes it was her. Soon after chemo, the tests show Hannah as cancer free. A few months later, Anne got what she wished for as she has stage II breast cancer requiring a mastectomy. As Anne recovers from surgery, Katrina hammers New Orleans leaving stranded many innocent animals who are not allowed into shelters. Feeling a deep need to help as many of these animals as possible, Anne with others (Bland Nesbit, Jan Panico and Melinda Goldrich) heads to New Orleans (thanks to injured Katheryn letting them use her Cessna) to rescue dogs.

This is a poignant memoir that strongly affirms a caring person can make a difference even doing something insignificant in terms of the Katrina disaster like saving dogs; though I am biased having rescued cats and dogs abandoned in dumpsters in the Atlanta area. Readers will admire Ms. Gurchick and her intrepid team as they begin their mission just after her surgery and while New Orleans is in dangerous disarray. This is a touching memoir as little positive things mean much more than phony media shoots.

The Wowzer
Frank Wheeler Jr.
Thomas & Mercer
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781612182124, $14.95,

Almost a decade ago in the Ozarks, Madison County sheriff Tom recruited borderline psychopath Jerry as a deputy and to serve as an enforcer for the for the Sanhedrin local drug cartel. He is excellent as muscle as he has no compunctions about breaking joints or killing someone though he never murders unless assigned by Tom to do so.

Jerry's ten year contract is nearing an end. His plan is to leave the enforcement business which he is unaware of that one just does not retire from the Ozark mob. He is upset that his girlfriend Dr. Maggie who he rescued from a fire has fled Arkansas in fear of him; having read his psychology report. Finally Tom has not provided him with the code to his Swiss bank account that contains his share of the loot; which has Jerry thinking his boss may have plans to retire him in a casket to insure he takes his secrets to the grave when he goes out on his last mission.

This is a dark gory rural noir starring a psychopath who may be losing control of his inner demon or perhaps as he believes is actually gaining control. Action-packed with vividly gruesome scenes, surprisingly in contrast, fans will also see inside the head of a cold blooded killer who understands right from wrong just differently from a neurotypical individual. The Wowzer will wow sub-genre readers; just don't read on a full stomach.

Robert Pobi
Thomas & Mercer
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781612182131, $14.95,

After being away from home for almost three decades FBI Special Agent Jake Cole returns to Montauk, Long Island though he prefers not to deal with his abusive addicted dad Jacob Coleridge, Sr., a renowned artist now suffering from Alzheimer's dementia. Once loathing his control freak widower father, Jake is apathetic towards him, but also feels obligated to at least put in order the SOB's personal affairs.

His childhood house is a pigsty strewn with thousands of strange nightmarish paintings, numerous empty bottles and tons of garbage everywhere. Feeling self-pity, he calls his wife Kay Rivers and little Jeremy to ask how they are and to get encouragement from her. Southampton Sheriff Mike Hauser calls to ask Agent Cole for help on a case five miles from his home as a woman and a child were skinned to death. The case brings back horrid memories for Jake who recognizes the murder scene as being the signature of "him."

Cole (the entire Dante's Inferno is his body tattoo) is a fascinating protagonist who makes for a dark twisting psychological suspense police procedural as a kick butt cop who takes no prisoners while on a case. His uncanny ability to visualize what happened makes him a valuable investigator but his demons make him a potential liability. A hurricane hammering Long Island adds to Cole's sense of dismay as he works to end the serial killing reign of terror by the human skinner Bloodman.

Beyond Hope's Valley
Tricia Goyer
B&H Publishing Group
127 Ninth Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37234-0143
9781433668708, $14.99,

After her father moved the family to Montana (see Along Wooded Paths and Beside Still Waters), Marianna Sommer has returned to her hometown in Indiana to help her older brother and his pregnant Englisher fiancee with their wedding and the birth of their child. Marianna also prepares for her marriage to her long time beau Aaron Zook though her heart now belongs to Englisher Ben in Big Sky country.

However, Marianna struggles with the more rigid and stricter rules of her Hoosier Amish vs. the freedoms of Montana. Having doubts about Indiana and Aaron, secrets surface involving a child that cast even more hesitation by Mariana whether she belongs here or in Big Sky Country.

The third odyssey of Marianna is a warm intelligent Big Sky drama that focuses on the Amish culture; of which Tricia Goyer makes a strong argument that it is not as monolithic as most Englisher believe. The romance is a strong subplot, but this engaging intelligent tale belongs to the heroine who knows God has her back but like a doubting Thomasina wonders which path the lord prefers she travel.

The Lola Quartet
Emily St. John Mandel
Unbridled Books
2000 Wadsworth Boulevard, #195
Lakewood, CO 80214
9781609530792, $24.95,

A decade ago in Florida, the Lola Quartet gave their final jazz performance at school before going on their separate ways to achieve their aspirations. Following a plagiarism scandal Gavin Sasaki recently lost his journalism job in New York; he comes home to Sebastian, Florida with no hope for the future as his realtor sister Eilo offers a position dealing with foreclosed homes.

She tells her brother about seeing a ten years old child Chloe who looks like him and has the same surname as his former girlfriend Anna who vanished after stealing over a 100K from a drug dealer. While he searches for the truth re Chloe, Gavin seeks his three musical mates from their glorious days. Daniel has divorced twice while Jack and Sasha are addicts.

This is a strong character study as the idealism of youth being able to accomplish anything has turned into a realism of failure. The key cast is fully developed so that the reader understands that each has come a long way downward. Gavin's investigation enhances the where are they now scenario though resolution is not as strong as the road getting there. With a nod to chaos theory (a photo of a tweener at foreclosure begins the odyssey), fans will enjoy this deep thriller as the memory of what we think was is so much superior to the reality of what we know is.

Viva La Madness
J.J. Connolly
The Overlook Press
141 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10012
9781590208595, $25.95,

In 2001, the former drug dealer has retired. His plan is to stay below the radar screen while enjoying the sun in the West Indies. Though he has no plans to return to his capitalism days, his retirement ends when his friend and former business associate Mister Mortimer offers him a venture that he could not refuse.

Before long he is entrenched in London's criminal world and fleeing Venezuelan drug cartel killers in Mayfair. However his biggest problem is not drug dealers, money launderers, financial fraudulent bankers and trained killers; it is the daughter of a South American drug lord who seduces the no longer retiree as he finally found something worth leaving the Caribbean for; if he lives long enough to enjoy her.

The zany sequel to Layer Cake is an over the top of Big Ben crime parody. Incredibly fast-paced and filled with witty sarcasm and asides, Viva La Madness is a wild contemporary crime caper that satirizes the laissez faire gurus who should demand the market place fix the illegal drug problem rather than a government sponsored war. The storyline stars the nameless antihero who knows he should have stuck to early retirement before he becomes permanently retired under the ground by the underground.

A Place in the Country
Elizabeth Adler
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312668365, $25.99,

Following her divorce from her philandering husband, late thirty-something Caroline Evans, accompanied by her fifteen year old daughter Issy, leave cheating James in Singapore and move to Upper Amberley in Great Britain's the Cotswold's. Though broke, she finds the townsfolk warmly welcome mother and daughter as Carline obtains a job as a cook at a pub while Issy enters a prep school.

Issy resents her mother for ending their affluent lifestyle and taking her away from her beloved father. As Caroline begins to plan on converting a barn into a restaurant, James arrives but quickly vanishes. While Issy makes poor dangerous decisions, a homicide in Singapore threatens Caroline's new sense of well-being.

This is an exciting family drama as the two Evans' females try to find their groove halfway around the world but Asia comes to England anyway. The storyline takes a close look at accountability and responsibility inside of a taut romantic suspense thriller starring a mother learning how strong she really is and her confused teenage daughter.

On The Prowl
Christine Warren
St. Martin's
9780312357214, $7.99

Years ago, their parents arranged the marriage between Saskia Arcos and Nic Preda. Though they have not seen one another in two decades, each agrees to marry the other in order to unite and strengthen their families.

When Saskia and Nic meet for the first in years, each is stunned by their attraction. As the chief of the Streak and a CEO, the pair will live in Manhattan. However, the Council has a problem with his fiancee being a Tiguri were-tiger as they are convinced this clan needs elimination for attacking their leader and other problems. Nic will die if needed to keep his mate safe, but Saskia is not one to hide from enemies; she joins her mate as they prowl the asphalt jungle seeking an unknown predator.

This engaging Other romantic urban fantasy (see Not Your Ordinary Fairytale, The Big Bad Wolf and Black Magic Woman) with a clever mystery is an enjoyable thriller starring an Alpha and a shifter who turns into an Alpha when her mate or family is threatened. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this paranormal romantic paring On The Prowl of New York searching for a diabolical foe.

Be My Prince
Julianne MacLean
St. Martin's
9780312552770, $7.99

In 1814, Lady Alexandra Monroe has spent her life groomed by her family to marry Prince Randolph of Petersbourg, a man she not met. He arrives at St. James Palace where she meets him his sister Princess Rose and his younger brother Prince Nicholas. Both men are handsome charmers.

Alexandra is attracted to the wrong sibling but for her family's sake must ignore her desire. Known as a womanizer, Nicholas reciprocates her feelings as he wants the lovely Alexandra. They consider eloping, but he has a secret he must tell her first while she has a few of her own. Scandal leaves this couple in love with little hope for a future together.

Be My Prince is an engaging Regency romance starring two likable protagonists though his secret has been used frequently in literature so that readers will figure it out before it is revealed. The support cast adds to the enjoyable plot while the storyline is fast-paced as Julianne McLean opens up her Royal Trilogy with a fun historical.

Cassie Alexander
St. Martin's
9780312553395, $7.99

Having graduated from nursing school, Edie Spence is euphoric as County Hospital hires her. However, her schooling proves in adequate as she does not work ER or the normal floors; instead she is assigned to the secret Y4 floor whose patients include vampires, various were-species, shapeshifters, zombies, and a few unique ones that Hollywood or urban fantasy novels failed to create yet.

Edie adjusts nicely to her new position until she erred by loosening the restraints on Mr. November a daytimer vampire servant who kept holy water and in his final frenzy bit her thumb. Filled with remorse though told this happens to those who work the Nightshifted, Edie looks at his possessions including a watch, an old photo and addresses. Seeking some atonement she searches for Mr. November's Anna as she recognizes one street where her brother Jake the addict scored drugs. However, Edie is unprepared to land in the middle of hostilities between two vampire Thrones who call her a killer. Though unused to having allies, a vampire lawyer, her zombie boyfriend, and a ghost residing in a CD player refuse to allow Edie to go it alone; as she continues her quest to save Anna (and herself).

This entertaining medical urban fantasy is a fast-paced and action-packed tale in which the paranormal patients make the Cassie Alexander world seem genuine. Edie is an intriguing protagonist whose life before this job far was harsh but turns bizarre yet fulfilling with new friends. Readers will appreciate life, death, and undead on the night shift.

Amanda Hocking
St. Martin's Griffin
9781250006332, $8.99

In Minnesota with her eighteenth birthday coming, Wendy Everly has no reason to celebrate. The royal troll changeling feels trapped as she is obliged to marry someone immediately to become the queen of Forening a position she does not want. She has viable candidates who she cares about, but the teen wonders who would be best for her people at a time of crisis. Adding to her regal woes is, her father the king of the Vittra threatens to destroy the Trylle if his daughter fails to surrender; she knows his trill forces will overwhelm her meager side.

Still she has come a long way from the high school student and monster as her mom called her years ago who only recently learned she is the biological daughter of royal trolls at war. Princess Wendy has learned to use her powers and has a strong support cast, human and troll, ready to die for her. Her heart is a different matter as she knows she must marry one of her loyal supports like Tove, but there is her former lover Finn the tracker and Loki the Vittra wanting to remain at her side.

The third Trylle teen urban fantasy (see Switched and Torn) is a superb much darker thriller as the heroine chooses duty over desire. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy the complicated romance as Wendy has Finn, Loki and Tove wanting her. Besides them, she knows the war with her father will devastate the Trylle if she opts to fight, but her distrust of her brutal patriarch makes surrender even less appealing. This is a great ending to a strong trilogy.

Into the Dreaming
Karen Marie Moning
Delacorte Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345535221, $20.00,

"Into the Dreaming." In Indiana, Jane Sillee dreams of the Highlander and now owns a medieval tapestry that she has no idea who or why it was sent to her. She looks deeply at it when suddenly she is transported back to 928 Scotland where she meets her Highlander, Aedon MacKinnon. She has to break the evil spell that engulfs the man she has loved since she first dreamed of him.

"Dark Highlander Lite." Druid mage Daegus MacKeltar used his powers to travel back in time to save the life of his twin brother Drustan (see TO KISS A HIGHLANDER). However, Daegus pays a high price for his good deed as he released the spirits of evil Druids that share residency with him in his body. Medieval expert Chloe Zanders delivers a five century old reprint of the third book of Mannannan to Daegus, who recognizes his soul mate.

Part of the Tapestry anthology, Into The Dreaming is an engaging standalone novella with wonderful lead characters. Dark Highlander Lite contains the first seven chapters of the first "draft"; I would have preferred the entire first cut to compare with the published novel. The rest of the collection feels more like filler material as it includes interesting entries like a deleted scene from Kiss of the Highlander, a proposal for never published Ghost of a Chance, Chapter 1 of Darkfever and scenes from upcoming graphic novel of Fever Moon. Die-hard fans of Karen Marie Moning will enjoy this collection.

The Solitary House
Lynn Shepherd
9780345532428, $26.00

In 1850 London, powerful sly lawyer Edward Tulkinghorn hires Metropolitan Police Officer Charles Maddox to uncover the identity of a nasty author of acrimonious writings aimed at merchant banker Sir Julius Cremorne and to insure the notes end. Charles is stunned by his sudden good fortune as ever since his superior Bucket fired him for insubordination he has struggled to eke out a living.

To help him on his inquiry Charles turns to his brilliant but increasingly demented Great Uncle Maddox the "thief taker" on what they each assume will be an easy case. Instead as he stumbles along a conspiracy of wealth, Charles is unaware that the diabolical Edward has a hidden agenda.

Paying homage to Charles Dickens' Bleak House, Lynn Shepherd writes a delightful atmospheric mid nineteenth century thriller. The cast makes the suspense work as readers will empathize with a frustrated Maddox struggling with his deteriorating mind and appreciate his mentoring relationship with his nephew. Tulkinghorn is a brilliant shadowy manipulator as he has several of the players including his hired detective (and readers wanting to know what game he plays) dangling from strings. With an anonymous narrator adding a sense of doom, fans will enjoy this taut tale as even a young Ripper makes an appearance.

The Proposal
Mary Balogh
9780385343329, $26.00

Working class son of a wealthy merchant military hero Hugo Emes becomes Lord Trentham for his heroism in combat. A member of the Survivors' Club of veterans of the Napoleonic Wars, Hugh comes to the aid of blueblood Lady Muir Gwendoline Grayson who is visiting a recently widowed friend when she severely sprains her ankle in an isolated area. He carries her to safety.

Each recognizes an attraction that both acknowledge can never be acted on. She has no interest in an affair or a second marriage as her time with the late Vernon was tumultuous at best. He needs a wife but wants one who will enjoy rusticating with him on his estate; the frivolous Lady Muir is London Ton. However, Widow Gwendoline agrees to pay back his kindness by sponsoring his younger half-sister Constance. As they fall in love, one must take that first risky step of offering her heart.

The first Survivors' Club Regency romance is a warm tale starring two seemingly opposites. The storyline is fun to follow as the protagonists believe they are unsuited for each other and besides neither want a relationship so as Tina Turner says "What's Love Have To Do It?" Although there are too many tertiary players who make brief appearances and his family estrangement resolved too abruptly, fans will enjoy this timely novel that showcases injured vets ignored by the government but cared for by a kind aristocrat.

Venetian Curiosities
Donna Leon and Il Complesso Barocco
Atlantic Monthly Press
c/o Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003-4793
9780802120311, $25.00,

This is an interesting short story collection that retells some of the legendary tales of Venice. In addition to the shorts there are CD recordings of Vivaldi work with Riccardo Minasi conducting Il Complesso Barocco and accompanying illustrations predominately by eighteenth century artists Giovanni Antonio Canal and Pietro Longhi.

In "The Elephant Goes to Church" the title character was brought in for Carnival, but gets loose and causes trouble before seeking sanctuary in a church. The gambler bets "A Palazzo on the Turn of a Card." The city leaders try to erase homosexuality by hiring "Prostitutes Working for the Good of the State." In the seventeenth century, he was accused of treason, but his accusers learn the hard way with their executions that "The Truth Is What You Choose It To Be." In "Diabolical Lust", a popular sausage maker apparently uses a special ingredient in his squazzetto. Although the writings are too short as we would want more depth from the great Donna Leon, each entry is well written and provides a fascinating look at Renaissance Venice while the fabulous CD and the paintings enhance a delightful look at the mythos of Venetian Curiosities.

Kiss Of Pride
Sandra Hill
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780062064615, $7.99,

When the Sigurdsson Viking family viciously raid the Lindisfarne Saxon Monastery, God had enough with the race. He condemned the Vikings to cultural assimilation extinction and the seven Sigurdsson sons who committed the seven deadly sins at Lindisfarne to roam the earth for seven hundred years performing good deeds; failure means their souls belong to Lucifer. Archangel Michael suggests they fight the Lucipre vampires. God assigns a chagrined Michael to lead his angelic vampire soldiers.

In Transylvania, Pennsylvania, Count Vikar Sigurdsson purchases a twelve decade old dilapidated castle with plans to convert it into a five star hotel in thirty days. With the centennial Reckoning coming soon for all vangals like him, Vikar is in a sour mood as he has no had sex in a century and the last time was not only crappy, Mike (as the VIKs call Michael) it added two hundred years to his penitence.

World Gazette Managing Editor Ben Claussen sends reporter Alexandra Kelly to Transylvania to interview Vidor. He wants her out of DC as the Mercado brothers go on trial for killing her husband and daughter. Alex and Vikar are attracted to one another while she stays at his dumpy hotel helping him renovate it. When he realizes her obsession with killing those who murdered her family will condemn her to hell, he intercedes. However, the celestial hierarchy gives him a choice if he can control his pride.

This Deadly Angels urban fantasy is an action-packed satirical good and evil thriller that contains the usual suspense and jocularity expected from Sandra Hill. Fast-paced from the moment Vikor and his brother Trond exchange sins and never slowing down, fans who enjoy an irreverent look at angels will want to read this entertaining thriller.

Lyon's Bride
Cathy Maxwell
9780062070227, $7.99

In 1814 London, Sir James Smiley, Esq. sends a letter to Thea Martin asking for her to come see him. Thea assumes her brother the duke has found some other means to ruin her for eloping with Boyd Martin. Now a widow with two sons (seven years old Jonathan and five years old Christopher) hopes instead that it is a lucrative matchmaking commission like the one she did for Peter Goodfellow.

Sir James' client Neal Hattan, Lord Lyon, needs a wife but must wed someone he does not love to prevent the activation of the family curse; Fenella the witch cursed the Chattan clan centuries ago so any who foolishly falls in love die young. Neither he nor his siblings (Harry and Margaret) want an early demise so in their own respective way avoid entanglements of the heart. Thea and Neal know each other as she thought at one time he loved her before he ended their friendship abruptly. As she searches for a mate he will never love, Thea knows her client still owns her heart while Neal knows the matchmaker owns his.

The first Chattan Curse regency paranormal romance is an intriguing historical as Neal and Thea are in love, but she learns to her horror the curse exists. Action-packed yet character driven by the actions and reactions of the three siblings (and the first beloved) to the curse, Lyon's Bride is a strong opening act.

Under A Vampire Moon
Lynsay Sands
9780062100207, $7.99

Forty something divorcee Carolyn Connor vacations with her best friend Bethany on St. Lucia. Also there are life mates Julius and Marguerite Argeneau-Notte. When Marguerite sees Carolyn, she knows the mortal is her son Christian's life mate.

Marguerite asks Christian to come to St. Lucia. They realize that Carolyn has relationship phobia issues as she still hurts from her divorce and besides she refuses to date a much younger man like Christian. She is unaware that instead of being in his twenties as he looks, he is a several century old vampire. The vamps agree he must go slowly to keep his beloved from bolting. To buy time his cousin Gia comes up with a preposterous plan for Christian to pretend to be gay so she can ask Carolyn to pretend to be his lover allegedly to keep his sexual preference from his family. The only flaw in the scheme is Christian cannot conceal his attraction to Carolyn.

The latest Argeneau vampire romance (see The Reluctant Vampire and The Bite Before Christmas) is a fun tale that has a 1930s madcap comedy (including the dream sex) feeling to the plot. Although Carolyn's reticence is explained way too late to appreciate why she hesitates through most of the storyline, fans of the saga will enjoy this fast-paced comedy of errors.

Wicked Road to Hell
Juliana Stone
9780062022646, $7.99

Bill the Seraphim rescues sorcerer Declan O'Hara from hell. In remittance to his being saved from eternal torment, Declan pledged to be a loyal Seraph solider obedient to Bill's orders.

Two years later Bill sends Declan and Ransom the werewolf to New Orleans to find the vampire and the ward the Undead protects. He meets Ana DeLacrux the vampire who was staked two years ago in front of his eyes and Kaden the teenage sorcerer who heaven will kill to keep the demons from getting him; she works for Bill too. Ana and Declan were already in heat before each took a tour of Hell, but now that desire ignites at a time when neither wants it as what to do with the sixteen years old boy must precede their attraction.

Spinning from the Jaguar Warrior sage, the League of Guardians (see the novella Wrong Side of Hell; not read by me) is a terrific romantic urban fantasy starring two dedicated individuals with a history between them. Action-packed yet character driven as Declan feels betrayed by Ana and Bill while Ana thirsts for avenging her murderer but protecting Kaden is her priority. Filled with twists and strange bedfellows, readers will appreciate this action-packed second chance at love and redemption paranormal romantic thriller.

The Fireman Who Loved Me
Jennifer Bernard
9780062088963, $5.99

For her birthday, Nelly McGuire asks her granddaughter TV news reporter Melissa McGuire to meet her at the San Gabriel Hilton where the San Gabriel County Firefighters and Law Enforcement Officers Fourth Annual Bachelor Auction is being held. Nelly wins the bid on Ryan Blake while Melissa walks out embarrassed. Before she can leave the ballroom, an over eager bidder trips her. Fire captain Harry Brody assists her until she rips into his male stripping auction that he says provides money for charity.

Unable to handle the ribbing from his peers, Ryan refuses to take out a granny on a date. Harry replaces him. He is stunned when instead of Nelly, he escorts Melissa. They are attracted to one another but each carries baggage from previous relationships. It may take a loving granny to help this couple overcome their obstacles to love.

The first Bachelor Firemen romance is a lighthearted frolic except for one late stunner that does not fit in the overall motif of the plot. The lead couple is a nice pairing of individuals suffering from commitment phobia, which readers will understand when they meet the former odious mates. Overall fans will enjoy this second chance contemporary.

A Warrior's Promise
Donna Fletcher
9780062034663, $7.99

Early in the eleventh century, Bryce MacAlpin, like his three brothers, knows nothing must intrude on the overarching mission of returning the rightful True King to the throne of Scotland. Thus he focuses on his assignment to uncover the spy at King Kenneth's court. However, though he realizes he must not intercede, he does so when soldiers chase a skinny boy. After rescuing the lad, Charles pleads with Bryce to help him free his father from a hidden secret prison.

However, Bryce soon learns Charles is Charlotte. As they team up to locate the prison and mount the rescue, their respect and admiration for each other turns to love. While the enemy pursues them, Bryce and Charlotte agree they must finish the mission before they commit to one another.

The third MacAlpin brothers Warrior King medieval Scottish romance (see Loved By A Warrior and Bound To A Warrior) is a terrific thriller starring two likable intrepid protagonists. Fast-paced and filled with action, readers will root for brave Bryce and courageous Charlotte as they risk their lives to keep each other safe and to complete the quest.

A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island
Cara C. Putnam
Barbour Publishing
P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683
9781616265359, $12.99,

When her brother Trevor was blamed by the locals for the drowning death of Grady Cadieux, Alanna Stone left Mackinac Island vowing to never return. The injustice ate at her soul especially when the principal's son Brendan Tomkin who was part of the foolish teenage incident escaped untouched. She became a successful attorney in Grand Rapids. However, when mother begs her to come home to run her parents' art studio Painted Stone while her father recovers from a stroke, she reluctantly goes.

When Alanna fled home, she left behind her high school boyfriend Jonathan Covington. He never understood why she abruptly cut him off, but Jonathan never moved pass the end of his relationship with Alanna. Upon seeing Jonathan for the first time in years, Alanna now realizes why she never married.

This is an engaging second chance at love amateur sleuth starring a Dona Quixote heroine who vows to uncover the truth. Her persistent inquiry leads to murder while Alanna also realizes she still loves Jonathan. He has issues to as he has another woman in his life. Readers will relish this fabulous return to Mackinac Island with Alanna and Jonathan as our tour guides; if they survive her investigation and if she stays.

The Mural
Michael Mallory
Borgo Press
c/o Wildside Press
9781434444349, $17.99,

In California, Marcus Broarty sends structural engineer Jack Brody into the woods to find the legendary Depression Era Wood City. Annoyed that he is doing his incompetent boss' work, Jack finds the ghost town. Inside a dilapidated building, Jack locates a mural that he assumes dates back seventy-five years and may have some value.

However, Jack will quickly learn his error as did Colonel Henry Jackson Breen over seven decades ago. The mural contains evil demonic Legion. The ancient horde attacks Jack and anyone within two degrees of him. He survives and with others, who so far, have overcome the ordeal on an astral soul level, begins a counter assault physically to destroy the mural.

This is great throwback good and evil horror tale. Jack is a terrific protagonist who stumbled into the role of hero as he leads other brave souls in a do or die mission. However, it is Wood City and its malevolence that makes for a tense exhilarating thriller as Michael Mallory breathes life into the ghost-town and death into its mural.

In Dreams
Robert Logan
The Peppertree Press
1269 First Street, Suite 7
Sarasota, FL 34236
9781614930907, $25.95,

In the Boulder, Colorado area a serial killer murders victims using the same M.O. as a psychopath employed over four decades ago. BPD logically assumes a deranged copycat killer has surfaced.

Near Boulder, Magnolia Creek Middle School history teacher Jack Corbitt undergoes an experimental cancer treatment though the eight previous cases leave him wary. A byproduct of the life-saving technique enables the patient to open a portal to the past where he communicates inside the head of Chronicle beat reporter Maggie Roper, who is investigating the serial killings that occurred forty-one years before Jack receives his treatment. They team up as he begins to realize that the present day killer has the same skills he has and has made contact with a psychopath to commit the identical homicides.

With a nod to the movie Frequency, In Dreams is an exciting psychological suspense that uses telepathy to "merge" the past and the present. Fast-paced, readers will feel Jack's sense of foreboding as he fears once his treatment stops his paranormal skill ends too. Robert Logan provides a fabulous thriller.

Lily of the Springs
Carole Bellacera
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470157715, $16.99,

In 1952 in Opal Springs, Kentucky, eighteen year old Lily Ray Foster has been raised by strict Southern Baptists. When she becomes pregnant, the father of her unborn Jake Tatlow, known as trash by the moral citizens, is forced to marry her. Jake gives his child a name, but has no plans to let a marriage trap him. Lily, who has loved her bad boy neighbors since they played in the woods as children together, believes she can change him and gain his love once their baby is born.

He joins the army and they, along with the baby, move to New Boston, Texas. Back in Kentucky, over the next few years, Lily tries to make her marriage work for her and for their two daughters. Instead Jake remains unfaithful and insulting. As the Eagle lands on the moon, Lily worries about her children and new rumors about her spouse.

This is an excellent family drama that focuses on the underbelly of the Happy Days fifties and rebellious sixties. Lily is a strong person while Jake is an immature individual who thinks with his lower head only. Fans will appreciate this look back to an era when the woman was blamed for all the marital problems as Carole Bellacera provides a deep historical novel.

Daughters For A Time
Jennifer Handford
Amazon Digital Publishing
9781612182926, $14.95,

In Washington DC, Tim and Helen Francis own the Harvest restaurant. Thirty-five years old Helen desperately wants a child, but is depressed over never becoming pregnant. She has dreamed a child would make her complete ever since her mom died when she was fourteen years old and her dad Larry walked out on her and her twenty years old sister Claire; she even named her kid Stephanie. Whereas Claire wants nothing to do with their dad, Helen is more understanding that he let his grief cost him his children.

Though she knows she should not, she envies Claire who is a great mother, having learned when she took on her teenage kid sister, to her three years old daughter Maura. Helen reluctantly agrees with Tim that they should adopt. They go to China where they adopt Sammy. Her euphoria ends when she learns Claire has cancer.

Daughters for a Time is a profound look at an extended family stunned by a mother having died from cancer and daughter dying from cancer. The grief is palatable as the surviving loved ones struggle with their loss. For Larry and Helen this a double whammy while she also worries that she inherited the offending gene; Claire and her spouse Ross feels the same concern for Maura. Ross sums it up when he tells Helen his dad died when he was five and he remembers little about him except what his mom mentions; his grief is Maura will share that sense of inadequacy while his sister-in-law says they must never let that happen. Readers will appreciate this well written character study as grief is customized but a loving family helps each other move on.

A Sweethaven Summer
Courtney Walsh
Guideposts Books
9780824945190, $13.99

Suzanne, Jane, Lila and Meghan were best friends as children who shared a scrapbook/journal for starting in eighth grade for several years back in the late 1980s. Now Suzanne is dying from cancer and asks her twenty something daughter Campbell to see her to talk. When Campbell arrives she finds her mom dead. As she arranges the funeral she wonders what her mom's final confession was going to be.

Campbell finds the 1987 scrapbook that reveals what her mom hid from her early teen BFFs. She learns who the Sweethaven Circle is from their scrapbooks. Jane hated her looks; Lila hated her mom's indifference to her; and Meg said she felt like an outsider as the only nondrinker at a party. Then there is her mom's bombshell back in the summer of 1987 when she broke the circle.

This is a warm sweet tale about friendship, redemption and how well you know someone. The four BFFs come across as real people either through scrapbook memories of the summer of friendship or their current family problems. However, in many ways this is Campbell's tale as she seeks to learn who she is and gain some inner peace by helping her late mom redeem herself even in death. Fans will enjoy the character driven heartwarming visit to Sweethaven, Michigan.

My Cross to Bear
Gregg Allman with Alan Light
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062112033, $27.99,

In 1971, guitarist Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident, on the first anniversary of his death, the Allman Brothers Band bassist Berry Oakley also died in a biking tragedy. These two deaths set the tone behind Gregg Allman's profound memoir. Mr. Allman discusses his childhood growing up in Florida with Duane and a widowed mom; that first loving guitar; his addictions for sex and drugs; his kidney transplant; the ABB (with Dickey Betts, Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny Johanson) Southern rock; and across the decades his love for music. Somewhat meandering, the scandalous behavior is titillating fun. However, the siblings' relationship and the life and times of the ABB in the late 1960s that haunt this winner especially the climatic death of Duane as the author portrays his feelings of survivor guilt. Photos enhance this quality biography as Mr. Allman apparently hides nothing while he proves to be more than just a Ramblin' Man as he lays out his life, regrets and all.

Safe Within
Jean Reynolds Page
9780061876943, $14.99

Professor Carson Forsyth is dying from pancreatic cancer. He asks his wife of thirty years Elaine to take him back to her childhood home, a tree house overlooking Lake Riley, North Carolina. She would do anything for him so they leave Chapel Hill. Their twenty something son Mick comes down from Rhode Island to spend time with his dad and to be there for his mom.

Carson's septuagenarian mom Greta hates her daughter-in-law whom she believes had an affair with Wallace Jamison, the son of her enemy. Greta refuses to recognize Mick as her grandson as she thinks he is Wallace's child. When Carson dies, Greta refuses to sit with her family at the church or stand near them at the cemetery. Meanwhile Mick learns something from his teen years that shakes the dysfunctional family further while that also fosters his need to know why his grandma rejects him as she has since his birth.

This is an intriguing character study that uses short flashbacks (especially by an accepting Carson) to tell the backstory. The ensemble cast is fully developed but the insightful storyline belongs to the mother who holds a grudge that began before she met Elaine, the dying son's only wish being reconciliation between his two beloved females for the sake of his son; and the wife who wants to continue distancing herself from her mother-in-law. Though keeping the secret of what happened between Wallace and Elaine seems like an exorbitant loyalty price in which the innocent pay the costs, with some metaphysical elements enhancing the plot, readers will relish this entertaining look at the impact of dying and death on the loved ones.

The Inquisitor's Key
Jefferson Bass
9780061806797, $25.95

Miranda Lovelady is in France excavating a recently discovered chamber beneath the Palace of the Popes in Avignon. She finds a stone chest inscribed with the message that inside lie the bones of Jesus of Nazareth. Using a ploy, she gets her lover and teacher Dr. Bill Brockton to leave his Tennessee Body Farm for France. The two forensic scientists believe that in all likelihood, these remains are a fake, as Chaucer pointed out with The Pardoner's Tale, the Middle Ages had a thriving business.

To their amazement, the early analysis supports the stone's claim that this is the remains of Jesus or at least someone who died in a similar fashion two millennia ago. Brockton also analyzes the Shroud of Turin. However, killers try to murder the pair while a true believer wants the bones as a means to begin the End of Time with the Second Coming.

Putting aside how Lovelady got Brocton to drop an autopsy to rush to Europe aside as improbable unless she was insane, the latest Body Farm forensic thriller (see The Bone Thief and The Bone Yard) is an exhilarating entry that focuses on the potential remains of Jesus. When the storyline centers on the science and Christian history, it is incredibly well written and fascinating; when the plot turns into a shoot en up action thriller it is exciting but ordinary. Still fans will appreciate Brockton examining the Shroud and looking at two thousand year old remains.

Saving Ruth
Zoe Fishman
9780062059840, $14.99

Growing up in Alabama, Ruth Wasserman wanted to fit in, but being a curly haired junk food Jew made her stand out from the predominantly white Baptist students who she attended high school with. Making her feel even more of an outcast was her brother the golden one David was a popular soccer star. Because of her low self-esteem, Ruth escaped Alabama to attend college out of state where she lost a ton of weight to become unhealthily emaciated.

Following her freshman year in Michigan she comes home for the summer to work as a lifeguard and teacher of young children at the local pool alongside of David. However besides her food disorder, her sibling seems different and distant towards her even lost his thrill for soccer though he plays at school in Atlanta. Their parents fear the future relationship between them without their children at home. When Ruth rescues young Tanisha from drowning, instead of a heroine she is scorned and faces a lawsuit from angry parents over neglect. She also hides her sibling's secret from everyone though she knows he is at fault for the delay by not being poolside. Finally there is David's friend Chris.

This is a warm family drama starring a teenager who has spent her life feeling like a fish out of water, but proves she is a steel magnolia as she blossoms into a brave young woman performing difficult Balancing Acts between her family, her friends, Chris, her job and racial accusations. Fans will enjoy the trials and tribulations of Ruth who saves herself by reaching out to save others.

The Body in the Boudoir
Katherine Hall Page
9780062065483, $23.99

In 1990 swinging single Faith Sibley enjoys the good life in New York City as her catering business Have Faith is a huge success. At an event she caters, Faith meets Reverend Tom Fairchild. As the daughter and granddaughter of clergy, he is the anathema of what she wants in the man; yet Faith is attracted to Tom and him to her. They become engaged.

He takes her to meet his Massachusetts family; some of whom fail to welcome her into the roost. Meanwhile her great-Uncle Sky offers his Long Island mansion to host the wedding. Faith's financial advisor sister Hope asks her to uncover who's stealing her clients. At the same time Faith's former employee, Francesca, pleads with her to fool her family back in Italy into believing she is in England instead of New York City. All those are minor distractors compared to someone who emphatically wants to stop the nuptials by killing the bride.

Though you know the outcome, the latest Faith Fairchild whodunit (see The Body in the Gazebo) is a great tale that uses flashbacks to take the reader back to when the heroine and her future husband meet and decide to marry. Besides preparing for the wedding, Faith deals with her sibling's mystery; her former employee's request, and the attempts on her life. Fans will enjoy this entertaining cozy as Faith looks back at a cherished almost deadly moment on her life with an ironic epilogue vow.

Under Oath
Margaret McLean
c/o Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765328137, $25.99,

In Charlestown, Massachusetts nasty hood Billy Malone stands on trial for the murder of artist Trevor Shea. Defending the viscous criminal is attorney Buddy Clancy while prosecutor Annie Fitzgerald argues for the Commonwealth. Assisting Annie is Boston homicide detective Mike Callahan who believes Malone has killed many people including the painter whose renditions of murder scenes are harrowing.

The case turns ugly as witnesses are murdered and the jury wants to leave but not in a body bag as one of them keeps leaking secrets that frighten the others who fear they will be targeted next. Annie and Mike believe the key to getting this scum off the street is Trevor's painting, but his brother Chris refuses to cooperate. The verdict remains up in the air as both sides present their case.

In Under Fire, Clancy was the protagonist; in Under Oath he plays second fiddle to Annie. The courtroom scenes are superb while the streets of Charlestown add to this wonderful legal thriller. Both Annie and Mike lose perspective as each accepts the premise that the end justifies the mean in terms of insuring a violent vicious psychopath is locked away. Although the Honorable Judge Conrad J. Killam seems to allow too many shenanigans, readers will enjoy this fine courtroom drama.

A Dog's Journey
W. Bryce Cameron
9780765330536, $24.99

She was born as Toby; came back as Bailey; returned as Ellie; and finally now is Buddy (see A Dog's Purpose). However, her human pet Ethan is dead two years and she knows her time is short with no chance of coming back as unrequited love for Ethan was the purpose for living.

However, Buddy observes Ethan's family especially the mischievous infant Clarity, who gets into all sorts of trouble. The dog believes Ethan would want him to watch over her. He barked when she ate birdseed and jumps onto the pond when the child falls in. Instead of a hero's welcome Clarity's neglectful mom Gloria blames Buddy. More incidents occur until Gloria in a rage leaves with her daughter. However, Dr. Deb the vet informs Ethan's weeping widow Hannah that it is time to put Buddy down.

To his euphoria, Buddy comes back years later as Molly. He believes he is Clarity's destiny. The troubled teen adopts him, but Gloria goes nuts. Calling herself CJ, Clarity's friend Trent takes Molly home. When animal control separates them, he knows not even her death will keep her from her beloved purpose.

Though similar in tone to A Dog's Purpose, A Dog's Journey is a warm tale of how a canine even in death remains loyal to his or her human purpose. Whimsical, fans will relish Buddy-Molly, Max and Toby as they care for Clarity-CJ. There will not be a dry eye when Max returns to the farm where he recognizes the smells of Clarity's paternal family. This continuation of the many lives of Bailey is an entertaining allegorical look at unrequited love.

The Prophet
Amanda Stevens
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778313397, $7.99,

Amelia "Graveyard Queen" Gray is renowned for her talent to restore lost respect to neglected cemeteries. A prime reason she is adept at what she does is her secret skill, seeing ghosts. As a child her dad gave her four rules to strictly adhere to when dealing with ghosts; but during her travels Amelia has smashed each of them (see The Restorer and The Kingdom).

She vows to obey her father's admonition. However, this proves difficult when the dead cop pleads with her to find his killer. Clues take Amelia to the darkest evilest sector of Charleston and to haunted police detective John Devlin who haunts her heart. Soon Amelia's good intentions to undo any damage she may have caused between the realms of the living and dead forces her to choose between her love and her dad's rules.

This is a superb dark urban fantasy as readers learn more about who Amelia Gray is. Action-packed but character driven, fans will relish the trek into Stevens' world as a beleaguered heroine finds mending what she wrought a seemingly impossible task even without considering her feelings towards Devlin as Amelia's soul is at risk if she does nothing, fails or succeeds.

Star Wars Scourge
Jeff Grubb
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345511225, $7.99,

Hot tempered Pantoran Jedi Toro Irana hates the planet Maken Te in the dangerous Hutt sector. Several weeks in the hellhole coming into contact with the local Swokes has raised his ire to the boiling point. He impatiently drinks in a restaurant waiting to meet with a contact to discuss trade coordinates when someone sends him a Rodian bottle, which allows Toro to change from imbibing the local swill. A few minutes later he brawls with the locals killing the Caliph's nephew. When Toro sees movement behind him, he slashes with his light saber only to realize he saw his reflection in the window. He falls through the broken pane to his death.

Toro's former Master, Jedi archivist Mander Zuma heads to Maken Te rejecting that a trained warrior would make an idiotic error with the glass that a rookie would not make. Mander notices crystals on Toro's eyes and obtains the Rodian bottle. He thinks Toro was poisoned. Following the Rodian clue, he heads to their warehouse where Toro's sister Reena attacks him. They soon are under assault but her ally Eddey Be'ray the Bothian spacer rescues them. The Jedi and the sibling follow leads into the heart of the perilous Hutts in which crime lords rule.

Based on the Star Wars roleplaying game Tempest Feud (Wizards of the Coast); Scourge is an enjoyable science fiction mystery that occurs several years after A New Hope. The fast-paced storyline hooks the audience with plenty of action as the scholarly Jedi Master and the avenging female Pantoran land (and soar) in one predicament after another. This is a fun tale with the death inquiry providing a refreshing whodunit spin to the Force.

Battleship (Movie Tie-in Edition)
Peter David
Del Rey
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345535375, $7.99,

In 2006 in Honolulu Alex and Stone Hopper are having drinks when a beautiful woman asks the bartender for a chicken fajita; he says the kitchen is closed. Hopper, as Alex is called, races to a convenience store as the owner locks up and refuses his money. Undisturbed he breaks in and delivers the woman a fajita only to have the cops arrest him. Stone uses his influence as a naval officer to get him out of trouble. Stone tells him the woman Sam Shane is the daughter of the Rear Admiral; if he wants her he needs to clean up his act. Stone joins the navy.

After SETI shuts down, in Tibet, Dr. Andrew Nogrady becomes the head of Beacon International Project. His team sends signals into space seeking alien contact.

Five years later, Sam encourages Hopper to ask her father for permission to marry her. When he gets into trouble with a Japanese sailor, Shane informs him he will be court martialed after the military games are completed. The games end when disaster strikes around the globe and a strange vessel shows up in the zone. Nogrady realizes he got what he wished for; an armada answered his signals with efficient force.

Based on the upcoming movie's screenplay (by Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber), Peter David provides an exciting military science fiction thriller. The first few chapters establish the always in troublesome hero, whose propensity for causing disturbances helps him later on when facing an enemy more powerful, faster and impossible to see (radar down). However the invasion that readers anticipate arrives 25% into the entertaining storyline. Still this is a fun thriller as the superior alien armada is conquering the planet.

Kevin Hearne
Del Rey
9780345533623, $7.99

The last breathing druid, Atticus O'Sullivan has lived for two millennia mostly by avoiding the Norse Gods whom he has tricked many times over the centuries. He currently hangs out in Tuba City, Arizona while pondering what type of soul dies in a place like this.

His foes find him, but the Native American god Coyote saves his life when the deity turns himself into Atticus, enabling the Norse gods to hack him into small pieces out on the Arizona desert; Coyote regenerates his body. In return for saving his life Coyote asks Atticus reciprocate. However, Atticus realizes why Coyote is known as the trickster as he wants the druid to fight evil skinwalkers while a betrayal leaves him in an even more precarious situation.

The latest Iron Druid Chronicles (see Hammered) is a great satirical urban (desert is more accurate) fantasy as the hero is stalked by the Norse gods, duped by the Trickster, betrayed by a friend, and almost skinned by the skinwalkers. On the other hand he has his loyal apprentice Oberon having his back. Action-packed, this witty thriller is a fun tale as readers learn why the state's politicians insist they have a horrid illegal alien problem.

John Russo
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit 7
Forest Hill, Maryland 21050
9781587672552, $40.00,

"Night Of The Living Dead." Siblings (Johnny and Barbara) visit their dad's gravesite at a Pennsylvania cemetery to leave a wreath when a weird looking individual attacks the sister. Her brother comes to her rescue, but the stranger hammers Johnny with a rock before going after Barbara who flees in terror. Soon she and six other strangers hide inside a small farmhouse while a horde of corpses try to rip off their flesh.

"Return Of The Living Dead." Not long after the military contained the first zombie wave, a flatbed truck containing pipes crashes with a bus. The pipes smash through windows killing many of those on board. The townsfolk leave church to destroy the new dead before they reanimate, but arrive too late.

These are fun novelizations of the first two George Romero films written by John Russo who worked on the movies. Both entries remain pure to the original film, but fail to flow as smoothly and Return of the Living Dead feels like a rehash of the Night of the Living Dead especially the latter half and the reused news bulletins taken from the original incident ten years earlier. Still Living dead fans who provide a gap between the novels will enjoy zombie fever.

Lee Thomas
Cemetery Dance
9781587672651, $30.00

Luther's Bend is a quiet town where violence never happens and even petty crime is rare. Thus when someone kidnaps eleven year old Maggie Mayflower in the park, the townsfolk is shaken. Sheriff Bill Cranston leads the investigation of the abduction his friend Les' daughter. The only witness, the victim's tweener friend Emily, gives a vague description of an old man. A posse searches and finds Maggie, but one of the men Arthur is grabbed by what looks like a monster with gray skin and a snout.

Bill assumes the culprit wears a mask but is shocked with how strong he seems. He shots twice hitting the monster, but the beast escapes. The next morning, a man fitting Emily's description to a T is arrested. In rhyme, Douglas Sykes pleads with Bill to kill him before others like him destroy his town. Though hard to accept, Bill believes the old man and the monster are the same being and that a horde of like him will descent on Luther's Bend to kill Sykes for afflicting them with his disease and subsequently attack the townsfolk. Bill prepares for a siege, but even he is unprepared for what shockingly occurs.

This is a very creepy macabre horror thriller as the key cast members including the apparently dichotomous Sykes seem real and their behavior (especially the townsfolk) believable. Lee Thomas shows his talent with creating a premise that human interaction leads to at a minimum duality as Bill is a dedicated law enforcement official and a troubled husband with an acrimonious addicted wife while the mythological monster's twoness is physically blatant. Readers will enjoy this exciting novella as a pack hunting their monstrous creator is coming to tear down Luther's Bend.

The Mailman: 20th Anniversary Special Edition
Bentley Little
Cemetery Dance
9781587672699, $60.00

For many years reliable Bob Ronda delivered the mail to the residents of Willis Arizona. He was so dependable; his customers took him for granted. However, for no apparent reason, Bob commits suicide.

On the day of Bob's funeral, his replacement John Smith is dressed in his postal blue uniform, which looks silly. Schoolteacher Doug Albin meets Smith and has a creepy crawly omen about the newcomer. Not long afterward, Doug thinks Smith tampers with the mail as bills fail to arrive and bad news is not delivered. Out of the blue Doug receives a letter informing him that his Bronco's power train warranty is extended for a year without charge; his wife Tritia obtains a free subscription to the Fruit-of-the Month Club; and their son Billy gets letters from his grandmothers containing money.

Soon their phone stops working, the power goes out and their water cut off. Doug goes to the water and power departments only to learn they received a letter signed by him to cut off his water and power because they are moving. Not long afterward, all the good mail turns ugly with nasty letters arriving. Doug knows the mailman is the cause, but unsure what he can do about this.

This is a reprint of a great Bentley Little 1991 horror thriller that focuses on an outside force negatively impacting a somewhat isolated town. Though some readers might feel the electronic explosion makes the storyline obsolete, the theme of what otherwise civilized good neighbors will do to one another when under extreme pressure remains strong. Family man Doug is the prime opponent of the Mailman, but his early warnings make him sound paranoid as everyone scoffs at his fears.

Blind Goddess
Anne Holt, author
Tom Geddes, translator
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451634761, $15.00,

In Oslo, thirtyish civil lawyer Karen Borg finds the dead body while walking her dog. At about the same time the cops bring in a dazed man wandering the streets with blood on him; he refuses to speak. Special Branch police attorney Hakon Sand observes while Inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen interviews the man and learns he is Han van der Lerch, a student from the Netherlands who confesses to killing the drug dealer. Hakon tells his friend Karen that the Dutch suspect wants her as his lawyer though she has not practiced that form of law since her exams eight years ago and she is a witness having found the corpse.

Two days later, someone kills sleazy attorney Hansa Larsen. Sand and Wilhelmsen find a connection between the two homicides. Drugs cop Billy T informs them that on the Oslo streets is a rumor that drug-dealing lawyers are involved in the trafficking, which explains why van der Lerch demanded the civil attorney to defend him; as her reporting the corpse makes her most likely trustful. As the police continue their inquiry, they begin to unravel a web of corruption that permeates all levels of the Norwegian Danish government.

The first actual Wilhelmsen Norwegians police procedural (second after 1222 published first in America when the heroine is retired and wheelchair bound due to a bullet in her spine) is a fabulous investigative thriller as the inspector and the police attorney follow clues that increasingly include highly affluent individuals. Part of the fun of this whodunit is the insight into the criminals discussing the police investigation. Although the prime villain seems a bit disappointing fans will enjoy this entertaining Norwegian Noir.

The Wind through the Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel
Stephen King
9781451658903, $27.00

Roland Deschain the gunslinger and his fellow travelers (Jake, Susannah, Eddie, and Oy) cross the River Whye on their way to the Outer Baronies when a monster storm strikes. The band takes shelter. While waiting for the nasty weather to pass, Roland tells his companions about an incident from his past.

In the year after his mother died, Roland's father orders his teenage son to investigate the rumors of a homicidal shape-shifting "skin-man" in Debaria. Roland meets teen Bill Streeter, the only witness to the horrid serial killer's rampage. To calm the frightened lad, Roland tells Bill the legend of Tim Stoutheart from the Magic Tales of the Eld that his late mom used to read to him.

This is a brilliant return to the completed adventures of the Dark Tower as Stephan King deftly slips in a tale that occurs between books 4 and 5 (see Wizard and Glass, and Wolves of the Calla). Mindful of F. Paul Wilson's Young Repairman Jack's Secret Histories, this exhilarating clever tale inside a tale works nicely as each story is well written, totally contained, does not alter the end of the saga, yet also brings thrillingly to life the teen years of Roland.

The Burning Man
Mark Chadbourn
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616146115, $17.95,

Jack Churchill has finally come home after his adventures in time (see Jack of Ravens). However, the world he returns to is not the same world he left when he began his epic adventure. Evil has deployed the Mundane Spell to control people unaware what is happening to them.

Jack enlists trusted friends to help him locate the two keys that can destroy the Mundane Spell. However finding the keys is nearly impossible as the keys are two people who could be anywhere on the globe. He and his team search for power of creation and the power of destruction that can nullify the Mundane Spell. At the same time, the ancient gods, used to human adulation, are awakening.

The second Kingdom of the Serpent fantasy (eighth in the overall saga) is a fast-paced thriller in which the hero learns the Thomas Wolfe lesson that you can't go home as the home you left no longer exists though in Jack's case the Void remains the prime villain. Loaded with action, fans of the trilogies will enjoy the adventures to liberate the world at a time when old dangers arise. Although it helps to read Jack of Ravens in order to know Jack, a brief introduction enables fans to skip the previous entry. Mark Chadbourn provides a terrific middle book that has a complete storyline yet also sets up the final novel.

The Night Sessions
Ken MacLeod
9781616146139, $17.95

By 2012, most people have turned their backs on organized religions following the Middle East Faith Wars culminated with nuke strikes at Megiddo. Politicians who seek office avoid any mentioning of religion as the Second Enlightenment has ripped religious posturing from politics though there remain millions of fanatics around the globe.

In Edinburgh, a bomb blows up a small church killing the Roman Catholic priest. St Leonard's Police Detective Adam Ferguson and his sentient robotic aide Shulk investigate the bombing murder. As other incidents occur, he realizes terrorist acts against the maligned mistrusted minority most likely by militant atheists are occurring. However, the evidence soon points to the sinister return of the God Squads trying to reignite the End of Days that never happened during the Faith Wars Armageddon.

This is a great police procedural science fiction that condemns people (especially politicians who send someone else's child off to war) for invoking God on their side as a rationale for war. The inquiry is terrific as it not only relates a strong whodunit but uses the inquiry to provide insight into the near futuristic world of Ken Macleod. Although the climax is acceptable albeit weak compared to the storyline's journey, readers will appreciate this action-packed thought provoking investigative thriller.

Lance of Earth and Sky
Erin Hoffman
9781616146153, $17.95

Captain Vidarian Rulorat desperately opened the gates between worlds (see Sword of Fire and Sea). Now he faces the second order effect as elemental magic is no longer dormant as it had been for centuries. As a consequence of his action, many powerful people like his best friend Ruby died. War between Qui and his homeland Aloria has exploded since leaders in both nations believe the balance of power shifted due to the magic explosion.

The Aloria Emperor orders Vidarian to lead the sky ships in battle against the Qui and to train the demoralized Sky Knights to ride beasts that shapeshift. However, he has two missions besides keeping his country somewhat safe. First he wants his beloved fire priestess Ariadel back in his life and he needs to learn to control his new magical skills. However, Vidarian theorizes the real threat to his empire and their enemy comes from the powerful Alorian Import Company.

The second Chaos Knight fantasy is an engaging thriller that has less action than its predecessor but also provides much more insight into the Hoffman mythos. Although the world contains little freshness, this fast-paced tale will remind readers of the Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar saga as Vidarian's struggles with the moral implications of what he wrought.

The Cottage at Glass Beach
Heather Barbieri
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062107961, $24.99,

In the Boston area, forty years old Nora Cunningham knows she lives a charmed life as the wife of the youngest attorney general in state history and the mother of two precious children (seven years old Annie and twelve years old Ella). However, the magic ends when the media hounds her over her husband's unfaithfulness. Nora, accompanied by her daughters, move to Burke's Island, Maine where she lived as a little girl until her mom vanished.

Aunt Maire warmly welcomes her niece and grand-nieces to Glass Beach. Nora tries to keep a happy face for the sake of the girls, but one night alone on the beach she cries. A few days after her weeping fit, Nora finds fisherman Owen Kavanagh shipwrecked on the rocks. Her aunt Maire's friend Polly insists he is a selkie who was drawn by her tears. Nora thinks he is most likely a man running from personal tsuris. When her daughters go off on an adventure, Nora pursues them while she frets over their safety, her mom, her marriage and herself.

The Cottage at Glass Beach is a whimsical family drama starring a heartbroken protagonist struggling to regain her equilibrium. The entertaining storyline gets deep inside the soul of the heroine. Although the two children seem too mature way beyond their ages and adults treat them as emotional equals that seems implausible with things I (and I doubt anyone else) would not tell my adult child now let alone when he was a tweener or younger. Still this is an engaging tale of emotional healing as those she loves forces Nora to move past the infidelity that rocked her Boston Brahman world.

Into the Darkest Corner
Elizabeth Haynes
9780062197252, $24.99

In Lancaster, Catherine Bailey enjoys her swinging singles lifestyle as do her friends. By 2007, Catherine Bailey lives in fear as she cannot leave her apartment without an anxiety attack and she refuses to speak with her neighbors.

In 2003, Catherine meets charismatic hunk Lee Brightman. He charms her and her friends. However, what started out as a passionate loving relationship begins to turn ugly as a darker angry Lee emerges from behind the facade of a caring charmer. Lee begins to isolate his lover from her family and friends and increasingly controls her activities. Catherine's friends believe she is crazy when she complains as they only see the caring charmer. She becomes obsessively desperate to escape her warden. In 2005, he is sent to jail for an assault. By 2007, Cathy still diligently checks her locks several times when at home. She meets Stuart Richardson, a psychologist neighbor living in the same building as she does. They become friends as he helps her heal. However, she panics when she learns Lee is being freed and she sees her former BFF Sylvia Jane who testified in the 2005 trial against her and in favor of Lee. At her flat, she finds items slightly rearranged an old Lee trick to keep her unbalanced. Cathy believes he is back, but though frightened she is not paralyzed as she was a few years ago because she is not totally alone.

This is a great gripping psychological thriller that focuses on the crippling aspects of abuse. The prime players are fully developed with the changes from happy Catherine to crippled Cathy appallingly frightening. Fast-paced, this is a stunning scary suspense starring degrees of obsession.

The Emerald Storm
William Dietrich
9780061989209, $25.99

By 1803, adventurer Ethan Gage is ready for some domestication with his wife Astiza and their three years old son Harry after their latest escapades when he rescued them in Tripoli and escaped in that lunatic Futon's sub (see The Barbary Pirates). He thinks he can pull off retirement due to a valuable stolen emerald he possesses. However, renegade secret French policeman Leon Martel steals the jewel and kidnaps Harry to keep Gage at a distance.

Gage delays retirement as he mounts a rescue of his child with his beautiful wife ably assisting him through her feminine wiles. However complications mount as the French, English and Americans jockey to manipulate Franklin's worst behaved protege with each seeking the rumored lost stolen treasure of Montezuma and control of a potential slave revolt in Saint-Domingue.

This is an over the top of the Jura Mountains early nineteenth century thriller starring a swashbuckling avaricious protagonist. Gage is at his best using experimental design equipment as he works double and triple crosses and deftly maneuvers through agents from a host of nations as well as Toussaint L'Overture. This is a fun early nineteenth century non-stop adventure tale.

KBL Kill Bin Laden
John Weisman
9780062127877, $7.99

In December 2010, American expatriate Charlie Becker is in Abbottabad, Pakistan begging for spare change. The veteran suffered crippling injuries in the Afghanistan campaign so most Pakistani does not give him a second look at they go about their business. However, they are wrong about Charlie. Based on vague degrees of connection, he is in Abbottabad undercover seeking any leads that Osama bin Laden resides in this town inside of a high walled villa. If he confirms the whereabouts, a specially trained SEAL top secret team will enter the villa to complete the mission of turning Bin Laden into a hamburger.

This is a fictionalized account of what may have happened that led to the assassination of Bin Laden. Fast-paced, the story line hooks readers who will believe that John Weisman provides a plausible account of what could have happened. Especially fascinating is the political fight in DC before, during and after the kill including the at sea burial debate and the claims of who takes credit for the successful KBL operation. With a nod to Liberty Valance (print the legend not the truth), Mr. Weisman writes a stirring thriller.

Betrayal of Trust
J. A. Jance
9780061731327, $7.99

Married couple J.P. "Beau" Beaumont and Mel Soames work for the for the Washington State Attorney General's Special Homicide Investigation Team in the burbs of Seattle. A video stars a smiling teen girl with a scarf around her neck; however, her smile is gone when the clip shows two males pulling the scarf strangulating her.

S.H.I.T gets the investigation because the snuff film was found on a cell phone belonging to the fifteen years old Josh Deeson, grandson of Governor Marsha Longmire's husband Gerald Willis who has custody of the lad. Beau gets the lead because he went to high school with Governor "Old Mother Hubbard". The two cops know Deeson has a troubled past with his mom dead from an OD and his father an addict. The teen denies knowledge of the snuff film, but the murder weapon is found under his mattress in his "Prisoner of Zenda" room in the Governor's mansions. Like his comments re the film, he denies knowing how the scarf ended in his school locker where he insists he found it. Beau and Mel as good cop bad cop put the pressure on him to tell them who the three other people besides the victim are. Deeson remains the prime suspect.

This is a terrific Beaumont whodunit (see Fire and Ice) that contains a strong police procedural while also focusing on troubled teen bullying, and related adult excuses and platitudes. Longtime fans will relish the subplot involving Hank and Hannah (no giveaways as to who they are). However, it is the trademark homage to cops who try their best risking their lives to protect us that makes this a fabulous entry in a great series.

Blue Remembered Earth
Alastair Reynolds
Ace Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780441020713, $26.95,

In the latter half of the twenty-second century, Africa is the world's superpower. For the most part, after barely surviving the Anthropocene climatic change disaster, national hostilities, violent crime and poverty no longer exist as a death from disease or a murder in an outpost in Europe or Australia become featured on the Nairobi news.

In this pristine realm, Geoffrey Akinya relishes his field studies of the elephants of the Amboseli basin. However, his pleasure is disrupted, but not by the death of his space exploring grandma Eunice who was the matriarchal cornerstone of the powerful Akinya business empire. Instead, soon after Eunice's ashes are scattered on Mt. Kilimanjaro, he is blackmailed into looking at a potentially embarrassing incident on the moon where like elsewhere in the solar system colonization is growing by those who prefer not to reside inside of Earth's Surveyed Zones. He and his sister Sunday's mission are to insure no scandal erupts, but what they learn about a secret of their grandma shakes their core while this twin cousins Hector and Lucas take a different approach.

This is an exciting futuristic science fiction tale in which the world building is phenomenal though only surfaces when an aberration occurs like a Caucasian or not speaking Swahili although a key element the Mechanism monitoring humans seems to Big Brother intrusive (and too selective). Sunday is the more aggressive of the siblings as they investigate a moon incident that damns their family if surfaced and may destroy their world.

The Craving
Jason Starr
9781937007553, $15.00

In Manhattan, thirty-nine years old Simon Burns struggles to adjust to major changes in his life; as he lost his job, his marriage is on the rocks, and he avoids the Pack whom he met, along with other stay at home dads watching their kids like he does with his three years old son Jeremy. The Pack leader Michael Hartman changed Simon, Charlie, and Ramon into werewolves. Simon shaves his face and chest twice a day; has the strength and speed of a wolf; and craves raw meat.

Unable to cope with what happened to him and aware he owes his wife Alison an explanation of the radical changes especially his nocturnal wanderings she has noticed him taking; Simon informs his spouse that he suffers from lycanthropic disorder. His lies drive the couple further apart until Alison finally kicks him out of their apartment when she no longer trusts him. He stays at Charlie's place as he reconciles with the Pack members except Michael who he distrusts. Meanwhile Ramon met his heart mate Geri Rodriguez, a cop who works the toughest cases. He takes the first step to convert his beloved, but Michael believes Simon stole it and prepares to end the rogue's life.

The second Pack urban fantasy is a fascinating Manhattan horror tale in which readers observe the changes to Simon that he struggles to curtail or ignore his new life out of fear that what he is will harm his beloved wife and child. The New York setting adds to this unusual tale as readers wonder whether the real monster is the werewolf or a criminal. Jason Starr provides an action-packed (pun intended) great Lycan psychological horror thriller. The author writes one of kind horror tales that will make him tomorrow's superstar in his field.

Benedict Jacka
9781937007591, $7.99

In London empathic diviner mage Alex Verus sees infinite possible futures and sometimes influences which one occurs; he has one survivor mantra to choose a future in which he remains alive. After a battle with mages when he refused their demands he open an artifact from the ancient mage war as the outcome is one hundred percent deaths for him and his two dependents, Luna the cursed woman and Starbreeze the ancient air elemental (see Fated), Alex tries to keep a low profile running his magic shop. However, the warring mages of the Light and Dark pressure him to join their side, but he rejects both as his empath ability reminds him of the hostilities harm each causes civilians.

Alex also tries to assist his friend Luna cope with her family curse. However, Luna's new friend persuades her he end the curse with a relic that grants wishes. The storeowner has no time to intercede as he realizes that an assault on his friend Arachne the spider is from someone who is draining the life force of the magical beings with humans on the docket next.

This is a great urban fantasy as guns and magic deftly rock London. Alex is a terrific protagonist who struggles with remaining altruist towards the helpless by avoiding either Dark or the Light camps; as each commits crimes against humanity without a second thought re collateral damage of the innocent. The storyline is fast-paced as the hero investigates who is siphoning off the life forces of others.

Lies and Omens
Lyn Benedict
9781937007508, $7.99

Recently some of the Magicus Mundi otherworldly creatures have assaulted offices of the Internal Surveillance and Investigation government agency. The stunner is that the attacks have been coordinated in group waves as these monsters are notorious loners. The ISI agents and the Magnus Mundi are in mortal and immortal combat.

Though Miami based private investigator Sylvie Lightner is the first choice of those needing sleuthing amidst the Magicus Mundi in crowd, this is not her fight especially after what she recently caused in her city. Sylvie's neutrality in the ISI Magicus Mundi war changes when the latter threatens people she cherishes. With close allies, Sylvie, using her sorceress powers, searches for the diabolical genius who has consolidated the Magicus Mundi monsters into a cohesive fighting machine.

The latest Shadows Inquiries urban fantasy is an exciting action-packed thriller. Fast-paced, the protagonist remains an interesting lead character although her powers have grown immensely. Less detecting and more superhero than the previous entries (See Gods and Monsters, and Ghosts & Echoes), fans will enjoy Sylvie Lightner investigator of the paranormal.

The Last Kind Words
Tom Piccirilli
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780553592481, $26.00,

Second-story thief Terrier Rand is a chip off the old block as his family consists of thieves. He quit his criminal activity when his older brother Collie murdered eight people. Terry left Long Island becoming a rancher in the west.

Five years later with his sibling facing execution in a few days, Terry returns home at his brother's request. Collie swears he committed seven of the cold-blooded killings but not that of Becky Clarke. Though he knows he should return to the ranch instead of getting involved with the Rand brood, Terry investigates the homicides. He begins to find evidence that supports Collie's assertion that a killer used the murders to hide another homicide.

This is a dark noir that hooks the audience due to the interplay between the extended hard boiled crime family members especially the chats between the two brothers. Action-packed yet with a powerful cast, fans will relish this strong whodunit as Terry fears the truth will not free him, his family or the woman he left behind when he fled Long island; instead he considers leaving it buried.

Dead Level
Sarah Graves
9780553807905, $26.00

In the medium security prison at Lakesmith, Maine Dewey Hooper is doing twenty years for killing his wife Marianne. The deceased's spouse looked exactly like Ellie White, the best friend of former Wall Streeter Jacobia "Jake" Tiptree, who now lies in Eastport, Maine. Dewy escapes and sets up a false trail to fool the cops while heading to the woods near Eastport.

Jake has been working on an 1823 Federal-style fixer-upper for years, but her husband bet her she could not finish a deck in their isolated cabin within a week. Although that means no plumbing, she and Ellie head to the cabin. Ellie plans to stay overnight before returning to Eastport. Dewey sees and recognizes both women; he believes Marianne returned from the dead to haunt him and Jake testified against him at his trial. He tries various means to kill the females, but they survive and deploy a risky counter plan.

The latest Home Repair Is Homicide mystery (see Knockdown and Crawlspace) is exciting due to the strong determined protagonists who reject fear and despair by refusing to be victims. The story line is told in the first person by Jake and in the third person when Dewey leads, readers know the contrasting thoughts of each while Ellie plays a major role. Though bringing the trio together is a gigantic coincidence over the top of Mount Katahdin, fans will enjoy this fabulous thriller that also includes repair tips.

Fevre Dream
George R. R. Martin
9780553577938, $7.99

In 1857, Captain Abner Marsh once ran a thriving steamboat business on the Mississippi. However, an unprecedented freezing of the great river left his Fevre River Packet Company destroyed. Abner still owns one dilapidated vessel as he limits his work to the Illinois River with his reputation the only reason he still has customers.

Extremely ashen looking Joshua York offers a partnering deal with Abner that is way above the value of the latter's firm. Joshua admits his remittance is exorbitant, but insists he can afford this as a sort of hobby so he can captain a steamboat filled with his "guests" while Abner would run the business and pilot the ship. They build a steamship The Fevre Dream launched in New Albany heading down the Mississippi to New Orleans. However, Joshua conceals from his new partner that he is a vampire with a dream of his species ending their hunting of humans as he invented an elixir that eliminates the craving. Damon Julian, his bloodthirsty horde and his human lap dog Sour Billy Tipton prefer the traditional way of vampiric dining.

This is a reprint of an entertaining horror thriller released a decade before A Game of Thrones was published. George R.R. Martin provides an intriguing vampire historical thriller as two diverse groups fight for their vision of the future. The key cast is solid as each believes strongly in something they cherish; for the vampire rival leaders it is tradition vs. modernization, and for the captain it is Life on the Mississippi (by Mark Twain).

Life Without Parole
Clare O'Donohue
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780452297821, $15.00,

Chicago TV producer Kate Conway slowly regains her equilibrium after the death of artist husband Frank from a heart attack just after they filed for divorce (see Missing Persons). Kate has two film offers. The more exciting project is a documentary on two lifers at Dugan Correctional (Brick Tyler and Tim Campbell); the better paying one is a reality show about opening a new high end restaurant. She accepts both.

Behind her being selected for the restaurant project is the late Frank's mistress Vera Bingham. Kate has some issues with Vera's efforts to become her friend, but also finds she likes her in small doses. Vera calls Kate in a panic to meet her at restaurant. Someone murdered Erik Price using Vera's stolen gun. Vera explains that investor Doug Zeiman helped her buy the gun when she told him about threats she received; he was also to meet her here, but failed to show up as she found the corpse instead. All the evidence points to Vera; Kate reluctantly investigates the homicide with help from her film crew (cameraman Andres Pena and audio Victor Pilot) and the two convicts.

The latest Kate Conway amateur sleuth is an exhilarating whodunit with a psychological underpinning. The freshness comes from Kate's interviews with the two convicts and the contrast between naive Pollyanna Vera and "trust no one" Andres. The mystery is cleverly devised with surprising red herrings, but it is the psychological insight into Life Without Parole that makes this entry a winner.

All For You
Lynn Kurland
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780515150650, $7.99,

Peaches Alexander wants nothing to do with her persistent pursuer medieval scholar Stephen de Piaget. She feels he is too studious and boring besides being rude to her; she is unaware that his boorishness is caused by his love at first sight of her leaving him unable to speak. She is excited that David Preston invited her to a Cinderella weekend party at the Duke of Kenneworth's estate.

However, her euphoria ends when she realizes her host wants sex only and that her nemesis is always around. Needing to escape both men, Peaches flees to the garden, but a slip on a time gate leaves her trapped in medieval England. Only Stephen can bring her home. As she sees another side of him as her champion, Peaches begins to fall in love with her brave knight in shining "suit."

The latest expanding De Piaget time travel romance is an enjoyable romp as many of the heroes from previous tales (see One Magic Moment and One Enchanted Evening) add to the fun though that can also be overwhelming. Although the storyline has a deja vu sense of all over again, readers will enjoy the fresh misadventures of the tongue tied scholar and the woman who leaves him stuttering.

One for the Murphys
Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Nancy Paulsen Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780399256158, $16.99,

In Las Vegas, three hundred and eighty-four days ago, Carley Connors's manipulative mom informs her that she is marrying her boyfriend Dennis. However, recently Dennis in a rage beat up twelve yeas old Carley's mom leaving the woman in the hospital and the tweener in the foster care system.

Case worker Mrs. MacAvoy blathers on how lucky Carley is to be placed with the Murphy family. The child distrusts the seemingly pleasant kindhearted family. However, over time Carley comes to love her caring foster mother who along with her three kids and husband make sure she is welcomed as one of them as does her new BFF Toni. All is perfect until mom wants her daughter back.

This is a strong tweener contemporary drama starring a young girl who contrasts her two lifestyles. Carley is superb as she holds the storyline together with her slow acceptance that the Murphy quintet want her to stay as she struggles to accept they especially the matriarch love her as one of them. Although her wry asides at times seem too mature for her age, though one could argue her past aged her rapidly, tweeners will enjoy the heroine's transition from no hope for the future to true believer in a wonderful future due mostly to one giving mom.

Tracing Stars
Erin Moulton
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780399256967, $16.99,

Known as the fish freak of Plumtown, Indie Lee Chickory has the uncanny ability to make faces of specific fish like the wounded mackerel and the trout pout. She has a pet golden Lobster Monty Cola who lives in a salt water pool just outside Indie Lee's bedroom window.

Indie accidentally brings Monty to school, which embarrasses her older sister Bebe and leaves her friendless. Worse Monty has vanished. Indie tries to prove to her sibling she can fit in by working at the theater where her sister will soon perform. She and newcomer Owen Stone, exiled by his dad for a summer with his aunt, begin repairing a busted rowboat in search of Monty. However, Bebe informs her to dump Owen the loser or face elementary school as an ostracized pariah.

This is a wonderful upper elementary school fable starring a beleaguered heroine caught between different desires that fail to mesh cohesively for her. Using exaggeration with deft, Erin Mouton's protagonist muses that if she is to be a loyal Chickory she must adhere to her sibling's order and dump her friend, but she ponders if doing that would make her a lesser Chickory. Young readers will feel they are part of this fishing village as the adventures of Indie Lee make for a fun time in Plumtown.

Double Dog Dare
Lisa Graff
9780399255168, $16.99

Francine Halata believes that becoming the news anchor of the fourth-grade Media Club will help train her when she has her own TV show as an animal trainer. However, Francine is caught off guard when a classmate nominates the new kid on the block Kansas "King of Dares" Bloom; she had expected no competition.

Kansas is uninterested in the position, but is extremely interested in the contest as the rivals begin a two week dare competition egged on by their peers as he never ignores a dare and she would do any dare to get the job she covets. The games begin with lizard licking and batty hanging upside down that escalates into greater challenges. Each soon finds they enjoy the dare war as it keeps their minds off of their respective collapsing family

The delightful daunting Double Dog Dare tale is a wonderful upper elementary school thriller that uses humor to lighten honest youthful emotional reactions to parental divorce. Rotating perspective between FH and KB, fans will empathize with both as their home lives have imploded. At the same time readers will wonder who will be the last person standing after dining on 87 packets of ketchup; as challenges and commentary are exchanged (about disbelief what KB or FH did) using social media (including the ancient classic classroom note).

The Housesitter
Cynthia Baxter
Dark Corridors
c/o SLM Bookworks
11 Peel Street, Selkirk, NY 12158
9781614620037, $12.99,

John Quinn advertises for a house and cat sitter while he is away on an extended business trip in Minneapolis. He asks applicant Megan Quinn why she wants the job. Megan says she came from the East Coast to work at Hayworth Insurance last year. She lost her job due to downsizing at the same time her sublease in West Hollywood ran out. Though unsure why, Megan tells him about the drowning death of her cousin in New Jersey when they were children. Finally she states she sleeps on her friend's couch. He thinks she is perfect and hires her.

Megan moves into the upscale house with a wonderful swimming pool. She quickly finds she loves John's home and is bewitched by precious Endora the Maine coon. However, she also has a sense that someone is watching her. When strange events occur inside of John's house, Megan initially writes them off, but soon fears someone stalks her, which worries her about her and Endora's safety.

The Housekeeper is a terrific twisting psychological thriller starring a strong protagonist, a charming feline, a wonderfully isolated home, John and an unknown stalker. Action-packed with bumps in the night, the storyline feels in some way like a modern day gothic in Pasadena. Fans will enjoy Cynthia's Baxter's dark tale with a stunning late spin as anyone considering being a Housesitter will demand hazardous duty pay.

An Unexpected Guest
Anne Korkeakivi
Little, Brown & Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316196772, $24.99,

In Paris, the British ambassador to France is ill with viral pneumonia at a time the permanent under secretary has come to France for a dinner in his honor. British Minister and number two man at the embassy, David Moorhouse informs his American wife of twenty-five years Clare that they will host the dinner for P.U.S. in their home. Without blinking Clare arranges dinner for a party of twelve while her spouse knows she will pull off the gala successfully.

While she is calm on the outside, inside she is a bundle of nerves made worse with the thoughts that their next stop is Ireland. As their younger son Jamie was suspended from boarding school on serious charges that could impact his dad's diplomatic career, Clare's Bostonian past has caught up with her when her aunt's charity case Niall meets her. Before she met her husband, she loved Niall who used her as a mule in his free using any means Northern Ireland movement. An assassination of a highly ranked French official has the gendarmes looking at Niall, but she is his alibi if she comes forth and tells the authorities she saw him when the killing occurred.

This is a super character driven tale that brilliantly contrasts polished high level diplomacy with violent revolutionary fervor. The opposite poles to conflict resolution place Clare in the middle as she struggles with her ethics as to doing the right thing for Niall and David, which in her heart means hurting one of them and especially herself.

Circle of Cranes
Annette LeBox
Dial Books
c/o Penguin Group USA
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780803734432, $16.99,

Travel agent Lao from Fuzhou arrives in the remote mountain village of Cao Hai, China. He explains to the townsfolk that he escorts people to the Gold Mountain - America for a fee of fifty thousand dollars, which is an investment as the villager who goes with him will send home a fortune. To ease the fee, he offers a migrant loan, which the leaders accept. They choose thirteen years old Zhu Suyin to go over her objection.

Zhu, who is connected to the village cranes, and her fellow young female passengers cross the ocean on a terrible too crowded ship that appears ready to sink any moment. In New York City, the girls work fourteen hour-days in a horrific Chinatown sweatshop without wages. Suyin, who has the magic of the Crane Sisterhood, fears she is the last one and if she fails at her mission to save the Crane Queen the magical crane women will become extinct.

Targeting tweeners, this is an entertaining contemporary fantasy that focuses on the horrid working conditions of young illegal migrants from China. The fantasy elements are fun while insight into China's ethnic minorities enhances the tale although the diversity of these different groups is lost behind the dumbing down Chinese stereotype Miao. Based on real human trafficking news, Circle of Cranes is a profound tale that looks at an inconvenient aspect of illegal immigration ignored by those in power except when an incident occurs.

Obi: Gerbil on a Mission
Michael Delaney
9780803737273, $16.99

Obi the gerbil is upset when his significant other Rachel the young girl receives a puppy for her birthday. Her affection turns from Obi to Kenobi the golden retriever. Instead of Obi sitting on her lap watching Star Wars, Kenobi has the Force with him.

Dejected and lonely, Obi heeds the advice of irritable Mr. Durkins the grouch mouse. He arranges for Kenobi to go outside without supervision and the puppy gets lost. Instead of euphoria, Obi is filled with guilt as he realizes he hurt his beloved Rachel. Driven by remorse and a need to make things right, Obi must journey where gerbils don't dare as he steps outside to find and bring home Kenobi.

Targeting upper level elementary school children, the latest Obi anthropomorphic tale (see Obi, Gerbil on the Loose) is a charming story starring a rodent heroine whose adventures with darn cats, an owl looking for a between meal snack, and a giant dog needing a new chewable toy will thrill young readers. Her emotions enhance the tale for children who will relate with how Obi feels about the new pet and her need to rectify what she did; although running outside without "mom's" knowledge is not smart, black and white drawings add to an entertaining humorous Gerbil on a (suicidal) Mission of mercy.

Simon Mawer
Other Press
2 Park Avenue, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10016
9781590515273, $15.95,

During WWII the British Special Operations Executive drafts nineteenth years old Marian Sutro to work undercover in occupied France due to her being a native French speaker. Marian attends spy school and commando training. When deemed ready by her controllers, she is parachuted into Nazi held territory before making her way to Paris to join the WORDSMITH resistance.

Marian also has a second mission given to her by another top secret agency since she has a connection to a key scientist working for the Germans. She is to persuade those researchers working on the atomic bomb to defect. However, her contact with the scientists is noted because the Nazis watch diligently every move they make and by default their visitors make.

This is an engaging WWII drama in which a good part of the first half of the book sets the fascinating genuine historical stage of the thirty nine women sent by SOE into enemy territory. Though that opening act is slow but interesting, the action picks up once Marian goes to France even as there remains plenty of 1940s tidbits. The heroine's risky and naive escapades are exciting as she works behind enemy lines on her two missions.

Alix Kates Shulman
Other Press
9781590515204, $14.95

Mack and Heather McKay met at Yale. They fell in love and married. His success as a realtor turned them into the wealthy one percent and he built a LEED-certified "green" mansion in New Jersey where they raise their two kids with the help of a nanny. Heather feels left behind as she dreams of being an author but feels she brings nothing to the family. She also believes Mack is having an affair.

Meanwhile he is in Los Angeles for a tryst. When he meets Russian Zoltan Barbu, who suffers from writer's block, he invites the emigre to come to his New Jersey home in order to author a masterpiece. Heather wants the new houseguest and overly shows Zoltan her desire for him.

Menage is an entertaining droll look at the affluent American family as the McKay couple is collectors who each see Zoltan as an object they own. Breezy but timely with the inane controversy over Anne Romney's work, fans will enjoy this family drama as over time relationships change.

Crossing the Borders of Time: A True Story of War, Exile, and Love Reclaimed
Leslie Maitland
Other Press
9781590514962, $27.95

German Jew Janine loved her life in Freiberg. However, in 1938, the Nazis forced fifteen year old Janine and her family to flee across the border settling in Mulhouse, France. There she met her first love nineteen year old Catholic law student Roland Arcieri. Her family fled to Gray and then Lyon as the Nazis annex Alsace Lorraine. In 1941 in Lyon she and Roland meet again and remain attracted to one another. One year later, Janine and her family flee to Marseilles and then America. Unbeknownst to Janine, her father and brother insured she would not meet Roland again as they intercept his letters. Janine marries a philandering Ayn Rand advocate and one of their children Leslie Maitland supported by her brother Gary and her husband Dan begins the odyssey of finding her mom's first love who lives in Montreal.

This is a superior memoir with an intriguing quest in which the vividly harrowing descriptions of the Jewish plight during WWII overshadow the forbidden love affair and the failed marriage. Timely with the insight into refugee displacement and exile due to war, this is a triumph of love and survivor though it took five decades for the former to catch up to the latter.

Queen of Kings: A Novel of Cleopatra the Vampire
Maria Dahvana Headley
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451235251, $15.00,

Octavian is irate with his former brother-law and Triumvirate partner Marc Antony. He plans to punish the traitor for choosing Egyptian Queen Cleopatra. His Roman legion laid siege to the city of Alexandria where Antony and Cleopatra reside. Not long afterward Antony is dead while Cleopatra makes a deal with Sekhmet the ancient lion-headed Goddess to pay any price if the deity brings back Antony. She fails to complete the sell as the Romans arrive and soon force her to burn her believed husband's body on a funeral pyre.

She soon learns the price of her folly as no longer wants to live but has become an immortal seeking the blood of the living. Still Cleopatra plans to take revenge on Octavian, who is now the Emperor Augustus, which means she must go to Rome.

This is an intriguing historical fantasy that spins the tale of what happened to the Queen of Egypt after General Agrippa takes Alexandria. Action-packed, readers anticipate the bad vs. bad war between Cleopatra and Octavian even as neither comes across as sympathetic. Filled with real historical events and persona that anchor the time and place, fans of historical vampire thrillers will want to read this engaging ancient paranormal.

Final Sail
Elaine Viets
9780451236746, $23.95

In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Violet Zerling insists to Coronado Investigations partners Helen Hawthorne and Phil Sagemont that her stepmother Blossom is killing her much older father Arthur. She says that her dad was healthy until he ate something his second wife fed him before suffering a heart attack and falling into a coma. Helen becomes a minister with a few clicks on the internet so she can minister to Arthur at the Stranahan Medical Center ICU. She pretends to be Arthur's religious advisor while Phil masquerades as an estate manager.

Phil and yacht Captain Josiah Swingle chatted about a cruise to the fancy Atlantis on the Bahamas. The captain fears a smuggler is on board so he needs a female sleuth acting as a stewardess to catch a crook. Reverend Helen will sail on the Belted Earl owned by Earl Grantham Briggs who invented a lawnmower belt. With the help of Marjorie Flax they work both cases.

The latest Dead-End Job mystery (see Pumped for Murder) is an engaging tale with two interesting investigations. Both cases are well-written and fun to follow as adventures on the Caribbean and in the Sunshine State make for an exciting thriller.

The Wedding Shawl
Sally Goldenbaum
9780451236708, $15.00

In Sea Harbor, Massachusetts, the Seaside Knitters (Nell, Birdie and Cass) are knitting a wedding shawl for Izzy Chambers who is getting married to her beloved Sam in June. Izzy's Aunt Nell oversees the wedding preparations since her sister can not do it. They take a break to hear an author talk about a cold case. Harmony Farrow died on her graduation night fifteen years ago off of nearby quarry water. There was a lack of evidence to charge anyone with the crime including her boyfriend Andy who was not there to witness her deadly tumble.

The wedding's hair stylist is murdered in her basement office in the salon where she worked. The Seaside Knitters learn Tiffany Ciccolo was Harmony's best friend and was dating Andy before the murder. The police consider Tiffany's death as a separate matter from the homicide of Harmony. The Knitters believe differently as they investigate the cases as if they are linked. While they make inquiries planning to uncover the culprit's identity before the nuptials, the killer reacts by slicing their tires and painting a warning message on Izzy's door. The assault only compels the four females to work harder on catching the killer.

The colorful New England coastal atmosphere enhances the entertaining charming cozy. Like the Knitters readers believe Andy is innocent of both homicides, but is the link between the murders of the two females. However, besides dating both, the Knitters struggle to find why someone besides Andy would kill the two young ladies. The wedding Shawl is a fun regional Seaside Knitters amateur sleuth who done it (see A Holiday Yarn).

Dead Man Waltzing
Ella Barrick
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451237347, $7.99,

In Old Town Alexandria, Stacy Graysin, co-owner of Graysin Motion ballroom dance studio, ended her two-year engagement to her cheating partner Rafe Acosta when she saw him doing a horizontal number. Two months later Rafe was murdered in the studio and she was ASPD Detective Lissy's only suspect (see Quickstep to Murder). Stacy's new partner is Rafe's half-brother Tau. Because of his attraction to her, he refuses to sell his business interests in the studio. She feels an attraction to him also, but Stacey refuses to act on her feelings.

Lissy arrives at the studio demanding to see instructor Maurice Goldberg who failed to show up for a class. He tells her that the legendary grand dame of ballroom dancing Corinne Blakely, who has pushed hard for this to be an Olympic Dance Sport, was poisoned while dining with Maurice who happened to be her ex-husband. Stacy realizes she should stay out of this homicide investigation, but distrusts Lissy to look beyond Maurice so feeling a debt of gratitude to her employee; she begins an inquiry to clear her friend's name.

Dead Man Waltzing is a charming cozy told in the first person perspective by Stacy. This enables the reader to better understand her motive to investigate especially having learned the risk of doing so from her previous inquiry to clear her name. The investigation is creative as there are plenty suspects for the heroine to tango with. Additionally, the audience obtains a deep look at running a dance studio and what a professional instructor must do to teach a myriad of dances. This is a lively amateur sleuth mystery that will have readers wanting more dance numbers. starring Stacy.

Quilt Or Innocence
Elizabeth Craig
9780451237330, $7.99

When Atlanta Folk Art Museum curator Beatrice Coleman retires she moves to the bucolic relatively crime free small town of Dappled Hills, North Carolina. She selected this town because her adult daughter Piper resides there. Beatrice barely moves in when her neighbor Meadow Downey practically kidnaps her; though the woman insists she is on a rescue mission. Meadow introduces Beatrice to the Village Quilter Guild asking her to become the newest member.

Beatrice knows everything about quilts except how to make one. She is welcomed into the guild's circle and becomes friends with several of them in spite of expecting to be alone. When she and quilter Posy Beck walk in the park, they find the murdered body of sadistic Miss Judith who enjoys hurting and scaring people. Not long afterward, another quilter Miss Sissy is left for dead in her home. While Meadow's husband Ramsey the police chief investigates Beatrice becomes part of the inquiry when she is whacked on the head while at Miss Sissy's home. Using her ability to analyze patterns, an irate Beatrice does her own look into the homicide before she or one of the quilters get killed.

Quilt or Innocence is a delightful regional amateur sleuth due to the eccentric quilters like the sisters Savannah and Georgia. Written in the third point of view, fans obtain a taste of small-town Carolina living through the people Beatrice meet starting with Hurricane Meadow. Although the rationale for Beatrice to investigate is soft (a sub-genre hazard), readers will enjoy touring Dappled Hills guided by colorful locals.

Brownies and Broomsticks
Bailey Cates
9780451236630, $7.99

Following her fiance dumping her and tired of being an assistant manager at an Akron, Ohio bakery, Katie Lightfoot accepts the offer to run the Honeybee Bakery owned by her Aunt Lucy and Uncle Ben in Savannah. She looks forward to the opening because working with her relatives will be a delight.

However, though their grand opening is soon, nasty diva Mavis Templeton demands they bake a brunch for the Downtown Business Association meeting now. Afraid the spiteful termagant could ruin them, they give in to her demands. Their effort proves successful, but Mavis only pays half of the agreed upon price. Ben is outraged and lets their first customer know it. Soon afterward, Lucy and Katie notice Mavis in her car with her throat slashed. The police suspect a raging Ben killed her over the bill. His wife and niece, along with the Spellbook Club members, investigate the murdering of the shrew while Lucy explains to Katie that she is a witch as are her friends working the case with them. Combining magic with leg work and helped by two charming hunks (journalist Steve Dawes and firefighter Declan McCarthy), Katie and company hone in on the killer.

The first Magical Bakery Mystery is aptly titled as Bailey Cates bakes a fun blending of Brownies and Broomsticks. The entertaining amateur sleuthing mixes spells with clues as readers believe in the Craft. Filled with red herrings and a delightful tour of the Downtown District, fans will enjoy this whodunit which is a very special reading experience.

Copycat Killing
Sofie Kelly
9780451236623, $7.99

The torrential rains have left residents of Mayville Heights, Minnesota a bit under the weather. People like relatively new citizen Kathleen Paulson the librarian wonders when it will end as she has a rat floating in the artist co-op basement, and while carrying two bags of groceries walking on rain soaked Wisteria Hill when the ground caves in. She is bruised but shows her friend Detective Marcus Gordon a skull that was uncovered by the rain washing away the ground. A ring is found at the scene, which adds mystery to what seems to be a 1920s burial site.

Soon afterward a second rat is found in the flooded basement. Following that rodent incident, acrimonious know it all mask-maker Jaeger Merrill is found floating in the basement in what appears to be an accident. Kathleen and her bodyguards Hercules and Owen the kittens investigate starting with the pet human researching at the library for leads to the mystery of the ring and information on Merrill while the cats scratch at clues.

The latest Magical Cats anthropomorphic cozy (see Curiosity Thrilled the Cat and Sleight of Paw) is a fun whodunit as the felines lead the inquiry into the contemporary homicide. Fans will appreciate this entertaining amateur sleuth as the amateur sleuthing threesome and the detective investigate suspicious deaths.

A Fatal Fleece
Sally Goldenbaum
9780451236753, $24.95

In Sea Harbor, Massachusetts, the Seaside Knitters (Nell Endicott, Birdie Favazza and Cass Halloran) and the Seaside Knitting Studio owner Izzy Perry are close knit friends. Birdie's kind-hearted brother-in-law Nicholas Marietti (younger sibling to her late husband Joseph) arrives in town. He takes Birdie with him to meet a female he brought with him.

The next day Izzy, her Aunt Nell and Cass meet at the store where a ten years old girl Gabby asks all sorts of questions when her grandma Birdie arrives. Gabby's grandfather was Joseph who was unaware he had a love child. Gabby becomes friends with everyone even misanthropic fisherman, Finn who refuses to sell or keep his property up to the standard the council demands. When Cass finds his corpse, she becomes the prime suspect so the Seaside Knitters including the precious newest member Gabby investigate.

This regional Seaside Knitters amateur sleuth (see A Holiday Yarn and The Wedding Shawl) is a fun whodunit starring intrepid females. Gabby adds freshness to the mix though her extroverted trusting nature seems out of place for someone growing up near Central Park. The rotating perspective of the key cast enhances an engaging cozy as a precocious tweener brings New York shtick to the Bay State.

Carson Stroud
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307700957, $26.95,

In Niceville, a security camera catches the sudden disappearance seemingly into thin air of Rainey Teague on Main Street. Not long after that a bank robbery turns ugly with four cops killed and a TV helicopter shot down by a sniper. A pedophile and a SWAT team are on the verge of a violent encounter. More people abruptly vanish as other unexplained incidents occur too.

As the townsfolk reel from the tragic events, police officer Nick Kavanaugh investigates while his wife Kate the lawyer tries to help him understand the apparently inexplicable. Thirty-six hours since Rainey disappeared leaving a town in crisis; Nick finds clues that lead to something he cannot rationally accept in nearby Crater Sink.

This is a convoluted but exciting horror police procedural thriller that never quite gels on a prime plot between the vanishings and the bloody bank robbery. This leads to way to many characters for the Kavanaugh couple and the audience to cope with. Still fans will enjoy a trip to Niceville with a need to know who or what is snatching people off the streets and in homes and stores as safety is nowhere in the town. The storyline is at its best when the abductions take center stage over the bank robbery.

The Newlyweds
Nell Freudenberger
9780307268846, $25.95

Twenty-something Amina Mazid (from Bangladesh) and thirtyish George Stillman (of Upstate New York) meet on She wants to escape the prison of her family while he wants a woman who does not play emotional games; they agree to marry. Amina comes to snowy Rochester in 2005 and struggles to adapt to her new home. They marry; she obtains a green card and attends college classes while also working at a nearby Starbucks. She finds an understanding friend in his cousin Kim.

However her three years with George are not perfect as their sex is unsatisfying, George becomes an unemployed engineer and she is upset that they still have not had that Muslim marriage he promised her. When she learns a dark secret that he hid from her, George agrees for Amina to go home to bring her parents to the states, but her father's visa application is delayed. While she waits for approval, Amina finds herself back in the family melodrama that led to her fleeing to America while her former Bangladeshi beau Nasir aggressively demands she stay home with him.

This is an intriguing look at a young woman caught between her old world culture and her new world lifestyle. Amina is superb as she somewhat assimilates to the American way of life but never quite overcomes a quarter of a century nurturing that emphasized the obedience expected of females even when assaulted. George never quite comes into focus so that the heroine's fish out of water in Rochester never quite gels as much as her time in Bangladesh. Still The Newlyweds is an engaging contemporary tale of cross cultures pulling a modern day woman in opposite directions.

Toni Morrison
9780307594167, $24.00

After serving in the army in the Korean War, Frank Money returns home to Lotus, Georgia. Angry, he suffers from battle fatigue and combat injuries. He is not greeted as a war hero, but with racism due to the color of his skin.

Frank searches for his sister Cee as a family friend claims his sibling needs him or will soon be dead. When he went off to war, Cee was married but her husband left her. Now some doctor is experimenting on Cee; not if Frank can help it, but will she allow herself to fall back to her childhood haven that her big brother provided.

This is a fascinating historical family drama where the respective plights of Frank and Cee are critical but it is the changing relationship between the siblings that make for another great Toni Morrison novel. Frank leans his fierce protection of Cee never allowed her to mature to the point where she could protect herself. Now Cee tries to face issues while helping her brother confront the demons that he kept at bay with alcohol. The insightful storyline makes a strong case that the truth will set you free if you recognize what the truth is though you may never state what you believe the truth is.

Wish You Were Here
Graham Swift
9780307700124, $25.00

Jack and Ellie grew up on neighboring farms. They also share in common losing their moms when young as his died and hers deserted her family. They marry and begin farming like their ancestors have done for years. When Jack's younger brother Tom turned eighteen he joined the army. They lose contact with him over the next decade. In the interim their fathers die and Ellie persuades Jack to sell the farm that is failing due to the Mad Cow hysteria and run a seaside vacation park she inherited.

The place is closed for the winter so they vacation annually in Caribbean. However, the British military informs Jack that Tom died in Iraq. He cancels their vacation to arrange his sibling's funeral over her objection as she insists "The past is past and the dead are the dead" while he believes he owes homage to his sibling (and his parents) as he proclaims "all the things that had once been dead and buried had come back again." With each turning forty soon, he sits on his bed musing about life and death with a shotgun in hand waiting for his spouse to come home during a storm.

This is an intriguing profound relationship drama as the extrovert has no problems relaying her feelings about family members who desert their loved ones while the introvert hides his feelings about family. With little action and no one looking at an umbrella in the same way, Wish You Were Here is a thought provoking tale that increasingly digs deeper into the souls of the protagonists as each of the couple struggles with their different concept of family.

The Spoiler
Annalena McAfee
9780307957344, $25.95

In 1997 London, octogenarian Pulitzer Prize winning war correspondent Honor Tait reported from frontlines of all the major wars since the 1930s. She is the legend though she loathes fame as that interferes with covering a story. Her time as "The Newsroom Dietrich" is long gone and she forgotten with the new multimedia journalism replacing her foxhole reporting; Honor knows her time has passed although her renowned war dispatches are being collected for publication.

The Monitor's S*nday magazine sends twentyish reporter Tamara Sim to interview Honor as the beginning of a gossip article on the scandalous behavior of Tait. Known for the top ten lists, Sim plans to find ten incidents of dirt focusing on her three mirages and alleged affairs. Thus the modern day media savvy journalist and the old school foxhole warrior begin a battle of wits in which confirmed "truths" are irrelevant wastes of time as bottom line sensational headlines is all that matters.

The Spoiler is a fascinating look at the changing of the guard in journalism. Whereas the war correspondents faced danger and witnessed the brutal impact of war first hand, the new breed with technology at hand are vetted with units so they reporting from a safe distances. The two protagonists are an intriguing pair who plays a cat and mouse game in regards to the personal life of Tait. The internet and amateur reporting are almost ignored (for instance, Rodney King's police brutality case was in 1991) and the ethics will be seen by readers early-on. Still fans will enjoy this look at the beginning of the end of journalism as we know it (Ernie Pyle would not have made it).

Heart of Brass
Kate Cross
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451236593, $7.99,

In 1898 London during The Age of Steam, Countess Arden Grey works undercover as an agent of the Wardens; her unit's mission is to protect England. She assumes she is a widow as her husband Lucas, while on a Warden assignment, vanished seven years ago' presumably at the hands of their enemy The Company.

Scotland Yard also employs Arden on criminal matters. Her current case focuses on a serial killer; however she is taken aback when she sees her Luke. When they meet, Luke has been mechanically modified with his memory erased; as he has been converted into a Company assassin. His target for elimination is Arden.

The first Clockwork Agents late Victorian steampunk thriller is a great tale that deftly blends a solid mystery, enemy spy vs. spy espionage excitement and a potentially lethal romance. With a nod to Robocop, aptly titled Heart of Brass is a fun exciting tale as Arden knows she must kill or be killed by her husband whom she loves, but she wonders if he is really her beloved spouse anymore.

Warrior Enchanted
Addison Fox
9780451236616, $7.99

In New York City, Pisces warrior Drake Campbell loves white witch Emerson Carano, but she only agrees to have sex with him as she refuses to be hurt. Though he takes what he is offered, an exasperated Drake wants much more, but his beloved can't give him more.

Emerson's estranged brother Magnus arrives in the Big Apple seeking his family. He has come with dangerous black magic that could devastate much of the island if uncontrolled. Fearing for Manhattanites, her family and her inane brother, Emerson puts aside her gears to ask her lover and his Zodiac siblings to save her family and neighbors from Magnus' dark magic.

The fourth Sons of the Zodiac romantic urban fantasy (see Warrior Betrayed, Warrior Ascended and Warrior Avenged) is a great New York thriller starring a frustrated hero and a relationship phobic damsel in distress. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy Addison Fox' fabulous Manhattan magical mystery tour as love has not proven to strong enough to overcome fears before the ascent of Magnus and his dark magic; yet that may be the only edge Drake and Emerson have in the battle.

Midnight Rescue
Elle Kennedy
9780451236586, $7.99

In Corturo, Colombia, assassin Abby Sinclair prepares for the kill when she learns of a sex auction selling young girls. Having been rescued from the streets by a kind retired ranger, she feels a need to do likewise as part of paying back the "debt" she owes her mentor. To rescue the girls before they become sex commodities, Abby allows herself to be caught. Though beaten, she waits for the right moment to liberate the girls before she escapes.

Abby's boss Noelle "The Queen of the Assassins" sends a team to rescue Abby. Noelle turns to Jim Morgan and his mercenaries. In Columbia, Morgan's mercenaries succeed in freeing Abby. However, she refuses to leave until she completes her rescue mission. One of the mercenaries, Kane Woodland, attracted to Abby, agrees to help while Devlin her irate embarrassed former capturer pursues her.

This opening act in the Killer Instinct romantic suspense is an exciting thriller as the assassin and the mercenary fight, fight, and fight while falling in love. Fast-paced, fans who appreciate an in your face couple (thinks of the offspring) will relish visiting Columbia.

Coming Up Roses
Catherine Anderson
9780451236548, $7.99

In 1890 Oregon, Widow Kate Blakely struggles to keep the farm while raising her four year old daughter Miranda. She does not miss her late abusive husband Joseph who drowned as he used scripture to terrorize his wife and daughter; Joseph thought they were temptation sent by Satan. Ironically the rose garden flourishes from a man's touch while the rest of the farm is more wasteland then producer. Her brutal brother-in-law Ryan demands Kate marry him or lose custody of Miranda.

Meanwhile, Zachariah McGovern receives a rattlesnake bite while rescuing Miranda from a well. A thankful Kate takes Zachariah home to help heal. Miranda adores her kind, patient hero who plays with her and her ragtag dolls unlike any of the vicious male role models in her life. Zachariah learns why Kate's rose garden blooms and persuades her to marry him to keep Miranda safe from her predatory uncle.

This is a reprint of a wonderful 1993 published late nineteenth century romance. The lead couple is a nice paring of wounded warriors although traumatized Miranda owns the storyline as the little innocent child brings out the best (her mom and Zachariah) and the worst (her dad and her uncle) in people. Although the ending seems too stereotypical for these troubled souls, fans will enjoy this Pacific Northwest Gilded Age family drama.

My Lady Rival
Ashley March
9780451236609, $7.99

Their fathers were partners in a dye manufacturing firm. However, by 1849 their offspring Alex Laurie and Willa Stratton are rivals running separate companies. Each seeks new investors and most critical for the future is the secret behind the Madonna dye. Neither worries about business ethics as they will flirt, cheat, lie and steal to gain an edge.

However, the Ton becomes outraged at the affront of the Laurie family to have the gall to purchase a place in exclusive Belgrave Square. Alex knows he must marry an aristocrat if his family is to become accepted by their neighbors. At a gala, he and his rival Willa meet. Both believe they can seduce the enemy into doing their bidding. Neither was prepared for the first kiss.

This an amusing Victorian romance starring two competitors who employ any technique to gain the edge as business ethics is defined as the bottom line until that first kiss shakes both of them. Fast-paced, fans will appreciate this capitalist historical gender war as Ashley March keeps her enthused attentive readers wondering who, if either, will be the last man or woman standing.

Devilishly Sexy
Kathy Love
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9780758265883, $14.00,

Demon slayer Michael Archer struggles with his profession in the modern world as there is no privacy in this century which makes killing a bit more complex than the good old days back three decades and more before instant global communication went viral. His current assignment has him embarrassingly acting as a low life at "Hot!" magazine while he learns the new wimpy rules of twenty-first century slaying.

When he sees fashionista Liza McLane popping pills, Michael assumes suicide and comes to the rescue. She tries to conceal that she uses Benadryl to mute the noisy demon sharing her body. Attracted to one another, she hides her inner demon from him while he cloaks his true profession from her.

The second Devilishly lighthearted romantic fantasy (see Devilishly Hot) is a humorous affair as the protagonists try to hide a deep respective secret from their potential lover. Michael's dilemma of falling in love with a human who possesses a demon goes against his nature of killing including the host. Although the exorbitant use of outdated 1970s lexicon becomes distracting, fans will enjoy Kathy Love's fast-paced paranormal.

Tote Bags and Toe Tags
Dorothy Howell
9780758253323, $23.00

In Los Angeles, Haley Randolph excitedly tells her BFF Marcie Hanover that she graduated from UM. Haley's boyfriend Ty Cameron of the Holt Corporation arrives. Marcie informs him that Haley graduated from UM. Ty's co-worker (and Haley's rival) Sarah Covington is stunned to learn she got a degree from Michigan. Haley fails to correct them that UM stands for the University of Mixology. Ty arranges a celebration attended by friends and family. Sarah arranges for her to get a job with benefits at Dempsey Rowland assuming she clears the security background check.

On her first day on the job, Haley finds security chief Violet Hamilton dead in the office of her supervisor Constance Addison. While Constance screams at her accusing her of murder and messing up her office, Haley calmly calls 911. Making matters worse LAPD Detectives Madison and Shuman lead the investigation; Haley has a suspect history with the former. Knowing she has a motive and distrusting the cops to focus on anyone else, Haley investigates for a designer bag and the real killer who has murdered again.

The latest Haley Randolph amateur sleuth (see Clutches and Curses, Purses and Poison, and Handbags and Homicides) is a zany affair as she learns the Fixx is right that "one thing leads to another." The storyline is fast-paced and seems on the edge of out of control, but Dorothy Howell keeps it amusingly going. Filled with humor, fans will enjoy Haley's latest corpse finding as she asserts that Sir Walter Scott is right when he wrote in Marmion "Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive."

Under Suspicion
Hannah Jayne
9780758258946, $7.99

In San Francisco Underworld Detection Agency's only human Sophie Lawson starts to report to her superior that three of her clients failed to make their appointment with her, but stops when she learns her new boss is Vlad LeShay as he is the latest vampire promoted to top management by Dixon Andrade. She decides to check up on Mrs. Henderson the demon and two teenage children, but finds blood and destruction at their home. Nauseous she calls fallen angel Alex Grace who is on his way to Buffalo

No one at UDA seems interested in the Henderson case or the fact that more demons have disappeared as Sophie fears paranormal ethnic cleaning. However, when someone tries to kill Sophie, her stiff necked guardian Will, peers and management finally take notice.

Jayne's third adventure as the only human at UDA (see Under Attack and Under Wraps) is a fun tale though the non-reaction by the heroine's peers seem unlikely and over the top of the Twin Peaks. The heroine is her usual mix of angst and West Coast shtick as she investigates what is going on amongst the supernatural beings. Fans will enjoy her escapades as she becomes the target of sinister adversaries.

The Lingering Dead
J.N. Duncan
9780758255655, $7.00

Chicago FBI Agent Jackie Rutledge never minded field work as the special agent in charge of an inquiry, but has doubts about being the chief of Special Investigations as she prefers going alone rather than leading a unit. Her team consists of paranormal operatives to include two vampires and the ghost of her late partner; while their mission is resolving FBI cold cases with an otherworldly spin.

They look through the mountain of paperwork sent to them by Jackie's former boss. When they read a report on exorbitant amounts of paranormal activity in Thatcher's Mill, Jackie, her lover Nick Anderson the vampire heads to the remote town. Meanwhile something from Deadworld controls ghosts to destroy SI while also stalking Jackie while she sleeps; the plan is to use and abuse Jackie as a sacrifice while the counter strategy forces the SI chief to travel between the lands of the living and the dead.

The third Deadworld police procedural urban fantasy (see The Vengeful Dead) is a superb entry as J.N. Duncan makes her paranormal seem normal. Fast-paced and filled with action, readers will root for the heroine and her team to defeat the evil one who tortures ghosts and torments Jackie who has enough on her plate with her relationship with Nick. The Lingering Dead is a winner.

Sweet Spot
Kate Angell
Kensington Brava
9780758269188, $6.99

At Club Haunt, Driscoll Financial associate Catherine "Cat" May wears a Wonder Woman costume. Richmond Rogues second baseman James "Law" Lawless is dressed as Captain America. They meet and both feel like superheroes.

James hires Cat to help him with his outside of baseball business activities. At the same time he searches for the woman who took him to Paradise. Cat knows who Captain America is, but refuses to reveal to her client who her alter ego is although every time he is near she wants to lie down on either his shield or second base with him on top. However lips are fingerprints to him.

The latest Richmond Rogues' baseball romance is an entertaining sports tale starring two superheroes. The lead couple is a nice pairing of an arrogant athlete and a no play business handler. Although similar in tone as a one pitch game to previous entries, (see SLIDING HOME, STRIKE ZONE, CURVEBALL and SQUEEZE PLAY), fans will enjoy the final amusing cocky antics while wondering whether the team can defeat those Damn Yankees.

Guardian of the Night
Linda Thomas-Sundstrom
Harlequin Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373885855, $5.50,

A Blood Knights Guardian created centuries ago to protect the purity of vampires in order to keep humans safe from his species; Mason LanVal has remained faithful to his pledge. Miami surgeon Dr. Faith James arrives in France seeking her missing sister Hope. To do so she must find Mason who has no phone. However, she foolishly falls into a vampire trap. Mason rescues her but not before she is injured.

She asks Mason for help, but is confused with what she has learned so far especially her being a no longer dormant trueborn Lycan thanks to his kiss of blood and Hope is an innate werewolf hunter adopted by their parents. For the first time in his centuries of existence, Mason struggles with his pledge of remaining a pureblood as he wants his worst taboo.

The latest Vampire Moons romantic urban fantasy (see Golden Vampire) is a thrilling entry from the moment Faith arrives in South France and never slows down until the final confrontation. Readers will relish this well written thriller due to a wonderful Midi location and a s strong cast as the werewolf and the vampire commit seemingly the worst sin possible by falling in love.

The Enemy's Kiss
Zandria Munson
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373885862, $5.50

New York auction gallery owner Nicholas Drakon is elated that he no longer turned into a gargoyle at daybreak every day; as his Romanian clan's centuries-old curse was lifted (see Heiress To A Curse for his brother Marius' tale). Master cat burglar Daniela Ferreira knows of the successful siblings as she plans to rob an amulet from them for a client. However, she is unaware that this relic and a companion piece will bring back the curse on the Drakon family.

Nicholas vows to regain the priceless artifact while Daniela's client abducts her younger sister to insure she cooperates and steals the second amulet. When the thief and the once cursed man meet, each is stunned by the attraction. As he reluctantly teams up with her to rescue Elaina, Nicholas fears he will soon have to choose between his family and his heart.

The second Drakon romantic urban fantasy is a superb suspense thriller. The lead couple is a dynamic pairing as neither can afford love at this time with family members from both sides in potential peril depending upon what they do. Fast-paced from the moment the heroine conducts surveillance of the auction gallery and never slowing down, readers will relish this terrific tense thriller with a fabulous climatic twist.

Shades of Desire
Virna DePaul
Harlequin HQN
9780373776351, $7.99

The serial killer has only failed to complete the murder once. Photojournalist Natalie Jones escaped, but pays the price from her harrowing assault as she has become a legally blind agoraphobic. Natalie never leaves her home as her beloved vocation is a thing of the past.

California Department of Justice Special Agent Liam McKenzie investigates the Jones attack. He is upset with himself when he unprofessionally wants the victim, who feels the same way about their undesirable attraction. Liam persuades a reluctant acrimonious Natalie to help him catch the predator; neither is aware that her photos she has taken already contain the clues needed to identify and put away this deadly psychopath.

This is an engaging romantic suspense starring two individuals who know love is unwanted at this time as each has major issues to deal with. The over the top storyline is still fun to follow though the jaded cast takes away from the unique romance between a cop and a victim who team up to hunt a deadly hunter who, in turn, stalks them.

My Fair Concubine
Jeannie Lin
9780373296941, $6.25

In 824 Changan, China, Fei Long came home when his Ministry of Works father died. He had ignored his sister Pearl's plea to help her avoid a bridal alliance to a powerful barbarian lord in Khitan as decreed by the Emperor. Stunned Fei Long believes his father's spirit is restless because Pearl has run away with her beloved Zheng Xie Han. A desperate Fei Long selects recently fired from the teahouse Yan Ling as a perfect substitute for his sibling though his choice is an orphan ignorant about behaving like lady.

Enlisting his friends, Fei Long tries to teach his recruit to act like a noble instead of an outspoken opinionated street urchin. Inspector Tong feels Fei Long is pulling off a ruse, but shockingly the substitute hequin behaves like a lady. However, as Fei Long works his miracle to prepare her to "the other side of heaven", he falls in love with his student while Yan Ling falls in love with her mentor.

This is a great My Fair Lady in a vividly drawn ninth century Tang Dynasty setting. The lead couple is a fabulous pairing of two intellects in a teacher-pupil relationship that is actually a delightful gender war. Fans will agree this is the year of Lin.

The Long Shot
Ellen Hartman
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717774, $5.50

Milton High School Principal Ty Chambers informs guidance counselor Julia Bradley that all sports programs were cut due to the austere budget. However, as a former player on a championship team, he also proudly says that the boys' basketball program received funding from its boosters group. Julia, the coach of the girls' team bets Ty that her squad makes the State tournament and her boosters will fund the trip. Her brother Henry suggests she turn to retired professional basketball player Deacon Fallon as her assistant.

Though he loathes his hometown of Milton, New York, Deacon agrees to coach the team to help his younger brother Wes who requires community service for a stunt that led to his suspension from college. Julia tricks him as he thought it would be the boys' team and besides none of the players appear interested in basketball. However, when Ty arrives to honor the school hero and mentions Coach Simon, Deacon says he is behind schedule so he needs to meet with his players as the "Basketball Brothers" will lead the girls' team. As they work together, Deacon and Julia fall in love, but each has issues to overcome.

The support cast makes for a strong romance as readers obtain a close look at the importance of sports in the lives of students and a community. Faster than a Magic Johnson Laker fast-break, fans will enjoy this fine tale as the older counselor and the younger athlete fall in love while coaching the girls' team.

Waters Run Deep
Liz Talley
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717767, $5.50

California based private investigator Anna Mendes is assigned to go undercover as a nanny to five year old Spencer, son of Hollywood director Carter and actress Tawny Keene while they are on location near Bayou Bridge in South Louisiana. Someone has threatened the family so Anna has the perfect cover to protect the child and somewhat his parents and investigate who is behind the menace.

Upon first sight, Annie recognizes that Nate Dufrene is a local though he wears no uniform. Nate has a personal interest in catching the predator as he will do anything to prevent what happened to his sister Della who vanished in 1986. Anna and Nate are attracted to one another, but she was burned in a relationship during a case once before and besides each recognize keeping Spencer and his parents safe from an unknown adversary takes precedent over their personal desires.

This is an exciting romantic suspense starring two protagonists who know protecting the child comes before their feelings for one another. Action-packed, fans will enjoy this strong whodunit Waters Run Deep in the Bayou.

No Ordinary Sheriff
Mary Sullivan
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717804, $5.50

Two weeks ago her brother Tom visited DEA agent Shannon Wilson. She pleaded with him to enter rehab. Now their sister Janey (see No Ordinary Cowboy) tells Shannon he came to see her in Ordinary, Montana and looked terrible. Shannon conceals from her worried sibling that she is in Tom's apartment as she wants Janey to go to Disney World with her family. Tom is dead from a meth OD and she has taken time off to find who sold him the drugs.

Sheriff Cash Kavenagh investigates the overdose death. He and Shannon agree to work together on apprehending who sold the meth to Tom. They are attracted to one another and she respects his volunteering to spend time with a boy. However, neither is ready to sacrifice for love.

This is an exciting romantic suspense that catches the essence of market capitalism at its best with a meth operation Near Yellowstone. The story line is fast-paced as the readers learn more about the drug distribution system from manufacturer to wholesaler to retailer to buyer. Although the drug chieftain is a stretch, fans will enjoy this engaging investigate romance as the two cops work the case while falling in love.

Private Security
Mallory Kane
Harlequin Intrigue
9780373696185, $5.25

The horrible cave in of the Golden Galaxy Casino left six dead. Private investigator Juliana Caprese believes the casino's builder Michael Delancey is responsible for the tragic collapse that killed her father. She seeks proof. Another investigator John Dawson also looks into the fatal accident that led to his changing his name from Dawson Delancey as his father Michael swears to him he did not cause the tragedy.

Rookie Juliana and veteran John team up on the inquiry as they search for the vanished contractor Randall Knoblock. John saves her life several times as someone tries to kill them. However, Juliana perceives her mentor is hiding something significant from her; she vows to find out what; while he wonders whether his father or another family member wants him dead. As they fall in love, he fears how she will react when she learns he hid the fact that he is son of the man she believes killed her father.

The latest Delancey Dynasty romantic suspense (see Double Edged Detective) is a delightful tale starring two sleuths in love but the tie between their fathers leaves any relationship between them in jeopardy. The whodunit is engaging while the romance is enjoyable though concealing an identity is not a new concept. Fans will appreciate Mallory Kane's action-packed filled thriller as the "... the truth will set you free", but does not guarantee happiness if you even live long enough to learn the truth.

The Immortal Rules
Julie Kagawa
Harlequin Teen
9780373210510, $18.99

The plague changed the food chain as humans became cattle while vampires took over the top rung. Inside the walled vampire dominated cities, people like seventeen years old Allie Sekemoto live at the outer Fringe as a food source at night while in the day they are scavengers who better be careful especially if they venture into the Inner City as quislings will sell a peer out to their Masters. Outside the walls are the brutal hybrid Rabids who thrive on human flesh.

While Allie was scavenging for food, a Rabid assaults her. Kanin the vampire gives Julie a choice between dead and undead. Though she loathes vampires, Julie chooses life. She vows to retain her humanity while Kanin mentors her on vampire society. Julie joins human refugees seeking asylum on the mythical island of Eden, but hides her vampiric nature from the wary travelers. On the dangerous trek though the devastated Rabid land, Julie falls in love with Zeke, but fears telling him the truth.

The "legend" of the Blood of Eden teenage saga begins with a strong paranormal romance in a fully developed dystopian world. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Julie escorts readers around the city and never slows as the band of adventurers run into all types of danger and obstacles. With a nod to Hiero's Journey (Sterling Lanier), Julie is a terrific heroine who keeps the exciting thriller focused as she, her mates and the appreciative audiences travel the lethal Kagawa world.

The Witch Thief
Lori Devoti
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373618835, $5.50

A century and one year ago Amma the witch stole a chalice from its guard dragon shifter Joarr. She left the Chalice Keeper trapped in his dragon form in a room in which he could barely move slightly. She traded her booty to a dwarf.

In the present Joarr needs the chalice to save his race from a deadly plague that kills the fledglings. Joarr captures Amma's spirit inside a lantern. He demands she tell him who she sold the chalice to or else. Like she did with the princess who stole her spirit, Amma plans to remain patient and in hiding from her frustrated captor who considers burning her and the lantern. Rike arrives accusing Joarr of losing the chalice as disaster has struck their race as he explains the young are dying including his son. The possessor of the chalice leaves a note to the dragons to meet this unknown individual if they want it back. Joarr knows he must venture into the lair of their enemy; Amma comes out of hiding and joins him.

This is superb romantic fantasy starring two strong protagonists who make the world of Lori Devoti seem real. Fast-paced from the moment Amma tricks Joarr and never slowing down, fans will enjoy this engaging tale as the heroes fall in love but partial redemption (each knows they cannot bring back those who died) is what they seek.

A Wolf's Heart
Vivi Anna
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373618828, $5.50

Hybrid vampire-wolf shifter Elise LeRoy the Oscar winning Otherworld actress receives a threatening letter signed by blood drops. She knows not to ignore the unpleasant note. Nouveau Monde police inspector Gabriel Bellmonte the Lycan is assigned to keep Elise safe.

Fifteen years ago they were in love but he failed to keep her safe from a violent attack. Still he knows he loves her and would die for her. She never got over him either but his guilt over failing her rivals the strength of his love for her. Still he knows he must remain focused as someone nasty stalks his beloved.

This is a wonderful second chance at love urban fantasy starring two lead characters with a past that still haunts both of them. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment the heroine deals with her odious co-star during a shoot and never slows down until the final confrontation as Gabriel risks his life to keep Elise safe. Though the villain seems obvious, fans will enjoy this entertaining paranormal romance.

Deadly Is The Kiss
Rhyannon Byrd
Harlequin HQN
9780373776801, $7.99

Ashe Granger the Formyndare warrior of the Deschanel vampires is resolute when it comes to performing his mission to protect mankind. The only crack in his determination is his destined mate Juliana Sabin who is locked away with her family in an isolated impenetrable prison for crimes of treason. However, Ashe conceals his need to rescue her from his peers and the Council with an out of sight almost out of mind tenet.

His resolve implodes when Juliana arrives in London to beg him to help her. She explains an unknown individual enabled her to escape incarceration though the Wastelands. Furthermore, Juliana insists she and her family are innocent of the sedition charges and that someone wants them dead before they can prove they did not commit acts of treason. Desperately wanting to believe her, Ashe knows he is biased, but rationalizes if she is telling the truth, a dangerous conspiracy is brewing.

The first "post" Primal Instinct fantasy romance (see Rush of Darkness and Rush of Pleasure) is an exciting thriller that focuses on the Deschanel vampire cultures. Though it helps to have read entries from the previous series to better understand the Byrd mythos, this is a fast-paced action-packed tale starring destined mates investigating a deadly truth.

Coming Up For Air
Karen Foley
Harlequin Blaze
9780373796861, $5.25

Before deploying to Afghanistan for six months, Army Black Hawk helicopter captain Jenna Larson and Special Forces Major Chase Rawlins enjoy a tryst at Fort Bragg. However, instead of "Major Hottie" Chase, he is the twin "Major Hottie" Chance an Apache helicopter pilot. Though he knows he should tell her who he is and he knows he breaks his steadfast rule re sex with helicopter pilots, Chance rationalizes that this is a one night stand.

Jenna and Chance meet again in Afghanistan. He needs to soar with her again, but knows he also owes her the truth that she slept with the devilish hottie and not the consummate serious twin. As they fall in love, he encourages her to keep on flying; something her dad the career officer and most male pilots scorn females in the cockpit.

The latest Uniformly Hot! military romance deftly merges combat missions with a strong love story. Filled with action, fans will enjoy Jenna proving she belongs in a cockpit (in spite of the name) as she performs rescue missions and other sorties in the combat zone. Chance is terrific as he supports her vocation.

Her Man Advantage
Joanne Rock
Harlequin Blaze
9780373796885, $5.25

Philadelphia Phantoms defenseman Axel Rankin refuses to sign the waiver that would enable a film crew from following him and the team for a documentary on them. He gives his coach Nico Cesare some excuse, but hides his real reason is his enemies from his gangbanger days as a child back home in Finland might find him. Cesare says this is not negotiable as the team prepares for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

However, Axel's issues go stratospheric when he meets director, Jennifer Hunter who does not want to do this project. The Helsinki hockey player and the New York filmmaker are in instant heat that could melt the rink's ice. Neither is prepared for their first kiss, which ends up on film.

This is an engaging hockey romance (see One Man Rush) with once again two love stories though the flying fighting Finn and the fiery feisty filmmaker are the stars. The gang coming after a former goon never quite gels, but still fans will enjoy the Double Overtime romances as the lead couple (and a teammate and a fan) fall in love.

Lassoing The Deputy
Marie Ferrarella
Harlequin American Romance
9780373754069, $5.25

A decade ago Cash Taylor left Forever, Texas to become a hot shot criminal lawyer in Southern California. He comes home to attend his grandfather's wedding, but plans to get back to Beverly Hills as soon as he can say goodbye to his family.

Sheriff's Deputy Alma Rodriguez believes she no longer loves Cash, who dumped her ten years ago. However, at first sight she knows her belief is wrong. Cash is stunned that he still remains deeply attracted to the woman he left behind. However, he tries to ignore his feelings, but somehow she sees the haunting in his eyes from a tragic case he was involved in that has left him suffering from depression.

The latest Forever, Texas romance (see The Doctor's Forever Family and Ramona And The Renegade) is a wonderful second chance at love tale. The support cast is solid while Alma and Cash are a delight as they each fear their feelings means hurt, but still cannot resist the attraction. Although his healing from what appears to be near crippling PTSD seems too miraculous but fans will enjoy their journey.

The Maverick Returns
Roz Denny Fox
Harlequin American Romance
9780373754083, $5.25

Cooper Drummond fled the family Triple D Ranch and his girlfriend Willow Courtland to join the rodeo. Willow married Tate Walker on the rebound. Tate proved a nasty husband who refused to accept their autistic daughter Lily as his. When he died in a brawl, she inherited their rundown ranch.

Retired from the rodeo so his bones could heal, Coop rejects his older brother Sullivan's demands to either come home or sign his share of the spread to his nephew. He learns of a widow needing help so he travels to the spread to obtain work. To his shock, the widow is Willow. Coop wants a second chance, but Willow refuses as she cannot afford a broken heart when Lily needs her. However, Coops' patience and nurturing of Lilybelle begins to win over the love of his life.

The key to this strong second chance at love ranch romance is Lilybelle whose disorder brings together the lead couple. Character driven, Rox Denny Fox provides a wonderful tale of a couple still in love as they were in their Aggie days but distrusting one another. As a mother of a high functioning Asperger's Syndrome, I am biased when it comes to the special needs of those on the Autism Spectrum; as Ms. Fox captures the essence of the relationship between a caring parent and a low to middle functioning child. The Maverick Returns is terrific as love heals many psychological wounds.

The Hot Gate
John Ringo
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781451638189, $7.99,

In the outer Solar System, the orbital gates appear as a trading boom for mankind and the Grtul, but the Horvath arrive in warships conquering Terra (see (see Live Free or Die). As humanity quickly teetered on the brink of extinction, tycoon Tyler Vernon converted the large asteroid Troy into a tremendous battle station that along with the Solar Array Pumped Laser humans was used to drive away the invaders from the Sol System. However, an even more dangerous threat entered the system as the reptilian Rangora began a deadly serpentine blitzkrieg (see Citadel).

Though earthlings have battled back, the threat remains ominous. To survive and thrive they must go where no one has dared ventured before: into the heart of the Rangora horde. Tyler Vernon and his unit aboard Troy begin the suicidal counter assault.

The latest Troy Rising storyline starts slow with a deep but irrelevant look into relationships in various cultures before finally turning back into the war of the solar systems. When the plot returns to its military science fiction theme, the tale goes into hyperspeed as readers anticipate the deadly confrontation that affirms Stalin's commentary: "When one man dies it is a tragedy, when thousands die it's statistics."

Steve White and Charles E. Gannon
9781451638141, $7.99

The telepathic Arduans fled their galaxy as their sun went nova. They traveled for centuries until they reached their destination Bellerophon. However, they are unhappy to find a sentient race recently colonized the planet. Still after what they have been through to reach their new home, the Arduans believing they are supreme as the only sentient race see the humans as a minor irritant.

Adding to their manifest destiny belief is the feebleness of human existence. Whereas the humans live one short life as telepathic mutes, Arduans live numerous lives while recalling each. The warrior caste wants to cleanse the orb and the rest of the galaxy using stolen technology from humans and their allies (Orions, Ophiuchi and Gorm) of these nothing species while Ankaht the scientist-philosopher tries to find a peaceful solution to benefit both species as well the indigenous population.

This reprint entry (co-authored by Charles E. Gannon) in Steve White's Starfire saga collaborating with David Weber (see The Stars at War) and Shirley Meier (see Exodus) is a terrific military science fiction that is at its best during the non-combat scenes. The battles are entertaining, but it is the philosophical debate on belief systems, species profiling and ethics especially from the alien perspective that make for a powerful timely thriller with applications in our society.

Hard Magic
Larry Correia
9781451638240, $7.99

A few decades after magic entered the world, Charles Darwin claimed this ability as proof of his general law that the strong survive and the weak die as he believes traditional mankind will become extinct. Two opposing groups have surfaced vying to control magic. The idealistic Grimnoir Society believes magic should be used as a force for good for the planet while the realistic Japanese Imperium know practitioners are the top of the food chain.

Both are fighting over control of Nikolas Tesla's last known invention. Caught in the middle is private investigator Jake Sullivan. One side magically recruits him giving him an option of joining or joining; while the other side actively wants to kill him giving him an option of death or death. A veteran of the trenches, kick butt Jake always leads with his chin, having spent time for magical manslaughter. Being an Active Magical his skill is changing the mass of an object to make it much lighter or heavier and has used it against those trying to kill him.

The first Grimnoir Chronicles is an exciting historical hard boiled fantasy as the Magicals are like Wall St. bankers who use their skill with too big to fail immunity unless another practitioner destroys them. The storyline is action-packed especially when the hero gets into one of his zillion brawls. Although the good and evil war over magical deployment is well written and entertaining, it is the little alternative historical tidbits that pull the reader from the plot; for instance Hitler's suicide in 1929 had this reviewer wondering what happened to Germany and WWII. Mindful of the movie Cast A Deadly Spell, this is an intriguing opening act.

Dog and Dragon
Dave Freer
9781451638110, $14.00

Seventeen years has passed since Fionn knocked down the South-Eastern tower that contained the void (see Dragon's Ring). Over that time, paramatter has mixed with real matter.

The Earl of Carfon and Guardian of the Southern Marches Lord Alois demands the young woman identify herself even as he tries to kill her. Her screams lead to other men arriving at the anteroom who tackle Alois. With some of his guards dead outside the room, Prince Regent of Lyonesse Medraut ap Corrin asks the female who she is. She says she is called Meb but her true name is Anghared. Stunned Medraut has doubts until Alois states she used magic to get inside the impenetrable walls of Dun Tagoll. Meb points out her screams saved the prince's life from Alois.

Medraut wonders if Meb is the prophesized Defender. She is taken to meet the Mage Aberinn, but he and Medraut are frustrated and confused with how she suddenly got inside the castle. At the same time, Fionn the black dragon and Dileas the sheepdog search for Scrap, the name they have given Meb as they head towards Lyonesse.

The second Lyonesse dragon fantasy is an action-packed thriller that grips the audience from the opening scene in which Meb cannot explain her arrival or how a window, which became a wall, reverts back to a window. From that entreating hook, the story line moves out nicely on two fronts as Meb tries to stay alive while Aberinn believes she is the enemy, and on the dangerous trek by Fionn and Dileas. Fans will feel Dave Freer soars with this exciting tale.

The Road of Danger
David Drake
9781451638158, $25.00

After the war left both the Republic of Cinnabar and the Alliance severely crippled, the two empires agree to end the hostilities. However, the peace is at best shaky as neither Cinnabar and the Alliance has demobilized; instead many of the military remain on active duty status drawing reduced pay.

In that environment, Captain Daniel Leary and Warrant Officer Adele Mundy report to regional commandant Admiral Cox on Kronstadt after completing the first phase of a mission. Jealous and angry, Cox overtly is hostile to them before ordering them to remove the Cinnabar citizen Freedom leading a revolt on Sunbright in the Funnel Cluster where the Alliance has a base. Both are stunned as they thought they and the crew of the Princess Cecile would be part of the Tattersall action. The rebellion is an RCN matter because Freedom claims Republic backing. Going undercover Leary pretends to be an unemployed officer downsized when the Treaty of Amiens was signed; Mundy masquerades as a former planetary ruler and the owner of the Cecile. However, the mission proves much more complex than an envious desk jockey admiral expected when he sent Leary on what seemed frivolous job; instead someone is spending a lot of capital to cause a revolt and perhaps reignite hostilities.

The latest RCN Leary-Mundy military science fiction (see What Distant Deeps) is an engaging outer space thriller starring the two opposites in personalities. The storyline starts slow as the scope is laid out, but quickly accelerates as the seemingly unrelated subplots merge into an exciting tale.

Demon's Bride
Zoe Archer
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9781420122282, $6.99,

He was raised in poverty; scorned by those who looked down at him. Leopold Bailey vowed to do anything to become affluent and influential so that he can strike back at those who belittled him when he was a nonentity. He made a pact with the devil that enables him to foresee the future. This advantage led his becoming affluent and influential.

In 1763, to the Ton, even to the impoverish aristocrats, Leo remains a commoner beneath them. He knows the only ticket to the ballrooms is an aristocratic bride. He chooses bookworm Anne Hartfield, daughter of an impoverished baron; she accepts as she knows that with no dowry he is her only marital offer. Both are stunned when they begin to fall in love with each other. However, Lord Whitney, once a Hellraiser, warns Anne that Leo sold his soul into damnation and only she can redeem him.

The second Hellraisers' paranormal Georgian romance is a terrific paradoxical Faustian thriller starring a bad boy hero who sold himself to the devil and the caring female who prays she can rescue his soul through his heart. Though the premise is similar to Devil's Kiss, the heroine's reserve personality is different than her extroverted Romany predecessor so she refreshes the fast-paced storyline from her opening marriage to a stranger to the final confrontation as once again love may not be enough to save his soul.

Melt Into You
Lisa Plumley
9781420122114, $6.99

A decade ago, Damon Torrance hired recently married Natasha Jennings as his administrative assistant. Over the years he took her for granted as she made his firm Torrance Chocolates a powerhouse while extracting him from his sexcapades and other foibles. Now a single mom, she has hidden how she feels about him until Natasha realizes she cannot any longer deal with falling in love as her first time ended poorly. Natasha quits.

He is shocked by her departure. However, Damon is unprepared for a string of back luck while Natasha is on a roll. Somehow he believes she left with his luck and he needs her back. With his house flooded Damon persuades Natasha to let him stay for now. While he plans to behave, she plans to have her way with him.

With a nod to the secondary romance in The Duchess of Idaho, Melt Into You is a charming lighthearted romp. The fun in the tale is "demon" Damon's attempts to behave while now naughty Natasha has other ideas. Fans will enjoy this amusing tale of mojo lost and regained (maybe) if each embraces their love.

Now You See Her
James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10017
9780446574709, $14.99,

In 1992 in Key West, intoxicated college student Jeanine flips out when she sees her boyfriend Alex making out with her BFF Maureen. The betrayal hurts immensely because they were at her side when her mom committed suicide; her dad had died years earlier in the line of duty as a Maryland state trooper. Drunk, she flees in Alex's car before running over a man to avoid a dog. Police Officer Peter Fournier tells her to leave the scene and go back to school; as if this never happened as the victim Ramon Pena was a hard core rapist.

She heeded the cop's advice. Now eighteen years later, Nina Bloom is a successful New York lawyer with a sixteen years old daughter Emma. Nina has told no one what happened in Key West though her husband Peter knows. However, her idyllic world shatters when she becomes involved in the Jump Killer murder case in Florida. In a few days the state will execute Harris for a homicide that she knows he did not commit. Harris' attorney Charles initially rejects her help but changes his mind when she points out inconsistencies in the evidence against his client. Still time is running out.

Over the top of "Mt. Trashmore" due to too many coincidences and a caricature serial killer; yet fans will enjoy this fast-paced thriller that hooks the audience to learn what next as Now You See Her is hard to put down. Nina is terrific as she holds the exciting storyline together. Fans who ignore plausibility will enjoy this entertaining Florida legal thriller.

Lauren Dane
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425247365, $15.00,

For almost a year, the Imperium imprisoned and tortured Hannah Black. She barely survives by constantly repeating who she is. Still they nearly break her as her hope to escape diminishes over the long captivity. Federated Universes military officer Vincenz Cuomo liberates Hannah.

She begins the mental and physical rehabilitation while Vin and his lover Julian Marsters encourage her. As Hannah heals she becomes their lover too. Refusing to hide in the shadows, she joins her two men on a mission to an outlying lab where she proves her worth by decrypting code that warns them war is about to heat up even as she learns who her rescuer truly is.

The latest Phantom Corps entry (see Insatiable and Mesmerized) military romantic science fiction is an action-packed thriller (in space and on the bed) starring an intriguing menage a trois. This exciting tale contains a fast-paced plot from the opening rescue, sexual interludes, and fabulous twists including a late stunner. Series readers will be Captivated by the Relentless trio who battle a repressive vicious adversary who is after the blood of especially one of them.

Hannah's Joy
Marta Perry
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780425246948, $14.00,

Following the death of her husband Travis while on a military tour in Afghanistan Hannah Conroy and her twenty-month old son Jamie move to Pleasant Valley, Pennsylvania to live with her Aunt Paula Schatz. Hannah lived in Pleasant Valley as a child until her parents left their Mennonite faith. She works in her aunt's bakery while wondering if staying here is good for her and her son.

When Hannah and woodworker William Brand meet, they share a sense of camaraderie as both feels like outsiders; she because of her years spent in the Englisher world and he due to a stutter. Hannah wants to help him with his speech impediment though she never completed her speech therapy program. William's family opposes any relationship, even as a speech teacher, between them; while Travis' father retired officer Robert threatens a custody suit if she fails to leave a community that does not support the military.

The latest Pleasant Valley (see Katie's Way and Anna's Return) is an enjoyable Mennonite romance starring two fascinating individuals. Each feels they do not belong in the community as Marta Perry provides a strong case that one can feel alone even within a welcoming loving family. Both are poster children of Maslow's Hierarchy's third step (each recognizes their physiological and safety needs are covered); as Hannah and William feel a lack of belonging. Though setting the key cast members takes a bit longer than usual, fans will enjoy this warm tale of love and belonging.

The Azalea Assault
Alyse Carlson
9780425251300, $7.99

In Roanoke, Virginia, Camellia Harris loves her life. She and her boyfriend sports reporter Rob adore each other and Cam shares a two floor house with her best friend Annie Schultz. Finally she loves her work as events coordinator for the Garden Delights magazine.

Garden Delights plans to feature The Patrick House Gardens with renowned photographer Jean-Jacques Georges taking the shots. When he arrives at his welcoming bash, charismatic egomaniacal Jean-Jacques alienates everyone with his complaints and his female butt groping. Soon afterward he dies from poison in the catered meal by Spoons restaurant owned by Cam's sister Petunia. Not long afterward magazine photographer editor Ian demands the shoot be cancelled, but Cam suggests a nepotistic alternative, her sister Petunia. Ian becomes the second homicide victim. The police arrest Petunia's husband former con Nick the prime chef at Spoons and Annie for the murders. Rob and Cam investigate, but she learns how many people found the victims despicable and wanted the photographers dead.

With a nod to the Garden Mystery series by Anthony Eglin, the alpha A Garden Society Mystery is a fun amateur sleuth starring a likable caring heroine who relates in the third person her investigation while also providing a delightful tour of the city. Cam's rationale for sleuthing is her love for her sister and her best friend. Although the storyline can slow down at times, cozy fans and garden aficionados will enjoy Alyse Carlson entertaining opening act.

Hearse and Buggy
Laura Bradford
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425251317, $7.99

Though Claire Weatherly was married for five years to a prominent businessman, his neglect and apathy towards her left her feeling deserted and alone. Claire divorced her spouse accepted her Aunt Diane's invitation to stay at her Sleep Heavenly Bed & Breakfast in Amish Heavenly, Pennsylvania. Claire opens up Heavenly Treasures selling Amish items. As she begins making friends like her assistant Esther King and the next door owner of the Shoe Fly Bake Shoppe Ruth Miller, Claire feels she belongs for the first time in a long time.

Claire's contentment ends when she finds the murdered corpse of the former store owner odious Walter Snow behind her shop. Leading the homicide investigation is Police Detective Jakob Fisher; who is shunned by his Amish community including his family due to his violent vocation. The prime suspect is Eli Miller, who threatened to harm Snow if he did not return money the thief stole from the Amish when he sold their furniture in consignment. At the same time someone vandalizes gentle Ruth's bakery. Feeling she owes a debt of gratitude for the warm welcome, Claire investigates the homicide and the vandalism though she has never done anything remotely like this before.

Hearse and Buggy is an engaging amateur sleuth that interweaves Amish society with an enjoyable whodunit. Claire is a terrific protagonist whose wonderful investigation enables readers to obtain insight into the Amish culture. Although Claire's reason for amateur sleuthing is weak, fans will enjoy her inquiry as Laura Bradford provides a delightful Amish cozy

A Deadly Grind
Victoria Hamilton
9780425248010, $7.99

In Michigan siblings Rebecca and Jaymie Leighton attend an auction in which the latter buys a vintage 1920s Hoosier Kitchen Cabinet over the objection of her older sister who insists their Queensville house is already too cluttered though she resides in nearby Ontario. Brett Delgado, who is staying at the next door Jones B&B, helps Jaymie get the heavy cabinet onto her porch.

That night, the tired sisters are awakened by a loud noise. They investigate only to find a corpse of a well-dressed male near the cabinet and some purchased china shattered. Police Detective Christian leads the homicide investigation in which John Doe victim's head was bashed in by the cabinet's meat grinder. Unable to remain out of the inquiry, Jaymie and Hopalong her three-legged Yorkie Poo investigate the murder.

The first A Vintage Kitchen Mystery is an exciting regional amateur sleuth. The investigation is clever though Jaymie's reason for doing it seems weak while her relationship with her sister enhances the whodunit. With a solid support cast, a murder most likely tied to the Hoosier, and a recipe for Queen Elizabeth Cake, fans will enjoy this fun Michigan cozy.

The Anatomy of Death
Felicity Young
9780425247297, $15.00

Dr. Dody McCleland is the first female autopsy surgeon as few women practice medicine in England let alone have the dead as patients. Ironically, in spite of her unusual vocation, she and her sister Florence disagree on how to obtain women's rights. Florence prefers showy demonstrations by her Bloomsbury Division of the Women's Suffrage and Political Union while Dody believes methodical proof of competency is the better method.

New Scotland Yard Superintendent Shepherd and DCI Pike arrive at St. Thomas' Mortuary after a rally led by Florence and others turn violent; a death occurred. However, due to a conflict of interest Dody is unable to conduct the autopsy of the victim because Catherine Cartwright is a close friend of her sibling. Still Dody examines the corpse and concludes someone beat Catherine to death. She quietly informs Pike, who detests brute force against those that are weaker. He investigates while Shepherd wants him removed from the department in order to close the case.

This is an entertaining historical mystery that deftly merges the turn of the twentieth century suffragettes' movement with the early days of forensic detecting. Dody is a super protagonist as she breaks into an all-male field while fabulous Florence the rebel with a cause plots rallies over tea. Although the whodunit is cleverly devised, that taut plot feels secondary to the salad days of women's liberation.

Kiss The Dead
Laurell K. Hamilton
9780425247549, $27.95

An old world Master Vampire Benjamin commits heresy when he changes people into fledglings but fails to tie the newbies to him through a blood oath. His actions are a major breach in acceptable vampiric culture.

Preternatural Unit U.S. Marshal Vampire Executioner Anita Blake interrogates and breaks Barney the liberated vampire over the abduction of a fifteen years old human female who requested transformation. Anita and her team go to the address he provides expecting a trap. They enter the abode to find the teen, but to their dismay they find vampire changed children, soccer moms and grannies. Anita uses psychological torture to learn where the other unfettered rookie vamps live.

While Anita works the unpledged vampire investigation, she also has doubts about a relationship with eighteen years old Sin while dealing with the jealousy of ancient Asher. Anita, accompanied by her live-in lovers, were-leopards Nathaniel and Micah, enter the Circus Nightclub to spend time with her vampire master lover Jean-Claude. Raging Asher gets into a fight with his male lover in which he injures Anita. Fuming Jean-Claude warns him to leave the St. Louis immediately. At the same a vampire plots to kill Anita, her friends and lovers.

The latest Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter urban fantasy (see Bullet) is an excellent entry as there is a much better balance between her law enforcement work and her personal life. The nightmarish fledgling issue is a strong counterpoint to her sensual lovemaking; Anita empathizes for these victims but knows what she must do while her trysts reflect an inner serenity that showcases she has come a long way baby as she mentally hugs her need for multiple paranormal partners. Laurell K. Hamilton is the reigning queen of the urban fantasy world.

The Big Kitty
Claire Donally
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425248027, $7.99

When her widow father suffered a heart attack, reporter Sunny Coolidge took a leave of absence from her job at New York Standard to return home to Kittery Harbor, Maine to nurture him back to health. However, soon after she left The Big Apple, her boss fired her claiming revenue drops and ended their personal relationship too.

Eight months later, Sunny remains in Maine, unable to obtain work at the Harbor Crier as editor Ken Howell rejects the big city journalist. Instead she earns chump change working at Maine Adventure Experience for miser Ollie Barnstable.

Senior Ada "The Cat Lady" Spruance asks Sunny to find her missing Powerball winning lottery ticket worth $six million, which she agrees to do over the weekend. Shadow the cat follows Sunny home and is with her when she goes to Ada's home only to find her dead in what looks like an accidental fall down stairs. Town Constable Will Price and Sunny the reporter think a murder occurred as the lottery ticket is missing. As each investigates separately, Shadow with a nose and paw for clues joins his new pet Sunny on her inquiry.

The first Sunny and Shadow Mystery is a fun amateur sleuth tale starring a nice heroine and a title character whose thoughts brings a whimsical spin to the lighthearted whodunit. With a nod to Carole Nelson Douglas' delightful Midnight Louie mysteries (including a romantic triangle), fans will enjoy the adventures of Shadow and his adopted human as they search for the killer of the cat lady.

The Wild Wood Enquiry
Ann Purser
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425248041, $7.99

In Barrington, England the Enquire Within quartet (Ivy Beasley, her cousin Deidre Bloxham, her fiance Roy Goodman and mysterious Augustus "Gus" Halfhide) are bored after solving recent murder mysteries (see The Measby Murder Enquiry and the Hangman's Row Enquiry). Their only case lately is finding the missing cat Posey Moon.

Gus' ex-wife Katherine calls claiming she needs his help. He wants nothing to do with her as she is a con artist who pretends interest in others while using charm to get what she wants. Her activities often cross the ethics line. She comes to his cottage begging him to let her stay for a few days. He says no, but his good hearted neighbor Miriam Blake offers her a place to stay. Later Miriam realizes her foolishness as she wants to win Gus's heart. The next day Miriam finds Kath gone. She and her friend Rose Budd enter the woods searching for Kath, but find a hand instead. Detective Inspector Frobisher follows Miriam into the woods where there is no hand. The Enquire Within search for Kath and why she came to Barrington.

This is a fun though somewhat slow cozy starring retirees doing an enquiry in which there may have been foul play and loot involved, but they have no evidence of a murder or any valuables stolen; only Gus' belief Kath has pulled a stunt while Frobisher wonders if Gus pulled a stunt. Initially more of a character study than an amateur sleuth, the storyline picks up the pace when Kath's antics begin to surface. Readers who enjoy a British leisurely paced mystery will want to read The Wild Wood Enquiry.

In The Company Of Witches
Joey W. Hill
9780425250846, $7.99

Mikhael Roman the Dark Guardian arrives at the brothel on the southern plantation house run by Raina the witch and hybrid succubus. The enforcer pursues Isaac the incubus, who stole something from Lucifer. Feeling obligated Raina protects Isaac though she is a bit perturbed that her prefect hemline was burned in the battle with the hunk Mikhail and that People Magazine may not make house calls.

Mikhael believes Raina's loyalty is misplaced as Isaac has a long rap sheet culminating with his latest stunt that has Lucifer steaming. As the Dark Guardian tries to persuade the witch to release her ward into his custody, both are troubled over their attraction to one another as each understands that can only lead to trouble. Still Mikhael tries to balance his work with his love for Raina and by extension her "family" of demons who feed off the energy emitted by customers without them paying the ultimate price which would be bad for business.

The second witch romantic urban fantasy (see Something About Witches) is a wonderful exciting gender (and species) war between two beloved enemies. Fast-paced, the cheeky Raina and the determined Mikhail argue, fuss and kiss in a delightful amusing erotic tale in which love conquers all; at least amongst the paranormal.

All Sales Fatal
Laura DiSilverio
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425248034, $7.99

The IED in Iraq ended the military police career of Emma-Joy "E.J." Ferris. Last year she obtained work as a security officer at the Fernglen Galleria in Vernonville, Virginia. As she rides her Segway on patrol, she knows crime is limited to nabbing customers who "forgot to pay" like the man using a "borrowed" cart to wheel out a purchase. She hopes to land a real police job rather than remain a mall cop, but her knee makes that unlikely and besides she is grateful for a job even working for the insensitive director of security Captain Woskowicz.

She arrives at the mall before it's opened to find a corpse near the entrance. CPD detective Sergeant Anders Helland leads the investigation into the shooting murder of teenager Celio Arriagia whom she recognized from being with two other teens who seemed out of place at the mall. Although Anders warns her to stay out of real police work as he assumes her MP job was gate guard and her mall job is shop lifters. He is unhappy to learn the security camera was down as Woskowicz delayed fixing it. As EJ does grunt work for Helland on the case, she vows to solve the homicide with the unwanted help of her Grandpa Atherton especially when her boorish boss is killed.

The latest Mall Cop Mystery (see Die Buying) is an enjoyable investigative tale starring a dedicated heroine. In some ways Grandpa Atherton steals the show of this fast-paced whodunit as he and his granddaughter team up as mall sleuths.

Embraced of the Damned
Anya Bast
9780425247969, $7.99

In 1012 Norway, crazed warrior Broder delivered retribution to all the people residing in the enclave. Men, women and children are massacred; their blood seeping into his wounds. Now that his revenge is complete, Broder is ready to join his loved ones. However, Loki informs Broder that he will live for a long time suffering reprimand perhaps for eternity for his affront to the Gods. Before leaving the ungrateful barbarian, Loki sends a sliver into the miscreant's heart before telling him that in one thousand years he will meet a woman he desires but cannot have.

The creature with fangs attacks Jessamine Hamilton as she heads home at night. Brotherhood of the Damned operative Broder Calderson rescues her from the Blight blood sucking creature from Hel. He wants her; recognizing she is the one that Loki told him would haunt him. She, to her shock, reciprocates his desires. As they fall in love, Broder returns to his berserker past to keep his beloved safe though he accepts he will never have her.

The first Brotherhood of the Damned romantic urban fantasy is a super thriller that brings Nordic mythology into the twenty-first century. The hero has suffered a millennium of remorse, but is not in hell until he meets Jessa. She adapts deftly, perhaps too easily, to a world of Gods, Blights, and damned warriors interfering with mortals. Readers will relish Embraced of the Damned as love seems to be one more torturous torment by the trickster God.

The Shifter
Jean Johnson
9780425247334, $15.00

Clan Cat mates Kodan and Tava (see Shifting Plains) ask his brother Kenyen to hunt for any surviving curs from the vicious Family Mongrel though none of these monsters has been seen here in a long time. Kenyen knows these beasts rape and murder before stealing the identities of their victims.

Kenyen meets fleeing Traver, who is being stalked by curs having taken the identities of nearby locals. When the pair is trapped, Kenyen acts like a renegade and agrees to pretend to be Traver. Thus he meets Traver's "spouse" Solyn, but pretends to suffer from amnesia. He learns the couple is best friends who faked a marriage to keep her safe from Tunric. Solyn knows something changed as she is attracted to Traver not as a sister but as a lover.

This is an engaging romantic fantasy starring a courageous hero who makes the tale with his insight as a stranger in a strange society pretending to be one of them. Readers will enjoy this engaging thriller as the Johnson Shifting Plains (prequel series to the Sons of Destiny saga) mythos brilliantly expands.

Angel's End
Cindy Holby
9780425248416, $7.99

Preacher Timothy Keys travels from Ohio to his flock in Angel's End. At his campfire he welcomes severely wounded Cade Gentry for some food, warmth and a good ear. Besides his gut shot wound, Cade suffers nightmares from the deaths of his mother and baby sister. The kind preacher is murdered by Fitch's hired gun Davis who is after Cade.Just before dying Timothy tells Cade to "feed my sheep."

Sheriff's widow and single mom Leah Findley takes an unconscious Cade into her home so she can nurse him back to health. She thinks her handsome patient is the new preacher as he carries a bible with him. As Cade begins to recuperate, he is attracted to his nurse. When Leah catches the measles, they are quarantined together. As they fall in love, their mutual passion explodes. Now, armed with faith in their newfound love, all they have to face is the danger from Cade's past.

This is a terrific inspirational western romance starring a fascinating protagonist who has gone through hell and done many bad things, but starting with the Timothy encounter begins to find his way back to the lord and respectability. Action-packed, fans will root for Cade who used to pray to god as a child to intervene, but eventually concluded the lord laughed at his pleas. Fans will enjoy this engaging historical as High Noon comes to Angel's End.

Wicked Burn
Beth Kery
9780425247983, $7.99

In Chicago, Niall Chandler still grieves the death of her four years old son, murdered in front of her. Whereas she has buried herself in her work at Chicago Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art, her spouse tried suicide and then homicide when he went after her; he is locked away at an asylum.

She meets divorced playwright Vic Savian in their apartment building when he intervenes to prevent an unwanted date from pawing her. They begin an affair in which she states nothing except sex can come of it; he is all for that after he caught his fiancee cheating on him. However, Vic cannot prevent his need to protect her when she suffers her harrowing nightmares. As they fall in love, she remains insistent nothing can come of their relationship besides mind boggling sex. Confused until he learns her history, Vic must decide whether to go slow with his beloved or go gently into the night alone.

Wicked Burn is an enjoyable contemporary romance starring mentally battered protagonists falling in lust, which brings them back to life while eventually falling in love. Niall's past is heartbreaking while Vic's issue seems inane in comparison. Fans will appreciate the healing power of love as two traumatized souls may come together if they take a chance on being hurt again.

Larkspur Road
Jill Gregory
9780425250891, $7.99

In Lonesome Way, Montana, school's out for summer (Alice Cooper) so fifth grade teacher Mia Quinn plans to work with her friends at Bits and Pieces quilting society to raise funds for charity. Her high school boyfriend former FBI agent Travis Tanner arrives in Lonesome Way with his ten year old adopted son Grady. Travis is taking the lad to his family ranch while worrying about the tweener's well-being since the child's mother dumped him abruptly on her ex-husband.

Mia and Travis meet and remain attracted to each other though she knows to remain wary as he broke her heart years ago. She and her rescue dog Samson are especially good with troubled Grady. Meanwhile Travis realizes the mistake he made when he left his Mia behind; he plans to correct his blunder. However, danger has surfaced in Big Sky Country.

The second Lonesome Way contemporary romance (see Sage Creek) is an entertaining second chance at love tale. The lead couple is a fine pairing while in many ways disturbed Grady steals the show. A stalker adds suspense that feels unnecessary while events in Los Angeles enhance what is happening in Montana. Jill Gregory provides a warm romance.

Beguiling the Beauty
Sherry Thomas
9780425246962, $7.99

In 1886, Christian de Montfort, Duke of Lexington, saw Venetia Townsend for the first time. He fell in love, but was heartbroken to learn she was married. When he met her husband, Anthony who told him he may have his desire and regret it like him. A week later, Tony is dead. Five years later, Christian learns Venetia is married a much older man Mr. Easterbrook with rumors of an affair.

In 1896, Venetia attends a lecture on Lamarck vs. Darwin presented by Christian at Harvard. She held him in high regard until he got into the topic of a cold hearted beauty, whose greed killed her two husbands; she knows he means her. Irate, she vows to teach him a lesson on the scientific method as he failed to consider alternate arguments to his premise. As the Baroness von Seidlitz-Hardenberg, on a voyage from Massachusetts to England, she enters into an affair with Christian. The sex is great, but it is the intellectual discussions that have both clamoring for more. As they fall in love, she fears the truth will end their happiness.

This is a great Victorian romance in which gossip and innuendoes are critical to unfairly destroying reputations. The lead couple is super as both enjoy fossil hunting while her past and his belief in whom she is makes for a wonderful late nineteenth century historical.

Sound of the Heart
Genevieve Graham
9780425247341, $15.00

In 1746, Duncan MacDonnell informs his three sons (Dougal, Andrew and Ciaron) that he is proud of them. Dougal, who hears thoughts, knows his father expects the worst as they prepare to battle the English at Culloden. His father's belief proves correct as the Highlanders are routed with Dougal's family dead and he is captured.

A young lad Aiden helps Dougal escape. They flee from the English before taking refuge in an abandoned hut. He realizes his young companion is a girl, Glenna. Their admiration soon turns to love, but she is caught poaching. Glenna is exiled to the colonies as an indentured servant serving as a teacher while Dougal goes to prison. The owner of a bawdy house claims her next with her belief her beloved will one day find her is the only thing keeping her going. Meanwhile Dougal becomes a member of the British Army's Scottish unit before being deployed in the colonies where he seeks his beloved.

This is an exhilarating colonial romance with some paranormal elements enhancing the plot. Fast-paced, readers will believe in the Sound Of The Heart as Glenna and Dougal believe their love will one day bring them together. Genevieve Graham provides a charming whimsical tale filled with historical tidbits but anchored by the sound of love.

Murder On Fifth Avenue
Victoria Thompson
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425247419, $24.95

Chief of Detective O'Brien sends a note to Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy ordering him to meet with affluent Felix Decker at the ultra-exclusive Knickerbocker Club. Frank knows never to ignore his boss or powerful men like Decker, father of his friend midwife Sarah Brandt. He hustles over there; where adding to his surprise, Decker asks him to investigate the death of club member Chilton Devries. Furthermore, he says the undertaker had arrived at the club to take away the corpse but noticed blood; Devries was stabbed to death. Finally, Decker insists no club member would kill a peer and that if the killer can go before the city's justice so be it, but if not the club will mete out justice.

Frank investigates starting with the surviving family; not one of whom feel any grief towards the abusive Paul. Sarah and her mother assist Frank as he interviews a horde of other people elated with Devrie's death; they insist their only regret was they did not stab the SOB. A second related homicide complicates the already complex case.

This is an engaging Gaslight Mystery (see Murder on Sister's Row, Murder on Waverly Place and Murder on Lexington Avenue) as the Irish catholic cop and the wealthy midwife enter the exclusive circle of the untouchable one tenth of one percent men of power. Action-packed, the whodunit is clever, but it is the setting especially the social issues of the early twentieth century, which still thrive in the early twenty-first century that makes Victoria Thompson's investigative tale a terrific historical.

Mrs. Jeffries Defends Her Own
Emily Brightwell
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425248058, $7.99

At Sutcliffe Manufacturing, deputy manager Ronald Dearman is found dead in his office by his wife Lucretia who was accompanied there by Fiona Sutcliffe. Realizing she will be a prime suspect, as she and the victim argued just before his death, Fiona overhears the lead investigator Nigel Nivens and Constable Morehead discuss the cause of rival Inspector Witherspoon's success being his housekeeper Mrs. Witherspoon and her staff supporting her. Fiona visits widow Mrs. Jeffries who is shocked to see her estranged sister-in-law call her Hepzibah and ask for her help; but she knows she will as the late David would want her to do so.

Mrs. Jeffries and her team know the case will be the most convoluted they ever undertook because their "front" beloved Inspector Witherspoon is not leading the inquiry. Instead Nivens, who apparently knows she is the brains of his rival's unparalleled success, leads the investigation.

The latest Mrs. Jeffries and retinue Victorian mystery (see Mrs. Jeffries and the Mistletoe Mix-Up, Mrs. Jeffries Forges Ahead and Mrs. Jeffries Forges Ahead) is a delightful puzzler as the heroine and her "under the stairs" crew work a whodunit made difficult by her in-law being the suspect and by another inspector in charge. Still, Mrs. Jeffries and the crew do what they always do investigate through their employer as this Victorian mystery is a fresh entry in a strong long running historical "police procedural" series.

Carly Phillips
9780425247907, $7.99

In Serendipity, New York police officer Dare Barron has wanted Liza McKnight in his life ever since high school, but does not act on his feelings. He skipped school to attend a party hosted by her brother Brian to see her; an ugly incident at that party straightened out his life but kept him away from his dream although she is in his life. He sort of as sees her frequently at the station when she bails out her brother Brian who believes wealth makes him above the law.

Liza has been attracted to Dare since she was a teenager, but was too old to be seen with him. However, she expects nothing to come of it as he never shows any inclination her way except sympathy. Their relationship changes when Liza is in trouble and in need of a body guard. Dare insures he is the only one guarding her body. However, Brian remains a show stopper.

The third Serendipity romance (see Destiny) is an engaging tale that overcomes the somewhat by the book storyline due to Brian whose destructive behavior impacts others as his sister tries to help him while the cop who lives her believes she is an enable. Readers will enjoy the latest Barron brother entry as the love of family can help someone cope better with tragedies.

The Girl's Guide to (Man)Hunting
Jessica Clare
9780425247358, $15.00

Former Bluebonnet librarian Miranda Hill is leaving town in two weeks for an office position in Houston. She sees Dane "Casanova" Craft who left town a decade ago for a career in the NHL. When he departed he dumped Miranda but not before he placed sexually explicit photos of her on the net. She became known as the "Boobs of Bluebonnet while her storeowner mother suffered a nervous breakdown.

Dane and his high school buddies have started a wilderness survival camp teaching teambuilding outdoors. With an unfair creepy reputation thanks to the wife of his former boss, Dane pledges to his partners he will not use his penis with their clients. He thinks back to the one he lost after he left town. Dane called Miranda several times but her mother answered hysterically so he stopped trying.

Miranda plots revenge on Dane by taking naked photos of him to place on the net. Later she tells her mom she will be out of town for a week due to her new job. Melissa signs up for the survival training. A stunned Dane will instruct five men and her. She tells Dane she plans for them to finish what they started nine years ago as they never slept together.

Although the behavior of the protagonists is too childish to accept, the modern day revenge angle is fully developed and fascinating as the key motivator of the lead female. The trysts are well written, but the lead couple has sex seemingly everywhere regardless of witnesses and his grand gesture of love is inappropriate. Still fans who enjoy Revenge will want to read the Boobs of Bluebonnet man-hunting Casanova.

The Last of Lady Lansdown
Shirley Kennedy
Camel Press
c/o Coffeetown Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603818186, $15.95,

In 1814, Lady Jane Elton does not grieve the stunning death of her abusive husband, the Earl of Lansdown. However, the widow has a problem as she has not birthed the heir. Her only hope is she is carrying her late spouse's child or the estate goes to his twin brother. While her papa is in the colonies, her acrimonious mama and her sister Millicent pressure her to take care of them; as they understand how far they will fall if she has no son. Only her Granny is there for her.

Hydrologist Douglas Cartland is staying at Jane's next door neighbor Rennie's home. They danced twice, but her mom said he was unsuited for her as he could not enter Almack's. As she acts the widow, he keeps showing up. Attracted to one another, Jane knows a tryst would ruin her and her family, but he is so hard to resist.

This is a warm enjoyable Regency romance starring two likable protagonists and with few exceptions unlikable secondary characters. Readers will relish the plot as Jane struggles between her countess image and a chance for love.

The Book Lover
Maryann McFadden
Three Women Press
P.O. Box 24. Vienna, NJ 07880
9780984867103, $14.99,

Ruth Hardaway has always loved books. Three decades ago she ran from tragedy to open up the Book Lover bookstore. Now her store is in trouble.

Since she was eleven years old, Lucinda Barrett now thirty-nine, dreamed of becoming a published author. However, her novel A Quiet Wanting has been rejected by the publishing houses. She self-publishes sending copies to bookstores including The Book Lover. Ruth and her employees love it while Lucy leaves David on a journey that ends at Ruth's house. The two women cut a deal; Ruth will sponsor the book and provide shelter in exchange Lucy will watch her new friend's son, wheelchair bound Colin hurt in combat. With happiness within reach, fear leads to lies and disappointment.

The storyline starts slow as readers meet the key cast, but once that is done, the character driven novel turns into a wonderful relationship drama. Part of the fun is watching the book industry from the perspectives of an independent store owner and a rejected self-published writer. Other characters like the store's staff, Colin, David and Ruth's daughter Jenny enhance a fabulous aptly titled tale.

One Naughty Night
Laurel McKee
Forever Romance
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9781455505470, $7.99,

The St. Claire family found Lily on the streets and adopted her. She knows she owes her life to this brood who showered her with love as if she had their blood; Lily would do anything for her family.

In 1851 in London, the widow Lily manages the family-owned The Devil's Fancy exclusive gaming den. She is obsessed with restoring her adopted family's wealth and influence stolen by their enemy the Huntington clan over a century ago. However, Lily feels like a traitor when she learns the greatest night of her life was with Aidan Huntington who wants letters she possesses. As each knows they must end their relationship, neither can resist their secret trysts. However, an enemy from her past plans to destroy her and her loved ones while Aidan will do anything to keep his beloved safe.

This is an exciting Regency romance with a Romeo-Juliet feel to the feud. Fast-paced, the couple is clearly in lust as they share sex even at importune and risky moments. He shows his mettle when his beloved is threatened. However, sub-genre fans will enjoy the opening Scandalous St. Claires because of the unique unflappable heroine.

The Claimed
Caridad Pineiro
9780446584609, $7.99

In Avon-by-the-Sea near the Jersey shore, Victoria Johnson runs a successful shop and is the daughter of the Light Hunter Ocean clan Quinchus leader. She knows her Equinox mating time is soon and as the clan's next in line leader, she must choose a mate.

Shadow Hunter Christopher Sombrosa has broken with his father over the use of violence against the humans and the Light Hunters. He believes he has found his mate in Victoria; she reciprocates. However, he is shadow and she is light; taboo mortal enemies seemingly for eternity. Condemning Desert clan leader Adam Bruno for mating with a human (see The Lost), their respective proud fathers rigidly adhere to tradition even if it means their clans' fade into oblivion; Victoria and Christopher have no hope to mate.

The second Sin Hunters romantic urban fantasy is a terrific tale of forbidden love between beloved enemies. The cast is fully developed whether they are Victoria's BFFs or clan members, but especially the protagonists. Fast-paced, Caridad Pineiro provides a wonderful west side of the Hudson paranormal romance.

The Gift of Fire / On the Head of a Pin: Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Oblivion
Walter Mosley
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765330086, $24.99,

"The Gift of Fire." Prometheus escapes from Zeus' divine punishment for his betrayal with The Gift of Fire to the mortals. Though Prometheus knows he should plead with Pluto or Neptune for asylum, he refuses to cower. Instead he hides as a human in Los Angeles with plans to give the second gift. Cops greet him by beating him. Soon afterward he calls himself Foreman Prospect and meets wino Nosome Blane who agrees to take the big man around the city. After facing a judge, Foreman continues his trek around South Central.

"On the Head of a Pin." At Jennings-Tremont Enterprises, Joshua Winterland and Ana Fried are developing an animatronics editing technique to create movies that contain the same quality as live filming. Their method will enable the perfect blending of dead superstars with the top talent of today. However, neither is prepared for the final cut on their footage that denotes a new reality.

Somewhat different in tone, these are two superb urban fantasy novellas share in common a focus on mankind's relatively short and low stature in the universe. This leads to a degree of separation between an African-American wino and a billionaire oil man being insignificant in the expanding realm of the big bang. Intelligent, readers will appreciate this fine two-story collection as Walter Mosley makes it look Easy switching from mystery to fantasy.

The Eye of the World: Book One of 'The Wheel of Time
Robert Jordon
9780765334336, $15.99

The Trollocs unexpectedly attack Emond's Field. While the surprise assault on the village continues unabated, a Myrddraal targets three young men (Rand al'Thir, Matrim Cauthon and Perrin Aybara. The trio assumes they are the true focus of the hostilities so to save the townsfolk from further slaughter they flee. Joining them on their exodus is Egwene al'Vere, Moraine Damordred the Aes Sedai, Warder Al'Lan Mandragoran and Thom Merrilin the Gleeman. Led by the Myrddraal, the Trollocs pursue while Nynaeve al'Meara the Wisdom of Emond's Field join the beleaguered band on the run

The weary travelers reach the evil city of Shadar Logoth where only Mashadar the malevolence lives. Rand, Mat and Thom head to Whitebridge while the Myrddraal closes in on them. The deadly adventures have just begun.

This reprint of the opening act in the epic Wheel of Time holds up nicely due to the tremendous creating of the Jordan mythos. Magic is deftly introduced as elemental but left somewhat shadowy with a fabulous twist on yin and yang theory tainted by the end of the last age leading to a matriarchal society, which becomes clearer in later entries. The cast is solid with women as the stronger gender flaunting their superiority. Although there is a ton of books that followed, many not as powerful as book one, The Eye of the World is a wonderful epic fantasy.

The Devil Delivered and Other Tales
Steven Erickson
9780765330031, $14.99

The Devil Delivered. The hole in the ozone layer has grown so immense that it is equivalent to a third of the once proud United States. Dead zones are everywhere and the oceans are a graveyard. The earth is dying with only the time for the wake and burial remaining. William the anthologist explores the land of the Lakota Nation. Jack Tree informs him that the Lakota has shut their borders to the outside. On the net, people around the globe watch the lone anthropologist as he roams these dead lands at a time when nature changes the rules against a species that has brought hell on earth.

Revolvo. In Canada, bureaucrats and technocrats control the arts by controlling the grant money or the award winners. They choose who will be funded, which means they tell who will eat, which in turn determines what is created as the money holders must be satisfied not the artist's muse or the public. Thus patrons, bureaucrats and technocrats converge on artists who talk about fighting back, but know they won't if they want funding.

Fishin' with Grandma Matchie. His Grandma Matchie calls her nine year old grandson Tike while everyone knows him as Jock Junior. He is spending three weeks at a cabin in Canada where he learns his Grandma Matchie is feuding with the "One Armed Trapper", his mother "Lunker", and Satan. Grandma and grandson travel on and under the lakes as they go on a series of adventures.

These are three strange but well written novellas that satirize the real world. Not for everyone, fans who enjoy something different will appreciate these three whimsical cautionary tales.

Secrets of the Fire Sea
Stephen Hunt
9780765327673, $27.99

The island continent Jago is a forbidden place with few habitable locations as much of the land is covered by a thick tundra and the magma sea surrounding the continent adds to the horrid environment. Finally no one is allowed to emigrate.

Circlist Church Archbishop Alice Gray adopts orphaned Hannah Conquest, as her ward because her parents who were archeologists died allegedly in accident just after her birth. When the Guild of Valvemen's leader Vardan Flail drafts Hannah, an upset Alice can do nothing. Soon afterward someone brutally murders Alice and tries to kill Hannah. In the Kingdom of Jackals, the Circlist Inquisition asks former parson Jethro Daunt, a private investigator, to investigate the murder. Knowing a request from the Inquisition denotes do it or else, he gladly accepts the case. With his sentient-robot steamman Boxiron, he travels to the Isle of Jago to probe the archbishop's homicide.

The latest steampunk Stephen Hunt thriller (see The Kingdom Beyond the Waves, The Court and The Rise of the Iron Moon) is a terrific sleuthing entry as the harsh locale where electricity actually works enhances the suspense. Although the pacing can slow down with the vivid details, fans will enjoy the escapades of the professional, the sidekick and the amateur as they investigate who murdered Alice and what secret does the culprit believe Hannah inherited from her mentor that she must die too.

Rage of the Dragon
Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
9780765319753, $25.99

Aelon and the Gods of the New Dawn continue their successful insurgency against the Old Gods. Both groups of deities have loyal subjects on the mortal plane. For the Old Gods, Skylan Ivorson and his Vindras clans seek four of the lost Five Bones of the Vektia Dragon created during creation for whoever has the bones possesses the power of creation; while the enemy Sinarians, who own one of the bones, worship Aelon leader of the upstarts (see Bones of the Dragon).

Having barely surviving the betrayal by Raegar, who converted into a priest loyal to Aelon (see Secret of the Dragon), Skylan knows the Sinarians have a much more powerful military than his Vindras. He needs allies like their former adversary the ogres as he believes they fight a common enemy more powerful than they are if they remained apart. Sailing on his dragonship, Skylan leads his team across the dangerous Sea of Tears destination the Forbidden Empire of the Cyclops while Raegar on his dragonship tries to stop them. However, a new foe emerges from the sea with different powers than the land dwellers like the Vindras.

The third Dragonships quest fantasy continues the adventures of Skylan and his intrepid band to keep the status quo in the pantheon. The story line is at its best when the Vindras are in combat against difficult opponents like the kraken while the scenes when Raegar lead seems weak compared to those starring the brave hero. There is also an intriguing new race, the Aquin sea-people met on the odyssey. Fans will enjoy this entry and look forward to the next following a great late twist.

Steven Brust
9780765333063, $14.99

After serving as a top rate assassin for the House Jhereg Vlad Taltos has fled for his life. He sneaks into his hometown to visit his family, but runs into dangerous imperial captain Khaavren of the Phoenix Guards.

Vlad has found the miniature, Tiassa-shaped feline silver statue that he plots to use in a con. Khaavren seeks the magical statue as the Empire plans to deploy it against their enemy the Jenoine. Meanwhile the Jhereg schemes to employ the statue as a means to trap and punish their renegade former employee.

There are three interconnected subplots in the latest exciting Vlad thriller (see Iorich). There are the hero's activities countered by Khaavren point of view re similar events. Finally, there is an interlude involving Vlad's estranged wife Cawti. The cat and mouse encounter between the protagonist and the star of the 1990s tale The Phoenix Guards is a witty intelligent contest. The Cawti segue gives some insight into her dysfunctional relationship with her husband, but detracts from the prime chess match between two grandmasters. This Taltos tale is overall terrific as he competes against a worthy opponent.

Glamour in Glass
Mary Robinette Kowal
9780765325570, $24.99

In 1815, newlyweds Jane and David Vincent travel to Blinche, Belgium on a working honeymoon paid for by a glamour commissioned by the Regent. The couple plans to compare magical glamour techniques with a colleague of David, M. Chastain and create a glass container to hold glamour inside.

However, their idyll collapses when David ignores his new wife and excludes her on a paying gig. At the same time Napoleon returns from Elba, trapping visitors in France and its neighbors like Belgium. Feeling isolated, Jane wants to go home alone, but soon finds herself in peril and David is locked away as agents of Bonaparte want to deploy the Vincents (and other adepts) magical skills in the pending battlefield.

The second Glamour regency fantasy (see Shades of Milk and Honey) is a charming espionage thriller starring an unconfident heroine who still thinks of herself as a plain-looking twenty-eight years old jealous of her beautiful sister Melody's looks; so she expects to lose her husband to a real glamorous woman. The exciting storyline continues to provide details to glamour application methodology, but less of the science and more of the practical. Combining an unsure female lead with Napoleon back in town, fans will be spellbound by Glamour mage Mary Robinette Kowal.

Lost Everything
Brian Francis Slattery
9780765329127, $14.99

Sailing up the Susquehanna River towards Harrisburg, filled with remorse for his actions and regret for not being there for his son Aaron, Sunny Jim searches for his offspring with little hope of finding him. He thinks about his sister Merry siting by a window in the family home with a gun wondering if she is alive and he wonders about Aline. Everywhere he and his companion Reverend Bauxite, whom he met in devastated Baltimore, look, they see destruction like the collapse of the Market Street Bridge and corpses. The violent storms brought America to its knees with pandemic destruction. Those with power cling to it at any cost while those without join a side or die immediately as civil war is heading everywhere.

No one including Sunny Jim escapes the militia. They are following him up the Susquehanna ravaging the land and killing or scripting anyone in their way. Sunny Jim and Reverend Bauxite steal supplies from the army. Whereas the two weary travelers continue their watery road trip, they see death wherever they go; the army brings death wherever they go. If they catch him and the Reverend they will kill them.

This ultra-dark apocalyptic future thriller is fast-paced with an America no longer on the Eve of Destruction (P. F. Sloan). There are three prime settings (The River, The Highway and The House) that rotate perspective but share in common the death of the Unites States. Although the names of characters seem too whimsical with all the doom and gloom and musical lyrics distracting, fans will appreciate this grim saga mindful of Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

Royal Street
Suzanne Johnson
9780765327796, $14.99

As Katrina begins its assault on New Orleans, Gerry St. Simon the city Sentinel orders Junior Wizard Sentinel Drusilla "DJ" Jaco to leave the city, which she does. As the storm loses its fury, the aftermath has left a wrecked region as more than the levees were breached when the border with the Beyond crumbled too.

With her mentor having vanished, the Congress of Elders directs DJ to return to New Orleans because all hell is walking the streets. Upon her return, Jean Lafitte tries to kill her, but Alexander Waring an FBI terminator arrives to dispatch the pirate for now. DJ thinks her new partner has the body of an Adonis and the brain of an anchovy as he comments she looks more like Glinda than Merlin. As she searches for her teacher, a serial killer haunts the already devastated city while the enemy from Beyond grows in power forcing DJ and Alexander into seeking strange bedfellows as allies.

Royal Street is a great urban fantasy that uses Katrina to create a breach between realms. DJ's tour of the city shows more than just the cost in lives and property as psychologically New Orleans seems down for the count. The movement of paranormal species from Beyond into the city is deftly handled as DJ, Alex and others find themselves in a fight against a powerful essence who uses the no longer Big Easy as a springboard for power while the elders (mindful of classic Green Lantern silver age comic books insist on adhering to the rules (the means vs. the end argument).

Rhiannon Frater
9780765331281, $14.99

In Ashley Oaks, Texas the residents have built a human oasis amidst a wasteland of zombies. Each of those living inside the fortress has come a long way while still Fighting to Survive because outside As The World Dies not with a whimper or a bang but with a zombie bite. Katie is pregnant carrying her mate Mayor Travis' baby. Her BFF since they met while fleeing the zombie horde (see The First Days) Jenni is married to Juan as they raise her stepson Jason.

Unbeknownst to either family the U.S. government has declared martial law. They have ambitious plans for those living in Ashley Oaks while the zombies have dining plans for those inside the fort also.

This is an exciting zombie thriller as the two human female fighters suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder but have no time to deal with their psychological fatigue as the undead horde is arriving in vast numbers. The entertaining storyline take an odd late spin with the arrival of ghosts that come across as genuine but detracts from the dwindling us vs. the growing zombie horde (I wonder what happens to the undead when their food supply runs out) and the insidious Feds.

Drop Dead Chocolate
Jessica Beck
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250001054, $7.99,

In April Springs, North Carolina elections are coming soon. Mayor Cam Hamilton has been in office for years having won reelection numerous times. This election he has no opponent. Dorothy Hart is incensed with the mayor over winning the bid for a tax payer-funded job. Her daughter Suzanne Hart, owner of Donut Hearts, pushes her mom to file as a candidate, which she does. The election won't take place because someone brutally kills the incumbent in the office that was going to be Dorothy's election headquarters.

The police chief recuses himself from the homicide investigation because he is dating Dorothy. Suzanne's boyfriend Jake leads the inquiry as there is no other choice with experience available and he is one degree further removed from the homicide than the chief is. He informs Suzanne they will not be able to see each other until the case is resolved. Knowing her mother is a prime suspect, Suzanne, as she has done before (see Killer Crullers and Sinister Sprinkles), decides to investigate. She quickly learns the late Hamilton demanded bribes and kickbacks among his multitude of nefarious activities; this leads to multiple suspects with a motive to end the extortion.

Suzanne acts like natural born investigator whose skills match those of her highly regarded experienced boyfriend. Once the sub-genre fan accepts her need to prove her mom's innocence in spite of knowing Jake is great at his job (implies she distrusts her boyfriend), her actions are plausible and logical as she talks about the case with her suspect list in a shocking news manner. This Donut Shop Mystery is a charming Carolina culinary cozy and readers will enjoy visiting April Springs.

Death and Transfiguration
Gerald Elias
9780312678357, $26.99

Fortyish violinist Scheherazade "Sherry" O'Brien asks blind violin teacher Daniel Jacobus to help with her obtaining the permanent position of concertmaster at the prestigious Harmonium Orchestra as their new concert hall is being built in lower Manhattan. She has held the position on a temporary basis. Jacobus refuses her plea for assistance. The music director Vaclav Herza escaped Czechoslovakia in 1956 and over the decades has earned his reputation as an odious despotic legend. After harassing her from the moment she filled the position, Herza abruptly fires Sherry though she was the obvious best choice as the concertmaster. Distraught, Sherry commits suicide. The already upset orchestra members struggling with contract negotiations go hysterical with rage at egomaniacal Herza who they hold culpable.

Feeling guilt and remorse, Jacobus, accompanied by his sighted friends (Nathaniel Williams, Max Furukawa and Martin Lilburn) investigate Herza's past in Prague and Tokyo. At the same time the angry contract negotiations and the nasty auditions continue.

The fourth Daniel Jacobus amateur sleuth (see Death and the Maiden, The Devil's Trill and Danse Macabre) is an entertaining mystery as the cantankerous protagonist believes he has one more major addition to his redemption list. Humorous, readers obtain a look behind the scenes at a major orchestra. Still, it is virtuoso Jacobus who makes this a fun tale as the acrimonious violinist probes Herza's history.

Don't Cry, Tai Lake
Qiu Xiaolong
9780312550646, $24.99

Comrade Secretary Zhao sends Shanghai Police Special Case Chief Inspector Chen Cao for a week of R&R at the exclusive Wuxi Cadre Recreation Center on the shores of Tai Lake. He meets environmental engineer Shanshan at her Uncle Wang's Wuxi eatery. They talk about polluted water from the Wuxi Number One Chemical company and other factories, polluted food and reading English. Director Xiao who manages the facility thinks Chen is doing surveillance and offer him all types of amenities.

A factory incident has Shanshan hustling while Chen, attracted to her, helps her. However, when Liu a factory chief is brutally murdered, Shanshan is considered a prime suspect. However, Internal Security interest quickly turns to Jiang who feuded with Liu. With help from Sergeant Huang, Chen, walking on egg shells, investigates.

This is a terrific Inspector Chen whodunit (see The Mao Case) as readers obtain a close up look at the cost of the Chinese rapid industrialization. The investigation is well conceived even though it uses too much happenchance. However, it is China that stars as Chen comes to this once pristine but now polluted resort because a superheavyweight sent him.

Every Last Secret
Linda Rodriguez
9781250005458, $24.99

At one time half Cherokee Marquitta "Skeet" Bannion was proud of her accomplishments as the highest ranked female cop on the Kansas City, Missouri police department. However, her sense of being a chip off the old block crashes when her father Charlie the cop turned alcoholic was forced into retirement to avoid a corruption charge and her now former husband Sam Musco the cop was angry and jealous of her success.

Deciding to leave KCPD, Skeet accepts a position as chief of campus police at Chouteau University, twelve miles from Kansas City. New campus cop Dave Parker calls Skeet to tell her he found a corpse in the offices of Chouteau University. Shaken he informs Skeet he only turned on a light. Someone murdered news editor in chief student employee Andrew McAfee who was facing sexual assault and theft charges. She broke up a fight between the victim and news editor Scott Lampkin so the latter is a suspect. Skeet informs the wife Tina and stepson Brian as the press obnoxiously arrives. She works closely with her staff, the administration, the sheriff's department, and Police Chief Louzon and his team as she investigates the homicide. At the same time, Sam comes to town insisting Charlie needs her.

The winner of the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition, Linda Rodriguez provides an enjoyable police procedural starring a likable besieged cop. A professional with passion on the job, Skeet is terrific as she copes with campus politics, office jealousy, the intrusion of the former men in her life, and troubled Brian while leading her team on the murder investigation; she needs forty eight hours in a day.

One Red Bastard
Ed Lin
9780312660901, $24.99

In 1976, The Republic of China on Taiwan and the People's Republic of China on the mainland battle for western recognition. At the same time the two China's argue on the world stage, Chen Xiaochuan informs the State Department that Li Na, daughter of the late Mao Tse-tung, seeks asylum in the United States. Newswire reporter Lonnie interviews Chen, but soon afterward the latter's body is found in Roosevelt Park; as the last person to see him alive the journalist is the prime suspect although there is plenty of others with political motives to kill Li's representative.

Because he is Chinese-American and has had some success on cases (see This Is A Bust and Snakes Can't Run), Lonnie's boyfriend NYPD Officer Robert Chow leads the investigation with the brass insisting he find the killer immediately. Robert interviews representatives from the two Chinas while wondering why Artie Yee owner of Inside Chinatown is unconcerned that his offices were deliberately torched.

The latest Chow police procedural is a complicated historical that combines the international debate over the Chinas with a strong look at Manhattan's Chinatown circa 1976 just a few years after the mainland replaced the island on the UN Security Council. The whodunit purposely is convoluted to reflect the complex world (including the Ford Administration) with Chinatown a microcosm of the debate. Readers will enjoy Ed Lin's strong 1970s whodunit.

The Mysterium
P.C. Doherty
9780312678197, $25.99

Early in the fourteenth century in London, a killer murders Walter Evesham, former chief justice in the Court of King's Bench. The victim's throat was cut and the letter M carved into his forehead. The homicide occurred in a locked room with the M being the trademark of assassin Mysterium.

Hugh Corbett, "the Keeper of the King's Secret Seal," investigates the murder. He knows Evesahm caught Mysterium two decades ago, but the hired killer escaped and apparently fled the kingdom. As others die, it appears he has come home. However, his inquiry spins strangely when he concludes that two killers are terrorizing London and no one, not even King Edward I, is above suspicion except his assistant former Newgate resident Ranulf.

This is the usual great medieval whodunit that readers expect from P.C. Doherty (see The Waxman Murders and Nightshade) as the background has the armchair audience feeling they are in the first decade of the fourteenth century while accompanying the hero on the case. Fast-paced, the exhilarating storyline opens with an exciting riot at Newgate, turns to several murders and riots as the innocent die, and ends with a stunning confrontation.

Shawntelle Madison
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345529183, $7.99,

Natalya Stravinsky suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder that is so severe her former werewolf pack insists they suffer from her excessiveness so they banish and avoid her. Five years ago her lover Thorn Grantham made love with her for the last time though he promised their long distance relationship would work. As time moves on without him, her OCD has worsened. No longer on the other side of the Hudson, Natalya resides and works in her hometown South Toms River, New Jersey selling antiques to meticulous paranormals. Her only solace comes with her holiday ornament collection.

The brutal Long Island pack attacks Nat's New Jersey pack. They demand that Nat be handed to them or else. Thorn returns home to lead his pack at war while some members prefer to acquiesce to their bellicose foes' demands. Thorn, still attracted to Nat, rejects appeasement and objects to a wizard making his intentions clear re Nat; while she finds allies in a strange place.

Filled with humor, Coveted is a fun romantic suburban romantic fantasy with a cast of neurotic and psychotic paranormals from several species (mindful of the movie Gun Shy taken place in the Burbs with otherworldly creatures). Nat is a terrific protagonist whose OCD brings uniqueness to the kick tail heroine. Although her past with Thorn distracts from a great main storyline, fans will root for Nat and her zoo crew as they struggle to overcome their phobias at a time she is under attack from without and within.

The Saint Who Stole My Heart
Stefanie Sloane
9780345531148, $7.99

In 1813, Lady Sophia Afron demands her three childhood friends (Honorable Nicholas Bourne, Viscount Dashiell Matthews and Earl Langdon Bourne) find the killer of her mom as she knows the trio holds secrets from her. She is right about them as they belong to the Young Corinthians who have been chasing an assassin for years.

Bluestocking bibliophile Elena Barnes learns from her father that the new Viscount Carrington has offered her his family's antiquarian book collection. She travels to the estate to catalogue Dashiell's library. He has concealed his keen mind behind the image of a handsome dolt, enabling him to work undercover. Though attracted to the gorgeous lord, she observes his intelligence and wonders why he pretends otherwise. As she works on unraveling his motive, he, though more comfortable behind a desk than in the field, seeks the Bishop who murdered Sophia's mother, but apparently the Bishop targets Sophia.

The latest Regency Rogues (see The Sinner Who Seduced Me, The Angel in My Arms and The Devil In Disguise) romantic suspense is an entertaining tale as the Viscount's inquiry is fun to follow due to Sophia's insistent involvement. Although a major sidebar detracts from the fun storyline, but fans will enjoy the latest escapades of the Young Corinthians.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Catholic Alcoholic
Annetta Sanow Sutton
Beaver's Pond Press Inc.
7108 Ohms Lane
Edina MN 55439-2129
9781592984718, $24.00,

The author has a BA in ministry and addiction counseling, and Masters in pastoral counseling. Her work credentials are impressive. But the heart of her message here is based on life experience - life as a Catholic, life as the wife, sister, friend of alcoholics. "Catholic Alcoholic: A Witness to Addiction and Redemption" is exceptional because Ms. Sutton lived it.

She was born to an Irish-Catholic mother and German Lutheran father. Life revolved around hard work, church and school activities, and the Catholic priests and Sisters who impacted her young life. Ms. Sutton reached adulthood with a compassionate, forgiving heart and a Catholic faith that was raw, deep, and indestructible. This faith sustained her through awful situations that might have broken her otherwise. Her naive innocence and joy gave way to life's crushing realities. First, two of her sisters died young in close succession. Then, her sweet young husband and father of her five children slowly transformed into an abusive alcoholic. When she divorced him to escape the violence, she and her five children lived in abject poverty. She was anathema - a divorced Catholic with five children, no money, and very few options. When times were toughest, she looked at her five beautiful children and told herself, "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." From the rock bottom of her life, she crawled into the light again through meaningful work helping others.

Readers will find great truths in this book, and a bottomless supply of encouragement and support. Ms. Sutton's book is biographical, blending her genetic history, faith, sorrows and joys with a philosophy and profession that demonstrates a strong belief: All life is sacred in the truest sense of the word. This woman, this counselor lives Christ's compassion, regardless of circumstance. Through Christ, through her Catholic faith, through supportive priests and nuns, through Al Anon, through education and her life work, Annetta Sanow Sutton found her voice and tries to help others find theirs.

Pope John Paul II's message to his people is Ms. Sutton's message to readers: "Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song."

This book is highly recommended to anyone who loves an alcoholic and needs encouragement, to Catholics, and to any person struggling through tough times and hoping for a miracle.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Best of Johnny Cash
Hal Leonard Corp.
7777 W. Bluemound Rd.
P.O. Box 13819, Milwaukee, WI 53213
9781458403384 $22.99

"Best of Johnny Cash" is a guitar/vocal song book containing written music with guitar notation for 17 of Johnny Cash's most popular hits. Including "A Boy Named Sue," "Folsom Prison Blues," "The Highwayman," "I Walk the Line," "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky," "Ring of Fire," and many more, this collection contains complete vocals plus a special guitar notation legend to explain the three types of guitar notation used, including musical staff notation, tablature and rhythm slashes. In addition there are further definitions for many special guitar effects which are also notated. "Best of Johnny Cash" is solidly researched and accurately presented music from the master of male vocal guitar country music. This book will fly off the shelves.

Easy Wedding Favorites for Classical Guitar
Robert T. Tarchara, arranger
Minstrel Press
c/o Santorella Publications
P.O. Box 60, Danvers, MA 01923
GP2012 $10.95

"Easy Wedding Favorites for Classical Guitar" is a collection of fourteen classical wedding favorite pieces arranged for classical guitar and written both on staff notation and tablature. Selections include Mendelssohn's "Wedding March," Handel's "Air from Water Music," Pachelbel's "Canon in D," Wagner's "Bridal Chorus," and Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," as well as many other favorites. Arrangements are authentic interpretations/adaptations of the original music, re-set to single classical guitar instrumentation. Difficulty level is intermediate to advanced. For the happy couples who desire their special music to be played on classical guitar, "Easy Wedding Favorites for Classical Guitar" is a godsend. Other publications from this publisher that are also recommended are "How To Play Diatonic Button-Accordion, Volume 3" by Henry Doctorski (TS108, book and CD, $14.95), "Simple Gifts, and Appalachian Melody" arranged by Jonathon Robbins (TS129, $4.95), "Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata" arranged for classical and fingerstyle guitar by Robert T. Tarchara (TS006, $4.95), and "Now Before You Blow Blues for Clarinet" by Chris Tedecso (book and 2 CDs, TS430, $14.95).

World of Celtic Fingerstyle Guitar (book and DVD)
Stefan Grossman, compiler
Mel Bay Publications
PO Box 66, Pacific, MO 63069
9780786683925 $26.99

"World of Celtic Fingerstyle Guitar" is a breathtaking collection of 46 beloved traditional Irish and Scottish songs for fingerstyle guitar performed by seven famous artists, including Pierre Bensusan, El McMeen, Martin Simpson, Pat Kirtley, Duck Baker, Tom Long, and Steve Baughman. The collection features guitar music written on staff notation and in tablature, plus a fabulous DVD of performances by all seven artists of the songs. The music is described as fitting into four categories, including dance music songs such as ballads and airs, martial music, and the particularly unique music of the 17th century blind harpist Turlough O'Carolan. Challenging arrangements and specific guitar approaches such as alternate tunings are described and illustrated in the music and in performance. This stunning collection should provide a hearty variety of well-loved Celtic music for fingerstyle guitar performance, an authentic translation of Irish and Scottish traditional music for earlier instruments to the modern acoustic guitar. Difficulty level is mostly advanced. Also recommended from the same publisher are the following titles: "Easy Irish and Celtic Session Tunes for 5-String Banjos: Best-Loved Jigs and Reels" by Tom Hanway (book and CD, 97807866833772, $24.99), "Cello Method Volume 2" by Christine Watts (978078667584-5, $14.99), "Folk Songs for Solo Ukulele" by Joe Carr (book and CD, 9780786684021, $16.99), and for transcribing and composing, "Mel Bay's Best Student Manuscript Book: With Tear Out Sheets (9780786683956, $4.99).

Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R & B Singer
Terri Brinegar
Hal Leonard Corp.
7777 W. Bluemound Rd.
P.O. Box 13819, Milwaukee, WI 53213
9781458416537 $19.99

"Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R & B Singer: A Guide to Technique, Performance, and Musicianship" (book and 2 CDs combination) is a succinct handbook for pop vocalists complete with 2 CDs with recorded vocal exercises. Written by a classically trained vocal professional who maintains active involvement with writing, performing, and teaching, "Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R & B Singer" delivers complete vocal overview information in five sections: Vocal Technique, Rhythm & Blues, Musicianship, Performing, and The Basics. The quthor carefully explains her philosophy of vocal teaching in the introduction: "I sang the exercises myself, with just live voice and piano. This... shows that my technique works! I've never lost my voice or missed a gig. I sang the vocal warmup exercises using the 'classical' technique, because I believe this is the foundation of singing, just as you would study classical technique if you studied piano or dance. (p. 3)" The CDs contain tracks with both vocals and piano and piano accompaniment alone. There are also examples of different "riffs" or vocal improvisations in the R & B style. There are listening lists, vocal health tips and trade requirements, performing and showmanship data and clues, plus a series of excellent vocal warmups designed to work different parts of the vocal range and style. Vowel formation and breath support is stressed, as well as the need to act professionally at all times. "Vocal and Stage Essentials for the Aspiring Female R & B Singer" is the perfect compact how-to instruction book for a female singer with a moderate to extensive musical background.

Doodle New York
Puck, author
Violet Lemay, illustrator
Duo Press LLC
265 Stanmore Rd., Baltimore, MD 21212
Independent Publishers Group (distributor)
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, Illinois 60610
9780983812135 $13,95

"Doodle New York: Create, Imagine, Draw Your Way Through the Big Apple" is a creative journal/sketchbook filled with unfinished doodle-drawings-to-be with a definitive New York city theme. Filled with fun, suggested doodle frames, doodle challenges (i.e. "draw an apple left-handed if you are right handed"), and fun doodle related facts about New York, "Doodle New York" is the perfect companion to the new explorer/visitor to the Big Apple. More than a grown up coloring book, but not requiring serious artistic skills, "Doodle New York" is an invitation to explore your artistic leanings and talents. "Doodle New York" has just the right combination of suggested line imagery and inviting blank paper space, just waiting to be filled with your very own unique doodlings and imaginings. Although "Doodle New York" will appeal to adults, kids and young adults will obviously find appeal and attraction in it as well. "Doodle New York" is also an excellent way to imprint memories and create significant souvenir experiences.

Charm: An Amazing Story of a Little Black Cat
Leyla Atke, author/illustrator
Strategic Book Group
P.O. Box 333, Durham, CT 06422
9781609764180 $14.95

"Charm: An Amazing Story of a Little Black Cat" is a true story about a woman's beloved pet cat that contains a miraculous element. Embellished with poignant crayon drawings and actual photos of the little black cat, "Charm" is a tender and gripping tale of a miraculous rescue of the lost or abandoned little black kitten whom the author found on a dangerous, busy intersection divider. Though their time together is not as long as the author wished, her love for Charm, her little black cat with six white belly hairs grows as the cat is encradled in her life and home. Due to a mysterious combination of unhappy circumstances, one day Charm disappears. In the most traumatic pages of the book the author describes finally finding her beloved pet's remains in a deserted factory grounds nearby. She suspects some form of foul play in Charm's death. Eventually she is able to ease her grief through a burial ritual for the remains of her beloved cat, Charm. The closing chapter contains the miraculous denouement. One morning in June, on the exact spot of the grave of Charm appears a tiny, month-old black kitten, identical in appearance to the lost Charm. The author begs her mother to go bring the kitten to her and he is restored to a healthy life with care, a bath, feeding and medical attention. Naturally, he is named Charm. Children and adults will laugh and cry through the experience of reading this brief, heartfelt book about the miracle of Charm.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

Changing the Way We Think
Jennifer Little
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781461122517, $11.99,

Inspiration can pay many dividends for those trying to make a difference. "Changing the Way We Think: Using Arts to Inspire, Empower and Change Your School Community" is a guide to those who want to make a bigger difference in their schools as Jennifer Little highlights the many ways people can aspire to help their schools through volunteering, advocating programs, and much more. "Changing the Way We Think" is a powerful and much recommended pick for social issues and education collections.

All Paws In
Faith Walston
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781461044567, $14.95,

Our beloved pets can offer whole new perspectives to our world. "All Paws in" is a collection of dog-driven poetry from Faith Walston as she accompanies dog photos with insights into our beloved pets and their role in our lives, and our role in theirs. With humor and poignancy as well as a donation to an animal shelter via proceeds, "All Paws In" is a strong pick for poetry and pet collections. "All in a Day's Work": Dear dog, why are you panting so?/You know it's time for me to go//I am off to work so you can eat/If you behave I'll bring back a treat//While I'm gone don't jump on the furniture or chew the news/I'll leave the blinds up so you can look outside and be amused//I promise I will return my friend/So please, please, behave until then//Is it you or me, who's more excited when the day ends?/When I get home to be with you again.

Will to Survive
Lily Cozzoolino
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781466918610, $12.06,

The demons that dominate our lives cannot be run from forever. "Will to Survive" is a memoir from Lily Cozzolino, as she writes of her own rough beginnings in the small town of Terni, immigrating to Toronto when the chance presented itself. Running forever, she writes of how she finally gained the courage to stand against her past. "Will to Survive" is a strong pick for general fiction collections, highly recommended.

From Tribes to the Modern World-System
Robert M. Carmack
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781449959289, $20.00,

As humanity spread, its customs changed with time in many different ways. "From Tribes to the Modern World-System: A Social Science Perspective on World History" is an analysis of the history of the world and its cultures, as historical anthropologist Robert M. Carmack, as he discusses the roots of the worlds societies and how it rings true to today's culture. "From Tribes to the Modern World-System" is worth considering for those with a curiosity in anthropology and world cultures. "From Tribes to the Modern World-System" is much recommended reading.

Maps of Fate
Reid Lance Rosenthal
Rockin SR Publishing
9780982157633, $14.95,

The journey west changed the flow of history for many families. "Maps of Fate" is the second book in Reid Lance Rosenthal's Threads West series, focusing on four generations of a family journeying west and facing all the triumphs and tragedies that often come with such an endeavor. "Maps of Fate" is an excellent pick, especially for those who have enjoyed the first book in the series or enjoy Old West stories with a strong tie to history.

As I Was Saying
Estelle Craig
Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781468546255, $13.95,

As we see much of life, we form many opinions about our world and what surrounds us. "As I Was Saying: People, Places, and Things" is a collection of memoir from Estelle Craig, who ponders the events of her life and the matters of the world with humor, wisdom, and much more. "As I Was Saying" is a strong pick for memoir and essay collections focusing on the slices of life in the world.

Revisiting Anne Marie
Marie Rundquist
c/o Buy Books On The Web
1094 New Dehaven Street, #100
West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
9780741470447, $22.95,

Within our family history are many stories that lead into ours. "Revisiting Anne Marie: How An Amerindian Woman of Seventeenth-Century Nova Scotia and a DNA Match Redefine American Heritage" is tracing the history of a family back in 1755, from Nova Scotia to Maryland. A long story wrought with tragedy for a people and going forward, "Revisiting Anne Marie" is a fine and compelling piece of the family puzzle. Also from Marie Rundquist concerning genealogy is "Cajun By Any Other Name: Recovering the Lost History of a Family and a People" (9780741470423, $11.95), tracing the family lines into Louisiana and the Cajun people.

Entangled Freedom
Ann DeWitt & Kevin M. Weeks
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781453555255, $15.99,

The American Civil War was not a struggle of Good and Evil, but a struggle of brother against brother. "Entangled Freedom" explores 22 year old Isaac, follows a Confederate Black soldier serving in the twilight of the Civil War, offering an insight of what led to the South embracing Black soldiers, and the challenges faced by them. A riveting read of historical fiction aimed at Teens, "Entangled Freedom" is a fine and much recommended read.

Death at the Willow Creek Mine
J.D. Savid
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432788759, $9.95,

Family bonds are strong, but against the daunting problem of business, it can seem all quite difficult. "Death at the Willow Creek Mine" is the story of three brothers and the Gold mine of their family. With the stress of their careers, brother may go against brother and soon regrettable things may happen that change everything forever. "Death at the Willow Creek Mine" is a choice pick for those seeking a story of tragedy and family.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

William Manchee
Top Publications, LTD.
12221 Merit Dr., Suite 950
Dallas, TX 75251
9781929976669, $14.95,

William Manchee hails from southern California, but now makes his home in Plano, Texas. An attorney by trade, he turned to writing mysteries and published his first book in 1995. He cranks out a mystery each year, Agatha Christie style. DISILLUSIONED is his impressive fifteenth mystery!

Stan Turner is a former U.S. Marine Corps officer candidate who ran afoul of the Corps when he was accused of a murder he didn't commit. After his reputation was besmirched, although he was cleared, he took a discharge and turned to law school. The story begins as Stan is being pulled in Texas politics, and the time frame is during the Ford administration in the 1970's. Stan has been elected county chairman of the newly energized Republican party of Texas. An FBI investigation into major contributor Brad Thornton leads to a bizarre murder/apparent suicide of Stan's best friend, Rob Shepard, and his entire family. The police want to call it a suicide and conduct no investigation, but Stan is convinced that there is more to the story and begins his own search:

"'It seems Cindy Shepard was wearing an expensive diamond necklace last night when she came home, but it's nowhere to be found right now.'
'Shit!' Detective Moore said. 'Thanks a lot, Stan. Now you've really complicated things.'
'I'm sorry, but if this was a robbery, then Rob's not a murderer.'
'Well, more likely someone ripped it off her neck after she was killed. Now I'm going to have to call in internal affairs.'"

Stan is an intrepid amateur sleuth, whose Marine Corps experience has been him into a fearless, and at times feckless, hero. Manchee's great imagination keeps the plot moving along; the reader glued, and the surrounding politics cynically upbeat.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Chain Gang Elementary
Jonathan Grant
Thornbriar Press
3522 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Suite 187
Atlanta, GA 30319
9780983492108, $16.00,

I would have to say that most of us have experienced our fair share of upsetting happenings in our schools. I myself have had my days of battling bad teacher, bad students and bad administration. I have also seen great teachers thrown to the wind when they should have been given the highest rewards possible. Our hero, Richard Gray seems to have a lot going on in his life that is spinning him around in his own world. His relationship with his wife is a story all its own. Now add to that being thrust into the world of the local school and all its pros and cons and you pretty much have his story. I really have to say I could relate to a lot that was going on in this read and I did chuckle some to be sure. I also cringed as I related to some happening that brought back my own bad memories.

Author, Jonathan Grant, pretty much tells it like it is, if you will, in this read concerning what lurks in dark corners. He shines light in areas that grow in darkness and pulls it all together in a story telling way. Interesting read, well done.

Hollywood Celebrities
Sati Achath
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468112900, $15.00,

I liked "Hollywood Celebrities: Basic Things You've Always Wanted to Know Volume 1" a lot. The author takes numerous celebrities and makes great caricatures of them. Some I didn't recognize immediately, but when I looked at the eyes he really got that right. Good job. You will find a lot of information on each celebrity such as: Name at Birth, Nicknames, (I thought that neat), Date of Birth, Zodiac Sign, Height, (hum what happened to weight here?) and Education. You also can see what Awards they won and he has a great Glossary at back of the book telling you what different rewards are for. What I found most interesting was the information on the family. It tells you who their parents were and what they did, even what nationality they are. He also gives you how many brothers and sisters they have. We also can see how many people our celebrities married, divorced, married, divorced, well you get the picture. He tells you how many children they had with each partner. Wow! They certainly keep themselves busy with all their marriages and divorces, tired me just reading about it. I enjoyed this book, it is a fun and interesting book that anyone who just wants to know can. All in all a very nice read.

Amazing Art Projects For Children
Denise M. Logan
Dynamic Art Projects, LLC
9780983666233, $26.95,

I was impressed with this book from the moment I saw it. It is spiral bound and well made with a colorful cover that is sure to catch anyone's eye. However, that is just the beginning of this outstanding book. Author, Denise Logan, has put together projects for children to allow them to see the ability they have to create beautiful art. As strange as this may seem, this is a patient book, one that carefully takes its time in explaining each step to the child in a loving tender, yet exciting way. There are many projects to chose from and those that are from different cultures that have inspired the art, Mr. Logan gives a small amount of history on. Very interesting.

There is a table of contents and some student examples of the projects. For each project the material needed is clearly given and the instructions are well laid out with pictures to correspond. They are in full-color so the child can see what they can create. There are even pattern ideas for children to use for the different projects. Examples of what is offered are: Plate Mandalas -Paper Weaving (that really looks like fun) -and Wood and Ceramic Bowl, just to name a few. I feel this book should be in every school art room, and in every child's home. Every child has a creative side and this book will help them to release it with great satisfaction at what they will produce. I highly recommend this book, and by the way, I don't think it is just for children. No, it is for all of us who want to create and just didn't know how to do it. Recommended.

The Big Book Of Dan
Daniel C. Dulik
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432778590, $14.95,

There are times when you find a book that is different in so many ways and that is what I found in this read by, Daniel C. Dulik. It is one filled with essays, poems, stories such as The Evolution of Man and a game that all can play called, Berm Bingo, to name just a few elements you will find in the pages of this read. I liked this book mainly because it was different and I just didn't know what I was going find within is pages. I have to say "Getting Old," definitely had my eyebrows going up a few times, but still I giggled. His poem, "Is Reason Gone Forever?" is so true and gave me much to think about for a while.

For those of you looking for a read that is up-beat and funny, yet touches upon truth, be it in perhaps a slightly different way, this read is for you. It's just a great book to read when you don't want the norm. Enjoyable! Well done.

The Meridians
Michaelbrent Collings
Create Space
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781460990629, $14.95,

Scott Cowley is a Detective and a good one at that. He has a wife and a beautiful daughter that he loves dearly. No one would have ever believed what happened the day they were both shot down, taken away from Scott forever. Scott, himself, badly wounded survived and his life changed forever. Leaving detective work behind him, Scott moves to a new town, yet he is haunted by Mr. Gray, the man who killed his wife and daughter and who is now after him. Who is this mysterious man and why is he bent on destroying? Supernatural things are happening to Scott,things he can't explain to anyone until he helps a young window and her autistic son, both who are also being hunted by Mr. Gray. Joining forces they begin the battle for their very existence.

Wow! What an outstanding read this is. I have to tell you I was glued to this book until I finished it. The characters were so well defined, their emotions right out there, in your face, that it was impossible not to become involved with their lives. It was great the way the author brought a child into play and centered the storyline around him, especially his autistic ways that had to be figured out in order to survive. I so liked how Mr. Collings gives honor to the little boy and showed how truly special he was.

This story is layered with mystery, questions from every corner and no answers fully coming forth until the final conclusion. Just what is the secret of The Meridians? What a ride. Let me say it certainly took a great writer to write this story. This is one you will not be able to put down and one you will remember for a long time to come. Very highly recommended.

A Rose In The Desert
Chi Emerole, author
Ryan Durney, illustrator
Create Space
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781456318154, $14.95,

In this charming book by author, Chi Emerole, we meet, Rose. Rose lives in a refugee camp in the Tibesti Mountains of Chad. Today is a very special day for Rose; it is her birthday.

Rose wakes up early, excited to see what the day holds, but first she must help her mother to get water for the family. They travel to the Geyser of Hope, fill their pots with water and carry them home on their heads. Than Rose must walk a long while to get to school, but still she is excited. Finally that evening her family and friends gather to celebrate her special day. Rose ends the night with a beautiful prayer, one of hope for her future.

This book is beautifully illustrated, so vibrant that you almost expect Rose to walk out of the pages and sit with you. Very, very well done. The story will definitely show the reader that children, no matter what circumstance they are living in, still have their hopes and dreams for the life set before them. It is a tender read, yet, as Rose says, it definitely leaves you with the understanding that, 'we need peace, food, and kindness.' Recommended.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

The Underground Guide To Job Interviewing
Todd Moster
Monster Legal Placement
c/o CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781456329716, $12.99,

The job hunt may be as fiercely competitive as ever. "The Underground Guide to Job Interviewing: A Quick and Irreverent Primer for the Working Professional" is a collection of practical advice from Todd Moster as he gives practical knowledge to making that first impression count, keeping a professional front, and keeping that front up under investigation. "The Underground Guide to Job Interviewing" is a fine addition to collections focusing on the job hunt, highly recommended.

Voices of Governance
Karen Kane
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470193256, $8.95,

When something goes wrong, it's important to understand where the problem lies. "Voices of Governance: Why Oversight is Important to All of Us" discusses the importance of oversight in the modern economy, and how corruption and veiled commerce is destroying the effectiveness and confidence in modern market capitalism. Drawing from economic discussions all over the world, "Voices of Governance" is a must for economic studies collections looking for reads that focus on the value of regulation and oversight.

She Wore Only White
Dorthe Binkert
Amazon Crossing
9781612182919, $14.95,

On a ship crossing the ocean, many people hide secrets, but keeping them from escaping is easier said than done. "She Wore Only White" is a novel of a turn of the twentieth century ocean liner crossing from Antwerp, Germany over to Ellis Island in America, as those on this ocean liner soon become enraptured with a whirlwind of romance and tragedy, as Dorthe Binert crafts an emotional novel that will resonate with readers. "She Wore Only White" is a strong pick for general fiction collections, highly recommended.

The Angel's Footpath
Ronald R. Cooke
Privately Published
9780615367798, $14.00,

Great figures revolutionize thought and opinion. "The Angel's Footpath" is a novel from Ronald R. Cooke telling of the coming of another prophet and the long road that comes from a young child with a high destiny that will change the 21st century world as he knows it. "The Angel's Footpath" is a faithful and spiritual novel that is very much worth considering for Christian fiction collections.

A Passion for Prying
Nancy Mangano
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781452056524, $19.99,

From adultery to murder is a very big leap to take. "A Passion for Prying" follows Natalie North, a private investigator who mainly takes on cases of adultery with no real consequence. But a murder suicide pushes her to apply her skills as a detective on something with higher stakes, and finds that murder is something people keep more covered up than their extramarital affairs. "A Passion for Prying" is a fun and riveting mystery, very much recommended.

Don't Disappear
Nina Guest
Don't Disappear Production
9781468077353, $12.95,

Falling in love with the wrong person can have dire consequences. "Don't Disappear" is a novel of life in Russia, as Nina Guest takes cues from true events as she tells the story of young Vicka Zotova, a young girl of the Soviet Union who falls for a KGB officer. As she finds herself stolen away in the night, the cruelty she faces chips at her one hope of escape. "Don't Disappear" is a tragedy that may read all too true, a dramatized version of what some Russian women unfortunately face.

The Last Victim
Christine Rudy
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468017601, $14.95,

Predators leave a trail of victims and ruined lives in their wake. "The Last Victim" is a chronicle of the crimes of William Edward Griffith Jr., a serial rapist who over forty years committed his crimes and the efforts of his last victim to finally bring him to justice. Covering his methods and the court case to bring him to justice, Christine Rudy emphasizes the importance of pursuing stronger retribution against these serial offenders. "The Last Victim" is a tragic tale of the lengths it may take to bring justice.

Arlington Nuetzel
PO Box 151
Frederick, MD 21705-0151
9781448958498, $24.95,

What was once a serene and simple life can so easily break down. "Telephoto" is a novel of shattered trophy wives and the collapse of life that can come when life isn't all what we'd thought it'd be. As a family is threatened and a father seeks to restore the bonds that have been lost, "Telephoto" is a strong pick for general fiction collections, very much recommended.

Doing Nothing
Neil Kurtzman
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781461096535, $23.35,

You can learn alot about something, just not in the ways you suspect. "Doing Nothing" is a novel from Neil Kurtzman as he presents the tale of the education of Richard Grollman in Medical school, and the madness he encounters as a resident and student in the medical field. With discouragement and lessons in many directions, "Doing Nothing" is a humorous read of medicine and how anything really gets done, highly recommended.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Anchor Stevens
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781460914960, $14.95,

Age is unavoidable; it's how we embrace it that matters. "Pipedream: Life at Middle Age" is a collection of musings on middle age and the challenges of realizing times change and evolve around you and how to manage it all as it moves on, understanding the self's role in life and where you're spending the other half. "Pipedream" is a strong pick for memoir, self-help, and essay collections.

Animated Ediblez
Vee Ward
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466497252, $14.95,

Cooking with vegetables doesn't have to be a flavorless boil or steam affair. "Animated Ediblez: Feisty Vegetables and Incredible Starches" is a combination food history and recipe book from Vee Ward as she walks readers through a bit of food history accompanied by recipes for many vegetable and starch dishes, of the potato and rice types. "Animated Ediblez" is a fine pick for cookbook and food collections.

Dying to Live
John Churcher
Circle Books
c/o O Books
9781846947155, $22.95,

Belief is nice, but it is the substance of life that truly matters. "Dying to Live: Lessons from Mark" is a discussion of religion and faith, analyzing Mark's interpretation of Peter the Apostle's words and their biography of the life of Christ, as John Churcher urges readers to not be taken by the spirituality of Christ's story alone, but the meaning of Christ and his drive through life. "Dying to Live" is a spiritual and insightful read to consider for those who want to gain a clearer understanding of Christ's message, from radical theologian and Methodist minister John Churcher.

The Unspoken Truth About Autism
Karen Savlov
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781461195009, $18.95,

The details of human development still seem quite foreign to us. "The Unspoken Truth About Autism: A New Look at the Etiology and Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders" is a discussion of the Autism Spectrum and its role in human mental development. Karen Savlov, a psychoanalyst and family therapist joins with Cori Thiem, who has been diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome for much of his life, as they present an insightful delve into the impacts of Autism and how it should be treated within the medical community. "The Unspoken Truth About Autism" is worth considering for those who want an insightful look at the mental impact of the disorder and how to better understand it.

Heart of a Man
Delisa J. Bracy
Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781468528862, $19.99,

Love is one heck of a drug. "Heart of a Man" is a novel from Delisa J. Bracy, following Izrael Washington, a man at the top of his world, embracing lust and fearing love. But as a woman pushes him into the later once more, he finds him at a crossroads of his playboy life, and must learn what he truly desires out of his life. "Heart of a Man" is a fine urban romance, much recommended reading.

Shaping Destiny
Destiny Allison
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468077339, $14.95,

We come to many conflicts in our lives and the choices make decide who we are. "Shaping Destiny: A Quest for Meaning in Art and Life" is a memoir from Destiny Allison as she speaks on her own experiences and how she was driven to become an artist, seeking to inspire people to make their own way, determining what they want out of themselves. "Shaping Destiny" is a fine pick for inspirational and motivational memoir collections.

Trails, Trails, and Campfire Stories
Sherry Sikstrom
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781466914766, $25.00,

Some are born with a strong love of animals that shouldn't be overlooked. "Tails, Trails, and Campfire Stories: Photographs, Poetry, and Musings Of an Alberta Farm Girl" is a memoir from Sherry Sikstrom in poems and photographs, as she reflects on her farm life, speaking on the simple life as he has seen it and it has come with anything and everything in the process. "Tails, Trails, and Campfire Stories" is a fine addition to any poetry collection with something special added to it all.

The East Croglin Horror
Brad Ashlock
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463553708, $12.99,

The remoteness of an island off the coast of Australia allows many things to happen to go unnoticed. "The East Croglin Horror" is a mystery novel set in the remote village of East Croglin, a town of Tasmania. An investigator with an unclear origin begins to try to find where three girls disappeared to 10 years ago, finding secrets the town doesn't want to surrender, and the secrets that the darkness will keep hidden. "The East Croglin Horror" is a riveting psychological thriller, very much recommended.

My "Plane" Truth
Jill Douglas
Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781467870023, $17.99,

Near tragedies can be a wake-up call for one's life. "My 'Plane' Truth: A Soul Satisfying Crash Course to Unconditional Love and Forgiveness" is a memoir from Jill Douglas as she reflects on her realizations as a plane crash nearly claimed her life, enlightening her on the true value of life on her road to recovery. With humor and poignancy, "My 'Plane' Truth" is a fine and much recommended pick for general memoir collections, highly recommended.

Paul T. Vogel

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

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