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

MBR Bookwatch

Volume 5, Number 3 March 2006 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Kaveny's Bookshelf Klausner's Bookshelf Laurel's Bookshelf
Shelley's Bookshelf Shirley's Bookshelf Vicki's Bookshelf

Kaveny's Bookshelf

I am happy to be alive, proud to be an American. And here's a review article on

Inside The Third Reich
Albert Speer
BBS Publishing Corporation
1 Galahad edition
ISBN: 0883659247, $29.95, 596 pages

I called James Andrew Cox (my editor and chief at the Midwest Book Review) a few minutes ago and gave him notice that he would be mentioning him in this month's "Kaveny’s Bookshelf".

This month I will start bookshelf with a Russian proverb which goes something like this. “In order to get to know a man you have to eat a pod of salt with him.” Well for those of you that don’t know a pod is an Imperial Russian unit of weight equal to thirty two pounds. Well Jim and I did most of our salt eating about thirty two years ago with our stints together helping to found a number of organizations in Madison Wisconsin including the community radio station W.O.R.T, Public Access Cable Television, The Madison Science Fiction Club, and, WISCON (the world’s largest and only feminist science fiction convention held annually in Madison Wisconsin). Incidentally WISCON is now in its 30th year and will be held at The Concourse Hotel in Madison over Memorial day week end, but if you want to attend you better get your membership in since they are placing a cap on registration at one thousand.

After having said that I am going back to a cold morning exactly thirty years ago when Jim and I had signed up to put Community Radio W.O.R.T on the air at the air at 6:00 A.M since the F.C.C License required that it be on the air twenty hours a week twenty seven three hundred and sixty days a year. Well in any case Jim just informed me (in our cell phone conversation) that in order for him to get the third class F.C.C Broadcast License he and our long time friends Hank Luttrell and Richard Russell had make a eight hour round trip to downtown Chicago from Madison and take a several hour test in order to be a radio broadcaster. Interestingly enough the third class F.C.C Broadcast License in the mail a year later for just filling out an application.

But in any case, back to that icy morning thirty years ago when I said to Jim Cox shortly after he climbed down from scrapping the ice off the transmitter tower an as we were watching all tubes and dials warm up as we went though all the steps necessary to start transmitting, that we are doing that all over the world people would literally die to have a chance to do. That was, we had the right and the privilege to (with the exception perhaps of inciting a riot) say over the air pretty much what we wanted. That was a pretty big deal those thirty years ago -- and when it was a criminal offence to own a mimeograph machine in without a license in the former Soviet Union, and I bet one would not want to be caught with mimeograph in China even today, or just about any non-western European or mid-eastern nation even today.

I would also comment that local branch of American Nazi appeared on W.O.R.T about the same time. And many of we who were definitely leaning toward the left politically in those days found ourselves in the position of having to stand up for The Nazi’s constitutional right to be hateful
loud-mouth morons.

Last month I promised that I would included a sample of what I do academically in the form of a book review. Time is running short so I had better fess up.

Albert Speer’s Cathedral of Ice

In this short paper I will examine a brief moment in the life of Albert Speer (1905-81). Albert Speer was a major player in Hitler’s Third Reich before he was thirty, serving as Hitler’s chief architect in Nazi Germany from 1934 ? 1942 and minister of armaments from 1942 to 1945. In the autumn of 1945, with Germany defeated and in ruins, Albert Speer found himself on trial for his life as a one of the twenty-two major Nazi war criminals.

There is no need to establish Albert Speer’s guilt as a major Nazi war criminal or his complicity in The Holocaust. The historical record of this is established beyond any doubt by his conviction by The Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal in 1946. Speer, in his own words, escaped death by hanging by a single vote of the Tribunal. Rather, I will argue in the deepest philosophical sense that Albert Speer lived an exemplary life of bad faith.

My intent is to use Albert Speer’s creation of The Cathedral of Ice spectacle as a signifier for a repeated pattern of bad faith. exhibited in the ensuing half Century of his public life. Albert Speer created his Cathedral of Ice (light) special effects, which illuminated the nighttime sky, for the 1934 Nazi Nuremberg party rally. I will demonstrate that Speer knowingly used monumental special effects to conceal the seedy, almost tawdry, human weakness, fragility, and fear in those Nazis that actually performed (at least in the Nazi’s own terms) this ritual which came to be forever know as Cathedral of Ice (light)

To establish what I mean by bad faith I chose a classic definition established by Speer’s contemporary, the French existential philosopher and member of The French Resistance Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980). In my opinion, the most appropriate summary of this concept was found at the Blue Pete website.

"The crucial concept in his diagnosis is that of self-deception or 'bad faith' (mauvaise foi). Bad faith is the attempt to escape anguish by pretending to ourselves that we are not free. We try to convince ourselves that our attitudes and actions are determined by our character, our situation, our role in life, or anything other than ourselves.

I will also draw some of my material from sociological and philosophical discourse, and some from critical theory. The question I pose in this paper is: in achieving this Cathedral of Ice special effect of seemingly removing the Nazis from what is human, seedy, tawdry, weak, and fragile, was Albert Speer complicit in separating the Nazis on a rank and file basis from their own humanity and in turn setting the stage for at least some of the evils that were to follow in The Holocaust. I will also suggest, by extension, that Albert Speer, in his autobiography Inside the Third Reich, was guilty through the use of highly sophisticated narratives strategies. Using these types of misdirection, he was able to gain a certain contemporary historically sympathy by presenting himself as the only Nazi only who took responsibility for his actions even from his victims.

In order to complete this task, I must use an interdisciplinary methodology, as I draw on film and literary narrative studies, and rely on certain close reading strategies we have put into practice elsewhere in this course. It is my hope to illuminate Albert Speer's apparent virtuosity first as Hitler's toady, then in avoiding the hangman, and finally convincing some of his victims, and their decedents, that he was somehow on a morally higher plane than Adolph Eichmann, for example, who Speer does not mention in Inside The Third Reich on a single page.

It is my sense of things that in the world of art and literature successful practice nearly always precedes theory. For example, Albert Speer never knew that he was at using narrative suture in both his visual Cathedral of Ice (1934) or thirty years later when he used it in literary narrative form to misdirect his auditors and remove responsibility from himself in his autobiography. In fact, I suspect he would have been appalled that he was making such effective use of anything based on the theories of the Jewish psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (1859-1939). Following the Nazi German Anschluss, Freud fled Austria with his family with the financial help of his patient and friend Princess Marie Bonaparte, on June 4th, 1938.

I will readily agree that my use of narrative suture is by its nature summary but nevertheless useful in indicating how narrative structures and visual techniques in film may be used to control what the reader sees in a film, or most importantly, who and how they identify with characters in a narrative. In the Cathedral of Ice, Speer controls the crowd and what the crowd sees and remembers. He controls the British ambassador, and most importantly what the Newsreel cameras see by raising everything beyond human scale, by distancing those who are marching as an out of step mob away from the proximity of anyone who would recognize them for their human faults, almost in the same way that the child is the only one who sees though the emperors new clothes in the classic fairy tale.

However, this is not to argue that Speer created some irresistible force which transcended human will. American film maker Frank Capra (1897-1991) instantly recognized the Nazis for what they were and used some of same images to make the Nazis look ridiculous in the Why we fight film series. I only suggest this to indicate that it was not inevitable that one fall for Nazi imagery and pageantry, and to put such acts within the sphere of human responsibility and volition.

In my conclusion, I will turn to Albert Speer’s portrayal in the book Daily Life in The Holocaust by Eve Nussbaum, and Carol D. Schultz (1998) to indicate that Speer achieved a kind of savior-of the-good-Germany status even among Holocaust survivors by his narrative strategies of suture which he built up throughout his autobiography. (p. 287).

Albert Speer, who had admitted that the ties between him as armaments minister and the charges of slave labor were very strong, was given twenty years because of his apparent repentant attitude and his efforts to halt Hitler's scorched earth policy, designed to annihilate the rest of Germany, from taking effect. (Speer: Inside The Third Reich, 1970 Avon, p. 83).

Though the material cited is not present in my hardcover, American English, first edition, relating to the effort of (Albert Speers ) to halt Hitler’s scorched earth policy? It is however a recurrent theme in through the entirety of Inside The Third Reich as Speer plays a kind of cat and mouse game with his proximity from Hitler. So, or example, in Chapter 19: Second in Command, ? pp (267-277), Speer can boast about Hitler referring to Speer himself as second in command and yet in his conclusion, Chapter 35 Speer can write about the Nazi era and the Second World War as if it were some natural catastrophe in which technology simply outstripped human control Thus he can argue that he was a victim just as much as anything else. Yet elsewhere he is willing to take credit for greatly increasing Nazi war production, which of course prolonged the war and the operation of the death camps by several months. Speer thus demonstrates both that he did his job well and argues that he could do nothing else.

Appendix on Methodology

I have deliberately chosen a postmodern methodology in this paper which I hope it proves to be at least useful and informative at least to an extent. At the same time I wish to indicate that such a methodology is deficient in dealing with maters relating to the Holocaust because by its very nature it deconstructs, perhaps to the point of arguing that all values are radical and contingent including the value of human life.

However found as I did my supplemental reading for this project which involved reading most of the four following books. Admitting the Holocaust: Collected Essay’s Edited by Lawrence Langer, New York, Oxford University Press 1995. Documents On The Holocaust: Selected Essays on the Destruction of The Jews of Germany , Austria , Poland, and The Soviet Union Edited Eighth Edition, Edited by Yizahak Arad, Israel Gutman and Abraham Maragaliot. University of Nebraska Press, 1999.Ethics and extermination: Reflection on Nazi Genocide, by Michael Burleigh, Cambridge University Press, 1997. finally Daily Life during the Holocaust by Eve Nussbaum Soumerai, and Carol D. Schulz, Greenwood Press 1998 something else happened as a certain moral currency asserted itself in the text of these works as I read them on an individual and human level

What I mean by to show what I mean I will sight two examples first the historical event of death camp camp guards forcing inmates to throw their caps towards the fences of death camps past the deadlines, then forcing them to retrieve them, and the drawing some pleasure of nearly unimaginable perversion in shooting them as the try to comply.

The second thing I will take from this paper will change how I have constructed my world view nearly since my first memory when I heard my uncle Philip tell me about the concentration camps which he had witnessed as a combat infantry officer whose unit finished the war in Czechoslovakia when I was a little boy in the early 1950?s.

Turning to Eve Nussbaum, and Carol Schulz, report first hand in Chapter 25 pp. (291-297) of Daily Life during the Holocaust that the death camps and concentration camps became displaced person camps. According to a report sent by Earl Harrison Dean of The University of Pennsylvania Law School Earl Harrison to President Harry Truman, "We (The United States) appear to be treating the Jews in as the Nazi treated them except that we do not exterminate them" p 294.

I had always assumed that the camps were closed and aid relief was given, however it appears that even Jewish relief efforts were delayed until the fall of 1945 p. 295. This is the point at which most research papers indicate as sort of gesture that the fate of the camps and their inmates after WWII is an area in which more research needs to be done. Often this is a required trop of the timidity of academic discourse, however in this case I think it is a burning necessity.

I wish now that I would have spent more time analyzing the photographs that Speer has include in Inside The Third Reich. This became clear this morning as I discussed the my paper with my most resistant read, my wife who holds a doctorate in comparative literature from U.W Madison which she earned in 1992 I showed her the photograph of Speer facing 407 of the text and commented on how masterfully he had presented himself as a victim of some great historical and tragic event, particularly if one contrast this photograph will all the other ones presented on Speer’s monumental architecture and nearly half the other photo’s which put him very close and personal proximity to Hitler even at the earliest points of his career when he jumped on the Nazi bandwagon in his late twenties. My point in all this is that if we let him Speer lets us in show it all as he sees it and takes us in. My wife did not agree, she said all she saw was a tired old man who I could tell she felt some sympathy for. Speer was forty one year old when the photograph was taken and he had in fact taken her in. This is just how Speer wanted to be seen as moved from persecutor to share victim hood by construction of his presentation representation. I of course realize that one of my grounding assumptions in this take on Speer is, though he may not have been aware of every aspect of how he represented himself, it was after all his auto biography.

Phil Kaveny
Literary Editor

Klausner's Bookshelf

Bill Bright & Jack Cavanaugh
Howard Publishing Company
ISBN: 1582294933, $12.99, 368 pp.

In 1798 Yale College freshman Asa Rush is eager to attend classes since school president Timothy Dwight announced his intention to re-establish God in the campus including the curriculum. However, Asa’s first assignment is a stuttering humiliating debate with cocky senior student Eli Cooper. His spirits pick up again when he notices his sister’s friend Annabelle in his class. He finds her charming and attractive, but so does Eli. They compete for the love of Annabelle. President Dwight informs Asa that the lad has a calling from God to befriend Eli. Asa does not feel very Christian towards his rival, but knows he must try. Meanwhile, the election of 1800 between Adams and Jefferson is heating up the country with the latter’s supporters talking a second American Revolution if the former triumphs. As a Jeffersonian, Eli leads the local organized insurrection. However, a third force Scourge manipulates the Jeffersonian and the Federalists, pushing for a civil war. While both sides ready for war, with little hope for success except in his faith that God will show him the way, Asa tries to turn Eli away from hostilities by trying to lead his adversary to God. This is a superb inspirational historical political fiction story that grips the audience on several levels. The key to the fine tale is that the religious message of the Lord shapes individuals, groups of people, and nations, etc and is imbued inside the exciting plot without preaching. Instead readers obtain a powerful gaze at America at the end of the eighteenth century as the Jeffersonians and Federalists battle for control during a pre-Darwinian era when faith in God is being shook by philosophy during the Age of Reason.

The Once and Future Con
Peter Guttridge
Speck Press
P. O. Box 102004, Denver, Co. 80250
ISBN: 1933108061, $14.00

Nick Madrid returns to his college for the first time in about fifteen years to attend a reunion at Oxford. He meets his college girlfriend Faye, who apparently married his rival for her affection back then, Jonathan Askwith. The hostilities between Nick and Jonathan remain high. However, Nick is not interested in rekindling the fire with Faye; instead he wants to light a new one with Genevra Wynn, a friend of his pal Bridget Frost though in her heels she stands at least two inches taller than Nick’s 6’4”. Bridget apparently likes Genevra’s brother Rex. Genevra invites Nick and Bridget to join their company by publicizing their discovery of King Arthur's grave site at what they are converting into Avalon Theme Park to make lots of money since heritage is in. As he considers the venture Nick has doubts, but agrees to at least look at their Camelot. He also learns that his enemy Jonathan drowned in his own puke in the chapel apparently too drunk to move. Nick travels to the site, but instead of chivalry, he soon finds sexual taboos as the norm and a serial killer eliminating the competition. The humor in this you can’t go home Madrid mystery is less than in his previous appearances as this is more personal than ever; Nick is stunned with a revelation about a fifteen year old son of Faye, sexual misconduct with incest and adultery flowing free, and the homicides. The story line is action-packed once Nick journeys to Avalon and never slows down until the final con is confronted. Fans of the series will enjoy the journalist’s latest investigative tale.

Cripple Creek
James Sallis
ISBN: 0802733824, $23.00, 208 pp.

Turner tries for what seems to him the umpteenth time to start over; this time he is a deputy sheriff in Cripple Creek, Tennessee. The small town near Memphis has little crime so he expects to “heal” again this time from the CYPRESS GROVE investigation. However, perhaps Turner is a magnet for trouble as his boss Sheriff Don Lee arrests Judd Kurtz on a DUI charge only to find, $200,000 in a gym bag hidden in the trunk. Not waiting around, Kurtz with outsider muscle escapes from the Cripple Creek jail, leaving behind two critically wounded cops including Lee. Turner takes over and makes inquiries into Kurtz’s recent activities, which lead him to a coming home as he tracks Kurtz to organized crime centered in Memphis but moving concentrically out into the burbs. This tense tale is surprisingly enlivened by the insight into Turner, his banjo-picking girlfriend Val, and the Cripple Creek community as readers will contrast the normalcy of everyday life and relationships vs. the investigation. The little things like misdemeanors seem like pebbles to boulders when compared to the Kurtz case. Even the wild twisted ending that fans will reread several times to insure they got it adds to the analogies that showcase James Sallis at his best with Turner’s second thriller.

The American
Andrew Britton
ISBN: 0758213336, $24.00, 384 pp.

Physically former US Army Special Forces Officer Jason March is as atypical of an al-Qaeda operative there is as for instance he has blond hair. However, he loathes the United States and is willing to do anything to destroy the country. Thus, with his western looks, he is the perfect insider recruit by the terrorist organization. Jason blows up a motorcade killing Senate Majority Leader Daniel Levy and several others in his retinue. Desperate to stop March from further assassinations, the CIA brings back former agent thirtyish Ryan Kealey to stop him. Ryan is the only known person to survive a March assault; on a Special Forces mission, the commanding officer March killed his entire team except Kealey, who he wounded but survived. Kealey teams up with CIA counterterrorism expert Naomi Kharmai who can provide insight into March’s “handlers”. However, March could not care less what bin Laden wants as he has his own personal agenda making him that much more dangerous than any outsider could be. Though many recent terrorism tales make Arab extremists the villains, THE AMERICAN provides a fresh perspective at least in terms of the killer, who would be like Oklahoma City bombers working for Al-Qaeda. Ryan is a retired champion brought back for one last gig though if it was anyone but March he would refuse; this one is personal to him; March is a brilliant sociopath with a grudge; finally Naomi is a throw away who brings unneeded sexual tension disguised as “expertise” to the cat and mouse tale. Though the story line quickly turns into the typical high noon between the good guy (our side of course) and the bad guy (Al-Qaeda’s side), Andrew Britton provides an exciting thriller.

Moving Is Murder
Sara Rosett
ISBN: 0758213360, $22.00, 272 pp.

Ellie and her husband Mitch have moved four times in five years because of his assignments. His latest duty station as a member of the 52nd Air Refueling Squadron is at Greenley Air Force Base in Vernon, Washington where they accept off-post housing. They don’t know that many of those stationed at Greenley live in their neighborhood. Almost against her will, Ellie becomes involved in the activities of her neighbors that include the monthly coffee sessions, yard sales, and barbeques. At a barbeque Ellie witnesses an argument between Cass and her husband’s pal Jeff. When Ellie leaves she notices Cass outside her vehicle dead from repeated wasp stings. Ellie soon proves that Cass was murdered by someone who planted a cup of sugar and wasps inside her car. Not long afterward someone searches Cass’ house and subsequently Ellie’s abode. Two other suspicious deaths happen that Ellie believes are linked with that of Cass. She determinedly sets out to uncover the culprit before she becomes victim number four. Readers initially obtain a look at the difficulty facing our military and their spouses even within the States as they move to new assignments. That quickly twists into an intriguing amateur sleuth tale yet keeps that glimpse at the military family lifestyle. Ellie suspects everyone in her neighborhood as the potential killer, which makes it impossible for the audience to guess who the culprit is. Still the courageous heroine tries to connect the dots and find the killer before she or others become the next victim. Readers will salute Sara Rosett’s fine mystery that sheds light on military life with the hopes that more such tales starring Ellie and her neighbors come soon.

Undressing Mercy
Deanna Lee
Kensington Aphrodisia
ISBN: 075821488X, $12.95

In Boston, assistant director at the Holman Gallery, Mercy Rothell wants to showcase and sell the erotic work of renowned sculptor Shamus Montgomery. The famous artist agrees with one stipulation or the deal is off. Mercy must pose naked for a work he wants to do. Mercy wants to say no though she finds Shamus hot and would not mind lying naked with him also sans clothing. However, she reluctantly accepts his terms. As he works his magic, Mercy dreams of his hands working her into an ardent frenzy instead of his sculpture. He desires her as much as he finds a need to knead the real thing. Both begin to think in terms of one statue on display for them to see only in their boudoir. Readers who appreciate heated contemporary romances will enjoy Deanna Lee’s fine tale UNDRESSING MERCY. Shamus is a hunk who knows what he wants, which is simply to have Mercy. She is the more complex character as she does not trust men since the Jeff King rape and her observations of her male boss using his position of power to manipulate women. She sees a shrink to help her cope with the nightmares. Now Shamus is using the show to his advantage, which makes her want to classify him with the other male rats. UNDRESSING MERCY will prove difficult, but Shamus believes the prize is worth the quest.

Body Heat
Katherine Garbera
Kensington Brava
ISBN: 0758212410, $14.00

Fire Chief Andi O’Rourke is considered by her town and her crew a great firefighter and even better supervisor. Used to being around firefighters as that has always been the family business, she is not afraid to direct her staff and does so with a passion for the job. However, her personal life is a zero. She is clueless when it comes to the opposite sex as she has always been accepted as one of the guys. That is to everyone except fire investigator Tucker Fields who dreams of making it with Andi as he sees her as a great firefighter but also a desirable woman, not one of the guys. He has Andi pondering if it is okay to be a competent firefighting sexy woman that is when she does not fear her feelings for him. As they work closely together, Tucker wants to set the night on fire with Andi, who he believes can be his peer on the job and his lover forever. The lead duet make this firefighting romance hot and fun as Tucker tries to persuade Andi that she can be a desirable woman and a competent firefighter. The story line is driven by this pair as they work undercover and he wants to go under the covers with his beloved. Though both are professionals, the arson investigation takes a back seat to the BODY HEAT generated between Tucker and Andi.

Mardi Gras Mambo
Greg Herren
ISBN: 0758208308, $14.00, 304 pp.

In New Orleans, former b-dancer turned private investigator Scotty Bradley returns home at daybreak after a wild night of advance celebrating of Mardi Gras. However, instead of hitting the sack to prepare for Carnival fun with his two boyfriends Frank Sobieski and Colin Cioni, two detectives interrogate Scotty re his being seen in the French Quarter with Russian emigre Misha Saltikov, the source of the sleuth’s illegal drug usage. Not long after they were seen talking, someone killed Misha. Though he prefers to stay out of the police investigation, Scotty begins making his own inquiries using underground links that would never talk to a cop. To his shock, Scotty finds his own zany relatives are somehow involved as well some odd Russians who might be Mafioso. At the same time he conducts his investigation, his affairs with Frank and Colin abruptly collapses when the former is abducted and the latter vanishes without a trace leaving Scotty with a second and perhaps third personal case to deal with that is if nothing ties together and so far nothing has. In his third appearance (see BOURBON STREET BLUES and JACKSON SQUARE JAZZ), Scotty is at his beleaguered best coping poorly with cops suspecting him in a drug deal turned bad and even worse with his lovers gone. The investigation is terrific as the hero pays homage to the city he cherishes while trying to prove his innocence, save his lovers, and celebrate Fat Tuesday. MARDI GRAS MUMBO is a fabulous gay Noir.

Thrilled to Death
Jennifer Apodaca
ISBN: 0758209886, $22.00

Samantha Shaw, owner of Heart Mates dating service, and her boyfriend former cop turned private investigator Gabe Pulizzi tear down the walls that separate their businesses as he mentors her so that she can legally work his cases. However, her next investigation does not come from her teacher, but from her grandfather, Barney Webb, accused by acclaimed magician Shane Masters of hiring someone to kill him. Shane was once a magician’s apprentice learning the trade under Barney before becoming a traitor to his profession, exposing the master tricks of other magicians. He comes to Lake Elsinore to perform his latest “debunking,” that of his former lover Nikki Eden. Attending his performance is many who loath him and that includes Nikki and other students of Barney. All share in the belief that the world would be a better place if Shane was dead. One takes the wishes to heart killing Shane. While family troubles explode for Sam and Gabe, Detective Logan Vance follows up on Shane’s accusation that Barney arranged the homicide; Sam figures she better prove her grandfather did not commit the homicide; someone else she probably knows rather well possibly did the deed. Sam has come a long way from NINJA SOCCER MOMS and it shows in this tale as she still errs, but moves on with confidence in her self; she knows what she wants and she goes out to get it. Solving the case of the dead magician proves difficult because the prime suspects besides being friends are expert sleight of the hand illusionists so red herrings abound. This is a fantastic entry as Sam hopes to soon practice under her license not that of her lover.

Sexy Beast
Kate Douglas, Noelle Mack & Vivi Anna
Kensington Aphrodisia
ISBN: 0758214855, $12.95

“Chanku Rising” by Kate Douglas. Xandi and Stefan, and Keisha and Anton are shapeshifter couples whose euphoric lovemaking humans can only dream of achieving occasionally. However an outsider Carl Burns has learned the ecstatic truth about them and seeks proof by stalking Xandi, threatening to expose her and her clan unless the quartet can find a means to stop him. “Tiger, Tiger” by Noelle Mack. In the Tibetan Himalayas, were-snow tiger Jack wants the courageous female climber Dani that he rescues as his. However, though the beast “lures” the beauty into his lair, he wonders how to persuade her that he is the only man for her. “Night of the Jaguar” by Vivi Anna. Ecstatic about her journey, Myra travels to the Amazon, but her dream turns nightmarish when she is hurt with no one around for miles to help her. In her fever dreams she sees a were-jaguar rescue her. When Myra regains consciousness she finds herself safe and craving to claw every inch of the body and soul of her rescuer Xalvador. These three exhilaratingly heated supernatural romances star were-hunks coming to the rescue of females in trouble.

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys
Lorraine Heath, Georgina Gentry & Teresa Bodwell
ISBN: 0758213018, $12.95, 288 pp.

“The Great Cowboy Race” by Georgina Gentry. In 1893 desperate Bostonian Henrietta Jennings travels to Chadron, Nebraska to obtain the help of a father she never met; however, she learns that tough old Henry is not at his ranch, but instead in Omaha. In dire straits hiding from her mother who demands she marry a prominent Brahmin, she darns the disguise of a boy and enters a horse race to Chicago thinking that Pinkerton would seek a female easterner. Though the trail proves dangerous she adapts except for her desire for her toughest opponent, Comanche Jones. “Whispering by Moonlight” by Teresa Bodwell. In 1862 Isabelle Milton finds herself broke working part-time in a saloon that does not need her help in Hell Gate, Washington Territory. Lucas Warring enters the saloon looking for his wastrel brother Matt, but learns his sibling has run off with miners. The saloonkeeper and his wife, the Havermans, persuade Lucas to take Isabelle to his ranch as a cook. As the northwest suffers from a frozen winter, they fall in love while learning how to stay warm. “The Reluctant Hero” by Lorraine Heath. In 1884 Gallant, Texas, dime novelist Andrea Jackson chooses Sheriff Matthew Knight as her next hero. However, he refuses to talk about his escapades to The Lone Star Lily author. Desperate, Andrea decides to seduce the scowl off his face, and the words from his brain, but he persists in saying he is no hero as he has a debt to pay off. These are three great western romances starring brave somewhat desperate females and strong men who melt when their ladies turn up the heat.

Ladies Courting Trouble
Dolores Stewart Riccio
ISBN: 0758209878, $14.00, 320 pp.

In Plymouth, Massachusetts, Wicca practitioner Cass Shipton gives talk on the origins of Halloween to the Garden of Gethsemane Ladies League members; afterward everyone nibbled on the food, but soon complain of stomach problems. Cass though feeling ill realizes the bitter aftertaste in the brownies was hemlock. One attendee, chocoholic Lydia Craig died from the poisoning; no one knows who provided the brownies. After a stomach pump and finally recovering, Cass attends the Kitchen Magic cooking show on South Shore TV Access when once again the participants are poisoned this time from pumpkin cranberry bread; Cass still not having her stomach fully back did not partake of the poisoned food. While Detectives Stern and Mann struggle with the case and Cass’ lover is with Greenpeace in Florida and Greece, Cass and her circle of friends begin using their otherworldly powers as well as inductive reasoning to ferret out a killer even as they wonder if the motive had something to do with Lydia’s strange will. The fourth Circle of Five paranormal mystery is a lighthearted charming cozy that sub-genre readers will appreciate due to the solid cast that make believers out of even skeptical readers. The investigation is cleverly developed on two fronts with Cass at the point of both, though predominantly through the psychic abilities of the Circle members. The likable cast makes for a fine who-done-it, Wiccan-style; newcomers will feel the spell to seek out the previous three Cass and company capers while fans of the series will once again taste the magic.

When You Love Someone
Susan Johnson
Kensington Brava
ISBN: 1575668114, $15.00

In 1788, as a vicar’s daughter, Elspeth understands the sanctity of her wedding vows though she detests her marriage to elderly cold-hearted Lord Grafton who had two previous wives. Gossip amidst the Ton insists she is still a virgin six months after they exchanged I Do’s as she allegedly sent him into a fit of apoplexy that has left him confined to a Bath chair. She wonders if she did the right thing when she agreed to marry lecherous “Old Hellfire”, but did so with her parents dead so that her brother could gain a military commission. While she suffers with Grafton as a watchdog companion, her sibling serves in India. Marquis Julius D’Abernon hears the rumors of Elspeth’s virginity that between her and her husband they guard as precious cargo. He decides that she is just the challenge he needs to get over his current boredom that has even the Tatler wondering what happened to their top juicy scandal maker. Julius begins his seduction campaign one kiss at a time. However, as he opens her senses to the sensations of lovemaking, he finds he is seduced by the virgin but he only obtains temporary respites from his needs for her. He becomes bolder and she increasingly brazen because it is strange what love can make people do. This is a terrific erotic Regency romance starring a likable heroine who turns from being depressed to euphoric due to the antics of hedonist turned adoring lover Julius. Old Hellfire lives up to his name so few will be upset when the lead couple cuckolds him (mindful of one of the Canterbury Tales). Fans will appreciate this fine historical romance and root for the lead pair to come together permanently.

Criss Cross
Evie Rhodes
Kensington Dafina
ISBN: 0758208723, $14.00

Thirtyish Newark Homicide Detective Micah Jordan-Wells is considered the best at catching killers due to his ability to understand how they think. His latest triumph is the stopping of David Edward Stokes, better known as the serial killer Silky who terrorized the females of the city. However, not long afterward, as Micah gains celebrity status thanks to local TV news and the Newark Star-Ledger, someone begins killing little boys using the same MO that Silky used to kill women. Micah, his partner Nugent “Nuggie” Lewis and their superior John “Wolfgang” Morrison work on the case. However the evidence strongly points to Micah leaving his teammates to wonder if he got into one sociopath’s head too many. The beleaguered bewildered cop will soon learn why he is so good at tracking down killers and why he hesitates to propose to Raven, who he loves even while those who once trusted him wonder if he has lost it. CRISS CROSS is a superb police procedural that uses paranormal elements to enhance a terrific whodunit. The action-packed story line focuses on a hero under siege from forces he does not comprehend as not only is someone inside his head setting him up but his friends and his beloved Raven begin to worry that he has gone over the edge. Evie Rhodes provides a strong thriller with just the right amount of the mystical to turn her novel into a strong unique thriller.

Double Life
Tyrone Wallace
Life Changing Books
P.O Box 423, Brandywine, MD, 20613
ISBN: 0974139416, $15.00

Only twenty-two and already his reputation as the stick up kid Supreme is known throughout Brooklyn, but that is not good because the streets have become wary of him. Supreme realizes he must relocate and start over; so after one last job to provide transportation and a stake, he flies to Washington D.C. leaving behind his car and gun as he has to leave town fast after his last job goes slightly awry. At a Days Inn his cabby took him to, Supreme meets exotic dancer Glory and her pal Pam for an introduction to a DC menage a trois. Soon Glory introduces Supreme to her brother Unique, who after a time in prison is rebuilding his drug trafficking business and could use a smart street hustler. Others do not want him back in the game; some because they have taken over while he hibernated in prison and some because they want him to go straight. However, what brings everything to a head is Supreme’s DOUBLE LIFE; he works for Unique but remains addicted to robbery as he steals from the wrong man. Soon everyone will collide in a final confrontation. DOUBLE LIFE is an action-packed urban thriller that brings the mean streets to life through a strong cast. The one sitting fast paced tale grips readers as characters like Supreme, his ”Ma” Glory, Unique, and others seem genuine so that the audience feels as if they not only know them they are walking on the edge of DC with them. Tyrone Wallace definitely did it providing a powerful superb story that takers who appreciate a unique tense look at street life will demand more from this giver.

Blood's Burden
Alex Matthews
Intrigue Press / Earth Publishing
923 Williamson St, Madison, Wi. 53703
ISBN: 1890768642, $24.00, 272 pp.

Psychotherapist Cassidy McCabe and her husband investigative reporter Zach Moran meet Kit, the live in lover of his son, college sophomore Bryce, and are not very impressed with her cavalier attitude. In fact Cass thinks to herself that Bryce needs a hormone suppressant so that he can dump the flitting Kit by using his right head. A few days later, Bryce calls hysterically from his Chicago townhouse that Kit is dead shot in the head. The police feel this is a crime of passion and the evidence points towards Bryce, who is arrested quickly after the homicide is discovered by the police. Though even Zach believes his son killed Kit, Cass thinks otherwise. She quickly learns that the "drama queen" was pregnant and had at least two other lovers. However, as she searches for information involving the other life of Kit, someone blows up Bryce’s car leading the amateur sleuth to believe that the assailant targets the elimination of those who know what he or she wants hidden. The latest Cassidy McCabe thriller is a terrific amateur sleuth tale in which this time the investigation is personal. As always, Cass’ asides to the audience enable readers to know what she is thinking especially as she takes risks that place her and Zach in danger. The who-done-it is cleverly devised so that readers begin to agree with Zach that his son killed his lover; only Cass believes otherwise because she feels Bryce is unable to commit homicide especially if he knew Kit was pregnant. Her efforts to prove her theory correct make for an exhilarating mystery that will send newcomers seeking the seven previous Cass capers (see THE WEDDING WIDOW).

Beautiful Lies
Lisa Unger
Shaye Areheart (Crown)
ISBN: 0307336689, $24.00

Thirtyish Ridley Jones tries to grab a taxi when she notices the toddler heading into the street with a vehicle coming towards the boy. Without a thought for her own safety, Ridley rushes to the rescue of the infant. Her courageous act saves the lad’s life and makes her a heroine with her picture on the front page of the New York papers. Not long afterward, Ridley receives an envelop in the mail with no return address. Inside is an old fading photograph of a man who she does not recognize, a woman who looks vaguely familiar, and a little girl. The only note hauntingly asks "Are you my daughter?" Her parents vehemently insist she has been their child since birth, but her new neighbor Jake has some doubts about their veracity. She needs to know the truth, but everyone she thought she knew from her parents, to her addicted brother; to her pediatrician and finally those defending her uncle’s heritage of safe houses for abused women and children want her to stop her quest. Her only apparent ally Jake has an agenda too, but that changes when they begin to find a nightmarish undercurrent to Uncle Max’s legacy. BEAUTIFUL LIES is a powerful look at what on the surface seems like kindhearted gestures to help the downtrodden, but instead hides a dark undercurrent. The story line is action-packed yet character driven as Ridley quests to learn the truth, but each step of the way finds her increasingly distrusting those she cherished and entrusted her life with. Lisa Unger writes a dark tale of a woman finding her “heritage” is not quite what everyone she loved has painted.

Michael Robotham
ISBN: 0385508662, $24.95

From the moment Detective Inspector Vincent Ruiz was fished out of the Thames he knew he was in trouble as he has no memory how he got there or how he was shot in the leg. Adding to his woes is that a drifting nearby boat contains his blood and that of three other people. The Met’s Anti-Corruption Group, fondly disdained by other cops as the Ghost Squad, John Keebal assumes that Ruiz is using amnesia to cover up wrong doing including murder and plans to break the DI. Meanwhile friend clinical psychologist Professor Joseph O'Loughlin shows Ruiz a picture of seven years old Mickey Carlyle that the beleaguered cop had on him; Mickey, daughter of Russian crime lord Aleksei Kuznet, was kidnapped three years ago and general wisdom is she is dead, but the amnesiac thinks otherwise. Though still injured, Ruiz and his partner, Detective Constable Alisha “Ali” Kauer Barba, begin to retrace what he LOST. This powerful gritty police procedural grips the audience from the moment that Ruiz introduces Maggie the nurse to Johnnie One-Eye in the hospital and never slows down as he tracks his path with his Sikh partner to two diverse nasty scenarios. The investigative story line is dark and gloomy though superbly written with a shrewd counterpace in the hero’s personal relationships with for instance his friendship with Joe, a Parkinson’s victim. The return of some of the cast including Joe and Vincent from SUSPECT add to the fun time readers will have with this taut thriller.

The Stolen Child
Keith Donohue
ISBN: 0385516169, $23.95

Mischievous hobgoblins (an oxymoron) abduct seven years old Henry Day and replace him with an identically looking doppelganger. Over time the human Henry adapts to living with the hobgoblins though he notices major differences between him and his “family” for instance unlike him, they never seem to get older or wiser. The replacement Hobgoblin Henry uses his skills of a copy cat to create a successful musical career stealing the sound from talented humans; he too has adjusted to being a human life. Still over the years the two Henrys consistently feel out of place in their respective world, and that sense of not belonging grows even as they adjust to their environs. Neither can hold a relationship for even a small time period as their alienation widens. Soon each looks back to their early childhood to try to learn why they feel like such an outsider, but their memories are murky at best and seem impossible to have been real. Impossible that is until decades later when Henry meets Henry. Though a fantasy, THE STOLEN CHILD is more a deep character study that digs inside the souls (can a hobgoblin have a soul?) of two individuals who have always felt estranged and unhappy with their respective lives as neither believe they belong. The story line cleverly rotates between the Henrys over the years with each passing chapter in their lives just compounding the sentiment of alienation with those around them. Fans will appreciate this powerful yet low keyed (at least the paranormal elements) tale star strangers in a strange land though each has grown up as part of the landscape.

The Death of Achilles
Boris Akunin
Random House
ISBN: 0812968808, $12.95

Renowned Russian war hero General Sobolev is found dead in his room at Moscow’s Dusseaux Hotel, a victim of a heart attack. Prince Fandorin, just back from six years of diplomatic duty in Japan to take the job of Deputy for Special Assignments, is stunned to learn of the death of his friend. Even more shocking is that he learns that the “Russian Achilles” as the General was affectionately known had not died in the room where the body was found and he was in the throes of passion so had not been alone. Fandorin obtains reluctant permission from his superior the Governor of Moscow Prince Vladimir Andreevich Dolgoruski to investigate. With his Japanese manservant Maso assisting him, Fandorin makes inquires into the final days of his mentor only to find himself pitted against a diabolical opponent with no scruples and the strong backing of the leaderships of government, the military and the underworld to stonewall him. THE DEATH OF ACHILLES is a fabulous Russian historical police procedural that besides entertaining the reader will stun fans as the key viewpoint shifts from Fandorin to the killer about half way into the exciting story line. The mystery is first rate, the deep look at late nineteenth century Moscow is superb, Fandorin is his usual amusing aside self and the killer first rate. The translation of Boris Akunin’s excellent thriller is a winner.

The Last Full Measure
Hal Glatzer
Perseverance Press
P.O. Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
ISBN: 1880284847, $13.95, 296 pp.

Swing musician Katy Green is going from job to job in November of 1941 in New York City and surrounding areas to make ends meet since musicians are paid poorly when a phone call has her traveling to California. Her friends, who she played with in a band last year, want her to join them on a well paying gig on the Lurline sailing to Hawaii with a possibility of further employment with the cruise line. When she arrives in San Francisco she meets the lead singer, Hawaiian Roselani Akau. When the band boards the ship Katy learns that the band wants her to join them to look for treasure on the Big Island. Also on board the ship is Roselani’s brother Bill who wants to get to the treasure first. While Katy ponders what to do about the treasure hunt, she stumbles over the murdered body of Bill. With anti-Japanese sentiment running high, one of the Japanese crew is arrested for the homicide. Katy doesn’t think he’s guilty and after she deals with the treasure hunt, she intends to look for clues that will exonerate the jailed man not realizing that she is putting her life in danger. Readers gain a different viewpoint on the events leading to the war in the Pacific as American imperialism and manifest destiny are seen through the eyes of a pure blooded Hawaiian who worries that her people will become assimilated. The feelings towards the Japanese, even those who are second generation Hawaiian citizens shows the fear and hatred that existed towards them prior to Pearl Harbor. Besides being an excellent atmospheric historical novel the mystery is brilliantly crafted with the killer hidden in plain sight.

Face Down Besides St. Anne’s Well
Kathy Lynn Emerson
Perseverance Press
ISBN: 1880284820, $13.95, 240 pp.

Three young ladies sneak out of Bawkenstanes Manor at night to go skinny dipping in a building that contains thermal baths. Madame Louise Poitier, a working gentlewoman to Lady Bridget of Bawkenstanes, discovers them. Instead of escorting them home, she tells them to leave before she meets with an intelligence gatherer concerning a plot to free Mary Queen of Scots from imprisonment. The next day Louise is found dead FACE DOWN BESIDES ST. ANNE’S WELL. The coroner rules the death was an accident, but one of the girls Rosamond Appleton, heir of Lady Susanna Appleton, thinks otherwise. Susanna learns of Rosamond’s suspicion that murder occurred so she travels Bawkenstanes to see if there is any truth to her foster daughter’s belief. She finds ample evidence that Louise was in deed murdered and is surprised to see Annabel Mac Reynolds there as she knew her when he was an intelligence gatherer for Catherine De Medici. These women accompanied by Rosamond’s biological mother Eleanor team up to try to find a killer and find out how it relates to the imprisoned queen. A Lady Appleton mystery is a very special treat and the latest book in the series is no exception. Elizabethan England comes alive due to the vivid descriptions and historical tidbits interwoven into the plot. Readers can picture the manor houses and upper class lifestyle. Kathy Lynn Emerson encourages the audience to try to solve the who-done-it because the puzzle is fascinating with plenty of suspects containing viable motives. Historical mystery is at its best with Lady Appleton’s superb caper.

Snake Eye
William C. Dietz
I Books
24 West 25th Street, New York, NY 10010
ISBN: 1596873574, $21.95, 232 pp.

In a takedown of eco terrorists who had already killed many FBI agents, Christine Rossi was the one who killed many of them as they were preparing to do more damage. It was a righteous bust and the media made her a heroine which caused the powers that be to transfer her to a new assignment. Their superiors want her to work on a task force aimed at bringing snake heads (human smugglers) Sam Chow and his son Joe down. They have new way of smuggling human cargo into the United States and everyone wants to know how it is done because if they can successfully bring them in, they can bring in terrorists on the same route. Although Rossi is fascinated with the eco-terrorists, they aren’t fascinated with her. The leader wants her dead for billing her cell and hires an assassin to do it. Joe Chow also wants Rossi dead for her role in making him go on the run after he committed a killing. Rossi finds herself and her daughter in trouble and her only hope comes with a man she thought she could love, a man she told to get lost because he worked with people team she wanted nothing to do with even though she knows he cared for her. Readers get an insightful look into the life of an FBI agent, a woman who lost her husband in a divorce and her daughter because she wasn’t home for days at a time. In spite of that setback, the heroine believes she is doing something worthwhile with her life and is proud to be an agent. This is a mind blowing action thriller that readers will become absorbed from the first chapter to the last page wanting and needing to know how the storyline ends.

Winterhaven Solution
Beth Asher
I Books
24 W.25th St, New Yok, Ny. 10010
ISBN: 1596871547, $22.95

In Los Angeles Miriam Benjamin is getting married. She wants her sister twenty-two year old concert pianist Rebecca Benjamin and her grandmother Lilli to attend her big day so she sends to them and the long term family retainer Herta tickets to fly in from Vienna. As they prepare to go they observe Neo-Nazis deface the entrance to the Freud Museum. In Los Angeles, a Neo-Nazis group leader octogenarian Magnus Von Winter has plans for a fourth Reich. Perhaps the last living survivor of Hitler’s inner circle, he envisions his son Bruno as the Fuehrer of the United States. His plans include using Miriam as the next step in his the WINTERHAVEN SOLUTION where his followers will soon kill all the Jews in the United States. They have started with a rabbi at a gravesite in Staten Island and now with Miriam. Rebecca’s still has hopes to rescue her sister but time is running out for Miriam. She needs a professional to help her and Horne, who knows first hand the atrocities of war even in a good cause, reluctantly agrees to help the distraught yet haughty Austrian. This is a terrific thriller that paints a gloomy cold background that fits so well in this tense drama. The action-packed story line grips the audience with dread as slowly the WINTERHAVEN SOLUTION starts to focus on the rabbi buried alive at the cemetery and the abduction of Miriam. Rebecca is a fabulous protagonist, who turns into an annoying fly gumming up the diabolical seemingly smooth Neo-Nazi plan with her need to know who and why. Coupled with the battle fatigue syndrome Horne, they make a formidable team as they skirmish with Magnus and his minions in Beth Asher’s excellent thriller.

I Am So Jinxed
Naomi Nash
Smooch (Dorchester)
ISBN: 0843954051, $5.99

Fillmore High School student slick chick Vick is dating hot Gio Carson, but has a new problem to deal with. Last years she was the queen of freaks, but for some weird reason only teens could understand, the in-crowd and other groups want her to join them. Miss congeniality is not her strong suit so popularity be damned Vick is quick to want to return to freak status except that would mean no Gio. Still she figures she could cope if Vice Principal Oostergard would chill and leave her alone instead of nagging her so that she could go back to coasting. New trouble arises when Vick thinks Gio is pulling crap and seeing other girls. She, in turn, meets a new hunk Tyler while her dad is acting weird. Vick knows that she must pull some rabbits out of the hat if she is to get things back to normal, whatever that is when you live in a jinxed world. This superb teenage character study grips the audience because Vick (not Vickie) seems real with her troubles at school, on the street, and at home threatening to overwhelm her. The support cast brings out the best and the worst in Vick as she struggles to gain some equilibrium while her popularity soars amidst her peers, but also causes her woes with adults and her boyfriend. Yong adult readers will fully enjoy this deep look at a high school student who just wants to coast not get involved, but when you’re jinxed you are the center of involvement. Ferris move over.

Getting Old Is the Best Revenge
Rita Lakin
ISBN: 0440242592, $6.99, 352 pp.

When seventy-five year old Gladdy Gold reported that she thought a murder took place the police basically patted her on the head and then ignored her. She and her five friends not only proved a homicide occurred, they proceeded to find the killer (see GETTING OLD IS MURDER). Realizing that senior citizens are invisible to much of the population, Gladdy and her friends formed the Gladdy Gold Detective Agency. In the Fort Lauderdale condo community where they all live, business is brisk as they are hired to find a peeping tom flasher who showed his thingamajig to many of the condo’s women. They are also hired by eighty something Angelina Siciliano to prove her eighty-five year old husband is cheating on her. They take the case and find out something that makes her client and her husband very happy. Listening to the news, Gladdy notices an heiress each week for the last three weeks have had heart attacks and died. She finds that very suspicious. On a Bingo and Bridge cruise Gladdy takes with her group, a wealthy woman is almost killed. Gladdy thinks this attempted murder is linked to the other deaths and with her friends sets out to prove it. Readers who believe life slows down after seventy don’t know Gladdy and her friends. They have more energy then many people in their forties as they live life to the fullest, going places and working as detectives. This is a cleverly thought out mystery and readers will not be able to figure out how the deaths and old murders are linked until the author chooses to reveal it. This senior citizen chick lit cozy is a funny yet exciting geriatric mystery.

Channeling Biker Bob
Nik C. Colyer
Henrioulle Publishing Group
hpg @
ISBN: 0970816308, $13.95

In California, it started as a dream that seemed very real to Stewart Chance, but he soon wonders if it really happened. Biker Bob chooses to make over the slighted Stewart Chance from quiet wimp into biking hunk. Though a spirit with cycling prowess, Biker Bob knows his work is cut out for him as the chosen one was never on a bike before he gave him a ride. Stewart is a computer nerd whose wife Renee scorns and derides him while his teenage children think he is a loser. The goal is to teach Stewart to ride a bike, not fear his dictatorial boss, put his kids in their proper place, and ultimately tame the shrew. Since the “dream” ride on a Harley-Davidson, Stewart has begun to change. He takes chances that he never would have before as he begins to show the inner “Heart of a Warrior” with Biker Bob, real or not, to guide him. Even Renee the shrew begins to respect her man. This is an odd tale that makes a case that the modern American male is an emaciated wimp who has lost his way due to the feminist movement (though the Global War Against terrorism would say otherwise). The story line is at its best when Stewart and or Biker Bob are riding; when Bob pontificates about how much maleness has been lost in recent years, the plot slows down. Though this tale is somewhat too relatively simplistic because it ignores different strokes for different folks, fans will appreciate this solid character study with its differing perspectives, leading to the audience pondering their relationships.

Blue Moon
Linda Windsor
Thomas Nelson, Inc.
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
ISBN: 0785260641, $13.99

Twenty-six years old archeologist Dr. Jeanne Madison believes she knows where the eighteenth century Spanish galleon Luna Azul sunk off the Mexican coast during a storm. With her mentor Dr. Remy Primston they hire marine biologist Captain Gabe Avery to take the two marine archeologists to the locale. Though Gabe has strong references including those of her overly protective brothers, Jeanne has doubts that he knows what he is doing though she admits to herself he is quite a hunk. Gabe has more doubts than Jeanne about the success of this sea venture. He has been betrayed before from so called friends plus the Pollyanna believer in God team leader looks too young to be a PH.D though he admits to himself he finds her fascinating and pretty. As they sail, Gabe realizes he wants her and not just for a sea cruise fling. He cannot abide her so called mentor who he feels holds her back. However, even worse in his eyes is her naive attitude towards a charming snake he once called pal; Gabe knows the rat is her rival who will steal the claim and the fame unless he and his crew give 200 % to the woman who inspires them to be more than they ever have been before. The third Moonstruck tale (see FIESTA MOON and PAPER MOON) is an enjoyable inspirational tale starring an idealist and a cynic falling in love while on a high seas adventure. The story line is action-packed yet the key cast makes for a fun time as readers will appreciate the antics and competition between the three men now in Jeanne’s life. As always Linda Windsor provides a strong thriller with interesting characters enhanced by an impervious belief in God.

When Crickets Cry
Charles Martin
Thomas Nelson, Inc.
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
ISBN: 1595540547, $14.99

In Clayton, Georgia, Reese Mitchell prefers no emotional entanglements ever since his beloved Emma died. Reese is almost a hermit with only his brother-in-law partially allowed in his life. As he drinks coffee, fate will force his hand to decide whether to rejoin humanity. He had noticed seven-year-old Annie with scars on her chest selling lemonade at fifty cents a cup to raise the fifty thousand dollars she needs for a heart transplant. Her Aunt Cindy does not have the money needed for the surgery nor the will to continue as she is bone weary and her heart emotionally damaged. When Annie’s money is blown into the street, she steps out to retrieve it at the same time a bread truck comes from around the bend heading right at her. Reese risks his life to rescue the little girl. Annie will not let him leave and though he cannot say why she somehow has touched his heart. She takes him to meet Aunt Cindy. Will three people with broken hearts, two emotionally and one physically, find the hope for the future with each other or will Reese feel the drain is too much on him. Vividly described rural Georgia serves as a strong backdrop to a superb character study. WHEN CRICKETS CRY is a deep drama that enables the audience to especially understand the impact on loved ones when someone suffers from a potentially curable illness but lack the funds to do so. Charles Martin is at his best with this insightful family drama starring three terrific protagonists each suffering from traumas with the two females fully grasping that money matters when it comes to health.

Her Daddy’s Eyes
Gary E. Parker
ISBN: 0800731239, $11.99

Her wedding to nice Trey Thompson is less than a month away when Allie Wilson finds a “buried” picture of her father, who abandoned his daughter and his wife once he returned from Nam. Ignoring her mother’s plea to forget her dad and just marry the perfectly acceptable Trey, Allie considers searching for father to ask him why. Trey also wants her to forget this foolishness, but turning obstinate, Allie feels obsessed to meet her father. Her trek to find her father leads Allie to Chase Mason, who loves her dad as if he was his blood uncle. She soon believes his parents know the truth though they seem reluctant to tell her. Still she needs to know even as she is curious over Chase’s strong faith as she has had none since the dad she does not remember deserted her. Though Allie’s sudden obsession prompted by the old photo seems off kilter for her at this juncture in her life, readers will enjoy her desire to search for her paternal roots and an even greater need to find a reason for being. The latter is what leads her initially to feel a fascination for Chase, who is a firm believer in God. Gary E. Parker avoids preaching as he portrays a coming of age tale starring a bewildered woman seeking allegedly her biological father, but really questing for something deeper and spiritual.

The Husband Trap
Tracy Anne Warren
ISBN: 0345483081, $6.99, 384 pp.

It should be the happiest day of her life when Janette Violet Brantford marries the man she loves, Adrian Fitzhugh, the Duke of Raeburn. The problem is he thinks he is marrying her identical twin sister Jeanette Rose Brantford who was going to jilt him two hours before the wedding. Violet wasn’t about to let that happen because the money given to the Brantford family by the duke has already been spent to settle the gambling debts of the father and son. When they leave for their honeymoon in Dorset, Adrian notices his wife is quieter and more thoughtful than she usually is. He thought he would have to rein in her spirit because during their betrothal all she wanted to do was party. They settle into married life and Adrian falls in love with the woman he married which gladdens Violet who has to work at being flighty flirty. She also has to hide from him that she hates crowds, loves learning and wears glasses. She lives in fear that he will find out about her deception because she doesn’t know what his reaction will be once he gets over the initial shock. The plot device of twins switching identities has been used many times in romances but Tracy Anne Warren puts a fresh spin on an old cliche. She has the wrong twin already getting married when the action starts so readers know Violet as a married lady and have no understanding of what led up to the deception. Violet should have been honest with her husband though in fairness she feared the results, but continuing a pointless charade demeans her in the readers eyes. Still THE HUSBAND TRAP is an amusing Regency frolic.

The Sultan’s Seal
J. B. White
ISBN: 0393060993, $24.95

In 1886 as the Ottoman Empire shows signs of old age lethargy, the upper elite of society is a hodgepodge of British expatriates mingling with Turks. However, most natives of Istanbul are concerned with what is perceived the outrageous avante garde behavior of Englishwomen. Thus the Turks are not stunned to learn of the drowning death of and Englishwoman, imperial harem governess Mary Dixon, whose drugged body was found in the Bosphorus. Though she was considered reticent and no social butterfly; however, her home country expatriates are shocked as they felt they were superior to the masses and thus quite safe. . Magistrate Kamil Pasha leads the official investigation assisted by Jewish surgeon, Michel Sevy. Upon seeing the corpse, Michel says the victim was too healthy to have been an opium user; this she was murdered by drug poisoning. However, neither have access to the pillars of society especially females where the case leads. Thus the Magistrate enlists Sybil Hanoun, daughter of the British ambassador, to join his team. They soon find an apparent sexual link between the deceased and Jaanan, raped by the man chosen by her father as her husband and propositioned by the dead Mary. THE SULTAN’S SEAL is a terrific late nineteenth century police procedural that shines a deep light on Turkey at an interesting moment when the Ottoman Empire is starting to collapse. Though too many suspenseful sidebars causing some difficulty following the inquiries, the who-done-it is deftly developed so that the audience understands the societal pecking order, however takes a back seat to the rich historical tidbits. Fans who enjoy a lot of history in their mystery will want to read J.B. White’s fine tale.

The Selected Stories of Patricia Highsmith
Patricia Highsmith
ISBN: 0393327728, $17.95, 724 pp.

Known for her novels (see STRANGERS ON A TRAIN and THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY), the late Patricia Highsmith was also a fabulous short story writer with her myriad of tales containing suspense and believable protagonists even when the star or support cast is an animal. Until this anthology this reviewer had no idea how many and how good her shorts are. The collection is divided into five major segments filled with tension and in many cases dark humor. “The Animal Lover's Book of Beastly Murder” includes thirteen tales of angry animals demanding respect sometimes violently (ask that brave rat) from humans destroying their world. Section Two, “The Little Tales of Misogyny” contains seventeen tales of morality with choices not always being the high ground. Number three “Slowly, Slowly in the Wind” holds twelve more classical type horror/sci fi thrillers. “The Black House” compilation is eleven psychological haunted house tales with quite a human twist. Finally the last grouping, “Mermaids on the Golf Course” blends horror with loosely put romantic fantasy in eleven fine tales. THE SELECTED STORIES OF PATRICIA HIGHSMITH is a fantastic collection that showcases the depth of a great novelist to bring her trademark suspense to the short format.

Dragon’s Moon
Bent Lorentzen
Paladin Timeless Books, imprint of
Twilight Times Books
P O Box 3340, Kingsport TN 37664
ISBN: 1933353538, $14.95

In Nistala, the Waddler Dragon laid three eggs, but hatches four as a golden egg that she does not remember producing lies with the others. Three boys and a girl are born, but the one from the golden egg Farluna is different as this draggling has few scales on his body. The other young dragons torment and scorn the “ugly” one, who feels isolated and alone except for his mother. When his mother dies, the lonely one feels so forlorn he decides to kill himself by soaring to the end of the sky and then plunging straight down to his death. Instead of dying, he is rescued and escorted to Queen Nijameeno, who has numerous species of dragons residing in her humongous castle. The Queen tells the newcomer that he must seek his beauty in the treacherous northern mountains in the north accompanied by a Sprint Dragon to guide him. At Prince Rapazo's castle, they learn that the evil Ewot has recently killed a historian in his efforts to control more of the land. The dragon decides his destiny is to challenge and hopefully stop Ewot. This is a terrific young adult fantasy that starts off as a dragon version of the Ugly Duckling, but turns into a coming of age saga. The little ugly one is a fabulous protagonist whose feelings of rejection put him over the edge once grief adds to his misery. Interestingly his quest for beauty, which changes to his challenging the magically competent malevolent Ewot, gives him a reason to live. The support cast enhances a fine tale that children of all ages will want to trek alongside of Farluna in the land of Nistala.

Sister Chicas
Lisa Alvarado, Ann Hagman Cardinal and Jane Albereston Coralin
ISBN: 0451217705, $12.95, 288 pp.

Taina Moscoso, Graciela Villalobos, and Elena O’Malley-Diaz are young teens who meet once a week at El Rinconcito del Sabor restaurant to share their confidences with one another. They consider themselves the SISTER CHICAS. Taina hides much of her life from her family especially her overprotective mother who would have a heart attack if she knew about the weekly bus trip to meet with her “sisters” or her Jamaican artist boyfriend Yusef. Now she must choose to either let him escort her to her Sweet Fifteen gala and cause a family civil war or anger him by letting someone more acceptable do so. Grachi also has men problems as her best friend outside of the Sister Chicas Jack suddenly looks so fine. However, she fears if she acts like she wants him she could lose a close pal, but if she does not she could lose more. Leni has male issues too starting with her roots. However, it is Carlos the musician, whom she knows since she was six years old, who she suddenly sees in a different light that causes her the most consternation. The three SISTER CHICAS need each other to make sense of a world suddenly filled with testosterone that seems wonderful yet off kilter. Rotating perspective enables the reader to see the same incident from three different viewpoints. This technique works and adds to the teenage buddy tale so much so the audience wants to join the SISTER CHICAS exclusive club. The threesome is unique in their own ways though they share a strong friendship bond and have male woes. The addition of an ethnicity glossary augments the fun of a delightful teen sisterhood chick lit tale.

High School Bites
Liza Conrad
ISBN: 0451217527, $9.99

It started in high school student in English class when the teacher discussed Transylvania, Drac, etc. and now not long afterward Pacific Heights High School sophomore Lucy Hallenberg wears a cross, uses garlic perfume and avoids Seattle malls. On her sixteenth birthday, Lucy learns that all her female ancestors dating back to Bram Stoker are named after Lucy Barrows who rejected Dracula's spell; that is actor Henry Irving allegedly playing the role. Now real vamps want to destroy the "Lucys" by wrecking the life of the current one though she needs little help having devastated the dance. Lucy must deal with the local vampire population like her mom, grandmom, great-grandma and all the other Lucys before her, but first she needs to pass the Ruthless math class and learn to drive in case she needs a fast getaway. Her dad is no help as he is a hermit (just ask the principal) while her two best friends Mark and Mina agree she is Marilyn living with the Munsters so why worry about vampires. Still she knows what she must do, but it is difficult to remember to pack holy water and an algebra book when your boyfriend’s surname is Irving. This is a charming paranormal chick lit satire of Buffy starring a wonderful protagonist struggling to be sixteen, make it through high school, and save the local world at the same time. Lucy is delightful as the latest superheroine in her line while the support cast also descendents from the Stoker age augment the fun. Though some escapades occur from seemingly out of nowhere causing disruption, younger teens will appreciate the amusing action-packed THE LUCY CHRONICLES: HIGH SCHOOL BITES.

The Tooth of Time
Sue Henry
ISBN: 0451217659, $23.95, 256 pp.

Twice widowed, sixty-three years old Maxie McNabb, an Alaskan resident most of her life, tours the lower forty-eight with her “Minnie-Winnie” Winnebago and her dog Stretch. After leaving Colorado (see THE SERPENTS TRAIL) she tours New Mexico before stopping in Taos where she visits the Weaving Southwest, a tapestry gallery. Maxie and owner Pat Dozier hit it off and weave a friendship. When new resident Shirley Morgan apparently tried to commit suicide, the two women visit her as she has become a friend of Pat. Feisty Shirley insists she was not trying to kill herself with carbon monoxide poisoning though despondent that her spouse dumped her for a younger woman. Maxie begins making some inquires and soon agrees that the woman was the victim of a murder attempt with the killer adhering to the proverb if at first you don’t succeed try again. THE TOOTH OF TIME is an enjoyable cozy starring sexagenarian Alaskan (it is a Sue Henry tale, duh), who makes friends while traveling the southwest. Maxie is terrific in her latest caper as she cannot help but getting involved with what happened to Shirley. Though the mystery starts towards the middle of the strong plot as friendships are first forged, fans will want to hitch a ride with Maxie and Stretch as they find the Land of Enchantment enchanting but dangerous.

The Truth about Ruby Valentine
Alison Bond
ISBN: 0451217616, $13.95, 352 pp.

The BBC reported that screen legend Ruby Valentine was found dead in Los Angeles from an apparent overdose. The office was gossiping about the death when Kelly Coltrane's dad Sean tells her to come home immediately which she does because it has always been her and him with no mom. Sean shows her photos he took of Ruby, explaining they were friends who had an affair and a baby girl, Kelly. Kelly tells her boyfriend Jez before deciding she needed to know her mom especially why the renowned actress rejected her and now apparently committed suicide. She flies to California to learn who Ruby Valentine was. As Kelly becomes engulfed in the Hollywood lifestyle, she begins to find some startling clues about the life and death of her mother starting with the agent Max and Sunset Boulevard. THE TRUTH ABOUT RUBY VALENTINE is an intriguing contemporary tale that focuses on the price of fame. Ruby gave up plenty to become a Hollywood icon including her daughter, who seeks some connection beyond the DNA to her famous mom. Kelly is a fine lead protagonist as she does not hesitate to do what she believes is right, which helps her retain some of her equilibrium once she gets caught up in the glitz. A final twist feels right for this exciting book that looks at the downside of becoming famous.

Richard Carwardine
ISBN: 1400044561, $27.50

Though there is a powerful glance at Lincoln’s Illinois legislative days, this is an incredible insightful look at Lincoln during the election of 1860 and his subsequent years in the White House. The deep discerning background into the various splinter groups competing in 1860 is fully laid out so that the reader understands how divided the nation truly was; not just a simple north-south split over slavery. The relatively new Republican Party for instance became the host of an open tent philosophy with many varying opinions. Interestingly, Lincoln was a strong advocate of moralistic (much of that religious in nature) constitutional conservatism, which cut across the vast spectrum of key groups that made up his political party. Also intriguing is the evolution of Lincoln on the slavery issue. Richard Carwardine provides an excellent biography of the White House years of a man considered by most historians as the best or second best president of the United States while leaving a lingering feeling today that we are all Americans who get ahead through merit and are not specific state citizens. This is biography at its best.

Max Hastings
ISBN: 1400044413, $27.50

Selecting fifteen soldiers ranging from the Napoleonic Wars to the near present, Max Hastings tells the full story of heroes, but not just at the battlefield. Instead he also digs deep into the aftermath of life for supermen (and in one case superwoman) who no longer serve in the military. Readers obtain a fascinating look that is actually at its best when Mr. Hastings concentrates on lesser known people instead of, for example the stories of Americans Eddie Rickenbacker and Audie Murphy, which have been told in much more depth than here. Still this is an interesting primer that showcases how military heroes need war (no five star generals in peacetime) to win acclaim and how many fail to live up to that highlight film moment once they leave their war fighting glory days behind them. This book is well written with interesting premises that can be applied intriguingly to sports as much as the battlefield. Most military history buffs will feel Mr. Hastings should have gone deeper into the lives of the less famous heroes and include some non-western or at least less Anglo-American warriors as the few others like the Israeli and Aussie segments feel fresher. Still this is worth the read for those who appreciate a short military biography.

The Bird is a Raven
Benjamin Lebert
ISBN: 1400042844, $16.95

Eighteen years old Henry and twentyish Paul meet on a train bound from Munich to Berlin as they share a sleeping compartment. Passing time on the boring overnight ride, Henry tells Paul about his recent troubles. He desires the anorexic twenty-eight years old Christine while twenty-three years old obese Jens wants him. When he decides to pursue Christine, a devastated Jens threatens suicide and worse. Thus he is running away before his bowels turn worse. Paul half listens to the ramblings of Henry, but has his own dark affair that has him running away on the night train. He dreams of making Mandy the high priced prostitute his forever, but he admits that he knows only one way to accomplish this. Though not for everyone as Henry’s tale is somewhat boring (reflecting real life to the outsider watcher observing a romantic triangle), THE BIRD IS A RAVEN is a gripping psychological drama that showcases two troubled somewhat CRAZY young men. Paul’s blather is darker and more interesting even if he denies his storytelling ability; but both share violent reports. Readers who appreciate a deep look into the psyche of young males at the crossroads of adulthood will want to read this solid drama with a final twist at the Berlin train station.

Fatal as a Fallen Woman
Kathy Lynn Emerson
Pemberley Press
ISBN: 0970272790, $24.95

In 1888 New York Independent Intelligencer reporter Diana Spalding quits her job to marry Dr. Ben Northcote only to have her editor Horatio Foxe inform her that Western Union reported that her mom Elmira Torrence killed her dad William, the Silver Baron. Though estranged from her parents as her father disowned her six years ago even deleting her name fro the family bible, Diana leaves for Denver to try to help her mom although the older woman sided with her spouse when William excommunicated their daughter. Though the wire news dispatch mentioned the ex-wife as the killer, Diana, after a grueling train ride, is surprised to confirm that her parents had divorced. Even more shocking to Diana is the plight of her mother before the homicide. Apparently the intolerant William kicked Elmira out of their home four years ago, but she thrived in a profession considered scandalous by the female elite. The final stunner is that William married Miranda who was Diana’s age. Unable not to help her mom, a fugitive chased by U.S. Marshals, Diana begins investigating by questioning the upper crust and the dens of iniquity that make up much of Denver. In her second historical mystery (see DEADLIER THAN THE PEN), Diana Spaulding works a personal case in which the obstinate journalist refuses to back down from either the scorn of the elite or the disdain of the underclass. The action-packed story line provides the audience with a deep look at Denver late in the nineteenth century. Fans of Americana whodunits will want to read this strong tale as well as obtain Kathy Lynn Emerson’s Elizabethan Face Down series starring Diana’s ancestor Susanna Appleton; these contain great historical mystery novels.

Chains of Folly
Roberta Gellis
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144729, $25.95

In medieval England, the Bishop of Winchester turns in for the night only to find the corpse of a woman dressed like a whore. He calls for his trusted aid, Sir Bellamy of Itchen, who finds the woman holds a letter from Robert of Gloucester, the enemy of the King, addressed to the Bishop. Bellamy and the Bishop conclude that someone is setting up the religious leader to discredit him on the eve of a religious concave that will probably scold the monarch for his actions against the Bishop of Salisbury. Reluctantly Bellamy agrees to investigate who would commit homicide to deface the Bishop. He starts his inquiries visiting his estrange former lover Magdalene la Batarde, the whoremistress of the Old Priory Guesthouse as she knows all the girls and their customers. .Her information not given with any cooperation leaves an open field from the king to any one of several nobles coveting the bestowal of royal favorite status, but she and Bell investigate together. Roberta Gellis, the grand dame of medieval thrillers, is at the top of her game with this terrific historical mystery that uses the homicide and the social pecking order to tell a vivid tale. The story line actually takes off rather quickly with Magdalene on the case from near the start and never takes a break until the climatic confrontation with the knife wielding killer. Fans will appreciate how the sleuthing team knows when to tiptoe with extreme caution and when to smash and crash as who is the recipient of the inquiries is more important than what one learns if the detectives want to keep their heads about them. CHAINS OF FOLLY is a fabulous medieval who-done-it.

The Blackgloom Bounty
Jon F. Baxley
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144516, $25.95

In 988 Britain, Merlin visits his former apprentice Kruzurk “Boozer” Makshare for the first time in seven decades with a boon to stop another former student the powerful Seed of Cerberus. Kruzurk thinks back to when he and the Seed were pupils of the great mage and he caught his peer stealing Merlin’s tools. For his efforts Boozer was cursed and Merlin was gone. Kruzurk knows the quest begins at the demon-guarded Blackgloom Keep. On the journey he meets Daynin McKinnon, who shows him a rune-covered headstone, which is probably the legendary Blackgloom Bounty that will gain him entrance into the keep though the lad wants to sell it to replenish his family’s dwindling fortune. While Daynin meets clever Sabritha Kilcullen, Kruzurk uses the young man to further his efforts to destroy the Seed. Others join his adventure not realizing how Kruzurk manipulates them as pawns in his efforts to overcome the insurmountable odds and achieve his boon. This terrific medieval fantasy with its Camelot connection will elate readers for its fast-paced, action-thrilled story line starring a strong cast. From the opening dream visit of Merlin to the final confrontation and more, the tale never takes a breath yet the motives of the key players are fully developed especially Kruzurk’s desire and Daynin’s struggle between fortune, love and good deeds. Jon F. Baxley adds to the legend of Arthur with this strong medieval Britain fantasy.

A Murderous Innocence
Susan Oleksiw
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143757, $25.95

Most of the townsfolk of Mellingham attended the funeral of Ron Faroli, a former drug user. Not long afterward, Ron’s friend, also a member of the Mellingham Community Center, Miles Stine’s falls out of a third floor window. Chief of Police Joe Silva feels the coincidence is too much to ignore though the evidence points towards an accident. Other former addict pals of Ron and Miles are nervous that they will be next. Meanwhile Joe tries to keep everyone calm as he makes inquiries. He especially is concerned with the parents of the recently deceased as George Faroli and Edna Stine are popular life residents. However, as he digs deeper into the Stine death, Joe begins thinking it is a homicide by someone who knew the second victim, but wonders who would want him dead and why, the answer of which remains elusive as the ties between the deaths lead nowhere. Police procedural fans will enjoy A MURDEROUS INNOCENCE as Joe struggles with a homicide investigation in which the evidence seems more like a coincidental accident caused by drugs; still he persists because the twin deaths nag at his mind. The townsfolk know one another so they prefer that Joe stop digging and accept the deaths as an accident as they cannot accept one of them as a killer. Thus Joe has his work cut out for him while readers obtain a strong mystery.

Death on the Ladies Mile
Diana Haviland
Five Star
ISBN: 159414351X, $25.95

In 1882 New York City, reporter Amanda Whitney covers high society for the Ladies Gazette. Her current assignment is a chance to prove her worth as she covers the wedding of the year between Miss Jessamyn Spencer and Mr. Howard Thornton. However, while at the Spencer house, Amanda overhears a fight between the bride and her father. Not long afterward, Jessamyn is missing, and the Spencers hire private investigator Ross Buchanan to find her. Jessamyn is found strangled to death in her wedding gown on the Ladies Miles near a whorehouse. Amanda and Ross know she should never have been there yet for some reason she was. As he investigates the homicide and warns Amanda to stay out, two more women wearing their bridal garments are strangled. Amanda begins her own inquiries into who is the “Ladies Mile Maniac” not realizing how close danger truly is to her. DEATH ON THE LADIES MILE is a fabulous late nineteenth century whodunit starring delightful protagonists and a powerful support cast that vividly showcases New York City in that bygone era. The action-packed story line is driven by the relationship between the reporter and the sleuth as both feel that in some way they owe the first victim. Historical mystery fans will want to read the first “Gaslight and Shadows” thriller.

Here’s the Church, Here’s the Steeple
Tempa Pagel
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143749, $25.95

Former Motor City social studies teacher Andy Gammon wants to be part of life in her husband’s small Massachusetts hometown of Newburyport so the mother of two children joins every committee looking for volunteers. Her latest joining is on a historical committee to update the information on the First Parish Church in time for a tricentennial gala. Andy is to research and write up between the years 1801 and 1850. Her mother-in-law Mayta provides her with some books to help her. A storm damages the church’s steeple, but also reveals a corpse buried inside for about two centuries. As she links the body to the Great Fire of 1811 that destroyed much of the business section, Andy continues to dig into the records of that time over the objections of almost everyone. That is until a second recently murdered corpse is found inside the church and a fire is set to Andy’s home. While the police investigate the current homicide, Andy continues her quest for the truth in the early nineteenth century that she believes is tied to today’s murder. This interesting amateur sleuth introduces the reader to the residents of Newburyport so that the audience understands the motives of Andy to learn the truth and many leading citizens to shut her down especially with the 1811 investigation. About one third into the fine plot, the mystery begins and never slows down as the audience through intrepid Andy obtains a look at a Massachusetts port city just before the War of 1812. Tempa Pagel provides a fine whodunit, past and present, that readers will enjoy.

Walk like a Man
Sue Swift
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144346, $25.95

Thirty years old NFL superstar quarterback Jim Wellman was severely injured in the Pro Bowl shattering his legs. Eight months later, he remains wheelchair bound and beginning therapy at the Shady Glen Rehabilitation Center in Napa Valley under the tutelage of physical therapist Marti Solis. He turns on the charm, but she hides her attraction by bullying him out of the chair, which she believes he remained in way too long. Dr. Francis Murdoch agrees with Marti’s assessment. As they work on his rehabilitation, they become friends that soon blossoms into love. However, he is shattered that he will never play football again due to the negligence of his medical caretakers at the Sunset Community Hospital, who he sues. While his attorney tells him to stay away from Marti as she is a key witness in his case, he cannot as the suit means nothing if he loses the woman who has sacked his heart, but given him a reason to live. WALK LIKE A MAN is an intriguing character study with a romantic subplot that enhances the relationship between therapist and client. Jim is the interesting character as he feels he has nothing now that he no longer has football until the feisty Marti makes him want to walk as much for her as for him. Sue Swift provides a fine drama starring a fallen sports hero whose mental anguish may prove greater than his physical problems.

Suspicious Minds
Martin Edwards
Five Star
ISBN: 159414382X, $25.95

In the Liverpool area, more because of Detective Bolis’ interest in him as a prime suspect, Jack Stirrup of Stirrup Wines asks his solicitor Harry Devlin to learn what happened to his wife Alison, who vanished. Harry begins making inquiries as he tries to trace Alison’s last known steps though he wonders if his client simply disposed of an unwanted spouse. As he begins making progress, the investigation takes a bizarre spin when Claire, Jack’s daughter from his first wife, also turns up missing. At the same time, Harry looks into the Stirrup family; The Beast stalks Liverpool raping women. While Harry finds himself attracted to advocate Valerie Kaiwar whom he meets at the Law Courts, he ponders if there is a link between the missing Stirrup females and the Beast as he starting to believe the rapist is somehow involved. This is an interesting English investigative tale that stars a likable hero struggling with a case in which his client seems to be hiding things, the cops wants him to stay out, the prime culprit appears to be a rapist, and worst of all he is in love. All of this and more blends nicely together into a delightful whodunit that will please those readers who enjoy the star to be of a skeptical suspicious mind trusting no one including his heart.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker
Joanne Sundell
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144117, $26.95, 302 pp.

Nine years old Zoe-Esther Zundelevich and her papa Yitzhak leave Russia for the United States. Several years later in 1867 Zoe-Esther graduates from medical school in Philadelphia, but her beloved dad suffers from tuberculosis so she takes him to the Colorado Territory where she hopes the mountain air will help his lungs leaving behind fellow student Daniel Stein who wants to marry her. In Golden City, she finds prejudice against female doctors and Jews and an attraction to casino owner Jake Whiskey. Still she helps the neglected poor with their medical needs while Jake finds himself attracted to his “Queenie” as he calls her. As she falls in love with a non-Jew, she knows that her happiness will devastate her beloved papa and besides he is not Yaakov as predicted by Schadchen as her mate’s name just before she left Russia. Besides he feels unworthy of her and Daniel is in town. This is an interesting western romance that stars a delightful heroine, perhaps a bit too perfect, and a rogue who considers reforming for her. The story line provides a deep look at the late nineteenth century Russian Jewish heritage as a key element to the relationships between Zoe-Esther and the three men in her life. Fans will appreciate this fine historical tale that brings vividly alive Reconstruction Era Colorado through the efforts of a caring doctor.

Destroying Angels
Gail Lukasik
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143609, $25.95, 296 pp.

After fifteen years of marriage and teaching in Chicago, Leah Gerard leaves behind her spouse, job, and home in Libertyville to relocate to Egg Harbor, Wisconsin following a mastectomy in which her hubby was more concerned with plastic surgery than her health. In Egg Harbor, Leah obtains a job with the Door County Gazette. Editor in Chief Jake Stevens assigns Leah to write a column on recently deceased artisan carpenter Carl Peck, a standard practice of the paper to do an article on the recently deceased. Leah interviews Carl’s wife Eva only to learn she is suing Dr. Porter and Bay Hospital for wrongful death and negligence before the widow’s daughter Sarah tosses her out. Leah talks with Dr. Porter, who is shocked by the suit as he insists his patient died from a heart attack brought on by a failed liver. Still she keeps digging and soon finds a link to a two decade old murder, making Leah wonder bad liver, bad heart or possible homicide. Though a paid reporter, Leah’s lack of investigative experience makes this fine mystery more an amateur sleuth tale as the intrepid journalist learns her trade on the job. The cast is fascinating because of their different reactions to Leah’s inquiries into the death of Carl. Gail Lukasik provides an exciting, exhilarating and enjoyable who-done-it that at first only Leah considers a possible murder disguised as a heart attack though the medical examiner and police quickly join her bandwagon.

Vintage Blood and the Sacred Scepters
A.B. Wallace
LBF Books
P.O. Box 7989, Pittsburg, Pa. 15215
ISBN: 0975453319, $14.95

Human Brit Chambers earns a living as a Were-creature Consultant. Human Power Committee member Pandor Evans hires Brit to destroy the indestructible Sacred Scepters, which legend says can, if applied, eliminate all magic. At the same time, Diablo wants to possess them so he can use them to rule the world. Diablo’s minions are killing those individuals with knowledge of the scepters. His assassins are successful except with Brit, who has Carpathian knives willingly protecting her. As she continues on her quest to simply save the world, a new problem occurs that sidetracks the courageous heroine. Courtesy of her best friend were-tiger Shayla has accidentally turned Brit into a blood donor of the Lord of the Vampires Daison. The setting is incredible as readers will accept the ABCs of “Wallace World” due to relationships such as Brit has with Shayla a were-tiger though some might say with best friends like her who traps the heroine in a contract with a vampire one needs no enemies. Brit makes the supernatural seem normal as she deals with were-creatures, vampires, witches, warlocks and assorted ilk as an everyday occurrence even when she is not off saving the world. Fantasy fans will want to read this delightful tale starring a wonderful brave woman trying to do the right thing yet keep her vintage blood flowing inside her arteries and veins.

Digging Up Trouble
Heather Webber
ISBN: 0060723491, $6.99

New Client Lindsey Lockhart hires Nina Quinn’s firm Taken by Surprise, Garden Designs, to spruce up her yard. Nina and her employees, ex-cons sent her way by her cousin probation officer Ana Bertolli, are in the yard when an angry man arrives. He yells at them to leave his property before suddenly keeling over and dying. Nina is stunned that Lindsey, the aunt of her stepson, sent her to do a make over of the yard of her neighbor Russ Grabinsky without his or his wife’s permission. Russ’ not grieving spouse Greta sues Nina and her firm for wrongful death. At the same time, the police rule it is murder and look at Nina and her probationers as the prime suspects. Though beleaguered and in trouble, Nina realizes no one grieves for the deceased, which has her looking elsewhere for the motive. Once again beleaguered but kind Nina learns that “Murder is a Growth Industry” when all she wants is for her landscaping business to thrive. The latest cozy has a different twist than her two previous amateur sleuth investigations (see TROUBLE IN SPADES and A HOE LOT OF TROUBLE) as this time the prime suspect is the heroine. The who-done-it is fun as she struggles to avoid a murder rap and save her business from a wrongful death lawsuit with the help of her ex-con employees.

What Price Love?
Stephanie Laurens
ISBN: 0060840846, $22.95

At one time he came close to being part of a major scandal, but his cousin Felicity and her spouse Demon Cynster saved more than just Dillon Caxton’s reputation. Since then he has been the epitome of integrity, a man that Diogenes would believe is that honest fellow he sought. Because of his stellar reputation and credibility, Dillon is the Keeper of the Register that lists all racing horses in the country. In 1831 Lady Priscilla Dalloway wants to look at the Register, but Dillon refuses to allow her a peak. Priscilla hopes the Register can give her a clue as to the whereabouts of her missing twin brother, Russell, who after a heated argument with their father, left to work with racehorses at Cromarty, but like his predecessor there has vanished without a trace. Priscilla tries to seduce Dillon, who wants her, but he rejects her efforts as dishonest as honesty means everything to him. He demands the truth so he tries to reverse the seduction as she contemplates whether she can trust him with her twin’s life. Neither is aware of a potential racetrack scandal that could destroy both of them and her sibling. The thirteenth extended Cynster tale stars a protege whose strong ethics make him an interesting character as his demon is a sexy temptation who wants him to do a minor transgression that no one but they would know about. The relationship between Pris and Dillon make for a fresh entry, perhaps the best in several years, as she will do anything to insure her brother’s safety while he would do anything for her except sell his integrity. Some readers might say he is too honest, but as historical fans ponder a response to the relevant question WHAT PRICE LOVE?

Portrait of a Lover
Julianne MacLean
ISBN: 0060819359, $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1879 Annabelle Lawson met the handsome stranger on a train and found she wanted Jonathan Edwards in her bed and as a model for a painting she was creating. However, once she learned who he really is, Annabelle feels betrayed and her love turns to hate as she knows that Magnus Wallis loathes those who nurtured and loved her after her parents died when she was an infant. Annabelle vows to never see him again though she knows how hard that will prove to be since he is the cousin of her adopted brother and patron, the Earl of Whitby. Thirteen years later, Magnus has never forgotten the woman on the train who stirred his soul though she quickly turned against him. He wants to display Annabelle’s work in his London gallery so he arranges to see her. Her intentions of ignoring him vanish when he sweetly caresses her face. Annabelle realizes she still loves the scoundrel, but doubts she can trust him with her art or her heart. Magnus knows he must prove himself to the woman he cherishes above all else because this will be his last chance. PORTRAIT OF A LOVER is an intriguing Victorian romance that stars a somewhat rebellious heroine and the man who loves and regrets what he did to her when they met as strangers on a train. The story line is driven by Magnus’ efforts to gain first her forgiveness of his beloved and then regain her love. A bit of mystery involving Magnus’ roots add to the uniqueness of this fun late nineteenth century romance.

Devil in Winter
Lisa Kleypas
ISBN: 006056251X, $7.50, 384 pp.

In 1843 London, extremely reticent, probably the shiest of the four Wallflower pact members, Evangeline “Evie” Jenner knows she must find her courage if she is to keep her avaricious relatives from fostering her off in marriage to a man of their choice in order to control the fortune she will soon inherit. Evie figures she needs a brave person immune to the taunts of society who will agree to a marriage of convenience. Her choice is the notorious rake Viscount Sebastian St. Vincent, but first she must talk to him before she can offer him a proposal he cannot refuse. Evie enters the lion’s lair sans a chaperone. Sebastian is impressed with her courage and her offer is most generous except for her stipulation of no sex after their wedding night. He plans to wed the chit, seduce her with his lovemaking skills, and when has his full, he will go elsewhere for his needs. So why does he find going elsewhere suddenly an abomination especially since the beauty rejects his advances by hiding her love for her spouse out of fear he will break her heart. The latest seasonal Wallflower tale (see SECRETS OF A SUMMER NIGHT and IT HAPPENED ONE AUTUMN) is a terrific early Victorian romance. Evie unlike her more vivacious Wallflowers is the last person one would expect to dare to approach Sebastian, but that she does encouraged by her teammates. Sebastian is enthralled by her courage as much as by her beauty as he realizes how difficult the task to approach him must have been. Similar to the previous two historicals, no one will care as Lisa Kleypas’ fans will wonder if spring can be far behind.

Her Master and Commander
Karen Hawkins
ISBN: 0060584084, $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1806 the Earl of Rochester knew he was dying, but regrets having sired no legitimate heir. Uninterested in his illegitimate children until he faced death’s door, he assigns his perfect butler Richard Reeves to find his offspring, five for sure, but maybe nine in all, and train them to act as if they were raised amidst the Ton rather than the gutter where he left them. Reeves knows he will need the key elements of being a good butler, tolerance and amnesia, if he is to succeed in his final endeavor for his employer. Reeves’ first "civilize" project is the Earl’s son Captain Tristan Llevanth, a former pirate wounded while fighting under Nelson’s banner. Unable to go to sea anymore due to his injuries, Tristan is uninterested in Reeves’ gentlemen lessons remembering the earl failed to recognize him when he desperately wanted that twenty-five years ago. However the sly butler pays the ex-pirate’s enemy Prudence Thistlewaite to help smooth the Captain’s barbaric tendencies knowing women can go where no man dare. Their neighborly war soon includes a new weapon of mass destruction in each of their respective arsenals that neither can resist nor fight against, love. HER MASTER AND COMMANDER is a strong Regency romance starring two dearest enemies, but made fresh by that “Most Proper Butler” Reeves. He realizes that to quietly nudge the sea captain he needs the ideal tool; a woman for only a female can civilize a barbarian. The lead couple is a delightful pairing somewhat typical of the sub-genre, but the master Machiavellian of the servant class turns this fine tale into a wonderful historical reading experience with everyone agreeing “God bless Reeves”.

A Study in Scandal
Robyn DeHurt
ISBN: 0060782161, $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1892 London, Amelia Watersfield formed the Ladies’ Amateur Sleuth Society with three close friends because she loves mystery novels especially the one starring Holmes. She informs her friends Margaret Piddington, Wilhelmina Mabson and Charlotte Reed that they will work on their first case, the Jack of Hearts robbery at the opera. Her friends agree, but lack Amelia’s enthusiasm. Someone steals Nefertiti’s bust from the extensive ancient Egyptian collection owned by Amelia’s father, terribly upsetting him. Amelia and her dad hire private sleuth Colin Brindley to investigate. Amelia finds the detective dashing while Colin struggles to concentrate on the case as his mind keeps focusing on his client’s daughter. As he begins to make inquiries into her dad’s case, Amelia forces him to accept her as his Watson not just to keep her safe, which is the top priority of the sleuth. She proves quite helpful even at times acting more like Holmes as they fall in love, but he worries that she will go after Jack of Hearts. A STUDY IN SCANDAL is a fabulous Victorian private investigative romance that pays homage to Holmes. The story line is fast-paced as Amelia bullies her way into the inquiries Colin makes while inspiring him to do his best. Fans will enjoy this superb thriller and want more romantic detective stories starring the Holmes-Watson lead couple and the other three members of the Ladies’ Amateur Sleuth Society.

Charmed To Death
Shirley Damsgaard
ISBN: 0060793538, $6.99, 304 pp.

Librarian Ophelia Jensen and her Grandma Abby reside in Summerset, Iowa. They look like ordinary women but they are witches with Abby training her granddaughter to learn what her gifts are and to use them wisely. They are also psychic with Ophelia having precognitive skills and the ability to find things. Six months ago using her powers she found a murderer and his cohorts. This action enabled her to come out of her shell, the one she retreated into when her friend Brian was murdered, and left in a dumpster. Ophelia still feels guilty over Brian’s murder because she saw his murder in a vision and was too late to prevent his death from happening. At one time Detective Henry Comache considered her a suspect because he believed, rightfully so, she was hiding things from him. Now Abby has a feeling that it is time for Ophelia to find closure over Brian’s death which means finding his killer. When Henry comes to Summerset, Ophelia is once again under suspicion when she finds, through her psychic senses, the body of a dead man whom she had a very public fight with. Evil has come to Summerset; Ophelia must find it and bring it out of the darkness before it kills her. This is a very special mystery in an enchanting series as Ophelia and Abby perform magic in the traditional Bell, Book and Candle methodology. The heroine has gained strength from her brush with death and is finally willing to learn how to use her powers. She also overcomes her hermit like existence to make friends with some of the townsfolk and there is even a hint of romance in the air. Although readers might guess early on who the killer is it won’t detract from the enjoyment of this charming who-done-it and why.

In Between Men
Mary Castillo
ISBN: 0060766824, $12.95

In Los Angeles though she and her husband Carlos recently divorced high school ESL (ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE) teacher Isa Avellan enjoys her work and is proud of her son Andrew. Life is good that is until she is voted the least sexy teacher in the school, which includes some educators old enough to be the twenty-nine years old Isa’s grandmother. Adding to her humiliation, Carlos reveals in detail on national radio what a failure in bed she is. When she is knocked unconscious by a soccer ball, she finds coach Alex looking into her eyes asking if she is all right. She decides then and there pushed by a beautiful sexy guardian angel to do a complete makeover from frump to siren to score with Alex. However becoming a glamour queen is hard work when teaching and raising an eight year old son while Alex seems immune to her advances when in fact he debates with himself whether he should drop his pride to date the sexiest woman in the L.A. school system. IN BETWEEN MEN is an amusing lighthearted romp starring a wonderful Latina-Americana protagonist who became complacent failing to care for herself and in turn lost respect. Her guardian angel is a cute aside that allows comparisons between the two beauty enhancing-detracting extremes while the hunk, who corner kicked his way into her life, provides the incentive more so than the school sexometer scoring system. Fans will enjoy Mary Castillo’s satirical glimpse at sex appeal of a working mom.

The Bewitching Twin
Donna Fletcher
ISBN: 0060757833, $5.99, 384 pp.

In the middle of the sixteenth century Scotland, Rogan the Wolf has renowned healer Aliss abducted from her family because a terrible stomach ailment is causing havoc amidst his clan. Aliss at first assumes the worst about the barbarian, but once she realizes his people really need her skill, she rolls up her sleeves to try to heal them. He vows to her that once she heals his villagers, she will go home. Rogan is shocked by her courage as he always heard her sister Fiona was THE DARING TWIN while Aliss is stunned by his kindness and caring towards his people as she heard he was no better than a beast. As they work together with her trying to figure out the cause of the illness, Rogan and Aliss fall in love. She knows her family especially Fiona would never accept Wolf as her mate though a marriage to him would end the curse that her clan fears will harm them. Though lacking some of the mystery that turned THE DARING TWIN into a terrific historical romance, THE BEWITCHING TWINS is an engaging sixteenth century romance starring two intriguing protagonists. Readers will enjoy the changing relationship between Rogan and Aliss as he wonders who has captured whom. The story line can stand alone though most fans will prefer to read the other twin’s tale first. Donna Fletcher provides a fine tale that hopefully will follow up with the non-twin sibling’s story soon.

Bark M for Murder
J.A. Jance, Virginia Lanier, Chassie West, and Lee Charles Kelley
ISBN: 006081537X, $6.99, 320 pp.

“Red Shirt and Black Jacket” by Virginia Lanier- Two robbers kill a convenience store clerk and the police send Jo Beth Sidden, Jasmine Jones and their bloodhounds to scent out the killers. The dogs steal the show in this exciting mystery that has a very big chase scene. “Nightmare in Nowhere” by Chasse West. Duke the German Shepard wakes A.J. up by licking her; she carefully gets out of the backseat of a car that looks like it is going to drop into a deep river. She has no idea where she is or why she was in the car or who was the driver. The dog takes her to Jake, a police officer vacationing in Maryland but he has no phone to call for outside help. Jake tries to help the amnesiac but someone keeps shooting at them forcing them to run from the cabin. Chassie West has written an exciting tale with realistic characters. “The French Poodle Connection” by Lee Charles Kelley. Former cop turned dog trainer detective Jack Field is at Cady Clark’s home teaching her dog not to bite people when her ex-husband turns up with a gun because he just robbed a bank. Cady gets the gun after Jack knocks her ex unconscious and holds it on Jack forcing him to go to a deserted area while she frees her ex. This is the beginning of a crime spree that ends with four dead, five if you count Cady, who Jack doesn’t because he believes she is alive. Lee Charles Kelley has written an entertaining mystery filled with twists and red herrings. The Case of the London Cabbie by J.A. Jance- Septuagenarian Maddie Watkins plans to prove that the twenty nine year old man her sister loves is a con artist after her fortune. She hires him under a false name to drive her around to look at properties that supposedly belonged to her later husband. Catching him in many lies, she follows him in her car only to be threatened by him when he catches her and her sister becomes his hostage. JA. Jance has written a fantastic mystery with a heroine who deserves her own series.

Memory of a Murder
Earl Staggs
Quiet Storm
PO BOX 1666, Martinsburg, WV 25402
ISBN: 0977007030, $15.95

His long time friend Ellie “the worrier” Russell wakes up former FBI Agent Adam Kingston because she has not heard from her college age son Phil in two days. Using his psychic skills, Adam tells her that his godson is fine partying in Daytona; he will tell Phil Sr. the rest of the story about his son scoring. However, he also found hanging out with Junior and his pals a disheveled longhaired bearded man much older than the college students. Not long afterward, the odd looking man arrives at Adam's home asking for help. Chip Weathers suffers from amnesia but fears he may have killed someone in Baltimore sixteen years ago; the same time and place he suffered the memory laps that his doctor claims was caused by a shocking incident he needed to forget. Baltimore Detective Brenda McCort investigates the female found in a basement dead for sixteen years. She also has a present day homicide involving a murdered man “buried” in trash bags inside the trunk of a car. Her investigations lead her to Adam in nearby Ocean City where they team up to solve homicides that surprisingly tie together though years apart and hope to prevent more murders from occurring. This fast-paced who-done-it deftly switches viewpoints from Adam, Brenda, and the killer so that the reader gains a full picture; interestingly all three have suffered from ordeals in their past that still weighs heavily on their souls; they just cope differently as their motives are clear whether they try to solve homicide cases or kill. Fans of strong paranormal police procedural investigations will take immense pleasure from this strong character driven thriller.

Never Seduce a Scoundrel
Sabrina Jeffries
ISBN: 1416516085, $6.99, 384 pp.

Wealthy heiress Lady Charlotte eloped with handsome charming soldier Jimmy Harris, but quickly regretted her choice as he wasted her fortune and showed no interest in her once he controlled her money. She felt relief when he was killed in a duel and vowed to protect other rich ladies from marrying golddiggers. Thus with the help of Cousin Michael, she establishes Mrs. Harris' School for Young Ladies that accepts only heiresses as students so that she can provide them with private instructions. In 1818 in London Mrs. Harris chaperones wealthy heiress Lady Amelia Plume, who has plenty of admirers, but to her protector they all seem more interested with the lass’ money as a horde of fortune hunting fops plague the balls. Amelia finds her season boring as Mrs. Harris rejects most males. That is tedious until American Major Lucas Winter arrogantly courts her over Mrs. Harris’ objection as she assumes the Yank is a fortune hunter. Amelia thinks he has a different motive, but not love at first sight. She vows to uncover his agenda, while he seeks an embezzler who left Lucas’ reputation in ruins and he believes she is the link. The opening of a new regency series by talented Sabrina Jeffries will elate the sub-genre faithful especially since NEVER SEDUCE A SCOUNDREL is a terrific tale. Amelia is a naive, innocent, and bold individual while Lucas is a fascinating character planning to seduce the truth from her, but soon finds he has been seduced by love. Mrs. Harris is an ideal support character who hopefully will have her story told.

The Devil's Knight
Lucy Blue
ISBN: 1416511954, $6.99, 384 pp.

After fighting for his liege on the battlefield, widower Tristan DuMaine only wants to live the rest of his life in peace with his beloved five years old daughter Clare. He worries about their half finished Castle DuMaine located on the dangerous borders with Scotland made more perilous because his cousin King Henry II took away many of his knights and soldiers for some dispute in Brittany. He fears for his child because of the “bad men” in the nearby woods. The worst “bad men” in the woods is Siobhan Lebuin, who watched the Normans murder her father; she has vowed revenge and has succeeded in small ways until now. She, her brother Sean, and their brigands capture Tristan. Sean forces Tristan to wed his sister before they take him out to die. However, instead of his death, a demon knight takes bites out of the brigands escorting Tristan killing them. He next bites Tristan, but instead of just accepting his fate, he bites back. Tristan becomes a vampire returning to his home planning to drink Sean’s blood and to finish what was begun with his new wife. THE DEVIL’S KNIGHT, the sequel to MY DEMON’S KISS, is fabulous medieval vampire romance starring a hero struggling to adapt to the limitations and power of his new “life”. The changing relationship between Siobhan and Tristan is cleverly devised to enhance the powerful paranormal tale while the audience anticipates the confrontation between the two men in her life. Still it is Tristan’s adaptation to the vampiric lifestyle that makes this a fine fresh historical.

Deep, Dark and Dangerous
Jaid Black
ISBN: 1416516123, $14.00, 272 pp.

Though at the top of her game as a famous in demand actress, Madalyn Mae Simon decides she no longer needs to take the shallow smiles from so-called friends and terrible movies. She needs to escape far away from the phoniness of Hollywood, but wants to stay in the United States so she leaves Southern California for Alaska, but she does not even stay in Anchorage. Instead she moves to a village in the artic where she hopes to regain her mental health. Her harmony is disrupted when her sister Drake persuades Madalyn that camera in hand, they should explore the wildlife of the tundra. However, they run into Otar and three of his Viking compatriots who abduct the siblings for fear they will reveal to the outside world that beneath the frozen tundra is their home New Sweden; besides they need breeders for the colony. Otar recognizes Madalyn as the actress he secretly has loved for years from the audience and plans to make her his wife; if she refuses she takes her chance on the marriage mart auction. Madalyn begins to fall in love with her new husband, but assumes he loves the screen version and not the flesh and blood real person. Fans will initially be skeptical of the setting, classifying it with Santa’s North Pole, but rather quickly through the characters and the deep social relationships readers will believe that New Sweden exists underground within the Arctic Circle. This conversion occurs because the strong cast especially the lead couple makes the background feel plausible. The exhilarating story line that never slows down once Otar realizes Madalyn (and Drake) has seen them, which leads the audience seeking the previous romantic fantasy set in New Sweden, the novella Hunter's Right, part of TIE ME UP, TIE ME DOWN.

The Pandora Key
Lynne Heitman
ISBN: 0743456165, $6.99 371 pp.

Private investigator Alex Shanahan is in partnership with Harvey who is slowly wasting away from multiple sclerosis. One day Alex goes over to Harvey’s house and sees his beloved ex wife Rachel there; the woman who cut and run when her husband was diagnosed with MS. Rachel wants Alex to go to her old apartment and pick up some things for her as she fears her abusive husband is there. When Alex goes to the apartment she finds that Rachel cleared out the place many days ago. When she returns to Harvey’s apartment she finds him and Rachel gone. Rachel got her out of the way so she could get Harvey to someone who wants to speak to him, a very dangerous head of the Russian Mafiya. They free him but the Mafia king wants Harvey to tell him where, Roger Fratello, the man he believes killed his brother, hides. Harvey is visited by the FBI who wants to know why his fingerprints along with Frank’s are on packets of money that were found in a terrorist hideout in Afghanistan along with the belongings of the dead hostages of an airline hijacked by Muslim fundamentalists. There are so many players in this game with different objectives that it will be a miracle if Alex can keep everyone alive by playing one against each other. Lynne Heitman has written a tense thriller taken out of the pages of today’s headlines. The timelines of the story enable readers to relate to the characters as well as defining the plot. The heroine doesn’t care what politicians or other government agendas; she just wants to keep Harvey alive at long as possible. Ms. Heitman weaves a political message that if gone unchecked, will lead to dangerous repercussions.

Pamela Satran
Downtown (Pocket)
ISBN: 1416505598, $13.00

Recently married to rock star Eddie Skinner, movie superstar Stella Powers returns home to Homewood, New Jersey with her six years old daughter Idaho to spend time with her mom before starting her next film. Eddie failed to accompany her as he was to busy with a gig. However, Stella is stunned when her mom suddenly dies. The funeral is a farce with reporters and fans trampling on everything and her husband stays in Hollywood grooving with Idaho’s nanny while Stella grieves. Her best friend in high school Mary Jean Wright helps her escape the mob, whose despicable actions at the funeral were a disgrace. As Stella feels guilt and loneliness, she begins seeing developer Henry Sladowski who wants to convert the small sleepy down into an expensive burb for the rich and famous. This will price Mary Jean, her spouse a cop, and their four children out of the town. However, as Stella begins to understand local politics she becomes involved as any place in which her beloved mom could not call home is not for her. Stella will learn that you can go home though it takes the death of her beloved mom and a lesson in civics to do so. She is a fine protagonist who nicely keeps the story line in focus. The cast makes for a fine tale as the war between “progress” and. “heritage” though perhaps too simplified, is nicely fought in New Jersey.

Shivers III
Edited by Richard Chizmar
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit #7, Forest Hill, MD 21050
ISBN: 1587671174, $20.00

This eighteen story horror collection features tales that first appear in this book though some will have probably reappeared elsewhere since. As were the cases of the previous two collections, SHIVERS III runs the gamut of horror from the supernatural to the psychological to the suspense. Douglas Clegg makes his third appearance with several newcomers to the series like Wrath James White provide entries. None of the contributions are sub par. Especially extraordinary are Meggan C and F Paul Wilson’s “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, Thomas Monteleone’s “Horn of Plenty” (Satchmo - enough said) and the haunting “This, That’s the End of It” by Tom Piccirilli. This is a fascinating anthology especially for readers who appreciate diverse shorts.

The Colour Out of Darkness
John Pelan
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit #7, Forest Hill, MD 21050
ISBN: 1587671131, $30.00 166 pp.

During the war it’s enemies turn it into hundred of pieces, the mass sentient part lay town in the bottom of the sea, resting, regenerating so it could once again be what it once was. The other pieces develop its own sentience, always linked to the First One using humanity to strengthen them and allow the First One time to become whole again. The pieces fell in different parts of the earth, influencing the action of Vlad Tepes, Countess Bathory and many other evilhumans that existed through out history. In Seattle, Cafe Sepulcher, a Goth hangout, is home to one of these amphibian insectoids, using the green liquor known as essence to create more soldiers in its army. It feeds on strong emotions and gives to its soldiers what they want most. Lara can walk again; Sheree is no longer a whore; and Josh has Lara to love. It demands sacrifices and the police become involved but it remains to be seen whether they can do anything to stop it. Fans of Lovecraft horror will have to read THE COLOUR OUT OF DARKNESS which goes many steps beyond where Lovecraft took his audience. John Pelan has written a tale that is a chilling and frightening thriller about an unstoppable enemy that wants to remake the earth in its own image without any humans to interfere with its plans. The characters are, especially for a long novella, surprisingly well developed and not one of them is a stereotype.

Hornets and Others
Al Sarrantonio
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit #7, Forest Hill, MD 21050
ISBN: 1587670984, $40.00

Al Sarrantonio displays his talent with this strong seventeen collection anthology that runs the full scope of the horror genre. Each tale is well written and for the most part contains fascinating protagonists, not an easy feat to accomplish in the short format. There are two new tales while seven were printed in other works during the 1980s; four in the 1990s; and four in this decade. The title tale is especially exciting as hornets attack residents of Orangefield (locale of two of his novels) on Halloween and so is Mr. Sarrantonio’s version of Carlyle’s clothing theory of man, The Coat that will send shivers down readers’ spines. Whether the contribution is psychological suspense, blood and gore, suspense, ghosts, or something other, HORNETS AND OTHERS is consistently an entertaining winner for horror fans who appreciate a compilation that reflects a wide range of sub-genres.

Shivers II
Edited by Richard Chizmar
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit #7, Forest Hill, MD 21050
ISBN: 1587670720, $20.00

This twenty-four story horror collection features tales written in 2003 that first appear in this book though some of the better contributions will have probably reappeared elsewhere since. The tales as in the first collection, SHIVERS, run the gamut of horror from the supernatural to the psychological to the suspense and include several of the who’s who of the genre who also contributed to the 2002 edition like Douglas Clegg, Bentley Little, and Graham Masterson. No tale is bad with a few extraordinary especially the dark comedy "Fine Until You Called," by Thomas Tessier that will resonate with readers long after finishing the book. On the other hand one wonders why Kelly Laymon's "Living in the Cemetery, Dancing the Dance" was included as that is an amusing Q & A log of working at the CD magazine. Overall this is a solid enetertaining anthology that horror fans who appreciate variations in their sub-genre will want to read.

Al Sarrantonio
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit #7, Forest Hill, MD 21050
ISBN: 158767064X, $35.00

Orangefield, New York, the center of pumpkin farming, hosts an annual Pumpkin Days Festival. However, the fun gala is seen by Samhain the Celtic Lord of Death as a means to serve his Lord the Dark One. He has selected three damaged souls to sacrifice themselves so that a portal for the Dark One to enter the human realm on Halloween night can be opened. Army veteran Aaron Peters still suffers from physical injuries while serving in Somalia, but his psychological wounds are much greater and more useful to the Lord of Death. Aaron combined with psychopathic incredibly medicated Jordie and innocent teen Annabeth Turner, make for a perfect triad as he quietly manipulates each one to sacrifice themselves in order to bring the Dark one over from beyond. ORANGEFIELD is a fun Halloween thriller filled with chills as the audience anticipates that Samhain will succeed in his endeavor due to the weaknesses of the three chosen ones. The five key characters (the human trio, Samhain and the Dark One) seem genuine as they hold “internal” discussions between the Lord of Death and the others, but that also tends to decelerate the speed of the fall of the threesome. Fans who enjoy a fine horror tale will want to spend Halloween in upstate New York with Al Sarrantonio as your host (also see the sequel HALLOWS EVE).

Taverns of the Dead
Edited by Kealan Patrick Burke
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit #7, Forest Hill, MD 21050
ISBN: 1587670828, $40.00

This is a fantastic anthology consisting of seventeen new entries (at the time of publication that is), seven from previous works in the 1990s and two from other collections in this decade. The contributors are a Hall of fame group to include Williamson, Gaiman, Grant and de Lint, etc. Each tale is fun with some so superb, readers will want to return to the bar scene for another round or two. The compilation runs the gamut from dark suspense to fantasy to horror with the audience raising an elbow to toast each entry. Fans who appreciate sharing drinks with the demised and some weird supernatural fantasy essences will want to stop at TAVERNS OF THE DEAD for a terrific night chaser.

Camp Stalag
Bill Walker
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit #7, Forest Hill, MD 21050
ISBN: 158767033X, $40.00

In New Hampshire three hundred men are invited to spend two weeks in a replica of a WWII German POW camp; most of the chosen are the sons of soldiers who spent part of WW II in a Germen prison. Among the three-hundred, reporter Frank Murphy and his best friend Bill Seger are euphoric that they were selected. However, the American guests are “abducted” and taken to the camp under the guise of realism. They soon learn that this is not Hogan’s Heroes or even Stalag 17 and that this cannot be New Hampshire. Kommandant Heinrich Koenig makes Camp Stalag the real thing as he brutally treats the chosen with scorn and abuse. Soon murders occur while prisoners try to escape from the hell Koenig has made of his “dream” to have one last victory before he dies. Murphy and Seger agree if they do nothing else they will take down Koenig. CAMP STALAG is a strange entertaining tale that uses reenactment to tell a twenty-first century WW II thriller. Frank and the Kommandant are interesting characters, both weird in their own way. Frank is hung up over his dad’s war years as he glamorizes them while feeling strongly his lack of such experience lessens him as a man. Heinrich seems like a lunatic trying to revise history in a modern context. Thus these two antagonists in their crazy way keep Bill Walker’s thriller from turning into a bad Hogan's Heroes’ one joke plot, but instead make for a deep character study of two opponents reliving the past in the present.

Edward Lee
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit #7, Forest Hill, MD 21050
ISBN: 1587671212, $40.00

Forty something DC attorney Patricia White takes a leave of absence from her job, leaving her spouse Bryan behind, to return to her hometown of Agan’s Point to comfort her sister, Judy, whose husband, Dwayne Parker was brutally murdered there. Patricia feels pretty good for her sibling as she always felt Dwayne was a crappy person and Judy deserved better. She also has bad memories of the quaint Chesapeake Bay town where as a teen she was raped by an unknown attacker, but her dad blamed her. It has been five years since she last returned to these BACKWOODS and nothing has changed as Patricia’s first action is to puke as nightmarish memories of when she was sixteen and the assault flood her mind. However, she soon finds the town has other dangers with corpses missing body parts and children vanishing. Passion has hit Agan’s Point with erotic tendencies coming out into the open, but even as Patricia finds the lure difficult to resist especially with her seventh grade boyfriend Goober, she wonders if fervor means brutal homicide by a shadowy malevolence. For most of the tale readers will wonder whether the evil is psychological or supernatural as fans will consider an avarice developer behind the murders, but then ponder the out of control sexual needs of for instance normally sedate Patricia. The story line is fast-paced as dark murky secrets begin to see the light as lust grips the townsfolk. Not for everyone as there are some graphic moments when the corpse count grows, Edward Lee paints a nightmarish town where evil reigns.

Edited by Richard Chizmar
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit #7, Forest Hill, MD 21050
ISBN: 1587670631, $20.00

This twenty-two story horror collection features tales written in 2002 that first appear in this book though some have probably reappeared elsewhere. The tales run the gamut of horror from the supernatural to the psychological to the suspense and include several of the who’s who of the genre like Douglas Clegg, Bentley Little, and Graham Masterson. As stated the contributions encompass much of the genre as Richard Chizmar must have provided the authors with one apparent instruction to entertain the readers, which they do as no tale is bad and with some like those of Little, Brian Freeman, and John Pelan quite good. Fans who like a wide variety of themes from ghost stories to revenge to the millennium end will want to read this enjoyably shivering compilation.

Titanic 2012
Bill Walker
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit #7, Forest Hill, MD 21050
ISBN: 1881475492, $24.95

In 2012 billionaire realtor Harlan Astor informs selected friends including his old Harvard mate bestselling author Trevor Hughes that he has built an exact replica of the famous Titanic, the ship where his great-grandfather died one century earlier. He asks Trevor to join the maiden voyage of TITANIC 2012 as the chronicler. Excited by just being aboard, Trevor accepts the invitation with plans to interview the crew and guests starting with the christening in Poland, but first dumps his girlfriend therapist Julia Magnusson over Astor’s ego. As the ship sets sail and the media goes wild, Trevor interviews those on board. He begins to wonder what criteria Harlan used to select the chosen ones as deep appreciation of Cameron’s film is the only seeming link. However, his issues and concerns vanish when he meets Madeleine Regehr. As he fights not to fall in love, his doubts about the guest list and crew resurface so he begins to investigate everyone on board to learn why they were picked, especially Maddy. This is a terrific tale that stars an individual who cannot commit to any deep relationships, whether they are just friendships or abiding love. Trevor’s quest to learn why each was picked enables him to also look at himself. Using the Titanic with homage to the Cameron movie is a clever mechanism that has the readers join the characters (in their imagination) on the sea voyage in spite of wondering about icebergs and other possible calamities. This is a very deep character driven tale as Bill Walker like his cast reveres the movie.

Walpuski’s Typewriter
Frank Darabont
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit #7, Forest Hill, MD 21050
ISBN: 1587670593, $25.00, 108 pp.

Hollywood writer Howard Walpuski dreams of one day becoming a household name, but so far even he recognizes the litter box junk he writes. When his IBM Selectric II suddenly spit smoke and had one last death rattle, he panics because he needs that machine even to hack out crap because five dollars will not buy much. He finds the typewriter repair shop owned by elderly Cyril Pratt who greets his tragic story like an undertaker at a funeral. Pratt agrees that major repairs are in order for a down payment of five dollars after screaming at Walpuski for typing BS as bad as a monkey. When he gets his typewriter back, Walpuski quickly learns all he has to do is feed it paper and the machine does all the work. Soon Walpuski becomes the instant King of bestsellers, but the typewriter wants blood, sweat and tears from the author and plans to collect once the third tale is written. This amusing satirical modernizing of Faust is a terrific tongue in cheek tale that will have the audience wondering how horror can be humorous even without Leslie Neilson and when making a pact with the devil. The zany plot never takes itself seriously yet the audience will accept that WALPUSKI’S TYPEWRITER has a life of its own needing feed me nourishment. Fans of wacky tales will appreciate Frank Darabont’s weird but fun thriller while wondering what type of typewriter he used.

Wildwood Road
Christopher Golden
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit #7, Forest Hill, MD 21050
ISBN: 1587671190, $40.00, 300 pp.

Tired and a bit intoxicated after attending a masquerade party with his paralegal wife Jillian, ad agency artist Michael Danksy drives home with his spouse asleep. Michael dozes off, but as his vehicle veers off the road, he awakens in time to avoid hitting a girl standing on the side of the road. Concerned that a young girl would be out by herself at night, Michael takes her to her home on dark hilly Wildwood Road. As the little girl runs inside, she tells Michael try to find me as if she is playing a game. Feeling uncomfortable that the girl charged into the dark house, Michael follows her in only to be confronted by ghosts; he escapes. Not long afterward, female ghosts assault Jillian, removing her joyful childhood memories. As Jillian turns from kind to nasty, Michael struggles to find the big dark house on Wildwood Road to bring back his wife, but finding the place seems impossible as it is not where he entered it. He next seeks the girl, but will she prove easier to locate? This ghost story is Christopher Golden’s best work to date. Michael is a terrific beleaguered hero who wants his pre-house visit life especially his endearing wife back; Jillian is fantastic as she transforms from a friendly caring person into a cynical soulless individual as the child who became the adult was erased from her memory. Fans will keep reading until they learn who the little girl is and then want to know how Michael plans to rescue his wife if he obtains that knowledge. This is a one sitting tale that will keep the audience up all night with lights on in every room.

Hallows Eve
Al Sarrantonio
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit #7, Forest Hill, MD 21050
ISBN: 1587670771, $40.00

For twelve years Corrie Phaeder has been a successful Los Angeles-based photographer, who once vowed never to return home; as that is the center of his nightmares. However, his career suddenly collapses and his girlfriend Monica abruptly dumps him so even he cannot explain why he suddenly is taking the train back to pumpkin-farming Orangefield, New York in October. Ironically the place thrives on Halloween yet that is also the most evil time of year there. Samhain, servant of the Dark One, has selected Corrie and his seven years old neighbor Regina Bright as the victims of his mischief. First he must crash the kid’s innocence with eerie unexplainable incidents and manipulate cop Bill Grant who believes Corrie got away with matricide and did something to now librarian Kathy Marks before fleeing town. Samhain sends John the scarecrow to cause further havoc by killing people with Bill believing Corrie is the culprit. This is an interesting sequel (see ORANGEFIELD) that readers of Halloween horror thrillers will enjoy. The action-packed story line is at its best when Samhain and John confront Corrie and Reggie. However, the homicides that are intended to psychologically manipulate and motivate Bill to bring down Corrie seem disconnected to the main skirmish. Still with a visit to Samhain's domain adding to the fun, Al Sarrantonio provides a solid Halloween horror thriller starring the Celtic Lord of Death.

Mondo Zombie
Edited by John Mason Skipp
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit #7, Forest Hill, MD 21050
ISBN: 1587670402, $35.00, 492 pp.

This twenty-seven story anthology runs the gamut of zombies with touches of other genres like romance and mystery that add to the fun of the horror collection. Two thirds of the tales are new while the remaining nine are from the last fifteen years. The authors are a fine mix of the very famous to the as yet unknown (at least to this reviewer) and the stories are all solid fun with a few having quite a tasty bite. Fans will enjoy learning about Fat Eddie the Deadie, police officer Valensuela and her concern over Dead Thing pensions, and the “mor violent” than the UFC, Kay Fabe productions in Westchester, etc. Tongue in cheek, these are fun tales though for the most part the cast is one dimensional dead. Zombieites will mondo enjoy these wacky tales.

C.J. Cherryh
ISBN: 075640374X, $25.95, 336 pp.

Civil war has devastated the Western Association and leaders like Tabini-aiij of the atevi home world are either dead or exiled and in hiding. Murini-aiij looks as if he will take over as ruler of the sector, but humans and other races will probably be eradicated under his xenophobic leadership. Human paidhi Bren Cameron, diplomat to Tabini, knows his atevi friend is the only hope to stop the hostilities and to prevent a subsequent slaughter as outside hostile races are heading to this galaxy. Tabini realizes he must regain control of the atevi government because he believes Bren is telling the truth about the upcoming invaders while Murini scorns humans; with the help of Bren and his grandmother LLsidi they join forces with loyalist Tatiseigi. First civil war, then the invaders; atevi and human are in trouble in this space sector. The latest Foreigner science fiction thriller, PRETENDER is a fabulous entry that showcases C.J. Cherryh at her best with the clever Machiavellian political maneuvers between the atevi with Bren used by Murini as a culpable pawn. The action augments the posturing for control as Tabini and Murini seek allies with the former thinking in terms of a two step war and the latter of just vanquishing his atevi rival. This is a great addition to one of the better outer space series of the last decade.

Jason and Medea: A Whirlwind of Ruin
Matthew L. Hunter
ISBN: 059534321X, $18.95

King Pelias sends his nephew Jason on a quest to find and bring back the Golden Fleece; though in truth the uncle prefers his relative never to return. Some of the greatest heroes accompany him on this dangerous journey of the Argo. On the way the crew brutalizes anyone in their path as they devastate Lemnos, slaughtering the men and using the women. When they reach their destination, Jason realizes that the only way he can take the Golden Fleece is with the help of King Creon’s daughter Medea. He seduces her to betray her father by assisting him in taking the Golden Fleece. Out of love for Jason, she helps him achieve his objective and later kills for her beloved who betrays her love. This is an excellent filling of the gaps of Euripides’ Medea. The story line paints a more complete picture of the woman who commits monstrous atrocities out of love for Jason. The heroic Argonaut is actually less sympathetic in Matthew L. Hunter’s delightful take as he is manipulative and once he achieves his desire abandons the woman who gave away her life for him. This is a great rendition of the classic.

Rainbow Dust
Eleanor Roth
Treble Heart Books
1284 Overlook Dr. Sierra Vista, AZ 85635
ISBN: 193269515X, $12.95

In New Maidstone, New England bank president Roger Spaudling proposes to college professor Margaret Knowles. Already a bit stunned by his asking her, before she can reply, a voice in her head shots at her to refuse him. Margaret informs her suitor that she is surprised and needs to think about it. Later using a pen to tell his story and ultimately mental communication, Zeke explains who he is and how he fell in love with Ellen. Though she can speak with Zeke and not his wife, Margaret “sees” events as Ellen had lived them. She wonders why this is happening to her, but she notices that since Zeke literally entered her life she is not depressed, a feeling that has been part of her all her life. Margaret tells Zeke’s oldest son Howard, a Boston doctor, who believes her because she knows too much detail. He, his wife, his siblings, his close friend Bruce, and Margaret ponder why Zeke selected her. She needs to know the reason Margaret fears losing the connection if she pursues the past. As she blossoms under Zeke’s tutelage; the ghost, indirectly Ellen, and their living descendents encourage Margaret to seek the answer to why a phantom she never met in life chose to speak with a mouse like her. This is a strange but fascinating tale as the audience along with the cast want to know why Zeke picked the introvert; the reason will make sense, but is quite a shocker. The relationship between Zeke and Margaret hold the delightful character driven story line together as he is a sort of spectral mentor to her. Though everyone seems too easily to accept communication from beyond, readers who appreciate a deep charming but odd tale will want to read Eleanor Roth’s wonderful novel.

Priestess of the White
Trudi Canavan
ISBN: 0060815701, $7.99

Teenager Auraya’s reward for saving the village of Oraylyn from Dunwayan invaders is being named a priestess to the ruling godlike White, heads of the Circlian religion. A decade later, Auraya is one of the chosen five White guardians to the people of Ithania. Auraya and her White peers pray they can bring the various races, not all human, together in northern Ithania. However hate and distrust runs deep between the groups that have fought one another seemingly forever. A Circlian cult has formed, led by the powerful sorcerer Kuar the Pendatrian and the disbanded Sorcerer’s Guild, insisting they are the chosen ones and outsiders must die. This sect attacks the others especially targeting the pagan worshipping Dreamweavers to include Auraya’s best friend before she entered the priesthood, Leiard. The objective is to sow hatred until Kuar and his followers kill the White and replace them with singular rule. Though feeling somewhat like a novice and not a high lord, Auraya knows she and her peers must confront Kuar and his followers. The first Age of Five fantasy is a fabulous thriller that combines a coming of age tale with a religious battle for control of the minds and souls of the people of Ithania. The story line is fast-paced as the audience learns about the White who serve as the Gods’ guardians to all races and their adversary who uses the tools of bigotry and hatred to sow a powerful religious based insurgency. Genre fans will want to read this epic tale and look forward to the next saga LAST OF THE WILDS.

The Armies of Memory
John Barnes
ISBN: 0765303302, $25.95, 432 pp.

Office of Special Plans espionage agent troubadour Giraut Leones works the thin line between total withdrawal into the virtual reality box and the war with the “aintellect” insurgents. At fifty Giraut intellectually prefers hiding inside the box to escape his growing melancholy, but must do his duty to the Thousand Cultures. Though he is a target for assassination, Giraut continues to play songs that touch the hearts of those who come into contact with him. Still he wonders about his own heart’s healing as he sadly recalls those he lost to death but revisited through the "psypyx" that enables individuals to die yet live seemingly forever. Between the psypyx and his own music, Giraut seeks solace as he begins to learn that love and beauty heal hurts. He returns home to Nou Occitan with a deeper understanding of the universe only to find treachery, betrayal, and violence. Will he virtually flee into his music making him an easy target for his prey but also enabling him to escape the horrors that engulf him or will Giraut try to save humanity from its worst enemy, itself? THE ARMIES OF MEMORY, the climax of John Barnes’ Thousand Cultures saga, may prove to be the best science fiction tale of the year. As always the characters make the exhilarating story line a one-sitting reading experience. The heroic Giraut feels his age as he is tired and ready to retire, but also realizes that if he wants to live he must remain on the job until he stops those who want him dead. He also concludes that humanity needs him at a critical moment, but he fears he has nothing left except his music and that may no longer be enough. Mr. Barnes is at his best with this stupendous science fiction story.

Elizabeth Vaughan
ISBN: 0765352656, $6.99

Xylara, the WARPRIZE and Keir, the Warlord are escorted by thousands of “Firelander” soldiers who travel to the Heart of the Plains for a ceremony to confirm Lara's status. When they reach the walled village of Wellspring, they find the sign of the plague. Unable to stay out as a Master Healer, Lara enters to help those suffering inside while the soldiers wait nearby. However, the plague escapes the quarantined village Wellspring spreading amongst Keir’s warriors. Iften the Second, who believes he is the worthy warrior who should be the Warlord, sees an opportunity. He challenges Keir, not fully healed, to determine who will lead their people in a battle to the death. Iften plans to eliminate the Warprize once he dispatches the warlord, but others have additional termination plans for moving up the ranks. The second War tale (see WARPRIZE) is a terrific entry in what so far has been a great trilogy. Lara as a healer cannot stop herself from helping the beleaguered villagers of Wellspring, who to keep the Warlord out of their plagued city shoot arrows at the feet of the warriors. Her good intentions prove costly as the plague leaves the city and enters the nearby military encampment. The Warprize’s endeavor makes for a strong action-packed yet philosophical fantasy that will keep readers on the edge of their seats throughout while afterward pondering the question of medical care during a quarantined lethal epidemic (think of the flu issue).

Battlestar Galactica
Jeffrey A. Carver
ISBN: 0765315416, $14.95

The Cylons were created by humanity to improve mankind’s life in the Twelve Colonies, but were transformed into killing weapons of mass destruction until they decided to destroy anything human. For the next decade, humanity warred against their creation with the loser eradicated from the Twelve Colonies. No one won and a truce occurs; the Cylons leave the sector. After one scheduled meeting in year one of the “peace”, the Cylons vanished never to be heard from again until now thirty-nine years later. In that interim, the Cylons have devoted their energy to their prime objective: destroy humanity! Their plan is clever as a new generation of Cylons has been created who look and act like humans not metal monstrosities whose design was totally based on form not aesthetics. Their new assault from within proves successful with only one human warship left after a massive attack. The Battlestar Galactica was about to be turned into a museum while Commander William Adama was retiring, but instead he must rally humanity against a stronger amoral adversary whose genocide objective seems certain to occur. Action-packed, this novelization of the latest Battlestar Galactica tale is a fun story for fans of the series. Cylons are portrayed too often as loquacious boasters explaining their genocide plans instead of just cold bloodedly killing machines; thus the tale loses some of its potency as it feels like a TV adaptation with four degrees of Star Wars. Still within that limiting context, Jeffrey A. Carver displays his writing talent as he makes the Twelve Colonies and the key humans and Cylons seem real. The Battlestar audience will want to enlist in the war of survival as Mr. Carver provides an entertaining rendition.

Wolf Hunting
Jane Lindskold
ISBN: 0765312883, $27.95, 528 pp.

The jaguar oracle Truth sends a message to Firekeeper, the female raised by wolves, to help her regain her sanity lost in a recent battle (WOLF CAPTURED). Though her wolf developed senses warn her not to go and keep avoiding danger, Firekeeper also has a feral inquisitiveness that overwhelms her internal alarm system. She cannot resist the lure of Truth's quest. Her wolf companion Blind Seer is at her side as his her new collaborator, Darian Carter of Liglim on the journey to bring Truth back to her senses. However, the trek proves odd and dangerous as the trio also must first find out how to remove the voice inside the oracle’s head if they are to bring her back her senses, but to achieve the former requires that they learn who has manifested inside Truth’s brain and are they manipulating the oracle and Firekeeeper and her allies. The fifth Firekeeper Wolf tale is the best of a solid fantasy series due to a thrilling action-packed straightforward (less subplots) story line with much more enchanting interrelationships between humans and wise animals. The heroine continues to learn though she feels more comfortable still with her wolf friends. Fans of Jane Lindskold will appreciate this strong saga that can stand alone though is enhanced by having read the previous quartet so that one can understand the world better and to see how far Firekeeper has come in her human venture.

The Wizard Lord
Lawrence Watt-Evans
ISBN: 0765310260, $26.95, 336 pp.

The Wizard Lord rules over Barokan, but his powers are kept somewhat in check by The Chosen Ones (the Leader, the Seer, the Swordsman, the Beauty, the Thief, the Scholar, the Archer, and the Speaker) who can combine into a group to defeat an evil ruler. In turn he keeps them from forming a dictatorial oligopoly by using their individual talents when he deems necessary. Together the nine make up the ruling supreme court of Barokan with the key mission to keep wizardry under control. Shockingly, a young villager Breaker becomes the Swordsman when the current office holder retires. Breaker assumes he will have some time to learn his duties and to become acquainted with his now seven peers, who seem so supreme to him. However, he has no time for on the job training as he soon finds he has to save the realm as a switch in the checks and balances have occurred; a rogue wizard is ready to take absolute power while Breaker doubts he is prepared for the mission and wonders if his people might be better off under a more centralized magically controlled economic system. THE WIZARD LORD, Volume One of the Annals of the Chosen, is a terrific but typical sword and sorcery tale that is somewhat refreshed by the checks and balances of power that in many ways parallels the American government. However, the philosophical sharing of rule is more an underlying theme as the prime plot is the coming of age quest of the newest Chosen One. Fantasy fans, especially the S&S crowd, will take pleasure from Lawrence Watt-Evans’ invigorating tale.

Cadmian's Choice
L.E. Modesitt Jr.
ISBN: 0765315289, $27.95, 512 pp.

On Corus, Majer Mykel, commander of the Third Battalion, a rifle unit, hides his psychic "Talent" similar to that of the ruling Alectors because he fears the reaction of the Alectors hierarchy learning a human shares their abilities. However, he may have to expose himself for the good of his people. He has learned that renegade Alectors plan to use forbidden weapons to prevent the transfer of people especially those in power from the Alector dying home world to Corus. He turns to Myrmidons-West Submarshal Dainyl an Alector though he has misgivings about this or any official; Dainyl reciprocates his deep distrust of the major. However, Dainyl knows he must act now to prevent the rebels from using these weapons, but to do so he needs Mykel’s help. While both the Alector and the human ponder the risk of trusting one another, the mysterious Ancients, assumed extinct, contact both of them with a message saying each group must cooperate to survive. The key to the delightful fifth Corean Chronicles is the powerful cast who make Corus seem genuine and more important the relationship between the ruling Alectors and the human natives real. Interestingly, it is the appearance of the Ancient Ones, the original natives of the planet who everyone assumed died out ages ago that adds a fantastic twist to this exciting tale. The distrustful uneasy peace between Dainyl and Mykel add to a fabulous science fiction fantasy saga.

Tatja Grimm's World
Vernor Vinge
ISBN: 0765308851, $14.95

“The Barbarian Queen”. While traveling on the Tarulle Barge, Fantasie editor for the last fifteen years of its seven century run Rey Guille buys the illogical stories of Hrala the over six foot Barbarian Queen because they are so popular. However, publicist Cor Ascuasenta has brought a live pre-puberty six foot female who cannot speak Sprak to act as Hrala. Her name as best they can make it out is Tatja Grimm. As they sail onward to their next stop the primitive shows intelligence and strength of character; her plan is to rule the barge. “The Imposter Queen”. Five years later, Tatja meets thesis candidate Svir Hedrigs and his pet Ancho the dorfox explaining to him she is the science editor for Fantasie. He believes she lies so he fibs about his astronomy experiences. Svir soon sails on the Tarulle Barge but it is Ancho and his ability to make illusions that Tatja finds fascinating as she has out stripped the intelligence of the barge and plans to rule the world. “Feral Child”. Though she rules the ocean world, Tatja still seeks more. Offworlders seemingly more intelligent than anyone she has ever met treat her like an intelligent pet, but offer her an opportunity to learn the truth of why she feels intellectually superior to those around her as she plans to rule their world. Tatja Grimm’s World is actually three separate short stories that chronicle the adventures of the title heroine. Fans will wonder if she is evil as she uses people since she believes they are inferior to her. Though somewhat lacking coherence as it is three separate shorts, readers will appreciate Verne Vinge’s look at cultural anthropology.

Return to Quag Keep
Andre Norton and Jean Rabe
ISBN: 0765312980, $24.95, 304 pp.

In Greyhawk, the magnificent seven completed their quest (see QUAG KEEP) with each one surviving the perilous adventures but they go their separate ways. Not long afterward the Priest Deav Dyne, Ingrge the Elf, Yevele the Warrior woman, Wymarc the Bard, Milo and Naile learn from the seventh member Gulath that he is dying and wants to go home. They all now remember their past which is that they come from a technological advanced earth with no magic or fantasy creatures. During the escapade they forgot their past, but Gulath desires to die in Toledo, Ohio as a game playing nerd not some fantasy medieval world in which he questions his sanity. The other six fear their own deaths on this realm and want to go home too. However, each vows to seek the passage back if there is an exit in that direction for the sake of their former companion. As they begin the new quest questioning the validity of their past efforts, they are stunned to meet another earth traveler and go on a grand quest starting with guarding a merchant’s wagons that soon involves saving two realms, this one and earth. The original tale written over twenty-five years ago is widely considered the first novel based on a fantasy role playing game (D&D). The sequel, though a standard epic fantasy adventure, is a stronger tale as the key cast seem a bit more multi dimensional and the storyline is loaded with non-stop action. Fun for young adults and D&D players of all ages, RETURN TO QUAG KEEP also pays homage to the late great Andre Norton, who was one of the best at entertaining teens.

A Shadow in Summer
Daniel Abraham
ISBN: 0765313405, $24.95, 336 pp.

A thriving center of commerce, the city-state Saraykeht depends on the magic of a detained Andat spirit, Seedless, compelled to do the biddings of the sorcerer Heshai-kyo as long as his owner lives, but once his possessor perishes, he dies too. The Galts Empire conquers everything in it path except for Saraykeht in spite of the powerful thrusts of the invincible military. Using trade as a means to get small forces inside the city, the Galts begin to set in motion the murder of Heshai-kyo, which subsequently would lead to the demise of Seedless and ultimately Saraykeht. Teacher Milah-Kvo catches student Otah Machi sneaking out of the city. Otah explains he will go elsewhere as he disgraced himself in the class. Instead his teacher suggests a different safer alternative as a black robe to serve as a bodyguard to an andat and its owner. As Otah inadvertently learns about the assassination plot, Seedless works on a ploy to destroy the mind of his possessor by driving Heshai-kyo insane with grief over losing a child that the andat plans to remove prematurely from the womb of the sorcerer’s beloved. This is a terrific opening fantasy that uses two major fabulous subplots in which either could have serves as the plot, but instead brilliantly tie together to establish a strange magical world that seems plausible and real. The tale is action-packed, but it is the cast that makes everything seem plausible and exciting. Fans of deep sagas will want to read book one of the Long Price Quartet, A SHADOW IN SUMMER, as this will be on everyone’s short list for great genre 2006 novels.

Octagon Magic
Andre Norton
Tor Starscape
ISBN: 0765352982, $5.99

When Grandmother Mallard, whom she lived with, went to England to recuperate from the surgery under the care of a close friend, eleven-year-old Lorrie Mallard left Canada to live with her Aunt Margaret in the States. Lorrie is unhappy in America as she struggles to adjust while nasty boys like Rob Lockner, Jimmy Purvis and Stan Wormiski taunt her as a Canuck who walks like a duck. Needing to escape the teasing of the terrible threesome, Lorrie climbs the front gate to Octagon House where Hallie, the servant to the alleged witch elderly Miss Charlotta Ashemeade residing there, greets her. After a terrible week highlighted by Rob’s disgusting sister Kathy “killing” her doll Miranda, Lorrie runs to Octagon House where Hallie introduces her to Miss Charlotta. When the child comes home she tells Aunt Margaret about her visit to Octagon House and receives permission to return. At the house, Lorrie searches for Sabina the cat and finds a strange room with a dollhouse and old dolls inside. That leads the exploring child back in time to the nineteenth century where she meets Lotta Ashemeade, Phin and Phoebe. Lorrie’s adventures into understanding behavior have just begun. The reissue of the second “Magic” tale (see STEAL MAGIC) will bring joy to preadolescent readers. The story line focuses on unhappy Lorrie as she fails to adjust to her environs, blaming others for her misery. She and the key cast are fully developed so that her woes seem genuine and monumental (remember she is a sixth grader). Her escapade into the Victorian Age provides her with lessons in group dynamics and inter-human relationships that she takes back to her present as memories. Though too slow for adults, the ten to twelve year old crowd will appreciate a visit to Octagon House.

The Cross Examination of Oliver Finney
Randy Singer
ISBN: 1400071666, $13.99, 400 pp.

The Patient has seen numerous doctors, but all say the same thing: he has twelve months at best to live in spite of his billions. While watching reality TV, the Patient decides to arrange a show where representatives from the major religions including science compete for charity by defending their Faith on Trial in front of billions. Though his clerk and protege Nikki Moreno tries to talk him out of it the Christian representative is fifty-nine years old Judge Oliver Finney, a cryptologist expert who has written a bestselling theology book on decoding hidden secrets in the bible. Kareem Hasaan the Moslem, “Swami” Skyler Hadji the Hindu, and an atheist scientist Victoria Kline are the other contestants; the rabbi having backed out under pressure from the Anti Defamation League. Besides scripting and re-shooting scenes, Oliver and his rivals are to be advocates for their religion in front of a judge and a jury of TV watchers. However, none of the participants are prepared for the reality that death as sacrifice is part of the tradition of most religions including science and the only hope to survive is if Nikki breaks the cryptic messages Finney sends her though she stinks at puzzles. Readers should note that there is a companion non-fiction book that provides further insight into the Bible while relating back to this fine thriller. THE CROSS EXAMINATION OF OLIVER FINNEY is a deep look at the commonality of the major religions and a strong argument between evolutionary sciences vs. faith while inside a terrific thriller filled with cryptographic messages and murder. Fans of religious thrillers will appreciate this fine tale that grips the audience from the moment feisty Judge Finney solves the case of the gangbanger murder and never slows down until the final confrontation on the island.

The Hunted
Fred Stoeker and D.W. Smith
ISBN: 1400070384, $13.99

For fifteen years the four Oregonians, John, Mike, Hollis and Dave have gone on rafting vacations together. This year they choose Thailand for a bit of a different adventure. However, they get more than expected when they journey into the Mae Hong Son Province. Mike, who understands Thai, overhears their guides planning to kidnap them for ransom. The four Americans flee into the jungle with their former escorts chasing them with AK-47s. John prays to God to not let him die here while thinking about his fiancee telling him his faith has never been challenged. They find a cave to gain temporary respite, but their adversaries are nearby and ready to kill them. The quartet has little hope to escape alive though each prays to God. Their last Hail Mary rests with John sneaking off to find help as Mike and Dave are hurt and Hollis is too out of shape to go any further. John prays this time for the safety of his friends. The Every Man guides are well written inspirational guides, but as far I know this is the first Every Man fiction. The fast-paced story line is filled with action as the four vacationing Americans are in deep trouble from the onset. Interestingly, the Oregonians will remind the audience of the maxim that there are no atheists in the foxhole as they each pray to God that they do not die in the Thai jungle. John’s musing to his fiancee’s commentary that his faith has never been tested becomes his mantra as he modifies his prayers to that of save his teammates. THE HUNTED is a fabulous thriller that never slows down yet the audience also sees deep inside the souls of the beleaguered quartet prays for deliverance.

Mark of the Cross
Judith Pella
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764201328, $13.99

In the thirteenth century in England Lord Hawken provides protection, schooling and employment to his illegitimate son, Philip de Tollard, but never recognizes his offspring as officially his; thus the lad is filled with anger at the world. Hawken’s other son the rightful heir Gareth is a nasty person especially towards the stepbrother whom he scorns and loathes as beneath him. When their father suddenly dies, Gareth accuses Philip of killing their sire; Philip is fortunate to escape with his life. Beatrice Marlowe loves her long time friend Philip, who has always been nice to her in spite of his loathing of just about everyone else. When Gareth, who she hates for his haughty abuse of others, demands she accept his offer or his wrath, she worries about her beloved and acquiesces while praying to God for Philip’s safety. Meanwhile, angry at God and his late dad for his plight, Philip filled with rage plans to avenge all that Gareth has done to him especially his mistreatment of his dear Beatrice. To succeed might cost him his already damaged soul; to fail might cost him his beloved. Though Gareth is so nasty he seems more a caricature of evil than an adversary, MARK OF THE CROSS is a fabulous medieval inspirational romance starring two star-crossed wannabe lovers. Beatrice, in spite of her woes, remains a firm believer in the Lord while Philip no longer trusts God. Thus the strong story line centers on Philip’s necessity to find redemption though he feels he does not need to if he is to rescue the woman he loves from his most despicable foe. Medieval fans will appreciate Philip’s trials and tribulations as he bears the MARK OF THE CROSS.

Tamera Alexander
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764201085, $12.99, 320 pp.

Ten years ago in the Colorado Territory, Kathryn and Larson married. Over the years, he was jealous of any male who showed attention to his wife, but hid his inner self from her. When they would argue he would run out of the house until one wintry night in 1868 they squabbled over the visit of a neighbor Bradley; he rushed out into the cold, but this time he failed to come home. When he finally comes back hoping Kathryn can forgive him and still love him, he sees her held gently by his ranch foreman Mathew Taylor as she tosses dirt on a gravesite. After they leave the area, angry that Matthew and his spouse betrayed him, he looks at the stone, Larson Robert Jennings. As Kathryn tries to save their ranch, she regrets her actions now that she knows about her spouse’s past that he hid from her. She knows she failed Larson by not understanding his phobias and hiding her own feelings. She would do anything for a second chance to prove her love for him, demons and all, but knows she is too late. Meanwhile he must decide whether to return or vanish; will he find faith in a love that he distrusts or will he flee from his demons? REKINDLED is a fabulous Americana second chance at love (if he takes it) romance. The inspirational story line grips readers from the moment we begin to understand what motivates the “battered” Larson to behave as he has. The support cast enhances the audience’s perceptions of the lead couple with several capable of starring in their own tale. Subtly interwoven into the plot is a deep message on what matters in your one time at life. Readers will look forward to more stirring Fountain Creek Chronicles.

Summer of the Midnight Sun
Tracie Peterson
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764227734, $12.99, 384 pp.

In 1915 in Last Chance Creek of the Alaska Territory, Leah Barringer anxiously waits for the return of her beloved brother, Jacob, who left two months ago by dogsled to get needed supplies from Nome. While waiting for Jacob’s expected arrival, Leah reflects back to when she lived with her guardians in Ketchikan and told her brother’s friend Jayce Kincaid that she loved him, but he not so delicately reminded her she was not even of legal majority age and he saw her as Jacob’s kid sister. Jacob returns accompanied by Jayce who has changed since his cold rebuff of Leah’s opening of her heart to him. He has found the Lord and plans to make up what he did to Leah who he realized after he rejected her that he wanted her. Leah fears being burned again by him. The two male friends discuss an Arctic expedition which frightens Leah who loves both of them. Pinkerton’s Helaina Beecham arrives from DC to bring Jayce to justice for killing two agents and robbing a bank. He insists he is innocent yet he hides the entire truth from his friends, the law and his beloved Leah. In spite of witnesses affirming his innocence, Leah wonders if his expedition is a farce to escape law enforcement from the Lower Forty-Eight. The first Alaskan Quest tale is a terrific historical thriller that provides an appreciative audience with a powerful look back to life in the Alaska Territory. Little things like the transportation to get there provide an incredible glimpse at the era. Mystery, romance and inspirational elements interweave within a vivid picturesque character driven early twentieth century tale that will have new readers seeking Tracie Peterson’s back list like the Heirs of Montana series.

Starfist: Flashfire
David Sherman & Dan Cragg
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345460545, $19.95

During a violent independence protest at the main gate of Fort Seymour army depot on the remote planet of Ravenette, civilians toss bricks at the soldiers hitting a Lieutenant; the untrained in civil disobedience contract workforce fires at the crowd killing several people. The local populace and that of nine nearby worlds blame the military for overuse of force. Thus what started as a nasty trade dispute has turned bloody. Those demanding independence from the Confederation rally everyone to their cause. Soon the combined strength of ten orbs assault Fort Seymour. The Confederation sends it battle hardened 34th Marine Fleet Initial Strike Team (FIST) to put down the insurgency on Ravenette, which the leadership assumes would end the revolt on all the planets. The marines lack critical Top Secret information that a well trained secessionist force is prepared for combat. Learning on the job the error of their ways, the FIST force adapts to fight a strong adversary while the real enemy, known to be waiting for the right moment by the pompous brass, the alien Skank prepares for its assault on the “winners”. Though the series is approximately a decade old and has had ten previous novels, this is a fresh exhilarating military science fiction that centers on conventional warfare. The story line is action-packed from the moment the brick hits the unsure Lieutenant Ios and never slows down as the troops on the ground realize how costly the secrets of their superiors are in lives. David Sherman and Dan Cragg provide a highly entertaining tale that carries a deep warning label about hiding needed information from the front lines fighting any war, past, present, or combat in a future outer space environs.

The Sword of Straw
Amanda Hemingway
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345460804, $12.95, 320 pp.

When Anne’s husband died, she followed him into a realm beyond ours and when she returned she was pregnant. When Nathan was born, she knew her husband didn’t impregnate her but a being from that other dimension did. At the age of fourteen Nathan has the ability when he is dreaming to transport himself into parallel universes and last year he brought the Grail back to his own realm and gave it for safe keeping to his honorary uncle Bartley a wizard who lived for many centuries. The Grail was forged on the planet Eos along with the Sword and the Crown a millennium by the Grandir. The objects were sent to various worlds so they would be out of harms way and will be used at the proper time to save Eos from destruction. Nathan now dreams of a medieval world where the realm is dying due to the illness of the king and the evacuation of the people who fear the hidden spirit sword. Princess Nell and Nathan meet and both care for each other but he has a job to do to save that world and once it is finished he no longer wants to dream himself to that place because he knows he belongs in his own world. Although the target audience for THE SWORD OF STRAW is teenagers, adult will find this enchanting fantasy very enjoyable. Nathan and his mother are matter of fact about his ability to transport himself physically to another world just as they accept magic exists. This coming of age tale focuses on many characters, all of whom seem very real and act according to their natures. There is much action in this character drawn tale and readers will be eager to read the first book in this fantastic trilogy.

His Majesty's Dragon
Naomi Novik
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345481283, $7.50, 384 pp.

British navy Captain Will Laurence of the HMS Reliant stands on the deck of the French vessel the Amitie in shock; he cannot understand why the veteran captain chose to fight when his crew was undermanned and ill and his ship likely to lose even if they were hale. He soon learns why the French chose to fight against overwhelming odds. On the Amitie is a Chinese dragon egg; everyone knows that China has the most powerful dragon fighters in the world. If the French got it they would have had an edge in the aerial war with England. Laurence takes the egg to his ship. When it hatches, he names the dragon Temeraire; quickly the human and the dragon bond. Laurence leaves the British Navy to join with Temeraire His Majesty's Aerial Corps. However, he and Temeraire must learn on the job aerial combat tactics for Napoleon has sent his powerful airborne fleet to begin the battle of Britain. The key to this delightful military fantasy is how cleverly Naomi Novik imbues dragon-combat into her vibrant depiction of the Napoleonic War between Britain and France. It is so well done readers will believe dragons and their masters fought actual aerial battles. Temeraire seems very genuine with a unique personality affirmed by the ability to communicate while Laurence is a bit more typical of the Regency period novels as a courageous champion. HIS MAJESTY’S DRAGON, the opening gamut in a Napoleonic Wars trilogy, is a fabulous combining of fantasy elements inside a strong historical tale.

Judas Unchained
Peter F. Hamilton
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345461665, $26.95, 848 pp.

Late in the twenty-fourth century, the maniacal barbaric Primes attack the human Commonwealth with an insane vigor in which death means nothing to the invaders. Rather quickly the Primes devastate thirteen of the over six hundred interconnected worlds in a blitzkrieg like nothing ever imagined. The Intersolar Commonwealth Senate debate the motive of their enemy while the Navy struggles with countering the precision assault as the Primes react as one entity. As the Commonwealth teeters, its espionage agents learn about a third party pulling the strings like a master puppeteer. Could the overzealous members of the barred Guardians of Selfhood cult be right that the Starflyer, which most thought was a myth, be behind the Primes’ lethal first contact and have infiltrated the key Confederation leadership organizations like the senate, Dynasties, and the Navy? As the Prime and the Commonwealth seek more powerful weapons that could commit genocide, the former have no compunctions in doing so while the latter argue the ethics of ethnic cleansing. The above is a tiny description of what is probably the most complex science fiction written in several years (except maybe the first novel - see PANDORA’S STAR). There are numerous subplots and perspective switches enabling the audience to better understand the crisis and how people act differently towards its resolution (not always in a moral manner as civilization crumbles under pandemic deaths). Ultimately the theme turns into an ethical debate over genocide sort of like Truman using the Bomb or explaining to American mothers why he had a weapon of mass destruction but allowed millions of their sons to die instead. Peter Hamilton is at his best with a delightfully deep, detailed epic space saga but the audience should obtain the first tale and set aside a couple of weeks to a month to read both as these are well worth your time.

The Island
Heather Graham
ISBN: 0778322831, $21.95

With members of the yacht club where she works, Beth Anderson looks forward to spending her vacation with her widower brother Ben, his fourteen years old daughter Amber and her best pal Kim Smith on tiny Calliope Key, two to three hours from Miami. That is she has R&R until the three females find a human skull, which Beth ponders if this is the remains of one of the missing expert sailors, retirees Ted and Molly Monaco. When stranger Keith Henson arrives, Beth hides the finding. Her niece gives the newcomer the ten second third degree that only a young teen (or Macaulay Culkin in Uncle Buck) could perform. When Beth returns for the hidden skull, she finds it missing; Ben insists it was a conch. However, Beth believes whoever took the skull remains nearby ready to kill two teens and two adult siblings if needed. Keith offers to help her, but though attracted to him she wonders if he is the one who uncovered and re-hid the skull, making him the killer, but the case will twist much more bizarrely than simply that. THE ISLAND is an exhilarating romantic suspense with the emphasis on red herrings, twists and turns (perhaps too many), and plenty of action as Beth tries to learn the truth about the vanishing skull which soon leads into “Sail into Terror”. Beth is courageous as she struggles with what she knows (very little), what she speculates (a lot more all lethal), what to do and who to trust. The story line works because the ensemble cast seems genuine, as differing motives surface. Adding to the thriller is an intriguing secondary romance between Ben and a suspect that can only turn out bad for someone. Heather Graham’s fans will enjoy sea cruising to THE ISLAND.

Criminal Intent
Laurie Breton
ISBN: 0778322807, $6.99

In Atchawalla, Mississippi, widow Robin Spinny finds documents her late spouse Deputy Sheriff Mac left behind that incriminates his boss Sheriff Luke Brogan of doing illegal activities. She took the evidence to Mac’s best friend Deputy Boyd Northrup, father of two with a third on the way, who officially commits suicide. Robin believes otherwise and feels that Luke and his brother murdered Boyd and her husband, who two years ago allegedly died in a car accident. With her daughter Sophie, Robin flees with intent to hide in plain sight elsewhere in the country. Robin changes her name to Annie Kendall and two years later with teenage Sophie she opens up the Twilight Motel & Video Store in Serenity, Maine. As acting police chief for two months, disgraced former DEA Agent Davy Hunter finds Annie quite attractive, but believes she is hiding something. At the same time Luke is closing in on the woman who could expose him. Only Davy and a deputy not happy with his appointment stand in their way, but Luke has killed two law enforcement officials and has no problem with adding one more to his list. CRIMINAL INTENT is an exhilarating suspense thriller with a romantic subplot that takes a back seat to the action. The story line centers on the woman (and her daughter) in peril from lethal law enforcement officials who want to insure her silence even two years after she vanished. The hired gun though he makes limited appearances is an intriguing character while the Brogan siblings don’t appear enough to make them as dangerous as they apparently are. Davy sees the Kendall females as his redemption, but has doubts he can do the job. Fans will enjoy this solid romantic suspense thriller with the emphasis on the paths leading to a High Noon confrontation.

A Gentleman by Any Other Name
Kasey Michaels
ISBN: 0373771002, $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1811 England, widower Chance Beckett hires Julia Carruthers as a nanny to his five years old daughter Alice though she no experience; he simply liked her spunk championing his child. A couple of days later they travel to Romney Marsh, the home of his adopted father, where he plans to leave Julia and Alice while he went back to work for the War Office. However, his superior wants him to rusticate and uncover who is leading major smuggling operations in the area that abet the French. Ainsley is elated to see his oldest son Chance, who has not visited in several years as they are estranged. He and his other adopted children and the only one of his seed assume that Julia is Chance’s lover. As Julia adjusts to the strange household, she and her employer fall in love. However, Chance refuses to take a chance on this flimsy emotion while seeking to capture the head smuggler. The zany Beckett extended family turn A GENTLEMAN BY ANY OTHER NAME into a delightful Regency romance. The War Office smuggling subplot comes late into the tale as readers meet the enchanting and often amusing cast, wonderful Ainsley and his seven orphans, some of his sailing cronies, Chance’s daughter and Julia. The story line is fast-paced as matchmakers galore interfere with the relationship between the wharf rat and the lady. Kasey Michaels is at her historical make that hysterical best with this fine you can go home if the heart is in it romance.

The Piano Man
Marcia Preston
ISBN: 0778322262, $21.95

Divorced Claire O’Neal's world ended with the death of her beloved son, a Texas A&M student, Nathan in a tragic car accident. She simply wants to die as life is unbearable. Her only pleasure rests in her memories of Nathan that seems real to her as she begins to hide even deeper from a reality that harbors no joy except in the past. Claire comes across a thank-you note sent to her from the wife of the man who received Nathan's heart. She obsesses over seeing how the transplant recipient Mason is doing so begins a quest to meet him. When she finds him she becomes upset as he seems to be wasting his second chance at life, a dishonor to the memory of her Nathan. For the first that since the tragedy that left her feeling like the living dead, Claire has a reason to live. She feels her mission is to help Mason to turn around his waste of a second chance. Though a romance blossoms between them as he too is a divorcee, Claire hesitates feeling their relationship is somewhat incestuous as he contains the last beating piece of her son. This deep character study is definitely not for everyone as Claire and Mason are disheartening protagonists. The story line initially reflects Claire’s dismal personality since the death of Nathan as she is depressed all the time and rambles incoherently through life until she decides to straighten out an equally despondent Mason. Though difficult to follow and clearly gloomy, THE PIANO MAN is a deep look at people struggling to cope with major traumatic setbacks.

Black Silk
Metsy Hingle
ISBN: 0778322815, $6.99, 384 pp.

New Orleans Detective Charlotte “Charlie” LeBlanc joined the force a little over five years ago when an unknown assailant got away with murdering her sister Emily. The killer remains at lodge with no clues forthcoming. Her partner Vince Kossik calls Charlie while she leaves yellow M&Ms at Emily gravesite as she always has on her late sister’s birthday. A homicide similar to the strangulation death of Emily has occurred. The victim Francesca Hill was to marry wealthy realtor J.P. Stratton. The crime scene points to someone who knew the victim committed a planned non-passionate murder. The two detectives soon look at who in the wedding party had a motivation to kill Francesca. The evidence points towards two of Stratton’s adult children, Cole and Holly, as each had a public dispute with the deceased. Complicating the case, Charlie is attracted by the prime suspect Cole, who also might have killed her sister. BLACK SILK is an intriguing police procedural romance with the added spin of having the lead detective and the prime suspect falling in love. The story line is action-packed, but in many ways driven by the demons that haunt Charlie who chides herself for not protecting her sibling and for failing to uncover the identity of her killer. A secondary romantic subplot augments this exhilarating romantic suspense in which fans will wonder if Cole is a killer, a lover, or both.

Body Work
Fiona Brand
ISBN: 0778322890, $6.99, 384 pp.

Twenty-five years ago in Atlanta someone rapes and murders young women leaving gypsum on their body and taking their hair. Soon the case turns national as similar homicides surface in Florida, New York, and the West Coast some ten years old. The Feds conclude that the gypsum is used to make memento masks of the victims. Law enforcement official Stephen Dexter believes his older half-brother Etienne is the killer as he fits the FBI profile perfectly though he would not be shocked if his sibling’s twin Charles is in cahoots; he hates both of his half-brothers who treated him like a “worm”. In the present Jane Gale cannot remember anything from when she was seven years old and a serial killer murdered her mother. Now an adult, she has written a best selling novel that stuns the still free mask killer as he realizes that her muse is her eyewitness memory of him. He decides he must kill the author just in case she regains more of that nightmarish memory she lost. This tale occurs during three different time periods, opening up forty-five years ago when the Dexters were preadolescents being abused by Stephen’s biological mother; switching to a serial killer twenty-five year ago; and finally the present with Jane’s novel. The story line is gripping in all three eras, but though the opening scenario sets behavioral patterns for the future, they feel like three different tales. Still this is a deep look at the child becomes the adult as the three Dexters and Jane each had youthful traumas that haunt them as adults. Fiona Brand provides a solid character driven serial killer thriller.

Two Women of Galilee
Mary Rourke
ISBN: 0778323749, $21.95, 256 pp.

Since her twelfth birthday when she caught a chill rushing into the cold water to greet her father returning home, consumption has wracked Joanna. She knows though she wishes otherwise that she cannot keep apace with her husband Chuza, Chief Steward to The Tetrarch of Galilee Herod Antipas. She would spend many months resting in their luxurious home in Sepphoris while Chuza worked in Tiberius serving the monarch. A new hope for a cure that her father and her spouse were unable to buy with their wealth springs up when she learns of the miracle healing of a local Jew, her second cousin Jesus of Nazareth. She has seen him once from a distance as his family cut off Joanna’s family for turning their back on Jewish law and embracing the Roman system. Seeking a miracle Joanna decides to ask her estrange Cousin Mary to intercede on her behalf with her son. The two cousins turn into close friends and Joanna becomes a follower of Jesus. When Herod and the Roman Governor Pilate decide to end the growing legend of a Messiah, Joanna is at odds with her husband and his boss. This is an intriguing look at first century Judea during the time that the government (Roman and Jewish) was becoming increasingly alarmed with the spreading reputation of Jesus. The story line is told from the perspective of Joanna, who is an actual person “footnoted” in the New Testament. Through her eyes, her growing soul searching awareness, and her friendship with Mary, readers obtain a strong glimpse at the most famous mother of them all. Mary Rourke provides an intriguing work of biblical fiction that fans of Anita Diamant will want to read.

The Dead Yard
Adrian McKinty
ISBN: 0743266439, $24.00, 306 pp.

Leaving Chicago on vacation Michael Forsythe, using the name Brian O’Nolan as he is in the federal witness protection program, goes to Spain’s Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands. He selected the spot because his choices are limited with the head of the NY mob wanting him dead and the FBI insuring he does not visit the Caribbean. Though Michael afterward realizes he should have known better, he attends a football (soccer) match between Dublin’s Shamrock Rovers and London’s Milwall in front of five hundred British hooligans and fifty Irish fans. A riot breaks out, and Michael is back in jail reading once again How Stella Got Her Groove. Two Brits, Jeremy Barnes and Samantha Caudwell visit Brian to inform him he will be convicted as Blair supports the Spanish government no nonsense policy. Jeremy offers him a choice between five years in a Seville maximum security prison or work with them undercover. Michael tells “Sammy” to send her boy toy packing so they can discuss what British Intel wants. She explains that she runs the Special Ulster Unit that works cases of potential Irish terrorism outside the United Kingdom; she needs him undercover obtaining information on a dangerous faction, the Sons of Cuchulainn, planning something in America. THE DEAD YARD, the sequel to the magnificent DEAD I WELL MAY BE is a terrific tale starring an “operative” who always is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Michael remains his rascally self though he is softened a bit when he meets Kit, the daughter of the Cuchulainn leader he must bring down. Fans of tense thrillers similar to the Bourne tales will want to read about Michael’s latest woes (above description is only the first chapter).

Stephen King
ISBN: 0743292332, $26.95

Civilization as we know it ended when the pulse came through everyone’s cell phone. Any one on the line at that critical moment has turned into “phoners”, zombie killers; those fortunate to not have been on the line remained "normies." Kent Pond, Maine illustrator Clayton Riddell is in Boston agreeing to a comic book deal when the pulse strikes. Having not done the knee jerk reaction of most people to reach for his cell phone, Clay is stunned by what has happened in Boston. He fears for his estranged wife Sharon, and their young son John with his red cell phone back in Maine. Clay is fixated on returning home to keep them safe that is if they did not reach for the phone. He meets Tom McCourt in town and soon afterward Alice Maxwell; the three hope to escape Beantown though chances look bleak. CELL is why this author is the king of suspense as readers will enjoy this somewhat bloodthirsty “buddy” trek through New England, mostly the Boston area, hell on earth. Clay and his companions are fabulous as they initially are shocked with what is going on as some phoners commit suicide while others viciously attack and the normies cops shoot to kill. Soon Clay and company become immunized to death as they wan t to live. Stephen King provides a wonderful technological end of the world thriller.

A Day in Mossy Creek
Assorted Southern authors
Belle Books
PO Box 67, Smyrna, Ga. 30081
ISBN: 0976876043, $14.95, 325 pp.

Not long into the new year, most vows already a thing of the past as “A New Year’s Resolution is meant to be broken” even by the residents of Mossy Creek. As the temperatures plummet to freezing, the gossip turns juicier enabling Mossy Creek Gazette correspondent Katie Bell to send some interesting news to Lady Victoria Salter Stanhope in the United Kingdom. Mid thirties Police Chief Amos Royden wants his non-relationship with fiftyish Mayor Ida Hamilton Walker to turn real and open as he has desired the older woman since he was a teen and she a widow; The Sitting Tree witnessed their only kiss twenty years ago until recently when Amos "punked" her with his threat to court her. Colonel Del Jackson is her age and has the talent to magically remove her garb, so why, she ponders, does Amos excite her. Local handyman Melvin teaches nonagenarian Miss Irene how to drive an electric scooter. Now she is the most dangerous person on the roads finally forcing Amos to stop her for vehicle endangerment; he impounds her scooter. He learns not to mess with a steel magnolia diva as protests of irate senior citizens from the assisted living home erupt. While a battle royal between the Quinlan sisters occur, Patty Campbell brawls with Orville Gene Simpson when she redid his front yard without his permission. Alas things are normal in wintry Mossy Creek except that Amos and Ida have been outed. The fifth Mossy Creek tale is a terrific Southern rural hometown story that provides the goings-on in the wintry village. As always the anecdotal stories are warm though the weather outside is frosty, and filled with wit though the participants might do something crazy. Readers will treasure the latest antics of the Belles and Beaus of Mossy Creek.

The Vampire’s Seduction
Raven Hart
ISBN: 0345479750, $6.99, 416 pp.

He is a vampire over five hundred years old, lives in Savannah, and has all the wealth, power and women he wants. Life is good for William and Jack a vampire William created. Jack is one of the few beings he cares about partly because he made him and partly of his winning personality. They live together though Jack doesn’t know much about being a vampire, his loyalty to William is unique and will be needed in the days ahead because William’s sire, the truly evil Readrek who killed is wife and son, is coming for him. William has been smuggling the young vampires who want to leave their masters out of Europe and Readrek has picked up his trail. William’s sire is stronger and more powerful than his fledgling but the younger has other weapons, including the use of voodoo that makes it questionable what will happen when the final confrontation takes place. Readrek has his hooks in Jack by promising him the power that William denied him; it remains to be seen who Jack ultimately gives his loyalty to cause it might make a difference on the outcome. Raven Hart humanizes William and Jack so that readers can empathize with them and their problems. Although William has a healthy sex life and lovers he cares about, his heart is buried with his wife and son killed by his enemy. The vampires in this book seem so very real, (including the villain) that readers will start to wonder if they actively exist. William and Jack have heart if not souls and they care about people both vampires and humans making them easy to like. THE VAMPIRE’S SEDUCTION is an exotic exciting thriller.

Dark Assassin
Anne Perry
ISBN: 0345469291, $25.95, 320 pp.

In 1864 recently promoted to Superintendent of the Thames River Police William Monk, accompanied by three direct report cops, is “Rowing random” on a patrol boat when he observes the young couple on Waterloo Bridge. She places her hands on his shoulders while he grabs her and both tumble into the river. Appalled and feeling helpless especially after finding the two corpses, William wonders whether this was a double suicide, a murder-suicide, or a freak accident. The male was Toby Argyle and the woman Mary Havilland. Monk and Sergeant Orme inform the next of kin, whose reactions vary. From there he begins to dig into the backgrounds of the two victims even as he hates being in charge of the Thames River Police. His wife, Hester, provides his first break when she informs him that the families have feuded for about a year ever since the rushed construction of a sewer complex to prevent another typhoid epidemic. As Monk switches his line of inquiries based on that information, he soon finds himself embroiled in a sewage building scandal that makes last year’s “Great Stink” smell like fresh roses. Monk is at his best in his fifteenth appearance as he struggles to adjust to a job he does not want, but feels obligated to accept. The case is fascinating especially the twists and turns as Monk with Hester and Orme at first as his only allies until he begins to persuade his team he can handle the job. The use of cockney adds to the realism of a wonderful atmospheric historical police procedural.

All This Belongs to Me
Ad Hudler
ISBN: 0345481070, $13.95

Leaving Colorado for Kansas, Geena Pangborn is already in shock from the accidental death of her son Nathan, but is not allowed to mourn her loss or obtain solace. The wealthy upper class family of her husband Barry blames her for the tragedy; Barry sides with his parents holding his wife culpable. Unable to cope with the combination of grief and accusatory scorn punctuated by her need to wear Nathan’s sweater, Geena flees Kansas, but not to return home. She heads further east until near broke, she accidentally obtains a credit card belonging to Ellis Norton of Fort Myers, Florida. Though feeling guilty for not turning it in, Geena uses the card to continue her journey with her new destination to meet Ellis and recuperate in SOUTHERN LIVING. Geena is shocked to find Ellis is an octogenarian bachelor who works as a docent at the Edison House Museum where he learns management changes may force him out of the only thing that keeps him alive. Geena persuades Ellis that she is a reporter doing a feature on Fort Myers and soon the two become close friends, but she knows she owes the elderly man the truth, but fears another rejection from a man who has become a warm caring but crusty grandfather to her. This deep character study enables readers to see how a grieving woman cut off by her loved one needs time to heal, but in this case has to do it on the road. The relationship between Geena and Ellis is delightfully developed and portrayed as believable as each finds solace in the other. Though the ending seems schmaltzy, fans of a strong drama will appreciate Ad Hudler’s fine look at grief.

Madame Mirabou’s School of Love
Barbara Samuel
ISBN: 0345469143, $13.95, 433 pp.

It came as a complete shock to Nikki Carrington when her husband of almost two decades left her for a younger woman of his own race. Their daughter Giselle moves to California with her dad and his new wife because the schools are better there for someone wanting to become a doctor than in Manitou, Colorado. Nikki lets her ex Daniel convince her that it would be better for her to be part of an African-American family. Nikki’s house, which she received as part of the divorce settlement, caught fire when the furnace blew up so she takes an apartment in a complex with many residents divorced or separated. Roxanne stalks her ex-husband who she still loves and his second wife while also having indiscriminate one night stands. Wanda anxiously waits for her spouse to come home from his tour of duty in Iraq. Nikki obtains work as a waitress while hoping to open up a perfume shop selling her own creations. There is a man who wants to forge a future with Nikki, but she cannot commit as she still needs to make peace with her past especially in light of observing her neighbors. Hearts will go out to bewildered heroine lost in a world she no longer understands as all the rules of relationships have changed. She struggles to adapt to being single which is made more difficult by the insurance company taking its time on her claim. She knows her prime priority is to discover just who she is since she can no longer hide behind the comfort cloaks of wife and mother. This is a great character study with a sizzling romantic subplot augmenting the deep look at a stunned woman trying to find herself.

The Ghost Orchid
Carol Goodman
ISBN: 0345462130, $24.95

Ellis Brooks has been invited to stay at the Upstate New York Bosco Estate to research her first novel, a fictional account of what happened at the Victorian mansion in 1893. Aurora Latham, wife of wealthy timber merchant Milo, hired medium Corinth Blackwell to contact the spirits of her three dead children, who all died from a diphtheria epidemic. Instead, someone, probably the psychic abducts the Latham’s only living child Alice. Ellis meets the other guests who are mostly writers of sorts with at least two working on somewhat similar projects involving the Bosco Mansion. As Ellis conducts on-site research her psychic roots as the daughter of a mystic begins to unravel what really happened in 1893 one paranormal escapade at a time. Though perhaps there are too many mystical twists, fans will enjoy this fun gothic like mystery. The rotation between past and present is done smoothly with Ellis as the prime source between alternating eras. The cast in 1893 and today are fully developed to include a potentially haunted mansion and sinister gardens. Readers will take immense delight wondering until the climax as Ellis guides the audience through the estate whether this is a ghost story or not; that is what makes Carol Goodman’s thriller worth reading.

Silver Rose
Susan Carroll
ISBN: 0345482514, $13.95

Ten years ago, Simon Arisitide the witch hunter thought he did the right thing when he brought justice to Faire Isle, but now has doubts as the evil Silver Rose and her minion use infant sacrifice to conjure spells. He is tired and needs help to stop the unknown Silver Rose; his last hope lies in Faire Isle, which he destroyed a decade ago by betraying his beloved Miri Cheney. Still she can lead him to her sister Ariane who he by his actions sent into hidden exile (see THE DARK QUEEN), but needs the Lady of Faire Isle even if she and her two sisters are witches. Miri wants nothing to do with Simon, who understands her loathing of him just by looking around the once thriving Faire Isle that he devastated. Still with the France's "Dark Queen" Catherine de Medici demanding she and or her siblings help stop The Silver Rose before further demonic practices occur, Miri reluctantly agrees to assist Simon on a quest between the good wise women and the malevolent devil worshipper. The final tale in the Faire Isle trilogy (see THE DARK QUEEN and THE COURTESAN) is a fine romantic historical fantasy starring two individuals in love with a past that makes teaming even against a malicious common foe difficult. The relationship between Miri and Simon supersedes the action as each tries to do the right thing for the good of people yet the events of a decade ago that led to the destruction of her home hangs heavily between them; especially in light of his losing his target, the lethal sinister Book of Shadows. Susan Carroll’s fans will appreciate this fine climax to an enchanting series.

The Tell-Tale Corpse
Harold Schechter
ISBN: 0345448421, $24.95, 336 pp.

Edgar Allan Poe is despondent because his wife, who is also his cousin, is very ill and in danger of dying. Poe’s friend PT Barnum recommends he take her to see Dr. Farragat in Concord, Massachusetts. The physician uses homeopathic remedies concentrating on botanicals that provide amazing results. Barnum offers to fund the trip from New York if Poe will stop in Boston to pick up items from a killer who hung himself. Poe agrees and with his spouse Sissy stay at the home of the sister-in-law of a friend of Barnum, Mrs. Randall. While there Poe helps prove to the police that Elise Belton, whom he met at a show given by dentist Dr. Marston, was murdered instead of accidental drowned. In Concord, Dr. Farragut accepts Sissy as a patient, but his medicines are stolen by he believes his enemy Dr. Cassidy, who calls him a quack. Poe returns to Boston where he becomes embroiled in a series of murders that include the deaths of the dentist Dr. Marston, as well as Mrs. Randall, her maid, Ms Belton and daguerreotypist Herbert Ballinger. Poe assumes a serial killer is at work, but to prove it before returning to Concord is impossible. Harold Schechter portrays Poe as a person who believes in his own genius as he has a high opinion of himself. His love for his wife which means risking his life for her keeps Poe from being totally insufferable. There is some graphic violence in some scenes as Poe’s tales are not for the faint of heart. The complexity of the murders and Poe’s subsequent investigation make THE TELL-TALE CORPSE an entertaining historical who-done-it.

Small Town Girl
Patricia Rice
ISBN: 0345482603, $6.99

His divorce did not shake musician Flynn "Flint" Clinton, but the subsequent death of his ex Melinda and his drunken accident have left their two pre-adolescent boys, John and Adam, shocked and grieving. Flint decides to leave Nashville behind though still a star and he hopes to connect with his sons that he always has loved, but never showed them his feelings; the kids prefer living with their yuppie grandparents in Northfork, North Carolina. Still he returns to the hometown to start anew life as owner of the Stardust Cafe that he recently purchased. He also needs to know who his former partner and ex best friend RJ stole the lyrics of a hit from. Within five minutes of his vow to stay away from women, he cannot stop looking at Joella Sanderson, who works at the Stardust. She sings amusing tunes to their customers, but rejects Flint’s advances as she has not forgotten being ripped off by her former boyfriend Randy before he left town to play Nashville. Still Flint’s kindness and nurturing of his kids soften him to her and she gives him back the music that he no longer felt was good for him or the boys. However, the ghost of their “ex” remains between them. SMALL TOWN GIRL is a fine contemporary romance starring a person seeking a second chance to correct his life errors, but needing to escape the spotlights to do so and a woman burned once before by a musician boyfriend. The ensemble cast enhances the tale as they force the lead couple, especially Flint, into reacting to events. Fans will enjoy this solid Carolina tale in which a spoonful magic of love is in the music.

Death du Jour
Lou Jane Temple
ISBN: 0425208060, $22.95, 264 pp.

It is not easy living in Paris in the summer of 1790. The Bastille has been torn down over a year ago, the king and queen were forced to move from Versailles to Paris and the revolutionaries are whipping up the general populace to a patriotic fury. Fanny Delarue lives as an assistant chef to Monsieur Monnard, a wealth bourgeois who works with merchants and nobles in designing and building their homes. The chef to the Monnard family is Henri, Fanny’s lover. Her parents give her a spice box as a present and she loves it because of its usefulness and because it was presented with love. Fanny is perturbed that she sees the same man nearby over a short period of time. She is disconcerted when he speaks to her, calling out to her by name as if he knows her. Violence comes to the housing complex where Fanny lives, when Chef Etienne who used to work at Versailles is murdered. Shortly thereafter, a mob tries to get into Fanny’s home and the master of the house flees for England before the violence escalates. M. Desjadins, the English equivalent of a butler is murdered and Henri persuades Fanny to bury him without telling anyone. When Henri disappears, she is kidnapped and told his life is in her hands. She wonders if the contents of the spice box is linked to the violence and murders, and plans to find out. France on the eve of the Revolution is vividly portrayed in this exciting historical mystery. The violence is just beginning and readers learn first hand how the citizenry cope in such a volatile political climate. Although not yet out of her teens the heroine is a mature woman who knows what she wants and goes after it. Lou Jane Temple has written a mystery that takes several unexpected twists that leaves reader shocked. This is a most enjoyable who-done-it and why.

Dead Heat
Jacey Ford
ISBN: 0425204618, $7.99

Of the three former FBI Agents who formed Partners in Crime, Daphne Donovan is the most reluctant as she holds herself culpable for what happened in New York on 9/11. Still urged by her partners Rainey Roby (see DANGEROUS CURVES) and Aimee Devlin (see I SPY) and her “brother” Brooks Madison she reluctantly takes on investigation jobs. Her current assignment is to investigate Nicole Solem, the fiancee of Naples, Florida banker Keith Melman who was burned once by a cheating spouse. However, Daphne is not the only one observing Nicole. Former chemist Jenna Marisol blames Nicole’s father for the deaths of her spouse, two children, and her mother though she dispatched the latter. When Nathan was CEO of Geon, he persuaded his employers including Jenna’s husband to invest while he divested himself of his holdings; when the stock collapsed, Jenna’s world went with it. Now she plans to use her new cigarette smoking pal Nicole as the means to enact revenge. Only Daphne and her partner Sam Bryson stand in the way of Jenna’s success that will leave many CEOs and Nicole dead. Readers will commiserate with the heroine’s struggle to move on with her life as she blames herself for 9/11 and wonder if she will be able to stop a mass murder from occurring even with Sam encouraging her through his love for her . At the same time, Jenna has found death as the only means to move on with her life. Thus fans receive a deep psychological suspense thriller starring two women, hosting demons from their respective pasts, seeking personal “redemption”; one as a killer, the other as a protector. Jacey Ford is at her best with this action-packed thriller that countdowns to a final confrontation.

Master of Wolves
Angela Knight
ISBN: 0425203573, $7.99

Tony Shay and Jim London were both seventeen when they did their first shapeshifting “Change” together along with their third pal Steve Carson, who died during the Transformation. Now several years later, bail enforcement agent Tony is dead; Jim feels the Clarkston PD is involved as he smells rotten death magic on the corpse of his pal and a similar odor from Police Chief George Ayers. Vowing to Tony’s mother Mary to uncover the truth, Jim knows that the department needs a new K-9 dog ever since the last one vanished. Taking a page from the book of undercover investigation “written” by his reporter sister Diana (see MASTER OF THE MOON), Jim changes into a German Shepard so that he can listen to the cops talk. Officer Faith Weston is assigned as his handler. As Jim hides who he is and his desire for Faith, she quickly realizes that her K-9 is no ordinary dog. They team up to try to root out the corruption in the department, to learn who magically murdered Tony and to return Tony’s purloined heart to his mother. That is if they live long enough to do so. In many ways MASTER OF WOLVES is the male equivalent of the delightful MASTER OF THE MOON with its shapeshifting undercover story line. However, the paranormal police procedural romance provides a fresh take on working as a K-9 inside a corrupt police department where everyone except Jim’s beloved handler smells dirty, but he fears that his heart hides the rot of his soulmate. Fans will enjoy the latest fabulous thriller from Angela Knight, grandmaster of the paranormal romantic suspense.

Full Moon
Rebecca York
ISBN: 0425207765, $14.00

“Edge of the Moon”. Montgomery County, Maryland detective Jack Thornton works three missing people case where he believes homicides have occurred. Graphic designer Kathryn Reynolds calls the police because her tenant Heather DeYoung has not returned home in a few days. When Jack and Kathryn see each other for the first time, neither can breathe. Meanwhile Simon Gwynn uses many aliases and houses to incarcerate his prisoners until he is ready to sacrifice them in an ancient ritual that will soon enable him to control the energy essence Ayindral. He believes Kathryn is the key offering. Readers will enjoy this paranormal romantic suspense that deftly combines fantasy with a police procedural wrapped inside a romance. “Killing Moon”. Private Investigator Ross Maxwell seeks evidence against human predator serial killer Donald Arnott. Ross shifts shape into a wolf and passes through a perimeter breach he created on Donald’s property. However, Donald sees and shoots Ross, who escapes. The next day genetic research scientist Megan Sheridan of Bio Gen Labs visits her client Ross at his home to do a work up on him. She finds him feverish from his wound so she cleans the wound, provides the antibiotic that he happens to need, and puts on fresh bandages. As he heals Ross worries because he knows Arnott stalks him, the Montgomery County, Maryland police suspect him in a murder investigation, and the CEO of Megan’s company is acting strange. Still, Ross is angriest with Megan for not fleeing from him because wolves mate for life. Using the premise that lycanthropy is a genetic disorder, KILLING MOON is a delightful supernatural private investigator romance starring two charming lead characters. These are two delightful paranormal romantic mysteries.

Criminal Investigation Detachment
Don Bendell
ISBN: 0425207382, $6.99

At Fort Benning, Criminal Investigation Detachment Major Bobby Samuels successfully completes a disgusting case involving a commanding officer abusing his position of authority to almost rape a direct-reports enlisted soldier. After reading the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) rights to Colonel Rodriguez, Smith leaves Fort Benning to return to his duty station the Pentagon. Bobby thinks his late wife would have supported his return to active military after 9/11 as a CID cop, having been an LAPD civilian homicide detective, and not a Special Forces soldier as he was during his first tour. Commanding General of the US Forces in Iraq Jonathan Perry briefs Samuels on his next Top Secret assignment. Samuels is to go undercover as an enlisted man to investigate several bombs that killed Americans in the Baghdad Green Zone and other locations in Iraq. Working undercover he must identity the Saboteur who probably is an Al-Qaeda operative working inside. CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION DETACHMENT is a terrific look at the work of the CID, insight into the UCMJ, and from a military perspective the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) especially in Iraq. Though prejudiced on the side that the war in Iraq is just and part of the GWOT (reminiscent of Sergeant Barry Sadler’s Ballad Of the Green Berets), the story line is action-packed as Major Samuels tries to uncover who the saboteur is. The hero is a fabulous ethical patriot trying to do the right honorable thing for his country and for the military. Readers whether they agree with Don Bendell’s position on Iraq or not will agree that he has written a delightful military police procedural that provides insight into those who really have sacrificed plenty during the GWOT.

Lord Perfect
Loretta Chase
ISBN: 0425208885, $7.99, 304 pp.

Widower Viscount Benedict “Lord Perfect” Carsington escorts his thirteen year old nephew Peregrine to Lord Belzoni’s tomb of antiquity where the young lord is drawing the displays. Twelve year old Olivia Wingate tells Peregrine his work stinks and that she will be a knight one day soon; he tells her girls cannot be knights so she dislodges him from his seat. Her mom, widow Bathsheba Wingate and Benedict calm things down. Peregrine’s grandfather Lord Hargate informs the lad he needs a drawing master. Peregrine mentions that Mrs. Wingate is one; Hargate says she is a scandalous woman who destroyed her late husband, but her work is brilliant; he hires her. Olivia sends secret notes to Peregrine informing him that she will look for her ancestor’s hidden treasure so that her mom can be treated like the lady she is. Peregrine secretly meets Olivia at the British Museum where she informs him she is going on her treasure hunt. He fears for her safety so he leaves with her. Benedict realizes he is missing, finds their letters, and concludes that Peregrine has run off with Olivia. He informs Bathsheba and they agree to catch the two youngsters before they get into trouble or cause a scandal. As the adults follow, they fall in love. However, the Ton thinks she is a slut so a relationship is impossible between LORD PERFECT and MISS WONDERFUL. LORD PERFECT stars a fine lead couple whose relationship beyond attraction slowly grows once the chase begins. The solid support cast especially her sly daughter and his intelligent caring nephew add depth to the delightful on the road story line. Loretta Chase provides a fabulous character rich Regency romance that sub-genre fans will appreciate.

Penalty Box
Deidre Martin
ISBN: 0425208907, $6.99, 352 pp.

Psychology Professor Katie Fisher is on a leave of absence from Vermont’s Fallenfield College working on a book on professional team sports. She is staying at her mom’s home in Didsbury, Connecticut a town she hates ever since she was an obese brainy outcast in high school. Also at mom’s place is Katie’s nephew nine years old Tuck whose mother is in rehab. At her tenth anniversary high school reunion Katie, explains her study to former NHL legend Paul van Dorn; he agrees to be interviewed. The interview goes well until she mentions his forced retirement due to injury. He ends the interview. Paul coaches the Squirt Squad; Tuck is on the team. He takes Katie on a picnic. A few days later after dinner, they make love, but Katie demands their relationship be kept secret so as to not harm Tuck. When his team loses, Paul works the team too hard. Katie tells him to ease up on them. Not long afterward Paul insists he loves her, but ends their relationship because she is a snob. One of them will have to skate towards the goal if they are to score the hat trick of love, marriage and family. Deirdre Martin’s latest hockey romance stars delightful lead protagonists especially Katie, who “smoothly handles her dieting and a strong support cast. The story line scores because of the youth hockey subplot that bring out the differing attitudes between Katie and Paul while spotlighting the little leagues. Though a spoiled selfish villainess acts like she is still in high school and when marginally “hip checked” not even into the boards vanishes, fans will enjoy this fine sports romance.

The Warrior
Heather Grotaus
ISBN: 0821780069, $3.99

In 1075 Lord Tristan D’Arhgent accompanied by his best friend dark Pharao Tak’Ahn arrive at Greanly Manor to claim ownership. He notices few people are here, but meets Sheriff Barrett who explains they are at Seacrest owned by the odious Lord Nigel. William has paid Nigel to care for the peasants until Tristan can take possession and wed Bertie, the daughter of the previous lord. At Seacrest Tristan sees Bertie’s half-sister Haith and recognizes her from his dreams but is upset that she is apparently engaged to an odious commoner even as Pharao and Bertie keep staring at one another. After dinner, Tristan warns Nigel he better not cause trouble. Tristan leads his villagers home. At Greanly, Tristan kisses Haith and tells her he will ask William to stop his marriage to Bertie, but Haith says she cannot do this to her beloved sibling. Meanwhile Bertie invites Pharao into her room. The next day Haith visits Bertie and sees the blood stained sheet. She assumes that Tristan had sex with Bertie and is angry with him. She knows he is her soulmate that she has dreamed of for years, but he belongs to Bertie. Haith plans to help stop Nigel, but then leave for the home of her maternal relatives. The strong lead couple and excellent secondary cast especially the heroine’s aunt who is a witch, his “dark” friend, and her half-sister, make for a delightful Conqueror romance with a touch of the paranormal. The story line is character driven as Tristan and Haith take turns mistrusting one other, but team up to prevent Nigel from causing any further harm. Though Bertie’s mom gets off too easily from her actions, historical romance fans will enjoy this stirring eleventh century tale.

Pleasuring the Prince
Patricia Grasso
ISBN: 0821777114, $5.99

In 1821 Fancy Flambeau debuts at London’s Royal Opera House when Prince Stepan Kasanov asks to see her afterward. She wants to decline because she hates the aristocracy having been deserted by her upper crust sire, but they meet anyway. He also meets her six younger sisters and escorts them home as it is dangerous with the Rose Petal killer preying on performers for women to walk unescorted. Stepan begins seeing Fancy while also being kind to her sisters. At a ball hosted by Stepan’s relatives the Duke and Duchess of Inverary, Fancy sings, but is nasty to the Duke who is her father. She tells him she waited by the window anytime it rained for years hoping he would visit, but he never did. He regrets his actions and invites her and his other daughters to live safely with him. Fancy agrees to allow her siblings to stay with the duke, but not her. As Stepan and Fancy fall in love, he worries that the Rose Petal killer targets her so he risks all to keep his beloved safe, but the serial killer proves quite clever. Readers will enjoy the strong likable lead characters and find fascinating the unique paranormal skills of each of the Flambeau sisters though Fancy’s constant shrill about the aristocracy can become tiresome. The Rose Petal serial killer provides an interesting subplot that will have the audience wondering who e is. Fans of Regency paranormal romantic suspense will gain immense pleasure from Patricia Grasso’s fine work and look forward to future tale starring the siblings.

Keep Me Forever
Rosemary Laurey
ISBN: 0821779281, $6.99, 352 pp.

Vampire Antonia Stonewright, who was turned in the fifth century, and ghoul Elizabeth Connor plan to open up a top quality crafts store and art gallery in a small Surrey town in England. On business, Antonia visits the hermit-like Potter Michael Langton at his home, but quickly realizes he is not mortal. They fall into each other’s arms confiding their true natures and accepting the other for what they are. Vampire Stella Corvus and her mortal son Sam are coming to visit Antonia and Elizabeth when their vehicle is carjacked with the lad inside. Using her vampiric powers, Stella shoves the man out of her car and drives away. When they reach their hotel, Stella finds a bag of probably stolen jewels in their auto. Stella stealthily gives it to the police with no link back to her or Sam. Still someone tries to break into Stella’s car, but Elizabeth chases him off. As Stella helps her friends with preparing for their grand opening, a corpse is found at the construction site. While Stella’s spouse and Elizabeth’s fiance believe their venture is jinxed and wants them home before someone they love is hurt, the three females continue to work even though danger lurks nearby. KEEP ME FOREVER is another great romantic supernatural suspense in the “Forever” series. There is plenty of action with enough romance to satisfy readers of both genres. Characters from previous novels play pivotal roles, which leads to a strong sense of continuity as the key cast remain true to their inner essences. Rosemary Laurey affirms that she is one of the best at writing modern day vampiric romantic thrillers.

To Tease a Texan
Georgina Gentry
ISBN: 0821777068, $6.99, 352 pp.

In 1890 in Buck Shot, Oklahoma Territory Lark Van Schuyler is used to caring for herself ever since she ran away from home in search of her twin Lacey. However, the niece of a wealthy rancher, she normally avoids getting involved with other people’s foolishness, but feels sorry for the drunken cowhand being cheated at cards by Snake in the Last Chance Saloon. She intercedes, but loses her job. Snake persuades Laredo Hudson to case out the bank. The next he knows he is involved in a hold-up, but he and Snake separate and he escapes thanks to Lark. He reaches the rendezvous point, but only Snake’s girl is there. He leaves the part of the loot he took from the bank with the girl and leaves for Texas with Lark, unaware that Snake is coming after him for he thinks Laredo has his half the loot with him. TO TEASE A TEXAN is a lighthearted western romance starring a delightful courageous heroine and a seemingly pathetic cowboy who makes Pauline seem perilous. The action-packed story line is fun to follow as Laredo seems to land in one problem situation after another with Lark’s rescue efforts making matters worse. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this intriguing glimpse at the lawless late nineteenth century “Whiskey Towns” while Lark and Laredo fall in love over a series of capers.

The Barbed Rose
Gail Dayton
ISBN: 0373802250, $13.95, 464 pp.

Kallista is the focus of her temple bound mates (a group marriage of husbands and wives known as an ilian) able to draw the magic from them to use in the defense of Adara. After defeating the foreign enemies of her country last year, Kallista and her iIlian retire to the countryside and she gives birth to twins and Aisse is pregnant. When Reinine Serysta recalls Kallista she has the twins, accompanied by, Stone, Fox, and Aisse and the nanny to a place of safety fearing danger has come to Adara. She learns that a civil war is taking place and the rebels might possess gunpowder. Kallista and her llian are sent to the rebel stronghold to ferret out information that can be used in the defense of the capital city. To save the children, Fox lets himself be captured and Kallista’s main goal now is to free him. Kallista, the first godstruck in a millennium with the unheard of magical powers of the West is the only one who can fight and destroy the demons if they don’t kill her first. After rejoining Fox and reuniting with the rest of her Ilian, she has enough power to fight the demons if she can find out who they are possessing. More husbands and wives are added to Kallista’s ilian including the children’s nanny and a former enemy making the group more powerful than any other in the country. The world building in THE BARBED ROSE is fantastic; making readers feel the place really exists. The characters are real, totally likeable and complex and readers enjoy getting to know the members of the ilian. In a world where everyday magic is taken for granted the heroine stands alone because she has great magic and an ever growing magical ability. Gail Dayton’s tale has many surprises in store for the reader especially the dramatic ending.

Leanne Banks
HQN (Harlequin)
ISBN: 0373770529, $6.99, 384 pp.

In Atlanta fickle Brooke Tarantino, great-granddaughter of the founder of Bellagio Shoes, publicly dumps advertising contractor Walker Gordon at the altar. Good friend, Bellagio public relations specialist Trina Roberts sits at a bar drinking with Walker when after a ton of alcohol, they share a night of sex. Walker relocates to Paris to allow the public humiliation to pass while over nine months later Trina, not informing him, gives birth to a daughter Maddie with only the medical staff by her side. To insure his firm keeps the Bellagio account Walker returns to Atlanta. He remains unaware that he is a father of a six month old girl though Trina knows she should tell him but remembers his babbling about the Gordon Curse that means men with his DNA fail at fatherhood. Trina does not want anything from Walker except secretly inside her heart she knows she would die for his love. Working together at work, Walker is stunned when Trina tells him and he does not believe her at first, but begins to want more from her as he finds immense pleasure holding Maddie. UNDERFOOT, the sequel to the fun Feet First contemporary romance is a delightful tale starring two likable characters whose relationship changes over time. Walker is a terrific person who once he recovers from the public slam dunk returns home to insure that his company keeps the Bellagio Shoes account, as he knows he cannot afford to do otherwise. Trina is a brave soul as she revises her plans to include a baby, knows her mom will object, and expects the father will never want her or the child though she owed Walker the truth when she learned she was pregnant. Fans will appreciate this fine contemporary tale.

Asking for Trouble
Millie Criswell
ISBN: 0373770537, $5.99, 384 pp.

In Mediocrity, Pennsylvania, thirty-four years old Beth Randall runs the Two Sisters Ordinary Inn out of a converted Victorian home that her two beloved eccentric great aunts gave her. She worries about the septuagenarians as Ivy has discovered internet porn and Iris witchcraft. Worst yet, she has dug up bones in the cellar that she fears is Iris’ lover Lyle McMurty, who was allegedly murdered fifty years ago. Widower Dr. Brad Donovan accompanied by twelve years old daughter Stacy arrives from Virginia in search of his missing father, whose last message was a postcard from the inn. Beth pretends to know very little as she now fears the remains in the cellar is that of Brad’s dad. Brad soon realizes that the three females are hiding something from him as none are good liars. As Brad and Beth fall in love over the objection of his daughter and the elation of her aunts, the missing father keeps them apart while businessman Aubrey Fontaine has arrived allegedly to buy property targeting the inn in particular, but in truth for something more personal. ASKING FOR TROUBLE is a fabulous humorous romantic cozy starring a beleaguered young woman just trying to make it when the skeletons in her family closet decide to come out and rattle quite loudly. The story line is character driven as the support cast provides zaniness (the older generation) and seriousness (the daughter and Aubrey) that either propel or repel the romantic pair. Millie Criswell provides a warm romance with a secondary lighthearted mystery to spice up the relationships.

In a Heartbeat
Rita Herron
ISBN: 0373771053, $5.99, 384 pp.

Four years ago in Buford, Georgia, the Grave Digger serial killer buried Lisa Langley alive; however, unlike his four previous victims, FBI Special Agent Brad Booker and his partner Ethan Manning arrive in time to save her life. The culprit William White was caught and convicted. Nine months later he was killed in a prison fight. Lisa relocated to Ellijay, Georgia to start over under the name Long as a preschool teacher. Brad who was halfway in love with her, kept an eye on Lisa from a distance as he assumes she blames him for her near death. However, a new homicide occurs that has all the MO of the Grave Digger except the victim is buried alive with a cross instead of a white rose. Brad and Ethan investigate the copy cat murderer with the former vowing nothing will happen to Lisa this time as he knows he still loves her and will die to keep her safe. IN A HEARTBEAT is an exhilarating police procedural romantic suspense that moves rather quickly once the second wave of murders occurs and never loses a beat until the final confrontation. Brad is a fascinating character who blames himself for Lisa’s near death experience though he saved her life. The final spin seems stretched though the evidence goes to the heart of the copy cat crimes; fans will appreciate this tense thriller wondering whether history will repeat itself except with a different ending.

Helen Kirkman
ISBN: 0373770545, $12.95

In 875 Kent, Lord Berg captures Lady Elene who just escaped from the Danes camp two miles way in Andred Forest. Berg expects Viking Lord Guthrum’s advanced party in the Kent area to attack his fortress. Elene is concerned because she knows first hand how vicious Kraka the Storm Crow and his siblings can be. Berg finds himself surprisingly attracted to the “Valkyrie” but first he must deal with the local invaders who threaten to overwhelm East Anglia like they did Northumberland. As the Prince of East Anglia, he fears what has happened out there to his people, but first leads his men in a fight right here against Kraka and his minion. To his shock, Elene is in the middle of the battle. Not long afterward, he ponders if that was when he fell in love with the courageous spear carrying guest he and his troops protect. His Valkyrie lifts his spirits with hope for the future against a clever and vicious enemy. The second Dark Ages romance (see A FRAGILE TRUST) is typical of the sub-genre with ethical intrepid champions on King Alfred’s side battling ferocious cruel Vikings. The exhilarating story line focuses on Berg and his men struggling to stop the Viking incursion that has taken over much of the country. As always, Helen Kirkman, who is the leading pre Conqueror-post Roman historical romance novelist, provides a deep look at the late ninth century through interwoven historical tidbits starring two principled heroes who use love to buttress their motivation to stand tall against an invincible adversary.

The Runaway Daughter
Anna DeStefano
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373713290, $5.50

Oakwood, Georgia Chief Deputy Angie Carter and Deputy Tony Rivers know they should not have a relationship outside of friendship and the office as she is his superior. However, they are attracted to one another though she is also a decade older than him and has been burned once before by a player, which is how most people describe Tony. Tony’s teenage niece Maggie talks with her friend single mom Claire Morton about the overdose death of Travis Reynolds; Claire believes her baby’s father Sam Walker is the prime county drug dealer. When Sam and a business associate Marcus come home, bullets fly; Claire is shot and is seemingly dying, Marcus is dead, and Maggie flees with baby Max. Maggie turns to her Uncle Tony for help. He, in turn, brings in his boss to help protect his niece and the infant while they investigate the drug dealing and killings by Sam. THE RUNAWAY DAUGHTER is an intriguing police procedural romance starring two likable protagonists and a strong support cast. Tony is a misfit who knows he can never be as good as his role model, his older brother; while Angie sees how deeply he cares and loves behind his nonchalant façade, but knows she must not pursue a relationship with a direct reports employee. The tension between them as they work the case makes for a strong thriller. Though readers will wonder why the pivotal scene happened where it did as the intelligent Sam would never risk his lucrative business by killing Marcus in his home, fans will enjoy this strong older woman younger man cop romance.

Leandra Logan
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373751125, $4.99

In Brooklyn eight years ago, her beloved dad died in a traffic accident. Now her mom, who Tina Mills was never close with, has passed away. However, instead of solace with the Aunts, she gets grief and the hint that she is not of their blood. The award winning documentary filmmaker talks with her family lawyer and learns her father had an affair in Sugartown, Connecticut. She and her film partner Emmy Snow agree to do a show on small town living in the four corners of the country; Tina will visit Sugartown where she thinks one of three women in a photo she found is her biological mother. Everyone in Sugartown is excited about the film project except widower Police Chief Colby Evans, who remembers the con man who ripped off the naive townsfolk. He believes Tina is hiding her real agenda and plans to keep her from hurting anyone especially his son Jerod. Instead, Colby and Tina fall in love, but she knows he will be hurt once she reveals the truth of who brought her to this small Connecticut town. SUGARTOWN is a deep character study that focuses on the human need to belong. Though the Aunts are something else, Tina hits it on the head when she tells them they could have encouraged their sister to love her not reject her. Her dad falls off the pedestal with his indiscretion and even more so for never telling her the truth while her mom gains some kudos for at least providing a home for her albeit she was never warm. Several of the townsfolk are also looked at in a sharp perceptive manner so that fans gain a strong insightful drama.

Crazy for Ellie
Penny McCusker
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373751109, $4.99

Deputy Sheriff Clarence “Clary” Beeber knows his town Erskine, Montana has the reputation for attracting eccentrics, but he has a bad feeling about the latest resident, psychiatrist Ellie Reed. Apparently, she failed back in Los Angeles with a teen patient forcing her to relocate in the hometown of her beloved Uncle Don accompanied by her belligerent teenage brother Luke. After an incident with Luke vs. the female elders, Clary is shocked to soon find everyone wants Ellie to stay as he expected they would try to drive her away if for no reason because of cool hand Luke. He soon changes his mind as he wants her to stay too but that is because he is falling in love. However, first he will learn the rest of the story of what she is hiding from him. CRAZY FOR ELLIE is an interesting small town contemporary romance starring a caring psychiatrist with doubts about her skills in light of the incident in Los Angeles and with her sibling and a cop who wants serenity yet finds desire. The incidents that make up the action of the fine story line seems just right as no nasty villain appears; instead two warm caring combatants fall in love propelled by a town load of matchmakers making for a fun tale.

Her Sister’s Keeper
Julia Penney
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373713304, $5.50

In Los Angeles, what should be the sixth month anniversary of her marriage is instead the date of her betrayal symbolized by her need to see a psychiatrist. Two minutes before walking down the aisle, her hysterical sister Ariel informs Melanie Harris that she is three months pregnant and the father is the groom actor Mitch Carson. Melodramatically, Melanie hands Ariel to Mitch informing him he should marry her sister. Unable to sleep and losing weight at the urgent pleading of her best friend Stephanie, Melanie visits psychologist Dr. Kent Mattson. Kent prefers his work with LAPD and with the kids his late wife worked with, but his bills are paid by his private practice. Currently, he is working on two homicides that seem linked with Melanie the surprising connection. As he fights his attraction to his new patient, she informs him that her sister whom she abandoned at the altar has gone missing. Melanie and Kent team up to rescue her sibling who just might be the next victim of a sly killer protecting his film business. HER SISTER’S KEEPER is a terrific investigative tale in which a romantic subplot simmers in the background adding tension and embellishing the search and rescue mission. Kent wants Melanie from the moment they meet, but he is the consummate professional trying to control his libido, which is running wild. Melanie feels the same way but her quest save the sister she abandoned takes precedent. Though starting off seemingly like a soap opera; Julia Penney turns the tale into a fine Hollywood suspense thriller that readers will appreciate.

Misfit Father
Ann Evans
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373713312, $5.50

Denver Daily Telegraph reporter Danielle Bridgeton wrote a series of articles exposing the greed of Humanity Haven. Her reward for strong reporting led to her publisher’s mother-in-law demanding her exile across the I-70 corridor, Broken Yoke because she embarrassed the older woman who was seeing the Director of Humanity Haven. At about the same time that the mother in law of the “Pope” excommunicated Dani, Rafe D'Angelo has come home to Broken Yoke to provide a stable home for his five years old daughter Frannie. Rafe knows he has his work cut out for him as he only recently learned that his weekend tryst with Ellen led to a daughter; now Ellen demands Rafe take over raising their child. Besides needing to connect with his daughter, he also must make amends with his family especially his father after a dozen years away to help him provide loving stability to Fannie. However, as he struggles to connect, Rafe sees Dani, a woman he met when they worked, albeit her undercover, at the Native Sun Casino; he wanted her then and desires her even more now. However, he places Frannie first while she places a story she investigates ahead of their relationship as that should return her to Denver. The fully developed key characters make for a fine contemporary family drama with a solid romantic subplot. Rafe is a wonderful character who feels inadequate with his daughter, but thankful to his family for their help though he remains somewhat estranged from his dad. Dani is ambitious, but also finds herself in conflict with falling in love with the father and his accordion playing daughter while wanting to return to the big city journalism. Fans will enjoy this fine relationship tale.

The Cowboy’s Return
Nancy Warren
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373751060, $4.99

Near Bramble, Texas, Camila Walker raises her eleven years old daughter Jilly by herself. Jilly’s father Patrick died before he could marry Camila; his parents rejected Camila insisting she was a tramp and Jilly was not of their blood. The unwelcome child visits her grandparents’ spread after reading in the Temple newspaper that her Uncle Tripp, national bareback riding champion and calf roper, had finally come home. Tripp left home after a family fight following his brother’s tragic death but finally has returned to the ranch because his aging parents need him. Jilly tells him he and his parents missed plenty not being there to watch her grow and he not knowing her mama. Tripp needs to know whether he is the preadolescent’s uncle. He challenges Camila, who wants nothing to do with him or his family as they rejected her as an unwed twenty-year old pregnant woman whose only lover her son had just died. However, she also knows that when she first met her boyfriend’s brother she was attracted to him; she did not know Tripp felt the same way but family comes first and he never acted on his feelings. Now he plans to act on that attraction that has seemed to grow stronger with their absence, but first he must deal with his bigoted dad. THE COWBOY’S RETURN is a strong family drama started by an error in judgment by Patrick that still haunts the adults years after his death. Readers will feel for each member of the extended cast even those bogged down by bigotry as no one has obtained closure. Though the romance between Tripp and Camila is secondary to the deep character study, contemporary readers will enjoy this strong Texas tale.

Ex’s and Oh’s
Sandra Steffen
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 0373880790, $5.50

On the day she buried her beloved grandfather Henry O'Shaughnessy, who raised her since her parents died when she was eight, divorce attorney Caroline Moore learns her boyfriend litigation lawyer Steven Phillips is cheating with his own ex-wife Brenda. Stunned by his betrayal when she needs support, she fails to inform the louse that she is two and a half months pregnant. Instead of returning to work, Caroline needs time to find herself. She decides to stay at her grandfather’s cottage overlooking Lake Michigan and begins taking barefoot walks like she did as a child. Carline begins making friends especially with neighbor Tori and the hunk next door. That is until she learns the guy next door is Tori’s ex and oh she refuses to become involved with an ex after Steven though she admits to herself she is attracted and he is nice. EX’S AND OH’S is an incredibly intense look at a forty-three year old woman who faces a mid life crisis between a pregnancy, the death of a beloved relative, and her deep feelings of being alone. The story line is totally character driven as the audience gets inside the innermost elements of what makes Caroline more or less what she is through her thoughts and self-deprecating asides. Fans of profound character studies with limited action will ooh and ah over Sandra Steffen’s reflective work.

Off the Map
Dorien Kelly
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 0373880812, $5.50

In Detroit even though they were part of the downsizing team and been local anomalies by loyally staying at the Midwest National Bank for seventeen years, Tessa Wright and her friend and boss Kate are fired by the corporate angel of death Simon Pearson. On top of that Tessa’s spouse Jack has given up on her as she has neglected him while doing the bank’s downsizing mission for the past few months; Jack is missing. Tessa and Kate, who also has male problems, are depressed and need a life make-over to find a modicum of happiness that neither had during the banking era of their lives. They head to Costa Rica for some R&R at a friend’s vacation home. In Playa Blanca they meet two squatters, who have deeper problems and issues than the Americans; as Tessa and Kate share this abode with these two women, they learn to live. OFF THE MAP is an intriguing comparative look between the downsized lives of the two Americans against that of the squatters. Each of the four females seem unique with differing personifies so that the audience understands what motivates each one. Comparing the depth of problems is a two edged sword as perspective is fascinating to observe but also overwhelming as none of the female foursome is deeply exposed to the reader. Still this is a fine tale that showcases the relativity of tribulations.

Who Makes Up These Rules, Anyway?
Stevi Mittman
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 0373880804, $5.50

On the Island, Teddi Gallo, mother of three preadolescent children, lives her life in accordance with the Secret Handbook of Long Island Rules. She feels everything is near perfect as she loves her spouse and kids while enjoying her lifestyle. Perhaps the only negative is her mom June Bayer, who has a swinging door existence at South Winds Psychiatric Hospital. However, recently things have not gone well for Teddi who is frightened because she begins to wonder if she inherited her mom’s mental illness. Teddi finds she forgets to do things or if she did do them forgets she did them. Her family has noticed the change too. The Rulebook does not help her nor does her spouse whose behavior appears to target pushing his wife over the edge. Teddi struggles to come to grips with losing her mind through humor especially when she rationalizes with her best friend Bobbi, but underneath she fears for her children. Teddi’s terrific tale is a powerful look at a woman whose mental abilities to take care of herself and her children become questionable. As her life disintegrates Teddi uses self deprecating humor to keep going. Fans will empathize with this nice likable woman as she struggles to rewrite the Rulebook so that she can be there for her little darlings and avoid the in and out institutionalization that marks her mother’s life.

Going All Out
Jeanie London
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373792352, $4.75

In New Orleans, Bree Addison is walking home to her Court du Chaud abode from her late night shift at Toujacques casino when she realizes a car seems to be following her. She hides in a nearby backyard, but sees the culprit seeking her out, dangerous Jude Robicheaux, who she once was seeing, but fled what in her mind was a bad relationship. Why Jude is in town is anyone’s guess, but Bree assumes the worst including revenge on her dumping him. Wearing only a towel, software guru Lucas Russell is shocked to see a beautiful woman in his backyard. He goes out to investigate why she is there, but deep in his gut he hopes the mysterious woman dropped in to see him. As they become acquainted and even begin to fall in love, Lucas demands Bree tell him what she is hiding from him as he wants to help her. She fears if he gets too involved he will be hurt so she refuses to reveal her inner secret. As their relationship looks in peril, a ghost haunting her family plays matchmaker while Jude plans match destructor as no one walks out on him. GOING ALL OUT is a wonderful cotemporary romance with a touch of suspense and a pinch of the paranormal to enhance the prime plot of the relationship between Bree and Lucas. The cast make this a fun read as the audience will root for the lead couple, hope that the ghost receives his just awards and that Jude his just desserts. Jeanie London provides a fine follow-up to the Red Letter Nights anthology.

Nine-Month Surprise
Jacqueline Diamond
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373751052, $4.99

Leah Morris came to Austin for a teaching job interview while was trying to leave behind her small-town shyness behind. She meets Will in the swinging Wayward Drummer country and western bar. They make love, but he is gone by morning. She vows to leave town even if the job is offered as she has too many memories of the louse who did not even say goodbye. At the same, Will feels guilt and shame for running out on Leah even if it was to handle a baby delivery at three in the morning. Still Will tries calling her but is relieved when she fails to answer. However, that one night stand leaves Leah pregnant with no way of contacting Will. She decides to have her baby in her hometown, Downhome, Tennessee. To her their mutual shock, Dr. Will Rankin is opening up an ob-gyn practice in town. When they meet, he wants to do the right thing by her although he has twin children that need to come first. Still he proposes, but she refuses to marry him. As they fall in love, she assumes he desires her for the baby’s sake; he has his work cut out to persuade her otherwise. The second Downhome romance (see THE POLICE CHIEF’S LADY) is a warm contemporary tale that stars eccentric townsfolk whose antics make for a fun time. In many ways the escapades of the extended cast supersede the affectionate relationship between the likable nurturing lead couple. Jacqueline Diamond provides a gem of a small town romantic cozy.

One Good Knight
Mercedes Lackey
Luna (Harlequin)
ISBN: 037380217X, $24.95, 432 pp.

Queen Cassiopeia and her councilor magician Solan rule the kingdom of Acadia ignoring Princess Andromeda who unlike her beautiful and power happy mother is shy and innocent. She hopes for maternal approval when she proves the research she does in the library can help rule the country. Acadia’s revenues come from taxes, trading and the income from shipwrecks. Andromeda shows there are more shipwrecks than ever before due to bad weather. She reports her findings to her mom and Solan but they have a major crisis on their hands. A dragon has entered the kingdom doing much damage; only a female virgin can temporarily appease it. Andromeda is the next virgin to be sacrificed. A champion who gets past the magical guards placed around the country frees her; the princess forces George to take her with him as he hunts the dragon. When they meet with the dragon and his brother, they learn that the dragon is under a spell to act like a monster in Acadia. They plan, along with the princess, and her champion to go back to Acadia and root out the evil that is running the country. Mercedes Lackey has written another exciting fantasy filled with action, humor, and intrigue with a protagonist who knows her mother dislikes her but refuses to let the lack of love turn her bitter. She is a strong woman who will put her country before herself even if it means that she is placing herself and her allies in danger. The two dragons are just two of the stars of the novel with their distinctive personalities and the way they get the princess and the champion to fall in love with them without even trying. This is a magical treat.

Under Camelot’s Banner
Sarah Zettel
Luna (Harlequin)
ISBN: 0373802315, $13.95, 400 pp.

Cambryn has no protection as the absent Queen Guinevere spends all her time in Camelot with her husband King Arthur. King Mark of Tintagel has gone mad after being cuckold by his Queen Iseult and Sir Tristan. Guinevere’s steward Lord Kenan has gone to Mark with many of his soldiers to plead for protection. Kenan’s son Colam plots to overthrow his father and ends up killing him. His sister Laurel declares Colam is an outlaw, which sends him to Morgaine for safety, but she bewitches him to use as a pawn against her sister Guinevere. Laurel’s sister Lynet travels to Camelot to plead with Guinevere to bring her knights and men-at arms to keep her people safe from her lethal sibling Morgaine and their mortal enemies like thee people of Eire and the Saxons. Lynet has with her a magical silver mirror, given to her sister by their mother, a sea spirit who took mortal form to marry Kenan. Guinevere agrees to return to Cambryn while Lynet sees through the mirror the deadly schemes Morgaine has put in motion with Colam her slave, Laurel the first target and Lynet not far behind unless Lancelot’s squire Gareth can save his beloved. Sarah Zettel puts her own spin to Camelot using a more manipulative and not so pure Guinevere as a key player in her take on the legend. Lynet, filled with guilt for her role in the Iseult-Tristan affair, vows to do whatever it takes to save her homeland from those who covet it as a personal playground. UNDER CAMELOT’S BANNER is high fantasy at its best making readers wonder how Laurel's tale will hold up against Lynet’s saga.

A Rose for the Crown
Anna Easter Smith
Touchstone (Simon & Schuster)
ISBN: 0743276876, $16.95, 672 pp.

In 1459 near Kent, eleven years old Kate Bywood works on the family farm until her mother’s wealthier and connected kin, Lord Richard Haute over the objections of his wife Eleanor, takes his plucky niece to become companion to his reticent daughter Anne. A few years later Kate is forced to marry an aging affluent merchant, but he dies not long afterward leaving her rich. Though wealthy, she is forced into a second marriage this time to George Haute, Richard’s cousin, who wants to control her money, but not her body as he prefers young boys. Kate yearns for love, but feels trapped by society to ever find such. That is until Kate meets Richard of Gloucester, who reciprocates her deepest feelings. They begin a torrid tryst. When her second spouse dies mysteriously during an attack in the nearby forest, Kate openly turns to Richard. They have three out of wedlock children, but he has no freedom in spite of his lofty position that is if he wants his ambitions achieved of one day being the third Richard sitting on the throne. He marries Anne Neville. This is a strong biographical fictionalized account of the life of Kate Bywood that provides a warmer loving side to Richard III through the tender eyes of his paramour. The tale is at its strongest when Kate and Richard are together, but though gaps exist when they are apart (reflecting real history) the look at the era is loaded with rebellions and pretenders to the throne; though some readers might find the specifics tedious. Kate is a fabulous heroine whose story makes for a fascinating indirect look at another perspective of Richard III.

The Prop
Pete Hautman
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743284658, $14.00, 320 pp.

In Arizona, fortyish widow Peeky Kane works as one of three props at the Casino Santa Cruz owned by a Native American tribe. As a prop, Peeky fills in at poker tables where there are not enough players. She is paid for an eight hour shift, but wins or losses at the tables are personal income. Because she is a good money manager especially at the tables, Peeky has saved some but also finds much of her profit goes towards her troubled twenty-one year old daughter Jaymie. However, Peeky’s life takes a nasty turn when crooked dealers at the casino begin stealing money and she unwittingly becomes involved in the scheme. Things spin even further out of control when clowns rob the casino of millions and leave four dead; Peeky thinks her boyfriend Buddy may be one of the jokers who robbed and killed. While she finds herself drafted by Hector Vega, “founder” of the Santa Cruz tribe, to help him save the casino and subsequently the tribe, Peeky also wonders how to save crack addicted Jaymie. THE PROP is an exciting amateur sleuth whodunit starring a fabulous heroine whose life goes from calm to chaos in seemingly a nanosecond. The story line is action-packed but the real fun besides a delightful investigation resides in the casino where bluffing had meant winning or losing a hand, but has new meaning with one’s life at stake. Pete Hautman coolly antes up a strong thriller that pull an inside straight fun look at poker mania.

18 Seconds
George D. Shuman
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743277163, $23.95

A blind orphan, Sherry Moore calmly explains to the police that she has the gift of seeing the last eighteen seconds in someone’s life. When someone asks for help with a questionable death of a loved one, Sherry always tries to provide closure to the grieving soul as she feels strongly that she should share her abilities with those who need to know. As the Pennsylvania and New Jersey police departments become aware of Sherry’s skill, they have doubts about her claims though slowly some cops use her to help with a case. Police Lieutenant Kelly Lynch-O’Shaugnessy knows her reputation is at stake to stop serial killer Earl Oberlein Sykes who preys on young ladies at the shore as some veteran cops believe she got help from the sister network above to gain her current position. As she makes little progress, a desperate yet doubting Kelly turns to Sherry to assist her though this time her talent is not used to help a grieving person, but to capture a deadly human predator; at the same time Sykes targets Kelly who once sent him up the river. The paranormal element deftly augments a powerful cat and mouse police procedural in which the cop chases the killer while the killer chases the cop. The story line is action-packed, but in many ways is a battle of wits with the two women taking on the serial killer. George D. Shuman provides a fantastic thriller loaded with suspense and strong characters especially the triangle lead protagonists.

Invasion of Justice
Regan Black
ISBN: 1590804430, $12.99

In 2096 Indianapolis, empath Petra Neiman is awakened in the middle of a nightmare by her phone. Special Agent in Charge of the Central Region Investigation Authority Kincaid demands she comes immediately alone to Chicago to “look” at a dead Jane Doe he links to two kidnappings. Petra knows all about the high profile homicide in a seaside genetics lab as she was there inside the malevolent killer in her dream. Uncover dark-ops officer Gideon Callahan is assigned to observe Petra under the disguise of assisting her, as her brother is the top suspect in the abductions. However, Gideon becomes irate to learn she is an empath as he feels emotions do not belong at a crime scene. Soon he admits she is impressive as Petra explains that the dead amazon was in a cat fight over the shipping of cargo, females to sell on a slave auction. She hides from him and Kincaid that her brother is involved in some unexplainable way. Instead she plans to capture the evil killer she met in her dreams. Meanwhile Petra falls in love, but fears touching her beloved mean because that means intruding on his darkest secrets and perhaps worse Gideon will see the inner Pet she hides from the world. The second Shadows of Justice futuristic paranormal mystery is a fabulous thriller that grips the audience from the moment Gideon and Petra meet at the crime scene. The who-done-it is investigated on two planes with Gideon working the mundane while watching Petra perform on the mystic lane. He, like the readers, will soon become a believer that the impossible is possible. Fans wanting an exciting something different starring a marvelous heroine will appreciate Regan Black’s terrific tales (see JUSTICE INCARNATE).

Pamela Clare
ISBN: 0843954884, $6.99, 368 pp.

In 1755 in Albany in the Colony of New York, Lord William Wentworth is tired of the alibis provided as to why General Braddock suffered a terrible defeat; instead he demands local knowledge on fighting in the wilderness. He “arrests” the three MacKinnon brothers Iain, Morgan and Connor. William gives his prisoners a choice to be executed for the murder of Henry Walsh or to fight on the side of King George, who the siblings loathe. In 1757 her Uncle Bain gives Lady Anne Burness Campbell a choice of surrendering to him or incarceration. When she selects the latter he marks his niece with a T so no man will want her and he sells her as an indentured servant. In 1758 Iain refuses to allow the Abenaki to kill the woman they chase; thus abandoning his mission to learn about the French at Fort Ticonderoga he risks his life and that of his siblings to rescue Annie from the Indians. Though grateful, Annie knows that once he sees the mark, he will sell her. She also fears his reaction to her clan, his enemies, so she tells him she is Annie Burns; not expecting to fall in love and be loved back. This is fantastic historical romance that uses the backdrop of the French and Indian War to tell a terrific tale of love. The story line is action-packed from the moment that William offers a deal that Iain believes is with the devil and never slows down until the final exhilarating climax. Annie is a wonderful intrepid heroine, who knows that she must tell the truth to the man she loves, but fears to trust in that love. Iain is her delightful counterpart. Fans will treasure this keeper and look forward to two more MacKinnon thrillers.

Bobbi Smith writing as Julie Marshall
ISBN: 084395647X, $6.99

No one not even a religious leader would blame the members of the Holy Family Church’s prayer group if they believed God abandoned them. George suffers from advanced cancer with no more than a few months of life left. Investigative reporter Lydia struggles with a new editor who pressures her to find only the dirt and the seamier side of life even as the journalist already looks at the worst behavior of humanity’s fallen. Bonnie’s animal shelter is on the brink of being closed down. Jim wants to be in with his peers, but that includes drinking under the influence. Others are suffering too. Collectively the prayer group understands first hand how Job must have felt. Adding to that feeling of siege is a sniper killing people randomly. Police Detective Steve leads the investigation. He has seen plenty of the evil mankind does to one another, but the indiscriminate killers are some of the worst yet as he or she murders the innocent and terrorizes the city. His faith is teetering, but George, Lydia, Bonnie, Jim, and the others, especially the reporter, give him the conviction that their prayers will be answered. MIRACLES is an inspirational tale that focuses on seeking the light even when engulfed by the dark. The story line contains a warm glow as each member of the prayer group battles with personal demons that make them question their faith yet each one still finds the courage to seek the light. Though the ensemble cast takes away from any character becoming fully developed, readers will want to join these caring individuals at their next prayer group meeting.

A Lady Raised High: A Novel of Anne Boleyn
Laurien Gardner
ISBN: 0515140899, $6.99, 304 pp.

In 1532 Frances Pierce rescues Anne Bolyn from a mud throwing mob that considered her to be the whore of King Henry VIII. Feeling obligated Anne takes the country bumpkin with her to court where she is determined to pressure the monarch to divorce his Spanish Bride, Catherine of Aragon so she can replace her on the throne. Frances’ honesty and loyalty quickly make her a favorite confident of Anne. When Henry VIII does the unthinkable and defies Heaven by divorcing Catharine and marrying the pregnant Anne, Frances remains with her as her prime lady in waiting. She stays with her mistress over the thousand days as Anne falls from grace and she is there when the second wife is accused and convicted of incest with her brother. Finally Frances is one of the witnesses to Anne’s execution. Laurien Gardner’s Second wives of Henry VIII tale is an interesting historical look at the legendary Anne Bolyn through the eyes of a loyal somewhat naive servant. Readers will appreciate the tidbits of history especially some of the lighter moments though nothing new surfaces; perhaps because the tale has been told so often. Still this is a well written account of the relationship that changed England (not just religion as that daughter that Henry wanted male and legit was Elizabeth) so that fans of Tudor tales will want to read.

Laurell K. Hamilton
ISBN: 0515140872, $6.99, 272 pp.

As a favor to a friend, Vampire Executioner and Federal Marshal Anita Blake takes time out from her St. Louis Pard (pack) and her lovers (two ordinary vampires, two were-leopards, one were-wolfe, and one master vampire), to fly to Philadelphia. Her were-leopard lover Micah accompanies her. The FBI wants to raise the Zombie Emmett Leroy Rose who died before he could provide testimony in Federal Court. It is considered strong evidence, the testimony of a zombie, because they cannot lie. The night before their appointment at the cemetery, Micah and Anita enjoy a sex filled night exchanging confidences. When they arrive at the cemetery, Anita realizes this old place contains forces that send magical vibes from the graves to her. Anita completes the protective circle, but struggles with controlling all that is engulfing her from the other side including the arisen Emmett amplified by living humans wanting her stopped. In previous tales, Micah has been a murkier background character, but this time he plays a major role enabling the audience to learn how he became a shapeshifter and how much the trauma affects him. The audience also sees his true feelings for Anita. The mystery involves the zombie testimony, the tactics of a sleazy defense attorney, and the unknown human in the graveyard. Laurell K. Hamilton writes an exciting erotic and evocative paranormal romantic suspense thriller that will thrill her fans and send new readers scrambling for her backlist.

Headstone City
Tom Piccirilli
ISBN: 0553587218, $5.99 352 pp.

On his last day in the joint while in the showers, some cons on orders by the Monticelli family try to kill Dane; they are weaklings and he is able to use moves he learned in the army to disarm them. During his time in prison, he is visited by the ghost of Annie Monticelli who he drove to Bedford-Stuyvesant and waited in the car while she went into a drug dealer’s house where she took a lethal dose of a drug cocktail. The Monticelli family blames him even though he ran over a traffic cop in order to get her to a hospital. Dane did twenty months for vehicular assault and now that he served his time, he is free to go. He should go anywhere except to old neighborhood but there are old scores to settle especially with Vincent Monticelli, who used to be his best friend and now has a contract out on his head. Although there isn’t a chance for them to be together, Dane loves Maria Monticelli. In the course of the mob war, Vince has a plan that will give them what them both want. Vince and Dane once cheated death when they went through a windshield that left them with psychic powers. Besides talking to the dead, Dane can call the souls out of those alive to speak to him when they are sleeping so that he can get information from them. Vince is clairvoyant and can see three different possible futures in the time track. It is up to the audience to decide whether the gifts are real or the imagining s of these dangerous men. Tom Piccirilli writes horror of the human and supernatural kind and thus contains graphic violence. With HEADSTONE CITY, Mr. Piccirilli is a sure bet to be nominated for another Bram Stoker award.

Lady of Sin
Madeline Hunter
ISBN: 0553587315, $6.99, 407 pp.

Lord Nathaniel Knightsbridge is the only aristocrat who practices criminal law. After losing a tough case, Ambrose’s father visits him to obtain his son’s pledge to prosecute criminal John Finley for blackmailing Lord James Mardenford, brother-in-law to widow Charlotte. Before the trial, Nathaniel visits John who says he was not blackmailing his lordship, but instead wanted to help him connect with his son, working the streets. Not long afterward John apparently commits suicide; as Nathaniel leaves he notices some youngsters nearby with one looking like he is a Mardenford. He visits Charlotte and mentions the kid; she scorns his efforts as ghoulish, but agrees to meet with the child. She is stunned when she sees the kid who though she denies it, he is clearly a Mardenford. As Nathaniel and Charlotte begin seeing one another especially since he supports her efforts to change the laws of marriage and divorce, they fall in love, which angers James who has plans for Charlotte. Meanwhile as they work together on trying to learn more about the street urchin, she has a secret that she hides from Nathaniel: that they have already made love at Lord Lyndale’s last masquerade party. Madeline Hunter’s latest sinful tale (see LORD OF SIN) is a terrific Regency romantic suspense starring two likable caring protagonists. Readers will wonder who the ten year old boy is as he looks like a Mardenford offspring yet James denies the kid is his; several twists later will reveal a fascinating truth. Ms. Hunter has written another fun historical that grips the audience from the moment Finley speaks out and never slows down until the final clearing of the air.

Michael A. Stackpole
ISBN: 0553382381, $15.00, 429 pp.

The Anturasi family of Nalenyr, ruled by the patriarch Qiro, has made the realm wealthy through trade thanks to the accuracy of their maps they create and the willingness of the younger member of the family to find and explore unknown lands. When Qiro’s granddaughter Nirati is murdered, he escapes from his tower guarded by the troops of Prince Cyron of Nalenyr. He creates a new continent populated by monsters that he intends to use to bring Prince Cyron down. In a special place on this new continent, Qiro has created a beautiful, fantasy realm for Nirati to live cheating the gods of her death. Other people are envious of Prince Cyron’s rule and would love to kill him and become the new ruler including the despotic Prince Pyrust of Deseirion. He foments rebellion in Cyron’s realm and has plans to kill him personally. Cyron has alienated the bureaucracy who want to see someone else on the Dragon Throne. Niratri’s lover Nelesquin is gathering forces to fight the Empress Cyrsa when she awakens from her eight centuries of sleep for both he and the empress want to consolidate the Nine Principalities into the Empire it once was with one of them the ruler, leaving the princess with nothing to rule. There is much political intrigue and maneuvering in this excellent work of fantasy where a family of mapmakers and explorers are a power to be reckoned with. Two of Qiro’s grandsons were sent on quests with one kidnapped by Prince Pyrust and the other finding a new continent where the natives believe he is a reincarnated god. Their adventures are exciting adding more sub-plots to an already rich and deep storyline. Michael A. Stackpole is one of the Grandmasters of fine fantasy in the new millennium.

The Four Quarters of the World
Karen Mercury
Medallion Press
27825 N. Forest Garden Rd., Wauconda, IL 60084
ISBN: 1932815449, $9.99

In 1866 Abyssinia, Tewodros II insists he is the Emperor of Ethiopia as the descendent of the Christian King of Kings. He envisions reuniting the empire under his rule, under the one God. He has established a large Takruries military force that is dressed very pretty and drilled in English but most not understanding the words so their is little discipline as following orders is difficult for most. He parades his clownish soldiers from one locale to another as a show of strength. Once his forces leave for the next stop his adversaries return. The Emperor has one capable officer, American adventurer Ravi, who through his raiding skills becomes Tewodros’ top soldier and receives the royal treatment. Still in spite of Captain Ravinger Howland’s abilities, Emperor Tewodros II finds his sphere of control shrinking. However, when Tewodros meets American Dr. Delphine Chambliss, he believes she is the reincarnation of his ancestor the biblical Queen of Sheba; he concludes she has returned to bring glory to his rule. When Ravi, who believes his employer is insane, meets Delphine, he falls in love. As the country nears collapse, the lunacy of the Emperor and the protection of her defender the warrior Abou Bekrnow leave Ravi no opportunity to court Delphine because either man will kill him if he goes near her. As she did so superbly with the 1896 Kingdom of Benin (see HINTERLANDS), Karen Mercury does as excellently with 1866 Abyssinia. The story line is action-packed even before the confrontational stage is set and the cast superbly developed so that readers receive a powerful look at pre Haile Selassie’s Ethiopia. Ms. Mercury, with two novels on her resume, has moved to the forefront of late nineteenth century African historical novels that entertain while they educate.

In Enemy Hands
Michelle Perry
ISBN: 1932815473, $6.99

Businessman Gary Vandergriff informs bounty hunter Dante Giovanni that he needs his special services to bring his daughter Nadia home so she can be safe as Nick works illegal alien trafficking that has brought him many dangerous enemies including a lethal drug lord. Nadia lives with Gary’s former wife Maria and Nick Branson in Sewanee, Tennessee. Besides the 500K fee, Dante sympathizes with Gary as the only way he hears his little girl’s voice is on her mother’s answering machine. Dante rescues Nadia from thugs, which enables him to enter the highly fortified home of Nick. He soon pulls off the abduction and delivers Nadia to what he assumes is the safety of her dad. However, he quickly realizes his error and willingly risks his life to rectify what harm he has caused by delivering the woman he has fallen in love with to Gary, who has plans to use her as a disposable pawn to enact vengeance against the ex-wife he scarred and her lover. IN ENEMY HANDS is an exhilarating romantic suspense tale starring a hero who allows his personal life to interfere with his judgment, an often used device made fresh by a strong support cast. Once he sees clearly and realizes what he has done, Dante moves heaven and earth to save Nadia’s life even if it means at the cost of his own. Gary is the embodiment of pure evil and readers will find in fascinating because he seems like he has no soul. Fans will appreciate this tense thriller as first Dante and then Nadia take chances with their lives to do the right thing for love.

Rite of Passage
Richard D’Agostino
Medallion Press
ISBN: 1932815546, $6.99

Mother Nature is apparently fighting back as the earth undergoes dramatic climatic changes. The planet is shaken to its core by numerous off the Richter scale earthquakes, category 4 and 5 hurricanes, monstrous flooding, and other disasters. In the midst of the natural global pandemic, a portal splits opens on the base of Cheops' Pyramid leading to previously unknown passageways beneath the edifice. Renowned Egyptologist Dr. Karl Cassim leads the investigation into the secret rooms below the pyramid. His team discovers in one of the passageways a prehistoric crystal cylinder seal. Before Cassim can decipher what the discovery means, assailants abduct his daughter, planning to use her as a pawn to negotiate what they want from the Egyptologist. Feeling trapped because he already knows the criticality of his work while worries about his beloved daughter, Cassim and his allies, American astronomer Julian Rutledge, British Egyptologist Sir E. Osborne Hunsdon, and museum curator Nancy Gottlieb, test the Seven Gates of Osiris as an ancient prophecy warns of a coming of a New Age of Man that will change how we live today. Egyptologist thriller fans and anyone who appreciates an excellent apocalypse tale will want to read the action-packed RITE OF PASSAGE. The key cast members, especially Cassim and his team, seem genuine; the electrifying story line comes first with an Indiana Jones’ Raiders of the Lost Ark style of thrills and chills. The abduction may place Cassim in an untenable position, but pales next to the world in peril plot that grips readers from the simple introduction to the “Beloved of Thoth” until the final confrontation.

Kate Mosse
ISBN: 0399153446, $25.95, 528 pp.

In 2005 Alice Tanner is a volunteer at an archaeological dig in the Sabarthes Mountains when she finds the opening to a cave. Inside she discovers the remains of two people, a stone ring, strange etchings on the walls and a small leather bag. In 1209, seventeen years old Alais suffers from a bad nightmare that frightens her. She leaves her spouse sleeping to visit her father Bertrand Pelletier, Intendent to Viscount Trencavel. He gives her a stone ring and a sacred tome that references the true grail much older than the Christian myth for her to keep safe; he joins the fight against the Crusaders sent by Pope Innocent III and French King Phillip to eradicate the Albigensian Heresy. With her foes in pursuit, Alais hides in a cave in the Sabarthes Mountains. In 2005, some see the discovery as a means to gain global power and will kill anyone including Alice who stands in their way of achieving supremacy. Others fear what the discovery will do to Christianity and will kill anyone including Alice who stands in their way of preventing the revealing of the secret of the cave. Alice wants her friends safe while honoring her pledge she made to Alais in the cave. LABYRINTH is an exhilarating conspiracy thriller that smoothly rotates between the two eras. Each subplot contains a courageous female in trouble and powerful adversaries who want to prevent secrets from being revealed. The action-packed story line grips readers from the moment the cave calls to Alice and never slows down as the audience wonders what will happen to her and to Alais. Though somewhat out of the Brownian Christian conspiratorial thriller, perhaps it’s as simple as having female lead protagonists or the depth into French medieval history, but Kate Mosse provides a fresh take.

Dark Harbor
Stuart Woods
ISBN: 039915342X, $25.95

Attorney Stone Barrington dines with his former NYPD partner Dino Bachetti when CIA operative Lance Cabot and Agents Holly Barker arrive at the restaurant. Lance asks Stone what he knows about his first cousin Dick Stone, Jr. Stone says not much as they have seen each other once in the last two decades and that was eight or nine years ago. He said that following graduating high school he spent a summer with Dick and his family, but that was about it except for a package he received this morning. Lance informs Stone that the Isleboro sheriff department and the Maine State police believe Dick, recently appointed the CIA Deputy Director for Operations, murdered his wife Barbara and their eighteen years old daughter Esme before killing himself. Stone and Lance are to uncover the truth. They start with the package, which contains a letter of instruction, two wills, and a finance statement. From there the quartet travel to Dick’s home in the village of Dark Harbor on Isleboro, an isle in Penobscot Bay, Maine. As they dig deeper into what happened, the evidence piles up that a double murder suicide occurred, but Stone finds it too perfect and wonders if his cousin’s work as an operative or his estrangement with his brother Caleb led to what he believes is the homicides of three people. This delightful police procedural with espionage overtones hooks the audience from the moment that Stone and Lance discuss his cousin and never slows down until the final twin confrontation. The long running series is refreshed with Stone explaining aspects of his past but smoothly as part of the present investigation. This tale is a must for series regulars while newcomers will understand why the accolades for this very talented writer.

Karen Robards
ISBN: 0399153381, $24.95, 388 pp.

Seven years ago, Sarah Mason, now an Assistant District Attorney, the Acting Head of Major Crimes, let her five year old daughter Lexie go to a nearby table in the park to get a piece of cake. The child never returns to her mother and there are no clues for the police to follow up on. Sarah hires Jake, a private detective Jake to search for her daughter, but he fails. Still they become friends, but Sarah felt empty inside since Lexie vanished and wanted to die until, in the present, she almost does during a robbery. Somebody is trying to make Sarah believe her daughter is alive through some cruel incidents. Sarah wonders if one of her enemies from amongst those she prosecuted or the Beaufort police Department are behind the threat to Lexie as she currently works a rape case against two cops. Calls from apparently Lexie occur and their safe word is written onto her car window. An unknown adversary is terrorizing Sarah through Lexie, but she has no idea who or why. Jake, who loves her, vows to keep her safe and somehow find out who is terrorizing a mother who lost her child. Sarah doesn’t even know if her daughter is dead or alive. Karen Robards has written an exciting romantic suspense about a woman needing closure to get on with her life, but instead seven mourning years later she finds more troubles and fears. The sexual tension between Jake and Sara is so hot that sparks fly off the pages. The story is told from the points of view of the lead couple so the audience knows how the hero feels about his lady in distress. VANISHED is a haunting tale that grips readers from the moment Sarah is shot and never slows down until the final twist.

Dark Light
Randy Wayne White
ISBN: 0399153365, $24.95, 352 pp.

The Category Four hurricane struck hard on Florida's west coast especially devastating many of the Gulf islands. Doc Marian Ford sees first hand the damage to Sanibel Island with his home, marina and lab severely damaged by the intense storm and he received a deep gash from a flying object courtesy of the hurricane. Jeth, Tomlinson and other Sanibel residents find pieces of German artifacts probably from a sunken submarine that caused havoc in the Gulf of Mexico during WWII. Not long afterward Jeth discovers the submarine. Mildred Chestra Engle asks Doc Ford to investigate what happened to a beloved who vanished while meeting a German submarine six decades ago. Chestra wants to prove he was not a traitor only a blackmail victim. Feeling her sorrow, Doc takes on the case, but nothing soon seem real even her story or for that matter her age, which changes every time he sees her. Danger finds Doc because others like salvager Heller have differing plans for Ford’s client and the submarine; no one will stand in his way to achieve them. The prime storyline starts a bit later than usual as the key players and their motivations and the force of a category four hurricane are prefaced (though Katrina makes that level storm needing no introduction) to the reader. These subplots quickly merge into a delightful Doc Ford thriller. The marine biologist struggles with the wrongfully defined case, the enigmatic female that has Tomlinson thinking ghost while Doc kisses her when she does not look too old, and the thirst for revenge by Heller. Fans will enjoy DARK LIGHT as nothing is quite like it seems especially in the aftermath of a hurricane named Chestra.

Game of Patience
Susanne Alleyn
Dunne (St. Martin’s)
ISBN: 0312343639, $23.95, 288 pp.

In 1796 Paris, undercover police spy, investigator Aristide Ravel and his superior Commissaire Brasseur, investigate the murders of property landlord Jean-Louis Saint-Ange and his former lover, Celie Montereau in a chic apartment owned by the former. Aristide quickly learns that no one misses Jean-Louis with many rejoicing at his death because he was a nasty sort blackmailing aristocrat; the blackguard even extorted money from Celie, who was his lover. An interrogation of Celie's acrimonious friend Rosalie Clement leads Aristide to Philippe Aubry, a violent man who allegedly loved the female victims, but he has an airtight alibi. At the same time to his chagrin, Aristide begins to fall in love with Rosalie, though he has not totally ruled her out as abetting the killer by hiding much of what she knows from him and Brasseur. Aristide keeps digging as he knows Brasseur plans to send Rosalie ton a date with Madame Guillotine. This is a tremendous post-revolution but pre Napoleon taut French police procedural starring a hero with a bothered conscience because he knows he sent innocent people to the guillotine. The who-done-it is cleverly devised so that the audience obtains a deep look at 1796 Paris yet never slows down the pace of the investigation. Still this tale belongs to Aristide, who believes his past prevents him from a future filled with love that is if he can figure out who his rancorous beloved protects. Fans will also want to read the delightful homage to Dickens, A FAR BETTER REST.

Dancing in a Distant Place
Isla Dewar
ISBN: 0312349467, $23.95, 320 pp.

The Glasgow police inform social studies teacher Iris Chisholm that her husband Harry died in a car accident on an icy road in a part of town that he should not have been at. She and her two teens Scot and Sophie mourn their loss. His place of business informs Iris that Harry was redundant over two years ago and received severance pay plus his pension investment. Iris also learns that he was behind on mortgage payments and took out a remortgage and cashed in their life insurance. On top of that he has gambling debts to his turf accountant. Headmistress at her school Miss Moffat arranges for Iris to move to a rural school as the “Missie”. She and her children relocate to Green Cairns in the Highlands. There she becomes embroiled with her students as the only teacher in town while ignoring her own and her family troubles. While her son and daughter struggle to adjust, Iris shocks the locals when as the expected virgin pure “Missie” has two local males desiring her. DANCING IN A DISTANT PLACE is a fabulous family drama starring a woman who struggles to remake her life, but soon finds new personal crisis to cope with. Iris is the center of this fine drama as she starts over and is there for her students, but is not as available to help her stressed teen children because their problems remind her of what she ran away from. Fans of contemporary fiction will want to read Isla Dewar’s deep tale of an individual throwing her soul into the public good while ignoring the personal calamity that eats at the soul of her and her children.

Fiona Mountain
ISBN: 0312323255, $23.95, 290 pp.

Taciturn Charles Seagrove reluctantly hires twenty-nine years old genealogist Natasha Blake to research the family tree of John Hellier, his granddaughter's boyfriend. He demands she work fast and give him the full details dating back to 1750. Working as hard as she ever did, Natasha makes plenty of progress, but when she visits her new client on his Cotswold farm she finds him PALE AS THE DEAD; someone killed him. Though she no longer has anyone to pay the fee or her expenses, Natasha feels a strange obligation to complete her late client’s request and to learn why someone shot Charles. As she begins digging deep into Charles’ past seeking the links to the family roots of Hellier, she uncovers a ghastly secret that ties her expanded investigation to an elderly victim of a Nazi plot. Her new findings not only widen the already widened inquiries, but this time places the intrepid heroine at great risk from an unknown assailant who wants the past to remain interred. Natasha is a fabulous protagonist who knows she should stop, but feels deep in her gut that she owes it to her client to complete the job, which expanded to uncover who killed Charles. The story line is filled with plenty of action, but driven by the somewhat obsessed heroine and enhanced by a strong likable secondary cast. Fans of investigative tales will enjoy Fiona Mountain’s wonderful who-done-it.

The Sweet Golden Parachute
David Handler
ISBN: 031234211X, $23.95, 304 pp.

In Dorset, Connecticut, police trooper Desiree "Des" Mitry struggles with the marriage proposal from her lover film critic Mitch Berger (see THE BURNT ORANGE SUNRISE). Even though she loves him she has doubts about tying the knot. While Des procrastinates, eccentric aristocratic renowned chef Poochie Vickers has been behaving odd even for her; at least that is what her daughter Caroline claims as she tries to take legal control of her mother’s assets. However, her weird behavior, which may be a sign of aging, like Mitch’s proposal, take a back seat to the discovery of the corpse of homeless Pete found on Poochie’s property at about the same time she reported someone stole her Mercedes. The Dorset townsfolk immediately assume that sibling convicts Stevie and Donnie Kershaw, just freed from prison, committed both crimes as their family has an ongoing feud with the Vickers seemingly forever. Adding to the tension between the families is a Romeo and Juliet romance that except for the star-crossed pair everyone else objects to. Des uses the case to defer her response to Mitch as she is too busy investigating the homicide, which quickly turns into a second murder. The Mitry-Berger mysteries started off as some of the best police procedurals published and somehow keep getting better with each new fresh entry because they are entertaining and gripping. The fifth who-done-it, THE SWEET GOLDEN PARACHUTE, is a fantastic police investigation that is made trickier by the hatred between the Dorset equivalent of the Hatfields and McCoys. The marriage proposal is always at the edge of the gripping story line as Des wants to say yes because she loves Mitch, but the terrible things people do pushes her towards refusing. David Handler handles her personal woes perfectly as part of a strong mystery.

The Renegades
Clive Egleton
St. Martin's Minotaur
ISBN: 0312347456, $24.95, 352 pp.

In London in a chic Italian restaurant, someone enters and opens fire; a massacre occurs. Among the dead is a mid level British SIS intelligence agent. The SIS encourages the local police to think it is a drug deal gone bad with collateral damage as they want the incident buried immediately. While the police seem to be willing to accept the SIS explanation of the bloody event, internal troubleshooter Peter Ashton thinks why cover up an obvious assassination. He soon follows clues that connect the restaurant murders to terrorist financier Talal Asir, who has blood ties to the Saudi ruling family and was last observed in Damascus. As Ashton closes in on the truth, he soon regrets being one step too late to prevent suicide bombers from doing their destructive deeds at British consulates in Pakistan and Russia. Still he must stop further financing by Ashir and his “teller” Ali Mohammed Khalef before they finance the killing of more innocent lives. THE RENEGADES grips the reader from the opening explosive lethal incident in a no longer quiet restaurant and never slows down as Ashton struggles with his superiors and with a deadly, well placed and financed adversary to stop further senseless killings. The action-packed story line moves forward as readers accompany a desperate Ashton globe-hopping to prevent tragedies, but at times he is too late. Clive Egleton is at his take no prisoners best with this exhilarating Ashton anti-terrorism thriller.

Carolyn Haines
St. Martin’s
ISBN: 0312351607, $23.95, 288 pp.

In the 1950s in Drexel, Mississippi, the color barrier remains rigidly in place with each race understanding their sphere. Jade Dupree is raised by her black adopted parents, Jonah and Ruth, although her biological mother is the very socially powerful white Lucille. Jade’s half sister Marlena is married to the wealthiest and most powerful figures in town, Lucas Bramlet. Marlena treats Jade like a servant paying her for services rendered including watching her daughter Suzanna. Marlena accompanied by Suzanna meets her lover, a traveling salesman, by the river. However, men wearing masks attack them. Marlena is rushed to the hospital while Suzanna has vanished. Jade is there watching over Marlena but her husband is at home waiting for a ransom.. Jade has to be careful as some whites feel she needs to be reminded of her place and she has to be careful of the Peeping Tom who is stalking her. Carolyn Haines known for her lighthearted amusing paranormal mysteries has taken a 180 degree turn around with this dark foreboding historical suspense thriller. Readers see how bad things can get for Blacks living in a 1950’s deep South small town even for a woman who could easily pass as white. The audience becomes absorbed with the historical tidbits, but soon the question of who assaulted the mother and daughter takes center stage especially in light of a spouse who does not seem to care what happens to his wife and daughter and whether Jade faces retribution for breaking the color barrier. Ms. Haines writes a strong period piece.

The Tailor’s Daughter
Janice Graham
St. Martin’s
ISBN: 0312349130, $24.95, 384 pp.

Though she mourned the loss of her mother and her older brother Reggie, Veda Grenfell did not know how much she lost when her mom passed away as no female role model is there to guide her. Less then a year later the teen suffers from Typhoid and a sever cold that leave her even less desirable on the marriage mart as she lost her hearing to the disease. However, Veda is not one to mourn what could have been or accept pity from well meaning but inane people. Instead she joins her father’s tailoring trade with plans to one day take over his thriving business on London’s Savile Row. Her father’s head cutter, Mr. Balducci asks Veda to marry him, but she spawns his cold offer as a case of ambition not love. Instead she falls in love with Lord Ormelie, Harry Breadalbane, who is heir to an earldom and way above her place in society. He reciprocates, but their families want their relationship ended, as she is considered not good enough for him. The unconventional Veda starts her quest for happiness not understanding she faces danger in the wild Yorkshire moors. THE TAILOR’S DAUGHTER is an entertaining Victorian tale starring a delightful optimist who overcomes some difficult emotional blows and societal condemnation to try to be all that she can be. Veda makes the exciting story line work as she bounces back from the deaths of loved ones, the loss of her hearing, and the impossibility of marriage to the man she cherishes. Feeling like a period piece and somewhat in the melodramatic style of mid nineteenth century England, Janice Graham provides a wonderful historical starring a strong FIREBIRD female trying to succeed in a man’s world.

Our Lady Of Pain
Marion Chesney
St. Martin’s
ISBN: 0312329687, $22.95, 224 pp.

The Earl of Hadshire’s daughter Lady Rose Summer failed to catch a husband during her season so her parents want to send her to India to find a spouse there among the expatriates. Rose convinces Captain Harry Cathcart, a private investigator, to fake an engagement so she won’t have to travel to India. Although the engagement is phony, Rosa has real feelings for Harry and is insanely jealous when he starts squiring his new client Dolores Duval around town. Rose threatens in a public place to kill Delores if she doesn’t stay away from Harry. Later Rose visits Dolores’ lodgings and finds that her rival is shot to death. The police assume Rose killed Delores and arrest her. She is soon released and they travel to Paris to interview the woman named in Dolores’ will, but soon afterward she is murdered and Rose is thrown into the Seine. Harry rescues her. They find a fake suicide note where Rose admits to the two killings. Danger follows Rose to Scotland and in London when she asks too many questions. Even after the suspected murderer is caught, Rose remains in danger from an unknown enemy with only Harry to help her. OUR LADY OF PAIN gives readers a glimpse of Edwardian England as seen through the eyes of the aristocracy and their servants. Rose’s life is in danger and she is also being set up by someone to take the fall as a murderess. Harry has his hands full keeping Rose safe and out of jail while trying to figure out just how deep his feelings for her go. This is a very entertaining historical mystery which is at times very funny as the heroine goes from one crisis to the next. Marion Chesney beguiles the reader with her witty and non-conformist characters.

Rhapsody in Blood
John Morgan Wilson
St. Martin’s
ISBN: 0312341474, $24.95, 288 pp.

Once Benjamin Justice was revered as a fine journalist who deservedly won a Pulitzer for his articles on nursing his lover while his beloved was dying from AIDS. When it was substantiated that Ben fabricated his story, he became despised and black balled. Sixteen years later, the only person to return a Pulitzer solves mysteries instead of writing articles. In 1956 in Haunted Springs on the Ides of March, Eternal Springs Hotel handyman Ed Jones allegedly killed film star, Rebecca Fox; Jones was immediately lynched. Twenty-five years later on the same day in the same room, Rebecca’s daughter Brandy committed suicide. Author Richard Pearlman writes a book on Rebecca’s death, but his DNA testing of semen found on the victim proves not to be from Jones. A movie A Murder in Eternal Springs is about the be made at the site of the tragedies so LA Times reporter Alexandra Templeton convinces her friend Ben to accompany her as she covers the event. Also there is despised viper tabloid reporter Toni Pebbles, who plans to expose the secrets of someone involved in the project, but is killed before she can do so. With Templeton encouraging him, Ben investigates four murders five decades apart. People will sympathize with Benjamin Justice, who is HIV positive and not a bad person though he made a terrible mistake sixteen years ago under extenuating circumstances. He has accepted his fall from grace gracefully and since has tried to do the right thing even solving numerous homicides along the way. His latest caper is a complex tale that has its roots in the past as Benjamin seeks what happened in 1956, 1981, and now. RHAPSODY IN BLOOD is John Morgan Wilson meting out justice for the dead as only he can.

Wolf at the Door
Christine Warren
St. Martin’s
ISBN: 0312939620, $6.99, 352 pp.

As his pack’s Guth (negotiator-ambassador) Sullivan Quinn crosses the Atlantic from Ireland to warn his American brothers that a secret group employing assassins is committing genocide against the Other werewolves. He does not know much about this dangerous group, but they are hunting down his people. Sullivan misses his home and his pack especially while listening to the drone vampire lawyer who could have been a double for Oliver Hardy; that is he yearned for Ireland until he sniffs the honeysuckle odor of an American Foxwoman. He wants her and realizes that it is more than just the heat is on as he has finally met his mate for life, world renowned anthropologist Cassidy Poe, who feels the same way about the Irishman who has entered her life. Cassidy is confused as her lust at first sight and second, third, etc. goes against her theories on social interaction, but she knows her desire for Quinn is palatable and supersedes everything. That is everything until she realizes the danger to her loved ones; she and Quinn must team up to save those they cherish because the enemy is stalking them and someone within their inner sanctum is a Quisling rat helping their deadly foes. WOLF AT THE DOOR is a terrific paranormal romantic suspense fantasy that makes believers out of the audience from the start when Sullivan fails to listen to the babble of the vampire because he sniffs the 3 F’s (Femininity, fertility, and F***ability). The relationship between Sullivan and Cass is deftly developed with danger lurking everywhere and threatening not just their lives, but their love. Fans will take immense delight with this terrific thriller and want Others to star in future novels.

Oh Danny Boy
Rhys Bowen
St. Martin’s
ISBN: 0312328176, $23.95, 320 pp.

It is the beginning of the twentieth century and Irish immigrant Molly Murphy is one of the first female detectives working in New York City. It has not been easy for Molly to adjust to her new country especially since she discovers her beau NYPD Captain Daniel Sullivan was engaged to blueblood Arabelle Norton at the same time he was seeing her. Daniel is trying to get in touch with Molly by phone and visits to her abode, but she has successfully dodged his efforts. She is able to avoid him until a constable literally drags her to see Daniel, who is in the Tombs because he was arrested for accepting a bribe from a mobster in front of the police commissioner amongst others. The envelop he received was supposed to contain a list of underworld figures who want to sponsor an illegal activity, a prize fight, but instead held money. He needs Molly to prove he has been set up probably either to remove him from an investigation he was working on which includes doping a horse or that of the East Side Ripper serial killer. Molly knows the danger, but for personal reasons must help OH DANNY BOY. Rhys Bowen has created one of the most ferociously spunky heroines to grace the pages of a historical mystery series. Molly feels strongly that women can do anything men can do, sometimes better and demands equal rights and liberties at a time when females cannot vote. Although she is deeply hurt by Daniel’s betrayal, she still cares for the “rat” and willingly risks her life in some dangerous neighborhoods to prove he is innocent. The clues to the police cases and Daniel’s frame is laid out cleverly so that the audience can piece it together, but is not obvious and that makes for a pleasing puzzler inside a look back to a major immigration wave era.

The Dramatist
Ken Bruen
St. Martin’s
ISBN: 0312344716, $22.95, 288 pp.

In Galway six months have passed since Jack Taylor became clean and sober; no booze or coke. Even more shocking the local priest recognizes Jack who has been attending mass; albeit not to connect with Jesus but to hear Sonny Malloy sing. However, the fiftyish former cop is a realist as his dealer Stewart is doing six years in Dublin’s Mountjoy so finding a source for coke would be difficult. “Friend” Cathy, asks Jack to do Stewart a favor. Though he owes Stewart nothing, Jack is in debt to Cathy so he agrees to learn who killed his dealer’s sister twenty year old Sarah Bradley. Under her body was a copy of the Playboy of the Western World by John Millington Synge. Initially believing no murder occurred, Jack changes his mind when he soon learns a second student accidentally died with Synge’s book beneath the body. The finder soon finds links between his case to his own past and someone dubbed "The Dramatist", but who could this brilliant killer be, why Synge and how come everything ties back to Jack? Ken Bruen refreshes his Jack Taylor novels by sobering up the protagonist though he glibly explains that sobriety is not sanity. The investigation into who is the Dramatist is cleverly devised so that the audience sees more of who Jack is as his persona does not hide behind the raging out of control drunk of his previous appearances. Those who appreciate the crazed maniac will not find him in his search for the Dramatist as Jack is more deliberate and cerebral this time. However, you don’t know Jack if you think that Mr. Bruen fails to entertain as this is a strong fascinating entry that still will “Synge” readers as the antihero turns heroic searching more for personal salvation than a killer.

You Only Love Twice
Lori Wilde
ISBN: 0446615161, $6.50, 360 pp.

Marlie Montague was a Navy brat until her father was branded a traitor and killed. In her gut, she felt he was the victim of a government-industrial conspiracy. To that end, though she cannot restore her dad’s reputation, Marlie created an underground comic that starred a kick butt heroine Angelina Avenger, who challenged the abuse and excess of the powerful when they did wrong. Naval Criminal Investigative Service Special Agent Joel Hunter moves next door to Marlie as an undercover agent because his superiors think she is a subversive using her comic book to perform seditious acts. He believes she is agoraphobic, not a traitor and this babysitting job a waste of time and money, but his former father-in-law Admiral Delaney wants him away from DC and his daughter. He revises that opinion when Marlie flees her house to his insisting that a UPS delivery person tried to assassinate her; she hides from Joel that she “channeled” Angelina’s personality to escape. Now they team up in a dangerous mission that will most likely leave both dead with gravestones “marked” traitor. The key to why this is a super fun romantic suspense is the cast especially Marlie, who employs an alterego the Amazonian animated Angelina to help her in situations that she cannot cope with and not just enemy fire as Joel is as dangerous to her as the assassin. The quirky story line contains plenty of woman in peril scenarios, but never loses sight of the crafty amusing satirical look at conspiracies and superheroine females. On top of this, fans receive a fabulous romantic subplot making YOU ONLY LOVE TWICE a fine humorous contemporary thriller worth reading.

Some Like It Haute
Julie K.L. Dam
ISBN: 0446533408, $22.95

Texas expatriate Alex Simons writes fashion articles for the London-based The Weekly. Currently she covers Fashion Week in Paris with it’s Tuesday it’s Chanel. However, she makes an unbecoming entrance when her face and the left breast of six foot Latvian model Kayarina collide in a catwalk incident that makes the news. Humiliated, Alex wants to hide, but her editor tells her to write it up and get back to covering the shows. Alex attends the debut gala of designer Luis-Heinz, whose talent has everyone salivating. She tries to interview the brilliant recluse, but he refuses to talk to the media. Instead American consultant Nick Snow, the anti-fashion centerfold hunk, distracts her. The New Yorker is in town as a reality TV show star trying to obtain dates with models. When she learns why he is in town, Alex distrusts him even though he dumped the six foot models for her. However, when Heinz vanishes, Alex begins a quest to find him hoping to be compensated with one of his magical designs. This lighthearted satire is fun to read starting with the boob accident and never losing one Manolo step along the way in spite of some strange seemingly out of the fashion mainstream sidebars like the appearance of the French teacher and the hunt for Heinz. The story line never takes itself serious using the cast (except Nick) to portray the graveyard dead seriousness of the industry; for instance Alex uses Excel to dress properly. As the glaring exception Nick is a big dark stain on a white blouse. Fans of fashionable chick lit tales will enjoy this flippant reverence to fashion.

Lady Danger
Sarah McKerrigan
ISBN: 0446616176, $6.50, 368 pp.

In 1136 King David sends his most capable soldier Pagan Cameliand, a Norman, to take charge of Rivenloch on the Scottish side of the Borders, a key estate run by the ailing current lord’s daughters, the Warrior Maids of Rivinloch. The two older daughters, Deirdre and Helena notice two men watching them bath nude; so Deirdre sneaks out of the river and forces the peepers at sword point to hand her their under garment trews even knowing one of them is Pagan. Deirdre and Helena are stunned when they learn that Pagan is to wed their gentle younger sister Mirel. Instead Deirdre gets Helena drunk and locks Mirel in a room. She darns wedding garb and crouches pretending to be his fiancee Mirel who is a foot shorter than her; Deirdre becomes his bride. As they battle at sword point in the training area and the boudoir, Deirdre and Pagan fall in love and respect one another, but will need to trust each other if they are to stop raiders and marauders as the monarch expects of his top soldier. This is an entertaining twelfth century Borders romance starring two strong stubborn souls battling for supremacy. The story line is at its best when Pagan and Deirdre conduct their war, which is much of the novel. He is so good with a sword she is an amateur in comparison in spite of her reputation, which takes away from the possibilities of how their relationship could evolve if she was his dueling equal and not just with barbs. Still LADY DANGER is a fine historical tale with two brave individuals trying to do the right thing while love complicates their efforts.

You Can’t Hide
Karen Rose
ISBN: 0446616893, $6.50, 528 pp.

In Chicago psychiatrist Dr. Tess Ciccotelli is stunned by what is happening to her patients. An unknown assailant is somehow torturing them into committing suicide. For obvious reasons, Homicide Detective Aiden Reagan thinks the psychiatrist is either the culprit or hiding the perp especially since she refuses to provide him access to her records that she insists is protected under her oath to protect the privacy of those who come to her for help. Aiden is upset with the shrink for not helping him solve the case, but also respects her spunk and determination to do what she believes is right for the good of those who see her. As he gets to know her, Aiden concludes that an enemy wants her professionally discredited and goes after her family. Aiden assumes this unknown foe will soon target the doctor for his or her final act. The intrigue behind this action-packed serial killer thriller is guessing the motive behind why the culprit seemingly wants to destroy the psychiatrist by taking out her patients, leaving clues pointing at the doctor’s failures. The relationship between Tess and Aiden is attractive combatants so they add tension to the mix. The story line is filled with several grisly suicides which takes the suspense-filled story line at times over the edge but fans of Karen Rose will not care; just keep a calculator handy to keep score.

Marie Brennan
ISBN: 0446616982, $6.99, 432 pp.

Mirage is a hunter, trained at the Silverfire School that teaches freelancers to do whatever job is assigned to them. After a year on the road completing her assignments Mirage needs rest. Her “vacation” plans change where she meets her year-mate Eclipse. He has a two person commission from the Witches of Starfire Stronghold to find out who killed Tari-nakana, the key (a leader of a path) of the Fire Heart Path and the person who ordered the hit. Although she wants nothing to with witches, she accepts the job. Miryo is a witch at Starfire who passed the initiation test but is unable to control her magic making it dangerous for her to use it. She learns that the ritual used at birth to bring forth her magic at the age of twenty-five created a doppelganger who was supposed to be killed. Miryo’s doppelganger lived and she is the warrior Marage who was exposed to starlight which gave her a soul. When Miryo and Marage meet neither one is unable to kill the other. They decide to work together to find a solution that would allow all doppelgangers to live and acquire a soul while the five primes (the leaders of the witches) try to kill them. Eclipse chooses to stay with Mirage and Miryo. DOPPELGANGERS is a spellbinding, fantastic and unique fantasy due to the cast. Both Mirage and Miryo are two sides of the same coin except that one is a witch and the other a warrior. Although this is Marie Brennan’s first book, she proves she is a talented storyteller and a creative worldbuilder. Although there is a lot of action in this novel, the characters are fully developed and readers understand them because they have similar feelings and concerns as the readers do.

Beauty and the Spy
Julie Anne Long
ISBN: 0446616869, $6.50

In 1803 Richard sets out to prove that Thaddeus Morley betrayed his country; instead the patriot is murdered and his lover Anna Holt accused of the crime. Richard’s friend James Makepeace helps Anna flee London, but without her beloved three daughters, Susannah, Sylvie, and Sabrina; he promises to insure their safety. As she leaves behind all she cherishes, Anna knows she will love Richard forever, but never forgive him. In 1820 Susannah Makepeace enjoys her season when someone murders her adopted father James, leaving her with nothing as even her fiance dumps her. She moves into her aunt’s cottage in Barnstable where she sees a naked male swimming in a nearby pond. She sketches the sight in elaborate detail. His father has exiled him to Egypt to keep him out of trouble as the womanizing drunken Viscount Kit Whitelaw, as a loyal English spy, seeks to prove that Morley killed James. Instead of Egypt, he heads to the country following clues. When he meets the artist who drew the erotic pictures of him sparks fly. However, someone wants Susannah dead as mysterious accidents occur to her while Kit needs to uncover the truth about the woman who owns his heart. The first of three Regency romances starring the Holt siblings, BEAUTY AND THE SPY is a delightful historical tale. Readers will feel for Anna as she has learned one thing about her daughters over the seventeen years of exile that they are safe. She doesn’t know Susannah is not out of harm's way as her guardian is killed and an unknown assailant wants her out of the picture. Sub-genre fans will appreciate Julie Anne Long’s opening swing of the BATS while looking for ward to Sylvie Lamoreaux’s story.

The Shadebinder's Oath
Jeanette Cottrell
Dragon Moon
publisher @
ISBN: 1896944310, $19.95

Caprio the Being, who look like a goat, takes pleasure, if that is the right word to describe the emotions of a Caprine apparition, in causing troubles for the living. He lives to interfere with the human comedy though that frustrates his companion the Shadebinder, who wants rumors about them stopped. The cabinetmaker Farren knows first hand much about ghosts, shades, and spirits including his late Aunt Nan who nags him all the time about “living” conditions and surviving relatives. While most of his neighbors fear he is either insane or a Shadebinder, the enslaver of the dead, Farren refuses to hide. Anyone who Princess Mericia of Ailsandia cares about is lucky to die; worse is those who survive her kindness as they suffer unbearably. Feeling despondent she considers hiding from human contact. In the King’s Stable, Caprio begins his latest game ignoring the concerns of the Shadebinder. Using human greed as a tool, he sets in motion his ingenious plot to cause troubles as high as the King and as low as the stable boy. Only the two “outcasts”, Farren and Mericia, if they merge their talents, might see the true eyes of the world and stop the Being’s nefarious scheme. THE SHADEBINDER’S OATH is a terrific fantasy that grips the audience from the moment a young lad shows courage while on a dare to visit the Shadebinder in the King’s stable and never slows down until the final contest occurs. The story line is action-packed as Caprio does his Machiavellian machinations while two unlikely allies, the cabinetmaker and the princess, join forces to save the Kingdom of Ailsandia from the Being’s mischievousness and that of human foibles and follies. Jeanette Cottrell provides a wonderful tale.

The Rath Haven Chronicles: A Shadow of Light
Rachel DeFriez
Double Dragon
ISBN: 1554042496, $5.99 (download,

Bishop Larson informs Jack Weston that in Switzerland his father is in a coma and his mother is apparently dead though the body has not been found; Jack and his sister Jane will move to Rath Haven, Utah to live with their paternal uncle. Jack knows that “them” caused the car accident that took out his seemingly invincible parents as the latest skirmish because the Westons are Averiens, a people with special “gifts”. In Utah, Jane and Jack meet their cousin Will, who breaks all the rules as well as the rest of the family. Jane soon learns that her fairy grandmother is dying and only she can save her with the use of her Averien magic. Three problems stand in Jane’s way. First she must turn twelve before she can apply her own magic though she uses what is left of her grandmother’s wand; second she is trapped in a civil war between two fairy blocs; finally she seems to waste all her time getting Will out of trouble. Still, she is going to do the right thing and trusts that big brother Jack will assist her, but wonders whether she can depend on Will to help her? A SHADOW OF LIGHT is a terrific coming of age fantasy. Fans will root for the star Jane and her champion her brother Jack. However, Will is the most fascinating character as his antics lead him and his cousins in and out of trouble while adding a touch of amusement yet also serving as a key player in the climax. Rachel DeFriez provides a delightful enthralling fairy tale that readers of all ages will enjoy the adventures of the Weston siblings.

Isolation Ward
Joshua Spanogle
ISBN: 0385338538, $22.00, 391 pp.

Nathaniel McCormick, a hot dog investigator for the CDC, is on assignment in Baltimore Maryland at St. Raphael’s Hospital. Three mentally challenged females who live in group homes, two of their roommates have come down over the course of a few days with an illness that nobody can identify. Nathaniel finds out that two of the female roommates made love to include a menage de trois with Douglas Bachman who also lives at the group home. When other patients come down with the same illness, Nathaniel digs further into Douglas’s past. He is the only patient in the group home to have a cell phone and when the police trace it, the only number called is Gladys Thomas another patient in a group home in San Jose. Douglas’ body is soon found with all his organs removed. In San Jose, Gladys identifies Douglas as Casey but the next day she is found dead. Nathanial thinks it is murder just as he believes his mentor Dr. Harriet Tobel was murdered after leaving him a message on his cell phone. Dr. Tobel also recognized Casey and Nat wonders how because she is working on a way to transplant pig organs into humans through a grant from Chimeragen. He struggles to figure out the disease and the murderers if the perpetrators don’t get kill him before he succeeds. Joshua Spanogle’s debut book is as good as those of the medical thriller grandmasters Robin Cook and Michael Palmer. His protagonist begins the investigation as a hot dog and ends it by seeing that justice is served even if it means injuring himself to do so. The mystery is like a fun house maze, with some falls, twists, and turns and distorted reflections that propel the audience to read it in one setting so they can find out how all the sub-plots link together into a fantastic novel.

The Wall
Jeff Long
ISBN: 0743266161, $24.00

Thirty-five years ago buddies Hugh Glass and Lewis Cole climbed Yosemite's El Cap Mountain where they also met their future wives. However, now Hugh’s wife is gone and Lewis’ spouse is divorcing him. Yearning for a repeat of their greatest triumph, the two friends agree to climb El Cap again though they do not expect to find the respective highlight film of their lives when they met their beloveds. Hugh and Lewis are lonely, missing their wives, as they begin the ascent. However, they soon find a corpse of an apparent person who fell off the cliff. Shocked already, a wild caveman Joshua attacks the two climbers and abducts the body they found. They continue their trek when they run into a search and rescue guide Augustine who hunts for his missing fiancee. Lewis abruptly leaves the climb while Hugh joins the SAR guide on his quest to find lost climbers even as a nasty storm is coming and Joshua stalks the two men. The key element to this exciting thriller is the treatment of THE WALL; the mountain side seems like the prime protagonist with Hugh and Lewis acting more like major support players. For instance the description of the impact of gravity on a woman falling off the wall will shake the audience. The tension picks up as Hugh helps the SAR guide while Lewis leaves and never slows down through a shocking final twist that will leave the audience longing more natural thrillers like this tense tale.

The Secret Supper
Javier Sierra
ISBN: 0743287649, $25.95

In 1497 the “Soothsayer” warns the Papacy that art is the center of heresy and needs to be carefully monitored and if necessary censored. Taking the warning seriously with the Renaissance flourishing at the Vatican’s doorsteps, the Secretariat of Keys of the Papal States Pope Alexander VI sends Inquisitor Father Agostino Leyre to Milan to investigate the works of the growing popular da Vinci for any heretic secret missives and to uncover the identity of the Soothsayer. Leyre quickly becomes enthralled with da Vinci’s current work in progress, the Last Supper at the Santa Maria delle Grazie. The priest sees the beauty in the not finished masterpiece, but also becomes somewhat alarmed as he also believes the Soothsayer is right that da Vinci has slipped in some secret codes with what he leaves out as much as he puts in though the artist claims he had divine inspiration. To reveal what Leyre assumes is treacherous unorthodoxy means death of the artist as a heretic and destruction of the painting, but to not do so will place the Father at risk of abetting dissent towards the Church especially if the Soothsayer sends messages. THE SECRET SUPPER is a terrific thriller that uses the famous painting to tell the story behind the so-called Da Vinci code. The tale grips the audience as the Inquisitor begins to interpret what he assumes are heresies though he can see the beauty in the masterpiece. Adding depth to the fabulous Papacy vs. Leonardo plot is Javier Sierra’s intriguing interpretation of The Last Supper. This novel is a tense historical masterpiece.

Dirty Blonde
Lisa Scottoline
ISBN: 0060742909, $25.95

Although she is new to the federal bench, Judge Cate Fante presides over a complex intellectual property case in Philadelphia. Former prosecutor Richard Marz sues Hollywood producer Art Simone over who created the concept for the TV series Attorneys@Law. Fante rules in favor of the defense as she feels the plaintiff failed to prove he provided the theme. Following her ruling, someone kills Simone as he left a restaurant where he just finished dining with his attorneys. Because of his lost lawsuit, the police suspect Marz as the killer and assume he is gunning for Fante next. However, Marz proves to not be her biggest problem; a sleazy corrupt cop knows her dark nocturnal secret that if revealed would devastate the reputation of the almost fortyish seemingly pristine judge. This is an intriguing mystery starring a flawed judge who knows that if her nocturnal wanderings become public, her career on the bench is over and she and her family humiliated; though she knows the price of exposure, Cate cannot cease her late evening treks. The story line is action-packed but driven by the imperfections of the key cast, whose reactions to personal and professional crisis hook the audience as we wonder what he or she will do next. Though there are some very loose ties to Lisa Scottoline’s Rosato & Associates series, DIRTY BLONDE is a stand alone tale that smoothly blends the subplots into a terrific character-driven crime thriller.

Carved in Bone
Jefferson Bass
ISBN: 006075981X, $24.95

Cooke County, Tennessee “Lord High” Sheriff Tom Kitchings asks University of Tennessee physical anthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton of the Body Farm experiment to look at a body encased in a waxy substance found in a nearby cave that they left there. Fascinated by the remains, Bill realizes the victim, most likely a relatively tall female, was killed years ago, but somewhat preserved like a mummy by the cave’s climatic conditions. Using clues he finds on the victim he soon pinpoints the death to three decades ago. This shakes the narrow-minded totally homogenized populace as feuds left simmering but inactive explode. Rather quickly Tom demands Bill drop out of the official inquiry, but the anthropologist refuses feeling a need to provide closure to the deceased; perhaps he feels that way because of the recent death of his spouse or just the incompetence of Deputy Williams. Thus, Bill keeps investigating though the county officialdom and residents want him to back off or else. CARVED IN BONE is an interesting first “Body Farm” case that fans of forensic whodunits will appreciate. The story line is driven by the deep look at forensics science and to a lesser degree the cast especially Bill who seems obsessed with learning the truth. Fans of Cornwell will receive immense satisfaction from this fine work and look forward to more investigations by Dr. Brockton.

Dead Days of Summer
Carolyn Hart
ISBN: 0060724021, $23.95, 288 pp.

On Broward’s Rock, an island off the coast of South Carolina, Max Darling begins a new case, but shockingly fails to return home. His worried spouse, Death on Demand bookstore owner Annie, frantically calls the police. The cops begin a search for the missing sleuth. When they locate his abandoned vehicle, they also find the corpse of a young woman nearby and the murder weapon in the trunk of Max’s car. The media has a field day painting Max as a womanizing cheater who murdered his girlfriend, Vanessa Taylor. Not long afterward the police arrest Max charging him with homicide. Annie knows her spouse is faithful and no killer. She plans to prove both by going undercover with her only advisor being local mystery author Emma Clyde. In the award winning Death on Demand series, DEAD DAYS OF SUMMER may be the best novel to date. The story line focuses on the efforts of Annie and friends trying to do the impossible to prove that Max is not a killer or an adulterer although the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of his being both. This fine amateur sleuth cozy with some police procedural elements is filled with heart as a stunned Annie believes to the max in her beloved spouse.

The Fallen
T. Jefferson Parker
ISBN: 0060562382, $24.95

San Diego homicide detective Robbie Brownlaw suffers a head injury that causes his senses to go out of whack. He suddenly can see the colors of someone’s emotions when he or she speaks. Adjusting to his new world is not easy until he begins logically to work out the patterns. Soon Brownlaw becomes adept at reading people especially knowing when they lie. Back on the job, he and his partner, McKenzie Cortez investigate the murder of San Diego Ethics Authority Enforcement Unit investigator Garrett Asplundh, who was executed while waiting to meet with his estranged wife. Apparently Asplundh discovered major corruption amongst government officials and local financiers that made the investigator a prime target with numerous enemies all whom were motivated to see the victim eliminated. Robbie and McKenzie wonder who would actually resort to homicide. This is a terrific police procedural starring a cop recovering from a terrible head trauma adjusting to a radical change in his senses while also struggling in his failing relationship with his wife. The story line strikes a fabulous balance as the investigation provides insight into the victim’s not so stellar life and into the Brownlaw’s personal side to include his wife and his sensorial adaptation on top of a strong inquiry. Far from falling, T. Jefferson Parker is rising to the top of the sub-genre with his latest Brownlaw case.

Witch Cradle
Kathleen Hills
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590582543, $24.95

In 1951 St. Adele, Michigan, an ice storm knocks down a giant pine tree on the property of Mia and Nick Thorsen, who investigates the damage only to find money, Teddy Falk’s passport and papers in the uprooted WITCH CRADLE roots. Their neighbor Constable John McIntire visits the Thorsens to see if they are okay; they show him the find, which leads him to wonder if something sinister occurred at the Falk farm years ago. McIntire believes that Finnish-Americans Rose and Teddy Falk, who along with several compatriots, relocated to Karelia in the Soviet Union in 1934. He visits the abandoned Falks farmstead finding the remains of two people inside a cistern. As McIntire investigates the double homicide of the Falks, FBI agent Fratelli, in between his mission to destroy local Communists, tells the constable that Teddy lives in Detroit, having just come back from Russia. While the townsfolk including John’s wife Leonie want the case dropped, Fratelli uses the homicides to further his agenda. As the Red Scare surfaces including questions about where was McIntire in 1948, the constable follows clues that may lead to his destruction. WITCH CRADLE is a superb historical mystery that provides insight into two related eras, 1934 and 1951, linked by Communism. The action-packed police procedural contains a strong cast who react differently to each clue that McIntire uncovers as the specter of the Federal witch hunt frightens everyone even the lead cop. However, the story line belongs to the supporting historical tidbits that showcase the Depression Era migration of thousands of American-Finns from Minnesota and Michigan to Soviet Karelia and the anti-communist crusade of the McCarthy period. Kathleen Hills provides an insightful educating, yet definitely entertaining who-done-it.

Riders Down
John McEvoy
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590582586, $24.95, 266 pp.

Ninety-eight years old Chicago bookie Bernie Glockner lays odds of 1-5 against him seeing another dawn with the Professor personally visiting him. Though he provided the Professor with insider information on horse racing, Bernie would have won his bet when the Professor and his cohort help him take a dive from his ninth floor condo. The cops rule it is a suicide especially with a note left in his home. However, Glockner's nephew, horse owner and businessman with some mob-connections Moe Kellman would bet his life that his Uncle Bernie would never kill himself. He turns to Chicago Racing Daily columnist Matt O'Connor for help; asking him to investigate Bernie’s demise. Though still believing suicide as the off the books favorite, Matt begins making inquiries that soon make him wonder what the odds are he will see another dawn as two cold-blooded killers will not allow anyone to interfere with the fix. BLIND SWITCH is a wonderful horse racing mystery that compares quite nicely to the works of Dick Francis. RIDERS DOWN is a better horse racing thriller because few sleuths are as delightful and realistic as Matt is. His insight into racing and his need to uncover the truth make him a winner. Readers know immediately what happened to Bernie and who did it, but no one will care as John McEvoy provides a strong mystery that rides as smooth as Secretariat’s Belmont win.

Cocaine Blues
Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1596582438, $24.95, 360 pp.

It is the height of the London season, but the Honorable Phyrne Fisher is bored when the Colonel and his wife asked her to check on their daughter Lydia in Australia. She jumps at the chance. They fear that someone is poisoning Lydia because when they see her she looks sickly, but upon returning home she appears very healthy. Phyrne arrives in Melbourne loaded with baggage as she meets cabbies Bert and Cec, who take her to the Windsor Hotel. She meets Dorothy Bryant, who is waiting outside a certain establishment with a knife in her hands. She befriends the woman, who was almost raped by her employer’s son before getting fried. Phyrne gets revenge on the bloke and hires Dorothy as her maid; she also finds a way to meet Lydia at a soiree. She promises Cec and Bert she will help them find a butcher abortionist killing innocent girls. Phyrne also becomes entangled with a troupe of exiled Russian who seek revenge on acertain personthe person who got a family member hooked on coke. She promises to help them too as this is a part of a normal day for the reinvented Phyrne. This is the first Phyrne Fisher mystery, which introduces readers to the sleuthing origins of a highly regarded protagonist. She is a strong believer in women’s rights, but works within the system to get what she wants whether it is information or sex with a partner of her choice. As always 1920s Australia is fascinating as Kerri Greenwood uses vivid descriptions to make it come alive in the mind’s eye.

Desert Run
Betty Webb
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590582349, $24.95, 358 pp.

On Christmas Eve 1944, the crew of the German U-boat 237 escapes the sea of sand prison by digging an underground tunnel. As Kapitan Zur See Erik Ernst explains to his twenty seven POW subordinates that people live nearby in this desert, they understand that it means water is also nearby. They plan to raft down the river to Mexico. Desert Investigations private eye Lena Jones provides security to the crew of the documentary filming of Escape across the Desert that focuses on the German POW break over sixty years ago. She finds the nonagenarian star Kapitan Zur See Erik Ernst dead duct taped to his wheelchair, filled with a myriad of bruises that show he was violently beaten. Scottsdale PD Captain Kryzinksi, Lena’s former boss, heads the investigation because the case involves a VIP, Director Warren Quinn. Meanwhile Lena wonders where the victim’s Ethiopian caretaker, Rada Tesema is, as he should have found the body not her. Not long afterward the prime suspect Rada pleads with Lena to take the case so she can prove his innocence. Based on a real historical event, DESERT RUN is a terrific murder mystery that uses what occurred in 1944 Arizona as a basis for the modern day who-done-it. The case is so interesting that the fact that her business partner Jimmy Siswan (see DESERT NOIR) is leaving seems trivial in comparison though it hurts the heroine even while she is used to leaving having been a product of the foster home shuffle. Lena digs into the past seeking motives to the present crime that to her appears one of passion in which the beleaguered Rada had no cause to commit. Betty Webb provides a robust Desert investigative tale.

Full Tilt
Creston Mapes
ISBN: 159052506X, $12.99, 400 pp.

Now thirty-five-year old Everett Lester has become a rock and roll legend with his band DeathStroke. However, he went FULL TILT with the help of Karen, now his wife for a year, who prayed he would find salvation. He has and now he uses his God-given talent to help others find what he has found. Everett feels strongly that he must bring God’s word to help his brother Eddie addicted to gambling as well his nephew Wesley heavy into meth as a user and a vender for the mob. However, Wesley blames Uncle Everett and his former music for the death of his brother David; choosing to blithely ignore that his drug trafficking is the prime reason David is dead. Wesley sees an opportunity to destroy his born again uncle with the help of insane meth user Tony Badino. FULL TILT is a strong inspirational character study that in spite of Everett finding Jesus as his righteous soul and inspiration and has the love of a good woman, he still has unresolved issues. For instance he wants a child, yet his prayers remain unanswered as so far Karen has not conceived. His desire to bring salvation to his family is looked upon by his intended recipients as a pain in the butt born again Christian who should leave them alone. Though Wesley is too blind to see the truth and Tony too psychotic, fans will appreciate Creston Mapes’ latest powerhouse that carries the healing significance of love and faith in God.

All Things Hidden
Kathy Herman
ISBN: 1590524896, $12.99

From Ocala, Florida Sybil Armstrong calls Ellen Jones to tell her that she is worried about the latter’s eighty-seven years old father Lawrence Madison whose mind is slipping. Ellen tells her spouse Guy who thinks his dad Roland and her father should move in together at Seaport assisted living community. Roland’s mind is sharp, but he suffers from arthritis while Lawrence struggles with memory loss, but physically he is fine. Ellen thinks her dad has forgotten everything except the grudge he has held against her for four decades because she chose to attend college and work while he demanded she select marriage and raise a family. Her adult sons and her husband think she did both admirably. Lawrence wanders out of Seaport place by himself and is found at a murder scene that he may be the only witness to. Ellen worries that the killer will come after her helpless dad who in spite of his harsh condemnation of her, she loves with all her heart. Whereas she used to pray for the patience of Job, Ellen realizes her pride and her inability to forgive cost her as she reaps what she sowed for it is too late to tell her dad, suffering from Alzheimer’s, that she loves him. The third Seaport inspirational tale (see A SHRED OF EVIDENCE and EYE OF THE BEHOLDER) is a superb story that warns readers to show those they love how they feel while they still can. Ellen is a terrific protagonist learns through her granddaughter to turn the other cheek and show her love, but too late for her dad to understand.. The support cast, mostly her extended family, augment a deep relational novel.

Kill Me
Stephen White
ISBN: 0525949305, $25.95, 352 pp.

He is a patient of clinical psychologist Dr. Alan Gregory, happily married with a young daughter when he had a near death experience while skiing. He is fortunate to survive as his reflexes kept him alive, but as he explains to his shrink, he ponders an exit strategy struggling to decide the bankruptcy point in which death is superior to life. He signs a contract with the mysterious Death Angel Inc. in which he pays them in consideration for them to kill him when his lifestyle reaches the agreed-upon point of no return. When his health deteriorates, he soon learns about the hidden clauses in his contract starting with an incident caused by Death Angel agents that occurs while he drives with a passenger on I-70 in Colorado. His reflexes save their lives, but other drivers are hurt perhaps dead as nothing prohibits collateral damage. This thought provoking thriller will leave readers wondering at what point is life not worth living just like the nameless patient did and eventually acted upon to his regret. The fast-paced action story line never slows down yet propels the audience, even the err on the side of life crowd, to consider an exit strategy. Interestingly in what is probably his best work to date, Stephen White’s hero, Dr. Gregory serves as a support player to the anonymous star of the deep KILL ME.

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets
Eva Rice
ISBN: 0525949313, $24.95

In 1950s England since the Wallace family patriarch died financial woes threaten his survivors. His young widow, his son and his oldest child, eighteen years old Penelope scramble with what to do next as there is little time to mourn their loss of their dad and their station in life. In London, Penelope meets zany Charlotte Ferris. When they agree that Johnnie Ray is the greatest, they vow to be friends for life; neither defining further whether they meant either of theirs or Johnnie’s. Charlotte introduces Penelope to her cousin, a wannabe magician, Harry Delancy. She agrees to accompany Harry to his former girlfriend’s engagement party as he hopes to make her jealous and perhaps get her back. Soon Penelope becomes a fixture at parties. THE LOST ART OF KEEPING SECRETS is an intriguing 1950s British character driven “manners” tale. Charlotte is a wonderful protagonist whose evolution from a naivete girl to polished woman of the world (at least the Thames) makes for a fine sensitive tale as she swings like a pendulum between her attraction to Harry and other blokes like the invading Hollywood Yank. Eva Rice writes a poignant somewhat melancholy drama starring a wonderful young lady who sees the light of budding love, but has doubts that she wants to leave the comfort of the party lights.

Mourning Dove
Aimee & David Thurlo
ISBN: 0765315755, $24.95, 320 pp.

Special Investigation Ella Clah, head of the Major Crimes Unit on the New Mexico Navaho reservation, is busy working a series of car-jackings. The M.O. is simple. A woman pretends to need help with her car and when a male passenger stops; his car is stolen by a man hidden in another vehicle. When Ella and her partner Justine are called out for what looks like another car jacking, the victim this time is dead, his body riddled with bullet. The murdered man is Jimmy Blacksheep, who has just returned with other members of his New Mexico Natural Guard Unit from Iraq. As the investigation gets underway discrepancies between the car jackings and the murder become evident and Ella believes he was killed over something that happened in Iraq especially when she receives a five page story from him in the mail. While working this dangerous case, Ella’s personal life adds to her stress as her mother decides to get married again and her daughter’s father decides he wants custody. The Ella Clah novels are such a success because the characters grow and change over time so they never become static stereotypes. The murder mystery is well plotted with plenty of action and chase scenes while glimpse into the heroine’s personal life makes this entry and the series something very special. Aimee & David Thurlo are super talented writers who rival the works of Tony Hillerman.

Wild Ride
LuAnn McLane
ISBN: 0451217624, $13.95, 304 pp.

"Whip Lash". Living Large Magazine editor Janelle Portwood assigns travel writer Andrea Cooper to do a story on the highly successful Wild Ride Resort theme park for adults. She reluctantly accepts the assignment, but makes it clear she is unhappy with what owner Oliver Maxwell has done to the pristine island. They meet over a mustard-stained T-shirt and before they even know each other he gets her to come. That is followed by more sexual encounters as neither can stop their desires. "Hold on Tight”. Former rodeo star Travis Mackey has become a country music sensation with a hit single. Wild Wide Resort Entertainment Coordinator Krista Ross hires him to perform at the adult amusement park. However, once they meet, she wants a personal performance and he needs to make her his only fan in the boudoir. "Worth the Wait”. As a teen Jenna Wagner loved her friend Cole Forrester, but he only wanted a friendship with her. Now twenty-nine the schoolteacher assumes she is over her youthful crush and can share the honeymoon suite with him on an agreed upon platonic vacation as their newly married friends cannot go at this time. However, Cole soon finds he no longer wants a gal pal as he finds he wishes to make love with Jenna; she realizes she lied to herself about no longer desiring her roommate. These three novellas are amusing, lighthearted contemporary romances starring likable protagonists. Readers will enjoy the HOT SUMMER NIGHTS at LuAnn McLane’s WILD RIDE resort.

Twist and Shout Murder
Rosemary Martin
ISBN: 0451218191, $6.99, 304 pp.

After leaving her hometown of Richmond, Virginia for the excitement of New York City secretary Bebe Bennett follows her boss, the handsome and sexy Bradley Williams when he becomes head of the Ryan Modeling Agency. She loves him even though he calls her “kid” because he is a decade older than her twenty-two. She does a lot to light his fire including have her stewardess roommate buy her mod clothes, mini-skirts and go-go boots (after all the year is 1964). However, Bebe gets no satisfaction because Bradley is emotionally involved with the company’s lead model, Suzie Wexford, a woman who knows she is beautiful and sexy, and uses her attributes to climb to the top of her profession. One night Bradley leaves Suzie’s apartment to buy chocolate syrup, but when he comes back, he finds she is murdered, strangled with a scarf he gave her. The police,called by Suzie’s neighbor, arrest him. Bebe intends to prove his innocence as she is sure that the killer is one of the many people who confided in her that they hated Suzie. Using the vernacular of the youth of the swinging sixties, the music that was popular then, and the other aspects of the subculture of the teenage baby boomers, Rosemary Martin makes the era go-go in cool mod Technicolor. The heroine is an adorable character, a combination of steel and sock it to me vulnerability; readers hope that her boss sees her inner beauty and falls for her. There are plenty of suspects with viable motives and guessing who the killer is becomes part of the fun of this wonderful historical (my God my teen years are historical!) amateur sleuth mystery.

Bad Boys in Kilts
Donna Kaufman
ISBN: 0758211996, $14.00

“Bottoms Up”. In Glenbuie, Scotland, long time resident auto mechanic Kat Henderson is jealous of the attention that newcomer Yank Daisy MacDonnell, who inherited her late Aunt Maude’s stationary store, is getting. Especially galling is her long time friend Brodie Chisholm, owner of Hagg’s Pub, seems to want the American. Kat wants Brodie but assumes he would never consider making love to a grease monkey. Daisy tells Brodie Kat desires him. He thinks about this all night, but he like her fears risking their friendship. “On Tap”. Brodie’s brother Reese runs the local distillery. Daisy arranges to meet with him because she wants to apply her business acumen as a marketing expert to the town’s enterprises. The workaholic Reese is unable to concentrate as all he can think of is how he wants to make love with Daisy. She tries to stay professional, but finds she wants the reticent workaholic, but both fear making the first move. “Night Watch”. A third Chisholm sibling Tristan lives by himself herding sheep when he gets caught in a storm; at home he strips out of his wet clothing, but before he gets dressed he notices red lights and realizes a car is in trouble. He rushes outside naked to help, but the female driver Bree Sullivan sees a nude lunatic even as her car is threatening to be submerged by the rising water. He finally gets her out of the car and into his house. She tells him she is running away from fame, but neither can run away from desire. These three well-written contemporary interactive novellas star fun lead couples falling in love though in some ways the tales appear too similar with one another.

The Rogue’s Return
Jo Beverly
ISBN: 0451217888, $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1816 York in Upper Canada, British aristocrat Simon St. Bride feels he has enough evidence to see that Lancelot McArthur goes to jail for embezzling money and goods intended for the Indians. He needs to bring his proof to England. Currently, Simon plays whist when Lancelot makes a nasty insinuating comment about Simon’s friend Isaiah Trewitt and his prudish eighteen years old niece Jane Otterburn. Simon challenges Lancelot to a duel, which he accepts. The next morning, Jane busts in on the duel screaming that Isaiah is dying and wants to see Simon. Lancelot fires, but misses. Simon leaves without a shot. Apparently, the ailing Isaiah learned of the duel and was planning to fight Lancelot when his gun discharged. He begs Simon to marry Jane right now in front of him. Simon agrees as honor calls for him to do so. A reluctant Jane and Simon marry just before Simon dies. Simon’s friend fellow rogue Major Hal Beaumont promises to take Jane and the evidence to England if his pal dies in the duel. Meanwhile Jane mourns her loss, but also worries her true identity as Jane’s half-sister Nan will make Simon hate her. Still she owes him the truth. After dispatching Lancelot but hurt in the duel, Jane and Simon journey to England. On the trek, they fall in love, but a scoundrel plans to use her secret to save his hide from prison and gain wealth through blackmail. The eighth Rogue tale stars an incredibly courageous heroine whose bravery will touch the audience as few characters do. Simon’s adjustment to falling in love handled over time is a response to his admiration of his intrepid beloved. Though the villain proves too weak, fans will cherish this strong historical romance thanks to a wonderful lead pair. Jo Beverly pens another winner.

Lover Eternal
J.R. Ward
ISBN: 0451218043, $6.99, 464 pp.

About an hour north of Manhattan, Caldwell, New York is wracked by an underground species war between vampires and the Lessening Society slayers. Six chosen from selective breeding and special training have become the champions known as the Black Dagger Brotherhood, whose mission is to protect their undead brethren from their devastating adversaries. The Scribe Virgin who brought vampires into existence has cursed the deadliest of the Brotherhood warriors, Rhage with a dark side passion that makes everyone including his brotherhood wary of him. Also living in Caldwell is Suicide Prevention Hotline Volunteer Mary Luce who suffers from Leukemia. With the recent death of her mother and her own illness, she no longer believes in miracles. Mary a mute boy John who she introduces to her unflappable amazon neighbor Bella realizes the lad is on the verge of changing and will need help. Bella calls the Brotherhood and soon she, Mary and John come to the attention of the Lessoning Society who are not concerned with human collateral damage. Mary makes quite a pawn to use to destroy Rhage, who realizes she is his soulmate and will die to keep her safe even while she holds back from love as her time is short barring a miracle. The second Black Dagger Brotherhood tale (see DARK LOVER) is a terrific entry starring two star-crossed lovers who find a miracle in the arms of the other. For Rhage his beloved softens his rage while for Mary her beloved “fixes” her death sentence. There is plenty of action as the Lessening Society is lethally on the prowl capturing female pawns in their quest. Fans will want to bite into this terrific paranormal romantic suspense thriller due to the intriguing relationship between the lead pair.

Are You Afraid?
Carla Cassidy
ISBN: 045121806X, $6.99, 368 pp.

In Kansas City, therapist Jessica Langford runs a two hour evening radio show, Are You Afraid of the Dark? That provides advice to those with phobias. However, a caller states that Jessica fears cemeteries. Her producer Chris Mathison asks if she is okay as Jessica goes pale. She thinks back to eighteen years ago as a teenager when the T&B serial killer buried her alive at Hillside Cemetery at Camerson Jackson’ gravesite, but she was rescued; the perp was never caught. Detective Jake Merridan investigates several recent homicides of young females. His failure to make progress, as a serial killer surfaces, frustrates him. Jessica knows who stalked her on the air as he is back but plans this time she plans to confront her fear and the T&B killer. Her efforts take her into the midst of Jake’s inquiries and he soon sees a tie with the physical looks of the victims and the radio therapist. As they fall in love, he vows to keep her safe from a serial killer who is either a copy cat or the return of the T&B. ARE YOU AFRAID? is an intriguing serial killer police procedural romance. Jake is a fascinating lead as he struggles with a case going nowhere until he meets Jessica and his frustration changes as he needs to keep his beloved safe. Jessica has come a long way from the frightened sixteen years old near victim, but answers affirmative to the title question. Though how T&B kept his obsession in check for so long yet now is obsessed to finish the job seems odd, fans of suspense thrillers will want to read Carla Cassidy’s captivating novel.

Dark Side of the Moon
J. Carson Black
ISBN: 045121725X, $7.99

Arizona Department of Public Safety criminal investigators Laura Cardinal and her new partner Richie Lockhart investigate the murders of camping newlyweds, college students, Dan Yates and Kellee Taylor by Cataract Lake. Apparently someone fired a shotgun through the tent when the married couple was sleeping killing both. No footprints anywhere near the crime scene or any evidence surfaces as the assailant seems to have gotten away with the homicides. Laura still recuperating from her last case with a serial rapist-killer (see DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN), struggles not to kill Richie, who gets on her nerves with his unprofessional (at least in her mind) attitude. Still the case comes first; she obtains a copy of the list of wedding guests and begins her inquiries with the male victim’s sister, Shana and her boyfriend Bobby Burdette. She soon finds seemingly “coincidental” links including a potential eco-terrorist threat to the nearby Colorado River and her deceased former mentor Frank Entwhisle haunts her without helping her with her investigation, but nothing provides the motive to the double homicide. Though Laura’s life seems a bit more cluttered then in her debut tale, she remains a terrific courageous law enforcement official struggling with a case that has no clues at the crime scene and no motive to who would want both dead. To solve the double homicide, Laura needs to make a paradigm switch on why both were murdered. Fans of police procedurals will appreciate her latest investigation which is handicapped by an albatross of a partner and a ghost who offers nothing except doomsday ramblings.

John Ringo
ISBN: 1416520643, $26.00

Former Navy SEAL Mike Harmon uses the large award he received for his recent rescue mission (see GHOST) to travel. Currently he is in the Caucasus Mountains touring the former Soviet state of Georgia looking for the Bakuriani Resort when a blizzard leaves him stranded and in need of shelter. He is fortunate as a young girl Katrina rescues him and takes him to her home in a remote area over the objections of her father. The American likes the tranquil area and soon buys the land. Harmon rules in his fiefdom with kindness towards the natives, but soon finds that Eden has its outside snakes. He organizes the local tribe, the Keldara, to protect them from Chechen raiders and begins to learn their customs and heritage. However though he is their ruler, the Keldara hide some information from their foreign warlord. Mike Harmon is a fascinating hero who epitomizes the maxim that power corrupts as he learns that moral issues are not simple up and down votes; choices for the good of one person can negatively impact another. The story line is action-packed as expected with a John Ringo tale, but as in GHOST, once again Mr. Ringo provides a thought provoking character driven thriller (not a military sci fi) as his champion finds the paradox of ethics means someone, often an innocent, gets hurt. This is a great sequel from Mr. Ringo.

Sharper than a Serpent’s Tooth
Simon R. Green
ISBN: 0441013872, $6.99, 256 pp.

In the heart of London accessible to only a few people lies Nightside, a city within a city. It is a dark and gloomy place, where magic works and creatures from myth and legend as well as humans reside there. One of the residents is private investigator John Taylor who with a friend has just returned on a journey to the past where he finally learns who his mother is. She is Lilith, Adam’s first wife, who created Nightside, as her domain where the forces of Hell and Heaven can not travel. The gods that are worshipped in Nightside are her children, begotten by consorting with demons. When she became too dangerous, a spell was cast banishing her to Limbo but now she has returned and wants to remake Nightside and the Earth in her image. John intends to stop her using any means available and gathers a wide array of characters to help him defeat his mother. Everything they try fails and it looks like the nightmare from John’s trip to the future is coming to pass. In a last desperate attempt to save his city and the world, John is prepared to sacrifice himself if a plan he thought up actually works. Nightside is a place people who are attracted to the macabre will want to visit but is not a place one can stay too long because it casts a hold on you so that the visitor will never want to leave. John, who has been hounded for years because of the prophecy that he will destroy Nightside, is willing to die if it means his city will survive. Simon R. Green has written a captivating tale starring heroic and endearing character whose thoughts when he is in danger are hilarious.

Red Lighting
John Varley
ISBN: 0441013643, $23.95, 336 pp.

Over two decades ago Ray Garcia-Strickland’s parents and his Uncles Travis and brilliant scientist cousin Jubal flew to Mars using old railroad tank cars and the Squeezer energy-drive to make a safe landing. Jubal invented the Squeezer as a free energy source that defies the laws of physics and can only be produced by him. Now Earth has a clean cheap source of energy which allows “Earthies” to visit the colony of Mars and see the sights. One day something going at a phenomenal speed hits the ocean causing a giant tsunami that wipes out the eastern seaboard of America. Three months later an invasion fleet from Earth lands on Mars looking for Jubal who escaped his hosts in the Falkland Islands where he was heavily guarded against kidnappers from other governments. They torture the Stricklands because whoever is behind the invasion believes the couple knows where Jubal hides. The invaders eventually free the Stricklands hoping that Jubal will contact them; when he does it is up to seventeen year old Ray to figure out how to free Mars and keep Jubal safe and happy. Readers get to see what damage a tsunami can do when the Stricklands fly to earth to rescue Ray’s grandmother. This is an action packed space thriller in which one man is so valuable, governments, businessmen and politicians will go to any lengths to find and keep him. Jubal is an endearing child-like man who is heartbroken to see that his discovery has a dark and evil downside. Ray is the narrator and the story is told in the first person, which gives readers a ringside seat to the tsunami and the after-effects as well as the ethical dilemma Jubal finds himself in. RED LIGHTING is filled with action and populated by characters readers will care deeply about.

Resenting The Hero
Moira J. Moore
ISBN: 0441013880, $7.50, 304 pp.

Their ancestors landed on a planet that had more natural and dangerous disasters than they could cope with so many left while the hardy ones stayed. Over time, the Source came into being; men and women who could control the disasters and make them dissipate. Shields came into being to protect the mind and body of the Source otherwise they would die from an overload of energy to their body. Dunleavy Mallorough has studied for years to become a Shield and now has a chance to be bonded with her Source. The two candidates she doesn’t want as her Source are Steven Creol who is said to be cruel and has never been able to bond with a Shield and Karish, an aristocratic hedonist, as the rumors go. Unfortunately, the bond between Shield and Source steps into place for Karish and Dunleavy. They are sent on their first assignment to Highscape, a city with many natural disasters and seven bound pairs of Sources and Shields to keep things stable. Dunleavy does her best to keep Karish and his winning personality at a distance but in spite of herself, she learns to care for him. When he is kidnapped a friend of hers discovers where he was taken only to discover that she has walked into a trap and if she can’t get out of it, thousands will die. This incredible romantic fantasy will appeal equally to fans of both genres. The sexual tension between the two protagonists is so strong that readers will feel sparks fly off the pages. The hero and heroine are strangely likeable with one filled with excess pride and the other a confirmed sensualist. There are a lot of surprises in store for the audience as the Source and the Shield learn there are more to their powers than they were trained to use.

The Thirteenth House
Sharon Shinn
ISBN: 0441013686, $24.95, 432 pp.

On Lord Tilt’s land, shape-shifter Kirra Danalustrous with the help of her odd companions successfully stop three nobles from either killing or bartering Lord Romar Brendyn the Regent. Following that escapade she returns home only to learn that her family disowned her “title” for coveting a married man, Lord Romar, but also lovingly welcome her back. Her younger half-sister Casserah has the title mantle, but does not want it as she does not wish to attend the summer parties hosted by Gillengaria’s Twelve Houses; to not attend is a nasty insult. Kirra and Casserah “switch” places as the former shape shifts to look exactly like her younger sibling. Kirra disguised as her sister attends the Twelve Houses’ galas though her motive besides helping Casserah is to learn more about the nobles’ plot to overthrow King Baryn and to protect the Queen and her daughter also on the circuit. Kirra never anticipated that she and her beloved would end up as “guests” of the occupants of THE THIRTEENTH HOUSE. The second Twelve Houses fantasy (see MYSTIC AND RIDER) is a delightful tale that grips fans from the moment that Kirra forces an invitation to stay at Tilt’s home and never slows down even when the lovers berate themselves for their unacceptable feelings. The action-packed story line is fast-paced starting with the rescue and never slows down as the royalist supporter Kirra shapeshifted into Casserah makes the rounds of the festivities. Though the villains seems underdeveloped especially in comparison to the lovebirds, epic fantasy readers will appreciate Sharon Shinn’ stupendous story.

Rob Thurman
ISBN: 0451460758, $6.99, 352 pp.

His mother is human trailer-trash and his father is a “demonic sperm donor”. Cal can live with being a half monster though he does not like either of his parents. He has more problems with his ever perfect sibling, Niko, who does everything much better than Cal does. Still the brothers are close. Their closeness is put to the test when the insane Auphes mutant elves, better known amongst the in crowd as Grendels, attack the brothers. They fight back when forced, but mostly flee because the odds of winning are nil. The Grendels need the half monster to help them achieve great power. On their quest for safety the brothers run into a supernatural hodgepodge from a canine who once was human to Puck selling used cars to weird humans who should have been paranormal, but then again this is New York. NIGHTLIFE is a terrific coming of age urban fantasy starring a likable teen Niko and a not so likable sarcastic Cal, whose mockery can become irritating for us older readers even if it seems genuine; a little silent Cal would have been less realistic but nice. Together they are a formidable loyal team until women begin to strain their allegiance to one another. Even with this strong cast, the astuteness of the exhilarating story line besides making sure that all the purebred, hybrid, and lesser begat monsters seem real lies in the delightful way Rob Thurman presents clues as to why everyone is after Cal. Fantasy fans will want more treks around New York starring the dynamic siblings.

Moonlight & Vines
Charles de Lint
ISBN: 0765309173, $14.95, 384 pp.

This is reprint of an early Newford anthology with most of the entries having been written in the mid to late 1990s; “If I Close My Eyes Forever” and “In the Land of the Unforgiven” are brand new entries. Each well written tale brings to life the common theme of social justice for even the fringe. As always the tales come from the perspective of those either at the bottom rung or in the ooze below the food chain instead of the power brokers. Thus the audience sees Newford in a different light than typically seen (while politicians at all levels and both parties rapture culpability on TV, those left behind “starred” in the pictures on the news during Katrina); fascinatingly this also may leave the tales’ protagonists in jeopardy of being put away for not seeing the proper light, in this case the magic of the city. MOONLIGHT & VINES is Charles de Lint at his social conscience best, but done in an entertaining slice at life.

Orson Scott Card
ISBN: 0765309041, $14.95

Dissolute and haughty Lanik Mueller is the heir to his family’s ruling of Planet Treason. Like his kin, Lanik has the ability to regenerate injured flesh; unlike his clan, he can also freakishly regenerate body parts, which he barters for iron with the offworlder traders. A bored Lanik believes his destiny is in the stars and not with this backwater barbaric orb so as he obtains iron he plans to construct a spaceship. While passing time, the bored Lanik soon awakens to a treachery that if achieved will destroy his family and devastate the planet. He begins a counter-plan as he finds a reason to live on his home-world. Soon Lanik will also discover he is not just a Rad with body regeneration skills, he has other powers that he will need if he is to truly free the various species living on Treason. In 1988 Orson Scott Card tightened as he says 10% of his novel A Planet Called Treason; this is a reprint of the revised tale. The action-packed story line is a coming of age science fiction tale as Lanik goes from indifference to champion. The key to this fine thriller is the differing species residing and squabbling on the planet as young Lanik tries desperately to bring them together before disaster strikes. Mr. Card has taken what was a fun tale and turned it into a terrific taut novel worthy of his later works.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Public and Other Places
Lenore Weiss
Canyon Oaks Press
645 Canyon Oaks Drive, Oakland, CA 94605
no ISBN, $5.00, 28 page chapbook

In this chapbook, Lenore Weiss poetically records the clutter of modern life made bearable by rare glimpses of nature, memories of love, and small moments of humor or pathos. Her style is straightforward, hiding nothing. "Cleft Chin, Green Eyes" is a thoroughly delightful poem that combines nature, love, and humor. I quote only the first verse as an example:

I'm in my room surrounded by books
a new watercolor on the wall
Mediterranean blue of the East Bay sky,
a building made of ice cream cones
and hot fudge sundaes
drip on the sidewalk of my memory
how I got here pursuing a cleft chin, green eyes.

In "Highland Hospital", Ms. Weiss writes of hearing ambulances leaving and arriving with their sirens blaring 24/7. Mundane tasks of everyday life continue, despite the noise, except for this stunning contemplation:

So do you think villagers living outside
Dachau and Auschwitz gradually
didn't hear each train as it pulled into the station,
wheels groaning to stop? Did they listen, like me,
then go about their business?

And in "Ode to Lake Merritt" she remembers younger days, questions a life of running around in circles:

Have I just been going around and around myself, with no
dead center, the morning news playing in my ear, a three-day
world AIDS conference, what would it mean if lakes were surrounded
by people who walked for anti-viral drugs to be cost-free?
I've threaded my history along its worn shore.
Are the changes in the Lake or me? I'm not sure anymore.

The poems in this chapbook are thoughtful, deeply felt, and express emotions every human experiences. This is a book to savor during quiet moments.

Come Untogether
Lenore Weiss
Canyon Oaks Press
645 Canyon Oaks Drive, Oakland, CA 94605
no ISBN, $5.00, 27 page chapbook

This is the third chapbook I've reviewed by Lenore Weiss and my sentimental favorite. Come Untogether speaks to the power and pain of love. Her words beautifully portray the essence of how it feels to be female.

"Words" is a thumbprint of this poet's past, listening in childhood to friends gathered, gossiping around her mother's kitchen table:

All these years, I've followed them,
how a minyan of words tells a story
reveals music and meaning
of a person's life...

The focus of the short poem "Always" could be anyone the poet ever loved. The brief word picture she created here stayed with me in its haunting:

I will always love
the shape of your sadness
with its sinking weight.

In "Bosch and Stuff", Ms. Weiss writes of romance that does not always run smooth with a man possessing "spiny bristles / that maimed on touch." One verse stood out because of the memorable metaphors:

Sometimes I think
only stubbornness
kept us boxing
with the ghosts
that diced our sentences
into fragments.

"Can't Our Family Be Like Everyone Else's?" will speak to a multitude of readers who have asked the same question about their own family or marriage:

Because the truth is there really is no everyone else,
only the two of us washing through the sieve of each day, making sure
we come out of it in one piece... with your loud mouth and smart answers,
and me acting like I know what's best for everyone
when I've never chosen that for myself.

I appreciate the illusions created by this poet and her straightforward use of words. You won't have to guess at obtuse meanings while reading poetry by Lenore Weiss. Her work is highly recommended.

Business Plan
Lenore Weiss
Small Poetry Press
P.O. Box 5342, Concord CA 94524
no ISBN, $5.00, 12 page chapbook

I first learned of Lenore Weiss after reading poetry on her blog site. A web search of her name provided multiple listings of journals where her poetry can be found. Such discoveries of poets previously unknown to me is a profound pleasure in my life.

In Business Plan we meet the professional woman. The poems in this chapbook represent her working world and the attendant technology, computer savvy, and consumerism. "In the Car Pool Lane" reflects the thoughts, drive, and breathless ratrace of all commuters everywhere. I quote one small excerpt:

We are car-poolers,
troubadors of traffic,
merging into the diamond lane,
three or more
is the magic number.

And that consumerism I mentioned? "Consumer Confidence Song" tells the tale with ironic humor, as in this excerpt:

Where would the country be without mad
money filling up shopping carts, longing
for things? Be sure to read the warning --
this week designer clothes ignite.

"Westminster Eclogue" is the last poem in this book, and a favorite of mine. In it, Ms. Weiss captures modern life, city life, but also skillfully separate the urban world from the natural in this excerpt:

Under low lying branches, oaks touch the straw of summer's
dry weeds munched to spear point by a herd of rented goats
to keep wildfires from the Oakland hills near Joaquin Miller's
adobe where Stellar's Jays alert each other to city work crews
pruning brush
along the roadway casting whole branches into a steel hopper
for mulching...

Any person who ever worked in the city will relate to this book. And those of you who appreciate poetry would do well to discover Lenore Weiss.

Stories in the Old Style
Al Sim
P.O. Box 30314, Winston-Salem NC 27130
ISBN: 0977228339, $18.00, 255 pages

Al Sim's short stories have appeared separately in many publications. How perspicacious of Press 53 to gather these 18 stories into a book! Mr. Sim does, indeed, write in a style reminiscent of John Steinbeck and Jack London - old style. Critics have alternately described him as a writer with a "shrewd and unrelenting voice," and a writer of "honesty and grace." Depending on which story you are reading at the time, both descriptions apply.

Consider the following excerpt from "The Bootleggers Toes" for example. This quirky story demonstrated with dark humor the tactics humans will pursue to ease their morbid curiosity:

"John Dilts had not previously appreciated his toes. He had mostly cursed them, for he was forever stubbing them in the dark while dressing in the morning. He had a quick step and would smash a toe pretty thoroughly. They had become scarred and gnarled ahead of their time, testy and inflexible. Now he lay in bed and looked down at his bandages. He twitched his remaining toes and winced. It wasn't the pain he winced at, thought there was plenty of that. It was the sickening sense of absence, the false feeling of movement, the shrug of little phantoms."

Each story has its own hook. Memorable characters battle hunger or drought, struggle with pride or vengeance, move forward courageously with humor and hope, or flounder helplessly with their demons. Many of these stories literally made my hair stand on end as I read them because Sim's words inhabit the minds and hearts of his characters so realistically.

Stories in the Old Style, the fourth excellent book of short stories published by Press 53, is highly recommended.

Vagabond's Blend: A Pocatello Blend Chapbook
Thomas Klein and Alan Johnson
Blue Scarab Press
P.O. Box 4966, Pocatello ID 83225-4966
no ISBN, $3.00 plus $1.00 shipping

Thomas Klein teaches medieval studies and Alan Johnson teaches postcolonial studies at Idaho State University. This pairing makes a fine poetic showing as they journey to an exotic past, two vagabonds sharing their separate experiences.

I chose "Catullus #49" in its entirety as Thomas Klein's contribution. Out of five excellent poems, this one ties together past and present in ways that intrigued me:

Now spring knocks warmth from frost
now sky's rage at equinox
falls still at Zephyr's laughing breath.

So leave, Catulle, these plains of Troy
the sultry billow of Nikea's acres -
and we'll fly to the bright cities of Asia.

Now the vagabond mind yearns to wander
now the feet twitch in eagerness, oh
sweet bands of comrades

whom leaving home together long ago
different roads return diversely.

In example of Alan Johnson's poetry, I chose excerpts from "On First Seeing the Taj Mahal." This contemplative work is lyrical, beautiful, and connects us to the mind of a man who left love's legacy to the world:

What could possess a man in grief
to conjure above his select wife a tomb
that billows in the Jamuna's hot winds
or under a mica moon,
that stumps your best attempts
to fit it to the mind's
groove -

Like a fond farewell,
the throng waves us through the arch to
the other side, to
the marble dome,
a bubble,
a great and perfect gasp
of one man's grief.

Klein and Johnson are an ideal blending, rare beans combined to perfection for the reader's enjoyment. And that is exactly what Blue Scarab Press intended to accomplish with their Pocatello Blend series.

Kant's Last Cup: A Pocatello Blend Chapbook
Roger Schmidt and Camille Schmidt
Blue Scarab Press
P.O. Box 4966, Pocatello ID 83225-4966
no ISBN, $3.00 plus $1.00 shipping

Roger Schmidt is a Professor of English at Idaho State University. His daughter, Camille, attends the University of Vermont majoring in Human Development and Family Studies. As did all prior Pocatello Blend pairings, this father and daughter bring their own gifts to the series. Their prose feeds the senses. I could see, hear, feel, taste, and smell the world around them. No greater compliment can be paid a writer.

In Roger Schmidt's reminiscence, he speaks of his daughter:

"My daughter is twenty years old. This is the story of how she slept when she lived at home here in Idaho, though I have also included a few details of how she sleeps now in Vermont, where she is attending college. It is not much of a story, though I do have a theme, a timeless one, and that is the mutability of human life:

our lives melt away like the morning frost.

Looking from her window on a summer evening, my daughter would have seen, beyond the crab apples, three or four large trees in the distance, elms and ash, along with the steeple of a brick church on the next block over (now used as an art gallery and apartments). A line of power poles trailing down the alley leads the eye northward, beyond the trees and church, out to where the sagebrush stretches for a hundred miles or so, and where late in the day a few wispy clouds drift above the horizon."

In these two excerpts, Camille Schmidt picks up her father's theme and carries the message to our senses a step further:

"Savoring food is something my dad feels strongly about. He claims food tastes better with your eyes closed. He says vision weakens the other senses and that if you close your eyes the taste and texture of food is heightened dramatically. He has actually spent entire meals eating and talking to us with his eyes closed. He looks kind of absurd, and he usually spills quite a bit, but it makes him happy.

Last October my mom sent me a package of pesto she had made, along with some tomatoes from the garden. I almost cried when I opened it. For breakfast the next morning I made bagel sandwiches with the pesto and tomato and ate them in my dorm room with my friends. The sandwiches were delicious, but I enjoyed them even more because when I closed my eyes, I could imagine I was at home with my family, sitting at our kitchen counter, watching my dad carefully erase a few letters in his crossword puzzle."

I enjoyed the techniques used by these two writers to pique the reader's interest. Roger and Camille Schmidt welcomed guests into their world with their lyrical and hospitable prose.

In the Arms of Words: Poems for Disaster Relief
edited by Amy Ouzoonian
Sherman Asher Publishing
P.O. Box 31725, Santa Fe NM 87594-1725
ISBN: 1890932302, $16.00, 116 pages

This beautiful collection of poetry addresses tragic, recent natural disasters. The fine poets represented here eloquently offer themselves, their hearts and spirits, along with hope and a helping hand. Whether famous or relatively unknown, poets from the U.S. and around the world answered Editor Amy Ouzoonian's call for submissions. All profits from this book go to AmeriCare for disaster relief. Their website is

When reviewing an anthology with multiple poets, it's impossible to shine a light equally on individuals. I chose small samplings of poems for the thoughts conveyed. Brett Axel's poem, "January 1, 2005" for example, encourages humans to learn from animals:

What I have learned in 2004 is that,
should my pets unexpectedly
become agitated, should they scratch
at the door until I let them outside,
should they make a dash for high ground
as fast as their furry legs can run,
I will be scooping up my children
and getting us the hell out of Dodge.

Haiku is a poetic form that communicates much in few words. Jorgen Johansson submitted haiku in English with a Swedish translation:

treacherous sea
the bellbuoy
dead silent

Nature's shock and awe rivals anything man can imagine. Even survivors far removed from disaster grieve for those who lost loved ones. In a chilling poem, "Beyond This Breath," Victory Lee Schouten empathizes with women who have lost their mates:

Your body must miss him so much.
Beyond the grief, no old age shared.

Beyond the shock of sudden death,
trying not to think of how scared
he might have been.

Your lonely body listens,
impossible to believe
he won't be coming home.

Tonight I rub my man's shoulders,
memorize his spine with fingertips.
Mine. Mine for a breath,
so brief our time.

The entire world was saddened by the tsunami and Katrina. We cried, especially, for the innocent children ripped by nature from their parents' helpless arms. And we cried for selfless heroes who died trying to save one child, one person, one pet. As George Wallace says in "While You Were Sleeping," we cried because " the eyes of the innocent the wind blew bigger than the lies of presidents..."

In the Arms of Words is highly recommended.

Tales from Comanche County: The Peculiar Education of Max Freeman
Max Yoho
Dancing Goat Press
3013 SW Quail Creek Dr., Topeka KS 66614
ISBN: 0970816014, $12.95, 228 pages

I'm always delighted when a Max Yoho book arrives in the mail because I know the reading experience will be fascinating. This is one writer whose brain I'd enjoy picking. Tales from Comanche County is humorous fiction, a hilariously skewed version of history, religion, science, and Kansas life in general. The Old West - of which Kansas was a part - grew up on tall tales such as Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe. I would not be one bit surprised if Babe and Bunyan lived in Comanche County.

These tales are told from the perspective of young Max Freeman, nephew to Jack and Tildy Freeman of Comanche County, Kansas. Max spent his summers with Jack and Tildy, soaking up Jack's considerable knowledge about life. Uncle Jack farmed a place where cockleburs and rattlesnakes were his most successful crops, in a time where praying for rain was their main entertainment. Well, there WAS that baseball game between Kansas and Oklahoma one year where Max learned everything a person needs to know about the game. Kansas came up a little short of players, though, so armadillos had to man the outfield and rattlesnakes had to stand in for first and third basemen.

Uncle Jack knew a lot about baseball, and even more about snakes, the birds and bees, the Civil War, and fossils. And he could explain the Bible in ways any layman could understand - mostly at the business end of a .45 Smith and Wesson, which he called St. Smith and St. Wesson. Max benefited greatly in later years from Uncle Jack's morality lessons straight out of the Bible. In fact, every belief Max held as an adult had been formed as a boy learning at Jack's knee. He was indeed blessed to have an uncle who was a noted historian, renowned scientist, and early developer of prosthetics. Readers will be greatly impressed by the leg prosthesis invented for Captain Jack O'Hare, Uncle Jack's loyal and courageous Aide-de-Camp. That O'Hare is a jackrabbit does not diminish his importance.

Life with Jack Freeman was often so nerve jangling that Aunt Tildy prayed for a migraine to ease the tension and aggravation. And in adulthood, Max has trouble convincing the hallowed halls of Academia that Uncle Jack's knowledge was soundly based on fact. For some reason, professors in the history department of an unnamed university flat refused to recognize Max's version of Kansas history. What a shame those professors had to be so closed-minded. The archeological, scientific, and historic knowledge Max learned from Jack Freeman would have been a boon to mankind and added greatly to university curriculum.

Luckily, that knowledge is not lost. Those wishing to enhance their education can do so by reading Tales From Comanche County. That big university's loss is your gain.

The Revival
Max Yoho
Dancing Goat Press
3013 SW Quail Drive, Topeka KS 66614
ISBN: 0970816006, $12.95, 200 pages

Max Yoho is the King of charming humor. In my experience, as both reader and reviewer, he has no equal. My grins, chuckles, and outright guffaws started in the first paragraph of The Revival. And Yoho's humor is not politically correct, which only adds to his appeal as writer and storyteller.

Edwin J. Stamford, age eleven, is the hero of this book. Edwin spares his family nothing in the telling of one week in summer in the 1950s. It's revival week in Epic KS. The Methodists and Holy Rollers are competing, with a goal of saving souls from Hell. Small town sins and foibles are revealed, and none more pronounced than those of Edwin's family. His sister Irene is a nemesis and plaguing thorn in his side. Readers can't blame Edwin for enjoying situations that refocus Irene's attentions away from terrorizing him. One particular passage involving a bee and an outing in the family car is memorable:

"I guess if you could cross-breed a screaming Ubangi, a table saw, and an octopus using an eggbeater, you could have an idea of Irene's reaction to one single little money-making honey bee innocently observing its environment. For a girl of Irene's size, she cleared the back of the front seat in an amazingly short time. Landing between Mom and Dad, she didn't slow down, but with her fingernails, commenced trying to wear an escape hole in the windshield. Dad stood on the brake and Judas Priest-ed the world until we screeched to a stop by the side of the road."

Grandma and Grandpa spend Revival Week with Edwin's family. Grandma has her own frailty - a multi-tonal flatulence that communicates better than words. But Edwin has more than Grandma's farting to consider. A world of wonder awaits as he discovers breasts in the form of a cast-off brassiere, a Voodoo Queen's toes, snake bite cure in the form of blackberry brandy, and his first experience with a rectal thermometer. Such wonders reveal themselves against the backdrop of Old Time Religion in the form of revival meetings where Dad makes up his own blasphemous words to each old hymn. Life's curiosities are sometimes overwhelming for a boy, but Edwin has his alter ego Snake Shadow to rely on in a pinch. What Edwin can't overcome, good old Snake Shadow can.

Max Yoho combines humor with memories of times past more effectively than any writer I know. His work is delightful, engrossing reading, and highly recommended. The fictional characters he creates are endearing and real. But be warned. From the first chapter to the last page, Max and Edwin might give you a case of the wheezling geezlets.

The Obedient Door
Sean Finney
Meritage Press
256 North Fork Crystal Springs Rd., St. Helena CA 94574
ISBN: 0970917945, $14.95, 80 pages

Sean Finney is a journalist, copywriter, and poet who lives and works in San Francisco. The Obedient Door is his debut collection. Finney's influences include Japanese, Chinese, and Islamic writers. Adding drama to Finney's poetry are original drawings by Ward Schumaker.

Finney is modern man, sharing life poetically in fragments of perceived reality. In "Along the River", for example, we share his vision:

Surface where boats will sport the nerves and crannies
undoing the vine
lurch the summer months
is thin the veneer
where boats will lurch
mouths gone, and the sparkle
of leaves caught in the air.

Under a grouping he calls The Rimbaud Poems, I read and re-read the following excerpt from "Innuendo Feces" because the haunting words brought memories of an often-destructive work world:

The vampire that rends us gently
commands that we amuse ourselves
and forget every receptionist.

And in "Veillees" verse II, Finney reveals shadow worlds that are not always what they seem. He gives us fragments, surreal images, and allows readers to reach their own conclusions:

The two extremes of the room, other decor of the conquest,
trapped beyond judgment. The carved wall
is a succession of psychological blows, snobberies,
the cold air of geological accident -
rapid and intense dream of sentimental groups
constructed from white ash.

In "Job Titles", the poet's descriptive words feel like they read. The reader experiences the lot of a dishwasher, a jazz musician, and a Chinese poet. I chose the Chinese poet in excerpt:

…this grief has no pine
no bamboo, no thousand
grasses weeping with dew.
It's barefoot, a giant
record in a cave.

"I Can't Stand the City as I Saw it That Day" is lyrical, rolls soft off the tongue when read aloud. Finney blends ancient and modern life into a troubling whole:

How hard the adamantine doors
one must scratch to escape
and so be borne on a sea of blood,
unknown to the knuckles,
whose jealousy was of a higher sort.

I peer into the regions of perpetual mist
without much success. These rigors
are sustained by a whole class of people
working at our behest. Would that it snow
more freely, and the plastic wrapped
nudge each other in despair.

An engine and a siren
in an obscure academy…

One critic describes Finney's poems as "scraps he has so eloquently assembled for us." These scraps are what I call images, fragments of life, vestiges of emotion, and snatches of poetic impressions. Finney's poetry inspires curiosity and self-searching as they lead us in and out of time into surreal circumstance. If you enjoy modern poetry, consider reading The Obedient Door.

Tales from Comanche County:

Crazy Streak
John Gilmore
Scapegoat Publishing
403 S. Broadway, Baltimore MD 21231
ISBN: 097640351X, $12.95, 192 pages

John Gilmore has been recognized for decades for his unsettling exposes and noir prose. One critic dubbed him "the literary Hannibal Lecter." For certain, Gilmore sets his scenes masterfully while zeroing in on human lusts and frailties. His work is often shocking but always well written. Characters are so sharply drawn we walk in their skins.

Bobby McGee is fresh out of the Army, hoping for a new start away from his dreary hometown in the California desert. The father who terrorized him in his boyhood is now an incontinent vegetable, cared for at home by Bobby's mother. His mother is still young and attractive, plotting her escape from suffocating circumstances. Bobby's brother, Woody, strung out on drugs and alcohol, is often unpredictable and dangerous. The woman who loves Bobby is now fat, hooked up unofficially with his best friend, Clyde, the Mayor's son. His first day back, a car wreck throws Bobby together with Jo, a seductive 13-year-old nymphet.

Bobby's friends all know he's always had a crazy streak, but his sexual obsession for Jo is out of character for him. After the accident one friend is dead and another nearly so, but Bobby's life revolves around his insatiable lust for Jo. And Jo may not be the innocent child she seems to be at first. Law enforcement officers investigating the accident are determined to protect Clyde. Bribery escalates to incest, and then murder. And as a backdrop Gilmore drags readers into the heat, dust, and misery of small town life. As one character tells Bobby, "People are all sons a bitches when you peel the hide off."

John Gilmore is a VERY good writer. His characters and subjects may be dark, but his prose is exceptional.

Nathan Leslie
Hamilton Stone Editions
P.O. Box 43, Maplewood NJ 07040
ISBN: 0971487359, $14.95, 236 pages

Nathan Leslie's poetry and prose has appeared in over a hundred literary magazines. His articles and book reviews have been featured in several major newspapers. And, he has been nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize. Critics have described Leslie as "gifted" and of writing with a "powerful resonance" with words "original, inventive and rich…" The stories in Drivers are all that plus, in turn nostalgic and unsettling, poignant and revelatory.

Driving a motorized vehicle is the most dangerous activity humans undertake each day. In urban areas we encounter traffic jams and road rage. Rural highways present the danger of slow moving farm equipment and long, lonely stretches that are often poorly maintained. In each short story, Nathan Leslie shows these dangers clearly and draws us into the lives of individual drivers. The fictional characters are sharply defined and represent jaded cynics, hard-line realists, traffic gurus, doomed drivers, insecure dreamers, panicked or fearful fumblers, male and female. In testimony to Leslie's skill as wordsmith, he writes in a different, distinct personality and voice in every story. This technique, which is not easy, adds depth and power to his words.

Drivers is an impressive study of human nature and our stunning, frightening obsession with cars, pickups, SUVs and speed. What one character calls "the messiness of human behavior" takes on a life of its own in each story. Due to time constraints, I deliberately avoided listing the 23 individual stories in this book. But if I had to choose a sentimental favorite, it would be "Canyonlands." This longer story features a troubled man driving across country, hoping to regroup and regain control of his life. In this brief excerpt, the city born and raised traveler experiences the Great Sand Dunes of Colorado:

"It was an incredible thing to see and I had to sit down. I couldn't hear nothing except the wind blowing the sand down the dunes, shaping the dunes, and also there were these little green reeds that the wind blew in circles. But that was it. It was like you search all your life for a place as quiet as this place, and then you find it you want to let it sink into your brain so you won't forget what it's like. All that silence. The sun was slanting onto the sand and the sand was cold. I took a picture, you know."

Since the first Model T rolled off the assembly line, driving has created a new, skewed reality. Nathan Leslie does a masterful job of examining these odd paradigms and the humans who experience them each day.

Island Creations
Connie Marcum Wong
Shadows Ink Publications
1209 Milwaukee Street, Excelsior Springs MO 64024
ISBN: 1932447342, $6.95, 40 pages

Connie Marcum Wong's award winning poetry has been featured in numerous publications, chapbooks, and collections. In addition to poetry, her accomplishments are impressive. She is an Aura Photographer, a Reiki Master / Teacher, a Karuna Reiki Master, and teaches American Sign Language in her spare time. Her love of family, poetry, art, music, and nature shine through clearly in this beautiful compilation of poems.

This excerpt from "Freedom" describes perfectly Ms. Wong's persona, her thoughts and philosophy:

Time dwells in this dimension,
But a soul is free to soar
To heights unknown,
Unencumbered by restraints
Endowed on this earthly plane.

"Reiki Music" communicates the serenity and joy Ms. Wong shares as Master / Teacher. Readers can feel the serenity, experience the joy, and bask in her peaceful spirit:

Symbiotic melodies….
Transparencies of light
Shimmering from the inner self,
Levitating to moonbeams bright.
Hear the chiming bells, their rhythm,
Serene with every breath inhaled.

Lie still and dwell within your heaven;
Psychic mysteries unveiled.
Heal the heart, repair the soul,
Release anxieties and strife….
Penetrate this body's armor,
Relax your shell to balance life.

"A Divine Sign" takes readers beyond the mere function of American Sign Language, into the spirit of it. I read this poem through several times, and the first two verses stayed with me:

The language of love
Expressed through the hands
Is felt in the heart….

These signs convey words,
And when spoken correctly,
Display a beautiful art.

In "Poets-at-Large", Ms. Wong speaks eloquently for all poets and poetry lovers everywhere. Even the most humble of unknown poets can penetrate the heart and spirit with their words. One need not win a Pulitzer or be named Poet Laureate to impact readers:

Speak to me in words I understand.
Don't let pompous attitude embroiled
With your intellectual narcissism
Cause you to judge my words with disdain,
Because I write with veracity and simplicity.

Whether writing rhyming verse, free form, or haiku, Connie Marcum Wong creates equally well. This chapbook memorializes what Man has not yet plundered of Earth's beauty. She generously shares her glorious Hawaiian home, her love of family and humans everywhere, and her heart with readers. Island Creations is a chapbook to be savored.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

The Liberal Art of Murder
Karl Curtis
Goblin Fern Press
3809 Mineral Point Rd., Madison, WI 53705
ISBN: 1595980180, $11.95 US, $17.95 CAN

Karl Curtis is a Wisconsin native (one of our own) who hails from Beloit College and presently lives in Verona, Wisconsin, just outside of Madison. He has degrees in English and Government, and while he was at B.C. he was among the original editors of the Beloit Fiction Journal, now a national forum for short stories. He presently edits a community newspaper in Verona.

In his first mystery, Karl writes about fictional Kesey College, where a co-ed has apparently committed suicide. Mark Magnuson, is the editor of the campus newspaper, and when the higher-ups call him in and order him to censor any stories in the paper about the incident, Mark becomes suspicious. A call from the deceased girl’s father and an offer of $10,000 gives Mark the incentive to look into the case, and his considerable knowledge of mysteries acts as a guide. But he must get around the campus cop, Harney, who has orders to keep the suicide story alive:

“‘You might as well tell me right out,’ Harney said as we were walking from one building to the next. ‘You’re still not snooping around about this Darcy Redwine suicide thing, are you?’ ‘I told you! I lost my textbook this afternoon. I went to Fairchild’s office to see if I could find it. The door was open. I took a quick look inside, and that’s when you showed up. If you don’t believe me, call Avis Myerson. I was at her office about fifteen minutes ago looking for the same thing.’”

Curtis infuses this tale with all the swagger of a college student’s fresh perspective into a tainted environment of institutional public relations. Mark Magnuson is the perfect “everyman” college student, although he does have unusual access for the benefit of the story. Still, Curtis leads the reader through a tangled maze which ends in a neat little package. Magnuson’s saucy relationship with fiance Rachel spices up the story, as does his scuffles with the powers that be.

All in all, THE LIBERAL ART OF MURDER is an entertaining little ditty that will play well to Midwestern audiences, who are all too familiar with the culture of undergraduates who are struggling against the odds to make it through school. A big thumbs up!

No Such Thing as a Secret
Shelly Fredman
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, Indiana 47403
ISBN: 1420843818, $16.95

Shelly Fredman is a former Philadelphian who writes, teaches, elementary school, and loves chocolate, Philadelphia, and an active imagination. She has previously published CREEPS, a young-adult novel, and is presently working on a sequel to NO SUCH THING AS A SECRET. Shelly's motto is that "Reality is for people who lack imagination." Her second motto is that chocolate is good for you and you can never eat too much.

Brandy Alexander has returned from her puff reporting job in L.A. after a four year absence in Philadelphia. She left behind her love and soulmate, Robert Anthony DiCarlo, who married and had a child in her absence. While she is busy being joyfully reunited with her Phillie friends, her best friend, John, is apparently killed in a boating accident. Brandy witnesses the explosion, and her life changes dramatically. She decides to hunt down the killer, with Bobby (the police officer) challenging her every step of the way. Is Bobby involved in police graft or a coverup? Brandy enlist the aid of sexy Nick Santiago to help her as she enters the underworld of Philadelphia:

"The music pulsated in the background, permeating the air we breathed. Nick stared at me, and I flushed under his gaze. Damn, isn't there some kind of pill you can take for congenital blushing? I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. Wordlessly, he stood and stretched his arm out to me. 'I'm not a very good dancer,' I apologized. 'Neither am I,' he said, as he took me in his arms. Liar."

First off, Shelly Fredman is a hilarious writer! She has such a warm style of writing that the reader can't help but be pulled in as her Phillie friends rejoice in Brandy's return. But make no mistake, this plot is serious and confusing. Brandy Alexander takes the reader on a ride not soon to be forgotten. There is political corruption; danger everywhere; and Brandy has to transform from a feature reporter to an earnest investigator. But Fredman doesn't stop there. She surrounds Brandy with two luscious men, both vying for her attention. Brandy herself is lovably unaware of their intentions, but ultra-aware of their sexuality.

NO SUCH THING AS A SECRET is a titillating mystery full of fun and mayhem. There is a rich under-texture that separates the story from other authors and thus makes it a standout. But beware, Fredman leaves the love interest up in the air, which will guarantee that her readers will be clamoring for the next installment of Brandy Alexander. Cleverly done!

Rick Gadziola
ECW Press
2120 Queen Street East, Suite 200, Toronto, CAN M3E 1E2
ISBN: 1550226894, $15.95 US, $19.95 CAN

As a well known professional poker player, Rick Gadziola has experience in the World Series of Poker as well as regularly being "comped" by major casinos. RAW DEAL is his first Jake Morgan mystery. He lives in Toronto.

The tale begins in 1950. Carmine Bonello, family man, major player in the Las Vegas casinos who were being run by the mob, wishes to provide for the security of his family and eventually escape from the mob. It is not to be. He disappears in the desert, leaving his wife wondering if he was killed or if the rumors of his running off with another woman are true. Enter Jake Morgan, who has been drafted by his boss to entertain his niece, Angelica. Uncle Julius lets Jake know that this is no ordinary assignment, and that the future of his job depends upon his discretion and success:

"Contini shook his head and blew a stream of smoke at the moon. 'Apparently, Princess Angelica here things you're Sir Galahad or somethin'. I told her a bit about your past, and if she still thinks you know what the hell you're doin' then, hey, I'll give you another chance. But listen here, Prince Charmin',' he said, putting a fatherly arm around my shoulder. 'Let's just hope you can take better care of her.' He tapped a thick sausage finger against the soft-boiled egg on my head, and for a second it was so bright I thought the sun had come out. 'She's out here for a nice visit with her 'nonna,' so let's keep it that way. We wouldn't want any bad impressions from this little part-time job to affect one's full-time job now, would we? 'Capice?'"

Rick Gadziola makes the most of his knowledge of Las Vegas and the history of the mob to pull together a sock 'em second effort. Jake Morgan is a little road worn, and his forced employment as a bodyguard takes him down roads he avoided even as his stint as a cop. But reluctant heroes are the most fun, and the glittery backdrop of Vegas provides just the right tone for this tale that turns out to be a very sweet love story. Jake isn't quite as tough as he wants to project, although he can certainly take care of himself. Angelica is a young beauty who turns out to be the perfect foil for Jake. The action is non-stop and the denouement rocks. A great tale!

Memory of a Murder
Earl Staggs
Quiet Storm Publishing
PO Box 1666, Martinsburg, WV 25402
ISBN: 0977007030, $15.95

Earl Staggs has published many short stories and has piled up numerous writing awards, including a "Derringer Award" for best Short Mystery Story in 2002; was named finalist for the 2003 "Derringer Award"; and has received a "Pushcart Prize" nomination and the "Kathy Clarey Mystery Writer Memorial Award" for Best First Chapter. Staggs has served as FUTURES MYSTERY ANTHOLOGY MAGAZINE Managing Editor and as President of the SHORT MYSTERY FICTION SOCIETY. He is Mr. Short Story.

Adam Kingston is a former FBI agent who has a strange gift after a nasty injury. He is a true clairvoyant, and his newfound fame also sets him up as a target for an old and particularly nasty enemy. Kingston is also recovering from the loss of his wife, with his good friends acting as cheerleaders. When a new string of murders erupts, he is once again caught in the law enforcement net. An amnesiac homeless man named Chip appears at his door asking him to use his expertise to untangle an old family murder that he thinks he may have committed. But before Adam can uncover any real clues, Chip is shot as they leave the front entrance of the Colonial Towers after a breakfast meeting:

"Chip groaned and tried to turn over. Adam helped him. Now lying on his back, Chip's hands clutched tightly into his own stomach. Blood seeped through his fingers. His teeth were clenched, and his face contorted in pain. He muttered, 'I think I've been shot. Jesus Christ, Adam, somebody shot me.'"

Earl Staggs has a way with juxtaposing completely creepy characters with the flawed but nice guy cops. Adam Kingston is a wounded good ex-agent trying to put his life back together after the death of his wife. But with his newfound paranormal gifts, trouble just keeps coming his way. A new love slips in, not unnoticed by Adam, and that fledgling relationship has to wait for the action to cool before it can bud. Staggs takes the reader through the same pain that Adam feels, enters the bad guy's head, and manages to bring us out the other side to redemption. This is a powerful story by a writer who has honed his chops, and it shows. The plot is engaging, the action is nonstop, and the ending is quietly satisfying.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant Cookbook
Chef William King, recipes
Arnica Publishing
3739 SE Eighth Ave., Suite 1, Portland, Oregon 97202
ISBN: 0974568651, $19.95, 174 pages

If you are a lover of seafood this is the book for you. Absolutely brimming over with detailed information about seafood, how to cook it, keep yourself safe eating it and just plain enjoying it. Chef King shares with the reader his recipes of seafood that are used in the famous "McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurants," perhaps now you can enjoy these delicious meals at home.
We are given many recipes such as, Seafood Cocktails, Spenger's Fish Tacos, Apple Halibut and Grilled Rainbow Trout, to name only a few. This book is not stingy with its recipes and you will be amazed how many are shared with you and the concise and easy to following instructions for you to make these dishes.

You will also find a section on some mouth-watering deserts, such as, "Three Berry Cobbles," and "Deep-Dish Apple Pie." Hungry yet? The photos that I saw were bright and clear and certainly brought the food to light in a very visual way. All in all, for the seafood lover who would like to enjoy these wonderful meals at home, this cookbook is for you. Very well done.

Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cooking 2
Sandra Lee
Meredith Books
Des Moines, Iowa
ISBN: 0696227150, $19.95, 240 pages

I have read and reviewed countless recipe books but for me this is top-notch. I believe one of the reasons I like it so much is that it is not complicated, but simple. I don't necessarily mean the recipes, but the format. In the beginning we have the chapters clearly outlined from Italian to Special Occasions. As we turn the pages we see some tips for a helpful, healthful pantry and then we go into our recipes. Each page contains the recipe, directions and a photo of the dish. It is clear and easy to understand,neat and crisp. I like that. If I'm going to use a recipe I like to be able to see it quickly and do what I need to do. This book does that for me. The meals look mouth-watering and delicious, photos give you a great visual; all in all one great cookbook and I recommend it.

I Grew Up On A Farm
Alan K. Lewis, author
Bob Fletcher, illustrator
Moo Press
Imprint of Keene Publishing
Warwick, New York
ISBN: 0976680521, $19.95, 32 pages

This is definitely a fresh idea on a learning children's book; I was impressed. Author, Alan K. Lewis, tells the reader of his life growing up on a farm. He tells little stories about the animals, the crops, the weather and even a tale when his dad did a wheelie with the tractor, adding a little giggle to the read. However, what I think impressed me the most with this work was the pictures. Not only are there great illustrations, but the author has incorporated some real pictures of himself and his family during his childhood living on the farm. Excellent. This is a great read, a great story and some great pictures and illustrations. I highly recommend this work.

Mr. Irresponsible Bad Advice
Bill Barol
Volt Press
9255 Sunset Blvd #717, Los Angeles. CA 90069
ISBN: 1566252555, $10.95, 150 pages

Is it to my shame or a true blessing that I have never heard of Mr. Irresponsible or his advice before being graced with this read? I am sure Mr. Irresponsible would have a few choice words for me, don't you think? In this work we have a man who apparently has been giving advice for a long time although I am sure most would not follow what he gives, at least I hope they won't. In this work, Mr. Irresponsible gives advice on how to handle children with bad manners, love, friendship and even some morels of his wisdom to be used during the gathering after a funeral. Of course you would probably have another death if you follow it. Perhaps for some that would be a good thing. Scary thought isn't it?

As I read this work I was trying to figure out if it was a spoof or if Mr. Irresponsible feels he is speaking out what so many would like to do but thank God have the decency not to. I have to admit that the scenarios that he portrayed are certainly those that most of us have or will go through, however since most of us are humans, we would never consider following his advice. Of course that is why his name is, "Mr. Irresponsible," as that fits his advice to a tee. I will coin a phrase that my father use to tell us when we were bad, "Shame on your face! Shame.!" And with that I will end my review.

The Fall of Lucifer
Wendy Alec
A Strang Publishing
600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746
ISBN: 1591858143, $12.99, 292 pages

I have to say right off that this is certainly one book you do not want to miss reading. Author Wendy Alec has taken the age old story of the rebellion of Lucifer and brought it to life in a way you will never forget.

You are taken into the very heart of God's angelic angels, Michael, Gabriel and of course Lucifer and you are transported in the very heavenlies. You will experience deep emotions, sense the depth of God's love and feel His hurt and you will grasp a deeper understanding of a rebellion that touches mankind even to this day.

Let me tell you, this is one outstanding read, the visual you will experience in your mind by the excellent definition of characters and locations will blow your mind, exceptional. Powerful from start to finish, a work that touches the very core of mankind's existence and given one of my highest recommendations.

Home Enlightenment
Annie B. Bond
Rodale Books
135 Avenue of the Americans, New York, NY
ISBN: 1579548113, $27.95, 600 pages

In this book you will find information on creating a toxin-free living environment, and also information on bringing harmony between yourself and the earth you live in. Interesting and thought provoking to say the least.

Ms. Bond is not slack in her information giving us vital details on life changing suggestions for healthy living. She covers a myriad of subjects from skin and beauty to cleaning products, showing us the dangers that may be incurred from the toxic elements in them to our body and environment. She also gives us alternative methods to use that I found fascinating. The author does not stop there, she goes on to show how to bring peace and harmony in our home. I particularly liked the section where she tells which colors to use to bring about feelings of peace or joy in our home decorating. Wait, there is more, she continues on with helpful tips on ways to fight head-lice , repel insects and keep our outside environment as clean as possible all in a non-toxic way. Great!

I can't think of a topic that this author did not cover and she includes questions for you to check your own situation and gives an entire section to community resources where you can turn for help. If you are serious about healthier living in body, home and surroundings you simply must own this book. Ms. Bond has done all the research and work for you; all you have to do is read, learn and apply. A wonderful, helpful read bringing hope for your health and harmony in life.

More Memories of Papillon: Diary of a Mad Dog
Dennis Fried, Ph.D
Eiffel Press
PO Box 339, Osprey, FL 34229
ISBN: 0967933528, $13.95, 203 pages

5 Coffee Cups

As a dog lover I have to say this book is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I giggled my way through it enjoying every single page and every single observation that our dear little canine friend had to give about these things called, "humans," and the way they live life. After hearing her take on a few things I actually wondered if perhaps she wasn't correct. Scary thought isn't it?

The chapter on "Marriage," is just plain outrageous and I wonder if my dogs have the same thoughts as Genevieve does on this subject; they probably do. If you want to read a book that will just bring you pure reading pleasure, this is the one for you. You certainly will smile and giggle a lot, but you just might close this work with a new outlook on just why humans do things the way they do. One never knows. Highly recommended, a real fun read.

Rufus At Work
Tory Taber & Norman Taber
Walker & Company
104 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011
ISBN: 0802789854, $17.95, 32 pages

In this work we find Rufus; he is a cat and quite a colorful at that. His girl Posy, as Rufus calls her, often asks him what good is he? Rufus is offended and tells of all the important things he does each day. For example; he keeps the sun off the rug, he wakes up Finn the fish, and even decorates the neighbor's car. He certainly is busy. This is just a cute colorful book that is sure to entertain your children and give them a giggle. I think they will enjoy this one.

The Velveteen Mommy
Jenn Doucette
Navpress Publishing Group
ISBN: 1576836495, $12.99, 137 pages

It is certainly a truth that the Lord uses our everyday existence as a school of learning, so is the case in this book by author Jenn Doucette. In this work she shares the ups and downs of being a parent, the trials, the joys, the strain on patience, tolerance and strength and shares out loud what so many are screaming within, "Help me Lord!" Lighthearted and always real, our author weaves God's wisdom into her stories bringing a sense of calm and peace in the whirlwind life of a parent. Many a mom will relate and draw encouragement and strength in reading this work from someone who knows. It's always a blessing to know that you are not alone.

Angels A Tale of Wonder
Jennifer Eachus
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Avenue, MA 02140
ISBN: 0763629537, $10.99, 32 pages

I always love books about Angels. Their message is always tender, gentle and loving and so it is with this delightful book. Lara sees a white feather on the grass, a scrap of golden cloth and finally sees her angel who asks her, "Will you tell me about wonder?" and Lara scurries off to find out. Just what does she find? The illustrations in this work bring expression to the story, are colorful and enjoyable to see. The story is sweet and tender and will make children think, what is wonder? Very nice book.

Baby Angels
Jane Cowen Fletcher
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140
ISBN: 0763604143, $5.99, 16 pages

What an adorable book this is showing that every little baby has watchful angels around them. Inside the pages of this book we have bright colorful illustrations, showing little baby exploring the world and his angels letting the parents know when the little one needs them.
All babies need angels and this is a wonderful reminder of the fact that they are there. Very nice book.

Caribbean Escapes
Dale Leatherman
Caribbean Escapes Cooperative Marketing, Inc.
PO Box 297293, Pembrook Pines, Fl.33029
ISBN: 1412063221, $40.00, 400 pages

Are you trying to find the perfect spot to vacation, forget your troubles and lose yourself in a world all your own? If you are you simply must have this wonderful book and experience in word and pictures the world of the Caribbean.

In this work more than 20 writers have taken the time to clue you in on 100 resorts. As you read through this work your eyes will feast upon beautiful pictures of the area, the beaches, the luxurious living quarters of the numerous resorts and will hunger to taste more. You are given important tid-bits of information on regions that have the best golf, spa, honeymoons, shopping or excitement. Each location is vividly pictured and explained to you. I particularly loved "Musha Cay," a fantasy location, one where you have the ability to own your own island, one week at a time. Wonderful!

I don't believe they left anything out of this work that you would need to know. The only problem I see would be trying to make a decision as to which one to chose to spend your time. This truly is a useful, fun, colorful experience of a read for those planning their getaway to those who would just like to taste of what could be. Very well done.

Catch A Rising Star
Donald W.Albertson
Turnkey Press
2100 Kramer Lane, Austin, Texas
ISBN: 1933538252, $14.95, 252 pages

As I read this work my mind went back to the many football games and baseball games that I attended with my sons in their youth and I wondered how guilty I was in pushing my children where they did not want to go in these competitive sports. From birth we teach our children to do the best they can and sometimes we go overboard pushing them beyond their limits. In this book, Catch a Rising Star, we meet Tom and his son Marc who are thrust headlong into a game where winning maybe losing and losing maybe exactly what should happen.

From the beginning of Marc's life Tom pruned him to be a football star, but Tom never considered the factors of life that would play into his decision for the future of his son.
As life progressed, Marc indeed was superior to other children in this game, but Marc lacked the spark that was required to take it to the limit and Tom almost destroyed his son and family by foolishly trying to light the spark that was not there.

In this book our author explores the unrealistic expectations that many parents pile upon their children in sports and the destruction these actions can cause. The storyline pulls you in and craft-fully the author illuminates the part over zealous parents with an agenda of their own play in the life of our children's sports. Often to their destruction. This is an eye-opening read done in an entertaining way and one that all parents, couches and those who overshadow our children in any competitive area should read.

Sayo's Secret: Book One of The Paranormal Trilogy
Sherry Derr-Wille
Helm Publishing
3923 Seward Ave., Rockford, Il 61108
ISBN: 0976919346, $14.95, 234 pages

In this compelling novel Sayo's Secret, by author Sherry Derr-Wille we are introduced to a people who are ruled by years of tradition quite unlike our own. They have a High Priest, Priestess, Head of their tribe all ruled by a group they call Man God's, who are in turn ruled by the One God. We meet young Sayo, a mere boy who is soon to become the High Priest over his village and will face challenges a man twice his age would find almost unsurpassing. He is different than those who ruled before him, many of the sacrifices that are performed, many of the traditions he sees, he questions. As Sayo struggles to perform in his new position as High Priest he makes some grave errors and loses the joy and love of his life; in doing he forces the One God to punish him and the elders of the village with him that will now lead to a different life than any of them imagined, but the details of that are saved for the next work and leave you grabbing at the air for a conclusion that you have to have. Good job!

We are also introduced to other players in this saga, each one rich in character development such as the High Priestess Dosta, a cold dark woman whose hatred and jealousy will play a major role in the future of this village and a secret concerning a young girl named Noya who intermingles with Sayo and births both the death and the beginning of a new era for these people. We have characters so defined in personality and the positions that they hold that we are immediately drawn into their lives We learn of these people's customs, their beliefs from sacrificing humans for better crops, to the tradition of the High Priest being the first to bring a girl to maturity as a woman. I believe this is the essence of this first book of this trilogy, laying out the characters, understanding their traditions,explaining some their past and teasing you with their future, definitely peaking your interest.

I enjoyed this read it is sprinkled with tender romance and love, shaken with characters you can hate, basted with those you will endear to your heart and wrapped in mystical charm. Although much information is given in this first book, there is still mystery webbing around these people, mystery of their past, mystery of what will behold them in the future, and what part our Sayo and Noya will play in it. There is certainly much to discover in this exception read one I feel you do not want to miss.

Sigourney's Quest
Gordon Snider
Helm Publishing
3923 Seward Ave., Rockford, IL 61108
ISBN: 0976919362, $14.95, 314 pages

As we meet our main character Sigourney, a Professor at a local University, we soon learn that her heart is broken, suffering from the scars of a cheating husband and a daughter that is firing blame her way. Not a good mix.

To complicate matters her friend Martha has died and left her with a quest, a very demanding one at that and one that will take her half-way around the world to complete. It seems that Sigourney has inherited a diary of a woman, Martha's grandmother, who lived over 100 years ago, one who had been entrusted with a manuscript that had been given to her by Monks in Tibet to be protected before the Chinese destroyed it. Now Sigourney was the appointed one to return this ageless manuscript to the Monks and so our adventure begins.

As we read on we soon learn that the Chinese have gotten wind of this lost manuscript and its return, something they do not want to happen. Now Sigourney's life is in danger. We meet the people in her traveling party and the author does a fantastic job of her description of each, and the locals they are traveling through. We are introduced to a Mr. John Henley, a man who himself is cloaked in mystery, but one that will ultimately be Sigourney's saving grace and perhaps the love of her life.

I'm telling you this is one fantastic read. Our author brings to light much about the Buddhist and the life in Tibet which was very interesting, there was not one dull page of reading in this entire novel. Good job! If you want a book that is packed full of suspense and adventure, topped with romance, mystery, intrigue and interesting facts of a faraway place all wrapped together in a package that begs to be open, this one is for you. I give it my highest recommendation, a book well worth your time and guaranteed to give you reading ecstasy.

Northern Escape
R.L. Coffield
Helm Publishing
3923 Seward Ave., Rockford, IL 61108
ISBN: 0976919370, $14.95, 252 pages

There are times in life when we all root for the bad-guy, as terrible as that may seem; this is the case in this outstanding novel by R.L. Coffield, "Northern Escape," and our immediate introduction to young Max.

We meet our main character Max in the midst of committing a robbery, one that will end up making him a very wealthy man but not by choice. Roy Beirs pulled young Max into this crime, taking advantage of his youth and his situations in life which were not happy ones, and when things fouled up it was Max who got away with the money leaving Roy to pay the piper. Now Max was a wanted man, on the run for his very life. We meet Detective Ben Thomas, a go-getter and one that doesn't let the bad guy get away; the robbery and a burning desire to apprehend Max and the money begins to consume Ben from day one of the crime and will occupy him for years to come.

We are taken on Max's journey as he travels to Alaska and begins to make a new life for himself, one that will involve a young woman named Chloe Littlbird who happen to be the local law enforcement official and the one that would steal Max's heart. Talk about conflicting interests!
As the author builds his story he draws you into the very heart and emotions of Max as you travel with him in time. Max hides the money using very little of it, determined to make a life on his own in a fishing business. You become totally consumed in his life, his passions and also his knowledge that the day of reckoning is coming. Max knows that once Roy is released from jail, he will track him down and the life Max is living now will abruptly come to an end. And so it does and the battle of both moral judgments and the saving of his very life begins. I loved this part, it was a real page turner as you had to know if Roy would kill Max, if Detective Thomas would arrest him and if Chloe would desert him once she found out the truth. What happens will amaze you.

If you want a story that has heart, this is for you. If you want one that has passion, adventure and the struggle with moral issues of life and death, you don't want to miss this book. A tightly written, mind-absorbing story with an ending that will absolutely delight you. Truly recommended.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Vicki's Bookshelf

Paper Fun
Patricia Doherty
American Girl / Pleasant Company
8400 Fairway Place, Middleton, Wisconsin 53562
ISBN: 1593691041, $17.95, 48 pages,

The latest American Girl do-it-yourself crafting kit is a creative collection of paper projects “to fold, bend, cut and curl.” A beautifully photographed, 48-page instruction book gives clear, simple directions for dozens of fun projects from “Spray Sachets” to “Dinky Daisies” and “Mini Masterpieces” - each girl-approved winners. All the materials and tools needed are conveniently housed in the handy plastic enclosure, including 20 quilling strips, 29 sheets of paper, two picture pebbles, three pages of stencils, four earring hooks, four feet of fishing line, four eye pins, five flower brads, measuring tape, qulliing tool, two feet of beading cord and two shadowbox cards.

I Can Make A Difference
edited by Marian Wright Edelman
illustrated by Barry Moser
Amistad /Harper Collins
1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703
ISBN: 0060280514, $19.99, 112 pages,

Compiled by the founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, Marian Wright Edelman’s “I Can Make A Difference: A Treasury to Inspire Our Children” encourages all children to take responsibility for the kind of people they are and will become. An inspirational book filled with short, encouraging stories from a variety of cultures and illuminating color illustrations by award-winning illustrator Barry Moser, the collection is divided into 12 sections, each one highlighting a goal that any child can aspire to an achieve, such as being honest and persevering. Written in a atone that speaks to children and their needs, the book shows that even the smallest actions can change one’s own life, as well as the lives of others. Contributors providing words to the wise include: Martin Luther King, Jr., Pablo Casals, Maya Angelou, Helen Keller, Henry David Thoreau, Shel Silverstein, Anne Frank, Muhammed, Emily Dickinson, Albert Schweitzer, Aesop, The Dalai Lama, The Brothers Grimm, Mother Teresa and Vaclav Havel.

Hugs on the Wind
Marsha Diane Arnold and Vernise Elain Pelzel, illustrated by Elsa Warnick
Amulet Books / Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
115 West 18th St., NY, NY 10011
ISBN: 0810959682, $15.95, 32 pages,

Little Cottontail misses his grandfather and the hugs, smiles, and jokes they shared. As he plays in the meadow on a bright, windy afternoon, he thinks of clever ways to send his love to his grandfather - floating on a breeze, rippling along a stream, and sailing with the clouds. Sweet and lyrical, this tender picture book shows the comfort to be found in nature and in thoughts of a loved one. “Hugs on the Wind” is a lovely picture book for sharing with a young child who misses someone special.

My Name is Bilal
Asma Mobin-Uddin, illustrated by Barbara Kiwak
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church St., Honesdale, Penn. 18431
ISBN: 1590781759, $15.95, 32 pages, www.boydsmillspress

Bilal watches from a distance as his sister, Ayesha, walks toward their new school. He sees two boys following closely behind her. Suddenly, one of the boys grabs Ayesha’s headscarf and gives it a tug. Bilal knows he should come to the aid of his sister but he’s frozen with fear. Is this what it will be like to be the only Muslim kids in school? Maybe it would be better if he hid that he is Muslim. Maybe then kids would leave him alone. But what about Ayesha? Mr. Ali, one of Bilal’s teachers, and also Muslim, sees how the boy is struggling. He gives Bilal a book about the first person to give the call to prayer during the time of the Prophet Muhammad. That person was another Bilal: Bilal Ibn Rabah. What Bilal learns from the book forms the compelling story of a young boy wrestling with his identity. Asma Mobin-Uddin’s story about religious prejudice is heartfelt and compelling, and sensitively illustrated by Barbara Kiwak. For ages 6-11.

Solomon and the Ant and Other Jewish Folktales
Sheldon Oberman
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church St., Honesdale, Penn. 18431
ISBN: 1590783077, $19.95, 32 pages, www.boydsmillspress

Jewish folk literature contains a rich repertoire of tales that have been told near the hearth, at the table, and in the synagogue for centuries. Some tales address life’s problems. Others offer insight into human behavior. Even when the stories make us laugh, they often give us something to think about. This treasure trove of 43 folktales includes religious, wisdom, riddle, and trickster tales. In these pages, you will meet King Solomon, who demonstrates his wisdom and learns valuable lessons from birds and ants. The prophet Elijah makes an appearance, with dire consequences for a greedy husband and wife. The hapless citizens of Chelm are here, too. In addition, there are bakers and beggars and rabbis. There are mice and lions and wolves. Taken together, their tales form a colorful mosaic of the Jewish storytelling tradition.

Norman Messenger
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
ISBN: 0763627577, $17.99, 30 pages,

Inspiring, intriguing, endlessly entertaining this unique book of imagination allows readers to step out of their everyday lives, shed preconceptions, and experience a little magic. Norman Messenger’s quirky, humorous suggestions, ingenious visual puzzles, and beautifully crafted illustrations open the eyes and the mind. With a little imagination, the world inside these pages becomes a different and mysterious place. An absolutely fantastic visual and artistic delight to amuse all ages.

Simeon’s Fire
Cathryn Clinton
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
ISBN: 0763627070, $15.99, 124 pages,

Nothing could be more important to Simeon Zook than his family and their farm. When his concern for a new horse draws him out to the barn late one night, he comes face-to-face with a danger than threatens us all: a fire. After getting his little brother safely away and helping to save the animals trapped inside, Simeon can’t stop thinking about what happened right before the blaze began. Was it his fault the fire started? Who were the men by the barn that night? And, most important, will they hurt his family if her tells what he knows? Award-winning novelist Cathryn Clinton creates a compelling, authentic portrait of contemporary Amish life in this stirring story about a gifted young animal lover.

The Arabian Horse
Carrie Braulick
Capstone Press
151 Good Counsel Dr., P.O. Box 669, Mankato, Minn. 56002
ISBN: 0736837655, $16.95 (school/library), 32 pages,

In this “edge Books” series of high interest nonfiction for grades 3-4, your readers learn about the fascinating world of various horse breeds. Each book highlights the history, unique traits, and uses of the American Paint Horss, American Quarter Horse, Clydesdale, Morgan, Thoroughbred, and, in this case, the Arabian Horse. Easy-to-read text, vivid photos, sidebars, and a photodiagram bring readers up close to these beautiful animals. Features include color photos, definitions of unfamiliar terms, “Fast Facts” data, and sidebars.

Cuba: A Question and Answer Book
Muriel L. Dubois
Capstone Press
151 Good Counsel Dr., P.O. Box 669, Mankato, Minn. 56002
ISBN: 0736837493, $16.95 (school/library), 32 pages,

From the “Fact Finders” elementary science and social studies series come 16 new titles in a Questions and Answers: Countries set. Each book focuses on an often studied country including Australia, Chile, India, Italy, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Each chapter answers a different question about a country’s geography, history, government, economy, holidays, and more. With vivid photographs, maps, charts, and Fast Facts data, these books are designed to be perfect ready-reference sources for reports. Reading level: grades 2-3. Interest level: Grades 2-5.

Dr. Seuss
Cheryl Carlson
Capstone Press
151 Good Counsel Dr., P.O. Box 669, Mankato, Minn. 56002
ISBN: 073683639X, $11.95 (school/library), 24 pages,

Four new titles about children’s book creators - Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, Tomie dePaola and Charles M. Schultz (who, unfortunately, suffers a misspelling of his name on the book’s cover) -- in Pebble’s emergent nonfiction “First Biographies” set extension. The easy-to-read series uses simple text to highlights the major events in the lives of famous men and women, from their childhood through their adult life. A time line feature at the bottom of each spread captures the important details one at a time, culminating in a complete summary of the person’s life on the final page. Reading level: K-1, Interest level: PreK-2.

The Water Cycle
Rebecca Olien
Capstone Press
151 Good Counsel Dr., P.O. Box 669, Mankato, Minn. 56002
ISBN: 0736837019, $15.65 ($ school/library), 24 pages,

Water is everywhere from rain and tap water to lakes and rivers. With vivid photographs, clear text, diagrams and fun facts, this informative set of “First Facts Books for First Reports” covers all the basic facts about water in our world. Titles include: “Making Water Clean,” “Saving Water,” “Sources of Water,” “Water and the Weather,” “What Is Water?” and “The Water Cycle.” Features include color photos, “Amazing But True” high-interest facts, contextual definitions of unfamiliar terms, and an extended learning activity. Reading level: grades 1-2.

A Dog’s Life
Ann M. Martin
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN: 0439715598, $16.99, 182 pages,

Squirrel is not like most dogs. Born a stray, she must make her own way in the world, facing busy highways, changing seasons, and humans both gentle and brutal. Her life story, in her own words, is marked by loss, but also by an inspiring instinct to survive. And when it seems she will roam the woods and country roads alone forever, Squirrel makes two friends who, in very different ways, define her fate. At once heartrending and hopeful, Ann Martin’s exquisite story of a dog’s life is told with her trademark grace and insight.

New York State of Mind
Billy Joel
illustrated by Izak
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN: 0439553822, $16.99, 32 pages,

Never mind that Billy Joel’s second picture book is based on nothing but (very) abbreviated lyrics. Never mind that song is 25 years old and long off the cultural radar. And never mind that there’s no story here. Just never mind.

The Knight Who Took All Day
James Mayhew
Chicken House / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN: 0429748291, $15.99, 32 pages,

A foolish knight wishes to impress a golden-haired princess. To display his marvelous skills with shield and sword, all he needs is a dragon. One day, a huge dragon appears on the horizon, smoke pouring from his nostrils. Immediately, the knight orders his squire to fetch his armor. Will he be ready in time to save the kingdom and the princess? Or is the knight more interested in appearances than action? After much waiting, the golden-haired princess decides to tame the fire-breathing beast herself! James Mayhew’s playful watercolor illustrations capture the puffed-up pomposity of the knight in this funny cautionary tale about the dangers of showing off.

Children of the Great Depression
Russell Freedman
Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin
251 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10003
ISBN: 0618446303, $20.00, 118 pages,

Life was hard for children during the Great Depression. People all over the country were suffering from lack of adequate food and shelter. Families couldn’t afford to keep their cars on the road, or pay their electric bills. Kids had to do without new clothes, shoes, or toys, and many couldn’t attend school because they had to work. Some left home to ease their parents’ burden. Some had no home. These young people could only dream of a world where childhood was a time o innocence and play. Even so, life still had its bright spots - like favorite games and radio shows - that helped them remain upbeat and optimistic about the future. Drawing on memoirs, diaries, letters, and other first-hand accounts, acclaimed author Russell Freedman takes a close look at the lives of young Americans during a catastrophic era in our history. Richly illustrated with classic archival photographs by such notable photographers as Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans, here is a moving account that places the Great Depression in context and shows its human face.

Four Things My Geeky-Jock-of-a-Best-Friend Must Do In Europe
Jane Harrington
Darby Creek Publishing
7858 Industrial Parkway, Plain City, OH 43064
ISBN: 1581960417, $15.95, 160 pages,

Brady is going to Europe - with her mother! It’s a family coming-of-age tradition, so there’s no way out of it. To make the trip more interesting, Brady’s best gal pal, Delia, has written four things Brady must do while she’s in Europe -- and it’s written in permanent marker on Brady’s palm so she can’t chicken out. Good thing because they’re things Brady would never do without some encouragement - aka, pressure - from Delia. This very hip girls’ book is loaded with fun info about Europe written in the form or letters to a friend. It’s funny, sharp, stuff that preteens and teens will enjoy. For ages 11 and up.

Small Steps
Louis Sachar
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 0385733143, $16.95, 258 pages,

Two years after being released from Camp Green Lake, Armpit is home in Austin, texas, trying to turn his life around. But it’s hard when you have a record and everyone expects the worst form you. The only person who believes in Armpit is Ginny, his ten-year-old disabled neighbor. Together they’re learning to take small steps. Armpit seems to be on the right path until X-Ray, a buddy from Camp Green Lake, comes up with a get-rich-quick scheme. X-Ray’s moneymaking plan leads Armpit to a chance encounter with teen pop sensation Kaira DeLeon,and suddenly Armpit’s life spins out of control. Only one thing is certain: he’ll never be the same again. In his first major novel since “Holes,” award-winning novelist Louis Sachar combines his signature wit with a unique blend of adventure and profoundly real characters to explore issues of race, the nature of celebrity, the invisible connections that shape a person’s life, and what it takes to stay on course. Doing the right thing is never a wrong choice - but always a small step in the right direction.

With A Little Luck
Dennis Brindell Fradin
Dutton Children’s Books
345 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.
ISBN: 0525471960, $17.99, 184 pages,

Isaac Newton watched an apple fall and grasped the concept of gravity. A shepherd boy explored a cave and emerged with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Alexander Fleming kept a messy laboratory, but amid the clutter he recognized the power of penicillin and made a discovery that would save a million lives. Gravity and Pluto. Antibiotics and rubber. The power of nuclear fission and the revelations of the Dead Sea Scrolls. These developments and many more like them, have become a part of modern life…but how did they happen? How do our great geniuses, explorers and inventors make their breakthroughs? Primarily through curiosity, intelligence, hard work and pure luck as this nonfiction source book reveals, The fascinating history of science points out crucial moments of amazing good fortune. “With A Little Luck” reveals how great discoveries have leaped forward and revolutionized our world through the risky, wonderful window of chance.

Pablo the Artist
Satoshi Kitamura
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
ISBN: 0374356874, $16.00, 32 pages,

Pablo the elephant has a problem. His art club is having an exhibition, and all he has is an empty canvas. Plagued by artist’s block, Pablo sets out for the country in search of inspiration. But when he finishes his landscape, Pablo still isn’t satisfied. It may just take the ingenuity of some friendly woodland strangers to help Pablo realize his full artistic potential. Another inspired picture book from the consistently delightful Satoshi Kitamura.

Marvelous Mattie
Emily Arnold McCully
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
ISBN: 0374348103, $16.00, 32 pages,

Based on the life of the inventor Margaret E. Knight (1838-1914), this picture book introduction to “the Lady Edison” will leave young readers inspired. Armed with a lively imagination - and a toolbox inherited form her father - young Mattie Knight loved to make things, which she drew in a notebook labeled “My Inventions” and which her brothers called her brainstorms. Throughout her life these brainstorms served her well - weather making a foot warmer for her mother or toys for her older brothers or, when she was 12, designing a metal guard to prevent shuttles from shooting off looms and hurting workers. Later Mattie would invent a machine that could cut and glue together a square-bottomed paper bad, though when she applied for a patent, she discovered someone had stolen her idea. Mattie lived during a time when it was believed that women couldn’t understand the complexities of mechanical equipment, yet she went to court and won the patent for her paper-bag maching, largely by showing her sketches as evidence that she was its true inventor.

William Lavender
Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
ISBN: 0152058826, $17.00, 334 pages,

Jessie Wainwright, daughter of a prominent San Francisco physician, is determined to become a doctor herself, despite her father’s opinion that the medical field is best left to men. But when a shameful family secret is revealed that undermines everything she stands for, Jessie nearly abandons her dream in order to make things right. Then, in the midst of Jessie’s turmoil, a far bigger disaster strikes - the great earthquake of 1906 - sending shock waves through Jessie’s world and propelling her down a path she never would have expected. Amid the havoc and devastation of San Francisco, Jessie struggles to make sense of the blatant intolerance and brutal discrimination that her city harbors toward its Chinese immigrants - even during the worst natural disaster of the century. As the aftershocks continue to reverberate, Jessie enlists the help of trusted friends to help find the answers she has been seeking For ages 12 and up.

Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
ISBN: 0152056033, $17.00, 360 pages,

Ten years have passed since the end of the war in Troy, and Penelope, faithful and devoted wife of Odysseus, has been waiting for her husband to return home to Ithaka. The peace of the city has been chattered by the arrival of ill-mannered strangers from the surrounding islands who are vying for Penelope’s hand in marriage. But Penelope is certain that her husband has survived the destruction of Troy and will, with the protection of Pallas Athene, return. Also caught up in the games orchestrated by the gods is Klymene, a young handmaiden who is like a daughter to Penelope - and who longs for more than friendship from Penelope’s son, Prince Telemachus. Told through Klymene’s eyes, “Ithaka” captures the quiet strength and patience of a woman’s enduring love for her husband and the ensuing chaos that threatens all as Penelope is pressured to remarry. Told with grace and passion, this novel deftly paints a powerful story of the women left behind when their men go off to war.

Angel Secrets
Miriam Chaikin
illustrated by Leonid Gore
Henry Holt & Co.
115 W. 18th St., NY, NY 10011
ISBN: 0805071504, $18.95, 68 pages,

“There is no blade of grass that does not have an angel on high that strikes it and tells it to grow,” wrote a famous Italian rabbi in the 1700s. This idea - that there is a link between Heaven and earth - has been part of Jewish mystical teachings over the ages. The stories in this book, based on Jewish teachings, conceive of such links as different groups of angels that have been given specific tasks to perform on earth. Each tale unfolds through the eyes of Angel Raziel, who sits outside the Holy Curtain and whose name in Hebrew means “hears God’s secrets.” Told with imagination and humor by Miriam Chaikin, and illustrated with soft, lyrical drawings by Leonid Gore, these pieces based on Jewish lore will fascinate readers. For ages 8-12.

The Doll With the Yellow Star
Yona Zeldis McDonough
illustrated by Kimberly Bulken Root
Henry Holt & Co.
115 W. 18th St., NY, NY 10011
ISBN: 0805063374, $16.95, 90 pages,

Eight-year-old Claudine doesn’t want to leave her home in France to go live in America, not without her parents. But she knows about the shortages, about the yello stars Jews must wear, and about Adolf Hitler. And she knows that there are some things she must do even when she doesn’t want to. It’s wartime, and everything is different now. There is more, too, that Claudine will lose to this terrible war. But not everything that is lost must stay that way forever. With honesty and compassion, Yona Zeldis McDonough has written a moving story about the sorrows of war and the healing power of love. For ages 7-10.

Sharon G. Flake
Jump at the Sun / Hyperion
114 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10011-5690
ISBN: 0786818441, $16.99, 298 pages,

Mann lost his younger brother, Jason, two years ago - an innocent bystander in a shooting on his own porch. These murders are a frequent occurrence in Mann’s neighborhood. They’re so common, in fact, that he and his best friend, Kee-lee, keep a running tally of the deceased, since no one else seems to be paying attention. More and more, Mann escapes reality through painting and horseback riding, but eventually turns to fighting, cheap thrills and much worse. Though Mann’s parents love him dearly and are desperate to keep im from becoming a statistic, they’re losing the war. His father is distant and tough on him, in hopes that Mann will grow a harder edge, and his mother is so determined to keep Jason’ memory alive, she ends up neglecting the one son she has left. In a last-ditch effort, Mann’s father does the one thing he thinks will teach his son how to survive. Drawing from an ancient African tradition, he abandons Mann and Lee-lee in the woods, leaving them to navigate their way home, alone. What seems like a good idea quickly turns tragic and force his son down a destructive path. This realistic portrait of inner-city life is both sober and transcendent. Through its honesty, readers will be compelled to open their eyes to what’s happening in their own homes and in the world around them.

Laura and Tom McNeal
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 0375831053, $15.95, 308 pages,

In the third collaboration between the husband and wife writing team of Laura and Tom McNeal, the pair once again delves into high school life and the secrets that lurk in the halls of the fictional Jemison High. Audrey Reed and her two best friends feel like fish-out-of-water at Jemison High, where they’re making their first foray into public school life. Coming from a small private school where they focused on the arts, life at Jemison is difficult, and the trio spends a majority of their day together and away from the other students. No one seems to even give Audrey a second glance - no one except the cute by kind-of-creepy Clyde Mumsford and the school bully theo Driggs. But when the new boy Wickham Hill, complete with his sugary Christmas scent and boyish good looks, sets his sights on Audrey, she can’t believe someone like him would take an interest in her. Soon the pair is semi-dating. But when she discovers Wickham’s not the guy she thought he was, will Audrey be able to escape the crushing realities? For ages 12 and up.

You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Mother Goose Tales
Mary Ann Hoberman
illustrated by Michael Emberley
Little, Brown and Company
1271 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN: 0316144312, $16.99, 32 pages,

In these very short Mother Goose tales with a twist, young readers will learn what happens when Humpty Dumpty begs a doctor to fix his broken shell, Little Miss Muffet befriends the spider beside her, and Baa Baa Black Sheep sheds his wool! The award-winning and best selling team of Mary Ann hoberman and Michael Emberley brings new life to classic nursery rhyme favorites. With clear, color-coded typography and clever illustrations, this the third “You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You” book in two voices uses traditional reading teahing techniques - alliteration, rhyme, and repetition - to invite young children to read along with an adult.

The Adventures of Vin Fiz
Clive Cussler
Philomel / Penguin
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
ISBN: 0399244743, $15.99, 168 pages,

Have you ever wanted to fly? Ten-year-old twins Lacey and Casey Nicefolk certainly have. But kids can’t fly…can they? They can if they know the mysterious Such Sucop - a man who claims to have an enchanted box that can transform any toy into the real thing. Before you know it, the twins, along with their droopy-eared basset hound, Floopy, are soaring cross-country in a real Wright brothers biplane, which they name Vin Fiz after Casey’s favorite grape soda. But dangers lurk everywhere, and if the twins are to make it all the way to New York, their courage will have to make heroes of them many times over. Thank goodness they have the magical Vin Fiz on their side. From internationally best-selling writer Clive Cussler comes a brand-new tale just for kids, full of magic and adventure in the classic tradition of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

Sweet 16
Kate Brian
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN: 1416900322, $14.95, 258 pages,

Teagan Phillips is obnoxiously rich, obnoxiously fashionable, and this year, she’s obnoxiously turning sixteen. No one’s sweet sixteen party will be as glitzy, glamorous, decadent, and, well, obnoxious as Teagan’s. She might single-handedly take the sweet out of sweet sixteen. In typical fashion, nothing is quite right for Teagan on the night of her sweet sixteen party. When a slew of unfortunate events unfold at what was supposed to be the sweet sixteen event of the century, she hits rock bottom, literally, by falling down the stairs into the wine cellar. When she comes to, a strange woman is standing over her. What happens next will bring Teagan back in time to when she was a sweet little girl with two parents, before her mother died and her father threw himself into his work. She’ll be forced to face the choices she made that led her to be the person she is on her sixteenth birthday. And with the help of her fairy godmother (or whoever the heck that woman in white is), this will be the sweetest of all sixteens. Chick lit for teens who still can’t quite grow out of the princess phase.

El Lector
William Durbin
Wendy Lamb Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 0385746512, $15.95, 196 pages,

Thirteen-year-old Bella wants to be a lector just like her grandfather, who sits on a special platform in the cigar factory, reading great novels, the newspapers, and union news to workers as they roll the cigars. Being a lector is an important role in their immigrant community. But the hard times of the Depression mean that Bella must go to work in the factory, making her hope of getting the education a lector needs seemingly impossible. Meanwhile, the factory workers and owners clash. People lose jobs, innocent workers are arrested, and the Ku Klux Klan prowls the area. And then there are those amazing new radios showing up all over town. Could the radio take the role of the lector? Bella must decide her own future and help her people preserve their history. Bella’s lively, warmhearted story captures the color and flavor of Ybor City as it explores an intriguing part of our American history. For ages 10 and up.

Vicki Arkoff
Senior Reviewer

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design