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

MBR Bookwatch

Volume 7, Number 3 March 2008 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf Greenspan's Bookshelf
Klausner's Bookshelf Laurel's Bookshelf Shelley's Bookshelf
Shirley's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf Vogel's Bookshelf
Reader Views Bookshelf    

Cowper's Bookshelf

Louise Morgan Runyon
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, #100, Lincoln, NE 68512
0595309488, $12.95

A poet, a dancer, a choreographer, a practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method of somatic education, and a former steelworker, Louise Morgan Runyon draws upon her many years of diverse life experiences in her poetry and by doing so infuses it with a very special perspective that will resonate within her reader's mind's eye. Chronologically organized "Reborn" is a selected representation of her work and will aptly serve to introduce Runyon to an audience of appreciative readers. The poems are organized into four major sections: Early Poems: 1980-1988: the Steel Plant and Other Poems; Recent Poems 1999-2003: Nature; Recent Poems: 2001-2003: Love Poems; and Recent Poems: 2002-2003: Poems of Renewal. As fluid as any dance movement, "Reborn" is a body of free-verse prose poems that is confidently recommended to any and all poetry enthusiasts. 'New York Rain': I am deep in dusky/New York rain this morning,//This dark, rainy morning/in the South.//It seems New York is always/dark and rainy evenings,/nights or afternoons.//When I think of childhood,/I think/of North Carolina summers.//But in my sleep dreams, I dream/New York/and dusky rain. Also very highly recommended and memorable reading is Louise Morgan Runyon's latest volume of published poetry, "Landscape: Fear & Love" (9780615167558, $16.44,

Style Your Dream Wedding
Susie Coelho
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
YC Media (publicity)
9781591862574, $49.99 1-800-251-4000

A customized and memorable wedding is the aspiration of most women. Now lifestyle guru and designer Susie Coelho draws upon her many years of experience and expertise to provide a cornucopia of illustrated ideas and examples of wedding elements that can transform this very special occasion to reflect the bride-to-be's individual personal style. By taking the Style Your Dream Wedding Quiz and the applying the results to every aspect of the event, success is guaranteed. Bridal options are organized and presented in eight distinct style categories that include Classic; Beach; Contemporary; Countryside; Garden; Fanciful; and Exotic. Best of all, the ideas and examples are adaptable to any budget, and can be modified for those aspiring brides who wish to 'do it all' themselves. Every aspect of the wedding is covered from dresses and cakes, to settings and accessories, to invitations and the reception. Superb browsing, and thoroughly 'user friendly', "Style Your Dream Wedding" is the perfect instruction guide and ideas resource for planning any and every wedding.

The DIY Bride
Khris Cochran
The Taunton Press
63 South Main Street, Newtown, CT 06470
9781561589647, $19.95 1-800-477-8727

In addition to dispensing advice on how to personal, customize, and craft a wedding on her popular website, author and wedding expert Krhis Cochran also teaches craft classes in the San Francisco Bay area. Now she draws upon her many years of experience and expertise to compile "The DIY Bride: 40 Fun Projects For your Ultimate One-of-a-Kind Wedding", a 218-page compilation of ideas, advice, tips, tricks and techniques for insuring that the do-it-yourself wedding arrangements go off with a minimum of fuss, confusion, expense, and stress. Of special note are Cochran's 'Top Ten Tips for a Fabulous, One-of-a-Kind Wedding' that begin with starting early, using high quality materials and tools (even on a small budget), and not being afraid to try new things, to foregoing perfection and simply enjoying the process from beginning to end. Nicely illustrated throughout, immanently practical, and thoroughly 'user friendly', "The DIY Bride" covers every aspect of creating and implementing a customized wedding from invitations and thank you's, to jewelry and accessories for the bride, to the wedding ceremony itself, to the reception afterwards, to favors, gifts and goodies, to saving and savoring the memories of that unique and very special day in a woman's life. If it's time that you (or someone you love) needs to plan for a wedding day, then "The DIY Bride" will prove an invaluable, indispensable, and enthusiastically recommended resource and instructional reference!

Cute Stuff
Aranzi Aronzo
Vertical, Inc.
1185 Avenue of the Americas, 32nd floor, New York, NY 10036
9781934287095, $14.95

In "Cute Stuff", crafts expert Aranzi Aronzo presents patterns and step-by-step instructions for a wide variety of colorful, interesting, and, well, 'cute' do-it-yourself crafts projects ranging from matching purses, tissue holders, and key rings, to hair bands, eco-friendly bags, and card holders. "Cute Stuff" is comprised of some 79-pages of crafts project in a 'how to' collection offering diversity of specific, fun, projects complete with a list of necessary materials, methodical construction instructions, and a full page color photograph of how they will look when completed. Of special note is are the little introductory commentaries that preface each project. Thoroughly 'user friendly', "Cute Stuff" is highly recommended for the novelty of its individual crafts projects, and the many, many hours of personal pleasure and sense of accomplishment they will afford.

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

Building Better Communities
Charles E. Hartsoe, editor
Sagamore Publishing Company
804 North Neil Street, #100, Champaign, IL 61824
9781571675323, $50.00 1-800-327-5557

Public parks and public recreation areas are to be found in every American community from colonial times down to the preset day. In 1980 The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration was founded as a non-profit service, research, and education organization for the purpose of promoting the importance, significance, and value of parks and recreation areas to the well-being of the general communities in which they are found. compiled and edited by Charles E. Hartsoe (an academician and a Life Trustee of the National Recreation and Park Association) "Building Better Communities: The Story of the National recreation Association 1906-1965" is an illustrated history of how public parks and recreation areas were conceived and promoted, followed by chronological chapters through the years of World Wars I and World War II, the post-war years of the 1940s, then 1950s, concludes with the 1960s. Enhanced with an Epilogue, a Bibliography, and seven substantial appendices. A model of specialized and specific American history, "Building Better Communities" is a unique and highly recommended addition for academic and community library collections.

Duke's Handbook Of Medicinal Plants Of The Bible
James A. Duke, Peggy-Ann K. Duke, Judith L. duCellier
CRC Press
c/o Taylor & Francis Group
6000 NW Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 300, Boca Raton, FL 33487
0849382025, $89.95 1-800-272-7737

Both the Old and New Testaments are replete with reference to plants ranging from manna to mustard seeds. "Duke's Handbook Of Medicinal Plants Of The Bible" will prove to be of immense interest to medical practitioners, ethnobotanists, biblical scholars, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in this fascinating subject. This 528-page handbook is replete with beautifully executed full color illustrations of individual plants. Each individual plant entry includes not only the illustration, but also its family line, synonyms by which it is known, notes, common names, activities, indications, dosages, natural history, and more. "Duke's Handbook Of Medicinal Plants Of The Bible" also provides readers with an evidence-based scoring system for the cited herbs, compares and contrasts citations from different versions of the Bible, covers the dosages that have been used historical for various ailments, and presents multilingual nomenclatures providing both the historical and geographical roots for each entry. A seminal contribution to the field of ethnobotony, "Duke's Handbook Of Medicinal Plants Of The Bible" is an important work of impressive scholarship from beginning to end -- and a core addition to academic library reference collections.

An Endless Harvest
Betty Levine
Manorville Publishing
235 Manorville Road, Saugerties, NY 12477
9780979156801, $15.95

Featuring black-and-white line drawings by Emanuel Schongut, "Endless Harvest: Preserving And Using Fruits, Vegetables, And Herbs" by Betty Levine (Manager of a Community Supported Agriculture group in Woodstock, New York) is a basic introductory 'how to' manual for non-specialist general readers with an interest in raising and consuming their own garden produce for optimal nutrition. "Endless Harvest" provides essential and practical information on how to take care of harvested fruits, vegetables and herbs so as to insure their optimum freshness and nutritional value for as long as possible. Methods for effective long-term storage are also presented to help gardeners and kitchen cooks to extend the 'shelf life' of fruits, vegetables and herbs. "Endless Harvest" also provides more than 200 recipes and a descriptive explanation of the growing Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement. Informed and informative, thoroughly 'user friendly', and superbly organized in presentation, "Endless Harvest" is especially recommended as an instructive reference for those concerned with sustainable living, as well as preserving and cooking a garden harvest of their own.

Handbook Of Meat, Poultry & Seafood Quality
Leo M.L. Nollet, et al.
Blackwell Publishing
2121 State Avenue, Ames, IA 50014-8300
9780813824468, $239.99 1-800-216-2522

The health and safety qualities of America's meat supplies, foreign and domestic, has been a consistent and headline issue for a number of years now ranging from massive recalls of beef products, to ecoli contamination alerts, to mercury contamination of fish supplies. Assisted by a team of eight associate editors, Leo M.L. Nollet (Professor of Biotechnology, University College Ghent, and a member of Ghent University, Belgium) has drawn upon some of sixty of the finest and most accomplished researchers and academicians, industry experts and governmental agency authorities in their fields to compile and edit the "Handbook Of Meat, Poultry & Seafood Quality", a 719-page compendium of information covering every aspect of fresh, frozen, and processed muscle foods. All aspects and factors of meat, poultry and seafood are covered including additives, contaminants, moisture, packaging, shelf-life, texture, aroma, flavors, mouthfeel, safety, stability, water activity, color, microbiology, nutrition, sensory attributes, and tainting. Of special note is the 'List of Contributors' that identifies and provides contact information on all the men and women whose writings and commentaries were drawn upon. Another special note is the appendix 'Standards for Meat, Poultry and Seafood in the United States by Y. H. Hui. The "Handbook Of Meat, Poultry & Seafood Quality" is a seminal, timely, and urgently recommended addition to professional, governmental, food industry, governmental agency, and academic library reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

The Scenic Route
Frank and Katrina Basile et, al
Indiana Historical Society
450 W. Ohio Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202
9780871952592, $8.95

The Scenic Route: Stories From the Heartland is an anthology of stories gathered from the twentieth anniversary of Storytelling Arts of Indiana, an organization founded to promote the art and wonder of storytelling in daily life through its annual festival, concerts, workshops, programs, and other events. A diversity of authors contribute their slice-of-life impressions written with earthy realism and flavored with dashes of wit, wisdom, irony, and enigma. "In adulthood, I learned the real Crockett was a man of mixed qualities - an ambiguous fellow. The old Disney movie showed Davy going down in glory, swinging Old Betsy at the attacking forces of Santa Ana. In reality, he was among a small group taken alive. Likely he tried to talk his way out of the predicament, but he failed. Like him, I, too, met my Alamo. Unlike him, I lived to prevaricate another day." Highly recommended.

Moddathir Aboul Wafa
Nesma Music
Solfeon, S.L. Vallehermoso, 64, 28015 Madrid, Spain
CD $18.99

Cairo-born composer, Arabic Music Institute teacher, and player of the Egyptian oud (a traditional stringed instrument), Moddathir Aboul Wafa and associates present Toola, a CD of classical Arabic music celebrating the rich legacy of great Egyptian composers past. An album that evokes the very essence of Egyptian history, Toola offers five pieces steeped in classical Egyptian culture and a sixth piece that dares to fuse Arabic instrumental performance with other genres. Enthusiastically recommended for anyone curious about the fine experience of Egyptian music. The tracks are Mawkeb El Nagham (9:02); El Leil Wel Nil (7:26); Al-Qahira El Adima (10:06); Fi Samaa Al-Musika (7:39); Samaa Hos (8:32); and Samba Toola (6:55).

Lost Canyons
Scott August
Cedar Mesa Music
PO Box 691522, West Hollywood, CA 90069
The Creative Service Company (publicity)
4360 Emerald Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
CD $15.99

Lost Canyons is a music CD resurrecting the haunting echoes of the Anasazi flute, an instrument lost to human ears for over a millennium. Musician Scott August evokes the essence of the sacred canyons of the American Southwest through his memorable performances on location in seldom-visited canyons. The tracks blend traditional native-style wood flutes, clay flutes such as those used in ancient Mexico, and "tribal-techno" background instrumentation. An unforgettable album especially recommended for armchair travelers and anyone interested in the listening to the legacy of ancient winds. The tracks are Morning Star (5:03); Raven Dance (6:33); Desert Skies (5:24); Where Spirits Dwell (6:47); Swallows & Nighthawks (3:53); Thunder on the Mesa (5:42); Thermals (2:52); Lost Canyons (8:33); Huukyangw [Wind] (6:30); Chasing the Sun (6:28); Twilight Canyon (5:45); and Evening Star (3:39).

The Lost Dream
Jamie Craig
Craig Sound Productions
PO Box 1246, Birmingham, MI 48012
The Creative Service Company (publicity)
4360 Emerald Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
CD $13.97

Musician, composer, and keyboardist Jamie Craig presents The Lost Dream, a music CD album of modern instrumental music that embraces rock 'n' roll elements over those of traditional new age or jazz. Embracing the rush of a solid bass-line and full drum-kit that propels a solid beat instead of moody ambience, The Lost Dream incorporates sound from keyboards, synthesizers and computers to generate a full band sound - up to and including eight different bass guitars, all synthesized. Other instruments added to the mix range from acoustic steel guitar to flute, organ, congas, French horn, and more. The result is highly recommended as a fine balance between new age and the instrumental passages of progressive rock, sure to enliven the listener's day. The tracks are The Lost Dream [Radio Mix] (4:11); The Steel Wheel (3:44); Stereo Five (4:47); The Power & Glory (4:20); Movement Z (6:29); Contemplate All (3:49); One Thirty (4:22); The Lost Dream (4:59); Did You Have To Ask? (4:20); Our Lost Dreams (6:07); and Take the High Road (4:15).

Able Greenspan

Klausner's Bookshelf

The Sudoku Puzzle Murders
Parnell Hall
9780312370909 $23.95

In Bakerhaven, Connecticut, Cora Felton, the nationally recognized Puzzle lady, is standing in the parking lot when Japanese publisher Hideki Takiyama comes up to her and introduces himself. He says she is famous in Japan and he wants to write a Puzzle Lady Sudoku puzzle book. She refers him to her niece Sherry Carter who negotiates all her contracts. Later Sherry goes to sign a contact only to learn she signed with Hideki's rival Aoki Yoshiaki who is married to the lovely Reiko.

Cora is at the sheriff's office when a call comes in that there has been a murder. At the crime scene, Cora sees a man with his face sliced in half and it becomes obvious he was dumped here. They find out he was a private investigator from New York. A few days later, Cora sees Sherry's ex following Aoki and Reiko who are followed by another investigator form New York. The second New York private investigator is found dead very near where his predecessor was dumped with a samurai sward in him. The sheriff asks Cora to help him figure out what is going on; since she loves a puzzle, she agrees to assist him.

The fun of the Puzzle Lady mysteries starts and finish with the aptly nicknamed heroine who never takes herself seriously. She is a smart-mouthed sassy broad who does her own thing regardless of what others think. Her antics and asides bring humor into a serious complex whodunit that leaves readers spinning in admiration.

Murder of a Chocolate Covered Cherry
Denise Swanson
Obsidian (Berkley)
9780451223685 $6.99

In Scumble River, Illinois it is time for Grandma Sal's Soup-to-Nuts Cooking Challenge. School psychologist and police consultant Skye Dennison reluctantly enters the competition along with her brother and honoree uncle because her mother May wants to win this year and her family is using recipes she created. Mrs. Cherry Alexander is getting on everyone's nerves with her caustic commentary and her dirty tricks, but no one expected her to be murdered for her nasty personality.

Skye is asked by her boyfriend Police Chief Wally Boyd to help on the case; she hesitantly agrees. She is also concerned that one of her students Ashley is missing. She had an unauthorized article written in the school paper that claimed she had sex with the entire male basketball team. Everyone insists that Xenia who wrote the article kidnapped Ashley. Skye works both cases unaware they are linked to one another.

Denise Swanson has written a wonderful small town cozy. The eccentric locals provide much humor yet that enhances the seriousness of the two investigations by bringing a reality of distance from the homicide and missing teen case. Skye wears two hats that she normally balances, but this time they overpay as trouble has come to idyllic Scumble River.

Poison Pen
Sheila Lowe
9780451223692 $6.99

She is a graphologist forensic handwriting expert whose clients range from business people who want to check out job applicants to police who use Claudia Rose as an additional tool in their crime investigations. Both divergent groups agree she is always on the money with her assessments.

Claudia and her friend Kelly attend the funeral of their childhood friend Hollywood publicist Lindsey Alexander, who allegedly committed suicide leaving behind an explanatory note written in block letters. Her business manager Ivan does not believe Lindsey killed herself and hires Claudia to prove it. The handwriting is suspicious since Lindsey always wrote in cursive not print although the deceased's sleazy brother gives Claudia photos to prove otherwise as Lindsey printed on them. The pictures do make it quite clear that Lindsey was a victim of child sexual abuse. Ivan is going to makes an out of town trip and finds some incendiary evidence amidst Lindsey's belongings. He asks Claudia to come over to his house to look at them; she does, but when she arrives she find him lying dead. She takes the flash drive lying under him home to find it contains a spread sheet of high profiles people into kink. Claudia learns Lindsey was blackmailing them so now has a motive for homicide, but whom. Soon someone shoots at her and her house is broken into and is somewhat trashed. Obviously an unknown adversary wants the case dropped.

Claudia is a strong willed independent person who persists even while skeptics scoff at her profession as being voodoo forensics. The romance between her and the lead detective adds a personalized dimension to the story line without intruding on the inquiry. Among Lindsey's clients are DC and California politicians and Hollywood superstars with the power and money to hire a pro to make it look like a suicide, but who remains just out of reach.

Unknown Means
Elizabeth Becka
9781401301750 $22.95

Cleveland Medical Examiner Evelyn James knows her life is full between work and her personal relationships. A single mom Evelyn struggles not to murder her glowering teenage daughter Angel and tries to separate her romance with homicide detective David Milaski from their work together.

The current case involves the murder of twenty-eight years old affluent Grace Markham in her locked apartment inside a secure building. Not too long after the homicide, Metro General Hospital ER Doctor Bailey calls her at two in the morning because someone assaulted her friend Marissa Gonzalez, who lives in the same building as Grace did. Another similar homicide occurs. Evelyn, David and his partner, Bruce Riley investigate trying to find the link between the victims at a time the case load starting with the Lake Erie underwater explosion affirms to Evelyn that twenty-four hours is not enough time in a day.

The anti Kay Scarpetta (personality that is), Evelyn holds this strong police procedural together. The story line is fast-paced from the onset as Evelyn and the police team look for clues at the Markham crime scene and never slows down even when she investigate the Lake Erie explosion while almost crapping in her underwear out of fear. Readers will like this forensic police tale and seek Evelyn's previous appearance (see TRACE EVIDENCE).

Forgive Me
Amanda Eyre Ward
Random House
9780345494474 $13.00

Thirtyish international journalist Nadine travels the hot spots of the globe in pursuit of the story. However, when she journeyed to a small village outside Mexico City to interview the parents of twelve recently murdered young boys, two thugs battered her breaking ribs and more. When Nadine regains consciousness she finds herself in the Cape Cod B&B owned by her estranged father and his fiancee. Dr. Duarte provides her needed medical care.

Nadine feels this is the last place she wants to be while healing. She reads in the paper an article on a local couple traveling to Cape Town, South Africa to attend the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings. The pair needs to hear why a black woman killed their white son in 1988. Nadine feels a deep need to cover the story so without official backing, she flies to Cape Town, a place where she lost the love of her life. She meets grieving Americans; who give her their late son's boyhood journal.

FORGIVE ME is an interesting morality drama starring an interesting protagonist who believes the story comes before her safety although her Mexican incident has left her with doubts. The tale cleverly uses the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings to spotlight Apartheid, but could have been any prejudicial ism especially state sponsored. The journal that the parents give Nadine leads to her reflecting back on her failed relationships with her father and her soulmate. Although some spins feel forced and false, fans will appreciate Amanda Eyre Ward's deep look at motivation of individuals and countries.

The Blue Star
Tony Earley
Little, Brown
9780316199070 $23.99

In 1941 in Aliceville, North Carolina seventeen year old high school senior Jim Glass loves fellow student Chrissie Steppe, but can do little about his attraction. Chrissie has a boyfriend, Jim's buddy Arthur "Bucky" Bucklaw who joined the navy; complicating matters for Jim is her family owes his family a lot of money. Still he vows to one day make Chrissie his girlfriend.

He turns to his paternal models for advice; his Uncles Coran and Zeno coach Jim on winning the heart of a girl. However, everything abruptly changes December 7, 1941 in which his quest seems childish when compared to Bucky being stationed on the USS California which was hit by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. For that matter Jim, like many of his peers, wonders if staying in school to play baseball until he graduates is more important than fighting for his country immediately.

Seven years have passed since the adventures of JIM THE BOY (not read) as he has matured from a precocious ten yea old to a still growing up high school student in love when WWII intercedes. Patriotism becomes a key theme as an odd triangle forms. Readers will appreciate the true sacrifice (not the DC pandering) the military makes to serve. However, it is the impact on Jim and his high school peers who are of an age to join and feel the need to do so that makes the sequel a strong look at America going to war.

Simply Perfect
Mary Balogh
9780385338240 $22.00

Claudia Martin, owner and headmistress of Miss Martin's School for Girls, has had a rough day starting with one of her teacher's unable to provide French and music lessons due to a headache. Things got worse after the auspicious start and now the ultimate has arrived, in the person of a Marquess. Joseph says that close friend and teacher Susanna Osbourne, married last year to Viscount Whitleaf, sends her best regards (see SIMPLY MAGIC).

Joseph offers his carriage to take Claudia to London when she leaves in two days. She finds no excuse to say no, but does not trust his title or his friendly demeanor; deep down she writes off her attraction as inane as she is too old for such nonsense. After visiting his parents while his father recovers from an illness, the thirtyish Joseph knows he needs a wife and an heir. He had been leaning towards Lady Portia Hunt although her airs could freeze the Thames in summer, but now finds he is falling in love with the intelligent caring spinster.

The apropos title says it all as Mary Balogh provides another superb Regency romance. The lead couple is complex as each comes into the relationship with preconceptions that prove false when it comes to their beloved. The return of characters from previous novels like Susanna strengthen the plot as sub-genre fans will enjoy knowing what has happened to them since their tale was told. This is simply another great novel in an outstanding series (see SIMPLY LOVE, SIMPLY UNFORGETTABLE and SIMPLY DANGEROUS).

Trouble the Water
Nicole Seitz
Thomas Nelson
9781595544001 $14.99

Forty something Honor believes her life is over as her marriage is history and she is unemployed. Deep in her psyche, Honor believes she deserves both and worse as she now feels there is something lacking in her that makes her contemptible not fit to be loved by anyone. Even knowing she cannot run away from herself, she flees to St. Anne's Isle off the South Carolina coast.

Honor attempts suicide, but the islander Gullah nannies intercede and prevent her from succeeding. They nurse her back to physical health and shower her with love that brings emotional contentment. Honor moves in with another somewhat wounded adoptee Duchess. Soon she begins to paint and contacts her sister Alice. When Honor informs Alice she has cancer, the younger sibling reassesses her successful life that looks like a failure next to her dying sibling's recent lust for life.

The three females (Honor, Duchess and Alice) rotate perspective so the audience gets to understand what motivates each of them. Adding to that insight is the back and forth major highlights of each of their lives over the past eight years. However, there is too much happening with each of these females so that none of their problems to include loneliness, physical and mental abuse, depression, and suicidal tendencies is looked at as profoundly deep as the well written TROUBLED THE WATER should. Still fans who appreciate a look into a troubled person trying to find a life preserver will enjoy this fine inspirational tale.

The Dark Lantern
Gerri Brightwell
9780307395344 $24.95

In 1893 London, housemaid Jane Wilbred obtains a position with the Bentley family by forging a glowing letter of reference and concealing that she is the daughter of an infamous murderer. Jane's new home at thirty-two Cursitor Road is filled with plenty of shenanigans and intrigue since the matriarch is dying; however the newcomer plans to be a mouse hiding as much as possible underneath the stairs and even from her peers.

There is a harsh rivalry upstairs between the two sisters-in-laws. The older brother Henry's wife claims her spouse died in a drowning incident while en route to England after years in Bombay; no one knows this widow, a total stranger. The younger brother Robert's wife Mina Bentley plans to be the matriarch and objects to the outsider or returning to Paris where she and Robert lived for several years. Robert ignores the war between the sisters-in-law as his interest lies with gaining official police recognition of the science of body metrics, anthropometry. He tests his theory when the house is robbed by an intruder claiming to be him, but soon spins into something deadlier.

This is an excellent Victorian mystery as Jane steals the show with her astute observations honed by being a maid although she is very young. The story line is fast-paced once the robbery occurs and Robert begins his inquiry. Fans of historical mysteries will enjoy THE DARK LANTERN as this is a very bright well written thriller starring a strong cast especially Jane.

The Sinner
Petra Hammesfahr
Bitter Lemon
9781904738251 $14.95

Police commissioner Rudolf Grovian decides to conduct an inquiry into the Cora Bender homicide case. In a park filled with people who witnessed Cora knife to the death n apparent stranger while her stunned husband Gereon tried to stop her after she slit the victim's throat. Although the local cops arrest Cora as the case is obvious with so many including her child and spouse seeing her do the act, Rudolf is fascinated by the culprit's behavior.

He interviews Cora trying to understand her motive for killing an apparent stranger. Instead Cora explains her family dynamics; not with Gereon who she loves and owes a debt of gratitude for allowing her to escape; instead with her blood family. Her mother hates her for being born and destroying her lifestyle with her birth; her disabled sister totally depended on Cora for everything. Still the cop struggles to comprehend why even as Cora explains her sexual obsession inside a religious fanaticism which bewilders him further.

This is a deep psychological crime thriller in which the audience learns the demons that haunt and obsess Cora. The story line rotates first and third person perspectives but that works quite nicely as the first person enables the reader to get inside Cora while the third person keeps the investigating exciting. Sub-genre readers will appreciate the character driven THE SINNER from the opening sequence when Cora almost kills Gereon with her powerful legs during a sexual moment until the final revelations that shake up Rudolf (and the audience).

The Chinaman
Friedrich Glauser
Bitter Lemon
1904738214 $14.95

In Bern, Switzerland James Farny's corpse is found lying on top of the recently buried wife of the poorhouse warden; the doctor pronounces it is suicide due to a self inflicted shot into the heart. The Bern police brass is content with supporting the "official" ruling.

However, Bern Police Sergeant Jakob Studer notices some odd anomalies starting with no bullet hole torn through the victim's clothing though he is fully clad and yet shot in the heart. Studer also recognizes Farny as a person he remembers seeing several months ago in the tiny village of Pfrundisberg because the man predicted his demise to his associates. As Studer investigates while his superior fumes but knows better than to interfere with his best and most frustrating cop, clues lead Studer to realize the prime suspects in what he believes is murder reside at the poorhouse, a horticultural college, and the Sun Inn where he first "met" Farny.

The latest translation of a Studer police procedural (see IN MATTO'S REALM, FEVER and THUMBPRINT) is a fabulous tale in which the intelligent dedicated cop works out the homicide by analyzing the interrelationships motives between the victim and those at the three locales and their potential motives for committing a murder. Although Studer's technique has been used quite often since THE CHINAMAN was first released in the late 1930s, the vivid look into Swiss society with Hitler beginning to spread his Third Reich vision across the continent makes the tale feel like a fresh historical whodunit.

What Looks Like Crazy
Charlotte Hughes
9780515144239 $7.99

Clinical psychologist Kate Holly feels her world is imploding as her newest client Kevin Bosley threatens to jump off the roof while she asks affluent psychiatrist Thad Glazaen who sent him to her for help what the problem really is. Thad asks her to describe her underwear. Kate is also counting down the days before her divorce from fire captain Jay Rush becomes legal; she still loves Jay, but his work frightens her as her dad died fighting a fire. Finally her mom and her aunt, the renowned "junque sisters", plant in cement a naked statue that has angered her neighbors especially Bitsy Stout.

Her wealthy secretary Mona Epps assists Kate with all her woes by insisting that sex is what she needs. However, the only man she wants to share her bed and his is Jay. Kate knows WHAT LOOKS CRAZY is crazy as Jay insists her work is much more dangerous than his.

WHAT LOOKS LIKE CRAZY is an entertaining character study of a psychologist whose life feels out of control. Kate is a delightful center holding the plot together while an eccentric wild bunch of secondary players pulls her in a zillion different directions. Although somewhat a meet the crazies (including Kate) tale, fans will enjoy this humorous zany opening act due to the antics of that crazy cast.

Douglas J. Preston
9780765311054 $25.95

Physicist Gregory North Hazelius sold the concept of creating a humongous forty billion dollar "superconducting supercollider particle accelerator" based on finding a new source of energy. He knows not to tell anyone about his personal secret agenda behind why he pushed the Isabella project as it is called; he plans to duplicate the Big Bang of creation in order to speak to God.

The Navajo Indian Reservation in the southwest is chosen as the locale for Isabella. Work begins inside the five-hundred-square-mile Red Mesa tableland. However, the project falls behind schedule disturbing DC politicos who bet on its quick success. Presidential science adviser Dr. Stanton Lockwood sends former CIA operative Wyman Ford to investigate why the delay and is there any way to propel the project back on schedule. At the same time, others strongly oppose Isabella fearing the wrath of God. Televangelist Reverend Don Spates claims scientific blasphemy challenging heaven; Navaho shamans share Spates' fears that the world is coming to an end. These two diverse groups plan to destroy the evil scientists and their blasphemous Isabella before the Armageddon Big Crunch occurs.

This is exciting thriller in which science and religion clash; in many ways the tale is a modernizing of Frankenstein as Isabella is considered the monster by the evangelists and the Navaho while Dr. Hazelius (and twelve other scientists) is the zealous creator. The story line starts slow as the cast is set, but once everyone converges on the southwest, the plot is faster than an atom flying around a supercollider. Fans will enjoy Douglas J. Preston's entertaining action-packed tale.

An Irish Country Village
Patrick Taylor
9780765316240 $25.95

In the 1960s having decided to practice medicine in Balleybucklebo, Northern Ireland, (see AN IRISH COUNTRY DOCTOR) Barry Laverty begins his "apprenticeship working for Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly, a local legend. He finds the wide range of patients with their diverse problems fascinating and keeps him attentive. Barry also quickly learns why his mentor is a superstar amongst the working class and he admires the grumpy Fingal. This is not so much due to his medical healing but more because he gets involved in the social affairs of the villagers.

Currently Fingal battles the council who want to change the Black Swan pub from a popular local establishment into a touristy thing to bring in more money. Barry also finds his attraction for engineering student Patricia Spence growing even as he fears yet hopes she will soon go to Cambridge. Finally he faces a malpractice lawsuit from a widow whose husband he misdiagnosed.

This warm sequel to AN IRISH COUNTRY DOCTOR is an entertaining tale that brings to life a small village in the 1960s. The storyline is character driven as the eccentric locals bring time and place to the foreground. Dr. Fingal is somewhat the stereotype of the grumpy caring aging doctor, but no one will care as he brings extra heart to the mix. Fans will enjoy the continuing saga of Dr. Barry Laverty as he holds the insightful tale together while growing into the heir apparent to the village doctor.

Karna Small Bodman
9780765319289 $24.95

Computer scientist Dr. Cameron "Cammy" Talbot has little time to sit on her laurels following the CHECKMATE technology she and her team created that prevented war between India and Pakistan. Recently a terrorist has developed a missile system that has shot down commercial aircraft; Mr. President, Vice President Jayson Keller, and their top National Security advisor Austin Gage wants her and her Bandaq Technologies team to create an antimissile gizmo to place on planes so that the cock pit can be aware of a deadly incoming and destroy it.

She visits her associate Dr. Wen Hu at MIT for assistance, but soon afterward someone kills him and destroys his lab. She realizes that she is next and a few somewhat amateurish but potentially lethal assaults occur. Cammy turns to her former lover, Special Assistant to the President for Arms Control and Strategic defense Lieutenant Colonel Hunt Daniels for protection while few fly and more die who do.

More a romantic suspense (even the VEEP wants Cammy) than a thriller, readers will enjoy this race against the clock each day means more deaths and less air traffic. The story line grips the audience as the enemy technology seems plausible. Although the romantic subplot is well written it feels out of place as the excitement is with stopping the adversaries soonest.

The Magdalene Chronicles
Suzen Wuerth
9781598007398 $9.95

The French law firm of Troute, Flangette et Bronsaurd inform American archeology student Maddy Whitaker that her grandmere died leaving her with an estate in France. Maddy is stunned as she was unaware of this grandmere who gave birth to her mom Beatrice, but sent the child to the Sanders of Savannah, American relatives, to raise the child as their own.

Maddy travels to her late grandmere's house in France. In the attic she finds an old trunk containing an old leather bound book that was crumbling with her touch. She reads about her de Brissac maternal ancestry who apparently revered Mary Magdalene. Further exploring finds ancient relics, hidden passageways and the knowledge that the house lies on top of sacred ground as a convent was once there. With help from her American friends and her new French amies, Maddy investigates her family tree back two millennium and begins to unravel a secret society plot to rule the world.

With a nod to the Da Vinci Code, THE MAGDALENE CHRONICLES is a terrific look at the infancy of Christianity through Mary Magdalene's perspective interwoven inside a modern day amateur sleuth conspiracy thriller. Everything ties nicely together as the ancient diaries written allegedly by Mary Magdalene are included inside the contemporary story line. Readers will obtain their money's Wuerth with this fine tale that sets up the next entry in The Followers of the Magdalene saga.

The Pulpwood Queens' Tiara-Wearing, Book-Sharing Guide to Life
Kathy L. Patrick
Grand Central
9780446695428 $13.99

Born and raised in Kansas, Kathy Patrick became a licensed cosmetologist and soon a book publisher's representative. When she lost her position in the publishing industry due to downsizing, she decided to combine her two experiences. Kathy opened Beauty and the Book, which likes its title implies combined a salon with a bookstore. With the encouragement of her customers who debated the merits of books they read, Kathy soon created The Pulpwood Queens of East Texas reading group that took their literature seriously, but the meetings as a time to let down one's hair (hard to do wearing a tiara).

Her well written autobiography is a terrific inspiration as she has become one of the diehards trying to get people literate and reading as Ms. Patrick believes this is a way to bring the world to anyone as well as a means to making strong friendships. The tiara wearing sisterhood anecdotes make this "Guide to Life" worth reading as these ladies will inspire the audience to join clubs.

No Second Chance
Maggie Toussaint
Wild Rose Press
1601541627 $10.99

In Maryland, Hope Farrier, owner of horse rescue Second Chance Farm, sees the "Suit" and knows that denotes something bad is about to happen to her. The Suit Devlin Temple, acting CEO of Temple Equine Supplements, informs her that his firm will no longer donate supplements to her rundown operation; they will change their charity to the fancier Homes for Ponies. She pleads with him to give her more time so he allows her three weeks more of deliveries.

Devlin is worried about the firm that his dying mom made so successful; as someone somehow is stealing funds. He assumes his rival for the CEO position cousin Ray, who married Devlin's fiancee Claire, is the culprit, but so far has not proved it. His mom informs her son, Hope and the board of directors that she is giving her stock to Hope and also placed the horse farm owner on the TES board in lieu of her. She asks Devlin to fix Hope's financial problems. He agrees to all because he would do anything for his dying mom. However, as Devlin and Hope fall in love, someone, most likely Ray, sabotages her operation almost killing the horses.

NO SECOND CHANCE is a fabulous contemporary romance with an intriguing social issue involving the rescue of horses; in fact the book proceeds are being donated to the real Dead End Farm Horse rescuing mission. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and never slows down until the final confrontation. Although the clever diabolical villain proves unbelievably insane during the final altercation, readers will appreciate this strong tale as Maggie Toussaint provides a deep character driven drama.

Touch of Magic
Carin Rafferty
ImaJinn Books
P.O. Box 545, Canon City, CO 81212
9781933417356 $15.00

Depressed to her bone marrow because of her overwhelming feeling of loneliness compounded by the celebration of Samhain, witch Shana Morland decides to use a prohibited ancient cursed Tarot deck to see if there is a hunk in her near future. Shana assumes the violation is a minor offense as she considers how bad the curse can be without fully understanding the ramifications. Shana will learn rather quickly as the Tarot deck is actually a magical detention cell containing evil witch Moira; anyone who foolishly uses the deck will free her at the cost of their liberty.

However, Moira's jailers understanding human nature, especially witching human nature, included a caveat that Moira's rescuer must be in love to switch places. Shana knows she is okay as she has no one. That is until Ryan Alden crashes his Harley right in front of her. She is stunned as she wants the unconscious stranger with feelings like nothing she ever felt before. However, if he is her true love as she suspects, Shan's price is the curse.

This is an exhilarating one sitting paranormal romantic suspense novel. Readers assume from the moment out cold Ryan lays at Shana's feet, he is the one who will instigate the switch. The heroic lead couple is a delightful pairing of a seemingly doomed duet as they battle a more powerful foe. Moira disarms them by negatively using the power of love so she can live Shana's future while her savior occupies her incarceration time. Carin Rafferty imparts a compelling tale in which love is the curse.

Storm Watcher
Lilith Saintcrow
9781933417004 $13.75

Water witch Mariamne Niege cannot believe how much her world and that of her two best friends Theo Morgan and Elise Nicholson have changed since the Circle of Light sent Watchers Hansen and Dante crashing into their lives (see DARK WATCHER). However, she knows there is no going back for any of the trio although she dreams of her idyllic mousy academic days; but they have become Guardians in a war with the evil Dark.

Her visions are becoming ever stronger and increasingly frightening. The worst is her seeing her Watcher Hansen killing Guardian Theo. Mari's roommates fear and loath Hansen who has taken over the couch to insure his charge, who he knows by touching her is his soulmate, remains safe. When Rossini the gargoyle sends her research writings by her former mentor Suzanne, forces of the Dark break into her home killing her roommates. Hansen knows the Dark craves taking his beloved, but he does not understand how far they will go to achieve their goal; the earthquakes are their first assault, but Mari thinks Hansen is involved.

The second WATCHER romantic fantasy is a terrific tale starring two fascinating lead characters. Elise may love Hansen, but she fears and distrusts him too; Hansen may love Elise, but his pre Watcher days make him feel he is unworthy of her. Readers will appreciate the irony as they need each other not just as soulmates, but to survive; if they fail to overcome the negatives the Dark will triumph. Lilith Saintcrow provides an exciting tale that sub-genre fans will relish.

Dark Watcher
Lilith Saintcrow
0975965328 $13.75

The Circle of Lightfall assigns Dante the Watcher to protect healing Lightbringer Theodora Morgan. Upon seeing her for the first time at her shop the Magick Cauldron bookstore, Dante informs his peer Hanson that he cannot understand why the Dark would attack this green witch, two other witches (Elise Nicholson and Marianne Niege), and their teacher Suzanne; Hanson explains the enemy is on a Crusade and these three naive Lightbringers and their ignorant mentor are a beacon in the Dark that the other side wants snuffed.

Dante quickly realizes that Theo is his witch by simply being able to touch her as he knows a Lightbringer's touch brings pain to a Watcher due to part of their nature that includes a Dark element except if she is his. However, he also learns she is ignorant about the whole war and her being a Lightbringer surrounded by the forces of the Dark. Instead she just gently wants to heal him from his mental anguish although he frightens her.

DARK WATCHER is a fascinating paranormal romance that opens the Watcher saga. The story line is fast-paced once Dante enters the bookstore to talk to Theo with the other three females hovering protectively near her especially Suzanne. Whereas Theo is a gentle healer, readers never see Dante's dark side even while battling deadly adversaries although that is referenced too often so that he seems incomplete. Still fans will appreciate Lilith Saintcrow's paranormal modernization of the Crusade.

Melody Carlson
9781590529348 $12.99

The Portland, Oregon police especially Detective Ebony Hamilton take seriously any visions that high school student Samantha McGregor has as the teen has helped on recent cases (see BAD CONNECTION, PLAYING WITH FIRE and BEYOND REACH). Ebony, who was her late dad's partner, and Sam believe her visions are a gift from God to help people.

However, recently she has had three seemingly separate sets of visions. The first involves her mother's new boyfriend Steven, whom Sam does not like; the second entails a terrorist act at a gala that she thinks is a prom; the other line of visions is the bullying of a teem by his peers. Sam talks with Ebony about all three. The cops and Sam attend local proms hoping to avoid a disaster. Meanwhile her mom complains about missing money from her accounts while Steven apparently has vanished. The three sets of visions will soon become clear hopefully not too late; as Sam requires the patience of Job with the understanding that faith in God even when she does not comprehend why the Lord does what he does is the key to life.

The fourth Secret Life of Samantha McGregor is an entertaining inspirational paranormal crime caper. Readers will appreciate Sam's dedication and caring as she tries to prevent harm to people as her three visions indicate. Although in real life one cannot thank the Lord too much, in a novel it becomes irritating as readers know of Sam's strong belief and gratitude. Still, this is a fine entry with a fabulous final twist and filled with moral issues like dealing with teen bullying, identity theft, turning the other cheek, failing to save a soul, and throughout the series the belief that God's way is the only way.

Karin Alvtegen
Felony & Mayhem
9781933397863 $24.00

In Stockholm, Sweden, thirty-two years old Sybilla Forsenstrom is the daughter of affluent but cold parents; after an undesirable pregnancy, she fled from her life of wealth. Now almost fifteen years later, she is a professional homeless person who knows all the tricks of the trade to get a hot meal, a hot shower, and a warm room when the city is freezing.

She pretends to be a businesswoman in Stockholm staying at the Grand Hotel. There she meets Jorgen Grundberg whom she cons into paying for her meal and a room. However, the next day he is found murdered. Soon after that another male is killed in the same MO including mutilation. The police believe Sybilla with her wig and more is the killer; she has become public enemy number one. Fearing that her homeless state means guilty, she eludes the cops with some help and begins investigating the homicides.

The woman on the run plot is intermingled with flashbacks to Sybilla's childhood especially the late teen years when she is forced to give away her son; her parents are icy pips. Thus readers understand her motives as a street person. Her inquiries are entertaining as she sees the clues differently than the cops. Newspaper clippings on the serial killings insure the heroine is the most sought after person in Sweden. Interestingly if this reviewer read this book before fairy tale stories claimed as true by the media but ultimately deblogged as made up, the clippings would feel wrong lacking official police sources yet now seem very accurate. Fans will enjoy this fine Swedish amateur sleuth tale.

Killer Heat
Linda A. Fairstein
9780385523974 $26.00

At the sight of a badly decomposed body in which the stench is so overwhelming, it will psychologically linger for weeks, NYPD Detective Mike Chapman lights up a Cohiba; he hands the cigar to Manhattan ADA Alex Cooper to take a "few hits" in order to give the brain a different olfactory memory. The tortured dead woman is the first homicide of a serial killer. Six more females with apparent military connections will soon die while Mike, Alex and others hunt the predator.

At the same time, Cooper argues with defense attorney Gene Grassley in front of Judge Lamont over the retrial of sixty-one years old Floyd Warren; accused of rape three decades ago, but the jury was hung and he skipped town before the second trial. Grassley says his client is too old to commit a violent crime while Cooper points out that does not matter as he should do the time even though he will probably die behind bars. Cooper contends he became a serial rapist while Greeley insists he was never arrested. Adding to the circus of the Judge having to apply the ridiculous 1973 statute is cronies of violent convicted rapist Pablo Pasano sit in the courtroom to harass Cooper, who put him behind bars.

The serial killer investigation is a terrific subplot that would normally carry a novel; however, it is the legal issues involving the Warren trial complicated by the Pasano presence that makes the latest Cooper thriller one of the best sub-genre entries of the year so far. The story line is action-packed from the cigar onset and never slows down as the audience feels they are traipsing around the Big Apple during a sever heat wave.

Torrent Falls
Jan Watson
9781414314730 $12.99

In 1888 widow Copper Brown Corbett returns to her home in Troublesome Creek, Kentucky accompanied by her almost two years old baby Lilly Gray. Her daddy deeded Copper his rundown farm; she plans to turn it around and make a home for her and her daughter as she seeks solace after the tragedy that sent her home.

Her neighbor John Pelfrey wants to court Copper as he has always loved her; they were once sweethearts but she gave her love to another and believes she will never love again. Copper readapts to the hilly countryside providing midwife services to the nearby women. Her faith in the Lord keeps her strong as she thanks him (and their Mammaw) for sending two young siblings Dimmert and Darcy to help her on the farm. John remains persistent, but as she begins to fall in love, Copper realizes he hides something from her that once she knows the truth will end their relationship.

The third Troublesome Creek Americana tale (see TROUBLESOME CREEK - read and WILLOW SPRINGS - not read) is an interesting look at life in the late nineteenth century in the Eastern Kentucky hill country series. The story line focuses on Copper as she proves she can take care of herself and her daughter while tending to the ill and working the farm. She is a terrific character while John provides a tangled strong love interest. However, the tale is stolen by the two farmhand siblings and their horde of others D siblings plus Ezra ("not Dezra") as they vividly bring out the locale. Readers will enjoy the latest entry in a strong historical saga.

Dead Heat
Joel C. Rosenberg
9781414311616 $24.99

President James MacPherson is on his way to Los Angeles to give a speech at the Republican National Convention at the Staples Center. His intelligence team killed a terrorist they have been hunting for years but in his computer they find a map of the Staples Center. They think the terrorists are targeting the president but are confident that they have him protected. The Secret Service is proven wrong when container ships launch scud missiles with nuclear warheads at D.C., Seattle, Manhattan, and Southern California killing the president and many others.

Vice President Oaks is now the president and he and his advisors are in a bunker deep underground. He intends to make the country who launched the bombs pay for killing millions of Americans but he has no idea what country it is. North Korea is prepared to invade the South and could have done it as they had the means. The new president of Iraq who makes Saddam Hussein look like a choir boy hates the Americans and is in league with the U.N. Secretary-General. He is prepared to go to war to prevent the Kurdish providence from succeeding and joining the new Kurdistan. Israel builds the Third Temple to the consternation of other nations. It looks like intelligence is needed to figure out who killed America and since the infrastructure is destroyed, the US must depend on its allies and what little intelligence they have from contact with the field.

Joel C. Rosenberg writes a political thriller think is based on today's headlines and most of the events in DEAD HEAT could conceivably happen. The action is non stop from the very first page and the politicians and elected officials feel lifelike. It is interesting to see what happens when a first strike hits America and how the country reacts to most of its land made wasted. Mr. Rosenberg is fantastic writer whose chilling and exciting novels make him one of the best thriller authors writing today.

Karen Kingsbury
9780842387491 $13.99

In Bloomington all the extended families of the Baxters gather at the hospital where Ashley gives birth to Sarah, who died a few hours later. Although everyone knew the baby would not survive, they all grieve their loss and turn to God for solace. Patriarch widower John Baxter decides to propose to Elaine Denning who has brought much to his life even as he still loves and reveres the memory of his late first wife. However, he fears the reactions of his adult children.

Three weeks after the funeral that still haunts everyone, John's son Hollywood actor Dayne Matthews and Dayne's wife Katy travel to different countries to film movies. However, on location the tabloids have a field day with Dayne caught in a compromising position that could destroy his marriage. Luke Baxter also seems to have wandered away from his vows while John and Elaine end their relationship.

Fans of the series will mourn the death of the newborn as the Baxters especially Ashley and her spouse Landon struggle to understand why God would allow such a tragedy. There will not be a dry eye in the house especially when Ashley, the inspirational moral fiber of this tale, begins to believe in the miracle of Sarah. Although an affair seems out of place, readers will enjoy this warm tale as Ashley knows that SOMEDAY she and Sarah will be together looking down to help future Baxter descendants find the Lord.

On Sparrow Hill
Maureen Lang
9781414313467 $12.99

England's National Trust constantly makes job offers that would pay much more and provide greater prestige, but Rebecca Seabrooke prefers to remain manager of Hollinworth Hall. Part of it might be her lingering crush on the owner Quentin Hollinworth, but much is because she needs to prove to herself she can run the best historical site in the country without dependence on her father. Her efforts are paying off as the manor has received a prestigious nomination from the Featherby Education Award although she hopes that proves enough to keep his mother from having him shut the place.

An email arrives from West World Genealogy (WWG) in which they claim an American family wants to contact their English Hollinworth cousins as they possess an original 1852 diary belonging to Cosima Escott Hamilton, an ancestor of Quentin. Intrigued they visit the vault to find letters from that period written by Beryl "Berrie" Hamilton to Cosima. Meanwhile Dana Walker responds to Rebecca's email via WWG; she claims she possesses Cosima's journal brought to America by the Englishwoman's youngest son Kip whom Dana says she is his descendent. As Rebecca and Quentin work on understanding his ancestors and hers who have serviced Hamiltons for twelve generations, they admit their love for one another, but his mother objects; besides Rebecca believes Lady Caroline is more suited for her employer.

Once again as Maureen Lang did with the deep family drama that focuses on Fragile X Syndrome and its impact on people (see THE OAK LEAVES), the author provides a powerful tale of two families during the Victorian and contemporary eras. In both periods the key characters seem genuine as comparisons of the aristocracy and their servicing class then and now between the times make for a fascinating drama. Whether it is Berrie opening up a school for the mentally retarded or Quentin's mom grieving the coming extinction of the aristocracy due to McDonalds and the Internet, readers will appreciate the well written poignant ON SPARROW HILL.

The Opposite of Love
Julie Buxbaum
9780385341226 $25.00

The night before twenty-nine years old Yale law graduate Emily Haxby dreams of slicing and dicing her boyfriend into Mu Shu Andrew; the next day just before he appears ready to propose she ends their relationship. Her friends are stunned as they thought Emily and Andrew were the perfect couple. More confusing to them is that Emily cannot explain why except that it is her not him. Her best friend tells Emily that she is a masochist.

Emily also worries about her beloved Grandpa Jack, who seems to be fading rapidly; he is everything to her unlike her icy relationship with her father, lieutenant governor Kirk Haxby who wants her to follow in his footsteps by becoming a Manhattan attorney defending big corporations from lawsuits. Instead she escapes the Big Apple, her job and her relationship pressures to spend time with her Grandpa Jack and his best friend at the retirement home. There she learns what life is all about as THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE is not hate; it is a soulless emptiness, but Emily struggles to understand how to refill the void once it has become a vacuum.

This is a fascinating look at a woman who seems to have everything yet feels her life is vacuous as she believes she has nothing worthwhile except for Grandpa Jack; once he dies Emily assumes that except for her memories, she turns empty. Emily is a terrific protagonist struggling with the meaning of life. Although the climax seems too perfect, readers will appreciate Julie Buxbaum's deep look at THE OPPOSITE OF LOVE.

The Liar's Diary
Patry Francis
9780452289154 $14.00

Forty something violinist and composer Ali Mather joins the staff of Bridgeway High School as a music teacher. From her first enthusiastic good morning, the newcomer brings a zest for life as well as the need to be the star whenever she is not alone. Ali lists her marital status as separated. The students are also caught up with this dynamo when she initially tells them to call her Ali, but after a visit to the principal's office she winks and says make that MRS. MATHER.

Observing Ali's antics is thirtyish school secretary Jeanne Cross, a plain looking reticent woman married to a hunk orthopedic surgeon; their teenage son overweight, dyslexic Jamie attends the school. Surprisingly opposites Jane and Ali become friends as the newcomer sleeps with much younger shop teacher Brian Shagaury and car dealer Jack Butterfield. Ali keeps a detailed diary that includes her belief that someone is stalking her including entering her home; soon her lust for life in the spotlight clashes with Jeanne's trinity of mother, wife, secretary.

Told from Jeanne's perceptive, THE LAIR'S DIARY is a fascinating psychological character study that looks deep into the souls of the two female friends and to a lesser degree their family members. Jeanne's story telling is perfect for the tale as she adds no energy, fitting her personality. Although there are seemingly important moments that get shorted because of the concept of having Jeanne tell the story in her monotonous tone, readers will enjoy this psychological look at opposites converging at a point of no return to what was before.

Dead Time
Stephen White
9780525950066 $25.95

Years ago, a group of college students hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon; one morning at the bottom, they met Nicholas Paulson who was looking for his girlfriend Jaana Peek, who was in the United States on a Visa. She had disappeared so the group searched for her with three of them leaving the Canyon including Eric and Lisa who could not participate in the rescue effort. Years later Lisa agreed to be the surrogate mother for Eric and his fiancee Meredith, former wife of psychologist Dr. Alan Gregory.

Meredith turns to Alan when Lisa disappears with her fetus growing inside her. Alan, who is recovering from his DRY ICE escapade, is in New York with his stepson Jonas, prepared to take him back home if his visit with his dead mother Adrienne's estranged family proves too traumatic. However, he agrees to help his former wife and starts with a friend's daughter who was part of the Grand Canyon incident years ago. Every clue from the past that he uncovers proves very relevant to the present, but Alan remains ignorant that someone is watching his progress to insure he never learns the truth; before that occurs this stalker will do to Alan what happened to Jaana.

The latest Alan Gregory thriller is an exhilarating action-packed tale in which a dark past spreads its tentacles into the present. The protagonist is just starting to get his life together as he deals with a new stepson whose uncle protests his having custody of his nephew and a shaky marriage. However, when Meredith asks for his aid, his conscience makes him say yes. Although the plot moves at light speed, it is the strong characterizations that make this a special read.

House of Cards
C.E. Murphy
978037380263 $14.95

There are paranormal species who share the world with humans including dragons, djinns, vampire, selkies, and gargoyles. They exist in absolute secrecy as they fear the overwhelmingly large numbers of humans whose encroachments into other habitants has led to extinction. Lawyer Margrit Knight knows of the existence of these sentient rivals having met them on an adventure (see HEART OF STONE) with Alban Korund. They both felt the intimacy between them, but Alban believes Margrit deserves a life in the human realm regardless of how she feels.

Margrit owes Janx, the dragonlord and an underworld criminal with a powerful empire, a favor. He calls it in when he asks her to watch over his second in command Malik the djinn. Alba, who is back in Margrit's life, watches Malik during the night because during day he turns to stone. Margit observes the djinn in daylight. Having been bitten by the vampire Daisani, Margrit heals quickly. Alba knows that if she drinks a second time, she will be long lived and perhaps give her and her star-crossed lover a chance at a relationship but he is too afraid. Margrit attends a party in which she brings the head of each species together. They discuss the applicability of their laws in the twenty-first century while some want her removed or better dead especially Malik who wants nothing detouring him from his goal of supremacy; Alban risks his life to keep Margrit safe.

C.E. Murphy writes a great urban romantic mystery fantasy that contains an interesting mythos that will remind the audience of the works of Laurel K Hamilton. The protagonist is a strong willed person who does not fear dealing with the Old Races as she sees herself as a mediator helping settle disputes. Her feelings for the gargoyle feel genuine though they have a lot of issues dividing them starting with his daylight HEART OF STONE. HOUSE OF CARDS is a magical tale that readers will appreciate.

Shadow Waltz
Amy Patricia Meade
Midnight Ink
9780738712499 $13.95

It is 1935 and the nation remains buried in the Great Depression, but author Marjorie McClelland and her rich fiance Creighton Ashcroft barely feel its effects. They are making wedding plans when an interruption comes in the form of a knock on the door. Elizabeth Barnwell, who read about this couple solving two murders (see GHOST OF A CHANCE and MILLION DOLLAR BABY), begs them to find her missing husband Michael who vanished two days ago. They agree to help her; she tells them she found a mysterious key and a piece of paper with an address on it in a pocket of one of his pants.

They go to the address and find the butchered body of a woman whose face is smashed in, and her four extremities cut off. The house belongs to Ronnie Carter and a witness describes her lover as that of Michael. Marjorie and Creighton find him at his parents'' home where he proclaims his innocence. He is taken to jail. Marjorie learns that the victim's lover before Michael, Trent Taylor, is now a widower who made a fortune collecting a life insurance payout on his wife's death. Before she died, Ronnie accused Trent of poisoning his spouse; an autopsy proves his late wife had a deadly amount of arsenic in her system. Case closed except Marjorie thinks someone else has set up Trent, but her sleuthing almost gets her shot.

Since everyone in Ridgebury, Connecticut wants to get involved in the wedding, Marjorie buries herself into the investigation to avoid dealing with definitive decisions that people demand of her. Readers will feel like they are in the middle of a Tracey-Hepburn movie to include campy dialogue, misleading assumptions, and plenty of action. SHADOW WALTZ is a thoroughly enjoyable historical mystery that takes its audience dancing into a bygone era.

The Case Against My Brother
Libby Sternberg
9781890862510 $19.95

In 1922 recently orphaned Polish Catholics teen brothers Carl and Adam Matuski move from Baltimore to live with their impoverished uncle in Portland, Oregon. Still grieving the death of their mother, the boys worry about the anti-immigrant campaign to push the Oregon School Law that would outlaw Catholic schools.

The affluent parents of Adam's girlfriend accuse him of stealing jewelry from them. Carl believes his older brother is innocent and recommends he hides rather than go to jail while Carl, whose plate is full with school and two jobs, investigates. The neighborhood police officer Miller thinks Catholics but especially Polish Catholics are thieves. He tries to trip up Carl as to the whereabouts of Adam, whose behavior worries his younger brother. Carl's inquiries lead to his witnessing a murder with the killer wanting the teen dead too.

This is a superb young adult historical mystery that brings to life an interesting era in which local prejudice using de jure discrimination attacks a particular religion especially those worshippers from a specific nationality. Miller has ethically profiled Catholic Polish-Americans deep in his brain so he also represents a de facto form of discrimination. However, the insightful exciting story line is owned by the fifteen year old hero who tries to prove his older brother's innocence, but as Carl crashes up against bias, he also begins to wonder if Adam stole the jewels. Libby Sternberg writes a terrific tale that hopefully will lead to sequels.

Back Creek
Leslie Goetsch
9781890862527 $19.95

In 1975 in Virginia, eighteen years old Grace Barnett has just graduated from high school and looks forward to attending the University of Virginia in the fall. However, her world collapses starting on Memorial Day when she witnesses a boating accident on a nearby creek that looks like a suicide. On the day of the funeral for boating incident victim Tommy White, Grace's pregnant older sister Lillian returns home after being away for several years; while their mother quietly leaves without a word. Serving as the referee between two combatants, Grace is yanked on one side by Lillian and the other by their alcoholic father.

Grace continues through the summer in the middle trying to mend the rift between her two loved ones. With only the romantic classics of Austen and the Bronte sisters as solace, a desperate Grace turns to their neighbor Cal, the owner of the boat in which Tommy died; Cal has recently returned from serving in Vietnam. However, he suffers from neurosis caused by battle fatigue syndrome and is little help. Even more anxious as she finds no answers from Jane Eyre, Grace travels to North Carolina intending to bring her mom home, but instead returns to Virginia alone as a powerful hurricane hammers BACK CREEK.

This is an interesting coming of age historical tale starring a teenage forced to grow up seemingly over night. Grace is fabulous as she holds the tale together with her perspective on her family, neighbors, and herself. Unlike her sister who fled to New York, Grace has doubts about leaving this BACK CREEK, but this summer of discontent shows her she has inner strength. Young adult readers will identify with the heroine while their parents will root for her to make it.

Close Call
John McEvoy
Poisoned Pen
9781590584958 $24.95

Former boxer failed advertising account executive Jack Doyle is euphoric with his new position as the public relations director for Monee Park thoroughbred racetrack outside of Chicago. However, Jack also knows the job may prove fleeting as the track struggles financially with bankruptcy a very strong possibility. Besides liking the job, Jack is also attracted to his employer, Celia McCann, whose husband suffers from Lou Gehrig's disease.

Celia's hopes of saving the track that she and her cousin Niall Hanratty co-inherited from her Uncle Jim reside with the legislature that is considering allowing Monee Park to install video slot machines. However, Niall wants to sell the property to developers. He hires hooligans to disrupt and impair the track. Jack believes he must protect Celia anyway he can.

Jack Doyle remains an interesting lead character (see RIDERS DOWN and BLIND SWITCH) as he tries to keep his employer safe from her cousin, keep the race afloat, and keep his hands off the married dedicated woman he desires. The story line is action packed as thugs sabotage and threaten Celia. However, the milieu of a racetrack is underplayed as CLOSE CALL never digs deep into world of thoroughbred racing like its predecessors did. Still fans who enjoy a damsel in distress thriller will find John McEvoy's latest a winner.

Seven for a Secret
Mary Reed and Eric Mayer
Poisoned Pen
9781590584897 $24.95

In mid sixth century Constantinople, the lord chamberlain to Emperor Justinian, John the Eunuch, has found a confident whom he shares his concerns and issues though she does not speak back to him. Instead she is a young girl painted on a mosaic on his wall. He calls her Zoe.

One day John is stunned as he sees his Zoe on the street. He introduces himself and she says her name is Zoe and that she was the model for that mural. John is stunned by her revelations and has doubts about her name; he ponders who overheard his discussions with the wall Zoe. However, before he can confront the woman, someone brutally murders her. John assumes to silence her so he investigates not realizing his past and the Empress Theodora are intermingled with the death of Zoe.

John's investigation is clever and fun to follow, but like the previous six numbered tales, it is the insightful look at ancient history that makes SEVEN FOR A SECRET (and its predecessors) a great reading experience. John is at his best as each step he takes is dangerous and increasingly personal as he begins to unravel ties back to himself. Ancient historical mystery readers know the John the Eunuch tales are one of the best series on the market; and though the verse is finished with SEVEN FOR A SECRET, hopefully Mary Reed and Eric Mayer will write number eight for their fans.

Waterloo Sunset
Martin Edwards
Poisoned Pen
9781590584415 $24.95

Liverpool attorney Harry Devlin is stunned when he receives a newspaper notice announcing his death; he assumes it is a practical joke albeit a poor one. However, over the next few days, someone sends him menacing messages. He knows his career has left him with many enemies, but he considers who would actually intimidate him and probably act on the desire to see him dead.

He narrows his focus to two unsatisfied former clients; violent prone Tom Gunter and easy to anger Aled Borth. Whereas vicious Tom blames Harry for failing to defend him; Aled holds the lawyer responsible for losing his homicidal negligence suit against the nursing home where his mother died. Regardless of who it is; Harry will do what he always does: confront this stalker face to face once he identifies the culprit.

Although Harry is a lawyer and his previous caper ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE a legal thriller, WATERLOO SUNSET is an excellent investigative thriller. The story line is fast-paced and at times over the top, but grips the reader as Harry puts his face into someone else's visage, quite often. Fans will enjoy this cat and mouse caper with Harry seemingly one step away from confronting his tormentor.

Unraveling of Violeta Bell
C.R. Corwin
Poisoned Pen
9781590585023 $24.95

For over three decades septuagenarian Maddy "Morgue Mama" Sprowls has run the information library at The Hannawa Herald-Union. Her preference is to hide in the morgue where she helps the reporters obtain what they need to do a story; she never offers a story to the editors.

However, Maddy notices four female senior citizens using a taxi to go to garage sale hopping. She thinks their travels would make a wonderful warm human interest story. So after rarely stepping into the newsroom, Maddy enters to offer her idea. To her glee, the story runs highlighting the treasure hunting of former antique dealer Violeta Bell, retired stripper Kay Hausenfelter, realtor Gloria McPhee, and philanthropist Ariel Wilburger-Gowdy. However, not long afterward, someone murders Violeta. Maddy plans to hide in the morgue, but feels guilty wondering if her article led to the homicide. She begins to DIG for clues.

The fun in this fine amateur sleuth is observing the changing reactions of Maddy during the story line especially as she feels come culpability so reluctantly investigates only to learn she is enjoying the sleuthing; she hides that from everyone who sees the irritable and kvetching Morgue Mama. The four garage sale hoppers are unique eccentric protagonists. Violeta insists that she is the rightful queen of Romania; Kay's willing to perform an exotic dance; Gloria is ready to show off a house at any time except garage sale time; and Ariel wants to save the world one garage at a time. Fans will enjoy Maddy's inquiry into this elderly quartet (starting with the deceased) and other suspects, as this is an enjoyable Morgue Mama murder mystery (see THE CROSS KISSES BACK and DIG)

The Silver Swan
Benjamin Black
9780805081534 $25.00

In 1950s Ireland, Billy Hint sees his old college crony pathologist Garret Quirke. Since they have not seen each other in quite a while, Garret is bit surprised by the visit until Billy asks a favor. He begs Garret not to perform an autopsy on his late wife, Deirdre.

The law requires an autopsy when foul play seems possible; in this case it is probable as Deirdre's naked corpse was fished out of Dublin Bay though indications seem suicide as the most likely cause. However, Garret is stunned by the request as Billy beseeched him to drop the medical investigation. Instead he conducts a quiet inquiry into Deirdre's last days not knowing what to expect, but totally unprepared to uncovering her alias Laura Swan co-owning the beauty salon Silver Swan with Leslie White and a blackmailing scheme that includes his estranged daughter.

This sequel to the superb CHRISTINE FALLS is an excellent investigative thriller that grips the audience from the moment Billy begs and never slows down until the stunning final confrontation. The story line is fast-paced and in spite of 288 pages is a one sitter read. The terrific hero is likable, as he learns one thing leads to another, but deception is part of each step he takes. THE SILVER SWAN is a great Irish whodunit.

Sleeping with Ward Cleaver
Jenny Gardiner
Love Spell
9780505527479 $6.99

Claire Doolittle wonders what happened to her life. She and her architect spouse Jack are raising five kids, but in the last few years he has become a drill sergeant instead of a loving partner starting with his honey-do list. She looks back fondly at spontaneous sex anywhere, but now allows him access to her once a week as his bossy Ward Cleaver no longer appeals to Lumpy Claire even if she still loves the martinet.

Claire receives an email from her former boyfriend Todd and she fondly remembers having fun with him before he broke her heart. She replies and they begin exchanging emails. Jack needs to go to Miami on a business trip, he plans to take his beautiful office associate Julia with him. Her in-laws offer to watch the five kids so Claire can join Jack in Florida, but he rejects her coming with him. Upset, Claire follows Jack to Miami to see if he is cheating with Julia after seeing them together at an office gala in which her spouse acted like her old Jack, but not for her.

This is an engaging look at a middle age marriage as the two lead characters have become cemented in their ways and spontaneity no longer exists to unite them in fun. Interestingly marriage did not burn the lifestyle of either Claire or Jack though some comprise and change led to an overall consensus; kids nuked their lifestyles. Claire is fabulous as she wants more than being Mrs. Cleaver mother to five, but her Jack expects her to meet his list of demands, keep the kids in line, and take care of his needs; he no longer seems to care about hers. SLEEPING WITH WARD CLEAVER is a deep look at marriage as the relationship goes into the phase of raising children.

Jade Lee
Love Spell
9780505527547 $7.99

The emperor has outlawed dragons and dragonborn ordering them killed though he has bonded with a dragon. Natiya is the surviving daughter of two dragonborn whom the emperor had murdered. She dreams of avenging the deaths of her parents while hiding the queen dragon egg she is carrying hidden in plain sight as a naval jewel; one day that Unhatched dragon will live in a sacred bond with her.

The emperor's dragon hunter Kiril believes that dragon hatching destroys the human essence as happened with his cousin. He believes killing the host and parasite is critical to save humanity from this insidious bonding. Then he meets and begins to fall in love with Natiya, but believes she is concealing something probably connected to her dragonborn parents. At the same time the emperor knows a threat exists to his century long reign and plans to snuff it out before it can incubate. His efforts lead him to Natiya.

This is a superb romantic fantasy starring a coming of age heroine who is learning the hard way that with power comes responsibility and accountability. She is a fundamentalist who is beginning to understand there may be other valid opinions. Natiya and Kiril are natural enemies as she has a grudge and needs to avenge her parents and he has a grudge to avenge his cousin; perfect enemy combatants falling in love. As always in a Jade Lee tale, her world of enchantment seems real to the delight of her grateful readers.

Pandora's Box
Natale Stenzel
Love Spell
9780505527523 $6.99

Pandemina "Mina" Avery dreamed of a loving family, but instead had a cheating boyfriend; soon after that relationship ended, she lost her job. Life seems to be going down the toilet bowl with her only asset being a rock box she just inherited from an unknown relative.

However Mina thought her world has been rocked before; she finds out those were minor nuisances when she tries to open her rock box. Inadvertently, she liberates Puca shapeshifter Robert "Riordan" Goodfellow, who was incarcerated for what he did to a druid's daughter. Too late Mina knows now that she is the latest sentinel of the rock box. As she struggles to fully free Riordan who drives her crazy whether he seems human, a steed or a mutt, builder Jonathan Teague is attracted to Mina.

This lighthearted romantic fantasy will have readers laughing out loud with the antics of Riordan, the asides of a frustrated Mina, and the good intentions of a bewildered Jonathan. Few triangles have been so much fun to follow and her ratty ex wants a second chance. Sub-genre fans will relish PANDORA'S BOX as Mina ponders what happened to her simplistic wonderful life.

Bangkok Laws
Jim Michael Hansen
Dark Sky
9780976924319 $13.95

Recent law school graduate twenty-five year old Page Alexander passed the Colorado Bar and is now certified as a lawyer. However, she learns that in Denver, firms are not doing a lot of hiring of newbies especially those ranked in the middle of her class. She earns money as she did in school at Sam's Eatery. She drops dishes that shatter into pieces; a beautiful stranger helps her clean up the mess.

The woman Ja'Von Deveraux hires Paige explaining that she was sold into sexual slavery in Bangkok and thirsts for vengeance. Although horrified with what Ja'Von tells her, the rookie attorney agrees to work with her. They begin looking into who is behind the abduction of young women in the Mile High City with Ja'Von doing the sleuthing and Paige studying international law.

At the same time that Denver Police Department Homicide Chief Detective Bryson Coventry is struggling with an ugly case involving missing young blond females and corpses from apparently the same nasty gang. The first female he found dead he pledged to her that he will find her assailants, but so far the case has not been going well as more females vanish and both genders suffer homicides. He meets Ja'Von and is half way in love at first sight while both work the same case.

The cast makes the latest Coventry police procedural into what should be considered one of the best investigative tales of the year as the white sexual slave market seems genuine due to the secondary characters; many of whom are the bad guys. Ja'Von is terrific as she lives for vengeance whereas her idealist attorney is the "Mouse that Roared" especially when she is almost swallowed up by a corrupt international law firm; criminal suits prove as deadly as killers although one abuses the law as a weapon of choice while the other uses a gun. BANGKOK LAWS is a superior thriller that showcases the talent of one of the genre's better authors.

Ann Macela
9781933836348 $7.95

His beloved late granddaddy Edgar Jamison before he died told Davis to "Protect the records". Granddaddy also selected history professor Dr. Barrett Browning to classify the documents that go back to the early nineteenth century and write from them the definitive papers on Windswept Plantation in St. Gregoryville, Louisiana.

Davis hesitates handing over documents that potentially expose their antecedents to scandal, but he heeds his late granddaddy's words that "She's the One" while his cousin Lloyd vocally objects feeling skeletons should remain buried. However, Davis, a successful venture capitalist, owns the boxes of papers as his grandfather trusted him to do the right thing; he decides to go with the professor who admits she hopes her work on Windswept leads to tenure. However, attracted to one another from the first meeting in Houston, Barrett and Davis fall in love even while she uncovers a dark truth in 1830 journal amidst the papers that apparently Lloyd wants buried at all cost.

WINDSWEPT is an engaging romantic suspense thriller that highlights 1830 plantation life in the Bayou through several journal entries weaved throughout the narrative. The key to the well written story line is the romance is for the most part kept on the back burner to slowly simmer into love; that enables the deep look by the professor into the Jamison family tree to serve as the prime plot. Although a late suspense seems a bit over the top; fans will enjoy this fine comparative look at the past and present residents of WINDSWEPT.

The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square
Rosina Lippi
9780399154669 $24.95

Two years after he arrived in Amarillo, Texas where John Dodge bought the failing business WordPlay Books and turned it profitable before recently selling it; as he always does. His sister worries about John's inability to settle down in one place, but John starts anew in Lamb's Corner, South Carolina. He bought Scriveners stationary from retiree Robert Lee Cowper with the stipulation that he keeps the two employees on board for two years.

When he arrives at Lambert Square where his store is located, he begins his efforts to fit in as best as an outsider can. He gets on with seemingly everyone, but it is the president of the Merchant's Group, Julia Darrow who he finds he desires, a feeling alien to him. She runs and owns the every popular Cocoon that sells exclusive linen and other bedroom paraphernalia, which she and her three employees advertise as THE PAJAMA GIRLS OF LAMBERT SQUARE. Whereas he is falling in love, she mistrusts that emotion having run from Chicago knowing that a dog is a woman's best friend. Now John has someone he wants to settle down with, but Julia rejects his advances though his kisses make her reconsider; as the townsfolk matchmake them wondering who will retreat and surrender.

This is an entertaining warm regional romance starring two likable protagonists fleeing differently from their respective pasts. Whereas John lives up to his surname dodging commitment like a rolling stone; Julia buried her past settling for eccentricity and dog rescuing in one remote place. An eccentric support cast wants both to stay as they have brought life to a dying small South Carolina town. Fans will appreciate Rosina Lippi's wonderful contemporary that affirms "home is where the heart is".

The Third Circle
Amanda Quick
9780399154843 $24.95

Dressed in men's formal attire, Leona Hewitt sneaks into Lord Delbridge's home while he hosts a party for his male friends and their courtesans. Leona works with the energy of crystal helping heal troubled souls; she currently is seeking the Aurora Stone that belongs by rights to her family although it has been stolen periodically for its alleged power. When she finds the museum room, Leona sees a man looking at the body of a dead woman lying on the floor. Thaddeus Ware also looks for the Aurora Stone, which he intends to return to the Arcane Society as the gem is as much a healing tool as it is a deadly weapon.

Leona finds the stone but Thaddeus takes it; triggering a poison that will drive him insane and eventually kill him. Leona saves his life by using her Aura Stone to heal the hypnotist. Delbridge plans to retrieve the stone because that is his entrance ticket to the THIRD CIRCLE of the Order of the Emerald Table, a cabal within the Arcane Society, a group dedicated to finding the Founder's formula that will enhance paranormal powers. His desire places Leona in danger because she is the only person who can safely use the Aurora Stone; Thaddeus understands her value to the Third Circle and vows to keep her safe even if she rejects his protection.

THE THIRD CIRCLE is Amanda Quick at her mesmerizing best with an enchanting historical romantic suspense that contains a rousing romp, an intriguing mystery, and a touch of the fantasy that come together nicely in a cleverly crafted story line. The quirky cast is fully developed with a couple of the support players seemingly capable of carrying out their own adventures. However, Leona owns this tale as she defies the rules of society to do what she believes is right.

Black Widow
Randy Wayne White
9780399154560 $24.95

Four women (a bride to be and her three bridesmaids) take a vacation getaway from wedding madness at Saint Arc Island in the Caribbean. They meet three men and after drinking alcohol and smoking pot, they had an orgy. When they arrive home an email attachment arrives with a clip of what they were doing in the pool. The bride knows her fiance will never marry her if he finds out what she did. She asks her godfather Dr. Marion Ford to make the exchange of money for the tape, which he does.

He warns her that this might not be over if they made another tape; sure enough another blackmail e-mail arrives. One of the bridesmaid's husbands sees the clip and the note and goes into a rage. His wife overdoses on pills and alcohol and is rushed to the hospital. Shay follows the ambulance but also ends up staying at the hospital after she crashes into a tree. The women want revenge and Doc is determined they will have it. When he returns to the island he realizes what was done to Shay was done to others; as this is an ugly cottage industry. Tapes used for blackmail purpose with three starring studs and another hiding while filming is big business. Doc seeks the director and the hidden filmmaker so that Shay and others will have peace of mind. He is up against malevolence so evil with so many followers that it will take a miracle for him to survive.

Randy Wayne White is one of the best thriller authors writing today. There is action in every chapter, chase scenes galore and the way Doc wiggles out of imminent dangers makes James Bond seem like a pale imitation of the true secret agent. Doc is bored out of his skull since he was allowed to retire from his agency which is the reason he agreed to take charge of this operation. His adversaries are over the top psychopaths who feel no rules apply to them especially when it comes to their cash crop, but Doc understands their "rules".

The Wedding Machine
Beth Webb Hart
Thomas Nelson
9781595541994 $14.99

In Jasper, South Carolina the four women met and became close friends starting with a purloined watermelon while attending high school. Over the years they married and had kids of their own, but that sister bond remains tight even in their middle age. Each belongs to the All Saints Episcopal Church and as a unit has become known as "The Wedding Machine". The all for one and all for four musketeers agree that it time to find spouses for their loved ones.

However not all is perfect in their world; in fact life is a series of disasters in which marriage is just one of them. Elizabeth "Sis" Mims uses pills to dull the ache of losing her loved one; she is considering going out with their church minister, but feels guilty for contemplating that. Ray Montgomery is upset that her daughter is thinking of marrying her fiance the son of a preacher in his father's tawdry strip mall church. Hilda Prescott remains reeling from a divorce. Finally a worried "Kitty B." Blalock struggles with her husband's illnesses.

Readers will enjoy this Steel Magnolia sisterhood of yo'all "Dolly Levy" types, who believe southern hospitality and etiquette are the keys to life. Each face personal crisis in their middle years, but with the support of the other Wedding Machine members they confront their issues with strength. Although at times the story line turns too mint julep, fans will appreciate Beth Webb Hart's warm regional character study.

Jacquelyn Cook
9780976876090 $16.95

In 1849 twentyish educated and wealthy Anne Tracy loathes the stifling lifestyle of an affluent southern belle as her late father, Macon's second mayor, prepared her for a grand world tour, but he died before they went. Anne enjoys her hometown, but perhaps it is her daddy's Connecticut Yankee roots that battle with her Georgia peach momma's blood, but she also detests her social position requires her to marry as that is all a woman can hope for.

Her family arranges for Anne to wed self-made wealthy businessman William Butler Johnston, who is over two decades, her senior. In 1850 they travel to France on their honeymoon and continue on to Italy. When the pair returns to Macon, they are in love, but hide their feelings from one another. They are also determined to build an Italian neo-Renaissance style mansion in the heart of Georgia. The construction begins in 1855, but soon after its completion, the Civil War intrudes as every male is drafted to fight for the Confederacy even someone in his fifties. Anne prays everyday he comes home to her so she can confess to William how much she loves him; something she neglected to tell him before he left for war.

SUNRISE is based on the true story of the marriage between Anne Tracy and William Johnson; in fact their mansion Hay House is called the "Palace of the South" and is on the historical register. Fans of historical biographical fiction will enjoy this interesting tale based on the genuine mid nineteenth century romance whose legacy remains a strong part of Macon.

Black Ships
Jo Graham
Orbit(Little Brown)
9780316068000 $14.99

Following a chariot accident that left her crippled, Gull is sent to the temple of the Lady of the Dead. However, almost immediately upon entering this holy place, Gull displays an ability to foretell the future starting with a vision of BLACK SHIPS leaving behind a burning city. The newest Oracle realizes that she has seen the Trojan Prince-warrior Aeneas lead his people by sea from the destruction of their city Wilusa (Troy).

The lame Gull leaves the sanctuary of the temple of the Lady of the Dead to find Aeneas and tell him what she has seen. She explains her vision to him and he believes her. Feeling responsible to his people yet before seeing her helpless and hopeless, he teams up with the Oracle with renewed vigor seeking the few who survived the ordeal of the burning of Wilusa. They hope to find others who escaped and dream of establishing a new home city.

Combining Virgil's epic poem The Aeneid with accepted historical facts, Jo Graham provides an exiting epic tale of what happened to the surviving Trojans. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action starting with the vision and never slowing down as the Oracle and the warrior seek their people and a home for those who still live.

Biting the Bullet
Jennifer Rardin
9780316020589 $12.99

The CIA assigns its top operative Vayl the vampire and his crew including Jaz Parks to team up with a special ops unit headed by Jaz's twin brother Dave to stop deadly vampiric necromancer the Wizard. The squad will need to stealthy penetrate Iran where the adversary hides while performing seditious terrorist acts against the United States and its allies.

The straightforward but difficult case proves much more complex because the fundamentalist Reavers hunt Jaz, as she was recently demonized. Worse someone on their joint team is giving away battle plans to the enemy; allowing the Wizard to constantly be ahead of them. Jaz's spirit guide Raoul is acting more like a blithering idiotic Oracle while Vayl seems uninterested in their mission as he focuses on what appears to his top aid and bodyguard. Unless something dramatic or miraculous occurs like exposing the enemy from within, Jaz knows their mission will fail and they easily could be permanently dead.

In her third CIA chick lit urban fantasy (see ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST and ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY) Jaz Parks is at her cheeky amusing yet exhilarating best. The story line told from her mocking viewpoint is fast-paced as she manages to make the paranormal elements and species seem genuine and the mission essential and dangerous. Fans will appreciate her latest tale as she argues with her spirit guide to get with the program, battles with her superior to stay focused, and debates with her brother who's in charge. About the only thing she is not arguing is who's on first because she knows that's her as she struggles with completing the mission and staying alive.

The Accident Man
Tom Cain
9780670018499 $24.95

In 1997 free lance assassin Samuel Carver receives money and instructions to perform a hit on a dangerous terrorist that must look like an accident. On the night of 31 August he sets up his operation to occur in a Paris tunnel. A speeding black Mercedes enters the tunnel only to have the driver seemingly lose control and crash into a supporting pillar. A passenger dies in the wreckage.

Tom feels good not because of mission accomplished but a nasty killer is dead. However, his euphoria ends immediately when a Russian assassin tries to kill him. He escapes barely even as he knows those who hired him wanted him dead, but cannot fathom why until he learns the identity of the deadly terrorist he killed. Samuel murdered Princess Diana. Stunned by the set up and feeling remorse, he also knows they will keep coming after him to silence him because an accident not a homicide must be the official finding in the death of the Princess. Carver realizes how difficult it will prove to find out who wanted Diana dead and him out of the way as he works for several espionage agencies, but though they will cover their aholes, he vows to find and kill the mastermind.

This is a fascinating concept that works due to the lead protagonist who in spite of his occupation as a hit man feels remorse once he realizes who he killed; he only goes after killers. The story line is at its best when Samuel struggles with his efforts to investigate the top espionage agencies who hire him. A romantic subplot between the hit man and a Russian operative seems out of place, as the hero has enough to contend with. Still thriller readers will appreciate the exhilarating THE ACCIDENT MAN.

The Seven Days of Peter Crumb
Jonny Glynn
9780061351488 $13.95

In London Peter Crumb has recently begun listening to the other voice's recommendations. The conversations between Peter and the other Peter center on whether to rape and murder his neighbors. The other Peter insists he will be dead in a week anyway so forget the societal dictates of thou shall not kill and just have fun doing whatever you want to do.

Peter begins brutally killing his neighbors and raping prostitutes. As he completes one act, his voice tells him to do another. He begins to self analyze the two Peters and realizes that one is amoral while the other feels guilt but is cowardly. The amoral Peter continues to rule as THE SEVEN DAYS OF PETER CRUMB comes closer to ending at least in one of his egos with much of London in shock by the viciousness of a new serial killer rapist.

Readers will find the debate and discussions between the two Peters fascinating in a macabre way; similar to gawking at a car accident. His multiple personality disorder contains a remorseful but weak Peter and an amoral strong Peter who wins every argument as one kill leads to another. Even more interesting is how numb the audience feels towards the dual Peters graphically describing his methodology employed in his kills in the three decades since John Carpenter directed Halloween.

Names on a Map
Benjamin Alire Saenz
9780061285691 $14.95

In 1967 El Paso, insurance salesman Octavio Espejo is happily married to Lourdes as they raise three children together. However, the blight in his mind to his American lifestyle is his Mexican roots; Octavio has not been back or seen his family ever since he was ferried across the Rio Grande as a child.

However, his children begin to reconsider their national identity. Teenager Gustavo has received the certified "Greetings" letter directing him to report to basic training; which in the Chicano border communities means tours of Viet Nam. He does not want to go as he is becoming aware of freedom fighting in America not Southeast Asia. His twin sister Xochil still struggles to overcome her anger and acrimony over being raped when she was twelve years old. Both wonder if America is where they belong.

This is a strong timely historical character driven thriller as Benjamin Alire Saenz enables the reader to look deep into the Espejo family whose members each struggle differently with assimilation at a time of women's liberation, civil rights especially the growing Chicano awareness, and cutting across all is Nam. NAMES ON A MAP is insightful as the children reconsider and resist Americanization understanding the nightmare while their parents have doubts but embrace the dream.

Deep Dish
Mary Kay Andrews
9780060837365 $24.95

Thirty years old Chef Gina Foxton is an expert on Southern style cooking, but with a healthy approach. She is highly regarded with her own cooking show Fresh Start on Georgia Public Television. However while filming her latest show, she notices a new crew who provide substitute products like Cheez-Ease. She goes berserk claiming it is "artificial cheese made out of recycled dry-cleaning bags"; her anger is because her reputation is built on healthy recipes. However her show becomes history when the CEO of the prime sponsor Tastee-Town Foods Wiley Bickerstaff III pulled out. Gina is stunned because Wiley has been her biggest supporter, but learns the truth that her producer and boyfriend E. Scott Zaleski was caught sleeping with Wiley's wife.

Gina knows the Cooking Channel is seeking a new show. They are undecided between Gina's Fresh Start and Tate Moody's Vittles. To choose the brass decides a reality show cook-off contest between Gina and Tate will bring in viewers. However, under the TV lights, the two cooking spectrum opposites begin to simmer with an attraction that boils into love.

Although the romance comes in the latter half of the tale, readers will adore this amusing kitchen war. The story line is fast-paced as Tate and Gina compete through food fights and other embarrassing scenarios; the humorous plot stews between healthy and grill it. Readers will agree with Gina's sister that this pair has chemistry, but there is only room for one in the kitchen even if Tate wants to take Gina on the table.

Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Del Rey
9780345470065 $23.95

On the sentient planet Petaybee, the Company Corps has made a serendipitous landing, hoping to catch the natives off guard so they can round them up easily and send them to the prison planet Gwinnet. They arrive to find an empty village, the inhabitants hiding in the communal cave where they speak to Petaybee. The Corps is trapped in their ship by a terrific storm the planet sent their way.

The Selkie twins Ronan and Muriel have convinced the ship changing aliens who usually take the form of sea otters, to use their city-ship and take them to Versatile Station owned by their influential friend Marmie. She has been sent to the Gwinnet prison planet by corrupt officials bringing false charges against her. The twins want to contact Marmie's influential friends to talk to them about her imprisonment and the invasion of Petaybee. They can't use Petaybee's com because of bad weather conditions. They reach the station ahead of the Corps and they send a message just before the Corps takes over. They and the inhabitants of the station are taken to Gwinnet where the twins old enemy professor Mabo is waiting to conduct painful experiments on them to figure out how they change into seals when in water

DELUGE wraps up the Twins of Petaybee trilogy and all the questions are answered and all the loose ends are sewn up. Readers will thoroughly enjoy this fantastic space opera with its fast pacing, action scenes and the interaction of humans and shape-shifting life sentient aliens. There are plenty of villains from corrupt prison officials to power hungry men and women of the Company Corps to a mad professor; readers will thoroughly enjoy the tale in hope they get what they deserve, especially those that are irredeemable.

Colby Hodge
Dorchester Shomi
9780505527486 $6.99

In the Chicago area Abbey Shore works hard renovating houses in order to pay for college where she hopes to study architecture like her late dad did before his fatal accident. She is on the job and tired when a wall crumbles revealing a hidden room behind it. Inside is an odd object that suddenly begins to rotate. Before she knows what happened in what seems like a blink, Abbey is one century into her future.

There she sees Dr. Shane Maddox, whom she met in her present at the Sacred Heart Emergency Room when she needed stitches due to an on the job injury. He holds her culpable for his becoming what he has become when an alien stalking her over a hundred years ago took him instead. These aliens have since destroyed humanity but with the arrival of Abbey he has renewed hope.

Told from Abbey's perspective, TWIST is a superb apocalyptic thriller that from the moment her karate class is canceled until the final Tick never slows down as the heroine confronts one crisis after another in a future devastated by pandemic disease and a nasty predator. Abbey is terrific from the onset as time never stands still or moves linear; instead Colby Hodge asserts its one TWIST after another until the circle is either broken or complete.

The Last Twilight
Marjorie M. Liu
9780843957679 $7.99

CDC sends highly regarded virus hunter Dr. Rikki Kinn to the Congo to investigate an alleged outbreak of the plague. However, mercenaries attack the convoy she is traveling with in attempt to kill her and prevent her from learning how lethal their new strand is. Roland of Steele & Dirk sends cheetah-shapeshifter Amiri and Eddie from San Francisco top Zaire to protect Rikki; they save her life.

Amiri has not returned to his home continent since the Consortium abducted and experimented on him. He has only come back to Africa where he used to run like the wind because his brothers in arms Dirk & Steele asked him to keep Rikki safe. He believes that the Consortium is behind the plague and the efforts to kill the virus hunter. As he tries to keep her safe and she tries to learn all she can about the new strain to keep the world safe from a pandemic, they fall in love, but he trusts his heart with no one ever since the Consortium ripped out his soul.

The Dirk & Steele series seems to get better with each romantic suspense thriller; which is amazing when fans consider how strong the opening act is. This seventh book is action-packed from the onset and never slows down until the climax. Yet with non-stop African adventures in which their lives are in jeopardy and countless others if they fail, the tale belongs to the lead couple as both have reasons not to trust anyone. Readers will relish Marjorie M. Liu's excellent Dirk & Steele saga.

Distracting the Duchess
Emily Bryan
9780843958706 $6.00

At twenty-five years old, the Duchess of Southwycke Lady Artemisia has been a widow for two years. Because of her Bombay childhood in which a female could be publicly active Artemesia runs a business; but to avoid becoming the Ton pariah, she uses the alterego of Mr. Bennington. Only her brilliant assistant James Shipwash knows otherwise and understands a key part of his job is to hide his employer's gender.

When her father Angus recognizes that he is losing his mind, he sends a last note to Home Office Secret Service operative Lord Trevelyn Deveridge that says succinctly "Beddington holds the key". Trevelyn begins to search for the elusive Beddington, but no one seems to know who he is and Shipwash is vague and uncooperative. A desperate Trevelyn travels to Southwycke estate to see if Angus' daughter can help interpret the message. Immediately attracted to one another, she assumes he is the male model she hired to pose naked for her next painting. As they fall in love, someone else seeks the key that Beddington holds, but Artemisia has no idea what her father meant.

This a much more complex historical espionage romantic suspense than that described above as there are several more key subplots that all converge into a fabulous tale. The fast-paced story line hooks the audience the moment that Artemisia mentally strips Trevelyn who almost immediately takes it off and never slows down until the final confrontation with some bad dudes. Fans will appreciate this exciting thriller as the adventures keep on coming.

River Nymph
Shirl Henke
9780843960112 $7.99

On the Mississippi Delilah Raymond wins the floating bordello The River Nymph from professional Clint Daniels in a game of cards. However, she hopes to turn respectable with no cards or hookers to manage. Instead she wants to convert the River Nymph into a cargo ship.

To accomplish her objective she needs a partner so she considers Clint, who faced the added humiliation of having to strip after losing a side bet with Delilah. He reluctantly accepts her offer. As they travel the river together with her cargo, they begin to fall in love. However, they face trouble from amoral competitors using hitmen and other dangerous criminals; her only hope to achieve her goal lies in trusting him and his relationship with the nearby Sioux, who revere him as venerable Lightning Hand.

Readers will obtain a feel for nineteenth century Life on the Mississippi with this vivid historical romance. The lead couple is a fascinating duet who gambles on cards, cargo, and love. Though the bad guys contain no redeeming quality, the fun story line is fast-paced from the moment Delilah stuns the cardsharp and never slows down as he risks his life to help her dream come true.

Calumet City
Charlie Newton
9781416533221 $14.00

It has been almost two decades since Patti Black ran from her foster home in Calumet City. Her life with her foster parents was torturous, a chamber of horrors; that led to her drinking as a teen to forget the atrocities. After running away she eventually got her act together and has been a Chicago police officer. She is the most decorated cop in the city and in line to a promotion to detective. Her world starts to implode when she and her crew enter a gasoline soaked apartment where she finds walled inside the ruins the remains of her foster mother.

State Assistant District Attorney Richard Rhodes is a former foster child raised in that nightmarish home. Soon it is discovered that the mayor's wife owned the house where Patti's foster mom was "buried". Too many clues lead back to Patti. CPD crime investigators and Internal Affairs, and the FBI want to interrogate Patti, but she is not talking to anyone. Instead she is on the road seeking her foster father who she thought was dead before he can find their son.

This is a dark gritty police procedural in which the protagonist is haunted by demons from her past despite putting on a tough presence in front of her peers or gangbangers. There are plenty of action and chase scenes, but the tale is owned by the fully developed Patti. Readers feel as if they know her yet lingering doubts persist re her innocence while also rooting for her to finally confront the demons that are devouring her mind.

Killing Fear
Allison Brennan
9780345502711 $6.99

Seven years ago club owner and exotic dancer Robin McKenna's testimony somewhat helped convict serial killer Theodore Glenn, who defended himself but could not overcome the DNA evidence at the murder scene. He and one other person know the forensic proof that caught him was not left at the scene by him; someone probably the dumb detective framed him. That is if you can call a frame when he did commit the homicides. She assumed she would never see the vile psychopath who killed her roommate Anna ever again though he vowed vengeance against those who sent him to prison.

An earthquake shakes the Bay area damaging San Quentin. During the turmoil, Glenn escapes. He plans to kill those who convicted him. At the top of his list is Detective Will Hooper. Not only did the cop arrest him and probably framed him, he had the gall to have a tryst with Robin who Glenn believes belongs to the perfect man: him. In fact he considers each new homicide as a gift to Robin. . Glenn is obsessed with Robin and thrills to the pain each new murder causes her. Glenn even leaves several hints that Anna still lives after all this time. Robin and Will relook the evidence though they doubt Anna survived her ordeal, but they begin to think the possibility exists. Will knows that Robin is on Glenn's list so he must stop this maniac before anyone else dies.

This is an exciting serial killer cat and mouse game in which Glenn is as brilliant and amoral as a person can become as he only feels pleasure when he provides immense pain climaxing in the death of others. The story line is fast-paced once the triangle is set with his escape and never slows down as readers anticipate a final "perfect" confrontation. However before getting there Allison Brennan takes her audience through spins and twists that add tension to the strong suspense storyline.

To Pleasure a Lady
Nicole Jordan
9780345494597 $6.99

In 1817 the oldest Loring sister Arabella feels it is her responsibility to inform their new guardian the Earl of Danvers that neither she nor her younger siblings (Rosalyn and Lillian) need a babysitter as all three are in their twenties. She goes straight to his home to make sure he understands that the siblings are independent and strong enough to take care of themselves. Marcus Pierce is already irate that the late earl turned him into a "procurer" of matrimony for his three daughters. However, expecting the worst he is stunned when he meets Arabella as he believes he has fallen in love at first sight; the only problem is that the target of his affection loathes him.

They argue, fuss and fight until a frustrated Marcus bets Arabella that he can charm her into his bed in two weeks; if he fails she will be left a spinster to run a finishing school or whatever shelf she sees fit to accomplish. She accepts his daring wager. As he educates her in the seduction of love, Arabella feels divided as she has fallen in love with her guardian, which could cost her the independence she values.

The first Courtship Wars is a great often amusing gender battle between two protagonists who want to win their sexual contest at all costs. The story line is fast-paced as Marcus wonders if love is worth the Taming of the Shrew while Arabella considers whether total independence from male domination is worth a broken heart. Fans will receive immense pleasure from this terrific Regency romance.

Symphony of Secrets
Sharon Hinck
Bethany House
9780764202827 $12.99

When Amy Johnson became pregnant she dropped out Julliard to raise her child; her daughter's father wanted nothing to do with either her or Clara. Amy moved to Minneapolis to raise her daughter, taking music teaching jobs to feed them. Her dreams of being a concert flutist are gone with some lingering regret, but her love for her now fifteen year old Clara makes it worth it.

Amy's best friend harpist Lena tells her the Minneapolis Symphony is seeking a second seat flutist. Though extremely nervous she tries out and gets the position. As she rehearses and performs under the guidance of new conductor Peter Wilson, someone seems to be sabotaging the symphony targeting concertmaster Stefan Kronenberg. As she investigates because she loves solving a whodunit even when there are none, Amy has concerns with Clara who has committed two faux pas in her mom's mind; she has become a cheerleader and is going to church.

Combining music with an amateur sleuth investigation and a light welcoming inspirational religious touch, readers will want to attend the symphony. The story line opens with Clara debunking her mother's latest criminal solution and shocking her with her being a cheerleader mom. Sharon Hinck conducts a wonderful tale starring a terrific heroine, who does not want to be a cheerleader mom or attend church, but for Clara will try both.

Winter Haven
Athol Dickson
Bethany House
9780764201646 $18,99

Siggy was fifteen years old when he left home; his sister Vera Gamble blames herself for his disappearance. She believes she suffers from hallucinations, but outgrows them as she got older because she no longer thought of her vanished severely autistic brother who only spoke in biblical quotes. One day while she at work she receives a call that Siggy's body washed up on the Maine barrier island Winter Haven.

As she approaches the island by boat, the fog that engulfs it gives Winter Haven an eerie appearance. When the constable shows her Siggy's body, Vera is shocked as he has not aged at all; he still looks like the teen who left home years ago. When she mentions this to the constable, the cop refuses to allow Vera to take the body home. Vera rents a room at a B&B and explores the island. She hears strange thumping noises like an axe splitting wood and sees with her peripheral vision a dark figure who disappears before she can fully focus. In town it rains black stones on her only and she hears hissing sounds that no one else seems to hear. Vera wonders if she is going crazy or is there a logical explanation to the happenings.

WINTER HAVEN is a good old fashion gothic mystery complete with a brooding love interest for Vera even though her landlady warns her against getting involved with him. Vera is a fine character who believes she is ungodly and part crazy. Life on a small island is vividly described especially how the residents thrive on their isolation, which adds to the eerie atmosphere. Fans will enjoy stopping at Winter Haven as long as Athol Dickson guides us.

My Heart Remembers
Kim Vogel Sawyer
Bethany House
9780764204937 $16.99

In 1886 New York City, the tenement fire killed Ma and Da Gallagher, leaving their three offspring orphaned. The oldest eight year old Maelle has no time for grief as she watches adults split the trio into different families. She gives the new parents of baby Molly the family bible; and she gives her brother Mattie the family photo. She vows to them to one day find them even as everyone calls her Mike as her short haircut leaves her looking like a boy.

In 1902 Louisiana, traveling photographer Mike Watts continues her search for Mattie and Molly. Mattie has spent a lifetime being discarded by one family after another as he currently lives in Texas. Teenaged Molly was too young to remember the fire, her siblings, her biological parents, or even her birth name as the only family Isabelle as she is called ever had was the Standlers of Kansas City and they just died; but her older Standler brother scornfully informs her who she truly is.

Although the plot device of having siblings separated via the orphan trains with one eventually seeking the others has been used a lot, Kim Vogel Sawyer refreshes it in MY HEART REMEMBERS by rotating the story line between the three lead characters. Thus the audience obtains a deep look at what happened to the trio a decade and a half after the fire radically changed each of their lives. Historical fiction fans will appreciate the saga of the three Gallaghers.

One More Sunrise
Michael Landon, Jr. and Tracie Peterson
Bethany House
9780764203626 $13.99

In 1941 Kansas, Joe Daley dreams of becoming an Army Air Force fighter pilot. However he never achieves his aspiration when he fails his physical. He settles for being a dust cropping pilot. However, he never moved past his failure, which has permeated his life and his marriage to Meg.

In 1958, Luke Ramsey, who courted Meg in high school, offers a lot of money to the local farmers as the Vanguard corporation he represents wants to buy up all the land; Joe has doubts that the big farm firm cares about the locals and decides to oppose the venture. Meanwhile his plane hits a large bird and begins to dive towards the earth; Joe thinks of Meg and their two kids as he prays for a chance for ONE MORE SUNRISE with them.

This entertaining inspirational historical fiction enables the reader to fully understand the hero who lost his zest fro life when he failed the military physical. Between his passion to prevent the Vanguard takeover and realizing the failure of his life is not that physical but his relationship with Meg and his kids as his plane falls, Joe prays for a second chance with his family. Fans will enjoy this fine redemption tale as Joe finally moves on, but it appears too late for him to tell Meg, Danny, and Christy.

A Lady of Hidden Intent
Tracie Peterson
Bethany House
9780764201462 $13.99

In 1850 in Bath England, Catherine Newbury has lived a luxurious lifestyle without a care in the world. Her idyllic life ends when she learns the police are coming to arrest her father Nelson for co-owning a slave ship. Knowing he is innocent, Nelson refuses to run. However, he wants his beloved daughter safe while he corrects the mess.

Five years later in Philadelphia, Catherine is a popular dress designer who desperately needs to find a way to prove her father is innocent and get him released from prison; only her belief in God keeps her going. American architect Carter Danby, whom her dad introduced to her on her last party night in England, sees her when he escorts his mother and sister for a fitting, but does not recognize her. Still he desires her and wants to help her as he believes by her demeanor that she is carrying a dark mystery, but though she finds him attractive, she refuses to reveal her secret as she trusts no one except God since her father was incarcerated falsely.

A LADY OF HIDDEN INTENT is an entertaining inspirational Victorian romance. Catherine holds the story line together as she changes from pampered debutante to self sufficient designer while never losing sight of her objective or her faith in God not man. Sub-genre readers will appreciate this fine heartening historical.

Pavel & I
Dan Vyleta
9781596914513 $24.95

Germany surrendered to the allies just over a year ago, but the occupation remains everywhere in the battered country divided up between America, France, England and Russia. Adding to the despondency is the weather is icy cold as 1946 turns into 1947.

American G.I. Pavel Richter remains in brutally freezing Berlin. His friend Boyd White arrives at his home asking for help as he has the corpse of a local midget to dispose of. Getting over his initial shock, Pavel agrees to help conceal the body in his place for now. However soon afterward Boyd is killed and Pavel learns the body living with him is a Russian double agent Suldmann whose delivery package is missing. Pavel's neighbors British Colonel Fosko and his prostitute Sonia along with German and Russian agents seek whatever Suldmann was carrying while Pavel just wants to get out of the mess he inadvertently finds himself in although he is in love with Sonia.

This is a fabulous historical mystery in which the atmosphere of Berlin just after WWI owns the well written story line. The prime players especially Pavel seem genuine. However the cast of a zillion support characters bring alive the war battered residents struggling with sustenance in any way possible as any pre war ethics mean nothing on an empty stomach; but intrudes on the main plot of deadly rivals competing to find Suldmann's cache.

The History of Lucy's Love Life in 10 and a Half Chapters
Deborah Wright
9780452289147 $14.00

Lucy cannot believe it that her fantasies have more life than her reality. One year seeing Anthony Brown has driven Lucy to total ennui as he fails to compare with her dreams shared with her heroes like Lord Byron, George Clooney and the newsagent who sells her the Daily Telegram. At least in her fantasies these hunks know how to melt a girl's bone marrow.

Lucy is stunned when research scientist Dr. Kay Merrick fires her as his personal assistant due to tardiness. Irate, she steals his prototype time travel machine. She decides since modern man is Neanderthal when it comes to romance. She plans to use the invention to meet Byron, Casanova, and Leonardo, maybe even Ovid though Lucy does not swing that way and all the other great lovers of history.

Based on the concept that the grass is not greener on the other side, Lucy's trek to find love in history is an engaging whimsical tale that turns HG Wells and Bill and Ted upside down. The story line is fun as begins her quest with her list of three constantly changing when the new reality fails to come close to her fantasy. However, Lucy is too flighty to be likable. She is unable to show up at work on time, unable to focus on Anthony and his needs, unable to relate her needs to him, and unable to stop day and night dreaming of other men. Still Lucy's adventures with history's hunks are fun to follow as her frolics provide a different look at the romantic hero.

Just in Case
Meg Rosoff
9780452289376 $14.00

Infant Charlie Case is just learning to walk when he enters his older brother's room. Fifteen year old David is not paying attention to his much younger sibling who climbs precariously on the sill of the open bedroom window. Charlie watches a bird fly by as he teeters on the ledge. A greyhound sitting outside nudges him back a bit until David happens to look up; panicky he pulls Charlie off the windowsill.

However the brush with death shakes David to the core while Charlie cannot understand why his brother prevented him from flying with the birds. David begins to see death and disaster on every corner as he begins to comprehend and personify Fate. He decides the only way to beat Fate in the game of personal mortality is to change one's identity as Fate will seek to harm David Case, but not Justin Case and alters his image accordingly. However, accompanied by a greyhound that no one else sees, his efforts prove futile as he realizes with each next step he takes "This is how the world ends" even as photographer Agnes Bee turns him into the symbol of "doomed youth".

JUST IN CASE is an insightful allegorical look at life and all it offers through Justin's efforts to avoid what he believes is everyone's Fate: death. With Fate providing observations on life and death, parents hide in the sand to avoid the issues their teens face. Readers who appreciate a deep thought provoking parable will enjoy Justin Case's efforts to survive but not live his life.

The Shadow Year
Jeffrey Ford
9780061231520 $25.95

In a small town on Long Island in the sixties, a family is going through some tough times. Jim, his brother and their sister watched their father work himself to death doing three jobs and their mother drink her self into a stupor. They escaped to the basement where Jim and his brother built "Butch Town"; a cardboard representation of their neighborhood populated with action figures and match box cars.

Their sis Mary who is in class X in school because they are not sure if she is very bright or simpleminded changes things in "Butch Town" and those things she alters come true. She removes the figure of a boy and the next day people discover he is missing; nobody finds him. A neighbor Mr. Baritzar is found in snow with his neck broken by a snow plow; Mary took his figure off the board earlier. The boys believe a stranger "Mr. White" is behind the disappearances and Mary traces him on Butch town. A former resident now eighteen years old returns to deal with Mr. White and he is willing to help the three siblings.

This interesting fiction is an amalgamation of mysticism, imagination and mystery. The twelve-year old narrator keeps a chronicle of the goings on in the town for the year and since the story is told in his first person, readers get into the heart of an adolescent young boy. The atmosphere is gothic in which reality and the supernatural meet to form a book well worth reading.

Sally Gunning
9780061240256 $24.95

With the family patriarch in the colonies, the rest of the Coles travel from London to the New World to join him in 1756. During the harsh sea voyage, seven year old Alice watches her mom and brothers die. In Boston her father rids himself of the burden of raising her by indenturing her for the next eleven years to the Morton family of Dedham.

Alice does housework, but is treated like a daughter for the most part by her Morton owners. She and ten-years-old Abigail "Nabby" Morton become friends. When Nabby marries Emery Verley of Medfield, her parents transfer her indenture contract to their new son-in-law. However, she is treated with disdain and abuse so she runs away. She makes it to Cape Cod where Lyddie Berry (see THE WIDOW'S WAR) and her companion Eben Freeman shower her with kindness and give her a home and a job. Everything looks good until Alice realizes she is pregnant.

BOUND is an insightful look back at the horrors of the late colonial period's indentured servant system that included selling children into servitude. Readers will be stunned by the horrors of what happens to Alice in her second assignment. In many ways a cautionary tale that claims economics often trumps freedom especially for impoverished people, Sally Gunning provides a well written thought provoking mid eighteenth century thriller.

The Philosopher's Apprentice
James Morrow
9780061351440 $25.95

A Philosophy PH.D candidate withdraws his application after losing a heated argument re his dissertation; the only thing left for him to obtain his doctorate. Mason Ambrose accepts work tutoring seventeen year old Londa Sabacthani, who suffered a severe head injury that destroyed her morality. Her brilliant mother molecular geneticist Edwina wants Mason to help her daughter regain what she lost.

Mason travels to Edwina's home on Ilsa de Sangre of the Florida Keys to work with Londa, who tells him she is an only child. Soon after he arrives Mason finds on the next estate five-year-old Donya living with two tutors trying to help her regain her lost "rectitude" following a brain injury occurring from a bicycle accident. Donya insists she is an only child whose mother is Edwina. The three tutors share notes and conclude after some other snooping that Edwina is a female Dr. Frankenstein.

This is an excellent satirical look at American ethics re business, science, politics, and the family with seemingly nonsensical actions yet retains its feasibility. This is mostly because the solid cast rings genuine especially the kids. For instance Londa takes her new learned ethics to the business community. Fans who appreciate something different but entertainingly well written and thought provoking will want to follow the teaching escapades of THE PHILOSOPHER'S APPRENTICE.

The Price of Blood
Declan Hughes
9780060825515 $24.95

In Dublin, Father Vincent Tyrrell hires private investigator Ed Loy to find missing jockey Patrick Hutton. The case is made complex by the fact that his client offers only a name and that Hutton disappeared about a decade ago. Loy wants to say forget it as he figures he has little chance of finding the man, but the fee is too good to ignore.

Loy knows he must tread the streets very carefully as the Halligan family plan to rough him and more because they hold him culpable for one of them residing behind bars. As he makes inquiries on another case involving a homicide that leads back to Father Vincent's brother affluent business mogul F.X. Tyrell, Loy soon finds himself investigating two other related homicides connected to the Tyrell family. Beaten severely and told to back off or else, Loy keeps digging until the trail takes him to the four-day Leopardstown Race-course Christmas Festival.

In his third appearance (see THE COLOR OF BLOOD and THE WRONG KIND OF BLOOD) Loy does what he does best: gets tattered and threatened but keeps on ticking. The story line is fast-paced from the opening request and though filled with neat twists never slows down until the final altercation. Bruised, battered and beaten, Loy still conducts intelligent inquires whose link is F.X. Private investigative fans will enjoy Declan Hughes' strong Irish mystery.

Sin No More
Kimberla Lawson Roby
9780060892500 $23.95

In Mitchell, Illinois, fortyish Reverend Curtis Black has atoned for his adulterous sins; he has asked God and his wife to forgive him for his five year affair with Tabitha. Thirty-one years old Charlotte has agreed to reconcile and give their marriage a chance on the condition that he must never see Tabitha or their infant daughter. He accepts her stipulation.

Outraged by being dumped and the father of her child ignoring his offspring, Tabitha pesters Curtis by threatening to expose him to his flock as an irresponsible sinner and stalks Charlotte. Realizing that the scandal would destroy her spouse and harm their thirteen years old son Matthew, Charlotte decides to confront Tabitha personally. While a nasty cat fight appears imminent, Pastor Tolson is jealous that Reverend Curtis is back at the pulpit as he relished the spotlight while his rival was away; since he knows some of his unethical side dealings and he plans to expose the man of God to the public. Finally David wants full custody of Matthew who he, Charlotte and Curtis believe he sired.

SIN NO MORE continues the travails of Reverend Curtis (see THE BEST KEPT SECRET, CASTING THE FIRST STONE and TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING). The story line is an engaging look at small-town living, backstabbing and religious politics. The story line is character driven as the lead couple has three adversaries wanting to destroy them for different motives. Although too much time is spent on how they got to this point (great for newcomers, but repetitive for long time fans) readers will appreciate the latest devilish goings-on in Illinois.

Atomic Lobster
Tim Dorsey
9780060829698 $24.95

The man slapped six foot stripper Rachel so Serge A. Storms decides to give him a first hand lesson at the Serge charm school. He and Coleman hold the guy by his ankles off an overpass just to scare him. However, an angry Rachel arrives, elbows Serge in the chest and bites Coleman. They drop the man who vanishes. Serge and Coleman agree it is time to hit the road especially since the latter hopes to create the biggest bong ever.

Others also are touring Florida. The quickest to the draw of the mean McGraws, killer Tex is out of prison with plans to murder those who sent him up river. The G-Unit (dubbed the E-Team by the media) nonagenarian investors seek sex on a cruise; Serge learns not to be in there way when they drive as they purposely pretend confusion while playing pinball with pedestrians. Finally the government seems to be hiding some mysterious murders. The convergence of all these divergent people turns out to be Jim and Martha Davenport, who just wants some excitement in their lives.

This is the usual over the top satire that atomizes just about everyone even a lobster. Serge is at his best starting with his woops while Coleman meeting up with pal Lenny plan on a Guinness Book size bong. However, between Amazonian Rachel, the government, bad Tim McGraw and the "Granny" brigade, Serge and Coleman understand the biggest threat to their Florida road show is these dangerous ninety years olds. Tim Dorsey provides his typical insane zaniness that leaves no one standing except ninety-one years old Edith Grabowski who had sex twice without oxygen and is ready to take on Tim, Rachel, Serge and Coleman in a no holds barred Florida death match.

The Dark Tide
Andrew Gross
9780061143427 $25.95

Charles and Karen Friedman have been married for eighteen years but are still in love. They live in a fine house, have a rustic cabin in Vermont, and take vacations in the Caribbean. One day Charles takes the train to work; Karen hears on TV news that a train was blown up in Grand Central Station; hundreds die including Charlie who was on that train.

While Karen and their kids mourn their loss, two men visit her; telling her that two hundred and fifty million dollars of investment money is missing. To her shock she learns these men are not only on the wrong side of the law, but her Charlie worked with them. Her daughter is given a warning that they better return the money or else. Karen knows she must find out what Charlie was into and neutralize the threat somehow. She receives help from Greenwich Police Detective Ty Hauck; they met when Charlie's name and phone number appeared on a paper held by a victim of a hit and run. They begin to uncover Charlie's dark secrets with each one making Karen wonder how little she knew her late mate.

With his second solo effort (see THE BLUE ZONE), Andrew Gross establishes himself as a rising star in the thriller genre. Although there is non-stop action from the moment of the train disaster, the key players are fully developed so that the audience feels they know them; most fascinating is Charlie who readers, empathizing with Karen, think we know him but each time a new revelation surfaces telling the audience we don't know him at all. Karen is a person determined to learn the truth about Charlie although each new disclosure hurts her soul; though a romantic subplot seems a bit off, Hauck feels that with her love he is coming back to life having had a personal tragedy to deal with.

Nameless Night
G. M. Ford
9780060874421 $23.95

Seven years ago Paul Hardy was fortunate to survive as he was found near dead in a railroad car behind Western Station; his body broken and his mind gone. Some might take exception to the word survive as Paul has not communicated with anyone since the incident while residing at Harmony House for the disabled in Washington State.

Paul works for a local contractor doing menial physical tasks as his communication skills are almost nonexistent. He abruptly rushes towards the street and prevents a wheelchair spinning out of control from tipping saving Shirley from harm. However, in doing his heroic deed, a Lexus hits Paul instead of the woman. He is taken to the hospital where he wakes up, but insists he is not Paul Hardy; worse the face staring at him from a mirror is not the one he recognizes. Desperate, he follows vague clues floating inside his head in search of his true identity and what happened to him.

While Frank Corso and the Leo Waterman take breathers, NAMELESS NIGHT is an exhilarating conspiracy thriller starring a fascinating protagonist who struggles to learn the truth with each frustrating clue leading to deeper complications and danger. However, although exciting, the story line turns into the typical war between the FURY of a loner with no chance and the most affluent powerful American cartel with killer pros on their payroll to eliminate pests like Paul.

Another Thing to Fall
Laura Lippman
9780061128875 $24.95

The TV miniseries Mann of Steel is being filmed on location in Baltimore. The Mt. Vernon neighborhood residents have mixed feelings as they are excited with Hollywood on the streets, but there is also traffic snarls, roads blocked, and driving delays too. Private Investigator Tess Monahan is listening to her boyfriend on the radio when she puts her scull in the water to row only to disrupt the filming on the river.

When the crew learns Tess' job, they hire to serve as the offset bodyguard of star twentyish Selene Waites, who has not found a party she did not crash. The scriptwriter Flip Tumulty informs Tess that the filming has been disrupted by vandals and Selene's behavior puts her at risk. Tess finds photos of Selene apparently shot by Wilbur Grace, who just killed himself. Soon after Tess comes on board, a member of the film crew is killed. Tess believes that someone obviously wants to shut down the filming, but also believes the agenda is much more than just that.

No one, not even John Waters, provides a stronger taste of Baltimore than Laura Lippman consistently does in her Monahan investigative tales. The latest entry is fast-paced as Tess protects the ultimate party girl (wearing out thirtyish Tess) while also trying to uncover who wants to stop the filming and why. Fans of the series will enjoy Tess goes Hollywood in her Baltimore neighborhood.

Andrea Kane
9780061578892 $23.95

FBI Agent Sloane Burbank is on extended medical leave having come close to bleeding to death and suffering a severe hand injury. When the Feds offer her an office job the field agent declines. Instead decides to become a private consultant providing self defense seminars using the Krav Maga methodology to universities. She finds teaching quite enjoyable.

Hope Truman arranges for Sloane to visit her at her expensive Manhattan apartment to discuss the disappearance of her daughter Penny almost a year ago as the NYPD and FBI put their investigation on simmering, which means they will get back to it if workload allows; in other words cold case. Hope begs Sloane to find her daughter hopefully alive; Penny has been Sloane's best friend since elementary school so she drops everything to investigate. Sloane uses her FBI background to learn what the agency knows. That takes her to her former lover, Derek Parker, who remains the agent in charge on paper. Currently he works on deadly gang warfare in Chinatown as part of an Asian Criminal Enterprise Task Force. Derek is outraged to be forced back on a cold case especially with Sloane, but they soon learn other females, all with connections to Sloan, have vanished without a trace over the last year, but neither sleuth can understand why.

This engaging romantic suspense thriller stars two likable protagonists and a TWISTED killer who worships Athena "the true warrior". The story line is at its best when the lead pair follows clues that continually link back to Sloane. Derek is an interesting male lead as he slowly turns from resentment and outrage to protectiveness and love. Although the romantic subplot between him and Sloane seems out of place even with their history and readers will know why Sloane, mystery fans will enjoy this tense thriller.

The Undead Next Door
Kerrelyn Sparks
9780061118456 $6.99

Wannabe fashion designer Heather Westfield is ecstatic that renowned designer Jean-Luc Echarpe has opened one of his Le Chique Echarpe boutiques in her small Texas Hill Country town. She sketches some of his work only to have Jean-Luc stop to talk to her. However, sword carrying assailants attack Jean-Luc who tells Heather to stay out of the fray as he has it under control; still she tries to come to his rescue only to conclude he somehow does have it under control.

Jean-Luc realizes that his enemies will assume that Heather is his current lover. To keep her, her daughter Bethany and her housekeeper safe, he demands they stay with him. As she wonders how he gets away with sleeping all day and her odious former spouse complains about her sleeping with her lover in front of their daughter, Heather and Jean-Luc fall in love. However, he knows he owes her one key explanation as to why he sleeps away the day; he and some of his close friends are undead, but he loves her too much to make her dinner.

Kerrelyn Sparks latest vampire romance (see HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE VAMPIRE) is an amusing tale due to the lead couple whose first encounter is his accusing her of stealing his design. The support cast enhances either the feel that vampires are real (includes stars of previous stories in the Sparks' saga) or personalizes the heroine like her child does. The story line combines humor and danger as the size 12 woman rips his skin off for being arrogant yet protects him from a nasty villain. Fans will enjoy the gender battle between the vampire designer and the wannabe Texas designer.

No One Heard Her Scream
Jordan Dane
9780061252785 $6.99

Five months ago, San Antonio Police Detective Rebecca "Becca" Montgomery's younger sister, Dani, vanished without a trace. Distraught, Becca keeps "shadowing" the case led by dedicated professional Detective Paul Murphy who wants her to stay out of his investigation. To somewhat occupy her mind and to get her away from fighting her peer, Becca's boss Lieutenant Arturo Santiago assigns her to look into the humans ashes found at a burned down theater.

Becca knows why her boss assigned her this case, but plans to conduct a professional inquiry. At the inferno sight, Becca glances at the crowd of curious on-lookers, but only one person seems out of place. The human remains are that of a female skeleton with only an expensive locket nearby; the victim was walled inside a "prison" during the last renovation with evidence she was interred while she still lived. Becca learns the out of place stranger is Diego Galvan, who works for allegedly corrupt businessman Hunter Cavanaugh. Diego informs Becca to be careful with her investigation as her case touches Cavanaugh and his nasty Matt Brogan

This is a superb police procedural with enough of a romance between Becca and Diego to enhance the investigation. Becca is a strong protagonist who knows she is over the edge over her sister, but cannot stop herself from wanting to break Murphy's nose. Ironically readers know Diego's intentions while Becca wonders whose side is he on. Fans will enjoy the exciting first "No One" tale as the lead pair each has hidden agendas that come before any feelings they might have for one another.

Seduced by Darkness
Delilah Devlin
9780061161247 $13.95

In present day Bayou St. John, Nicholas Mountfaucom worries about the damage the flood is doing to the Morel mausoleum because inside is locked away a monster that he fears might escape. Nicholas decides to go underwater to inspect the damage when mage Simon arrives to assist him.

Converted vampire Nicholas visits Born vampire Chessy Tomas who he has sex with but pretends he is not concerned about her needs. He hides how much he cares for her because Chessy only thinks of her former police partner Rene who vanished with Natalie the vampire INTO THE DARKNESS. Nicholas warns Chessy about the monster's escape before he dominates her with more sex. Soon after Chessy meets her new partner Alex but she hopes to get rid of him as she only wants Rene as her partner. They seek nests of rogue vampires crossing the blood line by killing their host. After killing a few rogues, Chessy seeks sex from a willing partner and finds "Breadman". Alex joins them but he insists on no biting.

Meanwhile in the river lies the bodies of cops whose hearts have been torn out. The "Devourer" has escaped from his prison crypt. Nicholas is angry when he sees Alex touching Chessy and smells his sex all over her. Alex and Nicholas make it clear that they both want Chessy even as they know the recapture of the Devourer comes first.

The Devlin mythos filled with demons and Born and Created vampires seem genuine while the investigation and erotic subplots are well written but be aware there are explicit bondage scenes. Although the heroine has sex at moments when she is in trouble slowing down the non sexual subplots and the anticipated climax is a bit of a let down, readers will enjoy this hearted erotic romantic police procedural fantasy.

Awaken My Heart
Diann Mills
9780061376016 $9.95

1803 in the colony of Tejas (Texas), eighteen years old Marianne Phillips learns from her ailing mother that her martinet father Weston plans to marry her to cattle baron Lorenzo Sanchez de la Diaz. She loathes the idea of wedding someone older than her father, but her mom points out the other choice is the Phillips Hacienda foreman, mean spirited Clay Wharton. If she could select she would pick the handsome stranger she met while riding her protective noble horse Diablo.

Weston warns mestizos rebel leader Armando Garcia that he better move his impoverished people out of La Flor Valley as he plans to expand his holdings there regardless of what happens to these peasants. To save their livelihood, the mestizos abduct Marianne, who learns her dream lover is Armando, who objected to the kidnapping. As they fall in love, Armando arranges to free Marianne whose heart is in the right place as she supports the mestizos' claim and not that of her father. However, caught in the middle, Marianne realizes the conflict is about to explode in blood as her father has brought dangerous allies from his home state of Virginia to sweep the peasants off the land.

AWAKEN MY HEART is a terrific early nineteenth century Texas Colonial romance starring two caring protagonists who in many ways seem like a North American Romeo and Juliet. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action. The key cast are fully developed especially the stars and her avarice father. Although Clay is more a caricature of a villain, Diann Mills provides a delightful historical that brings to vivid life a time and place that rarely if ever has served as the background.

This Is How It Happened (Not a Love Story)
Jo Barrett
9780061241109 $13.95

Carlton Connors and Madeline Piatro met in a marketing class at the U of Texas. They became lovers as Piatro fell in love at first sight and soon move in together. He gives her an engagement ring, but insists she not wear in front of his father at this time.

Meanwhile Madeline creates a business plan to market Organic for Kids food. She and Carlton brief the idea to his wealthy businessman father; he and his peers love the concept and agree to bankroll it with a stunned Madeline receiving only a promise of future stock options if the company succeeds. When the firm proves successful, Carlton receives all the credit and Madeline receives zilch. He even has the audacity to demand his ring back as he dumps her because she is of no further use for him since he has a new night time partner and is a daytime Einstein. She tells her best friend Heather she wants to kill him and begins crafting various means.

Mindful of the movie I Love You to Death, this is a lighthearted zany romantic suspense comedy that rotates perspective between Madeline's plot to kill Carlton and the four years that they were a couple. The story line is fast-paced in a breezy way as the cast are an amusing blundering crowd staring with Florence the hitman, Nick the undercover cop with no last name except for the state he provides Maddy, her turn the other cheek brother, her lawyer Michael and of course Carlton and Heather. Readers will enjoy this humorous farce while pondering whether Maddy's recipe for brownies will rival that of Alice B. Toklas.

I Want Candy
Kim Wong Kellner
9780060847982 $13.95

In San Francisco fourteen years old Candace Ong knows first hand what being Chinese-American truly means. Her Chinese parents work at the Eggroll Wonderland Chinese restaurant. They believe she is their obedient "eggroll girl" working at the restaurant, doing well in school and staying out of trouble.

However that is the Chinese side of her. The American side that she hides from her parents wants to explore the streets of the city with her friend Ruby. Candace envies Ruby as she does not slave in a hot kitchen. That summer Candace has a chance to spend time with Ruby, but can a protected young teen survive the means streets of San Francisco.

Told from Candace's perspective, readers will appreciate this insightful look at a teenager whose Americanization is at odds with her parents' Old Country beliefs. Her name symbolizes the issues of assimilation as she has a common American first name and a Chinese surname. Candace is terrific as her parents assume she is their dutiful "eggroll girl" while she explores the mean streets of San Francisco with enthusiasm and awe, but not all she encounters is positive as she meets some appalling people. This is a deep character study of a young teen pulled in two directions by her friends and her parents.

Pleasure Exchange
Cathryn Fox
9780060898571 $13.95

The extension of his research grant is on the line for scientist Sam York who is studying a female libido booster. However, he runs into problems when reporter Cat Nichols writes an article on his work. Feminists are outraged and protest his efforts.

Cat feels bad with what her article may have done to Sam, who was so cooperative with her. She has known him for a long time and dreams of making love with good neighbor Sam, but he seems uninterested. To make up for what she did to him, Cat volunteers to be his guinea pig and test his concoction. Sam accepts her offer as he dreams of making love with good neighbor Cat, but she seems uninterested.

As with the previous two "Pleasure Games" contemporary heated romances, (see PLEASURE PROLONGED and PLEASURE CONTROL) the story line feels like a modern day hotter version of the Grant-Rogers film Monkey Business. The change in the relationship between Sam and Cat make for a fun tale as they go from platonic close friends with secret desires to burning up the sheets. As Sam wonders if his female libido boosting experiment led to their sexual encounters or it could be something much more complex to recreate: love, Cathryn Fox provides a torrid romantic climax to her lighthearted pleasurable trilogy.

The Governess Wears Scarlet
Sari Robins
9780060782498 $5.99

In 1812, appalled by the unsafe streets of London that he now is aware of due to a personal tragedy, Viscount Jason Steele wears a mask to hide his identity while he vigilantly patrols the dark roads; the Viscount and former Sentinel insures the safety of those in danger from predators though few know he is out there as a dark knight. He wants nothing from those he protects until he rescues a woman wearing a veil. Passion explodes between the two whose faces are covered so their identities remain unknown from one another, but both are shook to the core by the fervor they share. He especially since he assumed he would love no one since his Deidre died over eight years ago

The next day Jason interview Abigail West for the position of governess to his nephews over the objection of his brother-in-law who considers her "tarnished". Neither Jason nor Abigail recognizes their lover as unmasked and both behave with the mask of prim and proper decorum. Since the boys like her, he hires her. However, when they learn of an odious plot, they team up in an effort to thwart the kidnapper and unmask him; in the process they unmask their feelings for one another.

This is an entertaining historical romantic suspense that grips the audience from the moment the Regency Era "Batman" and the prey he rescued kiss and never slows down until final revelations occur. Readers will like the lead couple and admire both for risking their lives to save others; in Jason's case strangers.

The Perils of Pleasure
Julie Anne Long
9780061341588 $6.99

Colin "The Satin of Sussex" Eversea knows he has done a lot of scandalous things as a rake, but to be convicted for murdering a Redmond cousin seems too ironic to be real to him because he knows he did not kill his family's rival. Refusing to show remorse for a crime he swears he never did though rooming with the king of flatulence Bad Jack in Newgate is a form of torture that makes him want to confess to anything just to get away from the odor. However, he knows that short of a miracle he will be hanged for that crime rather soon.

Mercenary Madeline Greenway saves Colin from the noose, but not for any altruistic reason. Instead she abducts the charmer planning to obtain ransom money for him. When someone attacks them, she assumes Colin is the target, but quickly realizes her assumption is false; someone wants her dead. Teaming up as they fall in love, they try to find the culprits who framed him and are trying to murder her.

Gender bending the prisoner romance, Julie Anne Long provides Regency fans with an exhilarating tale, starring two fascinating rogues. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Madeline kidnaps Colin and never slows down as the amateur sleuths follow clues and love to uncover the identity of their adversaries. With a terrific final twist, fans long for more thrillers like THE PERILS OF PLEASURE.

In The Highlander's Bed
Cathy Maxwell
9780061122101 $6.99

In 1808 Highland laird Gordon Lachlan knows the significance of the legendary Sword of the MacKenna and what it means to his clan. To regain the vaunted weapon from the Duke of Colster, he plans to kidnap the Duke's sister by marriage Constance Cameron, who attends Madame Lavaliere's Academy for Young Women to erase some of barbaric American taint. Gordon assumes that Constance's family by marriage will trade the sword for her.

Gordon is taken aback that Constance seems unafraid of him and in some ways he feels like her captive especially when she makes it clear that he is a buffoon who has wrecked havoc to return to America. As she keeps trying to escape, an exasperated Gordon finally decides enough, but cannot stop himself from kissing the spirited colonialist. They fall in love while he tries to stay focused and she ponders how to make his plan work.

This is a fun captivity romance in which the audience will agree with the hero as to who is the prisoner and who is jailer. The story line combines humor, especially when Constance acts like a termagant and rips off Gordon's skin, with a poignant belief that people got to be free. This is an enjoyable regency romance.

The Right Mr. Wrong
Cindi Myers
Harlequin American
9780373752034 $4.99

Maddie Alexander was a member of the U.S. Olympic ski team with a reasonable chance of medal when the accident ended her career. Though her dreams were smashed along with her body, Maddie has moved on. She has just begun work as a rookie ski patroller at the Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado.

When she meets experienced peer Hagan Ansdar, Maddie is attracted to him, but adheres to her competitive days mantra to never mix romance with skiing as that is an avoidable wipe out. He feels the same way as she, but goes out of his way to avoid her when he can or cynically rip her when he cannot. On a gut level he recognizes the threat she poses to his lifestyle as she commits to passion while he prefers to remain an unattached ski bum hitting on the tourists. However, as they work together, they fall in love, but can Hagan commit to a relationship for the first time in his life?

THE RIGHT MR. WRONG is a superb contemporary romance starring two individuals who seem like opposites, but share two things: a love of skiing and a love of each other. The story line is fast-paced, filled with unexpected but delightful twists and twinkling with humor. Sub-genre fans will enjoy patrolling the ski slopes of Colorado with this pair.

Spies, Lies And Naked Thighs
Jina Bacarr
Harlequin Spice
9780373605224 $13.95

In the Syrian Desert, her local associate framed her for murder and betrayed her to local authorities before running off with the precious artifact she found. Archaeologist Breezy Malone lingered in prison while thinking of a zillion ways to rip off Sharif's skin one inch at a time. The FBI arranges for her escape from incarceration and recruits her to work for them.

Breezy begins her search for Sharif, but as she gets closer to her target, she meets enigmatic One-Eyed Jack; at least that is what she calls him due to his eye patch. He seems in her way, but though attracted to the man of mystery and has some doubts that they are on the same side, she remains steadfast in her pursuit of Sharif.

Breezy is the right name for this heroine who provides readers with an entertaining look at espionage especially the final crushing confrontation (probably every female has had that desire at least once in their life. Filled with action, SPIES, LIES AND NAKED THIGHS is a fun chick lit thriller with a touch of romance to add spice to a fun tale of intrigue. Hopefully Jina Bacarr will provide her fans with more Breezy thrillers.

Island Heat
Sarah Mayberry
Harlequin Mediterranean Nights
9780373389698 $5.50

Alexandra's Dream Caribbean cruise ship hires chef Tory Fournier to provide guest lectures to their patrons. Tory looks forward to this all expense paid ten days in the sun while her New York home is buried under snow; plus she is getting paid to do this. However, her enthusiasm For St. Bart etc. dies when she is on board and learns that her former lover Ben Cooper has been hired to join her as her co-chef instructor.

They start off a bit uncomfortable, but the lectures are top rate. They soon share more than just the podium as they make love. However, when she insists that once the cruise ends they end too, he becomes unhappy as he wants much more from the chef he loves in and out of the kitchen.

The latest Mediterranean (Caribbean) romance is a second chance at love between two likable fully developed chefs. When the story line focuses on their battles in the kitchen and bedroom the story line is smooth sailing. However, the numerous sidebars take the audience away from the relationship between Tory and Ben. Still fans will enjoy cruising with this couple.

Deadly Deceptions
Linda Lael Miller
9780373772568 $7.99

In Cave Creek, Arizona private investigator Mary Josephine "Mojo Sheepshanks" Mayhugh knows she lacks experience, but her ability to communicate with ghosts gives her edge to overcome her sleuthing naivete. Mojo is adamant that her mission in life is to help those unable to move on find peace by resolving what keeps them hanging around the moral plane. At the same she depends on these otherworldly assistants to help her with her mortal cases.

Following a ballet lesson, seven-year-old deaf-mute Gillian Pellaway is strangled; her stepfather is accused of the crime as he was taking her home; Gillian pleads with Mojo to help prove his innocence. Soon after that someone kills womanizing Alex Pennington; Mojo's wannabe boyfriend homicide detective Tucker Darroch arrests the victim's wife Greer, Mojo's adopted sister.

The second Mojo paranormal private investigative tale (see DEADLY GAMBLE) is a terrific tale filled with dead and live red herrings, plenty of twists, and ghosts who demand the heroine solve their case. Mojo with her mumbo and moxie makes DEADLY DECEPTION fun to follow as she uses spiritual assistance to find hard proof that Greer is innocent in spite of her having the means, motive, and opportunity. With two Mojo mysteries so far, Linda Lael Miller appears to have a hit series for fans to appreciate.

Man of the Hour
Diana Palmer
9780373773275 $13.95

"Night of Love". In Wichita Steven Ryker and Meg Shannon were falling in love when his photo with his former mistress Daphne hit the papers; she fled for ballet class in New York. Now years later, they have run into each other; he believes she chose her career over him while she believes he chose another woman over her. However, as they work through their feelings as both remain in love with one another; they are caught up in a mysterious foreign secret agent plot.

"Secret Agent Man". Former secret agent operative Lang Patton struggles with his return to civilian life although his only regret is ending his engagement to Kirry Campbell, whom he still loves. He feared his occupation would bring danger to his beloved. Now Kirry needs his help as someone is stalking her. Lang vows to keep her safe even if he is still physically and mentally recovering from the assignment that brought him out of the cold into retirement.

These two tales are reprints of entertaining early 1990s "Man of the Month" second chance at love romantic suspense thrillers with plenty of desire and a touch of espionage.

Dark of the Moon
Susan Krinard
9780373772582 $6.99

In 1926 New York City, Vampire Enforcer Dorian Black saves intrepid (he insists inane) reporter Gwen Murphy from drowning in the East River. He is shocked by his attraction to the human who thinks he suffers from a mental illness and vows to help him as she always pays her debts.

However, though he wants more than a nip from Gwen's delicious looking neck, Dorian has greater concerns than his appetite. Having to kill his master vampire, the Enforcer finds a vampiric civil war between the supporters of Christoff and those of Kyril for control of the city's nightlife. Meanwhile Gwen continues her investigation into the murders of gangsters, whose bodies contain no blood and soon uncovers a vast cell of Manhattan vampires, who learn she could expose them to the newspaper's daylight.

Although the Roaring Twenties New York does not come to full life, readers will appreciate this delightful vampire historical romance due to the lead couple especially Gwen who only Rosalind Russell could play her. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Mr. Black saves the life of Miss Murphy and never slows down as she keeps digging and he keeps enforcing especially after he meets with the Pax. Fans will appreciate this strong paranormal historical as Susan Krinard cleverly includes a caution against religious extremism in which one way is the only way to God with cleansing being the path.

In High Gear
Gina Wilkins
Harlequin NASCAR
9780373217847 $5.99

NASCAR Nextel Cup series champion Kent Grosso and renowned wedding photographer Tanya Wells are in love. Kent plans to propose to her. However, he is stunned when he receives an email threatening to expose him as a cheat in college. Still ashamed, he knows this will devastate his parents who think the world of him. Worse it will upset ethical Tanya and her honest parents.

Tanya thought she knew her beloved, but she is stunned to learn he hid his youthful indiscretion from her. Kent tries to make it up to his Tanya, but the blackmailing e-mailer sends him something much more disturbing; the person claims Kent's mother got away with running over a member of the rival NASCAR Murphy family years ago.

This engaging NASCAR contemporary romance stars two fine protagonists whose relationship is harmed perhaps permanently when Kent failed to tell his beloved his college mistake. The story line is at his best while he struggles to explain only to have a more powerful incident to nuke his well-being and test his resolve to tell Tanya the whole truth. Although the blackmailer scenario is not resolved leaving fans to wonder why not; IN HIGH GEAR is a fast trip around the oval.

Forbidden Attraction
Marisa Carroll
Harlequin NASCAR
9780373217854 $5.99

On the NASCAR circuit Justin Murphy looks like a promising driver with quite a future ahead of him if he can control his risk taking activity. When he is injured by an outraged fan, nurse Sophia Gross tends to him. They are instantly attracted to one another, but their families have a bloody history.

Whereas her pedigree is NASCAR royalty with her father a legend and her brother the current champion, his is a dead dad. He and his family believe her dad caused the accident that killed his father. Still they fall in love in spite the obstacles their feuding families toss at them with their abrasive whispering campaign.

Although the NASCAR romances are relatively knew, the Romeo and Juliet theme of feuding families has been used too frequently. Thus the well written and entertaining FORBIDDEN ATTRACTION has a lot to overcome yet Marisa Carroll does so with a fine tale of love between two wonderful lead players who deserve a chance together if their families would only let them be instead of a whisper campaign worse than that used to destroy McCain in 2000 South Carolina. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this spin around the tack.

The Bridal Quest
Candace Camp
9780373772575 $6.99

In 1816 Lady Irene Wyngate is a confirmed bachelorette after watching the destruction of her late odious father, who left behind debts for his heir and nothing for his wife and daughter. At the same time she rejoices in spinsterhood, her brother's new wife, Maura, a country bumpkin trying to prove she is the equal of Londoners, has made life in his home tedious for Irene.

Almost ten years ago, the earl of Radbourne, Gideon was abducted and forced to grow up as Gideon Cooper in the worst slums, but he still made a fortune the old fashion way by earning it. Although he feels inferior and not good marital material, his persistent grandmother Lady Odelia demands he marry someone suitable. Gideon understands he must, but needs a wife who accepts his unassuming manner. So far the eligible female Ton is driving him crazy. That is until he meets Irene especially since he recognizes her as the spirited female he once encountered during an incident he had with her father.

The key to this delightful Matchmaker Regency romance is the support cast who bring so much to the tale of love between Gideon and Irene. The story line is fast-paced and has a bit of a mystery re the hero's parentage that enhances the plot. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this fine historical and Candace Camp's previous entry (see THE MARRIAGE WAGER) while the climax implies Francesca the matchmaker is next on the block

Texas Bluff
Linda Warren
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373714704 $5.50

After being away from his hometown for years, Luke Chisum returns to River Bluff, Texas due to a family crisis. However, the former military helicopter rescue officer knows he is still attracted to the girl he took to the prom years ago Becky Parker but she gives him the evil eye and cold shoulder for he abandoned her.

He wants a second chance with his Sweet Bec, but she refuses to have anything to do with him. Becky knows she still loves the man who broke her heart sixteen years ago and would love to give him a second chance to mend it. However, she has kept one secret from him; he sired her beloved fifteen years old Shane.

This is fascinating second chance at love romance that started years ago with a poker bet and now the game is renewed once Luke returns home (medical discharge from war injuries) with he and Bec bluffing to hide their deepest secrets and feelings from the opponent they love. Luke and Bec are wonderful antagonists while the townsfolk amusingly watch the two combatants in action in the final Texas Hold Em romance.

The Dad Next Door
C.J. Carmichael
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373714711 $5.50

Raising his twin daughters Samantha and Tory by himself after his wife Marianne McLaughlin left them, architect Gavin Gray is horrified when Sam dies in an accident. Deciding he owes Marianne that information and hoping seeing her mom will help his surviving daughter, he and Tory travel to her hometown of Squam Lake where the classic On Golden Pond was filmed.

No one in town seems to know where Marianne is. However, Gavin is distracted by the woman next door, interior decorator Allison Bennett, who just ended an engagement six weeks before the wedding. Not only does he want her, she is terrific with the reticent grieving Tory. As the trio bonds into a family, an ailing Marianne shows up begging Gavin to help her with her crisis.

THE DAD NEXT DOOR is a superb family drama due to the emotional reactions of each of the key quartet. Gavin own the show as he loves the woman next door, but his daughter comes before his desires and his feelings are further turmoil by his guilt re his ill former wife and his deceased offspring. C. J. Carmichael provides a powerful cast driven relationship tale.

The Brother Returns
Jeannie Watt
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373714742 $5.50

In Barlow Ridge, Nevada teacher Claire Flynn is attracted to her sister's brother-in-law Brett Bishop. However, although she sees how he looks at her as if he wants her, he keeps as far away from her as possible.

Brett knows he messed up bad a decade ago and swears never again. He just wants to see his Kylie, being raised by his brother Will and his new sister-in-law Regan; she is Claire's sister so though he wants Claire he will not do anything to upset the delicate balance between him and his brother, his brother's wife, or "their" daughter. Claire thinks otherwise and plans to persuade Brett that a second Flynn needs to have her name changed to Bishop

The sequel to the HORSEMAN'S SECRET, THE BROTHER RETURNS, is a warm rural romance. Brett and Claire are attracted to each other from the moment a "matchmaking" snake brings him to her rescue, but he refuses to act on his feelings as his family must come before him. The story line is fast-paced enhanced by Jesse, an "at risk" student, who Claire adores while everyone else assumes is a bad seed just like his dad. Fans of small town tales will appreciate this entertaining contemporary.

The Wayward Debutante
Sarah Elliot
9780373294848 $5.99

In 1818 London her sister Beatrice and husband Charles Summerton sponsor Lady Eleanor Sinclair in her first season. Eleanor is the perfect model of behavior, but perhaps it is the pregnancy or having the young heir Mark that distracts her sponsors who remain ignorant that their guest is bored of the strict inane rules of high society.

Finally unable to remain sane, Eleanor sneaks out by herself to the theater as Jane Smith the governess. However, the play starts late worrying her that she might have to miss the last act. During the performance, she hears some silly woman behind her giggling out loud. She turns around to give her an irate stare only to see her handsome companion. He boldly introduces himself as the theater's owner James Bentley but conceals that he is part of the affluent Stanton brood; she assays she is governess Miss Smith. As they fall in love, she fears he will dump her once she tells him who she is; he dreads the thought that she will love his money not him.

Regency romance readers will enjoy the second Sinclair sister tale (see REFORMING THE RAKE) as Eleanor is the one breaking the rules this time. She and James are fascinating characters as both have reasons to hide their identity from the other. Although that concept has been used a lot in historical romances, Sarah Elliot refreshes it with two likable lead protagonists who break all the rules on their way to love; so badly did she and Beatrice misbehave neither of their husbands want to sponsor the third sibling Helen's season.

Tori Carrington
Harlequin Blaze
9780373793815 $4.99

In Fantasy, Michigan Nina Leonard is a man-eater who enjoys sleeping with her flavor of the month, but when the sex turns boring she dumps the hunk. Her BMC business partners and best friends, Patrick Gauge and Kevin Weber worry about Nina as they believe her hurtful behavior towards men is harming her. They decide on an intervention in which a man will sleep with her while she is blindfolded so she can not know who he is; they expect her to have real feelings for a change.

Hesitant Nina assumes that either Patrick or Kevin is her sleeping partner so she goes for it. The sex is the best of her life and she wants more, but neither of her partners admits to the act. They leave it to her to figure out who loves Nina with his soul.

This is an interesting contemporary romance starring three fascinating protagonists especially Nina who thinks sex partners are disposable until that first heated night with either hunk one or hunk two. Now she must decide whether her beloved is behind door one or a dangerous tiger that will destroy her relationships with both men behind door two. Although the intervention solution of using sex to teach a lesson on sex seems outrageous and extremely risky to the business and friendships, fans will enjoy Tori Carrington's fine portrayal of a man-eater finding love, but not knowing who he is.

Tex Appeal
Kimberly Raye, Alison Kent & Cara Summers
Harlequin Blaze
9780373793792 $4.99

"Real Good Man" by Kimberly Raye. Bored Cheryl Anne Cash becomes a consultant to women teaching them how to how to spice up their sex life. In fact she takes her lessons to heart by dumping her boyfriend Dayne Branson. However, she hires Dayne to make over her house, but plans to show him what he lost.

"Unbroken" by Alison Kent. Psychologist Tess Autrey writing an article on the sex lives of rodeo cowboys and their groupies. When Tess meets the Triple RC ranch owner Wyatt Crowe, she wants to be his permanent groupie.

"I Can Still Feel You ..." by Cara Summers. After Chef Macy Chandler identified a bank robber, the criminal escaped. Texas Ranger Cade Dillon, who already cares about Macy, vows to keep her safe.

These are three lighthearted Valentine Day romps, Texas style starring likable women in heat and the men who execute sex to satisfy their yearnings as Cheryl learns that it is not just any penis; it's Dayne's.

Cabin Fever
Mary Leo
Harlequin Mediterranean Nights
9780373389681 $5.50

Boutique store owner Beth Montgomery wanted to say no when her fifteen years old niece Laura suggested she go on a cruise on the Alexandra's Dream. However Beth reluctantly agrees as Laura hopes her aunt by marriage can keep her prim grandmother and proper mother from destroying her teen fun. Beth and her two children ten years old Connor and seven years old Sarah join the cruise.

Two years have passed since Beth buried her beloved husband, but shockingly she and the ship's diving and other water games instructor Dylan Langstaff are immediately attracted to one another. She considers the time is right to move past grief although she has some lingering guilt and doubt even as her family led by her mother-in-law insists she stay true to her marriage vows.

This is an interesting on the Mediterranean cruise romance starring two likable lead characters and a horde of supporting players. When Beth and Dylan begin to spend time together, her family intrudes as the matriarch leads the youngest generation in opposition. Their interference makes for a fun and poignant trip, but also clutters somewhat the story line with insight into their issues. Still CABIN FEVER is an engaging contemporary romance.

In A Soldier's Arms
Marin Thomas
Harlequin American
9780373752041 $4.99

The letter from her grandma came one month ago claiming that she Margaret O'Neal was emergency-room nurse Maggie O'Neal's last living maternal relative. Unable to resist she leaves Louisville to meet her late mom's kin in Heather's Hollow, Kentucky.

She drives over and to a cafe she meets former soldier Abram Devane, who reluctantly shows her the way to Granny ONeal's place, next to his. Maggie is fascinated by granny's sixth sense gift and her healing skills so she decides to stay awhile and become better acquainted. She is also attracted to Abram, but though he seems to reciprocate at times; each advancing step leads to two steps in retreat as if he fears her love or perhaps his loving her. However, if he listened to either his heart or the natives he would know that when an O'Neal female sees the future, it always happens; Maggie sees herself in this soldier's arms forever.

IN A SOLDIER'S ARMS is a whimsical contemporary romance starring two likable lead characters with commitment issues, a wonderful Appalachian support cast, and the show stealer Granny, who in some ways will remind readers of Granny Moses of the TV version of the Beverly Hillbillies. Whereas Margaret learns home is where the heart wants to be, which is with Granny and Abram. Abram suffers from PTSD, but feels bewitched by the two O'Neal women who enable him to somewhat forget the anguish from his military experience. Marin Thomas provides a warm old Kentucky home romance.

Goblin War
Jim C. Hines
9780756404932 $7.99

Jig the goblin is the runt of the litter who used to be picked on by goblins stronger than him which included the entire goblin civilization (if one can call it that since they fight between themselves and are backstabbers and sneaky beings who try to outwit one another - that sounds like Congress). For a slimy goblin (obvious oxymoron), Jig dealt with two malevolent princes and a dragon, fought against the pixie infection and though he doesn't realize it, the goblins are beginning to respect and look up to him.

Trouble comes their way when the goblin's lair is invaded by the prince and princess whose brother bled in the goblin's lair. They steal the Rod Of Creation and take the strongest goblins to shore up their defenses against Billa the Blood and her army of monsters including orcs, goblins and kobolds. Shadowstar, the god Jig worships quietly helps him because he want Billa defeated; apparently the goddess Isa abets Billa with an objective to kill the god of death Noc who happens to be Shadowstar's son just as Isa is his wife.

Readers who want some fun and laughs in their fantasy should read Jim C. Hines' Jig the Goblin books due to the appealing hero. Jig is an amusing cynic who has no confidence in his ability to make things right as he assumes he is too cowardly to do so; no one else in the goblin or readership communities believe that after his recent escapades in GOBLIN QUEST and GOBLIN HERO. His pathos, which sounds at times like chick lit goblin style, will have readers laughing out loud at the lament of a couch potatoes creature whose prime wish in life is not to be the greatest goblin hero.

Mystery Date
Denise Little (editor)
9780756404697 $7.99

These twenty short stories focus on a first date with either one or both partners coming from a fantasy DNA or the location somewhat out of the mundane realm. Each of the tales is lighthearted amusing fun with no clinkers. However, there is apparently a limitation to how far one can go one a first date so about half way through the contributions begin to have a dejà vu feel to them. This reviewer enjoyed all, but especially learning what to expect while dating a shapeshifter ("Choop" by Nancy Springer) and Jean Rabe's "Anne of the One Gable" whose double blind date won an Oscar for the Philadelphia Story. The writers seem to have fun with the theme and the audience will appreciate their efforts; however to truly savor suggest spreading the read over a few weeks so each date remains fresh.

The Hidden City
Michelle West
9780756404703 $24.95

Although Rath considers himself a businessman, most people classify him as a scavenger of antiques in the undercity; he sells his finds to dealers who have clients desiring objects from before the Blood Wars. A reclusive loner who believes he needs no one, not even his family; he helps a homeless sick child Jewel by taking her into his abode and nursing her back to health. She informs him that when he goes out tonight to sell artifacts, he will be followed. Forewarned, he spots the hunters and spends hours trying to allude them.

In the days that follow, Jewel finds orphans whom she sees in her visions and brings them to Rath's home. Much to his surprise he allows them to stay. When invisible beings follow Rath, he uses magically constructed weapons to transmit them back to Hell because they are demons disguised as men. Further circumstances lead Rath and Jewel to believe that the demons have a plan for the empire and that they have roles in the upcoming conflict

This is a fantastic epic fantasy filled with intrigue and mystery that fans of Kate Elliot will appreciate. Michelle West has created a vivid world that readers will believe exists with them in it. Rath and Jewel are fully developed characters who have a form of PTSD as each has suffered trauma and pain. Together they make a formidable force ready to oppose the demonization of the empire.

The Song
Jean Johnson
9780425219294 $14.00

The eight brothers, four sets of twins, were exiled to Nightfall Isle where women are banned; For the most part they have been ignored by the powerful Katan Council of Mages since their banishment; however recently the Council has learned that three females have married three of the siblings (see THE MASTER, THE WOLF and THE SWORD) and remained on the Isle with their soulmate. The Council fear that the ancient prophesy is being fulfilled and debates their options before it is too late.

As the Council argues, the fourth-born sibling Evanor lost his magical abilities and became mute during a war to free his sister-in-law from an evil mage. Healer Mariel comes to Nightfall Isle accompanied by her son to help him regain his voice and to live there. She gives him much more than just efforts to heal his vocal cords; she gives him the magic of love.

Although each tale contains a complete saga focusing on one of the brothers, it behooves the audience to start with the first book because Jean Johnson continues her magical writing of increasingly more intricate details involving the Sons of Destiny big picture. The current story is fast-paced and stars two likable protagonists, but in some ways feels more like a middle tale (it is number four of eight) as it sets the table for seemingly big showdowns. Still Evanor's entry is fun to follow as he finds love the most powerful lyrical voice in the Johnson universe.

The Last Warrior
Karen Kay
9780425221006 $7.99

The Lost Clan tribal bands are cursed to live in the ephemeral realm between life and death because their ancestors killed four of Thunderer's children. Two days a year the Chosen One will live on the mortal plane as he is the tribe's only hope for them to escape the curse, but the crosser must perform a heroic sacrificial deed by the time he is thirty or the tribe remains locked in the shadows.

In 1892 Black Lion as the Chosen One joins Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show touring England. Backstage he meets Suzette Joselyn, the daughter of opera singers. They are attracted to one another, but fail to act on their feelings because she is engaged to another. He returns to America heartbroken but with more resolve to save his people as his quest comes before his heart. When her fiance dumps her a pregnant Suzette crosses the big pond hoping to find her loved one.

Karen Kay completes her Lost Clan saga with a delightful final entry that will elate fans of the series (see RED HAWK'S WOMAN, THE SPIRIT OF THE WOLF and THE ANGEL AND THE WARRIOR). The story line is action-packed as the couple falls in love but each has reasons to ignore what their heart is telling them. Using Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show provides uniqueness to this superb brisk Indian romantic fantasy.

Angela Knight, Lora Leigh, Alyssa Day and Virginia Kantra
9780425220351 $7.99

"Mad Dog Love" by Angela Knight. In 2450 Rance was a prisoner before he became Zarifa's slave and then her lover. Now they must work together outside the boudoir to save the Lorezostellar Empire from her vicious fiance.

"A Jaguar's Kiss" by Lora Leigh. When Natalie was chosen to teach the Breed children in Buffalo Gap, she thought this was the greatest thing that happened to her until she meets her attractive domineering jaguar-shifting bodyguard Saban.

"Shifter's Lady" by Alyssa Day. Marie of Atlantis visits her brother In Florida only to meet and fall in love with shifter Ethan.

"Sea Crossing," by Virginia Kantra. On a sea voyage to escape her lover Paul Canada, Emma's ship sinks, but Griffith rescues her and takes her to his remote island homeland where he hopes to persuade her to teach the children and much more.

These four shapeshifting romances share in common lighthearted fun entertainment with women in peril and heroic men to their rescue while the settings are radically different. Romantic fantasy fans will appreciate these fine tales.

Catch a Shadow
Patricia Potter
9780425221198 $7.99

In Atlanta as the hit and run victim is dying he pleads with emergency medic technician Kirke Palmer to deliver an envelope to someone named Mitch Edwards. Reluctantly she agrees to this death bed wish. However, she may have reconsidered her granting the final favor if she knew the trouble she lands in from a corrupt lethal former CIA operative.

In 2000 when the South American special op mission failed, Jake Kelly thought he was the sole survivor. He took the fall for the incident though he is unsure what he could have done different and spent time in jail. Now he is free only to receive a call from Del Cox, who allegedly died during that last deadly mission. He rushes to Atlanta to find Del dead and he soon meets Kirke whose letter might clarify what really happened on the day his life was ruined. He vows to keep her safe, but soon realizes the advantage of having a paramedic at his side.

Kirke is a terrific damsel in distress as she learns no good deed goes unpunished when she tries to carry out the death bed wish; she also carries the story line with her. Readers will join her and Jake as they tour Atlanta trying to stay one step ahead of their deadly enemies while seeking who inside leaked his fatal mission.

A Reason to Sin
Maureen McKade
9780425220597 $6.99

In 1868 Rebecca Colfax thought her marriage was perfect until her spouse emptied all their assets and vanished. Broke, she vows to hunt him down and confront him as she needs to know why. However she needs to eat so she accepts work as a saloon singer at the Scarlet Garter in Kansas using the stage name of Glory Bowen.

Former espionage agent Slater Forrester works as a faro dealer at the Scarlet Garter. He worries that the newcomer is out of place at the saloon and vows to keep her safe although he plans not to act on his attraction as he is unworthy of her love. Glory realizes he makes her forget she is married, but also sees he has an inner turmoil that is eating at his soul; she hopes to provide him with solace through her love for him.

The final Forrester romance (see A REASON TO LIVE and A REASON TO BELIEVE) is a superb historical romance starring two strong lead characters. The story line is fast-paced but it is Rebecca whose courage to love makes her believe she can heal Slater no matter what transgression he believes makes him unworthy. Maureen McKade is simply marvelous

French Pressed
Cleo Coyle
9780425220498 $6.99

Clare Cosi, manager of the famous Village Blend Coffeehouse, is having dinner at Manhattan's Solange French cuisine restaurant with her former mother-in-law. Her daughter Joy works as an intern in the kitchen; Clare is concerned because Joy is violating the cardinal rule of restaurant employment having an affair with the married chief chef Tommy Keitel, who is also three decades older. To keep a closer eye on her offspring, Clare cuts a coffee deal with Tommy that enables her entrance to the vaunted kitchen. Inside she sees Tommy's second in command looking like she wants to kill Joy.

Later Joy calls her mom and tells her she found her friend Vinny dead in his apartment with a knife in his back. The police interrogate Joy as they consider her a viable suspect. Later, she becomes the prime suspect in Keitel's death because earlier that night he broke their affair publicly and he was dispatching her to another restaurant to complete her internship. Clare who has solved other homicides begins an inquiry into both homicides with the help of her boyfriend Detective Mike Quinn to prove her daughter is innocent.

French cuisine, specialty caffeine, and cozy lovers will find FRENCH PRESSED a delicious tasty mystery, but do not read on an empty stomach. The whodunit is cleverly constructed so that fans will not only fail to figure out who the culprit is but begin to think Joy did it. Quirky Clare has come a long way since she went THROUGH THE GRINDER and made her first cup of coffee, but remains a strong caring independent woman. She makes this perky series so good that readers can smell the coffee.

Murder Is Binding
Lorna Barrett
9780425219584 $6.99

The town of Stoneham, New Hampshire is considered the safest place in the sate because it hasn't had a murder in sixty years. However, Stoneham is ironically also a dying town until the President of the Chamber of Commerce and owner of Kelly ERealty Bob Kelly lured several used specialty bookstore owners to open shops on Main Street.

One of the newcomers is Tricia Miles who opened her mystery bookstore. When she visits the cookbook store, Tricia finds proprietor Doris Gleason dead with a knife in her chest. The rare cookbook that Doris purchased is missing. The female sheriff has taken an instant dislike of Tricia and is determined to find enough evidence to prove she killed Doris; she looks nowhere else for motives. When the victim's twin sister arrives to take over the cookbook store, Tricia is shocked that the newcomer has no interest in who killed her sibling. Tricia begins her own inquiries to clear her name and soon finds an elderly woman committed to a nursing home due to dementia but seems quite lucid when they talk. As local businessman Mike shows he is interested in her as does the sheriff for different reasons Tricia keeps digging to uncover who killed Doris.

Stoneham seems so real that readers will regret when they recall it is fictional as it seems like a heavenly place to foliage for books. The townsfolk are friendly and helpful to Tricia and other newcomers, but in the heroine's case that somewhat changes when many assume she is the killer; their logic is impeccable as why else would the sheriff consider her a person of major (and only) person of interest. Fans of regional amateur sleuth cozies will want to visit the bookstores of Stoneham guided by Tricia as she learns first hand that MURDER IS BINDING.

Separated at Death
Sheldon Rusch
9780425219485 $24.95

On the day she became engaged to Brady, Illinois State special agent Elizabeth Hewitt is assigned to what will prove to be one of the most horrific cases of her career. She and the daughter of her mentoring Captain has is daughter Jen Spangler job shadowing her. They are sent to the house of Rita Vandermause. There they find her body in a pool of blood, but her head is nowhere around. The obvious first suspect is the victim's estranged husband Joe, but he is found dead with his head missing too.

A second couple is soon discovered dead with their heads missing. Elizabeth and Jen seek the common threads and learn the latest pair was estranged and like the first duet went to Big Shoulders Therapies for marriage counseling; the other commonality is psychiatrist Dr. Gerald Boccachio. Matters turn bizarre when pictures of the dead couples dressed up for a wedding are sent to Mundelein Dispatch owner Byron Biffle, whose father was murdered several years ago in a still unsolved case. Elizabeth has quite a list of suspects so she sends Jen to interview the person she considers least dangerous; her assessment will prove wrong.

SEPARATED AT DEATH is an exciting police procedural showcasing an experienced cop mentoring a criminology student who starts off shadowing her but eventually persuades her teacher to allow her some independent field work. Both women are believable as bright and independent role models. There is plenty of action in this complex mystery, but the heart of the tale is the strong cast because this makes for a credible and terrific investigation by the two dedicated sleuths.

Kate Noble
9780425219645 $14.00

In 1829 the Alton sisters return to London for their delayed debut season after spending several years abroad with their father Sir Geoffrey, an ambassador. The siblings see the upcoming galas differently though they agree that their new stepmother Romilla is a pompous flit. Beautiful Evangeline looks forward to the balls while way too tall and intelligent Gail fears she will be ridiculed.

Needing time by herself, Gail sneaks out for an early morning ride. However instead of serenity, Viscount Fontaine accidentally knocks her into the lake when he fails to reign in his horse. To her shock and outrage, Maximilian blames Gail for her soaking. Later she catches this arrogant rogue kissing and COMPROMISING Evangeline, whom he apparently feels will meet his father's criteria of a wife. If he doesn't marry someone his father approves of he will be or disinherited in three months. However, Max has one problem; the amusingly brilliant future sister-in-law is all he can think of making love to even when he steals a kiss with her sister.

COMPROMISED is an amusing historical romance with Romilla stealing the show from the onset as she explains to her dolt of a stepdaughter that in London people spy on their neighbors. The humorous story line is fast-paced from the early morning teas to the gossiping Ton to the final scandal of the month. Readers will appreciate this lighthearted late regency romp.

Witch Blood
Anya Bast
9780425220436 $7.99

Water Witch Isabelle Novak flirts outrageously with Dustkoff Warlock chief Stefan Faucheux until they are alone in his limo. Suddenly she grabs his balls and begins freezing the liquids inside his body as she seeks to kill him as his demon killed her half-sister Angela. Fire Witch coven Chief Thomas Monahan prevents Isabelle from finishing the act. He has Adam Tyrell and Jack McAllister take Stefan to Gribbon prison where magic does not work so that he can be interrogated. Though drawn to Thomas, Isabelle angrily vanishes disobeying her leader's insistence they talk.

The next day Isabelle explains to Thomas that since she cannot find the demon that killed her sister, she went after the man whose late father brought him here. Coven archivist Micah asks Stefan why the demon has not gone home after so many years here. He explains there are four types of demons in their world with no one wanting this type of demon to come home. Stefan also says that he must kill four witches to rape their power in order to open a portal to the demon realm. Finally he gives Micah access to his demon library in exchange for his swift death.

Isabelle and Thomas kiss and begin stripping when they are interrupted by Mira who says she heard whispered the name Simon Alexander. They keep him under surveillance, but he shows no sign of power. Simon meets an earth witch Melanie and her daughter Katie when the demon arrives, but in spite of being hurt by Isabelle, he escapes. As Thomas and Isabel work together to stop the demonic killing, they fall in love.

The sequel to the bewitching WITCH FIRE is a terrific romantic fantasy in which (pun intended) the key paranormal species Witch, Warlock, or Demon seem genuine; especially fascinating is the types of demons residing on Demon World. Fans will appreciate this strong tale although a late escape feels anti-climatic. Still the romance is strong set in the superbly developed Bast universe where the unreal feels real.

Susan Wittig Albert
9780425219560 $23.95

Recently, China Boyles learned she had an illegitimate half-brother Miles sired by her father on his secretary Laura who worked in his law firm. He never knew the man he called uncle was really his dad until his biological father died leading to Miles finding letters written to his mother. They implied he was in danger and so were Laura and Miles. Miles believes that the car accident that killed his father was in reality a murder.

China is not interested in reconnecting with her past to find out if her father was murdered but her husband McQuaid, now a private detective, is very interested for numerous reasons. When Miles thinks he located the car that his father died in, he asks McQuaid to meet him at a designated spot. When he doesn't show up, China and McQuaid learn he was killed in the garage where he parks his car for work. McQuaid is determined to carry on with the investigation and when he goes to the location of where the car is supposed to be the woman who is holding on to it looks like she is dying from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. McQuaid is sure that it was attempted murder and when he pools his information with the info on the tape Laura made that China found, they go to confront someone who might have the answers not knowing that China is in danger of getting shot.

NIGHTSHADE is one of the best books in the China Bayles series. The story is told in the first person POV from the perspectives of China and McQuaid allowing fans for the first time to understand how he thinks. They will love what they learn especially how he sees his wife and his feelings about her that he is too macho to articulate. The mystery is well thought out and the killings in the present have roots in the past. Susan Wittig Albert always delivers a fantastic mystery.

The Last Beach Bungalow
Jennie Nash
9780425219270 $14.00

The fifth anniversary of her being cancer free has arrived for April Newton; but she does not feel like celebrating the milestone. Physically she may be doing well, but mentally she is depressed. She believes her once close relationship with her husband is slowly eroding even as he constructs their "dream home".

Instead she finds contentment with a nearby Redondo Beach bungalow, whose owner Peg has put up for sale. Instead of the dream house she prefers THE LAST BEACH BUNGALOW. However, she wonders how much she will hurt her husband if she tells him how she feels.

This is a fascinating character study of a woman who has physically defeated cancer, but mentally is still fighting windmills. April is a wonderful person struggling with the dilemma of whether to tell or not to tell her spouse as that is the question she must face. If she tells him how she feels, she will hurt him as he is building their new dream house out of love for her; if she does not, she will go deeper into depression and he will know something is wrong. THE LAST BEACH BUNGALOW is a strong family drama that realistically looks deep at after the cancer is gone.

Criminal Investigation Detachment: Bamboo Battleground
Don Bendell
9780425216316 $6.99

Al Qaeda apparently has expanded its operational base with new training facilities in the Far East. Their strategic plan is to use these bases as a jumping off point to test the resolve and strengths of America and its Pacific allies. They are getting bolder with each successful terrorist attack on American interests and are considering an assault on a West Coast city that will turn Katrina and 9/11 into minor footnotes.

US Senator James Weatherford is outraged by al Qaeda's attacks. He demands the military prevent any further ones although he disguises his reason in patriotic generalities; in fact each incident costs Weatherford millions as he has made a fortune working the Pacific Rim. The Pentagon always salutes a member of Congress so the brass assigns US Army CID undercover officers Major Bobby Samuels and Captain Bo Devore to investigate. They begin to uncover two things: the planned al Qaeda terrorist attack on American soil and Weatherford's questionable and probably illegal partnership with former Communists.

The third CID thriller (see CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION DETACHMENT and CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION DETACHMENT: BROKEN BORDERS) is an action-packed tale that has the heroes dodging assassins on two continents. The story line is action-packed as their case gets increasingly complicated and making less sense with each clue they uncover requiring out of the military crypt thinking; which is why Major Bobby and Captain Bo were assigned lead. Don Bendell has written an exhilarating anti-terrorist thriller that showcases how difficult it is to prevent an attack even with dedicated intelligent people doing their best.

Riding Wild
Jaci Burton
9780425219317 $14.00

Feeling a strong need to prove herself without her daddy's contacts and influence, wealthy socialite Lily West left Texas. Private investigator Lily is hired to test the security provided to The Star of Egypt traveling exhibit by attempting to break into the In Chicago museum as a thief. To her shock, Lily catches her former lover Mac Canfield trying to steal from the exhibit.

Ten years have past since they last met, but now Mac begins to explain that he is not a cat burglar. However, before he can get very far with his explanation that he works undercover for the government, someone tries to kill both them. Mac knows why and believes he and Kitty need to flee on his motorcycle. He grabs the consignment he came to purloin and persuades Lily to hide with him for safety sake. She agrees, but ignores his desire for much more as he hurt her rather badly when they were an item over a decade ago.

This action-packed second chance erotic romantic suspense thriller will have readers RIDING WILD with the lead couple as they flee for their lives. The story line is hot and fast from the moment that the two separately break into the museum (what a reunion) and never cools down until the Harley is parked.

Three Bedrooms, One Corpse
Charlaine Harris
9780425220528 $7.99

After receiving a sizable inheritance from a library patron, Aurora "Roe" Teagarden quits her job and is helping her mother out at her real estate agency to see if that would interest her as a career. While at the bar waiting for the couple to sign the papers for a house they are buying, Roe's mother sends her to the Anderson abode to show the home to Martin Bartell, the new plant manager of Pan-Am Agra, and his sister.

When they get there she takes them into the master bedroom; where to everyone's horror Tonia Lee Green lies dead on the bed. The realtor is cut up and posed in a very lewd position. The police look at the husband because Tonia was constantly cheating on him but his alibi holds up. A second realtor Idella is found murdered in a house for sale and Roe who loves to investigate a mystery starts looking into the murders when she is not being courted by Martin. Roe and Martin fell in love at first sight even though Roe feels he is no stranger to violence and he affirms her belief when she is at the mercy of the killer.

This book was published fourteen years ago but remains a refreshing original regional cozy whose heroine won the hearts of the reader. This engaging southern cozy stands the test of time. Charlaine Harris scribes a well constructed mystery with a bit of romance to produce a memorable work.

The Mark of the Vampire Queen
Joey Hill
9780425219324 $15.00

Since Jacob Green was chosen by his predecessor Thomas to replace him when the older man knew he was dying, he has become THE VAMPIRE QUEEN'S SERVANT. Jacob tries to be at least Thomas' equal but he struggles with the way his employer and her species treat humans as expendable. He wants much more as he has fallen in love with her; Jacob is willing to give her his heart and soul to keep her safe.

Lyssa knew from the first time she met Jacob he was different than all the mortals who have served her for almost a millennium as he is an alpha man not a submissive male. He makes her feel so much better than anyone ever has before. She even thinks she may love him, but vampires can live forever with superb health while humans rarely make a century and become frail as the decades pass. Lyssa knows what Jacob wants and offers her, but she fears touching his soul will allow him top touch hers and everyone knows that vampires are soulless.

Vampire romance fans will take immense delight with this heated sequel that makes the supernatural seem natural especially in the boudoir. The story line is driven by the Lady and her servant who represent the social order in which bloodsuckers use humans as consumable supplies (food and otherwise). The lead couple's attraction grows with Jacob offering her his soul and Lyssa fearing to accept it. Fans of erotic romantic fantasy will relish THE MARK OF THE VAMPIRE QUEEN and look forward to Joey Hill's next entry in what is turning a strong saga.

Demon Night
Meljean Brooks
9780425219775 $7.99

Ethan McCabe takes his role as guardian of Cole's Hard Time Bar and Grill bartender Charlotte "Charlie" Newcomb quite seriously. So when three malevolent vampires attack her, he is outraged even as he saves her. Apparently she is not so much the target but the expendable pawn to get at her still human sister Jane, a research scientist at Legions Laboratories. Ethan believes Jane's demonic boyfriend is the culprit behind the assault. To keep her safe from the demons who want her for some unsavory reason, Ethan thinks Charlie should become a vampire.

Still although Charlie hesitates, Ethan plans to risk his long life to keep her safe for that is his job. However, deep in his soul, Ethan knows this is much more than just a job; for inside his heart he knows that keeping her safe is an eternal passion of his as he loves Charlie.

Fans of Meljean Brooks' Guardians series will appreciate the latest entry, DEMON NIGHT. Ethan is terrific in his role as protector of Charlie, whom he loves, but fears telling her as she has emotional issues caused by bad relationships and her safety comes before his heart. Although it pays to read the previous entries in the Brooks realm (see DEMON MOON and DEMON ANGEL) to better understand the complexities, this is an engaging multifaceted romantic fantasy.

Master of the Highlands
Veronica Wolff
9780425218990 $6.99

American Lily Hamlin is enjoying her time visiting Scotland as she tries to figure out what she wants in life because she always feels restless. Currently she investigates a not kept up garden maze in Lochaoer when she finds an odd stone map. She presses her hand against the map only to feel the earth shake with her last twenty-first century being the irony of dying in an earthquake away from her home town of San Francisco. However, she does not demise, instead she find herself back in 1654; as the map proves to be a time portal.

Highlander Chieftain Ewen Cameron is working with his warriors to drive the English and a rival clan off his land when he spots the bewildered Lily. She speaks weird and her clothing is stranger, but he is attracted to her and her to him. However, he has no time for a female even one he desires as his clan and his heir come before his wants.

Although microwave age Lily adapts to the mid seventeenth century with questionable ease even with love as a motivator, time travel romance fans will want to read the exciting MASTER OF THE HIGHLANDS due to the hero struggling with what his clan needs and what he desires. Lily believes she is finally found her niche in life with the young chieftain warrior, but must persuade him they belong together as he willingly sacrifices his love to keep her safe even if that means 2008 San Francisco. Veronica Wolff provides an entertaining romance starring two likable protagonists who want the best for their beloved.

Eileen Cook
9780425213964 $14.00

In Vancouver Sophie Kintock can not believe that her boyfriend of six years, anal Doug Chase, dumped her for a tall blond bimbo Melanie the melons. She decides she wants him back, but first must rid him of the model. Upset she meets kind hearted Nick McKenna at the laundry room and thinks he is cute if you like your men shorter than you. However, he helps her with her convoluted plan to regain Doug starting with her faking being a psychic since the Melons believe in readings.

Shockingly Sophie proves successful as people flock to her for her forecasting skills except the teacher-munchkin who assisted her at the start. She becomes famous working radio readings. However, Sophie begins to reassess her goal as she finds she loves being with Nick. However he has Cathie; so morosely listening to her conscience she refuses to try to break up his relationship, as she mistakenly attempted to chase Melons from her former boyfriend.

UNPREDICTABLE is an amusing often satirical contemporary romance that lampoons the psychic world. The story line is refreshed by the short hero who must gaze up into the eyes of his beloved. Part of the fun is learning about Cathie (read the novel to learn just how strong a hold Cathie has on Nick). Readers will enjoy this humorously whimsical tale of love so UNPREDICTABLE.

Blind Fall
Christopher Rice
9780743293990 $26.00

In Iraq, John Houck of the Force Recon Company learned about the suicide of his brother shortly before they were to go out on a mission. During their mission, John missed some signs and a car blew up injuring his commanding officer Mike Bowers who jumped on John saving his life but lost an eye in the process. His body will have scars from the injury and it is John's guilt that doesn't allow him to pay Mike a visit until long after Johm returns to the states.

When a gift he ordered for Mike arrives he has the excuse to finally see his savior. Entering his home, he finds Mike tied to his bed by both arms, several wounds in his chest. He finds Alex outside and learns they are lovers living together. John takes Alex to see the body, but there is no corpse and the room is clean. When they report it to the police captain Ray Duncan, he makes it plain he thinks that John is suffering from PTSD. John takes Alex to his home and when Duncan arrives saying Mike is nowhere to be found and that perhaps Alex is the killer. John notices the handprint he makes is the same as the one in Mike's room. John feels an affinity to Alex because of what he was to Mike. John teaches Alex how to defend himself but when Duncan does something that enrages Alex, John is afraid he is going to kill the cop and he takes desperate measures to stop him.

This novel packs a powerful emotional punch as it examines the psyches of two damaged individuals who don't even realize the truth about themselves. John is an interesting complex character, whose brother was gay and Alex a gay man o was afraid of the relationship that existed between Mike and John even though Mike never came out of the closet to John. This is a great work of psychological suspense but it is also a work that explores the damage people do in the name of love.

Duma Key
Stephen King
9781416552512 $28

Edgar Freemantle had proven the American dream works. As a building contractor in the Twin Cities he made millions and received plenty of acclaim. As the Freemantle Company continued to grow by the time he turned fifty, he and his beloved wife Pam were worth at least forty million. They had two children, who at the time his "Golden Age" abruptly ended, were attending Brown University or teaching in France respectively.

The end of the Golden Era began when he experienced a basic law of physics that a pickup truck has no chance against a twelve-story crane. He came out of that crash with a cracked right side of his skull, and a thrice fractured left side; his ribs were broken; his right hip was shattered; thirty per cent of his vision in his right eye was gone; and finally his right arm was lost. He was fortunate to have survived. Twenty-five years marriage ended when a constantly raging Edgar became verbally abusive towards Pam who visited everyday as he recuperated; threatening to physically hurt and kill her; she left him believing he meant it. He also suddenly displayed a talent as an artist. Needing to leave behind people, he flees to hermit territory, Duma Key, Florida where only two other trauma survivors reside. Edgar finds out his new artistic skills enables him to see and change the future life and death of others even as he investigates the tragic history of his new island home.

The angry Edgar is an incredible three dimensional character even when he begins to display paranormal skills. Readers will sense the rage inside him even as he calmly tells his tale; his double edged demeanor shows Stephen King at his best as he uses the theme of a person feeling isolated (The Stand and Carrie, etc) ready to strike out at others even loved ones. In fact Edgar is so fascinating; the well written Duma Key historical subplot feels like an intrusive segue as the audience only wants to know more about this angry isolationist.

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness
Andrew Peterson
9781400073849 $13.99

The Fangs of Dang crossed the Dark Sea of Darkness and conquered the Skree and instituted martial law. The people are cowered because the venomous Fangs are reptilian with speed faster than horses and a bite that slowly brutally kills. Children keep parents in line because if a parent misbehaves, the kids are removed taken away by a Black Carriage never to be seen again. In the town of Glipwood lives the Igiby family of Mother Nia, her father a former pirate, and her three children (sons Janner and Tink, and handicapped but spry daughter Leeli).

At the Sea Dragon Festival, Leeli's beloved dog Nugget bites Slarb a Fang; he takes the little girl away with him. However someone throws rocks at Slarb, knocking him out so that Leeli can escape. Slarb catches up to the girl and her brothers and tosses them in a holding cell waiting for the Black Carriage to come take them away. Nia gets them out by bribing Commander Gnorm with jewelry and promising to make him maggot loaf every third day. One of the gems ends up with General Khrek who sees the island symbol of Anniera on it. It is said that the Jewels of Anniera could defeat the Fangs so these snake invaders head to Glipwood to end the threat by taking the jewels even if it means burning down the village to look in the rubble.

Fans of the Chronicles of Narnia will enjoy this fine young adult fantasy that older readers will appreciate too as this tale, like C.S. Lewis' saga, can be understood on several levels. The three Igiby children have plenty of adventures, but it is Leeli who wins the hearts of the audience with her courage and optimistic outlook and everyone will want to know what next for this special family.

When Zeffie Got A Clue
Peggy Darty
9781400073337 $13.99

In Florida, eight year old Zeffie Adams brings an old worthless jewelry box into the I Saw It First junk shop because the kid needs money to pay some of her grandma's bills. Co-owner Christy Castleman (along with her Aunt Bobbie Bodine) gives Zeffie a lot more money than the box is worth.

However, to her surprise Christy finds an appraisal slip in the box's lining that she believes gives her a clue to the cold case murder of Kirby Strickland who was shot to death when jewels belonging to Annabel Strickland that were once in the box were stolen. Knowing she owes Kirby who saved her life, published mystery writer Christy ignores the admonition of her police officer boyfriend and investigates the homicide not realizing the danger she places herself in with her inquiries.

This entertaining regional cozy returns Christy and company for a second mystery (see WHEN BOBBIE SANG THE BLUES). This time the mystery writer works a cold case that is very personal to her and others. The cast is solid as Christy leisurely investigates the link between the jewel robbery and the homicide.

The Next Level
David Gregory
9781400072439 $12.99

Logan Bell quit his first job after graduating with a business degree; he hated his boss the jerk and felt out of place as a human resource specialist. He would prefer to play games, but dad the business executive keeps asking the question: have you found your next job?

He visits Universal Systems where the number two guy the Director asks him what he wants to be; he says an organizational development analyst who looks for problems. The Director hires him as the first OD in the massive organization and sends him to the first level to analyze what he sees and report back to him his findings. When the Director feels he understands that level, he will go on to study Levels 2-5 sequentially. Logan soon realizes that the employees of Level 1 never perform anything related to the goals of the company. The Director sends him to Level 2 as Logan begins to understand how Universal Systems operates and makes a profit.

This entertaining easy to read and comprehend parable actually works on two levels. First there is an obvious business application involving the staff working to achieve the company's strategic goals instead of their own agenda or their individual interpretation of the top management objectives. However, on a much deeper level, David Gregory makes a case that for people to feel their life is complete with a high sense of self actualization they must look beyond themselves to choose freely to encompass God's plan for guidance; for that is maximizing one's self on the fifth level. Although enjoyable with a fascinating concept, this reviewer doubts many readers will take to heart David Gregory's well written "parable of finding your place in life".

Battle Dragon
Edo van Belkom
Five Star
9781594146718 $25.95

The inhabitants of the village of Dervon cheered the return of the Knight Warwick; no one is happier than the woman who loves him, Lavena. When a dragon killed his friend Manfred, Warwick thirst for revenge planning to kill the dragon. After succeeding, the villagers welcome him as a hero, but Lavena is disappointed in him for killing an intelligent magnificent creature.

Tibalt the dragon discovers the corpse of his brother; he flies to Dervon where he kills the warrior and enflames much of the village. Lavena goes to the home of the wizard Asvald seeking his help. He takes the dragon to 1940 in the midst of the Battle of Britain where Tibalt realizes that humanity has flying machines so his kind no longer own air supremacy. Tibalt attacks the planes of both the allies and axis powers, but is hurt in the battle. Lavena tries to patch up his injured belly, but cannot help the dragon; she needs to find Asvald to save Tibalt's life even as the human armed combatants want to capture the dragon as they see him as a major weapon not a creature out of legend. Tibalt and Lavena, who accidentally was dragged into the future, want to go home, but to do means finding the errant wizard before the British or Germans locate them.

Readers will enjoy this historical fantasy in which a dragon soars in the middle of the Battle of Britain. Ironically the audience and Lavena know he is a fire exhaling dragon, but the WWII military on both sides believe he is a special weapon of mass destruction made by their adversary; none of the brass accepts Tibalt for what he is. The proud Tibalt loses his arrogance when he battles the fighter planes that prove how vulnerable he is. Lavena defends the dragon as she works on way to help the creature and the wizard. This action packed thriller is filled with sorcery and technology battling for supremacy.

Chasin' the Wind
Michael Haskins
Five Star
9781594146381 $25.95

At the Key West Sail Club, three men batter Tom Hunter. His pal reporter Liam "Mad Mick" Murphy finds him and just before he goes unconscious Tom whispers Gusanos, Cuban exiles. Whereas police Chief Richard Dowlry assumes the upcoming Key West Havana Boat race brought some angry Cuban exiles to the Keys from Little Havana, Mad Mick learns otherwise. A bartender overheard three Cubans bragging about roughing up someone.

Mad Mick learns they are Jose Lopez, Carlos Gonzales and Pepe Fernandez and that the Feds are protecting these hoodlums. When Tom dies, Mick and others want justice, but the American government turns its back on the law so led by Mick, the Conch Republic eccentrics seek help from Cuban police officials.

With an obvious twist on who's the good guys and who is the bad guys, CHASIN' THE WIND is an engaging crime thriller that will have readers (with the exception of those who still expect to find the WMDs) rethinking the relationship with Cuba. The story line is fast-paced as the Feds protect the killing Gusanos while the locals demand justice from their government but turn elsewhere to achieve it. Fans will ponder did Mick and crew commit treason by going to Cuba and did the Gusanos commit murder since the government "sanctioned" them and the government makes the law. Michael Haskins provides an offbeat entertaining thriller that will remind ancient boomers of Phil Ochs' Ballad of William Worthy whose refrain is "You are living in the free world, in the free world you must stay".

Promise Me Tomorrow
Linda Igmanson
Five Star
9781594146510 $25.95

In Cranberry, Connecticut, Abby McGuire goes to the police department to report vandalism and a town complaint about the sign at her ailing Aunt Lucy's deli. She is stunned to see Ash Wheeler, who left her six years ago to become a Los Angeles cop. Abby makes it clear that she wants nothing to do with him as she thought he would give her the family she craved. Although he is passing through town to open up a private investigative firm with his former LAPD partner in Florida, he came home to spend time with his family.

Ash realizes he still desires Abby and probably loves her. However he also knows she needs firm roots in Cranberry while he needs to escape the town where his father is the police chief and his brother the heir apparent. Abby still loves Ash, but has not forgiven him for turning her dream into ashes by abandoning her like her parents did. Only Aunt Lucy has been there always for her. It will take a miracle for this couple to come together for love apparently is not enough for them.

This is a warm second chance at love tale starring two likable protagonists who appear heading to failure again. Although the theme is used too frequently in romances, Aunty Lucy refreshes it especially when she relates her story of love. Fans will appreciate this fine contemporary in which compromise seems unlikely and heartbreak more probable than a Patriot win.

Island Life
Michael W. Sherer
Five Star
9781594146336 $25.95

In a Seattle suburb, Jack Holm lost his position at J Marketing Communications and has not found salaried work since; instead he has opened a marketing consulting business out of his home. His wife Mary is unhappy with this arrangement as it means she will have to accept more flight attendant assignments to supplement their income.

Mary goes shopping but fails to return home. Jack assumes she got a call for a flight and had no time to tell him. Their two children fourteen years old Kelsey and ten years old Tyler are concerned and though he hides it so is he. After a few days pass, he calls the police. Detective Ed Mankiewicz believes Mary ran off with someone else or Jack killed her. As time passes, more people begin to accept that Jack is a spouse killer until even his kids begin to wonder. Only a soccer mom thinks he is innocent. When Mary's shallow grave is found, Ed arrests him. Desperate to prove his innocence and keep his children with him, Jack investigates Mary's last days in hopes of finding clues to uncover the identity of his wife's killer.

Although Jack's logic to wait a few days before calling the cops seems off kilter and contrived to add to the belief he is guilty, readers will relish this superb crime thriller. The story line is character driven as just about everyone has convicted Jack including the cops who are not looking elsewhere. Jack is an anti hero placed in a desperate situation who responds with courage he never knew he possessed especially as he begins to unravel the motive, which links him to a dangerous person willing to kill his kids to end Jack's pursuit.

Roberta's Woods
Betty J. Cotter
Five Star
9781594146732 $25.95

In 2013, the energy crisis has become a problem of epic proportions changing lifestyles across the country. University of Maryland downsizes its staff; thus Professor Roberta Wilcox loses her teaching position there. With no place else to go she takes the train to her hometown of Coward's Hole, Rhode Island for the first time in eight years. Her father Alton fails to meet her at the station because he cannot afford to use up his gas allotment. Instead she pays the nosy mail person to drop her off at her family home.

Her octogenarian grandma May welcomes her home while her father remains distant and her half-sister Paula overtly hostile. Meanwhile Senator Fred Maine takes charge of the state's energy supply as the official Rationing Agent; forcing Alton to overwork his employees, himself and his lumber mill to cut wood before he is shut down due to the lack of fuel. Relocation Agent Anthony Piccirelli tries to persuade these "Swamp Yankees" to sell their land to the government and move into energy clusters. Roberta struggles to comprehend the dynamics including doubts that Maine is playing fair while she also has two men interested in her; former boyfriend Steve Reynolds and back to nature independent Lucas Whitford.

This terrific look at the near future Bush domestic legacy is a wonderful suspense thriller that describes a future with immense energy shortfalls forcing difficult decisions to be made by individuals and government. Although Roberta is the star who holds the futuristic tale together, the support cast with their varying reactions to the crisis and how to "fix" it make Betty J. Cotter's bleak vision seem genuine.

In the Key of Death
Robert S. Levinson
Five Star
9781594146473 $25.95

Although he has tried for several years to find proof to substantiate his belief that Golden Age Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Clyde "Mr. Magic" Davenport killed his beloved wife, noted singer Katie Sunshine, former LAPD Detective Josh Wainwright has failed. Keshawna Keyes, his private investigator partner at International Celebrity Services, has tried to get him to move on, but Josh remains fixated and frustrated.

Josh's quest gets new life when former star Billy the Kid Palmer commits suicide after a visit from Mr. Magic who magnanimously provides a college trust fund for the son of his deceased former singer. That incident is followed by the murder of Mr. Magic's girlfriend Ava Gardner at the music mogul's Magic Land estate. The police believe Mr. Magic killed her, but he insists he did not. He hires Josh to protect him and to prove his innocence as he knows the obsessed widower will do anything to affirm his guilt. Now Josh is inside, but as he begins to unravel the truth behind Katie's murder, other former performers of Mr. Magic die.

Although the premise that a music mogul seeks revenge against the acts he turned into stars who dumped him seems a stretch; readers will enjoy this private investigative thriller with an excellent late twist. The story line is fast-paced while the adversaries seem real as both are fixated on their respective quest. The scene in which Mr. Magic chats about the future with Billy the Kid is chilling and sets the tone for an entertaining thriller.

Dunston Falls
Al Lamanda
Five Star
9781594145865 $25.95

In 1959 the ice storm of the century cripples New England and isolates communities like Dunston Falls, Maine. Electricity is limited, and food supplies and heating are dwindling. Fifty-three years old Sheriff David Peck understands the crisis and with his deputy Jay Bender and the mayor Ed Kranston begins to bring people to the only safe spots left: the church and hospital. Diner owner Deb Robertson provides food.

Peck and Bender search for stranded residents. When they reach Doris White's home, they find her dead; she was raped, knifed, and strangled. Peck quietly investigates the homicide, but heeding the advice of top officials to avoid a panic tells no one. However, he begins suffering severe headaches for no apparent reason and keeps envisioning a fatal fire that looks so vivid, but has no recall of such. The murder of Deb follows; since he just made love to her and was very attracted to her, a shook up Peck vows to find the killer.

This exhilarating police procedural thriller takes a wild twist into science fiction territory that works very well although surviving the storm and a serial killer is an exciting story line in of itself. Readers will receive two shocks; first the spin from mystery-suspense to sci fi, which explains the headaches; and then the identity of the killer and why. Even as fans will enjoy this entertaining tale, the audience will also wonder if the spin was needed as the survival saga was a powerful hook.

Manxome Foe
John Ringo and Travis S. Taylor
9781416555216 $25.00

Due to the heroics of the crew of the Alliance Space Ship the A.S.S. VORPAL BLADE, the humans defeated the alien Dreen (see VORPAL BLADE) who came through a portal which a University of Central Florida scientist exploded open (see INTO THE LOOKING GLASS). The cost to the victors was immense as many became combatants were injured. Thus the crew of the A.S.S. VORPAL BLADE is given needed R&R. However, the expendable Force Recon Marines that make up most of the squad are unhappy but understand their lot in life especially as the only starship in the fleet when their respite is cut short due to an emergency message at a Gateway. Could the vile Dreen somehow have regrouped and retaliated eradicating everyone at HD 36951?

The mission is to affirm that the Dreen is back and to defeat them or whatever enemy has massacred the gateway colonists and to rescue any survivors though the probability is that there are none. Led by Command Master Chief Robert Miller, the A.S.S Vorpal Blade flies to confront a new Dreen resurgence or an even greater MANXOME FOE.

The third quantum physics meets alien species meets military science fiction inside of a universe that Lewis Carroll would appreciate is an entertaining tale that in many ways is too similar to VORPAL BLADE. The story line is faster than the speed of light as the manure eaters are sent off to war once again to encounter a new alien ally that desperately needs their help while the brass stays behind enjoying the fruits of the crew's previous victory. Fans will enjoy this exciting outer space soap opera, but it lacks the chaotic creativity of the two previous adventures.

A Cold Dark Place
Gregg Olsen
9780786018307 $6.99

In Cherrystone, Washington, the tornado touched down on the Marin home. Former Seattle homicide detective Emily Kenyon goes to see if her neighbors are okay; besides the storm devastation that razed the house, she finds three brutally murdered corpses. It is who she does not see that concerns her; the fourth member of the Martin family, Nick is missing.

As Emily wonders whether he could be a vicious mass killer, she learns her teenage daughter Jenna has run away with Nick; apparently Jenna plans to help him prove his innocence. Worried for her daughter's safety from either Nick as a stone cold killer or an unknown predator, Emily hopes to find them before someone else is hurt. However, she remains clueless that the homicides tie back to two decades of killings and the tragic case that led to her leaving SPD.

A COLD DARK PLACE is an exciting action-packed investigative thriller that is much more complicated than the simplified description above. Emily keeps the tale focused as she goes from one horror to another starting with the tornado, the three homicides, the missing son, and culminating with her daughter running off with potentially the killer. Fans will enjoy Greg Olsen's fabulous whodunit as he escorts the audience back and forth between the present and twenty years ago in a strong mystery.

Blue-Eyed Devil
Lisa Kleypas
St. Martin's
9780312351649 $19.95

The daughter of a Houston energy tycoon, Haven Travis was born with a golden spoon. Hardy Cates is her opposite having grownup in East Texas poverty. They meet and sparks fly, but she is engaged to marry Nick Tanner, who her dad believes is not good enough for his beloved daughter in spite of his affluent background.

When Haven elopes with Nick her father cuts her off without a cent. An angry Nick blames Haven and batters her. She flees for the safety of her home where she finds her father and Hardy squabbling over a business deal. Hardy offers her comfort as they fall in love, but she fears commitment following the beatings Nick gave her and the estrangement with her family especially her father.

The key to this entertaining strong contemporary romance is the lead female character who has issues with her family, her abusive spouse and herself that show up at her job and even in bed. Readers who appreciate reality in their romances will want to read this insightful look at the aftermath impact of abuse long after the physical wounds have healed; love and passion do not necessarily heal the mental trauma even with the nurturing passionate care of a loving person.

Killer Year
Lee Child (editor)
St. Martin's
9780312374709 $24.95

This interesting anthology predominantly showcases new authors whose first crime-thriller tale was published in 2007. There are also two well written essays; "The Class of Co-opetition" by MJ Rose explains the state of the publishing industry was in trouble even before the recent economic crunch so much so that grandmasters like Lee Child agreed to mentor talented wannabes; Laura Lippman adds a historical "Coda" to the compilation and what led to it. The entries are for most part strong with no clinkers and prove a delightful way to meet some of the rising stars in the crime-thriller genres. The contributions run the gamut of the two genres with the emphasis on crime. The well written tales include a messenger from Rutgers (see "Righteous Son" by Dave White) to the wheelchair philosopher who understands that one is the difference between a burden of love and a bond of love (see "Gravity of Need" by Matthew Sakey) to Jason Pinter's on the mark "The Point Guard" to the knife wielding female in "Runaway" by Derek Nikitas. Although M.J. Rose paints a gloomy pessimistic state for the industry, she is on target with her optimism that talent abounds as affirmed by this anthology in which surely someone sliced off the top of the glass so that it is no longer half but filled to the brim.

Hidden in Havana
Jose LaTour
St. Martin's
9780312375676 $23.95

Two Canadian tourists Sean Abercorn and his wife Marina Leucci jog the streets of Havana when they realize they did not bring enough water with them. To avoid dehydration, they ring the bell of an apartment occupied by siblings Pablo and Elena Miranda. Elena, a special education teacher, lets them in so they can cool off and gives them water.

Pablo is upset with his sister for allowing the strangers into their home as he suspects they cannot be trusted; he ponders what their real intent is. Soon after their encounter, someone murders Pablo. The Department of Technical Investigations Captain Felix Trujillo leads the official inquiry. Although connections between the victim and an illegal but money-making pornography scam surfaces, Trujillo thinks the link is to Pablo's imprisoned father, who was a key figure in the overthrow of Batista back in the late of 1950s. What he remains ignorant of is the New York Viet Nam links.

Although the focus is mostly on the two tourists rather than on the more typical honest cop working a case within the bounds of a corrupt broken system, readers will appreciate HIDDEN IN HAVANA as the Cuban capital comes alive through the eyes of the outsiders. The story line is fast-paced even with ties back to the pre-Castro era. Fans of international crime capers with somewhat of a foreign police procedural to anchor it will relish Trujillo's case while wanting him to return for more Cuban investigations.

Cheating at Solitaire
Jane Haddam
St. Martin's
9780312343088 $24.95

In Philadelphia Gregor Demarkian and Bennis Hannaford are planning to marry after seeing each other exclusively for quite some time. However, the wedding preparation demands are driving the sleuth crazy. He considers eloping, but his beloved Bennis is looking forward to the ceremony celebrated with their family and friends.

Thus when he has an opportunity to escape to New England to work on a high visibility homicide, he does not need a second invitation; Gregor informs Bennis that whatever she does re the nuptials in his absence is acceptable by him as he leaves town immediately for Margaret's Harbor. Famous celebrity Arrow Normand and her boyfriend of the moment Mark Anderman were filming on location when she was murdered during a nasty nor'easter. Normand was arrested for the murder.

CHEATING AT SOLITAIRE is a terrific whodunit as the hero struggles with a case involving pseudo and 15 minute celebrities; a sub-species he does not understand. Gregor's difficulties with what makes the shallow in-crowd tick turn this into a superior entry in a strong series, as he cannot find a reliable motive for the homicide while also working a couple of other investigations.

Tell Me, Pretty Maiden
Rhys Bowen
St. Martin's
9780312349431 $23.95

In 1902 in snowy Central Park Molly Murphy and her sweetheart suspended New York City police Captain Daniel Sullivan (see OH DANNY BOY) are walking together enjoying the moment. However their idyllic stroll abruptly ends when they see a scantily clad woman half buried in a snow drift. They rescue the near dead but obviously traumatized young lady.

Molly is outraged that someone could do this to another human. She vows to learn the identity of the still in shock woman and uncover who coldly left her to die. At about the same time, actress Blanche Lovejoy hires Molly to investigate the spiritual mischief that is devastating her production of a play scheduled to open shortly but is in trouble due to the ghostly vandalism. Although her time is already tight, Molly agrees to make inquiries into the vanished nephew of a wealthy client, who wants to know if her relative disappeared to avoid a homicide prosecution or is the victim of foul play.

Molly's business is booming so she hires an assistant, an out of work cop who is dating her. Fascinatingly, the cases tie together in the theater leading to Molly going on stage to solve the mysteries. Readers will appreciate the latest entry of the unsinkable Molly Murphy as she continues to prove that she can make it in Manhattan.

Ken Bruen
St. Martin's
9780312341428 $23.95

In Galway detective Jack Taylor feels his past has caught up with him as the years of boozing has wracked his body. A loner due to his alcoholism, he is emotionally shattered when his apprentice Cody was shot when Jack was the intended victim. Jack decides it is time to cross the pond and start anew in America.

While Cody remains in the hospital, Jack's solo friend lesbian Gardai Ridge persuades him to help her on a monstrous series of murders. The first victim was crucified alive followed by the burning at the stake of his sister. Jack's investigation leads him to a grieving twenty year old woman screaming for fire and brimstone against those involved in a hit and run that killed her bible thumping mother.

The Jack Taylor Irish thrillers are some of the most exciting tales on the market, but CROSS may be the best yet as Ken Bruen plays brilliant word games with connotations, denotations, and implications of the title word. The story line is filled with action yet enables the reader to know Jack who personally understands crippling grief as he believes suffering is as Irish as stew.

At the City's Edge
Marcus Sakey
St. Martin's
9780312360320 $24.95

In Chicago former Iraq War veteran Jason Palmer still struggles with the return to civilian life as his military experience haunts him. On the other hand his older brother Michael seems to have it together as he runs a bar on the South Side and raises his eight years old son, Billy. However, a phone cal informs Michael he has an "obligation" he must meet forcing him to leave his Billy by himself.

Soon afterward Michael is found dead and the unknown gang adversary threatens Billy. A "trained killer" when he served, Jason protects his nephew while trying to root out the enemy who has made their Chicago neighborhood into a corrupt battle zone with Michael being another statistical casualty.

Marcus Sakey's second Chicago based crime thriller (see THE BLADE ITSELF) is an exciting action-packed tale starring a protagonist who feels ready to fight back against gangs, businessmen and politicians, but not confident he can take care of Billy. Jason is a fascinating character whose time in Baghdad is countered by his time in Chicago; the strong correlation re crime between the two cities is frightening. Readers will appreciate this deep character driven urban crime thriller.

A Prisoner of Birth
Jeffrey Archer
St. Martin's
9780312379292 $24.95

Danny Cartwright proposes to his beloved Beth Wilson who accepts. The pair and her brother Bernie, who is also his best friend, celebrate. Four drunks (Spencer Craig, Lawrence Davenport, Gerald Payne, and Toby Mortimer), who call themselves the Musketeers insult the trio. A fight occurs and one of the quartet stabs Bernie killing him. The four Musketeers swear they witnessed Danny kill the man though he claims otherwise. Since they are elite Cambridge University graduates and successful professionals who speak and dress like aristocratic gentlemen while he is an illiterate slum scum, he is charged with the homicide as "clothing" makes the man. His attorney the best one he can obtain with little money is slaughtered by the prosecutor. Danny is convicted to serve twenty-two years at maximum-security Belmarsh Prison.

In prison Danny shares a cell with Nicholas Moncrieff, who teaches him to read Dumas. When someone kills Moncrieff, Danny pretends to be Nicholas and escapes his incarceration. His goals are to destroy the Musketeers and prove his innocence.

The fun in this crime thriller is finding the numerous references to The Count of Monte Cristo as Jeffrey Archer pays homage to Alexander Dumas. The story line is fast-paced from the moment of the first confrontation and never slows down as Danny works his revenge. Although the key players including the hero are never fully developed beyond their link to the original novel, readers will enjoy this entertaining modernization of the Dumas classic.

The Chocolate Lovers' Club
Carole Matthews
St. Martin's
9780312376666 $23.95

Lucy Lombard is addicted to one thing, chocolate. Her craving can come in any shape or form as long as it is chocolate. Headaches vanish with one bite. Problems at work instantly vanish with one bite of gooey chocolate. Heartaches do not exist except if she has no chocolate nearby, but so far that has not happened as she is always prepared.

She and three other chocoholic fanatics (Autumn, Nadia and Chantal) formed THE CHOCOLATE LOVERS' CLUB. The quartet meets at Chocolate Heaven to discuss issues that disturb anyone of them where they can toast one another with a bar. It is not the talking and listening that provides this group solace; instead it is the chocolate. Cheating boyfriend, womanizing bosses, an addicted gambling spouse and a failed marriage mean nothing once the foursome take their first nip of eternal sweetness.

THE CHOCOLATE LOVERS' CLUB is an amusing chick lit tale starring four females who believe Willy Wonka's chocolate factory is sweet heaven as they use chocolate as their panacea for anything negative. Besides needing monthly blood tests for diabetes as the anti Atkins Diet, the story line is a lighthearted look at friendship with chocolate being a shallow link that brings this quartet together. Although the friends seem one dimensional, the audience will enjoy this sweet tale that sees the world through chocolate colored glasses.

Four Wives
Wendy Walker
St. Martin's
9780312367718 $23.95

In suburbia the four married women meet while working on a public health benefit. Each has relationship issues involving their respective families. Housewife Janie Kirk is cheating on her spouse; lawyer Marie Passeti struggles with her work, her family and a hot intern she desires; affluent Gayle Beck uses prescription drugs to cope with her abusive husband; and a doctor's spouse and mother Love Welsh receives a letter from her estranged father that shakes her current existence.

As the women become better acquainted with one another; they become aware of each other's personal issues that send the quartet individually to relook their own problems with a wiser perspective. Especially hitting home to the remaining trio is Love's agony over whether she wants to have a second chance with her father; as his note of reconciliation brings back a past she prefers to forget.

This look at life in suburbia is an interesting tale that rotates viewpoints between the FOUR WIVES so that the audience gets to understand what specifically disturbs each of them beyond the obvious stereotyping of the women and their husbands. As each of them learn more about the other three, they also comprehend more about themselves. However, the ending does not fit the tone of the well-written story line that throughout Wendy Walker elucidates how complex relationships truly are implying resolutions are filled with opportunity costs not necessarily happy ones.

PC. Cast & Kristen Cast
St. Martin's
9780312360306 $8.95

When she was Marked by the goddess Nyx, teenager Zoey Redbird is taken to the House of Night School where she will eventually change into a vampyre or die. Her roommate Stevie Rae died in her arms but Zoe soon learned that she became one of the undead. Zoe is the most powerful fledglings in vampyre history, able to call and master all five elements. She is trying to find a way to restore Stevie's soul and humanity but the high priestess in training can't tell her closest friends because their minds can be read by the perpetrator of this abomination.

Tensions rise when the fundamentalist group People of Faith beheads one of the vampyre teachers and nail her body to a wooden cross. The vampyre High Priestess calls in the Sons of Erebus, vampyre warriors, to guard the school. The only person who can help her get out is Aphrodite who knows what is going on with Zoey because she is the only other fledgling whose mind can't be read. Trying to make up for her sins to the goddess, she helps Zoey and Stevie but the peace that has existed between humans and vampires is shaky and almost any action taken against a vampire will destroy it; Zoey will be in the middle of the two warring factions.

This is the third House of Night novel and it as just as compelling and spell binding as MARKED and BETRAYED. The heroine, a young teen, acts very mature for her age risking her friends' anger if they find out what she is keeping from them in order to protect them. Her nemesis Aphrodite is a bit softer than in previous tales because she knows her actions went against the will of Nyx. In the Cast mythos humans don't die to become vampires and humans know about their existence and for the most part accept them.

The Timer Game
Susan Arnout Smith
St. Martin's
9780312368333 $24.95

Though she refuses to tell anyone what happened in Guatemala, whatever did motivated Grace Descanso to quit as a pediatric cardiologist. She turned to alcohol as a means of forgetting, but got her act together to raise her infant daughter Katie, who is about to turn five years old. Single mom Grace lives in San Diego where she works as a crime scene technician.

At a murder scene, an attacker kills her colleagues, calls her names, and reminds her that Spikeman is coming for her. When he comes at her with a knife, she grabs the gun of dying rookie police officer Chip Page and kills the assailant. Soon afterward someone kidnaps Katie; the frantic mom assumes Spikeman is taunting her with enigmatic clues that take her to the Center for BioChimera biomedical research institution and hospital. Desperate she also asks her former lover reporter Mac McGuire to help her save her Katie.

This is an exciting suspense thriller that readers who enjoy solving clues will appreciate the mad dash to uncover the medical tie between San Diego and Guatemala and who is Spikeman; some armchair sleuths will figure that out as the link is obviously Grace. Fans will enjoy following the harassed Grace and Mac as they play in Spikeman's twenty-four hour treasure hunt with the prize if they succeed in winning the contest being a still alive Katie.

A. J. Kiesling
9780800731403 $12.99

A frantic and worried Rainey calls his sister-in-law Claire telling her that her sister his wife Becca is gone. A week later when Becca remains missing, a stunned Claire drives twelve hours from Florida to Raleigh, North Carolina to hunt for her "SKIZZER", her childhood name for her sibling, as she knows Becca's favorite haunts probably better than anyone.

Her first stop before seeing her family is the old abandoned Radcliff Place where Skizzer left Claire a note saying not to search for her that she is okay, but something terrible and wonderful happened. Unable to sit idly by as the note just impresses on Claire a sense of urgency; she continues to track their roots hoping to uncover the terrible and wonderful clue that sent Skizzer on an apparent quest

This an interesting thriller in which the audience along with the heroine and the husband wonder what drove Skizzer to leave. As Claire finds letters and other clues that lead to England, she begins to unravel the mystery. Though the reason that Becca became a drama queen fails to match the suspenseful family mystery that digs into what sisters mean to one another, A.J. Kiesling provides an appealing one sitting read.

Charley's Web
Joy Fielding
9780743296014 $26.95

Charley Webb has a column in the Palm Beach Post; she has two beautiful children sired by men she never intended on marrying. Her mother abandoned the family when she was eight years old leaving her to be raised by an angry acrimonious and emotionally abusive father. Since her mother came back into her life, her father refuses to speak to her ; her two sisters barely acknowledge her and her brother Brian is destroying himself with alcohol and drugs.

When she gets a letter from Jill Rohmer, who is on death row for kidnapping, torturing and killing three children, Charley arranges for her lawyer to arrange a meeting. He tries to discourage Charley, but she wants to meet the killer. After meeting Jill, Charley wants to write the woman's biography; over the next month she spends time with Jill at the prison and on the phone. The only information that Jill refuses to reveal to Charley is the name of her accomplice whom she calls "Jack". While she works with Jill, she receives a series of emails threatening her and her children. She turns to Alex whom she has become romantically involved with for help, but someone is watching her family waiting for the right moment to strike.

Charley has few friends because she has closed herself off emotionally to avoid hurt; she uses people as fodder for her column and knows there are may people angry at her, which leaves readers to wonder who threatens her kids to get at her. Joy Fielding is fabulous at writing psychological suspense with her latest being a strong affirmation of her skills. Although the threat to her children adds tension, the key to this powerful character driven thriller is Charley whose relational web is made up of people who loathe her before the Rohmer book; her writing the biography of a children's' killer adds more people who believe she is a despicable a-hole.

The Cure for Modern Life
Lisa Tucker
9780743492799 $24.95

In Philadelphia they were young and in love with plans. Now they have become enemy combatants. Amelia Johannsen has devoted her life to helping the poor; while business executive Matthew Connelly has devoted his life to making money.

On a freezing night, Matthew walks to his loft across a bridge only to be accosted by a desperate ten year old child. Danny "the knight" as he calls himself that night pleads with Matthew to help his three years old sister Isabelle as both are homeless. Matthew wants to rid himself of the pest, but Danny refuses because he knows what will happen to his sibling. One thing leads to another with Danny involving Matthew who involves Amelia who involves their old college friend Ben.

This is a terrific character driven morality tale in which Lisa Tucker makes the case that it takes people caring about the welfare of others to make an ethical society. Danny is a fascinating character as he uses several names depending on who he hits upon and classifies his marks; for instance he assumes on first impression that Matthew is a selfish Republican SOB. Amelia is the bleeding heart liberal while Matthew is the cold hearted conservative and Ben is the pragmatic middle that the two extreme sides assume lacks passion. THE CURE FOR MODERN LIFE is truly to care and help other people.

Change of Heart
Jodi Picoult
9780743496742 $26.95

Her spouse drove the vehicle with his wife June and their daughter Elizabeth inside when they were blindsided by a drunken driver; her husband died in the crash. Kurt Nealson, the police officer who pulled the two females out of the wreckage, became a frequent visitor of the widow and her offspring and eventually he and June married. Seven moths pregnant June hires carpenter Shay Bourne to make some needed home repairs. He kills her second husband and Elizabeth. At his trial, he is convicted and sentenced to state execution, but never explains why he committed the homicides.

Eleven years later Shay is on death row about to die as his appeals have run out. June's daughter Claire needs a heart transplant and Shay offers his as their hearts are compatible. On the day he arrives in Concord in the 1-tier Secure Housing Unit strange things happen to those around him. He brings a bird back to life and a man with AIDS is miraculously healed while a piece of bubblegum turns out to be enough for every inmate.

His lawyer, who opposes the death penalty, works overtime to get Shay's conviction changed so that they can use his heart. Crowds gather outside the prison wondering outside if the Messiah has returned and if so why inside a murderer.

Every book that Jodi Picoult writes seems to reach her audience on a primal level. There are things readers do not know about the homicides especially why Shay committed them or if he is a healer or a con artist. Readers want to believe he is the Messiah because there is something compelling about him in which those who know him insist he is not evil. The author evokes strong emotions and opinions from her fans as much as those displayed by Shay's lawyer, June and Claire.

One Breath at a Time
Gwen Masters
Black Lace
9780352341631 $7.99

Though six months and several hundred miles separate Kelley from the big hurt of Michael, whose bondage memories of someone else destroyed their relationship; Kelley was unable to fulfill the fantasy shoes of the previous woman tied to his work bench. Now she remains wary of allowing any male into her life.

When she goes to check on her friend Ronnie's mansion and feed the dogs as a favor, she notices the outside door is unlocked and that the "Jungle Room" basement was open; something Ronnie would never allow. Instead of fleeing she enters only to find a man with a gun asking why she is here; he also notices she never even flinched. Tom and Kelly talk as he goes from pointing a gun at her to pointing his anatomical gun at her. They begin to make love as if there is no tomorrow. He takes her to places that Michael only dreamed of with Kelley. As they fall in love their ardent relationship forges around domination and submissiveness, but will that be enough to tie them together permanently.

This is an engaging erotic romance starring two fascinating protagonists as what Kelley rejected with Michael feels right with Tom starting with the work bench. Although the late introduction of Tom's buddy Jake, who widens the sexual encounters into a menage a trois and voyeurism, seems unnecessary sperm count padding; ONE BREATH AT A TIME will please sub-genre fans.

Mathilde Madden, Madelynne Ellis & Anne Tourney
Black Lace
9780352341648 $7.99

"The Silver Chains" by Mathilde Madden. Alfie desperately needs sex, but when he tries to make it with a woman he changes into a wolf. At Wonderland, his pack member Misty introduces him to Caroline. After he changes in front of her, she tells him her sister the witch predicted an unstable werewolf would visit her and gave her notes to give him. He, Misty, and his other pack member Leon head to Brazil to find the legendary Silver Chains that will enable him to have sex as a human. They are captured by an Amazon tribe whose queen binds Alfie to her.

"Broken Angel" by Madelynne Ellis. Both the Youkai demons and the Talon hunters want Blaze Makaresh after he steals an ancient manuscript. The Talon catches him after a Youkai poisons him. Asha the Talon saves his life by sucking out the poison. Soon they make love, but the Youkai still want him, which confuses the Talon as Blaze is just a nobody; shockingly Talon himself demands to meet this Blaze.

"Falling Dancer" by Anne Tourney. Lia the dancer fell from a height that should have left her battered body dead. Instead she walked away without a scratch. Her boyfriend Brendan the musician worries about her and is sent to Kelda the bartender for assistance. Kelda knows that a Fallen One switched places with Lia who is now in the cold void on nothingness. Now with two males wanting her, Brendan and the doctor who was with Lia in ER, Kelda reluctantly plans to exorcise the Fallen One out of Lia's body using a sexual encounter.

These are three heated paranormal erotic tales in which the sex is not just interwoven into each plot, but enhances these strong fantasies. The lead and secondary cast are solid in each thriller and the storyline entertaining. Fans will want to follow the further adventures of each of the heroes as these are eroticas at their best.

Lured by Lust
Tania Picard
Black Lace
9780352341761 $7.99

Clara Fox knows she needs to set up the art gallery, but is distracted by the bouquet of flowers sent by her former lover Paul who wants a second chance. Clara misses the sex, but does not miss him as he was way too controlling out of bed. Besides being unhappy to hear from appalling Paul, she is peeved at her boss gallery owner Mr. Xavier, who remained in his office while she hung up the heavy paintings.

Her emails are the usual except for one titled Ms. X sent by a Mr. X. He seems to know her libido's desires and needs, and her current state of ennui. She replies and soon they exchange sexually explicit emails. Clara is curious who he is and how this "Peeping Tom" knows her so intimately unless he is Paul. Bold, brassy, and brazen, she enters his sexual realm of kinkiness doing sexcapades like nothing she ever did before. Whereas Paul continues his assault on a second him on top chance, he seems pale next to her trysts with the mysterious Mr. X and his companions as Clara is not bored anymore.

The sex is in your face and about everywhere else in this ultra heated contemporary erotic romance that starts off with a heated email that burns a few thousand pixels and never takes a moment for the libido to catch his or her breath. Mr. X must be in the Guinness Book of Records for sustained up-man-ship yet defies the laws of male anatomy by having blood in both of he heads at the same time. Part of the fun is following Clara's efforts to uncover who Mr. X is, but LURED BY LUST is just what the title says as explicit sex is the name of the game.

To Catch A Highlander
Karen Hawkins
9781416525059 $7.50

Sophia MacFarlane understands the roguish Lord Dougal MacLean owns what was her former home until her wastrel father "Red" lost it gambling to earn money for a new roof rather than sell his late wife's diamonds. Sophia obstinately is determined to get it back, but she has no concrete plan. She vaguely figures she must use her feminine wiles to con the upstart out of her home that in her mind he temporarily albeit legally possesses.

However Dougal is not going to allow some pretty lass to outsmart him; instead he raises the stakes of her challenge. Sophia knows she is down to her last gambit, her virginity in a winner take all card game; her plan is to risk a bluff if needed; his strategy is to call her bluff. The first kiss stuns the two players; the second leaves both in shock; because they begin to realize a house is not home without love.

TO CATCH A HIGHLANDER is an incredibly humorous historical romance as Sophia and Dougal try to out-con, out-lie and out-cheat one another. The story line is fast-paced as the stakes keep getting raised by the two players as nothing is sacred in their misadventures except their growing love for one another. After reading this wonderful battle of the sexes' tale, fans will revise how they look at games of chance as sometimes a win-win is possible.

A Stranger's Game
Joan Johnston
9780743454384 $25.00

Ten years ago Merle Raye Finkel was convicted of killing her abusive father Austin police detective Big Mike; something she dreamed of doing many times when he assaulted her or her stepmother or flushed her live turtle down the toilet to punish her, but she never did. When she was freed from an Austin youth facility, she changed her name to Grace Caldwell and began a quest to uncover the identity of the true killer.

Her clues begin to point towards FBI Assistant Special Agent Vincent Harkness, whose current assignment is security for the president's visit to the University of Texas at Austin. Grace meets FBI Supervisory Special Agent Breed Grayhawk, who she hopes will provide her insider info about his superior. As they fall in love, he hides her when he realizes the Feds are gunning for her; especially when he knows she is innocent yet accused of planning to assassinate the president.

This is an interesting Bitter Creek FBI romantic suspense starring an intrepid heroine and the gutsy hero who risks his career and his freedom for the woman he loves and believes in even when the evidence condemns her. The storyline is action-packed and filled with entertaining twists. Although a spin involving a Texas Ranger is more a set up for the next tale and feels out of place in A STRANGER'S GAME, series fans will appreciate this dynamic entry.

The English American
Alison Larkin
Simon & Schuster
9781416551591 $24.00

Twenty-eight years old Pippa Dunn is English to her bone marrow; she believes DNA would affirm that it is in her gene pool to make a proper cup of tea. So why does she feel like an outsider in the West London home of her adoptive parents, who she loves. She cherishes her sister too, but they are night and day.

However, Pippa discovers that her biological parents do not have Earl Grey running through her arteries; instead her mom is an artsy Georgia peach and her father is a politically astute DC business man. Pippa needs to meet Billie and Walt, whom she fascinates as people who will understand her unlike her adoptive prim and proper English family. When she meets them and gets to know them a bit, Pippa is disappointed as the reality fails to live up to her fantasy.

THE ENGLISH AMERICAN is a terrific insightful "biographical fictionalized account of the author's one-woman show. The story line is superb when it focuses on Pippa's inner thoughts on identity and belonging as the nature vs. nurture argument is debated inside her head. When the plot turns to a second chance romance between Pippa and Nick, that failed seven years ago because she was not ready; it loses some of its discernment because it diverts from the prime theme and besides his hyperbolic drama queen performance seems inane. Still Pippa makes for an insightful character who provides a strong focus between the DNA and the loving home.

The Eye of Jade
Diane Wei Liang
Simon & Schuster
9781416549550 $24.00

After quitting her position with the Ministry of Public Security, Mei Wang opens up a private investigative firm in Beijing. Her widowed mom and her sister are upset because they know Mei's business is illegal and they live with the memory of the family's patriarch taken away by Mao's enforcers; her female relatives live within the "rules" of Communist society.

Long time family friend "Uncle" Chen Jitian hires Mei to find a valuable Han Dynasty jade seal once thought to have been destroyed along with other museum artifacts by the excesses of the Red Guard. Mei and her male assistant Gupin follow clues that take them to a dangerous part of the city where black market dealings are the norm. As the fuzzy picture begins to turn increasingly lucid, Mei realizes more than she would like as her family has secrets that tie back to the jade seal.

This is a terrific Chinese private investigator tale starring an independent feisty heroine who bucks the political climate, societal norms, and her family. The story line is fast-paced while providing a fascinating insight into schizoid modern day Beijing. The inquiry into the missing seal is well done and entertaining, but it is the look at China that makes THE EYE OF JADE compelling.

Earthly Pleasures
Karen Neches
Simon & Schuster
9780743292481 $14.00

Skye Sebring works in Heaven's Hospitality Department where she is a Greeter welcoming newcomers. However though she performs her work with enthusiasm, her favorite pastoral pastime is watching the reality TV channel Earthly Pleasures.

However everything changes for couch potato Skye when she greets former playboy Ryan "Bad Boy" Blaine. However he was brought to Heaven prematurely as he survives his near death experience; he returns to earth with little recall of his short visit except for remembering Skye. She feels the same way as if they were connected once before so she follows him back to earth. Meanwhile his wife Susan plans a giant wedding bash to overcome her shame of their sudden nuptials. As the heavenly triangle begins to unravel, Skye searches for her link to Ryan who investigates Susan odd behavior while she arranges the wedding of the year.

This is an entertaining offbeat whimsical tale of love that readers who enjoy something different will appreciate. The story line is fast-paced as the three protagonists untangle their tangled relationships that affirm love can move heaven and earth. Karen Neches provides a delightful debut that will have her fans clamoring for more.

Curse of the Spellmans
Lisa Lutz
Simon & Schuster
9781416532415 $25.00

In San Francisco, no longer in love with a Bush worshipping dentist to the euphoria of her mom (see THE SPELLMAN FILES), Isabel Spellman continues to work at her family's investigative business, Spellman Investigations, as she has since she was twelve. However, to her mom's shock, Isabel is now engaged; make that "engaged" to SFPD Inspector Henry Stone, who was run over by her fifteen years old sister Rae. However, putting that aside, Isabel wonders how she, a thirty years old responsible tax-paying member of society, needs her mom to bail her out.

It is the fault of her next door neighbor John Brown; to hereby be called the "Subject" from now on; that she is in trouble with the law. Her eighty something napping attorney Morty accuses her of violating a restraining order placed on her; he tells her four arrests in two months means her PI license is revoked. She insists the Subject is hiding a malevolent act and that she just needs more evidence to affirm her theory and save her license. However her inquiry turns further bizarre when the stars of the "The Stone and Spellman Show", Rae and Henry, become involved (with the case silly - she is a young teen and he is potentially Isabel's next ex).

This is a zany madcap private investigative tale starring the wild bunch, better known as the Spellman family. The story line is fast-paced whether it is Isabel explaining to a snoozing Morty that one thing leads to another or Rae's puppy love adulation of Henry. Starting with mom hanging up on her incarcerated daughter, fans of madcap laugh out loud humorous investigation tales will thoroughly enjoy the CURSE OF THE SPELLMANS.

Got to Kill Them All
Dennis Etchison
Cemetery Dance
9781587670930 $40.00

These eighteen tales have appeared in other publications, but never together. The entries represent the four decades with the earliest being 1966 ("Sitting in the Corner, Whimpering Quietly") of award winning writer Dennis Etchison. The entries have in common seemingly normal environs that turn suddenly into a personalized frightening encounter for an individual whether the short takes place at a Laundromat, a butcher shop, or a bar. With six tales published in the 1970s; five in the eighties and nineties; and six in the current decade; readers obtain an evolutionary glimpse of an author who in the short format paints a disturbing landscape using one everyday locale in which one event changes the milieu sort of like the recent killings at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs. Not for the cozy crowd, as Dennis Etchison's dark but entertaining world makes the title apropos in which even the innocent aggress that in this superb anthology GOT TO KILL THEM ALL is the norm.

Final Inquiries
Roger MacBride Allen
9780553587289 $6.99

Bureau of Special Investigation Agents Hannah Wolfson and Jamie Mendez are sent to their Commandant to learn of a mission so Top Secret even she has no idea what it entails. To their surprise they are to work with Kendori Agent Brox, who they have teamed up with before. The Kendori and Humanity are Younger Races looked down on with scorn by the Elder Races who were in space long before man left the swamps. The Kendori and Humanity are not at war, but hostilities can happen at anytime as they are in close competition with each other.

They compete for the inhabitable worlds in the Perton System while an Elder Species the Vixa will decide who gets them. Brox takes the two BSI Agents to Vana to find out who killed a Kendori woman working in their embassy which is connected to that of the Human Embassy sharing a common work place. Circumstantial evidence points to a human as the killer, but neither Hannah nor Jamie allow surface appearances to taint their investigation. The more the pair digs, the more they believe that there is a larger conspiracy to put the Younger Races in their place, which is not in space; to do that without losing Elder blood means manipulating the rivalry so that the two lesser species are at war with each other.

This fascinating military science fiction thriller makes man in space competing with other races seem real due to the vivid social, economic, and cultural details of the Vaxa society. FINAL INQUIRIES takes place far into the future with humanity struggling to find its niche in a hierarchy in which those at the top of the pyramid want those underneath to stay there; as the superior races see mankind and the Kendori as recalcitrant children who need to be taught respect for their Elders. The BSI Agents and Brox try to understand one another as they work together on the homicide investigation, but it is difficult as the differences between their species have been emphasized though interestingly the two groups have so much more in common. Roger MacBride Allen provides an exciting space opera.

Private Arrangements
Sherry Thomas
9780440244318 $6.99

During late Victorian England, ten years ago Lord Tremaine, Camden Saybrook and Lady Gigi Rowland met and fell in love at first sight; they married, but instead of happy ever after, the next morning Camden learned of his new bride's schemes to become his Lady Tremaine. Feeling betrayed and a dupe, he left for America.

He finally returns to England still filled with animosity towards Gigi, who has filed for divorce so that she can remarry trite Lord Frederick. He agrees to free her if she meets one stipulation. She must birth his heir in one year. Although she fears her future spouse will learn of her sexual activity with her present spouse and she knows she still loves Camden who deserted her, Gigi accepts his terms.

PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS is a well written Victorian second chance at love starring two likable protagonists. Gigi is terrific as her Machiavellian maneuvers matched only by her mother showcases the limited options high society allows to a woman even with Victoria on the throne for decades. Camden internalizes the hurt that he was just a pawn who was out flanked by his wife. Their return engagement scores on all levels as both come across as intelligent injured party still deeply in love with one another in this excellent historical.

Heart of Light
Sarah A. Hoyt
9780553589665 $6.99

In an alternate world, Queen Victoria rules the British Empire; she and all the descendants of Charlemagne have magic since he stole the ruby Soul of Fire from an African tribe. The magic is diffused throughout the empire with the commoners having very little and the aristocrats being powerful mages. The anarchists are starting to rebel as they demand freedom and magic.

To quell the trouble, the Queen sends Nigel Oldhall to Africa to find the matching ruby Heart of Light so that Her Highness can bind all the magic in the world to her and her descendants. Nigel brings his new bride Emily with him for trip on the Carpetship. She thinks they are going on a honeymoon as Nigel failed to enlighten her that he is on a mission for the queen. Also seeking the Heart of Light is the Hyena Men, rebels who want to bind the ruby to African control. When Emily learns what her spouse kept from her, she is furious and turns to two other men for comfort. She is unaware that someone else, whom Nigel knows all too well, tracks them as he plans to obtain the ruby for his personal control of magic.

Sarah A. Hoyt provides a great historical fantasy that looks deep into how people feel under outside rule as Victoria rules the continent while the Africans loath the invaders' domination of their land; thus readers have a scathing social commentary on colonization and occupying armies interwoven into the plot. Emily, Nigel, their companion Peter, and their guide Kitwanna are all characters made better by the quest for the ruby. There are many shocking revelations throughout the exhilarating story line; so much so that the audience will be tempted to read the five hundred plus pages in one sitting.

The Betrayal Game
David L. Robbins
9780553804423 $25.00

In March 1961, Professor Mikhal Lammeck, an expert on the history of political assassination, arrives in Cuba to witness first hand the murder of the charismatic new president Fidel Castro. He has heard the same rumors that is all over the small Communist nation; the American CIA is sponsoring a rebel invasion soon with Castro expected to be killed. He is here to witness first hand his theory that a bullet can change the path of the future.

Arriving detached as an academic watcher, over the next few weeks Mikhal finds Castro to be dynamic, charming, and fearless as several failed attempts on the Communist's life has already occurred; Mikhal begins to believe the man could prove a force for change not just in Cuba. However, the professor also becomes knowledgeable of a former US Marine sniper either on the island or coming to Cuba; the only reason this American would be here is to squeeze one bullet into Castro's head. Unable to stay outside the fishbowl he has been observing, a no longer unattached Mikhal dives in to try to save Castro's life.

This is an interesting historical fiction that looks closely at events starting six weeks before and culminating with the Kennedy equivalent to "slam dunk", the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. The story line is action-packed from the moment the countdown to April 17, 1961, but tension is lacking due to one insurmountable problem with the premise: readers know Castro survived that coup d'etat and almost fifty years later has outlasted several presidents. Still this is a fine follow up to the exciting The Assassins Game; just no as suspenseful.

Eros Island
Lucinda Betts, Dawn Thompson & Devyn Quinn
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758222145 $12.95

"Centaur" Heart by Lucinda Betts. Princess Akantha loathes centaurs, but she especially hates Chiron. However, the goddess decides Chiron is good for Akantha and uses magic to enhance what the princess hides from even herself; that she desires the centurion.

"The Dream Well" by Dawn Thompson. Lost in the Celtic woods, knight Gar Trivelyan reaches "The Dream Well". He touches its ancient stones, which leads to one of two sisters rising from seemingly nowhere and telling him she wants him. Gar desires her too, but if she is evil Analee he will regret his decision for eternity; while if she is kindhearted Anya he will know love for eternity.

"Thunderstruck" by Devyn Quinn. Sculptor Danicia Ryan is creating a naked marble statue of Herakles as she envisions the demi-god. When her statue comes to life, she finds his sexual desire for her incredible, as they share her ecstatic fantasies.

These three erotic romantic fantasies will thrill sub-genre fans as each author insures the magic including sexual enhances their respective well written tale.

Raine: The Lords of Satyr
Elizabeth Amber
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758220400 $12.95

In 1823, the Elseworld Faery King Feydon makes a dying demand of the three scandalous Satyr siblings known for their endless sexual appetites; he orders them to marry his three illegitimate daughters. With no choice the trio heads respectively to their European destiny.

The middle brother Raine was married once before and though that ended in failure as his spouse could not deal with his satyr needs, he stoically goes to meet his bride, the King's second daughter, Jordan in Venice. His plan is simple; hide his sexual needs from Jordan for as long as possible so that maybe they will bond before his lower head takes command of his body. However when they meet for the first time both is filled with desire as the attraction is heated. Jordan tries to hide her deep craving to be constantly caressed and loved by a man who loves her as she fears she will drive him away with her sexual needs. As they fall in love, Raine and Jordan continue to conceal what they want although in his case it is a bit harder (pun intended) to hide that seemingly eternal flag pole.

The second Lords of Satyr tale (see NICHOLAS) is a heated historical romantic fantasy that make the audience believe in satyrs (who never need Viagra) and the half-breeds who satisfy their constant craving. The lead couple shares in common: lust, love, and lies of omission as both hide their deepest needs and desires so as to not run the other off. With one erotica to go, sub-genre fans will appreciate the sexual encounters of the Regency world of Elizabeth Amber (surname seems tepid for fiery red hot romances).

Wife Goes On
Leslie Lehr
9780758222411 $14.00

In Los Angeles four women who share in common failed marriages meet for the first time at a furniture store. They become close friends. In spite of two young children, Diane ended her marriage due to her spouse's gambling addiction. Lana's relationship to a Hollywood hunk died while the tabloids and late night TV turned her into a dumb joke as he publicly cheated on her. Former homecoming queen Bonnie remains married to a martinet husband still reliving his football glory days until he bucks their marriage leaving her with two children in holy singleness.

Diane learns that Annette resides in the house her ex gambled away. Bonnie nearly emotionally collapses while choosing a coffee table with Lana's help. Soon the foursome turns to one another for mental support and little favors.

WIFE GOES ON is a compassionate look at female survivors of the divorce war forming a bond of sisters. Each member of the quartet is unique with divergent issues, but is there for one another. Although the selfish childish husbands come across as one dimensional deserving of being raw meat at a vampire convention, fans will enjoy this often amusing but always deep look at the aftermath of ending a for worse only relationship as life for the ex wife goes on.

Right Here, Right Now
HelenKay Dimon
Kensington Brava
9780758222237 $14.00

Reed Larkin informs his girlfriend Gabby Pearson that he no longer wants to see her. He further explains in the restaurant that "It's not you, it's me". She is shocked as she thought they were making it and his trite general rationale stinks. Gabby shows her appreciation by dumping her drink on his head before leaving; her prime regret was they never slept together.

Reed accomplished the hardest task of his life when he ended his relationship with Gabby, whom he wants with every cell in his body. Making matters worse within moments of receiving a wine shower, his handler informs Reed that he is to seduce Gabby who allegedly has the information they need. He has one day to persuade her to join him on the sheets, but Gabby is beyond outraged with him and he has to agree she has the right to be..

This is a fabulous romantic suspense thriller as operative Reed cannot believe that just after his head tastes her wine, his handler orders him to seduce Gabby. That premise makes for an entertaining battle of the sexes as the clock is ticking and he has to undo the damage he caused when he dumped her. Making things even harder for Reed is that he is halfway in love with Gabby. HelenKay Dimon provides a fun gender war in which the prime suspense element comes appropriately late as RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW is a two person combat tale.

Carrot Cake Murder
Joanne Fluke
9780758210203 $22.00

The Cookie Jar owner Hannah Swensen is helping her business partner Lisa get ready for the big family reunion in Lake Eden, Minnesota. Relatives from all over the country are arriving and Lisa's mother-in-law Marge is hoping that her brother Gus Herman will somehow hear of it and come. He left a quarter of a century ago in the middle of the night without telling anyone, leaving his family heartbroken and many residents angry because he vanished with their money.

To the family's shock he does arrive dressed in an Armani suit, wearing a Rolex and driving a Jaguar. He flaunts his success which doesn't endear him to many people. When Gus doesn't show up for the reunion picture Hannah is dispatched to find him. At the Lake Pavilion, she finds his body, a wound on his chest. Marge and Lisa ask her to find the killer and resident Mac tells Hannah he saw Lisa's father, Jack Herman walking around the time Gus was killed. Jack suffers from Alzheimer's disease so his memories can't be relied upon; the whole town knows that Jack and Gus had a fight before Gus left town. Jack also showed his anger towards at the reunion. Refusing to believe Jack could be the killer; Hannah continues to investigate and almost becomes the second victim.

Joanne Fluke writes a delightful and charming regional cerebral cozy. The protagonist uses her mind to discover the clues that lead to the killer's identity and it is a pleasure to see a heroine who is not afraid to show her intelligence to the town's residents. Hannah is the ultimate feminist a person who remains true to herself and refuses to conform to society's female paragon.

The Invisible
Andrew Britton
9780758213358 $24.00

Four months ago CIA Agent Naomi Kharmai ended her relationship with CIA operative Ryan Kealey. He took it bad, walking off the job to roam aimlessly around the globe. However the agency needs Ryan's brand of service immediately; as the CIA leadership believes only his out of control lunacy can handle a particularly nasty cleaning job behind enemy lines.

His CIA handler Jonathan Harper offers the despondent agent a deal; he will present him Naomi if Kealey returns to work; Kealey accepts. Kealey is to find and take down Algerian terrorist Amari Saifi, who has kidnapped several Americans in Pakistan. As Kealey searches for his target, Saifi announces his presence by boldly abducting acting Secretary of State Brynn Fitzgerald.

In his third espionage thriller (see THE ASSASSIN and THE AMERICAN) Kealey remains out of control and fun to watch, but has lost some of his edge. Still this terrorist vs. antiterrorist High Noon tale is fast-paced and filled with action of a blow em up variety. Readers who enjoy a high octane tale will be pleased with Andrew Britton's latest escapade though it reads too similar to his hero's A book encounters.

Charlotte Mede
Kensington Brava
9780758223654 $14.00

In 1818 Marquess Gray Dalton, still recovering from the opiate his enemy's operatives used to capture him, meets Devon Caravelle, mistress to high ranking French official le Comte, in a dank cell. Each has a need that they believe the other can fulfill. They need each other to decipher a secret code hidden in Beethoven's third symphony, "Eroica."

Both have a reputation for remaining calm almost aloof under dangerous situations. Yet each desire the other, but conceal those feelings out of fear that weakness would expose them. They each try to take charge of a game of seduction even as enemies from both sides of the Channel threaten to end their duet in death.

This is a great espionage Regency romantic suspense that grips the audience from the first encounter in the prison cell in which on the surface Grey is Devon's prisoner, but readers will soon realize they are each other's prisoner. The story line is fast-paced and never slows down from that superb opening act while the tension on several levels including the heart is palpable. Charlotte Mede provides an excellent EXPLOSIVE historical romantic thriller that readers of any era will relish

Make Me Scream
P.J. Mellor
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758220233 $12.95

Mystery writer Devon McCloud owns and manages an apartment complex in Florida. Jamie Cartwright comes to Devon's complex looking to rent one of his apartments. Though there is a mysterious air about her, he assumes his writer's mind thinks femme fatale even as he accepts her as a tenant.

Devon and Jamie are attracted to one another from the moment they first met discussing her leasing one of his apartments. Although his love life stinks and always has as far back as he dare remember, he wants to start anew with her as he thinks this time they will climax in sexual heaven. She remains reluctant as she is already in hiding from a bad relationship that she fears her abusive ex deems is not over; but also dreams of pinning her landlord to her bed so that she can ride him until she leaves him senseless and he makes her scream in ecstasy.

This is delightful contemporary romance with some late suspense that seems apropos. The lead characters are amiable while their desire much hotter than the Florida summer sun. Fans of heated romances will enjoy P.J. Mellor's entertaining tale.

Simply Sexual
Kate Pearce
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758223548 $13.95

After spending a decade as a sex slave in a Turkish brothel, Valentin Sokorvsky finally escaped and came home to England. The aristocrat knows he must marry to sire an heir, but doubts any woman can satiate his sexual need, accept his physical scars without a look of horror and scorn, and especially deal with his emotional issues. He is attracted to innocent Sara Harrison, whom he courts and marries.

Sara enjoys fulfilling his sexual needs as she matches him desire for desire and she has no problems with his physical scars as she relishes kissing them. However, she struggles with his emotional issues starting with his distrust of everyone including her. She plans to win his trust by proving her loyalty and faithfulness. He will need her when an unknown foe plots to destroy Val by wrecking his business interest, devastating his family and especially insure he suspects her of wronging him.

Valentin is a unique lead character as he suffers from PTSD after spending ten years as a boy toy sex slave in Turkey. His struggles to mentally recover his equilibrium now that he is back in London make the tale even stronger as Sara wants to heal her beloved spouse. The threats to his business and loved ones are well done and exciting, but also feel somewhat intrusive to the prime plot that focuses on patience (time) and love healing nightmarish traumas.

Strong and Sexy
Jill Shalvis
Kensington Brava
9780758221827 $14.00

Sky High Air charter airline pilot Shayne Mahoney meets his socialite client's daughter zoologist Dani Peterson at a party. Each are instantly attracted to one another Shayne, known for his womanizing even more than aviator skills, lures the beautiful, brainy, and some say batty Dani into a closet where the kisses between them shake up both of them

However, Dani insists she ahs witnessed a murder; Shayne like almost everyone else who knows her assumes she is batty. He thinks how ironic that the woman of his dreams is a fruitcake when she insists someone is stalking her. However, he revises his opinion when he realizes even the paranoid is sometimes right as Shayne risks his life to keep his beloved Dani safe while someone tries to kill her and now him.

The second aviator romance (see AUSSIE RULES) is an exciting heated romantic suspense that will have readers flying with Jill Shalvis. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action as bullets fly everywhere. However, the relationship between the anti-socialite Dani and the womanizing Shayne make the tale soar as he wonders with all the women he has loved how could he fall in love with a nut until he realizes that whether it is mile high or on the ground someone wants her dead. Jill Shalvis provides a fabulous tale that flies from take-off to landing.

Extreme Danger
Shannon McKenna
Kensington Brava
9780758211873 $14.00

FBI Cave Agent Nick Ward knows the stake is rescuing an abducted child twelve years old Sveti from the Russian mafia chief Vadim Zhlogo. Clues take him to remote Frakes Island, a millionaire's recluse. However, to his chagrin and libido, he observes Becca Cattrell skinny dipping on the island. He is unsure how she fits in as she could be a mob hit woman, but he soon finds himself rescuing her.

Nick and Becca flee for their lives while he still seeks clues to the child. One kiss leads to another, and though the sex is the greatest he ever had, Nick assumes she is professional sent to distract him. As they get closer to the child, Nick errs in judgment leaving his target and Becca in jeopardy.

Though the EXTREME DANGER seems over the top, readers will not care as the latest Cave romantic suspense thriller (see EDGE OF MIDNIGHT and BEHIND CLOSED DOORS) grips the audience from the moment the hero sees the woman skinny dipping and concludes she is trouble. The story line is fast-paced from that first encounter and the lead couple is dynamite as the hero keeps arriving in the Nick of time, but it is the deep look at organ harvesting and trafficking as a lucrative cash crop that brings a morality issue to this fine thriller.

Bare Facts
Katherine Garbera
Kensington Brava
9780758222312 $14.00

Former model Charity Keone is a highly regarded employee of Liberty Investigations, which provides personal protective services. Currently she is guarding the CEO of Williams International, an importing- exporting firm based in Hong Kong and Seattle, Daniel Williams; he has doubts that the beautiful woman can keep him safe from an unknown enemy wanting him dead and more so from his lewd thoughts. However, he changes his mind when she saves his life from an assassin.

Perhaps it is the danger they face or her rejecting Senator Williams' proposal for her to be his latest trophy wife, but Charity and Daniel make love; both are stunned by the intensity. However, she knows keeping him from harm remains the prime mission as a ruthless killer stalks Daniel.

Even Charity sees the Charlie's Angels connection with her, Justine and Anna as the Angels and Sam directed them from a voice box as "Charlie". The first part of the story line focuses on Charity's introspection and desires leading to the sexual trysts with her client. Towards the middle of the novel, suspense kicks in and never slows down as someone wants the CEO with connections to Japanese gangs dead. Readers will enjoy this fine romantic suspense thriller with two more Angels to follow.

Thigh High
Bonnie Edwards
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758217745 $12.95

"Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Thong". Frankie is irate when the mutt steals her diamond-laden thong. She follows the canine thief to the houseboat of a late- night deejay. Daniel knows he has female fans but never expected a groupie seeking her purloined underwear would arrive to seduce him at his home.

"Thigh High". Kat's best friend dares her to seduce her reticent neighbor Taye that she admits she has the hots for. Not one to dive in halfway, she also decides to employ the sex toys and related paraphernalia that she sells to add spice to a weekend of pleasure.

"Parlor Games". Separately the two strangers, Matt Crewe and Carrie MacLean, come to the notorious mysterious Perdition House seeking MIDNIGHT CONFESSIONS of a carnal pleasure. Matt becomes Carrie's personal sex slave, a task that he craves doing.

Title aside, these are three heated erotic romances starring interesting couples in each of the entries.

Happy Hour of the Damned
Mark Henry
9780758225221 $15.00

There are two distinct zombie species. First there are the Breathers who just need to exhale on a person to convert them to the living dead and then there are those changed by a bite or scratch. In Seattle advertising executive Amanda Feral was riding an elevator when she was breathed on; when she next awakens she has no idea what happened to her. She is walking in confusion on when Gil the vampire stops her and explains to her what she has become. He further informs her that there is a world of the supernatural with stores and clubs for paranormal shoppers that mortals cannot see.

Horrified by her suddenly pale sickly complexion, Amanda breaks into a mortuary to obtain some make-up for the recently departed. There she meets fellow zombie Wendy seeking cosmetics too. At a HAPPY HOUR OF THE DAMNED club, the two females meet Lisle the succubus who turns the twosome into the three supernatural musketeers. Though time has a different connotation, not long afterward Lisle sends a text message "help" to her two pals. They fear for their buddy who vanished immediate after hitting send. As they search for Lisle, Amanda and Wendy uncover a plot to turn the world into a zombie playpen by using a zombie virus. To prevent this from happening, they need to uncover the identity of the mastermind, a devilishly diabolical genius.

This chick lit urban fantasy is an amusing tale that lampoons chick lit urban fantasies. Amanda and Wendy come across as "Valley Girls" a la the 1980s movie Night of the Comet while Gil and Lisle add biting humor by satirizing vampire romantic thrillers. The plot is fun with its spoof of save civilization as we know it theme. Mark Henry provides an enjoyable tale in his opening salvo that will have readers who appreciate a lighthearted romp waiting for future happy hour stories.

Calling Home
Janna McMahan
9780758221964 $15.00

In Falling Rock, Kentucky, Roger Lemmons deserts his wife Virginia and their two teen children, eighteen years old Will and fourteen years old Shannon. Roger left the rural backwater town accompanied by a beautician. Although despondent even before her spouse left her, and now worried about their future, Virginia knows the way of the hills is to move on and tale care of business as she did when her dreams were violently destroyed years ago.

Virginia especially sees much of her former self in spirited Shannon. She vows to insure her daughter gets out of Falling Rock by avoiding the errors she made as a teen. As Will has his own issues of abandonment by his dad and feeling like an outsider with the two females in his life, mother and daughter bond closer together with Virginia seeing her "escape" if Shannon makes it, but people have a way of repeating the most awful of truths.

Using music to set the time as the late 1970s, readers will appreciate this strong family drama that looks deep into relationships especially between a mother and her daughter. The rotating perspective of the story line enhances the poignancy; as the Lemmons face extremely difficult choices that with each step turns more complex and disturbing. Life is realistically portrayed as a bi*ch with caveat that somehow the strong thrive. Janna McMahan writes a deep character study of people facing personal problems.

Cosmic Sex
Karen Kelley
Kensington Brava
9780758217677 $14.00

Paradise may be perfect, but it is boring unless you sit on the Coalition of Elders who decides what is best for everyone else. Still Kia cannot understand why her cousin Mala left Nerak for earth; more amazing she stayed there with some earthling (see CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE SEXY KIND. However, she needs to know that Mala is okay so she travels to earth to check up on her cousin.

Kia is attracted to undercover cop Nick Scericino who knew she is trouble even before she mentioned being from planet Nerak. She also tells him she wants him, which leaves the police officer bewildered but willing. He agrees to help her find Mala, but during their investigation, Kia begins to understand why Mala loves dysfunctional earth as she no longer wants to go home if Nick will have her.

The second close encounters of the first kind tale COSMIC SEX is an amusing science fiction romance starring a beleaguered, bewildered and benign cop and the female ET who turned this confident tough guy over as she proves earth guys are easy. The story line is filled with action, but like the first sexual encounter between two worlds, the novel is owned by Kia whose concepts and values are radically different than the earthling she loves. Although lacking some of the newness of the previous entry, readers will enjoy Karen Kelley fine tale as men are from earth; women are from Nerak.

Jodi Lynn Copeland,
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758222121 $12.95

"Coming In First". Lissa has had her full of bad boys, who take care of their needs at the expense of hers. She wants a man who is good with his hands so that every inch of her body is aflame with desire for him. She wonders if Thad is as handy in bed as he is outside.

"Not A Second Too Late". Genevieve looked forward to her last bachelorette fling before getting married until her sister arrived and destroyed the party for her. She decides to find a male stripper who will customize his act for her only. At the bar sits Nash who seduces her with his eyes and then his hands as he proves quite handy in responding to her needs.

"Third Time's A Charm". Her loving cousin thinks the best thing to help Holly ignore her woes, is a week of passionate sex with a professional hunk. She hires Ben to please Holly in such way that very one of her cells oozes sex.

These are three heated erotic contemporary romances in which the female protagonist are fully developed and quite different in what they need, but the same with what they desire. The men who enter their lives are hunks who happen to be friends; that link each of the stories. Their camaraderie adds depth to them especially their feelings towards the respective lead woman in their life. Fans will appreciate these ultra thermal tales starring strong fully developed characters.

Kiss of Fire
Deborah Cooke
9780451223272 $6.99

Were-dragon Quinn Tyrrell prefers to be by himself forging incredible objects rather than be part of the pack of shapeshifting dragons. He simply does not trust his Pyr peers. When he finds his human soulmate is Sara Keegan, he is euphoric until he realizes they are the key players in a prophecy that could leave them dead.

Quinn in his dragon persona saves Sara from a killer although she wonders who drugged her as dragons are not real. To her surprise she is attracted to Quinn and grateful that he came to her rescue. However she does not believe his revelation that she is his life mate even if their touch results in sparks and will birth the next dragon-smith with him. When Slayers attack them, the former accountant confronts Quinn demanding he explain the bottom line to her. He informs her that besides mating, they are the firestorm if they live long enough; to survive, they need the Pyr, but he distrusts his peers.

The first Dragonfire romantic fantasy is a wonderful tale due to the lead female whose orderly world of numbers no longer exists; Sara's mental adjustment to all she learns makes the paranormal elements including specie dragon-shifter seem genuine. The story line is fast-paced and filed with action as Quinn knows he can no longer be the lone ranger of dragons and Sarah wonders how she went from debits and credits to fighting Slayers and falling in love with a dragon. KISS OF FIRE is an excellent thriller with more to come.

Every Move You Make
Carla Cassidy
9780451223432 $6.99

In Kansas City, Annalise "Dollmaker" Blakely continues to make the two dolls a year that her mother started thirty years ago with the first "Annalise" doll to honor her daughter's birth. Since her beloved mom recently died, Annalise struggles 24/7 to keep her mom's business from going bankrupt. Worse her estranged dad wants back in now that her mom is dead; she does not trust the man who sired her to do anything but siphon funds for his personal use.

Meanwhile her best friend, PR guru Danika wants to date homicide detective Tyler King. Instead Tyler prefers courting Annalise. However, their attraction is put on hold when a serial killer begins strangling women to death before turning them into looking like an Annalise doll. She is the prime suspect even as the killer gloats that he/she is the Real Dollmaker.

This is an enjoyable serial killer romance starring two likable protagonists and a stereotypical psychopath. The story line is fast-paced with the relationship between the sleuth and the doll maker cleverly designed so that he has some niggling doubts as to whether she is the killer. Fans will enjoy Carla Cassidy's latest romantic suspense thriller as Annalise and Tyler make a fine couple

Sharan McClellan
Silhouette Athena Force
9780373389780 $5.50

U.S. Marine Corp Combatant diver and Athena Academy graduate Jessica Whitaker leads a military exercise with newbies when she realizes someone sabotaged their training. Before seeking safety for herself, Jessica makes sure none of the participants are left behind as she is a marine.

Soon after that the Athena Academy asks Jessica to find a three-year old shipwreck and recover a laptop from it. Assigned to help her is expert marine salvager and computer guru Zach Holiday. Jess and Zach are attracted to one another from the onset and share euphoria when they find their undersea objective. However before they can shout mission accomplished and explore their feelings, Athena's deadly enemy, Arachne has sent troops to retrieve the laptop from them. The pair depends on one another to avoid a watery grave.

This tense romantic suspense shows why this reviewer feels the Athena Force series is one of the most exciting on the market today. Sharan McClellan leaves her audience BREATHLESS as her lead couple struggle to survive against incredible odds, they come across as real people whose expertise may not be enough. Fans of the saga will appreciate the latest action packed thriller.

The Daddy Dilemma
Karen Rose Smith
9780373248841 $4.99

Six years ago to raise money for her mother's medical care, attorney Sara Hobart sold eggs to a fertility clinic. A few months ago she was in an accident and had an emergency hysterectomy that devastated her until she learned that the Barclays used that clinic and probably her egg, as the dates align, to have a child. She learns that the father, financial analyst Nathan Barclay, is a single father raising his son Kyle by himself since his wife died.

Fearful and disbelieving when Sarah approached him, Nathan begins to turn around as he gets to know her. He even encourages her to spend time with Kyle. As the trio falls in love and consider forming a family, Sarah hesitates because she knows Nathan still grieves his wife's death.

The first Dads in Progress family drama is an interesting contemporary romance starring two realistic adults and a somewhat confused little boy. The story line centers on the interrelationships between these three individuals as Nathan will not allow anyone to harm his beloved son while Sarah offers love to both of them. Although Sarah gets the information relatively too easily, Karen Rose Smith writes a fascinating tale that explores the complexity of modern families going way beyond the rights of the egg donor.

Dark Seduction
Kathleen Korbel
Silhouette Nocturne
9780373617814 $5.25

Her older sister Nuala has escaped the wrath of their mother by accepting mortality and love (see DANGEROUS TEMPTATION). Queen Mab has written off her oldest daughter as an undesirable exile, but her anger is at her two other offspring. Her middle child Sorcha was guardian of the Coilin Stone that was part of the crown of the Tuatha de Dannen before it was stolen due to her neglect and her sister Orla enabled the Dubhlain Sidhe to steal the gem. The seer warns the queen that the Dubhlain Sidhe grows stronger with no feminist balance since they lost the Dearann Stone while the Tuatha de Dannen will turn much weaker as there will be no spring without recovering the two stones; eventually all on two realms will die.

Mab commands her daughter Sorcha to travel through the gate to England to retrieve the Dearann Stone so that can be used to barter for the Coilin Stone. In England, Sorcha meets Harry Beverly, who does not believe that the fae exist although he wonders if his attraction for her is magically based. As he comes around to believe, they learn a rival seeks the Dearann Stone for some dark purpose. The duo knows time is running out for everyone.

DARK SEDUCTION is a fabulous romantic fantasy starring a heroine who believes she is not worthy or capable and the mortal who brings her confidence in herself. The story is fast-paced with its world in jeopardy premise always at the surface even as the lead characters acknowledge their love for one another. Readers will believe in the Korbel realm where mythos species seem genuine while also knowing that Orla is out their on her mission.

Gayle Wilson
9780778323945 $6.99

Sarah Patterson's life ended three years ago when someone tortured and murdered her beloved son Daniel. The police arrest Samuel Tate for that murder and others as they find concrete evidence in his van during a routine accident. However, Orleans Parish Criminal Court Judge Marlene Wexler, who always rules in favor of defendant's rights in an exact interpretation of the law, throws out the "murder kit" that uniformed Police Officer Gateau found in Tate's vehicle as the cop had no probable cause to search the van. She frees Tate.

As Tate leaves the courtroom, Sarah takes out a gun to kill him, but cop Mac Donovan prevents her from doing so; he warns her she would have been held on murder charges, but she says so what as she died three years ago. Tate smirks at her as he leaves by taxi.

Soon after that encounter, Sarah receives strange phone calls that she and Mac believe are from Tate, glorying in his freedom. Not long after that back door encounter, her former husband (the marriage ending when Danny died) is murdered. Once again Sarah and Mac feel Tate killed her spouse. Mac tries to protect Sarah while the FBI sets up a sting using her as bait to finally catch this diabolically clever serial killer; as they fall in love; she now has a reason to live.

VICTIM is a superb serial killer chiller that grips the audience from the moment the Judge frees Tate and never frees the reader until the final anticipated Bayou confrontation. The story line is action-packed with most scenes adding tension to this taut thriller. The cast is strong especially the lead couple and Tate. Although the romance seems out of place and reduces the spine tingling expectation of High Noon between a grieving mom and her son's killer, fans will appreciate Gayle Wilson's powerful novel.

Mystic Horseman
Kathleen Eagle
9780778325147 $6.99

Monica Wilson-Black persuades part-Sioux TV producer Ella Champion that her former spouse's Wolf Trail Ranch would be the perfect project for the latter's highly regarded and very popular TV show Who's Our Neighbor? Monica also knows that convincing Ella was the easy part of this concept of hers; now she must get her ex husband Dillon Black Bear to agree to a makeover of his ranch

Dillon worries about saving his dilapidated South Dakota ranch as his Mystic Warriors Horse Camp summer program for at-risk Native Americans could die without at least safety improvements; he reluctantly agrees to Ella's offer. However, he never expected his former wife r Monica who hides her cancer from him and their two children, veterinarian student Emily and D.J. to come to South Dakota.

MYSTIC HORSEMAN is an entertaining union of Hollywood and Lakota in South Dakota; although at times the match seems stretched wider than the Northern Great Plains. Still fans of Kathleen Eagle will enjoy the fine story line filled with an interesting spin to the typical second chance at love theme as few writers can bring to life contemporary Lakota life as this author consistently does (see Ride a Painted Pony).

The Guilty
Jason Pinter
9780778324638 $7.99

Although he only recently graduated from school, reporter Henry Parker has already made THE MARK as the news and as a journalist at the New York Gazette. Henry currently is investigating the serial killing Boy, who employs an antique Winchester 1873 to murder his victims.

Once again Henry is both part of the story and an investigative reporter. When the Boy killed his first quarry, diva Athena Paradis, he left behind a note quoting an article by Henry. The intrepid journalist soon uncovers a link to a nineteenth century Wild West outlaw, but cannot see the connection to the Boy or how he selects his victims. Meanwhile the Boy murders several other people as a desperate Henry turns to rival Dispatch reporter Paulina Cole for help.

The second Parker journalistic investigation is a fabulous thriller as the key players come across as real in this murderous game of cat and mouse. The story line is fast-paced with a bit of romance in the air. The ending is superb and will prove to be one of the best of the year. Fans will believe Jason Pinter hit THE MARK with this excellent serial killer thriller.

Fire Study
Maria V. Snyder
9780778325345 $25.95

After being raised in the Territory of Ixia and having gained the trust of Commander Ambrose and the love of his second in command Valek, Yelena returns to her homeland Sitia to study magic. Belonging to both countries, Yelena wants to become the liaison so that neither place will war against the other. Her studies are once again interrupted when she goes to find Ferde the Soulstealer and Cahill the pretender to the Ixian throne.

It is believed they are hiding in the Avibian Plains where the Sanseed Clan (Yelena's cousins) live. A splinter group of the clan has turned to the forbidden blood magic and Storyweavers dub them Vermin; whereas they call themselves the Daviian Clan. Their mysterious leader's goal is to rule Sitia; no outsider has seen him. The Vermin take control of the Sitia government and prepare to conquer Ixia. Yelena and her Ixian lover Valek hope to prevent the carnage, but to succeed she must make a promise that will keep the pair of lovers separated forever.

FIRE STUDY is a magical tale filled with intrigue, double crosses, and duplicity and stars a beleaguered heroine who swims in treacherous waters in order to stop a bloody war from occurring as both countries are dear to her. Valek loves Yelena beyond reason and will do almost anything to help her yet he is also a sexy alpha male who will not allow the woman who owns his heart walk all over him. Yelena loves him too and has started to get close with her family but first she must stop an evil person from destroying her birthplace before getting involved in personal matters.

Trudy's Promise
Marcia Preston
9780778325338 $13.95

In October 1962, Rolf Hulst has mix feelings about swimming to the safety of West Berlin as he leaves behind in the Russian controlled East his beloved wife Trudy, their baby Stefan, and his aging all alone mother. However, if he stayed he also knows he risks their lives even more than if he leaves from stray bullets targeting him. As he is shot while making his escape, he wonders if his best friend Wolgang, an East German policeman, pulled the trigger. Struggling to stay conscious on the western side he writes in blood on a wall "Trudy, endlich frei" (Trudy, finally free).

The Stasi has no qualms about interrogating new mothers using torture to obtain answers as they demand Trudy tell them where Rolf is hiding. Wolfgang helps Trudy escape to the west, but she is forced to leave behind her son and his maternal grandmother. She learns that Rolf died, but has no time to grieve. She obtains a waitressing job and lives in a dump to save money to fulfill her promise to herself that she can one day bring over her family. In Late June 1963, as the American president claims "Ich bin ein Berliner", a member of his retinue arranges for Trudy to come to the States even while Wolfgang's career is over because of his childhood ties to Rolf.

This is an engaging historical thriller that brings to life the Cold War period just after the Berlin Wall is erected; interestingly with what has happened since this era feels like ancient history. The tale looks closely at the suffering of the East Berliners under iron strict Communist rule backed by the Soviet military, but it is Trudy's adjustments to living in the States that make the tale. She is an outsider trying her best to be assimilated while wondering whether she will ever see Stefan again. Readers will appreciate this strong look back to one of the most explosive periods of the Cold War.

Sleep Softly
Gwen Hunter
9780778324645 $6.99

ER Nurse Ashlee Davenport Chadwick either makes or finds a home on her family farm for retired K-9 dogs. Currently besides her college student daughter Jas, Big Dog, Cheeks, and Cherry live with her. They bring to her a smelly child's red sneaker, which she is about to toss in a game of fetch only she knows the odor reeks of "old death". She looks inside and sees tissue. Although she knows it is dumb, she labels and protects the "evidence" as she has learned in her forensic courses. Hesitant as she does not want her peers at Dawkins County Rescue Squad nicknaming her, she still calls the Sheriff's Department. Afterward Cheeks, an experienced tracker dog, takes her to the sight where she finds a toe.

Over the objection of the locals, Ashlee's boyfriend, FBI Violent Crime Squad Coordinator Jim Ramsey of the nearby Columbia office, leads the investigation. He is already looking into a serial killer whose victims are young girls, which probably means Cheeks' find fits his case. Soon they discover several young buried on or just off Chadwick land; making the family including Ashlee the prime suspect.

SLEEP SOFTLY is a tense exciting police procedural that readers will devour in one sitting. The story line is fast-paced especially when the culprit targets the heroine. The romance is kept somewhat on the back burner so that subplot does not intrude on an engaging whodunit. Mostly told from Ashlee's perspective, sub-genre readers will enjoy this suspenseful thriller.

Snowfall at Willow Lake
Susan Wiggs
9780778324935 $7.99

Fortyish international Attorney Sophie Bellamy has always wanted to help the less fortunate and has been successful at it. However, the cost of spending much of her life overseas has been personal; her marriage to Greg died and her relationships with her two children, twelve year old Max and New Paltz College student Daisy are dysfunctional and distant at best. The same holds true with her grandchild Charlie.

Following a nasty hostage misadventure at the Hague involving her work with the depressed people of Umoja in Africa, Sophie has come to wintry Avalon, New York to make amends with her offspring, which means getting on with her former spouse, his new wife Nina and her offspring (see DOCKSIDE for Greg's tale). However, the first person she meets after the lake effect snow and ice caused her car to skid and crash is Dr. Noah Shepherd, a veterinarian. Sophie is attracted to him, but she did not come to Ulster County for romance; she came a second chance with her children; not understanding that a second chance with Max and Daisy can only come with Noah.

The Avalon Lakeshore Chronicles (see THE WINTER LODGE and SUMMER AT WILLOW LAKE) are always terrific family drama romances, but SNOWFALL AT WILLOW LAKE may be the best yet due to the complexity of the relationships. Sophie is an incredible lead protagonist who has given her heart to the less fortunate children in places like Africa's Umoja, but has failed to connect with her children in Avalon as she has tried to protect them by excluding them from the horror she has witnessed. Fans of the series will fully appreciate this strong tale while newcomers will relish how inside a romance talented Susan Wiggs reminds her readers that many children around the world suffer needlessly.

Guarded Heart
Jennifer Blake
9780778324546 $6.99

In 1844 New Orleans, Madame Ariadne Faucher pulls no punches when she informs renowned sword master Gavin Blackford she needs his expertise to kill someone. She further explains she wants him to tutor her in dueling. He is taken aback, but perhaps it is the wine he drank, the mystery of why and who she plans to kill, or her intriguing tall figure, but to his own shock he agrees to teach her.

As the teacher and student practice, an attraction ignites into passion. Ariadne learns more than just sword play as Gavin displays a high ethical code; Gavin learns she is much more than just a Lady as she is intelligent and athletic, but he still does not know who she plans to defeat. He tries to disuade her from her course though he believes his best student can beat most men, but love seems to be a weaker emotion than revenge.

The fourth Master of Arms historical romance (see ROGUE'S SALUTE, DAWN ENCOUNTER, and CHALLENGE TO HONOR) is a terrific addition to the exciting saga. The story line is fast-paced as the instructor and his prize pupil duel in two types of sword play. Fans will want to know whether the principled sword master persuades his prize pupil that love and family are more rewarding than vengeance or whether Madame will let her heart be consumed by hatred. This is a great work by master writer.

The Sixth Wife
Suzannah Dunn
9780061431562 $13.95

Considered pragmatic by her friends especially the Duchess of Suffolk Catherine Brandon, twice widowed Katherine Parr became the sixth wife of King Henry VIII, a position not known for its longevity. Perhaps it was the experience gained from being wedded to two much older husbands, bur Katherine proved her practical nature by surviving four years with the elderly monarch until he died, making her unique as the Dowager Queen,. Within a few months of becoming a widow again, Katherine marries Thomas Seymour, whom she was in love with before Henry "exiled" him to Brussels so he could marry her; he since has returned to England and become a confidante of Princess Elizabeth. They have a daughter Mary, but was her last marriage a happy one ponders Catherine as Thomas seems more fascinated with the princess than his once royal wife?

This is an interesting biographical fiction novel that looks deep into the latter part of the life of Katherine Parr, mostly from just after she became a thrice widow. The story is told almost exclusively by Catherine looking back after Katherine has died in 1548 so lacks a historiographic counterpoint as the subject's best friend distrusted her last ambitious husband, who she believed married the "Widow" for her political connections. One interesting side note is that the vernacular used is twenty-first century (explained why by Suzannah Dunn in an afterward) so that purists who prefer Shakespearean English should pass as the idioms are technologically modern; thou who find Shakespeare as "ye olde" English will appreciate the anachronism. Well written, THE SIXTH WIFE provides a fascinating slant on the Tudor age especially life near the top during the five years after Henry's demise.

Crossed: A Tale of the Fourth Crusade
Nicole Galland
9780060841805 $15.95

The nomadic musician left Britain to tour the continent, but when he reaches Venice he decides to join the Fourth Crusade. There he meets resolute believer Germanic knight Gregor of Mainz, the intrepid warrior's father-in-law the leader of the crusade Marquis Boniface of Montferrat, and in disguise as an Arab Princess Jewish healer Jamila of Alexandria, whom the wanderer rescues.

However, a lack of capital slows down the crusaders from achieving their goal to retake Jerusalem. To keep their quest alive, they first sack the Christian city of Zara and surround Constantinople. As the musician, Jamila and Gregor try to perform good deeds; the crusaders have other desires enflamed by Boniface, who plans to use his expendable force to gain increased power and wealth.

CROSSED is entertaining historical thriller that looks deep at the way leaders manipulate their supporters for avaricious reasons. The musician without a name and Jamila are developed enough to bring the thirteenth century to life. On the other hand Boniface seems so one dimensional and a cruel nasty sort, one must wonder how he lined up support. Gregor steals the show as he changes from idealistic zealot to disillusioned realist.

Rob Thurman
9780451461964 $6.99

Cal and Niko were years on the run from the Auphe, evil supernatural beings that are so bad that even hell don't want them. They live in their own bleak dimension where half human- half Auphe was imprisoned for two years. Now he has opened a supernatural detective agency with his devoted and overprotective brother Niko and for the first time they have friends. Robin Goodfellow, a puck is their and Niko are involved with a vampire Promise.

Something strange happened at the Metropolitan Museum and through Promise's friend with the Valkyrie Sangrida, Cal and Niko are on the case. A display case shatters from the inside and the remains of Sawney Beane, the non-human Redcap are missing. Somehow centuries ago people formed an army and burned him at the stake; but he is back and on a killing streak eating human flesh with the Revenants. Cal and Niko go against him many times are lucky to come away with their lives. As if they didn't have enough with Sawney to worry about, Robin becomes a target from someone who wants him dead.

Cal is still messed up with his time with the Auphe and is wary of everyone except Prmise, Robin and Niko and he hopes that he can learn to live without fear. He is a hard edged diamond in the rough who is starting to learn to trust people like the werewolf and the vampire. This is a great mystery wrapped inside an urban fantasy. Readers will feel for Cal who gives up the woman he loves because he knows the Auphe will never leave him alone. He is a Byronic hero who knows his life is not his own.

The Alchemist's Code
Dave Duncan
9780441015627 $14.00

Maestro Nostradamus is many things; he is physician to the Venetian doge, a clairvoyant, an astrologist, and a spell weaver. His reputation is so great that he and his apprentice Alfeo Zeno live in grandeur on the top floor of the Mansion of Alvise Barbolano.

Zuanbattista Sanudo and his wife Eva Morosini come to Nostradamus to ask him to use his clairvoyance skills to locate their missing daughter Graziaa. The Maestro has a vision in his crystal ball; he tells Alfeo to go to a certain place at a certain time in order to find Grazia. He not only finds her, he sees her new husband Danese Dolfin, a gigolo who has done many unsavory things. The Council of Ten including the Doge summons Nostradamus to their meeting place. They direct him to uncover the identity of a spy who is selling secrets to a foreign government. The operative Algol has written letters that were intercepted but are in a code that no one has broken. The Maestro tries to decipher the code, but he realizes he is under magical attack which leads Alfeo to the home of Sanudo; he finds the abode under the spell of a curse. Alfeo tries to lift the curse using magic only to catch the eye of the Chief Inquisitioner whose aide accuses the maestro's apprentice of murder and practicing the black arts.

When one thinks of Dave Duncan, normally fans would think of an entertaining superior fantasist. However, his Alchemist saga (see THE ALCHEMIST'S APPRENTICE) shares the same quality of excellence, but is different with a fantasy flavoring to a historical saga. Readers join the Maestro and his apprentice in trying to figure out who the spy is, why someone the hero knew was murdered, and what object caused the curse. Told by Alfeo, the audience sees through his awed eyes how his master is a Machiavellian wizard who pulls people into his way of thinking.

The Memory of Water
Karen White
9780451223036 $14.00

After being away from her hometown for almost a decade, Arizona school teacher Marnie Maitland returns home to McLellanville, South Carolina. She only came back to the Low Country because her former brother-in-law Quinn begged her to help her nine-year-old nephew Gil whom she has never met.

As Marnie and Gil connect and to a lesser degree she with Quinn, her sister Diana resents her intruding in the life of her son and for that matter hers. Marnie realizes her sibling is angry with her and assumes the reason is the boating accident when they were kids that killed their mother while they survived. Whereas Marnie recalls little of that fatal day, Diana has tied the accident to the "Maitland Curse" that has haunted the family for decades.

THE MEMORY OF WATER is a strong family drama due to the four prime players feeling real especially their flawed interrelationships. The story line smoothly changes viewpoint between the quartet so the audience sees different looks at the same event or issue; especially how the sisters interpret their mother's death. With a final plausible yet surprising twist, readers will be LEARNING TO BREATHE while waiting for her next tale.

Ann Aguirre
9780441015993 $7.99

Thanks to being born with the J-gene Sirantha Jax is able to navigate through GRIMSPACE. Her skill makes her valuable as she can lead a ship through a shortcut bend in space though it comes at a cost, reducing her lifespan expectancy. On her last mission, Jax navigated the Saragasso carrying Conglomerate delegates to a summit on Matins IV. She has no memory of what went wrong, but everyone else on board died in a crash. Jax is arrested and placed in a chamber where she is tortured and drugged by doctors who demand she confess that she caused the crash.

March enters her cell and helps Jax escape. He and other interested parties want to know how she is able to "jump" like she does. They land on Lachion where she meets the people who set the wheels in motion to free her. They want her and March to go to ten worlds to find missing humans and others who can navigate Grimspace like she can. They hope to form an academy to teach them how to do so and break the interstellar monopoly of the Conglomerate. The Corps wants Jax back under their control and have sent her picture everywhere with the caption she is dangerous to every Conglomerate world. Hundreds of bounty hunters taste the reward of bringing her in dead or preferably alive.

This is a grand space opera in the tradition of Star Wars with a romantic subplot that adds spice to the fast-paced, character-driven story line. Readers take a glorious roller coaster ride around the Aguirre galaxy filled with alien species on worlds that seem real due to the vivid descriptions. However, with all that going for it, GRIMSPACE belongs to the kick butt heroine.

Rolling Thunder
John Varley
9780441015634 $24.95

Mars is an independent republic with colonies of its own having won the war with Earth and keeping the bubble technology for itself. The wave killed millions of people all over the land and made much of the land unusable for growing crops. It is considered hardship duty for anyone from the Martian military to be assigned earthside but Ensign Podkayne Strickland is a one woman show at the California when she is summoned home to say good bye to her ailing grandmother who is going into stasis until they find a cure for her.

Now Podkayne is a lieutenant assigned to the music, arts, and drama division based on Europa where the Crystal Mountains are a popular tourist sight. They send out very powerful radio waves but nobody knows what they mean or if there is life forms in the mountains. Podkayne is visiting the tourist attraction and she sees the crystal mountain named grumpy lift off. She goes into stasis and when she wakes up ten years have passed. Grumpy and six other mountaineers have landed on earth totally decimating the planet. Mars can't take all the people who want to immigrate to earth, and fearful that the mountains will one day turn to Mars, Podkayne and her uncle Travis subsidize a way to avoid that possibility.

ROLLING THUNDER takes place sometime in the twenty-first century when humans have colonized the solar system. Podkayne is an interesting multi-faceted character, a singer who is in the military yet thinks like a Martian as she was born and raised there. The allure of Mars and their relationship to a slowly deteriorating earth is examined in much detail. The socio-political events are witnessed through Podkayne's eyes and readers will empathize with the plight of earth yet like the Martians realize the people of the Red Planet can't save everyone.

Jamie Leigh Hanson
9780765357205 $6.99

Nine lifetimes, nine attempts, nine deaths, nine rebirths, nine failures; if Kalyss fails this last time to rescue her beloved Dreux from the statue prison that holds him before her brother-in-law Kai murders her again, she will move on to eternal emptiness without him. However, with each reincarnation, she does not remember the past, her spouse or his brother until it has been too late while Dreux has seen each time the horror of his blood killing his love.

This time two enigmatic strangers intrude on her cycle of life and death by gifting her; some might say cursing her; with the knowledge of her past lives. Still as she eludes her constant predator surviving his assault for the first time in their millennium contest, she still has to figure out how to break the curse that has left her dead nine times and Dreux locked away in a prison.

This engaging romantic fantasy uses flashbacks to tell what happened in the past so that the audience obtains a strong tale in which through nine lifetimes hate has proven stronger than love. Readers will believe angels populate the earth; all seeking redemption with some of them being evil. BETRAYED is a superb battle in a war between good and evil fought on a battlefield of undying love.

Steward of Song
Adam Temple
9780765316301 $23.95

Douglas Stewart went to Scotland and through a series of circumstances (see SINGER OF SOULS) becomes the ruler of Faerie. His magic puts the rightful queen Aine in a magical stasis. The prophecy says his son will kill him so he is prepared to kill the child but his loyal retainer Martes has him taken away and he is left at the door of Douglas' brother Scott.

Scott was injured and now sees visions of the future but he doesn't know the child he takes in is his nephew. He takes care of him and loves him and the brownies and hobs watch over the house because there are two magical beings who want the baby; one to drink his blood and inhale his soul while the other wants to eat his flesh.

The third Stewart sibling Bridie is looking for Douglas who the police believed killed his grandmother and a priest. Bridie is positive he is innocent but when she crosses over into Fairie she finds a cruel Douglas who reigns with an iron fist. When the three siblings meet, the fates of the trio will be decided depending on the choices Douglas makes.

This sequel picks up where SINGER OF SOULS leaves off and concentrates mostly on Scott and Bridie with Douglas making only brief appearances. This fantasy is enchanting, spellbinding and readers will finish it in one sitting to find out what happens to the three siblings and the baby. The audience will admire Scott as he comes to recognize he is a precognitive and his love for his nephew heals his mind and lets him accept what he has became.

Viewpoints Critical
L.E. Modesitt Jr.
9780765318572 $25.95

This enjoyable anthology contains nineteen previously published stories; three never published before including a Recluce tale; five from 1973 to 1990; the remainder since 2000. Two tales are set in the Recluce universe ("Black Ordermage" and "Sisters of Sarronym, Sisters of Westwind") require understanding of that realm to grasp what is fully going on; for die hard fans of that saga will enjoy finding out how Cassis became a Recluce. A "what if" tale set in the realm of the Corean Chronicles ("Beyond the Obvious Wind") in which the author's introduction explains that this was his pre-novel efforts to set some ground rules; though this does not require reading the Corean tales, it is fun to compare the changes from this original short to what followed. This reviewer's favorite contributions are "News Clips from the NYC Ruins" that is reminiscent of the 1960s cult film Fillard Millmore as an amusing cautionary tale that highlights the future downfall of the United States and 1973's "The Great American Economy" summed up by the author in his Introduction to this piece" "forecast some of what later became known as cybercrime …". Although these are short stories, for the most part the characters are fully developed or developed enough to carry the tale. Fans of author will appreciate this superb compilation while newcomers obtain a taste of a terrific author.

Isamu Fukui
9780765317674 $17.95

The Mayor rules the city through the subtle use of the Bureaucracy starting with students whose minds and behavior are shaped to the mayor's ideal of perfection. Every pupil is brainwashed until as adults they do the same things to their offspring who are students. This has led to a totalitarian society in which the Enforcers make sure the students follow the rules; those who fail to conform are expelled to live as homeless waifs.

One former student saw the Mayor, his Educators and the Enforcers as tyrants. He and other disenfranchised and disenchanted students formed the Truancy who chose to live in a free world. Fifteen years old Tack is stunned when the Truancy Leader Zyid kills his sister in what he calls "collateral damage"; he vows to kill Zyid. He joins the Truancy in order to accomplish his quest and though he has chances he hesitates because without Zyid the Truancy, who is family to him, dies. Tack, Zyid and their enemy will soon confront each other with no telling who if any will walk away.

Mindful of Huxley's Big Brother and Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall", Isamu Fukui shows what happens to a society when a dictatorship centrally controls the entire education process especially what is learned. Zyid may be a young teen, but he is a pragmatist who believes bloodshed must occur to bring fear into the hearts of the Mayor, the Educator and their inner circle in order to incite a rebellion. Tack is his opposite as an idealist willing to die for his beliefs, but preferring change without bloodshed.. Readers will be enthralled by this meaningful story focusing on the impact of corrupt leaders controlling all communication starting when the citizens are young pupils.

The Ancient
R.A. Salvatore
9780765317896 $25.95

In Corona the magical gem enchanted with Abellican healing powers enables formerly crippled Bransen Garibond to walk with confidence; he also conceals his Jhesta Tu mystical sword made by his late mother Sen Wi that bolsters his self-assurance further. Currently, he, his beautiful wife Cadayle and his mother-in-law Callen DuWornay are on a quest to find his father, the monk Bran Dynard, whom he never met. Callen knows she can never pay the debt she owes Sen who died by removing poison from her so that she could give birth; neither female knew that the woman was carrying a child too who was born crippled by the poison she absorbed.

However, the road proves dangerous as Dame Gwydre abducts Bran demanding he become THE HIGHWAYMAN of yore to save her people from the purge of the Druid Samhaists and their leader Ancient Badden, who are ethnically cleansing the land of disbelievers. Badden has awakened a powerful malevolence who Bransen must defeat before going after the Druid, but he cannot do it alone.

THE ANCIENT is an entreating return to the world of Corona as Bransen is forced to return to his youth to fight a growing evil. The story line is fast-paced although Bransen's doubts about his skills seem somewhat out of place with his self-confidence as described earlier in the tale and his past. Fans will appreciate his efforts and those of his new teammates to battle the evil Ancient Badden and his chosen evil one with the usual incredible final battle.

The Houses of Time
Jamil Nasir
9780765306104 $24.95

Attorney David Grant has spent much of his adult life chasing women, but as he turns middle aged he finds chasing skirts becoming tedious and wonders if that's all there is in life while recently thinking of his paragon of the perfect female. He signs with the Trans-Humanist Institute where he hopes Dr. Thotmoses can guide him to fantasize about the perfect woman in a dream state as he has given up ever finding his ideal in real flesh.

However, Grant is shocked when he falls in love for the first time with Thotmoses' daughter Kat. He pursues her in a variety of dream realms as he learns to control his fantasies. Thotmoses persuades him to defend him and his family to God. As he begins to believe he has lost his mind, Grant questions with his womanizing history whether he is worthy to present a defense when God is the judge, jury and executioner.

This is a fascinating New Age look at God through the mind of a person who feels inadequate due to his cavalier treatment of women. David can live his life as the supreme being of his dreams or the reality of a failed maniac in an aging body wondering what if. Although too much time is spent on his doubting Thomas belief that surpasses in length Wayne and Garth making them seem worthy of Alice Cooper, THE HOUSES OF TIME is an interesting look at what is God in the information age.

Mad Kestrel
Misty Massey
9780765318022 14.95

Led by their Ageless King, the Danisoban Brethren control all magical usage by abducting children who display the mage abilities of a Promise; parents are killed especially if they try to intercede. Thus young Kestrel is turned into an orphan by the Danisoban, but she manages to escape hiding in the streets as a ragged young beggar. Eventually she learns the way to neutralize magic is water so she becomes a sailor to hide herself from the Danisoban.

Although not formally trained, Kestrel has the skill to control weather while learning to live at sea. After meeting roguish pirate Captain Artemus Binns, she signs on as one of his crew. When Artemus is arrested for piracy, Kestrel pursues him planning to rescue her leader. Instead she finds herself caught in a family civil war between the Ageless King and his seditious offspring Prince Jeremie, who is tired of waiting for his sire to die.

This swashbuckling adventure in a fantasy realm makes for a wild enjoyable one sitting read. The story line is fast-paced as Kestrel gives chase to rescue her hunk of a captain; she is the center that keeps this fine thriller afloat. Although not much is provided on Misty Massey's magical realm beyond the Danisoban control and the deterrence of water, fans will appreciate this spirited adventure saga wondering who is the modern day female Errol Flynn to play MAD KESTREL.

Spider Star
Mike Brotherton
9780765311252 $26.95

In 2453, humanity has established a thriving colony on Argo, a planet in the Pollux System with incredible military and archeological treasures left behind by feral aliens estimated to have been here a million years ago. Other similar findings have been found on the orb's moons and humans have taken advantage of the superior technology.

The military conducts a training exercise on Argo's inner moon Charybdis. Commander Manuel Rusk inadvertently turns on a defense system left behind by the aliens that ignites the sun to send trajectories of fire at the planet. Based on interpreting records to save the colony, Rusk believes he must journey to Spider Star where he hopes an expert exists who can turn off the switch. He and space explorer Frank Klingston lead an expedition that makes it to Spider Star; only to have most of the landing party including Klingston taken prisoner by spider-like aliens while robots attack Rusk.

This is an exciting fast-paced futuristic outer space thriller with an interesting unique climax to the Argo extinction issue although there are some seemingly implausible moments especially on Spider Star. Rusk and Klingston are heroic FIs (F**ken idiots) as they blunder about starting on the moon affirming the oxymoron military intelligence. Fans of faster than light science fiction will join the expedition to Spider Star to find someone to save Argo.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Wilderness House Literary Review
Edited by Gloria Mindock
ISCS Press
145 Foster Street, Littleton MA 01460
9780615162652 $24.95

According to the book's Forward, the Wilderness House Literary Review began as a collaboration between a group of poets and writers -- the Bagel Bards -- and the Wilderness House Literary Retreat in Littleton MA. Edited by Gloria Mindock of Cervena Barva Press and presenting the work of seventy writers, poets, and artists, this anthology is excellent in every way. Readers will recognize many of the names included in this anthology because of their frequent contributions to literature and the arts in journals and e-zines.

Poetry contributions include ekphrasis -- poetry inspired by viewing art -- and word explorations, free form, post-modern, and translations. Prose includes fiction and non fiction, social commentaries, essays, letters and novel excerpts. Readers will find here what writers and poets do best: provide humor in times of trial; lighten the burdens of everyday life through imaginative prose; create order out of chaos through well-constructed words and cadences; and shine an illuminating light on the good and bad we see around us.

This anthology represents the work of talented editors, writers, poets and artists who are "like the flash of fireflies that burst into view…" Each page is a new adventure, encouraging, uplifting, informing or intriguing the reader. This sampling from many gifted writers is top notch and highly recommended.

Wilderness House Literary Review
Edited by Gloria Mindock
ISCS Press
145 Foster Street, Littleton MA 01460
9780615162652 $24.95

According to the book's Forward, the Wilderness House Literary Review began as a collaboration between a group of poets and writers -- the Bagel Bards -- and the Wilderness House Literary Retreat in Littleton MA. Edited by Gloria Mindock of Cervena Barva Press and presenting the work of seventy writers, poets, and artists, this anthology is excellent in every way. Readers will recognize many of the names included in this anthology because of their frequent contributions to literature and the arts in journals and e-zines.

Poetry contributions include ekphrasis -- poetry inspired by viewing art -- and word explorations, free form, post-modern, and translations. Prose includes fiction and non fiction, social commentaries, essays, letters and novel excerpts. Readers will find here what writers and poets do best: provide humor in times of trial; lighten the burdens of everyday life through imaginative prose; create order out of chaos through well-constructed words and cadences; and shine an illuminating light on the good and bad we see around us.

This anthology represents the work of talented editors, writers, poets and artists who are "like the flash of fireflies that burst into view…" Each page is a new adventure, encouraging, uplifting, informing or intriguing the reader. This sampling from many gifted writers is top notch and highly recommended.

Awaiting the Green Morning
Maria Rosa Lojo
Translated by Brett Alan Sanders
Host Publications, Inc.
1000 East 7th Suite 201, Austin TX 78702
9780924047527 $12.00

Maria Rosa Lojo is an internationally recognized poet, writer, professor, and literary researcher. Brett Alan Sanders is an award winning writer, translator, essayist, editor, and teacher. Their collaboration here has produced a book of timeless, luminous beauty. Awaiting the Green Morning is a feast for eye, mind, and spirit. Sanders' helpful introduction explains the who, what, why, where, and how of his collaboration with Ms. Lojo on this book written in four sections. Their credentials are impressive but pale in comparison to the work presented here.

Section One is Vampires, Dragons, and Other Metamorphoses. This section reflects truths winnowed from sorrows and hardships -- life's very real monsters. Consider, for example, the prose poem "Steadfast Love:"

I know that your hand will emerge from beneath the earth to sustain me -- it will resemble a root, with knots impervious to deterioration. I know that your hand will curl up and hollow itself out to give me rest. I know that it will close and lift itself up, so that I may stand against the fear of the sky. I know that the nights will polish it like a mirror where my life is reflected, so that I may see myself in dreams.

I know that your ashen hand will make sense and will beat like your heart, steadfast nine months to grow me.

I know that it will draw shelter's last circle and that it will lay me down in the center of that fiery ring. And all the wind falling in the dark will not be enough to undo it.

Section Two, Domesticities, recalls the heart beat of a home and a past haunted by the beloved voices of ancestors, as in "Weavings:"

The morning builds itself with color. A speck of macerated dust in the bowl of light is with its small torch illuminating the rooms of the house.

But the woman in the doorway has begun a weaving in the reverse of day. She weaves the voice of her dead father and the silent shadow of those who have not been born; she weaves her own name as it was pronounced before Time, weaves the land where morning will sleep, the rose of night that razes the colors in its dark advent.

Section Three, Journeys, transcends time and space. "Nomads" brings past, present, and future together through a dreamlike panorama:

The plain is inscribed like a breath on the back of all your dreams.

One night you will dream about carpeted rooms and firm armchairs that cut through the air of those fleeing. Another night you will return to the stone house at the edge of the mountain where the unmoving ancestress witnessed the flaming passions and terrors. Or you will attend to the words a teacher dictates and copy them endlessly into a notebook like all beginners who have not mastered the art of penmanship. But with one ear in rebellion you will listen to the rumor of nomad women who are traversing the plain.

Then you will be the one expelled from all certain knowing; never now will you learn the calligraphic signs and only with the tread of animal feet will you record on the earth your imperceptible history.

Section Four, Mother Song, is a testament to a mother land, a mother tongue, a mother who takes many forms. This excerpt from "Awaiting the Green Morning" is a paean to this literal and figurative birthright:

They await the old day, the day that has already passed, the day of the festival, the one that was when the mornings were so green that they could not bite into them and burned their tongue with an acid scent, when nothing was finished, when everything returned like the tenacious loves in dreams.

They wait seated at the door of their tomb: a tiny house of mud with an armchair to sleep in for centuries on end, listening to the alleluia of the voices that sing to a haughty and foreign God.

No, those voices are not the ones they heard in the torrents of morning: gods of an instant, shining within drops like the joys of dawn, little broken gods in the voice of a girl child that distributed the echoes of bells, delicate spirits like flower heads that women healers crushed in their furtive bowls.

Each word here is chosen for stunning effect. I can't do such words justice in a review. Awaiting the Green Morning must be savored, absorbed into the marrow, and celebrated. This is an exceptional book and highly recommended.

Manufacturing America: Poems From the Factory Floor
Lisa Beatman
Ibbetson Street Press
25 School Street, Somerville MA 02143
9780615181240 $14.95

Historically, since the America's beginning, factory jobs have been held by immigrants hoping for a better life. Today those jobs are disappearing at a disturbing rate. With each manufacturing plant closure -- or relocation to foreign soil -- workers find themselves without jobs or income. Lisa Beatman's second book gives readers a view of immigrants we won't find on the news. Ms. Beatman's hopeful immigrants come to us from the Mekong Delta, from south of the Rio Grande, from Europe, and every corner of the globe to become scrub women, fruit pickers, factory workers, meat packers. Immigrants today look to the "New World" for the same promise sought by our parents and grandparents:

This new world
was all coal-stink and pandemonium,
the shouts of men caught
by low ceilings and careened back,
twofold in strength.

In "Rainbow" young Chileans with calloused hands pick fruit while working their way across country to Boston, where they learn their colors and numbers making folders for a children's hospital:

Juan is mute as a lake, but he knows
his colors: purple is A-F,
blue is G-K, yellow is L-P,
red is Q-T, green is U-Z.
His calloused hands, tattooed with paper cuts
sort the folders that will hold each child's story.

In "Manufacturing America" Russian Jews come seeing a Cossack-free world. Regardless of what their profession was once, they work in factories so their families can eat:

These Russian Jews
conjugate each Wednesday
in class at the paper factory.
They bite their lips to say 'visa' and 'vinegar'
They purse them to say 'want ads' and 'why.'

For every worker in America, immigrant and non-immigrant, life has changed. "Hack Job" is a powerful poem that shares truths both painful and poignant. How will American workers -- and our country -- survive outsourcing and downsizing?

The bones of the body
are cracking
one by one
their marrow sacked
in a welter
of downsizing.

one machine operator
on the dole,
two secretaries
shopping with food stamps,
hack hack hack,
three departments

How will the body live
with no framework
to hang its flesh on?

The boss just twists
the tourniquet
so we don't bleed dry.
Who will stay the axe?
Who will trim the stumps?
How will we learn
to walk again?

Neither readers nor Ms. Beatman have the answers, but she presents facts for our consideration through exceptional poetry and prose. This book should be required reading in every school and university in America because it shines a kindlier light on immigrants and their struggles, a light seldom seen today.

Bittersweet Blend: Pocatello Blend Chapbook Series #24
Bruce Embree & Scott Preston
Blue Scarab Press
P.O. Box 4966, Pocatello ID 83205-4966
No ISBN $3.00 + $1.00 s & h

Pocatello Blend is a limited edition chapbook series featuring poets and writers from southeast Idaho. What sets Bittersweet Blend apart is that Embree and Preston both died by their own hand, Embree in 1996 and Preston in 2007. Embree was a prolific, respected poet, the author of nine collections. Preston was a poet, editor, critic, reviewer, scholar, and publisher. Why these two gifted men took their own lives -- to quote a Preston poem -- "is a mystery that darkens the heart of all joy." Both poets in this chapbook give poetic hints that reveal their state of mind.

As an example of Embree's work, I've chosen to quote "Rapid Creek Soapbox Blues" in its entirety. He's thoughtful here, without the rawness and profanity that were his trademark:

Man talks himself into trouble among
could be lovers and friends,
putting his past life on paper, lying as he goes.
He takes from the world and sells it for
attention or love,
like some Nigerian chiropractor of the mind
looking for a grubstake
as he pretends to give this time.

Lady Nameless who has the power
to talk her way into any heart or out of any
moves among the losers, voice reflecting
her own life,
not needing the past despite its ugliness
and blossoms.
She as a clear-eyed almost saint sees
through the masks
refusing to condemn, just looking
through your life
and quietly answering no.

And something else beyond
classification goes by again
between two searching beings staying
both aware that two can never really be one.

I was not familiar with Scott Preston's poetry, but had difficulty choosing one particular poem in example. All five poems featured in this chapbook are excellent but I finally settled on "Labels Peeled on Moving Day:"

Green glass shelters whiskey
from the sun
while clear reveals all
the bent glory
of its amber. The emptied ones
distilled windowsills, drilled
the tops of cabinets as deadened
and luxurious as shelves of first
edition novels
I'll never read again. Their
wrinkled leaves flatten
with photos of old lovers, lost
friends and distant children.
How else is grief to be honored
except by tasting it
like a fine single malt? There are
vintages of 25 year-old sorrow
I am just beginning to savor.

If you're not familiar with Embree, Preston, Blue Scarab Press and the Pocatello Blend Chapbook Series, perhaps you should start by reading this one. Or read them all. Each one is memorable in its own way and highly recommended.

To the Last Drop: #25, Pocatello Blend Chapbook Series
Rick Ardinger and William Studebaker
Blue Scarab Press
P.O. Box 4966, Pocatello ID 83205-4966
No ISBN $3.00 + $1.00 s&h

This is the last chapbook in the Pocatello Blend series, and I'm sorry to see this series end. Each book featured the work of two southeast Idaho writers or poets and introduced me to the rich literary tapestry that comprises the region. This final chapbook features Rick Ardinger and William Studebaker. Ardinger is Executive Director of the Idaho Humanities Council and co-publishes Limberlost Press with his wife, Rosemary. He is the author of several poetry collections. Studebaker is writer, poet, critic, lecturer, environmentalist and has published many books. Both are regionally and nationally respected for their creative works and dedication to literary pursuits.

I chose to represent Ardinger's work a lyrical poem dedicated to Bruce Embree and Scott Preston, "Elegy." (Embree and Preston were featured in #24 of the series. They died by their own hands.)

A perfect day for death,
the rain, of course, unusual.
Out here, we dream of rain,
as if rain and dreams make
a difference to the desert.
We take comfort in that.
What we know of water's absence
we know of water's soul.
The porch roof drips
and puddles form like wounds,
clouds hunt for mountains,
mountains hunt for clouds.
Our eyes prey on terrain
for cairns, like days strewn
toward that final promontory
where the sky bears down
and mountains reach for heaven.
What measure here but desert,
days, and water, whiskey
in a coffee cup. You're now
the shadow of sage, moon
over cheat grass, light
when sun breaks like an echo,
the voice of a rusty screen door
when the wind blows
everything away.

Studebaker's poems skillfully weave the personal with his vision of the natural world around him. "Hawk Time" is a perfect example:

It's this way…
spring before winter is over,
and this she knows and flying
leaves her lovely voles.

And the dark bird
that slept in the bare trees
slips along the country roads
and sometimes gathers back
into her feathers
to rest upon power poles.

She is rich now with early dawns
and can afford to barter
or defer and dine tomorrow.

She left my soggy fields
and my delight to see her there,
and she left me to sweep the meadow
and mend the fences and wait for her
until it's time to put the shovel in the shed.

I congratulate Harald Wyndham, editor of Blue Scarab Press, for releasing this fine series of chapbooks. His foresight allowed me to discover or reacquaint myself with 50 exceptional writers and poets and to "see" Idaho's beauty through their eyes. To the Last Drop, like all other chapbooks in the series, is highly recommended.

Time Leaves
Barbara Bialick
Ibbetson Street Press
25 School Street, Somerville MA 02143
No ISBN $8.50

Whether memorializing the bittersweet irony of a Jewish divorce, or the delightful chaos and chemistry of a multigenerational Sabbath, Barbara Bialick's poetry shines. Whatever your age or background, if you love poetry you'll savor this rich stew of tantalizing memories.

"Thyme Leaves (Thymus Vulgaris)" is a skillful play on words, typical of Ms. Bialick's work. This excerpt represents with panache the reality of aging:

Time leaves no one unaffected by its vulgarity,

no man, no woman.

Who can stop the gargoyles from being sculpted

on our faces?

All we need is a mirror image

of our falling, failing features,

the too-dark tones of hair color,

beneath which the gray and white hairs

sneak stolidly in.

And the 93 million mile lines and freckles

etched on by the sun of man.

"A Christmas Quest…A Christmas Question (1974)" recalls a visit to the Holy Land, where the people of ancient lineage, the sacred and profane, bullets and prayers share an uneasy existence:

Who indeed holds the lease

to this holy land

where relics daily crumble

with bursts of shells?

What treasure in this hot ground

could pull those wailing walls of people

to such a turbulent land?

Even as they march,

their prayers to the messiah grow hushed

by terror and disbelief.

A wise person once said, "Write what you know." Ms. Bialick shares her essence here with honesty as a blessing to her readers. To quote the poet:

May my words be appreciated as a gemstone

pendant of energy hanging from my eyes,

spiraling into your consciousness.

The Bodyguard and the Rock Star: Book 3 of the Bodyguard Series
Christy Tillery French
L & L Dreamspell
P.O. Box 1984, Friendswood TX 77549-1984
9781603180344 $17.95

Bodyguard Natasha Chamberlain is back, and to quote her, "Dang!" Book Three in the series is quite a thrill ride and may just be Christy Tillery French's best book yet. Her distinctive writing style gains strength with each new book. Fans will be happy to know that Natasha hasn't changed a bit this time around. She's still feisty, stubborn, strong willed and wildly in love with her delicious fiance, Jonce Striker.

When Natasha contracts to protect Giki, an English rock star touring the southern U.S., she thinks the job will be fun and easy. What could go wrong on a bus tour through the south? Well, for one thing, Natasha didn't consider that she and Striker would be separated for weeks at a time. (Uh oh! Fireworks!) For another, she didn't expect to be shot after the first concert; she didn't expect to be guarding a rock icon who shoplifts, does drugs, needs candy like air to survive, and has unusual sexual appetites. She didn't anticipate a crazed cyber-stalker and a gang of southern rednecks bent on kidnapping, murder, and God knows what else. As always, Striker has his hands full protecting the only woman he will ever love. He sends in his best operatives Pit and Bigun to protect her, but even those two huge, loyal bodyguards can't keep Natasha safe this time. It will take all Striker's skill to keep his woman alive. If only Natasha would cooperate
and make his job easier, but fans know she won't, and that's part of the fun and excitement. Striker wants her to marry him and stop putting herself in danger. He means it this time and Natasha's headstrong ways put their relationship at risk.

What do you think, fans? No one does action adventure and fiery romance better than Christy Tillery French. We already know that. But will Natasha knuckle under and agree to marry Striker? Will Pit, Bigun, and Striker keep her in one piece long enough to reach the altar? Will Giki forsake her wayward life and settle down? And what sort of a cliff hanger will French come up with this time to leave us eager for the next book in this series? You're in for a few shocks and a big surprise but you'll have to read the book to find out. This is a fast, fun, exciting read.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

Should Old Acquaintance Be Dead
Jean Sheldon
Bast Press
PO Box 3965, Albuquerque, NM 87190-3965
9780972354158 $14.95

Jean Sheldon, like so many baby boomers, picked up a guitar at age thirteen, which began a life of creative endeavors in the overlapping worlds of music; art; and literature. Her current passion is writing mysteries, which has produced the current Kerry Grant mystery series. SHOULD OLD ACQUAINTANCE BE DEAD is the follow-up to her entertaining first Kerry Grant, Chicago Detective, book entitled IDENTITY MURDER. Jean Sheldon is planning on publishing the third installment of Kerry's adventures in spring of 2008, which is titled A CHILLING GOODBYE.

Kerry Grant, Chicago Detective, has not taken a vacation since her parents were killed in an accident during their own vacation. When she is pressed by her superior and partner to take a vacation, she relents by attending her twenty-fifth class reunion with her childhood friend. Naturally murder rears its ugly head in the form of a recreated and unsolved mystery in which Kerry finds both the old murder victim and the new murder victim. Kerry's old classmates figure into the mix, but she takes a while to summon all the ingredients:

"She told them about the reunion and what happened twenty-five years earlier. 'I always knew Shayna's death wasn't an accident, and that they set up the sandbag to make it look that way. Now, Lisa Whitaker, who wanted to show me what she found about Shayna's death, is murdered. That's why we were meeting on the stage. Whatever she discovered convinced her that Shayna didn't die because of a bad snap hook. All I need to do is figure out what she saw and what it meant."

Jean Sheldon has a terrific imagination, and her plotting of this mystery reunites the characters from her first mystery who become Kerry's "civilian detectives." Kerry is the same stubborn and impetuous character who risks life and limb to right a wrong. She is a lovable heroine who needs help getting around for much of the story after almost being killed by someone who doesn't want her snooping.

SHOULD OLD ACQUAINTANCE BE DEAD once again uses computer and telephone fraud to warn readers of the new cyber-crime that is lurking. In the meantime, sharing Kerry's adventures and reluctant romance is a great time. A wonderful read!

Murder on Blood Mountain
A.C. Baantjer
Speck Press
c/o Fulcrum Publishing
9781933108131 $14.00

Baantjer is the most popular author in the Netherlands. He spent thirty-eight years in law enforcement before picking up the pen and lends credibility to his police procedurals. He has been knighted by the Dutch monarchy and honored as the first winner of the Master Prize of the Society of Dutch-language Crime Writers.

Inspector DeKok is attending a funeral at the request of the Antwerp police with his sidekick Vledder. The deceased is one Hendrik-Jan Assumburg, and he is an alleged murder victim. Vledder is insisting that a Belgian murder is not within the jurisdiction of the Amsterdam police when DeKok suddenly runs off in pursuit of a man at the ceremony. Vledder is appalled. DeKok is unapologetic:

"Vledder arrived at a run, red in the face with exertion.

'What…what,' he stammered, 'do you think you're doing? It's outrageous. You disrupted the ceremony.'

Slowly DeKok regained his breath.

'I ran after a man.'

'What sort of man?'

'Ronald Kruisberg.'

Vledder looked a question.

'No, I meant, is he a fugitive? Are we looking for him?'

DeKok shook his head.

'He died…two years ago.'"

Baantjer has written sixty crime novels featuring Inspector Detective DeKok. DeKok is not unlike Sherlock Holmes, with a few personal foibles such as pulling his lip out and releasing it, much to the chagrin of observers. A television series based on Inspector DeKok's adventures is quite popular. The series has been published in China, Russia, Korea, and Europe. The appeal of Baantjer? The gritty realism; the attention to detail in the plotting; the characterizations; and the impossibility of the reader to guess whodunit. Baantjer is a gem whose audience knows the value of his work; his prowess with a tale; and his wisdom. Inspector DeKok is a maverick and is one of a kind.

Death Comes by Amphora
Roger Hudson
Twenty First Century Publishers
9781904433682 $12.95

Roger Hudson is a native of Dublin, and has been involved in writing and editing during his long career. His accomplishments encompass writing; editing; journalism; editing; scripting television documentaries; directing; and publishing. His LIFESCAPES is a collection of poetry published last year. His photomontages are on exhibit in London and Ireland; and his documentary "Wordweaver: the Legend of Benedict Kiely" is set to come out on DVD soon.

Set in 461 B.C., DEATH COMES BY AMPHORA begins with Lysanias, an 18 year old innocent, who has just been summoned back to Athens from one of the colonies to find his Uncle Klereides has died in a most suspicious manner. Lysanias finds himself the new head of the household with only his elderly slave, Sindron, to guide him. A new radical element has arisen in Athens which is trying to drive General Kimon out of power. Amidst the corruption and political intrigue of Athenian society, Lysanias must learn how to become a player both to solve and avenge his uncle's death. He employs an effective disguise to examine the scene of the murder himself:

"The next morning at dawn, there Lysanias was, approaching the hiring line on the southern slope of Market Hill, dressed in his worker's tunic, his tool bag slung from his shoulder, his ribbon tucked away inside it, breaking the rules again. Well, it depends whether one counts yesterday or today as the fourth day, he thought wryly. It felt strange to be again in the familiar garb, after the last few days playing the role of a wealthy heir. Now here he was pretending to be what he regarded as his real self; and with no Sindron to fall back on for advice…"

Roger Hudson has written a truly original and amazing book. The research involved must have been massive. Not only does he plot an excellent mystery with intriguing characters; he re-creates the fascinating world of Ancient Athens for the reader's entertainment. His whodunit is sophisticated, and his treatment of the coming of age of Lysanias, complete with his sexual education, is inspired. This is a great book and a wonderful read that can't help but teach as well as entertain.

First the Dead
Tim Downs
Thomas Nelson Press
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781595540249 $22.99

Tim Downs graduated from Indiana University, where he created a comic strip entitled Downstown, which eventually entered syndication after he published three collections based on the comic strip. Downs also founded "The Communication Center," a training and consulting arm of the "Campus Crusade for Christ." Downs garnered a Christy award for his novel PLAGUEMAKER. He also authored CHOP SHOP and SHOO FLY PIE, as well as FINDING COMMON GROUND, a non-fiction book.

Dr. Nick Polchak, better known as "the bug man" is on site with a branch of FEMA called DMORT. Their mission is to collect and process dead corpses amidst any national disaster. Hurricane Katrina has hit, and Nick teams up with his buddy, Jerry Kibbee, a funeral home director from Fort Wayne, Indiana. Although their mission changes from the beginning of this deployment, Nick is still painfully aware that Hurricane Katrina would provide an excellent dumping group for corpses who met their deaths by illegal means. Sure enough, he quickly finds a corpse that fits that category and opens up a can of worms. This seems to be Dr. Polchak's forte, and he is better than anyone at defying authority. When they find a second body, he is in trouble with higher ups:

"'Yesterday you recovered the body of a man from the Lower Ninth Ward, though you were specifically instructed not to. Last nigh your director reprimanded you for that infraction and reminded you of your instructions - yet today you recovered a second body from the same general area. I'd like to know why.'

'I'd like to know who's asking,' Nick said.

'My name is Turlock,' he said. 'Special Agent Frank Turlock.'

'Why is the DEA interested in my little faux pas, Mr. Turlock? Seems like an in-house issue to me.'"

Tim Downs is once again at his best with this installment of Dr. Nick Polchak the bug man's adventures. Polchak strikes a character rich balance as a wise-cracking entomologist, a man who would rather study bugs than try to communicate with his ex-lover psychiatrist, who is also on-site for Katrina. A great read that can't be put down!

The Quarterback's Demons
C.K. Laurence
Bouncing Ball Books

C.K. Laurence lives in Miami with her husband in what they've dubbed "the Laurence Manor." She holds a Masters Degree in Sports Administration from St. Thomas University. She has worked with the University of Miami Hurricane Football team and is the proud owner of a national championship ring, which can be seen on her finger at her website. Laurence spent many hours with Miami detectives and CSI personnel researching THE QUARTERBACK'S DEMONS.

Kyle Sands is the veteran quarterback for the Miami Demons. He is dating a woman of dubious sexual mores, and it takes him a while to come to the conclusion that she is running around on him behind his back. He spends one last painful night with her at a rave he doesn't want to attend and then goes back to her apartment to officially break off their relationship. The next morning she is found brutally murdered, and Kyle is the number one suspect. Two Miami detectives are investigating, and immediately Will Kaufman and Karen Brandt are at each other's throats regarding the murder. Karen has a history, having grown up with Kyle, and Will's motivations are rather more unclear:

"But Will stuck to his guns. 'Oh yeah, geniuses?' He eyed the two of them. 'Like there's never been a case of a clean-cut football hero that's run amok over a woman. Those divas think they can get away with anything - including murder - just because they're hot items on the field. Maybe they don't think at all. Except for the fact that they do get away with it.'"

C.K. Laurence has written a knowledgeable mystery about professional football that is gritty and honest. She does a great job of both hiding her culprit, as well as creating so many suspects that even her fictional detectives are stumped. The fun is in the exaggeration of "the prima donnas" and the groupies the industry attracts. Laurence has done her homework, and she creates characters that range from straight-arrow clean cut to pond scum.

THE QUARTERBACK'S DEMONS is a thorough and well researched first effort from a woman with a great sense of humor, of timing, and of human nature. We'll forgive her for trashing real life football heroes who might be on our team.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf
Teresa Alessi & Therone Shellman
Third Eye Publishing
P.O. Box 5694, Bayshore, NY 11706
9780977100446 $13.00

Harold is a man with a heart of gold. A simple man, who loves his wife and truly enjoys being married. Unfortunately his world was about to crash down upon him when his not so loving wife tells him she wants a divorce. Harold is heartbroken, but decides he is no longer going to be Mr. Nice Guy, and at the age of 35 he stars a new life, and even quits his job and becomes the owner of a Bagel Shop. However, things were going to get complicated for Harold.

Lonely, he goes on hoping perhaps to find true love. His luck is pretty bad the first few times, but soon he finds Jenny who is everything he has ever wanted. However, Linda, his first wife, decides she wants a piece of the new Harold and throws a terrible wedge in-between Jenny and him. Will Harold be able to close that wedge and find happiness with the woman he truly loves?

This was a very good story. The author did a great job in her description of Harold, Linda and Jenny. I enjoyed having the main character Harold being a nice guy and making it without changing into someone evil. I thought she did a good job throwing in the different challenges Harold had to face and her choice of colorful characters was good. Every book needs someone like Linda. All in all a very good story of love lost, and found again.

Even Numbers
Barbara Grovner
Third Eye Publishing, Inc.
PO Box 5694, Bayshore, N.Y. 11706
9780977100439 $9.95

I always love when an author is unique. You know, uses something a little different to draw our attention. In this book our author uses a fly. Yes, that's right. Our story is told by a fly on the wall, and what a story he has to tell. Great idea!

We are taken into the life of a woman named, Dominga. A woman who has low self-esteem and desperately needs love. Unfortunately her need becomes the focal point of her life, and does not allow her to see the destruction it brings about to her own daughter, Olivia. The man she falls in love with is a predator of the worse kind, a child lover, and her daughter's life will be destroyed for his pleasure. How sick is that? And quite disturbing.

I found this books to be quite an eye-opener. I loved the way the author takes us into the mind of the predator, his manipulation, his cunning ways. I never realized anyone would go to such lengths for their perverted pleasures, but now I do. It is a disturbing tale, but one I am sure is played over and over again in countless homes in countless countries. Sad, but true. We need to wake-up and protect our children from this garbage. This book should be read by everyone who cares about children. A great read, very well done, with an ending to the Predator that will bring a smile to your face, at least for a moment. Way to go fly!

Self-Massage for Athletes
Rich Poley
Two Hand Press
PO Box 4326, Boulder, Colorado 80306
9780977608607 $19.95

I don't know about you, but I love a good massage. To me, nothing relaxes and puts me in a better mood. I was interested to read what author, Rich Poley, had to say about self-massage techniques, and just how easily a novice could do a worth while one. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, and quite happy at what I learned.

Rich Poley certainly knows his subject and it shines through to the reader in an easy to understand read. This work is packed full of what you need to know to give your body the benefits of a massage. He takes you from the correct techniques to use, different movements, body parts, what trigger points are and how to try to find them, acupressure, even shower massage.

Let me say this, there is so much information in this book that will be useful for you that I could never mention it in one small review. Our author also includes pictures that are very helpful at locating what you need for a successful self-massage. He gives you the whys and the how to's and explains everything you need to know to help you along the way. I've given several of these a try and it really is not hard to learn, although to get perfection will take some practice. I have to say, that of course I'd rather have someone else do all the work, but if I can take a few minutes to pamper my body and help me feel better I most certainly will try to do it.

"Self-Massage for Athletes" is one great resource book, not just for athletes, but for everyone who would like to enjoy the benefits a massage can bring. Very well done.

A Time To Mend
Sally John and Dr. Gary Smalley
Thomas Nelson Publishing
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9780849918896 $14.99

In this story we meet a couple, Clare and her husband Max. Married with four grown children, this couple had grown apart in many ways. One day Clare told her husband that she quit, but Max didn't have a clue what was really going on in her heart, or what she was quitting - at least not until she walked out the door. It took months of soul searching for each of them, and a near tragic end for Clare, before they allowed God to intervene and show them what was missing in their relationship, and how to fix it. The author did a good job in showing the ups and downs, inward battles, emotional victories and defeats of this couple. During this time, we are also shown the lives of their children, in which some of the same problems were showing in their relationships, and how they were rectified.

This was quite a moving story, very well written. It was spiritually sound, addressed issues that many couples hide under the rug, and brought it all together in a great flowing storyline. A book that you will enjoy, perhaps will relate to, and certainly will remember long after the read.

The Life and Times Of The Lord Jesus Christ A Harmony of The Gospels
Peter Smith
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd. - 515, Parker, Colorado 80134
9781432709396 $13.95

I suppose as Christians we are always a little concerned when a book comes out concerning Scripture. We know the importance of keeping the Word of God , the Word of God. With this in mind I carefully began my read of Peter E Smiths work, "The Life and Times of the Lord Jesus Christ." I was delighted at what I found, and all my fears were quieted.

Author Peter Smith puts the events of the life of Jesus in chronological order. As I read, I found this to be both fascinating and refreshing, as well as a learning experience. I caught myself saying, "Oh, is that when that occurred."

I have to say this is a great book for both beginners in Christ and long time Bible readers. One that you will enjoy the first time through and use time and time again in your study of the Word. Very well done.

It's A Guy Thing: Character is King
Dr. John H. Binkley
Guy Thing Press
1421 Dallas Parkway, Suite 600, Dallas, Texas 75254
0978629124 $14.95

In this outstanding book by, Dr. John H. Binkley, we are gently led by his words into the realm of the Spirit and some Godly wisdom that we may apply to our lives. Our author takes us down the road of life and explains why it is important to be a person of character, the Godly kind. Every area of your existence will change for the better when you stop, evaluate, and take the proper steps to line-up your character by God's rules.

Dr. Binkley utilizes the Word and gives us examples of Godly character that we should strive to attain, and explains why striving to live this way will make your life so much better. After each chapter he gives a summary, which is very helpful, and at the end of the book, Scripture references. One of the statements that struck me was, "Our character is based on our knowledge of God." Think about it? That statement alone makes you want to dig into God's Word. Surely this book will be a useful tool to any who wish to understand the spiritual truths that will help unlock God's will for their life and have a better understanding of God's ways. Another winner!

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

The Book Of Chess
Jacob de Cessolis
Italica Press
595 Main Street, Suite 605, New York, NY 10044
9781599100104, $20.00

Ably translated and deftly edited by H. L. Williams, this Italica Press edition of Jacob de Cessolis' "The Book Of Chess" was famous in its time and translated into several languages. de Cessolis was a Dominican friar in the Lombard region of Italy who gave a remarkable sermon (Liber de moribus hominum et officiis nobilium -- Book of the Manners of Men and the Offices of the Nobility) that became better known to subsequent generations as "The Book Of Chess" and provided readers with a primer on the use of chess as a metaphor for the game of live, ending only in the 'checkmate' of the reader's death. It presents, through the analogy of chess pieces, a contemporary's perspective of how medieval European social live and structure played out amongst the various classes that composed it, from the governed to the governors, and from the workers to the fighters. Beginning with an informative bibliographic essay, "The Book Of Chess" is divided into four main sections: Background of the Game; The Noble Figures; The Commoners; Openings and Moves. Enhanced with a series of woodcut images and a comprehensive index, "The Book Of Chess" is especially recommended for academic library Medieval Studies collections in general, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in medieval social structure in particular.

James Knoblauch & Shawna Kenney
Mark Batty Publisher LLC
36 West 37th Street, Penthouse, New York, NJ 10018
9780979048685, $24.95 1-866-407-6302

An integral part of every science fiction and fantasy convention are the costumes that the fans create imitating their favorite characters from literature, pop culture, films, and television shows. Funny, thoughtful, irreverent, and occasionally iconoclastic, "Imposters" is a compilation of full-color photographs of some truly memorable examples of fan costuming presented with a one page bio of the man or woman who has (and rather successfully) sought to emulate a particular character with precise attention to detail. From Superman; Wonder Woman; and Spiderman; to Elvis; Bugs Bunny; and Homer Simpson, "Imposters" offers a roster of examples that might well serve as a template for other enthusiasts as to what they might do. "Imposters" is a unique contribution to academic and community library Popular Culture reference collections, and a whole lot of fun for non-specialist general browsers who have ever dressed up for Halloween, SciFi, or costume party events!

Memories of Smoke & Ashes
Andre Pohlman
Xlibris Corporation
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113
Perfect Pitch
704 Gilman Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781425756796, $22.99

Memories of Smoke & Ashes: A World War II Story is a dark novel firmly grounded in Polish and Hungarian history during World War II. Author Andre Pohlman experienced the Nazi occupation of Poland and the Red Army siege of Budapest as a child; Memories of Smoke & Ashes is inspired by both his own experiences and the stories his mother told him after the war. Told in first person, Memories of Smoke & Ashes follows a mother's determination to protect her child at all costs during Warsaw's and Budapest's darkest times, with little to aid her outside her own bravery and a medallion for good luck. Highly recommended.

Morning of the Rising Sun
Kenneth I. Friedman, Ph.D.
Booksurge LLC
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781419680960, $39.99

Historian Kenneth I. Friedman, Ph.D. presents Morning of the Rising Sun: The Heroic Story of the Battles for Guadalcanal, an in-depth study of a critical battle between America and the Japanese Empire during the early days of World War II. Both sides attacked with as much weaponry, air power, and manpower as they could muster; when America achieved control of the area in 1943 the Japanese were forced to be on the defensive while America went on the offensive in the Pacific Theater. Meticulously researched and exhaustively detailed, Morning of the Rising Sun is a study unquestionably worthy of inclusion in World War II military history shelves.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Zero Point Energy
Thomas Valone
Integrity Research Institute
5020 Sunnyside Avenue, Suite 209, Beltsville, MD 20705
9780964107021, $22.00

Zero Point Energy: The Fuel of the Future is a marvelous introduction to the concept of zero point energy and what its practical applications could mean in a future where fossil fuels become increasingly depleted. Zero point energy is the kinetic energy retained by the molecules of a substance when it is reduced to the temperature of absolute zero. "Scientists have cooled specimens to less than 1 degree Kelvin of the absolute zero point temperature. A famous experiment proving the existence of ZPE involves cooling helium to within microdegrees of absolute zero temperature... Amazingly, it will still remain a liquid! Only ZPE can account for the source of energy that is preventing helium from freezing." A handful of black-and-white diagrams illustrate this ambitious look into possibilities for taking advantage of zero point energy, couched in terms accessible to readers of all backgrounds. A bright ray of hope realizing the dream of sustainable living, highly recommended.

Uwharrie Bizarres
Fred T. Morgan
Bandit Books, Inc.
PO Box 11721, Winston-Salem, NC 27116-1721
John F. Blair, distributor
1406 Plaza Drive, Winston-Salem, NC 27103
9781878177179, $15.95 1-800-222-9796

Award-winning former Feature Editor for the "Stanly News and Press" and longtime Uwharries resident Fred T. Morgan presents Uwharrie Bizarres: Colorful Characters From America's Oldest Mountains, an eclectic collection of true stories of residents of the Uwharrie mountain range. A handful of black-and-white photographs illustrate tales of a farmer who created an elegant shoo-fly device, a man who carves images of rainbows into slate tombstones, a man subject to nervous tics who followed his dream of becoming a preacher, and many more. Wry true-life anecdotes peppered with a dash of folklore and seasoned with snappy prose make Uwharrie Bizarres a joy to read.

The Bald Eagle
David Hancock
Hancock House Publishers
1431 Harrison Avenue, Blaine, WA 98230-5005
9780888395368, $12.95 1-800-938-1114

The Bald Eagle is the avian raptor that was chosen by an act of Congress to be a national icon of America. Once flourishing everywhere on the North American continent, it became an endangered species in the early decades of the twentieth century due to the use of pesticides and a diminishing habitat. National wildlife and conservation groups worked together with state and federal agencies to save the Bald Eagle from extinction. "The Bald Eagle Of Alaska, BC and Washington" is beautifully illustrated, 95-page book that provides the reader with reliable information as to where they may best view the resurgent Bald Eagle populations, as well as the best of the Eagle Festivals that take place throughout the western states, Alaska, and the Canadian provinces. Additionally, readers will learn about the trapping and banding of eagles, continuing threats to these magnificent birds, the Eagle's yearly life cycle, and so much more. There are even pages set aside for recording notes on Bald Eagle nests and sightings. "The Bald Eagle of Alaska, BC and Washington" is an enthusiastically recommended addition to school and community libraries, as well as the personal reference collection of birdwatchers with an interest in viewing and learning about that preeminent symbol of America -- the Bald Eagle! Also from Hancock House Publishers and very highly recommended for children is David Hancock's "Story Of Eagle" (9780888396419, $5.95) which is very nicely illustrated by Susanne Lansonius and directs boys and girls to the live Bald Eagle webcam at

The Leadership Dojo
Richard Strozzi-Heckler
Frog, Ltd.
c/o North Atlantic Books
1435 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781583942017, $24.95 1-800-788-3123

"The Leadership Dojo: Build Your Foundation As An Exemplary Leader" by nationally known speaker and business consultant on leadership and mastery Richard Strozzi-Heckler is based on the concept of 'somatics' (a unity of language, action, energy, and meaning) as it applies to leadership, enabling and allowing practitioners to increase and reinforce trust, motivation, and effectiveness in those organizations they are responsible for. Drawing from his years of experience and expertise in counseling and training Fortune 500 executives, top-ranked military leaders, and social entrepreneurs, Richard Strozzi-Hecker combines a martial arts mastery with practical and tested business strategies that have proved 'real world' successful with his thousands of clients. Informed and informative, inspired and inspiring, "The Leadership Dojo" is a thoroughly 'reader friendly' and instructive guide that is especially recommended to anyone entrusted with a leadership responsibility within the framework of any commercial, governmental, religious, or social issues organization.

Paul T. Vogel

The Reader Views Bookshelf

Irene Watson, Editor

HubBooks/Motown Writers
c/o Sylvia Hubbard, PO Box 27310, Detroit, MI 48227
9780979792854, $13.99, 2007, (313) 289-8614,

Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views

This is the author NeCee's sequel to "Grooming Him for Her." She continues the story about Nikki Ford and Sasha Benay in this second novel and it does not disappoint. The title of the book is a little strange but is explained by the author's definition of a Crawler. "A Crawler is someone who is never satisfied, always searching for another to fulfill his/her selfish needs, wants, and desires in this moment. Often times, a Crawler thinks the grass is greener on the other side, acts on those feelings and later realizes that the grass is not greener, and then he/she goes crawling back to a past love" (page 145).

As the story continues around the two main characters, we see their relationships change and evolve. Nikki and the father of her son, Brandon, have to redefine their relationship after they break up. As Nikki gets a wonderful promotion and move to Atlanta, she starts over and begins to appreciate her co-worker, Matthew, who completely adores her. In the meantime, Brandon marries his girlfriend, Star, and begins to miss Nikki. Will she let him begin the crawl back to her or accept the love that Matthew has to give?

Sasha Benay is so happy that her best friend Star has found love again after losing her husband a couple of years before. She decides to take her on one last adventure to The Chocolate Festival in Jamaica at "Hedonism 3." Star surprises herself when she meets Stanley and realizes that she is not as happy with Brandon as she thought she was. She must decide if she will follow through with her marriage or follow her heart with Stanley. Sasha is still acting like she is carefree but cannot get Robert, a married man, off her mind. Robert and his wife have a new child and are really happy. As Sasha begins drawing him in again, she realizes that she is playing for love this time.

Oh, the webs these girls weave. As there relationships unfold, each one must make a decision about what they really want in life. Will they accept healthy and happy relationships or will they become victims of, or crawlers, themselves? You will not want to miss the answers to those questions in "Crawlers." The author once again ends her book with a "Food for Thought" section and this time she adds book club discussion questions.

Egypt: An Extraterrestrial and Time Traveler Experiment
Dr. Bruce Goldberg
Bruce Goldberg, Inc.
4300 Natoma Ave, Woodland Hills, CA 91364
9781579680176, $14.95, 2007, (818) 713-8190,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

"Egypt" is a sequel to "Time Travelers from Our Future." Dr. Goldberg begins explaining his theories of an alternative history of earth and man's evolution by concisely detailing the history of the earth and discussing the ancient history of Egypt. He extensively references his information. Having a great deal of experience with hypnosis and past-life regression, he also describes some interesting historical accounts of events in ancient history that were relayed by his current patients during hypnotic sessions. These accounts are incredibly fascinating and it was interesting to note the similarities that appear in their stories.

In Dr. Goldberg's historical account, he feels that the development of Egypt was heavily influenced by Lemuria, Atlantis, extraterrestrials and time travelers. He feels that influences from these sources helped to separate Egyptian history into three distinct epochs. He offers compelling evidence, from the past, of incidents that appear to have been caused by modern technology from the future or from extraterrestrials.

Dr. Goldberg believes that we are here to ascend. We are responsible for everything that we experience. He states, "We must rejoin with our Higher Self and take responsibility for our actions and our lives." Believing that we are destined to ascend, he feels that we still have to earn this right. He further states, "We must rejoin with our Higher Self and take responsibility for our actions and our lives." The negative behaviors that are common today keep us from attaining a state of Grace.

Dr. Goldberg discusses his idea that Egypt was a failed experiment because true spiritual growth did not evolve from that time. The four groups that he felt were influencing us failed us with achieving our long-term goal of ascension. To help us connect with our Higher Source, he offers exercises to assist in linking our chakras and performing a super conscious mind tap. He also offers steps so that we can astrally project ourselves and access our Akashi records.

"Egypt: An Extraterrestrial and Time Traveler Experiment" is an absolutely fascinating book. I really enjoyed reading about Dr. Goldberg's theories on how the human race evolved and was influenced by sources not typically mentioned in mundane history classes. He offers very convincing arguments which he backs with references and his own personal accounts taken from his patients. I thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to read this thought-provoking book. I look forward into delving into other books written in this series.

Forever Sentimental Vol. IV: The Game of Hearts
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595477548, $21.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

"Forever Sentimental Vol. IV" offers 67 valuable life lessons divided among four chapters covering different topics. Interwoven between each of the life lessons are beautiful, poignant poems that reflect upon the chapter. Some of the poetry pieces are beautiful love poems; others are reflective of painful relationships. They are all very stirring.

As a single person who exited an unhealthy relationship less than five months ago, I really found the lessons to be incredibly valuable. Kenyatta reminded me that I should expect to be respected, love and valued in a relationship that is moving forward. I know that this sounds like common sense, however, as he mentions in one of the life lessons, most people put on a very good front at the beginning of a relationship. When my ex-boyfriend started to revert to his true self, I was caught off guard and blamed myself for the decline of the relationship. Through "Forever Sentimental Vol. IV," I gained a great deal of information that helped me to understand issues that contributed to my marriage failing, issues involving making poor decisions in choosing partners in my next relationships, what to look for in a healthy partnership, and what to look for in my next potential boyfriend. I really need to take the time to get to know my next potential mate. Establishing a friendship first is incredibly important in seeking a healthy partner.

While I am at a point in my life that I am fine with being single, I cannot wait to apply these lessons to current relationships in my life, and to the future ones. While the focus is on emotional relationships, the lessons can also be used to apply to friendship and family members. As I was reading through the lessons, I saw ways that I should have handled certain personal situations in my past that would have been assertive and self-respecting. I feel so empowered now!

Kenyatta presents a wealth of information for people at every stage in relationships, from a single person seeking a new mate, to someone in an unhealthy relationship, to someone who wants to add more to a good partnership. There is not one person who will not benefit from reading this because above all it teaches you to value yourself first. Kenyatta presents everything in a very caring manner. The warmth of his personality reaches out and touches you through the pages of "Forever Sentimental Vol. IV." Do yourself a favor and read this book!

Strategies: A Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Journey
Tami Brady
Loving Healing Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
9781932690484, $17.95, 2008 ,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

Tami Brady shares her story with us of her journey with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Until she was diagnosed with these disorders, she really struggled with fears about her health and limitations imposed by her symptoms. She was diagnosed in 1997 and along the way has learned what works and doesn't work for her. She also made many personal discoveries about herself and how her perceptions of herself and her behaviors can influence her conditions.

Nine years ago, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I already had two friends who had serious cases of it. When the doctor gave me eight prescriptions to help me deal with the symptoms, I decided that it was time to quit my stressful job and focus on recovering my health. I saw so many similarities between Ms. Brady's journey and my own. We both started out with overachieving personality types. We take on big goals that really just serve to put more pressure on our own health. For myself, I insisted on getting straight A's through two graduate programs, while sometimes working two jobs. As Ms. Brady discovered with her own overachieving efforts, it had serious implications on our health. We also both have gotten into heavy workout routines that our bodies are unable to maintain. I just went through a phase were I was trying to work out two to three times a day. I feel like if I am going to be in pain, I will give myself a reason to hurt. In the long run, as Ms. Brady discovered, this just hurts my self.

Another common issue that I see with people that have this disease is as she states, "No one sees scars or disfigurement so it's a shock to most people that you actually have something really wrong with you That we become incredible actors to mask and hide the symptoms makes the situation that much more difficult." I know that most people suffering from CFS and fibromyalgia can relate to this. There are still a lot of professionals that will tell us that it doesn't exist and it is in our head.

Ms. Brady discusses many common symptoms that come with having these conditions. I think the most common symptom is the pain that occurs in the trigger points. She also discusses what she calls "Fibrofog." It brought me great relief to read about this because I have this happen so much, I get anxious that it could be the start of Alzheimer's disease, at forty! It was a relief to see that it is part of the condition. The interrupted sleep sessions definitely exacerbate the bouts. I also share her experience with her legs giving out on her. Mine happens at times when I get out of bed. It is a scary experience.

In addition to discussing what doesn't work, Ms. Brady also discusses what she found helpful. Moderation with everything definitely seems to be very important. Reiki is also a good healing practice. I also practice Reiki. I found that either doing it on my self or others is beneficial. Healthy eating is important as well. Getting into fad diets is not the way to go. Our bodies let us know with pain, that we are doing something wrong.

To help us with a healing plan, Ms. Brady offers a series of strategies to help with certain symptoms. She gives her own personal examples and then offers blank charts so that we can fill in our own information. This is an excellent strategy for tracking symptoms, causes and treatments. This is a great way for you to organize a program and keep track of what works. There is an extensive list of resources to help you on your way. Applying these resources to yourself helps you to take charge of your own health. "Strategies" is an excellent resource for people at all phases of the disease. It is a relief to hear someone else share their story, and know that you are not alone.

A Book is Born: 24 Authors Tell All
Nancy C. Cleary
Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing
15115 Highway 36, Deadwood, OR 97430
9781932279504, $24.00, 2007,

Reviewed by Tyler R. Tichelaar for Reader Views

"A Book is Born" follows 24 author-moms through the journey from getting their books published, through the marketing and publicity of their books. These authors give the writer setting out to publish some idea of what the journey might be like.

The strength of "A Book is Born" is the stories of the 24 female authors. Nancy Cleary has organized a group of women who are also mothers and authors, and these women tell their stories of getting published, their dreams, disappointments, and achievements along the road, and how they balanced their writing with motherhood. "A Book is Born" continually compares writing and publishing a book to giving birth and raising a child - something I think many women writers will relate to. However, I thought stories from three or four, rather than twenty-four female authors would have been more effective and focused. The authors did tell stories that I could relate to as a published author myself. I think if any woman wants to write and publish a book, she will find this book useful primarily in understanding the emotional journey - the joy and stress involved in the process. As a published author myself, I found I could relate to many of the writers, but as a man, I more stereotypically wanted to learn about the nuts and bolts rather than the emotional journey.

This book is not for the writer who wants to learn how to be published or self-published. As the 24 authors talked about their journeys, I found myself impatiently wanting to be told how to get an number, how to find a printer, how to create a press kit, how to develop a marketing plan. The book does have some "Tech Tips" sections, but these contain minimal information. If anyone wants to know how to get published, I don't think this book will be much help. The most useful section, "The Secret and Science to Getting Your Book Published" was only about 20 pages long, and it mainly consists of a checklist for you to rate the energy you are willing to put into publishing and promoting your book so you can decide whether you should go with a print-on-demand publishing company, self-publish, look for an independent press, or seek an agent to sell a book to a major publisher. The real nuts and bolts of publishing were not covered - when the author mentioned press releases and media kits, she did not give any real pointers on how to write them, and the sample press releases and other materials in the book were printed so small they were not readable for use as examples. If you want to learn about publishing details, this book is not for you.

I recommend "A Book is Born" as a supplement to writers in helping them to decide if publication is right for them. While I felt the book could have been more focused, "A Book is Born" will tell you what the "How To" books do not - how it feels to be a published author.

Every Year on Your Birthday
Rose Lewis; Illustrated by Jane Dyer
Little, Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9780316525529, $16.99, 2007,

Reviewed by Olivia Alejandre (age 4) for Reader Views

Mom's review / summary:

A must for all families who adopted from China, and probably for other adopted kids, too. This book beautifully presents the wonders of adoption and respect of the culture and background of the child's birthplace. The clothes, the artwork, and the story all seem to be in tune with Chinese culture.

For other families, it's a wonderful way to explain the joys of adoption. We want to make sure our daughter has a respect for various backgrounds and family structures, so this helped us talk about an important topic with a cute story. But, since she can't directly relate to it (with friends or family), it's not a book that she wants to read over and over again. I can imagine, though, that a family who has adopted would love reading this on a regular basis.

She did ask about the six girls in the orphanage and why there weren't any boys, so I had a tough time explaining that without saying anything that a four-year-old couldn't handle. It's a good discussion to have with an older child, but I'm not comfortable going into all the reasons with someone of Olivia's age.

Some quotes from Olivia's discussion with Mommy about the book, "Every Year on Your Birthday"

"That's the pretend moon on the water."

[Mom]: "I was waiting for you to come out of my tummy."
"And, you hoped that I was a girl. And, I was a girl."

"She's two!"

"When babies have just been born, they look very small. Every part of their body looks very small."

"The baby and bear are the same size. And, the baby is way bigger than the bear."

"The face on the girl is pretty, and so is the dress, and the white shoes."

"Those babies look the same age."

"Some puppies are small and some puppies are really big, like that white dog that lives near Grandpa's house."

"That's the prettiest boat. I thought it was a big floatie but it was a boat."

"Look, she's way bigger now."

[Mom]: "What do you think about adopting babies?"
"Nice. If someone adopts a baby, that daddy and mommy have to find another baby so they can have their own baby."

God Made Me! He Made You! (with CD)
Alan Flory
Bridgeway Books
P.O. Box 80107, Austin, TX 78758
9781933538792, $16.95, 2007,

Reviewed by Olivia Alejandre (age 4) for Reader Views

Mom's review / summary:

Wow! Beautiful photographs of animals - close up so kids can really see them well, easy-to-remember rhyming words, and an audio CD with the song that goes with the book. And, of course, it reinforces that God made all of this beauty, including the person reading the book.

I think children respond to simple and bright artwork or photographs, which this book certainly has. Olivia really looked at each picture and asked questions about most of them (or said something silly about the animals).

The chorus part of the song / rhyme is repetitive, which helps with remembering it and saying it along with me when we read. Make this a part of your evening routine with your kids!

Some quotes from Olivia's discussion with Mommy about the book "God Made Me! He Made You!"

"Pretty picture." (the cover)

"The sheep look pretty. I like the sheepies."

"Those birdies look funny because they have funny colors on them."

"What is that?"
[Mom]: "A prairie dog."
"What's a prairie dog?"

"Softie !" (the prairie dog)

"Mommy, jellyfish will hurt you, right? It will hurt very ouchie."

"God made giraffies. He made me. He made ears."

Hungry: A Novel
Alethea Eason
HarperCollins Publishers
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
9780060825546, $15.99, 2007,

Reviewed by Emily Robbins (age 13) for Reader Views

Deborah has a normal life here on earth. Well, that's what everyone thinks. She's really an alien from some faraway planet in a human disguise. She even has an alien name, Dbkrrrsh! But, when her parents want her to eat her best friend, Willy, will she prove her loyalty to the Home Planet?

"Hungry" by Alethea Eason was a fantastic book that kept me on my toes! It was a pretty easy read, but was written very well and descriptive so I could picture what Deborah's alien self looked like. Unlike most books, I actually didn't know what exactly was going to happen at the end! But, I disliked how there were very few challenging words. They were mainly pretty simple words, and I think the author could have used a few bigger words to add flair to the book.

My favorite character would have to be Deborah's grandmother. She was such a mean character; I couldn't stop reading because I wanted to know so badly what mean thing she was going to do next. There was no end to her cruelty! You could probably make a whole book about her. She was enthralling to read about. My least favorite character would have to be Alicia. She was mean, like the grandmother, but Alicia had a snotty air about her that I just didn't like. She was always changing her mind about Willy. One minute she's be nice, and the next moment she'd be cruel and snobby beyond belief! She was a well-written character, and was perfect for the book, but I just didn't like her personality.

I would recommend this magnificent book to anyone and everyone, no matter what kind of book you like. The descriptive, colorful sentences made up for not using a large variety of words. "Hungry: A Novel" has everything, and I enjoyed every minute of it!

Keeper of the Colony
H.J. Ralles
Top Publications, Ltd.
12221 Merit Drive Dallas, TX 75251
1929976356, $10.95, 2006

Reviewed by Karma Barry (age 13) for Reader Views

"Keeper of the Kingdom," Level 4 of Matt's computer game, begins when Matt and his two companions show up in the Dark End of Javeer. But he soon discovers that one of his comrades has been captured and the other has not yet been found. Then it's a race to the Underground and Javeer's Gold Mine. The threat of the Gnashers is a problem once a plan is ready to defeat the level, and a new twist is played in the level.

On Level 4 of his game, Matt will find it even more difficult than the other Levels. After going so far and doing so much, he'll need still more experience to find a way out of this Level vitorious, or suffer the consequences for his ignorance.

"Keeper of the Colony" is an interesting read set in the future with an even more interesting base. I have never shown much interest in science fiction, but H.J. Ralles kept my attention on the pages throughout the book.

I would suggest this and other books by Ralles to science fiction, fantasy, and fiction readers around the ages of 9 to 15 or 16, depending on the strength of interest in reading and the genres stated. But even if the reader prefers the television or game console they should still try the first three chapters.

As said, I've never read much science fiction, but I truly enjoyed "Keeper of the Colony" for its new style and setting. I can understand some of the excitement of feeling like being inside a video game and blocking out the world surrounding you. It's a feeling of freedom, but can be very dangerous at times.

I think that Ralles should keep writing if she enjoys it! I'll want to read anything else she writes, for sure!

Honor Due (The Citizen Warrior Series)
D. H. Brown
Big River Press
P. O. Box 371, Clallam Bay, WA 98326-0371
9780979874413, $15.95, 2007, (360) 963-3112,

Reviewed by William Phenn for Reader Views

A writer, editor, hunting guide, truck driver, weapons specialist, police officer, Vietnam vet and the list goes on and on. It makes one wonder what this man has not done? Mr. Brown is what I would call, "a Jack of all trades" and a master at the written word. As a warrior in Vietnam, D. H. was awarded the Bronze Star, the Army Commendation Medal with two stars and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Medal with palm. He resides in the Pacific Northwest with his wife Rebecca and his dog.

His writing horizons broadened by his membership in Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Military Writers Society of America, ITW and the American Authors Association. D. H. has written everything from nonprofit communications to movies.

Hunted in your own (safe?) free country by your own people? Covert activities, adventure and danger on every page; make this a fast-moving book from the very first chapter. "Honor Due" is the very compelling story of a retired, ex-Special Forces Major that is trying to live a quiet and unobtrusive life in the Pacific Northwest. Trying to live his quiet life, but due to something in his past; he is hunted by the same people he used to do the hunting for.

With a sprinkling of romance, Mr. Brown shows the reader the sensitive side of the major. Having saved the daughter of a close friend, she allies with him on his quest. She is his partner in crime and his sidekick as much as she is his lover and companion.

I can't say enough to praise this first book of Mr. Brown's, "The Citizen Warrior Series."
It was an action-packed book that I could not put down. The writing was superb, the publishing quality was very good and the cover was fitting of the story. I was impressed with "Honor Due" and look forward to the others that will be out soon. "Honor Defended" (due out in spring 2008) and "Honor Redeemed" (in progress), are the other books in the series. I gave "Honor Due" an exceptional A+ and I think it a fantastic read.

All Sleek and Skimming: Stories
Edited by Lisa Heggum
Orca Book Publishers
PO Box 468, Custer, WA, USA
1551434474, $17.95, 2006, 1-800-210-5277

Reviewed by Casey Holt (age 13) for Reader Views

The stories in this book were all hard to understand, and they had lots of typos and grammatical errors. They had no point, and most of them had no conclusion. I really can't write a review about this book because I thought it was just a very bad book. For example, one of the stories was about a boy with a football-shaped head, and it kept skipping around, it repeated everything that they said twice, and there were no quotation marks at all.

"All Sleek and Skimming: Stories" also had no conclusion whatsoever. I think that the whole book may have been translated. I also did not like it that some of the stories were comics and some weren't.

Top of Form
The God of Mischief
Paul Bajoria
Little, Brown Young Readers
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316016285, $6.99, 2007,

Reviewed by Spencer Zaborowski (age 13) for Reader Views

"The God of Mischief" by Paul Bajoriais is an extremely entertaining and magical book, about two twins named Imogen and Dominic (Mog and Nick for short), who lost their parents and became orphans at a young age. Then they were separated. Mog grew up in an orphanage, while Nick grew up on the deadly streets of London.

If you want to read about how the grew up and found each other, then you would have to read the first book in this series, "The Printer's Devil" by the same author.

In this sequel, Nick and Mog are found to be living in the house of their great uncle, Sir Septimus Cloy. They spend a lot of time wandering the streets of the village, searching their big house, and hiding in the old village church. Soon bad things begin to happen: a gargoyle almost falls on Nick, a dumbwaiter almost smashes into Mog's head, and their governess, who was trying to help them, is found hanged in her room. Then they start to receive notes from an old protector named Damyata, and the kids think that he is watching over them once again. Are there supernatural forces at work in Sir Septimus Cloy's mansion, or is there a human explanation for all the dangerous activity?

My favorite part was in the middle of the book, when the kids are in a crypt under the old church, and they find a scarecrow dressed as a jester with a human skull for a face. When Nick and Mog leave the church, they realize that they left their lamp inside the church. They went back into the church, and on the very same pew that they were sitting on several minutes before, sat the same Jester! It was very scary, because at that moment, the scarecrow turned its skull face and looked right at Nick and Mog!

I really enjoyed "The God of Mischief" because it was very thrilling and full of surprises. There are funny parts as well, and you didn't know the explanation for all that happened until the last chapter. I was afraid that really horrible things would happen to the boys, and the book was hard to put down because I wanted to find out what would happen next. It was written as if the author was Mog, so you really felt that you were right there with Nick during all of their adventures. "The God of Mischief" is written for teens who love adventure stories, but who aren't afraid to read about dangerous situations. It's not for you if you tend to have nightmares!

Bible Marvels, Oddities and Shockers: Amazing Stories from the World's Most Amazing Book
Paul Kent
Barbour Publishing, Inc.
P.O. Box 719, Ulrichsville, OH 44683
9781597891240, $2.97, 2006,

Reviewed by Lori Plach for Reader Views

A man has 700 wives! Thousands fed on a meager food supplies! Queen falls from a window to a certain death! King consults with a witch in order to make decisions! Imagine a horse who talks and his name is not Mr. Ed! These are just a few of the news stories which might have graced the headlines in Biblical times. There are a host of amazing and unbelievable things which happened in Bible times. Paul Kent has written a book which covers these headlines and many more. In his book "Bible Marvels, Oddities and Shockers" you are certain to learn many new facts.

With each specific chapter covering a specific story complete with Scripture references, you can be encouraged to check it out in the number 1 selling book --The Holy Bible. Some of these stories you may have heard of and others you may not have. Surely you have heard of Jacob and Esau as being twins but did you know there was another pair and one twin had his wrist tied with a scarlet cord so he would gain the birthright?

Bible scholars of all ages will enjoy Paul Kent's work. This book is enjoyable for everyone who wants to learn more about the Bible and the many unique ways God used unusual circumstances to make others learn more about him and rely on his strength. If you ever thought the Bible was just another boring book with nothing extraordinary, you are in for a certain surprise! You will definitely marvel the amazing ways God has been there for His people throughout the years! God's love is everywhere; you just have to know where to look. "Bible Marvels, Oddities and Shockers" is there to help you!

The Adagio: A Mystery
Alan K. Austin
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595434763, $18.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views

Alan K. Austin's "The Adagio" has everything a mystery lover could desire. The writing is incredibly smooth and the story draws you in with surprising intensity. The characters are believable and oh-so-human in all their strengths and weaknesses. The plot is unusual enough that it keeps you guessing and speculating. And the resolution is quirky enough to make this a very satisfying read.

Jack Duncan, an amateur actor, gets entangled in a brief affair with his co-star, Louise Thompson. Her husband, Robert, catches them and reacts very strangely - inviting Jack to dinner and playing a bunch of records, among which a haunting recording of Barber's Adagio. He also loans that particular record to Jack, who hears a terrifying scream towards the end of it when he listens to it at home. Jack tries to solve the mystery of the scream, but then gets deeply enmeshed in his own mystery, being accused of murdering Louise and Robert.

Jack's flight from the law enforcement as well as his stint in jail, time spent among the derelicts in New York and fate of several other people who are even indirectly involved with the past events at the famous Carnegie Hall make for a fast-paced, very engaging story. Alan K. Austin draws a number of rich characters, each with their own set of strengths and weaknesses and as such extremely believable and in most cases quite likeable. While the characters of the derelicts at the Shea Stadium "camp" might not be exactly charming, they are undoubtedly compelling and convincing. One can practically smell them.

There is enough action in "The Adagio" to satisfy, enough romance to soften the story and definitely enough intrigue to keep you busy for a few hours. I highly recommend this to any lover of intelligent mystery - and just as an aside, "in flagrante dilecto" is not misspelled… Check it out, it might provide a nice chuckle.

Tintin and Alph-Art (The Adventures of Tintin)
Little, Brown Young Readers
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316003759, $10.99, 2007,

Reviewed by Tammy Petty Conrad for Reader Views

Tintin is a cartoon character created 79 years ago by the Belgian Georges Remi who interestingly signed his drawings by reversing his initials, which in French comes out to Herge. This is the character's 24th adventure in a graphic novel format. Various editions have been translated into over 65 languages. Tintin is a journalistic reporter who travels the world with his dog, Snowy, and various friends.

This final creation for the character was begun in 1978, but was not completed prior to its creator's death in 1983. This book provides lovers of Tintin one last opportunity to share an adventure, this one in the contemporary art world involving a group of forgers. This story is a departure from the style of the other adventures and reflects Herge's interest in avant-garde art. Readers have access to the artist's pencil and ink sketches and even some of his notes in French. The story is translated to English next to the sketches. They provide alternative story lines that the artist considered, but had not fully developed. Fans will appreciate the chance to glimpse at the artist's creative process.

What is most intriguing is that we see the page where the last sketches were made. Only four frames exist and the rest of the page is blank. The story is not finished and we are left to wonder what the artist himself would have done if he had lived longer.

Captain Haddock is involved as are other characters from previous books. This time Tintin is researching the death of an art gallery owner and discovers a forgery ring. The story stops with Tintin being discovered and taken off by the bad guys. Luckily Tintin has managed to pass a note to Snowy to deliver to the Captain. Unfortunately, these are the last frames and we are left to wonder if the Captain comes to the rescue or if Tintin will make his own escape.

Collectors of the series will surely want this edition with the extra note pages. Even as a novice reader I was still interested in the stylistic format of each frame and idea of how much thought was put into the story, and indeed each frame. It was like I was peeking over the artist's shoulder and watching as he drew, crossed out and drew again, perfecting his thoughts on paper.

Although I still couldn't tell you what Alph-Art is, one the characters, Castafiore, speaks about it to the artist who created it, Ramo Nash: "It proves that your art, so simple and at the same time so rich, so noble and so basic, can reach the whole world. . .".

There is a reason there will be a museum in Louvain-la-Neuve focusing on Herge and his work. Readers from around the world will undoubtedly flock to this new venue in 2009 when it opens. I may have to think about a trip to Belgium in the near future!

Dreamtime: A Collection of Short Stories
Robert F. Steiner
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9781583484807, $10.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

"Dreamtime" is a collection of eleven short stories, written by Robert F. Steiner, that have been previously published in other books. Using some of his real life experiences as inspiration, many of the ideas in this story came from real situations to which he added a touch of the supernatural.

I totally enjoyed every story in "Dreamtime." Each story has its own theme and takes you into a completely different room in Steiner's imagination. He writes in incredibly vivid detail. He also has a gift for taking you directly into the mind of the main character in each story. After I read each story, I pondered to myself, "What if?" How incredible it would be if some of these were true, such as "Canine Fantasies," where the main character has hallucinations of a very protective dog in his life. This dog takes on a guardian angel role and protects him. I appreciated Steiner's ability to put me in a contemplative state of mind, in a few pages of each tale.

Because it is not a long book, I think that it would be a great one for someone to read who needs a mental escape, in a short period of time. I also think that it would be a great resource for an English class. Students who normally don't like reading would really get wrapped up in these stories and I think that they would enjoy discussing them.

"Dreamtime" is definitely a must-read for reader's groups. The stories are guaranteed to stimulate some incredibly interesting discussions.

Honey for the Soul: This is the Season
Anita B. Williams
FarMor Publishing Company
P.O. Box 585633, Orlando, FL 32858
9780976786214, $14.95, 2007

Reviewed by Tammy Petty Conrad for Reader Views

Believers know that God appreciates all types of praise. This author has chosen poetry to lift up her thoughts. This is not the rhyming poetry that you may be familiar with, but to me it is more like a form of prose which must be read aloud to be appreciated.

Anita Williams' love for God is evident as is her confidence in His power. Sometimes the poems are written from God's perspective speaking to his Son, as in "Freedom." Other times I hear Anita's voice telling what I assume is her own story as in "No Longer in the Box." This is a great anthem for women everywhere who have allowed their selves to be corralled into the limits of what others' expectations are for them. This author has busted out from confinement!

Some of the poems really speak to where I am in my own life. "Know Who You Are" reminds me that:

This is your season
Do not be afraid…
If you were not ready
You would not be here
At this moment in time

I sense from her words that this woman has lived a lot and learned a lot in her lifetime. I also hear her trust and faith in God coming across loud and clear in "Just Love," like in all of her work:

Just Love
And know in your heart that
God loves you so much
He gave you a gift
Someone to love and
Someone to love you back
Just Love

Bible verses on each page support the message of the poetry, keeping it grounded in the word of God. Because of these companion Scriptures, some may wish to use the book as a daily devotional. It is conveniently divided into five sections to help readers choose a topic that speaks to them at the exact moment they pick the volume up. On her website,, the author says "I find it is truly a gift from God to write poetry in the manner in which He has given it to me."

I know that there are different styles in poetry, but I did find it distracting that there was very little punctuation to break up the words and help the reader know when to pause or to completely stop for the full impact of the words. But maybe that was intentional. Just like the Bible is not always the easiest read, maybe this book, "Honey for the Soul," is something that needs to be contemplated and reread to appreciate the powerful message throughout the pages.

The Legal Alien's Guide: Building a Career and Life in Chicago, Illinois
Tatiana Sorokina
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595446223, $14.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

How refreshing it is to see a resource for people who legally arrive in this country. Russian-born Tatiana Sorokina uses her experience of having lived in different countries to write this resource for newcomers to the United States. Her goal is to provide a means to make it easier for people who are unfamiliar with the area. It is mainly written for those who are relocating to Chicago, Illinois; however, some of the resources recommended are universal to other areas.

"The Legal Aliens Guide" is written both for people who have immigrated to the United States and for those who are relocating within this country. Making this guide seem more personable, Sorokina relates her own personal experiences of what it was like to move here. Not only was she unfamiliar with the area, but she also knew very few people. Knowing the importance of networking to either gain employment or to start your own business, she offers some incredibly helpful ideas on how to go about it.

"The Legal Alien's Guide" is a concisely written tool to help you aide you in the usually stressful transition of making a big move. It offers a detailed list of resources so that you can pinpoint which ones will best serve your needs. It also has a couple of appendices that provide quick references. There is a great deal of websites listed which would allow someone to start making contacts before they even arrive. Every web address that I checked had active sites. Sorokina also lists a blog address that was written specifically for this book. If you are thinking of making the move to Chicago or one of its outlying areas, this is the perfect resource for you.

Running Away
Sheri McGuinn
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Rd, Ste 100 Lincoln NE 68512
9780595460908, $18.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Review by Nancy Wade for Reader Views

The storyline of "Running Away" is consistent with today's problem with society. This story involves a 14-year-old who does not like her new step-father. He drinks and is abusive to the child. The child gets into trouble trying to stop the mother from marrying the step-father and the step-father uses this as one of many tools to enforce the fact that the children need a father figure. By the time the couple is married the child is considered a troublemaker and when the step-father turns abusive, the child feels like no one will believe the accusations.

The step-father does not work but is a heavy drinker. The younger child takes some of his alcohol and drinks it; she sees no problem with drinking since her family all drinks, including the older child. The younger child is grounded and does not understand while everyone else can drink alcohol but they do not allow her to drink.

The mother did not allow alcohol in her house before and did not drink until she met the new boyfriend, fell in love, had a quick engagement and really quick marriage, leaving no time to really get to know him or how her children felt about him. When he came into the picture their Mom was not allowed any time to spend alone with the children. He took over and ruled the house. The mother was so glad to have someone to share the burden of parenthood with that she failed to see what type of person her new husband was.

The child who is about to turn fifteen is on the run, from the mother and the sibling, who didn't care, and the step-father who was running scams on the mother. He told her a pack of lies to put at rest any allegations the child would make against him. The story in "Running Away" ends on this positive note.

Although it's fiction "Running Away" becomes true to life and a touching story. Lives were broken as a result of the drinking and the abuse.

Stories at the Edge of Time
Alan Robbins
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595471072, $12.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views

I'll be the first to admit that short stories usually cannot hold my attention for very long. More often than not I'll read one or two in a collection; then decide that they are all the same anyhow and I'll give up. Well, this was not the case with Alan Robbins' collection of science-fiction short stories "Stories at the Edge of Time." The nineteen stories held my attention throughout the entire collection and I enjoyed them immensely.

The stories are diverse and extremely engaging. Most of them seem to deal with time, be it the passage of time, the relativity of it or some other aspect of it. They are all fresh and very different from each other, yet linked by superb writing and boundless imagination. It would be a tough call to decide which of the stories could be my favorite. Part of me would be in favor of "Sudden Insight," the story of a mathematician on the brink of a huge discovery - which never happens. Or maybe it could be "The Dead Got It Good," of the "suave detective and hard-nosed dame" genre that I've always enjoyed so much in the vintage detective novels. But wait, we cannot forget "The Time Phone!" Would it not be nice to be able to telephone into the future? Or would it be? Then we have "Uncle Jack Eats a Mummy," a very insightful story about immortality. If this one does not make you stop and think, you are probably beyond help. While all of those stories I've just named, as well as all the rest of them, enchanted me, amused me and made me wonder, I would probably pick "The Edge of Time" if I truly had to pick one only. As an avid reader I love the premise of stories and reading being able to change our fate - and that's exactly what happens in "The Edge of Time."

So - pick "Stories at the Edge of Time" and immerse yourself in it - I am pretty certain that your universe will experience a little shift as well.

Legs Talk: Let Your Legs do the Talking
D.E. Boone
Global Force Media, LLC
P.O. Box 313071, Jamaica, NY 11431-3071
9780979745348, $14.95, 2008

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

"Legs Talk," is a quirky, offbeat type of illustrated story that tells the complete tale of a relationship, gone bad. Photographs of a model's legs take you through the story from beginning to end. The photographs do a great job of telling the story. An unexpected twist, that has serious implications on the relationship, is actually given away in one of the pictures; however, I didn't catch it until after I reread the book.

The majority of the text in "Legs Talk," is presented in single sentences. There are some witty one-liners thrown into this incredibly short story. My favorite one was: "How can I miss you if you won't go away?" There were a few others that caught me off guard and had me laughing out loud.

"Legs Talk" is the perfect gift for a friend who is going through a breakup. It also would make a great gift for a friend who has everything. I can guarantee you that they don't already have something like this! "Legs Talk" a must have gift for a divorce party. It will definitely catch you off guard, and make you ask yourself, "What in the world am I reading?" I know that I did, and then I kept laughing.

Organic for Health
Sandy Powers
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595473083, $12.95, 2008,

Reviewed by Vicki Landes for Reader Views

What's on your plate these days? Caught up in the New Year's weight-loss-resolution craze? Substituting baked chicken for fried or opting for a healthy salad instead? Author Sandy Powers says it's just not enough! Amid that lower-cholesterol poultry and pile of innocent-looking veggies lurks a terror so offensive, you won't believe it's FDA-approved. Hormones, antibiotics, synthetic pesticides, irradiated components, genetically modified organisms, reprocessed sewage - and you kiss your mother with that mouth?

"Organic for Health" is a jarring look at what we eat everyday, even those fresh foods considered 'healthy.' For those already knowledgeable in all things organic, it's a gentle reminder to stay on track. But for people like me, it's a horrifying glimpse into what my body's had to process over the years. Chronic health problems, low immunity, and even that invading cancer battling our systems make much more sense when Powers describes what all we eat in addition to our intended meals. Put down that fork and slowly step away…

Unlike health how-to books that rival the size of medical textbooks, "Organic for Health" is easily ingested in one sitting for quick application. Not only does Powers give you a well-organized down and dirty (literally) of non-organic foods, she starts you off on the right path with a mouth-watering variety of recipes as well as advice on transitioning your grocery shopping habits without breaking the bank. Further, she provides a thorough glossary for quick reference and additional sources for supplementary research.

Sandy Powers notes she is living proof that the switch to organic foods is life-altering. Faced with breast cancer and a required surgery, her situation was further compounded with risky liver problems. Now, she lives cancer-free and her liver is better than ever thanks to an organic lifestyle. With the number of health problems, costs of medical care and prescriptions growing at a staggering rate, most people can no longer avoid taking a serious look at what they eat and would benefit from Powers' example. Even healthy parents will find this book eye-opening. As a mother, I found that the most shocking information in "Organic for Health" is that children have a higher sensitivity to these food additives - measured and packaged with an adult's body in mind.

Genetically-altered additives, pesticides, antibiotics, and reprocessed sewage - and that's just breakfast! "Organic for Health" will convince even the most indifferent eater that organic foods are the way to optimal well-being.

Another World: A Retreat in the Ozarks
William Claassen
Sheed & Ward
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blvd. Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781580512220, $17.95, 2007, 1-800-462-6420,

Reviewed by Vicki Landes for Reader Views

Ever want to get away from your life for awhile? Need a break from the everyday grind to regroup and evaluate your life? Author and activist William Claassen has discovered you don't need an expensive vacation or a laundry list of tourist sites to enjoy your time away. In fact, you barely need anything. In his book, "Another World: A Retreat in the Ozarks," he tells you exactly how.

"The retreats are not an escape, but rather an opportunity to come face to face with my shadows and with my light." Claassen emotionally describes his time at a Missouri monastery, living day-to-day as the Trappist monks do. Without modern conveniences or annoying tour guides, these getaways bring his life events flooding back to his memory, give his inner soul a voice, and allow him to see his existence in a unique and altered light. "Each retreat day I peel back yet another layer of consciousness and, in so doing, reach a deeper level of awareness and vulnerability."

"Another World: A Retreat in the Ozarks" is an expressive account of a lifestyle that most of us don't even know exists amid our modern society. Claassen writes in such a way that it places you there while experiencing everything in the monastery - walking outside in the crisp, cool air, sitting in deafening silence on a wooden pew, or hearing the hypnotic chanting and praying. Each seemingly insignificant action becomes much more fascinating and even spiritual in this setting.

Author William Claassen is an appealing writer for religion and spirituality book enthusiasts as well as travelers who enjoy finding destinations off the beaten path. Further, as a Missouri resident I had no idea that a place like this existed in my state; I think other Missourians would find this book - and the abbey itself - to be very intriguing.

Up before dawn, no room service, and outings consisting of walks in the woods - not what we normally think of when planning a vacation. But for William Claassen, the daily life at a monastery brings peace of mind and a deeper knowledge of self. "Another World" is just that - a spiritual journey into a completely different plane of existence.

Dream Dancing
J.J. Lair
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595412082, $15.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

"Dream Dancing" shows the grittier side of the adult entertainment industry. Abby Broughton got into exotic dancing to help support a useless, drug-addicted boyfriend in Las Vegas. She runs away from him to New Jersey, where she starts working at a small club. When she meets Mark Winston, who seems very stable, they fall fast for each other. Looking to escape their own loneliness, they marry within eight weeks of meeting. Not knowing each other very well, and knowing that men are pawing his wife every night, Mark gets her to quit the business. After finding legitimate, respectable work, Abby's past comes back to haunt her. She is in danger. She also has to deal with her nosey neighbors believing that she is a woman of ill-repute. Not having a solid foundation in their relationship makes it very hard for Abby and Mark to trust each other and to turn to each other.

Other strippers at the club have their own stories; some are in the business to make quick money to support their habits. Others are in it to get the attention that they can't get at home. It is not an easy life for any of the women. It gets harder when people who work at the clubs start get killed. Abby and Mark develop their own suspicions about each other. When a security guard named Jake Hersh starts investigating, he further increases Mark's suspicions about Abby. Meanwhile, people that she knows are still being murdered. Abby has to go back into her past to do some healing before she can be in a healthy relationship.

"Dream Dancing" really takes a hard look at the world of adult entertainment. It is very realistic. Because of the topic, I was expecting a trashy novel. It isn't at all. It is very well written and thought out. J.J. Lair does an excellent job of character development. He delves deeply into the reasons why these women end up in the business. He also did a great job with the mystery. He definitely has you convinced that you know who the murderer is, and then throws you for a loop, when you discover that you are wrong. I highly recommend this novel.

Lifeliner: The Judy Taylor Story
Shireen Jeejeebhoy
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595445448, $16.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

"Lifeliner" tells the courageous story of Judy Taylor and her battle to survive after an illness forces the removal of most of her digestive system. Her illness began when she was approaching her mid-thirties. She and her husband were enjoying a good life while raising their three daughters in Toronto. When her illness strikes, Judy is introduced to Dr. Khursheed Jeejeebhoy. Dr. Jeejeebhoy is able to save Judy's life by developing an artificial feeding program called Total Parental Nutrition which is referred to as TPN. "Lifeliner" is written by the doctor's daughter.

Judy was one of Dr. Jeejeebhoy's early patients; therefore, a lot of his success was based upon trial and error. For over twenty years they worked together. In enduring the trials, Judy had to undergo some painful and debilitating experiences. However, without these efforts, she would not have survived. Judy's husband provided her with a tremendous amount of love and support. It seemed like their special connection helped to give her the strength to get through the really rough packages. A side effect of this ordeal was how her illness affected her relationship with her children. It was very difficult for them to have to live with knowing that they could lose their mother at any time. This seriously affected them into their adulthood.

Having been a pharmacy technician, in my younger days, at two hospitals on both coasts, I really appreciated learning the history of TPNs and about the amount of dedication and perseverance that led to their development. I knew that they were to help keep people alive, but did not fully understand their significance until I read "Lifeliner." The amount of time that it took pharmacists to make them in the 1980s to 1990s was nothing in comparison to the amount of time to put them together as they were being developed. This story is a must read for doctors, pharmacists and nurses.

Judy's story in "Lifeliner" really touched my heart. Instead of giving up and allowing herself to succumb, Judy stuck it out. She did the best that she could to take care of her family. She kept her spirit strong and was an inspiration to others who were being introduced to TPNs. When she would go to the hospital for her checkups, she would take the time to go visit these patients and give them hope. Having been able to leave the hospital and take care of her feedings at home, showed them that they could get most of their lives back. Reading Judy's story also inspired me. During her story, she advises a friend not to take life for granted, and to make sure that she takes time to enjoy it. We all need to follow this advice, especially while we still have our health, so that we can be sure to enjoy life to its fullest.

The Sidewalk Smokers Club
Stephen Siciliano
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595395811, $21.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

An eclectic, eccentric group of mostly underachievers finds themselves bonding with each other while they are banished, by smoking laws, to smoking outside on the sidewalk. There are times in the story where it seems like the right to smoke is more important to this group than their actual desire to smoke. They first begin to congregate outside of one restaurant in particular. The group savors the times when restaurants actually allow them to smoke inside.

On their own, they haven't accomplished much. There is an attractive lesbian, who still seems like she hasn't fully decided. One couple is struggling to keep up with living the American dream. A beautiful woman who modeled nude and pretends to regret it, finds herself the object of many fantasies, by both men and women. One man keeps himself underemployed. Another, who seems to be totally unemployed, calls himself a "Bum Philosopher." This was a new term to me. He describes bum philosophy as: "The things that are known by all, but must be said simply because the mundane truths beg repeating to each new generation." He and some of the others unite to create more bum philosophies. These ideas were very entertaining.

As the group bonds over the right to smoke issue, they also take on other issues that individuals in the group are facing. They seem to mainly do this to empower themselves. As a united front, they are getting attention. Some relationships unite, and some divide in this story. As the Sidewalk Smokers Club fight for their causes, they also find their strengths.

Stephen Siciliano has written an incredibly entertaining story. He brings each character to life and whether you like them or not, you take notice and usually laugh. Making the characters seem so real, you feel more like a fly on the wall watching the scenes play themselves out, rather than just being a reader. The imperfections of the characters are what make them seem so real. Most of their actions are based on selfish, self-serving purposes. They might think that they are acting for the group, but in many cases, the expected result is for themselves. "The Sidewalk Smoker's Club" is an intelligently written gem of a novel, even to an unsympathetic non-smoker like my self.

A History of Western Art: From Prehistory to the Twentieth Century
Antony Mason
Abrams Books for Young Readers
115 W. 18th Street, New York, NY 10011
9780810994218, $22.50, 2007,

Reviewed by Maya Landers (age 10) for Reader Views

When I first opened "A History of Western Art" by Antony Mason, I was amazed at the excellent picture quality and the wide scope of artists and art movements that are covered. Each two-page spread displays a different subject, making each time period easy to understand. The timeframe of the art being discussed is listed at the top of the page, easily enabling the reader to understand which artist or art movement is being explored. The page layout is easy to understand, with insets and callouts that expand on the illustrations. The reproductions were finely rendered, with close-ups of some parts of the artwork and the more detailed parts of the paintings or architecture pointed out with insets. Photographs illustrate the actual works as well as illustrations of the artists.

The content of the book was extensive; the works--including painting, sculpture, and photography--range from prehistoric cave art to the 20th Century. The detailed index allows the reader to easily locate a specific artist or time period.

Many art terms were defined so even a beginning art student (such as my self) could easily understand ideas that never made sense before. For instance, on pages 112-113, the art movement Surrealism is defined: "Surrealism means 'above realism'" It suggested that the subconscious mind, "not rational thought," held the key to the truth about the real world." This section features the well-known Spanish artist Salvador Dali and shows his famous painting The Persistence of Memory.

I have visited the Salvador Dali museum and seen many of Dali's paintings. I thought that the paragraph describing him was accurate and to-the-point, showing him as he really was, or at least appeared to be--an artist who took Surrealism much farther than a simple painting. In addition, the photographs of his works were very good quality. Although there was not very large section of the page covering Dali--after all, there are other Surrealists who are also worth mentioning--the book covered as much as possible in such a small amount of space.

I would recommend "A History of Western Art" to friends, especially if they are interested more in getting an overview of large art movements rather than detailed information about one artist in particular.

Mad for Miley: An Unauthorized Biography
Lauren Alexander
Penguin Group
375 Hudson St, New York, NY 10001
9780843126846, $4.99, 2007,

Reviewed by Brianne Plach (age 10) for Reader Views

Do you know who Miley Cyrus is? Maybe you don't know her by that name, she is better known as Hannah Montana. Would you like to know more about her? If so, Lauren Alexander has just the answer for you.

Lauren Alexander has written "Mad for Miley" just for all you Hannah Montana fans. She tells of Miley's humble start, singing artist dad, Billy Ray, and rise to stardom. Did you know she actually was born in Nashville, Tennessee? There are 4 pages of color photos included in this book. Lauren even tells about Miley's experience backstage. There is quiz to see how you paid attention when you were reading.

Miley has style like blond wigs, mini-dresses and cowboy boots and much, much more! There is a list of her popular songs. "Mad for Miley" is a must have for all Hannah Montana fans out there!

Karl L. Kruger
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595460618, $34.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Spencer Zaborowski (age 13) for Reader Views

"Pajo" by Karl L. Kruger is a very interesting book about a fantasy creature named Pajajopi Bamatojasi. In this book, Pajajopi Bamatojasi, called Pajo for short, is the last of a hated race of hair-covered, smelly creatures called potheems. While Pajo was out one day finding food with his new friend Crimson, he was led by a spirit to a monk named Boqad and a famous twelve-year-old healer named Jetha. Pajo went along with Jetha and Boqad to try to save an infant prince from an assassin who had failed at the first attempt to kill the baby. The killer was still trying.

On their way to the Darkwood, where Pajo lives, they meet twelve-year-old Mikah and fourteen-year-old Talm. While they are on their way to the Darkwood, they soon learn that a crazed killer named Malluk Dominer was there in the Darkwood trying to stop them. Finally, when the children try to make it out of the Darkwood, Malluk Dominer had tracked them and was now trying to kill Pajo. The children fled to a small town, and then left again. During their journey Pajo learns that the name that he was given might actually mean more than he imagined!

Pajo has to run to the royal city to save the infant prince at the same time that he has to get past the crazed killer. This book is very exciting, so you will have to read the rest of it to find out if he makes it alive and in time to save the prince.

I liked this book, "Pajo," because it was exciting and full of adventure. The map in the front of the book showed the fantasy kingdom and helped make sense of some of the places that were mentioned in the book. The vocabulary and grammar were harder than some of the books I am used to reading, but I could still understand it. This is a great book for teens and adults, because it has a little bit of action, fantasy and mystery all mixed together. It is also funny in some parts. "Pajo" is a thrilling book that once you read the first page, you won't want to put it down until you find out the ending.

Swim at Your Own Risk
Mary Lee Homan
P3 Brown Book Publishers
16200 North Dallas Parkway, Suite 170, Dallas, TX 75248
9781933651156, $ 19.95, 2007, 972-381-0009, www/,

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views

"Swim at Your Own Risk" is Mary Lee Homan's first novel. She has brilliantly crafted a story exchanging the frenzy of the mundane into a frenetic fantasy that takes her heroine, Marta Mason, on a roller coaster ride of flirtation, intrigue, and terror.

The story is set in Naples, Florida. Homan captures the background, history, and the uniqueness of the town as she describes the locale, the beaches, and the frustrations of the citizens at the changes brought about by tourism population explosion. I particularly enjoyed the well-researched information on sea turtles and the hatching process, and protection of their eggs by park rangers.

After years of self-sacrifice and service to her growing family, Marta recognizes she has allowed herself to lose her personal identity. She decides to secretly take a private vacation to relax, create a new persona, and to enjoy the ocean at her parent's beach house in Naples, Florida.

The story moves quickly as Homan leads the reader through a series of suspense, fear, mystery, nostalgia, and transcendence. Her characters are believable, her storyline well-plotted, holding the reader to the final climax.

Homan's love for the sea came through in her writing. Her choice of words and descriptive phrases create a dimension of beauty and integrity as she incorporates the sense of the smell of the sea, the sight of clouds taking new shapes on a clear day, the sound of torrents of rain pounding on the roof a car, the taste of a gourmet meal, or the feel of walking in bare feet on the hard packed wet sand of a Florida beach.

"Swim at Your Own Risk" is written for anyone facing, or having faced, an identity crisis. The book is ideal for an evening of escape reading, great company for an airplane trip, and easily adaptable for a readers' discussion group. I am eagerly anticipating more to come from Mary Lee Homan.

Understanding Reality Religion: A Mind-Opening Look at God, the Bible, the Church, and Faith
Hiley H. Ward
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595453986, $13.95, 2007,

Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views

This well-written book examines the many aspects of creation and religion and really takes you through the author's lifetime journey with religion. He addresses many of the questions that he had since he was very young in this book. How did it all begin? What was there before and what will happen when it ends? How can a good God allow so much evil in the world? And what he finds at the end of the day is Reality Religion.

There are many definitions of Reality Religion. The one that is used by Ward in this book is: Reality in this book means taking account of the whole situation. We do not speak of God in doctrinal terms. "We take the known facts, the record of the Almighty's goodness and also his terror from the battlefields, genocides and all the wrath of God of Nature, the tsunamis, tornadoes, and floods. We maintain it is necessary to examine the negative, offensive side of God along with his goodness and mercies in order to better understand his nature and the course of his people."

Ward does a good job examining the many faces of God throughout his book. I especially liked the chapter on "The Many Bibles We Follow: Creating Your Own Scripture." The author encourages us to write our own bibles and find God in the everyday things. He finds God in inspirational readings, the opera and my favorite are his excerpts from his woodland journal where he meditates and observes nature with his dog, July 4. "For the creatures of the forest, insects and all, every day is a Fourth of July freedom day. My dog, with a stars and stripes bandana next to his collar, sits panting, also contemplating this thought. He has restraints, collars and leashes. But the creatures are totally free. Free to go about where they will: free to twist and turn, to spin in midair, to see new territory, to reverse their courses. They neither own nor cede property. They can seek new shelter, new dreams and new hopes. They can pray to whomever they want-- to the wood god, the wind god, the leaf god." (page 80)

Throughout "Understanding Reality Religion" the author brings in many valid points that encourage the reader to think about God and come up their own definition of God and religion. This is a very thought-provoking book to read for those of you who are asking questions about God and evaluating religion.

Straight Talk for Success
Bud Bilanich
Front Row Press
875 S. Colorado Blvd., #773, Denver, CO 80246
9780963828095, $19.95, 2008 , 303-393-0446

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

"Straight Talk for Success" is written by Bud Bilanich, who is also known as "The Common Sense Guy." He definitely has been given the correct title. I found "Straight Talk for Success" to be well-organized and easy-to-understand. The book is arranged in five parts. Each section has its own chapters that give you further advice on the topics presented. All of the information provided is based upon common sense, which makes it easier to apply. After reading the whole book, you will see that the title is perfect.

About a week ago, a friend commented that most of my "gurus" just provide me with information that should be common sense. I totally agree with this, however, sometimes when life gets in the way, we need to have other people lead us back to what makes sense. When events at work become so convoluted it is easy to get lost and feel helpless. Reading "Straight Talk for Success" helped me put a lot of things into perspective. One of the biggest ways it will influence me is in how I deal with situations with other people, especially co-workers; one in particular. Bilanich reminded me to act assertively, keep my integrity, and to learn from the situation.

The biggest feeling that I had when I finished reading "Straight Talk for Success," was excitement. I am looking forward to applying the principles that I learned to my career so that I can get myself out of a slump that I feel myself falling into. I am looking forward to putting these new tools to work, so that I can present myself with confidence and integrity. It feels so good to be excited about doing something well, especially when I know that my career helps others.

I highly recommend this book for people in the work world. It is appropriate for those at every stage of their career. It would make a wonderful gift for a college graduate who is just starting out. I wish I had something like this way back when. It will also be good for people who are in the middle of their career when they feel themselves hitting rough patches. People nearing retirement can still benefit from this book because it will help them finish strong. "Straight Talk for Success" would also be the perfect text for a work retreat.

Miscarriage of Justice: A Novel
Kip Gayden
Center Street
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9781599956879, $22.99, 2008

Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views

When you are one of the most upstanding families in the community what happens when you fall from Grace? Anna Dotson was soon to find out. A mother of two, a doctor for a husband and part of the community's popular social circle had made one of the biggest mistakes of her life and it might cause her to lose her life.

Charlie Cobb was the new barber in town and he had a way with the women and he knew it. He had set his sights on Anna Dotson and, true to form, she became his until her husband and the whole town found out about them. Dr. Dotson went crazy and threatened to kill Charlie Cobb if he didn't leave town and leave his wife alone. But Dr. Dotson didn't kill the womanizing barber. Anna Dotson said, "She killed this thing, but didn't murder him." Did she know what she was doing? What would she resort to in order to protect her husband and children?

"Miscarriage of Justice" is Kip Gayden's first novel and this reader firmly believes he has a great gift of drawing one into his story by his style of writing and his ability to put you in Anna Dotson's body.

Anne Frank and the Children of the Holocaust
Carol Ann Lee
Penguin Group
345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780142410691, $7.99, 2008

Reviewed by Anne Marie Medema (age 12) for Reader Views

I am impressed that the author Carol Ann Lee has been interested in Anne Frank since she was 6-years-old. Carol Ann Lee has a unique ability to bring the Holocaust and the main character of Anne Frank to life. Carol Ann Lee has lived in Amsterdam, a town where portions of the Holocaust took place. Thus, she was probably able to thoroughly research and to visit the places where the holocaust took place. I have read some of Carol Ann Lee's other books and she is very good with descriptions of characters, settings and places. She also adds historical information about the Holocaust in the back of the book. Some of the things she adds are interesting statistics about the Jewish population before and after the war. Maps showing the areas where the Nazi's controlled Europe are also given along with locations of the death and concentration camps. All these references helped me to link together the chain of events occurring during the Holocaust.

This book includes references of the diary of Anne Frank. The areas which the diary does not include, Carol Ann Lee covers by putting it into her own diary as if she were Anne Frank hiding. Carol Ann Lee also talks about other children who lived during the Holocaust and whose lives were affected by the Holocaust. The mentally and physically abused were used as experiments or were put to death. In some cases the women that were mentally and physically wronged were deprived of having children because the Nazi's only wanted purebred healthy children. The anti-Nazi children were normally hidden or if discovered by the Nazi's were killed or died while working for the Nazi's. The Nazi children at the age of 14-years were enrolled in Nazi Youth. Nazi Youth is where they would learn what is wrong with the Jews. Anne Frank died three weeks before the allies liberated the death camp Auschwitz. Her father was the only family member that survived the Holocaust. Meip Gross is the woman who hid the Frank family for over two years and she found Anne's diary. She hoped that Anne Frank would still be alive so she could hand back the diary to Anne. Sadly Meip Gross was only able to hand back the diary to Anne's father Otto Frank.

This is one of the most heartbreaking books I have ever read because of what the Nazi's did to poor, innocent children. It is also interesting to see what actually happened during the Holocaust. You would definitely want to read this book because it is realistic. If you love history I would recommend that you read this book because it educates the reader about the Holocaust and Anne Frank. Carol Ann Lee makes this story come alive by detailed pictures and words. Dive into "Anne Frank and the Children of the Holocaust" and discover how fortunate we all are to live freely in a country.

Teens and the Job Game: Prepare Today - Win it Tomorrow
Beverly Slomka
iUniversity, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595448715, $12.95, 2007,

Reviewed by Emily Judah (age 13) for Reader Views

"Teens and the Job Game" was a very helpful and encouraging book. Ms. Slomka gave many helpful tips and suggestions for teens on how to prepare for and handle a new or first time job.

"Teens and the Job Game" is a very well-written book and the writer seems passionate about helping teens succeed. I think the "hook" could have been stronger, as I was not completely drawn in at first. The real life examples are cool, because it gives the reader something to relate to. The quotes and helpful tips made the reader pause and really think about what Ms. Slomka was trying to get across. For me, this book was what my parents have been telling me for a number of years. It stressed how teens should present themselves and how to act and talk around other people. But for teens who have never thought about their future, this is a good book to encourage them to better themselves and prepare for life beyond middle school and high school. It will teach them how to present themselves in a more appealing manner. It will also stress why doing well in school will help them prepare for their future career with confidence. For me, even though I have heard many of the "tips" about the importance of your clothes, your speech and your posture, this book made me realize even more how important it is to care about how you look and present yourself to others. It was nice to hear it from another source other than my nagging parents. Overall, I felt that 'Teens and the Job Game" was a very interesting book that will give teens a clear idea of what is needed to, "prepare today - win it tomorrow."

Who's Who & Where's Where in the Bible for Kids
Stephen M. Miller
Barbour Publishing, Inc.
P.O. Box 719, Ulrichsville, OH 44683
9781597892278, $12.97, 2006,

Reviewed by Regan Zaborowski (age 8) for Reader Views

I read this book, "Who's Who & Where's Where in the Bible for Kids," with my mom when it was time for my Bible class every day. It has a lot of different stories about people and places that we read about in the Bible. The stories are short. They tell lots of cool things about the people that lived back then and where the places were. I was surprised because a lot of the places the book talked about are real places. But they have different names today. I thought that the places were just made up but I found out they are real.

The best part of the book was looking at the pictures. There are lots of them. Every story has pictures. The cartoon pictures were funny, too. If there were no pictures in the book, it would have been boring. But I liked the pictures a lot.

The book was kind of hard for me to read by myself, so my mom and I read it together. We read a little every day. I always wanted her to read more. I love to read about history, it's my favorite subject, so I liked that part. My favorite stories were about Deborah, because she was a soldier and very brave, and Samson because he was so strong. He could kill a lion with only his hands and even push over a building. I didn't like Delilah, because she cut his hair because she wanted money and then Samson wasn't strong anymore and he got hurt.

I liked "Who's Who & Where's Where in the Bible for Kids" very much.

Ireland's Professional Amateurs: A Sports Season at Its Purest
Andy Mendlowitz
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595456840, $17.95, 2007, 800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Richard Blake for Reader Views

To get background information and interviews for his "Ireland's Professional Amateurs," award-winning journalist, Andy Mendlowitz toured Ireland for eight months to observe and record the story of a sport season at it its purest.

This is a behind-the-scenes story of The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), of Gaelic Football, a combination of the elements of soccer and rugby, and the game Hurling. Hurling is an Irish sport played with a stick similar to ice hockey. Andy described the game this way: Gaelic football was physical and with the players not wearing pads, trouble followed. Hard shoulder-to-shoulder contact led to violent collisions. Heads banged and bodies got slammed to the ground.

These games often attract crowds as large as 80,000. The athletes train as professionals but maintain full-time jobs outside of the sports arena to pay support their families. According to Andy, GAA both created and reflected community. GAA fans had two loyalties-- to the club team and to the inter-county squad. Mendlowitz provides several enlightening references within the various chapters of the financial underwriting of the GAA organization and their investments.

From the early playoffs in February through April to the finals in September and October, Andy followed the teams from Clare, Mayo, Leitrim, Kerry, and Galway Counties to Derry in Northern Ireland and the cities of Cork and Dublin.

I personally enjoyed Andy's word pictures and colorful detailed descriptions of the Irish countryside as he traveled from the rural parishes to the large cities of Belfast, Dublin, and Cork. I was fascinated as he gave me a new appreciation of Ireland's culture, folklore, superstitions, history, and economics. He also gave me a new understanding of the difficulties being faced in Northern Ireland.

To provide the background information Mendlowitz wanted for his story he stayed with players and their families. He became involved in their personal lives and identified with the loyalty they feel for their teammates, their fans, and their country.

Mendlowitz writes in a fast-moving, journalistic style that reveals his own passion for sports, his fascination with the sports, the games themselves, with the individual team members, their coaches, and their fans. His love for travel, new adventures in learning and a love for life all come through in "Ireland's Professional Amateurs." This is sports writing at its finest.

Unlocking the Mystery of Skin Color
Thienna Ho
Thienna, Inc.
236 West Portal Avenue, #511, San Francisco, CA 94127
9780979210303, $64.96, 2007,

Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views

The first time I truly and really became aware of importance and influence of skin color was when I moved to USA 8 years ago. Growing up in Europe skin color just wasn't an issue, or at least not one that would merit more than a second's pause when one met somebody of a different race. I have to admit I never gave it much thought, and even after reading Thienna Ho's book, I found myself quite surprised that my home country ranks among those with the absolute lightest people on the planet. Skin color was not and still is not anything that defines a person in my eyes, but unfortunately I had to learn that in certain parts of the world it truly matters enormously. Whether we like to admit it or not, life in the USA is easier if you happen to be lighter skinned. I am not going to moralize nor preach about this issue; suffice to say that I do understand why a person would want to lighten her or his skin if they could do it safely.

Thienna Ho's "Unlocking the Mystery of Skin Color; A Strictly Natural Way to Dramatically Lighten Skin Color Through Diet and Lifestyle" carries a long subtitle, namely "The Strictly Natural Way to Dramatically Lighten Your Skin Color Through Diet and Lifestyle." While the cover photos failed to convince me that the color change in Thienna Ho's own case was quite this dramatic, I see absolutely nothing wrong with the diet and lifestyle changes that she recommends. All of us would benefit from eating smarter, moving more, eliminating toxins and stress from our life, taking nice long baths and indulging in massages - which are some of her tips.

It is obvious that Thienna Ho performed an outstanding amount of research while developing her method and writing her book. Just a glance through the over 40 pages of endnotes shows the great number and diversity of sources used in writing "Unlocking the Mystery of Skin Color." The book is actually quite interesting reading for the general public as well, dealing with diverse topics such as the great variety of the human skin colors, melanin, influence of sulfur on the skin color, the role of the environment as well as several chapters on nutrition and lifestyle. The surprisingly easy to read and understand style contributes to the feeling that this book should not be intimidating to anybody - it is written in such a way that a general reader can get enough useful information; and the more advanced or a professional one will find another nearly 100 pages of data, tables and sources in the appendices.

Regardless of whether you pick up "Unlocking the Mystery of Skin Color" because you truly want to lighten your complexion or out of sheer curiosity, I am certain that you will learn a lot of both useful tips and fascinating trivia about an attribute that we all posses and which oftentimes defines us - even when it should not.

Sacred Grief: Exploring a New Dimension to Grief
Leslee Tessmann
Loving Healing Press
5245 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
9781932690538, $14.95, April 2008, 734-662-6864,

Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views

This simple, yet extremely powerful book, presents a gentle way to discover within oneself a path of recovery from loss, be it from death or any other loss one may have. Tessmann's tender words resonate throughout the book, leading the reader to a place of healing and direction to move forward with life.

Tessmann starts off with her own story, a story of struggle with the losses through death: family, friends, and a pet dog. But, there were other losses in her life; her daughter to substance addiction, husbands through divorces, and a job. Her final loss that brought her to re-discover herself was the loss of her father.

Through re-discovering herself, and coming to terms with grief, Tessmann was able to create a relationship with grief. This becomes the first step she advocates and gives simple explanations and steps on how to create this relationship. Tessmann says "…our initial reaction to finding ourselves in this process might be fear, anger, or dread." She further claims that often our relationships to grief are based on our own "myths and critical assessments" -- therefore causing us to refrain from addressing our issues. With clarity and gentleness, Tessmann guides the readers into thinking of their own situation, their own adversity to embracing grief, and moving past the false beliefs and fears, and finally creating a healthy relationship with grief, making it, as she calls it "Sacred Grief."

For me this was a book, although only 138 pages, that took a long time to get through. The writing is uncomplicated, yet I felt like the author was right there with me, telling me of her experience, and tenderly encouraging me to look at my own grief. I've been through a variety of techniques in the past to move me into and through dealing with my grief, but never in a way Tessmann's book did. I felt the study guide was very essential to help me through the process and I encourage every reader to stop after every chapter and contemplate the questions, seek the answers within, and then move to the next chapter. This is a must to truly experience the potential "Sacred Grief" has.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that has experienced any type of loss in their lives and is willing to look at the loss through a different set of eyes. Tessman, in "Sacred Grief," will lead the reader to a place of compassion for oneself , create a relationship with his/her own grief, and ultimately create a place of understanding and a healed soul.

Death Takes a Buggy Ride: A John Lapp/Sallie Stoltzfus Mystery
Ron Yeakley
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595404278, $17.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by William Phenn for Reader Views

Ron Yeakley has moved from his Pennsylvania Dutch roots neighborhood to the sunny skies of California. But he still remembers his grandparents were tenant farmers and spoke Pennsylvania Dutch. Ron grew up in Myerstown, Pennsylvania and his parents spoke the language. His main character is based on his Pennsylvania Dutch upbringing. Yeakley started the novel about four years ago when he attended the Southern California Writers Conference in San Diego and paid for an appointment with an agent. The agent's first question to him was, "Could this be a series?" Here we have the first book of that series.

State Trooper John Lapp, who left the Amish faith 15 years earlier, is brought in to investigate a grizzly murder. An Amish man, Jacob Stoltzfus, is murdered and Lapp is called in because it is believed he can better relate to the Amish people.

John Lapp grew up with Jacob Stoltzfus, so that made it even more personal for him since John was once in love with the victim's widow, Sallie. John remains professional for the most part but there are times that his memory flashes back to those wonderful early days. John finds himself torn between his duty as an officer and his love of Sallie and his past life.

While in the course of his investigation, John learns a few secrets that his Amish friend kept hidden from his family and friends. Sallie tells John of Jacob's dream (which was contrary to the Amish way). This just opens up a world of possible suspects to Trooper Lapp. From Jacob's own brother to close friends of the deceased Amish man, John covers them all. That's when he comes across the man that is a main link to the murder.

"Death Takes a Buggy Ride" was a good read and it had an interesting storyline. I liked the fact that the writer was very knowledgeable about the subject and the surroundings.
Ron made the book an exciting read by not boring the reader between highlights.
I gave "Death Takes a Buggy Ride" an upstanding A; it had good editing, quality cover and pages and is a mystery worth reading.

Anyone wishing to read a good murder mystery should definitely give "Death Takes a Buggy Ride" a worthy look.

Talk Like a Winner!
Steve Nakamoto
Java Books
16835 Algonquin Street #122, Huntington Beach, CA 92649
9780967089355, $14.95, 2008, (714) 846-0622

Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views

The purpose of communication is to get our message across to others clearly and explicitly. However, this involves effort on both sides; the sender and the receiver. We know messages are loaded with errors, misinterpretation, confusion, wasted efforts, and many times missed opportunities. The breakdown is when both the sender and the receiver are not communicating effectively.

Steve Nakamoto, in his recently published "Talk Like a Winner!: 21 Simple Rules for Achieving Everyday Communication Success" helps the reader to successfully get the message across by conveying thoughts and ideas effectively, eliminating any breakdown in communication. Nakamoto gives simple and concise steps to abolish any challenge in conveying thoughts and ideas effectively, whether written or verbal. His techniques provide insight in communicating efficiently and successfully in personal and workplace situations.

Some of the 21 steps that Nakamoto covers are: think, learn, assess, engage, observe, compliment, ask, reflect and succeed. The steps he gives are in succession of learning effective communication. He makes it clear in the beginning of the book that the steps are for "private speaking" not "public speaking." However, being engaged in the latter, many of the same rules apply. There are a number of ways to use Nakamoto's book and those are suggested in the beginning. For the purpose of this review I chose to go through the book quickly and capture the main points Nakamoto is giving the reader. Now, I will return to the beginning of the book and take a step a week and concentrate on improving, being conscious of the step in all my communication.

I like that way Nakamoto helps us understand the circumstances around each situation and gives effective pointers to improve ourselves. I also like "The Bottom Line" after each chapter. The words of wisdom summarize the chapter and take the reader one step closer to "talk like a winner."

"Talk Like a Winner!" is highly recommended for anyone that wants to polish up their self-confidence, learn new skills in communication, built stronger relationships, or learn how to bring out the best in themselves. Whatever the reader chooses to improve, the bottom line will be they will "talk like a winner"!

Cajun and Creole Cooking with Miss Edie and the Colonel
Edie Hand & Col. William G. Paul
Cumberland House
431 Harding Industrial Drive, Nashville, TN 37211
9781581826173, $22.95, 2007, 1-888-439-2665

Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views

I love Cajun and Creole food so I was thrilled to have an opportunity to try out some new recipes. But, to my surprise, not only does this book have recipes; it has a huge section of narratives depicting the Louisiana lifestyles and traditions, essential utensils and elements, as well as terms and specific Louisiana ingredients. But, there is more, there is a whole section on the history and influences of French, Spanish, African, and American Indian on the culinary traditions. With all these elements added to a traditional cookbook, one can honestly say "I read a cookbook."

I often wondered what the difference was between Cajun and Creole cooking. Basically, it's that Cajun cooking is "down home country cooking" and Creole is considered to be "fancy city cooking."

When I hear the word gumbo, I automatically think of Cajun cooking. Since I've never made traditional gumbo this was an opportunity for me to do so. I tried "Chicken Sausage Gumbo" and it was a great hit. The seasoning was just right and thickness was perfect.

Being a fan of Emeril Live on the TV cooking channel, I decided to try a recipe that reminded me of something similar I saw on his show. The Louisiana-Style Shrimp Stir-Fry was to die for! Very quick to make, I will be making this dish again and definitely for a dinner party.

The third dish I made was traditional Congri (black beans and rice.) Again, without disappointment, it was a hit. Thank goodness for it being a large recipe; we had it two days in a row and relished it both times. This is a very hearty and nutritious dish for a cold winter day.

This cookbook is a keeper! I highly recommend "Cajun and Creole Cooking with Miss Edie and the Colonel" to any lover of cooking ethnic dishes. I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

Sisters in Sanity
Gayle Forman
Harper Collins Teen
c/o HarperCollins Children's Books
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, 10019
9780060887476, $16.99, 2007, 1-800-242-7737

Reviewed by Casey Holt (age 13) for Reader Views

This book is about a young girl named Brit. Her dad remarried when Brit's mom left after being diagnosed with SchizoPhobia. Brit hates her stepmom and calls her "Stepmonster." Her stepmom is always telling her dad that she is so rebellious, and she needs to "stop hanging out with those band kids." She thinks that just because Brit has magenta streaks in her black hair, that she must be a terrible person. What? Before she knows it, her dad packs her up in the car for a "trip to the Grand Canyon." He says that her stepmom and her baby brother are flying, and that they are going to meet them there. But pretty soon, they stop at a rundown looking building with a fence topped with barbed wire all around, and two big guards standing at the gate. She opens her door, and the guards run over and grab her! They put her hands behind her back and start forcing her towards the door. She yells out to her dad, telling him to stop, what was this misunderstanding all about, anyways? But he just shakes his head, telling her that he is doing this all out of love, can't she understand?

The guards take her to a solitary room and strip her of all her clothing and personal belongings. They give her some tattered pajamas and slippers, and then leave. She is so confused, and thinks that it's all been a mistake! After a few days, the reality starts to sink in, and she realizes that this is really real, and not a dream. She learns the ways of this insane, messed up "treatment" center, and meets V, Bebe, Martha, and Cassie. These five girls keep each other sane, while Red Rock Treatment Center is messing up their lives.

I really liked this book, and I would recommend "Sisters in Sanity" to girls ages 13 and up.

Will Rogers, Performer
Richard J. Maturi and Mary Buckingham Maturi
21st Century Publishers
1320 Curt Gowdy Drive, Cheyenne, WY 82009
9780960729883, $24.95, 2008

Reviewed by Tyler R. Tichelaar for Reader Views

"Will Rogers, Performer" is the only book I have read about Will Rogers, but it's a wonderful introduction to one of America's most loved performers. Previously, my only knowledge of Will Rogers was the Broadway musical "The Will Rogers Follies" and his performance in "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court." I knew he had written newspaper columns and been in radio, as well as film and the Ziegfeld Follies, but I had no idea of the full extent of his career. "Will Rogers, Performer" focuses on his incredible career, with great detail, while bringing to life the lovable, humorous star.

The book focuses on all the different aspects of Will Rogers's career. His later film career in talkies appears to be his greatest work, but I personally found the discussion of his silent films the most fascinating. He truly was a pioneer of the film industry, working alongside D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford, Eddie Cantor, W.C. Fields and Shirley Temple. We learn what Rogers thought of his films, how he behaved on the set - lassoing his co-workers - and his impressions of early Hollywood.

Will is allowed throughout to speak in his own words. He is continually quoted, and his witticisms, more than three-quarters of a century old, remain comical. Among the many amusing remarks quoted are, "There is nothing as stupid as an educated man if you get him off the thing he was educated in," and "Congress has more fiction in it in a day than writers can think of in a year."

Best of all, "Will Rogers, Performer" has awakened my interest to learn more about Will Rogers, perhaps even to visit the museums honoring him. I definitely would like to see more of his films, which, even if somewhat dated, I imagine he still shines in. The book is filled with dozens of wonderful photographs including film stills. Detailed descriptions of all his films are included. Finally, in this expanded version of "Will Rogers, Performer" is an extra section on Will Rogers as an aviator, showing he was as much a pioneer of aviation as he was of film.

Anyone interested in Will Rogers, the history of radio, Broadway, and film will love "Will Rogers, Performer."

Witness by the Church
Gini Anding
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595455027, $14.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

"Witness by the Church" is the fourth book in Gini Anding's 'Witness series." It is the first one that I have read. She reintroduces the characters, so I had no problems stepping into the series. She just made me want to go back and read the other ones. The heroine, Amy Page is an American widow. She is newly living with her lover Jean-Michel Jolivet who has recently retired as an inspector.

After Amy begins experiencing too many mishaps, some of which are obviously intentional, Jean Michel becomes suspicious and starts investigating. This leads into other incredible mysteries that involve relics, lost treasures, an ancient church and tales of the Templars. Jean-Michel needs to find out who is endangering Amy's life as quickly as possible to keep her safe. To him, she is the most important treasure.

"Witness by the Church" takes you to some wonderful places in Paris. Ms. Anding's vivid descriptions bring everything to life, so much so that I felt like I was there. I love the romance between Amy and Jean-Michel. What would a mystery in Paris be without love? Amy is a very lively character. She makes everything an adventure. She is also a culinary expert, whose descriptions of food made my stomach growl. I also picked up some interesting trivia on the history of some foods. It was also fascinating to learn about the life of St. Louis and his church.

For a fun, romantic mystery, "Witness by the Church," is the perfect pick. Romance reader groups will especially love it!

He's Not Autistic, But…: How We Pulled Our Son From the Mouth of the Abyss
Tenna Merchent, M.H.
Joyous Messenger, Inc.
12160 E. 216th St., Noblesville, IN 46062
9781933697000, $15.95, 2007

Reviewed by Dr. Carol Hoyer for Reader Views

Ms. Merchant, if nothing else, is an exceptional mother and advocate for her child who the medical profession felt "at a high risk for autism." The long journey she and her family made for two years to figure out what was going on with her son, as well as herself, was long, hard and often heartbreaking. I can think of no family that I have worked with during my tenure as a Psychologist with families with special needs that did a complete 360-degree turn as Ms. Merchent did.

At times during the reading of this book, I almost felt as if Ms. Merchent was almost aggressive to the point of being annoying. However, after reading all the failed treatments, diagnosis and pushing of vaccines by medical personnel she had a right to be this way.

My knowledge by reading this book has only added reinforcement to my own professional views that doctors aren't always right. I also found the information she provided on toxic aluminum and systemic yeast very informative and something I think every child should be tested for while looking at diagnosis of autism. Since alternative medical treatments have not been overly publicized, it is one area that I think all parents should explore. I know I found her experiences with alternative medicine exciting and least harmful to the body.

This reader not only as a parent, but as a professional, would recommend "He's Not Autistic, But…" be reading for every parent, parent-to-be, special education personnel and school resource staff as well as up and coming medical professionals.

Pushy for a Moment: Instant Solutions to Everyday Challenges
Romanus Wolter and Joanne Victoria
TLC Publishing Company
2916 NW Bucklin Hill Rd #327, Silverdale, WA 98383
9780963834317, $14.95, 2008

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

"Pushy for a Moment" is written by two very motivational authors. Romanus Wolter is also known as "The Kick Stuff Guy." Joanne Victoria is referred to as "America's Vision Coach." Both authors inject a lot of their energy, experience and knowledge into this empowering thirty-five page book.

"Pushy for a Moment" encourages you to be assertive, not aggressive. It encourages you to push yourself forward to take care of yourself. The authors state, "If you ever had an intuitive moment that you didn't act on, you now have permission to go for it." This book teaches you to move forward with confidence and to trust yourself with your decisions. They offer a 4 Step Strategy to show you how to do this. They also give examples of others who gained from their experience of being pushy for a moment. You are encouraged to trust your instincts and to focus on the moment. The more you apply yourself to this principle, the more success you will find yourself having.

Included in this book is a "Pushy Moment Tracking Sheet." This helps you record your progress and your successes. There is also a cheat sheet in the back of the book to summarize the steps. I think that this is a very helpful, motivating book. The more I apply these principles to my life, the less often I will find myself kicking myself for not taking an assertive step. Everyone can benefit from reading "Pushy for a Moment."

Silent Witness: A Sam Kincaid Mystery
Michael Norman
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave. #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590584989, $24.95, 2008, (480) 945-3375,

Reviewed by Dr. Carol Hoyer for Reader Views

Author Norman has the uncanny ability of capturing the reader's interest from page one with his vivid descriptions of his early characters and their lifestyle, which happens to be contradictory to the majority of Utah's population - Warren Jeffs' Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Detectives Sam Kincaid and Kate McConnell not only enjoy working together, but they also enjoy their intimate relationship. Neither detective has much concern about protocol and rules - their job is to investigate, prosecute and put in prison. Little did they know when Kate called Sam to help her they would become involved in a gay community, hook horns with the new executive director of the Utah State Department of Corrections and put their own lives on the line. To add further interest to his life - Kincaid's ex-wife has decided that she thinks their daughter would be better off living with her.

Not only has Norman given us twisting plots, murders, runaways and a religious group that believes in polygamy - he gives us an in-depth view of life as a Latter Day Saint in the state of Utah. His background information not only adds much needed knowledge but also helps thicken the plot.

"Silent Witness" is the first novel the reader has read by Norman; I look forward to reading many more.

D is for Dahl: A gloriumptious A-Z guide to the world of Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl (author), Wendy Cooling (compiler)
Puffin Books
345 Hudson Street New York, NY 10014, U.S.A.
9780142409343, $5.99, 2007

Reviewed by Ben Weldon (age 10) for Reader Views

"D is for Dahl: A gloriumptious A-Z guide to the world of Roald Dahl," by Roald Dahl and Wendy Cooling, is not a kindergartner's A-B-C book but a quirky alphabetized biography. This book is full of fun, humorous, eclectic and even inspirational facts about Roald Dahl.

Despite its unusual format, the reader will be entertained and learn a lot about one of the world's best children's authors. The entries are brief but meaty. For example, under F there is an entry for "Freezer." The paragraph describes how Roald Dahl stretched his shoes by filling his shoes with plastic bags full of water and then putting the shoes in the freezer. Making the book even more appealing are funny illustrations by Quentin Blake, who illustrated most of Roald Dahl's books. There are also photos, a copy of his report card, and a few recipes.

Roald Dahl (1916-1990) was born in Great Britain to Norwegian parents. He wrote twenty-seven children's books, including the well-loved "Fantastic Mr. Fox," "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "The Witches" and "James and the Giant Peach." He was very critical of his own work and was only truly pleased with Matilda. He had an excellent sense of humor and said that his funniest moment was being born.

My favorite part of the book was learning that Roald Dahl loved chocolate so much and the fact that he thought that kids should learn the dates of when all the greatest candies were made instead of dates in history. He once said "If I were a headmaster I would get rid of the history teacher and get a chocolate teacher instead."

I would recommend this book to fans of Roald Dahl's books. People who want to be writers would also enjoy this book because it talks about how he got his ideas for books and how he planned his daily routine to get his writing done. "D is for Dahl" was a great book, and I hope that every one who reads it likes it as much as I did.

Legal Minds: Detecting Rogue Police Officers and Other Important Law Enforcement Issues
Robert L. Davis and Dr. Roxanne M. Davidson
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595486090, $ 13.95, 2008,, 1-800-288-4677

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader View

Robert L. Davis, former police officer with the New Orleans Police Department, has dedicated his life in a crusade to give the general public an awareness of the peril and presence in many large cities of "rogue" police officers. His new book "Legal Minds" offers revealing insights to help recognize a bad police officer, the signs to look for, and how to report your experience.

The material is a compilation of previously-written articles, interviews, and queries from e-mails received on his website from readers of his first book, "Cop Out," and from those attending lectures, workshops, and seminars presented by the author. The contents of the short chapters are clearly defined in the table of contents so that the subjects may be read in any order depending on the reader's specific interest, as they are each independent of one another.

Davis addresses such questions, how to respond if arrested, steps women can take to avoid rape, lie detector tests, Miranda rights, pardons and probation. He explains clemencies, extradition, fugitives, felonies, prisons, and jails. Citations, searches and seizures, DUI's, and police brutality are all discussed, as well as the behavior patterns of serial killers.

The assessments and professional opinions of Dr. Roxanne M. Davidson add credence to the questions and answers discussed by Robert Davis. Davidson offers insight into the potential motives and behavior patterns of the criminal mind.

Davis writes with the fervor of a zealot. Some will call Davis an alarmist. Others will applaud his willingness to take a public stand against an evil force. In all fairness to the reader, I must point out the frequent repetition of information by Davis. While repetition can be an effective teaching tool in assimilating information there is a danger of becoming redundant. The reader may interpret this as an "infomercial" or simply an attempt to promote his earlier book "Cop Out." However, it is the intent of the authors to provide guidelines that may save human life, and help protect the law-abiding citizen from unfair and unethical police officers.

"Legal Minds" can be a helpful guide to anyone who has been affected by a "bad" experience with receiving a citation, confronted with an arrest, or been harassed by a police officer.

26 Gorgeous Hikes on the Western Côte d'Azur
Florence Chatzigianis
AzurAlive Press
751 Laurel Street, Suite 808, San Carlos, CA 94070
9780979279621, $16.95, 2008,

Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views

Traveling is a great way to de-stress when done right, which for me always meant being careful not to over-schedule the activities in each of the places on my itinerary. I've learned a long time ago that taking a day to be lazy, or to just people watch, or mindlessly wander around, does wonders for one's soul. How many museums, castles and cathedrals do you really want to see each day?

When one finds him- or herself in an area as breathtakingly beautiful as the French Côôte d'Azur, it would probably be a waste not to take in some more scenery - but where should one go? Florence Chatzigianis' "26 Gorgeous Hikes on the Western Côte d'Azur" will be of great help to any traveler wishing to do hiking in the area. With detailed descriptions of 26 hikes of different difficulty, which range in time from an hour to four hours, the choices are really various.

Each of the hikes is described in detail, from the distance and the time needed to complete it to elevations and difficulty. A very useful feature is "Getting there," which provides useful tips on what mode of transportation to take or where to park. Maps and elevation diagrams provide useful visual aides and the photographs in the book should really tempt you to do some exploring. The detailed directions in each chapter should make hiking relaxed and worry-free.

In addition to the information directly related to each hike, Florence Chatzigianis also provides insights on the flora, fauna, geology and history of the area as well as useful contacts for the area, which are oftentimes tourist offices, but also include wine-growing estate, a cork museum, a chocolate confectioner and more. Those sections include telephone numbers, website addresses and hours of operation.

Florence Chatzigianis' writing is fluid and engaging. Her descriptions of the hiking trails and the wonders to be discovered while wandering on them made me want to be on Cap Taillat as I write this. Who knows, this just might inspire another trip to France…

I would recommend "26 Gorgeous Hikes on the Western Côte d'Azur" to globetrotters and armchair travelers alike - for both it should provide a pleasant change of pace.

I Can't Wait Till I'm Five
Colleen H. Robley Blake
Imaajinn This
P.O. Box 294, West Haven, CT 06516
9780976734208, $9.95, 2006, (877) 931-1177, e-mail:

Reviewed by Conner (age 3) and Mom for Reader Views

Alex is a four-year-old boy who cannot wait to do everything that his brother does, like go to school, play baseball and get his own library card. He knows his ABCs and 123s, he can brush his teeth and tie his shoes, but he can't wait until he's old enough to do the things he wants to do.

"How old are you, Conner?"
"I'm three, almost 4."
"Do you know when your birthday is?
"I don't know."
"It's Feb 23."
"Did you like the story?"
"'cause I like it."
"Do you get mad that you can't do some things until you're older?"
"Sometimes. When I'm six I get to have a guinea pig and a snake, right Mommy?"
"We'll see."
"How old do you want to be?"
"I want to be six, and four, and five, and seven, and eight … and I want to be eighty-nine … and I want to be eight nine six."

Parent's comment:

Though my child hasn't expressed it fully in reviewing this book, it is a book he can easily identify with even if he doesn't have older siblings. Frequently he asks for things that are for when he's older. He doesn't always understand why he has to wait. The author captures a lot of the frustration and impatience of waiting. She also illustrates the skills that are needed (or at least in Alex's mind) to progress to the next level. I truly liked the follow-on questions at the end of "I Can't Wait Till I'm Five." It gave my child a chance to think about his own situation and also to reinforce what he understood in reading the book.

Ribbit! Flip and See Who Froggy Can Be
Bender & Bender
Harper Collins Publishers
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
9780061138201, $16.99, 2007,

Reviewed by Conner (age 3) and Mom for Reader Views

"Ribbit! Flip and See Who Froggy Can Be" is just as the title suggests. The cleverly designed book dissects Froggy into three sections: eyes, mouth, and torso. Each section has a description that, when read together, makes a nifty rhyme. Over 400 combinations can be made.

"Did you like the book?"
"I liked it a whole lot!"
"Which froggy did your think was the funniest?"
"I liked the cowboy and fireman frog. The one with the beard was funny too. The one that is really, really, really funny is the one with the worm in its mouth. I like the one where he's a cowboy with his two guns."

Parent's comment:

Ingenious flip book. The unlimited combinations made for a lot of giggling and the rhymes were good. The graphics were excellent. "Ribbit! Flip and See Who Froggy Can Be" is a great book for helping expand the imagination.

Eric Carle's ABC (The World of Eric Carle)
Eric Carle
Grosset & Dunlap
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780448445649, $5.99, 2007, 1-800-847-5515

Reviewed by Conner (age 3) and Mom for Reader Views

Eric Carle's signature woodcut illustrations are laid out in a novel, lift-the-flap, walk through the alphabet.

"So do you like the book?"
"Which was your favorite letter?"
"I like all the letters. I like the pictures. I like the whole book."

Parent's comment:

There is only so much you can do with an ABC primer. Yet "Eric Carle's ABC" takes it just a step further by formatting it in an interesting flap book. The illustrations are top-notch. He introduces some not-so-common animals to represent some of the letters, though I would have chosen a different animal for the letter 'G.' He uses the animal 'gull' which to me, should be seagull. A better choice that doesn't have other name variations would have been 'goose' or 'giraffe.' But my son got to see a 'quetzel,' a 'narwhal' and a 'xolo,' so that was fun.

My Sister the Vampire #2: Fangtastic!
Sienna Mercer
HarperCollins Publishers
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
9780060871154, $5.99 2007,

Reviewed by Maya Landers for Reader Views

The content of "My Sister the Vampire #2: Fangtastic!" was not nearly as vampire-oriented as I had anticipated. For instance, the vampires depicted in this book were the very opposite of traditional vampires: it was against the law to bite humans, and there hadn't been a record of a bite for thousands of years. I had to ask myself, what is a vampire if not a biter and bloodsucker? Since their number-one rule was to stay undercover, I thought that it was extremely dim-witted of the so-called vampires to slouch around in clothes that stood apart from their peers and to refuse to act like their schoolmates. If you really are trying to hide your identity, you would try to fit in, not dress like and act like an alien!

The two main characters, Olivia and Ivy, were more interested in applying their make-up than focusing on the task at hand. The "enemy" was only Serena Star, celebrity reporter -- not exactly a deadly force of evil. She was trying to prove that there really were vampires in the world, although her motivation was unclear. Since they wore wildly different clothes, did wildly different things (would a normal eighth-grader sleep in a coffin?!), and went to wildly different places, it seems that it would have been fairly easy for Star to distinguish them from the rest of the crowd. Their "secret" meeting places were right out in the open -- a public graveyard! In fact, any vampire meeting place was marked, quite obviously, with an upside-down V. Since Star missed these obvious clues, she didn't seem to be a real threat to Olivia and Ivy. Most of the vampire characters worried about Star's revelations, when in reality Star hardly seemed to be even an annoyance.

Olivia and Ivy are identical twins, yet no one notices. They go to the same school, and to most of the same classes, and yet no one bats an eyelash. I thought that this was strange because, first of all, how could no one notice when they are together almost all the time? And, second, why would they want to keep it a secret?

I would not recommend "My Sister the Vampire #2: Fangtastic!" to my friends because I thought that it did not do a very good job of illustrating vampire, and I especially didn't like how the "clothes and make-up" part of Olivia and Ivy's life was emphasized, rather than the "secretive vampire" part of their lives.

The Year of the Rat
Grace Lin
Little, Brown Young Readers
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316114264, $14.99, 2008,

Reviewed by Maya Landers (age 10) for Reader Views

"The Year of the Rat," by Grace Lin, is an interesting, entertaining book about a Taiwanese girl, Pacy, who lives in New Hartford, Connecticut. The book does a fabulous job of describing her thoughts and feelings. This feeling is enhanced when, on the sides of the pages, there are drawings, pictures, and interesting notes--including how to make an American Revolution haversack!

I thought that the way that many of the characters were described was very realistic; it made me feel as though I knew them, and as if I could relate to them. Also, many times throughout the book, when an adult is explaining something, then they will tell an Asian folktale, including "The Story of the Twelve Animals of Chinese New Year," and "Knowing the Fish," (or, "The Two Philosophers"). Because of this, I felt like I could enjoy reading a fictional book about fictional characters while I was learning the culture of a foreign country.

This book is the sequel to "The Year of the Dog," also by Grace Lin. Although I have not read this book, I felt like I could understand everything that was going on. Lin did a very good job of making sure that the reader could understand everything, and not including too many things that would be hard to understand if you hadn't read the previous book.

Pacy and her best friend, Melody, are so close that they are like sisters. So when Melody announces that she is moving to California, the other side of the country, Pacy is heartbroken! Melody is moving because her dad needs to go there for his work, and so they are renting out their house. When a Chinese boy, Dun-Wei moves in, Pacy thinks of him as the enemy, because he lives in her best friend's former house. Because he is not very good at speaking English yet, the people at Pacy's school bully him and call him insulting names. Will Pacy stand up for him as she would for Melody, or will she survey him with cold indifference, believing it to be only what he deserves for moving into the house that used to be her friend's?

I would recommend "The Year of the Rat" to my friends because it did a very good job of describing the life of a girl who had to make some hard decisions and then live with those decisions afterward.

Killer-for-Hire: The Final Chapter of the Alabama Twins Murder Case
Barbara Lunsford
Mystery Crime Scene
1220 Airline, Suite 130-193A, Corpus Christi, TX 78412
9780980119107, $17.95, 2007,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

Betty Wilson was the wife of a well-liked doctor in Alabama. When he was murdered, she was tried and convicted without real evidence linking her to the crime. A man did confess to murdering her husband. This man initially said that Betty and her twin sister were involved with hiring him. He later recanted this, and said that he acted on his own and it was a burglary gone awry. He didn't think that her husband would be at home. Betty had never even met this man. She knew about him through her twin sister that was trying to help him out. He is a schizophrenic alcoholic and a conman. He said that he implicated Betty because he was forced to. He was threatened with going to the electric chair if he did not.

Not all of the pieces tied his story together. Dennis Johnson had heard this man bragging about burglarizing the home of this rich family. He didn't think too much about it until later on he discovered that there had been a murder and Betty Wilson was wrongfully convicted. He contacted supporters of Betty's to try to help. His own character was torn apart once he started trying to help. Betty had several people trying to help her. Her story in prison is very painful. Prison conditions are absolutely horrible in Alabama. Corruption and abuse run rampant in the system. Being a wealthy white woman has not helped Betty there with the inmates.

Betty's supporters have tried to help her with appealing, but meet many dead ends. They have discovered that there are people trying to prevent the truth from being told so they can protect themselves. There are also a lot of people after Betty's money, and this is not discovered until after they have taken thousands of dollars. The whole story is fascinating and very sad because it is true and happening in our times.

"Killer-for-Hire" had a profound impact on how I view our justice system. Prior to reading the story of the Alabama Twins, I always assumed that a prosecutor would only pursue cases where he had enough evidence to convict. In this true story, politics and corruption heavily play into the conviction of an innocent woman. I happened to read this book while I am serving jury duty. It has given me a completely different perspective on our system. If this case happened to one person, I think that it can be assumed that it has happened to many people. The book also opened my eyes to how prisoners are being mistreated. I hope that this isn't the case everywhere, but some of the prison employees are worse than the criminals. Safeguards should be put into place to stop this abuse.

"Killer-for-Hire" is a very interesting story. Betty Wilson has her issues, but being a murderer is not one of them. I think that readers will find this book fascinating. You can also go to a website to read more and sign a petition for Betty.

Traumatic Incident Reduction: Research and Results, 2nd Edition
Edited by Victor R. Volkman
Loving Healing Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
9781932690507, $24.96, 2008, (734) 662-6864,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

This latest edition in the "Explorations in Metapsychology Series" discusses the major outcome of several TIR research studies. These projects ranged from the 1990s to our present time. The book begins with an in-depth discussion of what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is and how Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) can help with it. Robert Moore, PhD, describes this process as "…TIR is a regressive desensitization procedure for reducing or eliminating the negative residual impact of traumatic experience." It is a one-on-one guided imagery process. It uses desensitization, imaginal flooding, repetitive review and Rogerian techniques for some of the treatment methods.

Each article is written by a different researcher. Three main articles are based upon doctoral dissertation studies. The studies focus on different groups of people ranging from at-risk youth, to crime victims, to incarcerated females. People with PTSD, panic and anxiety disorders, can benefit from this treatment. This treatment methodology has also been shown to promote recovery in a short period of time. This is a great benefit for those people who are suffering from the above mentioned disorders.

In addition to providing research and statistics, "Traumatic Incident Reduction: Research and Results" also includes an extensive bibliography and resource section. Included in this part is a "Frequently Asked Question Section." I found this part to be very helping in summing up the information on TIR. The articles themselves are very well written and researched. For the authors who are presenting information gathered for their dissertations, this must have been incredibly interesting and rewarding work. I think that "Traumatic Incident Reduction: Research and Results, 2nd Edition" is very important for people who work in the mental health field.

Alex Webster and the Gods
David Dent
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595423163, $16.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

Jupiter and the other gods are bored. He decides that it is time for them to go back to earth and take back their glory. He thinks that they can be the middle ground for the people who are tired of the Christians and Muslims fighting each other. Tired of the boredom of having to complete menial tasks, he enlists the help of the others.

Each of the gods has their own tricks with which to play with mankind. Morrigan, the Celtic goddess, can make herself beautiful when she wishes, she can also make herself a decaying worm-eaten old crone. Cupid, AKA Dr. Love, likes to make beautiful women fall in love with losers. Pan likes to cause pandemonium and panic. The list goes on.

Jupiter thinks that the best way for them to take back their power in the world is to get involved with the global corporate world where CEO's are treated like gods. He enlists the help of the mortal management consultant Alex Webster and his on-off again girlfriend Victoria. Another mortal, CEO Gerry Schilling does not want Jupiter in his business. He does everything in his power to stop him. This is where it gets interesting and the fun begins.

"Alex Webster and the Gods," is an entertaining, tongue-in-cheek type of humor story. I totally enjoyed reading it. David Dent has the gift of being able to catch the reader off guard with his characters antics. This story takes our modern issues like religious fighting and corporate corruption and mixes them into one plot. It is a story that we can all relate to, and get a kick out of. If you enjoy fantasy novels, don't miss this one!

A Walk for Sunshine: a 2,160 mile expedition for charity on the Appalachian Trail, 2nd
Jeff Alt
Dreams Shared Publications
PO Box 18188, Cincinnati, OH 45218
9780967948225, $15.95, 2007

Reviewed by April Sullivan for Reader Views

"A Walk for Sunshine" is a non-fiction account of Jeff Alt's thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in Spring 1998. The Appalachian Trail, also known as the AT, is a 2,160-mile trail through forests, meadows, mountains, and streams from Georgia to Maine. Hiking from one end to the other straight through takes 3-6 months. Jeff Alt did his walk in 147 days. He did this hike not only for himself, but also as a fundraiser for Sunshine, Inc., a group home for people with disabilities, where his brother lives.

The purpose of this book was for Jeff to tell the story of his hike and how he organized it as a fundraiser. Jeff kept journals throughout the trip and mailed them back home. He did an amazing job of compiling these journals into this book. It was written in an easy-to-read style with short chapters. I felt like I was walking the trail with Jeff. In 3-4 pages we had walked 15-20 miles. His fun storytelling and friendly, easy style made me think. Maybe I could really do this too.

Jeff stresses the importance of family and friends as the inspiration and motivation throughout his journey. Jeff did his hike for Sunshine, Inc., a group home where his brother lives with cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities. Sunshine organized a short accessible day hike to correspond with Jeff's hike. They sent cards and letters to him on a regular basis. His family arranged to meet him at various points on the hike. Jeff made it clear that he could not have finished this hike without them.

The unwritten motto on the trail is "Hike your own hike." Jeff takes that motto one step further in this book. He extends it beyond the trail. Anyone can reach their goals by taking it one step at a time and doing it their own way and from their own inspiration. A Post Script in the book talks about how to organize a charity fundraiser and life lessons Jeff learned from the trail.

This book really inspired me. As someone who has always wanted to walk the Appalachian Trail, I was so excited to read each page and really soak in what the reality of a three-month hike would take. Jeff makes the point that people need to take the time now to reach our goals--not to wait for retirement or when we have more time. Take the time to make our lives what we want. I recommend "A Walk for Sunshine" to anyone interested in reading an inspiring book about reaching goals.

Hermetica: Myths, Legends, Poems
Paul Kiritsis
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595449569, $21.95, 2007,, 1-800-288-4677

Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views

This book had a strange effect on me. I found as I began reading it that I was mesmerized by the poems and stories. It engaged me from the beginning to the end and I had a hard time putting it down. I applaud the author's style of combining both collections of poetry and his own interpretations of myths and legends.

In the introduction, the author describes the contents of the book "'Hermetica: Myths, Legends, Poems' is a collection of both poetry and my own renditions of epic myths and legends. Its title comes not only from the fact that was influenced by Hermetic literature but also because it concerns itself with alchemy, primarily the alchemy of love." (page xvii) "He has complete faith that true love does exist and writes as elusive as it may be, true love does exist and anyone can find it present in their life if they are really open to such." (page xvii)

The poems and stories that follow captured my attention and took me on many adventures. The first section on poetics contains poetry that includes alchemy, magic, astrology, myths, wisdom, music and erotica. The second section contains seven mythical stories that deliver messages to the reader. The author pays tribute to the love story of Osiris and Isis and the events leading up to Osiris' death and through his resurrection. Several other stories are included including a popular one from the Middle Ages, "The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor."

Throughout time oral and written stories have been used to teach people morals and lessons. Even the Bible is full of the parables taught by Jesus using examples to teach people new ideas and lessons. In "Hermetica: Myths, Legends, Poems," the author does a great job with intertwining ancient stories with today's themes. As a former resident of the Hawaiian Islands, I especially enjoyed the poems about the islands and the volcano goddess Pele. If you enjoy myths, legends and poetry, then this book is for you.

Love's Secret: Live Your Life in Love
Annie B. Lawrence
Sedona Publishers
460 Harmony Drive, Sedona, AZ 86336
9780979353505, $22.95, 2007

Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views

When I started reading "Love's Secret: Live Your Life in Love" I knew very quickly that this book was more than just the usual self-help book. The author not only counsels people about love, but she lives the principles herself. The cover of the book depicts this perfectly as it is a picture of Lawrence and her husband, the love of her life.

The book is broken into twelve Love's Secrets. These include: commit to love, clear beliefs, developing trust, open your heart, vision for love, love habits, create a safe place, keep passion alive, focus on love, celebrate love, rituals of love and create support. Each chapter addresses the topic of choice and Lawrence tells patient stories to get her point across. At the close of most of the chapters are Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) exercises. These are used to clear emotional energy and blocks from the body. The author describes this exercise best "This technique includes tapping on nine major points that correlate to the energy meridians that traverse the body. When we either deny or ignore emotions, that we are uncomfortable with, these emotions get stuck and cause both emotional and physical reactions." During each exercise you will begin by making a statement and then tap on the correlated emotional center. An illustration in the appendix shows you exactly where to begin the tapping.

I found the chapters to be very useful not only in relationships, but also in helping to get in touch with myself so that I can be completely open in a relationship. I read the book straight through but plan to take Lawrence's advice and go back and spend time working on each chapter by reading, journaling and performing the EFT exercises. My favorite chapter was Secret Number 11 - Creating Rituals. I will not spoil the chapter by describing the rituals, but suffice it to say that they should spice up even the dullest relationships!

When Lawrence is not writing, she is running her retreat center in Sedona, Arizona. There are personal, group and couples' retreats held in Sedona, California and Hawaii. I went to the website,, and the retreats sound wonderful and healing. I am definitely putting the personal retreat on my own personal to-do list. I highly recommend "Love's Secret: Live Your Life in Love" to anyone who is thinking about going into a relationship or already in one. The techniques taught here will assist in making your relationship the best that it can be.

A Trial of One: The Third in the Osgoode Trilogy
Mary E. Martin
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595445714, $22.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views

In "A Trial of One," third in the "Osgoode Trilogy," attorney Harry Jenkins is confronted with greed, fraud, and murder as he seeks to locate the missing shares of Elixicorp Enterprise stock for his client. The fast-moving plot takes Harry from Toronto, Canada to Venice, Italy, and finally to London, England to retrieve the stock valued at $50,000,000. Ruthless and cunning Dr. Robert Hawke is also eager to get his hands on the money for his private experiments. As an afterthought, he is determined to turn Harry into one of his human guinea pigs.

Martin introduces characters in the novel that assume there is purpose for their lives yet feel an incompleteness, a longing for something more. Mary's characters have flaws, strengths and weaknesses. She uses the emotions of her characters to provoke the reader to consider unconditional love and acceptance and what this means.

After a severe beating while in Venice, a young hotel clerk saves Harry's life. Later in an attempt to protect Harry, young Angelo refused to give Harry's location and is slashed and beaten by Hawke's crazed thugs. Harry, in turn, saves Angelo when he finds him near death, bound and gagged.

A thread of sexual tension and romance is interwoven into the drama and suspense of the multifaceted plot and subplots throughout the story. Martin demonstrates an amazing insight and understanding into the misdirected obsessions which bring a person to the brink madness, the frustrations of dementia and aging, and the loneliness found in care facilities for the elderly.

I became totally immersed in the story. "A Trial of One" is profound and thought-provoking with a strong message, a masterfully crafted story line, with real life characters that experience challenges that resonate with the reader. This is a book filled with suspense, romance, and adventure, something for everyone.

Burying the Secret: The Road to Ruin Is Paved with Books about the Law of Attraction
Carol Rutter
Babbling Books
P.O. Box 4668, New York, NY 10163
9780979860904, $14.95, 2008,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

In "Burying the Secret," Carol Rutter shares her story with us of how the Law of Attraction did not work for her. For years, she adhered to this idea, but things got worse and worse for her. When she started researching psychology, mysticism and Eastern thought, she realized that not all prayers are to be answered for a variety of reasons. She states, "The Secret" fails to acknowledge that unanswered petitions are the norm because fulfillment of the most dramatic or life-changing prayers usually conflict with our karmic standing and/or purpose in life…"

This really makes a lot of sense to me, especially after reading her book. She extensively researches the other areas mentioned above and references them so that you can further review her discussion. In her writings you discover why bad things happen to good people and you see good things happening to bad people. She really makes a lot of sense.

I enjoyed "The Secret" to the point that I read it, watched it, and went to a conference on it. Even though, I am a fan of "The Secret," I had a lot of questions in my mind; that she addresses. These questions and thoughts were lurking in the back of my mind, because I was afraid if I verbalized them, then I would be cancelling the Law of Attraction. After reading, "Burying the Secret," I feel like I have a greater understanding of how things really work.

I highly recommend "Burying the Secret" to people who are familiar or interested in "The Secret" or the Law of Attraction. It will help provide some balanced ideas to people who are on their spiritual quest. It will definitely help you understand why karmic law and/or prayer, does not always allow our prayers to be answered. Reading this book made me feel so much more positive about the path that I am on.

OMA: Part 2
Daniel J. Neumann
Llumina Press
PO Box 772246, Coral Gables, FL 33077-2246
9781595268143, $13.95, 2007,

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views

Award-winning author, Daniel J. Neumann's writing is stronger than ever in his new book, science-fiction novel, the sequel to "OMA: One Man Army." In "OMA: Part 2" a fifteen-year-period of peace has elapsed since the "Thirty Year War." Tensions are growing between Humanity and the Surculus. The Surculus are seeking vengeance by demanding that the Barsilian girl Vanessa be turned over to them or war will be declared.

Neumann has produced a well-crafted plot which is moved forward through crisp, fast-paced dialog. He has allowed his characters, from the Omaha Team, to develop in depth and maturity as they are reunited in a mission to maintain peace.

However, in the midst of the assignment a power struggle between team members Geoffrey and Harold builds up. Emotional maturity of individuals has not developed as fast as their physical and mental capabilities. Advanced and futuristic technology fills the pages of the narrative as terrorists in their determination to retaliate, release missiles, unmanned space vehicles, asteroid class ships, and Gamma Ray weapons as well as use transporting beacons. The Surculus have created a synthesized race of Andoreans to assist in their planned revenge. The final chapters are filled with danger, uncertainty, and a fast-paced unexpected conclusion.

I personally enjoyed Dan's concept of interplanetary relations and the underlying interactions, and implications on societal and political issues. A clear but subtle message is interwoven throughout the book of the importance and value for life, of dedication and self sacrifice, and of loyalty. He has also given recognition to the presence of the supernatural in the universe. Through his character, Jack, he brings a message of hope in face of reality and his own personal belief that individuals can have a relationship with their creator. Neuman has an artistic, creative gift for interweaving the inter-galactic with spiritual and philosophical elements into his adventure stories.

Dan uses suspense, adventure, and transcendence to engage the reader in experiencing a sense of living on the edge, fear and a search for meaning, which call the reader to a commitment to courageously impact others.

"OMA: Part 2" is a book that will be enjoyed by today's young reader as well as seasoned science fiction fans. Neumann's creative imagination and his extensive vocabulary enhance his writing skills. With maturity and fine tuning he is insured of future success and growth as he continues to develop his innate talent for writing. Dan has a tremendous potential for becoming a top notch novelist.

The Devil from Saint-Hyacinthe: Senator Telesphore-Damien Bouchard
Frank Myron Guttman
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595403028, $25.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Review by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views

In "The Devil from Saint-Hyacinthe" biographer Frank Myron Guttman portrays Telesphore -Damien Bouchard as a man ahead of his time. Guttman has captured the fire that motivated Bouchard in his attempt to diminish the role of the Roman Catholic Church in politics, social services, and in education in Quebec, Canada throughout a political career that covered nearly half of the 20th-Century.

Guttman draws from numerous sources, including autobiographical information written by Bouchard himself, to provide important and interesting family background and to show how these early influences during his formative years impacted the decisions he made throughout his political career. I especially appreciated pictures from the family albums and a reproduction of the family tree that went back to the parents of Nicolas Bouchard the first of the family to come to Canada in 1658.

The years in seminary, law school, and an early marriage segue into the beginning phase of T. D.'s political career as a journalist and alderman on the municipal counsel. He moved on to become a member of the legislative assembly to represent Quebec. In 1919 he became Mayor of Saint- Hyacinthe. He went on to become cabinet minister where he served until 1944.

As early as 1906 Bouchard understood the importance of developing electrical infrastructure to provide cheap electricity for industrial and residential use. This early vision provided the impetus that helped form important legislation leading to the nationalization of public services.

The generous photo gallery featured throughout the book provides the reader with an added dimension that appeals to the imagination and brings the history of a bygone era alive and allows the personalities of Bouchard and his contemporaries to be seen as real.

Frank Myron Guttman has created an outstanding tribute to a man who dedicated his life to improving the status of the working class of Quebec, their educational opportunities, and social betterment. His work is brilliantly researched and well documented. This work is an important contribution to the historical accounts of Quebec's political development and will add to the understanding of the struggle to defend Quebec's democracy.

"The Devil from Saint-Hyacinthe" offers hope and encouragement to the young potential leader in these times of confusion, uncertainty, and conflict. T. D. Bouchard is a model example of the influence one man can have on change and reform.

The Innocence of God
Udo Middlemann
Paternoster Publishing
1820 Jet Stream Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781934068045, $16.99, 2007,

Reviewed by Dr. Michael Philliber for Reader Views

Faced with tsunamis that wipe out thousands of people, brutal wars, pointless slaughter of innocent people at market places, destructive sex trafficking, governments that look the other way or complicit with injustice, and a host of other evils, humans try hard to make sense of evil. They generally seek to construct reasonable systems of answers revolving around God, good, evil, destiny, fate, and karma. Udo Middlemann has endeavored to do the same in "The Innocence of God," where he has taken head on two important theological systems within Christianity that have tried to answer the problem of a world of evil and a good God, "Calvinism" and "Openness Theology." Though it seems he has tried to write this for the average layperson, it is more on the level of professional theologians and pastors.

The best Middlemann offers to the reader in "The Innocence of God" is the reminder that in this real world, evil happens, God is innocent of the evil, He has chosen to do something about it and we can too. He draws most often from the biblical book of Job, and shows that true evil does not come from the hand of God. Instead, there is a real fight going on from heaven to earth between the evil one and God, and that humans and creation are part of this fight. Creation is more the amoral scene that suffers and is marred by this conflict, while humans, through their freely chosen decisions and actions, enter into the contest, choosing sides and suffering the consequences of their own sins and the sins of others. Because evil is really loose in the world the decent often suffer disease, confiscation of their property, and injustice, while the wicked frequently go unpunished and gain greater and greater power. Though Middlemann doesn't give any substantive guidelines on how to be part of the remedy, he at least has done the readers a service by reminding them that this struggle is being waged all around us and everyone of us is choosing sides. We don't have to stoically bow to some inevitable destiny that all this evil and suffering is somehow 'God's will for me and I just need to submit.'

Though Middlemann spends a small portion of time denouncing "Openness of God" theology, he expends most of his book's space, ink and paper taking on what he calls "Calvinism," which he lumps in with a fatalistic and deterministic view of the happenings in the world. This is surprising for two reasons. The first is that his father-in-law was the late Francis A. Schaeffer, who was a Christian apologist and a Calvinist (Middlemann is the president of the Francis A. Schaeffer foundation]. The second reason is that Middlemann spends almost seven whole chapters debunking a poorly caricatured Calvinism. He accuses Calvinism of succumbing to the same defeatism as fatalistic materialism and biological, chemical, genetic and social determinism. At one point he even goes so far as to claim that Calvinism is guilty of causing many suicides because it breeds despair in peoples' minds and hearts. Though this is not the place to have a theological argument, suffice it to say that healthy and wholesome Calvinism is not fatalistic, and agrees that people do freely choose their positions in this cosmic-creation struggle between God and evil.

Though there are only a few editorial slip-ups, the majority of the book fights to be logically consistent. There are occasional contradictions in the writer's notions, disconnected thoughts between paragraphs, and a shallow handling of several passages of Scripture.

"The Innocence of God" gives the initial impression that it will help Christians to grasp and comprehend the tension between evil and the goodness of God. But as the book unfolds it increasingly becomes a tirade against Calvinism, more specifically a highly caricaturized Calvinism, and is therefore a sad disappointment. I would imagine that most readers would not be satisfied with much of the material, or not completely happy with the writer's conclusions.

Jungle King Secrets: A Libido-Liberating Lifestyle for Superior Sexual Satisfaction
Paul Adcock
Loving Healing Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
9781932690491, $22.95, 2008,

Reviewed by William Phenn for Reader Views

I was not able to find much information on the author except the fact that he was born in Detroit, Michigan and now resides in a suburb of the same. "Jungle King Secrets" happens to be his first book but I am sure it will not be his last.

Does size matter? Find out in Paul Adcock's book "Jungle King Secrets"--his detailed study of this and many more life-enhancing questions are answered in this 251-page volume. His main thrust is on how to improve your love life through the use of diet and exercise. He speaks of "World Class Wellness" and shows how to handle that ever-growing concern among men, "the erection." Mr. Adcock describes how nutrition of the body relates to our sexual prowess in, "Factory-Farming and Sexual Function." He instructs the reader in the proper use of nutrition and even better, what not to eat or do for sexual superiority; which food and drinks to avoid and others to eat more of. Not smoking was at the top of the list along with overindulgence. Paul cautions everyone on the dangers of smoking and emphasizes the fact that too much wine can hinder a man's performance. I could sympathize with what he means here and I am sure I'm not alone when I say, "it doesn't help a man's partner to overindulge either."

Further on, Paul explains the dangers of sexual pharmaceuticals. The risks involved in taking so-called, erection-amplifying drugs or aphrodisiacs. Such libido enhancers have hidden chemicals that are detrimental to the human body and Mr. Adcock cautions the reader on their use and abuse. One of my personal favorite chapters was, "The Secret of the Sexual Super Heroes." Mr. Adcock refers to the "Grand Master Tu Jin-Sheng" and the teachings of "Taoism." "Taoism" is not a political doctrine but rather a wisdom tradition. Followers observed the organic lifestyle and learned to harness the life force of creation called "energy cultivation (Qi Gong)." They learned that this practice made it possible for them to be more sexually superior and less susceptible to sickness and disease.

The power of sex is exemplified in this very well-documented and researched book. How Mr. Adcock was able to compile so much helpful information into only 251 pages is amazing. I had no problem giving this book an A rating. The research was thorough and well documented, the writing was unquestionably well done and "Jungle King Secrets" is a quality product that is well worth reading.

The Sacred Sin
Estevan Vega
P.O. Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705
9781424183067, $19.95, 2007, (301) 695-1707,

Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views

By the age of 18 Estevan Vega accomplished something most people dream about their entire life. He published a book. Actually, by the time he was 18, he already published two books. This is quite amazing by itself, but even more amazing is the depth and maturity of Mr. Vega's writing. If the back cover of "The Sacred Sin" would not have disclosed his age, I would have never guessed that he is still a teenager.

"The Sacred Sin" is a story of a Los Angeles homicide detective, Jude Foster, who is dealing with severe mental issues following a betrayal by his former partner and friend, Morgan Cross, who nearly killed him and actually left him for dead. In order to be reinstated he has to visit a shrink, one that he has a very low opinion of, and also prove himself time and again through his work. He is given a new partner, who happens to be female and who annoys him greatly. He is also dealing with family issues. His brother tends to be on the wrong side of the law and leads a dangerous life.

When a new series of victims starts to appear, Jude is put in charge of the homicides. He soon realizes that they are dealing with an unusual criminal, one that leaves behind bodies marked in strange ways and killed by abnormal means. Jude and Rachel only have a week to stop the villain, and the chase might very well lead them to some unusually dark places.

Mr. Vega deals with the "darkness that lies within all men" with unusual maturity, showing the reader how it is not only vice but also complacency that is evil and utterly malevolent in its nature. The main character, Jude Foster, oozes hatred toward any- and everybody, including himself; and as such is not a difficult prey for the vile supernatural forces. The rest of the characters are less well developed and slightly cliched, but I am certain that Mr. Vega will be able to overcome this challenge in his future works. His story moves well in general and provides enough surprises to keep it interesting and flowing smoothly.

My main criticism mostly pertains to the obvious lack of editing and proofreading. If Mr. Vega would be willing to hire a professional editor, he could have avoided several typos, excessive backstory and occasionally confusing metaphors. All of that would have polished his already well-written book and made it even more readable.

Overall I enjoyed reading "The Sacred Sin." The story was captivating and challenging enough to keep my interest throughout. I am sure it will be greatly enjoyed by readers who like mysteries, especially those with some supernatural elements.

Stoke the Fire Within: A Guide to Igniting Your Life
Charlie Adams
Corby Books
PO Box 93, Notre Dame, IN 46556
9780977645831, $14.95, 2008,

Reviewed by Vicki Landes for Reader Views

Keynote speaker and author Charlie Adams makes it his business to know what motivates people and he's compiled this strategy into his new book, "Stoke the Fire Within: A Guide to Igniting Your Life." Utilizing plenty of inspirational stories from his career in broadcasting and a seemingly limitless source of energy, he puts his methods into an easy-to-follow approach for his readers.

"Stoke the Fire Within" begins with the defining moment in his life when he learned the difference between 'good' and 'excellent' - and from a most unlikely source. Since that time, Adams strives to consciously rise above 'average' and work in much more meaningful and touching ways. Utilizing his own formula for success: Commitment + Determination = Excellence, he explains how others can follow the same method to reach greatness in their own lives. Not that Adams hasn't had his share of failures during the process, though - in fact, he says, "a common denominator of my life has been that anything I have been totally committed to is something that I have succeeded in almost every time…when I look back at failures, I see a lack of commitment."

"Stoke the Fire Within" is a well-organized and highly motivating message of self-scrutiny. Adams looks to optimistically nudge the reader into a deep and honest look within themselves and evaluate where they have set their operating standards in the past. His enthusiasm for life and his intrinsic value of excellence is absolutely overwhelming - I could almost see him jumping up and down with excitement while cheering me on as I read each page. He takes such an extreme delight in other people's accomplishments as well…almost as if he's shared in their struggles and can truly relish in their triumph. He sees the world as a limitless source of success for everyone - and genuinely hopes this for all, as evident through his writings.

Author Charlie Adams is a perfect read for the sports lover looking to 'up the ante' on their life standards. "Stoke the Fire Within" is chock-full of athletically-centered stories - at professional, college, and even high school levels - meant to uplift and inspire the reader. Although his many sports analogies were completely lost on me (as my husband watches his NFL team, I'm wondering how and why those Foot Locker employees got on the field to watch the game. Apparently they are called 'referees'……), the book still got me motivated. Whether or not you understand the difference between a touchdown and a goal, you'll still feel what it means to 'love your game'.

"Stoke the Fire Within: A Guide to Igniting Your Life" lights a flame under that lack of enthusiasm and propels you into an existence of excellence. Full of passion, energy, and drive, author Charlie Adams gives you a glimpse into your own potential while describing how others have reached their goals. If you are in need of a pep talk, huddle with Adams and score!

The Pact
JoAnn Fastoff
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113-1513
9781425799717, $19.99, 2007, 1-888-795-4274,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

Once again, JoAnn Fastoff has written a novel that you will find yourself unable to put down, in her latest continuation of the Howard Watson Intrigue series, "The Pact." What I loved most about "The Pact" is that when a double homicide occurs, you immediately think you know who did it, you just don't know why or how complicated matters truly are. Instead of a typical mystery where you try to find out who did it, in this case, you try to figure out how and why the other elements of the plot tie together. I love a book that makes you think, and in "The Pact," I totally enjoyed discovering the answers as the story unfolded.

Events leading to a modern day double homicide actually begin 1966, in western Africa. As the story unfolds, Ms. Fastoff fills in the history of many of the characters. She shows how deep friendships were established among the main characters, especially four women. Their loyalty to each other is unwavering. I really appreciate the depth of her character development; this adds some great touches to the storyline.

Close female friends who have banded together to help one of their own against her abusive partner, become embroiled in the plot when a crime that they are tying to cover up is intricately tied into one committed by a hit man who has no desire to leave witnesses around to identify him. The FBI also becomes involved with the case. This is where Special Agent Howard Watson steps in. The women have alibis; however, they become very nervous as the evidence starts building against them. They have no clue how much danger they are in. Howard Watson does, and using modern technology, the FBI and Chicago P.D. try to gather their own clues before any more deaths occur.

Spousal abuse, illegal drug sales, illegal arms, murder, betrayal…the list goes on. "The Pact" has it all. It takes talent to put such a complete tale together in a relatively short novel. JoAnn Fastoff obviously has that talent. I read "The Pact" in one sitting and loved all of it. I look forward to Howard Watson's next adventure.

Changing History
How Kuff
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595464449, $16.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by William Phenn for Reader Views

Mr. Kuff is a diversified man that holds degrees in Philosophy and Mathematics. He lives in the forests of the Ozark Mountains and leads an eclectic lifestyle. How Kuff began working on "Changing History" after returning from a mountain bike trip through Tibet.

"Changing History" begins with seven global travelers -- Ellie, Rayfield, Cibi, Raz, Lana, Karyn, Lorraine -- who seek shelter in a Tibetan teahouse. In addition to this diverse group, there is a Buddhist monk, Lobsang, and a Buddhist nun, Ngawang, who are on the road visiting different monasteries. While sitting around the teahouse at night, the travelers exchange stories of their loves and lives. They talked about circumstances that drove them to question certain basic aspects of their lives, what caused them to come to the teahouse, as each one voiced his or her personal experience. They told their stories of religious persecution, politics and discrimination against their nationality, describing the terrible atrocities against the people of Tibet and the violation of the land by the Chinese.

From the many intertwining stories, the travelers become aware that they have a philosophical bond with one another. They found that they are all intimately connected to all people and places. An action by one could have an affect on another in another time and place. There is a direct connection to the future in their actions of the present. So diverse are the travelers and their backgrounds, yet "Changing History" shows how each one plays a role in the great scheme of things.

Close Call
John McEvoy
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., Ste. 103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590584965, $22.95, 2008, (480) 945-3375,

Reviewed by Leslie Granier for Reader Views

"Close Call" centers around Jack Doyle, a man with a shady past who still has strong connections with many powerful people. One such connection sets him up with a job as a publicist for Monee Park, a Chicago racetrack that is failing financially. The track's owner has just passed away and left the majority of the ownership to his niece Celia who he raised since she was a child. The rest of the ownership is left to Niall Hanratty, a nephew who resides in Ireland. Celia is counting on the passage of a bill to allow video slot machines at racetracks (in order to compete with nearby casinos) to save Monee Park from bankruptcy. However, Niall is receiving information that it would be in his best interest to sell the land because the bill is unlikely to pass. As Celia and Niall dispute whose position would be best for everyone, a successful horse brings welcome attention to the track, thus increasing the stakes for both sides.

This book will appeal to readers of both sexes. Males will enjoy the horseracing and gambling elements. Women will appreciate the strong female heroine who is determined to achieve success. The author does a nice job of describing the surroundings and the action. The reader will feel as if he or she is attending an actual horserace.

The relationships between the major characters were touching. The loyalty and trust they exhibited and the sacrifices they made for their love of the sport were truly inspirational. However, some of the characters could have been developed more fully. I would have liked to have learned a little more about Jack's history. Including more details could have lent another interesting element to the story, as well as provided an explanation for his demeanor. Niall's character was also a bit underdeveloped. I had a hard time deciding if he was a villain or just a businessman looking out for his own interests.

"Close Call" contains subject matter that will appeal to many readers--including sports, politics, and sabotage. It will entertain as well as inform the reader. The unexpected events at the end provided a fitting conclusion to the story.

One Good Turn: A Novel
Kate Atkinson
Back Bay Books
Little, Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316012829, $13.99, 2007,

Reviewed by Leslie Granier for Reader Views

"One Good Turn" begins with a horrible incident. A man is involved in a car accident, but the other party involved, instead of checking to see if he is injured, pulls out a baseball bat and starts beating him in the head. One man intervenes by throwing his laptop at the aggressor and soon finds himself in the midst of danger. Several other witnesses do not come forward for various reasons. As the tales of these witnesses and bystanders begin to be told, the reader learns how their stories are intertwined, thus providing incredible insight into the jumbled webs of their lives.

I find this book moves a little slowly for the first few chapters because new characters are constantly being introduced. However, once the connections between the characters begin to unfold, the action progresses at an extremely rapid pace, right up to the final sentence. The numerous plot twists made it difficult for me to put the book down. The characters, many of whom were quite quirky, provide some humor but, more importantly, they represent the qualities of the state of the world today -- including greed, fear, and unwillingness to get involved. It was interesting to see how people with such different backgrounds and character traits could all be important players in one grand adventure. I loved how the story seemed to go full circle. It was great to see all of the pieces as they fell into place.

All readers who like action and fast-paced novels should read this book. It was fun trying to figure out what could possibly happen next. Reading groups will appreciate the guide provided at the end of the book. It consists of thought-provoking questions that will promote interesting conversation and analysis. After pondering some of the questions, I saw many of the characters in a different light.

"One Good Turn" is a book that keeps the reader involved and anticipating where the plot will head. It is definitely a page turner and should be read by anyone who loves a good book with intriguing characters. Just be sure you have plenty of free time before you start because you will have difficulty taking a break.

What Never Happens
Anne Holt
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Ave, New York, NY 10017
9780446578035, $24.99, 2008,

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

"What Never Happens" is a compelling, thought-provoking mystery written by Scandinavia's well-known crime author Anne Holt. When a series of uniquely gruesome murders occur, investigator Adam Stubo and his wife, Johanne Vik, who is a gifted profiler, get involved. Johanne, who just had a baby and cares for a young daughter with autistic-like behaviors, is exhausted. She has some very bad memories from her past when she was in training with the FBI, however, she finds herself recalling patterns of past murders to what is currently happening. There is definitely an intelligent person involved with the murders. As the pattern begins to show itself, she realizes that she and Adam are in danger.

The characters have a great deal of depth and dimension. I also got to know Adam and Johanne. Holt made them so real to me. The way she writes about Johanne's daughter has me convinced that she has first-hand experience in dealing with a child with special needs. Trying to overcome their personal issues and solve the mystery of the murders is incredibly stressful for them, but it also helps Johanne work through some issues. She is forced to confront her past.

"What Never Happens" is absolutely fascinating. It is by far one of the best murder mysteries that I have ever read. Anne Holt came up with an incredible idea for writing this book. Her imagination scares me! She also manages to tie together different murders that you would assume have no connection. I don't want to give it away, so I will leave it at that. The murders and the symbolism behind them are incredibly diabolical and creative. This is a must read for murder mystery fans. It would also provide some hot topics for readers groups.

Down to a Sunless Sea
Mathias B. Freese
601 East Delano Street, Suite 104, Tucson, AZ 85705
9781587367335, $13.95, 2007,

Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views

While I have to admit I usually prefer sunnier reading, I was very much impressed by "Down to a Sunless Sea," a collection of short stories by Mathias B. Freese. Each of the fifteen stories leads the reader into the mind of another struggling character, trying to deal with whatever lousy set of cards life dealt them.

All of the stories are undoubtedly dark and deal with troubled people, yet they are not necessarily depressing. After having read about such tremendous struggles, one cannot help but to feel better about his or her own life, having put one's own little miseries into much better perspective. Seeing life through the eyes of Mr. Freese's characters makes you realize how lucky you really are compared to so many other people.

Mr. Freese's characters are truly believable, if not always easy to relate to and not always likeable. His writing is rich and tight, with just enough words to convey the message and no unnecessary flowery or overly sentimental passages. He seems to be able to dissect the human soul and lay it bare in front of the reader's eyes. Nobody's misery is beyond his reach, regardless of whether that person is mentally or physically challenged, abused, lonely or simply just old. He understands them all and he shows sympathy and concern for everybody.

As I mentioned earlier, "Down to a Sunless Sea" is not exactly sunny reading, but it is undoubtedly good reading. As such I would highly recommend it to all readers who love good prose and who are not afraid of something a bit more challenging to read. Take them one at a time, and those stories just might make you understand your fellow men - and women - better.

Girls in Trucks
Katie Crouch
Little, Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Ave, New York, NY 10017
9780316002110, $21.99, 2008,

Reviewed by Danielle Feliciano for Reader Views

"Girls in Trucks" takes us on a journey with Sarah Walters, a debutante who is a member of the ages-old Camellia Society in Charleston. She lives a traditional life surrounded by hypocrites who exemplify hypocrisy. Sarah's role models include a promiscuous older sister, a mother who has a tendency to have just a bit too much to drink and friends who she can't stand but is required to be friends with as fellow Camellias.

This book shows us who Sarah is and what her life is about through a series of snapshots, seamlessly tied together regardless of timeframe. Beginning with her Cotillion training, through high school and into her college experience in New York, Sarah struggles with the dichotomy of being a Camellia yet trying to find herself and her own identity.

Sarah has a predilection for making poor choices, but that is admirable because at least she is making choices, as opposed to doing what everyone else tells her to do. She is not perfect; she clearly is an alcoholic, is promiscuous and a bit selfish, but despite that all she is endearing and hard not to identify with. She searches for love and companionship in all the wrong places, going so far as to travel to another country in the hopes that a past lover will be able to fill in the gaps in her life.

Throughout her life and her travels, Sarah is able to slowly distance herself from the Camellia lifestyle while maintaining just enough ties to remind her where she came from. She finds herself to be a single mother as the result of yet another misguided affair. After a family tragedy, Sarah and her daughter return to Charleston to take care of Sarah's mother. This is where Sarah finally comes to have a better understanding of who she is and where she came from. She sees that no matter how far she tried to run, home never changed.

The best thing about this book is that there is no tidy ending. Rather than tie everything up in a neat bow and giving the "happily ever after," Ms. Crouch ends with a touching moment, but also the knowledge that this is not the end. While in that moment everything is perfect, it will not last. This is life, this is reality, and, more importantly, this is Sarah's life. She has not changed that drastically or that quickly, but she is more aware now, leaving open the possibility of a happy ending in her future. It is courageous of Ms. Crouch to end her book in such a way because it is entirely too easy and too frequent that authors give an unrealistic happy ending. Kudos to Ms. Crouch, and to her character Sarah, for not always making the popular choice, but for being strong enough to make their own choices.

One Came Home
Vincent A. Krepps
American Literary Press
8019 Belair Road, Suite 10, Baltimore, MD 21236
9781561679881, $26.95, 2007,

Reviewed by Dr. Michael Philliber for Reader Views

Sadness abounds around war on many levels, and personal stories of war can be the hardest to handle. Vincent A. Krepps, in "One Came Home," tells his own individual story of the Korean War, but the pain of his tale is deeper due to the loss of his twin brother in that conflict. One of the reasons the author has written this book is to inform a generation of people who have generally forgotten the Korean War about what went on and how it affected people, specifically himself and his family.

The story behind this book is of two, small-town, Pennsylvania twin boys who played, slept, ate and lived together for 19 years. This togetherness splashed over into their early adulthood years when they enlisted in the Army together, went through basic training, tank and anti-aircraft training, and finally to Korea together. This is a story about Vincent and Richard Krepps, their involvement in the Korean War, the loss of Richard as an MIA/POW, and Vincent's search for a resolution to Richard's status.

The reader who picks up this rather large book will quickly find that it is not written as a disinterested historical rendition of the Korean War. They will find they are sitting down with an old friend who is simply telling his story, peppered with all the grief, self-doubts, frustration, and guilt one would expect. Therefore, the story sometimes seems a bit disjointed in the personal retelling. Only around one third of the book is concerned with Vincent's and Richard's story, the rest of the book is chock-full of documentation from Vincent's search for information about his brother, as well as information about the attempts to recover the remains of other service members from that war, the records of the North Korean POW camps, and the repatriation of POWs. The resolution of Vincent's search for what really happened to his twin brother comes in chapters 20 and 26.

"One Came Home" is the size of a college textbook, with hardback, glossy cover, and printed on sturdy paper. It appears that the book is meant to be a durable rehearsal of story, information, documentation, and help for those wanting to dig deeper into the search for MIA/POWs, not only from the Korean War, but other conflicts as well. This is a book the reader will be glad to hold on to for years to come.

There's Nothing to Do on Mars
Chris Gall
Little, Brown Young Readers
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Ave, New York, NY 10010
0316166848, $16.99, 2008,

Reviewed by Matthew Feliciano (age 7) for Reader Views

Davey's family moves to Mars because they want to get away from Earth because there are too many people. Davey knows that there is nothing to do on Mars so he doesn't want to go, but he has to. One day he and his dog, Polaris, go on his scooter to go around Mars and explore. They soon find a crater that the dog sniffed out. When they are digging in the crater, there is a loud CRACK and water starts gushing out of it. More people start coming to Mars because there is water there. Davey goes surfing one day and when he comes back his mother says "There are too many people here. We have to move to Saturn." And Davey knows there is NOTHING to do on Saturn!

"There's Nothing to Do on Mars" was fun to read. The illustrations were not that great and I didn't really like them, but the story was so good that I could ignore the pictures. It was cool to be able to imagine living on Mars.

Baby Signs
Joy Allen
Dial Books for Young Readers
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
375 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014
9780803731936, $6.99, 2008, 1-800-847-5515

Reviewed by Cayden (age 3-1/2), Max (age 18 months) Aures and Mom for Reader Views

"Baby Signs" is a sturdy board book that provides 13 signs that are helpful for a baby to learn so that he is able to communicate before he can speak. Among some of the signs taught in the book are milk, more, diaper, book and sleepy.

Cayden: Points to the cover and says, "He's a baby, like you are a baby Max!"
Max: "Baby"

Cayden: "He threw it! There was milk in there!" (referring to the baby throwing his bowl when he was done eating)
Mom: "Who does that?"
Cayden: "Babies like Max!"
Mom: "Maybe we should teach him the sign for 'all done'"

Cayden: Pointing to the illustration of how to sign diaper: "What are you supposed to do here?"
Max: Pointing to the diaper that the baby put on his head "Hat, Hat!"

Mom: "What was your favorite sign to learn?"
Cayden: "I like this one! The dog one!" Then they both stick out their tongues and pant (which is the sign for dog).

Parent's comments: Cayden and Max had already known a couple of signs that were in "Baby Signs" and recognized them right away when we got to that page. The book definitely held their interest and the illustrations as to how to do the signs along with the written directions were very helpful. I think that there is just the right number of signs so as not to be too overwhelming for a young child.

Deputy Dorkface: How Stinkville Got Cleaned Up
Kevin D. Janison
Stephens Press
PO Box 1600 Las Vegas, NV 89125
9781932173826, $16.95, 2007
Reviewed by Matthew Feliciano (age 7) for Reader Views

"Deputy Dorkface" is about a town named Stinkville. In Stinkville you can tell what the town is like by its name--it is STINKY! One day, two kids named Taylor and Colin gallop away on their horses and go for a ride. Soon they come to Stinkville. The Stink-O-Meter is on "High Stink Danger-Stay Out!." Taylor and Colin don't listen. They go into Stinkville and they find out that it really is stinky.

The people in Stinkville are very dirty but they don't care. The buildings are stinky as well because nobody in Stinkville cleans themselves or their stuff. This is all because one day the town deputy took a drink of water after eating a peanut butter sandwich. He got all red and puffy so he thought he was allergic to water. He said there is something wrong with the water, so to protect his citizens, he outlawed any use of water.

In "Deputy Dorkface" Taylor and Colin use their ropes to tie up the deputy and pull him into the lake to get rid of him. Then the deputy swims up to the surface and yells at them that he is throwing them in jail. But, then he looks at himself and sees that he's clean. He finds out he was not allergic to water but to peanut butter. He declares free baths for everyone in the town. Taylor and Colin go home knowing they helped the people of this town.

Sporeville: The Wellborn Conspiracy
Paul Marlowe
Sybertooth Inc.
59 Salem Street, Sackville, New Brunswick, E4L 4J6, Canada
9780973950540, $10.95, 2007,

Reviewed by Martin Yoder (age 14) for Reader Reviews

In this book, the readers find a vision of the 1800s lying before us plainly and in a well-constructed manner. The genre of "Steam-punk," or, Victorian science-fiction, finds a new tale to its name, as well.

The protagonist of our story is Elliot Graven, the son of a doctor from Kingston, and he eternally regrets this move of his father's to Sporeville. The Deloups, including Elliot's spiritualist friend, Paisley, soon introduce the doctor and his only child to the bizarre village, and Elliot sees a dull and dreary country existence here. Of course, he meets the precise opposite in the presence of the narcoleptic and sleep-walking population, the crude run-down haunts of the town, and the magnanimous and frightening Dr. Strange.

This world of this tale is well illustrated by the language of the book, showing us with almost a first-hand account of the thought and mindset of the late 19th century. We find the emergence of some modern technology in life, which fuels a strange desire for the spiritual and the seance. The newfound strength of steam and coal make their presence with the fascinating ability to travel further and further away from the home. Yet, a fear is slowly settling into society, a fear that exploits every bonus, every step-ahead into merely a drawback.

The general teen reader will be interested by this story, for it illustrates the past with a steady hand, and carves intrigue well. The words of the old world might require an inquisition from a dictionary for the young, and perhaps the younger readers shouldn't find this on their shelves at all, but anyone past double-digits can read this and enjoy it.

I was quite interested in this book since I learned the meaning of its genre, and I certainly wasn't disappointed after reading it. Should I find some fault with it, is just an occasional dreary spell in the plot and those are never outlasting a few sentences.

This being a serialized work (a fall to some books, but hopefully not this one!), I should hope to find book two of the Wellborn Conspiracy a little longer, a little broader and, with good hope, even more intriguing than its prequel. Surely, the tale after "Sporeville" will be on a fair number of shelves everywhere.

Ireland's Professional Amateurs: A Sports Season at Its Purest
Andy Mendlowitz
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595456840, $17.95, 2007, 800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Richard Blake for Reader Views

To get background information and interviews for his "Ireland's Professional Amateurs," award-winning journalist, Andy Mendlowitz toured Ireland for eight months to observe and record the story of a sport season at it its purest.

This is a behind-the-scenes story of The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), of Gaelic Football, a combination of the elements of soccer and rugby, and the game Hurling. Hurling is an Irish sport played with a stick similar to ice hockey. Andy described the game this way: Gaelic football was physical and with the players not wearing pads, trouble followed. Hard shoulder-to-shoulder contact led to violent collisions. Heads banged and bodies got slammed to the ground.

These games often attract crowds as large as 80,000. The athletes train as professionals but maintain full-time jobs outside of the sports arena to pay support their families. According to Andy, GAA both created and reflected community. GAA fans had two loyalties-- to the club team and to the inter-county squad. Mendlowitz provides several enlightening references within the various chapters of the financial underwriting of the GAA organization and their investments.

From the early playoffs in February through April to the finals in September and October, Andy followed the teams from Clare, Mayo, Leitrim, Kerry, and Galway Counties to Derry in Northern Ireland and the cities of Cork and Dublin.

I personally enjoyed Andy's word pictures and colorful detailed descriptions of the Irish countryside as he traveled from the rural parishes to the large cities of Belfast, Dublin, and Cork. I was fascinated as he gave me a new appreciation of Ireland's culture, folklore, superstitions, history, and economics. He also gave me a new understanding of the difficulties being faced in Northern Ireland.

To provide the background information Mendlowitz wanted for his story he stayed with players and their families. He became involved in their personal lives and identified with the loyalty they feel for their teammates, their fans, and their country.

Mendlowitz writes in a fast-moving, journalistic style that reveals his own passion for sports, his fascination with the sports, the games themselves, with the individual team members, their coaches, and their fans. His love for travel, new adventures in learning and a love for life all come through in "Ireland's Professional Amateurs." This is sports writing at its finest.

Someday (Sunrise Series-Baxter 3, Book 3)
Karen Kingsbury
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9780842387491, $13.99, 2008, 1-800-323-9400

Reviewed by Lori Plach for Reader Views

Many changes have taken place in the Baxter family! Some of the changes are very good and are happy memories, while others are not. Just like in normal everyday life there are some experiences which we would rather not have to live through. Landon and Ashley have recently faced the birth and death of their daughter Sarah. The whole Baxter family rallies around the family who has two young boys.

John Baxter is facing one of the biggest decisions of his life. He has been a widower for a number of years, losing his beloved wife and mother of his six children. Elaine has been there for him through this time of adjustment. Their relationship has grown into something which he would like to be a permanent part of his life. However, he is scared; how will the children react and is he still too much in love with his first wife to move on? He is looking for answers and approval from his kids. He has been preserving the kids' memories of their mother by putting together a scrapbook of pictures and copies of the letters which Elizabeth wrote to them through the years.

Dayne and Katy are now married. However, the honeymoon doesn't last nearly long enough. Like any newlyweds, reality is going to have to set in. But their life is anything but normal because Dayne is a popular movie star who is constantly being hounded by the paparazzi. To make matters worse, Katy is working on a film in London while Dayne is in Cobo San Lucas for a number of weeks. When the tabloids get a hold of a picture of Dayne's sexy young co-star, and ex-girlfriend of Dayne's, she is pictured with a man in a provocative situation. Rather than giving him the benefit of the doubt, the tabloids exploit the situation. It puts the lifelong vows to Katy being questioned. Can their love survive? Is it possible that it was just someone who might have looked like Dayne in the pictures?

The theater which housed the Christian Kids Theater is due for demolition. Can the Baxters and the community of Bloomington, Indiana save an important landmark in their city? It would mean so much to the kids and those involved in the theater. What are God's plans for the family and the city?

"Someday" is an excellent book by the very talented author, Karen Kingsbury. This is a book which will have you glued from one chapter to another. You won't want to set the book down until you have finished every chapter. If you are looking for a story to grip you and make you think about God's plan for your life and His ultimate control of every situation, this is the one you should select. Don't wait until some day to start this book. Start reading "Someday" today and you surely won't be disappointed!

All-Star Season (Kar-Ben for Older Readers)
Tovah Yavin
Kar-Ben Publishing
1251 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1036
9781580132114, $15.95, 2007

Reviewed by Osvaldo Peralta (age 12) for Reader Views

Avi and Reuven are brothers and they both love baseball. Their dream is to make it on their local All-Star team. They both go to a Jewish school, but that is the only thing that makes them different from the other guys on the team. Reuben is in the 9th-grade and Avi is in the 8th-grade. Reuben is one of the fastest pitchers on the baseball team. He knows how to throw a fastball, but he would love to throw a curveball. Against his father's wishes, Reuven gets a book that teaches him how to throw a curve. His father warned him that he was not ready and he would mess-up his arm, but he did not listen. Reuben hurts his arm and is not able to play. He brother gets the position in the All-Star team. The brothers learn how to be competitive and supportive of each other.

I liked this book, it was excellent. I liked it because my favorite sport is baseball and you cannot predict the ending of the book like most stories. I highly recommend "All-Star Season" to kids that love sports.

56 Water Street
Melissa Strangway
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595424290, $9.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Matthew Feliciano (age 7) for Reader Views

"56 Water Street" is about a house that is only visible to Ravine and Derek. They are best friends and find it very odd that the house is invisible to everybody else. If they step on the lawn of this house, they disappear and enter the house as it was in the past. This gives them the opportunity to look around and see what it was like a hundred years ago. Derek did research about the families who lived in the house. He and Ravine decided to try to solve the mystery of why only they could see the house.

This book started off a bit slow, but quickly picked up pace and got faster. I couldn't put the book down and it kept me wanting more. The kids were just like any other kids and were curious about this house. It made it easy to read a story with regular kids doing interesting things.

The book had a ghost who was trying to solve a mystery and wanted Derek and Ravine to help her so she could rest. In some parts of the book, it was scary, but Halloween scary, which means it was fun at the same time. This book was not scary enough to give me a nightmare which is a good thing. "56 Water Street" is a fun book to read about ghosts who haunt old houses.

Dr. Duncan Dog on Duty!
Lisa Dunn-Dern
Visikid Books
c/o CS VisionQuest, Inc.
1350 East Flamingo Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89119
9781933156200, $16.99, 2007,

Reviewed by Nicholas Lopez (age 5) and Leslie Granier for Reader Views

"Dr. Duncan Dog on Duty!" tells the story of a very special family. Everyone, including the pets, has an important job and each is capable of doing something to help others. For example, the father is an attorney who helps his clients and the mother writes children's books. The bird even contributes by cleaning her cage. But at the heart of the story is Duncan, a dog that was rescued from a shelter and has become a volunteer at a hospital, passing on the love he receives from his family to the sick children.

Nicholas thought it was really cool that the kids got to play with the dog in the hospital. He enjoyed the pictures, which were very colorful and detailed. He laughed at the picture of the bird sweeping out her cage. He also thought it was funny when Duncan went to visit a grandma who fell off her skateboard. Although the book contains many light-hearted moments, it also provided an excellent opportunity to discuss more serious things with him, such as that some kids have to spend time away from home because they are sick.

This book will appeal to children between the ages of four and eight. It will be especially helpful for kids who have friends or siblings who have serious illnesses and often spend time in the hospital. The main focus of this book is that everyone plays an important role in the family and that each of them can do something to help others. After reading "Dr. Duncan Dog on Duty!" children will be interested in figuring out what their roles are in their families. This will be a great time to help them think of ways they can serve others.

Crossover: Krisalys Chronicles of Feyree: Scroll 1
Claudia D. Newcorn
Outskirts Press Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432707798, $14.95, 2007,

Reviewed by Deb Shunamon for Reader Views

I give a resounding "Wow!" for Claudia Newcorn's new book, "Crossover: Krisalys Chronicles of Feyree: Scroll 1," a light fantasy with substance. This intelligently written adventure story involving old grudges, ambition, love, and other dimensions of existence, also speaks to the difficulties of growing up and making independent, responsible choices.

The story follows the personal growth of Danai and her possible importance to the future of her people. Danai and the other young sprytes undergo the rituals of Krisalys in order to obtain their feyree wings. However, it quickly becomes apparent that each of the rites involved is going to be far more dangerous than the sprytes realize, as not everyone wants them to succeed, or notice that a dark time in feyree history is about to return. I have to admit that the abundant descriptions, invented vocabulary, and the thee/ye speech on the first few pages made me wonder if I would have the patience to finish the book, but by mid-chapter I was hooked. The tightly written characters and adventures in this volume were engrossing, and although the story can easily be continued in future books, Scroll 1 is complete and satisfying on its own.

Even though I am not a feyree kingdom enthusiast, the terrific storytelling in this book has certainly made me a fan of its author. "Crossover: Krisalys Chronicles of Feyree: Scroll 1," by Claudia Newcorn, will appeal to a variety of ages, and is a good choice for those who think, as I did, that feyree -world stories are generally too fluffy. Interesting and unique, this is simply a wonderfully written, action-filled, thoughtful fantasy book.

Kate and the Spies: The American Revolution (1775)
JoAnn A. Grote
Barbour Publishing
P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683
9781593103545, $4.97, 2004,

Reviewed by Anneliese Buenker (age 9) for Reader Views

Number 6 in the 'Sisters in Time' series, "Kate and the Spies: The American Revolution (1775)" is about a girl named Kate. Kate lives in Boston during the start of the Revolutionary War. Her cousins are patriots but her whole family supports the loyalists and she doesn't know which one to choose. When she is dragged along to the Boston Tea Party, life suddenly becomes a lot more complicated.

I loved the book because it drew my attention into the book. I like books that do that so I read "Kate and the Spies" almost immediately.

Maureen the Detective: The Age of Immigration (1903)
Veda Boyd Jones
Barbour Publishing
P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683
9781593106614, $4.97, 2005,

Reviewed by Anneliese Buenker (age 10) for Reader Views

Number 7 in the 'Sisters in Time' series, "Maureen the Detective: The Age of Immigration (1903)" is a book about Maureen, who is an orphan. She lived in Ireland until she was adopted at age 3 and now lives in America.

Maureen and her cousin Mark are fishing out on a lake when Maureen finds a ladies handbag. When she looks inside she finds $96 and the name Mrs. Franklin Hoag. She goes to Mrs. Hoag's house to give her the purse. While Maureen is giving Mrs. Hoag the purse, Maureen hears a sound. "Put your hands up" the voice says. While Maureen and Mark's hand are up, Mrs. Hoag says that her bird Ruthie is a parrot and that is just her. Then Maureen gets a job working at Mrs. Hoag's house helping her organize her rooms. While Maureen is working some of the trophies and paintings are stolen. Now it is up to Maureen to find out who stole the paintings and why!

I really liked "Maureen the Detective" and hope you will too. By the time that I was done with it, I realized that I felt truly exhilarated.

Birds and Other Beasts
R. H. Peake
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595465996, $18.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by William Phenn for Reader Views (01/08)

R. H. Peake began his writing career later in his life as an undergraduate at The University of Virginia. Having received an award from the English department faculty, he went on to become the poetry editor for the university's magazine. His poems have been published in journals and magazines and he has a book and chapbook completed. As an amateur ornithologist and avid bird watcher his poetry centers on his love of these flying creatures.

"Birds and Other Beasts" is a collection of Mr. Peake's finest work. It contains some of his older work, his award winners such as "Greek Gifts" and a multitude of his varied style. Mr. Peake's love of birds and nature are very deeply rooted and it is obvious in his work. His poetry portrays the frailty of our little feathered friends, their plight for survival in a cruel world. So descriptive was his verbiage when he wrote such works as "Snowy Owl" in Virginia or "Flower Garden."

With so many variations of poetry being offered, Mr. Peake shows the reader that he is not limited in his style. Loose blank verse, free verse, rhymed traditional form and syllabics were all well represented in "Birds and Other Beasts." Unconventional in his style and a bit unorthodox, Richard shows his romantic side with such poems as "Morning Song." Although the ending is not a happy one, it begins as any love affair.

Now we get down to the grand total of all the above compliments and comments. If I had to sum up "Birds and Other Beasts" in one word, complicated would be the best I could say. I don t know if I want to read a complicated book when I go out to find a book of poetry? When I read a poetry book, I want to be in a place where I have a vivid description of something. A place where the words flow smoothly and with a rhythm, not rhyming necessarily; but it must have a nice flow. I didn't find that to be the case here and gave it a B- on my alphabetical scale.

Buy It, Sell It, Make Money
Daren and Nancy Baughman
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595426898, $19.95, 2007, 1-800-288-4677,

Reviewed by Josef F. Buenker for Reader Views

I don't know if I'll actually ever do it, but this book made me want to buy things in order to sell them on eBay. Daren and Nancy Baughman, the authors, are in the auction, resale and eBay business. Nancy's (she seems to be the primary author) interest and enthusiasm for her business clearly shows.

Although in certain parts the book had some spelling and grammatical errors, the author/editor's apparent reliance on spellcheck does not detract from the book. "Buy It, Sell It, Make Money: Your Guide to Finding and Reselling Luxury Goods for Personal Wealth" does a nice job of explaining the business of buying and selling "luxury" goods - the term "luxury" being determined by the reader's own lifestyle. Whether one is interested in trading up an item he or she already owns by selling it and buying a better model or one wants to acquire something new, this book could be of great assistance in the process.

After a general explanation of the best venues to acquire and sell various types of items (buying and selling furniture is somewhat different than dealing in modern art), the authors give the reader a very handy guide to the best brand names in a number of common "luxury" item categories, ranging from art to clothing to jewelry to toys.

This book was an interesting read. Anyone who has ever had aspirations of being in the resale or retail business will probably find "Buy It, Sell It, Make Money" interesting.

The History Buff's Guide to the Presidents
Thomas R. Flagel
Cumberland House Publishing
431 Harding Industrial Dr, Nashville, TN 37211
9781581826135, $16.95, 2007, 1-888-439-2665

Reviewed by Josef F. Buenker for Reader Views

I am no history scholar, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I believe that Mr. Flagel succeeded in his stated objective of writing a book that would be enjoyable for the casual reader and, at the same time, be of interest for the more knowledgeable reader.

The book is written in a "Top Ten" format, perhaps based on David Letterman's nightly segment, and is thus made up of a large number of relatively short sections. This format makes "The History Buff's Guide to the Presidents: Key People, Places, and Events" a good night-time read, as there is no storyline to forget - you can read a section one night, pick the book up again a week later and start off again without losing anything. Some of the sections of the book (i.e., "Top Ten Machiavellian Presidents") are the subjective opinions of the author, and persons more knowledgeable than I about presidential history might not agree with all of Mr. Flagel's top ten rankings, while other sections ("Top Ten Veto Presidents") are based on objective fact; but I enjoyed reading most of them.

I have a shelf full of history books that I have every intention of reading, but find the task too daunting. "The History Buff's Guide to the Presidents" is one that is written in such a way that it can be easily read by anyone, no matter what a person's daily time constraints are.

Jesus--Awesome Power, Awesome Love: John 11-16
Kay Arthur with Lisa Guest, Janna Arndt, Cyndy Shearer
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402-9173
9780736901444, $9.99, 2000,

Reviewed by Anne Marie Medema (age 12) for Reader Views

Kay Arthur is the founder of Precept Ministries International. For the last four years, I have had the privilege to participate in a Precept class and use Kay Arthur's books as the study material. "Jesus--Awesome Power, Awesome Love" is one of the Kay Arthur study books that I used in my Precept class. I am familiar with this series of books and the writing style and material content that Kay Arthur uses in this book. Kay Arthur is a Christian author and this book is written specifically for children who are seeking a deeper understanding of the Bible. Kay Arthur gives children Bible stories to study in a fun format.

"Jesus--Awesome Power, Awesome Love" is a children's Bible study of John, chapters 11 through 16. The book is divided into chapters called Weeks. Each week is segmented into seven days. The purpose is to study each portion on consecutive days. Kay Arthur makes up creative modern-day scenarios to make a factual Biblical point. In "Jesus--Awesome Power, Awesome Love" Kay Arthur encourages the reader to make a movie using pictures and words. The reader completes the Bible story and thus making the movie. The Biblical study in this book is about how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, Mary anointing Jesus and Jesus preaching throughout Israel. Throughout the book there are Biblical cross-references that relate to the study of the book. For example if you were studying the feast of the tabernacles you might go to a different book of the Bible and find information about the same feast and other feasts which are included in the Bible.

I recommend "Jesus--Awesome Power, Awesome Love" because it is presented in a question and answer study format. I enjoyed how Kay Arthur encouraged the reader to produce a movie. In particular, Kay Arthur encourages children to open their Bibles and study God's Word in a deep way. The book caused me to stop and think about my faith in God. This book is an excellent source for a Bible study in a church Sunday school program, kids program or family devotion.

A Sister's Test (Sisters of Holmes County #2)
Wanda E. Brunstetter
Barbour Publishing, Inc.
P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683
9781597892728, $9.97, 2008,

Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views

Wanda Brunstetter's ability to capture the true life and lifestyle of the Amish once again comes out in true form. Her insight into what is important to the Amish is reflected in her words and style of writing.

Ruth Hostettler is the oldest daughter and her desire to be married and have a family is always on her mind. The first courting she did was with Luke and it hadn't worked out. He kept too many secrets and his behavior was always reckless. She often was very frightened of him.

Martin Gingerich came into Ruth's life at a time she was despairing over not finding a mate. He was kind, considerate and always concerned about her and her families' welfare. When things seemed to be going well between them, someone started targeting her family through burning down her sister's house, killing plants in the garden and leaving mysterious notes. The Hostettler family couldn't imagine who would be this destructful.

After Martin and Ruth married calmness set over all their families--no destructive behavior came about. Then, one night while riding in the buggy to Ruth's family home, the unthinkable happened. A truck rammed into the bag of their buggy and then again. As the track tried to pass the buggy, the driver rammed the buggy and eventually it rolled over and down an embankment. Martin had died and Ruth had to have emergency surgery and would never be able to have children again. Ruth felt her life would never be the same and she had no reason for living.

The questions that the reader wanted answered in this heartwarming story includes: Who was responsible for all the problems that plagued the Hostetter family; was it Luke? Was it her sister's old English boyfriend and why?

Readers should take the time to read this great story in "A Sister's Test" and, for a while, live the simple life.

Piece of Work
Laura Zigman
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446696005, $13.99, 2008

Reviewed by Danielle Feleciano for Reader Views

In "Piece of Work," Laura Zigman somehow manages to write a chic-lit genre book that is completely anti-chic lit. This book is not a light and fluffy read. It does not have a load of superficial characters who are so enamored with themselves you just can't keep reading. Rather, this is a book with real people as the characters. A couple, Julia and Peter, suddenly lose all of their stability when Peter is laid off of his job. After months of unemployment on his end, Julia realizes she has to leave her current life as a stay-at-home mom and return to her past life as a celebrity publicist.

Julia and Peter both struggle with the same insecurities most of us do. He loses the sense of identity that comes with being the main financial support to his family. She goes back and forth with questioning her ability to be a good mom and wife and whether she's doing the right thing going back to work. And once she goes back to work, she questions her ability to do that job as well.

We get glimpses into their relationship with Julia's parents; a relationship which seems to have been strained in the past but has been mended with the birth of a grandchild. Those and other characters do fall flat and could have been better developed. The moms at the preschool and Julia's relationship with Patricia and Lisa all could have given more meat to the story.

Julia is desperate to work and takes the only thing she can find in her field, which is as a celebrity publicist to has-beens who don't even realize they are has-beens. Her boss is a selfish jerk who does everything he can to sabotage Julia's client, Mary Ford. Ms. Ford may deserve the sabotage for the pain and suffering she puts everyone through, but Ms. Zigman allows just enough vulnerability to show through that we find ourselves slowly rooting for Mary's success.

The end of "Piece of Work" did seem a bit far-fetched and a bit too neatly tied up, but that's the beauty of fiction sometimes. Julia, Peter, and even Mary have been through enough. They all deserved to have a happy ending, even if it doesn't last forever.

Eric and the Enchanted Leaf: A Visit with Canis Lupis
Deborah K. Frontiera; Illustrated by Korey Scott
KAM Publishing
219 Elm Street, Jefferson, GA 30549
9780966362985, $16.95, 2005

Reviewed by Matthew Feliciano (age 7) for Reader Views

In this book, "Eric and the Enchanted Leaf: A Visit with Canis Lupis," Eric goes on a trip with his father. When he takes a walk in the woods, he uses his leaf and wishes to learn about wolves. He finds a wolf named Canis and this wolf is his guide to the wolf world.

Canis leads Eric through the forest but soon they run into another wolf pack. They back away in time and do not have to fight the other pack to survive. Researchers find the wolves and did research on the wolves to help them survive. Canis tells Eric that humans should leave nature alone and learn from the researchers.

I was very surprised that this book was in English and Spanish. I have never seen a book that did that before. I liked "Eric and the Enchanted Leaf: A Visit with Canis Lupis" a lot. This book was really good, especially if you like wolves.

Eric and the Enchanted Leaf: A Night with Echo
Deborah K. Frontiera; Illustrated by Korey Scott
KAM Publishing
219 Elm Street, Jefferson, GA 30549
978007954723, $16.95, 2007

Reviewed by Matthew Feliciano (age 7) for Reader Views

In this book, Eric wishes on his enchanted leaf to go under the bridge with the bats in Austin, Texas. He finds a bat and makes friends with him. The bat's name is Echo. Echo has Eric turn himself into a bat so Echo can teach him.

Echo takes Eric on a flight as a bat. Eric learns that part of the legend of vampire bats is true: the part that tells us if a vampire bat bites you, you turn into a monster is fake. But vampire bats do exist and they live in Central and South America.

We learned that bats are not blind even though people think they are. Bats use echolocation to help them see. Bats are not dangerous. They eat insects and moths. This book, "Eric and the Enchanted Leaf: A Night with Echo." helps show people that bats are nothing to be afraid of.

Eric and the Enchanted Leaf: The First Adventure
Deborah K. Frontiera; Illustrated by Korey Scott
KAM Publishing
219 Elm Street, Jefferson, GA 30549
9780975341001, $16.95, 2004

Reviewed by Matthew Feliciano (age 7) for Reader Views

In "Eric and the Enchanted Leaf: The First Adventure," we meet a little boy named Eric. He is very curious about nature and how it works. He is playing outside when he sees an anthill and starts thinking about what was inside. He swats mosquitoes and also threatens to squash a spider when it tries to eat an ant.

As he is playing, a leaf falls and it turns out to be a magic leaf. Eric grabs the leaf and suddenly finds himself to be tiny and now trapped in the spider's web. The spider was about to wrap Eric in silk to eat him when a fairy appeared and stopped the spider from eating Eric.

The sky fairy's name is Sophia and she teaches Eric all about nature. She helps show him how hard ants work and how nature is not always fair. Eric learns about how he affects nature and says he won't bother the ants again.

"Eric and the Enchanted Leaf: The First Adventure" was very interesting and had a lot of easy facts about some of the things we see in nature. The pictures were also nice; they were bright and simple and helped tell the story.

The Princess and the Hound
Mette Ivie Harrison
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061131875, $17.99, 2007, 1-800-242-7737

Reviewed by Dylan James (age 11) for Reader Views

Prince George had a troubled childhood, everything from his mom dying, to possessing the "evil, animal magic." Now in his late teens, he has had better times and is about to be married to Princess Beatrice to heal bitter tensions between his kingdom and her father's kingdom, a usual opponent in war. There is something not right about Princess Beatrice and her strange dog that won't leave her side. Beatrice's father, the King, is an annoying guy that takes every chance he can get to torment Beatrice and George. George takes Beatrice to his kingdom to be wed. At his kingdom, he discovers shocking truths about Beatrice and her dog, and he also discovers that his dad has been poisoned and is slowly dying.

What will George do?

Because I'm an action/comedy fan, my first thought after reading this book was that it was bleak, sad, and a little bit boring. After I thought about it more, I decided that I liked it even though I usually don't like books of this kind. Because this book was dripping with drama and suspense, it will almost definitely be able to make you keep reading and truly want to know what will happen next. In this book, there is the best surprise moments I have ever read and it has a great storyline. If you are a drama or a surprise fan, don't pass this book up. The writing was great, the suspense and surprise were great and the drama-dripping scenes were great. It was a great book for drama fans and a recommendable book for other fans. Sufferers of discrimination may not like this book because of how people look down on "animal magic." Both boy and girls will like this equally but I think because of some suggestive sentences, age 9+ should be the earliest to read this book. My favorite part of this book is when George finds secrets about Beatrice and her dog.

If the author wants other types of book fans to enjoy this, then I recommend adding a few more action scenes. I think that doing this will go a long way to getting action fans and help a little with drama fans. But don't get me wrong, though he might add stuff, the author has a good thing going here and should NOT change anything already in "The Princess and the Hound."

Coaching Sales People into Sales Champions
Keith Rosen
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
9780470142516, $29.95, 2008, 1-800-225-5945

Reviewed by Danielle Feleciano for Reader Views

In "Coaching Sales People into Sales Champions," Keith Rosen provides a self-proclaimed "playbook" to do exactly that, turn the average sales person into a champion. While there is a multitude of books on this topic available, Mr. Rosen manages to keep an original feel to an overused subject. He looks at things from a different point of view. For example, in his section addressing different types of sales managers, he talks about the "Problem Solver." This is the manager with all the answers and who can solve anything thrown at him or her. On the surface, this sounds like a dream come true. However, Mr. Rosen points out that by solving everything, this type of manager conveys a message to his team that they don't have to actually think for themselves. This manager becomes an enabler to lackadaisical sales people who are not motivated enough to solve their own problems.

Throughout the book, it is frequently pointed out that without the proper coaching, the best sales manager out there still is not able to fully manager his or her team. Too often a person is made a manager or executive with just a few words but with no coaching, training or resources. Without a strong training experience, it is nearly impossible to properly train a team of sales people. This book gives basic but applicable ways to train every type of salesperson in just about any situation.

"Coaching Sales People into Sales Champions" provides not only real-life ways to increase a team's potential, but also answers to a variety of potential barriers to this. It talks about a variety of management types as well as sales people types and helps the reader get insight into themselves easily which helps apply the steps and suggestions in this book. Mr. Rosen truly does have an original voice and makes it easy to apply this book into offices, sales meetings and coaching sessions.

Love Dance: Awakening the Divine Daughter
Deborah Maragopoulos, FNP
American Book Publishing
PO Box 65624, Sale Lake City, UT 84165
9781589824119, $24.95, 2007, 1-888-288-7413

Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views

The author, Deborah Maragopoulos, spent many years honing her skills as a nurse practitioner, but through a personal health crisis with her own child has become an expert in holistic-neuro-immune endocrinology. She decided to share what she had learned by writing a book about healing. Early in the writing process she began having very vivid dreams and decided that she needed to chronicle the dreams instead. Her dreams turned out to be an incredible love story about Yeshua (Jesus) and Mary Magdalene.

"Love Dance: Awakening the Divine Daughter" begins when fourteen-year-old Mary Magdalene finds out that she is betrothed to Yeshua, son of Joseph and Mary. Mary is from a very wealthy family, and Yeshua is not, but the fathers agree on the marriage because Yeshua is next in line to be the Davidic King who reunites Yisreal. Though Yeshua and Mary have many gifts which they use to heal and do many other great things they are still having a human experience and suffer the trials that come from having a body. She loves Yeshua, but also loves his cousin, Teoma. She resists this love and Yeshua continually tells her that the time is not yet; she will be with Teoma after he is gone. It breaks Mary s heart to think that there will be a time when Yeshua is not there anymore.

As Yeshua and Mary progress in their spiritual lives, the gifts that unfold for them are truly amazing. Mary becomes a healer and teaches women about the gift of conscious conception so they will not have unwanted pregnancies. She also masters levitation and communication without speaking, to name a few of her gifts. Yeshua studies with many of the great masters and learns many gifts, but becomes the embodiment of love for all people in this journey. He faces condemnation among his own people as they see his mission as one of a political battle against the Roman regime.

"Love Dance: Awakening the Divine Daughter" touched me on so many levels as a woman trying to awaken myself and find that perfect life partner, as a spiritual truth seeker and as a history buff. It is a wonderfully written book whose description of Yeshua and Mary has a strong ring of truth to it. I am looking forward to the sequel, "Love Dance: Realization of the Magdalene."

The Legend of Darien: A Hero Rises
Lauren C. Mayher
Blue Eyed Mayhem Publishing
Flux Publications, 2143 Wooddale Dr., Woodbury, MN 55125-2889
9780979454509, $12.95, 2008

Reviewed by Emily Judah (age 13) for Reader Views

"The Legend of Darien" was a fantastic book! I loved every minute of reading it! When I received it I started reading and couldn't stop! Ms. Lauren Mayher is an awesome author that knows how to catch the reader's attention from the first paragraph.

Seventeen-year-old Prince Aernon knows nothing but luxury. He is the second son of King Gronte, Ruler of Hemlon. Because Aernon is second-in-line to the throne he has nothing to worry about, and he mostly spends his days sparring with his brother, hanging out with princes and princesses, and talking with his bodyguard, Maxwell. Little does he know that he is not the real Prince Aernon, but actually Darien the Dragonslayer. He was switched at birth with the real Prince Aernon, the Usurper. The reason being is that Darien the Dragonslayer has to be killed when he is 18 to fulfill a prophecy created by one of the three makers of Hemelon. So he knows nothing about how special his 18th birthday is. And, instead of dying like he is supposed to, he will start an amazing journey to turn the tide of destiny and save his beloved kingdom from peril.

The rest of the book is about Darien's amazing journey to fulfill his destiny as Dragonslayer. With the help of the castle gardener and an ancient knight, he will slay his first dragon, gain Darien the Dragonslayers armor, and he will learn to give up his luxuries, and help save his people. I thought "The Legend of Darien: A Hero Rises" was a great book! I hope you like it too!

Worldweavers: Gift of the Unmage
Alma Alexander
c/o Harper Collins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780060839550, $16.99, 2007, 1-800-242-7737

Reviewed by Dylan James (age 11) for Reader Views

Thea is sad and troubled for a lot of reasons. In a world of mages, she is one of the only kids that can't do magic. Tired of being mocked and pitied, she spends most of her time sulking. But then a change happens for the better (or the worse): her father sends her to a mysterious land through a portal as a last resort to get magic flowing through her veins. Knowing nothing of this land, she explores until she finds a mysterious character that will be her teacher. At long last, she discovers how to do magic, but when she goes back to her home world, she finds she can't do it. Disappointed, her father sends her to a school for kids that have problems with magic. Bored, Thea starts investigating the school. After looking through the seemingly peaceful school, she discovers a sinister threat and a plot to take over the world.

This book is surprising, full of weirdness, and very descriptive. A lot of things people look for in a book are here, but I think the author is overdoing the descriptive parts a little. There are a lot of parts where I was very tempted to skip pages. This book would go a long way if it took out some descriptive parts and added some action parts. Also, it's very confusing how you see a character for ten pages or so and then you never see him/her again. I think there should have been at least a little more reference to characters like that. The only descriptive thing that should be added is the main character's age. It might have been in there somewhere, but I sure didn't see it. The bad thing called the "nothing" is not faced at all until the last thirty pages of the book. Even though there are some faults, the end was very well-written and could capture any reader's attention; sadly, my attention was lost by the 250th page (the book is 389 pages). I think this book would have benefited from cutting out some descriptive parts, which would have made it a lot better.

If the author writes a sequel to this one, I will definitely try to get it though because the end was great. It got me thinking that the next book would be better. "Worldweavers: Gift of the Unmage" ends with the main character figuring out how to use magic, and that makes readers eagerly anticipate the next book.

Nellie the Brave: The Cherokee Trail of Tears (1838) (Sisters in Time #10)
Veda Boyd Jones
Barbour Publishing
P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44583
9781597890700, $4.97, 2006,

Reviewed by Anneliese Buenker (age 10) for Reader Views

"Nellie the Brave" is about Nellie Starr and her trip from her home to a completely new one on the Trail of Tears. Nellie is a Cherokee girl who is being taken out of her town along with all the other villagers to a new town on the Trail of Tears. In the beginning, the villagers think that the white men (the soldiers pulling them out) are very mean and have no right to pull them out. Even though some of the Cherokee people who were not in charge did sign a treaty that their land went to the white people, but it wasn't properly signed by the right people so they said it wasn't an official treaty and they should be able to keep their land. The white men just laughed and took them away on their journey. On the way, there are injuries, sicknesses, babies being born, and deaths.

During the trip, Nellie earns a Cherokee name which is "She Who is Brave." Also, she gets a new baby brother which she helped deliver.

I think "Nellie the Brave" is a very, very, very good book because Nellie shows braveness and confidence during her very exciting journey on the Trail of Tears. I would recommend this book for ages 8 and up.

Reader Views - the one-stop center for author needs
email: website:
Kid's book reviews: Reader Views Kids
Live author interviews: Inside Scoop Live
Live author forum: Authors Access

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